As promised, I’m back for the second week in a row! I hope everyone had a great week and isn’t too weighed down by the daily grind to kick back and relax or go on an epic adventure. If you are, then maybe this post will help you out a bit. Today I want to talk about our new day to day, and the awesome adventures we are (and aren’t) having. As I mentioned in my last post, when we got here it seemed like things just sort of fell into place for us. I was able to get a really nice 2015 Hyundai Sonata that came fully loaded (like this thing has a panoramic sunroof and air conditioned seats. I didn’t even know they made air conditioned seats.), Dan found a welding job that he doesn’t dread going to every day, that allows him to listen to podcasts while he works, and that gives him plenty of time to go to the gym every day before I get home from work, and I was offered a job as a dispatcher at my cousin’s boyfriend’s new and impressively successful business, with a sweet 6am-3pm schedule and an hour lunch that gives me plenty of time to hit the gym, myself. Soon after finding our jobs, we found an amazing two bed/two bath apartment that allows all breeds and sizes of doggos. We have a great patio for drinking coffee and beer, the complex backs up to a Starbucks and Black Rock (a super cool small coffee shop chain out here), and when we take Isley for her nightly walks, we have some pretty sweet mountain views. So we go to work and the gym every day, come home and cook a delicious meal for an early dinner, take Isley for a walk, and then have the rest of our evening to do with as we please. And then on the weekends we’re free to explore our new surroundings. It’s exactly what we had hoped to find out here. Sort of.
On paper this all sounds great, but if you really know me, you know that if it sounds great on paper to most people, it’s probably driving me insane. Now, before I really get into this and lead everyone to believe that we aren’t beyond grateful for all that we have here, and that we aren’t enjoying every bit of it for it’s full value, I want to be clear that we are. I never would have been presented with a job like the one I have now in Pennsylvania, where I am learning new skills and growing into it more and more each day, and I’m not planning on quitting it any time soon just because it looks too good on paper. There also isn’t a day goes by that I don’t look at the mountains and palm trees on my daily commute and think “holy cow, this place is beautiful.” That is not at all what I am saying here. What I am saying is that Dan and I both have some unfulfilled needs, and I personally am not good at “well enough.” We didn’t only come here for the weather and job improvement, we came here for some bona fide adventure. And let me tell you, a two bedroom apartment, Hyundai Sonata, and office job do not an adventure make. An adventure has passion, exploration, and plenty of creativity. A completely fulfilled Jenni would have a job that allows the flexibility to travel, something that can go on the road with her, the time to get outside every single day for more than just a thirty minute walk with her dog, time to explore creative passions like writing and trying something new like podcasting, and I think we all know that a big apartment in the suburbs is a far cry from the converted school bus home that beckons to the soul of a satisfied Jenni. This is a great life that we’re living here in Arizona, but is it our ideal life? Probably not.
So how are we making sure that we’re getting the most out of everything we have here? In the exact opposite way from what you’re probably thinking (unless you really know me, then it’s exactly what you’re thinking): A strict schedule and LISTS! I know, I know. I’m complaining about a lack of adventure and how an office job makes it difficult to be spontaneous. But do you know what else makes it difficult? Not thinking you have enough time in the day/week to fit things you really care about doing in because you aren’t managing that time well enough. When we first moved into the apartment I was getting borderline depressed because I felt like there just wasn’t time to go to work, take care of necessary daily tasks, make sure our pets were happy, see all that Arizona has to offer, get to the gym, and pursue my passion of writing. As a result, I was going to work, throwing some spaghetti on the stove, and then plopping down in front of the TV to watch The Office for hours until bedtime. A couple weeks of this and I just felt my true self slipping away. I’m generally a happy and energetic person, but I was just so drained and lifeless, so I decided that something had to change. Dan and I didn’t spend all of this time and effort, and leave our loved ones on the other side of the country for me to sit in front of a TV every night. So I made a spreadsheet that outlined every half hour of every day, and I made sure I fit in time for exploring, time for relaxing, time for writing, time for walking Isley, time for chores, and time for the gym. Do you believe that by doing this I was even able to find time to cook delicious meals, date nights, AND girly “me” time? Truthfully, this schedule was pretty stressful for the first two weeks. But I knew that I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t spending at least a little bit of time in every part of what drives me positively, so I committed to the schedule, and after a couple of weeks, a rigid schedule became more like habits that I looked forward to doing, and I was able to ease off of the strict adherence and just go with the flow of things
Another issue we were running into was the proverbial “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” trap that has plagued couples for centuries. When we would finally reach the weekend and have two and a half days of zero responsibilities ahead of us, we would spend its entirety questioning what we were going to do, instead of doing anything at all. “Well it’s 9pm now, wanna just order a pizza and watch The Office?” To combat this routine once and for all, I looked up weekend events, festivals, and farmers markets, and put them into my calendar so we always had an arsenal of new things to check out. We also came up with a bucket list of hikes, scenic drives, and National Parks and Monuments we wanted to see. Now we spend ten minutes at the beginning of the week exploring our options so we’re preset on what to do when the weekend comes. This weekend we’re taking a drive down to Tucson, detouring along the way to hunt for wildflowers. If you haven’t heard about the super bloom that’s taking over the deserts of California and parts of Arizona, do yourself a favor and look it up.
We’re pretty clear on what we want from our lives. We recognize our daydreams, and feel into what drives us. We just haven’t figured out how to get to it yet. We’re taking steps every day – sometimes huge strides, and sometimes baby steps,but in the meantime we’re also appreciating everything we already have. I am so grateful for all of my opportunities and the amazing new things I have to explore out here in Arizona, but every time I feel like I’m losing that spark of excitement for life, I take a step back to see what I’m missing and think about how I might be able to get it. It’s an imperfect process, but it serves me well, and it has lead me to some pretty great things already.