A Perfect Schedule.

September 1, 2007

This past week has been a little different and has gotten us off our normal routine. Race week was interesting with 160,000 NASCAR fans around, but is now over and our little town is getting back to normal.

Then cousins from Richmond came to town, camping in Aunt Carol’s fifth wheel at the lake.  So we made several trips out there to visit and one day to sightsee with them. This morning we went out to say goodbye and witness the “giving of the quilts”.  My sweet mom and her two equally sweet sisters made these fabric works of art especially for the cousins who were duly surprised and grateful. 

 I am back to working on our project rehab house where the wall paper removal continues to challenge me… but I am winning with only a couple of rooms left to do. 

Yesterday Liza got her new chain saw and Paula Bunyan has been happily felling many small trees that were killed by this Spring’s extreme frost.  There are plenty of trees on this property so the dead ones won’t be missed and will be replaced in the Spring.

Yes, I like having a schedule. Liza’s mom had her own retirement schedule: bathing, coffee, dressing, US TODAY cross word puzzle, breakfast, housework, bill paying or letter writing until it was time for her to prepare the lunch sandwich she would enjoy during “The Young and the Restless”, “As the World Turns” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”, followed by a nap. And so it was, every weekday the same. It seemed to serve her well.

My own mom has a daily routine that I think helps keep her grounded: early rising, grooming, breakfast, projects like quilting, gardening, laundry (she still irons everything) and household chores. Then lunch with her soaps, nap, after which she reads until dinnertime. She reads everything: classics, mystery, romance, historical fiction, you name it. The reading is the reward for her busy and productive mornings. It is her schedule.

What would my perfect schedule be? How could I fit it all in a day? Rehabbing on our project house, reading, writing (which has been reduced to blogging too infrequently), cooking and caring for us, real estate and personal clerical duties, spending time with family and friends, studying and learning, gardening, music, oil painting and other art related activities, traveling…. Trying to find my way and set up a routine that makes me feel happy and productive but not stressed and over-booked. I’m probably not alone in this quest.

But I am grateful for good health and many options. Just sometimes caught myself saying, “I want to do so much but I don’t know what to do next!”

Warm wishes to all.

Tax Prep Made Easy!

February 28, 2007

I know the perfect way to reduce the time, energy and money you spend paying Uncle Sam. Quit all your jobs. I did.

As part of Starting Over, step one was to chuck the 9 to 5 which was more like 24/7 as a experienced and producing real estate agent in a hot market.  Fortunately, this was done prior to the current real estate slump so I’m thinking the Universe had my back on that one.  From my ten years in real estate, I learned about money, investments, rentals, law, land, contracts, and problem solving. I worked with people from all over the world . I became friends with many of them.

From that business I also learned about ambition, greed, corruption, and how intensely one can feel for their clients.  Protecting the first-time-home-buyers with those stars in their eyes was gratifying. Seeing someone cash in an expensive property in favor of a simpler life made me happy. I loved helping people move on to the next exciting stage of their lives and I became witness to much “starting over”.

Step two, let go of a music equipment retail operation.  This was tough because it affected a lot of people besides myself. But it was my part-time gig (my able partner took care of daily operations) as bookkeeper (bill payer) that had become rote and sucked up hours weekly.  After 17 years, we had so much invested. Investments in friendships, associates, and the community were hard to leave. 

Step three: finish up all other part-time income producing projects like the triplex we were renovating on the week-ends in “our spare time”.

Now with out all of this eliminated from your life you will find your tax preparation will be reduced from 3 or 4 long days to a matter of hours.  I don’t mean the actual tax form preparation (that’s done by M. our accountant), I’m just talking about the amount of time it took to round up the contents of that huge box (papers, receipts, daily records, tax statements, inventory sheets, 1099s, bank statements, etc.) that had to be dragged to M’s office by appointment.

Now my tax prep time is quick and easy.  A slim brown mailing envelope contains all the info M. will need to determine our governmental tithe.  This is great. So why am I stalling?  Some things never change! 

Warm wishes until next time.

One Human Family

February 23, 2007

During my Starting Over process I was cleaning out a box from B.D.D. when I ran across a bumper sticker that read:  “Everyone in the world can share the Official Philosophy of Key West, Florida: All People are created equal members of ONE HUMAN FAMILY”.

It occurs to me now that I am not just missing my Dad but am also missing the life I had in Key West for 17 years. By letting go of my professional life, relocating our homes, and suffering a tragic loss – all in a very short time, I fear I have created for myself the perfect storm… but that is not the subject today.

Key West is a tiny island at the end of a chain of islands (Keys) that pushes itself out into the Atlantic Ocean like a plantling stretching for the sun. Only 90 miles from Cuba, Key West is the USA’s only tropical, frost free oasis to which one can drive.

That is exactly what we did in April, 1989.  Our 23′ long U-haul, plus towed Mustang, arrived in Key West carrying us, possessions to meet immediate needs and enough musical equipment to stock the little music store that we intended to open.

