31 March 2009

Taking A Break

John and I have been packing and straightening, but today we are taking a break. John had to work for a few hours today, after having the past few days off, so we are both spending the morning at Fort Irwin. I'm sitting in the local Starbucks with the laptop, surrounded by soldiers,waiting for John to break for lunch -- or be done with his work, whichever comes first. Once John is through with his report, we are going to head to Silver Lakes and tour our house, because John still hasn't seen it. Hopefully, it's no longer occupied and I'll get to look at it more closely, too. 

20 March 2009

We Found A House!!!

I've mentioned several times that John and I will be moving soon. Well, Wednesday I went to Silver Lakes to look for a rental house. First, I drove around the area, looking at real estate signs and getting a feel for neighborhoods. I stopped and looked a few housed more closely and made a few phone calls, to no good end. I saw several lovely homes, but nothing that called to me. After I bored of that, I drove to Professional Realty, an agency that had advertised in the local paper as dealing with rentals. Butch, the agent I dealt with, gave me a map and a list of rentals; he suggested that I drive around and look at the outside of the houses I was interested in. Once I had it narrowed down to three or four, we'd go look at the inside of the houses.

I sat down and had a Diet Coke at the local pizzeria, and plotted the houses on the map -- at least the houses I could find! I marked the houses that were either too small or just blatantly out of our price range off the list and then planned to look at several. Fortified, I headed for the first house. There was no real estate sign in the yard and there was a car out front. It felt lived in. So, I headed over to the second house. It was okay. I liked it well enough, but I didn't love it. Slightly discouraged, I headed over to the third house on my list. Remember the saying The third time's a charm? Well, I fell in love at first sight! It was just beautiful. A little bit of yard (enough that we'll have to buy a lawnmower), a pretty front door, a bay window.  While I was looking, a neighbor waved and said, "Hi!" I went over and talked with him for a few minutes. Roger was a very nice man, full of information about cell phone service and satellite companies. 

I continued to look at other houses on the list, but there was always something wrong with them. Either they were too small, or they were two-stories, or they were not very well maintained, or they had too much yard -- which means watering and grooming, since Silver Lakes is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I really just loved that one house so much -- I got such a good vibe from it -- that none of the other houses could compare. 

I went to lunch, back at the local pizzeria. The lasagna was kind of expensive, but excellent -- and there was plenty to share, had there been anyone to share it with (As it was, I brought home two meals worth after I ate my fill!). After lunch, I headed back to Professional Realty so that I could see three of the houses on the inside. I had narrowed it down to the house that felt lived in, the house I loved, and one slightly larger house that I couldn't find. 

Butch checked and, sure enough, the first house was currently occupied, so we went on to the house I hadn't been able to find. It had some great selling points. It was four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and had a large upstairs deck. The view was amazing. It had a large (dirt) yard, and was on the edge of Silver Lakes, so there weren't neighbors on all sides. On the minus side, it looked like a rental. The carpets were stained in a couple of places and some of the walls were kind of banged up. All of the wood work was very dark, and I just didn't like the way it felt. Plus, it was $50 more a month than the dream house (which I still hadn't seen). 

So, off we headed to the house I really wanted to see. It is currently occupied by a Korean family, so first we had to make sure no one was home. Wouldn't have have been awkward? As it was, I didn't look as closely as I would have liked to have looked at things like closets, the pantry and kitchen cabinets.  It had a really big two-car garage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining area in the kitchen, and a fireplace in the living room. Most of the walls are yellow, except in the living room (where they are cream) and I believe in the kitchen (where I'm thinking they are blue). The floors are a combination of ceramic tile and carpet. In the kitchen, the sink (stainless steel, I'm pretty sure) is in a y-shaped island. It's by far the nicest house I've ever lived in.

And the best news? The landlord will accept our three lovely kitties! I got the phone call at about 11:15 this morning that we were good to go. We "take possession" of the house on 10 April. When I'm finished with this post, I'll go over to the rental office and give our notice to our current landlord, so our move-out date here will be 20 April, I think.

No pictures of the inside of the house, since it is currently occupied. It was nice to see it lived it; it gave me ideas for where the furniture could go and for decorating. But it was very awkward to be looking at someone's house, someone's things in the closets. I didn't look under the bathroom or kitchen sink, or in the kitchen cabinets. It felt a bit like prying.

13 March 2009

Secret #10 -- Living in Abundance with Positive Priorities

Chapter Ten contains one of my favorite “secrets” so far in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women book blog discussion group. I hope this entire “gateway” is as exciting and stimulating as this secret is.

