Thursday Thoughts…rambling into Friday

  • I don’t need huge success with my “career” to feel fulfilled.  I will work hard and I will learn more, but I do not aspire to be in charge of everything or really anything.  I want to continue to work, maybe with a bit of added effort, to keep living life the way I am now.  Sure, more money could be nice, but with more money comes more problems – mostly at work.  I’m not saying I’ll pass on a promotion or a better opportunity, but I know for damn sure I will not be any happier with more responsibility at work.  My main goals: reduce commute, continue to earn the salary I have or more, and expand my knowledge base through classes and volunteer opportunities.
  • I was researching the process of buying a house yesterday and it is truly crazy.  I am very overwhelmed by what appears to be a lengthy, invasive, and confusing process.  I’ve never wanted to own a home – maybe a cottage or cabin – but never a main dwelling.  My plan has always been to have a small home/condo/apartment that was near work and to have a cottage/cabin/lot with camper close to nature.  Now, I’m not exactly sure what I want – because camping is so much more versatile than owning a specific place for relaxing.  Plus, I have access to several cabins and cottages through family and friends – that may be mine someday anyway.  All I know, home buying scares me but the possibility of having a solid place to store my gear sounds good some days.  For now, the rental life continues – to save more money (because you can’t buy a house with what little I have set aside), to remain fluid in location possibilities, and to remain irresponsible when something really important breaks down.
  • My Subaru Outback is by far the best car I’ve owned.  It is smooth, comfortable, and has all sorts of tech to help keep me safe.  It is great for commuting, but I know it aches (like I do) to get out and see the world a bit more.  I have just over 7,000 miles on Black Beauty (like the horse from that movie) and they’re MOSTLY from commuting the past three months.  We did, finally, take it camping recently and to Arkansas for a quick friend visit.  Sigh.  I promise, little Black Beauty, that I’ll give you more adventure soon.  In November and December you’ll get to see a little bit more of this country.
  • Thinking about friendship over the years – the ebb and flow – and how it all works.  I’m truly lucky to have some quality people in my life – here in Texas, back where I’m from in Michigan, and out in cyberspace via a chat about common interests.  I’ve become an outspoken person – fighting for my rights, what I believe in, and for what I think is generally morally responsible.  I am not sorry if people recoil in horror as I speak some truth or stand my ground.  I used to agree with everyone and I was always trying to go with the flow.  The flow isn’t working right now.  I’m not going to continue to pretend it’s okay to support one thing if it doesn’t support me – like the orange guy.  I am not perfect.  I’ve made terrible jokes, assumptions and been a stereotype myself.  I’m working hard to carve a path for me, people like me, and others who want to have a similar life.  I’m a work in progress and will continue to work on improving my word choices, joke subjects, and general conversational topics.  I will continue to fight for the rights of people less fortunate than myself, so long as they want me on their side.  I will continue to be unapologetic about speaking out or calling out bullshit.  You can argue with me all you want, and if you have points I’ll respect them, but I am not going to cave and agree if it does not align with my path.
  • Moving to Texas in 2011 was a choice out of desperation.  I moved to get a job, because I knew people that could get me a job.  I moved from my shared apartment, with friends, to my family’s home.  They had a boat, let me live there and contribute what I could, and life was okay.  I partied a lot, got that sweet job that paid more money than I ever dreamed… then got promoted to another job that paid EVEN MORE money.  My buddy, and previous roommate, moved to Texas for a job too and we rented a house.  I was reunited with the cats, friends, and had family – life seemed so good.  I met my other half, made a couple of friends, but began to feel sad.  The newness wore off – I missed my friends (many of at least 5 years) and my other family.  I started to miss trees, nature, cool weather, and all that was happening back in Michigan.  I left it all – so I could pay my student loans, buy a car that worked, and start a career.  Was it worth the “trade” in the end?  I am not sure.  Would I trade the experience? No.  Do I desire to get on with life and try something else? Yes. Do I think I’m ready to start over again? Hell yes, more fearless than I was in 2011.
  • The DFW metro area is huge.  I work 40 miles from work, but have to drive 60-90 minutes.  My family lives in the same place they did when I moved here, 70 miles southwest of my current apartment and it takes about 75 minutes on a bad day.  My friends live a mile from my family, in the same subdivision, and my other friends live 50 miles west of my apartment.  NOTHING HERE IS CLOSE.  The nearest, semi-nature unpaved path area is at least 25 minutes from my apartment.  If I were to drive from my office to my family’s house, it could take 150 minutes.  I can remember complaining about traffic in Grand Rapids, where I used to live.  It would take a whole 15-20 minutes to get to work while that same distance here takes at least 30.  I took Grand Rapids for granted.  I took Michigan and her natural beauty for granted.  I’m never doing that again.  We’ve been looking at cities to explore and move to, and I’m hoping we can find that “smaller city vibe with big city features while being near nature” mix that we want.  Good examples include: Grand Rapids, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; and Santa Fe, NM.  I’m sure there are plenty of other great places, but these pop in my brain.  Someday, I’ll live where there is seasonal snow again!
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Wednesday Reflections

