Views from my morning walk

Arizona view of brush and clouds
This is a view from our neighborhood. We’ve had lots of cloudy days lately with rain, thunder and lightening — even a power outage.

I had a bad night’s sleep. My husband and I exchanged some unkind words last night and I just feel down. He’s apologized. I’ve apologized. But I’m in a funk. So, on my road to salvage my mood, I took an extra long walk this morning. I left the neighborhood and walked along the preserve across the street. The skies have been cloudy and the weather stormy. It seems to fit my mood. While I walked, I began to feel better. I remembered the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Here are some of the sights from my morning walk:

blooming cactus
Cactus are blooming again. They must like the monsoons.
saguaro skeleton
This is the skeleton of a Saguaro.
translucent bunny ears
This bunny ran from me in our front yard. I love the translucent ears.
cloudy desert sky
I took a walk outside our neighborhood on the main road this morning. I love the clouds and hope for rain.
Saguaro along the main road.

My love hate relationship…

….with my fitbit. I thought my fitbit was a game changer when I first got it. It was a Christmas present in 2019.

view of AZ desert
The hiking trails across the street from our new home.

I still like some of the things as much as I did when I first started using it. I like knowing when I reach my 10,000 steps a day. I like the gentle reminders to get up and move every hour.

It feels heavy on my wrist and sometimes I wake up up in the middle of the night and take it off. Then in the morning, I check how well I slept. If I take it off, then it misses a lot of the hours that I did sleep. Looking at a poor night of sleep changes how I feel during the day. Even if I leave it on all night, and I had a bad night’s sleep, the tiredness I feel is worse than it would have been without looking at the data.

The other thing I don’t like is I’ve been riding my bike a few mornings after I walk. I often forget to press the exercise button and scroll to the bike icon. So, I don’t get the satisfaction of having my bike rides recorded. I’ve tried to log into exercise for the day and add the ride in, but it won’t let me. Then I feel cheated. This morning, I stopped during my bike ride to start the fitbit, but I guess I did something wrong and the ride was not recorded.

I may try a few days without the fitbit and see if it feels better without it. Maybe it will be freeing. Or will I miss the little celebration when I hit 10,000 steps?

A view of Mt. San Jacinto from the Wellness Park on my morning walk when I lived in Palm Springs.

Do you use an exercise tracker like an Apple watch or fitbit? What are you feelings about it? Is it helpful or not?

Quiet time outside with kitty

cat asleep on pet grass.
Olive is sound to sleep today on her pet grass next to boxes of grass I’m growing for her.

Yesterday as I recovered from my big day of DIY with sore muscles, I decided to put the harness and leash back on Olive, our 10-year-old cat. Olive used to spend half her time outside until we moved. Now that we’re living with a bobcat, hawks, coyotes and other wildlife, we’ve been advised to keep the cat inside.

I ordered a harness and leash online when a friend who lives nearby said it worked for her cat. I’ve tried it a couple times and it’s been a disaster. I don’t know why I thought about giving it another try, but I did.

cat in harness and leash
Olive wearing the harness and leash.

Olive seemed more comfortable yesterday. She sat on my lap, nose sniffing, ears moving in rhythm with birds chirping. Her tail twitched. I moved from the comfort of the cozy outdoor chair at the table to our patio bar. There’s a saguaro with baby woodpeckers living inside across from the pool. They make loud chirping noises when their parents are gone and there’s also the excitement of the parents coming in and out to feed them. I thought it would be a lively place to sit with Olive to have an unobstructed view of the action and sounds.

Where Olive wanted to jump on the bar for a better view of the woodpecker’s nest in the saguaro.

She leaped from my lap to the bar. I grabbed her mid leap and ended up with a bloody scratch on my thigh. I don’t know why I didn’t give her the freedom to make the leap. She was on a leash after all. But it was my instant reaction to protect her.

We sat for a while longer and I think we both enjoyed the quiet time outside just listening and observing nature. At least I know I did.

Do you get outside to sit, listen and watch? I’m finding it very peaceful and entertaining. What are your favorite views?

Hard work never hurt anyone?

pug in mortar board with college grad
My daughter and Waffles during college graduation.

