If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Friday, December 22, 2017

Where did the time go??

It seems only yesterday we were getting ready for Colorado Springs trip, and it was January...which is a whole year back now! Another Christmas is upon us, another leaf is about to turn. And, like every year of every life, this one was filled to the brinks.

That Colorado Spring visit solidified our pick for the "last hometurf of the future". We do love it there, and have been dreaming about the day we move non-stop - especially Larry, searching for homes basically daily as a "practice activity". We actually know the exact perimeter we'll be buying that home in, and the style and footage we're looking for. Oh, the place with the weather seasons, the mountains, dry fresh air, and smaller town's living!!! Paradise. What do you know, it is less than a year and half away now!

February was a blur, my work always escalating with Valentine day trap (thank you, consumers, for that!). At the last moment I made a quick dash for the kids' visit - and the Gorge.

March rolled with a flight to Raleigh, NC - my buddy Eman moved there over a year prior, and I miss her so much! We, foreigners, seem to find each other as family here, because, no harsh judgement, Americans are just not the same when it comes to friendships and that "homey" feel when one stops by another's house. It was, literally, a 36 hrs adventure - but oh, so good for the soul!

April was a huge jump across the ocean towards the sunset - we went to the island of Kauai for Larry's sister Stephanie's wedding. Neither Larry nor I ever had a desire to go to HI (unlike, it seems, most of the population), but we were glad to have had an opportunity - and support the lil' sis. It was a 4-day stay at the beach house with hikes, food and wet mountains around. Not a bad time to remember!

Instead of a quiet end of the month, we were invited to be a part of a great get-together at the annual craw-fish party put out by a Cajun native couple. It was awesome to see all of us at the same place, like good old times. What a fantastic group of people I get to be a part of.

Before I knew it, a trip to the Mother-Land was in order, for my mother's 81st birthday nevertheless. Always much needed, indeed, to re-charge and remember the roots. This time it fell during our biggest holiday, Victory Day on May 9th (over Nazi army), and the amount of history and emotions was above any imaginable limits. Never forget. Of course, I had to go to an art museum, as my yearly culture feed. Europe, you know, has standards for its citizens:)

As only my life goes, in 3 weeks I was jet-lagging, again, to another "home" - Oregon. My life is so split...between the kids and the parents, across thousands of miles and time zones. But this is where my heart belongs, so I do what I have to do.

July was focused on the yearly solo backpacking trip. It had lots of snow navigation, hot days with limited water, and a few too many others around me doing the same thing at the same time. I have to admit this journey wasn't nearly as fulfilling as the first long solo on TRT was, or a 450 miles/2 weeks Oregon (for oh, so many different reasons), but common, darling, any time I can afford, physically, mentally, emotionally, time-wise and financially, to spend 8 days in the mountains by myself doing what I love most...who has guts to complain!!?? Wrong attitude! So, looking back, I am thankful for those 210 miles in Northern California on PCT, and for Larry and Harrison to join me at the end to spend a day relaxing on Lake Tahoe.

It is during that hike I decided to forgo the Washington section of PCT I planned to backpack in August, and, instead, made a hop with Larry to a small portion of it for a couple of days. It was all worth the change (well, besides that nasty fall I took).

September rang with a few important dates: our marriage made it through 8 official years (and our house ownership - 6, as we bought a house on our anniversary). I "clipped" 24 years of living in USA...what is a fact worthy to mention, because from that day going on forward I am a member of American society longer than a member of the one that gave me life, raised me and shaped me into who I am...It is both a sad and a great mix of feelings, ideologies and experiences. All I can say is that I am blessed to have been stemmed from Russia - and happy that I can live my adulthood here.

To celebrate those things, we went "cultural" and visited Dallas/Fort Worth museum district. Boy, did it impress me, and I am hard to be impressed, coming from Russia and Europe!

And ah, yes, almost forgot a day trip to San Antonio, the yearly pilgrimage to visit friends South.

In October, two good things were memorable. We put our annual "used-to-be's" party in the backyard with our running friends (oldies but goodies), and I am so grateful for the group of folks who treat me as a friend - all showed up, enjoyed time reminiscing, and what an amazing group that is. A week later we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to chase Fall colors. Oh, yeah, I turned 48 that month, too. Thus the party and the trip:)

November rolled with Thanksgiving looming, which meant Oklahoma, visiting family! By now I finally feel like I am a part of it, and I do love this small town Larry grew up in and where all of his extended family still lives. It was a great time to be there!

