Embracing Life and My Girls

http://www.countdowntofreedom.net/2017/03/embracing-life-and-my-girls.html
Ladies Wine Parties

I was a very early bloomer. I developed while in middle school, and became acutely aware of my body and the differences between mine and my peers. Owing to some upheaval with my parents marriages, divorces and remarriages when I was young, we moved around many times. I attended 10 schools before I reached high school. Due to this, I learned to keep my mouth shut and be very observant. When you are the perpetual “new kid,” you are never quite part of the crowd. My sophistication and reserve made me feel (and be treated by adults as though) I were much older than my years.

Since reaching my 40s, I finally feel as though I have caught up to my actual age. I feel as if I can stretch the arms of my spirit into my body, and take full possession of it. I feel strong, capable, confident. I do not worry about the opinions or fears that cause others to pause when I step forward. It is an intoxicating feeling, at times.

I embrace the friendships of other women in a way that we are conditioned against when we are young. Women learn to be jealous of one another, and tear each other down, rather than embracing the strength and wisdom of our collective years. I have found most women are just aching for a connection, a friendship, a place where they can drop all pretense and not fear judgment.

It is in such a space and desire that I created the Ladies Wine Party. It is a monthly group of women who meet at a hostesses home from 5-8pm on the first Friday of the month. Each lady brings the libation of her choice, and a small dish. The only rules are no men, no kids, and no selling. The ladies that have been involved in this have discovered a safe place for fun, with no agenda – just the opportunity to bond with other ladies. The ladies that come to these parties are often shocked that they feel so at ease and welcomed.

I did not intend this post to be about the wine parties. I suppose that I just wanted to express how good middle age feels. Embrace your girlfriends and start your own gatherings. I promise, it is worth it!

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My 43rd Birthday

http://www.countdowntofreedom.net/2017/03/my-43rd-birthday.html

On March 5th, I turned 43. It was not a psychological blow (that was 36). I find birthdays to be a good time to check in with myself and do an inventory of my goals. I spent the day at home, watching movies, drinking a bottle of wine, napping, and cuddling with my pups. It certainly was not my most exciting birthday, but I feel restored and ready to take on the day. I do miss my friends, and I regret not being with them to celebrate.

At 43, I know that there is a good likelihood that I will live at least another 40 years – another whole lifetime of what I have just lived. Longevity tends to run in my family, and there is no reason I should not live well into my 80s or 90s. With that said, I have been thinking about just what these years will look like for me. Thankfully, my children are not, largely, on their own, so no more raising kids for me. Perhaps, one day, my children will make me a grandmother, but neither seem to be in a hurry (a fact for which I am grateful). Blessedly, I am still pretty healthy, and find my chosen career to be lucrative. I would love to be able to do massage therapy for many years, but we’ll have to see.

I am using this time as an opportunity to gather my resources and actually focus on my financial house. I have some obligations to deal with (student loan debt that will never go away!), but I am trying to steer my life into one that requires minimal monthly obligations. Our government being what it is, I have no expectation of a monthly pension, so I need to make sure that I can care for myself. I keep thinking I should buy a small plot of land, but trying to figure out just where I want to live out my golden years is a difficult decision. I want a place that I can have sunshine, land that is good for gardening, taxes that are reasonable, and where I can live essentially off-grid. I want a place that I have space to myself, but is not so remote that I do not have a city within a 15-20 min drive. I want community without intrusiveness. Lastly, I want people that I can connect with. As a liberal who has lived in mostly red states, I have no problem getting along, but I don’t want to fear for my safety.

I also want to travel. Sadly, with the churning and roiling waters of today’s political climate, international travel is probably out for a bit. That’s ok, though, because there is still so much of the US that I want to see.

I read something the other day about Warren Buffett, a man for whom I have great admiration. The article said that he makes a list of 25 things that he cares about, and then crosses everything off past the top 5. Those top 5 are the things you care most passionately about, and the rest are distractions. I need to get busy on this list. I think the clarity will do me good.

Til next time!

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Check out a manatee eating a fish!

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Dreams for the Future RV

My partner was kind enough to take a picture of our future RV. It is a 1999 Tioga, and I think it is 22ft. It appears to be in good shape on the outside, and the current owners drove it here from their home, so it is driving. It has about 80,000 miles on it. The interior is dated, but in good shape. I am so eager to get started!

