move forward, live fully, breathe deeply....

there are so many areas in our lives in which we can get stuck...drowning in things, worry, anxiety. Here is my journey to live simply, with the fantastic freedom of 'less is more' as my mantra.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Retirement Adventures

Well...It's week 3! Whew...what a whirlwind! We've been all over in our targeted neighborhoods looking for homes. Some are so small by today's standards--or is it we have too many belongings to fill a home?

75 years ago a double size closet would have held a husband and wife's wardrobe.  Now, walk-in closets are the acceptable norm for one person and it's full to capacity.  How many pieces of clothing do we need to hold onto? The high school favorites? The college "cool" duds?  That first (second and third) professional ensemble that saw us through the early years of our careers? How about all of the bridesmaids dresses? The Wedding dress? Scrubs for every size up & down...not to mention the blue jeans we'll "get into someday"??  T-shirts are another wonderful creation and addition to our modern times and clothing must-haves. When do we have enough T-shirts? At 10? 15? 25? 50?  What is the deciding factor in donating or throwing away (heaven forbid we make them into rags!!) our worn, too small, or tattered attire?  

Let's move from the bedroom to the kitchen and dining areas. In my mind the greatest kitchen and dining room lead into or are part of each other.  That "open concept" is modern in a sense--but I think we're just borrowing from a simpler time when farm kitchens were gathering places that enveloped our loved ones with warmth, companionship, and nourishment.  Now with the open concept comes less storage available for use...with that being said, how many sets of dishes am I really needing to utilize? The wedding gift everyday ware? The rad, "green" recycled glass place settings? The lovely handed-down china with all the unusual pieces? Or, my favorites...the vintage white restaurant ware.  And then what about the special "party ware" for the Oriental themed dinners? The Tex-Mex? The "outdoor rustic galvanized ware"?

I'm coming to the realization that it's really not the things that make your home warm, happy, or relaxing. It's all about the idea of focusing on the people in your life, making the most simple, clean food beautifully delicious and nutritious, and living within a reasonable size home while being good stewards of the belongings we are blessed enough to have.  Bigger isn't better. More is too much....uncluttered and simple is what will free us to live a quieter more peaceful existence.

While looking for homes...and shedding tears as "discussions" occur to bring a cohesive want-list to the search...we've narrowed the list to a "top 5"...
Boy, was that a ping-pong discussion. #1 was #3 then #2. #5 was #2 now #1....but wait! We forgot about #7!! Now start all over...where was I??? Oh yes, let's go see 9 more houses and start again! Gotta keep your sense of humor in it all. Breathe. Don't speak before you think. Try to think of what your spouse needs and if you can live with it realistically, give them that gift. Remember though, that it is your choice and you have to live with that choice. No being a bratty whiner later!!

All this being said....we have made an offer on the #1 on the list!!.. the best choice for our needs.  Let, the negotiations begin! 
We have asked for home inspections, a home warranty, and of course the appraisal has to be on target. The selling realtor asked why we needed a home inspection? that's an interesting question. Why would a realtor (of all people??!!)ask that?   We'll find out hopefully sooner rather than later!  The waiting game begins with offers and counter-offers. Patience is key to your survival in this stage. Patience and flexibility. If the deal falls through, know you will be okay. Remember, there's #2,3,4, and #5 just around the corner.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Retirement Adventure Week 2

This week the adventure takes us down the house hunting Boulevard-of-the-Bourgeois.  I consider our family middle class. We don't want to own a mansion or a Maserati. We don't need 6 bedrooms or a dining room large enough to host a convention.  Our needs really are basic: a home large enough to eat, sleep, relax and be creative in (I NEED that art studio!).  Preferably it will have 2 bathrooms so that when one is "occupied" another will be available for the inadvertent "call of nature" where nature isn't the scene for such. Lastly, we would like a property large enough for a vegetable garden. No more patio pots please!! (Unless for decorative purposes only!)

I thought I had to have a small organic farm resplendent with an old post and beam "art barn" as well as a few other outbuildings that could be converted to guest cottages. I am finding though, that my dear Colonel has no earnest wish for such large endeavors!  HUH??!! What man doesn't consider himself a Paul Bunyan or a Pecos Bill? Catching a ride on the tail of a tornado? Or chopping down a tree for the family fireplace?  Where is the adventure? The bravado??

