Last day in Costa Rica

I have a little downtown before my plane leaves this afternoon.

I’ve actually had a lot of downtime, but didn’t feel much like writing. This time in Costa Rica has been really great, a completely different experience than when I was here two years ago with Bamboo for two weeks working for turtle conservation. I have to admit, spending time in the cold and rainy cloudforest was a bit challenging. But here is a picture of me from yesterday morning when it cleared a little:

After this picture was taken, we started out on a guided walk, but it quickly became uncomfortable, and our young guide, pleasant as he was, stopped too many times along the way. It concluded with the Hummingbird Garden, and I left the group at that time, glad that I had found my way there the previous day, when I captured this picture of a hummingbird just sitting for a minute!

It took about twice as long as usual to get back to our homey casa in San Jose. Traffic was at a standstill due to construction and just – people! I was glad to be able to just chill in the bag of our small bus, and leave the driving to the driver! I actually dozed off for a bit!

We ate so late in the afternoon that we decided to just stay home and eat snacks.

Accompanied by wine, we enjoyed a long last sobramesa!

The pursuit of happiness

When I was looking for happiness and fulfillment outside of myself, I was unhappy. I couldn’t find real, deep, lasting joy in other people (husbands), my children, friends, or religion. This all began to change about a decade ago, when I started going to Alanon, in an attempt to save my marriage. A couple of years later I began discovering a different spiritual path which included meditation. Learning to explore the inner world rather than focusing on outer people, circumstances, and events changed everything.

The question came to me via the writing course I’m taking; what is missing from my life right now?  Hmm. Most of the time I don’t think anything is missing except for having an infinite passive source of money so I could quit working a job entirely.  I’d like to just explore my own interests and help people be well. I don’t want stuff. Stuff requires too much attention.  I have enough to live a good life.

A connected question: Do you feel like you are simply destined not to have some of the things you may want out of life?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!
We create our reality — but if you don’t realize or believe this is true, you won’t actively create. I can look back on my life, and now see that I was a participant in making it the way it was – and some of it wasn’t so great, but I learned from it.

Only other thing, and it’s not really missing because I’m working on it, is more friendships When you move to a new area, it takes time to find your tribe. I joined the UU church here, but hadn’t been a member that long when the pandemic showed up. We’ve just opened up again, I’m working on being more involved in some of the smaller groups. I’ve signed up for a couple of meetups, and, I have returned to work. I need people in my life.

I haven’t always felt connected to people and life, but of late I am more aware that sometimes my energy is open, and other times I seem to close myself off. And that it is ok.

I may have felt more connected to people, particularly other mothers, when I was having babies, was a La Leche League Leader, involved in the old church. But those are old interests. I was busy with children and trying to figure out life.

Another question: Do I hold the same values I was taught as a child? Another hmmm. Some of the values I was taught as I child are the same – although when I think about it, I don’t really feel that I was “taught” values. My parents’ life was the example to me of what I thought life looked like, or should look like – Husband went to work, provided a good living. Wife stayed home, took care of kids, shopped and cooked, sewed and pursued her own interests. Great camping vacations. Basically, be honest, work hard, take time off, retire early with lots of money. I started out my adult life with all that in mind, but found that my husband was not like my father at all. Turns out, I’m not like my mother in many ways either. So yeah – be honest, work hard — but I eventually divorced twice, went to work, and definitely will not “retire young with lots of money”!

I used to believe that each person has a path they have to find – a “right” path. Now I know that is hogwash!

We can be unhappy with our life and want something different, especially when we don’t feel fulfilled in any way. It doesn’t mean it is “wrong”, but it probably means it is time for a change.

Musings from home after my 2 week road trip

I traveled 4400 miles in 15 days, and crossed state lines 21 times. Only two of those states were new to me – New Jersey and West Virginia. I think I’ve been in 44 of the lower 48 states now.

My time on the road, driving, was about 80 hours. I slept on 2 couches and a day bed for free, 3 hotels, and 9 airbnb’s. I spent $2200, about half of that for lodging, around $400 for gas, the rest for food and miscellaneous. Not bad, really, I had budgeted $3000.

I feel overstuffed with travel, kind of like that overstuffed feeling you get after a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to the meal, enjoy it immensely, and afterwards think you might not ever want to eat again. That’s kind of how I feel about travel right now. Stuffed. Not only did I take this trip, I spent two months in Chattanooga and two months in Carson City (for work) this year. I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, but right now, I don’t want to make any more travel plans!

