What a difference a year makes

I started this blog 367 days ago, one (leap) year and one day ago from today.  It is called “Not Quite A Mid-Life Gap Year” because I assumed from the beginning that I would not be unemployed and spoiling myself for a year.

I am now at the airport in N.C. about to fly out to the Pacific Northwest to (once again) change my life, my future! Sometimes changes in life happen gradually, almost unknowingly…like when you see someone (usually a child) after a long absence and their change strikes you as remarkable.  When did that happen!!  Sometimes change hits you upside the head, like it has done to me recently. Either way, that’s life! Live it, grab it, relish it, and keep moving forward!

It has been primarily a wonderful year where I have been able to unplug and find myself again.  I have regained all, or most, of my mojo that had been stripped away by being unhappy in my last job, etc.  I have also had numerous priceless experiences learning Italian in Italy for nearly 3 months, traveling elsewhere in Europe, spending some time with my mother, and spending a month in South America, including cruising around Cape Horn. These are things many people never get to experience and I feel very fortunate.

On the flip side, in that same time frame there has been a lot of sadness experienced within my family and within the lives of my friends.  Of course, this all started with me losing my job and a few of my friends also found themselves unemployed this year, but more importantly I lost my favorite aunt and my friends have lost pets, a few have lost parents, one lost a grandparent, and one even lost a child.  There is simply nothing more heartbreaking than when a life is lost.

My blog has given me a unique experience of putting a stake in the ground and documenting almost every day of the last year.  It has been remarkable to look back on it and see what I have done and experienced and what else has transpired in the space of a year; in my life, the lives of my family, the lives of my extended family.

I have learned a lot more about the world and have reconnected with myself in the last year but most of what I have discovered is that it all comes back to a wide variety of old adages that ‘you only live once’, ‘seize the day’, ‘love thy neighbor’, ‘make love, not war’, ‘save the planet’….you get the idea.

It was a little scary to throw everything up in the air and go off and travel for 6 months.  I was very lucky to have money in the bank, severance, and the freedom to travel (i.e. being single and childless) but the unknown is just that, and I didn’t know what I would come back to and whether I would land a decent job, or how long that would take, and whether I would run into any financial issues over the long run.

What I did isn’t for everyone, but it was perfect for me.  I was able to afford it, but I have also worked hard and saved throughout my career, earned an MBA on scholarship, working diligently on finding a new job, etc.

I am grateful, I try and stay very positive and try and abide by the adage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  I also am a strong believer in karma and “paying it forward”.  All these positive vibes help propel everything forward.  Now that I have been through the loss of a job, I know I can survive it!  It has made me stronger and even more courageous.  So if it ever happens again, I know what to do! 🙂

I don’t consider myself to be very religious (i.e. I don’t go to church on Sunday), but I believe in faith and a higher being of some sort.  When I was in Italy, I found my new patron saint, St. Zeno, in Verona, and lit countless candles leaving tons of Euro coins at churches throughout the country.  My mother also prayed to St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost things) to find me a new job, I know my favorite Aunt that died recently is looking down on me, and I know my friends have prayed for me and sent me positive vibes.

I’m not sure which of all of the above things was the most powerful force in the end, most likely it was a colliding of all of them, but it does help to have friends in high places. 🙂

So as my year comes to an end, I can simply say that I am happy, grateful, and I hope to keep all the momentum going.  Now that I have income again, hopefully I can do something more monetarily impactful in the future, too.

Thank you to all that have supported me and followed my blog!  I hope that you have found it either helpful, entertaining, or both!  I have enjoyed writing it very much.  If nothing else, it was cathartic for me and I will always have documentation of the year that was!

For those that haven’t had enough of me, I will be starting a new blog as I venture forth into the next phase of my life.  It is currently under construction, but you can find me at http://grandenonfatlatte.com

Goodbye, and good luck and good health to all!

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The best name for a Mexican restaurant

I passed this place earlier today.  I have never noticed it before as it is in a strip mall that I never visit.  Isn’t the name awesome?

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Under control

I actually, finally, feel under control!

I am very glad that I boxed-up and sent a bunch of stuff via mail / UPS.  That took a lot of weight off of me, literally and figuratively!

I have three suitcases and think they contain pretty much everything I will need for a long while (plus the stuff I shipped).  It is way more than what I took to Europe last year, but this is a permanent move and people will be walking through the house so I want to surround myself with some things that will make me feel at home and I don’t want to leave anything here that I will be worried about.  It also makes the house look even better to have some things, like my espresso machine, out of the way.

I am currently washing my sheets so that I have a nice sleep tonight and have a pretty fresh bed ready for me when I come back to pack up and officially move.

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Congratulations to me

The other day I decided I needed to do something to congratulate myself for landing a great job so I went to my favorite jeweler in town and bought myself a ring!  It is quite chunky, I don’t think it comes across that way completely in the attached photo (which I know is super close up, we had a hard time getting the light and focus right).  It is oxidized silver and has three tiny diamonds and one good sized ruby in the middle.

I like happy floral things so it makes me feel good!

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St. Joseph

There is a belief that if you buy a statue of St. Joseph and bury him upside down in your yard that he will help expedite the sale of your house (remember, he was a carpenter).

The directions can vary, sometimes they say he needs to be in the front of the house, facing the house.  Other instructions say he should be in the back yard.  After the house sells, you dig him up.

