Ten years ago, I was living in the same exact house but a completely different life and had no clue it was all about to end.
If I’d been asked how I would describe myself, I wouldn’t have hesitated – I was a writer (purely a hobby, but a fulfilling one), an avid spinner and a dedicated Pygmy goat breeder.
I loved my four dogs and my house cats and I was married to a wonderful man who worked long hours at a job he loved. My days were happily divided between the barn, my spinning wheel and my computer. I was plenty busy, but it was a fun busy.
A few months earlier, I had taken my writing hobby to the next level and had signed on with BellaOnline (www.BellaOnline.com) as their Alaska Editor. Publishing weekly articles for my own site was both demanding and exhilarating – and I was loving every minute of it.
After Jerry’s TBI in September, 2009, I was abruptly none of those things. My goats lived at a friend’s farm for over six months. My spinning wheel sat idle. I stopped writing. Call it a writer’s block, anxiety or PTSD … his accident really threw me off stride. With Jerry in the hospital for two months and then in rehab for over a year, I couldn’t seem to put three sentences together and have them make sense.
I tried to keep the Alaska site going, but it was all just too much. Finally admitting defeat, I resigned as a BellaOnline Editor and concentrated on Jerry’s slow recovery and keeping my own life on as even a keel as possible. That was in 2010.
Eventually, just to have an outlet from being at home, I went to work part time in the office of a local dog training facility and found I enjoyed it. I became involved in training my own dogs in a variety of sports (it turned out to be great therapy for me as a caregiver) and, as Jer became more independent, I put in more and more hours away from home.
In early 2015, I veered off in another new direction and trained to become a Certified Nose Work (dog sport) Instructor. Between running the office, teaching Nose Work classes and training my own dogs, my life was once again full. Completely different, but full.
The TBI changed Jerry. It changed me, too. I’ve mostly come to terms with that – mostly. I’ve even started spinning again. But life will never be what it once was and the future needed to be re-imagined.
Keeping myself too busy to think only worked for a while. A little over two years ago, I felt myself beginning to spin off into an abyss, mentally and emotionally. I was being pulled in too many directions and none of them were headed towards any sort of peace and quiet. I felt a strong need to somehow center myself.
I bought an RV. More precisely, a 27’ Winnebago Minnie Winnie motorhome. Strangely, at first; just having it was enough – it was like my own little escape hatch for when life got too hectic. I’d go out to the RV and just sit in the quiet, knowing I could turn the key and leave.
Soon though, just sitting in the yard wasn’t enough, so I taught myself how to run everything; electric, propane, leveling, circuit breakers, etc. I learned to pack so things didn’t break, to pull into a gas station safely, to set up and hook-up at a campsite, then the reverse. I learned how to back a 27’ RV into a campsite by myself – I was pretty proud of that one.
At that point, it was obvious to me that I needed to GO. The first summer, I was happy enough to take short trips, sort of feeling things out and trying my wings. By my 2nd summer, I was straining at the bit and just dying to get on the road. Once out there, I fought returning home.
The peace and quiet was addictive. Yes, even with two dachshunds. It’s a different sort of quiet – a quiet of the mind. It was a good quiet and it started something inside me healing.
I am sorry that having that time to sit with myself, talk to myself, LISTEN to myself – resulted in my decision to retire from a job I had loved doing for eight years. But it was time, and at least I realized it in time to take the necessary steps to thoroughly train my replacement before going. Without knowing I was leaving the office in reliable hands, I’m afraid the stress would have taken a lot of the joy out of my next step.
What IS my next step? I’m not sure about the future; it will have to take care of itself. But I’m beginning by taking a big step backwards. Ten years backwards, to be exact. I am going to pick up where I so jarringly left off after Jerry’s accident.
I have been accepted back as a BellaOnline magazine editor. Oh wow … deep breath. I am once again the Editor of the BellaOnline Alaska site. You can find my site here: http://www.bellaonline.com
Once on the magazine webpage, go to “Travel & Culture” and click on “Alaska”, or even easier, find the search box on the initial homepage and type “Alaska” in the box. It’ll take you right to me.
I’m already adding new articles, and even better – all my old articles are still there. 😃 I’d love it if you’ll click on signing up for my weekly newsletter at BellaOnline – it does the same thing as this blog – just sends you a quick note that a new article (of mine) is up and a link to it.
I’ll continue to blog as well – as you’ll see, it’s two very different styles of writing. I just wanted to let everyone know what I was up to – and that it’s GOOD.
Happy New Year 2020! May it be a good year for everyone.