"POP"!! ...that there was a dream bubble popping and reality settling in.  So we've agreed to compose a "must have" list made of both of our wants and needs.  We've also agreed to allow the realtor to help us find a home "the old fashioned" way:  by handing over the must-have list and the budget and allowing her to show us the properties that meet those needs.   The online photos, etc. won't distract us or waste our time this way. (Sadly, the photos almost ALWAYS show a house that is bigger and better than what the reality is. This I learned the hard, disappointing way.)

I have a small admission of guilt:  I "was" looking online...and thought I had found my idea of a wonderful new home! THREE times!! "POP"!!! goes that bubble again and again. The latest of the dream home's listing has been removed. I can only surmise it was sold.  Now my heart is somewhere under my arches of my feet on a hot, humid, overcast day in northern Alabama. I keep reminding myself that God takes care of every feather on a little sparrow--and there is no reason why He would not take care of me too.  I am battling with keeping the edges of my mouth from being down-turned and hoisting my heart back up to where it belongs for now.  Ceasing "online dreaming" may be a helpful recourse?

Meeting with the realtor on Saturday morning turned into a pretty full day of getting in and out of a little knee aching and spasming and The Colonel's bad back didn't prevent us from seeing upwards of 10 homes in a five and half hour period.  Now, I hate to be a quitter after the first day of viewing these offerings, but somehow it's hard to stay in the game.  If the house looked fabulous the yard was too small or had no privacy.  If we looked at a "fixer upper" it was WAY beyond repair. (Again, the online photos were much better than reality!  The mold and water damage on one particular house was haz-mat gear quality.)  Sometimes the finishes were done well in one room like the kitchen--but then the bathroom had tiling that was so uneven you could cause a bad abrasion by hitting it just right.

The Colonel got excited about this one particular house. It was a great big house with 5 bedrooms, 3 living areas, 4 baths and a front and back yard that were on a mountain with a steep grade. The yard itself was like stepping stones carved out of mountain rock. The landscaping was beautifully done with very little upkeep needed.  Several different Japanese maples dotted the backyard interspersed with grasses and even hydrangeas. It was the largest "rock garden" I've ever come across!!  Lovely as it was, I'm not too sure we could have our vegetable garden, outdoor kitchen, or outdoor dining space.  If we had a party where would the guests park? How would they get to the front door?  Will we need to buy and install a ski lift??

Remember the opening paragraph of this post? Hmmmm, we haven't found a humble, middle class, modest size bungalow with an acre of land to call home.  Nothing close. How do I assimilate my dream home and my needs with The Colonel's?  Do men always "Go Big or Go Home"???  Can I be happy in a mountain rock garden? Or, will I constantly dream of a Texas limestone homestead with a windmill creaking in the background? Each spring and summer will I look for bluebonnets, daisies, queen anne's lace and Indian paintbrush dotting an open prairie field?  Will a quiet night be spent listening for the crickets, coyotes, and the occasional owl? And what about the night sky? Will it be as open? as star-filled as my childhood memories of the vast expanse of the Texas sky?

The adventure seems difficult at this starting place on the path. I guess the trick is to keep moving forward. Make the best decision you can with as much information as can be gathered.  Find the wood violets in the smallest crevice amongst the trees. Beauty I know is here. All around.

Before publishing this post... I slipped and fell down a flight of stairs at 2am as I was going to get The Colonel some pain medication for his herniated disc that was causing him a great deal of discomfort.  I'm very sore--no great damage to anything except "my personality" as I had hung on for dear life to the handrail and landed in a hurdler's position as I bounced off my left cheek for 5 more steps. Both of my dear menfolk jumped out of bed as I sat there thanking the Good Lord that nothing was broken.  Alas, The Colonel moved too fast and we ended up taking him to the Dr's office for that disc problem.

So, on hold for a little while are the house-hunting trips...the Retirement Fishing Odyssey to Canada, and the smile on The Colonel's face.  We are thankful for kind, professional people we met in the healthcare arena today as well as our son's stepping up to the plate and helping in any way he could.  This little side path to the Great Adventure was difficult in some ways but a blessing in many others.

As ever, onward!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Retirement Adventures Week 1

It's been one week since driving cross country with my two favorite dogs!  Sadly my husband and son in my rearview mirror...were left with the  monstrous adventure of packing up our worldly belongings with the moving crew and then cleaning our military quarters to the satisfaction of the housing representative on duty.

