Inspirations and Internal Changes

Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I'm more aware of them.
Cactuses are starting to bloom near where I live. After visiting the botanical garden, I’m more aware of them and the desert’s beauty. Amazing that something can live and thrive with so little water.

While I was in Phoenix, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland. Both were a bit pricey (the botanical garden was just over $17 with the AAA discount and the butterfly garden cost about $21 with another discount given to me), but very worth it in my eyes. When I was at the botanical garden, I saw so many volunteers and you could tell they were very happy to contribute to the beauty of the place as well as connect with visitors. When I was with the butterflies, I just thought of all the changes that these creatures go through, and how many we go through in our own lives. They showed a video on the lives of monarchs and all the challenges they go through on their several hundred mile long migrations. Then I spent a lot of time in the butterfly room afterward, and even had the luck of having a butterfly land on me – I’ve never had that happen before!! Ever! (And I’ve been to a few butterfly museums/sanctuaries in my life!)

When it landed on me, it really tickled!
When it landed on me, it really tickled!

Both places reinvigorated me to remember things that really make me happy and I decided to take the plunge and go ahead and buy the Tower Garden for my apartment after all.  (It’s something I have mulled over off and on for the past year or so, but when I was in the RV, I just didn’t have the available space.) I have a friend back home in Boston who has one, so I know the claims that they make of producing so much produce in such a short time are legitimate. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and tasted the produce her garden made! I know it is a bit expensive to start off with, but my goal is to eat primarily what I grow myself. I feel much better when I am eating a lot of greens and fruits, and the tower garden will even allow me to grow strawberries! Yay, I can’t wait! And just knowing it is coming, I have not had the inclination to eat a lot of sweets and junk this week. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel like I want to detox, detox, detox!! Get all the crap out of me and out of my apartment!

When I spent that hour along Oak Creek Drive just north of Sedona, I think it transformed me. I can’t put it completely into words but it seemed to have a profound effect on me. Since then, I just feel, well, different. It made me want to slow down and listen to the birds more and figure out why that is. Why I feel so drawn to now learning about nature and holistic health and detoxing my body, and my life, etc.

View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.
View from the scenic view pullout at the top of the Oak Creek drive. This photo only shows two of the many switchbacks you have to navigate to get there.

On Monday, I just had this major urge to clean out stuff in my closet, so I took about 5 bags of stuff to the local animal shelter for the animals there to use. My pets don’t need all the extra blankets I had in my closet, and they don’t need all the extra rugs and pet beds. However, the animals there do. Not all of them have a soft surface to sit on – mine do. It felt AWESOME to take all that stuff in, because I knew I didn’t need it, they did. I also realized, when I tend to hang on to more stuff, it’s coming from a place of insecurity inside myself. Like when I first moved out of my marriage, I took all these extra things like towels, and blankets, etc. I was scared at the time that I wouldn’t be able to afford even the basics so I took everything that I could that he didn’t want. I felt like more stuff equaled more security. I know now that it’s just the opposite. When I have less stuff, I feel happier and more secure because the stuff I do have is the stuff I want and love. And it’s all that I need, no more.

Look close - do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?
Look close – do you see the butterfly hiding among the leaves?

I know Sedona is one of those new-agey kind of places, where people believe in vortexes and crystals and what a lot of people might think is a bunch of junk. But I want to open my eyes to some of it – I got a few books out from the library about crystals and their healing powers and am going to educate myself about them. Maybe there is nothing to any of it, and maybe it really is a bunch of “hooey,” but maybe I will find them helpful, and in this life, I think we need to each find our own way. If there is anything I have learned these past few years, it’s that there is no one RIGHT choice of life for any of us. Trying to pigeon-hole myself into the box or boxes that I thought were right for me only ended up hurting myself in the long run. Or, maybe, they didn’t. Maybe they were all leading me to where I am meant to be, and what I am meant to be. After all, I wouldn’t be who I am today without those experiences. I wouldn’t  know how strong I can be alone if I hadn’t gone through the pain of a divorce. I wouldn’t know how empowering it feels  to be true to yourself if I hadn’t not been true to myself at one point in my life. Does that make any sense?  I hope so.

Blue butterflies always catch my attention.
Blue butterflies always catch my attention.

