Fortune cookie wisdom #47

The will to do, the soul to dare is yours for the taking if you prepare.

I always thought I was really good at planning and preparing for the will to do and the soul to dare. But now I think it takes much more than that.

I was planning on touring Europe. I had prepared for the trip. I had a passport. I had my airline tickets. I was ready to check that continent off my bucket list. Then COVID hit and all the preparations were for naught.

I was planning on signing up for another 50k. I picked the race I wanted to do. I was really excited because part of the course included a water crossing. I was training. I was prepared. But then COVID hit. The race was cancelled. My gym that I visited three times a week over the winter for years closed. I got hit hard ten days with colitis and haven’t been the same since. I can’t run anymore without being in a lot of pain. I couldn’t even help my daughter paint her house without having joint pain. I wasn’t prepared for that.

There is a part of me that thought my kids would stay young forever. Through many sleepless nights, I thought that. I thought that through the temper tantrums, the busy school age running, and through the tumultuous teenage years. I didn’t think about them growing up and leaving home. Somehow I found myself not prepared for that part of parenting. A part of me doesn’t even know who I am anymore since that part of me is gone.

I wasn’t prepared for aging. It’s shocking to see my hair turn gray without any hair color. My neck is starting to look like the neck of a rubber chicken. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. I look like a granny; too young to crack out the cardinal sweaters but too old to dress like I am in my 30’s. I had to break down and buy bigger pants since I haven’t been able to workout like I used to. I always thought those things happened to other people, not me. I am close to 50. Why wasn’t I prepared for this?

Sometimes it’s very hard to take a good look in the mirror. I don’t want to admit my best years in health and in looks are behind me. There is not a damn thing any of us can do about it. I do feel childish in feeling insecure about it. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. I have all these crazy middle age female hormones coursing through my body making me feel like an adolescent again, but I’m not. Doesn’t seem fair. But, that’s life. Sometimes I just have to laugh it off and say oh well. I’m right where I need to be.

Ready or not, here life comes…some things you just can’t prepare for even if you have the will and soul.

Goals for the new year

To be honest, I haven’t done New Year’s resolutions in years. But every couple of months I try to come up with some bucket list goals and check my progress on making them happen.

Today I decided to go back to my first blog post in May of 2015. I wrote a list of goals. Here they are:

  1. Write something that gets published. I’ve wanted to write a memoir for the longest time. I am currently working on the second edition of my book. I hope to complete it in 2022.
  2. Run a marathon. I wrote I ran 18 miles that day without stopping. I am totally jealous of myself! Since then I’ve run multiple marathons and a 50K. I just stopped running after doing it for 15 years. Now I want to focus on stretching and yoga. I mean, I haven’t started yet but I want to try to at least maintain if not gain some flexibility. I have been having joint pain and stiffness but I still want to remain active as much as I am able to.
  3. Travel to all the continents. I haven’t gotten too far on this. I did check off Asia since then. If it wasn’t for COVID, I would’ve checked off Europe and Africa too. Instead I have been trying to visit all 50 states. So far I’ve checked off 39 states. I visited 8 states in 2021 and plan on adding another 5 in 2022.
  4. Read the Bible in a year.
  5. Be a lead singer in a band. I still think this would be fun, but I don’t want to do this as much as I did before. It sounds like a lot of work.
  6. Drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. That one was pretty easy.
  7. Get a tattoo. I got my first tattoo this year of an anchor. I am planning on getting my second tattoo in 2022.

I have some other new goals for 2022. I would like to be more bad ass. Ha ha ha. Actually I want to get my motorcycle license. I picture myself on something loud blaring my rock music as I drive down country roads on sunny summer days.

I would like to get half way done with the remodeling project on our garage apartment. I also have a list of home renovation projects. I would like to cross off half of my list this next year on house projects as well.

