Thursday, August 30, 2012

Evening Gratitudes: Part Dos

I'm thinking this should be an evening/daily habit for a while :)

Tonight, even though I really, I'm taking a moment to think about the fact that today I'm grateful for:

---A pretty decent night's sleep again and heading toward what I hope will be another night of zzzs.

---The ability to keep myself from sliding into a sad funk this morning and forcing myself to STAY POSITIVE!

---My usual morning text msg waiting for me when I opened my eyes. It's great to daily wake up to a message from someone who cares!

---Roxi belly crawling over to lick my head when I woke up this morning. :)

---Research on new opportunities, a few moments of working, and being coerced into a new FUN opportunity.

---Ordering the most awesome new sticker to put on my car...and discovering an online discount code.

---Amazingly fast shipping! Received my backpacking goodies today and got a thankful text from Caitlin for her gift. So glad she liked it--now she can make coffee from home on the weekends :)

---Fred Meyer's awesome willingness to take back faulty products!

---A great morning catch up over coffee session at a local spot with my cousin. Even better was sitting outside on the patio for the duration of the morning: laughing, sharing, and soaking up sunshine!

---Arranging a bowling and brews night with said cousin, Tall D's apartment mates, and myself for next week. I usually hate to bowl, but once a year I get a total itch to go and what a better way to break the ice for everyone than to ensure we all look like fools (albeit fools having FUN!). :)

---Meeting T's other half and getting to talk backpacking shop with him late this evening! Nice to finally get to meet her man...and reassure him that T will be in good hands this weekend.

---Walking thru one of my favorite stretches of downtown checking out the shops.....and somehow I actually walked out with NO new purchases----woot woot! (But did immensely laugh over the still-true-to-this-day copies of "Don'ts for Husbands" and "Don'ts for Wives" that were originally published in 1913.)

---Snagged a pretty nice street parking spot to maneuvered out of a tight fit on the way out!

---A great happy hr with a newer friend and evening dinner with an older friend downtown. I love getting to know people better and it was great to grab dinner with my gal N as it'd been quite a while since we've been able to connect and catch up!

---Singing loud to the radio and enjoying the irony of country music pouring out of my windows while navigating downtown.

---The gorgeous warm weather that arrived today, even after starting with a measly 60 degrees at 10am. Nice weather=great outdoor seating opportunities all day long. (Please stick around, dear sunshine, please stick around!)

---Answered phone calls.

---Still burning muscles from working hard for the summit.

---Recognizing the humor and crazy irony of just how small of a world we all live in yet again when I discovered that my kid sister is dating the cousin of Z's girlfriend! I swear sometimes Oregon is like one big ol' extended family!

---Shoring up some plans for my gal Katie's visit, which include making it for my hometown civil war high school football game and relishing the beauty of Crater Lake. Hopefully we can make those plans, plus several happy hours, and a trip to the North Face outlet (so Katie can prove that she "goes on so many adventures!") a reality!

---The awesomeness of the pack I purchased earlier this summer, looking forward to using my new sleeping bag from Tall D, and stoked just to get out in nature in general.

---Final work week arriving next week...and applying for new job opportunities.

---Awesome and understanding landlords.

---Skirts, sandals, and cardigans.

---Feeling God's protective presence.

---Roxi's adorableness and Anna's steadfastness. Cat contentment.

---Honest text exchanges with my aunt.

And with that great list of things making me thankful, I'll close my eyes and bid good night!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Time to Be Grateful!

Has it really been this long since I focused on the many things that I am truly grateful for?! Good golly!

Even in the midst of strife, I need to remember and get back into practice of focusing on the many blessings and small joys that do exist in my life.

So what am I grateful for about today and in recent days?

---Breakfast for dinner! I had a blast preparing my fave french toast with strawberries & powdered sugar for dinner--and it was the most solid meal I've prepared for myself in weeks. As always, the dogs were thrilled to get their share too!

---The wisdom of my gal D and her badgering me about being a better steward of my long-term health, so I bought coconut creamer (rather than my usual preservative laden one) and I scooped up a cast iron skillet. I also used my tote bag and have started thinking more about needing to get a lil "greener" again.

---Also as much as I love giving gal D a hard time...her drill sergeant assistance toward my life has really been today I'm grateful that she made me get up and "pull myself together by my boot straps." Yes, ma'am!

---Grocery shopping: corn on the cob, bananas, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, bell peppers. Between the raised beds, today's grocery trip, and the zukes that will be dropped off from my aunt's, my kitchen feels stocked again!

---An entire afternoon of great country songs on the radio....and a soul-filling morning of Christian rock on Pandora.

---Dog cuddles on the bed this morning and Roxi sleeping on the empty side at night.

