Autumn Landscaping

I was going to wait until spring to do some landscaping for my new home. I have plenty to keep me busy; that project could wait. But then I just happened to stop by the local nursery to see how the changing colors of the trees were progressing, and there was a fifty percent off sale. How could I possibly resist?  I do seem to have that money-saving attraction.

I decided to buy five shrubs and a few smaller perennial plants. One of the two trees that I had wanted was out of stock, so I decided those could wait. It wouldn’t be too much work to clear out a bed and get those smaller items planted, right?

First, the deer seemed pretty interested in the “deer resistant” plants. There was definitely some munching going on. A package of deer netting took care of that. Then, I was lacking a shovel and a wheelbarrow. My neighbor kindly supplied those. Oh, and then there was the actual work of cutting out the sod and digging the holes. No one seemed to be jumping at the opportunity to help with that.

So my afternoon breaks have now become yard work sessions. Yesterday, I bought compost and delivered a load of sod to the container site. You would think that I would have sore arms and shoulders, but it’s actually the abdominal pain that is killing me from all of the lifting. Last night, I required aspirin to get to sleep because of my aching abs, even though I was absolutely exhausted.

We’ll see how long this project ends up taking. It”s going to be gorgeous when it’s all finished, though. Next spring, I will be able to impress my friends by saying that I completed every step by myself. I do think, however, that I will be wise enough hire someone to plant the trees.

A New Perspective on Cloudy Skies

There is an old Perry Como song called “The Bluest Skies You’ve Ever Seen are in Seattle.” As a kid growing up in western Washington, I was quite familiar with the tune. Perhaps they are the bluest skies because people from the Seattle area have a particular appreciation of rainless days. I have no argument there. Seeing the blue sky set off against the green hills and mountains is a beautiful sight indeed.

People often refer to the “big sky” of Montana. I can’t argue with that either. The sky does seem bigger to me here in the Flathead Valley. My guess is that this valley is just larger in scale than the smaller valley of my youth. The valley itself is wider, and the mountains are higher. Pretty simple. As a newcomer to the area, I experience childlike awe on a daily basis. Add living close to the largest freshwater lake in the western side of the country, and my awe will not soon decrease.

But my absolute favorite wonder lately has been the clouds. I’m not sure exactly what natural forces are at play with the lake and mountains, but I firmly believe that the most beautiful clouds in the country are right outside my window. One recent morning, I woke at dawn and looked out the window to see one of the most amazing sights I had ever beheld. Since that morning, I have been regularly checking the skies and frequently looking up on my daily walks and hikes.

I do, however, realize that all of this cloud-awe may be as much about me as the beauty above. I’m living a different life now where I feel more in touch with my surroundings. I have time to stop, observe, and appreciate it all. Montana has changed me.

 

 

List of Lists

I’ve always been a list writer. Honestly, it still hasn’t made me the world’s most organized person, (I’m definitely guilty of procrastination at times.) but I would be completely lost without my lists.

When I met my new best friend, one of the first things he said to me was, “You make lists, don’t you?” He says it’s because I’m a Virgo, but I really think it’s more of a teacher thing.

In my former life, I generally had three main lists going: the at-work to-do list, which was part of my planner; the to-do list at home; and the grocery list. Then there was my favorite list: the travel packing list. I’ve kept it and reused it for numerous trips; it has served me well.

With my new life transition, my lists have grown. In fact, I’ve advanced to notebooks, several of them, as I have moved to a new state and begun to research and soul-search to find a new career.

Yesterday, after several weeks of preparation, I officially entered the world of work-from-home freelancers. This morning I decided to create a list to outline my everyday routine.  You see, I’m used to having my work life run on a schedule, a rather precise one at that. Bells are no longer ringing to tell me what to do next, and no one is watching. If I lacked self-discipline, it could be very easy to fritter away hours, but aside from the temptation to sleep in, I’m pretty on top of things. It’s really the lack of a firm structure that’s making me a little crazy. I figure if I have a written time schedule to follow, I’ll be more productive. Don’t worry; I’m not too hardcore. There’s a list of things to do when I need a break also.

So the list of lists is in the works; it may end up being more of a matrix, though. My goal is to complete it, type it up, and yes, laminate it, by week’s end. That task is on my daily to-do list, too.

And Then the Sun Came Out

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post but decided to delete it. You see, one of my goals in blogging is to keep a positive mindset. I had gone through a couple of rough days where doubts were filling my head. A series of negative events, which were mostly beyond my control, had brought me down. I then began to question my choice to make an out-of-state move and start a new career as an entrepreneur.

We’ve all been there. You know how it feels when you are at rock-bottom. You know it will end, but the pain and the fear are so very real at the time. Usually, it just takes someone or something to pull you out of it.

I can’t tell you exactly what it was. Maybe it was my super-positive new friend with whom I spent some time yesterday morning. Maybe it was the book I read last night that got me thinking about my hopes for the future. Maybe it was my new neighbor waving her hands to get my attention this afternoon, just because she wanted to say hello as I was walking by. Maybe it was all of those things that made me realize life is pretty darn good right now.

