Thursday, December 8, 2016

More or Less


Over the years as my husband, Dennis, and I have traveled, we have learned that less is more and have possibly taken it to more of an extreme than most would - as in, we have sold our house and sold or given away most of our stuff. Traveling full-time now, we travel with less than we used to - interesting since we are living out of our suitcases! We both have carry-on size backpacks, I have a carry-on size roller, and D has a slightly larger roller to check. I have a lunch size insulted bag with my medication and icepacks for keeping medication in proper range, and D has a small bag for our tech incidentals. We consider everything and I mean everything we carry. One thing may not seem like it matters, but if we kept too many one-more-things they would add up and then we would be lugging the one-more-things up and down hills and stairs, on to and off of trains, through narrow alleyways, and across busy intersections. It doesn’t take long to determine we must carry less, thus gaining more freedom to roll our stuff around from place to place.

Having been in Europe for nearly 3-months at this writing, we have determined we could have taken less and still have had what we needed. Making better choices and examining everything about our lives is ever-changing on a day-to-day basis. We are learning what is less and what is more as we continue to travel - and it's not all about how much we have packed into our suitcases, but that would be a post for another time. It’s learning to balance our needs versus our wants; and we are realizing how much more important our needs are. This whole adventure is a process, and balancing the more with the less will be an ongoing challenge. A challenge we think we are up for.


Michelle
Photo courtesy of DaMClarks

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let The Wieners Fly


A day in the lives of the DaMClark’s – intrepid travelers! On our first full day in Munich, Germany we decided to try something different and take an audio tour we each downloaded onto our phones. We like to get an idea of what our neighborhood and surroundings areas have to offer and usually take self-guided tours. We recently took an English language guided tour in Regensburg and that went well, so now for an audio tour.

We arrived at Marienplatz just prior to 12:00 p.m. to see the massive glockenspiel (clock that tells a story). It takes about 15-minutes for the chiming of the bells then the old carillons to chime in. Different levels of the clock have characters that spin around and move through telling the spiel. It was a great way to start our Munich stay. We then attached our personal headphones to our cell phones and began our audio tour. To begin with we enjoyed the history of this and that, but we had trouble following the audio walking directions from one site to the next, then I was having a lot of trouble as I hadn’t really considered what I would need to do with the audio, clicking it off and on, and how I dressed that day. It seemed I was always fussing with trying to pause and getting my phone in and out of my pocket. I realized how uncomfortable I was and figured out why it was bothering me so much. You see, normally when we head out for a day we don’t like to fuss a lot with our pockets and backpacks as that is a distraction to us and draws the attention of others who may decide all the distraction would make one of us an easy mark. Rather than ignoring my feelings, I announced we needed to go back home so I could dress more comfortably and use the proper headphones in order to pause without digging out my cell phone.

Forty-five minutes later we were back where we had turned around. Feeling more comfortable now, we walked through the Viktualienmarkt (vitals market), daily farmers market founded in the 1800s, and decided we should sit down and grab a meal prior to continuing with the audio tour. We sat outside in the sun at an outdoor cafe having the local specialty of weißwürst (white veal sausage), pretzel, and beer. When the waitress arrived she set a bowl with a plate-lid down in front of us, but in the process sloshed the hot liquid out of the bowl and onto my pants through the slats of the table. Not wanting to make a fuss I did my best to clean off the wurst of it – sorry about that but I couldn't resist. I lifted the lid on the bowl and there were four plump veal sausages swimming in what was left of the hot water liquid. I grabbed a sausage with a fork and plopped it down on my plate. We were told to slice it lengthwise and scrape the meat out of the casing, dip the meat in sweet hot mustard, and enjoy with the pretzel and beer. I couldn’t quite hold onto the sausage so I decided I would cut it in half before slicing lengthwise. As I did this half of my lovely veal sausage went flying. I ignored it completely as I knew others saw this and were probably thinking - Gut Got im himmel fliegel wursts! (Good God in the sky flying sausages), but I continued with what I was doing as if I planned it that way. The first thought going through my head was, oh well, it looked like more than I could eat anyway, but after my first bite I knew I was going to miss the other half sitting five feet away on the ground. Very seriously Dennis tenderly but gingerly commented that I really wasn’t having a very good day - I agreed wholeheartedly. I could have gotten a bit angry with the whole thing, perhaps out of embarrassment, but I decided it wouldn’t be worth it. I was just having one of those days that happen to me once in awhile, as if I'm off my game, and I knew I needed to pay more attention and just let the wieners fly.

