And so, life changes again…

We have decided to leave Colorado and move to Oregon’s southern coast, specifically the Coos Bay-North Bend peninsula. Coos Bay, Oregon – Wikipedia

stock image – photographer unknown

After two weeks of vigorous packing and decluttering and cleaning, our lovely Grand Junction house goes on the market this weekend. We anticipate and envision a quick sale. Followed by a mountain of boxes prepped and loaded into containers of some sort. Followed by a two-day drive to the Pacific Coast. Followed by a search for our “new” home. Followed by adventures.

While everything seems to be moving quickly right now, this decision came slowly. My husband is a Colorado native; I have lived in this state for most of 40 years. But the seed of this idea to move closer to the ocean was planted in 1997 when we traveled to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia to live. Mike’s job provided us a three-year adventure near the sea. It was life-changing! And the waves never left our hearts. We felt that same pull on our visits to Coos Bay in recent years, especially during our time there last month.

If not now, when? And why Oregon?

Stock images Rocky Mountain Scenery – photographer unknown

The past two years – most of which have been lived in semi-isolation due to the global pandemic – included the deaths of three dear friends. Others close to us have left the area to explore their passions or new horizons. We miss them all. They also inspire us. Life is too short.

Creation’s still small voice for “something more” has gotten louder. We can’t ignore it anymore. We have entered another phase of life. The autumn days of aging. When colors are bursting forth with vibrant energy. New ideas are waiting to be birthed. We must heed the call. No more waiting!

Yes, we have family in Colorado… and Utah… and Alaska… and many other states, including Oregon. That, too, is a big part of the draw for where we’re headed. We have family there, including grandchildren anticipating our arrival and with whom we can share a few years before they, too, are grown and on their own.

Stock images of Oregon coast – photographer unknown

The ocean can’t be moved to Colorado. We look forward to cooler temperatures, a more humid climate, and ocean breezes. We experienced similar weather during Sydney’s winters. We survived the rain and cold and learned to adapt. To rug up. We’ll do the same in Oregon.

While we appreciate the variety of all the retail therapy a larger city provides, we choose not to live in such densely populated areas. Thus, the attraction to a small coastal town. Plus, we’ve made a concerted effort through the last three moves to downsize our possessions to right-size our lives. We’re almost there. Whatever extras we want will be at the end of a leisurely drive inland or can be shipped to our doorstep. Everything we need can be found locally.

Given the pandemic restrictions and cautions… and the technology of social media… you’ll hardly notice we’ve left the state. Our photographs will be different. We look forward to more outside activities, especially near the beaches. We will continue to evolve… to explore… and to love those far and near.

Dry Run. Night Fun: 7 Lessons Learned

Earlier this week we slept in our converted camping van for the first time… with our two small dogs… in the driveway. Given it was the first time, we decided to stay close to home should anything major go awry. That decision turned out to be a good idea!

We purchased the 2004, semi-converted Chevy van only six weeks ago. I’ve spent four of those weeks tearing out and redesigning the interior to accommodate our foray into part-time #vanlife during our semi-retirement years. The intent is to visit our children and grandchildren. They are now scattered about, living all over the western United States. Because their homes are filled with children, there are no longer any guest rooms for us. A wonderful trade-off!

We had stayed at hotels, but didn’t like the associated costs nor having to board our dogs when we traveled. The van is to become our “hotel room on wheels” so we can visit our family (guesting in their driveways), bring our dogs, stay as suited for everyone’s schedule, and not spend a fortune in the process.

Mosquito screen envelope-style (double layer) with magnets on outside

In our younger days, my husband and I did remote tent camping, car camping, and even trailer camping. However, due to where we live now, an older, reliable, converted camper van seems our best option. It will also be my daily around-town vehicle. The biggest requirement was that it had to fit in the garage. And it does. Just.

After a week of removing what was already in the van, then discussing desirable camping features with my husband, I spent three weeks re-designing the internal layout. I insisted on a “no-build build” idea so everything can be changed if we need the vehicle for something other than camping.

