Saturday, November 27, 2010

If You're Going To Dream, May As Well Dream Crazy!

This past summer, one day while we were in the pool, a thought popped into my head. And without even thinking about it first I blurted it out (this is not typical for me....I'm the type to think awhile before giving voice to something crazy). I said to Karin, hey what if we just gave up housekeeping altogether & hit the road in an RV full time? Think of the possibilities. We could go pretty much wherever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to. Want to see the fall colors? No problem. Want to be with the grandson for his birthday? No problem. Want to escape the summer heat by visiting either the northwest or the northeast? No problem. Craving the ocean? No problem. I could go on and on.

On top of the freedom to go, we would free ourselves from high rent, high utilities, and the upkeep of a home & all the stuff that fills up a home. The older I get, the less I enjoy being tied down by "stuff". We're both happiest when we're able to travel a lot and when we're able to be with our families & friends as much as we feel the need to. I have a young grandson that I haven't seen in over a year now. I'm tired of missing out on all the big moments. Our parents are all getting older now and you never know how much time you're going to have with them. The fact that they're all in good health right now is all the more reason to see them while we can. And you might ask, well why not just move back closer to them all? Because being in that environment all the time isn't the right thing for us either! We need to find a way to balance it all. We absolutely love Tucson and consider it home now. But we have wanderlust! I was born into it. My dad's family has been scattered all over the world. He was born & raised on a tiny Caribbean island. All of his siblings raised their families in other countries. And I was born in Africa. And then my mom's family, while remaining stateside, still managed to cover the USA pretty well. My Grandpa would get the "itch" and off he would go, traipsing from here to there. When my ex & I were raising the kids we traveled with them to all but three states. And so the travel bug has bitten them as well. Stacey has been in Costa Rica for going on two years now. Teresa has a trip to Ireland coming up.

It has become quite clear that neither of us does well in high stress work environments. We need to be able to feel we're doing work that matters and that feeds our souls. So step one in having the freedom to pursue this crazy dream is to not need to rely on a "crazy" job for income. Lowering our housing costs is the best way to manage that. And we took a baby step in that direction by moving into the townhouse. It was enough for Karin to leave her "completely insane" job. A little more downsizing and we can get me out of my "somewhat stress inducing" job. Make the jump to an RV and we really wouldn't need any permanent jobs. Karin's police pension and some supplemental work would do the trick!

So why not just go for it now? Well, there are some things that need to happen first. We currently have four pets, two dogs & two cats. Too many to take on the road with us, especially considering what poor travelers our dogs are. But the dogs are getting on in years. It's unlikely Mattie will be with us too much longer. At 14 she's already a pretty old girl for a lab. And while Dexter is younger at 10, he's living on borrowed time anyway (couldn't resist that)! We can use the dogs remaining time to gradually work ourselves towards on-the-road freedom. We also need to be able to come up with the funds for a suitable RV. That will take some doing for us. But one thing I know for sure, is that if this is what is the best thing for us, it will happen! We've learned that nothing is beyond our reach that is in our best interest.  :)  We also have to deal with the whole issue of drastically reducing our belongings. I'm actually pretty excited about this aspect of things. I imagine a great feeling of relief as the burden of "stuff" is lifted. I aspire to be the opposite of a "hoarder". I don't want to be without anything, because a great many things that one truly enjoys doing, require equipment of some sort to do. But let's face it. We all have way more stuff than we really need. And it is mostly there to distract you from really living. I'd rather "do things" than "own things". It will be quite a process to whittle what we have down to what we will be able to take with us. But it's truly possible. Karin learned years ago, after a tornado destroyed most of her stuff, just how much more important other things are.   :)

So for now we dream big while perusing ads for used RV's and reading up on blogs of other full time RV'ers. It's fun for us! Karin is working towards a new "career" path that is much more in line with her gifts & that could easily enough be done from wherever she happens to be at the time. I have had some thoughts of trying to make what I do be a bit more mobile as well. State licensing issues would be my biggest roadblock, but I know that it should be possible.

I can't help but think that our initial move out here to Tucson was the "defining moment" for us in that from that point on our lives have been a whirlwind of change in which each step, no matter how hard it may have been, has set us one step further along the path to where we long to be. I wouldn't trade any of it. We've learned so much, made deep friendships and grown together as a couple. I say let's keep that coming!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can You Keep A Secret?

