Friday, July 15, 2011

Pardon me, I am purging

I shouldn't be surprised. This happens every time I leave my parents house after a visit. I feel inspired. It seems to be a time to reconnoiter. It used to be when we would drive to Kansas at Christmas, I would use the drive home to make lists and contemplate ideas of what I would incorporate into our daily lives or refine goals or make plans as we would embark on a new year. Now that we don't make an annual drive, but usually fly instead, I have short changed myself on the full benefit of a visit home. I can't explain it. It just kind of magical. After the less than punctual trip home, but filled with plenty of windows of opportunity to make lists and contemplate ideas, I am ready to take action.

On Thursday, I told Drew that I wanted him to start cleaning up his room. As I believe I mentioned before, the whole house became wedding central and has not fully recovered. Even Drew's room, although no wedding stuff would be found there, is a mess. I told him to start with one thing at a time and it might be good to start with his guns. He has quite a collection of Nerf guns, some as they came from the factory and some that he has modified, or as we call it "modded". When a gun is modded, there are always leftover parts. Sometimes it doesn't even resemble a gun but a bone yard of forgotten plastic and metal pieces. My suggestion was to bring out of his room all guns, pieces, parts, usable and non-usable components to any kind of gun. See his creativity also lends itself to making pvc pipe guns, marshmallow guns, rubber band guns and thow in a water gun or two or three..., there is quite a collection.

Mid-day, I check in. Drew tells me that he thinks this job is too hard for a 14 year old. I did what any mother vying for MOY (mother of the year) and reminded him that there are children all over who are working and contributing to the survival or at least betterment of their households. With that, he decided he could take on this project.

I arrive home and there are approximately 10 guns across my bed (I thought that would be a good place for him to assess what he has and what he is ready to get rid of). When asked about the modified guns and parts, he gave me a look and something snapped in my brain. I realize that we clearly speak 2 different languages but somehow he responded that morning in a way that I thought he understood and that this was a big deal. Clearly, that was not the case. That my friends is when this mama snapped. I realize I created this problem. Afterall, it was probably me who purchased most of the stuff, including these guns, which is in his room. So I decided to take action. I gave Drew the option to stay and help but he chose not to. Which led me to stating my disclaimer "if I don't know it has meaning, importance or a specific use, out it goes."

What was started on Thursday evening will be finished this weekend. Armed with the most important tool I have seen on HGTV for ridding out unwanted stuff - a box of big black trash bags, I am tackling Drew's room and as much of the house as I have energy for this weekend. The word for the weekend is PURGE (def: to rid, clear).

Another word could be START (def: to begin or set out, as on a journey or activity). Drew is starting high school. I think it is good to clean out the old as he embarks on this new chapter. This is also the first step in the goals and plans I set for myself on my trip home from Kansas. I need to make room, not for more things and stuff, but for more living, more simplified, purposeful living. I'll let you know how it goes.

PS: I told Drew I was telling this story and he was thrilled (as any 14 year old boy would be) but gave me his blessing to post, albeit in a sarcastic tone. I wonder where he learned to be sarcastic?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All Aboard

It seems there are a lot of people it seems have a love affair with the thought of riding a train. Whether it is the romantic view we have of a glamorous era when train travel was the fastest, cleanest and easiest mode of transportation across America. Or to relax and leave the driving to someone else. Or as one of the Amtrak slogans reads "For the America you can't see anywhere else". Or just to experience something new. Whatever the reason a lot of people are saying "All aboard Amrak". And that is what Drew and I did.
The front of our train from my window

Love this station.

Cool building we saw along the way.

Each year Drew drives back to Kansas when his grandparents return from wintering in Arizona. I usually fly back, spend a week visiting before Drew and I return to Arizona. This year we decided to board the Southwest Chief and leave the driving to someone else. Drew and the G-unit had done it once before which was fortunate for us as we learned from their trip.

Now this little adventure did not happen without a hiccup or two. First our train was scheduled to leave Topeka station at 12:29 AM. Instead we left around 3:00 AM. Along the way we had to stop a couple times for traffic to clear off the rail. Then we had to stop because the track switching mechanism was broke. For those who don't know what that is or does here is a little tutorial. So we waiting while the engineers came and fixed. It must be a really big deal because when we finally got going and could see where the people who had come to fix it parked, there were 14 vehicles. Finally we were on our way. By now our arrival would be really late but we were at least moving in the right direction.

