Friday, February 26, 2010

Leap of Faith

I have been waiting to write this post since I started my blog. I have been waiting to say these words for a year and a half.

Donald has a full-time job.

He accepted the offer this week. He's signing the lease on our new apartment this morning. I gave notice at my current job yesterday. We are moving in mid-March. We are starting our lives again.

I didn't write this post the minute he received his job offer because it was a mixed experience. He was offered a different position from the one he had been doing on contract, which really surprised us. It was like he had lost a job and been offered a job in the same moment, a moment filled with disappointment and confusion rather than joy and relief.

It didn't help that I was home alone and that he was a three-hour drive away. That evening was especially difficult because we were physically apart. It is so hard to make life-changing decisions when you cannot look each other in the eye, when you cannot hold hands, when you cannot give or receive hugs.

Since that difficult moment, however, we have re-rooted ourselves in what is most important. The job is still with the same company. It will further Donald's career. He will still get to work with his amazing coworkers, just not as closely. He still has the chance to get the position he wants next year (it wasn't in the budget this year).

And he HAS A JOB! We can move forward! We can move out of his parents' home and get a dog and have our own lives again.

We weren't exactly going to say "no, thanks".

We are taking a leap of faith. We trust this company to do right by Donald and our family. We trust that our scramble to find housing has resulted in an apartment that will be "good enough". It might even be great. We chose location over space and I think it was the right choice.

Somehow we had gotten it into our heads that this moment, the one we have been waiting for for so long, would be nothing but happiness, relief, and the end of compromises. As I type that, it seems clearly silly. But that's what we expected. And that's why it wasn't obvious right away that this was real, that we really were doing something good. That compromising didn't mean that it wasn't what we should do.

We are SO excited. We are taking our next steps with our eyes open, our hearts forward, and we are leaping feet first into this next adventure.

Won't you come with us?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Five Love Languages

Kate at Newlywed & Unemployed wrote this month about a book by Gary Chapman called The 5 Love Languages. I found her review intriguing and checked out the website for the book, which includes free personal profiles for men and women to determine their love language ranking.

Donald and I both took the online personal profile quiz and then talked about our results. The outcome was so eye opening and so helpful to both of us. The results below show how each of us want to be loved, not necessarily how we show our love for others, although these are related.

My results (in order of importance) were:

Donald's results (in order of importance) were:

I actually had equally high scores on my top three, which gives Donald all sorts of options for showing his love for me. It was particularly revealing to see that Words, one of my top needs, was at the bottom for Donald. I realized that my words to him don't mean nearly so much as his words to me. It helped me see that the things I do for him and the time we spend together is more important than I had previously thought.

We also talked about my low Service need. I chalked it up to being so independent, not wanting to wait for him to open doors for me or do something for me that I could do myself. It's funny how we assume that other people want to be loved the same way we do. If I had pushed on showing most of my love for Donald through Words, I think he would have been mighty disappointed. Same thing if Donald insisted on showing his love for me by showering me with gifts. It's always nice, but not as fulfilling as other things he could do.

What are your love languages? How does this affect your relationships? Have you talked about your needs with your significant other? Do you know what their needs are?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disability Awareness

My job working with rehabilitation specialists has educated me about the myths and realities about people with disabilities. In my short time in the blogosphere, I have come across quite a few people who are trying to share good information about the realities of living with disabilities and the things each of us can do to make their lives that much easier.

For example, Barbara Swafford wrote a post a while back at Blogging Without a Blog about how to make your website or blog more accessible to people with disabilities. A recent commenter on my blog, Lindsey, writes her own blog about raising five children with disabilities.

If you're following the Olympics in Vancouver this winter, you might not know that the Paralympics take place from March 12-21 in the same facilities.

I have also been seeing these wonderful ads on TV from Think Beyond the Label about promoting the hiring of people with disabilities. This ties in with my interest in helping Veterans return to "normal" life when they return from the war. Many returning Veterans have disabilities of one kind or another, and they deserve fair hiring practices that allow them to contribute to their country when they come back.

