Posted in Austin, careers, challenges, change, Outdoors, patience, texas, travel, vacation, Writing

Crossroads

When life starts pulling you apart, what do you do? Until today, we were at a crossroads. Both of us had job offers come our way. Sounds great at first, but the jobs are not in the same place. One is out of state. The out of state job would have been much more of a challenge up front because moving takes a lot of time, effort and money, but it would have brought us closer to our family and friends, and most likely would have lent to a less chaotic life a large city provides. The other offer would keep us here where we are, and give a good pay boost (not as good as the other one), but would help out, and possibly help enough so that we can at least fly home every once in a while instead of driving 19+ hours.

The decision was made to stay. I don’t know how I completely feel about it. My brain is telling me that it’s probably the best thing for now, and that just because we don’t move now, doesn’t mean the opportunity won’t come to move later, which may end up being a much more opportune time. But my heart sees a chance at being closer to home fade away. We start to build these ideas in our head that it will happen, so I get excited and start searching neighborhoods, houses, restaurants, parks, etc., so when it comes decision time, the decision is not easy to say “maybe next time”. I just hope that we are both okay with the decision over time, and that an opportunity will come later, at the right time, and we’ll know it.

When life changes come up like these, I start to think about what is really important in life. We can easily get caught up in climbing the ladder, pursuing some “thing” we decided was the most important “thing” at the time. But stepping back usually reveals something else. Getting that next job or promotion is nice, but it certainly shouldn’t be the most important. The shininess of these moments become dull quickly and eventually completely fade away. Spending my limited time on earth with friends and family, and exploring this world tend to stick out to me as more important. Those memories stick in my head much more than a pay raise. The only thing this pay raise/job move will or can do for us is afford us the ability to see friends and family more often.

With these reflections, I also start to think about changes, as they are bound to come. Things as small as my blog theme come up in my head as needed for change. I think it’s time for me to re-focus this blog into something more specific, if I’m going to keep it around and make sure I focus on things I enjoy. I recently got back from a month-long school in Florida. When I got back, the hubs and I decided to venture out to Padre Island State Park for the day. It was a semi-spontaneous adventure that we cooked up. We decided also, on the way back, to hit up some BBQ in Lockhart, something we’d been talking about doing for years. The day was about as close to perfect as you could get (minus minor sunburn).

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These are the memories I want to continue to create. I love going on adventures with him, as well as enjoy our friends, and continuing to build stronger friendships (something that is inherently difficult for me). My hope is that we continue on this track and keep focused on what matters most in life, even if our path isn’t going exactly as planned.

 

 

Posted in Austin, explore, Happiness, hiking, nature, Outdoors, pets, photography, texas, travel, travel, wanderlust

Lost Maples Nature Trail

Friday was a good day to get away from the city and plant ourselves into no-signal land. After work, we quickly finished packing up, grabbed the pups and headed out of town. Three hours later, we landed in Lost Maples Nature Trail, set up camp for the night, cracked a beer or two in front of a small fire, then proceeded to bed.

I had been in charge of most of the packing, as I was working from home that Friday, but I failed a bit in the food department. The morning breakfast plans were supposed to be eggs, sausage and potato with coffee and berries. I forgot to bring a knife, so the potato was out, and I didn’t bring a storage container for the rest of the sausage (forgot to divvy it up). But we still made do with what we had. We used a good chunk of the sausage and fried it up with the eggs and basically had a very meaty breakfast. I did remember the berries so we plowed through those (and yes I shared them with the pups). I only brought enough coffee for a few cups, but again, we made do. Plus, tons of coffee, then hiking in the wilderness equals bad news bears for us women folk. No thanks.

 

One thing that I love about camping is the people. It’s almost like living in a small community, even if it’s only for a night. You’re all there, mostly for the same reason: to get out and see nature, to get away from the city, to get some exercise….something of that variety. There’s usually always a welcome nod, or a ‘Hey, how ya’ doin” as you pass by another camper, something that doesn’t always happen in the city.

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Our little camping community

The morning was cool, around 45 degrees, but it felt great. The air was fresh and perfect for a long 4.5 mile hike. I was greeted right away by a pair of cardinals, dancing and playing in the tree branches.

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The landscape of Texas changes drastically over the miles. Where I am, in the Austin area, we are smack dab in the middle of the rougher, rockier hill country, and the flat, grassy plains, reminiscent of the Midwest. As we headed west out toward Lost Maples, the grass became less and less, and more cacti started to pop up. The hill country became more defined, more pronounced. To some, this landscape may seem barren, or unlovely, but to me, it holds its own beauty.

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One of the first main points of interest was Monkey Rock. I’m sure you can see why they named it so. I love that nature can form it’s own art pieces. Untouched by the human hand, nature does it’s best work.

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Most of the 4.5 mile trail was pretty rough, full of stones and rock to navigate through. I definitely recommend a good hiking boot, like a high ankle Keen boot with a good, thick sole. This area of the trail was absolutely beautiful and a little more etched out.

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Once we made it to the top, there were endless picture taking opportunities, but I tried to limit myself. We sat down, gave the dogs some water and shared an apple with them.