A few years ago my daughter graduated from college and was recruited by a Scottsdale, Ariz. firm. We told her we’d love to go apartment hunting with her. My husband was impressed with the area and wanted to move to Arizona someday (spoiler alert: we did during COVID). What we discovered with our daughter was very expensive housing for renters. And relatively cheap homes to purchase — especially compared to California. A mortgage payment was close to $1,000 less per month than a rental payment. Plus it made sense as an investment.

So, we decided to buy a small house. It didn’t take long for my daughter to realize she was in the wrong career and really didn’t like her job. She applied for several jobs and had a couple offers. This was all pre-COVID lockdowns when there were more jobs than people applying. She took a job in the Bay Area where she’d be living a few miles from our son, her big brother.

pug on a sofa
Waffles inside the house where my daughter lived.

After our daughter left, we decided to hang onto the house and rent it out. This weekend the current tenants moved out. We have new ones coming in a few weeks. We were shocked at how the house looked today, compared to when my daughter took such good care of it. Two of the rooms have so many holes in the walls it looked like someone was playing with a machine gun. Seriously? Who puts 50 holes in a wall? I guess three college students do and did. The yard needs a lot of work, too.

We decided we didn’t have any plans this Fourth of July weekend, so we’d be DIYers. We started by patching holes and prepping two rooms for fresh paint. After working on the house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday, I’m feeling muscles I didn’t know I had. I can barely walk, bend over or sit in a chair. I was reminded of the saying “Hard work never hurt anyone.”

These are the holes I patched in one bedroom. Next comes primer and paint. I already finished taping the floorboards, closet doors. It’s going to be a light, light, grayish blue when done.

I am hurting. Big time. I’m also very tired. Despite us getting cranky with each other (to put it mildly!) and sore muscles — I think in the long run this is good for us. We aren’t used to doing hard physical labor. At least not since chasing around little kids, working all weekend on my feet at a swim meet, or working in the yard at our old house.

I think the toughest part for me was the painters tape. I taped up the floor boards, doorways and windows. Bending over or sitting on the floor trying to get the tedious work done was an adventure in itself. With my post surgery knee that has never been the same, just sitting on the floor in a semi comfortable position is work.

Here’s to getting the house and yard back into shape and having tenants who take better care of it.

Before picture of the back yard.
The lawn today.

What do you think about DIY projects? Do you enjoy them or would you prefer hiring someone? What projects have you done?

Striving for an attitude of gratitude

I woke up the other morning thinking I was in my old Palm Springs home. Have you ever woken up not sure where you are? It happened frequently when we first moved to Arizona but it hasn’t happened to me for months. But, I started to miss my old Spanish Colonial home that day. It was a very pretty and unique home. Filled with memories.

A view from the kitchen to the living room of our old house. The mirror is now in our master bedroom.

It had a good location, too. So why did we move? For many reasons. Although I loved living downtown Palm Springs, we were right behind a hotel. We constantly had to call the ABC or police when the hotel violated their restrictions on noise. Living next to a busy hotel when they violate their liquor license with outdoor amplified music in the middle of the night wasn’t fun. During 2020 the hotel closed. I’m glad we sold the house before it reopened.

rustic small kitchen

The house was stunning, but not that practical. The kitchen was tiny. We called it a one-butt kitchen, but it worked. I could unload the dishwasher, cook and open the fridge without taking a step. I’d rotate in place. I had more than one friend ask me how I dealt with such a tiny kitchen.

master bedroom with open tub and pillars
The master bedroom of our old home.

Some of the things I didn’t like about the house was it had a carport, not a garage. The carport flooded every time it rained. It also got dusty and dirty, because the desert is dusty and dirty.

Another thing I didn’t like was the lack of storage because the house was built in the 1930s. Also, it was so cold in the winter that my fingers would go numb. And don’t get me started on the four-digit electric bill in the summer.

Another thing I don’t miss is the homeless man who peaked through our bedroom windows and slept in our yard. He terrified me. I’d spot him on our cameras every time we left town. He was watching us. I’d leave for my walk and return to find him in our yard.

