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San Diego, CA, United States
I am 49-years-old and a 4th generation San Diegan. I still live in the San Diego area with my husband. Writing is my emotional outlet and this blog is simply the organization of all my thoughts and feelings. It helps me to make sense of all the craziness in the world and in my life. With every experience I have and with every blog I write, I try to be a bit more introspective and seek to learn something new about myself. Sometimes I like what I learn, other times I don't, but such is my life. Welcome to it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Retirement is NOW



the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
I’d been thinking about retirement for what seemed like the entirety of my 26-1/2 year career and in a blink of an eye it was here, six months earlier than anticipated*.  In a previous blog post I wrote about my fears of retiring - the financial distress, the continuing responsibility, and of dying.    

1991 - My first year
Those fears were still ever present right up until I made the decision to retire, but a funny thing happened when I actually picked a date for it to be official: I became happy.  

With the dawning of each new day, I awoke with a smile and with that I found myself eager to go to work, because it meant I was one day closer to leaving the job I’d hated for so long.  

I was not accustomed to having those feelings which were directly associated with work.  In the past, with work came head and stomach aches, insomnia, anger, and depression. Not joy.

These new emotions felt very weird and crazy, but so good that I literally could not stop smiling.  My coworkers even noticed and had plenty of comments because they’d rarely, if ever, saw me smile.  

Being a stay-at-home mom to Delphine
The crippling emotions I thought I would feel, didn’t happen. Instead, the fear that had griped me for so long was replaced with a steady and growing euphoria. 

It was as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Years of stress disappearing in just a matter of minutes.  

Yes, I was still concerned about our finances, but now I had a definitive income amount and that, coupled with my husband’s income, was still pretty darn good.  

Knowing we would be financially secure allowed me the freedom to decide when - or if - I needed to find another job, but for the immediate future I plan on being a stay-at-home mom to our dog. 

All the things I’d been wanting to do, but never seemed to have the time for because my life was always about work or because I was too depressed to do anything, now were attainable.  My options were limitless and that was so exciting.  

The list of things I wanted to do (write, sew, hike, fish, etc.) was getting very long.  The only thing that could hold me back now was my own laziness.  I had no other excuses.

2018 - My last year
I am currently on Day 13 of my retirement and it still doesn’t feel real.  I keep thinking come Monday morning, I’ll have to be back at that job I’ve had such a never ending love/hate relationship with, but when Monday comes around, my alarm clock never goes off.  

I am on a permanent vacation and that thought alone makes me smile.  I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to retire and I am only 49 years old.  Not many people have that opportunity and I will certainly take advantage of every second of my days.

Dying, well, that thought still causes me anxiety.  A friend, who had been retired for maybe a year, recently passed away from a heart attack and that gives me pause.  However, I am learning to give my final ending only a fleeting thought instead of letting it consume me like in the past.  

Retired and HAPPY
I can eat healthy and exercise or wrap myself in bubble wrap and stay forever in the house, but when it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go and I can’t change that.  I’m just hoping that whenever that time comes, I’ll have checked off a few things from my bucket list and hopefully go out with that smile that has yet to leave my face.

* My retirement came six months earlier than anticipated, because when I called our Personnel division and told the guy I was thinking about retiring on March 29th, he took it as I was retiring and sent out an email notifying my supervisors.  I hadn’t told anyone of what I was thinking, except my husband,  so when I came back from lunch, everyone knew because of the email and some of my coworkers can’t keep a secret to save their lives.  

So, in less than an hour, I went from just thinking about retiring and wondering what my first step should be to officially declaring my last day of work.  However, the more I kept thinking about retirement, the happier I became so I knew regardless of who spilled the beans, retirement was the right decision.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I want to be a Mountain Man

The life of a Mountain Man fascinates me.

I recently went to the Manzanita High Mountain Rendezvous in Lake Morena Village, California.  Lake Morena is about an hour east from downtown San Diego on Interstate 8.

I’ve been to several mountain man and living history events over the years.  I think my first rendezvous was in 2007 in Santa Ysabel, CA.  I like the Manzanita Rendezvous because it’s close to home, but there are several throughout San Diego County that I go to.  I always know it’s time for the Manzanita Rendezvous, because I see the red buffalo signs pointing the way to the Northcote Ranch, which is where it’s held.

This year I was especially excited to go, because I brought along my friend, LaRee.  I had several reasons for asking her to go with me.  One, we are both photographers and this was an event brimming with photography opportunities, so I knew she’d like to go.  