If you ever need to share a secret but need someone who you can trust to actually not go blabbing it to the world, I'm your girl! I'm really good at keeping secrets. Probably too good in fact. I'm pretty secretive about things that don't matter that much if someone knows. I keep stuff secret that most people talk about because I have this built in fear of judgement.  I grew up afraid to say what my dreams were, what my plans were and what  I thought about things. It wasn't an irrational fear then. My parents, my mom in particular, had their vision of who I should be and if anything I said deviated from that I was corrected and it was made clear that expressing those things was not going to be met with approval. So I just learned to keep things to myself. And it became a lifelong habit. Not such a healthy habit to have. It isolates me. I see how incredibly open Karin is, even with people she doesn't know well and it amazes me! Sometimes I even cringe when she does it, and then I have to have a little talk with myself. STOP IT BRENDA!!!  Yes, I talk to myself a lot.   :)    It really blows me away how much she shares with her parents. WITH HER PARENTS, FOLKS!!! Just a foreign concept to me. I keep waiting for her parents to tear into her and set her straight (hahahahaha......couldn't resist that!). But it never happens. They usually stand by her and support her and weird stuff like that. One thing is for sure. Me growing up the way I did made me very determined that my kids would not be afraid to say what they wanted to say to me. I always wanted to know the REAL them. And even if what they have to say doesn't gel with me, it's fine because it doesn't have to. They're being true to themselves which is what I would want most for anyone I love.

As time goes by and I finally become more aware of what I do and why, I am doing better at opening up. And I surprise myself at times by just blurting something out without all the anxiety of before. And everytime it happens with no negative outcome, it gets a little easier and more natural feeling. And it makes me feel good. And I like to feel good. Oh there's a secret for ya. I'm a feel-good junkie!   :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Day In Paradise

99% of the time I love what I do for a living. Today fell into the 1% remainder that is pure hell. My clients run the  full spectrum of humanity pretty much. Thankfully, most of humanity knows how to behave themselves when going for a therapeutic massage. I admit, I have it better than some therapists. Middle-aged therapists have less trouble than younger ones generally speaking. I get dirty old men occasionally who make some lame comments but shut up pretty quickly. Today one of the front desk girls called me up in the break room to say she was booking me a walk-in who was giving off very strange vibes. Great. This can mean any number of things. Then she started telling me some of the things he had been telling her. For example, "I'm not straight but I'm not gay". ??????? Why would he even be discussing such a thing up at the front desk? Then there was just really off the wall stuff like "I have a PhD in Beeology". Huh????? So I go up to get him, dreading it each step of the way. He turns out to be in his early 60's, extremely large and reeking of smoke. I do my best to show nothing but confidence & that I'm in charge. I glance at his chart and see where they ask you what you're looking for in a therapist, he has written "open & spiritual". Fantastic. "Open" usually means...well.....waaaaaay open. Ya know what I mean? And then combined with "spiritual".....anybody's guess there! So I get him back to the room and the first thing out of his mouth to me is "Don't worry....I'm STD free". Well then. If that doesn't say it all I don't know what does. I ignore this comment and inquire as to what brought him here. He begins rambling about how he is falling apart, has not been taking good care of himself,  doesn't want any more pills, wants to "get in touch with himself again", etc. I do finally get him to show me some actual physical problems he's having, resulting from surgeries. Thank goodness, at least I have something to focus on besides his weirdness! So I go through the spiel about what he needs to do while I take his chart back upfront. I always make a big deal about not just telling men to get under the covers but actually hold the covers up to emphasize the "getting under them" part. It should be pretty obvious but I find too often that male clients either like to play dumb or really are just that dumb. You practically have to draw them a picture. And I told him to start out face down. I emphasized that too. He told me he had one request, he wanted to know if there was any way we could make the room cooler. I knew what he had in mind. He wanted there to be no covers on him! I told him no problem, I would turn the fan on. Then he wanted to know if I would be giving him a towel to cover with. This was AFTER I had instructed him to get under the covers. GOOD GRIEF! Seriously?! NO! Get under the damn covers (said more politely than that)!!! As I walked up to the front desk with his chart I even mentioned to another therapist that I'd probably find him face up and would be lucky if he was covered.  Well......I was right about the face up part. Of course. And though he was covered, he was covered at the barest minimum. I was pissed. He's laying there with the blanket thrown off and the sheet over his genitals only and about to fall off. First thing I did was to go over and increase the coverage of the sheet. Sorry dude. I am NOT working on you in that state. I don't even want to be in this tiny room with you for any amount of time as it is.