I also want to continue growing and working on my self-improvement projects. I want to be more accepting of myself as I age. I have always been a go, go, go person. It’s hard to adjust to being a go, go, go slow person. This coming year will be the first full year that all of my children are adults and out of school. I no longer have parenting commitments. I want some time to just be responsible for me. I want 5 years of not being responsible for others. I will not take on any long term foreign exchange students, foster children, or new pets. I will also keep working on the relationships that are important to me.

That’s about it. See ya next year!

Have a happy, happy new year!!!

Fortune cookie wisdom #26

“Travels from nesting space will take you to a broader cultural horizon.”

My whole life I’ve always been interested in geography and learning about different cultures from my own. Unfortunately like everyone else in the world, COVID put a kibosh on a lot of the travel plans I had in place. I would say it changed things but it has not put an end to things. I’ve explored new areas and cultures closer to home not internationally.

I didn’t travel much as a child. We never went on a family vacation. Thankfully my childhood was pre-internet so I really didn’t know what I was missing. My husband never had the opportunity either. He was 40 years old before he ever stepped onto an airplane.

When we first got married we didn’t have the money to travel. My husband started a business and for a long time it was a one man show. He couldn’t get away. By the time our first wedding anniversary came around we had our first child already. So pretty much we didn’t have the money, we didn’t have anyone to run the business, and we didn’t have anyone to watch the kids. Now we have nothing to keep us from travelling but COVID.

It is on my bucket list to travel to every continent and every US state. I didn’t get very far on the continents yet. For the time being that has been delayed. It’s wonderful to have a husband that loves to travel as much as I do. I find it absolutely fascinating to learn about other cultures. One of the great things about WP is I can learn a lot about other people without even having to leave the house. I like seeing pictures and learning about how other people live. Although I must admit I find it rather funny that I go on vacation and post pictures like it is the most interesting thing in the world but I don’t share a lot about my own culture. Maybe I need to do more of that.

One of the most enjoyable experiences without going anywhere is hosting foreign exchange students. We hosted a student from Japan for a week. We also hosted two foreign exchange students at the same time for the school year. Clara was from Germany and Estelle was from France. I would consider doing it again if my life ever settles down. Although they did come at a bad time but I think we were able to make it a fun experience. It was half way through when everything happened with my dad and Arabella started having mental health problems. Then they got hit with a pandemic at the end. It’s crazy to think I had four teenagers in my house when COVID started.

I couldn’t control what was going on in the world but we did the best we could to make it a positive experience. I loved when the girls would cook dishes from their countries and enjoyed learning about their traditions. It was fun showing them our culture and enjoying our area with someone who was here for the first time. Neither of the girls were used to the amount of snow we get or have ever been ice fishing before they came here. Maybe I should share some of my culture with you although it probably shines through in what I write just like I learn things about where you are from.

I really can’t wait to travel again. But until then I am wrapped in a blanket on the couch learning about your life and writing about mine.

The last night, Connecticut

We left New Hampshire late morning on our way to Connecticut to spend our last night before flying home. The traffic between Portsmouth and Hartford was absolutely crazy. We had a couple of close calls. Once I looked over to notice we were almost out of gas which was stressful. I was hoping to stop at a gas station with a bathroom, but no luck. We had to stop at a wayside.

Paul drove 45 minutes out of the way to eat at the chain restaurant Arabella works for at home. It was a nice gesture on his part, but I was feeling quite hangry as we didn’t eat lunch until 3 PM.

We arrived at our Airbnb at check in time. This time we stayed at a shared house. The top floor was ours and the host lived downstairs. I didn’t realize this at first as I made my way downstairs and opened the fridge. I was rather embarrassed once I found out and ran back upstairs. The host came home after work and introduced himself to us. He was a kind and quirky man and I instantly felt calm and at peace in his house.