I went with the first directions I read.  Head down, at a point of the property close to the the road, and presumably close to where the “For Sale” sign will be.  I guess the idea is that buyers will pass him by which will trigger Joseph to communicate to them!

My friend, Deirdre, used this particular statue when she sold her house and she passed him to me.

Let’s hope it works!  Another soul in ‘high places’ looking out for me!

Here is a photo of St. Joseph, holding Baby Jesus, before he went under!  I put him in a zip-lock so he wouldn’t get all messy, but didn’t seal it tight so he wouldn’t suffocate!

He got a nice spot near some Germander which is currently blooming, too. 🙂

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Bye-bye, baby!

My little sports car headed off to the Pacific Northwest today.

For some reason it was kinda sad to see him (Bruno) go, like being separated from a pet!  He looked so cute heading off down the road on the flatbed trailer.

We should be reunited on July 6th.

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Déjà ’70s (maybe some ’80s, too!)

I started packing last night and it turned into a big mess. What to bring? What to bring?

The weather is a good bit cooler where I am going but I don’t want to look like a doofus wearing anything to heavy, it is June after all. I have tons of shoes but I don’t feel like many of them are really appropriate for the climate (i.e. either to summery or their suede, etc.).  I may have to buy more/different shoes when I get there.  I do have two pairs of rain boots, so want to bring them, but they take up soooo much room!

I also want some of my ‘comforts’ with me so that I can settle in when I get there; i.e. my espresso machine.  I also need to bring my riding gear so that I can get set up with some stable, that stuff is also bulky (boots, helmet) and take up too much space.

This morning I got up and decided I was just going to ship a bunch of it.  During some phone call with my relo person she had made that suggestion and said I could expense it as it has to move sooner or later anyway.  So I went to the post office and got some boxes and sent off my helmet, two pairs of boots, a box with my messenger bag full of odds and ends, a box with a bunch of stuff from my desk, and a BIG box full of shoes and clothes and few handbags.  The last one went UPS as I new the post office would charge extravagantly.  I also brought my coffee machine to the UPS store so they could pack and ship it as I will need that on the weekends; reminder that I will have free lattes at work! 🙂

The UPS store is right next to my favorite eyeglass store (for those of you familiar).  The guy in there is nice, but the whole situation is like a ’70s time warp.

First, the smell in there is really bad!  Like the air is from the ’70s!  The guy himself reminds me of whichever one is the male from “Ashford & Simpson”, he had that long jheri-curl thing going on and he was wearing black parachute pants and a necklace with the symbol that “the artist formerly known as Prince” uses (although did he end up going back to being just plan old Prince again?  Can’t recall!).  The music, well obviously it was from that genre, too.  “Oh, Sheila” was playing when I was in there, followed by Donna Summer.

The weirdest thing?  Out of the blue the guy asks me if I have dual citizenship.  There was absolutely no reason for this question and as I was only shipping stuff from one state to another, nationality or citizenship or anything of that nature had nothing to do with the transaction at hand.  I said “yes, why did you ask me that?” and he said he just knew!

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OK, let me just say that on your second to last night in your house before a cross country move that it is REALLY annoying when your remote batteries decide that they are dead and you have no replacements at 11:45pm.  Jeez….

My Yahoo! e-mail account was also hacked this week and someone sent some SPAM e-mails to everyone in my contacts list.

Sometimes I feel tested, but the b*astards will not get me down!  🙂

I’m going to bed with the expectation that ‘tomorrow is another day’ during which I will be burying St. Joseph upside down in the garden (more on that in my next post)!

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Weather woes

It is flat out hot here today, 92, humid, and sunny.  I am very fair skinned so have to avoid being out in the sun during the day.  Plus, it can just be too hot to do much of anything sometimes, at least not without sweating profusely.

And where I’m going?  Today looks nice, 72 and sunny, but the forecast is for rain and 60 degree temps for several days.  No worries about my fair skin (!), but somewhat of a similar issue in terms of having restrictions on what you can do during the day!

Nowhere is perfect, though, and when you are in one place the other one has a certain appeal, and vice versa!

I had two realtors here today and now all three have been sent off to work on their market analysis.  They all feel very positive about my house; it is a real cutie, if I say so myself! 🙂  I wonder what I will end up with on the other end, and how long it will take for me to figure all that out.

A guy from the moving company also came to survey the house contents.

The car gets picked up tomorrow, and I washed it today (one of the requirements so they can photograph it for insurance purposes). Per instructions, “Plants, pets, firearms and all hazardous materials are forbidden by law to be transported.” Can you imagine shipping your pet in the car?  Hello Mitt Romney!?

So now I am left with packing my suitcases, my most dreaded task!  After all my sorting and cleaning and depersonalizing you would think that packing suitcases would be a super easy chore!  I just don’t like doing it!  I feel like I won’t be able to make good choices on what to take to cover the next few weeks.  I am sure once I start it won’t be so bad, I just don’t want to start!  Ha!! 🙂

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I just used the United States Postal Service’s website to forward my mail.  Yikes!  Somehow that made this thing feel pretty real!   I also hope that it works!  Ha!!!

FYI, there is a $1 charge for the change of address service.

Interestingly, there is a screen where you can select what catalogs you currently get that you would also like forwarded.  I’m surprised they do that, seems expensive/inefficient (explains a lot?)

I remember when I left New York years ago and moved to Memphis that the hardest thing was to give up my license.  Let’s see how long it takes for me to transfer my car’s plates and my driver’s license over to my new location!

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