 As we came back - my girlfriend Eman flew to Austin, and we got to see each other for the second time this year.
And jetting across the country wasn't over! December always means Portland, because both of my boys were born on December 9th, and this year marks them turning 27 and 22. Gosh, this is really "where did the time go??" This post, or this blog in general, is neither the place nor the time to dive into my personal life deeply, so I'll just say: I will forever be coming, no matter how sometimes difficult it is - because it is far harder not to come. I spent 2 days hanging out with my sons - and friends who have become family for me over the years. And as always, my heart melts over the best mountain views ever, Mt. Hood.
Christmas is here. It is always a good time to evaluate the year - and boy, am I glad I decided to write this post. Because, as daily life goes on, we get swamped in the routine of it and don't see the "forest for the tree". You know, work, grocery, cooking, cleaning, knitting, repeat...It seems that all we do is mundane unexcited tasks, boring, day in and day out. But putting these photos together showed me just how INCREDIBLY BLESSED am I. To be able to make these trips to the most amazing places, to have a partner who loves me, shares my values and supports my dreams, to have the means and desire and ability to do all this exploring...I've always had great affinity and affection for travels, since I was a young girl, a teenager. In the past it often involved just jumping in the car and having a get-away for a day or few. That was East and West coast living. Unfortunately for me, the location of Austin in the heart of Texas does not allow us such luxury - it takes a whole damn day to just get out of the state, and hate it all you want, there is nearly nothing either Larry nor I find fascinating within its limits. But - we still manage to go places, even if at the cost of flying and sacrificing some other fun stuff in regular living to assure it happening.

One more important thought with comes with that: I am thrilled, now, 4-plus years after my body gave up on my running, that it happened. I went through depression, questions, all kinds of treatments and trials...and now, coming out of the deep end on the other side, I feel grateful for that to be gifted. Really. It IS a gift. I now get to explore life and places I want at the pace I want, not get consumed to always train and the tie all my traveling to racing (quick in, run, and out). Those were amazing years behind, and I am so fortunate to have them, to see so many beautiful corners of this country, meet interesting and truly awesome people, grow stronger belief in myself and my mental and physical abilities. And now I am blessed to have a different set of years, and if I wasn't forced to recognize it, I might have still being on a hamster wheel. Life has its stages, thank God for that, and is SO multidimensional!

What brings me to health and balance in life, to resolutions of sorts. This year marked me working one job only - and at one location only. Myo Massage Austin has become my single employer, and I am happy on so many levels there. I feel in the right place, I know what I am doing, clients love me (and say so in all kinds of reviews), I enjoy making others feel better and am really good at it, the people around me actually like me too, with all my quirks and odd ends, my pragmatism and sarcasm, and my "rough around the edges". With that, not only did I stopped doing out all kinds of side jobs and gigs, I also, slowly but surely, cut my hours from 38/week (it is a physical job, ya know) down to 25. And I forced myself to learn how to take a day off every week, and stick with it!

My biggest accomplishment in terms of exercise is that, despite this whole "I can't run as I know it", I went out 6 days a week EVERY WEEK of the year! I woke up every day before the crack of dawn, laced up my shoes - and got my ass out the door. Some mornings were better than others, and I appreciate the bouts of "I feel like a real runner today" thrill. But I take it as it comes, and never dwell on the many more days when it's a shuffle, a pain, a struggle...and as I make it back to the door, I have a smile on my face. I believe this is the proudest achievement in my running "career", and not the 120-some ultramarathons, 100 mile races, or even wins.

I also stuck with a class of yoga a week - if my memory serves me well, I missed all of 4 weeks out of 52, which is not bad at all! Those were hard and far travel weeks.
I knitted a lot, of course, but somehow I consistently felt unsatisfied with my work this year - so I kept un-winding, and re-knitting more than a hefty share of items. Only two pieces I considered completed "to love as is" - plus a set of 20 hats I donated to the Veteran's Running Camp (for which I'll be knitting 30 hats next year). But I made many a gifts for people I love, a huge many, and the passion never stopped. May be this "not feeling it" means something, may be not. I am ok with it. As long as I can still knit with love:)

In other notes, in April I, at the ripe age, started journaling daily, after reading a book - as a challenge. Before I knew it, I developed a habit, and I still journal. Last month I might have missed a day or two, but the simple act of writing had served me exceptionally wonderful, to sort through some thoughts, put ideas, or sometimes just to have a routine set. This task also helped me to stay off Facebook - something I keep trying. I was able to have my account deactivated for, I want to guess, 11 months out of the year, only popping once or twice a month to post a few pictures (as above) and check in on my friends.