So finally I got to work on him. Not five seconds into things he comments that I must have lots of people who love me cause I have love in my hands. Yeah I don't make this stuff up folks. I swear I don't. And then a few minutes later he starts reciting Tennessee Williams stuff to me. Not sure what that was about! I spent a lot less time with him face up that I normally would. I desperately wanted to get him face down. I feel a lot more in control with a questionable client when they are face down. But I had to spend some time in his shoulder since that was where he was actually hurting. And there were moments there that were a little too close for comfort for me with him. And that made me sad. Because normally I love that feeling of "taking care of" and the way I feel the trust building and the relaxation that comes with that. But this was not like that at all. I did what I could, he said weird things like "you're helping me reconnect with my physical body". I guess coming from some clients that wouldn't sound so weird, but trust me with him it was just creepy!

Once I had him face down he finally got quiet and things proceeded pretty normally. In the end, nothing bad happened. Except that he purchased a years membership which means I haven't seen the last of him! And also he left me a tip that was just insulting considering the fact that he paid for his membership up front rather than the usual month to month payment plan. He had the money for that but left me a couple of bucks for a ninety minute session? And sadly I gave him my best, considering the situation anyway. I seem to not know how to blow someone off even when it's in my own best interest to do so. I'm too much of a people pleaser for my own good. Need to work on that! When I went back to clean up the room I realized how bad the smell had been too. I had to let the fan run during my break to air it out. Just gross. Mixture of BO, smoke & cheap cologne. I have now been informed that a lot more weird stuff was said upon his checkout at the front desk. I have yet to hear what was said. I can hardly wait. Ughhhhh.............

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scars

Recently had a conversation with a coworker about scars. We see all kinds of scars in our line of work! She was saying how much she loves scars; sees them as cool. I'm kind of with her on that. With every scar there is a story. Some scars come from accidents, some from surgeries and some are intentional. Some people have some pretty extreme scars but make no mention of them as if they aren't even there. Others have what I consider to be minimal scars yet they go to great lengths to hide them because to them they are "disfiguring".  It's all in perspective I guess. To me scars show you've done some living. That you've been through stuff and maybe have had some interesting experiences.

One of my regular clients has this amazing full back tattoo. It covers her back entirely with not even any spots of skin showing through. At first I was in awe of the tattoo. That is until in just the right angle of light I saw what the tattoo was covering up. She has pencil thin straight scars covering her back all lined up perfectly. No way these scars are accidental! They are so light that you can only feel them when using very light pressure; just the hint of being raised when gliding over them. This all fascinates me more than the tattoo now. To make things even more interesting, I recently had a new male client with the exact same thing going on. Pretty much the same scar patterns and once again covered by tattoos. Guess who referred this client? Yup....the female client of mine! So like I said, good story there for sure. I've never mentioned the scars to this client nor would I. There is no reason to. I know how my version of the story goes. It may be accurate, maybe not. Doesn't really matter.

I have my own scars. Mostly they are surgical. And yeah, there are some stories to go along with them. Once upon a time I would have talked to most anyone about them. And in fact I did do a lot of talking about them. I don't feel like sharing quite so much these days though. No one would see them in my normal dress though, so it doesn't come up much anymore (I used to be quite the nudist...still am at heart). I used to obsess about making them less noticeable. I no longer even think much about them. And it's a good thing because I swear the older they get the worse they look.  The least noticeable is probably the one that goes all the way from hip to hip. And then there are the anchor scars on both breasts. Hard to believe but those come from a reduction. That was the most traumatic. Felt like my identity had been cut off along with a lot of tissue. Time has taken care of that. And enough weight gain to fill those puppies out to a more "Brenda" size. The worst scar is the one running from breastbone down to just above my belly button. It is just plain ugly. It has gotten redder and thicker with time. I still am not bothered so much by this. It's just a part of "me". The most interesting one to me is the barely perceptible one going around my belly button, where they literally had to make me a new belly button because they cut the old one away! How often does a person get a new belly button?  :)

 Although I really still don't feel like explaining all  my scars I can tell you that the the surgeries behind them all had a huge effect on me. And for that I wouldn't trade them for the world. And it's always fun to compare scars!