Monday, March 31, 2014

Early 2014 Tillamook Forest Outings

January's chilly and quick Rogers Camp Loop trail run/hiking loop:

This trail partially follows ATV routes and treks along a shooting range, so it's not the most peaceful but it was a good trail run option as I raced against the short window before the sun set. I also discovered University Falls...picture to post in a subsequent hike.

Gayle's Creek Trailhead:

Beautiful day trying out a new trail. LOTS of downhill to begin with to get down to the main Gayle's Creek trail (which meant lots of uphill back to the car). This was more of an exploratory hike to see what this newer stretch might be like, and to soothe my soul a bit in nature. (These are also highly used mountain biking trails.)

Attempt to cover more of Gayle's Creek in mid Feb:

My original intent this day had been to cover 8-10 miles snowshoeing but then I decided I didn't want to spend the gas money to get to Mt Hood...and then was surprised to discover so much left over snow still in Tillamook Forest. I took the Gayle's Creek Trail again and at the split off stayed on Gayle's Creek as it looked to be less slipperly than trying to accomplish part of the other loop trail option. The dogs and I continued on for mileage jumping over (and building stick bridges across) water over the trail like above, until I came across water on the trail that wasn't going to be easy to go around or through. Altogether it was still a great outing. Still hoping to get back to knock the rest of this trail off the Tillmook Forest check-list! 

December 2013 Hiking Outings

So there have been some really great excursions in the last few months that I haven't posted. I know I mentioned some of the hikes that were taken over the Christmas break but I didn't upload any pictures from them and since I also like to use this blog as a record of great outings and a way to help remember fun excursions, I want to take the time to do a couple posts from great outdoor adventures.

There were two snow shoe outings/attempts in early to mid December:

White River with the first snowfall and getting to try out the new snowshoes:

Roxi's fist pumping she's so excited! :)

Twin Lakes snowshoe attempt (snowshoes left in car, but slippery 3 mile hike):
Hmm....where's the solid snow?!

Old Salmon River Trail thru old growth forest (a wonderful day hike selection by regular D over Christmas break): 

(Mile 800 for the year!)

At 50, I'll probably still be crawling into hobbit holes in trees....

(And this is one of my favorite pictures of the year...)

Finishing off Salmon River Trail with prior housemate Angie:

Heading around the final corner at the end.

At the viewpoint and the final hike/mileage of 2013.

We didn't have as much overall snow this year and it was late coming, but what we did have was an awesome year-round hiking season! :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Style Evolution

When I look back on prior outfit posts, I sometimes cringe at the combinations I used to create. As my body has evolved (and I've continued to forgo buying new clothes), I've had to rediscover new ways of dressing it appropriately.

On instagram I had been documenting my work outfits to avoid duplication during the term, but sometimes I still take other pictures of outfits I love as well.

These are a few from the last three months that I have loved and have let me know that I've arrived at a style that seems to be working for my body:

On the plus side, everything that has been pictured (minus the black skinnies) either has been in my closet for 2+ years or was thrifted during the last two years. LOVE. It's seriously great to feel that I already own what I need in terms of clothing (and well, really most things), and I'm happy to finally have reached a point where I can put together things that are comfortable, flattering, and very representative of plain jane me :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

If We Were Chatting Over Coffee

Since I'm at the beach this weekend (where it's supposed to be rainy and not as sunny as last weekend), I thought I'd pre-schedule a coffee chat as though we were sitting on the patio (or in the living room) staring out at the waves and talking about life.

If we were chatting over coffee this morning, I'd probably ask you all sorts of questions about what you're up to and how you're feeling. I truly want to know what's going on with others, but I've also learned that when people see you as a person of optimism, strength, and generally don't always want to tell them anything else. (Hence one of the reasons I have spent times of being quiet..and why it's been harder to talk to friends at times.) I'm also realizing though that when given the opportunity to talk in a comfortable, safe, and non-advising and non-judgmental setting...the thoughts and feelings pour out and I can probably become selfish and overwhelming.