Change can be scary, but it can also be so very wonderful. After chatting with my neighbor, I continued walking with a grateful heart, taking in the mountain views that attracted me to Montana. My tension eased as I realized I was back to being myself; the late summer afternoon sun had never felt better.

Little Joys

I find it interesting that many people I know still find occasion to complain when their lives are pretty great. Yes, of course, I am at times guilty of it too, but I do make a conscious effort to focus on the positive and appreciate each day. Sure, we all need to vent at times, but for many, complaining becomes a habit and they neglect to see life’s beauty.

One thing I try to do every day is to focus on life’s little joys. This helps me avoid that complaining mindset.  You know what I’m talking about; they are those little things that make you smile. I’ve written about some of mine in previous posts: my resident deer herd, seeing mountains on a daily basis, and the stunning beauty of Flathead Lake. Some days, I get especially lucky and have one of those magic moments where I see or experience something extra special.

On Monday, I went on a bike ride with a friend. As we were riding down a country road, I spotted not just a pony, but a baby pony (foal?), as we were riding by. Fortunately for me, we would be backtracking on the same road to return to my place. I think my friend thought I was a little goofy, but he agreed to stop and take a look.

We stopped just in time to see the baby and his mother running across the field to greet their owner. Yes, it was another Montana Magic moment. The owner yelled at us from across the field, inviting us over for a closer look. She then told the story of buying the pony without knowing that she was pregnant at the time. My friend and I got acquainted with the owner, both ponies, a horse, and the dog, too. After a pleasant visit and some commemorative photos, we said our goodbyes and rode back home.

So keep your eyes open. You never know what little joys, or maybe extra special surprises, may come your way today!pony better pic

 

 

 

Valley Music

One of the many things that fascinate me about the Flathead Valley is the abundance of musical talent. I have a great appreciation of almost every kind of music but have yet to discover any great talent in myself. I am, however, known to sing and dance at random times, and tend to have music blaring whenever possible. Perhaps my purpose is to consume rather than create in the musical realm.

I am inspired by the talent I am seeing and hearing in local venues; people tell me that there is still more to discover, too. Lucky for me, a friend connected me with my new “bestie” in Kalispell. He has become my personal event planner and is responsible for getting me out many of these summer nights. With his help, I have discovered the joys of Picnic in the Park and ThursdayFest, both in downtown Kalispell. We’ve also been to a couple of breweries and a wine bar together to see some of his favorites. On my own, I have discovered the Riverbend Concert Series on summer Sunday nights in Bigfork and music at the Monday market.  (Feel free to respond with a comment if you have further recommendations. Remember, I’m new here!)

This week I have been fortunate to volunteer at the Crown Guitar Festival in Bigfork. Who would have guessed that such a little town would have such an incredible world-class event! The festival includes both a musicians’ workshop and nightly concerts for five days. During the first two days, I’ve seen the legendary Edgar Winter; Cory Henry, who simply makes magic with his Hammond organ; and jazz greats Nathan East and Lee Ritenour. My volunteer duty has been in the silent auction tent, which is anything but work for a social girl like me. In addition to hearing fabulous music, I’m meeting interesting people, including locals and those from various parts of North America who are visiting for the festival.

Once again, I am finding life here better than expected. I look forward to exploring more music and some new indoor venues as fall arrives.

 

Next Steps

I have been living in Montana for about six weeks now. Definitely no regrets so far, even with Glacier National Park burning up and bringing smoke down the valley. I am hoping this doesn’t become an annual event, though.

Last Monday, I had a moment where I felt like my new place was set up well enough to call home. I could finally stop thinking about what needed to be done next, and just sit back and savor what I have accomplished. That is really one of the best feelings in the world, isn’t it? Having a place to call home. I’m also making new friends and enjoying an active social life. I love my surroundings, and already feel healthier. I have to say things are going better than expected.

So what’s next? Well, I’m too young and not-quite wealthy enough to fully retire. I did leave behind a twenty-seven-year teaching career when I packed up the boxes in June, but I had fully intended to at least work part-time here. I tend to lean in the Type A direction and prefer to be occupied. My primary goal in finding employment was to avoid working a traditional forty-hour week. But what would I do to become self-employed? This is a difficult mental hurdle to overcome for a person who has consistently worked for someone else since the age of fifteen. I knew that a little more time and research would bring some answers.

I’ve decided to give it a go with my own proofreading and editing business. (I know; you were expecting something more exciting.) Why not? Everyone seems to be making a buck out there on the internet. Don’t worry. I have been taking proper steps by planning this all out. I’m even completing an online class to learn the tools of the trade.  (Humility is an important trait when taking on a new venture.) I expect to launch in about three weeks.

A year ago, I would never have taken risks like this: Packing up and moving to a new state, starting my own business…It’s funny that what I once thought would be too scary to even consider, now feels exciting and empowering. I honestly don’t fear failure. If it doesn’t work out, I will move on to something different.