It’s funny how things come into perspective after the fact… Also, I’m the worst when I comes to sticking to one train of thought.

  • Throughout my childhood, we planted trees every year.  I can remember planting hundreds of them – white pine, red pine, and blue spruce.  We turned some fields into forests and planted a wall around our main yard.  I’m thankful for this experience.  While planting the trees wasn’t always fun, I learned the importance of replenishing the land.
  • Cutting, hauling, and stacking firewood was by far my least favorite chore.  I was kept from my friends on the weekends and until I got a job, it was the way of the land every fall weekend.  Even after getting a job, my dad would throw it through the chute to the basement and I’d have to stack it.  Even during the week, we’d have to come home from school and stack it if he was on an off shift or on winter leave.  Ah yes, firewood – it’s true it warms you twice.  I look back, and kind of wish I could go up and help him on the weekends now.  It was a great way to sweat it out and being in the woods in the fall was the absolute best.  Nothing beats the smell of fall in the woods.  Second to the smell of fall is the smell of fresh cut wood – oh my gosh.  Maybe someday I’ll be back in Michigan and can help him out a bit.
  • My first car was my mom’s 1988 Plymouth Voyager.  The doors didn’t lock, you could start it without a key, and the heat didn’t work.  It only had an AM/FM radio and half the speakers were shot.  BUT… It was mine to do with what I wanted – free and clear.  The seats were comfy, there was PLENTY of space for stuff/people, and the windows rolled down – total win.  In the winter, we just bundled up when driving – the heat kind of worked, not even sure what was really wrong with it.  Surely I wanted a newer or more functional vehicle for my first one, but I didn’t make enough money for that and hanging out with friends.  I look back and realize it really wasn’t so bad and it makes me appreciate every nice feature I have on my car today – that I pay out the ass for.
  • As a kid, we never really went anywhere far or too adventurous for vacation.  We camped, which was great, at nearby state parks with the major exception being going about six hours away one time.  Without my grandparents, I wouldn’t have visited any of Michigan’s “major” cities or adventured through Ontario around Lake Superior.  As a baby, I think my mom flew me to Texas with her to visit my Granny, but that’s not a memory I have.  This lack of adventure really sparked a major need to see the country in college – once I starting researching what was out there.  I met my best friend, another person who hadn’t really traveled the country, and we started road tripping.  We followed our college football team to Alabama, we crossed the Mississippi together for the first time, we saw the Rockies for the first time, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time too.  Once you start road tripping and seeing the amazing things this country has, you never want to stop.  I never knew what I was missing as a kid but now I do and I work so I can travel.
  • Back to the camping thing – so thankful we did it as a family.  It was always overkill, though, with many coolers and grills and an abundance of crap.  I learned the basics such as how to find good spots, how to build a fire, and that I loved hiking before I really knew it was a thing.  From these family trips, I learned that less is more and now when I go I’m scaled way back to the essentials.  No longer taking enough food for an army, cases of pop or water, and just enough gear.
  • As much as I didn’t appreciate the outdoors back then the way I do now, I am thankful for the lessons I was taught.  I am good at identifying trees without a book, know a lot about plants, can usually figure out animal tracks, can build a trail, and so much more.  Thanks parents, grandparents, and friends.
  • I kind of have one regret:  I didn’t really enjoy Michigan enough when I lived there.  I try not to beat myself up too much over this, but some days it’s difficult not to.  I didn’t hike enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t enjoy the outdoors enough.  It was all at my fingertips, and I didn’t utilize it enough.  I sit here, in this Dallas suburb office, after commuting from my suburb apartment and kick myself every damn day for not taking it all in more than I did.  I know, my retail schedule was nuts when I was there – but if I had truly been motivated I could have gone hiking before an evening shift, after a morning shift, or enjoyed a people free mid-week hike on a random day off.  I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Michigan, I visited many places and did many things… This “regret” really led me to the biggest lesson, and something I’ve been really trying to do this year – LOVE WHERE YOU ARE and take advantage of everything you can.  Yeah, DFW kind of sucks, but I’m fully utilizing nearby parks, state parks, and national parks.  I am really living it up in nearby national forests and lakes.  Yeah, things may take some driving and may not be exactly what I love to look at, but it’s so much better here now that I’m truly diving in and utilizing what exists around me.  Yeah, sometimes my go-to parks are full of people or have a bike race, but overall life is better now that I’m at least trying to get out.