So first, tell me about you, because I want to know what's passing or solidly remaining in your heart and mind.

When it's my turn, I would probably then tell you:

---about how Anna is shedding like a banshee which means almost daily brushing, multiple times a week vacuuming, and my newly vacuumed car already being coated in her dog fur. On the positive side, this gal (while already being an amazing dog) continues to evolve into an even more stellar companion (well minus her developed belief that she needs to mark her territory every 1/4 mile on our runs :)). I can't transmit the joy she brings though when she shares kisses and snuggles, nuzzles my face to wish good morning, sticks by my side on hikes and while lounging, and greets me with her stuffed puppy in tow upon my arrival home. :)

---about how the cats have a vet appt scheduled for Monday. In all honesty, I've never actually taken them in for a check-up or vaccinations (I know, I know, bad owner), but have wanted to do so during the last year. I had a classmate express interest in a cat and so we're in conversation about trying to rehome Lady to her next week and I want to ensure that she has a clean bill of health before giving her to someone else. I have mixed emotions about parting with this adorable little cat as we've actually bonded more in the last year than in all the years prior. However the truth of the matter is that Lady has transitioned to wanting and needing more attention than in years past and since she doesn't like being around the dogs or the other cat, it has been difficult to equally provide for her needs as well. My classmate and I have decided that if she's disease-free, then we'll transition her for a trial period to see if/how she adapts to a new location. As sad as I am, I do think it could be a good move for her, and selfishly the idea of having three pets instead of four is also appealing.

---about how housemate M got a DUI in February and his response to it has made me open my eyes about how lenient I can be with certain individuals in my life. Having the child and grandmother here has not been a problem thus far, but I also was less than impressed with the effort he put forth and the outburst he had just prior to their arrival. I also have concerns about my ability to sustain a second renter in the home based on the behaviors that I've seen (and his general lack of engagement) in the three and a half months he's been back in the home. In "holding" the room for him to use for his family (and overlooking offers from Airbnb renters), I also realized that I have lost approximately $1000 to this point with the potential of another $600 in May. For me that is a massively significant amount of money and one that in hindsight was not worth "being nice." This coming week we'll be having a "come to Jesus" conversation that might result in his needing to find a new housing option.

---about how finishing 7 last weekend made me remember how passionately I have had a desire to do mission work and adopt internationally...both of which are renewed items in my mind and heart while I try to see how life evolves over the coming years.

---about how it's nice to be shuffling through thoughts and responses to prior values as they arise and trying to discover which ones I want to reapply to myself. As previously mentioned, I'm realizing that a lot of who I want to again be and perhaps partner with (should that happen again) is really pretty similar to who and what I wanted before. Chalk it up to processing like a 30 year old when I was 16 and living like a 16 year old when I was grieving and emotionally lost at 29/ it any wonder that the version I'd decided on at 26 is pretty much where I'm returning to meet in the middle again?!

---about how interestingly one thing that I've felt surfacing for the last couple months is that running and outdoor pursuits is what I do but it's definitely not how I would choose to define myself. If you asked me about myself I'd probably tell you about my job and how important it has become to me to truly live out that which I teach to my students. (In fact one of my best pieces of feed back this term was that I was truly doing that...leading my students by example and showing that it is obtainable even while we're all constantly striving for increased improvements, ie I probably should use more sunscreen, still figure out nutrient loading, etc etc) These thoughts have all been important to me during this process because I'm not entirely sure that I will always be a "runner," "endurance athlete," or wanting to continue backpacking in the summer. I'm still figuring out what I'd like the five year version of myself to be and what I want that to include, but I also think these are important questions to ask myself in case I do want to find a new partner at some point. I don't want to mismarket myself and I also want to ensure that I know myself well enough to choose someone who yes has similar interests but also is representative of the life I want to head toward. I see myself wanting to continue living a healthy life style (and hopefully getting to travel more than the last five years have allowed), but I also DO want a family, to still engage in the things I've come to enjoy and to re-engage in others, but to probably do less non-stop physical demand to my body as well.

