“Home”


What does home mean? Is it where you sleep? Eat? Keep your clothes? Store your stuff? All of these have applied to my various homes. I grew up in a brand new, small, three bedroom, two bath home with an attached garage.  My first home away from home was a two bedroom, single-wide mobile home. There’s something familiar about that! Since this first sign of independence, paying my own bills and playing grown up, I have lived in apartments, condos and have owned a few homes.

Life has taken on many different forms including the places I have previously called home. Ideas of where I would finally settle have also changed.  Most of my adult life was spent within a ten mile radius of where I grew up. Leaving the area was something I had not considered until I was 38 years old. My husband and I made a huge choice and life changing decision to move 100 miles away and buy a house in a strange town. This moment was when I learned big change, although scary, could be a good thing. We were happy, successful and financially stable…for about 20 years.

Sometime in the midst of adulthood, getting our daughter raised, changing career fields a couple of times and life happening, we were making other plans.  We dreamed of retirement…someday. The thought of being old enough to enjoy the thought of not working always seemed so far in the future and untouchable. It seemed easy to dream about something that was so far away. Surely money would be less of an issue by then. We could sell our house, liquidate, buy an RV to travel and live in for the rest of our lives, and live off…wait. Live off what? Our 401K’s? Will Social Security still be available? What will healthcare be like in the future?

Then more of “life” happened.  The market tanked. Our house decreased in value. My husband lost his job and got sick temporarily. We lost our house and moved into a small apartment, closer to both of our jobs, saving around $800 in gas money.  The meaning of home had changed yet again.  Phase I of downsizing began!  Less furniture, less collectibles, less clothes…less everything.  I never expected to feel so free letting go of stuff. We were still happy…as happy as The Bickersons could be.  We are still working on that!

We have learned STUFF does not make a home. In fact, getting rid of STUFF makes a happier home – for us anyway. Enter Phase II of the downsizing. The hard part is letting go of things I’ve had all of my life. The purging is so much easier once the claw marks have made their way down them. Letting go is really not that bad, although truthfully, our daughter is now the owner of our most treasured things; i.e. an oak entertainment center made especially for us by my father-in-law.

I love our new home.  It represents everything we have worked hard for, our new life together, a dream of travel, but most of all, freedom from anything tying us down.  Our new address will be whatever we make it – geographically, physically and emotionally.

The bottom line:  We can always go back to sticks and bricks if it’s not for us after all. For now…we’ve made our bed and we’ll be lying in it until it no longer serves us!

A winter adventure I’d love to have…

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December Writing Prompts

December 3, 2016

Write about a winter adventure you would love to have…

My mother always wanted to take Michelle and me on a winter train ride to Reno.  She talked about it every year, but never felt well enough to make the trip.  I remember thinking a holiday train excursion sounded magical; especially a scenic trip through the Sierra Nevada.  Certainly, the Christmas spirit would be in the air as well as beautiful photo opportunities.  I wanted to take this trip with MyChelle as one of our mother and daughter times, but we never got around to it. I don’t even know if I have ever mentioned it to her either.

Now everything has changed – for the better I might add. Reno, Nevada is not one of my favorite places.  I’d like to take my mother’s wish a step further, or carry it out in a different way at least.  How can I not take my grandchildren on the journey of THE POLAR EXPRESS?  I can’t imagine anything more festive.  Even my favorite actor, Tom Hanks, played six different roles in the 2004 film based on a children’s book.

The magical train ride to the “North Pole” is only an hour long.  I suppose one would have to see the movie before understanding the meaning behind it.  I’d like to be there to enjoy the story with our little LauraSue. The event comes complete with hot chocolate, cookies and characters from the movie riding along with passengers.  Santa Claus even shows up on board giving each passenger a silver sleigh bell as the “first gift of Christmas”.

The train departs and ends at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.  Holiday songs are sung by all on the way back to the station where photos can also be taken with Santa Claus.  Tickets sell out fast every year – it’s quite a popular event.  This year would have been too early for our six month old, but it’s on my bucket list when she’s old enough to appreciate the whole celebration.

I can’t WAIT!!!

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One thing I love about December is…

I thought I would add another story since we have been on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. We weren’t in the RVing mode, but I’ll get back on the horse with wheels this week. Until then…enjoy!

December Writing Prompts (a new challenge)

December 1, 2016

One thing I love about December is…

I feel like I’m beginning this challenge with the most difficult prompt – including topics written during the 500 word per day challenge. There is only one thing I don’t like about December:  The obvious – my mother died on the first of December. I could have written a LOT about that subject. I suppose the silver lining is there are 30 more days in the month to be grateful for or simply enjoy.