---A long text exchange with my eldest brother, who I rarely get to communicate with much. It was wonderful catching up with him!

----The support of so many of my gals near and far. for the last week I receive daily supportive check-ins from at least one of my gals--it's helping.

---Mom's offer to come up again to help keep me occupied and less lonely. She'll be here Sunday through Thursday with her sewing machine in tow. I've got some projects for her and I know she'll help me work through some of my other big ticket transition questions.

---Even though today's counseling session didn't seem like a great match, I'm thankful for the opportunity and I've already contacted another great referral. I have hope that I will find a helpful match for me!

---The doctors are feeling like my dad's biopsy will probably come back negative. Can't be much more grateful for something than that.

---Tall D made the most awesome new feeders for the chickens while I was gone. Big bins that keep the ladies with food & water for days! AWESOME.

---If I end up moving, a friend of mine has agreed to take the chickens....and the coop, if we can get it moved! That's one weight off my mind.

---Looking forward to a full day of activities tomorrow and the overnight backpacking trip this weekend! Also so appreciative that Tall D is going to drop by the tent, jet boil, his knife, my klean kanteens, and a few other goodies he took the time to pick up for me for this trip! Looking forward to an overnight trip with T...and to also achieving another year 30 goal!

---Received the longest message I've ever gotten from one of my good buddies regarding suggestions for a tent for myself. His helpfulness and referrals both are so appreciated!

---Days of sunshine. Cat cuddles. Produce growing. Squirrels a'hoppin'.

---Aching muscles reminding me of how glad they were to work yesterday...and how fortunate I am to be in decent enough shape to make the trips that I do.

---New toe socks (and my own personal membership) to REI. Since my ankles have been rubbing in my new toe shoes, hopefully socks will be the solution...and keep my sweaty feet from permeating into the shoes! :)

---Easy Nordies returns...and that no BR was located in the mall...maybe it's a sign that I should keep the cute faux-snake skin clutch after all....

---Free shipping on my new Klean Kanteen, Steripen water purifier, and gifts for my friends since Tall D is still letting me use his account.

---An evening watching documentaries on the futon...and reading blogs in bed.

---A solid night's sleep for the first time in weeks.

---The taste of the cucumber from my garden! And the crisp freshness of the asian pears picked yesterday.

---Shiny new dog food bowls so Tall D can have a set at his apartment too. The girls were so glad to watch them be put out, especially with food in them! :)

---The cute old farmer who chatted with me as we picked through corn at the grocery store together.

---Mailing packages to friends and a post card to Granny.

---Looking forward to Katie's trip mid-month.

---Intrigued by the prospects of contacts that have been arriving. And hopefully at some of the contacts that have been sent.

---And most of all, I'm grateful for the ability to take the time to just BE plain grateful....maybe I'll make this the new ending to my days!!

---Grateful too for each one of you readers! Hope you all had a blessed day.

Happiness Project & FUN

The Happiness Project. Ha after my post last night...sounds like something I should take on, no?

Well it's actually the title of the book I picked up in the Savannah airport on the way home, and I finished half the book on the plane. I have yet to crack back into it...because I've been pondering some of the gems that I took from the first half and wanted the opportunity to write about them too.

Gretchen Rubin, the author, got me thinking about her attempts at being a better partner and better mother. I especially took home the points that all we can really do is control and change ourselves. And that sometimes we have to rely upon other people in our lives to be our intimacy "partners" as our spouse isn't generally capable of being able to do it the way we envisioned...and vice versa---I think this is something that is coming up with more frequency in everyday conversations I'm having too....

Another section stuck out to me when Gretchen developed her own theory about finding happiness....
"To be happy, I needed to generate more positive emotions, so that I increased the amount of joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, gratitude, intimacy, and friendship in life....I also needed to remove sources of bad feelings, so that I suffered less guilt, remorse, shame, anger, envy, boredom, and irritation....Apart from feeling more "good" and feeling less "bad," I saw that I also needed to consider feeling right.

"Feeling right" was a trickier concept: it was the feeling that I'm living the life I'm supposed to lead....."Feeling right" is about living the life that's right for you---in occupation, location, marital status, and so on. It's also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself...."

And while all of these pieces have stuck with me throughout the last two days....I think the chapter that has stuck out the most is the one about increasing FUN. It was the chapter that made me dig a pen out of my carry-on and attempt to list the things that truly do make me feel like I'm having FUN. There are a lot of things that bring me enjoyment, lots of things that make me feel fulfilled, lots of things that make me happy....but not all of those are truly continuously things that make me feel that they're unapologetically FUN. The things that made my list? Well, many are things I haven't done for a long time, but I also found that I've been pushing myself to engage in quite a few things that are FUN and that many of my goals on my year 30 list line up pretty well to this pursuit of FUN....guess maybe my heart/mind knew that I needed more of it before my analytical part of me did!

