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

Monday, June 03, 2019

Home.

Dreams do come true. No matter how long the wait, how hard and tedious and uninspiring, how impossible it all seemed...if one keeps their head down, eyes laser focused, and desire burning, it'll happen.

We turned the key to the realtor for the next Austin house owner on Thursday at 4 pm, and drove into the sunset. "Go West, young man".
With an overnight stop somewhere an hour and half before Lubbock (we both really needed sleep and rest after a week of 3 am waking up, work and all the things involved in moving to another state), we finally crossed into a state of CO at the top of Raton Pass. Our home state.
And just like that, not even couple hours later, by 2:30 pm, we turned the corner of the street (the view never gets old!!) and rolled into OUR driveway. OUR HOME!
 The grass was over a foot and half tall, and due to recent May snow storms - last as late as a previous weekend! - there were A LOT of heavy tree branches both in our front yard and backyard. But, it was still the cutest house one could wish for. The cutest one for us, for sure.
We didn't take breaks, and straight from the stirring wheel got into unloading the truck and bringing boxes and items into the house. By 4:20 pm the U-Haul was returned, and we could exhale slowly. We have arrived.
The evening, and the following day have been spent in 2 ways: me - unpacking ALL the boxes and allocating their content into different rooms and the few closets we do have in this 829 sq ft home. Larry - chain saw in hands, cutting tree branches, putting them aside for disposal, and mowing lawn, not once, but twice, due to its complete overgrown condition.
And like that, at 4 pm on Saturday, 48 hrs after we pulled out of our Austin house, we were all settled into our CO home. Coffee and beer and knitting in hands. This is home. Pinch me!
Sunday was our day for fun. We returned to the local (OUR local) trail loop of Section 16, 12 min drive, one we discovered 2 years ago, for a repeat exploration. In a mere sub-2 mile steep climb (1100 feet), we were deep into backcountry line, in peace and quiet and amazing views opening up 360 degrees. Do we really get to be near this awesomeness for the rest of our lives?!
The morning was absolutely gorgeous, and the almost-5 mile perfect grade and trail condition downhill was such a warm welcome back into trail running. I have done "road running only" for majority of the past 3 years (venturing to Austin trails only to hike with a backpack while in the midst of training for my summer hikes), and I, quite literally, forgot how to run trails (not that Austin has "trails" in my personal definition, but pardon my obnoxious PNW past). We ran gingerly, but oh, so happy! My heart was flattering, my soul singing, and I couldn't wipe a smile off my face.
Everything is blooming here, from bushes in the front yard, to wild flowers. It smells and looks gorgeous. The morning runs picked up pace, yet again - a phenomenon I can never figure our explanation for (at altitude I run at least 40 sec per mile faster than back in TX at zero elevation, even before heat and humidity comes). The weather in the first half of the day is so beautiful - upper 60's and sunny. In the early afternoon, the clouds roll in. It is monsoon season here, in the mountains. Storms come with thunder, hail and hard rain, and the temperatures drop by a good 10 degrees. I love it! I take it any day over 100F and 100% humidity! But it also means all the errands need to be done and over with by 1-2 pm.
 
Monday morning, Larry got back to work: he is doing same job at Dell, but now remotely. Thank God for this option! The transition went flawless, and I can be his personal secretary, serving him tea, coffee and lunch, right into his office. :) I got to make a trip to DMV and get my new CO driver's license - I am officially a resident of this state! I also had an interview with a chiropractor doctor on Monday evening, who's office is looking for a massage therapist. She is awesome. While I still don't have my LMT license transfer completed (need to get fingerprinted, my appointment is not until Wednesday), and I can't start for at least another month, I figured a mock interview to test waters is not a bad idea. I am not going to jump on the first opportunity though, regardless how anxiously I want to get back to work. I now know my worth as a therapist. I also know there are so many more things I can do here besides working all damn time!