---about how in the moments and few days that I've had the house to myself (this week and in December), I'm realizing that I'm getting to the point where I do want to be able to live in my house on my own. At first during the divorce, it was incredibly lonely all the time, and while I do still feel it's a lot of house for just one person (environmentally) and in the evenings I sometimes wish I had that best friend/partner to which I could turn and share the random thoughts that enter and pass through my mind, I'm also relishing the freedom and flexibility of moments alone. I like being able to turn up the radio while making breakfast in the morning, sleep with the bedroom door open, not worry about anyone passing through while I'm reading on the sofa, and while TMI, it'd be great to be able to run through the house naked without having to worry about someone else catching the view! :)

---and about how for the first time in the two years since we initially separated, I just started sleeping on the opposite side of the bed. When the ex and I were first together we actually rotated sides of the bed because it felt fun (well and there were plenty of times that we actually slept in separate beds too), but in the three years of the time in Oregon one side was always "his" and one was always "mine." This is in part because we bought a mattress that was split based on firmness (although we could have rotated it). In the last two years, his side has been dominated by the dogs, who I let start sleeping on the bed to make the king size (needed for his tall frame and his dislike of touching) seem less massive. In my mind it has always been the "other" side of the bed however and this week I'd wondered if part of my sleeping issues might stem from my complete dislike of the mattress. Thus (even though the middle is a bit more rounded), I'm making it my personal goal for the next couple weeks to reclaim the entire mattress as my own--meaning reclaiming the "empty" side..and eventually trying to flatten out and claim the middle. So far the dogs (and now Major thanks to the rain) have had no issues with the disruption to what has been our normal. (And while it hasn't totally helped the at least feels like a step forward in conquering another small mental hurdle.)

I hope any of you who are reading are enjoying a renewing and restoring weekend, and if we were meeting for coffee, what would you share?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beach Weekends

This weekend will make 2 out of 3 consecutive weekends to be spent at the coast. To me, the beach always feels like home. It soothes my soul, slows my heart rate, and calms my mind. The beach is a place where the pace of life is slower, less of life seems to be monumentally important, and the little things and moments can be enjoyed. I've been craving some beach time for months, and except for a quick hour long trip for a beach stroll a few weekends back, last weekend was the first time I'd been able to get away to meet that need/desire.

I technically don't get an official spring break. This week I've had finals for massage school, next week I start my teaching term again, but cutting back to only one school requirement for both of these weeks has allowed me a few days for more freedom. Last weekend I had arranged to volunteer at the beach clean-up, invited one of my best high school gals, and scheduled some study time, all at the family beach cabin on the northern Oregon coast. I also ended up transporting Granny and meeting my parents there so they could take her on to their home for the rest of this week.

This weekend I'm heading back to pick up Granny and grant her another few days in her beach cabin, but it also will allow me another 24 hours of slower living and increased quiet time. I spent much of last weekend sitting out in the sunshine on the deck, staring at the river and ocean waters. 

I cooked simple meals, relished my morning coffee, and took the dogs on slow, easy jogs on the sand and through town. 

Volunteering for the first time in years (?!) also was an incredibly reflective experience but allowed me to reconnect with other parts of myself that have long been dormant. My gal Brook and I had the opportunity to chat and reconnect sharing details of life over the last several months, and I think she truly needed some time to just relax and be present individually. Her dog and my gals thankfully got along smashingly and the girls loved teaching him how to enjoy his first trip to the sand!

I slept like a rock, I took soaks in the tub, and I came back to the valley feeling solid, refreshed, and more aware of who I am. The beach just heals me...and is truly the natural environment to which I feel drawn.