We started discussing our future travel plans. His work is pretty year-round, but at the resort, my season will die down a bit over the Summer, and late Fall is very quiet. I know that I will be making a trip up to see family and friends in Charleston, sometime this Summer, and IF I can swing it, I’d like to take a week or two and drive out to the Rockies before the snow comes. I also have a deep desire to tour New England in the next year. In the meantime, we will just take little weekend trips around FL.
One of the great annoyances of living in Key Largo is that I am a two hour drive from Key West. While you would think that would be amazing, it is more akin to having a crush on a married coworker…so close, yet so far away. Key West tantalizes me with the fun that can be had, but we can never drink too much or play too long, since we have to factor in the two hour commute back home. This RV negates that conundrum. We can stay late, listen to the music, dance all night, take in a drag show, wander Duval Street til our feet ache, then eventually crash out in our RV. I, for one, am ready.

Me & my oldest at Bahia Honda, 1994

I also really want to camp over night at Bahia Honda State Park. If you have never been here, I highly recommend it! It is absolutely gorgeous! When I was about 10, my Dad was a freelance journalist, and he would bring us here to write (it’s right next to Big Pine Key, FL, where we lived at the time), while my sister and I snorkeled and swam all day. It was a wonderful time in my life, and those memories will stay with me always. I have never been able to camp there, though, and I am so happy that I will be able to do so now.

Finally, I just want to have a home. I know that sounds strange, considering the wandering that I do, but here it is. I have lived in so many places over the years, that I truly don’t feel I belong in any one place. Yes, SC is the state of my birth, and I have friends and family there, but I lived in UT until I was 10. FL is where I have visited and lived most, but I’m not a native (although, few are). I lived in CA for a year or so, and was devastated when my ex moved us to WV. The point is, I have little pieces of my soul all over the USA, but none have said “This is your place” to me. Perhaps the closest I have come was SWFL.

The point is, this RV (or the one that materializes for me) represents a home base for me. I can have my minimal belongings and my dogs with me wherever I go. My man can join me when he is able, and I will always feel at home, no matter where my restless heart takes me. I am ready to go home.

Read More from this Series
Vacation Van Vision
Getting Started
So, This Happened
Reject Or Adapt?
Progress Report
Pre-Planning Ideas
Dreams for the Future RV

After writing this post today, I ran across this video. I can’t think of any video that better encapsulates what I was talking about in this post. She’s my hero! Check her out!

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Pre-Planning Ideas

RV renovation Jayco Designer Before 7Since we have a week or two before we are able to buy our new RV, I’ve been thinking about ways to rehab and renovate. I know that the decor is a bit dated, and paint will be a necessity, but beyond that, I’ll just have to see. One good thing is that it does not have slide-outs, so I can do some structural changes without worrying about the integrity of the moving parts.
RV renovation Jayco Designer After 7

I absolutely love what these owners, Maria and Brian did in this renovation, posted by DIY RVhttp://www.doityourselfrv.com/rv-renovation-jayco-designer/. Here are a few images on their renovation. As you can see, in the before pics, the decor was dated and dark, so it makes the RV looks smaller inside:

After cleaning and paint, the RV interior is light and open, giving the feeling of, if not spaciousness, at least not claustrophobic:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

VW Bus conversion with unique themeNow, if it were just me doing this (and I really want it to be), this redo by Mark and Nancy, as also featured on DIY RV would be far closer to what I would like to see. I suppose I am more free-spirited than my partner, so this would be heaven to me. Unfortunately, I know that, since he will be traveling with me from time to time, that this would drive him crazy. I think it’s absolutely adorable, though.

VW Bus conversion with unique themeIn the end, I will probably settle for some combination of the two. I prefer a open and light palate, with touches of whimsy. What is important to me is that I have a place to kick back and read, an integrated bookshelf area, lot’s of soft furnishings, and natural light. The details will be worked out after we see just what we have to work with. I’m pretty excited!

Read More from this Series
Vacation Van Vision
Getting Started
So, This Happened
Reject Or Adapt?
Progress Report
Pre-Planning Ideas
Dreams for the Future RV

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Progress Report

Image result for small rvAfter much deliberation, it appears that we are moving ahead with the purchase of the small RV. Since the people that are selling it are still in it for the next week or so, I don’t have much in the way of details, but as soon as I take possession, lots of pictures and plans will follow.

I do like the fact that this is much smaller than the 40ft 5th wheel that we currently inhabit, so weekend getaways are much more feasible. I have also explained to my partner (emphatically, repeatedly, and with massive conviction) that this is essentially “mine,” and I will be doing most of the renovation and decoration. He has pointed out, correctly, that the tools are his, so I will require his help from time to time, but still, it’s my special place. 🙂

Read More from this Series
Vacation Van Vision
Getting Started
So, This Happened
Reject Or Adapt?
Progress Report
Pre-Planning Ideas
Dreams for the Future RV

I really have no idea about design plans until I get in there. I do know that it is appx 20ft, and is fully outfitted, so it actually may be better than my van concept. I still would like to do that project, but when the universe provides so quickly and decisively, who am I to argue?

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