After our meal we started up the audio tour again and saw some interesting places and learned more history. But then it kept guiding us back to big shopping corridors and the very busy Marienplatz. At one point it told us to look down the road to the old gate from when Munich was a walled city. We decided to take a look for ourselves (which was worth the walk and we couldn’t figure out why the audio tour hadn't taken us there) then we walked back up the shopping street. At the other end of the street I realized I had lost one of my gloves! Geesh, what a day. I calmly told D I wanted to retrace our steps and see if we could find it. Sure enough, there was my glove sitting outside a shop where we had stopped to look at a window display. Definitely an off day but I was just happy no dog had peed on the glove!

The audio tour continued to guide us through more shopping districts and when it guided us to a hotel Michael Jackson had stayed at, and note people continue to set up a memorial to him, that was about it for us. Dennis announced we were done with the audio tour. As we walked back home, we decided to end our day on a brighter note. So we stopped at a café near our home where we sat outside with heat lamps overhead, blankets on our laps, and enjoyed an ice cream and espresso for Dennis and a brownie and red wine for me. We watched the sky turn pink as the sun set, and we talked and laughed about our day – flying wieners and all.

I tell this rather detailed story to give you an idea of how we do things. We are trying different ways of traveling and finding what works and what doesn’t. While I was having my own issues with the day, D was patient and understanding. It’s one of those things we do best. When one is off the other works at achieving a better balance for both of us. It’s about acceptance and finding the best within ourselves on any given day. In the end we celebrated our day, and you won’t find us doing an audio tour again unless it's in a museum. We would rather pick up the tourist info maps and plot our own course even if we don’t see everything a tourist should see. Case in point, the following day to this story the DaMClark way will be posted soon at www.damclark.com - see you there.

Michelle
Photo courtesy of DaMClarks family album


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mindset Shift

I’ve been houseless since we sold our home in April of this year. For the first four months my husband, Dennis, and I traveled the Western United States. Now, we are traveling in Europe for approximately three months. While we mostly stay in Airbnb apartments equipped with kitchens and laundry facilities, we do occasionally stay in hotel/motels when we are traveling from place to place. All this traveling makes it difficult to have a routine, and I have always been a routine oriented person. I feel better when I am able to follow a routine, most people do. So how does a routine oriented person adjust to a constant change in routine?

In January I chose the word change as a central theme to remind me that change would be a distinct part of my life in the months, and perhaps years, ahead. This daily reminder inspires me to become more comfortable with change by learning to accept and adapt to whatever change comes my way. I think this reminder even sets up a mindset shift in how I look at and respond to change. Here are a few key points I focus on in an ever-changing environment:
Falling into a regular sleep pattern and getting a good eight hours is important for my overall health. But when my bed location is changing every few days it can be difficult to settle in and get the sleep I need. If I fall behind and am tired, then it's time for a nap, a sleep-in day, or a day at home - wherever home may be.
Exercising is not only good for my body but for my mind - and therefore, once again, my overall health. While I am walking five to 10 miles each day when not traveling from place to place, those traveling days plus the walking are wreaking havoc with my regular exercise routines. At this point I am doing what I can to hold onto my running and yoga when possible. But there again, sometimes it is more important to rest my body as all the walking at times takes its toll. I can feel the heaviness of my muscles and know they need a rest too - even if it means I may not get to my running or yoga.
Eating well and not overindulging in all the wonderful breads and sweet delicacies is important, too. I know it would not be in my best interest for many reasons, so it really doesn’t bother me to pass on them on a regular basis and enjoy them on occasion.
Focused breathing and meditating is something I start my day with and do for short moments throughout the day. I may be mentioning this point last, but it is what is most important as both focused breathing and meditating calm my mind and feed my spirit. I might even say the breathing and meditating prepares me to be more flexible in my mindset and allow for an automatic shift when necessary - as if I am tapping the shift-key on a keyboard.
Right now I feel as though I am in transition with all the changes. And while I am at peace with change, I am still adapting to it. Perhaps my old routines will be in a constant state of flux and I will fall back to them when we are in one place for more than a week at a time. Maybe all this change is transforming my old norm to a new norm. Whatever it may be, knowing a mindset shift is ultimately what will help me deal with ever-present change in my life, I will be able to be my best self in mind, body, and spirit. Isn’t that what helps us all whether traveling or just dealing with the day-to-day routine of normal in our lives? Now, where's that shift key?

