Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quiet Time

Geneseo Cemetery
Buckingham, IA

Today I took a few minutes to look back with people I didn't know, at this quiet spot just south of Waterloo, Iowa.

Stop.  Breathe.

As in any cemetery, the headstones have tales written in the dash between the dates.  Some died way too soon; left behind half-spun stories and broken hearts.  And others lived long and full lives; leaving only when all the pages were filled.

As I stopped to slow down a bit, I reflected on the pages of my life - over half written now, unless by some chance I live beyond 100 years.  There are parts of the story I like to linger over; my favorite times.  Other parts, I prefer to skim past; still painful to dwell upon. 

I didn't come to any grand conclusions, or any conclusions at all, really.  I just sat for a bit.  Said a prayer for those who rest in these peaceful grounds.  I carried just a bit of that peace with me when I left.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Going Back to Go Forward

In church a few weeks ago, the pastor told us we need to go back in order to go forward.

Well, wanting to be on a forward track here, I took his advice to heart.

Usually, when I travel through Iowa, I buzz on through as fast as possible while still avoiding speeding tickets.  It's a long corn and soybean filled drive; a thing to be endured to get from Kansas City to Minneapolis, where I grew up and still have family.

This time, I'm stopping along the way to go back.  Much of my mother's family lives in Iowa.  I've lost touch with them over the years, and decided that if I wait another 20-30 years to try to get in touch, it'll be too late.  (you think?)

So, I looked up a cousin of mine on Facebook (who now lives in Slater), called her up, and invited myself to spend the night last night.  We hadn't really talked in twenty years - it's amazing the perspective a few decades can bring to a relationship.  We had a wonderful time catching up and comparing notes on what it was like for each of us to grow up in the middle of a puppy pile of kids.  I am so glad I stopped.

Today, I drove on up to Waterloo to spend a few days with my brother and his family.  (Them, I've talked to - it's the extended family that fell by the wayside along the way.)  Thursday, I'll visit my aunt and uncle in Decorah before landing in MN to see my grandbaby sometime on Friday.

I know I'm a bit slow at times, and I'm having trouble convincing me I'm really on the road.  I still feel like I'm just off for a week and a bit - like it's been for the last umpteen years.  I don't think the light bulb will go on until I get off the beaten track and head north from Minneapolis to Wisconsin and parts unknown to me.  We'll see...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

27 Years and Two Boxes

My last day of work was Friday.

As much as I was ready to be gone, the people in the office made it hard to leave.  They brought in cake and balloons and all gathered to see me off.  My remote team sent a beautiful bouquet of cookies.

I had hoped to leave by noon, but as usual, the mobility feed didn't cooperate - it was the reason I was there in the office last week, and it lived up to it's usual troublesome self.  I finally finished it shortly after two - then spent the next two hours cheerfully throwing things in the trash.  Files?  Gone (both electronic and paper)!  Chances are no one really cares about my phone bill reimbursement receipts from 1996 anyhow.  Nor much about the e-mail exchange between myself and the server team when it had a hardware failure in 2007.  What can I say.

At the end of the day, the things I took with me filled barely two boxes.  The memories though - they have been coming back to fill my thoughts to overflowing all weekend.  I started there just out of college - fresh-faced, grateful for the job, eager to prove my worth to the Business World.  I left tired, ready for a break, but content in the knowledge I'd done well in my years there.  I learned a lot, and contributed my share and then some.  I made a lot of good friends, and found there were very few people I couldn't work with if I set my will to it.

I drove out of the parking lot for the last time with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.  Richer in many ways for the years I'd spent working - and more than ready to face my camper van adventure.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

There's a First Time for Everything

Last night, I spent my first night in the camper van.

The slight tilt, I quickly adjusted to.
The mattress was quite comfortable.

It was like sleeping with my favorite two-year old...

Let's go to sleep now.

Ok (eyes wide open). Look, look, look! I'm really going to get to go! I'm actually sleeping in the camper van tonight!

Yes, that's wonderful, but it's getting late. Go to sleep now, and think about that in the morning.

Quiet. For about 30 seconds. Look, look!

**sigh**. I did manage SOME sleep...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Irrevocable Decisions

Today I got my pension paperwork notarized and sent off.

One of the last lines in the paperwork warned me I was about to make an irrevocable decision.

Irrevocable decision. 

The phrase stayed with me as I drove from the notary's office to the post office, as I waited in line, and as I was processing the transaction to mail off the paperwork.

As I left the post office, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.  The decision has been irrevocably made - no changing my mind now.  Not that I was going to change my mind, but there's something freeing in knowing the die has been cast.

I'm on my way!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ready, Set...

I started packing my camper van this weekend. 

First things first - I made sure to find spots for the essentials; the latte machine and coffee grinder.  Just because I've abandoned hearth and home doesn't mean I need to risk not being able to find good coffee to start my day!

Got the bed made up - decided immediately that making the bed is NOT going to be one of my favorite things on this trip.  It's a lot like making a loft bed - reeaach for that corner - except I do have the advantage of being able to go outside and open the rear door to make it a little easier (that'll work until it's raining out when I need to make the bed...)

It's hard to believe the time to leave is almost here.  I don't think the fact I've really gone and done it will sink in until I've been gone at least two weeks - a week longer than any vacation I've taken in recent memory.

I'm going to start by heading north.  I heard in church recently that to go forward, we need to look back; so I'm going to start by visiting relatives in Iowa.  I've been making the drive to Minnesota for many years, and usually try my best to make it through Iowa in 4-5 hours.  This time, I'm switching gears - if schedules are free, it'll take me 4-5 DAYS to make the trip.    It'll be an abrupt change of pace, to be sure!

two weeks...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time to Recharge

For the last couple of years, I've been working hard - and fighting burnout.  A year or so ago, I decided life was too short to spend it that way, and it was time to take a break and recharge my batteries.  But first I had to get my ducks lined up.

In the past few months, the ducklings have fallen into place beautifully.  I sold my house, and put my stuff into storage.  I bought a camper van, and had too much fun spending money to outfit it.  This past week, I gave notice at the place I've worked for the past 27 years.

At the end of August, I'm going to start a sabbatical.  I'm going to take a year and spend it visiting national parks I haven't seen yet - there are a lot of them and they are beautiful.

I'm going to hike and to bike.  I'm going to reacquaint myself with my guitar.  I'm going to create art - and not worry about whether or not it's good art.  I'm going to read books and spend too much time doing crossword puzzles.

I'm going to take time to breathe.  To rediscover my natural rhythms, and to catch up on my sleep.

And somewhere in there, I'm going to figure out what I do after the year is up, when I run out of money and have to find a job again.  (always those niggling details...)

Three weeks to go!