Archive for the ‘the journey’ Category


My posts have been few and far between lately, and this one will just be a brief update as I have myself spread pretty thin these days. That’s a good thing, though, as it’s an indicator of a lot of progress on multiple fronts – business, music, social.

The house in Parks is sold and I’m almost out of the high country. The last of my stuff will go into temporary storage this week. I’ve been busy trying to line up a place to live in the East Valley where I can teach in my home and still be close enough to the music store that the commute is not too onerous. I had hoped to have a place rented this week and to make a smooth transition directly out of Parks, but there will probably be a slight gap. I’m still narrowing down the housing options and should have that done in the next week to two weeks. It’s been great fun staying with my friends, but I’m anxious to get back into my own place again.

So far, I’ve built my student roster up to one third of my goal and, as I’ve seen happen before, the rate of new signups is starting to accelerate. I should have a full teaching load before May. I’m really enjoying teaching again and happy to have focused specifically on acoustic guitar. I’ve been getting some super students. I’ve found some other musicians to jam with; my repertoire is continuing to increase. New experiments on guitar nails, too, which I will elaborate on soon.

I’ve met a great guy and we’re having a lot of fun together – from visiting the Phoenix Art Museum to having a snowball fight in his front yard the last time I came back down to Phoenix from the high country. It’s unusual to find someone who has so many interests in common with me, and who is smart, articulate, and playful, too. I’m smiling a lot these days!


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As I drove across Garland Prairie last week, the light of a full moon illumined the snow and the pines, casting deep shadows across the frozen ground. It was a beautiful and a bittersweet sight. The song of a great horned owl greeted me as I got out of my car and crunched through the snow to the door.

My plan was to continue packing my belongings, but most of the time ended up being spent running around Flagstaff dealing with the buyer, title agent, insurance agent…and getting some heat tape to keep my pipes from freezing again. Temperatures have been very cold, dipping below zero several nights in a row.

In a few days I won’t be a property owner in the high country anymore. My focus will be back on building my business, filling in with other work as needed, meeting new people, and making new friends. That is as it should be, but I will miss the high country, the pines, the wildlife, and being close by to family and old friends. I can’t help but feel a little pang.

Still, new horizons beckon and I’ve been having some unexpected fun in my life. I’ve met some very nice guys down here in the Valley and have had a couple of dates recently. As I write this post, it’s raining outside, as it has been all day. I know that soon the desert will be in bloom, alive with colorful wildflowers. And, there are friendships blossoming in my life right now, even the possibility of romance. Who knows what may follow the high country snow melt and the desert rains?

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Busy, Busy

In the last 24 hours, I’ve signed up my first student at Gilbert music, delivered promo flyers door to door in one neighborhood, handed out business cards everywhere I’ve gone, and labeled a batch of 55 CDs that I sold with all of the new contact information. I also made the drive back up to the high country and have been prepping “the cabin” for the winter this afternoon. I even got an hour in writing the Prologue on the next novel. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’ll mow and finish up a good share of what’s left to do before shutting the place down for the season.

Calling the place in Parks “the cabin” signals the big shift that’s happened in my thinking in the last two weeks. This isn’t “home” any more. It’s the retreat, the getaway. It’s the place that still requires quite a bit of work to have ready for winter. It’s also an asset–the leverage I have into a new life. If I can keep this bit of the past without it being a drain and transform it as I move ahead into the future, fine. If I decide to sell it, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve even had moments of thinking I would feel a lot freer for that. There are good memories here, but there are many not-so-good memories, too.

One more trip back up for a long weekend over Thanksgiving should do the trick. I’ll be able to drain the water system and shut ‘er down. Then, the only things that will get me out of the Valley and “up the hill” over the winter will be a run to get the last load of stuff when I move into my new place and family visits. (And the chance to get in some snow-shoeing and skiing…THINK SNOW!)

I’m actually enjoying the Valley, much to my surprise. Yes, it’s congested, smoggy, and there’s a lot of traffic, but there’s also a lot going on in the arts, much more opportunity and stimulation, and I’m meeting lots of great people. It’s showing me just how isolated I was before I went south. The job hunt is always a grind, but there have been many positive developments this week and I’m finding time to have a little fun, too.