It's been nearly two months since I have posted on this blog. I am working on balancing my writing here with my travel blog posting. With this post I am hoping you will be able to hear more from me now that I am finding my way with the travel blog. If you would like to follow my adventures on a more regular basis, please note the sidebar of this blog - you will find the travel blog and my Facebook and Instagram links. I encourage you to sign up so you won't miss a thing. As always, thanks for following It Is What It Is. 


Michelle
Shift key photo courtesy of C Slack

Friday, August 26, 2016

It Shouldn't Be This Difficult

"It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key."
Winston Churchill
Life being what it is these days, entwined in everything computerized like a Gordian knot, one would think life would be easier and less complicated. But that’s not the case. If you have ever tried to follow up on any kind of error in prescriptions, monthly bills, medical insurance, and on and on, more often than not you will find an endless maze of people trying but failing to understand your dilemma. It’s time consuming, a pain to deal with, and it shouldn’t be this difficult.

Whether it's a glitch in the computerized world or the goings-on in my world, I do find that I may complicate the Gordian knots in my life by inserting my frame of mind, and of course feelings. Patience and taking a step back from whatever the frustration helps me determine if I’ve made this personal on any given issue. The key is to listen more to what I am thinking and what someone else is saying because this helps me with most riddles, mysteries, or enigmas - even the computerized nightmares. While life shouldn’t be this difficult, I’m learning to take care of business by finding the keys that will unlock the Gordian knots in my life.

Michelle
Gordian knot photo courtesy of Jim Belk

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Seeing Yourself in a Whole New Light


How you see yourself in your universe affects who you are and how you behave. As the sun, you are at your best. You shine bright and can be your best self. Consider the sunshine of your life as being the positive-filled life you are living. The people and behaviors in your life that help you shine your brightest are the planets orbiting around you. Seeing debris in your planetary system, that’s just the space junk you have gotten rid of, the people and behaviors who dim your shine. Don’t worry, if the junk appears closer than you would like, it will slowly move out of your universe-if you allow it. Oh, and that empty space between the planets is so important. Why, you ask? Because we all could use more space in our lives.

While this may sound silly or woo-woo and could get complicated trying to explain it in more detail, I’m going to skip the complicated part and just say this: I am the sun. I shine bright. At times I can be a planet, but it’s not in my best interest if I require someone to shine the light for me. See, simple, and not so silly or woo-woo.

Michelle
Solar System photo courtesy of Photo Editor

Friday, July 29, 2016

Eating to Live: Smoothie Nirvana

Beet smoothie photo initially published on Facebook.

Since eating well is a key to feeling well, smoothies have long been in my morning repertoire. Back in the 1960s I didn’t feel like eating breakfast prior to leaving for elementary school in the morning. And my mom didn't want me to start my day on an empty stomach, so she came up with what she called a protein shake for me in the morning. I’ve been drinking protein shakes, now called smoothies, off and on ever since. I don’t need fancy-dancy juicers to eat whole vegetables and fruit. I’ve been there, tried that, and decided if I ran a blender long enough on the liquefy setting, I could create smooth and delicious blends of goodness without the cleanup of a fancy-dancy juicer.

Here’s my absolutely delicious beet smoothie recipe...
Roast beets: Simply wash and scrub beets (no need to mess with peeling them), remove beet green tops leaving a couple inches of stems, trim root, and rub beets with olive oil. Place beets in foil and seal up. Bake 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow beets to continue to steam in foil. Remove foil, pop off stem tops, cool, and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. Roasting beets in this way allows the natural sugars to release for maximum sweetness. If you're in a hurry, microwave a beet as you would cook a whole potato. 
  1. ½ medium cooked beet
  2. ½-1 banana (I use this as the basis for most smoothies as it acts as a thickener)
  3. 6-8 oz. yogurt (fruit flavored or plain)
  4. 1 c. carrot juice
  5. 1 kale leaf rib removed (these days I always add kale or a handful of spinach in all my smoothies, and no you don’t taste whatever green goodness you tossed in)
  6. 3 strawberries (any berries or no berries necessary in this concoction)
  7. Cinnamon (I use cinnamon whenever I can but you decide how much)
  8. 1 slice orange rind (I freeze orange, lemon, and lime rinds in 1/2 inch slices to use in beverages, and the intense flavors are wonderful in a smoothie)
  9. Mint leaves or basil or both
  10. After blending, stir in ground flax meal if you feel you would like more fiber
  11. Sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy smoothie nirvana!