1) Cooking/Baking
2) Scrabble over beer nights
3) Exploring new places/things/cultures
4) Dancing
5) Reading Thursday New York Times over coffee
6) Flirting (especially when starting out with Tall D)
7) Helping other people feel good (ex dressing/life improvements/volunteering with others)
8) Visiting old friends
9) Documentary nights on the couch (especially with Tall D)

The first four on the list came easy. The next two came after some thought. And the final three arrived after some more moments. I thought of these next final two but wasn't sure about adding them:

10) Driving the Sorento, especially with happy dog faces in back
11) Singing loud to the radio

And while listing items on the plane, I couldn't really decide if hiking/running etc is something that I truly think is FUN or just something that I do cause it's fulfilling and let's me spend time with others....but yesterday's summit helped me discover that I truly do think hiking is FUN. It was fun in the sense (that the book describes) as challenging fun. I was doing something outside my comfort zone, pushing myself, but also doing some of those things that I do sweating, breathing deep, spending time in nature, moving at my own pace, and bounding along with my two awesome dogs. The 2.5 miles up was a mental challenge at times but I barely stopped moving and just kept on putting one foot in front of the other. I jogged about two of the miles down, carefully picking my way down on the more loose and craggy spots, but supportively surrounded by the dogs with Anna staying about 20 feet max in front of me and Roxi, as usual, right along my heels or showing me the way down a more difficult's always incredible how animals can sense exactly what one needs.

So here are some pictures from yesterday's FUN:

I also had a great early evening "helping" provide insight to a mutual friend of mine and Tall D's. It was fun helping him find new goals and ways to achieve them (#7). I had "FUN" delivering eggs to the neighbors yesterday with cards, ordering gifts for a couple of my friends today, and planning an overnight backpacking trip with my gal T for this weekend. So it looks like I should add the following two items to the FUN list as well:

11) Hiking/outdoor pursuits
12) Showing people I care via little gestures/ways

And on that same note, I'm so glad that I found a new friend in T. Sometimes God brings new people into our lives just when we need them most...and while T arrived (and listened) right as I was entering into this period of mess, she's been a fabulous supporter, ear, happy hour partaker, and outdoor pursuits partner. I haven't met a new friend like her since high school....someone I can say "hey, want to go do x,y,z thing in the next week?" and T always responds with an enthusiastic yes. T also happens to be my only current friend on the west side. Regardless of whether we remain long term friends, I am so incredibly fortunate to have met someone new who provides me with so much of what I currently need...and who seems to feel the same way. Joy: meeting someone new that you just completely connect with.

Ironically in this moment I can think of lots of things that I find FUN....but it's just creating the opportunity to go do them. Case in point: beach bonfires, lazy fishing days, learning new skills, going up in a hot air balloon, conversations around firepits, wakeboarding/tubing, and the list could go on and on....

Lots of additional thoughts and improved venues/changes I'm looking into for the coming month. I still contain the same immense sadness in my heart and soul and it will continue to reside there for months to come...but I'm also enjoying reflecting upon and continuing to seek out the moments of FUN added into my goals.

What do you find to be FUN?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hard Road Ahead

I have a feeling there is a hard, hard road ahead. You know those moments when you think you should be all cried out by now or that your heart can't break anymore than it already has? I'm becoming all too familiar with those moments.

Leading up to my trip to Arizona, Tall D and I had two amazingly pleasant and supportive evenings together. When I was in Arizona, I realized that I was having a good time but that I missed Tall D...or rather hub. I came back wanting the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation about how to make us work, but that opportunity was never truly allowed. For the first time since the separation, I couldn't make a conversation happen and I noticed that I wasn't the same sort of priority. I won't divulge all the details of that week that I was here in Oregon, but let's just say I said too much in other ways when I couldn't get a word in person, I cried too much, I hurt too much, I reacted too much, and for the first time, my attempts to repair weren't really reciprocated nor was there much attempt for anything. Hub made his appearances but I was pretty much left...alone. (This is also when I called for reinforcements and took another long look at myself to remember that I'm not an easy person to be married to either.) Since I'm used to this same ending to all my relationships, since I tend to date the same type of guy (and apparently, without knowing, married the same type too), I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but based on other interactions with hub, I didn't really expect the shut out that was occurring. My trip to Georgia only further made me want to work on things and I came back truly wanting to compromise. I know there are reasons I married this man. God seriously told me to marry this man (even if lately I haven't felt him wanting me to remain married to this version of this man.....). This man embodied all the traits that I'd been looking for in a partner. For the last month, I've just been wanting the opportunity to tell hub how I feel....