Many of us are currently buried under feet of snow. My particular city has neglected to clear most sidewalks in a high pedestrian area. Pedestrians have been killed by cars because they were walking in the street, the only place clear enough to walk. This is bad enough for those of us who can walk independently. Put yourself in the shoes of someone in a wheelchair and the problem is even more complicated. Public busses cannot get to the curb, so people using wheelchairs have a hard time getting on and off the bus. This is unacceptable, for everyone involved. Solutions are delayed by fights over who's responsibility it is to fix the problem instead of mobilizing the public to help everyone in a communal effort.

On a happier note, many companies are actively making efforts to accommodate people with disabilities. EA Games, a video game company, has taken strides to create settings that meet the needs of people with physical and developmental disabilities. EA Games has partnered with a company called VTree to do more of this kind of work in a project called Games for Good. A group called Able Gamers runs a website all about games and their accessibility highs and lows. This is a powerful group considering that one of their largest consumer bases is made up of Veterans.

As a side note, if you haven't come across Games That Give, check them out. Turn the time you spend playing games on your computer into money for your favorite charity. And it's free.

**Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with the companies, events, or websites listed above.**

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day

More like snow week. For those of you not following national weather news, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states are being walloped by the second snow storm in a week. It has been quite the adventure, with the university that employs me being closed for three days in a row. It's practically unheard of. For those of you in this area with me, please be careful and stay warm and safe.

You might have noticed that I have been absent from blogs, mine included, for the past week. Part of that is due to the fact that I headed home early last Friday because of the first impending storm. That night, the power went out and stayed out for over 24 hours. We had to bring our cats over to the house so they didn't freeze, which was huge because my mother in law is allergic.

It actually worked out really well and Donald and I spent the night in the basement with the cats in front of the fireplace, quite warm and romantic if you ask me. The power came back on at 4 am Sunday morning, but the phones and internet were down until yesterday. So all I had was my iPhone, and I wasn't about to try blogging from there. I know it's possible, but it's not conducive to the way I write.

Work was cancelled on Monday. And Tuesday. We left home for Donald's job away from home on Tuesday morning after getting some files from my office so I could do work from there. The roads were so bad in the city that it took us an hour just to get to my office. Once we got out of the city and were headed to our final destination, though, the roads were beautiful and clear, so it made for a very nice drive. I actually drove, which put a lot more experience in my belt for driving in the snow. Remember, I grew up in California, where we never had a snow day. Donald thinks this is a tragedy of my upbringing.

Since we arrived, I've been rescheduling housing appointments to avoid the second storm, and sneaking out between to see some places early. So far, it's going really well and I am pleased with our options. I have more appointments through Saturday, so we'll see what happens. Ideally, we'll be able to make a decision early next week and then I really will be "all systems GO" for this move.

So that's the factual version. The more emotional version is that all of this mayhem and confusion has been a really wonderful opportunity and reminder for us to see what is most important as we plan for our upcoming transition. I have felt more competent and responsible in the last week than I have in a long time. We had no problem handling the power outage. We shoveled snow and salted. We cared for our cats and made sure that the pipes didn't freeze.

We were reminded of what is most important. Without power and internet and cable, we had few distractions. We sat together by the fireplace and played board games. We did puzzles. We read books and did crafts and talked. It was like we had gone back in time. It was so nice to slow down and relax and reconnect. We have been slower here and more relaxed and more attuned to spending our time on the most important things rather than the infinite distractions around us.

Even though the storms have been branded dangerous and a mega inconvenience, I am grateful for them. I am grateful that it has given us the opportunity to shift our priorities to the important things. I am grateful that it has given me time away from work to focus on our upcoming transition. And I am grateful that it has pushed me over the fear of being on our own again. If I can drive in snow, baby, I can do anything.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What Is Home?

I have spent so many hours over the last week looking for rental housing in our potential community. It's a college town and has quite a variety to choose from. Donald and I are trying to avoid undergrad-type housing and we have found several good options. I'm going out with him next week to visit and I have appointments with eight different places of varying styles and prices.

This experience has been a bit more energy-sapping than I had anticipated. I am the kind of girl who loves projects like this, creating spreadsheets and lists, and doing lots of online research and making phone calls. Sneaking into all of this, however, are several thoughts that have had me sitting back a bit and thinking about our next steps.