“When we are in touch with true abundance, it permeates the fabric of our lives.” – Gail McMeekin

Just today, I needed reminding that abundance is not only financial, and McMeekin did it early on in the chapter. As we save money for first and last month’s rent for a new home, it is tempting to fall back into scarcity thinking, but Source has reminded me – through the Next Chapter book discussion – of a myriad of ways that I am blessed and that abundance is flowing into my life. My dentist has suggested that the partial that I’ve had trouble with from day one be replaced (at no cost) rather than repaired. My father-in-law has been generous and accommodating with his car. My husband got off work almost two hours early. I spent most of the day with one of my dearest friends, enjoying her company as I do few others. One of my cats has been particularly affectionate today. I had to make an unexpected run to the nearby grocery store and truly enjoyed my interaction with the friendly cashier. My late night snack of sugar cookies and chocolate milk tasted exquisite.

It is easy to see abundance as only relating to our finances, but one can be abundant (or scarce) in any area of one’s life. Some people would see my list of blessings – if they saw it at all – as a coincidence, or just life running its course, but I choose to see it as evidence that I’m living a life infused with abundance.  With John’s long commute, I have so little time with him these days; having him off work two hours early definitely provided us with a relative abundance of quality time together! Spending the day with Sandra – having lunch, shopping, and just hanging out – is further abundance in my relationships. Every item on my list is evidence of the plenty in my life.

“Every day I do what I want to, which comes from self-knowledge and commitment. I have a vision of what’s important to me and how to accomplish that. I want to live my authenticity with grace and beauty.” – Cathleen Rountree

I’m just now coming to the place in my life where it is important to me to really and truly live my life the way I want to. I’m developing the self-knowledge and commitment that Rountree is referring to, and it isn’t always easy. I struggle constantly with the concept of inspired action versus developing discipline and making a commitment to myself. I want to live with a certain amount of discipline – creating every day, for example – and yet, I know from experience how important it is to let the actions I take be inspired. I sense that there is a fine line to be walked between these two, and I’m not yet sure of where that line is.

Taking creativity for an example again: Elizabeth Gilbert, in her TED lecture, talks about the importance of showing up and doing your work on a regular basis. That really resonates with me. I think there is something to be gained from showing up, playing with your tools, and doing your work. I know people who say they can’t work unless they are inspired, but Gilbert – and I – would argue that it’s easier to be inspired when you’re doing the work. It’s easier for an idea to find you, if you’re sitting down with your tools – whether they are paint, fabric, beads, or words – and working them with regularly. My limited experience (and Gilbert’s more vast experience) seems to bear this out. But, I don’t always feel inspired to show up and do the work, even though I passionately believe in it. So, you can see my problem here … And yet, I’m convinced that this issue has something to do with living my life as I truly want to.

I long to live the life that Rountree refers to, the life in which she does what she wants to, and lives her “authenticity with grace and beauty”. I’m still figuring out what “living my authenticity” means! I try always to be true to myself, while being considerate of others, but as I’m just now paying enough attention to myself, getting to know myself, it isn’t always easy to be true to myself. “True to myself” changes!

McMeekin offers several Challenges in this chapter, my favorite being the first one, “Your Personal Abundance”. I had so much fun picturing, and then writing about, my ideal life. Since we’re getting ready to move, and will be making several changes in our lifestyle, this was a particularly meaningful exercise; some of what I wrote about will surely come to pass as John and I create a new life for ourselves in our new home.

What are some of the ways that abundance and plenty are showing up in your life? How does “living your authenticity” look? What would your ideal life look life?


01 March 2009

Secret #8 -- Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances

The eighth secret in Gail McMeekin’s The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is “Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances”. This was a difficult chapter for me because at this point in my creative journey, I don’t seek/desire a partnership or collaboration, outside of the support systems we talked about in the last secret.

I definitely want encouraging and empowering people around me, but the truth is that I don’t work well with others. I never have. In fact, a teacher noted as much on an early report card! I listen to the beat of my own drum, work by my own time-table, and have my own methods of organization. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working with others; it’s just that I don’t do it very well.

Having said all of that, I’d love to have a support team! I currently have three separate – but intertwined – dreams, so my support team would require people with a variety of characteristics:

  • Working mixed-media artist
  • Highly creative and open
  • Challenging, yet encouraging
  • Background in teaching
  • Connections at teaching venues
  • Someone who can read/critique/edit/make suggestions
  • Someone who understands the publishing process
  • Someone who understands the self-publishing process.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m moving in a month to six weeks, so I’m not going to do much to form a support team right now. But when I get settled into my new dwelling, I’m going to make this a priority!