Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Done....& In Progress.

Plane Ticket to Tanzania!!
Tentative Pre-Students Travel Plans.
Phone Unlock for International SIM Card.
Travel Vaccinations & Testing.
Travel Prescriptions Picked Up.
Summer Housemates/Cat Sitter Secured. (Arriving tomorrow)
Half Utilities Paid Ahead.
Other Half Set up for Online Payment.
General Outline for Tanzania Course Developed. (& For 2 other courses.)

In Progress:
Basic Swahili Lessons.
Getting to Know Students.
Researching Articles for Tanzania Course.

Happening. So surreal. Dreams & prayers....and 15ish years of a calling...all in motion. Amazing.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Blasts from the Past

You know how people choose words to represent their year? Well, I've continued to feel like my word or intention of the year tends to choose me...and this year is proving to be no exception.

Last year, the word evolved and presented itself as "grace." This year I'd sort of wondered if it wasn't going to be a bit more about settling...as in settling more into life, myself, the future, my career & finances, slowing down physically, etc. And while it does seem to be about that....it also has really been presenting this aspect of reconnecting with the past also. 

Case in point:

1) I returned to search out the career that I always felt was more my calling....and doors opened...as in flew open. But I had to reconnect to the past and what mattered to me then in order to move forward into the future of what those dreams could be....

2) I mentioned last year that while on a running date, I literally ran by a guy from my hometown. We shared mutual friends through two sources and so he and I hung out a few times with one of those connections (who also lives with his wife in Portland). That particular mutual source actually was an old love/long time best friend of mine and I am so in love with his wife and him together. I've had the opportunity to hang out with them (the couple) and the guy I ran by several times in the last year, but we all just reconnected again this spring as well. I honestly so love being in contact with my old best bud, am continuing to look forward to building a relationship with his wife, and totally enjoy the great moments out with them as a couple!

3) This story continues as on a lunch date last month with the guy I had run by, I also saw a friend of mine from my middle school days when I used to live in Eugene. It had been 12 years since I'd seen her the last time (again when I randomly ran into her in Portland). She and I were finally able to meet up for lunch last Friday and caught up briefly on the last 10-20 years....amazing! We've both had interesting turns in our life stories in the last five years but agreed that we are much stronger people because of it. It was fun seeing an old blast from the past and we're planning on taking her kiddo to the zoo one day this spring.

4) And there's more....In 8th grade, my family and I moved to the coast where I also finished high school. Almost 70% of my 8th grade year was spent with my buddy who lived down the street. I called his mom my second mom and she drove me to all sorts of events. I have SO many memories from my five years on the coast with this first brother-from-another-mother: shooting hoops in the gym, learning to shoot a gun up in the woods with his parents on my 15th birthday, homemade ice cream, camping with his family during a basketball tournament, going to church youth group, sharing my boyfriends as his other best friends. (Most my good friends were males until I hit my junior year of high school....) He met his now wife when we were 15 and they've been married & parents since we were 19. If I'm totally honest, he's one of my friends that I am most proud of and the two of them remind me so much of a younger version of my parents. I was able to visit them in 2009 when we were stationed in Louisiana and he and his wife were stationed in Alabama....but then somehow life got away from us. And even though they've been stationed in Washington for the last 2-3 years....it wasn't until way earlier this month that we saw each other again. Yet, I saw them again yesterday for the second time this month when I stopped at their place for dinner after a trip to Seattle....and it felt just like old times albeit now with more life and responsibility. And truthfully, I really hope to fit in a few more trips in the next year and before they get orders to a new location. It feels SO GOOD to have reconnected.

5) If you haven't noticed, beyond having just plain male friends, I also tend to try to transition guys I have dated into friends. While I recognize that not everyone operates this way, I've been fortunate to turn some unrealistic romantic partners into wonderfully supportive friendships, although I don't have the opportunity to see many of these friends much due to distance and life circumstances. One of the guys who taught me so much in my mid-20s however has been a great minimalist supporter over the years...and after not seeing him for almost ten years, I will be getting together with him briefly on Saturday.

6) I've already mentioned stopping by my old college housemate's house and visiting with her, her hubby, and their four kiddos on my recent trip to Bend. In that case it had been four years since we'd last seen each other in person.