Second, I am sometimes uncomfortable approaching strangers and my attempts at idle chit chat come off very awkward, if not a bit creepy.  This isn’t a good thing for a photographer, but LaRee has no problems with striking up conversations with people.  

I figured I’d let her take the lead and then I’d stand behind her and take pictures as she engaged the Mountain Men, but really, I asked her to go because I enjoy her company.  Regardless of my reasonings, we had a good time and met some really nice Mountain Men.

Their lives fascinate me because it looks like fun and I want to be a Mountain Man.  

A mountain man is a trapper and explorer who lives in the wilderness.  That sounds like a fantastic adventure for a girl who has lived her entire life in a big city.  

Being out in nature with an endless horizon, feeling the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and the wind tousling my hair, and then falling asleep to the sounds of real nature and not the sounds from my soundscape machine appeals tremendously to me.  

Plus, I love the stars and enjoy lying outside just gazing into the vastness above.  I imagine their life a peaceful one.  

Hanging out in camp, playing cards, and just being free.  I don’t think I fully realize the struggles Mountain Men faced on a daily basis or the tremendous amount of work that goes into living that kind of lifestyle.  

Mountain Men go camping.  I love camping and the teepees and tents we went inside at the rendezvous looked so cozy I actually wanted to take a nap in one.  My husband and I have gone camping before, but since he always pitches the tent, I would probably have to learn how to put one up.  

Ah, how hard could it be?  Just insert a few tent poles here and there and voila! a tent, but I think I prefer a teepee.  I am currently pricing teepees on Amazon, but something tells me Mountain Men didn’t have the Internet or UPS delivery service for their supplies….

Mountain Men hunt and trap.  I have shot many things, but it has always been with my camera.  I have never been hunting.  I did shoot a rat once with a BB gun.  It was on our back porch.  I think it was already dead, though, or dying, because it just sat there unmoving as I got close to it.  The only thing I've ever trapped was a mouse in a mouse trap and it was gross. I do like to fish, however, and I am not afraid to put my own worm on my fishing hook.  I will even clean any fish I catch!

Mountain Men cook their food over a campfire. The aromatic bouquet of wood smoke wafting through the air and the sizzling of steaks in a cast iron pan sounds wonderful.  Mountain Men probably didn’t have the makings for s’mores, but I would still bring along Hershey chocolate bars and a big bag of Stay Puft marshmallows.  

We’d sit around the campfire telling ghost stories and sipping hot chocolate all night, wrapped in our Snuggie blankets.  I know they didn’t start their fires using Bic lighters, so I’d have to learn how to make fire by banging rocks together or spinning sticks or something.  I've been told fire is an important component for survival.

In my fantasies,  all Mountain Men are strong and muscled, perhaps resembling Fabio in fringed buckskins with feathers and beads in their long, flowing hair and I surmise that during the hot summer months, they wear very little so their skin is beautifully sun kissed.

I imagine life for them is romantic and grandiose.  They are reckless, spirited, and brave!  They are bad boys and make the ladies hearts swoon!  But in reality, I don’t think their life is anything like that.  

How long would I last if I really did try living that kind of life?  A pre-1840s Mountain Man (or woman) kind of life?  

Trapping. Hunting. Just trying to survive day-to-day and not die of starvation or scurvy.  There’s no wi-fi in their tents (if they had tents at all), no Netflix, no microwaves to cook their popcorn, no cars to get them to 7-11 when their supply of Cheetohs ran low, no refrigerator to keep their Coca Cola cold (because who likes warm soda? It sucks!).

In my mind, yeah, I can do it, but realistically how long would it take before I’d miss the comfort of my Sleep Number Mattress set at 55, a warm shower, and a clean pair of underwear and socks?  

I cannot stand to have dirty feet, so clean socks is paramount to my continued survival.  I don’t think Mountain Men even wore socks, let alone had a Kenmore Elite 5.2 cubic foot top load washer with steam treatment to wash their stank clothes!  

I could probably last a week or two, but that’s being optimistic. I have absolutely no wilderness skills, so more likely, I’d be dead before the end of the first day, killed by a grizzly bear or drowned because I can’t swim very well.  Probably die of Facebook withdrawals within a few hours.  

Although the life of a Mountain Man fascinates me,  it’s dirty and rough.  For now I think it's safer for me to remain just another Mountain Man Groupie.  I'll be happier too, knowing I can change into a clean pair of socks whenever I want.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When did I lose myself?