Displaying a few of the lighting options – inside

I did most of the installation, which included sewing, shopping, crafting, arranging, installing, and set-up. I selected everything from a sofa bed to fairy lights to a “Luggable Loo” toilet. My husband provided his input, the money, and muscle, too. We packed everything we might need (and more) for a vacation into the 70 square feet. Still, we decided a test was wise to be sure we didn’t forget anything.

While we had packed the van during the day with snacks, clothes, water, etc., our evening test began well after sunset. That was our first mistake. We did consider that, if something was missing – even though I’d made multiple lists – we could just dash inside the house and collect it.

Lesson 1:  Set up camp in the daylight.

Dog and crate area

After loading up the dogs in their crates and providing them with water, our next task was to connect the long extension cord to an outlet in the garage. Although I had been the one to initially store the cord in the van, my husband was the one to get it out and unwind it. Unfortunately, confusion ensued about how it had been wound to begin with. It was difficult to unwind in the dark driveway. And why were those small bungee cords wrapped around it? We turned on the garage lights to illuminate the cord mess into a workable solution.

Lesson 2: Set up camp in the daylight.

Next, the extension cord was snaked from the garage through an open window into the van to power a surge-suppressor, multi-outlet unit for the computer and monitor (for livestreaming movies). That was the moment we discovered the outlet unit had not yet been stowed. Another trip to the house.

Lesson 3: Test systems completely and keep parts together. Set up camp in the daylight.

Once the electrical cord and outlet unit was turned on, we powered up our computer-related devices. Two small portable fans were already buzzing – one with its own battery and directed at our bed; the other USB-style fan, plugged into an external, fully-charged battery power supply, which gave the dogs a cooling breeze. Both fans – combined with the mosquito-netted, open front door windows – provided adequate air flow throughout the van. It also helped that the temperature was only in the mid-70’s.

Wait! No Wi-Fi? We had assumed we’d be able to connect to our home’s internet account from the driveway. It had worked before when we were parked in the garage, but now, less than 20 feet from our previous test spot, and we had no connection. We tried several times to connect on various devices. No luck. At least we had remembered to bring books and magazines for our nighttime ritual.

Lesson 4: Have internet HotSpot capability – OR – bring reading materials or external DVD/CD drives for movies. Set up camp in the daylight.

Although we had meant to keep the house off-limits for this experiment, that rule had already been broken several times. I ended up walking the dogs through the house (on their leashes) to the backyard for their final pee of the evening. I then marched them back to the van, locking doors and shutting off lights behind me. While I was walking the dogs, my husband shut down the devices and put them away. When the garage door came down, the reality of sleeping in our van in the driveway became really REAL.

Dogs locked in their crates? Check. Van doors locked? Yes. Phones and keys nearby? Of course. Water bottles handy? Indeed. Toilet set-up for late-night routines? Absolutely!

I had earlier given my husband a tour of where all the touch-lights were located and how to use them. The privacy curtain for the toilet area was also in place. All other window coverings insulated us from the outside world.

Lesson 5: Take your time; be methodical. Set up camp in the daylight.

I crawled across the sofa bed to my cozy, corner spot and collapsed into the pillows. As my husband read his paperback crime novel with the aid of a small solar-powered light propped on his chest, my eyes explored the van interior. My mind reviewed all the plans we had discussed and the hot days of working in the garage to achieve this moment. I’m happy with the aesthetic results.

What was disappointing, however, was the sofa bed. So hard! Neither of us slept well after the first hour. We’ll soon add some kind of topper to soften it. The bed is narrow for two people, but we can deal with that. We were both warm without coverings most of the night. Only in the pre-dawn hours did we feel the need for the quilt.

Also during the night, I became keenly aware of the slant of our driveway. While it’s not much of an incline, my body seemed to slide down the mattress toward the street. I repeatedly pulled myself up toward the pillows. Apparently this wasn’t an issue for my snoring husband.

Lesson 6:  Find a level place to park. Set up camp in the daylight.

The 6:10 a.m. alarm was louder in the van than it had ever been in the bedroom. I threw on clothes and made another run to the backyard with the dogs. As I tried to get the dogs back into the van, rabid barking ensued. They were surprised by a neighbor out for her morning walk… across the street. Their  loud vocal response made clear their feelings about such an intrusion in their corner of the neighborhood.