It has not settled in our brains that this is a move, not a visit. We've been coming to COS for the last 3 years: 3 times in the first couple of years (every 7 months or so), then 5 times since last October. We never stayed more than 5 days - in fact, we always stayed exactly 5 days - and we think once we pass this number, it might finally hit us: we live here now. We don't have to leave.

Grocery shopping done, I am tending to the kitchen chores. I prepare meals - nothing new here - but now I am preparing them fresh before consuming, slowly, mindfully. There will be a renovation here starting in 3-4 weeks, and I am so looking forward to it. Kitchen is the only space in this house that desperately needs work: 90's era is just so ugly. We want to bring back the style of 1928, year our home was built, but have appliances and conveniences of 21st century, in European (a.k.a. small-size) style. Everything else in this house is in perfect condition - they used to build to last! Original wood windows, wood floors, doors, door knobs and hinges. Beautiful backyard with 2 blue spruce trees and an apple tree bearing fruits (I tried them last October, for real!). All of it needs tender loving care - and we will provide. Lets begin this wonderful chapter of our lives.
Slow pace of life... last time I experienced it was, like, never? I am not sure how I feel yet, but I am certain that I love it here. Weeds are therapeutic. So are books (I got a library card and picked 5 at once!), knitting, yoga, walking to a store to pick up freshly baked goods... 

4 weeks without working every day. How odd. How fortunate that I am forced into it, otherwise I would have never gotten to slow down. I must breathe deeply...The air is fresh. Every tree and bush and grass remind me home, where I grew up. Including airplanes zipping by from the airforce base. It's a soothing sound, in a weird kind of way. Other than that, all I hear are birds chirping in the backyard. #lovenewhome


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Goodbye, Austin

9 years and 10 months. Exactly to date, I rolled into Austin in my car on July 30th, 2009. We're rolling out of it, together, on May 30th, 2019, pretty much on the proposed time frame agreed upon when we got engaged and made life's plans. We're moving to the mountains...
Ah. If you think the word "excitement" was in our vocabulary in the last month, you'd be so wrong. It's been stressful, sad, depressing, overwhelming, and all kind of negative things. In fact, to such extent, we resented this "dream move". Until on the Sunday of 19th we, quite literally, decided to give a conscious effort to stop being so pessimistic about what we're leaving behind, and turn it into "we'll be coming back, and there is much ahead". Because, yes, we'll be coming back. Larry's job requires (not really, but he'll benefit from) a showing up from time to time, we estimate every 2-3 months for a few days. My job was thrilled to put me on the schedule for any given days and hours and contact my regular clients - and every single client enthusiastically agreed to be on email list for that. And this will assure we will see our friends - because, in a positive, if sad-to-let-go, way, we've sort of "discovered" we have great friends who love us! What we don't see in daily lives...how often it's true with everything, once you part with someone or something.
The farewell celebrations of our friendships were extremely touching and beautiful. Made us feel special. I don't have any of Larry's work-related photos (of course), but rest assured he'd been take out so many times, we both will need a serious diet hit once we move. I will just include pictures from dates I was on.
My bestie Marta from UT science job, a human with whom I can not only be myself (I always am), but never be afraid of not be accepted and loved. I can whine, complain, bitch, and find a shoulder and ear in her, and we can laugh at the most difficult things at the end of it all. She is an amazing human, one I am most vulnerable with.
We had a great Sunday night tasting exquisite cheese selection with Pam and Peter.
Our old gang of ultrarunning friends, our yearly "backyard party" and Henry's "Crawfish boil" peeps, the ones who stood by even as we all fell of the training and racing scene, threw us a great "pizza, beer and lies" at Janice and Gabe's house.






