leave no trace

As someone who has thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors since childhood, it’s no surprise that I get involved in a lot of hobbies that take me into nature… Mountain biking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing, off roading with my Jeep…I follow all sorts of individuals involved in these hobbies on Instagram, but not so much on Facebook.  However,  In the past few months I have mingled into a few different Facebook groups for Jeepers.  I have meet a lot of individuals from the local club and a club out of Chicago; I’ve enjoyed outings with both groups and made some new friends.

All of this is great and some of the advise is wonderful, but with the good comes the bad.  Most of it, trivial dumb stuff, whatever keep scrolling.  However lately there has been one that just urks me.  Tearing up trails.  So this is where I climb on my soap box and start a verbal vomit of a rant.


Mountain bikers, hikers and campers all thoroughly believe in leave no trace.  Not just pick up your own garbage, but don’t tear the area up.  Most mountain bikers believe if the trail is too soggy, you don’t ride.  Yes a little mud is fun, but if you are leaving serious imprints of your tires or digging up the trail, you are doing harm.  It can change the drainage, then causing harm by speeding up erosion. In fact a quick google and you can find all kinds of articles about mountain bikers and not not riding in “soggy” conditions.

I know personally, that the Michigan Mountain Bikers Association actually does go out and conduct trail maintenance, usually the beginning of the season (late winter/early spring).  However, when people are careless and tear up a trail, do you think they come behind you and fix it?  No.  Well the same goes for off roading.  When you bury multiple rigs in a two track trail, who do you think comes behind you and fixes this?  Because I seriously doubt the ones who tore it up are.

Damaging a trail, in the sense that I am talking about only speeds up erosion and damages the ecosystem.  Which then can spiral into a whole mess of problems.  Do you ever wonder why the forest cops are such assholes at times?  Did you ever stop to think that they came upon the mess you created with zero regard for those that might come behind you?  With zero regard for generations to come that might want to enjoy the same beauty of the outdoors that we are enjoying today?  No.  Your selfish self was caught up in the crowd mentality.

A 2013 article from MLive about illegal or rouge ORV riding:
Playing rough: Illegal ORV use overwhelms law enforcement and restoration efforts

“We put things up and they get torn down,” said Diane Walker, assistant ranger for the forest’s Baldwin ranger district. “They have this beautiful national forest outside their doors and I don’t know why people think it’s OK to go outside and tear it up.”

Tear it up, indeed. I visited recently with forest staff and toured one of the more extreme ORV damage areas in the southern part of the forest. It’s near the Cedar Creek Motorsports Area, a designated 24-mile single-track trail for quads, motorcycles and smaller ORVs.

The vandalism and landscape damage was not on the ORV trail. It was on areas adjacent to the trail. Cedar Creek is the southern-most trail in the forest, the closest for riders from Indiana, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and other areas.

Riders have been going off-trail and created a web of illegal trails, deeply eroded hill climbs and denuded valleys where entire forest bowls have scrubbed of vegetation by spinning wheels, and left as barren sand.

I am rarely speechless about these kinds of things. And that wasn’t the case this day, but I was astounded by the extent of the damage and found myself resorting to simple, one syllable exclamations under my breath.

What a disappointment.

In 2013, “The Baldwin Ranger district now spends $50,000 to 75,000 on average each year to fix ORV damaged areas, using its own money and state grants.”  50 to 75K a year!! To fix the damage caused by people being assholes!  Seriously, for what a handful of laughs about how bad you tore up the trail and a few Facebook or Instagram pictures?  Wow.  …and this article mainly only talks about those who go off trail.

I find it funny.  Mountain bikers get annoyed at hikers on their trail, ‘hiking’ in the wrong directions -yes, there is a directions, you always hike against the riders and you yield the damn right of way to the riders.  Hikers might get annoyed at less considerate riders for tearing up a trail, it does happen.  However it seems this impact is far less than what I have seen in the off-roading community in just the past few short months of summer.  Plus multiple studies have shown that hikers and mountain bikers do the same amount of ‘damage,’ which pales in comparison to equestrian riders.  Really didn’t expect that, but makes sense.

