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My Very Weird Sometimes Wonderful Year

starting the year with giant bonfire

Ten years ago i lived one of the weirdest years of my life. I lost my job of 22 years and with it, a big part of my identity. The last decade has been rough as hell, but it’s also been a testament to our resilience as a family and as individuals. We are tough, we are adaptable, and we are grateful.

This year has also been hella weird. So many changes! So i thought i’d do a lil recap post.

It started with a big bonfire

Full disclosure, it started a few years ago when we decided our best plan would be to sell our big old house because it was just way too big and hard to keep up. And i spent much of 2018 purging all of the stuff we’d accumulated after living there for twenty(!!!) years before we contacted a realtor in December of 2019. But then, on New Years’ Eve 2019, we had a big bonfire. Part of it was a way to get rid of a giant pile of palm fronds and branches from the trees in our yard, a lot of it was a symbolic cleansing ritual. Having a deadline kicked the whole process into high gear. We worked so hard to get the yard and house cleaned up after many years of neglect.  Our “life reset” of 2009 had knocked the wind out of us and we spent a long time trying to bounce back. This project gave me a purpose and i loved the challenge.

We gave away so many of our possessions and hauled two truckloads away to the dump. We found a new home for our piano which had been in the family since the 60s and had lived with us since Julian was a baby. One of the things i really enjoyed getting rid of was our ugly and uncomfortable couch. Before we lost our jobs, we had planned to buy new recliners for our living room and that hideous couch was a daily reminder of how things were different now. I wanted to set it on fire, but we just had the trash truck take it away. Still felt great.

When everything was finally all cleaned out, we went to dinner to celebrate. Good job, Team!

Our sweet girl Lola was so frail and in a lot of pain. She was 16, and mostly blind and deaf. She couldn’t get up and down the stairs very easily and had to be carried sometimes. She was my pal, following me around while i worked from home. I wish she could have lived forever. But that is not possible, so on January 30th, she crossed the rainbow bridge. She was the best dog i’ve ever known and i still miss her every day.

 

After the house and property were cleaned up, i started having feelings of regret, like we should just stay. Everything was so much nicer! I developed some really good habits while having to keep the house clean for showings and it made everyday living a lot easier. Who knew?? (PS: It’s never too late to pick up good habits!) But then we had some winter storms and i remembered how much the house sucked in the rain and how, even though it was tidier and looked prettier and almost normal, we just weren’t able to fix the big problems it had. It was only on the market for a couple of weeks, thank the gods, and after a reasonably short and uneventful escrow, we moved out all of our stuff and turned over the keys. We all cried that day as we drove away from our home for the last time.

The three of us moved into my Mom’s house. She already has two roommates, my sister and niece, so Greg, Julian, and i all crammed into the converted garage and lived there for three months. It was quite an experience, but not the first time we’ve taken drastic measures in times of change. When we were buying our big old house we lived upstairs in some empty offices at our family’s moving company for six months to save money. We showered in a utility sink, proof of our adaptability. It was pretty interesting. I should write a blog post about it.

So there we were, sharing a garage, with no real endgame. We started this process with the idea that we would be moving away to the Pacific Northwest and our kids would come with us but the day after the sign was put up in the yard, our daughter came by one last time to see the house and also to tell us that she had a boyfriend and they were pretty serious. Of course, I was very happy for her but this news pretty much crushed our dreams of moving away. If she wouldn’t move, then we couldn’t move.  Now we were in a bit of a pickle. One of the reasons for moving away was that we couldn’t afford to buy a home in San Diego without a mortgage and we were trying to not have a mortgage so Greg could have the freedom to take a low paying dream job. We thought about renting, we considered living in an RV, but in the end, we decided the best thing to do was to start looking for a home to buy here in San Diego.

Because of our price range, we saw a lot of crappy houses in bad neighborhoods before we finally found the home we would buy. It was weird and it felt kind of rushed, kind of like we settled even though i know we probably got the best house our money could buy. I missed our old home so much i would sometimes cry in my bed at night. I would kind of be caught off guard sometimes at the fact that this was our home. “We live here now”, i would say out loud to Greg to kind of force it to sink in. For a long time, it felt like we were just staying long term in an Air BnB. We didn’t even have a couch or put up our TV for a month after we moved in.

One of the things i really missed about our old house was the views. We had an awesome view of the sunset from the deck and the sunrise from the backyard, and best of all, i could see the moon at night from my spot on that horribly uncomfortable couch. One night i was lying in our new bed in our new room and a light shone in my eyes. The rising moon had just become visible through our bedroom skylight. I laid there staring at it for a long time and felt a shift in my perspective. The house finally became home.

 

This house is so different from our old house in every way, starting with the size. The new house is half as big. The yard is probably one quarter the size of our old yard. But it’s really cute and nice and the neighborhood is good. It has lovely light, perfect for all of the houseplants we have now. We have hardwood floors and a comfortable couch. We got my Mom’s antique dining set out of storage and it looks fabulous in our 1940s house. We eat dinner at the dining table now instead of on TV trays. Greg has a room for his music and his desk. After trying so hard to give away our piano, we bought a used piano and Greg is teaching himself to play. His room is just off the kitchen so he practices while i make dinner and it’s very romantic.