I often wonder at what point in my life in my life did I lose myself?  And then I ask if I had ever truly been found to be able to lose myself in the first place.  Have I ever really known who I was? Who I am?  Who I want to be?  

Most times I feel like I am a character and life is a movie with someone else directing.  I have never had complete control of my life, because it seems whenever I made a decision that I thought was of my own free will, it allowed someone else to lead me and I let them out of fear of being considered disobedient.  I justified this by thinking I was simply compromising, but in reality, I was letting others control me because I was afraid. 

I wonder if I’d lost myself when I was a child?  

I love my mother as daughters do and now that I am older and look back at our lives, I have a better understanding of why she was, and is, the way she is.  I love her, but I also harbor a deep resentment and that makes me feel incredibly guilty.  

My mother never allowed me to grow, to let me discover me.  It was always “do as I say” so I became what I hoped she wanted and that would make her happy.  There was never any room for discussion or defiance.  My opinions did not matter and the only way I was allowed to express myself was alone in my bedroom screaming my anger unheard into a pillow.  

My mother believes that everything is a problem that only she can solve. Our conversations aren’t really conversations, but a constant one-sided diatribe of unsolicited advice and her trying to solve problems that aren’t really problems.  

My reaction regarding my mother might be seen as an overreaction, but when I have spent a lifetime of listening to her constantly giving me advice about matters she knows nothing about, well, it gets tiresome.  

As my mother ages, I’m sure she is becoming more aware of her own fears and life regrets as am I of my own.  Perhaps her attempts at control is an attempt at remaining significant.  Perhaps she simply wants to be a mother that is still needed.  

I know I should be more forgiving, but I'm not.  I am frustrated and that again leads to me feeling extremely guilty. However, whatever her reasons may be, her constant advice giving and ‘strong’ suggestions of how I should do things, makes me feel inadequate.

I recognize I still have a lot of unresolved anger leftover from my childhood, but like when I was a child, my fears keep me from voicing my dissent and my anger festers.  

I wonder if I’d lost myself when I became a cop?

I was 23 years old when I become part of the law enforcement family.  I was taught how to act, how to speak, told what to wear (a uniform), how to wear my hair (it can’t go below my shirt collar), what color nail polish I was allowed (only muted colors!), my earrings had to be small, circular studs (silver or gold in color only!) and the list goes on.  This was all in preparation for making me into the best cop I could possibly be and I always had to represent the Department in a favorable light, whether I was on or off duty.  

As the years passed, I became resentful of the upper echelon constantly dictating how I should be and angry at myself for allowing them to have so much influence on my life.  

I haven’t liked my job for a very long time now, but I have reasons for why I don’t quit which have been expressed in other blog postings.  It wasn’t too long ago that I realized this job has played a huge part in me losing myself.  

When I am at work, I am expected to be authoritative, controlling, a take charge kind of person, but in reality I am an introvert, a quiet personality who prefers a solitary life, which is the complete opposite of what my day job requires.  

In uniform is when I feel like an actor, an imposter, because I cannot be who I want to be or who I think I am.  I am who the Department wants me to be.  I am a number that is expected to behave, but like when I was a child, my fears keep me from voicing my dissent and my anger festers.

I wonder if I’d lost myself when I got married?  

I was only 25 years old when I married for the first time.  My husband turned into, or probably always was, an emotionally abusive alcoholic.  I won’t go into detail, because I have closed off those memories, because they are nothing but negative.  That chapter in my life is over.  However, I allowed him control of my life which turned me into someone who I hated and that is one of the reasons why I divorced him.  

I have a good life now with my current husband, but as with any relationship, it has its ups and downs.  His love, however has given me confidence to try and be who I want to be and who I think I am, but I find myself falling into the same routine and letting him control my life, because that is how I have always been.  

The longer I let it continue, the worse my internal struggle becomes.  It has always been easier to allow others to control my life than it is for me to figure myself out and take charge.  

I want to change, but I don’t know how.  Part of me wants to be assertive and the few times I have tried to use my voice, it has led to disagreements and agonizing guilt on my part, because I am not who I think my husband wants me to be or at least who he is used to me being.  

My husband often tells me he knows me better than I know myself and I think that’s true.  I don’t know myself, because I have never been allowed to discover me.  I have always compromised for fear of being disobedient and perhaps for fear of rejection.  

How do I know if someone will like and accept me if I don’t even know who I am?  Or if I will even like myself?  How do I present myself?  I fear I will be a disappointment, so I yield.  I try to be what I think is expected and in the process of trying to be what I think my mother, my boss, or my husband wants, I lose myself. 

