Change comes into our lives unexpectedly at times, like an early snowfall on a garden of flowers. This has been the story of my year. I would be lying if I told you everything was grand and beautiful as I'm certainly not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. But there is beauty ~ and adventure! ~ to be had if we are simply open to it. Like these beautiful wildflowers, that I found blooming profusely despite freezing nights, I've chosen to keep on blooming despite the changes!
It really has been a lovely year. I've been able to do some traveling to places I've never been before such as Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Also to places I've been many times, such as Arizona, Rocky Mountain National Park, South Dakota, Utah, and other places in Colorado.
This year has brought the gift of numerous wildlife and bird sightings! The bobcat in Arizona was amazing to see! I never get tired of seeing the elk, moose, and bighorn sheep in our Colorado Rocky Mountains, nor the occasional coyote or bear (though I wasn't able to get pictures of the several bears I saw!). And the birds are always captivating!
It seems that everywhere I go, there is beauty and it's such a delight to be able to capture some of it in a photograph. These are among some that I feel are the best that I took this year.
And with all those beautiful sights, many of them have gotten captured in watercolor sketches this year. While I didn't paint nearly as much as I'd hoped, I was able to do more than during the past few years and I've been working to expand my knowledge and skill as well.
Stitching took a bit of a back seat once again due to all the changes. But there have been a few projects that I've finished and several more that I've been working on that I hope to share in the future!
The garden was glorious once again. Spring in my yard was truly spectacular. Losing this space is one of the hard things about the changes in my life, but I believe that at some future date I'll have another space to garden in, and God willing, it will be every bit as lovely as this one. In the meantime, I'm hoping to spend springtime this coming year visiting gardens in France and Britain!
One of the biggest changes that I've been able to witness this year is in my two granddaughters! On January 1, 2017, they were just 4 & 5 months old. And now, a year later, so grown up! Walking, talking, and so much fun as they explore the world around them! Truly, they are precious gems in my life and it is such a privilege to be part of their lives!
Perhaps the biggest change was coming to the decision to sell my home. While I loved my sweet home and the flower garden, the yard was enormous and too large and expensive to care for on my own, especially with my knee, hip, and sacroiliac issues that came up in the spring. With not being able to work at my nursing job, which required 12+ hours on my feet at a time, and needing to take an early retirement to regain my health, I needed to let go of my home. It was hard, but God is gracious and with faith in Him, it was a step of faith to let it go. Remarkably, the peace I felt surrounding the decision and ensuing sale was and continues to be overwhelming.
My oldest son and his wife graciously invited me into their home, and I am now settled there as my "home base" for the time being. Living in 120 square feet has been a bit of an adjustment, but prior to selling my home, I was able to downsize well over half of my possessions, maybe even as much as three quarters! What I'm not able to use at the moment remains safely in storage for now. It has been a bit of a challenge figuring out how to maximize my space here, especially since it must accommodate the needs of the kitties! But I think I've gotten it mostly figured out now. It is a joy to be here, watching my granddaughter growing up day by day and being an active part of their family!
Another change that took place was trading in my old car for a new one. This has actually been one of the more difficult changes, and though my new car has all the bells and whistles, I miss the simplicity of my old car and how spacious and light it felt around me. But, having a new car that is reliable and gets me where I want to go safely, gives me peace of mind when I'm on the road, even if I do feel a bit claustrophobic in it and frustrated with some of the new technology that seems to be mandatory these days!
Another big change is that I'm now the owner of a small RV that will be the kitties and my home away from home for much of the year. It was brown inside when I purchased it, but it didn't take me long to start transforming it into my own comfortable space! There's room to pack my stitching and art supplies as well as all the necessities! The plan is to start traveling in February and spend the majority of the spring, summer and autumn on the road. Then as the seasons change and it gets colder, I'll return for the holiday season to my son's house. More than likely, I will return there in-between trips throughout the year as needed.
In February, I'm looking forward to seeing southern New Mexico with my dear friends, Bill and Sheryl, who will be traveling in their own RV setup! It will be a good chance for us to figure out how to do this with each other around for support and encouragement!
The one thing I don't quite have figured out is how to get around more easily once I'm in an area that I want to stay and explore. I'm hoping, God willing, to find a small towable car within my tiny budget that I can tow behind. Unfortunately, the new car isn't towable unless on a trailer, and that's a headache I'm not ready for right now! Eventually, the new car will hopefully be getting a hitch on it to facilitate a possible trailer down the road. For now, the RV made more sense for me as I start this new life that is so full of new experiences!
One of the things that hasn't changed, is my two kitty companions! Kitzy Cat and Thomas have settled into their new surroundings fairly well, though I'm sure they wish they had more space to romp. We are going to try traveling together in February and I'm hopeful that they will adapt well to the RV life!
While my knee/hip/sacroiliac situation has stabilized after some improvement, it still gives me issues and extended time on my feet is difficult. I'm learning to pace myself, and use a cane when things are acting up. But I'm glad to say that overall, I'm in a much better spot than I was in last spring, when I could barely walk for several weeks. I'm definitely getting stronger and need the cane less and less and that gives me hope! Not working nights has done wonders for the rest of my health and well being!
Looking forward, 2018 is full of possibilities and adventure! It is also the year in which I turn 60! I'm starting off with a non-RV road trip to Arizona for a couple of weeks. Then RVing to New Mexico with my friends, then possibly heading for the northwest in March and early April. Then as a birthday gift to myself, I'm headed to France with a painting group. We'll spend a few days in Paris, then a week in Giverney, where we will get to paint in Monet's gardens before and after they open to the public each day for a whole week! I've loved those gardens from afar, so it is a dream come true to get to go and see them and to actually be able to paint in them! Wow! I am SO excited!
Then, since getting overseas is half the expense, (or so I tell myself!) I decided to extend my trip and revisit Great Britain for about three weeks, where I hope to spend some time with some friends I made on my 2012 trip and see a corner of the country I didn't get to see before. I also hope to revisit Cornwall and New Forest, and then maybe a week elsewhere such as the Lake District once again.
From England, I hope to travel to Amsterdam, where I am hoping to be able to visit with some distant relatives and maybe some crazy quilting friends(?!) before heading to Hamburg, Germany where I will catch the Queen Mary 2 and sail back to New York, via South Hampton, England. I know it sounds crazy, but the tickets from Hamburg were nearly $1500 less expensive than sailing from South Hampton, even though the voyage is longer! It will be a good way to reacclimatize slowly to American life after this (second!) trip of a lifetime! I never thought I'd get to do a trip like this twice in my life! Though with my reduced circumstances, it's a bit more of a budget trip than last time! It gives me hope that maybe someday I'll get to do some other travel to far away places such as Japan and India!
If any of you have suggestions of low cost places to stay in England, the Netherlands, or Hamburg, Germany, I would be grateful to know of them!
Once back in the States in June, traveling in the RV will kick into high gear. The kitties and I will be hitting the road and looking for places to explore! I'm hoping to travel slowly, staying in one place for extended periods of time while getting to know the area. More than likely, we will head north to places that I haven't seen before! I'll keep you posted! And if I'm coming to your area, let me know! I'd love to meet up for tea/coffee or lunch! I'm also available to do crazy quilt workshops to help cover travel expenses!
So, here's to a new year, new experiences, new places to visit and people to meet! My only goal this year, is to live a life of faith, stepping out of my comfort zone to go where my Savior leads!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
- Philippians 4:6,7
The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
- Psalm 37:23,24
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
- Proverbs 19:21