In the Beginning…

When I was in Junior High and High School I had aspirations of becoming a writer.

I had so many great ideas for books. I would write and write…and then I’d get “stuck” because I didn’t know where my story was going or how it would end. I had quite a few unfinished pieces of work laying around most of the time.

Writing was my therapy. I wrote about everything. I’m sure my friends were grateful for my using a journal as my therapist rather than bouncing my random ravings and thoughts off of them.

Fast forward a few years to being a married young mother of three young children. My husband was gone, hunting, the majority of the fall season. It became frustrating to me. I started writing again, not just in my own personal journal. I submitted my sarcastic short stories of being a hunter’s wife to several hunting magazines. My stories were never accepted. I guess they didn’t appreciate my sarcasm.

That was the end of my “writing career”.

I really do enjoy putting thoughts to words in black and white. The jumbles of thoughts and emotions come spilling out for me to see and make better sense of it all when I see it in writing. I can return to those words over and over until I understand myself. I can see faults in thinking. I can see red flags I have been unwilling to recognize. I can see my growth. I can relive happy moments and realize that everything is not all that bad.

That is why I have chosen to blog.

I need to spill out those thoughts into words, watch them tumble from my fingers onto the keyboard and magically appear on my laptop screen. I have to tell a story! Who doesn’t love stories?

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I believe that we all have common emotions that we can help each other out with. If by no other means than by understanding and realizing that we are not alone in our feelings and sometimes scary thoughts in this craziness we call life. I will be brutally honest about my craziness, adventures, hopes and dreams, and hope it can help someone else feel less alone. I would love to hear from anyone else who can share insights with me. I certainly do not have everything all figured out!

I DO have some main areas of interest that I will focus on in my blog posts, for instance, my insatiable desire to travel to many different places, experience adventure in fearless abandon, and enjoy learning how other people and cultures live every day. And – how exactly am I planning on paying for all that adventure? Well, I don’t know! This blog will also serve as my therapy to help me work that out!

I also love of refurbishing old furniture and making it pretty again.That may pop up from time-to-time, as well.

I’m so excited to begin this adventure and hope that you enjoy the journey with me! If you want to drop me a line but not leave a comment, please email me at oldschool.funky.diva@gmail.com

I look forward to knowing you!

Sunney

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Winds of Change

This post isn’t going to be about travel or fun adventures. This post is a “summation” of my life’s decisions, mistakes, and probably some pretty deep psychological damage. I’m facing some cold hard truths in my life right now. It’s not fun, and it’s not pretty. So, if this isn’t what you’re into, maybe skip reading this post. I’m not going to tell my life story – that’s just way too long and nobody wants to read all that anyway.

I got married a week before I graduated from high school and had my first baby when I was 18 years old. The way my marriage ended was damaging to everyone involved. I hated myself for a while. I pursued quite a few different careers to find fulfillment that way, but ended up just feeling flakey due to jumping from one idea to the next.

The majority of my life has been spent being “Mom”. When my youngest child moved out of the house, I fell apart a little bit. I knew he would go; they all moved out and it’s what they all should do. What I didn’t expect was that I suddenly had no idea who I was anymore. I no longer cared about the things I use to find enjoyable.

It’s taken a few years for me to try to develop myself again. I’m ok with not being in that Mom role now and have embraced the freedom that is mine; but I find myself in a precarious place of no purpose. What is life without purpose?

My adult children all ended up living out of state, but in the same area as each other. I decided to move near them. I think I needed to “fix” how things ended. So I bought a house and moved. The problem wasn’t solved by doing that. I still had the guilt of lots of years, and I had a general feeling that I was just in the way. They didn’t do anything to make me feel that way. If anything, they are extraordinary in visiting me and inviting me over and going to the movies with me. It was completely my own situation in my head.

I got a job as an Assistant Manager at a luxury apartment community. I liked the people I worked with every day, I liked the people who lived in the community. I was making enough money to pay the bills and be ok. I was acting as the Manager, Assistant, and training two leasing agents brand new to the industry. I worked very hard and put in many hours trying to make things work.

At the time I was running myself ragged at work, my youngest daughter lived with me. Two of my kids’ housing situations changed. They were both renting houses, and both owners decided to sell the houses they were renting. Rent had gone up so much in the interim that they really could no longer afford the same kind of place and they were struggling. So me being me, I suggested that since I was always at work anyway, why don’t I just move in to one of the apartments at my community and they can rent my house from me? So, that’s what we did.