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Towards the bottom of the hill, there were areas you could primitive camp for the night, meaning you have to hike in with all of your gear. It was an amazing spot. I definitely would have a hard time leaving that area.

 

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Once we reached the bottom, I turned around and took a shot of the top, where we had just been. It doesn’t look that daunting, but it definitely was. It felt good to see the progress we’d made. At this point, we’d made it back to the bottom, and had about a mile of walking to go, but luckily at this point, it was mainly a straight, flat shot back.

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Overall, even though the trip was short, it was great to get out, get fresh air, and get away from the hustle of the city. I find myself being able to concentrate better once I’ve had a moment to relax and re-center. When I’m out of the city, I stop thinking about all the things that stress me out. Nature takes over and I only concentrate on what’s in front of me, which is something I try to take back with me and hold onto as long as I can. I stop worrying about unknowns, and fears that I’ve made up in my mind. Out here, it’s just us and nature.

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The hubs enjoying the view from the top.
Posted in Austin, challenge, decor, design, home, House, paint, photography, renovation

DIY floating shelf/desk

I haven’t posted a DIY for a while. We’ve been toying with the idea of moving so I’ve been in this hold of projects. Do I take on anymore big projects if we move? I feel like it wouldn’t be worth it. We repainted the exterior of the house, completely renovated the kitchen, replaced the flooring in half the house, painted the cabinets, framed the mirror and replaced the shower fixtures in the guest bath. I painted every wall in the house as well, so all in all, a lot has been done. I think we are to the point, where the only things I’d want to do before we listed the house would be replace a couple older fans, fix up the fence and get the fireplace working again (it was capped when it was a rental).

We have an office/music room/weight room, and it happens to be the smallest room in the house. Originally I had a desk in the room, which took up a lot of space, just to hold an older iMac we never use and some pens (and papers to be filed).DSC00365.JPG

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The other side of the office/music room/weight room. You can see how it can start to feel tight.

I put the desk in the front yard and it was swept up in a day, and I posted the iMac for sale which has a list of possible buyers. I bought a pre-fab board at Lowe’s to make the job easier and some 14″ white brackets, also from Lowe’s. I sanded down the board with a rotary sander to make it extra smooth and wiped it down with a damp cloth to pick up the dust. Luckily I already had primer and glossy spray paint in the garage so this was going to be a relatively cheap project.

 

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Love this stuff
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Sprayed in the shade and used the entire can. I focused on the top of the desk and the sides.

I love DIY projects but a lot of times, they take longer to do than I want, because I get nervous about the end result. What if it doesn’t turn out like I was hoping? What if I mess something up? These are all valid questions, but they stop me from doing anything, so I knew I had to push through those fears, as menial as they may seem. One thing that helps me is to give myself plenty of prep time, so when the paint was drying, I came in and measured the center wall and at what height I wanted the board to be at. After the board was dry, I re-measured, using the board itself to mark the height I wanted the desk to be at. After measuring multiple more times, I drilled and I came out even!

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Woo hoo! Even stevens as far as I’m concerned. I put up a dry erase board, some speakers, my laptop and cracked a beer (always deserved after a DIY project, no batter how big or small). This floating desk leaves more room for the weight bench to move around and gives the small room a more open feeling.

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It felt good to get this little project out of the way. It was something I’d been wanting to do for a while. I gave myself time to think it out, plan, and find the right materials. After that, I took my time measuring and prepping, and it all worked out. Yay! Now….onto the next project!

Posted in Austin, change, changes, daily struggles, decisions, jobs

Changes, changes

I’m not good with changes to be honest. Not fast ones anyway. My personality requires me to take an idea and play with it. Give me time, some internet, coffee, and good music and I’ll probably be willing to hop on board with whatever comes my way. But when changes start shooting at me with records speeds, my brain goes into overdrive, then shutdown mode.

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My personality dislikes chaos and untimely changes

I was just informed I have to be gone for a month for training starting way too soon. I thought I wasn’t going to go to this school so it was quite the surprise when I got the message. My brain starts to immediately make lists upon lists to try to drain all the traffic going on inside . One list for what I need to do at home before I leave, one list to prep for the course, one list for packing, etc. Then I start to think about how this is going to work with my job, and the fact that I’d just put out some job feelers. I guess those prospects are probably gone if they try to communicate with me in the next few weeks.

I’m trying to reprogram my brain to stay calm with these quick changes. It’s part of being in the military family, whether part-time or full, you have to expect short notice. I wrote down a couple of my lists with plenty of room to add more, and stepped away from my work desk for a while. I made a couple of phone calls to let people know what was going on, then went back to working like nothing had changed. I needed some normalcy mixed in with the crazy. So far it seems to be working. Stay calm, work it out, it’ll be fine. *Breathe*. Embrace the change, embrace the suck. You help steer the outcome and your attitude.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it- Chuck Swindoll (2)

Like Chucky boy says, some things I can’t change, but I can change how I react. I took some aspirin, downed some iced green tea, I’m writing in WordPress, then I’m on to the next box to check off. One at a time.