You can throw almost anything you love to eat into a smoothie. Just toss in whatever you have on hand. You don’t need a recipe. You can concoct your own delicious goodness in a glass like a mad scientist and reap the rewards of good health and nutrition. So, what does this beet smoothie taste like? First of all, it doesn't taste like beets or kale, as a matter of fact it tastes like I had thrown in heaps of raspberries and strawberries. Let's just say I deemed it the best smoothie ever! Yum!

Michelle

Beet smoothie photo courtesy of damclark's family photos

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Old Swing

My Grandpa Leo hung a rope swing from an old walnut tree in his yard when I was a little tyke. He hand-cut the wooden seat and extended the long ropes high up onto a large branch. Over the years I spent a lot of time swinging in that old tree. I would pump my legs back and forth going higher and higher until I could feel the point where the ropes would slacken slightly. It would scare me momentarily, but I knew I had reached the highest limits. That I had pushed myself and attained my own personal goal.

My home was a three hour drive from my grandparents, so my tree swinging was limited to our visits. My swing hung always ready for me to plop my behind down and start pumping my legs back and forth whenever I was available. I remember running to my swing as soon as my parent’s car stopped in the driveway when we arrived for a visit. And when my parents began packing up to leave, I always tried to get in one last swing, as if saying goodbye to my friends the swing and the walnut tree. My swing was always there for me whether I was happy or sad. When sad, I knew testing the limits of my swinging ability helped me out of my sorrowful, pitiful self. The fact is - it's hard to swing high into the tree limbs without invoking a smile or heartfelt giggle.

Recently, my husband, Dennis, and I were in Yakima, sharing time with my family. While there, we were able to visit my grandparents home where my cousin’s young family now resides. It had been over 25 years since I last walked into the home that holds many of my childhood memories. It was fun to see the renovations recently made to the old homestead. This home is now over 100 years old and has been lovingly updated by my cousin and his wife. If Grandma Mary and Grandpa Leo could see their old place now, they would agree it is well loved and is now preserved for future generations. It was a fun evening of good food, sharing memories, and sitting out under the old walnut tree.

Later, I got to thinking about the old swing in the walnut tree - a swing my sister, brother, and generations of cousins have enjoyed over the years. And now a new swing hangs ready for a new generation to share, to learn how to test their own limits, and help them move from sad to a heartfelt giggle.

Michelle

Swing photo courtesy of Denis Dervisevic

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Subtle Magic

For as long as I can remember, I have loved curtains swaying in a breeze. They are mesmerizing, and a meditative experience if you allow them to be. They remind me of a slow breath moving in and out in a graceful dance. In 2014 when my husband, Dennis, and I were in St. Rémy, France touring the Saint Paul Asylum (once occupied by Vincent Van Gogh), Dennis captured the essence of simplicity - sheers swaying in the breeze in an outdoor corridor. Watching the gentle sway was intoxicating, and I must say very calming. While Dennis has taken a lot of amazing photos, this is one of my favorites because it speaks to me. I can feel the air move in and out in what was an extremely relaxing moment in time. It reminds me to slow down and just breathe.

Over the years I can look back and remember curtains swaying in the breeze in my Grandma Mary’s home, in the home we just sold, and in the home we rented in Sedona, AZ. Whenever I see a breeze tickling curtains it causes me to stop and consider peace within myself and gives me a subtle sense of joy, a subtle sense of magic. I’m sure this all has a deeper meaning, but all you need to know is I have decided, in a year of change, that this photo will now be representative of this website as well as my Facebook page. I may not have a home of my own, but I am making my home wherever I am in the world - and if I have swaying curtains, all the better!