Now, I just need to get back on track with my flamenco guitar practice (again) and my baile. In all the hustle and bustle, those get set aside more often than I would like. But, things are settling down somewhat and I can see that within a few weeks, I should be well into my new life.

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I get this funny feeling that I’m supposed to be teaching guitar in the East Valley…

Today, I went back to pick up my business cards and part of the text had been clipped off, making a reprint necessary. Okay. It meant an extra trip and I had several other stops planned for after that to deliver said new business cards, but I adjusted my plans accordingly. I was told that the reprint would be done this afternoon and to call to see if it was done.

I did. The copy center staff was busy, but another salesclerk checked and said that the cards were ready. I ignored the little voice in the back of my head that said, “You know, she might have seen the other box – the bad box – and assumed that the order was done.” I made another trip across Gilbert…

My intuition was right. The cards weren’t actually done; she had seen the misprinted box. I was polite and went out to my car to steam. I was mad at myself for not listening to my intuition and I wasn’t all that happy about the store’s lack of attention to detail, either. Alright. I decided to adjust my attitude and said to the Universe, “I’m listening. Is there something else I’m supposed to learn or do or see here?”

I looked across the parking lot and saw a sign that, given where I had parked on previous trips, I had not seen before. “MUSIC & ARTS.” Hmmm. Sounds like something worth investigating further.

What do you know? A music store – a nice, big, new one with quite a few teaching studios, too. When I walked through the door the salesperson asked what had brought me in.

“I was over at the office supply store and saw your sign. I’m a guitarist and I thought I’d take a look around,” I replied. (I like to scout things out first…)

“You don’t happen to teach do you?” she asked. No, I’m not kidding. “We really need a guitar teacher…” Those were the very words right out of her mouth not one minute after I walked in the store.

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

I got the tour, the details, and I’m going back to deliver a resume in a little bit. Then, it’s wait to have an interview with the manager. Keep good thoughts. I should know fairly soon, and right in time for the peak lesson signup season of December – January. (All those new Christmas guitars.)

The whole string of events that led to becoming a teacher at Gilbert Music revolved around my carrying my guitar into a coffee shop to keep it from getting too hot in the car. Conversation with one of the counter guys, a drummer, led me to Gilbert Music. That and several other strange little “coincidences” have fueled a running joke with F1 and F2 about how all I needed to do was just carry my guitar around with me everywhere and doors would open. Now, with Music & Arts, it seems that I don’t even need to carry the guitar around…

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A Year and a Day

Yesterday was this blog’s first birthday. I was at a job fair and running all over Phoenix for most of the day. So, I didn’t get this post together before the GMT coach turned into a pumpkin.

A lot has happened in a year. Last year at this time I’d just gotten laid off from my web design job, was a day away from starting on my NaNoWriMo novel, and was a total blog neophyte. Since then, this little experiment in writing has had its busy and slow times, has gone through several visual metamorphoses, and topped 8,000 hits.

In the last month, my novel has been completed enough to be sent out to half a dozen “dedicated readers” for critique. I’ve moved to Phoenix for the winter and I’m doing music seriously again.

Today, I got the confirmation from Gilbert Music that I will be a guitar instructor for them. Woohoo! I also took a bike ride this morning, the first one in several years. It was a short ride – flat ground and under a half-hour – but it was an important test. Tonight, my legs are fine!

What a difference a year makes…

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Whew! Been busy packing and practicing , writing and web designing. There’s just a lot happening right now. My brother’s wedding is tomorrow. And, I picked up a little side work as an instrument tech with my surveyor friend for Sunday.

We’ve got a boundary and topo to do on Hart Prairie, up on the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. That is going to be cool! Literally and metaphorically – for one thing, it’s at about 9,000 feet in elevation. Hart Prairie is a gorgeous area any time of year, but in the autumn it is truly spectacular. I noticed just today on my trip into town to accompany the flamenco dance class that the leaves are starting to turn in Flagstaff. I’ll take my camera with me on Sunday and see if I can find some good shots of autumn aspens. I’ll post any good ones here.