Anyway . . .

No one likes to come up on this beautiful forest area only to find the ground has been absolutely trashed by a handful of gearheads with no regard for anyone else using the area.  In fact it makes me extremely sad to see the recent sputs of posts on social media basically boasting about how bad they got stuck, not just one rig…that is going to happen; but in the posts (yes there was multiple from the same trip) it appears every driver got stuck.

This tells me two things, 1. No one recon’ed the trail to see if it was a good idea and if you did you’re an asshole who didn’t care about the damage you did.  2. The entire group was a handful of immature and non-caring drivers.

Now yes, there are going to be times and plenty of trail rides that trail damage is unavoidable.  It happens.  However, if everyone in your party is getting stuck in multiple locations, and absolutely obliterating the trail leaving track marks deep enough that a quad wouldn’t even consider that route… Well.  Your group qualifies as the ones I’m ranting about…frankly if this offends you, it probably means you are guilty of this….then I’m definitely talking about you.

People, there are off road parks, controlled areas specifically designed for this.  Take your rig there, stop being a tight wad with your pocket book and go to Badlands or such places like that.  Or simply wait until the trail isn’t so soggy.

 

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles
  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
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a life to love

United States Strongman Nationals is next weekend in Detroit…. It’s been over a year since I competed.  Some days I’m ok with this, other days I miss it; but the being ok outweighs the missing.

Two weeks before last year’s Nationals, I wrote a blog after swapping out the license plate bracket on my Jeep. time to start doing the things I talked about the nerves leading up to last year’s competition, I talked how I was ready mentally for a break from training… what I didn’t realize at the time, how desperately my body needed the break too.  But most of all I talked about how I didn’t want to spend my summer just training for another competition, I didn’t want to, what felt like, waste my summer and miss out on the few short warm summer months of Michigan, only training.

Last year my Valkyrie sister Brandi took some time off and headed out with her “man-friend” (I freakin LOVE that term) to Montana for some amazing camping.  I cannot even begin to describe how jealous I am.  That is something I have always wanted to do but just kept saying, someday.  Well.  Enough with this someday shit.

I am very happy to say, a little over a year after this blog was written, I have gone hiking countless times, camping in several different locations in lower Michigan -I have yet to make it to the Upper Peninsula (that’s on this year’s plans).  I have been indoor rock climbing; off-roading at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, run other muddy off-road trails.  Traveled to Louisiana to spend my birthday….  I went snowshoeing! Even though our winter wasn’t nearly what they usually are, I still managed to get out at least once.

 

In the not so distant past, too many times I’ve said some day, I’m gonna do this or go here…. last year I definitely decided enough of that. Enough of living my weekdays counting down till the weekend only to really do nothing more than house work and grocery shopping.Literally, wasting the days, weeks, months and years away.  Or at least that’s how I saw that mentality.  While my life has been no where near boring; I’ve always told myself, my best days are not in the past, my best days are right now and tomorrow. While I haven’t been out traveling the world, I’ve been exploring my local state in all four seasons. I’ve shared pictures on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve written short blogs on some of the adventures and my feelings.

Thursday evening, my boyfriend says to me: looking at your photos and your sister Ellie’s photos, I realize aside from deployments, I haven’t had the adventurous life that you two are living….and I want us to have that together.  I cannot even express how this made my heart absolutely SORE!!

Immediately after, I called my sister to share my excitement. She laughed but with almost as much excitement. See, Ellie and I are planning a backpacking trip. There’s no exact date yet due to all the things you on with both our jobs, and that’s ok. She recently started dating a fellow adventurer and I’m super stoked for her. But just the idea of being able to plan adventures….I’m literally beaming all over again.

Also in the past year, even more so in the past month, I’ve become determined not to be so mechanically illiterate… While, I have learned I am leaps and bounds ahead of your average woman my age, I still feel rather lost once I pop the hood on my Jeep and start looking at the engine.

