Retirement: Month Six, or Spring in February

The Divine Miss M. Soaking up the sun in @80 degree, clear weather. Cedar has all popped, elm and ash are releasing pollens.

Airedale terriers are all nose, hard head, and lanky bodies. Very intelligent, affectionate, perpetually cheerful. At least Mahalia is. Her brother is a little more somber. They have fenced-in space to roam, and chat frequently with the local coyotes, dogs, and other critters.

Airedales have only the one wiry coat, no fluffy undercoat like other breeds. Thus less strain on allergic individuals.

Not one, but TWO lovable noodniks.

This is Mr. T, which stands for Truro. As in Truro Lighthouse on Nantucket, where my b.i.l. proposed to my sister. He's a sweetheart. Noble dog. A most emphatic alarm clock. There is no sleeping when he wants out in the morning. LOUD bark.

Seclusion is extra nice with these two for company. Good to have a break from town noise, as well. No cars, planes, gizmos, whatevers. None. Nothing but warbling, trilling birds, snuffling armadillos, clattery raccoons, whuffling deer, the wind in the trees. The odd chickadee banging his little skull against a windowpane until I closed the blinds.

Good time to get my head back in gear. Come home to a clean house, thanks to thoughtful daughter, and make some solid organizational decisions. Stay ahead of the clutter and identify priorities to get projects going. Most of it still in my head, but closure on what the next step will be.

A plan is emerging, helped along by the healing passage of time. And space for a little serendipity to slide through the static. That's what I've been waiting for. Sloughing off enough stress to open a few windows in my head. Reaching out to my super-intelligent, helpful friends and associates for ideas and the latest info.

Things I've learned:
  1. It takes much longer to adjust than I expected. I was literally shell-shocked for the first three months at least. Plowing through the various bureaucracies takes information I didn't have, or even know I had to have, before finding myself drowning in it.
  2. Years of simple living were worth it. I don't spend any more money than I have to. My only luxuries are Netflix and the occasional meal out. My five-year-old car has less than 22,500 miles--two more payments and it's MINE! That means one less area to deal with.
  3. Debt management won't hurt you, and really pays off. Probably the smartest thing I ever did. Even though I originally planned to have it all paid off by the time I retired, one year of debt at a reduced income is better than the fiasco it could have become.
  4. Forgiveness is easier the more you practice it. I am sure that reduced stress levels have much to do with any progress in this area. 
  5. The first person you need to forgive is yourself. Everything flows from this. Crazy amounts of reprogramming self perception.
Baby steps. One day at a time. Do at least one nice thing for myself every day. Builds into a body of work, a healthier habit, a more relaxed, more forgiving perspective. Smells a little like freedom.


    Influenza Blues

    So. It seems there is a rogue flu virus going around that wasn't included in the vaccine released for this season. You either get over it in 5-7 days or you develop a nasty secondary respiratory infection which, in my case, required 10 days of antibiotics and heavy-duty cough syrup. Bummer. Going on week 3 to recover. Produced more mucus in that time than in the rest of my life put together. Friends popping up all over Texas, at least, who also are having problems.

    No energy, so have not been keeping up with my 52 Weeks. Or rehearsals. Totally lost my voice for four days, still hoarse.

    In the Hill Country dog sitting and recuperating. Caught a sweet, modest sunset. And the dogs don't care that I sleep most of the time. Nor that I only half-heartedly throw sticks for them. Nor that I can't squeak out much more than an occasional "good doggie."

    Tried to produce a musical sound and nothing came out. My vocal chords are non-functional. Was cautioned by a fellow singer to not even try to whisper, which actually puts more strain on them than singing. Rest is best, and mega-hydration.

    My sis left healthy food and lots of fruit and veggie juices, so no problem there. And the view is still spectacular--nothing wrong with my eyes. Well, since the oozing stopped after day 3 of antibiotics. That's actually what sent me to the dr., along with the fact that I couldn't breathe, sleep, taste, eat, or otherwise exist.

    So be aware! If you happen to get this flu, do not hesitate to go to your doctor if you aren't better within 5-7 days. It can really knock you down and put you out of commission for what seems like an overly long time.

    And you may not be lucky enough to have a Hill Country retreat stocked with healthy food, satellite TV, wireless, hundreds of birds, coyotes, loads of other wild critters, and two trusty Airedales.


    Retirement: Month Five

    Yes, Virginia, it DOES snow in Austin...on occasion. Of course it doesn't last very long. We more frequently get sleet and ice, because it DOES get very cold--those Blue Northers are for real. 80 degrees during the day, down to 15-25 that night. Linus was not impressed with the snow--sat on a flattened cardboard box rather than in the cold wet and wanted back in the house after only a few minutes.

    More importantly, January was a fun month! Got all my W-2s and 1099s, so I can do my taxes, and should get a return, even. Always a good thing!

    And lots of time with grand-niece. It's such a joy watching her grow and gaining her trust.

    Birthday celebrations abounded, always exciting. And my first visit from the cleaning service, which went a loooong way towards de-cluttering. Not as successful in converting our mom's interview tapes to CD--not all tech works the way it should. Looking for a more effective way to preserve all those great authors' responses to her incisive interview questions.

    Down with a big, bad chest/head cold--shouldn't be flu, cause I got my flu shot.

    Some tech worked: transferring all my writing from PC to Mac so I can work on stuff when away. Progress on creating an editing/writing/proofing Web site landing page as part of freelancing business. Meeting fascinating people and making contacts to move this project along. Changing auto insurance carriers and saving $900/yr. was a biggie. Even came with better coverage and more features.

    Doing what I can to help colleagues out who got let go from UT. I'm happy to write recommendations, review cover letters, etc. for what it's worth. Celebrating when friends find new employment, commiserating when friends run into obstacles. Creative problem-solving.

    Learning more about how to leverage social media, reaching more people. Still deciding what I really want to do when I grow up. My problem is that there is SO much I want to do, it's difficult to focus on only one or two options. Sometimes having lots of choices is more intimidating that having only a few.

    Watching the CNN coverage of the Egyptian revolution. Wondering why more people aren't involved.

    Next project--updating blog roll with all the new groovy people I'm meeting. If the weather lets up, am considering a trip to Port Aransas to see the whooping cranes--I've wanted to do that for decades! Now on to Awesomeness--self-introspection--some might say that I have an overabundance of that...