A home is more than a home

We are looking at listing our house next week. Typing that, plus packing up boxes into a storage unit, makes this feel very real.

I know I’ll miss friends. We’ve made just a few here, but they will be missed. I’ve found a new love of food, especially the smoked meat varietals. Texas knows meat, especially brisket. I’ve found a new love for beer. Austin can brew. I’ve learned to appreciate the hill country and it’s arid, green-dappled landscapes. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a proud Texan and love Texas. There’s a pride going on here that people make fun of sometimes, but only because they don’t understand it. I’ll always remember that.  Continue reading “A home is more than a home”

Working on patience

We would like to move. We’ve been working on moving for a while now. On many occasions I’ve gotten impatient with the progress. I’ve started to focus so much on waiting for news, looking for a place to live, cleaning the house, getting it ready to list….that I’ve forgotten about everything else in life.

As important as it is to have the house looking nice for pictures, I don’t want to look back after we’ve moved (and I know it’ll eventually happen), thinking only about how much time I spent cleaning, not on any of the things we loved about Austin.

We recently made a list of a handful of restaurants we want to hit up one more time before we leave. So far we’ve hit none of them. This week and going forward, we’ll be refocusing our efforts on enjoying our time where we are before it’s gone. I’ve been in those moments of regret, looking back, thinking about how focused I was on the future, forgetting about my present. There will be plenty of time to wrap myself in those moments later.

Less dreaming and focusing on the future, and what may be, and more focusing on the here and now, while I’m still right here.

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An accidental addition

Thursdays are my volunteer days. I go to work, then drive to the library to shelve books and help people out for a couple of hours. It’s a routine. I like it.

This past Thursday rocked my routine. We’d just finished an inspection at work, so I was outside, getting some fresh air in between rain storms. A co-worker had been walking outside as well so we started talking and he said he heard a cat. I waved him off, thinking it was a bird. But the sound persisted and I started the search for this cat, or bird,  or catbird.

Nestled under a small bush, I spotted small flecks of white and brown. Then the eyes found me. “Jeff, it is a cat!” I said to him. He went in to grab a box and towel and I kept an eye on her. Rain started to come down, and soon enough, Jeff came with a box. I’m not sure what happen to mom, or any of her siblings, (another co-worker said she saw this cat alone in the early morning hours as well), but mom taught her some good survival skills before they were separated. She darted around me when I tried to pick her up and bolted towards the parking garage. Luckily, she’s so young she ended up cornering herself. Jeff tried to grab her but she hissed, which made him recoil, leaving her to run past him. I quickly darted in front of her before she could head out into the main road, and Jeff was able to pick her up. At this point, she was tired and scared. She smooshed herself into the corner of the box as much as she could and gave a couple more hisses.

Luckily, this happened to be right around quitting time, so I was able to take her home at that moment.

Fast forward to Friday – we luckily also already had an appointment with the vet for our dogs so we took the crew over and got her squeezed in for an appointment as well. The vet thought her to be around five weeks old, she weighed around 450 grams (less than a pound), and was slightly dehydrated but healthy otherwise. They were able to help her go to the bathroom and eat, and all the vet techs paraded her around the building.

She’s now back home and doing wonderfully. She’s already figured out how to jump out of a large box, so her home is now our office, until she gets a bit bigger (and is formally introduced to our other cat). Our dogs are smitten with her and I believe they already think of her as a little sister.

Things rarely turn out how you have them planned, and usually things come at the worst timing. We are working on putting our house up for sale, which means a few projects to finish and tons of packing and cleaning. This is not the easiest time to raise a kitten, but I wouldn’t ever give her up for convenience.

So without further ado, here is little Edith:

 

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And it wouldn’t be fair to post pics of only the new kitty. Frasier is our other cat. He’s mostly a backyard cat, no matter the conditions, as you can see. When we had more cats, he loved to be around them, so I’m hoping he’ll take to little Edith well. Here’s hoping.