So last weekend, I changed my headlights and fog lights -upgrading them from factory to LEDs.  Then my neighbor and I cut the ends of my stock JKU bumper, yesterday we secured the new stubby a little better and removed the plastic aesthetic “skid plate.”  We also got an overhead counsel smittybilt MOLLIE system installed (which I am seriously in love with this thing); I also changed the hood lettering from Rubicon to Lady Jaye.  There is a handful of other small things that was accomplished; but over all I am quiet proud of myself.  My neighbor is teaching me with hands on lessons how to tool my own Jeep which I am absolutely ecstatic!  In fact last night I sent the boyfriend a text:

me: It’s 250 on a Saturday night and I’m reading about catalytic converters.  This started because my check engine light is on.  Code came back for on the of the o2 sensors.  I had no idea there was 2.  There’s an up and down stream, I actually know the difference and which banks.  You’re probably laughing right now.  But it’s clicking, all these little things.  So I need to change one of my sensors and I’m watching a YouTube video on it…

him:  O2 sensors are easy to do

me: Well.  I’m gonna be changing one and finding out

him: lol, I love you

As minor as this exchange may seem to some, I am very proud of expanding my knowledge.  For the most part I still feel like an idiot when I pop the hood and began looking at everything, I still feel overwhelmed, however I know that I am no longer totally lost anymore.  God bless the ability to YouTube pretty much anything, and Google everything.

 

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortagages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I yeah I won’t grow up

Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will
Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled
Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what’s so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
Look I’m meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I yeah I won’t grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

And if all you ever do with your life
Is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights
That you waste wondering when you’re gonna die

Now I’ll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin
Now I’ll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all yeah I won’t grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

-Frank Turner
Photosynthesis

My beautiful doorless Lady Jaye is sitting in the garage, just waiting for me…. Yea, this morning is doing the adulting things, like going to get groceries.  But just because were adults doesn’t mean we have to be boring; living an unfulfilling life.  I also still have no interest in talking mortgages or pension plans.

Silver Lake Jeep weekend

Back in December, a friend of mine hits me and another Jeep gal up and says his Jeep club is looking at going to Silver Lake Sand Dunes the first weekend of June for the Jeep Invasion.  I remember thinking, wow, we’re talking six months out…planning a Jeep/camping weekend that far out seems a bit excessive.  I didn’t realize that in the end there would be over 800 Jeeps at this invasion.

Silver Lake Sand Dunes is between Muskegon and Ludington, Michigan; about two and a half hours, maybe three, up the Lake Michigan coast line.

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Randomly over the next 6 months we would discuss a few things, who was bringing what for camping.  Splitting the cost of the campsite.  Who need Dunes flags and all the random things that go into planning any kind of small group trip.  I didn’t fully realize the extensive work that my buddy “D” or Dimitri was putting into bringing his club up.

A quick side note….. You can see more of D’s club here: Windy City Jeep Force Which, I’m gonna brag a hot minute on D’s crew.  I seriously could not have had a better time with this rag-tag band of awesome-saused group.  Everyone was very welcoming, and the longer Jackie and I were around them the better things got.  I highly recommend if you are in their area and get a chance to do meet n’ greet or hit a trail with ’em, DO IT.

The week arrived and text messages back and forth were regular as excitement built until Friday morning arrived and my boys were dropped off at the vet for boarding.  My friend Jacki and D were already on the road; Jackie solo because she was driving up from Detroit.  D was in a convoy of 50 some Jeeps coming out of the greater Chicago area, and their final pit stop before heading to camp in Mears, Michigan, was where Jackie and I were planning on jumping in.

Then it was off to set up our camp sites and head to registration, frankly that part could have been skipped.  We stood in a forever and a day line, to get a frisbee and a koozie.  Actually, it was to register your Jeep for voting, which if I would have known, I would of skipped.  There was some amazing rigs there, but Lady Jaye is no where near me dropping that much money into her.  Which I have mass respect for those that put that kind of work into their Jeeps.  It is truly an art form.

