Friday, March 23, 2012

Empty Rooms

Well, here it is. The new {tiny} apartment. Seven hundred and twenty-five square feet. I honestly don't know how I'm going to get my whole life in there.

In the above photo I'm standing against one wall. To my right is the front door. To the left are two doorways. The one you can see is the kitchen. The other one, closer to me that you can't see, is the hallway to the rest of the apartment.


Here's the kitchen.
Here's the hallway. Closet to the right, bathroom to the left, one bedroom straight ahead. The other bedroom is to the right of the one you can see into.
Bathroom.

The balcony off the master bedroom.
I keep thinking about all the stuff I have. Stuff I haven't thought about in five months, but now I'm thinking about. There is A LOT of stuff in storage, and a lot of it is stuff I'll want to keep. Clothes for the boys to grow into, holiday decorations, bikes. I'm not concerned about all my knick-knacks, kitchen stuff, etc. That stuff I'll unpack and use or unpack and then pack back up and get rid of. But the stuff I'll need to store for those few times I'll need it? I'm afraid I just won't have the room. That's what's worrying me right now.

But if this starting over in life has taught me one thing, it's this: one step at a time. Try not to look too far ahead. You can't. Just take things as they come and don't stress about the future. It will work itself out eventually.

I had an acquaintance once that kept saying, "Things will work out." And then one time he clarified, "You know, I don't keep telling you that just because it's true. I keep saying it so that eventually you can say it to yourself."

He was right. It took five months. It meant moving back in with my parents for over half a year. It took working menial jobs that I hated for menial pay, each time quitting when something better came along. It meant, in faith, putting a deposit down on an apartment that I didn't know how I was going to pay for.

But now I'm moving into that apartment, and in the school district where I want my boys to go to school. I've gotten a teaching job, so even though things are tight, I can survive on what I'm making. I've gotten hooked into two amazing communities - my work and climbing communities - and am making some good friends through them. Things in my life are very, very bright. So now I just need to remember that on this next step of the journey.

The apartment may be small, but there are places that are tinier. Just this morning I read an article about a woman living in 400 square feet.

The apartment may be small, but that will force me to be more creative, more organized, and more selective.

The apartment may be small, but it's just a box for my stuff anyway. And I want to live outside the box. If all I need is a place to sleep, cook, and wash, well, then I'm set. Who cares if it doesn't hold everything? Maybe that means I have too much *stuff.* Maybe it's time to purge. Maybe it's time to free myself. Not from the stuff itself, but from the desire to hold on to all the stuff.

Yeah. It sounds nice and poetic and idealistic. Reality may be a little more brutal.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Climbing Outdoors


I have been rock climbing for probably around three years. I don't know the date exactly, although I should. Women tend to remember all the details about when they fell in love, don't they? The thing I remember most about my first climb was thinking to myself, "Oh, there I am!" Something about climbing just made me feel more complete, more like me. Like a puzzle piece of my life had been missing, but I didn't know it until it was fitted into place.


But I need to point out that all three(ish) of those years have been indoors. A guy I know, who used to climb, liked to point out that what I was doing wasn't real climbing. I couldn't understand how he could say that. I could conquer practically any route (under 5.11) set in front of me! My arms actually had muscles that rose instead of fell! Ah, how little I knew of real rock climbing. As he so eloquently described "real" climbing: "It's climbing plus f-n nature."

He was right.



I started outdoor rock climbing on February 25th. I have been six or seven times in the three weeks since then. Granite, limestone, sandstone. Top roping, lead climbing, bouldering (well, if you include the bouldering, then I've been outside a dozen or more times, but bouldering is definitely not the same as climbing).

And I don't think I'll ever enjoy the gym again.



That first time, on February 25th, a group of 20+ of us drove a couple hours to just outside the city of Boulder to climb. I drove up with a guy named Tim who quickly became my most frequent climbing partner. In fact, other than the bouldering, every time I've gone it's been with him. He is the nicest, most patient, encouraging guy (he's always telling everyone how well I "read the rock" for only have been doing this for three weeks. Slight ego boost thankyouverymuch).