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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. Continue reading “Crossroads”

Do something today

We are usually pretty healthy people. We exercise, we eat good foods, we make most of our own meals from scratch, but we’re human. We like beer, we go out to eat, and I have a horrid sweet tooth. But the last few days have felt like I didn’t just slide off the wagon, I was pitched forward and landed face first. It feels like I’ve been eating and drinking horribly for weeks when it’s only been days, but my exercise routine has dwindled to maybe one workout a week. This can’t keep happening.

I know for some people, they work out when they need to lose weight, or only think about how they will look after a workout. For me, that’s a secondary effect. Working out on a regular basis makes me feel better overall; I become less lethargic and have more consistent energy. I’m in a better mood, and I don’t guilt myself into shame if I do go have a doughnut for breakfast. When I stop working out, I tend to eat worse for some reason ( I think I just give up), I stop being active at all, I’m tired, more likely to get cranky and just feel uncomfortable in my own skin and clothes.

I’ve seen too many people with diseases and health issues because they weren’t active and were bad to their bodies. I don’t want to regret my choices later in life and think, ” why didn’t I just workout every once in a while. What’s a few hours a week?” So we’re getting back on the fitness wagon today. I want to integrate fitness, whether it’s runs, walks, rock climbing, hiking, whatever, more into my daily ritual. I want it to become habit, not something I “have to do”. I know that I’ll probably fall off here and there, but I don’t want to beat myself up about it. That doesn’t help. It’s time to get up and get moving again.

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And…

And I’m still not done with the house. I feel like I’ve been lazy at finishing this project, and I hate when I was doing so well, going so fast, and then a couple of things derail me and now I’m feeling like my house will always have spots of blue on it. I know this isn’t true but it starts to feel that way and I start to get antsy. A few things have come up (was out of town for four days, friend moved into our house, found out I have way more training to do than I thought I did, so I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that), yada yada. Hopefully this weekend shouldn’t stop me from finishing the house. I have only a small portion left on the south/southwest side (it’s just been hard to get to because it gets sun when I’m home) and a small portion on the north side (Hubs is going to have to climb onto the roof to paint the chimney but 1-he hates heights and 2-he hates painting – so I’m going to buy him lots of beer for afterwards). Once those two sections are done (it’s probably only about 200sq feet total left to do), then I’ll be moving onto trim.

I at least did find a trim color…I think. The two that I’m looking at are practically the same so I’ll tell you the one that I’m leaning towards, and that I can remember the name of. It’s called Stonewashed by Behr. It’s a good neutral white without being too…WHITE! When the house was blue, the trim was blue as well and the house kind of got lost in itself. Trimming out the windows gives it a little more distinction, especially since we have a handful of half-moon shaped windows that add a little uniqueness to the architecture of the house.

stonewashedWe are both getting the itch to get out and travel, but I feel like the right thing to do is just finish this ASAP so we can get it done. I hate having projects open and waiting to be finished for too long.

Earlier I stated that we have a new roommate. Unfortunately, his rent skyrocketed so he’ll be staying with us until he can figure out what his next housing venture should be. Here in Austin, if you can scrape up the cash, and you plan on sticking around, it’s better to buy right now. We pay slightly less than we did renting. And we own the home. Of course, it comes with the cost of renovation, but that’s our choice. Either way, he’ll be at the house, which means we have some rearranging to do as far as storage goes. I love our little house, but it seriously lacks in storage (not even a single linen closet), so we’ll be getting creative in the garage and attic and office closet this weekend when we’re not painting.

Not trying to get too philosophical here, but I think a key to true happiness is to stay flexible and open to things. Situations change and flex and the best way to not get upset is to expect the change. Expect things to be different than how you see it happening in your head. Even if a situation isn’t how I expected it to be, I find myself enjoying where I am if I just embrace whatever comes at me. Even if it’s things like rearranging a closet. If I go into it with a great attitude (this will give us so much more space!) instead of dreading it (I hate organizing!), then the project immediately starts off on a better foot.