 

 

The next morning consist of a hangover, campfire coffee with bacon and eggs and some badass company.  Before dropping tire pressure and 50 Jeeps being organized to roll out to the Dunes.  Which ended up being in at least two different groups.  The first group wanted to do the parade through town, the group Jackie and I stayed with, skipped the parade and went straight for the Dunes.  In truth, this meant we got to attempt to sleep in a little longer -which, with as late as we were up enjoying adult beverages and fellow Jeepers company, the sleeping in was a bit more important.

 

 

Once out at the Dunes, the line up of Windy City Jeeps sat for maybe 5 minutes before the first Jeep attempted the “test hill.”  Watching the first Jeep just narrowly miss getting over the crest of the hill, I looked at the Jeep to my right, our neighbor at the campsite.  She chuckled, looked down at her FitBit watch and said, “I’m just sitting here looking at this hill and my heartbeat is at 120!” That pretty much summed up how everyone was feeling, excitement and mass amounts of adrenaline.

I was riding shotgun to Wampa, Jackie’s rig; we ended up moving down 3 hills before Jackie got a LOOK on her face and a gleem in here eye.  Yep, this means we’re taking it on! And Wampa did an awesome job gliding right up, both of us hooted and hollered in the rush of cresting the hill.  The second hill was very similar…however the third hill would put Jackie into Windy City lore…. I believe I can fly

 

Don’t worry, Wampa is fine.  She was checked over on site and continued on for an hour or two before hitting a few “puddles.”  Which anyone who has been on the Dunes knows those puddles can be deceiving and the general rule… don’t drive where you can’t see the bottom, or you haven’t seen another Jeep go.  Well, Wampa got a little deep and we had to pull drain plugs.  However, the running joke was renaming her sWampa.  “I’m watching Wampa get a little deep and then OH SHIT….brakes!! She rolls out and no joke, I’m just waiting for fish to come flopping out of all that water”

After getting Wampa safely back to camp, it was time for a late lunch; where Jackie and I learned D, who had never camped before, makes for one hell of a campfire cook.  Washed down with lazy hammocks in a perfect summer Saturday and lots of laughter.

 

 

Saturday late afternoon was set for a local trail ride… The pictures don’t even do it justice, largely because it was growing dark as we were finishing the trail.

 

Sunday morning was set for more Dunes and then the Jeep Blessing, which more than a few of us skipped.  Opting instead for a lazy campfire breakfast…which was quiet the feast thanks to D.  Slowly breaking down camp and packing up, before heading to air tires back up and take our time saying good bye and heading back to the real world…. Ya know what, more like heading back to the average normal adult world.  Because this is my real world, this is my real life.

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It was sad to see the weekend come to an end, but driving home a mud caked Lady Jaye had me in the best of spirits.  I even drove her to work, which we all know that first day back after a great weekend can be a little rough.  My Monday was no exception, hit with the reality of work and being an adult again, however when I walked outta work at 5pm and I hit the road in that glorious muddy girl…. Yea, being an adult isn’t always so bad.

 

another birthday approaches

As my birthday draws closer, I am fully embracing the blessing of growing another year older, another laugh line around my smile or my eyes. I am also doing some last minute cleaning and then packing, because zero-dark-thirty tomorrow morning, I fly out to actually spend my birthday on vacation.  While I am dreading boarding my dogs this trip, it is just not possible to take them with me.  I haven’t taken an actual vacation and gone anywhere in years… It’s time to change that.  It’s time to take more than just a long weekend.

I’ve been under a considerable amount of stress at work, which has just shy of driven me through the roof.  But yesterday, I joked with a coworker how one of the greatest feelings was turning on the email auto-respond that you are out of the office.  Before leaving for the day, I told both my supervisors I would be turn OFF my work phone and only checking it before flying home, maybe.  My immediate supervisor laughed and said, good you need to enjoy your time in Louisiana.  I plan to.

So today, I’m cleaning and packing and listening to my feel-good playlist on Spotify and Rod Stewart comes on….