Moving forward, my wants and needs are more clear than ever.  Now, to get to where I want to be.

Full stop.

Today started with a Starbucks mobile app order for TWO venti iced Americanos.

Woah, vacation is over and that is poopy.  I spent the past 11ish days in Alaska and I miss it already.  The air was so fresh, the trees were so green, and the people were so fit.  Talk about motivation – these people hiking to glaciers and on trails were inspiring.  I’ll do a full write up of our adventures in Alaska in a few days, but I’ll sum it up as being one of my favorite places ever.

We boarded a plane on July 4 at 11pm local time, which is 3 hours behind Dallas time, and arrived via two flights to Dallas at noon July 5.  Yesterday was a blur.  I must have snuggled the cats for a while and fell asleep.  We went to get Chewy the dog, and boy did I miss his rotund body.  So happy to be reunited with the pets and so happy that the cats did not go crazy and ruin anything while we were gone.  We are lucky dudes to have friends to watch the dog and check in on the cats – but I think we’ll start using services to relieve them of the burden.

Today, I’ll be working one of two days this week and let me tell you – it’s weird.  My brain can’t really comprehend that I’m at work and my body just wants to be in bed.  I slept weird yesterday due to the overnight flights and such, so I was up at 3 and kind in and out since then until it was time to shower and go.  My work pants are a little tight, despite increased activities over the vacation – the food was just too good I guess.

 

Hope you all have a great week(end) ahead.

Powering Through.

This week is short, and that excites me.  We have a four day work week, thanks to a huge summer celebration event we’re having on Thursday night.  My boss is out of town until Thursday, so I also get a less watchful week to catch up on things before I head off to Alaska.  I am at my most efficient working stride when I can have TV shows on in the background.  I can sometimes work okay with podcasts or books, but the TV shows really make the day fly by and I get so much work done while being mildly entertained by the Food Network.

A couple of weeks ago I strained my calf by rolling my foot on a root while hiking.  The pain subsided, though it was never that bad.  On Saturday, I jumped off the boat using my toes to push off an strained it again.  This time, I was limping and could hardly walk for the rest of the night, through yesterday, and into today.  I’m hoping it stretches out and goes away by the time we fly out Saturday.  I don’t want to be limping through the forests of Alaska!

As I get into the week, I have a lot to do before we leave Saturday.  I’m so glad work gave everyone Friday off this week because it give me an extra day to prep for the trip.  Friday will be cleaning, last minute laundry, copying keys, meeting with our friend who is watching the cats, and hopefully an early morning hike for me!  I’m just trying to stay positive this week, keep an upbeat attitude, and work on making my calf feel better.

I’m going to work on being less critical of others – as I’ve picked up that nasty habit of playful banter turned cruel.  I am going to remember my goals.  I’m going to have a good week, despite any setbacks.  Time to be a big boy and power through it all!  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Six years already? Really?