I’ve just finished reading a book called Most Good Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and A Meaningful Life, by Zoe Weil.  And I’ve recently begun reading another book called Living Forward: a Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. Both of these books provide you with some questions to really focus on and think about your answers. The second asks three questions at the beginning:

  1. How do I want to be remembered?
  2. What matters most?
  3. How can I get from here to where I want to be?

I will let you know what I think of the Living Forward book when I finish it. It’s also available through Audible.com.  I’ve started formulating my answer to question number 1, though, and here is what I have so far.  I want to be remembered as someone who was good to animals and to others, as someone who was positive and who made a good contribution to this world. I want to have been a happy person, someone who was in touch with herself. Someone who always  liked learning. Someone who wasn’t wasteful. Someone who had a good handle on her financial situation and wasn’t a mess when it came to saving money or having debt. Someone who didn’t have a bunch of extra crap in their life!

I went for my first run in several weeks yesterday. A “run” might be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like a slow jog. But it got my heart rate going, and I even broke a sweat, and I reminded myself of why I liked to exercise before. I told myself it would only be two loops around the neighborhood and that’s all I did. I also told myself that it was ok to walk, and I did. I don’t know why I just stopped several weeks ago, I just did. I was finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning and the idea of getting up even earlier. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of getting up early to exercise, even though that had been a mainstay of my life for many years now. It’s only been the last few days where I have even woken up BEFORE my alarm, and felt excited enough to get out of bed. I’m not sure what’s going on, with these changes, but I will let you know when I figure it out, if I do.

Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.
Navajo Mountain off in the distance. I see this every day from my neighborhood and on my way to work. A very sacred place for the Navajo Nation.

A friend of mine from back east left a great comment on my blog last week and has inspired me very much with many of her thoughts she has shared with me. She reminded me that it’s ok to not be the person you once were. It’s ok to change. It’s ok to not feel comfortable when you are somewhere new, and that you can invent or create who you are, NOW.  Who you are now can be different from who you once were. 

Ok, that’s enough of my musings and babblings for now – I’m going to get out there and go for my run, ahem, slow jog, and sweat out some more toxins. Until next time… thanks, as always, for reading!

 

Getting Back to Being Me

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I call this photo “Agave Gone Wild!”

“Being me.” That’s a phrase I have been struggling to figure out since I moved away from the east coast. Away from my family. Away from my adopted MA family, and my best friend who I think of as the younger sister I never had. Away from the familiar. Away from the comfortable job that paid me oh, so well. (And looking back, wow, it really, really did, I just didn’t feel like it did for the longest time, until I realized how I was wasting so much money on every day things.)  Now that I survive on so much less, it blows my mind to think about that paycheck. (Of course, I was paying a lot more on my student loans at the time.)

So when I think about what does it mean to be me, I sometimes think of what that meant in the past. And what it means now.

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Pretty amazing how close the butterflies would let you get to take a photo!

What it used to mean – 

Pre-divorce – living the conventional “good” life:  the marriage, two cars, a house, and pets.

After-divorce, still in Boston: Reminding myself that yes, I was still a desirable woman who wouldn’t be alone for the entire rest of her life. Realizing that it’s ok to be on my own, and yes, I can make it on my own. Realizing that yes, I could re-create a life for myself, and to know that it is more important to me to have a few very, very good friends than a huge gaggle or group. Working out and running a lot, finding  my own community in the exercise world.

What it means now

Now, in the southwest. I’m still figuring this one out, having changed jobs twice in six months. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have a credit card balance again. Changing jobs from one low paying job to a better paying job (but still way less than half of what I used to make in Boston) and paying $800 in rent to be back in an apartment has taken its toll on my finances. I’ve also spent at least $750 on vet bills in the last month or so. Not that I regret any of those dollars being spent on Bonkers, I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but it does take its toll when you are trying to dig out of a hole.

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Check out the legs – I learned that butterflies taste things through their feet!

So, in terms of finances, I feel like I have taken steps backward. Right now, I am hoping for as much overtime as possible this summer so I can pay off the credit card and start making inroads into my car loan, which sits just below $7K right now. And I’m not sure if my job will be permanent through the full year, now that I won’t be the supervisor for the full time I am there. I’m worried about not having enough in savings to make it through a winter if I am not still working at the resort all year long. My credit card balances are split between one card (where the brunt of it is) that has 0% interest for 21 months, and another small balance on a card that is earning interest on anything unpaid. Needless to say that is where my focus is and I want to get it paid off within the next month to six weeks. The overtime will go straight to that one, so that I can then cancel out the card.