May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam.
And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home.
And my you grow to be proud, dignified and true.
And do unto others as you’d have done to you.
Be courageous and be brave.
And in my heart you’ll always stay

Forever young. (Forever young)
Forever young. (Forever young)

When I was a child, this song use to come on VH1 or the radio, my dad would turn the volume on the tv/radio up and sing along.  Most the time it would also involve him scooping me into his arms and dancing around our family room.  Just thinking about this dear and happy memory brings happy tears to my eyes.  I’m a daddy’s girl in every sense of the word.

When I called my dad from a deployment to tell I had gotten married (like a dumbass kid), he pretended to be happy for me.  I found out later he called one of my closest buddies and was at the bar drinking by 10am.

When I moved from North Carolina to Illinois, my dad flew down from Michigan to help pack up the moving truck.  When I moved from Illinois to Arkansas, my dad came.  From Arkansas to Connecticut, again my dad came to pack me up…

I could call my dad any time of the night or day and he’s never too busy.  He might initially say he is in the middle of something, I try not to be selfish unless I just need my dad; but he always sets aside what he is doing to talk to me.  I am daddy’s girl in every bit the definition of the saying.

May good fortune be with you, may your guiding light be strong,
Build a stairway to heaven with a prince or a vagabond.
And may you never love in vain.
And in my heart you will remain

Forever young. (Forever young)
Forever young. (Forever young)
Forever young. Forever young

Daddy, I love you.  You and momma did an amazing job, no we didn’t always have everything we wanted and no kid should; but we always had want we needed.  Most of all we had each other.  I know both you and momma worried that when we grew up, we’d grow apart -your four children.  I am so happy to say, your fears never came to pass.  My siblings and I are close as any friends, no matter the miles or in some years, the oceans that separate us.

And when you fin’lly fly away, I’ll be hoping that I served you well.
For all the wisdom of a lifetime, no one can ever tell.
But whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you win or lose,

Forever young. (Forever young)
Forever young. (Forever young)
Forever young. Forever young
For forever young

I know you brag about all your children.  Any time we talk, you have some new stories about who you were bragging to, about how your children grew up…how we were holy terrors, but ohhhh the adults we became.  You constantly tell me how proud you are of the path I have taken in life.  Daddy, I never would have made it as far as I have without the guidance and love you and momma showed.  I’m turning 38 in just a few short days, but I know you still see me as an 8 year old girl, running around the house on Mindanao, dancing with you or swimming in the pool you couldn’t keep me out of.  I hope you never loose that vision of me.

Daddy, so much has changed in the past few months.  I know it’s been a couple of rough years.  Thank you for always sticking by me, no matter what, no matter how far, no matter how mad or full of anger I was.  Daddy, I promise things are changing again.  Even Elya said it the other day or week, on the phone…I think it was two weeks ago.  The changes that she hears in me and in my heart, it’s a beautiful thing.

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forever your little girl

Zombie Jesus day

Let me start by saying I do not celebrate Easter, Passover, Yom Kippur, or any other of these types…hell I don’t even celebrate Christmas, I think proof of that is the fact that I spent it solo snowshoeing.


To me, today is just another beautiful day that I woke up on the right side of the daises.  Usually, Easter in Michigan, it either snows or it’s pouring cold rain.  However, this year being the end of April and with a very weird winter followed by the early arrival of spring… I have two trees blooming their bright green leaves.  My lilies are several inches above the dirt and I fully expect to see their flowers in the next two, three weeks.  Last weekend it was a glorious mid seventy degrees, yesterday it was eighty.  These weekend temperatures keep up and I’m going to have o put in the ac window unit early.  Heck, I was able to pull my Jeep doors yesterday, in APRIL!!  I truly believe this is the earliest I have every been able to pull the doors.  Last year I may have gotten them off by the end of May, but most years it is the first or second weekend in June.  This weather is absolutely wonderful!!

Last month, month and a half, life has been a bit hectic, a bit stressful; but after last Sunday’s mental and physically cleansing; late that night I felt a bit of relief, ok actually a lot of relief, I felt a dark spot from my soul lift.  This week at work, I was able to get a week of vacation approved by my supervisor and I will be spending my birthday next month visiting my boyfriend… which, with everything going on at work, I am super excited to be able to get away in the midst of everything going on. Yesterday, pulling the doors off the Jeep, first thing in the morning, buying new luggage for my trip and running errands with a doorless Jeep at 80 degrees…its just good for the soul.  This morning I woke up to the smell of wet dirt from open windows and Nora Jones softly playing from the speaker in my bedroom.