We had lunches, coffee, chats, hugs. My work place threw me a "farewell" as well, and it was a blast. I got emails and words I didn't know my co-workers felt about me.
"I just looked at the June schedule and it was just heartbreaking that your name was not on there.  Heartbreaking! Today in the break room someone mentioned you leaving and I said “Myo w/o Olga just doesn’t seem right” and then Katy V got chills from sadness about it.  CHILLS!!  So sad.  I’ve only known you a little while and I will miss getting to know you more. I know you’ll create a meaningful life in Colo Spgs since you did that so well here.  Apparently it’s how you roll! "
"I'll miss you in your spot with your knitting.   It's almost as calming watching someone knit as knitting yourself!   I will miss your  your humor, your work ethic, your sharp mind, and someone always saying, I have no idea what she just said, as you walk out the door.  And who's going to be the recycling police now! "
Nearly all Myo-ans came to a local Tex-Mex to say good-bye - it was, in the bosses' words, THE biggest get-together for a farewell we had! I was profoundly, deeply touched by it, and by each and every one of their hug, word, tear...and it was a blast, too.




All the while we've been packing and selling stuff (as we chose not to take any furniture at all to our new home and start from scratch), and purging all the little (and not so much little) things we've accumulated and which fell through the cracks in various nooks and crannies. Knowing that our new home is 829 sq fr with far fewer closets makes one to look at each item with scrutiny.
I let go of my baby car. It had served me for nearly 12 years, and this little Honda Civic with no frills (but great gas mileage) made it worth every penny I paid when I picked it up as my divorce "cancellation prize". It was bitter sweet, but alas, we'll need some 4-wheel mode of transportation once in CO.
And the house...just like that, barely short of 8 years of creating memories and putting so much into it being our wonderful home. Just check out what we move into, and what we left, and I am not even going to try and post comparing photos of the insides, those are mind blowing!


There was more happening. The whole move, as we planned it, was tied up to Larry's son graduation from high school. What a fine young man he has become! Larry's mother flew in from Oklahoma to celebrate, and the ceremony was beautiful, with plenty of tears, both happy and sad as this chapter closes, and new begins.
Of course, we are working until the last day. I, literally, have my clients on Thursday, and from there walking out into U-Haul. I am sure we'll cry a lot, rolling out of our driveway...

Austin. Friends. Oh, the acceptance of all weird, quirky, dorky, odd-off, and speaking with an accent...With me, what you see is what you get. And if at times someone thought I was mean, I apologize. I am just straight as a rail, and the phrasing comes in s sentence built in Russian. That Russian upbringing...we don't have time to mince words:) But if you happened to touch my soul, this is forever. If I said something nice, I meant every damn word, every letter of it. Know that.

I came to Austin 10 years ago, and I always knew 2019 will be the summer we move to the mountains. This was the deal. I am a mountain person, a 4-season person, I need snow in the winter, turning colors in the fall, fresh dainty green in the spring - and NOT 100F and 90% humidity in the summer! :) At the time this day seemed so, so far away. Yet, somehow, life rolled on, and here it is. We are moving to the mountains...and we are very sad to leave Austin behind.



This is not "прощай" (not "goodbye forever"). This is a "see you soon".


I know we have so much ahead to look forward to, and we'll create meaningful life in a new place. I've done it so many times before. It is always scary - and with age it gets scarier. But you've got to follow your dreams. If only I could take everyone here with me. :(

Be well, Austin peeps. I will miss you. I will be back. And if you ever happen to pass by Colorado Springs, you got my email, give a shout, I'll have good coffee (they surely know how to brew it there) and a heart-to-heart conversation with you, and if you're brave enough, I'll drag you up Incline! ;)

Saturday, May 04, 2019

T-30 days

It is May 1st as I am writing the post, although I plan not to put it online for a few days. There're hurdles, still, I'd like to overcome and not jinx...