Now, neither of these tasks --my driving cross country or the menfolk packing out the house-- would be a daunting task in and of itself but then you throw in a few unwritten obstacles and Voila!! you have quite the adventure!...

By now you're wondering:  "Why did she leave with the dogs?? That doesn't seem quite fair!".  In all honesty it is not a fair trade. Guilt keeps tapping me on the shoulder as I recover from the 13 hour trek.  I did stop every 1 1/2 hours to take the two faithful companions out for short walks but that was for my sake as much as theirs.  The old man, our 14 year old cocker spaniel Bullet, bones and joints creaking and moaning in protest, dutifully clamored in and out of the van as best he could.  Our little girl, a rescued abused Sheltie, Molly, managed to contain her terror of riding in a car to minimal foaming of the mouth.  She too dutifully climbed in and out of her kennel as if she were an old pro at this moving business.  The two dogs recuperated relatively quickly compared to my 5 day-downing with fibromy-aching body-algia!

Now that we're in doesn't seem quite so bad. The last 5 days have been devoted to acclimating to the humidity, the mountain, the steep terrain not only in the yard but also in the house with staircase after staircase to maneuver baggage, pets, and my aching knees, joints, and general stuff that comes with the aforementioned physical challenge.  Getting up early would hardly be called my forte...somehow, it has become an unwelcome necessity.  The beasts won't "go" in the steep yard covered in periwinkle...their little bums are tickled to distraction.  I am now taken for a minimum of three walks a day up a steep flight of stairs to street unlevel (sarcasm intended as even the street is at an angle!)!!  Not only are my current companions "walking me", they are teaching me fortitude, humility and duty -- every time I have to bend down, hand inside my recycled Walmart bag, to pick up the sizeable, malodorous offerings or walk, limping, up and down the street until their "gifts" are bestowed.  Truth be told, I am thankful for my sweet companions, gifts and all, and would be quite lonely without them.

!on the other hand, Thank Goodness for friends and family who live nearby. They rescue me from total overwhelming lack of human interaction!  My dear friend Alice brought her two sons over to help unload heavy boxes from the van...I managed to get one in the house then became a ball of knees-gone-bad. We then went to lunch at a restaurant I haven't eaten at in years (Oklahoma had lots of restaurants--more mom&pop establishments than well known modern venues). Lo and behold! While walking in, I ran into Laura, a sweet neighbor I met and enjoyed at Ft Stewart 5 years ago!  The next morning I met another dear friend Jo at Starbucks -- ah! the good life-- for coffee and yogurt.  Then, Friday night, David's little brother and his good-cook-wife Jennifer had me over for dinner. So lovely!!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or military housing...Jon David, our 22yr old, and David were hard at work. Monitoring the packing crew...supervising the loading crew...and also being a packing/loading crew themselves. Moving our son to his new digs in Auburn, AL later this summer requires a separate truck of household goods.  Not to mention a certain someone (she will remain anonymous) who didn't want her art supplies to be packed by any hands except her own or moved by anyone other than family members. Spoiled rotten! I'd say.  The packing crew didn't show up the first day scheduled -- and it created a frenzied level of work as two crews were sent to complete the job "on time". Starting at 8am and working until 10pm makes for an exhausting day both mentally and physically. Then the loading crew arrives bright and early the next morning.  Working from early morning until 8:30pm. Are you following this tale?  My poor menfolk are worn out!   But their adventure is far from over...sadly, they must load the rental moving van...then clean out the house. I would say, justifiably so, that those dear men deserve accolades and showers of flowers as well as a hot meal and cozy bed awaiting them when they finally make it to Alabama!!
Hopefully, that will be in the very near future!  A day more? before they drive moving van and car along my previously traveled path. begin our "new" lives as military retirees.  Though my son & I have not been "in" the military, it has been the guiding force of our lives -- where we live, where I work and how long, our community, our friends, even our identities -- tied to our wonderful provider: my husband of 25 years, and my son's father.

For our family, "retirement" is a new adventure. A new path with lots of choices to be made and enjoyed.  Foibles to be chuckled at....New sunrises to view in awe. Fish to be reeled in. Successes to be celebrated. Unions to be rejoiced over. Breaths to be taken.  Oh, what an adventure!