After losing Gladys and Lola, we knew that we wanted to add a couple of dogs to our family as soon as we were settled, so in August, we adopted two rescue dogs from Mexico. ChiChi is a Chihuahua mix, two years old. She was given up by her family at a spay/neuter clinic run by the rescue. She is so sweet and funny, i can’t understand why anyone would have given her up. Gilda is a terrier mix who was 11 months old when we adopted her. She had been found as a stray pup and was taken to the rescue facility. She was so gentle and laid back we thought her new sister was going to drive her nuts always wanting to play, but then we soon realized Gilda was really sick! She was diagnosed with Canine Ehrlichia, a tick-borne virus. After a course of big-time antibiotics, she got all better and oh boy, her true self was not calm or laid back at all. She is a big dopey clown who loves to play with her sister, and when she wears her sister out, she’s very happy to play ball by herself.

Our year wrapped up with a two-week camping road trip to the Redwoods in our tiny trailer with the two dogs. We traveled from the bottom corner of the state all the way to the top and it was amazing.

This year has gone by so quickly and a lot has changed. We just celebrated our first Christmas in our new home. It was really wonderful. We got a tiny tree and i decorated it and we put up some lights. We hadn’t had lights for years. I’m looking forward to the new year in our new place, making new memories and taking on new challenges. Have a wonderful 2020, everyone!

 

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One Hell Of A Decade

This decade has sucked so hard for me, when I tell you all the ways, it’s going to sound pretty horrible.

 

My family had to close our small business which meant that we were all out of work. Me, my husband, my sister, my Mom, even my Grandpa. My sister and I tried to start a new business, an art studio. That tanked too. My dad Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went through the treatment successfully but was seriously injured by medical malpractice that put him on oxygen 24/7 and which shortened his life. He passed away in 2015. My Grandpa died the following year. My husband was injured at his job due to workplace negligence and now he suffers chronic pain in his dominant hand. I’ve always been an anxious person, but in the past decade, my anxiety grew out of control. I had several major panic attacks. I now have agoraphobia and can’t drive so I’m pretty much stuck at home a lot. Our pet tortoise was stolen from our back yard, a raccoon killed my chickens and then our dog. Our surviving dog went into a deep depression after losing her sister and passed away this January. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

 

In spite of all of that and perhaps even because of it, I’m grateful. And hopeful. And so many awesome things have happened this decade.  We discovered a true love of camping and have taken many incredible trips to a lot of gorgeous State and National Parks. We’ve been to so many beautiful places and have an abundance of precious memories from our trips. Greg began volunteering with the Sierra Club and found his passion, getting kids involved in nature and conservancy. I decided to be an artist. I didn’t realize that was a thing you could just decide to be. I guess I thought you were born an artist or went to school to become one but no, I figured out that you could be an artist simply by making art and living an artful life. I’ve met so many people and done so many things this decade that I never dreamed possible. I never thought I’d ever travel alone, but I’ve done it many times in the past ten years. It’s been a real journey of educating myself, learning to bead and paint, to understand self-care, to plan amazing camping trips, to be grateful every day and to find joy in just being alive.

 

This decade has been rough but I got through it by reframing the bad stuff into challenges to conquer. Let’s all rise to our challenges and make the next decade the best one yet!

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The End of an Era

So, the thing that i’ve been working on for so long has finally happened. We finally sold our house. And it’s weird. I knew it would be, but it’s actually weirder than i expected.

Getting the house ready to sell was pretty much my everyday life for about two years. We’d lived there for twenty years and had accumulated so much stuff. Way too much stuff. Going through it was an emotional process.

Now it’s over, and i feel a little adrift, like i don’t have a purpose. I had been looking forward to crossing that finish line for so long, and i did. Now what?

 

I miss our house. I’m sad. I’m not sure we made the right choice but there wasn’t another choice. I had a real love/hate relationship with the house. So many things to hate, and so many things i really loved, like the sunsets, the moon out my window, the bunnies in the yard, my beautiful bathroom. The memories of twenty years.

 

Over the past few weeks, Greg and i have thought a lot about the decision to sell the house and what it would mean for our future. We thought that once the house was sold, the future would become clearer and we’d kind of know what to do but actually, the future is murkier than ever. We have no idea what to do. I can only hope that it will start to become clearer with a little time.

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Red Scorpio Diaries – November 01, 2018

The thing i’m most grateful for in the whole wide world is my relationship with Greg. He’s my best friend and soulmate and an amazing man.

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Red Scorpio Diaries – October 04, 2018

Today is my little dog Lola’s 16th birthday so we went out to celebrate. She is a very good dog and i’m glad she’s made it this far.

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Red Scorpio Diaries: October 03, 2018

I drew a mermaid for drawlloween. I’ve never drawn one before so, not too bad.

I draw faces a lot but rarely bodies. I googled hand drawing for a reference for drawing the hand and it was extremely helpful. i had no idea there were so many drawing reference pinterest boards out there.

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Red Scorpio Diaries: October 02, 2018

Really struggling to keep focused on the big picture these days. I think I need to sit down and spend some time sorting it out. Maybe I’ll get it straightened out by the end of the year.

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Red Scorpio Diaries – October 01, 2018

Setting creative parameters can be helpful but sometimes it backfires. Like challenging myself to make my September blog posts about learning made me totally over think it.

I’m not afraid of messing up especially when the stakes are zero. I feel compelled to challenge myself. Most of the time it works out and that’s great but even when it doesn’t, it’s usually fine.

Happy Rocktober, everyone!

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Red Scorpio Diaries: September 07, 2018

Today does not feel like progress. Today my hand hurts, my shoulders ache, i’m sweating buckets, and i remember why i effing hate painting.

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Red Scorpio Diaries – September 06, 2018

Watched my first water polo game today. It was a pretty exciting match, even though i didn’t understand all the rules. My nephew’s team won.