Six years ago, to the day, I packed up my 1994 Chrysler LHS and set my GPS for Texas.  In a visit one year before the day I left, I had met a bunch of fun people and was told that Texas held plenty of job opportunities for me.  Over the year, I kept applying for jobs in all over the country.  I received rejections from every state, Australia, Canada, and Europe.  So, when 2011 rolled around, I decided to put in for a transfer within Best Buy, get a Texas area code, and just move in with my family until I found something down there.  I was 26, up to my eyes in debts of all kinds, and had nothing to lose in moving south.  I wasn’t even sure after packing my car that it would make it.  I didn’t have a dime to my name so my uncle loaned me $175 bucks to drive down.  I had no credit cards, no extra cash, and no backup plan.  My friend hopped in the passenger seat and away we went.  We made it to Texas on March 31, and I didn’t have to start work til the first full week in April.  It cost me $125 of the money, including food to move to Texas.  My old clunker cruised comfortably the entire way, and we made it without any issues at all.

In six years, I have learned many things.  Those fun people I met in my earlier visit turned out to be anything but fun and the opportunities I had were only if you knew someone.  In late 2011, my old roommate and best friend moved to Houston to pursue a career he said he’d never do but was too broke to say no.  By then, I was also working in an industry I had never intended and was just glad he would be closer than Michigan.  I started as a Best Buy transfer and quickly moved on to work for the same company for the better part of five years.  A sudden layoff sent me back a step and then a giant push forward to where I am now.  I sit here, six years later, appreciative of the family that didn’t even hesitate to open their home to me when I so desperately needed a hand.  I sit here thankful for the jobs I held, and the one I have, in getting me on track financially and saving me from the mountains of debt that started forming.  I am thankful for the people I have met in Texas, even those that turned out to be terrible and taught me a lesson in a way.  I sit here, six years later, still missing my dearest Michigan friends and family knowing I changed the dynamic by abruptly moving away.

In the six years I’ve been in Texas, I have… met my better half, adopted a dog and a cat, moved at least 5 times, met at least four people I could call friendly, met more than two handfuls of people I wish to never see again, and learned how to drive very aggressive/defensively.  Living in Texas brought to realization that I took the people and scenic beauty of Michigan for granted.  I didn’t love it and them hard enough when I was there.  I look at where I am now, a city dwelling thirty-something craving nature, and think I could have been hiking every evening in Michigan without driving more than a half hour.  I could have been cross-country skiing all winter and camping all summer.  But, when I was there, I wasn’t in a place to be doing these things – I wasn’t there mentally.  In Michigan I was depressed, angry, bitter, and avoiding all responsibility because I had fucked my life up and didn’t know how to fix it.  As much as I’ve grown to despise many people here and despite my need to move away, my initial move to to Texas saved me from myself and whatever extremely unhealthy choices I was making at the time.  Now, I’m not saying it’s all because of Texas the state, but moving to the state voluntarily and having people here that knew the right people changed my trajectory in life.

I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I hadn’t moved six years ago.  I can’t imagine if I’d even be alive – knowing how dark things were sometimes – if I hadn’t done something as drastic as moving and accepting the help of family.  Mostly, I try to focus on the present and future now.

All’s I know… I am thankful for what I have and who I know because of Texas, I miss my people and the scenic beauty of Michigan, and I will continue to desire a relocation when it’s appropriate for my better half and I to do so.  I have a new appreciation for the friendships that weathered the years apart, a new affection for green trees and freshwater, and a new view on the value we place on things in our lives.  I’ve learned, by living in the DFW metro area, that I do not desire a city this big and I need some form of public transportation.  I have learned that speed limits outside of Texas are absurdly too slow.  I have realized that this state does have natural beauty, but it takes some time to discover it all.

Cheers to life, the future, and the hope that things will continue to get better.

Monday Motivation, again.