The kitchen area after morning coffee

Thanks to the handy electrical cord and outlet unit, we heated the water in the electric kettle and enjoyed pour-over coffee. The ice in the small cooler chest chilled the coffee creamers loaded up the night before. Strong coffee never tasted so good. While there was enough hot water to make oatmeal, we decided on having breakfast later after we “got home.”

Our overnight test proved to be a success. We survived! My husband retracted the electrical cord from the window. We both shared in storing it in a new way. I hopped into the driver’s seat to move the van back into its place in the garage. Once the garage door was secure, we released the hounds, cleaned up the van, and fixed a welcome hot breakfast.

Lesson 7:  Be flexible. Plan for what you can. Enjoy the adventure. And set up camp in the daylight.

Morning wake-up after first night in van

Our future excursions will be more than 20 feet from our back door. We’re excited, but nervous, to “get on the road.” We’ve never had a vacation without a timeframe or urgency to return. It’ll be interesting to see how Life shows up in our journeys.

Trash or Treasure?

Our community provides a special type of trash pick-up a couple times each year. Folks put their unwanted or broken items on the curb at a set time period and the municipality arranges for trucks to come around and collect the discarded items. We experienced a similar service when we lived in Sydney, Australia many years ago, although the setting-out period seemed a bit longer than it is here and now.

What is interesting of both experiences is that during the setting-out period and right up until the collection happens, a trove of “collectors” drive through neighborhoods looking for salvageable items. Because I, too, was once a “dumpster diver,” I no longer arrange garage sales or consignments for my unwanted items. Instead, if something has lost its use or appeal in my world, I wait for these community collections and simply set those things out on the curb. I know they will find use in someone else’s life.

For example, the photo shows what’s left of the treasures we placed on the curb just a couple of days ago. These remnants are truly trash. What you don’t see is the 24-year-old foldable beach umbrella, the treadle sewing machine in an oak cabinet, new but unused light fixtures, a charcoal barbeque grill and accessories, and tail lights from a car of the previous owner of our house (left behind when they moved four years ago).

I was a bit sad to release the treadle sewing machine. It served as a reminder of the way I learned to sew, taught by a Polish neighbor lady when I was nine years old. This particular machine had been given by a family member as payment of a debt owed to me, but it languished in the garage for a couple of years while I waited for the cigarette smoke to dissipate from the oak cabinet. That never really happened, and we need the space for other items. Thus, it was time to truly let it go.

I’m finding it easier and easier to let go of long-held memorabilia that I once found so dear. Certain ones, family heirlooms and artwork, are finding their way to my children now. The rest? If they still hold a space in my heart, they stay… like religious statues on the bookshelf or family photographs on the walls.

Trash or treasure? Now I keep only what holds meaning for me. And when it doesn’t? It’ll be time to let that go as well.

Filling the Void

Ever since the 2021 Inauguration, I’ve noticed a common thread in social media postings. Some have described their feelings as an “emotional hangover,” “the country taking a big exhale,” “exhaustion,” or “confusion.” In many examples, people express surprise about their state of mental confusion. There should be joy now that the main problem is gone. They ask “Why?”

Unfortunately, I recognize one possible reason for this awareness, coming so soon after recent national events. The abusive behavior has left the relationship. The narcissistic control has lost his voice.

I’m familiar with some of the behaviors that abusers employ, as well the survival techniques utilized by their victims. I know the feelings of living in a state of heightened awareness, of practicing caution so as not to garner the abuser’s attention, of “walking on eggshells” and being careful what to say or how to behave. I became skilled at anticipating what was needed and how to resolve problems long before they materialized… albeit useful skills in the business world.

A person can survive in such unstable and hostile environments for years. I know. I did. One must, when this way of living is all that is familiar … until it ends. Then what?

When the abuser is no longer part of the victim’s life – e.g., either because the child leaves home or the wife divorces her husband – there’s a void that must be filled. Instead of the abusive behavior, what replaces the tension of living under those conditions? It’s a void that is first filled with feelings of abandonment and confusion, a sense of loss, direction and purpose, and exhaustion and emotional depletion.

