Adding to my routine

City of Palm Springs Aquatic Center
I miss our beautiful Palm Springs city pool.

For one week, I’ve gotten in the pool each day to kick. Tuesday I went back to the Y for the first time in months and lap swam.

Why did I stop with the lap swimming? Mostly it was the weather. Summer in the Arizona desert is cloudy with daily thunderstorms and lightening. Not ideal outdoor swimming weather.

If it’s not storming it’s brilliant intense sunshine which I tend to avoid. Before I knew it, I was out of the lap swimming habit.

I’ve been following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for years. At least most of her routine of morning pages, prayer and daily walks. The thing I’ve been missing is the “artist’s date.”

My excuse before was COVID shutdowns.

Now I have no excuse. The artist date is to go out — alone — and experience something to feed your muse. Cameron’s suggestions are looking in antique and fabric stores, go anywhere that will fill your senses and spark your creativity.

I’m going to try a once-a-week date with myself. I’ve added two days of lap swimming, and three days of kicking — now an artist’s date. I think that’s quite enough for now!

What is your morning or daily routine? What would you like to add to it?

When you wake up happy

Looking out the sliding glass door to the back yard.

For some unknown reason, I woke up feeling very happy. It’s not unusual for me to be in a good mood, but today I feel exceptionally hopeful. I can’t stop smiling.

I’m trying to figure out what makes today different.

• I checked the temperature on my phone and it was in the low 70s. A perfect day for a walk.

• It’s bright and sunny after a few days of dark gray clouds.

• I went to sleep early and slept through the night.

• I have an entire day without a “to do list.”

• I’ve recently spent time with friends and had visits with my kids.

• I’m backing up my files on my new laptop — which by the way — doesn’t mysteriously delete my work.

• I had my home-baked banana nut bread with coffee for breakfast. Maybe it’s the sugar in the banana bread. The recipe is from my mom’s old orange Betty Crocker cookbook. It reminds me of my childhood.

• My rewrite of my manuscript is going well. I’ve decided to tell the story from the four main characters’ points of view rather than from one.

• I’m reading an enjoyable book called “The Optimist’s Daughter” by Eudora Welty.

What little things make you feel positive and encouraged for the day?

One of my favorite spots in the house. I love to sit at the table and look outside. We moved the table and chairs from Palm Springs. It was our kitchen/dining room table for 28 years and continues on in Arizona.

Is it safe?

Princesa condo resort view from patio
View from our patio where I spent hours reading.

I’m trying to get my head out of Mexico and a relaxing three-day weekend, back into the real world of everyday life.

Several of my friends were worried when they heard we were driving to Mexico. I had been afraid for more than a year. I was too afraid to go. Finally, I talked to people who have gone there and they assured us it was safe.

Sandy Beach condo view of Rocky Point
Sandy Beach (where the condos are located) looks across the bay to downtown.

The drive is very easy — once you get off Interstate 10 and the crazy Phoenix traffic. It’s a straight shot down a two-lane highway to the border. It’s such an easy drive that I take over in Gila Bend to Ajo and Why — all the way to the Visitor’s Center at the Organ Pipes Cactus National Monument. (Ajo and Why are two tiny American towns.)

The beach resort is one hour from the border on a road exactly like on our side of the border. The only difficult part is what I call the gauntlet. Once you cross the border you have about 300 meters of mutilated beggars, squeegee guys and tamale and tortilla hawkers. They surround your car and we nod our head “no thank you” repeatedly. It’s really a depressing view to enter and depart Mexico. It’s a gut wrenching contrast to our life in the states.

beach walk on Sandy Beach.
My husband during one of our many beach walks.

Once through the gauntlet, it’s smooth sailing. They love tourists. The resorts are 50/50 Americans and Mexican families. There are security guards and police at every resort and throughout the town.

We took beach walks, collected shells, and I read tons. Then we worried about where to go for dinner. That was it. I really got into a relaxed frame of mind.

