Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018 Investing in the future

When I was young, my Dad did his best to teach me about money. He was always telling me to save for the future, save for emergencies, save for that special thing that you want to buy and to make wise decisions when spending money. I wouldn’t say he was a tightwad, but the terms thrifty and frugal come to mind. I recall a red ski jacket he had back in the 70’s when we went skiing a lot. He and my Mom split up, he moved away, married Carolyn and moved back. In the 90’s when I was visiting him one time, he was showing me something out in his garage and there was that red ski jacket hanging on a hook. It had become his gardening jacket. Even years later when they moved to Kent from the Bellevue house, that jacket was hanging in the garage for when he was tinkering or gardening. 

I couldn’t quite get the idea about saving money. I liked it when I was able to open a savings account at the bank and felt important when I would go in to deposit my babysitting money. When I was in my 20’s the idea of saving any money seemed a really foreign concept, I barely had enough to pay rent and buy groceries let alone set aside even five dollars for savings.

But now I need to go back in time a little to when I was 9 or 10 years old. That’s when Brownie came into my life. I had received some money for my birthday and was told I could do with it whatever I wanted, but it would be really wise to put it in the bank and save it, I was also told. I had other plans for that money. It must have been around Christmas when my Mom had taken us into 
Frederick and Nelson’s department store to do some shopping. She let us browse in the toy department, it was a wonderful toy department back then. Shelves lined with dolls, stuffed animals, trains and games, all beautifully displayed. There I spied the cutest little bear, in a pretty box with a cellophane cover, her shiny brown eyes peeking out as if to say to me, ‘please, take me home with you.’

Of course I couldn’t. We were shopping for others, not for ourselves. But I didn’t forget about that little bear. It was only two months later, my birthday being in February, when I received the money, likely from my grandparents. I asked my Mom if we could go back to Frederick and Nelson’s where I had seen the little bear to see if I had enough money to buy it. I don’t remember the dollar amount, but there was consternation from my parents on my decision, so it must have been what they felt too much to be spent on a toy that might just get relegated to the back of the shelf when I got tired of playing with it.

That didn’t happen. Brownie went everywhere with me. To the cabin, to my best friends house, she even played dress up with Barbie. As I got older, she didn’t go as often and spent more time with Mary Bear and Ted (the cross-dressing bear, he always wore a dress) on the side lines, but she was always waiting for me. I still have Mary and Ted too. Over the years there were times when she got to come along, but mostly she just waited at home for me.

Brownie is ready to go!
Then a few years ago, when Jay and I started traveling away from Arizona in the summer, I thought, we need a mascot. Brownie was willing to step in to that role. She can fit just about anywhere, doesn’t eat much and makes friends easily. It’s been almost 50 years since she came in to my life and has brought me so much happiness. Just looking at her sweet face makes me smile. I just wish my Dad were around to see that it was a good investment, to buy that stuffed bear so long ago. That sometimes spending the money is the better choice than saving it for later.

So that’s some history on Brownie. Now she is my travel buddy, other than Jay and the cats. She gets to go places where the cats don’t go, and to places where Jay won’t go and sometimes with me and Jay. She has an adventurous soul for a stuffed animal and is willing to go outside her comfort zone, except where water is concerned. In that regard she is not a typical bear.

She and I are about to set off in to a new adventure. A solo road trip in the new Subaru Outback, with a mountain bike. With a little help from Jay, I managed to install the trailer hitch and rack onto the new car. I wanted to bring the kayak along, but he didn’t think I needed to be packing that so he took it with him to South Dakota. 

Yes, he is solo, well almost solo, he has both cats with him, on his way to South Dakota. He got a job as a Water Technician there for the summer. They were unable to think outside the box for what I suggested a great volunteer job for me would be, so I have no commitment to the park to be there, just to my hubby. More on that later.

Pretty soon Brownie and I will be heading out, first to California to see my sister and her kids. It’s been a long time since we’ve been together and the kids are teenagers now so it will be fun to see them. Brownie might even get to try her hand at lacrosse, that’s the kids’ favorite sport these days, they both play.