I guess the festive feeling of December is what I love the most.  Many things contribute to this celebratory month. I’ll start with my first memories; not the one my family remembers. No one blames the little girl, the first grandchild, sitting by the Christmas tree next to a stack of presents taller than herself. I’m glad I have no memory of opening each gift, hardly looking at each one and casting it to the side as if to say, “NEXT!”  Just playing that tape in my head shames me even though I’ve never seen it.

All my childhood Christmases are a blur of scattered memories like clips from different movies on a reel of film – yet they are all so much alike. We had certain traditions every year beginning with the change of weather.  As the fog and colder air moved into the valley, it seemed to be the cue to begin Christmas shopping.  We never started early because our Christmas savings account awaited that last deposit. Meanwhile, the decorations started going up.  We couldn’t wrap presents until we had a tree to place them under. Looking back I think my mother must have spent a fortune on decorations and ornaments because our house looked different every year. The gatherings and celebrations were the same, but never the design. One year a flocked tree, the next year a red themed tree, another year blue.  Of course, this was after our old tin foil tree with the color wheel finally ran its course. Or died. I’m not sure what happened to that funny looking icon that I loved so much.

One thing I’m sure of.  Although Christmas will never be the same or as beautiful as my mother made it for our whole family, I still love the festive feel of the holidays.  There’s a homey, cozy and comfortable feeling my memories have given me. Somehow it has changed from what was and how much I missed it to wonderful memories I get to have now and how happy they make me. I just wish I would have paid more attention to my mother’s recipe for our traditional crab cioppino dinner every Christmas Eve!

The best thing about this December, however, is the very first one for our grandbaby, LauraSue.

OF COURSE!!!!

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Fall – Colors without Fluff

Here is another writing prompt in the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins:

“Cut the fluff. Write 500 words without using the word “that” or “very”. Try to use absolutely no adverbs (hint: “absolutely” is an adverb). See how much stronger your writing is when you just get to the point? Why not just do that all the time? Don’t worry. You can have your fluff back tomorrow, but see what you can learn from this exercise.”

Fall – Colors without Fluff

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between fall and autumn? I had to Google it for the sake of my own curiosity. Fall and autumn are the only season with two names and originally called Harvest. Fall is an Old English name brought to the New World from Britain, but it is unknown when or where the name autumn originated. American English primarily uses fall (fall of the leaf) and British English uses autumn almost exclusively.

My favorite season is fall for many reasons: Cooler weather begins, beautiful colors appear from the tops of trees to the earth, and the holiday season is just around the corner. The transition between summer and winter represents a break in extreme temperatures like fresh, crisp air after a heavy rain.

Summer heat has always been uncomfortable unless the ocean, a lake or river was at my disposal. Hot air sucks the breath, energy and life right out of me. Maybe I have no energy because I cannot breathe. I find it difficult and timely to cool down once overheated as well. Not only am I uncomfortable, but I am miserable a long time!

Cold or freezing temperatures are more tolerable, but still not ideal. I have always been of the opinion that cooler weather is easier because one can always add clothes to get warm. Summer weather does not always afford the opportunity to remove clothes to cool down. Sometimes it wouldn’t matter if all of them were removed anyway! Either choice – cold or hot climates leave me searching for warm shelter or relief from an air conditioner and water.

The beginning of fall is beautiful with red, orange and yellow leaves on the trees. The perfect temperature means being able to spend time outdoors to take in spectacular sunsets in living color. The cozy decorations of gourds, sunflowers, aromatic candles and earth tones are homey and soothing. Childhood memories of Halloween make it one of my favorite holidays. I always looked forward to scavenger hunts, going door to door for candy, eating popcorn balls and dressing in costume. Happy times.

AND FOOTBALL STARTS IN THE FALL! Who can forget American tradition and all its glory? Holidays would have certainly been different without the whole family gathered around the TV for the San Francisco 49ers, chips and dip and laziness at its best. It meant Thanksgiving, our large and traditional family gathering would be right around the corner.

A candlelit house, a roaring fireplace, a roast with fixings in the oven, and a football game on the television means fall to me. I love walking outside on the first day fall is in the air. It happened today. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to write this until I could feel it. Maybe my love for the season is why there are sunflowers in our house all year. The yellow, happy flower reminds me of what good feels like.

The Most Important Day of My Life

Another prompt in the 500 word per day challenge by Jeff Goins:

“Write about the most important day of your life. If you need help getting started, consider this prompt: write a short scene from your life. Try writing about graduation or getting married. Show us what it felt like to become a parent for the first time or to win the homecoming game. Grammar isn’t important (for now); instead, focus on repainting a scene for us.”