While I enjoyed having the dandelion seeds floating in the breeze with endless wishes representing, It Is What It Is, I have grown, and one may say sprouted, in different directions in my life. These swaying curtains in the breeze of St. Rémy represent who I am right now as Dennis and I travel about the globe in a somewhat houseless manner. I hope you enjoy the look of the new and improved It Is What It Is. Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

Michelle

Curtains in St. Rémy, France courtesy of damclark's family photos

Monday, June 6, 2016

Snapshot - Brazilian National Swim Team

As I walked up to the recently opened community pool in Sedona, Arizona to swim laps, I found that the Brazilian National Swim Team was using the facility. It seems they were training in Flagstaff and it was too cool so they were here for the rest of the week. When I was at the pool a few days before, half of the pool was open for lap swimmers and the other half for a water aerobics class. There were only three lap swimmers so I had a lane to myself. That swim was a lovely experience with the Sedona red rocks as a backdrop to a beautiful outdoor pool. Expecting a similar swim experience as I head over a few days later, I wasn’t really excited about sharing a pool with a swim team. But I thought, Oh well, I’m here so I’ll check in and see if I can catch my laps.

The lifeguards were more than willing to make sure I was able to swim during the scheduled community swim time. They even set me up with a lane all to myself. As I was talking with one of the lifeguards, she explained why the Brazilian team was in the pool and that’s when I connected what they had been telling me previously to Olympic team! Okay then, I’ll just slip in and do my thing, I told the guard I would do my best to represent the United States (being the only lap swimmer in the pool other than the Brazilian team).

I did more than catch my laps that day. I caught a lifetime snapshot experience I won’t ever forget. While I’m no Olympic caliber swimmer, I’m a very good swimmer and didn’t feel self-conscious in any way, so I just went about doing my normal workout. I couldn’t help thinking about a little girl at summer camp some fifty years ago who was bullied because she didn't know how to swim. Ha, thanks for that you mean girls! Look at me now! In case you are new to It Is What It Is, you might be interested in the article I previously posted on Summer Camp 1965.

When I finished my laps, I got out of the pool and walked over to one of the four team coaches. I told him how much it meant to me to have been in the pool swimming laps with his Olympic team. Once they finished their workout, he and a few of the team members were gracious enough to snap a shot of a memorable moment for me. I smiled like a fool the rest of the day, and the energy I was emanating must have filled the entire red rock area of Sedona with more happiness than usual.

You never know how your day is going to play out. If I had been self-conscious I could have simply walked away from this unsuspecting personal high. We all have doubts but the key is learning to trust ourselves and push doubt and fear away. It's our choice. I know this is one of many lifetime snapshot experiences I didn’t push away, and I look forward to many more as I head on down the road.

Michelle

Brazilian Swim Team photo courtesy of damclark's family photos

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Edge of Miraculous

That's me on the edge of West Sedona, AZ on a hike around Chimney Rock.

“We live at the edge of miraculous.”
Henry Miller

With this post, we celebrate my 200th posting! Since 2010 I’ve enjoyed sharing my ups, my downs, and my all arounds in an attempt to inspire you to consider the best within yourself, to guide you into forward thinking, and to learn from the circumstances of your life. I reflect on these things every day and have found them to be powerful influences in my life. I am making it a point to consider every day as living at the edge of miraculous.

With that in mind:

  • Even though I have been blogging for a number of years, I have never stepped into the social media scene until the last few days. I can now be found on Facebook as well as Instagram and the new travel website my husband, Dennis, and I collaborate on www.damclark.com. While I will continue to post weekly on both sites, it will be fun to share my thoughts on any given day via Facebook, and photos of where I am and what I am doing on Instagram. Other than these hyperlinks noted, you may also find links in the Follow Me section of the sidebar. This is a big change for me personally, and I am looking at the social media scene as if I were standing on the edge of miraculous.
  • I would also like to share with you an exciting change in the future of It Is What It Is. Once again it’s time to update the look and feel of this website and will do so in the upcoming months. Change, my word for 2016, is guiding me to the edge of miraculous time and time again this year, so it seems appropriate that this website follow suit.

I do believe we all live at the edge of something. Try considering and making whatever it is miraculous. This type of forward thinking will change your life. Celebrate with me as I embrace my 200th post with miraculous. And if you are allowing fear to slow forward thinking and miraculous days ahead, just know I am with you and I am holding your hand!
Living at the edge of miraculous in Sedona, AZ courtesy of our Clark family photos

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My New Normal

Now that we are officially houseless and making our way as we live a life on the road, it is time to evaluate my new normal. Physically and mentally I know I do best when I have a sense of balance and routine in my life-most people do. While on vacation, well, I'm on vacation and the routine goes out the window. Since I'm not on vacation, and traveling is how I live now, it is probably even more important to create some semblance of balance by maintaining a routine. In other words, a sense of normal. Simple is always the best approach so here’s what I am focusing on:

  • Meditate and set the pace of my day
  • Make it a point to have a consistent sleep schedule and catch the 8 hours I need
  • Stay hydrated, and eat healthy meals
  • Keep my body in shape by continuing to include what used to be my "normal" workout routines: run/walk, lift weights, yoga, stretching, and a few laps in a pool now and then

I may have to be creative in keeping to these goals, but in creativity I may find something else I can do to help my body thrive under ever-changing circumstances. For example: I have been lifting weights for nearly 30 years. But traveling with dumbbells is obviously not possible and joining gyms everywhere we go is not the answer, so I purchased resistance bands of varying strengths. These pack into a small pouch and don't take up much room or add weight to the suitcase. While I have just started working with the bands, I am enjoying the change and know it will help me stick to my new normal and thrive.

By focusing on what I know I need to do and keeping it as simple as I can, I will be successful in keeping myself in the best of health and enjoy my new normal to the fullest. Are you thinking about making a positive change in your life? If so, keep it simple, be creative, and you, too, will be successful.
3D world map courtesy of kcp4911

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Winds of Change


We hit the road the day our house closed, now officially houseless, and head to...Yakima, Washington! Isn’t that everyone’s top destination? We stayed with family, attended a wedding, and took care of a few business details. We then head south to Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona. For more details on what we are up to you might be interested to know that my husband, Dennis, and I are officially launching a new blog with the focus on traveling and our new lifestyle without a house. You will be able to follow along as we live a life on the road. You can find our travel blog life is a journey at: www.damclark.com. You may also find us by taking a look at the sidebar in this blog where I now have my travel link. When visiting life is a journey, make sure you subscribe to receive a post anytime we publish.

Oh, and don’t you worry. You will still be able to find inspiration right here with It Is What It Is. Since I will be traveling, there will be even more to share with you as I find my way on the uncertain path ahead. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know my word for 2016 is change. And while I have dealt with many changes already this year, I know the winds of change will continue to shape my future in the days ahead for the better.
Now what photo courtesy of John Eisenschenk

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Done and Done

While we have moved forward with our plotted course to move out of our home, sell it, and hit the road houseless, the last three weeks were full of the final to-do’s and extra-long days doing them. Even though everything seemed to be falling into place with the listing, selling, inspections, and the like, we had to maneuver around a setback or two, more than a few obstacles, and our share of headaches the last few months.

Our biggest headaches seemed to center on back injuries. My husband, Dennis, brought in the new year by injuring his back when we were going to need his back more than ever in the upcoming months. Fortunately, with physical therapy, massage, and a lifting brace for his back he performed remarkably. Injuring backs came to a head just days before our large furniture move on April 9. One of our friends who had helped us out moving this and that into our storage unit over the last two months, and was scheduled to help with the big move, put his back out. Then, the day of the move we found that a cousin of ours, who was scheduled to help, injured his back the night before. Fortunately for us, we have amazing cousins who came to our rescue last minute. It was like a mini family reunion with major cousin love moving us on.

The last two weeks were a combination of cleaning out this and that, boxing up the kitchen, food removal, and preparation for the next two months on the road. We held onto our mattress until a few days before closing and stayed in a nearby hotel for our last nights in town. Even with the ups and downs of the move testing our patience, all was officially wrapped up with the signing of the final papers Monday, the house officially closing on Wednesday, and the check hitting our bank on Thursday. Done and done!

During the packing process, Dennis found two dozen bottle rockets. After we locked up the house for the last time, he set up a launching tube and fired them off in groups of four to six at a time. When the final one had popped, I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Wahoo, the Clark’s have left the neighborhood.” Done and done indeed!
Fireworks photo courtesy of Epic Fireworks



Sunday, April 3, 2016

Steps in the Right Direction

With the pending closing date set at April, 20, we are only weeks away from making the big move out of our home. We passed the house, well, and septic inspections with no issues to deal with, and as of last week an appraisal was done. While we are anxious to dismantle the home staging and get on with the business of wrapping up what we have left to move out, we continue to be in a limbo stage until the home buyer’s bank gives them approval of their loan. We are not expecting any problems with their loan application, but it is in our best interest to be patient and sit tight.