Whether the abuser has been someone close or a national political figure, the behaviors exhibited can trigger former victims in numerous ways. However, if the victims have done responsible healing work to address their PTSD responses, they will quickly see through obnoxious or insulting behaviors. They will likely implement methods to protect themselves, such as avoidance or distraction, to sidestep engagement with the abuser. I would turn off a television program or delete videos and photos from my social media, so I didn’t have to hear or see a certain government official. These methods can help.

Still, the void remains for a short time. It’s up to the victim to find ways to move forward from the dazed and confused state. To feel comfortable without the chaos. To trust they are safe beyond the abuser’s controlling behavior. To focus on their own healing nature and positive ways of living. To find purpose again through what they choose to create.

It’s taken me a couple of days to move beyond the void and find that purpose again. I’m no longer worried about what is going on in the White House. The hate has been replaced with empathy, compassion, and kindness. The words are respectful. Ideas and plans are proposed for the good of many and not the favored few of the top 10%. I can listen and watch and be informed without the fear. I’ve been able to let go of the tension that grew within me during the past five years. I have filled the void with joy, hope, and creativity. I can breathe again.

 

After the Insurrection

It’s been several days since a right-wing, domestic terrorist group, cleverly incited by the president and his accomplices, invaded the Capitol building and threatened our American Democracy with a violent coup attempt.

I know what it feels like, what it looks like, to have someone come into your home and wreak havoc on the space, safety, and occupants who reside there. The span of years passed has not diminished the emotional toll that lingers in my memory.

I know what it feels like to be stalked and physically assaulted by someone you trusted… even loved. To hear threats and lies told as easily as ordering food from a menu. To fear the lack of emotion in threatening words and promises of death that batter your psyche.

I’ve now seen enough photos posted of those Capitol marauders desecrating a respected institution and building. Investigations are underway and there’s no doubt much will be revealed. There are enough shares of blame and responsibility for all concerned to last for years. Karmic law will prevail.

So why am I still so emotional about this week’s destruction? Why break into tears or speak with a cracking voice about the event? My initial anger about the week’s atrocity has mostly dissipated, transmuting into a growing concern about what to do next as a country. I wonder what common ground can look like after so much disagreement.

  • What issues have priority in the minds of enough caring people that warrant time, energy, and creative ideas to bring them to fruition for the benefit of many?
  • What does it take to end systemic racism?
  • How can we work together – with all parties represented – to find the way forward for the good of this country’s citizens and not for local leadership rewards or Congressional greed and power plays?
  • What needs to happen to reestablish the integrity and credibility of this country?
  • Is it possible to elevate the consciousness of the majority of citizens to include compassion, equality, and mutual respect?

I don’t know what my part will be, but I have to try. I have to participate. I can’t stand idly by and do nothing. I live here. The work must be done. I have a responsibility to help my community to progress in its evolution and move forward into the future. All of us… together.

Cell Phone Blues

My ongoing quest to reduce living expenses, especially for items that I consider basic tools for living (AKA needs), has now impacted my choice of phone plans and the phone itself.

About two and one-half years ago my husband and I migrated from one major cell phone provided to another. This change, plus our “senior” age category, allowed us to go from $149 per month to $79 per month for two phones (unlimited talk and text, and sharing about 3GB of data per month). It meant we also had to buy new phones for the new provider system at a cost of about $600 per phone. We use Android phones.

Due to what I often refer to as “planned obsolescence,” my cell phone started dropping calls a few weeks ago – a phone less than three years old! I did make the trip to the cell phone store to see if they could resolve the issue; it worked for one phone call.

While this is extremely annoying, I had fortunately purchased a “burner” phone ($60) from a big box store several months prior on a pay-as-you-go plan (no contract, $25/month for unlimited talk, text and 3GB data PLUS Wi-Fi ready). I reactivated the plan when I started having issues with my primary phone. Thus, if I was on a call and it dropped, I would simply call them back on my burner phone. Even this became annoying.

The time had come to replace the dysfunctional phone, but I didn’t want to change my number. I’ve had it for years. It’s tied to all my rewards and accounts. I like it.

I “chatted” with a customer service rep (more than one, actually, just to verify) from the no-contract company about buying one of their more expensive phones ($149-$249) and transferring my number to it, and then being on the basic phone plan. After that, I could just cancel the burner phone plan, but keep the phone. They confirmed that this was possible and offered FREE delivery via Federal Express to “order online today.”