The Most Important Day of My Life

It is just like me to make this subject harder than necessary. This earlier prompt has been continuously passed up because I couldn’t decide what would make the best story instead of what the real answer has been all along. Thinking it would be difficult to narrow down the ultimate answer is how the procrastination began. What was THE most important day of my life?

High school graduation was an important day. Holding the empty folder made especially for my official diploma was a great feeling – a sense of relief. “School’s OUT For Ever”!  I was an official adult, a grownup who was free to decide her own fate and destiny. The year was 1976. I was an 18 year old with a whole life ahead of me, but what was I suppose to do with an entire life?  Commencement was a life- changing event, but not the most important.

My 50th was the best birthday ever, but the celebrations were not the most important days of my life. I can still remember planning our vacation to Walt Disney World, an unattainable destination in the past. My excitement grew as if I was a child again anticipating our yearly trip to Disneyland. This time, however, a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean would follow – two of my favorite types of escape back to back. I also received one of the best presents ever on the cruise portion of our holiday. A pharmacist gave me the name of my mother’s medication that actually caused my birth defect. My girlfriend, Nancy, treated me to Disneyland that year as well – an absolutely generous birthday gift. Still, this milestone year was not of the absolute importance.

Our most recent life-changing event was extremely significant. The birth of our granddaughter was an amazing experience filled with so much emotion it’s difficult to put into words. I will never forget feeling Michelle’s unborn child move beneath her skin, and singing “You are My Sunshine” with my face pressed against my daughter’s belly. My heart grew even more with the anticipation and sex reveal of our LauraSue. Our dream had come true. Watching her come into this world via the bravest woman I have ever seen in my own daughter will be a memory firmly implanted in my mind forever. BUT, not MY most important day. It was Michelle’s.

No. The most important day of my life was giving birth to my own daughter almost 37 years ago. Remember? All I ever wanted to be was a mother and wife. It makes perfect sense that one of the two most difficult jobs for me has become the most important and rewarding. How can it be possible to love someone so much before ever seeing or touching her? January 1st will forever be the day that changed my life completely. Michelle’s birth day was when absolute, unconditional love entered my heart and gave me a reason to share with everything I’ve always had within.

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Hope

The 500 word challenge continues. Today’s contribution is below.  Hope you enjoy it. The following is part of the prompt by Jeff Goins, Author:

“Perseverance prevails in defiance of what we think is possible. In other words, amaze yourself. Keep going. Don’t quit. And what’s the challenge for today? Write about hope. Take whatever fears and insecurities you have, your internal questions and doubts, and turn them into words that inspire. Don’t give up. And don’t let others. The cost is too great. We can’t miss out on what you have to say.”

Hope

I have had hope lots of times. Some expectations were met with reward – some with defeat and disappointment. Some wishes just were not meant to be. Although some dreams never came into fruition, most times there was a lesson learned and clarity usually followed. Other times the message to try harder presented itself.

My love for writing has always existed. Opportunities have risen repeatedly for me to use writing as a form of creativity.  A certificate for excellent penmanship was the first award I ever received. I loved the craft even in elementary school when it meant holding a pencil because computers were nonexistent. Report writing was always easy for me, although school wasn’t where my heart was in order to showcase it.  I particularly enjoyed college English. My immigration paper (I will share on this blog soon) from Elements of the Argument class earned an A+ and has been the piece I am most proud of . Again, what else was I supposed to do with a skill so easy for me?

Maybe lacking a venue to utilize creative writing was a good enough reason not to do it, as well as the need to support myself financially. Just doing something I loved seemed selfish – especially with the fear of not making money, or contributing to my family. I also believe you have to love something to be good at it, but even so, I never thought I was good enough to make writing a source of income.

My obsession with stationery and office supplies should have been an indication of my passion. I can still almost hear a choir singing just thinking about my ideal office with a desk, a comfortable chair, electronic equipment, paper and a container full of my favorite pens on the desktop.  OK – a bit extreme, but I am definitely a kid in a candy shop in an office supply store!

The 500 word per day challenge has opened up a whole new, yet familiar, world for me.  At 58 years old, what have I got to lose? The time has come to put some energy toward a calling I never seriously realized. I had the key the entire time.  It’s time to use it to open the door – even if it means using my brain during retirement instead of wasting away in front of a television.

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A Lie

The 500 word per day challenge is a creative writing tool I’ve been involved in to get into the habit of writing every day.  It comes with prompts every day to get motivated.  Here is one of the days’ assignments…

Prompt from Jeff Goins, Author:

It’s true that honesty is the best policy. It’s just fun to fib now and again. Not in a dirty and deceptive way, but in a way that invokes imagination. Just for today’s challenge, it’s okay to stretch the truth a little. Rewrite history, imagine an alternative reality, or just plain lie. Whatever you do, have fun with this, and let us know how much you’re enjoying it.

