I’m on the ferry

I’m on the ferry, traveling from Ketchikan to Bellingham, WA. I’m bringing my car out; my car, which I bought new when we moved to Ketchikan in 2009.

My Subaru Tribeca has just over 14,000 miles on it.

Ah, the beauty of living on a small island! Well, the miles will add up quickly enough now.

As of Wednesday, I don’t live in Alaska. I’ll still be working there on a regular basis, part of each month. But I don’t live there any longer.

It’s a beautiful state, and I’ve learned so much during my years there. I’ve gained and I’ve lost. I’ve known joy and sorrow.

A lot of my reasons for moving my hub back to the lower 48 are about family. I want to be closer, and I want travel to be easier and less expensive.

I’m appreciative for the good that came out of my Alaska time, and regretful for the things that weren’t good. But to be fair, good and bad happens throughout life, regardless of location, and I don’t want to irrationally blame an entire state for the ups and downs I experienced there.

Still, I think my frontier adventures are more behind me than before me. The work that I’ll continue to do is very structured, and will likely be time limited.

Today I’m watching the water and mountains of the Inside Passage go by from the upper deck of a state ferry, and I’m thinking about so many things…people and amazing experiences that were part of life in Alaska.

Was it a good thing to move there in 2006? Or would I have been wiser to continue life in Colorado?

Impossible to know for sure…but I’ve learned that good things come and pass, and bad things come and pass…it is my task to keep my balance, to respond to events with love, grace, and calm, and to recognize that sometimes we are only seeing the middle of the story when it looks like we are seeing the end.

The choice is not to be passive; it is to be intentional and deliberate, to be responsive rather than reactive. There is a difference in the two.

One of the things I was challenged to do at the November meditation retreat is to be patient, just observe, and then do the right thing. That’s it. That’s all I can do, and even that I can only do as I have ability. I don’t always get the waiting right…and I don’t always make the right choice.

But that is the intention, and that’s where I find myself today. I don’t know how the next chapter will unfold. There is no definite decision as to next home or hub. For right now it is Seattle, partly by default and convenience. But that could change.

As I sit each day, practicing the art of meditation, I remind myself that this is part of the work of life…sitting with patience, giving events opportunity to develop, and then choosing a path.

Sitting on the ferry, watching the water flow past, I’m in the right place.

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In Between

I’m in the land of in between. That is, I’ve left my last permanent home, and I’m not sure of where the next will be. That’s ok, and was part of the plan. Now that I’m here, temporarily situated in a small apartment, thinking about next consumes a lot of my time and energy. I’m working, finishing some projects that I’d begun for this small clinic, so I’m busy enough. But after hours and on weekends, the task is to focus, to research, to outline.

We’ve had a nomadic course through life, staying put in some locations for years…I think 12 years was the longest time we lived in one location. Other places were home for two, or three, or five years. We’ve roamed about the country, sampling different regions and climates, and there’s been good about most of our choices.

Now, I’m feeling the pull of family again, feeling the need for a road system, and for a choice that can serve for the years to come.

Closing in the on the year, the goal is simple: pick a ferry date for January, and a plan for driving out. We’ll keep work going in Alaska, but it’s time to invent a new formula for living. And that means a new location for the down time.

We’re looking for four seasons, a soft winter climate, something on the western side of the country. Looking for a smaller community but with access to a regional airport. We’ve considered everything from Sonoma County, CA to Lane County, OR, to Walla Walla, WA, to Grand Junction, CO…and we’re still looking, still sorting.

So, anyone have a suggestion? Where would you choose to live if you could go anywhere?

“Even the smallest actions are steps in the right direction.”    

“This is the beginning of anything you want.”

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Chasing rainbows in the Caribbean

Periodically, for various reasons, life needs a reset. We are in one of those times now, and have been for a while. We began our Alaska adventure in 2006, and through ups and downs, good and bad, it has been an adventure. But now we find ourselves ready for a new address, one that is drier, warmer, and has potential to be a long-term home for us. We started this process last year, but a slow housing market and our own indecision derailed us a bit. We’re ramping up to try again this spring.

Most people (I think) make the decision of where to live based on job, family, or some combination of likes and life needs that help to narrow the focus and direction. We did too, in the past. We moved for training and jobs, and we looked for opportunities in regions of the country that we wanted to explore. Family is important, but with family spread far and wide, from east to west and across time zones, it is difficult to use family, at this point, as a filter. We find ourselves without a lot of anchors. We certainly know what states and regions draw us, interest us, and there is temptation to re-visit the places we lived in the past that we enjoyed. But we also know that it is important to make a good decision, and that means taking time, doing our homework, and looking beyond the most obvious options.

To complicate the process, we still have a house to sell in Ketchikan, where the market in our price range is not robust. And we will likely continue to work there for the foreseeable future. We are networked, and known entities, which is important when you work like we do. We can search without the house being sold. And as we have an episodic work style, we can structure time to travel and investigate in our time off. The downside to not working is that we don’t get paid. There is no paid leave in our work structure. But the upside is that we can put together significant blocks of time for exploring our options.

There are all sorts of online tools to help you. There are lists for every type of filter you can think of…low tax rate, health care facilities, climate, population, amenities, recreation, mountains, beach, schools, organizations…choose your priorities and you can find a list of places that will accommodate your must-haves and your wish-fors. One of these is Find Your Spot. There are lists from any number of periodicals and organizations. You can also find a plethora of information on any community online by going to resources like the local Chamber of Commerce page or the website for specific cities. Information is not the problem. Filtering it appropriately is the difficulty.

Aside from doing online research, another resource we have is a Class C RV, which is large enough that we can live in it for extended periods of time without going crazy or coming to blows. Our plan is to use it to do some in-depth exploration of various regions of interest, to use it as our mobile hub. We tried this once before, and it was working quite nicely, when we sidetracked ourselves by accepting a job offer. This time, we’ve agreed: we’re not looking for full-time work, and we are choosing the location we want. We’ll make jobs work around our choice.

Dinner on board: the wanderers

So, with all that said, I’d be interested in hearing ideas from anyone reading this post. We like the west, the not-too-cold mountain west, the southeast, and the mid-Atlantic. We like small to medium size communities…no big cities for us, although it is desirable to have a city within a reasonable driving distance for airports, shopping, etc. We like ocean, mountains, and lakes, but realistically, would probably not choose to pay for an ocean front view. This choice needs to be sustainable in every way. So ultimately, we are looking for a place that offers a variety of amenities, a cost of living that is not extreme, and a place that feels like home. Any ideas out there? We’re open to suggestion!