...but I think, like usual, my recognition of the reality of those feelings probably arrived too late. And I probably reacted in anger and fear one too many times. But that's the funny thing about marriage that I keep thinking....there isn't supposed to be a "too many times." And I recognize that's supposed to go both ways.

I also recognize that I forced this separation...because I wanted things to change...I wanted things to get better...and I was tired of being sad all the time and feeling like I wasn't going to be enough. In the beginning, I was seriously taken aback at Tall D's desire to divorce....and I'd also jumped way too soon into something new. After ending that and after Tall D changing his mind, it's taken me a few months to truly sort out my heart. Somewhere, somehow my brain's been wound around this old-fashioned notion that the man is to lead the woman...and I lost parts of myself in all of that. I have also come to realize that I allowed my happiness to be derived from whether or not I was "making" hub happy, when the truth of the matter is that we all have to make our individual selves happy.

For 3.5 years, I've held on to the feeling that hub made me feel when we first met. The fun that we had in those weeks. The confidence, determination, and trust that I felt in the man that I'd married. I loved the way he cared for me, the way he protected me, the way he laughed at my jokes, the way he made me feel like the most amazing woman, and the fact that he always wanted me to know how much he was thinking of me during the day. Hub, in those months, was unlike anyone I'd ever dated and I thought I'd won the moon. I wish that those days never would have ended...and I've been hoping and praying for their return since they vacated. But it's never been 100% hub's fault, I lost sight of myself and the woman he'd married, my judgments were quick and many.

Sometimes we discover truths that uncover new direct lies. Sometimes other truths without explanation break our hearts. Sometimes absence allows for new presence...even if it's not the presence we hoped to transmit. Sometimes we never get the opportunity to truly share how we feel....and other times, it's too late...or was it ever really going to make that difference anyhow? Sometimes we wonder if the other fear that we felt in our heart was the truest truth the whole time.

I've never shared that my biggest fear for years...was that I'd meet the love of my life...and have him leave me. I've always had trust issues with romantically inclined men, but somehow I knew that this day would arrive anyway. I keep hearing from the ones closest to me that if it's not Tall D then there's someone else, but....I'm already so broken, I don't even want to go there. (And in reality the more I'm away from Tall D, the more I realize how no one else could truly ever take his place...nor all the little things that I've grown to appreciate and are so uniquely my husband.) My second biggest fear has been the return of Dad's cancer....and his biopsy was today, so let's hope and pray that two blows don't arrive together. And coming in on a close third more and the reality of mortality.

Somehow I think I've truly lost this man who I promised forever to....and although I frequently wonder if I really ever had's still like a re-opened and unhealing wound.

Tomorrow is my first counseling session. I chose her for her ability to be relateable to me...but also as she seemed like the type that might be a good match for Tall D. But even though he'd leaned originally toward resolving his own stuff, I'm pretty sure that this foray into therapy is going to be a solo venture. ....just like many more ventures.

Today I got out of bed after tossing and turning throughout the night and had cleaned the house by 630am. The boxes were watered and weeded, the animals tended, and after I made a smoothie, I loaded up the dogs and out we headed to tackle another of my fears: solo hiking and heights, thus leading to my first solo summit. I kept myself busy throughout the rest of the day: unpacking, laundry, bills, yard stuff, etc so that hopefully I'd be able to sleep solid tonight. Although my current emotions lead me to be edgy and with a nervous stomach.

How much I wish tonight that original promises were kept, that love truly could overcome all, that marriages sustained, and that the sad future that seems to lay ahead could just be a bad dream instead....

Sorry for the gut wrenching purge from the soul y'all.....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Doin' The Charleston

Have I mentioned my love affair with Charleston, SC? Knowing I was going to be spending ten days in Savannah, I knew that I wanted to have the opportunity to return to explore more of Charleston, since it's only just over two hours away. As mentioned, the College of Charleston is where I had wanted to do my undergrad and I had always wondered about the city, so I had taken a brief detour to look at Charleston en route from Ft Bragg, NC to Ft Stewart, GA during my August 2009 road trip away from Louisiana. What I'd seen in the two hours I'd walked around had created a strong desire for me to one day return....and this summer's trip created a great opportunity for that to occur.

I had wanted the opportunity to see four different things, all of which came to fruition:

#1 Checking out downtown historic Charleston
Amazing old architecture--almost all the streets downtown look like this on both sides 
Four corners of "law:" Post office (feds), church (religious), city hall & a state office

Lots of bike riders, pedestrians, & dog friendly establishments 

Grave of old Calhoun, buried on the non-Charlestonian side!