A Deep Dark Secret

Our dream could become a reality.  The freedom of retirement and travel is coming to fruition, but I wonder what would happen if he knew the truth.

My grandfather’s family came to America from Chihuahua, Mexico and settled in Rodeo, California. Some of his ancestors, however, settled in El Paso, Texas. Some have been more than just successful.  In fact, I would say wealthy.  One relative was so wealthy that he sent my grandmother quite a substantial amount of money when my grandfather passed away.

I wouldn’t consider myself poor, or even comfortable financially.  As far as anyone knows, I have always struggled to make ends meet – no matter to whom I have been married.  I have always worked, have always paid bills and have always worried about running out of money.  I have never been able to shop without looking at price tags or researching the best deal.

The reason I have lived paycheck to paycheck is because I wanted to be loved for me; not my money.  I compare it to how I feel about my birth defect.  I have never wanted pity.  Nor have I asked for anything for free because of my difference.  I wanted to be loved for who I am inside.  The real me.  Only I have never told anyone who I really am.

The money that my grandmother received from El Paso was actually set aside for me.  My grandparents knew it would eventually be willed to them, but our relatives did not anticipate Grandpa ‘s illness at such a young age.  He also did not know my grandmother would live so much longer without her husband. So, our cousin sent the money to my grandmother before he died.

My grandmother never told anyone how much money she received. In fact, she received many more checks over the years.  She opened a trust fund in my name with the agreement that I could not have the money until I was HAPPILY married to someone who truly loved me.  If I told anyone about the money, the entire trust fund would go back to our family in Texas.  She hired an attorney as executer of the trust and he has been overseeing my life for over 25 years.

Now I have more money than I could ever spend.  My aunt, my daughter and granddaughter will never have to worry about money either.  My husband and I can drop out of society and follow our dreams.  Will he want to after I have lied to him all these years?  Will he forgive me – the one who always accuses him of lying? Will he ever trust me again?

Oh how I wish this was the truth!  On the other hand, although this was really fun to imagine, the truth is I know I will appreciate our future more without being handed it on a silver platter.  Then again…I wouldn’t say no to a bunch of money right now!

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The End

OUR DREAM CAME TRUE!

Typically “the end of the road” has a negative connotation. This just isn’t true in our case as we arrive back at the beginning of our journey.

We began seriously planning our retirement, living full-time in an RV, during the summer of 2016. I don’t remember where or when the idea was first conceived as a real possibility, but it’s something I dreamed about as a young girl. People would say, “Why would you want to cook and clean when you can travel in a car and stay in hotels?” A rich person would probably see the logic in that, but I don’t know any rich people!

One of the hobbies we enjoyed most was camping.  We bought a Chalet pop-up trailer just to get us off of the ground.  We were, after all, late bloomers when we decided to enjoy camping. Tent camping had become more uncomfortable every year. We loved our cute little Chalet.  We had to always make sure the bed was made and everything was neat and tidy because our fellow campers had to see what was inside our cute little home away from home.

Our vacations had previously been mostly about cruise ships.  Although we enjoyed cruising very much, I still longed to see our own country.  I always said I had no interest in seeing Europe until I had seen all 50 states in America.  We eventually outgrew the pop-up and decided to try a fifth wheel on for size. We knew if we were going to do a lot of traveling, we would probably like a shower, a kitchen we could comfortably make meals in and a little bit more room to stretch out. So we bought a used, Layton fifth wheel with a king slide and very little storage capacity. Our Toyota Tundra would be able to tow our rig, saving us from having to buy both.  It was supposed to be an inexpensive test.  Will the Kendalls be able to live and travel together in a smaller space without killing each other? After thousands of dollars spent on converting our truck into a towing vehicle with a hitch and airbags, we traveled, stayed and played locally.

Since then, we are now on our last RV.  We have seen everything on our bucket lists from the West Coast to the East Coast and everything in between.  We have seen almost every national park, as well as silly little landmarks and attractions like Graceland.  But, what I love most of all is the opportunity to spend my life with my best friend and partner, my husband. We have grown together so much over the years and have met so many wonderful friends along the way.  Some have remained in our lives.   Some weren’t meant to stay, but we remember all of them and what each one has taught us.

This life may not be for everyone, but no matter what your dream is, follow it.  It is what we are here for. “If you can dream it, you can do it!” ~ Walt Disney can’t be wrong!

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