7) Oh and that wedding I'm going to in Canada at the end of this summer? Again....an old high school friend who I only get to see every 2-3 years usually. There are only two of us from our hometown who are invited/going and since this other guy and I are also family/church friends, it'll be great to see him. Ironically he, his wife, and kiddos live locally....but we really only reconnect when our mutual buddy is in town or involved. :) 

I also have a feeling that the reconnections that I've mentioned aren't going to be the only ones. While this influx of old connections could be totally coincidental, I also do find it interesting and can't help but wonder if there is a bigger lesson I'm supposed to be recognizing out of it. Regardless, I've been enjoying the process and am looking forward to more visits ahead. And maybe just maybe, as I move toward this notion of "settling," perhaps this other underlying lesson is that sometimes it's good to be reminded of who you were before the rest of life happened.... :) 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Early April Explorations

I'm lounging in bed this morning researching PhD programs, giving my housemate the opportunity to use the main space in the house for her video conference call, and daydreaming about hiking for Earth Day. The responsible side of me decided not to head to the Gorge this morning in order to save gas and time...especially since I'm heading to Seattle on Saturday and hopefully back to Central Oregon the weekend after. Sometimes making the sensible choice isn't the most fulfilling one though :) but it does demonstrate that I'm trying to slow down still too. :) Instead, I intend to finish the weeding that needs to get done and hopefully do some other yardwork that needs to happen also.

Since I'm not heading out into the wilds today however, I thought I'd finally post some pictures from the fun explorations that the dogs and I did as the term was starting. The first week tends to take a lot in terms of admin type of stuff but also is slower in other ways, so it allowed for great flexibility to get the dogs out and about and enjoy some parts of the local outdoors that we haven't explored. Both of these spots were about 30 minutes from my house and were so neat to check out.


In my dreams, I will eventually move to Sellwood or SW Portland....and on this particular day I fell even more in love with this area....

Crossing this lil bridge reminded me so much of our old treks in Louisiana

River beach access! The dogs LOVED it here! That's downtown PDX in the background.

Non-fenced in dog park. Roxi did great and this accessibility made me love Sellwood even  more...

Oaks Bottom 

There's a lot of history and controversy with this empty building...

The trek around Oaks Bottom Refuge...great running trek.



Technically we were trying to do the "hike" aka walk to the Lighthouse, but I ran out of time and also had just kayaked to the lighthouse so didn't necessarily see the point in needing to get to it this day. We had a blast walking stretches of the beach though and then trekking along the trail. There are wildlife/bird refuges out in this area too so it was pretty incredible to see so many birds stopped on their migration patterns AND to see all the calves running around the fields. Roxi was so excited in the back of the car as the calves ran along. 

It was a pretty overcast day but it was great to have patches of sunshine break through. The dogs loved being able to be in the water and we did a couple of miles along the beach.

One of the neat things about this stretch is you can watch ships and barges traveling along the Columbia River (which separates Oregon and Washington, so that's Washington state across the river...) We also had a seal swimming along side us in the river on the way back.

I absolutely loved seeing all the plant life and was so mesmerized by these... They looked like dead branches along the shore but are actually root systems that have plant off shoots coming up out of them seasonally. Amazing how nature works :) There were so many parts of this trek that made me see new aspects of nature that I don't normally get to enjoy.

The "trail". We ran part of this but mainly just strolled along :)

Those cows!

One of the bird areas. So incredibly neat!

It's always a lot of fun to explore new nearby areas. We didn't cover a lot of miles on these treks but they really filled our souls right up :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Things I'm Loving.....

1) Anna's healing up like a champ! The skin is almost all fused back together and we've all gotten out on evening walks the last two evenings. Will attempt a run and/or hike in the next few days or on the weekend. So happy with how fast it healed and how quickly we'll be back to our regular routine.

2) I've had several more moments of having the house to myself and it's been LOVE-ly. I love just being comfortable in my own home. I'm hoping to make it through the summer continuing to rent out rooms and then will rent at least the furnished room in the fall...unless I end up moving closer toward the city.