While that was a much more reasonable price, and moving from our current discounted “senior” plan is possible without affecting my husband’s line (which is also his business phone), it won’t really save us any money on a monthly basis now. However, it will be easier to track his business phone expenses separately from mine… AND… I will be the test case with this “simple” provider prior to his eventual retirement and transition to a less expensive plan, too. I told the “chat” rep I wanted to think about it overnight.

I also wanted time to transfer (back-up) all my photos to my cloud account and be sure I was ready to shut down this pricey paperweight.

I woke up with a new idea! What if I transferred my long-time phone number to the burner phone I already had in my possession? Just deactivate that existing number and replace it with my own? Then I wouldn’t have to buy a phone at all right now. I liked that idea a LOT! So I got back on “chat” with another rep, presented my questions, and YES, it was possible. (NOTE: I had asked staff at the big box store about doing this and they said it could not be done. Glad I kept asking.) The chat rep finally gave me their customer service phone number to contact them directly and for someone to guide me through the process.

I’ve come to believe that making changes to phones and phone plans is like buying a car. It takes hours to go through the process, and is sometimes frustrating with the slowness of how it’s done and all the details you have to have available and the voice permissions from the other account holder to leave the account and on and on and on. Finally, after nearly THREE hours on and off the calls, my favorite number was transferred to the $60 phone I’ve been using as backup. The text, talk, and internet tests succeeded, too.

The “new” phone pretty much has all the features of my former, expensive phone. It’s perfect for the way most of our family communicates anyway (via text). Some of the maneuvering buttons are in a different screen position, but no big deal. I had to reinstall some of my favorite apps and review the notification permissions, but I have limited them considerably to what I allowed before. The phone is lighter weight and slightly smaller in size. I can always upgrade to one of their more expensive phones – but still FAR cheaper than what we’ve been paying.

The next day I went through their automated phone service to re-establish my auto-payment account (to lock-in that $25/month plan), since the payment details on the account I had got wiped out when they deactivated the burner number. For some reason, I can’t seem to reactivate the online (internet) account like I had before. Perhaps I need to wait a few days for the system to catch up with my plans.

Meanwhile, I’m content with the transition to this new phone and provider and I look forward to reconnecting with family and friends.

 

The Rememberer

I am the rememberer.

The collector of stories and pain.

The recorder of wisdom and healing.

I am the bringer of light and carrier of peace.

The observer of love and conflict.

The knower of truth and the compassion in consequence.

I am the encourager through struggle.

The author of life and director of purpose.

The listener of the soul’s whispers.

I am a guide to the traveler and shelter for the weary.

The echo of footsteps and the meaning for smiles.

The calmer of fears and encourager of faith.

I am the place of eternal rest.

I am the energy of life in all.

I am the rememberer.

I am complete.

I am you.

(poem written by Carla Ryan 7/11/2020 during labyrinth meditations)

Gardening Experiment – Day 16

In the 10 days since my last post, the garden has really progressed. In fact, it’s in!

I thought the radishes grew fast. O.M.G. Did they ever! However, the garden project accelerated when next to the radishes the corn seeds started piercing the dirt – 22 baby corn stalks made their appearance within a week!

And then the green beans started popping up, too. The first and tallest one (so far) was growing an inch each day!  I don’t remember a plant ever  doing that. It wasn’t long before other bean sprouts began busting loose from their pod seeds.

Since we had a bit of a cold spell for a couple of days, I wouldn’t put the tender, little plants outside. They stayed on the counter in front of a north-facing window. That didn’t seem to slow down their growth. It was fun to turn the plantings around every hour or so and see how the bean stalk turned back toward the window’s light. The corn stalks were slower-growing, but within a few days they were a couple of inches above the dirt.

All this growing made me realize we needed to get the raised garden beds installed as quickly as we could. I did some online research and found kits made of pre-cut cedar boards with dowels inserted at the corners to secure the boards into the rectangle shape. I ordered two garden beds and they arrived in less than a week… just as the weather started warming up.