I have to remember my goals. Sometimes, after a nice weekend, I forget what I’m doing and why.*

  • I’m dropping weight and toning up so I can fit into my clothes (current and future), hike further, backpack, fit on roller coasters comfortably, do more, live more, and live longer.  I want to have a hammock, a normal camping chair, and get a new bed.  I want my clothes to fit and I want to be able to buy clothes off the rack from REI.  I want to be able to do a 10 day backpacking trip or hike for an entire day sunup to sundown.  I want those things for my life.  I want to get to a point where I can indulge a bit without total derailment.  I want to run a 5K , 10K, or 25K.  It’s coming. The progress is happening.
  • I’m avoiding frivolous purchases and not eating out left and right because I’m trying to pay off my debts from doing whatever I wanted all these years.  I’m trying to get myself together and save more.  I’m trying to overcome the cycle I’ve fallen into, especially now with my job that pays well again.  I’m trying to potentially buy a house (condo, cabin, cottage, dwelling, maybe not my main residence) in 5-6 years as well as a forever car (Subaru Outback, please).  I don’t want to be stuck with my car as the cheap ass things falls apart – it’s only 3 years old but I’ve had 16 year old cars with less rattles and squeaks.  I want more for me, and that includes saving more and spending it on adventures and living life instead of junk and prepared meals on the regular.
  • I’m doing the 52 Hike Challenge to see more of the state – if not the country.  This challenge is to encourage more activity, to encourage inner peace, and to see what this state has to offer in the positive sense.  So far, I’m learning a lot, but I need to keep those things in mind.
  • There is an end goal.  There is life beyond Texas.  There is life beyond debt.  There is life beyond fat.  I’m quite impatient and need to take a timeout to realize these things all take time.  It took much longer to get to where I am than it will to fix it, so I need to remember that.  With this continued hard work and perseverance, I’ll get there.
  • I need to accept the reality that I may not get to see everything on my wishlist.  I have an extensive wishlist, and it may be time prioritize destinations.  I have a list of things to do once we reach our goal city, that will take years and are all very realistic.  I have a list of more national level things to see and that is the list that will need to be checked and prioritized.  All in all, I’ve been adjusting my reality and doing my best to accept it.
  • I need to get over the fact that I don’t have my awesome schedule (7 days on, 7 off overnight) anymore that allowed me to do all the things I wanted… Benefits of current life are more money, less spending, job security, and better benefits.  Yeah, I lost my time for adventure, but I didn’t have any money to do it anyway which is why I’m in debt.  Living a more simple life is smart for me.  Also, on the same daily schedule as my better half means we see each other more often.
  • Working hard for what you want, paying for things with real money, and going to sleep knowing things are getting easier/better is one of the most comforting things in the world.  I was taught to work hard for what I want, but I strayed from the lesson for a decade.  It’s sad that money can make me this happy, but it’s actually something under control now.  When I’m in control, I’m happy.  This applies to money, what I eat, and what I’m able to do.
  • Someday, when we’re in our goal city and I am working this M-F thing again, I find comfort knowing I will be able to escape quickly to beautiful places nearby as opposed to this disaster that is DFW.  My main motivation for our relo to the goal city is knowing this.
  • If I work hard for another year, I may be handsomely rewarded by my current company (a bonus).  More motivation.  Here’s to me putting my head down, ignoring the bullshit, and working my ass off.

 

*not really “forget” just need a snap back to reality.

Gotta keep going.

Things keeping me on track with my health and financial plans:

  • The idea of living long enough to see things turn around again
  • The thought that I will, someday sooner than later, live in a region in which I can cross-country ski/snowshoe again and learn about other winter sports
  • If everything goes as planned, we’ll be within minutes of beautiful nature instead of hours – more hiking, more camping, more living
  • The whole not having a heart attack idea as well as potentially avoiding any other damage to my vital systems
  • The thought that I could, someday, have a job I don’t despise in an industry I find more interesting
  • The idea that I will get to travel to Alaska and Michigan annually
  • The fact that I have places in Minnesota and Wisconsin to get off grid for a few days when I need to disconnect
  • To know that, in 3  years or less, I’ll own my car (and be able to trade it in for my Subaru) and have little to no debt aside from student loans (which is not nearly as stressful)
  • I’ll be able to run without dying – as well as other physical activities
  • Our dog will be healthier
  • The hiking will get easier, encouraging longer/more challenging hikes and also backpacking!
  • I’ll be able to take more trips
  • I’ll eventually fit, comfortably, on a roller coaster again
  • I’ll be able to donate more money in the future to my causes
  • I’ll be able to participate in charity 5-25ks with greater ease
  • We’ll be able to buy a home and make it our own