So, as before, money (or what I perceive as a lack thereof) takes its hold on me. I feel this need to build up the emergency savings again. I’m down to about 1K, which is less than I have had now in the past few years. But then, of course,  I used to make a lot more, so I try to remind myself to take that into account.

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I love how the agave is growing out of the mass of flowers! This was near the herb garden at the botanical garden in Phoenix.

I’m torn between loving the beauty of the area where I am, and wanting more social interaction, or wondering if maybe I just need to find a new hobby. I spend my working hours around lots of people, but when not at work, I spend most of that time on my own or with the furry ones. I sometimes crave conversation with someone other than my co-workers, or the furballs. Back when I was in Boston, I could have called up my best friend and asked if she wanted to get together. These days, I don’t have that option. We can talk on the phone, and that is certainly awesome, but I can’t see her or my loved ones in person. It’s days like these where I wonder if I should move back toward the east coast. I could be on the same time zone as them again. But to do that, it kind of feels like I am giving up, and way too soon, on this adventure in life I’m on now. I know it’s not time.

Consequently, when I think like that, I wonder if it’s also the “physical closeness” of communities on the east coast that I am missing. By “physical closeness” I mean the fact that on the east coast, you don’t have to drive for 75 miles to get from one community to another. And it’s normal to have a store like a CVS or Walgreen’s as a pharmacy, rather than having to go to a grocery store like a Walmart. So, is it just a bigger city that I want, I wonder? 

Or is it a sense of community that I miss? Is that it? Back in Boston, I had my “library” community, and my “gym” community, and my “friend” community, not to mention my family (my brother and sister in law) and my younger brother just a quick trip away (he lives  in NYC and used to come up for visits a fair amount.)

If you’ve ever been single and moved to a new place while single, you know what it’s like. It’s different when you are part of a couple. You always have that built-in support if you are part of a duo. As a single, you don’t have that. You have to really put yourself out there to meet people. I’ve started to volunteer at the animal shelter but that’s not a huge place like the Animal Rescue League was in Boston, where there were tons of people coming in every weekend to volunteer and adopt animals. The times I’ve been there, it’s just been the animals and two volunteers or so. But I’ve enjoyed my walks with the very energetic doggies I’ve accompanied and who were clearly happy to have someone paying attention to them.

I was just in Phoenix last night for a wedding and went to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Wonderland earlier today. (I will write up separate posts about them so I can really share a lot of the pictures.) There were lots of people working there and volunteering. Living in a much more remote area, we don’t have those types of places to go to, or volunteer. I was talking to folks at the wedding last night about the differences between living in a city like Boston vs. where I am now, and I said “you know, it’s not like I went to museums all the time when I was there, either, but I always knew I could if I wanted to. That was the difference.”  The thought of this got me to thinking. Is the grass always greener on the other side? Will I always want something I don’t have? Or is it just the conveniences of having many choices that I miss sometimes?

However, driving to these places today, I spent time on the freeways of Phoenix as well as the crowded city streets, and then I realized there is definitely one thing I don’t miss about living in a city and that is, wait for it… traffic. And then I drove out of the city and into the country and once again saw the wide open expanses that I am now so used to. I remembered a statement from a friend at the wedding who has lived out in the southwest now for many years – she said that when she travels back to upstate NY or the east coast, she feels claustrophobic. Everything is so close together, she said, and it feels like she can’t breathe. I haven’t been back east yet to test this theory, but we shall see if the same applies to me. With my finances, it doesn’t look like that will happen until next year when my brother is getting married in Naples, Florida!

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The difference in colors (and in some butterflies, translucence or lack of color) is so striking. This doesn’t do this butterfly justice.

This has been a long, rambling post, for which I apologize. But it’s helpful to get my thoughts on “paper” and I am liking writing more again. It’s part of the process of once again, getting back to Being Me.

As always, thank you for reading and commenting. I really do enjoy comments and responding back to them, so thank you.