Waiting during this period prior to the acceptance of the buyer’s loan application has allowed us to slow down a bit and plan for our first few destinations. We really couldn’t do that before this because we didn’t know when the house would sell. Planning our initial destinations strengthened our resolve to be houseless and travel for the next few years. I know I was filled with a giddy excitement and I could tell my husband, Dennis, was feeling the same way. Anyone who knows Dennis would not necessarily put giddy and Dennis together, but I can tell you he was giddy, nonetheless!

Approximately three years ago we talked about moving. Two years ago we decided we didn’t know where we wanted to live and we knew we would be traveling extensively so why have the expense of keeping an abode. Since that realization we have aggressively laid down the tracks and set an intentional course on a new direction in our lives. While we are definitely changing how we do everything, change and this new direction have filled our lives with a knowing that we are headed in the right direction. How do we know we are headed in the right direction? Because with each step we take, doors begin to open, and life seemingly falls into place showing us we are on the right path.

Question mark sign courtesy of Colin Kinner

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Stage is Set, Sold!


March 11th the interior photography was taken of our home for a virtual walking tour on a real estate website. These first impression photos/videos are very important because most homes are viewed on the internet first, in person second. In the midst of everything else we have going on in preparation for moving, we’ve been busy shuffling furniture around in order to open up various rooms so potential buyers can see the space and picture their stuff. This is termed staging your home. I’ve been diligently pulling pictures off walls and stuff off shelves in order to depersonalize our home-sweet-home. Two bedrooms now have twin-sized faux beds instead of my office furniture in one and a gigantic queen sized bed in the other. It’s amazing what a few storage boxes, camp mattresses, and colorful bedding do to the look of a room. The dining table is set - dinner for four anyone? And the kitchen bar is set up for breakfast. How lovely!

With the stage finally set the virtual walk-thru went live Monday night, March 14, and on Tuesday we had 3 prospective buyers. One ended up dropping out due to their own contingencies and the other two buyers took on a bidding war. By Thursday, March 17, we had accepted an offer and it all became official on Friday. Sold! Yesterday the house inspection was done and tomorrow the septic and well inspections take place. Whew!

Since the beginning of the year, all of our energy seemed to build up to the staging of our home. Now that we are past that point and looking at a closing date of April 20, we are in a sort of limbo until we can finalize the inspection details. The main push is over. Once we agree on inspection issues we will begin to dismantle the staging and finalize the moving plan.

Staging is preparing for something. That something could be just about anything. For us it has been the sale of our home in order to travel more and be home-less. Once you set your sites on whatever it is you want to do, you can make it happen. You just need to open up the space around you in order to see it differently, and that's when you can allow for change to take place.
Sold photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

Monday, March 7, 2016

Priorities

Our house will be listed for sale within the next week. With so many loose ends to take care of how do we prioritize when the day is full of priorities? How do we determine what is more important to do when everything is?

With our upcoming move to have no home and travel for awhile, we are in the throes of the last efforts to get rid of stuff we no longer need, and we are packing things we are keeping. With each item that leaves it is much easier to decide what goes and what is packed, and with each item that leaves we feel lighter and know we are headed in the right direction. We make almost daily trips to our 10 x 15-foot heated storage unit. Weekly we drop off car loads of stuff to our local charities, and send piles of garbage with our very helpful garbage guy and recycle guy. Our scanner and paper shredder are working overtime. If the weather is good, the priorities are outside in the yard; if it is raining, the priorities are inside. Setting daily priorities is the only way to stay sane and work together.

In the morning we discuss what we would like to accomplish for the day, we handle business matters and squeeze in a workout before we get on with packing, sorting, and hauling. As the day progresses we make adjustments to priorities as necessary. Come evening, we wrap up between 4 and 5 p.m. and before we go to bed we discuss how the next few days may play out. By morning, that can all change. We have fallen into a new daily routine crammed with priorities that would test anyone’s patience and ability to be flexible.

What’s important is knowing we can reprioritize and lay out the next few minutes or the rest of the day as necessary. By adjusting and going with the flow we get an amazing amount of priorities taken care of on any given day. And when all is said and done, we will have a lot less stuff, fewer priorities, and can pack patience and flexibility with us when we head out on the next chapter of our lives.

So how do we determine our priorities when everything is a priority? We talk about it and work as a team. After all, we’re going to be spending a lot of time together in the days ahead and being able to discuss things with patience and flexibility in mind will see us through-and a dash of humor wouldn’t hurt either!