By summer’s end the corporate office finally hired the person they wanted to be the manager. Things went downhill pretty fast after that. I was upset that she received all kinds of support that I didn’t get during the three months I was juggling it all myself. My attitude got me fired. I try to cut myself some slack emotionally on this; they also fired the previous 2 managers, a leasing agent, and had to replace an assistant, leasing agent, maintenance supervisor and maintenance tech that all walked off the job due to corporate’s dealing with things. So, maybe my bad attitude was justified; but I still got fired.

Now here’s where things get sticky.

I can’t live on the property if I’m no longer working there. It’s the policy. Oh, and I rented out my house. And I don’t have a job now, so I can’t get an apartment of my own.

I put almost everything I own in storage and crashed at my house on the couch.

Some good things came of this. I discovered that I don’t need all of those “things” I had in storage. The things that just a couple months ago I thought I couldn’t live without. Funny how perspective changes things that way. In the process of all of this, I also learned that I shouldn’t be a home owner. There are too many things that I don’t know how to fix or take care of, and it’s amazing how difficult it is to hire someone to come to your house to take care of the little things; so they just don’t get done. All those undone projects and things I know will be coming up are mounting in my mind and I just don’t have the energy to deal with this stuff anymore.

I got a part time temp job that paid enough to pay my bills, but not enough to pay my bills and live somewhere. I took it because a job is better than no job. I still couldn’t move in to my own place. So in the garage, I set up daybed that use to be in my craft room. It’s winter, and cold. They had a space heater and tons of blankets. I stayed warm and was out of the way of the living room. The bad news is that I really hated what I was doing at that part time job. Not that I just hated it, but had nightmares about how I was going to end my life. It was not good for me mentally and I had to stop. I felt like I was doing what was best for me. I had a job interview lined up for the next two days in a row, and another one the following week.

None of my kids like where my house is located. To me, it is ideal and the location was actually the reason I chose the house I did. They complain about it frequently; but live with it because the shared mortgage payment is very cheap and the utilities are low. I decided it would be best for me to just sell my house. I can pay off all of my bills and still have money left until I figure out what I want to do with myself. I imagine that in the future I will want or need a home base to land. I’m getting old and I don’t know how long I can or will be ok with island hopping before I’m tired of that, too.

I told my oldest daughter that I was meeting with my realtor tomorrow about selling the house. I knew that no one wanted to move again – who wants to move again? I did not expect things to go the way they did.

I’ve spent most of my life taking care of everyone without a thought for myself. It’s been a struggle for me to put myself first. I thought ending that job that was so destructive to my psyche was a great first step and I was proud of myself. Apparently I was the only one who thought that. My daughter’s boyfriend (who also lives in the house) told me it left a very sour taste in his mouth; my daughter thought it was very irresponsible. My youngest daughter came in on the conversation mid-way and told me that my unstable situation contributed to her feeling unstable. My son that lives in the house was at work, so I don’t know what he would have to say.

I was trying desperately to think of a way to keep them in the house until June (it’s January now) because that is what they were counting on, and what could I do with myself in the meantime. I started feeling worse and worse about myself; how I failed them when they were younger and how I was failing them again now. I do not have security and stability. I’ve never really known those things. A couple times I managed to live in the same place for 4-5 years, but that was really the exception to how things worked. I don’t know how to achieve it. I don’t know how to live that way. All you secure and stable people out there, I just don’t know how you do it and I think it’s amazing that you can do that. That is probably why traveling is what I want to do. I’m better at bouncing around than staying put.

I don’t know how this will work out or how the story will end. I only know I’ve disappointed my children again – still – and that the way I think of myself is not even close to how they think of me.

I am guarded and detached and that probably makes me a very difficult person to love; even though that is exactly what I crave most of all.

My First Solo Cruise

During summer in the industry I work in, it’s easy to work 10-12 hour days, 5 days a week;  and 5 or 6 hour days on weekends when the office was closed, in order to actually get some work done.

The last two summers in a row I found myself in a situation where not only was this my schedule, but I was also doing it without an assistant or without an assistant AND having to train a new employee new to the industry during this crazy-busy season.

After summer was over and goals were met but before clearing up the rubble that was my office, I was completely and utterly exhausted.

Costa Rica was calling me.  I considered how desperately exhausted I was and thought maybe I wasn’t up to zip lining through the jungle just yet. I have to admit, I was also a bit intimidated going because I was going alone to a place I had never been before. It was a little scary just thinking about it!