We decided to go out for appetizers on our last night since we had such a late lunch. Arabella left to go for a walk by herself at night. When I tried to coax her to come with us for our last meal, she replied angrily that she is 18 and can do what she wants. Apparently going out to eat with us is not what she wanted. I had a cup of soup. The next morning the host made us a huge breakfast. He said that he had nightmares about it. He dreamt the coffee pot had a hole in it. He also had this dream that I had a whole bunch of little kids he had to cook for. I laughed and said now that was truly a nightmare. I couldn’t get Arabella up to join us. I left behind the food we bought the day before because I didn’t know breakfast was included.

Our vacation was over. It didn’t quite go as expected but we tried to make the most of it. Paul and I agreed that next time we would take a trip alone together.

Crossed that one off for sure

Honestly, I didn’t know if I was in Connecticut before or not. But this time I crossed it off my bucket list of states visited for sure.

I think I was 19 maybe 20 when I went out east. I was dating this guy named Brad. He was in the Navy. It was a long distance relationship for the most part. His mom’s house was an hour from my parent’s house. His college was 2 hours away from mine. Then there was the time he spent 6 months at sea. Once he graduated he was sent to a Naval base in Rhode Island. We dated almost 3 years. I guess we just couldn’t sustain a long distance relationship on letters and long distance phone calls when he wasn’t overseas. But anyway…

Back in the early 90’s Brad came home for Christmas break. Maybe that was the year he had the little jewelry box under the tree which disappointingly at the time contained a diamond necklace. He was a nice guy but we were too much alike to for it to work out anyway. We had the same personality. We were perfectionistic. Neither of us liked to talk on the phone and we were both left handed. But that year after Christmas I flew back with him to his Naval base in R.I.

I don’t remember much about the trip, just strange things. We flew into Boston and took a limo back with several other passengers I didn’t know. Brad was gone during the day and I stayed at his house by myself. He shared a place with his step-cousin and his wife and kid whom I didn’t know. His cousin was always stationed somewhere else. It seemed kind of weird actually that he actually lived with someone else’s wife and kid. But the wife and kid were gone the whole time I was there. So I sat all day by myself. I did a lot of laundry but never cleaned the lint tray which I got yelled at for from Brad by the wife when she got back. I remember I read the book Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Why do I remember such crazy things? At night we watched Beavis and Butthead.

We drove around and looked at the mansions along the ocean and walked the cobblestone streets. I was there in January. It was really cold and snowed. The snow stayed on the ground which seemed to be rare as children looked excitedly for something to make into a sled. We went dancing in a club that played dance and rap music by a DJ with a record player that played backwards a bit to make the classic rap sound.

We spent some time in Boston. I hated it there. There was a woman that made a snide remark about me to her friend as we were entering a store. I was a small town girl and I was afraid there. I was not used to gas stations that you had to pre-pay gas for where someone stood at a register behind bulletproof glass. I felt it was a dirty and unsafe city. I wonder if I still would feel that way.

I remember there was turbulence on the flight back home. I remember my parents picking me up late at night from the airport. I remember it was 50 below. They brought me my warmest jacket just in case the car broke down. Those were the days we thought we would and probably could freeze to death if our car broke down on some lonely country road. I remember times it was so cold you were afraid to turn off the engine to fill up with gas. Sometimes a car wouldn’t start in that kind of cold, especially if they were low on gas. I remember getting stuck behind a train for a long time and the couple in the truck in front of us were full on making out while my parents and I sat in awkward silence.

It’s almost been 30 years and I remember all of those things. But I can’t remember if I’d been to Connecticut or not. I remember being in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I remember crossing a bridge and seeing a sign that welcomed me to another state I’d never been in. It thought it might be CT. But of all the things I remembered, I can’t remember that.

One thing I can say for sure, I’ve been to Connecticut now.

A night in New Hampshire

It was time to head back south. We needed to check out of our Airbnb at 9 AM. Before leaving I needed to start a load of sheets. The notes also said to take the garbage to the curb. The dumpster was overflowing when we got there flies swarming in circles around the lid. It was expensive. The bed uncomfortably sagging so I would roll into Paul during the night. The coffee pot didn’t even work. I was wondering why it was full of stagnant water the first time I tried to fill it. But the host was nicer than most.