Checklist photo courtesy of e3Learning

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love and Horse Chestnuts


From a seed a mighty trunk may grow ~ Aeschylus

As my husband, Dennis, went off to jury duty recently, I got to thinking back to one of my courthouse visits. After I walked through security, the officer pointed to the scanner screen and very nicely asked me, "What's the round object in the bottom of your purse?" I wasn’t sure what he was talking about so I riffled through my little purse and began to smile. I pulled out a very smooth, shiny horse chestnut (some may know them as buckeyes). I said, “You’re probably wondering why I have this in my purse?” He raised his eyebrows, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled. I explained that it came from Volunteer Park in Seattle where my husband and I went on our first date and where we had gotten married many years ago. I went on to say that my husband picked it up under one of the numerous horse chestnut trees in the park, cleaned it off, and gave it to me as we were wandering about on one of our visits. I even mentioned that when I run across the chestnut in my purse, it reminds me of how much he loves me. The security officer smiled and said that he had never seen a horse chestnut come through the scanner before, and that it was something he would not forget.

It may be a scent, a taste, a song, a feeling, or the sight of a chestnut that captures a surprise memory of long ago-like when I run into the love I have rolling around in the bottom of my purse. This surprise memory not only reminds me of how much my husband loves me, but how much our love has grown through the years. Yes, a mighty trunk has grown. While I have forgotten how long ago I received that little gem of a chestnut, I have never forgotten the sentiment behind it and cherish that sentiment each time the surprise memory comes to mind.
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) photo courtesy of Plant Image Library

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Next Phase

Over the last few years my husband, Dennis, and I have been slowly moving towards making a major change in our lives. Having been homebodies at the piece of paradise we reside at currently, we are now traveling more and would like to take more time to do even more traveling. Last year you followed my posts on downsizing, this year we are making the move. After twenty-two years in our current home, we will be selling it and moving on to the next phase of our lives. But here’s the catch, we are not buying a house or condominium to move into, and we are not buying a motorhome! As a matter of fact, we are only keeping what fits in a few travel bags and a 10 by 15-foot storage unit. In other words, in the next phase of our lives we will be home-less, so to speak!

Are we excited? Most definitely. Scared? Absolutely not. Worried about the future? What’s to worry about? In case you are worried for us, don’t be. We’ll take our time and cross each bridge as it comes. We look forward to not having to catch-up on our home and yard after every trip. We look forward to having less, much less, to maintain and concern ourselves with. We look forward to seeing more of the world. And most of all, we look forward to just being.

With everything we have been doing to prepare for selling, it has been difficult to post regularly. But I will do my best to keep you up-to-date on our activities as we strive to move towards the next phase. Once we sell and move out, you’ll be able to follow us as we travel. It is what it is happens to be a guiding principle for both of us and we will need to fall back on this guiding principle as we hit the unpredictable road of travel. And for those who are not quite sure about the direction we are taking, we may have been homebodies in the past, but our recent travels have guided us to the realization that home is wherever we are.
Land and suitcases photo courtesy of Jenifer Corrêa

Friday, January 8, 2016

Time for a Change


Last year my word or theme for the year was simplicity. Simplicity was a struggle for me as it seemed the universe had its own idea and decided to throw complicated my way. But I held fast to my word as it reminded me to look for simplicity in the complicated. In this way I was able to gain small but significant improvements in my outlook on the complicated. Simplicity guided me to break down what was seemingly complicated into something more manageable. While simplicity was a challenge, it was preparing me for 2016, the year of change.

Change can definitely be complicated and challenging, but with change comes hopefulness and optimism. I feel all my previous words or themes have led me to this point, this year of change. Even saying the word brings me joy because I know change is meant for me this year. I will be challenging myself through the changes I will embark on throughout 2016. With this change my path forward will be wide open with nothing holding me back. Change will refine, revise, reshape, and redesign my future.

I will not only welcome change, I will embrace it, envelop it, support it, and embody it. With such a powerful word for the year I probably do not need to remind myself of it, but I will in order to infuse it into each and every day of 2016. As I begin each day I will renew and refresh my word by whispering it as I wake, hear it speak to me as I go about my day, and watch it fade from my lips as I fall asleep at night.

The last time I was this excited about my word/theme was when it all began with the year of me (which happened to last 3 years by the way). What will your word/theme be for 2016? What will refine, revise, reshape, and redesign you? Follow me on a challenging year of change and feel the hopefulness and optimism change can be.
Change photo information not available.
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