This morning, this morning is a good morning, a very good morning…. There is just something about the full arrival of spring in the mitten state that is an absolute glorious feeling.  Even though our winter this year was no where near it’s normal abrasive brutality.  There is still something about the trees coming back to life, flowers growing and blooming, even seeing the first of the bees and bumble bees.  It makes my heart happy and fills my soul.

My “de-clutter project” is no where near the state I had hoped it would be by this time.  However the past three weekends I have made good progress.  Tackling the garage alone, was a huge step.  That was an almost all day project too.  Inside the house, I have taken to the theory of setting the kitchen timer for 30-45 minutes and just going after one room.  When the timer expires, I can stop, take a break or finish whatever I am on.  So far, this theory has worked better than any others I have attempted.  No, it doesn’t finalize that section or that room, not by a long shot.  What I have learned is that over the past seven years, I have been extremely good at organizing my physical baggage…which lets face facts, that translates to how well I have organized and hidden mental baggage.  By dealing with these physical things, I am efficiently decluttering and getting rid of the mental too.  It’s a good feeling, no, it’s a great and freeing feeling.

 

So now, it’s time to tackle another 30-45 minutes of the house; but first, more coffee…

one sunny Sunday in April

Amongst the damp and darkness of my garage this was growing…

This was a text message I sent a girlfriend this afternoon, but I couldn’t help but think how symbolic. All this, all this junk I’m trying to cut, things with memories that drag me down and keep me from moving forward.  To find a lily growing out of the darkness.

But let me back up.

Last night I decided I was going to tackle my garage, I would spend the day digging into it and sorting it.  This is a project I have been dreading for a long time…  It’s not just that it needed to be cleaned, I had packed things in there when I first moved here back in December of 2010 and not touched them since.  I was dreading those things.

Well, I woke up this morning feeling like I got a decent night’s sleep -amazing what not waking up to an alarm clock can do for one’s soul.  So a pot of coffee later, two slices of left over pizza and cracking open a monster energy drink, I tossed on jeans and a tshirt, weaved my earbuds under my shirt up my back and stuck my phone in my back pocket.  Took a deep breath and flung open my garage.  Here we go….

An hour or two in, I had unloaded the side of the garage that was entirely packed with junk.  I had three piles going, keep, recycle and donate… and one very large black garbage bag -ok, I filled two.  About this time, one neighbor greeted me in his pajamas -did I mention I started at like 8:30-9 am? Briefly chatted with my neighbor how it was time I cut my mental baggage…and if he knew of anyone who wanted a 6 chair dining room table, they just had to come haul it off.  He said how his daughter might be interested and how he’d like to take a look at it.  He changed clothes and then decided to navigate my mess.  One look at the mahogany table top and one chair, he laughed and said nope, I’m keeping this for myself!  I will gladly take it off your hands.  When he asked me why I no longer wanted this gorgeous dining room table, I told him: it’s a life I no longer have.  I would rather know that it is being filled by a family sharing food and good memories than just wasting away in my garage unused.  Truth, is it was meant just for that. For children spilling things, adults laughing… right now that is not my life.  I will not have any more kids of my own, but some day, maybe I will again be at a table filled by my family and loved ones.  But right now, right here, that is not it.

Between my neighbor, his nephew and myself; we dug out the table top, the legs for it and the six chairs then hauled them over to his garage.  I felt something inside me release.  I continued to unload boxes and sort them further into the piles.  One of the totes I opened to see what it was, I found old framed art…my art.  I posted the following to my facebook page.  Initially, I was hesitate to do so.  But then I thought, why?  Who are we worried that will see that you are cutting ties with your physically and emotional baggage?!?  Posted.