As the weekend approached, we prepared the ground. We removed some of the grass in a sunny (but dead) spot away from the house (a change from the original plan), filled in low spots with old soil from miscellaneous plant pots scattered around the property, and pinned down weed-block cloth over the selected area. We bought bags of dirt and PVC pipe to construct the simple, arched frame for the netting. Then we tackled the assembly of the raised garden bed kits.

I just want to say that I’m grateful for my husband’s brute strength and his give-me-the-hammer construction method. The dowel holes barely matched up with the ones in the side boards. Each corner had to be muscled together with hammer and screwdriver and even a bit of re-drilling. Once the corners were together, the rest was easy. We poured in the bags of dirt,  constructed the PVC frame, and attached the netting.

Today I put the baby plants in the ground. All of them. I added a couple of tomato plants, purchased shortly before the install. I added new soil to a few empty pots and planted even more seeds. I figure if nine-year-old seeds can grow, so can seeds from 2020. Now it’s hoping the weather forecast is accurate and these plants have a good start before summer arrives.

More updates are sure to come. Stay tuned.

Gardening Experiment: Day 6 – It’s Getting Real!

Day 6… and I’m starting to panic. The radishes are growing so much faster than I anticipated. I thought I might have at least a couple of weeks before they grew to this height and thickness. When I look back at all the gardens I’ve planted in the past, I doubt I EVER actually counted days until seedlings appeared.

When you compare the photos from yesterday to today, it’s like these seedlings are in a growth race. I’m stunned! They certainly like the amounts of water and sunshine they’re now getting on a daily basis. Time to plan the raised garden bed.

We went outside to look at the yard and what direction the spring sun hits it. Since we have a couple of spots where the dead grass is an eyesore, it makes sense to position the raised garden beds over those spots… but not block the sprinkler heads. We’re trying to find the sprinkler heads now. The grass is really thick.

Since I’ve built raised garden beds before, I quickly drew a sketch, but at half the size of my previous construction. Next, I’ll go online to order the materials.  We can do a drive-thru pickup at the local lumber/hardware/garden store. I’ll have to go back later for manure, soil, and bird  barrier netting. Also to keep out the dogs.

We’ll likely build one garden bed for the seeds and plants I’ve already planted. We can do another later for the herbs. The far end of the yard (garden) has a bit of dappled shade, which will be better for more delicate plantings.

Looks like I’ve got work to do.

Moving… finale…

UPDATE (6/10/19):  The home inspection did not go as planned and we canceled the contract on this property. We have decided to pursue alternative ideas toward our financial goal of being mortgage-free and to stay in this home for as long as we can.

        Today we started packing. Filling boxes. We’re moving again. This will be our fifth move in five years. Insane, I know. Especially considering how “mature” in years we are. We pray it’s the last… again.

        I jokingly, at times, claim to have gypsy blood. Today I have no doubt. Why else would this seem like a normal thing to do? What’s the bottom line? Why would we be willing to do this again in our mid-to-late 60’s?

        We – my husband (Mike) and I – want to be mortgage-free. No debts, especially the house loan. The sale of our current home will allow us to achieve the long-held goal for us to NOT “have to” work. It greatly reduces the self-imposed mental and financial stress. We can do other things with our time and money… travel, develop hobbies, build a spiritual community, visit grandkids… the possibilities are unlimited!

        The other key reason is this. We’ve had many discussions about what we would do with this large, beautiful home (where we now live) when one of us dies. It’s going to happen. We may as well talk about it. BOTH of us have stated – we’re in agreement – that whoever is the survivor would sell the house and move into something smaller, more manageable. So, we figured, why not do that now? Do it together, get settled, and then when that grieving time comes, the remaining spouse would NOT have to do it or make such decisions during such a sad time. And after running all the numbers, it just makes good financial sense.

        For some folks our age, this mortgage-free goal has already been accomplished. Not for us. We attribute the delay to having multiple marriages (both of us) and having to “start over” to some degree after each divorce. Not recommended, but it’s in our pasts. Also, we don’t remember having good financial role models.