Some observations I noted.
  • It may not prove to be the cheapest, fastest or cleanest but it is highly entertaining and enjoyable.
  • As with all public transportation, we met some nice people along the way and some not so nice. Luckily you can choose how much interaction you wish you engage in.
  • Our conductor had a sense of humor. I would think that would be a must in dealing with, shall we say "interesting" individuals and mechanical issues.
  • Thankful we had a blanket and pillow. Although we didn't sleep much, grandma had warned us it can be quite chilly, and the blanket and pillow made the trip more comfortable.
  • Junk food and snacks were a useful staple. Although there is a dining car for meals if you choose to reserve your space and a snack bar, it was nice to have our package of Topsy's popcorn, squirt cheese in a can and Wheat Thins, and Twizzlers. Nothing like a little comfort food during uncertain times.
  • Great place to people watch. Now according to Drew, I stayed in my seat "all the time". But I enjoyed watching the scenery and the steady stream of people walking by kept me entertained. Drew on the other hand spent time in the observation car and by the snack bar meeting people and making friends.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. We had made arrangements for Allison and Jon to come and pick us up in Flagstaff (which is where we needed to get off unless we wanted to go to California) and drive us to Phoenix. Perfect plan if we would have arrived on time. Since we didn't arrive until 2:30 AM we made other plans. 
  • Appreciated cell phone reception. Although some trains also have WiFi, I was perfectly content just having phone service. With the help of Allison I was able to call and reserve a room at the lovely Little America Hotel and a cab to get us there. I decided after being on the train for 24 hours I wasn't taking a risk on an unknown hotel no matter what the cost. I have stayed at Little America and knew it would be clean and comfortable even if it was only for 8 hours. I also was able to keep in contact with family and give updates along the way. What did we do before cell phones?
So although it wasn't the smooth sailing, zippy trip I had envisioned, I would definitely do it again.

Amtrak MSTS Commercial (Southwest Chief)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Year From Now...

If I stay up a little longer it will be my birthday. So I decided it would be a great time for a bit of reflection.

As they say "you are not getting any younger, you know".

A few weeks back I saw this posted.

I now have it by my desk at work. It is a reminder of all the things I wanted to do over the past year and an encouragement to get hopping on the things I want to do. First and foremost I remember the things I didn't complete and sometimes have trouble remembering all that I did accomplish.

Rarely does life go as planned but it is rarer still to actually go in the direction of your choice without a plan. Every morning, even on the laziest of mornings I wake with a plan. Something to accomplish in 16 hours (give or take) that I am awake and functioning. By the time I crawl into bed, most nights, I haven't fulfilled all that I intended. There are those coulda, shoulda and woulda's hanging around haunting me. I know people who seem to be able to do the work of a small army on any given task. That isn't me and frankly I don't know how they do it. I would put my mom in that category. I have witnessed her in action over the years and she could work circles around me.Thank goodness she is giving herself permission to slow down.

I am not sure I am ready to post my list of things that are on my task list for this next year. Probably because some of them are just down right stupid and embarrasing and I have no reason why I haven't done them yet. For example, last summer we had a plumbing issue in the upstairs hall bathroom. Thanks to gravity, the water leaked down stairs which led us to originally think that that the problem was caused by the condensation from the A/C unit running along the lines of the duct work. So the plumber cut a whole in the ceiling where the water was dripping. Thanks to his thorough sluething, the source of the water was found and fixed. Then the drywaller came and patched the ceiling, sprayed the texture and told me I could paint when ever I wanted to. As you can probably guess, no paint has been applied. It isn't that I haven't wanted to, it is just that I just haven't done it.

There has been plenty of activity over the past 365 days. And although I am not sure there is much that could top this year, I am predicting the next to be a very good year. I will continue to make my To Do lists and I'll feel very accomplished when at the end of the day everything has been crossed off. But there will be days when nothing is crossed off and I am going to give myself some grace on those days. Grace because something called life is happening and I am living it.

Happy Birthday to me. I am delighted to have enjoyed another year and inspired to live this next year in the very best possible way.