Monday, October 10, 2011

My Wabi Sabi Life

I guess I should start by telling you I arrived back in the US with dogs in tow the first week of April. I made my way to White Rock, NM, where I camped out at my friend Sheila’s house for few weeks before limping back to Colorado Springs, where I hoped to settle and find a job. I used the last of my savings to pay two months rent on a downtown apt., closing out the storage unit where I’d kept my worldly goods for the past two years while living in Mexico. I had a mammoth yard sale which netted me a thousand dollars, but other income was hard to come by. I cast for jobs in the Springs and Denver, but each resume I sent out felt like a pebble tossed into the void. I even applied for positions with a company in Saudi Arabia. Nothing. Nada.

Just for grins, I went online and applied for a senior editor job with Joyce Meyer Ministries in St. Louis. As my second month ended in the Springs, I realized I’d better make a “Plan B.” Packed up my things again, donated or abandoned my old furniture and re-rented the storage unit. I drove back down to White Rock and arranged to move my things into the garage of an empty house owned by my friend Hank, a physicist at the Los Alamos Nat’l Laboratory. I also applied for a job as activity director at a nursing home in Los Alamos. But then I got a call that my mom was dying in Missouri. At nearly the same time, I got a call from HR at Joyce Meyer also located in Missouri. They wanted to conduct an initial interview. I drove the six hours back to Colo.Spgs, and flew out two days later, just praying I could get home to Fulton while my mom was still alive. I made it to Fulton and spent the next two nights sleeping in her hospital room. Although we all thought she would pass that weekend, she hung on to life and I had no choice but to make my way back to St. Louis where I had the interview and boarded a plane back to Colorado Springs.I spent two more frantic days trying to pack up the apt. before the month ended. The day after I got back, I got the call that Mom had died.

But there was no time to grieve. I had to pack up a moving truck. And I needed a place to stay. I spent the next week moving from one friend’s house to another, trying not to overstay my welcome at any one place. In the meantime, I noticed I had an unquenchable thirst. I drank one Gatorade after another and peed till I thought I couldn’t pee anymore. I also had developed what I thought was a stubborn bladder infection. But I kept going – just like the Energizer Bunny, with yet another drive back to the Springs on my 57th birthday. I got another call from Joyce Meyer and flew to St. Louis for that all-important second interview. Still no commitment from them, however.

I single-handedly loaded the moving truck, except for a little help from my friend Rob Parham, and drove to Los Alamos, where Sheila and Hank helped me unload. I had yet another sale while I was there and was fully prepared to move into Hank’s house.

Then on Labor Day, I told Sheila I needed to go to Urgent Care to get checked out. Something felt wrong. We went in the morning and I explained my symptoms. Turns out my sugar levels were sky high. They sent me to the emergency room where I laid for the next several hours being pumped with saline and insulin. Yup. I have diabetes.

Well, sometimes the sky rains frogs. Maybe it was a pox. Or maybe it was just my crazy life finally catching up with me. But I’d barely returned home that evening when the dogs announced they wanted to go to the park. I left Sheila’s house and walked down the front sidewalk to the van, only to slip off the edge of the sidewalk and fall, breaking my ankle. Back to the emergency room. Seriously. I’m not making this up. And me with no health insurance.

A few days later, I got the call from Joyce Meyer. They wanted to hire me as a writer. I said “yes.”

We loaded up the moving truck yet again, me hobbling around Hank’s garage and him in the truck tying things down for the long drive to Missouri. No time to think about or process anything. Sometimes you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We tried to figure out how to have someone drive the truck for me, but in the end, I realized I had to grit my teeth and do it myself. I had Hank drill a hole in a little plastic footstool and tie a string through it so I could climb up and down from the truck, pulling it in after me (My friend Chloe says, "That's so Mexican!).

The drive took me four days at 60 mph over flat, two-lane highways in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and finally, MO. The day before I got to St. Louis, I called a PV friend, Adrienne, who lives in St. Louis, and asked her if she knew any teenagers who could help me unload the truck when I got to town. She put me in touch with her sister who knew somebody. I arrived on the 15th and the boys showed up at 6 pm to unload. They finished after dark.

I had the next three days to start unpacking and get ready to report for work on the 19th.

The apt. is in a historic 1950 building with a marble foyer, wrought iron, a spiral staircase and a turret. I have porthole windows, hardwood floors and coved ceilings. The place is located in a colorful neighborhood in the city, across the street from a beautiful, large park with rolling hills and giant oaks, sycamores and pine trees. The dogs love it. There’s an enormous reflecting pond at one end – I call it the "cee-ment pond." Sculpture lines the periphery.

St. Louis is not Mexico. It’s not New Mexico. I haven’t fully processed that I am no longer living in the West, or that I’ve had to leave everyone I love behind, Including the life I came to love in Puerto Vallarta. But I am fully cognizant that God is in this move. I needed a job. And I need a place to land. I needed a place to rest from the constant movement and uncertainty – and now health challenges. I also needed to work again. I have missed having a purpose and a mission.

I like Joyce Meyer. I like her message. Although there is a learning curve after all my time out of ministry, not to mention being about as far removed from corporate America as one can get. But I’m trusting God with my future, even though I’m homesick for Mexico and New Mexico. Even though Missouri is the last place I thought I’d end up. I lived the first ten years of my life in St. Louis. Ghosts are everywhere, and it’s ironic that both my parents are dead now. My mother had her ashes interred at my dad’s grave in Steeleville, just an hour south of here. I plan to visit them soon.

Despite coming full circle to return to somewhat alien territory, my favorite life verse bolsters me in the midst of so many changes and transitions:

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

I have been changed by the past year. In some ways it feels as though I’ve walked through a door and had it close behind me. I am in mourning for my losses. But it feels like there’s no turning back. It’s a new thing. This is where I’ve been planted. And I am just waiting to see what will happen next.


  1. There's an old southern saying: "Blossom where yur planted."

    I'm glad things have settled down for you, that you are "planted". I wish the best for you, and will stop and see you if I come back to Colorado/NM thru St. Louis. So glad you found out about the diabetes before it could do serious damage! Not a good thing to have, but controllable, thank goodness.

    Aren't Hank and Sheila just the best?


    1. Sherry, I just found your comment on my blog. Haven't been hanging out there as much as I used to...yes, Hank and Sheila ARE the best. They are Jesus with skin on...