This old building shows a couple Charleston traits. One: the door on the left there opens to a patio where ladies could lounge in their undergarments to escape the heat and not be seen when the door was closed. Two: the cross you see between the rows of windows is actually a long bolt through the bricks that is there to help create "give" for earthquakes. 
The Hunley replica outside Charleston Museum. The Hunley has much unanswered mystery that surrounds it but it was the first effective submarine. 
Even the buses in Charleston look historic (and from what I could tell they were free!)

I paid for Tour Three (Historic Charleston & Ft Sumter) from GrayLine and was quite impressed with the information gained! I've come to realize that sometimes these tours are the way to start a trip in order to learn more about a place...and then one can go explore and photograph in depth further.

#2 Taking a tour out to Ft Sumter
The boat out to Ft Sumter. 

A tug boat passing in front of the largest suspension bridge in the USA, which is part of Charleston Harbor. 
Coming upon the fort--smaller than you'd expect! 

One of many cannons. 
You can see the various building materials in the walls AND the piece of shrapnel from the Northern forces that is lodged near the lower left corner of the rectangle.

#3 Getting a glimpse of the College of Charleston

Walking around campus, it was hard to envision myself walking those same stretches as an undergrad student, and only further made me sure that the Big Man knows what He's doing when He shuts one door and pushes us through another. (Although I sometimes still think I should have been a marine biologist!) Aspects of the campus were gorgeous and the tour guide earlier in the day had described some of the traditions that are still in practice for graduation (no graduation robes, instead long white dresses for gals and white suit jackets for guys). It was the first week of the term so campus was teeming with young students and I definitely felt like the older tourist walking through campus! :) Although I also had a moment of wondering what it'd be like to be faculty..

#4 Visiting a real Southern plantation
The moss draped drive up to the house. 
The antebellum era home. The tour of the home showed some period antiques and also presented history of the Boone Hall Plantation and this the 3rd home. (No pictures were allowed inside.)

Toward the back of the property--a view of the river which historically was the transportation route for getting goods to the plantation from Charleston. Here commenced the mosquito attack on my body which didn't let up til I vacated the property--pretty sure my admittance fee equated to $1 for every bite!

The slave cabins. This particular plantation started with Native American slaves before transitioning to African slaves later in its history. Equal mix of sadness and interest walking through this part of the property. Thoughts ensued that while I'm glad we've long ago moved away from slavery in this nation, the reality of dual racism is still so prevalent....
The old Cotton shed propped up. Other buildings included the dock house, horse stables, the smoke house, etc. The plantation still to this day functions as a farm.

I seriously felt like I saw most of what I'd wanted to see. I definitely wish I could have enjoyed more of the food and a bit more time just enjoying the city, but I at least feel that I got to enjoy much of the history and culture of the place. If you get the opportunity to explore, I'd highly encourage you to go check it out!

The drive back to Savannah was gorgeous as well with the pink sky ablaze from the sun setting over the lowcountry swamps and moss covered trees. I took a brief side trek through Beaumont, as some online reviews had mentioned it was worth seeing, but I didn't stay long and instead scurried on.

The Glass Castle

Image taken from here.

I literally just finished our book club selection for August/September...and while I never would have selected to read this book on my own, I have to say it was fascinating! I've read plenty of other books similar to this but there was something about Jeannette's story that left me riveted. I started the book by reading the first hundred some pages yesterday afternoon, read the next hundred or so pages when I couldn't sleep, and finished the last twenty pages this morning. This is the first book in a long time that I would have read non-stop given the opportunity.

It's hard to imagine growing up in a life like Jeannette's and I'm legitimately in awe of the strength and perseverance demonstrated by her siblings and herself. Having worked at child welfare, the reality of her life and the desire of her family to maintain their togetherness hit home all the more...and only further reminded me that their family reality is much more common than many in the American public might like to believe. The love and strength of her siblings and herself is to be applauded and I'm incredibly impressed at their ability to have relocated from Virginia to New York City more or less unscathed, when many more depressing alternatives could have become their reality.

The book also further reminded me of the variety that exists within the homeless population and that for some it is a chosen way of life. This lesson was one I first learned while a social work undergraduate student when I was related a story about a homeless guest speaker who had a trust fund but who also selected to live on the streets. While plenty of homeless do not choose to live on the streets, for some it is a desired choice. The reality is that each homeless individual and their circumstances are different and while it may not be the life many of us would choose, why should we judge others who select or are driven to those circumstances?

A wonderful, eye-opening read---I would encourage you to pick it up and peruse it's pages!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fish Dinner Southern Style

 What's Cookin? Why fish was cooking!