3) We've had amazing sunshine the last few days and it even made it to about 80 yesterday. I couldn't help but throw on that bathing suit and soak up the rays on the back patio for a bit. It feels so great to have that sun kiss my skin. :) The dogs love the moments when we just lounge around out back too. (Although we did get some good yard work/weeding/mowing in too...)

4) Housemates are settled. Current short term gal leaves this weekend. Two new short term ones arrive early May. One will be here until end of July and the other until the end of August. Bills should be covered in full while I'm gone...and there will be cat coverage.

5) Tomorrow is my last pre-travel vaccination. I'll buy my ticket this week or next for Tanzania. And I just started researching my Alberta trip for later this summer.

6) I gave an awesome deep tissue/structural massage to a friend of mine this weekend. He'd just finished up a week of intense physical activity so it was so rewarding to truly help ease his muscles toward relaxation. I also emailed in my resignation from my massage job last night. I plan on continuing to work in that gig for a few more weeks but I'm going to need the extra time because.....

7) I was asked to continue on in this new teaching position into the next academic year :) Seriously, I never could have imagined that this opportunity would happen, let alone that it would all come about the way that it did. I will be developing new courses and have the ability to assist with program development. Both of those are areas I've been missing and I couldn't be more excited by the prospect. I will continue teaching at the institution I've been at as well although probably reduce the credits I teach there slightly....and there's the chance that this new option will present more travel opportunities and become full time within a year or two. Dreams are arriving in ways that I never could have imagined.... When I first started thinking about entering into this field I never thought I could blend ALL my passions together nor that it would take six months to find the perfect fit for me rather than the couple of years that I expected. Still.in.awe.every.day..... and so incredibly thankful for so many answered prayers.

8) This new gig also means that life direction just landed in my lap in some other ways, ie that PhD program needs to happen....

9) Do you ever have those moments when you wake up, sunlight streaming through your windows, dogs jumping all over the bed, coffee soon to be enjoyed....and you're just so grateful and sustained? It's like you know you're not really in a tropical location but in that moment life feels pretty tropical and rewarding....like you just want to lounge and soak it all in and up... That's been life the last few weeks.... and it's been a long time since I've had that sensation and never quite at this level of true satisfaction....

10) There have been several times in the last week or two when I've truly caught myself being surprised by where life has landed. I've always loved the outdoors but I don't know that I ever expected to enjoy them quite at the level that I get to do so. I look at this life I'm living and arriving into...and while it's so different than I really would have imagined, it's rewarding, sustaining, soul-feeding, and truly a better fit for me than I could have dreamed. I'm still working on letting go of the life that I "wanted" and dreamed about, but truly I'm SO.in.awe. by the views I routinely see, the outdoor skills I've developed, the social support that surrounds me, the professional opportunities arriving, and the little moments that I notice every.single.day.

11) Casual skirts. Sandals. Bangs pulled back. Long flowing hair. Tanned skin. Sunglasses.

12) Sparkly lights on the patio. Moments curled in the hammock. Lemon water. Books laying next to me intending to be read. Finished grading.

13) Researching new course options. Moments when curriculum ideas arrive in the kitchen or on trail. Cross comparisons of other programs. Synthesizing information. Passion.

14) Small town coffee shops. Sunrises over mountain tops. High mountain lakes. Country music flowing out of car windows down. More upcoming outdoor fun.

15) Happy hours and outings with friends. Moments and communication with family and new and old friends. Reconnecting with really old pals. An evening out with Reg D over the weekend--as always pretty entertaining and fun :)

Life makes my heart happy lately....and I can't help but keep thinking about that old adage about how it sometimes takes tasting the bitter to truly appreciate the sweet. The bitter was definitely pretty bitter but I can honestly say that this sweet is so incredibly sweet. Fulfilled in so many big ways and trusting that things will continue to fall into place and/or present as they should.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

An Incredible Sunny Friday

So I've had two really pretty incredible days but today maybe took the cake since it included such an amazingly rewarding variety :)

This morning we had a training from MoxAfrica on how to do moxibustion. Moxibustion is a holistic healing modality that is frequently used in conjunction with acupuncture but can be used solo as well. Today we learned how to make the "cones" of mungwart and then how to apply it to the skin and allow it to burn down into the acupoint. We practiced on little wood boards first and then applied it to our own skin on our forearms (I used the outer gate point near the backside of the wrist) and then on St 36, which is the most frequent point used in their treatment program (and is located sort of near the end of the knee and then "lateral" or out to the side of your leg from there by one or two finger widths). I definitely did feel the "clearing" or reset that can come from acupoint treatments and it's pretty incredible to think of the positive healing effects that something this simple can bring to others who are suffering.