The first weekend in April I will also head to my parents home on the Southern Oregon coast for a final long weekend. It's mom's birthday on the 5th and dad's birthday on the 13th so every year I try to make it home for at least one of their days of birthday celebration. While I can't afford much, being present is the best gift I can usually give them. Being in my home town will allow for work to get done, comfortable easy jogs on familiar routes, more time at the sand with the dogs, and quality time with the parents...all before heading straight into another double term. :)

Here's hoping for more beautiful moments like this:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Whew, Half Way Thru Lent

Honestly, who knew that what I would need to impose for the period of Lent was self-care and SLOOOWING down, but we're three weeks into this period of Lent and it's been extremely good for my grieving process, renewal, and really just learning how to be settled again.

I just downloaded pictures from my phone to the computer from January until now and in doing so it became apparent to me why my body, soul, and mind just need a break from going a mile a minute. These few weeks of slowing down and distracting less have allowed me to purge much that I didn't even know was locked inside of me and has allowed me to start processing through some of the residual thoughts, hurts, emotions, healing, although that will continue to be an ongoing process. At this point, I'm still loading my calendar with fun (FREE!!) things for this spring term but dependent on how I feel at Easter, I might continue the social media ban. Ironically in the time being, I feel like I'm communicating more and on a better level with many of my closest friends and I'm returning to be more engaged with family.

This weekend while jogging along the beach with the dogs I looked at the shells along the beach and realized that currently I feel like one of those sand dollars that's almost whole but has had it's core broken out of it. That might sound depressing but six months to a year ago, I probably felt more like a sand dollar that was smashed into various pieces and scattered along the shore, and I've come to recognize that I'm okay with allowing my sand dollar to slowly piece itself back together. The quieter I am, the more I feel those mineral deposits building upon each other and at some point I feel like I'll be back to a whole (or almost whole) sand dollar. I'm in the process of re-assessing what used to be important to me, what I wanted out of life, thinking about who I have been (the mistakes and the things I'm proud of life molding me into), and trying to decide who and what I want life to be in the future. So far I'm realizing that much of who and what I want to be is pretty similar to who I was at 26 when I got married. I want to find the same partner that I thought I had found back then and I want to built upon the same or similar values as I was back then, but I'm also trying to figure out how to let go of the hurts that occurred in the interim and how to mold two versions of myself into one.

There's been a lot of grieving in the last few weeks. It had been a while since I'd had all sorts of random tears, but they come at random times these days. During the divorce, I think I grieved somewhat about feeling like I had failed by getting a divorce and the issues of underemployment but then I tried to stuff it all aside to move on. A lot of what seems to be surfacing is grief related to the experience of the actual marriage, the disappointment that it wasn't what I thought and had hoped for, the years that I tried to deny all the sadness that I felt, the loneliness and insecurity. I'm also still processing through the loss of optimism and hope in humanity that occurred by living with the infantry, in the south, in a lie, etc. And those are bigger issues that are going to take more time to weed through. There is also a lot of anger and resentment resurfacing. Anger toward my ex for the choices he made and continues to make, frustration with myself for always letting him back in and for choosing self-suppression. But I have made some progress also. I recognize the marriage itself was a mistake and I have been able to acknowledge that we all do make mistakes throughout life. I look around my home and I love what I do have present in my life, and I'm working on fixing my relationship with God as well. I'm aware of the values I had and I'm trying to figure out how to get back to living out many of them.

And I have to say the naturopath I'm working with has been amazing thus far. The dietary changes are hit and miss but I have started weekly acupuncture appointments and it's nice to just weekly check-in with someone regarding the physical effects of what's going on emotionally with me. What she has to say makes a lot of sense about why I'm massively exhausted, my sleep is hit or miss, and I'm hyper-sensitive to stimulus around me. I just started "clearing treatments" with the acupuncture and yesterday there was that moment during the treatment when things "just clicked and aligned." The feeling doesn't stay forever but it was amazing to feel that when you're tuning the radio and how great it is to hit the exact air wave of a good radio station rather than hear any of the static buzz. Additionally there was a hummingbird floating around the pine trees out the window, and it was nice to just lay there and observe nature doing it's glorious thing.