We made our last "visit" to Colorado Springs. Visit, because next time we travel there - it will be traveling home. And the visits, from there on, will be here, to Austin. It is actually happening...Are we excited? Yes and now. For years you are wrapped into an identity "one day I move to the mountains", and when it comes to fruition, it's a little bit of a lost feeling, a lost identity feeling. Dream is here, so it's no longer a dream? But there's still so much that have to fall in place, that dream is still feels unattainable.
The stay in CO was great though. We totally lucked out on the weather. There were house chores - setting up trash services and disposing of some 30 bags of raked leaves since Thanksgiving trip, plus the furniture boxes to recycle. The internet was connected, and Larry did a mock "remote working" for a couple of mornings. It went smoothly. We got a TV and hooked it to our Roku channel (no cable for this family). There was exciting (and expensive) visit to a local ski shop - oh, yes, we splurged on a brand new two full sets of ski gear, plus Monarch ski passes! My last ski set was left behind in Portland, 10 years ago, and technology has gotten so far! These skis and boots were not cheap, but my God, so awesome, and apparently have over 10 years longevity promise. I plan to downhill my life in them until the end days (at least until the end os my skiing life). So many opportunities for great outdoors in this place! I'm yet to figure out cross-country skiing, but the places offering downhill skiing are all squared away and within some 2 hrs drive. It is such a gift to have things to do in every season right at your door step!
We did our morning runs, and my pace is still miraculously far faster than in Texas. I stopped carrying my phone, yet the sunrises continue to blow my mind every single time. I explored some new territories, took new turns and directions, enjoyed my moving meditation. Peaceful as peaceful gets.

One day we did a short hike at the Bear Creek park, where that 30k we both signed up for will start. Beautiful site, such an unassuming place leading with a single track straight into the mountains. A paradise, indeed. Although, for sure, we''re in for a good dose of suffering. Between the distance neither one of us had gone in, like, forever, a thin air, and the climbs from the get-go, it'll be humbling and pretty much destroying our running self-esteem. I can only laugh inside, because I think I am ready for humiliation, but truly, I have no clue what to expect. I am not backing away though. I want it, in a weird way. :)

It is just the beginning of Spring in Colorado, and it feels exactly how it's supposed to feel at the end of April. Leaves are not out yet, but the trees are blooming with flowers. The smells are intoxicating, and the colors are amazing. It reminds me home, the way I grew up. Lots of walking downtown provided for enjoyment of all the variety around. I sent pictures to my sister, and she said the same thing - Moscow on May 1st. Nearly 10 years living in ever-green state didn't stop from longing the natural cycle of life. Seasons. The way nature is intended. Sleep, wake up and bloom, blossom, turn color and fall. Everything is ok with the world here. I am finally moving home.
I jumped on a "first week of yoga is free" offer in one of the local studios and took 4 classes in 4 days. That was rather nice! Though I am not that big into daily yoga any longer, nor do I enjoy heated classes, for a vacation - and for free - it was a clear winner. Met some nice people. There are 2 studios in less than 1.5 miles from home - I can walk there (and I did). One of the perks of living not in a suburb, with a great sidewalks system, and views that leave you in awe every time. All of this while Larry was fighting dandelions:)
Of course, there was knitting! I feverishly finished a green sweater for Larry so I can leave it behind and not take it back to Texas. It was a delight to knit - and to see his happy eyes. We visited local coffee shops and had some local hops, too. There was a yarn shop, for sure. Sadly, this downtown yarn store is closing by the time we move, but maybe it's a good thing for the pocket book. However, I would like to find a knitting group and participate in a get-together once a month or so, could be a way to some social life in the future.
Last full day was capped with a run/hike on Pikes Peak trail system, and boy, are we out of mountain shape! But it was beautiful, and oh, so rewarding and promising miles to come...We quickly realized uphill running for us is out of reach, but downhill legs still available to some extent. It was a lot of solitude, amazing vistas, hard work - in a mere 10 miles. The loop took us around the side of Incline via trails and carriage dirt road surrounded by trees and views, then dropped us back to the top of it with some bushwhacking involved, and from there connected to Barr trail down. The opportunities to explore are endless here!