After the training, I drove down to Silverton where I grabbed a coffee and a scone in the town's adorable downtown area...and then drove on to the North Falls Trailhead at Silver Falls State Park. Lauren and I had arranged to meet up today to do a hike and it was so great to finally get to meet her! I'm pretty sure that she's actually the first blogger/IGer that I've met in real life. The day was absolutely beautiful with lots of sunshine and the falls were running with high water volume. Honestly I feel like the almost 9 miles flew by as Lauren and I chatted and got to know each other better. It was so nice to share stories and enjoy the great sunshine.... and I'm hoping it will work out to meet up again! Maybe with Baby Moe in tow :)

Since it was a beautiful day, I decided to drive to the Woodburn Tulip Festival and then take numerous back roads home in order to avoid Friday traffic getting into Portland. At the Tulip Farm, I had a great sausage, sauerkraut, and onion sandwich and then I headed out to snap a few pictures and soak up the sunshine amidst so much natural beauty.

The drive back took me along numerous farm roads I'd never traveled before and it was nice to avoid all of the traffic that would have been found on a Friday afternoon on I-5. One of the roads I went along had this incredible view of the valley below:

Altogether it was a pretty amazing day but I do feel like I should mention that along the drive back from the Falls I came upon an accident that required calling the paramedics, who then called in Life Flight. I haven't been able to find anything online regarding the outcome but if you're the praying type then it wouldn't hurt to offer a little prayer for the woman who had been driving.... Witnessing what I did of that scene made my gratitude for our paramedics and emergency room personnel multiply even more...it takes some pretty strong individuals to handle life altering emergencies on a regular basis...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Central Oregon Trip

Sometimes in life you just decide to up and make a somewhat spontaneous road trip a part of your existence. I had been wanting to see the Painted Hills since last summer and had almost taken off to Bend three weekends ago to visit some friends, so when I realized I could create space in my schedule to enable me to do an epic Central Oregon road trip last weekend...well I didn't hesitate much. I got all of my grading done after my Africa meeting on Friday, let my online courses know that I'd be checking in over the weekend but only once a day, and then I spent Friday night printing out trails/maps/whatever I might need.

After a Reflexology class on Saturday morning, the dogs and I headed out over the pass to Central Oregon.

DAY 1:
The minute I was in different terrain my heart seriously soared. I absolutely love where I live in the valley but sometimes I just crave something new and different. This view above filled my heart and made me so in love with the state of Oregon and it's vast differences all over again.

The dogs and I stopped in Prineville to fill up with gas because all the online stuff cautioned about not having gas stations nor cell service within the John Day Fossil Bed area. Ironically that one topped off tank was more than enough for the traveling I did both days...and I also ended up with cell phone service way more than I expected.

Once we arrived to the Painted Hills, I again fell in love. I can understand why they don't allow people to camp there as I could have stayed for a week. There were a lot of people who showed up at the initial overlook but not many who stayed long nor who ventured on the rim trail. The trail itself was so beautiful...as you can see below.

The view looking back on the painted hills from the rim trail.

There were also some other little trails and informational spots that allowed you to get closer and learn more about what actually created the hills. So interesting and well worth it!