Where is your favorite place to relax? What do you like to do during a weekend getaway?

A bit of sadness

Century plant
I’ve been waiting to see this Century plant in bloom. This photo was taken two weeks ago.
Fast growing Century Plant.
Still waiting for the blossoms….Look how much it grew. This photo was taken a couple days ago. My husband said he thought he could watch it growing taller right before his eyes.

I’m enjoying the blossoms on cactus, but they are very short lived. One day there are furious blooms and the next day, they’ve expired.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the neighbor’s Century plant and wanted to make sure I wouldn’t miss the flowers.

blossoms on cactus
Look at the gorgeous blossoms on this hedgehog cactus. Tomorrow they’ll be gone.

You can imagine how sad we felt when we went on our morning walk today and saw this:

Fallen Century Plant before it bloomed
We will never get to enjoy the blooms. We felt like we lost a friend. It also reminded me of our saguaros we lost.

An attitude of gratitude

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

After my free one-week trial, I decided to join the local YMCA. I made my reservations for a lane for three days this week and I felt obligated to go. It’s a quick drive from home, so even if I’m not feeling it, at least I get there and jump in.

I am sleeping soundly thanks to swimming — and being off prednisone. The combination of the two is amazing.

I’m feeling grateful for many things today:

Warm weather and no wind.

Sitting in the back yard reading my book club selection “The Old Man and the Sea.”

My cat who is strangely affectionate this week.

My husband for playing daily ping pong with me. Yesterday I won three zip.

Being off prednisone and the tinnitus is gone. I’m no longer crawling out of my skin from the medication.

For new friends and I’m grateful for the old ones who have reconnected.

Cooking on our gas range. We got rid of the electric stove top.

Every day I’m amazed by the beauty of nature around me.

Im grateful for my new readers and bloggers who are friends and make up a supportive community.

What are you grateful for today?

Morning views from the neighborhood

Sunrise filtered through the branches of an Ironwood tree.
Sunrise view from the casita.

It takes a trip out of state to an entirely different environment for me to appreciate the beauty of my desert. I get used to it and lose some appreciation, but a trip away wakes up my senses. As I walked this morning around our neighborhood I was struck by the views of cactus, mountains and shrubbery. I like it out here. I’d like to see more some wildlife, too.

Mountain north of Scottsdale.
The mountain to the north. I think it’s called Black Mountain. I’m working on learning the names.
teddy bear cholla.
Teddy bear cholla with the sun peaking through clouds.
Cloudy sky in the desert.
Clouds. We should have an amazing sunset tonight.
saguaro with arms
A neighbor’s saguaro. We have lots of saguaro but only one has an arm.
A wash in the Sonoran Desert.
One of the things I love best about our neighborhood is all the open natural space.

What are some of the things you like best about where you live?

I’m not feeling it

cactus with bird's nest
This cactus is fascinating to us. Right in the middle of it is a bird’s nest. How safe must they be!

Everyone is writing about their goals, their resolutions and how motivated they are for a new year. I’m not feeling it at all. I’m finding it difficult to get out of bed and to get outside for my daily walk. I’m feeling sad. This weekend I’m flying to help my son post his second surgery in six months. My daughter is angry with me. I said something to her that I wish I could take back, but I can’t. I can only apologize.

It’s not an auspicious beginning to a new year. Maybe I’m feeling a let down after our big Christmas vacation that we had planned for a year. Or, maybe it’s too cold outside. Maybe I’m still grieving the deaths of two friends. Or, maybe I worry too much about my kids. Neither my son or daughter is in a great place right now and it hurts my heart.

nest buried deep within a cactus.
Can you spot the nest in the cactus? I’d like a nest like that where everyone would leave me alone.

Sorry to be so negative. I’m mostly a glass half full person, but like I said — I’m not feeling it. I think I need to get out my gratitude journal and get to work.

What do you do when you feel blue? Are you able to snap out of it? Any helpful hints would be appreciated.