This morning Deir, lil E, & I got up and met Heather & lil G for breakfast downtown. It was pretty entertaining watching the two kiddos, but it was great to be in the same space with two great gals and it was the last time I'll see Heather and her lil one for a while now. After breakfast, D and I wandered through the Farmer's Market in Forysth Park and headed to the organic food store. Attempts at naps happened about noon and then I laid out in the sun out back reading the book club book throughout a large chunk of the afternoon.

The ironies of life continue to come and a recent one is that I haven't started branching out into seafood until the last year or so. I've almost always lived within a few hours of a coast but never had a taste for seafood nor fish...until I developed a taste for salmon about 6-12 months ago and have slowly started trying other seafood items since then. Of course...this palate change occurred AFTER we moved out of Louisiana.....just like how I became a vegetarian as a teen AFTER we moved from a liberal to a more conservative town. :) However, on this trip I've been having a hankering for good seafood....and so this evening D took me to her local fish market to pick out fish & shrimp for dinner:

We settled on fried tilapia for me and fried flounder for her, and then D boiled the shrimp and corn with some seasoning. Add in some tartar and cocktail sauce with some local Southern beer....and we had a grand fish dinner Southern style!

Lil man E even got in on the fun, although many of those fishy bites were tossed to the dogs below. One thing I love about D's mama-ness is that she encourages E to try most foods--lil dude will even chow down on veggie sushi! :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Savannah Update

I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only people I know who would ask the rental car company if there was a Ford Focus available that I could have rather than a 2013 red VW beetle...but in the two days that I had this gem, I have to admit she was pretty fun to drive. We bumped some great R & B tunes with the windows down, she put up with my unstoppable tears, and she proved to have great get up & go! 

Monday and Tuesday were pretty low key days--hanging out around the house. On Monday I'd finished my book and Tuesday I poked around online grading & researching options for Charleston. I picked my rental up on Wednesday afternoon and then headed over to my gal Heather's for our running & dinner date. I wish I could have photographed the course we ran because it was gorgeous---just imagine a gravel trail winding alongside ponds and creeks, under Spanish moss draped trees, and across cute little bridges. We sweated out one lap around, which was about 2.5 miles, before the two of us and Heather's adorable daughter were too exhausted! Returning to their place, I was entertained by Heather's hub D who had worked with Tall D at our duty station in Louisiana. This D kept me entertained with his news of other people we'd been stationed with and his many socio-political thoughts, while Heather put together some homemade pizzas and salad. After dinner, we headed out for ice creams. It seriously was awesome catching up with the two of them, loving on their fur crew, and getting to enjoy their cute daughter!

On Thursday after a sleepless and emotional night, I headed out at 7am for Charleston, SC. I'm planning on another post of pictures just of Charleston so you'll have to wait to see more photos of that amazing city. I seriously loved touring around, I felt I got to see much of what I'd hoped to, and I'm continually in love with the look of South Carolina every time I drive through. I came home last night absolutely exhausted and my cough has again become deeper, so I passed out at 10pm and slept until 7am today with the help of two tylenol pm.

This morning I woke up to the sounds of lil E sqwaking and it dawned on me that staying here for the duration of the Skype interviews was probably not the best idea. Luckily my gal D was a great and understanding sport and we arranged for me to do the interviews upstairs at Heather's after dropping off the rental car. The biggest irony is after arranging all the details, my bosses almost decided not to have me participate, however I called into the last interviews. A quick chat with Heather while I scarfed down the meal she'd grabbed earlier, and then we picked up adorable lil G and headed back here. A huge thank you to both my gals for their willingness to help transport and locate this still somewhat working gal! A two mile jog this afternoon and some chat time with D this evening and now I'm off to bed for our early morning breakfast downtown with H & G and a visit to the Farmer's Market.

A few more days to enjoy with D & E (and maybe attempt to get back to Tybee) and then I'm headed home. All these travels have proved the old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder but I'm also nervous about heading back to the emptiness of home. I'm not sure what stage Tall D and I might be in, but I do know that I've incredibly missed him throughout this month and realized how much he's ingrained in who I am. Every other thought and every fifth statement has something to do with him, and I've hated not being able to chat and share my daily life with him. I also have realized more and more that I have many repetitive flaws as a partner that I need to work through as well. There's a lot of hurt on both sides at this point and I'm concerned that there might just be too much water under the bridge without the structure being that of a draw bridge. I think I've said a lot of things without really realizing some of the repercussions and I think I've been overtaken by emotions more in the last month than I thought feasible. (Yea for a mix of wacky hormones, emotions, & major life transitions....) But this trip is the first time in months that I really missed my old ring and I heard myself mentioning without thinking that I do still love Tall D in a couple different conversations. Whether it's salvageable is still under debate and I'm truly not sure of the sentiment from the other half of the party at this point.