Spanish colonial Movie Colony home.
View of our old home.

But we have tons of good memories. We raised our family for more than 28 years in that home. Yes, I’ll miss it even though our new house is so much more practical and less expensive to live in. My husband would like the ability to retire someday. Arizona makes that possible. I also feel like I’m living in luxury with a real garage and a kitchen with more cupboards than I can fill.

So I am grateful to be in Arizona. And I’m thankful for my friends, my cat and my family. You see, I’m practicing more gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m going to start my gratitude journal and practice the three blessings before I go to bed at night.

The Three Blessings Exercise

This exercise was created by Dr. Martin Seligman and it is extremely easy to follow:

Before going to sleep every night, write down three things that went well that day. They don’t need to be big things. They can be little things that made you happy or that made you smile, or simply that had a positive impact on you. Then write why they went well.

By doing so you focus on the positive aspects of your day instead of the negatives. After a while, it becomes a habit and your mind gets wired to have a more optimistic approach to your daily life. Studies show that after months of doing this exercise, your well-being increases and you feel overall more optimistic.

http://warriorsnotworriers.com/three-blessings-well-being/
I have attempted to do this exercise in the past, but then I forget about it. I think it’s time to get back to it.
sunset view from the Old Movie Colony.
View at sunset from our old backyard.

What are you thankful for as we begin the Fourth of July weekend?

About well-meaning friends….

black and white photo of four high school girls in 1978
Me on the left my senior year of high school when I was fearless.

What to think when well-meaning friends tell you something you don’t want to hear, but they think they’re doing it for the best reasons.

This happened to me earlier this week. I was hurt. I cried. I called my daughter and she said my well-meaning friend was coming from a place of kindness. Her intentions were good.

Does that make it okay?

I’ve been mulling this over in my head all week. It’s made me feel angry, insecure, unsure about myself. Unsure about my friendship. It’s made me doubt myself.

I spent time with this friend for the first time of any length in about 15 years. Apparently she saw something in my demeanor or how I carried myself that caused her concern. She didn’t tell me in person, but texted me a day later. She told me to make an appointment with a neurologist. And she didn’t give me a clear idea why, just asked me to do it. I would have appreciated her diagnoses or a precise description of what she saw.

Of course, I’ve changed in the last 15 years. A couple years ago I had a ski accident. My knee has never been the same and although I walk, swim and cycle — I do so tentatively, with pain and instability. Menopause has left me fearful and with bouts of anxiety. Unlike I was prior to the days my friend and I hung out. This past COVID year has knocked the stuffing out of me, too. Am I rationalizing? Am I defending myself for not being the person I was years ago? Yes. I wonder how awful I must have looked or weird or who knows??? I think I just want to hide and cry some more.

Both my kids say her intentions come from concern and just go to the doctor and find out.

view from hike at Lake Pleasant AZ
Hiking in my new state of Arizona at Lake Pleasant.

What are your thoughts of well-meaning friends telling you what you don’t want to hear?

Mixing up the morning routine

A view from my morning walk.

My days are getting stuck in a rut. It’s because of the heat. Last week was really, really not. This week is better. It’s barely above 100 degrees. The heat limits my enjoyment of spending time outside.

I start each morning writing my three pages and then going for a walk. I have to go earlier and earlier to avoid the heat. And my walks are getting shorter, because it doesn’t seem to matter if I walk at 5:30 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. It’s still hot.

So, this morning I decided to get adventurous and do my own mini triathlon. I walked, biked and swam — all within my neighborhood. In reality it was more of a stroll, coast and float. 🙂

But it felt good to be on the bike and get a breeze. I was going to drive to the city pool but didn’t feel like the one-hour round trip drive. So I put on my cap and goggles and swam laps in our backyard pool for the first time. Doing all three things is a great way to start the day.

The downside to my mini triathlon is I got really hungry. I ate too much and am ready for a morning nap!

What are your morning routines like? Do you get stuck in a rut or do you mix it up all the time?

Here’s a fun video of Olive watching quail attack our bedroom slider. The glass is reflective on the outside.

Video of Olive watching the quails through the window.