I decided to book a cruise, instead. I had never been on a cruise before, either. The idea that there are lots of people around you all the time and no one needs to know you are alone made me feel like I could do this and be okay. Port excursions are offered, so you can sign up for things that you are interested in at the different ports, be in a group, and feel safe.

I chose to depart from New Orleans because I had always wanted to go there; so why not make it part of my trip? The destinations I selected were Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel. I was SO excited!

I scheduled my flight to arrive in New Orleans early to give myself time to explore the city. I took a walking tour where we met at a local cafe. A local musician was playing jazz. I enjoyed the music with the crowd while having my personal favorite chai latte along with a local favorite, beignet.

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The tour covered historical sites near the infamous Bourbon Street and Jackson Square. I love this kind of history. I took tons of pictures of the architecture, the trees, beautiful streets, and people wandering around.

After the tour was finished and we all dispersed, I found myself with no idea where I was or how to get back to where we started. Panic set in for a moment. I stopped in a few gift shops and picked up souvenirs, and headed towards where I thought the port was located. It was approximately 3:00 in the afternoon and I found myself knee-deep in the Bourbon Street stench and a growing crowd of people.

I felt the panic inside rising again. While trying to maintain the “I’m not lost” look, I casually went into another gift shop and tried to find my GPS location. I was going in the opposite direction. I decided the smartest thing to do was to call a cab and have him take me to the port. I’m so glad I did, because I had the port location wrong, too.

“Wow, I am so NOT an experienced solo traveler! What was I thinking?!?” kept running through my head.

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We traveled for two days on the ocean before reaching Montego Bay, Jamaica, the first port. I spent most of those two days sleeping. Sometimes on deck, getting a sunburn; sometimes in my comfy cabin, listening to the sounds of the ship and ocean. It was completely relaxing and perfect.

In Jamaica, I chose to tour Rose Hall Manor. A supposedly haunted mansion of a “white witch” slave owner with a reputation of brutality. The home and property are old and beautiful; just my kind of thing. There was also a beautiful view of the ocean from the front of the property. I enjoyed watching the little lizards, too.

The next destination was Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Out of all of my ports, this is the one that I was least excited about. Georgetown turned out to be my favorite memory from the entire trip.

For my port activity, I chose to swim with dolphins. I’m not the best swimmer ever, so this also seemed alike it could be a little problematic.

To get to the swim location, my group was in this twisty-turny path/line through tropical trees where there were beautifully colored tropical birds. The line wait wasn’t like your typical wait-in-line kind of thing. It was so beautiful that it was actually an enjoyable experience, and gave me time to take lots of pictures. It was fun and interesting to watch the animals.

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While we were on shore getting ready for the water (swim suits, life jackets, instructions), the dolphins were playing in the water. Jumping up, chasing each other, it was so much fun.

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The dolphins were “trained” to know that first we (the humans) would all be in a line in the water with our hands palm-down above the water, and the dolphin would swim under our hands so we could touch him. Then we changed our hand position to below the surface of the water, palms-up. The dolphin looped around and let us touch the underside of his body.

Next, one at a time, we (the humans) got to experience the dolphin posing with us for a picture. First the dolphin would kiss us on the cheek, then we would turn and kiss the dolphin on the nose. Then the dolphin would turn upside down and take the person for a short ride to the dock, while the human hangs on to his fins.

The dolphin was in love with me, I swear it. He did the cheek kiss, nose kiss, go to the dock routine for everyone; except me. He kissed my cheek. I kissed his nose. I guess the dolphin wasn’t ready to leave yet. He kissed my cheek again, so I kissed his nose again. Then he kissed my cheek again! I laughed and kissed his nose again. The tour person on the dock finally called out to the dolphin and the dolphin turned upside down and took me for a ride.

The dolphins are not held captive. The location is open to the ocean, so they can go whenever they want. The dolphin swim was the most amazing thing I think I have ever experienced. I highly recommend it to everyone!

In Cozumel, I took a ferry transfer to Playa del Carmen followed by a bus ride to Tulum, to visit ancient Mayan ruins. This was the port I was most looking forward to. I just love this history stuff! It was so interesting and I loved wandering around the ancient, crumbling structures. Then I spied the beautiful white sand beach and perfectly blue water below the cliffs. Wow, was it gorgeous! I took a little side tour of my own down to the beach. There was no way I was going to be this close to that and not experience it first hand.

That being said, I also fell behind my group – which is ok, expect I also decided to go back to the meet-up spot for the bus a different route than we came. You’ll never guess what I did (note sarcasm). I got myself lost. I thought I knew exactly where I was going, and then suddenly I was approaching a major traffic road and had no idea where my bus was! That feeling of panic I experienced in New Orleans came right back. There were not a lot of people around though, so I just slowed my pace and looked around to get my bearings and found that I had come out opposite of where I thought I would. I made my way back to the meet-up location with a little extra time to pick up souvenirs.