So for the time being, I'm going to do what I can to enjoy the last few days being back in the glorious south and then I'm heading "home" to figure out some new pieces. (Ironically being here has also made me aware that my old job from Louisiana is readily available in numerous locations across the nation. They're on a big hiring push.....more thoughts ensue, of course.) I'm incredibly grateful for and looking forward to Katie's visit mid-month and hopefully I'll have some more answers and direction at that point too. It's been so great to enjoy the natural southern beauty and to have moments of catching up with some of my favorite gals!

Here's to 2.5 more days in the South and to what I hope is a great weekend for you too!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lil' Bit of Life: Snapshot (3)

Bullets tonight folks:

---Babies are a lot of work!! I'm loving seeing lil man but I can guarantee you that I will be doubly relishing my late mornings, any lazy afternoons, and the freedom I have for flexibility! My gal D is SUCH a great mom though and she's consistently taking care of his needs while making sure to raise as healthy a child as possible. Girlfriend is schooling me on all sorts of things that I might need to know some day! E's such a lil cutie so here's a picture of him for you to enjoy:

---D's been doing the Couch to 5K so she's been motivating me to get out of bed early in the mornings and run with her. The first day I missed her run time and struggled to get three laps out of her neighborhood circuit without companionship nor music. This morning I finally was able to push myself to a 5k however!

---I've been on a bit of a reading kick this week. On the plane, I plowed through Your Money Counts, which is a book about budgeting from a Biblical perspective. A lot of the information was repetitive from other books I've read about the topic, but a lot of the Biblical insights were applicable to other aspects of my current life thus it was a great reminder of being more steadfast, a better communicator & giver, etc etc. Today I spent most the day wrapping up the last half of Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews--an easy summer read about three friends in different mid-30s transitions who rent a beach vacation rental for a month. The book wasn't fabulous but it was fun, and it was a great break from some of the other serious stuff I sometimes read. Next up is September's book club selection The Glass Castle that my mother so kindly mailed here from her already read collection.

---Today I also spent some time thinking about finances and needing to be a bit more mindful about long term goals etc. I took a look at the budget for the next few months, scheduled payments on a few things for the next few weeks, and thought long and hard about my old goals of paying things down quickly. There was a bit of a quasi-shut door in terms of ease of access for me to take classes at the college where I teach, so I've been spending the last few days thinking about what I really want out of this next year.

---I also miss....hub. I hate to put it here but oh well, I'm just going to do it. I truly don't know how things will turn out and sometimes I wonder what exactly is (or can be) reality and what is in my mind about everything, but at the end of the day I know how I still feel inside my heart about the man that I chose to marry. I think my first appointment with the counselor when I'm back will be a very, very good thing.

---I've been nervous about having so much unfilled time in September but there's a chance Katie might be flying out to spend a few days with me and get to know Oregon.....and that alone is pretty exciting! Plus I know my mom's willing to come back up (yea for mom's transition into retirement!) and I'm already scheduling some happy hours with my friends for my return. Keeping busy with any last minute work items, prepping for next term, applying for interesting jobs, etc will also need to be added to any to-do list. And maybe I'll tackle some yard work & house projects and be able to keep this reading kick going! There are still a few other long weekend trips that I've contemplated, but we'll see where my budgeting mind is as the month approaches.

---I've been enjoying many of the local goodness that Georgia has to offer, including the local eggs and cheese that D had and her many organic and delish food items she's prepared. I also was able to pick up some locally roasted coffee from Savannah and some absolutely delicious Georgia beer (Sweetwater Blue), plus my gal Heather gifted me a bottle of local Georgian wine for my birthday. I'm looking forward to another Saturday trip to the local farmer's market and D and I might have to hit up the great tuna melts at that same restaurant too! (Tonight however I did relish every sip of the sparkling red Italian wine that had been sent over from another great milspouse who is stationed in Italy---thanks Ms Maggie, seriously amazing!)

---Additionally last night I had a long-ish chat with one of Tall D's military buddies, who also got out of the Army last spring. The two of them haven't kept in contact much but it was nice to hear from him as I've frequently wondered how he's really been doing. The conversation was great but it also reminded me again of how difficult the transition can be for so many veterans and how difficult it can be for most civilians to truly support and appreciate the life that these men and women have lived. There is no way to describe the reality of the military family.

---While I've been thinking about how to cut back on expenses, there are still a few things I'd like to do before returning back to the PNW: a return trip to Tybee with perhaps an outdoor excursion and a long day trip (at least) to Charleston. I'm still looking forward to seeing more of my gal Heather and enjoying the coming days with D & lil man E....but I also know I have some grading and lots of thinking to work through as well. It's been great to be away from home so much this month, but it makes me appreciate the haven and comfort of home too!