Some other great things:
--I took almost a full week off of running after running the Shamrock Run. I was really happy with the experience of doing the race (my pace was great, the hill wasn't as bad as I thought, and I smiled almost the whole way). I jogged with the dogs at the beach last weekend and then we did an easy, easy jog last night, but really and truly I've just tried to give my body more rest time.
--Yesterday I got a library card. While this might not seem like a completely joyous thing to some...for me it is. The library is one of those positive childhood comfort items and it felt rewarding to finally get a card after living here for three years. I looked up the items I wanted and then found several other items in the same shelves that sounded like needed and good options.
--I plowed through a novel last week. It was the first one I'd read in months and conquering 400+ pages in about two days was rewarding. The book touched on a lot of the same themes I've been feeling and while a fun read was also good processing material. (No wonder Mom had passed it on to me in the summer....). I also finished another book this weekend that I've been reading over the last few months, and last night I read 100 pages in a book about grief (it's been great and validating thus far...and hopefully will help provide direction for how to move forward).
--Did you catch that it's been a full three years that I've lived in this house? This is the longest I've lived consistently in any one location since high school...and the stability of location and the creation of a true home has been good for me. We'll see what the future holds but at this point, if I could finish out five full years in this house, I'd like that...
--Yesterday I spent the afternoon responding to the seven follow-up questions that were emailed out to second round applicants for the full-time faculty positions. Again, there are so many of us part-time faculty that are applying for these positions that I am not banking on actually getting one of them, but the fact that I was considered for the second round was incredibly rewarding. That in itself is almost enough...although of course, I truly would love the opportunity to be a full-time faculty member.

I do hope to still post some of those updates about hiking and other pictures etc, but we'll see how things progress over the next week or so. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The camelia in front of the kitchen window is blooming. This is something that always makes me so happy. The hydragenas I planted out front are coming back, even after I'd been afraid they might have died this winter. The front flower beds are weeded, the kiwi got trimmed, and I emailed the landlords about rebuilding the arbor during this spring. I also have some ideas about relocating the chicken coop and trying them again. I love seeing new blossoms on the neighborhood trees as each spring day unfolds.

The last few days I've felt round two of processing sitting, waiting. Dealing with it has been added to today's list, but I had Mom here for a couple nights before the guest room is filled so I didn't want to deal with it while she was here. Putting it off and focusing on cleaning the interior of my car and cleaning the house has been so much more convenient. ;) Mom's visit was well timed however and she was a gem and brought some toys up for lil A to play with while he's here. Yep, folks, the time has arrived.....Housemate M's lil guy A and A's Taiwanese grandma will be arriving on Wednesday. The house will be more than full with three adults, two dogs, two cats, and a 16 month old :) Oh man. But I'm not going to lie, in theory, it's feeling fun and seeing the toys stacked in an open bench in the living room for him, makes me eager for his arrival. The house was baby-proofed (for the most part) last week, the guest room is ready, and now I'm just thinking of all the fun things to do with a lil tyke. I've already put in a request with his dad to be able to take him to the zoo, have him "help me" ready the garden, and I'm thinking that getting chicks might be pretty entertaining for him too.

Mom's visit went well and was an equal mix of relaxation and going. I got in an easy jog while M and her chatted as he's great at interacting with my parents (and they got to Skype with lil A). I also practiced my massage skills giving her a Swedish massage with a little bit of deep tissue treatment for her back and right leg mixed in. (Lately I've had three family members as deep tissue treatment cases and all have been reporting improvements--perhaps this will be a direction to head in then...) Mom needed to run to Nordstrom's and I had a friend in town from California, so I dropped her off before meeting up with my gal and her babe for an afternoon cup of decaf coffee. Together we weeded the front of the house and then a dinner of Thai food pretty much wrapped up our night. She headed off late morning after M and loaded the ol' treadmill back into her vehicle.