So embrace whatever comes at you, enjoy the ride, and remember, nothing lasts forever, nothing stays the same, so embrace the And…

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Moving, cleansing and clarity

I think I’ve mentioned that we finally found and bought a house. We close today and I’m pretty excited about it. The nice thing about this move is that we can go slowly with it. We’ll have the house in December but our lease doesn’t end until February so this gives us time to do any quick interior cosmetic changes  before we move in the big furniture. It also gives us time to really go through our things and evaluate whether we need them or not.

Moving always provokes memories, as you go through items you’d thrown into a box, or find things you had forgotten about completely. Moving also helps you reassess your needs. Do you really need that fifth sauce pan? Probably not. As something as mundane and prosaic as moving can feel, it invokes a lot of changes, especially when you purchase a home. This house now is identified with me. What I do with it, reflects a piece of who I am, just as clothes can reflect a person’s personality, so can a home.

This change and move has provoked a lot of thought and digging through my past as it has coincided with events that have happened with my estranged sister. I’ve mentioned in a couple past blog posts, that I have an estranged half-sister, through my dad. I had only seen her and interacted with her once, more than 20 years ago. Since then, I’d had no contact with her at all. Well, through the powers of my grandmother and facebook, we have “reunited”, at least on facebook. We live in different states, so we still don’t really know each other. But here’s the thing. Both of us have had rough and tumble relationships with our father. He was in her life for only a few years, and he was in mine for about 14 before he left. After that, it was rough. He lived states away and we hardly talked. Until recently. Around two years ago, his sister, who lived in the state I did, was dying of cancer. He came out to see her, came to seek God again after hating Him for years, and has become a very peaceful person within himself, and has realized the shortness of life and futility of holding on to grudges and the past. My dad changed so much, learned to let go of things he could not control, and came to grips with life and loss. Since then, we’ve begun to talk more, and more deeply.

My sister on the other hand, is almost a mirror image of the person he used to be. She has a lot of anger that she has held onto for many years towards him, and has been unable to forgive. I truly believe that, because of her anger and resentment, her life has never evolved. She has been in bad relationships and has been in trouble with the law. Being constantly angry for things you can’t even identify, clouds your life and fills it with negativity and everything that shouldn’t be in your life. How can you really improve yourself and become the person you want to be when you’ve encased yourself in negativity, cynicism and resentment?

Recently, she asked me to call her because she wanted to talk about my dad. She wanted to share the memories I have of him and she wants to work on getting rid of all this anger she has toward him.

This request, along with the move, has put my nostalgia and reminiscence into overdrive. I’ve been really thinking about the past and the relationship I had with my dad. When I was growing up with my dad, he had always been somewhat distant and seemed to always be on a short fuse. There is a list of reasons I think a lot of other people would have harbored the same feelings my sister does, and I did for a while, but for me, they’re gone. I know that God wouldn’t want me to resent my dad. What good does this do? My dad never intentionally did anything to hurt me. He was clouded by his own anger and resentment that he wasn’t able to see what he was doing to me. He has come to grips with a lot of emotion and a lot of pain, and me holding onto my own resentment, would do neither of us any good. And what if something bad would happen to either him or me? How many times have we seen the same story of a family, ripped apart by angers of the past, never to reconcile because of a tragedy that revoked the chance at a reunion. I didn’t want that story.

What I’m hoping for, when I talk to my sister, is not to give advice, but to give her my experience. I hope that when I tell her the emotional path I took, and the reasons I found for forgiveness, and what happened after we forgave each other and ourselves, I hope that she will find some healing. Looking back can have it’s benefits, but if we look back through clouded glass, we’ll never truly see everything that’s there, including the lessons learned.

Forgiving is not forgetting;  it’s not letting the things of the past, cloud what can come of the future. When we always hold on to what happened in the past, we can’t truly start anew. Hopefully my sister can walk towards the path of healing and forgiveness, and truly start to grow from the inside. With this, I think we could form a great relationship, and she can find relationships she never knew possible.

 

To quote a great movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

 

I hope anyone who reads this, can find forgiveness and peace towards others who may have hurt them, and within themselves.

we accept