We had plans to spend one night in downtown Portsmouth at another Airbnb. This I assured everyone would be the nicest place because it had the highest price. From Bar Harbor, we decided to stop in Bath for lunch at a pizza place where I was able to order lobster on my pizza. Honestly I wasn’t crazy about the lobster on my pizza. It didn’t seem to belong on pizza next to my pepperoni any more than fish would.

After we sat down and ordered our pizzas, Arabella said she was ashamed of us for not feeding her. She was practically starving. WTF???!!?! She yelled at us that we never had food in the house and was embarrassed to tell her friends we wouldn’t feed her. She said all of these things while we were ordering our food. Her accusations of neglect and abuse were very upsetting to us. Then after lunch, we stopped at the grocery store (because where else would you take your kid if you are not feeding them???). She verbally attacked me in the grocery store in front of everyone.

Thankfully our trip was almost over. I was sad because I thought it would be a good time to bond with Arabella. Maybe if we take her on a trip she would appreciate everything we do for her. Maybe if she goes to a residential mental health facility that we pay for out of pocket she wouldn’t struggle as much with mental illness. The time for bargaining and denial passed. Our daughter was getting worse, not better. It was time to face that.

When we got to Portsmouth, Arabella was exhausted. She said she was going to take a nap and she probably wouldn’t be up in time for supper. At times she has been known to crash, sleeping 12 hours. Maybe she would wake up a new person. In the meantime, Paul and I decided to take a walk around town. There weren’t a lot of shops open so we didn’t stop. Instead we took a walk down by the river and crossed the bridge. Our mood one of mutual sadness. Something was really wrong with our daughter.

We came back to the Airbnb to pick up my mom and Arabella for supper. Arabella was still sleeping and didn’t want to go with. We went to another seafood restaurant. It was really busy and the service was slow. The bartender was also our server and waited on all of the tables around us. The food was unremarkable. The ambiance was nice though.

We got back to the Airbnb later than I thought I would. I brought back some extra food for Arabella in case she woke up and was hungry. When we got back, Arabella was up. She was dressed up wearing makeup and a mini skirt. She turned up her nose at the food I was offering and said she was going to go out to get something by herself.

Although the shops were closed, there was live music playing that we could hear outside of our bedroom window late into the evening. It wasn’t in the least annoying. I thought Portsmouth was a charming and clean town. I was really struck we were not approached by panhandlers at all on our trip. I think the biggest problem we faced was parking (especially in Bar Harbor). I can’t imagine trying to find a parking spot in peak season.

Most of the Airbnb’s we stayed at were old. Some of them were older than the state we live in. The staircase in the Airbnb in Portsmouth was so small there was no way you could carry a dresser up those steps. Comparable to where we live, the cost exceeded the quality. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving a review saying it was too expensive because maybe that is the norm for the East Coast. The houses did have a lot of character though and it was an experience.

Our first night, Vermont

The night before we left I had a dream that was too good to be true. So much so I considered it another nightmare. I dreamt my dad picked my son and I up in a van. My dad was loving and had a good conversation with Alex. In real life, my son hasn’t spoken to my dad in almost 2 years since discovering his crime. He never wants to see my dad again. In my dream, my dad dropped my son and I off at an apartment complex in a crime ridden ghetto. Instead of getting shot, a gangster gave me the shirt off his back for my trip. It was a fairytale dream that left me feeling sad.

I awoke early after the dream to finish packing. We had to leave early to drive to the airport a couple hours away. I had a hard time waking Arabella up and we ended up leaving later than I wanted to. I didn’t even check to see if she turned off her lights. We took my small car and couldn’t fit all our luggage in the trunk. My mom’s suitcase was wedged between my mom and daughter in the backseat.