We left that area about 6:30pm and headed for a spot on the map that said that it had camping available off a Forest Service road. En route to the camp ground we had about 15 elk run across a meadow about a quarter mile ahead of us and we also had a lot of deer traveling around. It was so neat to see so much amazing wildlife in their natural habitat on this trip. Beyond the deer and elk, there were lots of little ground critters running around, tons of various birds, and we even had a river otter swim by us at one spot! We arrived to the camp site and discovered that a) before Memorial Day camping was going to be free at most places and b) we'd get the camp site to ourselves! I backed my SUV into a secluded spot and rearranged the bags in the car, put the seats down, and rolled out my sleeping mat, bag, and extra blanket & pillow. The beauty of car camping I discovered is that you can have extra luxuries such as pillows and heavy fuzzy blankets (although the dogs soon took over the blanket :)). As I was readying our sleep area, there was gentle snow falling and the entire scene was just really pretty amazing. The campsite had trail access, a basic bathroom, and the dogs were so excited to run around for quite a bit before bedtime. Once we were ready for bed, I crawled in and discovered that I actually had cell phone access here (literally in the absolute middle of no where) and was able to check in with Reg D and my brother.

This was our first solo car camping experience and we loved it.....I forsee many more outings like this in our future!

DAY 2: 

The next morning, the dogs woke up as the sun was rising....apparently they couldn't figure out what it was so they were on alert that it could be an intruder :) We were able to get some sleep during the night though and it was fun having the dogs sleeping alongside me. I seriously was so happy yet again about my Sorento and how well it's served me in various capacities over the last several years.

After getting up and changing, I rearranged the car/bags back to how they usually are...and the dogs and I headed off to Blue Basin. I actually wasn't intending to come to this extra part of the John Day Fossil Bed area but Reg D suggested it earlier on Day 1 and since he generally knows my interests, I figured I'd check it out. It was about a 40 minute drive to get there with the sun continuing to rise over the hill sides and just continuing to be in awe with the landscape. Blue Basin was definitely worth the trip and the 3.25 mile hike was so gorgeous. There are so many various colored rocks and it's so crazy to think of the history contained in this fossil region. (Apparently this area used to have its own version of a saber-toothed tiger even!) 

The above picture shows the Blue Basin (appears white or green) with additional "painted hills" in the background right side and just the amazing terrain as it continues beyond. SO beautiful!

This area also has Oregon's version of Arizona's Cathedral Rock. I had intended to try to see this and I'm so glad that Blue Basin was so amazing, because Cathedral Rock wasn't as impressive as the real thing :)

It was also on this day as the dogs were getting out of the car at Blue Basin that I noticed that Anna had punctured her upper right leg somehow. It wasn't gushing blood and she wasn't overly phased by it so we went on the hike anyway and I continued to check on it as the day progressed....

We stopped at Smith Rock (above) which is pretty popular these days in Oregon. I was trying to decide if we could hike part of it, but after checking out the upper trail from the parking lot (and the fact that the park itself was more packed than I'd ever seen it) I decided that this was a hike that should be done on a different day and probably sans dogs. It's definitely beautiful to look at though and I was glad that we'd stopped to check it out.......and glad to have driven through the back farm roads to get there :)

One of the other reasons I'd been contemplating a trip to Central Oregon was to see an old college friend of mine who I hadn't seen in several years. En route to Bend, I stopped for coffee and a scone, saline and gauze for Anna's wound, and then since I still had more time I drove up to Pilot Butte (in the above picture) to look at Bend with the mountains in the back ground. I'm like a broken record but.....SO gorgeous! :) 

My gal Erin is married to her middle school love and they have four hilarious kiddos. It was so great to eat lunch with all of them on their back patio, catch up with my gal, and have the dogs be loved on and entertained by the three boys. (I also owe it to Erin big time as she let me stop back by on Day 3 to finally shower for the first time in several days :))

From their house I drove to REI to buy myself a camping hammock (yea for dividends and member coupons!) and then I headed to the high mountain lakes region. The spot that I originally intended to camp at still had the road closed several miles in on the road...so I'll have to come back this summer to backpack a longer trail option there.

At that point I decided to head to the little lake about an hour away where we spread my Poppa's ashes in 2003. I've only been back once or twice so it was probably time for a visit anyway. My grandfather was one of the biggest influences in my life and I'd already spent a lot of time on this trip thinking about him, so it was very fitting to take the dogs to go hang out in this special place. We arrived right at dusk, again granting just enough time to let the dogs run around, get the car set up for the night, and hang out in the hammock with a beer for a bit. Once we crawled in for bed, I spent some time reading this night, but then we all 3 slept amazingly well.