One pot of coffee, a monster and some leftover pizza. I’m finally after 6 years, digging into a corner of my garage….boxes that were packed up in Connecticut, things that were Haley’s as a toddler. I haven’t been ready to deal with this until now. 😢💔 I’m torn between cutting the boxes open to make sure there’s nothing to keep and just dropping all of them at Goodwill. One tote that I opened had the drawings I did for her nursery. Mixed emotions.

A few more hours, my other neighbor is shorting though countless boxes of toddler clothing, perfect size that her daughter is transiting to.  Two overly stuffed totes and a new Disney Princess tv later.  Watching her shift through my daughter’s old clothing was mixed emotions.  I almost whelmed up into tears when I saw her select a adorable sundress that I very clearly remember my daughter wearing.  These clothes have been boxed up close to ten years.  Ten years that I was not ready to deal with the reality, the reality that my ex husband doesn’t let me see my own daughter.  The reality that this is a life I no longer have… The reality that I had been holding onto these clothes because I was not ready to deal with the loss of the lie, of what I believed life was suppose to be.

Between the two neighbors, I made the first of two recycling center runs.  My hands literally shook a bit as I drove with my Jeep packed.  Things that were beyond salvage and just needed to be gone.  Things I had been holding on to for no good reason.  I had turned on some country music and Chris Stapleton was the first song to play….

You only need a roof when it’s raining
You only need a fire when it’s cold
You only need a drink when the whiskey
Is the only thing that you have left to hold
Sun comes up and goes back down
And falling feels like flying till you hit the ground
Say the word and I’ll be there for you
Baby, I will be your parachute

It made me smile.. how in the moment accurate.  I listened to the song on repeat for a good portion of the rest of the day.  It made me feel better, a little more at ease at what I was doing.  Digging out my emotional baggage and eliminating it from my life.

After the second neighbor came through, I loaded up the second recycling center run.  Then dashed home to see just how much I could cram into my Jeep to take to Goodwill before they closed in an hour.  I literally crammed from top to bottom front to back, my four door Jeep full of boxes and bags of old clothes.  It took bin bins at Goodwill to get it all out… I dove back feeling slightly numb, over caffeinated and weird… Not really knowing exactly how I should feel.  I got home and sorted through the last of the things that were left outside the garage.  Organized what had been left in shambles inside the garage and neatly stacked and put things away.  The garage is not done, there are still more boxes to go through, but they are all my old belongings.  There are still more things to be donated.  But for this attack, I feel good at the enormous dent I put into the garage.  Hell I could almost park a Mini Cooper in there now, alongside my own vehicle.

Now, a few hours after closing the garage door, another two slices of leftover pizza and a shower… I feel better.  Tired.  A bit of a headache, ok a whooper of a headache.  But I feel lighter.  My soul is happy with today’s progress.  Like literally lifting a dark sore from your heart.

Why am I still holding on?

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Why is sorting through the junk in my house so incredibly difficult.  What in the actual FUCK is still wrong with me?!
Why am I so frustrated trying to do this!!
Why do I have so many stupid cook books?  I hate cooking!

Some times, a lot of times, I have found that if I just start typing…verbal vomit, so to speak, sometimes I have those A-HA moments and realize what is holding me up.  Something just clicks.  So now, I’m trying to figure that out…

Late fall, early winter, I set the goal that I would have more control over this house.  I would do a mass de-cluttering.  Well, it’s April and I still feel closed in… there is too much shit and the further I dig into things, the more crammed into spaces I find things.

Let me back up.  I hate clutter.  I hate a messy house.  So in reality, this house is no where near a episode of hoarders, it just feels that way to me.  I have to much junk, too much junk that is not used.  It needs to go.  So why, when I am looking at a pile of cook books in my kitchen, that I pulled from their hiding spot last Sunday do I get anxious and want to put all of them back into their hiding spot on the rack?!  I hate cooking.  It’s not that I’m bad at it, I just don’t like it.  I managed to put half of the cook books into a box to go to Goodwill.  This morning, it dawned on me.  Pinterest.  I have Pinterest, if I need to find a recipe, I can just surf Pinterest and ditch 95% of these cook books.  Hell, one had so much dust on the top of it, that I’m sure I have not looked at it in four years.  I do not need this book, why have I been holding on?! When I sent that text message to my boyfriend, he responded with, “No baby, I know how to cook for us.”  This simple answer seemed to make it so much easier, so simple.

