Friday, May 31, 2013

Introducing the Fluffy Dog

We are both dog lovers and have been blessed to have several wonderful pals in our individual lives.  When Bill and I reconnected in 2008 we each had old dogs who we adored.  Over the last five years we have lost each of them and in November of 2012 found ourselves sadly "dogless".  Not fans of tiny dogs, we were still ready for smaller than the big shepherds who had been members of our families for decades.  As we were already talking about life in an rv, we also liked the idea of non-shedding, or at least "less shedding" dogs.  There are several breeds that met our criteria but I was especially drawn to Labradoodles and Soft-Coated Wheaton Terriers.  While puppies are wonderful and don't come with the baggage of their previous lives, neither of us wanted to buy a puppy when there are so many homeless dogs out there.  My shepherds were rescues and I never regretted bringing them home.  So the search began. 

You just don't find Wheatons in rescues but there are several wonderful "oodle" rescues out there and I started checking daily for a new doggie to join our family.  A friend reminded me that Craigslist also has a dog listing so I started checking there as well.  Close to Thanksgiving there was a 2 year-old labradoodle listed about 50 miles away.  Contact with the owner revealed a family who had to relocate to a home that didn't allow dogs.  They were heartbroken to give her up but wanted to actively find a new home for her rather than take the chance with a rescue.  I was still working and although we tried a couple times, we couldn't coordinate a time to meet.  During this time other people were making arrangements to see the dog and every time they didn't show up.  Two days after the owner's "final day" he got in contact to see if I was still interested.  I didn't hesitate.  My son and I jumped in the car with a leash and blanket and drove the fifty miles. 

Matted coat and sad eyes, with a rope for a leash, we met her.  She was scared at first and whined most of the return trip, but when we got home she was more relaxed and started checking out her new digs.  After a trip to the groomer she had her vet checkup where she got a clean bill of health, confirmation that she is about two years old, and speculation from the vet that Tessa is more likely Wheaton than doodle.  Too funny! 

With few exceptions like an affinity to spread the bathroom trash all over the floor and a couple food snags from the table she has turned out to be the perfect dog. 

I've never had a dog that really "cuddles".  I mean she puts her paws around you and hugs.  She will lie in your lap for hours or race around the house like a dervish - depending on her (and your) mood. 
She has not always been "welcoming" to others entering the house and we had some concerns about everyone being here last weekend.  We had nothing to worry about.  She just seemed to know that everyone was family and special to us.  She loved every single one of them.  I kept telling Bill that when she was gone Monday morning we wouldn't know where she went because every one was saying they were taking her home! 
So that's our fluffy dog Tessa.  I believe it is no accident that those other people didn't go meet her back in November; that her previous owner kept my number.  She was supposed to be with us and we are blessed to have her in our family. 
I can't wait for her to be a part of our travels!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spending Time with Family and Friends.....All at Once!

One important goal for our next two years is making opportunities to be with family and friends. Our travels will certainly include visits to folks we care about but for the most part we will be out there on our own.  There will be long stretches of time and distance between us and those we care about.  So while we are stationary in a sticks and bricks house we want to be better at reaching out and visiting.  Otherwise I suspect we will look back with regret at missed opportunities.

So let's have 40+ of our favorite people over for the weekend!  And take our wedding vows and make food and play music and drink beer (let's do lots of that) and eat cake and talk and laugh and play together!  Wow, what a blast! 

It was so good to see every one and to get caught up with some we haven't seen in way too long.  Just as fun was sharing our plans to be fulltime travelers and to find support (and some envy) from those closest to us.  It's easy to question yourself when you decide to take a leap of faith and change to an alternate life style.  You wonder if people will think you're crazy and send you down a road of doubt with questions you haven't considered..... but nope, none of that from this bunch.  Every one thinks it's a great idea, especially those signing up for the stuff we can't take with us!  And that is great too because where else do you want your precious things to be than with family and friends?!
The weekend also validated the importance of this goal.  There is great value in making the time and space in our lives for people.  We are blessed with wonderful (crazy) family and friends so to miss any chance to be with them is a loss.  I suppose we could have used the weekend event to check off the goal as accomplished, but instead I'm motivated to build on it.
Tomorrow we pick up our supplements to start the medical fast on Friday so this weekend will be the polar opposite of last weekend in the food world......also a good thing!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sometimes Your"self" Is the Biggest Job to Get Done

One major goal before hitting the road to spend long stretches of time away from the conveniences of metropolitan healthcare and rv repair is getting ourselves healthy and fit.  Now neither of us have allergies or asthma or phobias that keep us from doing things.  We are exceptionally healthy when it comes to avoiding the flu, the common cold and generally "being sick".  However we are both far from being "fit" and suffer the health complications that come with being overweight. In addition, Bill needs to have both knees replaced to regain the flexibility and agility necessary to do the hiking we want to do and the rv maintenance we need to do. 