I'm definitely looking forward to a bit of vacation even if it's going to be in spurts of days. I'm heading to the family beach house for a weekend of volunteering, studying, and catching up with a high school friend and then after my teaching term starts, I plan on heading for a long weekend to my parents for my mom's birthday. I've been longing to just read...just to read and get lost in a book for the last several weeks, so I'm hopeful I can motivate myself to prep spring term early and get most things situated so that I can truly spend some moments just vegging.

The other big thing in this March of restoration is that I had my first appointment with a new naturopath last week and will have a follow-up this week. This gal was recommended by a colleague of mine and so far I'm more impressed with her than the prior gal I worked with. She has lots of ideas (although I don't know that I'm ready and willing to change everything) but some things I've started implementing. I also might do some acupuncture with her to try to open things up a bit more and purge some of the toxins...we'll see. She talked to me a lot about my exhaustion though...and I think she hit it right on the money with that. I've been on antibiotics for the last nine days after a medical issue surfaced and I've only become more tired during the last week....not really looking forward to a 9 mile Shamrock Run at 7:40am tomorrow I'll tell ya that much :) But I know I'll make it through and then I'm hoping to continue in this movement of being gentle with myself....

So far...March seems to be progressing just as I had expected it might....hiccups within much beauty.

Monday, March 10, 2014

No Social Media Increases Productivity

Let me tell you...

I'm learning that there are a few things I miss about social media. Case in point, yesterday was my host sister's birthday--for some reason it seems so much easier to send a FB msg than an email. Still need to send the email.

Second case in point. A month or so ago, I "shared" an item from the local mission that they were low on socks. My sister saw it and cleaned out her husband's sock drawer--two bags were given to my friend yesterday so her husband could take them to the mission (where he works). So social media is definitely a good way to get the word out and increase action or food for thought...

...but man I'm so much more productive. That first day I realized I would grab my phone to check out or distract myself by checking in on everyone else. Day one of the social media purge I processed a lot and also got ahead on my studies and work. I imagine this means that I'm just finding more productive ways to distract myself, but I'm thinking that eventual those items are going to run out too... grading continues to get done early, my homework and reading is getting completed, I'm reaching out to friends better, the house is cleaned, I'm scheduling appointments and organizing my calendar, I researched and registered for community ed kayak courses and I'm waitlisted for a first aid cert course I need for my massage licensing (work will pay for these), my run with an old high school acquaintance went well yesterday and I even happened upon some free bushes as her husband was ripping some out of their front yard! I'm planting bushes, seeding the grass, planning the garden, thinking about whether I want to get chickens again. Focusing in on the things of value and importance. And yesterday for the first time in a long time, I went to church. It'd been on my heart and in my mind all week and even when I woke up late when I checked the time for the service I still had plenty of time. No surprise that the message was very appropriate for what I needed to hear and be thinking on (a message of repentence, of letting go of hardened hearts, of returning to what the Lord wants for our lives, and again living with a new heart and vision....). So even in the "distractions," I feel like these are distractions that are refining me, showing me again back to my roots and values and those ways in which I want my life to be about. So much of this is about being quiet and just letting life guide and show me...

...but man, this no social media seriously might, just might, become more ingrained than just a Lenten project.....

Happy Monday y'all!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March is Here & Spring is Arriving

Still alive. Taking a social media time-out for Lent and in so doing am attempting to distract myself less and focus inward more, aka I'm hoping to process through some of my residual "stuff" from the divorce that I have been avoiding. It's been much more fun to distract myself through running and intense physical activity, but I also want to truly move forward and I know that in order to do that I need to deal with some loose curdled ends too. The "unsent letter" has become my friend--it definitely helps to get the crap out and onto a page even if it's only to purge it out of me. :)