Speaking of friends, I lived a real life, without social media, and had many a coffee with my local girlfriends, plenty of lunch dates, and Larry and I went for couples' dinner dates with people who we enjoy spending time with. I also kept up with people who matter via emails, texts, and phone calls - you know, things besides virtual "it's a beautiful life out there". On a related note - I stayed "deactivated" from FB during my birthday. I have 12 people (friends, besides relatives) whom I consider dear friends, whom I care about deeply, and hope I am for them as important as they are for me. On my birthday and around, without a social media reminders, all but 2 of those remembered - and I am so grateful to, without a plan, confirm, that life does, indeed, has true friendships, beyond the hype of "click and like". I am one lucky gal.

Without FB I had fulfilled another goal - I read "at least 12 books" this past year. I read more, and a hefty part of it was in the first half of the year (summer really sucks life out of me here), so I would love to keep up with it for the year(s) to come.

And I returned to a craft of cross-stitching. I finished a project and started a new one, and this very involved hobby really allows me to take my mind off the worries when the bad times strike.

This brings me to the final challenge I faced this year. Somewhere at the end of August I got very down on myself as my clothes became fitting tight, and looking into the mirror - painfully depressing. I gave a call to my friend, who happened to be a nutritionist, and she set me straight. Nothing ground-breaking, just a confirmation of what I always knew, and what always worked for me, empirically. I won't go into details, as she does do it for a living. But, on the brinks of "I need a liposuction!" scream, I started something so simple - yet so empowering. And the results blew my expectations away. Here we go, no filter, numbers don't lie. In a span of 3.5 months, I lost total of 16 pounds, 11 of them - pure fat, which constitutes 6.6% body fat loss. There was no plan for the "final number", yet it is so nice to be able not only button all the pants easily, but swing freely in them. And this was ALL in the KITCHEN only, since I quit my gym membership in July, and the state of my running training is marginally "maintaining" (still, though, hovering at 30 miles weekly). Simple does it, no pills, no gimmicks, no crazy exercise routine, no magic, no restriction on what to eat, no name-diets...You, too, can.

It was time to bring a Christmas tree back to the house. We managed to forgo the tradition for 4 years, for one reason or another...but not this year! It smells great, and brings smiles on our faces. As they say, we make the holiday what it is, nobody can do it for us.
And this wraps the year 2017, the year of Rooster, my year according to Chinese calendar. Come to think about it, it has been an INCREDIBLE year! One of the best. I used to think as we get older, we can't live fully, that we have "this and that" in order for that to happen. Bull! We forget, in a daily grind, the great things we do, see, hear, feel. We forget how wonderful our significant others are, what an awesome support they provide, how much they love us. What great friends we have, how they respect us and accept us, and when we need them most - they are here. How our kids teach us to love UNCONDITIONALLY - and this gets to a whole new level with events life throws at us, because only the love between a parent, a mother, and a child, can truly be truly called "unconditional". And that no matter where we live, we can dream bigger, and dreams DO come true.

I am about to set out, again, over the ocean, towards rising sun on the horizon, to the Land of a Firebird. Meeting and greeting the New Year with my mother and sister seems just right. Times are cherished when spent with loved ones. Things that matter most...As I peak over the calendar and see all the plans and ideas for the year 2018, I am excited - to put on the work, to share dreams with Larry, and to live, yet again, fully.

I heard a phrase today, and while it has been said many times before, in all kinds of books and personal workshops, it is worth repeating: "When you make choices, you choose consequences".

On that note, make your choices, live your life - and love every moment of it, damn it! Because it's the only one we got.


Sarah said...

Miss you Olga! Sounds like an amazing year. Here’s to many more!

Leslie said...

Miss you Olga! Good to see you are still killin' it in all ways. There's still an invite out there to come visit Banff. It would be a cheap and easy escape for you and Larry! These days our home is empty Sunday thru Friday as we're working at a backcountry lodge. You should come for a winter mountain break and enjoy a decompress. :)

Olga King said...

OMG, Leslie, it's been forever!!! Banff sounds like a paradise right about now, as our 2-week winter came to an end. Wish I could go on a short notice, but not with my job and a sense of responsibility! But I will keep it in my heart, and we will visit, I promise!

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