Hoodies… oh dear god I have a hoodie obsession.  I pulled all the ones hung on hooks behind my bedroom door, off yesterday and moved them to the chair in the front room.  I looked, picked up each one, put it back down at least four times.  I could not bring myself to put any of them into the pile for Goodwill.  FAK.

What the hell is wrong with me?  Abandonment issues?  Financial struggle?  Personal and or work stress?  All of the above??!

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Ok.  What am I holding on to, just in case… What if I need this dress for a special occasion?  What if I need… Or what if I want this later.  It’s time for it to go.  The trouble I have, is anxiety kicks up trying to place these things into the box to Goodwill.  Some how I need to force through it and just be done with it.

I’ve done a good job of cutting people out of my life that weighed me down, ones that made me feel bad about my life decisions or just in general made me feel bad about me.  Now it’s time to further disconnect from physical possessions. Physical possessions do not bring happiness, it brings a cluttered confined space, and this brings on more stress.  I feel it about mid week, when I feel my house has become a mess and I just become more frustrated by the way my house feels to me and I cannot get comfortable in my own space because it feels so confined.

Yesterday, going through one of the cook books, I found a handful of old pictures, yes actual pictures.  Pictures that were almost 20 years old to about 15.  One of the photographs was of my brother and my ex-husband, when my brother graduated crew chief school… The photograph stopped me in my tracks, a few heartbeats later I stuffed it somewhere and tried to re focus on something else to distract me.  This is not the first time this has happened.  There is an old ziplock bag full of pictures, stashed on a bookshelf semi out of sight.  These photos range from over 20, 25 years old to probably about 15 years.  I know there are pictures from my married life in there and I don’t want to look at them.  I’ve tried.  I start trembling and then I find myself shuffling the pile back together and stuffing them away again.  I know I need to do something with them, but what… just toss them?  Is this part of what I’m still clinging too??

I think one of the biggest bullshit lies as women we tell ourselves, is that retail therapy is good for the soul.  No, it’s not.  It’s clutter and trying to fix one problem with another problem.  A year or so ago, I made myself promise if I buy a bag (purse, gym bag, work bag) one goes out the door to Goodwill.  I have been rather successful at keeping to this.  Now, I need to apply this rule to everything else I buy.

  • Groceries -I have a horrible habit of not taking full inventory of my cupboards before going and buying things to cook with.
  • Clothes -aww hell.  I probably wear the same few articles of clothing over and over again.  I need to do another huge purge on my closet and dresser.  Yes I’ve done one or two since early winter and dragged out the obvious things I do not wear.  Now, it’s time to do it again. This applies to both gym clothes and everyday clothes.  I probably have way too many gym clothes too.  Hell my suits for work could probably use a purge too.  Am I holding on to extra stuff because what I wore use to be a huge fight?  Why are you wearing that?  Who are you trying to impress!
  • Books -holy fuckmonkeys.  This is probably one of the biggest.  I love books, I love being surrounded by books, real actual physical books.  Being in a bookstore or a library is probably one of my happiest places.  But how many books do I own, just because.  It’s time to purge those… That is the one thing I have yet to touch and their are piles of books in just about every room of my house.  Shut up.  It’s a tiny house.
  • Makeup.  I go through phases, I guess, what kind of makeup I wear and… No.  I just need to chuck most of it.  I’m not even sure how old some of it is.  Why am I holding on to it?  Because he (ex husband) said I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to go to the grocery store?  Because he use to accuse me of cheating..

 

Text message with my boyfriend this morning, “Well, we can just set it on fire and I can come over to put it out.”
“Ya know.  Maybe that’s how I need to look at it.  If there was a fire, what would I want to replace.”
Maybe this is exactly how I need to look at it.  What would I truly be heartbroken loosing?

I need more coffee….