After that we will head north up I-5 on our way to Washington. We plan to make a couple of stops in Oregon to visit some friends there, then on to the Seattle area for a few days to connect with some family and friends. 

From there we’ll head east over the Cascade Mountains to the beautiful Wenatchee Valley, making a short stop there before making our way across the amber waves of grain to Spokane Valley to see my Mom and my brother. Should be fun for Brownie to see all the wonderful fountains and plants at my brother’s garden nursery there. 

Before we know it, it will be time to head further east and south to get ourselves to Custer State Park to meet up with Jay and Ruby and Toby. It will be a happy day when we are all together again.

Stay tuned for more! And here are some fun desert photos, cacti and gila monster.

in the garden 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April 4, 2018 Self-criticism and self-doubt, let them go.

What is success? Is it something we really want? Do we need it?
It seems that there are many articles out there written about how to achieve it. How we can be more productive in our lives, such as these headlines from Medium:

Want to Live a Life 99% of Other People Will Envy? Read This Immediately (click here for this article)
7 Small Things You Can Do In 10 Minutes That Will Improve Your Health Substantially (tips for healthy living here)

I’m not against finding things that will help make our lives better, or different from what they are. I encourage people to explore their inner self, to understand that they can be in charge of their own happiness and well-being. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by pressure I put on myself to study and to continue learning so I can pass on more information to my students. I feel that I always have to present something new, forgetting that something I already know might be new to my students, or I have new students and it’s new to them anyway. 

I wrote that a week ago, just trying to get some thoughts on the page. As I reread it today, I find it is still relevant to my current state of mind. I had the opportunity this morning to have a session with a ‘life coach’ or something like that. She recently obtained certification and part of her curriculum is to give 50 hours of coaching. I felt it was something I could use and I’m always eager to help someone achieve their goals. 

It was one of those conversations where the person asks you how you want to spend the time together. Really putting the ownership on to yourself of what you expect to get from the meeting. Then, as I start talking about how to put less pressure on myself, how to eliminate self-doubt and to know that I am competent, capable and complete, she would ask what do I do that nourishes me in these areas. Do I not already have resources that I have learned to know how to boost myself? Do I know how to self soothe? Do I take time to rest so I can feel energized? And the answer to all of those questions is yes, yes, yes. 

The self-criticism and self-doubt will always be present, and the only solution is to just act in spite of them. 

How true. That is exactly what I was talking about with my life coach.
This statement came from another article on Medium, by Thomas Oppong, titled, “You’ll Seriously Regret These Life Choices and What to do About Them.” (live without regret) Yet another well written article to help a person make positive changes in their life and to live authentically. I did take time to read again this article because that statement was highlighted, it’s exactly what I’m feeling, as are apparently a whole lot of other people. 

So when I have times of stress or performance anxiety, or are just feeling overwhelmed by all of what life throws at me, I know what to do. Sometimes it’s okay to just sit there, and not do anything, instead of “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Do nothing and see what happens. If you are interested in where that saying came from, click here 
And know that I am competent, capable and complete. 

By the way, did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I thought poetry was something I had to ‘get’, my 7th grade English teacher presented poetry as something to be dissected in order to be understood. But as I have been writing, I realize you can just read poetry and let it be what it is for you as you read it. It can rhyme, it cannot rhyme. It can tell a story, evoke feelings, describe nature, or any number of things. At any rate, it can be enjoyable. I hope you will enjoy the poem I have included here, along with some new cactus photos.


Tonight it’s quiet or in the quiet
Or, at least, the quiet
Is all around us. What is it
I’m worried about when I
Worry about anything? What is it
I tangle up in, wanting to go home?
From down here I look up at myself
In the little bright square of window
Staring down at me in bemusement
Querying what’s it worth. But that’s
A question snaps shut on itself
Thoughts with teeth or claws
To scrape away to the very core. What
Cares contains its value, a half life,
Mixed, no doubt, yet fair.
It’s always fair or anyway
It’s always what’s there...
And it’s not our fault.

By Norman Fischer

July 28, 2018 It's been a busy month

It’s been a busy month. Brownie at Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak After we shipped our grandson back home, we rested a little t...