We are proud of our work there knowing that we filled a need that afforded us a modest income and passage into a truly amazing community of characters. The people in Key West are as diverse as those colored sprinkles that top your ice cream cone from the local DQ.

But no one there seems to notice.  It is a very live-and-let-live kind of place.  The movie star lives next to the retired or escaping corporate dude, who lives next to the bartender from Sloppy Joe’s, who lives next door to Cuban bakery.  The cheese toast and buche are enjoyed by everyone on the island including the conch on his way to a City job who lives next door to a household of hotel workers from Mexico.

My friend P. is a fifth generation conch who lives in a turn-of-the-century gingerbread eyebrow house and is a perfect example of the excepting nature of the island.  P’s family included a great, great grandfather from China who married an island girl.  Her family has co-existed with the Cuban folks who came in the 60’s (and still come today), with influxes of Irish immigrants, not to mention the eastern block invasion that happened after the cold war passed.  Even before P’s time, her family was exposed to travelers from all over the world including the US military that has occupied the island and still does today.  P. contends it is the island’s diversity that makes it the special place that it is and I agree.

Not too much “keeping up with the Jones” in Key West. Everyone wears shorts and sandals.  Some don’t have to work, and some have 3 jobs.  Some fill their days with artistic escape, volunteering, partying, some work 15 hours a day just so they can live the remaining hours in this magical space.  At the end of the day, all join together at the edges of the island to praise the Universe for producing yet another dependably stunning sunset over the crystal tipped waves of the Gulf of Mexico. 

I miss Key West, but I miss her people more.  I am a better person for having lived in Key West because I embraced and took with me the concept of One Human Family.  I wish I could put this understanding in a pill that the whole world would take.

Changing Gears

February 13, 2007

Sunday was breakfast at Mom’s which is an event one does not want to miss.  This quintessential country breakfast includes huge hot flaky biscuits, Tennessee Pride mild country sausage gravy, bacon, ham, fried eggs and sliced garden red tomatos.

My mother is such a wise and talented woman.  She understands that this loved filled breakfast banquet is not just a tradition about once a month, but is one of the most cherished and grounding ceremonies of her family’s lives.  She knows that breakfast at “meema’s ” will represent a happy childhood memory for the grandchildren and an oasis of restful comfort for the busy adults.  An effort for her at 70, but one would never know it as the meal is presented with confidence and selfless love to her adoring, grateful and always hungry family.  Very high on the love per calorie scale.

Yesterday, Mom and I drove to a little town just north of Bristol called Abingdon.  She needed quilting supplies from Jeanie’s Fabric and I needed to hook up with some kind of art community.  In Abingdon, they have King Arts Center where, I have heard, one could get classes in painting and other fine arts endeavors.

Big sigh.  The arts center was closed.  I really wanted to see the twig furniture exhibit. [I just re-read this last sentence and think… I have given up my professional business life for twig furniture!  I willingly gave up hot careers that were lucrative and challenging. bummer.]

But before I could make it back to the car I was thinking… traded stressful long hours, right brain activities for a quiet day with my mom and the graceful curves of hand hewn wood lovingly constructed by historic craftsmen. Hmmm, happy again.  I’m just having a hard time changing gears.  

Warm wishes for all until next time.

First Exposure

February 11, 2007

Hi everyone! Welcome to my first exposure to blogging. 

 If we define ourselves in terms of how we spend our time, I have been: a college student, a department store buyer, a music store owner, a real estate investor, rehabber and Realtor, and now a want-to-be artist and writer. 

If we describe ouselves in terms of where we have lived, for me that would be the amazing blue hills of East Tennessee or the tropical sanctuary of Key West. I lost count with over a dozen residence changes since college days.

No matter how we define ourselves, whether by address or occupation, it is certain that life is not static and change happens.  Whether we change jobs, move to a new home, suffer some great loss like the death of a family member or friend, retire, start anything new or give up a bad habit, we have all had the feeling of starting from the beginning.  

For me just now, a new life cycle began with the death of my father.  We were close and the past seven months since his passing have been some of the most difficult days of my life.  I can’t help thinking in terms of B.D.D. or A.D.D., which is before Dad’s death or after Dad’s death.  I was a different person B.D.D.  A person that had never experienced the gut wrenching pain of loss. I know for me it represents one of those starting over moments.  Starting over without Dad. 

B.D.D. I could call on my father’s wisdom anytime I wanted, A.D.D. I can only guess how he would advise me.  B.D.D. I thought he would be around forever, A.D.D. I know none of us will be.  It’s a hard pill to swallow.

And now as a card carrying blogger, I wonder about the starting over experiences of others.  Let me know about your starting over experiences. Hope to update often. Thanks for visiting and warm wishes to all.

PS. E-mail me at anitamorrell at aol dot com
Also stop by our Art Blog at dailyart.wordpress.com
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