The drive and check in at the airport was rather uneventful until we got on the plane. The pilot announced there was bad weather in Chicago and we would have a delay where we might have to deplane. We only had an hour to make our connecting flight. I could only hope that our connecting flight was delayed as well. Thankfully we were delayed less than we anticipated and our connecting flight was also delayed. But that also meant we would get to our destination later.

Although I wore pants and a sweatshirt, Arabella was hot. She decided to wear only a tank top and short shorts that were several sizes too small. Half of her large cleavage hung out and her cutting scars on her arms and legs were fully visible. She seemed to like the attention her appearance was receiving. I was rather embarrassed but she is 18 and not open to feedback.

We got to our destination at the Connecticut airport as the sun was starting to set. The car rental company said we could upgrade from a midsize car to a large SUV and considering our tight car ride to the airport and several hours of driving on our trip, we took it.

We were spending our first night in Vermont which was another hour and a half drive from the airport. It wasn’t easy to drive the huge SUV as dusk was nearing, an unfamiliar city in an unfamiliar vehicle. We wanted to find somewhere to eat as we neared the end of our drive for the evening. We wanted to eat something local to Vermont since we were only spending one night there. Arabella wanted to eat at the chain restaurant she worked at at home but no one else wanted to. We wanted to try something new so we kept driving. We ended up out in the middle of nowhere stopping at the only restaurant that looked open.

Arabella was angry because we didn’t stop where she wanted to eat. She also got angry because her dad said he would not buy her alcohol. She was pissy during the whole meal and only ordered dessert to eat. Afterwards, Paul talked to her alone and apologized that he did not stop to eat where she wanted as it was her vacation too. I didn’t think he needed to because he wasn’t out of line, she was. We both wanted everyone to get along, but that wasn’t going to happen.

The rest of the car ride was very difficult. Paul drove trying to find our Airbnb. We were out in the middle of nowhere. It was pouring outside. The roads were winding and mountainous. For the rest of the ride, Arabella attacked Paul. She accused him of being a horrible father. She said he was abusive. She was angry that we never gave her an actual graduation gift like a stuffed animal although we said the trip was her gift and we were spending a lot of money to take her. She screamed at Paul while the rest of us sat in silence. I was angry at Arabella and worried about what the rest of the trip would be like. I felt sorry for Paul because he was bending over backwards trying to be nice to everyone and he was viciously attacked.

We got to our Airbnb which resembled an old haunted farmhouse. It was cool and damp. It poured all night and the rain ended just before we left. In the morning we found that we were between two rundown houses. It was strange at the house we rented because two of the bedrooms didn’t have curtains on the windows. The host was really nice though and said we could help ourselves to anything in the fridge or cupboards. We found some Vermont pancake mix and Paul ran to the store to buy maple syrup. He made us a nice breakfast in the morning then we were on our way.