        It also took us awhile to learn good money management skills. Budgets. Emergency savings. Retirement funds. Sharing. Allowances. And healing the wounds around money issues from childhood into adulthood and through the present. The scabs of those wounds get lifted on occasion, but mostly they’re quickly put back into place where they belong… the past. We’ve looked at our beliefs and (mis)trust issues around money and abundance MANY times and often. There have been arguments, blow-outs, tears, and recovery. Not so much anymore. Thank goodness.

        One thing we’ve done correctly over the past five to eight years is make better decisions about what we do with the funds after the sale of a home. Those decisions have brought us to our beautiful resort-like home, which will soon be put on the market. We’ve lived here two years. We could continue to live here. We can afford the payments. We just don’t want to do it anymore. So we’ve decided to downsize, once again, but in a different direction and with more experience behind us. We’re aware of how much of a downsize we can handle.

        The previous moves included going from large homes (3,300 to 4,500 square feet) to smaller ones (1,600 square feet) with large lots. The house was either too small or the property too much to take care of. We learned what we could or wanted to maintain. We learned how much space we needed for a home so we could live together and still like each other. This time we’ve selected a manufactured home (think double-wide) of 1,800 square feet on a rented lot that we can maintain or hire out.

        We call it #18 (part of the address). We’ve had “919” and “22” and currently we’re in “474.” It’s a thing we do when we remember the different places we’ve lived. In Australia it was simply “Margaret Avenue” or the “Turramurra” house. In childhood (for me) it was “Swan Creek” or “Gratiot Road.” We like the numbers better. And, yes, we read the house numerology descriptions along the journey.

        Thankfully, this time, the downsize process won’t require us to get rid of too much of what we’ve accumulated in furniture. We did most of that two moves ago. What we don’t really need will go into a storage unit for now until we get the rest all sorted out and in-place. Whatever is extra can be given away or sold.

        We can keep our books for “the library” room. I have room for my sewing machine and craft supplies and keyboard. We’ll both have offices. And we have approval to keep our new hot tub. Whew! However, the covenants, as we discovered, allows for only one dog. We have two.

        Our little Zoey will be carefully re-homed to someone who will care for her as well or better than we have. She’s a likeable and sassy miss that is more adoptable than our Casper. It’s taken a long time to get him to trust us and heal from his wounded past. Both dogs were rescues over three years ago, but Casper had a much more dramatic past to overcome. Zoey has been his teacher. He’s come a long way, but has further to go to be the wholly, healed dog I see him to be. Zoey’s got it covered. She knows who she is and lets you know it! She’s already a love-bug (when she allows it). Casper is still overly cautious about who is allowed to come near him (or us). Perhaps being an only dog will give Casper the extra attention and space he needs to discover himself.

        There you have it. The “why” and a bit of the “how” of it all.

        We’ve selected a comfortable home in a beautiful, treed setting just a few miles from where we are. A small town and all its shops are within walking distance. A bike trail and river are just a few minutes’ walk from our neighborhood. We’ll be surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and parks. We’re still a short drive to friends and restaurants and other activities. We’re planning to do a few upgrades and changes before we move in. Things we’ve done at other homes.

        And what helps us KNOW we’ve made the right decision is how quickly and precisely EVERYTHING has “fallen into place” in the time since we made the decision. Even our ego-voices have nothing to say at this point. This has totally been a God-thing.

The process began just a week ago. The price of the next home came down. The initial mortgage was approved; preliminary papers have been signed. The inspection is scheduled. The realtor for our current home is on-board and ready to list it early next month. The packing is underway to stage our home for sale… and there’s not a lot to do in the way of repairs. Just decluttering and cleaning. This house will sell quickly. It only takes one… and what if it’s easy… is our frame of mind (mantra) and our experience.

        And it’s all happened easily and effortlessly around the plans and projects we already had scheduled. Everyone involved has been helpful and friendly. We’ve received TONS of support and validation about our decision from friends and family. The timing is perfect!

        I’m looking forward to enjoying our new lifestyle after all the boxes have disappeared and the paperwork is filed. We’ve both worked a long time to get to this point, even with all the life detours we made along the way. I like (and love) my husband. I pray we enjoy this new place together for at least 20 years. The last owner of #18 lived to be 102 years old! Maybe we will, too. It’ll be fun to discover who we are in this different mode of living.

        Thank you, Spirit! I love this creative Life!!