Most of this came to fruition after I realized a few things based on relationship changes but more so I had a major emotional crash after completing my goal of hiking the entire 30 mile Wildwood Trail in one day. While the hike itself was a good experience and it was nice to check another goal off the list, I think my body is ready for me to slow it down a bit. I'm still going to run but I'm also spending some time contemplating what I want my physical activity levels to look like in the big picture. This period of Lent I'm focusing on being gentler with my body in general, so beyond easing up a bit on the endurance stuff, I'm also hoping to start working with a naturopath again for some increased nutritional assistance. Even though I'm eating quite a bit (and I'm officially eating meat again, well minus pork and ground beef...), my weigh-in at the doctor's office yesterday let me know that I'm below the weight I'd like to be at (although still healthy). Part of the emotional crash post long hike can be attributed to an an electrolyte imbalance, so additional nutritional reminders and assistance will be handy. I do really well when someone gives me lists of things to eat!

So many of my friends have been amazingly supportive during this time of processing. I have been texting with a handful of both my male and female friends, garnering perspectives and experiences. I usually do well taking various opinions and then comparing my thoughts/reactions to theirs, before forming my own opinion or judgment about something. The first day of Lent I had a lot of questions as part of my processing and so it was nice to gather lots of various perspectives. I learned a lot and some of the insights offered really made a lot of sense out of many of my past experiences. The perspectives are also helping me to form a game plan about how to move forward and to also help me pinpoint areas where I need to continue to focus attention. Honestly, I just feel grateful, that I have such amazing people in my life who continue to support me and have waited without pushing me until I was ready to move forward.

I'm also so grateful for my parents and family. My oldest brother is another person I've been texting for his thoughts and today I made the trip to my sister's for her family's birthday celebrations. It was the first time that my local siblings, my parents, my nephews, my great-niece, Granny, and I have all been together in a very long time (maybe even three years). We used to celebrate their birthdays this way every year. In some ways having us all together today was sort of soothing and restoring in its own right--reminding me of the way that things used to be and the solid foundation on which we were started. My mom has also been amazing in the last few weeks about putting together a few care packages of items that I can't currently afford while I'm following a budget (water-proof gear, foods, etc) and it seriously just means a lot to me the little ways my parents continue to step forward to try to help me without stepping on toes.

There are lots of unknowns still regarding this year, but I'm trying to be as patient and trusting as possible. At least once a month, I'm sitting down, crunching numbers, checking dates, etc, but I just have to believe that it's all going to work out okay. Housemate M's kiddo and the grandma arrive in 11 days and will be here until the end of April. I know this will be a period where I will need to focus on Love, Compassion, & Patience (which are my goal words of the spring), but I'm also sort of excited about the experience in some ways too. Starting in May and through the summer, I'm oh so hopeful that I can get another renter in the house, so start keeping your fingers crossed y'all. When both rooms are rented, then financially I'm much more able to make ends meet and make headway on paying off my outstanding finances too. I'm recognizing that I need to be more gentle with myself regarding some of these goals as well too--even if I can't make as large of a dent as I want before the end of this year, every payment that decreases the total balance is a worthwhile one!

I'm hoping to do a few catch-up posts including some pictures from some of the great hikes and outings the dogs and I have been on. They're having a rough adjustment this month as I've been trying out various Meet-Up groups to try to find some other running and outdoor individuals (which it's been a pretty good experience so far!), but that means they get left at home a lot more. In the long run, it'll be great for their paws and legs though. I'm hopeful I can use the meet-up groups for 1-2x/month outings and then still do some solo trips with the dogs or outings with other individuals. There are a few gals in my massage program that I'm hoping I can round up for a day hike or a backpacking trip in the summer. I just keep being reminded that there are so many various like-minded individuals in this area.

Loving the coming of the spring. I've been relishing the evenings when that gentle spring sound spreads through the air--a steady mix of neighborhood movement, frogs busy down at the creek, and yet so much stillness. I'm starting to make lists of garden veggies and I just put some grass replacement seed down tonight. The yard is ready to have some help. :)

Somehow that seems to be the motto around here: equal parts stillness and equal parts movement toward growth with a whole lot of gentleness thrown in.

Anyway, for now, Happy March! :)