I did not want to go home. My view on life is different. This trip put the wanderlust in me. I will figure out how I can make traveling to new places a regular part of my life.

Jamaica on board

My plan is to start with  Central America and the Caribbean Islands. I definitely want to go back to New Orleans and spend at least a few days there. There is so much to see and experience. Solo travel or not. I now feel more secure in myself, knowing I can make these kinds of trips, have more fun, without being so afraid. I’m going!

When you NEED a Vacation

Over-worked. Over-stressed. Exhausted. The zombie-like feeling in your brain. Moving through your day on auto pilot. You feel like you just have to get away! We’ve all been there before, right?

So what’s stopping you? Really. Write it down. Write down all of the reasons you think you cannot give yourself the break that you need.

Here’s my list:

Can’t take the time off work.

Work WILL survive without you while you rejuvenate yourself. Most likely, you will return ready to take on the world again and get back to feeling that you contribute in the individual style that is uniquely yours. You don’t even HAVE to take a week away. Maybe just a long weekend.

 Money.

Money is so tight right now. How can I possibly go anywhere? You don’t have to go to far-away exotic locations. Where are some locations near you that you’ve been interested in but never taken the time to check out? What things interest you that you would like to look into at a deeper level? Ghost Towns? Caves? Mountains? Rivers? Camping? Natural wonders are everywhere; find what’s near you! Make your own map, make your own itinerary. Create your own vacation that fits into your time schedule and your pocket book. You don’t have to go broke to give yourself a break. Making your own plan based on your individual interests is also a great way to rejuvenate. Get back in touch with what’s interesting and enjoyable to you!

Family obligations.

Everybody needs something, all the time. You’re being pulled from all directions and feeling a little overwhelmed. THIS is not the time to take a break! Right? I disagree. Just like the flight attendants’ airline instructions – put on your own oxygen mask first. You can’t be of help to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself! Sometimes you just have to take a step away and take care of you. It’s not forever; just a break. The people that you love, the people that love you, will be ok and they care about your well-being, too. And again – your break does not have to be a full-blown all-out vacation that takes you to the other side of the world for an extended period of time. Do what feels good to you. Spa day? Hiking. Sleep! Only you know what you and your body needs right now. Listen to yourself and follow your own intuition for what is best for YOU!

 I’m single. No one can go with me. Who wants to go alone?

Lots of people! Lots of people travel alone more and more these days. Solo Traveling seems to be a popular trend right now. If this is your first time testing out the waters for solo travel and you’re feeling intimidated – start small. Long-weekend local (or kind-of local) sites. Refer back to that self-made map and itinerary and start there. You will discover that even just a short break by yourself can be more invigorating than a big planned trip with others. You can change your plan however you want to, on the fly. Flexibility and doing what you want to do with your time is so refreshing!

So with my above-listed items, I made a plan to visit some remote ghost towns I found on google in a neighboring state that I could drive to. I made a plan of what route I would drive, got an extra gas can in case I found myself in the middle of nowhere without fuel, loaded up a few clothes, my dog and my camera and left! It was the 4th of July weekend, so I didn’t miss any work at all. Family all had their own agendas, so it was perfect timing for me. Gas was the most expensive part of the trip, but overall I didn’t spend much money. I brought snacks and sandwich stuff that I had bought at the grocery store so I didn’t spend a ton on eating out. Motels in those tiny little towns are fairly cheap, and I admit I stayed at the dive places; but nothing scary. I took tons of pictures of long-forgotten places. It was completely relaxing. Yes, I did manage to get myself turned around a couple of times where I was in such remote locations that GPS just wasn’t working, but I figured it out. I explored a couple of places I didn’t intend to. I slept until I was done sleeping. There was no alarm clock. No “real” schedule. Everything was completely up to me. Abandoned Mine.Nevada

Monday morning I was back to work on time and feeling happy and up-beat, ready to go! My dog was happy to be home again. He was not a fan of the road trip.

Happy to be home

 

What are your reasons? What is holding you back? Work out the responses to your own reasons as to why those reasons are invalid (because they are), and make yourself a plan!

I’d love to hear the barriers you break for yourself,what you figured out, and where you went! If you take photos, please send some! I just LOVE photos of places and people. And falling-down old stuff lol. So have a great adventure and please share it with me! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

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