We climbed yesterday after work in the Garden (all hail daylight savings!) and I did my first multi-pitch climb (sort of. It was just longer than one, and only one rap down). On our last route we ran into a guy named Bruce and invited him to grab a bite to eat with us afterward. Over pina coladas we talked climbing - both routes and history (Bruce was surprised how much I knew about climbing history. A guy who's been climbing for longer than I've been alive, he was present in Yosemite when the "pot plane" went down), travels (all three of us have been to the pyramids in Giza. Bruce and I ignored the "no climbing" signs),
(Yes, I know my pants are so stylish. I have an excuse. It was 1996.)

and how much our love for climbing affects everything else we do (I don't do much other than work, climb, and hang with my kids anymore). I commented that other than my kids, climbing is really the only thing that matters to me right now. That any future significant other in my life will have to love climbing. I wouldn't even want to introduce someone to it. It would have to already be part of who they are. Because I wouldn't want someone a few months or a year down the road to say, "Well, maybe this isn't really for me." Ugh. And Bruce looks at me with a combination of surprise, understanding, and wistfulness and says, "Where were you 25 years ago?"

Heh heh.

It's a wonderful life, this outdoor life. I'll never look back.


Lesson Learned: It's all uphill from here. Or, more appropriately, up rock. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Living Outside the Box

It has been a long, long time since I posted on this blog. When I started it in November of 2010, my goal was to post once a day for a year, until my 40th birthday in October of 2011. Then in the spring of last year my life drastically changed direction and the blog took a very back seat, as some things are wont to do when priorities shift.

Since my last post I have moved to a new state, started working for the first time in ten years, and moved in with my parents. It's been five months now, and it's about time to move out, but the learning and growing that's gone on in the last five months has been~

Enlightening.
Incredible.
Invaluable.
Freeing.

This originated as a blog where, for the most part, I showcased things I'd made. Recipes, woodwork, re-purposing things I'd found at thrift stores, home decor, photographs I'd taken, etc. But moving into one room of your parents' house has a way of shifting the way you look at things. What I've learned about material possessions is how they muddle life up. They begin to own you instead of you owning them. They distract you from so many other things because you have to take care of them, protect them, clean them, and worry about them. I've spent the last five months quite content with only three "big" necessities: my clothes, my hiking and climbing gear, and a library card. Although in the last month or so some of my craft stuff - knitting supplies, paint, canvases, wood - has made it out of storage as well, as my need to be creative finally emerged and needed to be satiated.

But I have done most of my living outside of the "box" that is my room, or that was my house. Much of my free time has found me hiking or climbing in the mountains of my native Colorado.

(This was me yesterday).

My desire to head to thrift stores - which was something I did once or twice a week for years - has been non-existent since I moved, as has my desire to decorate or shop. My life is no longer lived mostly inside four walls - now I'm happiest when the walls that surround me are the mountains or cliffs that rise to hail the sky.

That being said, here's the addendum.

In ten days I will start the gradual process of moving out of my parents' house into an apartment. I've signed a 12-month lease, so it will be home for quite some time. There is certainly going to be a fair amount of setting up house/decorating going on. And I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to having my kitchen set up again, pulling out a few items I've really missed (like my Indian mirror), and excited beyond belief about the potential of the little patio off my bedroom.

I didn't plan to blog about it. Didn't plan to do anything more with this blog other than let it sit here and be archives. But then my friend Kim emailed me this past week: "Congrats on the new space, and bigger congrats on beginning your new life. And it will be TOTALLY interesting to see what you do with a new space. I'd love it if you'd document the journey in pictures so I can eventually blog it. So many of us can identify with starting over - I think figuring out how you'll decorate is one of those big questions that will be thoroughly interesting to answer on a practical (and emotional) level. As far as the decorating, it SHOULD happen slowly. You're in a phase of healing and adjustment -- I think there will be real joy in the process of discovering yourself via your d├ęcor."

It was then I realized I'd been itching for a personal outlet anyway. I have a family blog, but I post mostly about my kids on that one. I need one for me. So I'm going to change directions just a slight bit and blog here about this part of my journey. But this time there will be no internal pressure to post. It will happen when it happens. There will be more about my life than just my living space. I assume some posts will be a bit more contemplative than in the past. There will certainly be posts about life "inside the box," but because life "outside the box" is now a much bigger part of who I am and how I spend my time there is plenty to be said about that, too.

So here I go again. Come along if you want. I do enjoy company.