Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁

Merry Christmas!

Wow. Christmas is here already. It seems like it snuck up on me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t rushing around like a crazy person. I’m organized and pretty much have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

This Christmas is different from all my other Christmases. We did not have my husband’s family over on Christmas Eve. We will not be cooking a big Christmas dinner tonight. I am really not a fan of Covid Christmas. I miss my big holidays. I miss drinking wine and playing cards. I miss seeing everyone. I miss the laughter. I love my husband and kids, but I miss having a house full of people.

I use to do the traditional holidays going to my parents home for every holiday when I was married to my ex-husband. When we separated my family continued to invite him because he “was part of the family”. I made it clear that inviting him was the same as excluding me because I did not want to be with him and that included holidays. My family thought I was being unreasonable. I thought the divorce was pretty clear that I wanted nothing to do with him. But my family chose to keep inviting him so I started a new tradition of having all holidays with my friends. If you don’t have a place to go you are welcome at my home.

As my friends paired off, got married and had kids (as I did) the gatherings grew. Holidays at my house became a place to go to avoid your family. They became a place to go to stop the fight of who’s family you were going to spend the holiday with. My house took in the strays with no family around. We take friends of friends. Everyone is welcome because no one should spend it alone.

Thankfully, my husband agrees with my open invite policy. At one point I was the person alone with no where to go. I never want anyone I know to feel like that. Because of this, we usually have at least 20 people at a small gathering and have had well over 100 people over for a large gathering (4th of July is our biggest holiday and usually have between 100-150 people over.) 4th of July is bigger than our wedding was. So holidays with just the 4 of us just don’t seem right to me.

Just like the rest of the holidays from Easter on we will adjust. This year the kids will be excited. My older son is getting a new trampoline and my younger son is getting his first bike (with training wheels). So we will have a lot of going up and down the street teaching him to ride to burn off those Christmas cookies and fudge.

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, have a great one! Try to make the best of it despite all the changes. Find some laughter. Eat the cookies. Call your family. Text your friends. Have pie for breakfast. Binge on feel good movies all day. Declare today PJ day and don’t even get dressed. It’s almost the new year. We made it this far we can go a little farther as we wish 2020 goodbye and welcome in 2021 with hope that the worst is behind us.

Adulting

At some point in my life I became an adult. I’m not sure when or how, but it happened. I’m married, with two kids and a mortgage. That isn’t what made me an adult though. This realization came to me as I pulled a shirt out of the washer.

You may wonder how a shirt made me feel like an adult. Well, I got paint on my shirt the first time I wore it. Blue paint on an orange shirt. Not good. The paint had dried by the time I saw it at the end of the evening. I scrubbed it by hand and only got part of it out. The next day I put stain stick on it and washed the shirt in every load of laundry I did. It was still there at the end of the day, although less than in the morning. I added more stain stick. A couple days later I washed it with my kids clothing (they are seriously dirty boys). As I pulled the shirt out the paint was finally gone!

I stared at the shirt sans paint and marveled in the fact that I have mastered laundry. Now it isn’t just the paint on the shirt… In February my sisters house caught on fire and I was given the task of trying to salvage what I could of their closets. Of the 3 of us working on this task I was the only one to be able to get the smoke smell out of the laundry. I even got the smell out of the singed towels that were on fire and used to sop up some of the water from the fire hoses. I showed my sister what I did and she followed my instructions and saved most of their wardrobe. I have mastered laundry. I’m now advising others on how to remove stains.

There’s a young woman that I work with. She is smart and reliable and has a small child just a little younger than my youngest despite the 25 year age difference between us. She often posts “how to” questions on Facebook and I always have an answer. Recently she told me that having me around is like having a live “life-hacker” right there.

Most recently we were plagued with wildfires in my area again. One was really close to us. I have several friends and family that lost their homes. Evacuations came up to the other side of the freeway from us so it was time to prepare for evacuation. It only took us 15 minutes to prep our family of 4 to leave our home with all the photos, documents and irreplaceable mementos. Now we can be out in 5 minutes. Thankfully the winds died down and they got the side of the fire near me under control so we didn’t need to evacuate. When I went back to work a couple days later my coworkers were amazed that I could gather things up that quickly. I thought 15 minutes was a long time.

All of these things as well as many others have shown me that at some point I became an adult. I don’t feel particularly old and wise… ok some days I feel old but I never feel wise. Yet here I am. Master of laundry. Imparting my wisdom of my years into those younger (and sometimes even older) than myself. I’m prepared for emergencies. I am an adult.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Except I am so far behind that I wonder if I can get it all done.

I’m an extremely organized person. I hate to admit it, but I am that type A personality person with everything in its place, a schedule, a to do list and everything is coordinated and color coded and alphabetized… Ok, not everything. But I’m not that far off.

This year I’m behind. I’m never behind. But I had a bit more going on than usual and a lot of it was NOT my stuff. Don’t get me wrong, a marriage, kids, full time job, photography side business and writing a book is a lot for someone to juggle alone. But you see, I have these two friends who need my help. Either one would be there for me in an instant day or night if I needed them so I’m there for them as well and they both need me. You may ask why… well they are both hoarders and they are both moving. One moved about 5 months ago the other one is moving in 5 months from now.

Why does this involve me? Well I’m good with them. I’m organized. I know them well and I know how they think and what is important to them. So I help them work through their stuff. It involves a lot of time and I can only spare a couple hours a week to help them so I need to alternate between them.

Well, when the first friend moved she was no where ready so it took a lot longer to move her than expected. It was crunch time at the end so everything got put in unlabeled boxes and bags and moved to the new house to be sorted later. I spent about 4 weeks in the evenings after work almost every night helping her paint, pack, unpack, move stuff, find boxes five months later we have barely made a dent. Seriously, at least 50% needs to go away. Given away, sold, thrown away… I don’t care where it goes as long as it doesn’t stay there. I have a plan. It will get done. I was helping her last weekend and told her I just can’t help her this weekend because I have too much I need to do of my own stuff but I can start helping again after the new year.

Friend #2 is selling her (very full) house and moving into an RV to travel in her retirement. Probably 90% of what she has needs to go. The rest will go into storage. We have been working on it for the last year and have a plan. We took from September through the end of the year off and will purge hard core after the new year.

As for why I’m so far behind… well my shopping is done. But typically the day after thanksgiving I wrap my gifts and decorate the tree so I can just kick back and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. Well friend #1’s Mom passed away suddenly and she needed help to stay busy so I spent the weekend coming and going to help her stay busy. So none of my stuff got done. It has been like that with me spending all my spare time helping her or spending time with her to help her through this rough patch. I told her this weekend I can’t help her because I need to get my own stuff done and it’s now the last weekend before Christmas. I am out of time.

Next year will be different. Next year I’m going back to having everything done by the end of thanksgiving weekend so I can relax and enjoy the season and not be rushing to finish everything in time. Next year I have goals. I have a plan for 2020.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope you all have a relaxing holiday season full of joy. But just know if you are behind and still have a lot to do you are not alone.