Living with Donald's parents has affected us. As in, going out on our own again is actually a bit scary sounding, even though it's something we really want. I'm having a hard time trusting prospective landlords and property management companies. I'm wondering what elements will really make our new place a good home for us. Do we pay more for some things? Should we be saving all of our money for a down payment on a house?

The plan right now is to rent for a year or two until we learn about the neighborhoods and get a sense of where we want to live, and then look for a house to buy. We have never owned a house before, so this step is huge for us. The place we move in to first might be for only a year, or it might be for longer, so we're trying to find a balance between saving money and having the amenities that we really want.

Laundry in-home, for example (we have gotten used to it). A yard (garden, dog, space). An extra bedroom or two (office, visitors, babies!). Are all of these worth spending more money on? Even if it delays a house purchase?

And that's just housing stuff. Donald and I definitely need to sit down and figure out our budget further. We have our basic expenses figured out (utilities, groceries, etc.) and it has been a long time since our incomes could cover our expenses. That is a wonderful feeling. It's the extra stuff that we're saving for that gets complicated. I'm going to be consulting Get Rich Slowly for a lot of advice as we move forward.

A down payment on a house is pretty easy to figure out, because we want to hit a certain percentage of the sale price and we have a sense of how much money we want to spend on our first house.

Starting a family is a very fluid thing to save for. Do people actually do that? Or do you just decide it's time to have a family and then deal with whatever expenses come along? Obviously, you can always spend more money on kids, but does anyone have a suggestion about a baseline for a first kid budget? Am I crazy thinking that this is something over which we have control?

Travel is a big one. My family lives in California and we want to see them there at least once a year. We're also trying to set up a yearly visit with some friends of ours, and there are always family get togethers that are fun to attend. My best friend is also getting married this year and I'm throwing part of her bachelorette party, so those expenses are included here as well. Donald and I want to visit a dude ranch (remember my need to learn to barrel ride?) and I want to take him to Europe (Scotland and Italy are first on our list).

Creeping into my consciousness are also a lot of mixed feelings now that this seems like it's actually going to happen. We have had a truly wonderful year staying with Donald's parents. I am so grateful to be able to say that. It hasn't always been fun, but we have really made the most of it and it feels so wonderful to have gotten to know each other so much better. It has also been pretty cushy and we have gotten used to a certain level of pampered-ness that will be hard to leave. We have gotten dependent.

It has been so nice to always have someone home, to talk to, to eat with, to sit in the same room with. It will just be the two of us again (and our two cats) and that might be weird to adjust to at first. That's why my So Close post included making new friends - it will be so important so that we get out of the house and don't drive each other crazy (in a bad way).

We have a snowed-in kind of weekend ahead of us, so maybe it will be time to figure some of these things out. As always, your words of advice, support and encouragement mean so much to me. Thank you for reading.

Monday, February 1, 2010

So Close

It is so close.

I can see myself running on new bike trails

I see making new friends

I see discovering new places to shop and eat and exercise

I see a new yoga master there, recommended by my current teacher

I see our cats enjoying new space

I see our belongings unpacked

I see myself uncluttering with joy

I see our new laundry room

I see hanging art on the walls

I see sunshine coming in the windows

I see cooking and baking healthy, yummy food

I see my husband coming home from work, tired and happy

I see the beginning of our family

I see peaceful space

I see responsible choices and a happy budget

I see traveling

I see hosting visitors

I see a new puppy and walks and dog parks

I see happy work with a nonprofit I believe in

I see a functional and comfortable home office

I see photos of family and friends everywhere

I see fresh garden produce from my garden

I see community service and a connection with our new home

I see checking out the University, maybe taking classes or workshops

I see continuing to blog and to write and to share

I see a home
I see independence
I see growth
I see quality
I see love

~ Donald's official position offer is just out of reach. We should know something more concrete in the next few weeks. We spent the weekend looking at apartment options online, to move in March. Significant, possibly sudden, transition dances enticingly at the beginning of spring. Fitting. ~