Gratitude week 91 and 92

  1. Arabella didn’t have strep the day before we left for vacation.
  2. The airline told us that our flight into Chicago would be delayed due to a storm, but we ended up getting to the airport in plenty of time to catch our connecting flight.
  3. My kids at home did not fight.
  4. My son’s roommate turned 21 while we were gone. Twenty one always scares me a bit because although they tend to party hard as it is, 21 takes it up a notch. They did have a party while we were gone but were safe and cleaned up after themselves. It’s the best I could’ve hoped for.
  5. I checked visiting Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire off my bucket list and maybe Connecticut as well. I can’t remember if I’ve been there or not and I’ve for sure been there now. I only have 11 states left to go before I’ve visited them all.
  6. Being back at home and sleeping in my own bed.
  7. Clean sheets.
  8. Fresh lobster. My mom, Arabella, Paul, and I ate a whole lobster for the first time on Paul’s birthday.
  9. We brought gifts home and Alex seemed really happy that we didn’t forget about his girlfriend.
  10. I’m grateful that my husband did most of the driving. The traffic was horrible and we ended up upgrading our rental to get a larger SUV which made parking (which was already bad) and driving more difficult.
  11. We did some hiking at Acadia State Park, shopping, and sightseeing. I have tons of great pictures I hope to share with you.
  12. My daughter’s wedding is now less than a year away. Angel asked me if I could help her with the wedding planning which I would love to do.
  13. We are going wedding dress shopping this weekend.
  14. There are several times when I felt like I was near my breaking point over the past couple weeks, but here I am.
  15. My mom did a lot better than I expected her to on this trip. I’m grateful we didn’t have any ER visits or major problems. Travelling with Arabella was rather challenging. We had to keep telling ourselves that this might be the last big trip we take with her since this was a high school graduation gift. We tried to make the best of it.
  16. Arabella has her psych evaluation this week. I am finally hoping for some answers.
  17. Fall and the beauty of falling leaves and letting go.
  18. Oh my gosh, I got carded at a restaurant. It’s been a couple of years now. I’m 47 but there is someone out there who thinks I could pass as under 21.
  19. I’m grateful for employees that show up for work. I thought Bar Harbor was a horrible place to park and bathrooms are really hard to come by. The public bathrooms are just filthy. There was a woman cleaning the walls of the bathroom stall. Someone made a mess I would prefer not to think about. It was very disgusting, but the woman cleaning was so pleasant about doing her job and keeping things nice for people that I gave her a tip. It felt good to bring her some happiness as she really deserved it for the thankless job she was doing.
  20. I’m back!! I will probably write about our trip over the next couple of days.

Gratitude week 90

  1. Summer! The last couple of days the weather has been wonderful with warm days and cool nights.
  2. I just finished an excellent memoir of a girl that struggles with borderline, bipolar, and anorexia called Loud in the House of Myself. It was very personal, well written, and should’ve been a best seller. I just started a new memoir about a guy who struggles with extreme addiction to crack and alcohol. It’s been a hard book to read.
  3. Arabella still has her job. Her manager sent her home after she showed up late. Tardiness has been something she has struggled with for quite a long time. I’m so glad I don’t have to wake her up for school anymore.
  4. Yesterday my husband and I took some friends out sailing. Afterwards we went out to eat to celebrate the September birthdays including my husbands. Thankfully the weather was perfect.
  5. We are leaving for our trip in a couple days. I am excited to check a couple more states off my bucket list.
  6. I have an appointment for a hair cut and am going to get my nails done. I always look forward to a little pampering.
  7. Supper with my son and his new girlfriend got postponed until tomorrow. But she did come over with my son to do some laundry this past week. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen my son do laundry. I sat down and talked with them for about an hour and she seems really nice.
  8. I saw a wild turkey in our yard this morning. I’m grateful for our house and ample opportunities to see nature. I’ve seen turkeys now along with deer and foxes, plenty of birds, and even the 4 frogs that live in our decorative pond.

Gratitude week 88

  1. Summer. I’m trying to grab what little we’ve got left of it.
  2. Sleeping in my own bed.
  3. Actually sleeping fairly well last night for the first time in a couple of weeks.
  4. A fun last sailing trip of the season.
  5. Checking another marina off our bucket list. It was out in the middle of nowhere.
  6. Having a nice quiet holiday weekend at home.
  7. Finishing a really good memoir on heroin addiction and starting a new book.
  8. Having a fluffy clean dog after giving our pooch a bath.
  9. For another school year that started without any kids in school. It’s very freeing not having to be tied down to a school schedule. Not to mention all the chaos with COVID. Not having to fight with kids to get up early, curfews, grades, issues with friends, after school activities, weekend school events, transportation, mean teachers, endless school supplies, sport equipment, practice, extracurricular fees, difficult parents, peer pressure, and homework. I’m done with that now after almost 20 years!
  10. For the changing of the seasons and transitioning into my second favorite season, fall. For warm days and cool nights. Campfires and preparing for the cold days to come.