Every so often, I have a nostalgic moment or find myself dragging my feet about moving. I keep telling myself that it’s likely temporary and I remind myself of all the very real benefits of what I plan to do this winter. It should be an interesting and productive time. It will also be a big adjustment living in an apartment in a big metro area again after more than a decade in “the boondocks,” where my trip to the mail box entailed a drive through pine forests and open prairies over four miles of washboard and red cinder Forest Service road. It’s all trade-offs, decisions made on an intuitive sense that Phoenix is where I need to be and music is what I need to be doing.

I’ve learned to ask myself the crucial question, “If not now, when?” While packing two nights ago, I ran across a box of mementos that contained greeting cards from the last decade or so–a birthday wish from my dad from before dementia took away his memory, a note from my ex-husband from a time before the disintegration of our marriage, and congratulations on my graduation from Fire Academy signed by all my old fire buddies, including the young cadet who died just a few moths ago. It was a poignant reminder that disease, dysfunction, and death are the great dividers. To not live my life to the fullest right now would be to deny a number of very difficult and painful lessons from the past few years.

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My more usual optimism has returned this evening, leaving the melancholy of midday to fade away into memory. As I drove to Flagstaff to have dinner with my friend Margie, I realized how reclusive I have become the last few months – two trips to Flag in a week feels positively extraverted. Between the novel edit and the intense effort on developing the Drupal-based websites, I’ve spent many, many hours at the keyboard lately. Despite Elmo the Wonder Cat’s attentions, I was in real need of human contact.

I realized some other things today, too. As one of my correctives to the earlier mood, I looked back some more over the last year and thought of all that has happened. It wasn’t so much a “count your blessings” sort of thing, though that was part of it. It was more of an evaluation, an assessment of how far I’ve come, in an effort to have more perspective on how far I have yet to go. I’ve been so busy projecting into the future and seeing how far I had to go to reach my goals that I was a little overwhelmed. The glance behind gave me a much needed shift in point of view.

Wow! A year ago I weighed 37 pounds more than I do now (down another pound this morning, in fact) and I still had several areas of complete numbness on my right leg and foot. Today, there’s only one little spot left on my big toe and even that has some feeling that has come back. I still have to work around the residual nerve damage at times, but it gradually continues to improve.

A year ago I had a regular job that I enjoyed and which paid alright. It only used a fraction of my skills, however, and would prove to be short-lived. Today, I work for myself. That demands every bit of skill and knowledge I have to grow my business. It’s fun, exciting, worrisome at times, and definitely a challenge. By the hourly rate, it’s great compared to my job a year ago. Now I just have to get more hours…

A year ago, I was into the fourth week of the beginning flamenco dance class at Coconino Community College and having a blast. I’d just been down to Tlaquepaque to see Mosaico Flamenco perform; I came back all enthused and determined to study guitar again. This past Friday, I accompanied the class for the first time, using what I’ve learned in taking guitar lessons from Gaetano, the lead guitarist of Mosaico. I had some trouble keeping the Sevillanas even at the slow speed and I’ve got quite a ways to go before I will feel comfortable accompanying the baile, but it’s a start and something I had no idea would come out of signing up for a dance class. I’ve gotten my guitar dreams back and even had a couple of performances in the last few months.

A year ago, I had a bunch of scenes strung together in a somewhat confused and disjointed screenplay and no idea what to do with, about, or to it. Today, I have a novel written and the first few chapters out to an online critique group. I’ve received some encouraging feedback and concluded that it’s less than half bad. The hours and outlines and preliminary writing on the other novels in the series start to look like a semi-reasonable investment as opposed to an insane waste of time.

A year ago, I never would have guessed at all that has happened since. As I look ahead to my move and all the uncertainties of the coming year, reason tells me that I am in the same position once again. Who knows what the year ahead will bring? After seeing how far I’ve come in the past year, the distance ahead doesn’t look that far after all.

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