DAY 3:

We again woke up with the sun and the dogs were excited to run around the campsite. (Two thumbs up that we had this campsite to ourselves as well!) This was the first day that I actually used my backpacking stove to make oatmeal for breakfast and some coffee. (I'm getting pretty excited about what this car camping means in terms of more luxuries...like real breakfasts, extra food stuffs, etc :)) I honestly really didn't want to leave this spot, so we spent about an hour and a half just enjoying being there, soaking up the views, enjoying the wildlife, and just generally appreciating the amazing weekend that we'd been having. 

About 8 we drove to a nearby trailhead to explore a suggestion made by my gal Erin. Ironically the lake she had suggested for me to head toward ended up being about a mile from Poppa's spot, and it made for a great morning hike up to it...and will probably make a great backpacking option. I wasn't really sure if the trail we were on was the right one, but eventually we did discover that it indeed led to the lake she had mentioned...and that the lake was as clear and spectacular as she had made it out to be. After snapping lots of pictures, we continued on for another mile just enjoying being on trail and finally finding some patches of snow :)

After coming back off trail, I stopped by Erin's for that shower and then we headed back toward Salem in order to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday :) I did stop in Sisters for coffee, lunch, and an attempt at what used to be the most amazing huckleberry milkshake stand (unfortunately it appears to be closed now).

The views on the drive back continued to be incredible......all the way til I made it back over the pass and returned to the rain of the valley :) The drive itself was really enjoyable though as I stumbled upon some old mixed CDs from old friends and loves, and it was highly entertaining to travel back down various memory lanes. 

Altogether an amazing trip...and a hard one to adjust to being back actually. Usually I'm not one to bemoan the end of vacation, but the first two mornings back in my own bed seemed dismal compared to the fun of waking up and staring straight out into a day of amazing views, trails, and new sights ahead. Already planning our return trip however...... :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lent Work-Outs

The Lent Workout Challenge that I did was seriously great motivation to keep me moving daily (although I did miss one day at the beach over spring break when I was too depleted recouping on the couch :)). The dogs loved the walks that we did and I truly feel like they're slowly transitioning to being walkers rather than distance runners. It also was fun to add a bit more diversity to work-outs and to explore more areas. I'm still not pushing it hard by any means, but a bit of physical activity every day also more or less kept my stress and waist line in check.....

So here they are:
1: 3.6m jog, pushups/situps, 3 minute plank
2: 2m walk with dogs, 2 minute plank
3: 3ish m jog with dog
4: walked to grocery store w dogs
5: 3.2m jog w dogs
6: ran w dogs to car dealership (about 4 miles)
7: 2m walk with dogs, 2.5m easy hike with a friend & her baby, 3 minute plank
8: sets of push-ups
9: Jillian Michael's yoga
10: Insanity Power Cardio
11: 2m walk with dogs
12: 2m walk with dogs, 6 hour deep tissue massage workshop
13: Insanity Power Cardio, 1/2m dog walk
14: 5m jog w dogs
15: 2m evening dog walk
16: summitted Kings Mtn (5 miles total, 2500 ft elevation gain)
17: 2.5m easy hike w Landon & dogs
18: 3m easy dog walk
19: 3.2m jog w dogs
20: Insanity Max Conditioning
21: 2 minute plank, 3 sun salutations
22: Insanity Plyo Cardio
23: 4.5 hours of massages, 3m run w dogs
24: 4.2m jog w dogs
25: sets of push-ups
26: Warrior Rock Kayak (6 miles?)
27: 4.2m jog w dogs
28: 3m jog w dogs
29: push-ups & planks
30: 3.5 hours of massages, 2m jog w dogs
31: 20 pushups, 20 squats, sun salutations
32: easy beach walk w dogs
33: nada
34: 2m beach walk, 40ish push ups
35: climbed cape, ran beach, 40 minute kayak
36: 4.5m jog w hill sets, push ups & abs, cleaned two houses
37: 6 hours of massages
38: Scappoose Bay Kayaking (3 miles?)
39: 1.5m dog walk
40: 12.2m Wilson River hike
41: 3m Sellwood Park/Oaks Bottom wandering
42: 6m Sauvie Island beach hike & trail run
43: squats
44: 8 hours of massages

Not bad....! Altogether two kayaking outings, one yoga session, about 89 miles hiked/walked/ran, 29 hours of massages, 4 Insanity DVDs...and a variety of push ups, ab work, planks, squats, and sun salutations.