The best food I ate was that prepared by my kids. The rest of the time I struggled to find anything that was really good. I ate in the car on the road for lunch quite a bit – leftover pizza, cookies, and apples. The apples I picked in Massachusetts saved my life, I think. I got a really bad pizza in Niagara Falls. I’ve learned to really dislike eating out. Yesterday at home was lovely. Oatmeal for breakfast, omelette with the eggs and veggies I was given in New York for lunch, and a delicious butternut squash soup made by my husband for dinner.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live other places, and staying in airbnb’s gives a tiny taste of that. They were mostly great, but a couple of the beds were like marshmallows. My favorite, I think, was the one near Goshen, NY with the fabulous patio.

Most places have keurig coffee makers.I really dislike that kind of coffee. I did bring my French Press and supplies, but water heated in the microwave for coffee just isn’t the same. I was glad for coffee shops.

In this not quite post pandemic world, masks are still a thing. In some places, all the signs were down, in others, masks are required. I pretty much wore my mask when I went inside anywhere. Why not? Even though I’ve been vaccinated, it certainly doesn’t hurt me or anyone else to wear a mask, and it could make a difference for someone.

I didn’t do anything “touristy”. Even when I went to Niagara Falls, I only paid for parking, and spent time in the public areas. I didn’t go to museums or other attractions, although I sometimes enjoy doing so. Sleeping in a different place every night and having those experiences was really what I wanted out of this trip, after seeing my kids of course!

So now, I will nest at home. I will enjoy cooking, crocheting, playing with the grandkids, embracing the uncertainty of life as it unfolds. I will start working full time again, after the first of the year. I plan to keep writing here, just not as often.

And, no doubt, at some point, I will be on the road again.

Ch-ch-ch-change

When it comes to life, we spin our own yarn, and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be. –Julia Glass, Three Junes

The past year and a half has been challenging for the entire world. Yet, I am my own world. I have always had a tendency to do things differently than “the standard”, and this period of time , this pandemic time (which isn’t over!) is no exception.

I am an acute care RN case manager, which means that I work in hospitals, but don’t have direct patient care. I have seen the front line workers, what they do, their dedication and exhaustion. I am pro mask wearing and pro vaccination. I didn’t, however find myself as one of so many who isolated themselves at home. I couldn’t, if I wanted to keep working in my profession.

What am I getting at, you may be wondering if you’ve read this far? Well, I am the kind of person who likes change. In my youth, I wrestled with this, but now, at the edge of the “golden years” I embrace it. Thus the title of this blog. So, I found a way to have change and adventure by taking on a couple of travel gigs. Just as my husband was returning from a year + position in a city 4 hours away, I decided to work away from home.

So, in 2021, I spent two months in Chattanooga, TN, a city I fell in love with, and plan to return to. I came home for a bit, then spent the summer in Carson City, NV, and although I had some great experiences exploring parts of Lake Tahoe and going to California, I never want to return there. Again, I am home, and am returning to work locally, grateful for the adventure and perspective gained.

I am going to take a solo road trip before I settle down again. I want to write about it, thus my reappearance on this blog. I will make a circular route, taking my time, visiting family and maybe a few friends along the way. I know my approximate route, but am making no advance reservations. I’m looking forward to the adventure of uncertainty.

If you want to come along, follow me.

September musings

I sit here drinking coffee, the morning sun streaming through the window on this beautiful Saturday morning. I am pensive this morning. I read some journal entries from 5 and 6 years ago, which was a time of great personal growth for me, a great time, really. But had this realization that I am a bit stuck right now.

I have a very secure lifestyle. In this strange pandemic time we are in, I have a secure, well-paying job. I have a nice place to live. I have the love of my family, and get to see my grandchildren regularly. I have a wonderful husband, whose job working in another city has made this year even stranger than “just” all the other happenings in the bigger world.

I will be 64 in December. I am at the time of my life when many think of retirement, or have already retired. I don’t want to “retire”. I do want change, though. I am considering taking a travel job assignment, which would take me to new places, new experiences, new people, yet I’d be able to take more time off between assignments.

I am inspired by older people who keep going. In particular, my role models are people in the entertainment industry. “Old” actors who keep acting into their 80’s and 90’s are my new role models. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin didn’t decide they couldn’t take on new projects just because they were past a certain age, for example.

Time to envision the second half of my life. For now, I look forward to a Saturday afternoon riding bikes with children.