Hope y'all have been having a great first few days of this week too!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Georgian Surprise

Ten days in Savannah and I left gorgeous Oregon summer days for Southern thunderstorms! :)

Two evenings spent catching up with J, D's husband and my high school/college friend, before he headed off to two weeks of Army training in Texas. It was great seeing them together as a lil fam. We grabbed lunch at a delish Mexican restaurant with lots of great veggie options and spent evenings watching lil man E run around until his bedtime, while J day dreamed with me about sustainable farms and homes.

On Saturday, D and I loaded lil man E up and headed into Savannah for the Farmer's Market and to go to brunch. I was so impressed with the availability of produce at the Farmer's Market and the number of people working out in the green spaces of Forysth Park. D and I pushed E in his stroller over to the brunch location and I was shocked to walk in and find my two other Georgia gals sitting at one of the tables! I'm not one to have the wool be pulled over my eyes so easily and it was such a great surprise! It was SO great to have three of my wonderful gals in the same location and brunch was organic and delicious too. 

Saturday's Farmer's Market

 After brunch, Katie and I headed downtown to be tourists and check out the local squares, historic architecture, and enjoy the beauty, culture, and history of old Savannah. We walked through downtown, took a horse drawn carriage tour to learn more about the history, wandered along the riverfront, found frozen daiquiris at Wet Willies, ate some amazing Southern Cajun seafood for dinner, and then snagged $1 ice creams in celebration of the old ice cream shop's birthday.

Savannah history & architecture

Horse drawn carriage tour passing along Spanish moss draped streets

Katie & I with Mr. Pepper

River St--downtown Savannah on the waterfront w/ old cobble stone streets
Ice cream celebration at Leopold's

Deir had so generously arranged for Katie to spend the night with us, so the three of us gals were able to spend some time together chatting before bed last night and we got up this morning to head out to Tybee Island for the beach. While Katie's from central Georgia, she'd never been here to Savannah or Tybee Island before, so it was great to be able to share the experiences with her.

Tybee Island

D & babe walking along Tybee's shore

Lil man & me in the Atlantic

It'd been 11 years since I'd last been swimming in the Atlantic and while Katie and I were out in the waves, we happened to see two dolphins swimming by less than fifty feet from us! Absolutely amazing! Two hours in  the sun, breeze, and sticky ocean later, E was ready for a nap and us three ladies loaded up the rig and headed back to Savannah---but I did make sure that we stopped for some amazingly ice cream cones! (Peach ice cream in a waffle cone..say no more right?)

An afternoon meal of sushi, sweet tea, and Southern beers, and then Katie needed to head out for home. It was so seriously great to spend some quality time with one of my favorite and closest milspouse gals, and even greater to see her doing so well! SO happy to have spent two days getting to know this newest version of Katie, still so surprised at how well my gals surprised me, and looking forward to more days with D and the opportunity to spend more quality time with my gal Heather! There's still some moments of sadness of life circumstances at home working their way in, but it's also making these moments with each of my friends all the more sweeter. Feeling so grateful for the wonderful women who surround my life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Work Wear & Packing

Well, it's supposed to be my last "official" week of work for one of my part-time jobs...except I just agreed to extend my contract for a few more weeks so I can potentially participate in follow-up interviews via Skype while on vacation and can train my replacement upon my return. Ha! This week's been busier again between holding down the office and holding interviews. Work started at 8:30 yesterday morning and went until almost 10pm last night! Given my recent loneliness and emotional status though, keeping busy and working more has been a good thing!

Monday: Office
Gray skirt & teal ruffle cardigan: Target (still available)
 Blue flats: old Target
 Floral shirt: Eddie Bauer outlet (recent)

Tuesday: Interviewing Candidates
Black pencil skirt: old Penney's (still available)
Ruffle blouse: Banana Republic outlet (recent)
Turquoise cardigan: old Target
Black bow heels: OLD Ross

Wednesday: Office
Brown peep-toe slingbacks: Penney's (still available)
Brown tweed pencil skirt: old Penney's 
Fuschia blouse: Banana Republic outlet (recent)
Brown tote: old Freddies

And here's what my bed looked like an hour ago:
Piles to shove in Tall D's old backpack that I always love to use for my carry-on. 9 lightweight tops/tanks, 3 skirts, 3 dresses, 1 pair of shorts, 3 pairs of sandals, but always the first to be ready to go in: bikinis, running clothes, undergarments, and the camera--priorities of course! :) I'm also taking my tote with laptop, two books, and a few work related items that I'll have to take care of while gone. Excited yet can hardly believe travel day again has arrived, thankful for Tall D taking care of the place, and looking forward to my gal T crashing here tonight to keep me company with a girl's night and transport me for my flight early tomorrow!