Now....to figure out a new motivation to keep myself routinely moving :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Hodge Podge of April

So far, I have to say this month has been pretty good to me, and I hope it continues in that fashion. :)

--There have been some housemate changes. The long-term female renter moved out. My short term female renter will still be here til the beginning of May, and I already have one summer (May thru Aug) new housemate lined up. I will post an ad for a second housemate for the summer but for now have been relishing having solo moments in my house again. I seriously do enjoy meeting the variety of new individuals through renting, but I am SO looking forward to the day when I can truly afford to just live solo again. (Most the time solo...I still expect that I'll rent out some for fun....) This past weekend was the first time in almost a year that I'd had my house to myself for more than two days in a row. The dogs and I soaked it up. We slept with the bedroom door open. I ran around less clad than normal. We.loved.it. :)

--I've been socializing. There was a coffee date with one of my favorite gals and her babe. Easter with my family. My mom's birthday celebration. A late lunch with my original brother-from-another-mother and his wife and kiddos...who I hadn't seen in SIX years. A bachelorette party downtown. A quasi double date night at a new brewery in town. Dinner with another of my gal's and lunch with another friend. A coffee meeting with a former colleague who is trying to help get me hired at one additional local institution. And there's more coming.....I recently ran into a middle school friend of mine after not seeing her for ten years so we're grabbing lunch in a few weeks, there's a repeating girls happy hour, a kayak trip scheduled with a buddy, Dad's birthday dinner, and several other friends who I'm feeling the need to see in the coming weeks also.

--I've been taking care of medical stuff, ie I feel like I've been living at my medical provider. I've had rabies, yellow fever, polio, and mengicoccal vaccinations. I've had three TB tests (one for employment, two for pre-travel testing). I've talked to the travel clinic on the phone several times and have multiple prescriptions and the typhoid vaccination waiting for pick up. I've had routine blood work run and then blood work checking to make sure my MMR, Hep B, & chicken pox immunity is still strong. I got my eyes checked for the first time in 5 years and picked up my new glasses. I have one more rabies shot out of the series to receive and a dental appointment scheduled next month, but then I think I will have most of my medical stuff taken care of until I'm returning from Tanzania. I'm also so grateful for health insurance!

--I've been working. Spring term started and this week began routine grading. I'm teaching three courses online this term and my regular evening course. In two weeks I'll get hit with about 100 assignments, so I'm trying to plan my schedule accordingly. Now that my work schedule has sort of stabilized, I've been participating in more department meetings this term and am on a committee to help revamp one of our courses. This week I also had new employee orientation for the new teaching gig and there will be a three week online training for that job starting on Monday. One morning a week will also become Swahili lessons and meetings with our students for the trip this summer, and I've also enrolled in some community education courses to help increase my knowledge of natural medicine modalities. It's looking more and more like this might turn into a more stable thing...and if it does....well, let's just leave it at that. But I seriously feel so incredibly grateful and blessed. I'm also working at a local chiropractic office one day a week with 6-8 massages on those days...and my aunt just networked a potential other massage option for later on this summer. And over the course of the last several weeks, I've applied to several jobs in and out of state. I'm not entirely sure if I'm ready to relocated, but I'm really trying to ensure that I can meet my financial and professional goals regardless of anything else during the next several years.

There are still lots of other little things going on not noted here of course, but truthfully I've had so many moments in the last several weeks where I'm just in awe of the numerous doors opening and how plans are all sort of coming together. If things continue on the course that they have been, there's a good chance that I can be back on my own financial feet within the next year....God willing...and let's hope He's willing :)

The dogs and I also had two exploration days at the start of the new term and we've had two really good runs within the last couple of days. I got new running shoes and they discovered that the nearby gas station gives out big milk bones....so all three of us are happier ladies. :)

And with that...we're off to bed. ;)