We drove back to Austin, and went pretty much straight from the high mountains of Colorado into our friends' house in Hill Country Texas. Lost of friends gathered together for Henry and Janice housewarming - and annual crawfish boil. So much fun! I always love seeing the running community, folks we spent years racing with and drinking beer on random occasions, shared suffering and joys of ultrarunning, and enjoy relaxing around good people, feeling loved and belonging. God, as little as we have been around each other last few years, we are going to miss them. The connections we made through our whacky sport are pretty tight with a good number of people, shared memories, shared "no longer in it" too...


All this above was happening while our Austin home went on a market...and within 36 hrs got offers. It is a beautiful home, and we put quite some equity, plus Larry's sweat, blood and tears into making it so. It is officially the longest one-place I lived in continually including my parents' apartment in Kuncevo, Moscow (and that was, obviously, not MY living quarters). That is a scary thought. I never thought I'd be attached to a place - but I also never stayed in a place for so long. This is home where I felt I made it mine. It is too big right now, without kids in it any longer, and it feels right to leave it behind - yet it still sad to part. We hope whomever comes in appreciates all the touches and lives here happily and long. 
I got really sick after the trip. Like, really, really sick. With no relief from any OTC meds at all. And I am anxious about the future, about the sale, the last month here, my job, how to tell everyone I am leaving, what to do once we move...so much scary.

P.s. as I mentioned at the very beginning, this is getting released some days later. My health has improved, so did my mood. Some of the darkness lifted, many of the hurdles were passed, and a number of those still left are not nearly as daunting. This is a trial time, still, moving across the country at the age of 50 into a complete unknown, even if a desired place. I am ridden by anxieties, and I am not going to sugar-coat it. This is my blog, my thoughts. I told my work management that I am leaving. I've been preparing for this conversation, yet it blurted out almost by accident. Now it's getting really real. More real than when we bought the house in CO or put our home here on the market. Because to me it's all about human factor. People connection. In my line of work, it sure is all about people, top to bottom. It's been great 5 years at this place. I am going to miss my clients so much (and already get their sad remarks to say the least). I might have not been best friends with any of the co-workers, but we've developed strong relationships, and I always felt admired and accepted and respected. The management treated me really well, and the pay can not be understated. I will not find this kind of hourly rate ahead of me...

Despite general "we're going after the dream", I am a normal human, not a bogus inspirational speaker for production. While I certainly hope (know?) we will overcome the obstacles ahead, right now it is nose to the ground. I've moved that big a few other times in my life: from Russia to US/NYC, then across the country to Portland, OR, then packed and came to Texas. Each time it was extremely terrifying, no job security, no friends, no clear prospects, nobody to hold hand. While Austin is not particularly dear to our hearts, neither for the weather, nor for absence of the mountains, season, tall trees, small community feel...it is a familiar city we grew to know. We may not have enjoyed or used all it has to offer - not our cup of tea, the music and the eating/drinking scene - but still, it provided for us stability. I am not alone, of course, moving and changing life's path. It doesn't make it easier on anyone, and I am not here to pretend, I am here to express myself. The older we get, the sharper the feelings of uncertainty are. Yet at the same time, deep down, I do know that every time I dug my heels into the Earth for stability and made a change I decided to make, it worked. The path of our life is unknown, the turns we take direct us somewhere we might have not expected. Who knows how it would be if a different angle was explored? Alas, no reason to dwell. The mountains are calling. When the fear rises, I read these words sent to me awhile back:
"You know what keeps me going?  A vivid image in my mind that I’ve had for years.
I’m sitting on our front porch with my feet resting on the porch steps looking and just being in the moment that, after a lifetime dream, here. You’re sitting next to me, hip-to-hip with your head resting on my shoulder.
I’m at total peace and know the fight is over. The mountains are near, the air is dry, and the nights cold. A small smile is on my face-- I am finally home..."
And my heart whispers back: "You do what it takes, and I do what it takes, and God willing, it will bring us to the path that will lead to happiness, however long and twisted it may be."