This is one area where that 27-month timeline is closer to "too short" rather than "forever from now".  So with the encouragement of our doctors and the support of Kaiser's weight management program we signed up for a six-month very calorie-restrictive diet and behaviour modification plan.  It began with a group orientation last week that outlined all the damage we are doing to our bodies by being overweight (uh yeah, we live in these bodies....) and the various programs available to get the weight off.  Before we went I already knew, and Bill had reluctantly agreed (because he's no fool) that we would join the strictest full-fast program to kick start our physical transformation.  These are six-month programs and they only do one program at a time so when they announced the first program (not a full fast) didn't start until mid-August I was worried we would have to wait as long or longer for our program.  This would really push Bill's rehab from the knee surgery (on hold until the weight is off) into the far end of our timeline.  The gods were smiling on us though and our program starts May 23!  Just enough time to rush through some lab work earlier this week, meet with the program doctor, and start the first week of the fast after our wedding reception (more on that later).  It was great news and is always validating to have our plans come together so perfectly!

We both know how important this "job" is to the success of all the others we need to complete. It will be miserable and difficult and satisfying and uncomfortable and exhilarating all at the same time.  We will question our sanity at thinking we could really do it, and look for excuses to get out of it, and at least once will believe we can get the same results on our own - hopefully not at the same time!  Which is one reason that doing it together is the best way.  One of us will drag the other kicking and screaming through the week, and then we'll switch the following week.  But we will succeed on this big job and at the end of November we will be truly thankful to be right on track to reaching our goals!

Here's to a healthier us!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

27 Months Isn't Really That Long...... just seems like it today.  Today being the first day of capturing our pre-journey-journey on "paper".  After dreaming and imagining - and buying that non-winning Powerball ticket - Bill and I have committed to living on the road full-time before the end of Summer 2015.  This includes living a focused life for the next two years: enjoying life at home while spending as much time as possible with family and friends, improving the resale value of the property, paying off those final couple of bills, adding to our savings, getting healthy and fit, selling the house, purchasing a motorhome, Bill retiring, and taking all necessary steps to realize our goal.  When we look at being successful in all of these areas, 27 months seems about right!  Some of it will be really fun - like working on the house and buying that motorhome.  Some of it - like getting in shape and selling the house - maybe not so much.  But I am confident that all of it, fun and not, will be worth it when we hit the road. 

This blog will track our efforts, successes and set-backs, and perhaps even be useful to other couples who have similar plans in the future.  There are already several great full- timer blogs out there that I follow enviously every week.  They motivate me to work on the dream, to know that it is very do-able for us, and to document our own journey-to-get-to-the-journey. 

In July of last year I decided to make December 31, 2012, my last day of work.  There were several factors that led to that decision, some were economic, some were familial, and all told me it was time to be done with the job.  After 26 years with the same organization it was a significant life change.  Bill was comfortable with my early retirement and even figured he could tolerate having me home every day!  Once the decision was made, I thought those six months would drag by.  Instead they were gone in that well-known flash!  There were several steps to take for retirement and I was glad I had more than a couple months .  Other important dates and events during that time  were a blur, and boom! it was Christmas, my office was packed up, and everything was ready for my replacement. 

Not once have I regretted early retirement.  I don't miss the work, the travel or "being part of something big and important". I can meet all of my financial obligations. I am never bored and wonder daily at how others struggle keeping busy in retirement!  I enjoy every day and love the freedom of no schedule. For all of these reasons I am confident that I made the right decision. 

That confidence is part of my foundation for this next big life change.  The other part is Bill's enthusiasm for the whole idea.  Together we will do what it takes while we   celebrate the easy steps and survive the challenges.  Sharing this adventure with him makes it even more exciting.  We will also be sharing the road with our fluffy dog Tessa but she won't have much to contribute during the preparation period.  Still, I'm sure she will show up in these pages over the next two years.

And so we begin.......