And as I grow older, I am scared my true self will never be found and whoever I am at that moment will be a failure.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why I am the way I am

The rain falls.  Soft at first and the gritty earth crunches under my boots.  My dog runs ahead on the trail leading away from our house, oblivious to the wetness.  This is our usual route and our walks usually last about twenty minutes.  That allows me plenty of time to think and enough time for her to pee and chase a rabbit or two.  As the rain comes, the tap tap of raindrops on my coat keeping rhythm with my steps, I wonder about my purpose, my fears, my beliefs.  I wonder why I am the way I am. 

Normally I don’t think such deep thoughts on our walks.  Instead, I am usually preoccupied by the more mundane subtleties of life - what to make for dinner, when is a good time to plant my tomatoes, do I need laundry detergent on my next trip to Wal Mart.  

Other times, I let my mind be free to enjoy the present, like the hawk soaring overhead, wondering what it sees, what it does, and where it goes.  I think about the sun as it rises, as it sets, and the stars in the sky.  Sometimes I am able to clear my mind and think about nothing at all.  I covet those times as the silencing of voices in my head is a rarity.

Today, however, my thoughts are heavy and I don’t know why.  I suppose it might be because I have been talking about retirement with my husband and I will be going to a retirement seminar in a few weeks.  Big life changes are soon to come and I don’t know if they’ll be good or bad.  The unknown terrifies me.  

My head explodes with thoughts and emotions and then I start questioning my entire life and it is an endless cycle of fear, confusion, excitement, hope, gratitude and regret.  The same issues I wrote about in a previous blog posting are still present and those feelings have only intensified as retirement grows nearer.

As the rain continues to fall, I am thinking about why I am the way I am.  

I have very few friends and I only stay in touch with them through social media.  We rarely hangout and I don’t make an effort to do so.  Sometimes I wish for a more active social life, but when I am out, I am full of anxiety and wish instead I was home.  

I don’t like crowds, parties, or gatherings with people I care nothing about.  I am content to be alone as I prefer the thoughts and conversations in my head to those insignificant interactions I have with others.  

My husband is my best friend, yet he knows that I like, that I need, my quiet and alone time. He understands I feel deeply and need a moment to reset myself or else I will become too overwhelmed with the incessant noise and chatterings of the world.  He gives me my space and I am thankful he understands what makes me me and I love him because he accepts me for the way I am.

I label myself an introvert, but I don’t necessarily like labels as that is a restrained and superficial description of who I am.  I am an introvert when I am with people, but an extrovert when I am with myself.  

I don’t need to be the center of attention, to walk into a room and be the first, and loudest, one talking.  Actually, I don’t need to talk at all.  I am content to remain in the background listening, watching, and learning.  

I have never mastered the art of idle chit chat and any attempts at it leaves me exhausted and irritable.  I don’t need conversation to enjoy someone’s company and very few people understand that.  People think I am rude, stuck-up, always in a bad mood, or even too intense, but I am none of those.  I am simply a quiet personality who lives her life internally rather than externally.    
I wonder if I don’t have friends, because I trust no one.  No one knows the true me, because I do not readily share myself with others and what little I do share, is subjective and comes only in bits and pieces.  I don’t trust people to take what I am saying and feeling and hold it sacred.  The few times I have divulged a part of myself, I have found that my beliefs have become lunchroom gossip and I have been ridiculed in some fashion, because someone wants to make themselves appear better by disparaging me.  It is easier if I keep the gate to my soul closed and locked.  

It seems I am sharing a great deal of myself in this blog, but that is the purpose of all of this. When I expose my inner most feelings through my writings, I don’t have to see a person’s reaction when I tell them I do not believe in God, or that I dislike children, or that I pretty much find the majority of humankind to be a waste of space. 

I do not have to hear the condescending tone in their voice as they ask why I don’t have children or see their mocking eye-roll when I say aliens exist and the moon is hollow.  Writing allows me to share myself and feel like I am having some kind of interaction without suffering through all the meaningless crap that goes along with interpersonal relationships.

I have been on my walk for almost half an hour.  I am wet.  My dog is soaked.  I say “house” and she runs towards home.  As she reaches the garage, she turns and waits for me.  With a wagging tail, she shakes off the rain and seems to smile as I kiss the top of her wet head.  I still don’t know why I am the way I am, but I love my dog and she loves me and for now, that’s all I need.