Ride ’em Cowgirl

I have been forced to hide Callie’s butt ugly worm toy because she became so addicted to it that she wouldn’t even go outside to climb her beloved olive trees. That was quite a startling revelation for me and I pondered over the thin line between seeking pleasure and it becoming an addiction. I have Bipolar Disorder, so I have to always be aware of being too attached to something, anything, everything. Balance and moderation with a good dose of routine, exercise and healthy eating habits is the key for me.

When Callie sat over her worm toy and only wanted me to play THAT game with her, I had to put it away and find other fun things for her to enjoy! Ride ’em cowgirl is her new fun and favorite thing, but it doesn’t consume her every waking hour like the worm did. She jumps up on my old leather reclining chair and sweetly looks up at me and invites me to get behind it and literally rock it back and forth aggressively so that she can ride her bucking bronco. She holds on for dear life as I tumble her back and forth. What a funny one she is. I have to make sure that there is balance in her life though. Climbing trees, going on walks, riding in her bike basket and being the queen of the RV dash is the variety that keeps her stimulated and engaged, but healthy and happy too!

We leave for Lake Cuyamaca on Monday and the fun will begin again for her and for us. We all go a little crazy out here in the middle of nowhere after a while, even if it is beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Off-road biking and hiking the beautiful trails of this gorgeous country park will be restorative and exciting. Callie hates being bored and hanging out in this house for too long drives her crazy. I can relate!

You Know it is Hot when…

Michael, Callie and I now have the awesome company of our adult daughter joining us on our travels with Callie adventure. She has been going to school- non-stop for close to 27 years. She wants to do a little traveling before deciding what she wants to be when she grows up. She is an only child and a much-loved one at that. There are pros and cons of being an only child, but not one that I can address because I am one of 8. So having her join us is an honor and we understand and appreciate her very much. Not every adult/child would be kind or mature enough to take on the task of an RV trip with a cat and her aging, crazy parents.

We left Anza- Borrego Desert State Park where we have lived for a year and a half now. It was a hot, Friday afternoon on September 15th and it was 112 outside. Trying to pack up the RV in the oppressive heat was a daunting task, and this time most of the work fell on my husbands’ shoulders. I have Bipolar Disorder and had gone on a binge for several days before the trip. Leaving the house to go on a trip has frequently been a trigger for me, and this time was no exception. Staying in bed in a fetal position is horrible to experience, and no fun for any of us! I am relieved to see it behind me and the four of us safely out the door.

Living in the desert is brutal during the summer months and that was the reason for the RV purchase last December. It is miserable to be shut up in the house all day with a swamp cooler blasting and no possibility of doing anything besides swimming outdoors. Even the pool was a tepid warm and not very refreshing to go in. Plus the sun is so harsh that it fries your skin within an hour. The reality of just how hot it has been hit home when I noticed that my fake, battery operated candle had melted down to a forlorn and sunken shape. The real candles that a close girlfriend had given me had liquified and none of the wicks were left on the surface. Cans of V8 juice had exploded in the pantry and needed to be cleaned up and everything was super hot to the touch.

So I am so delighted and so appreciative that we got out of there in one piece and will be traveling up the coast. It will be cooler along the ocean and my adventures with Callie will begin once again.

Behind Closed Doors

I risk loosing some of my followers but gaining others in disclosing that I have Bipolar Disorder. Should I start another private blog and keep the lightness and fun of Travels with Callie separate?  I have decided that none of us live lives that are free of insult and injury and I am no exception.There are so many of us living with challenges in so many different forms, that it is worth the risk if I can help just one individual. For me, living with Bipolar Disorder is like driving down the road in a car and I am enjoying the beautiful scenery as it flashes by. You are traveling along and admiring the view but the car speeds up and continues to do so until you realize that the accelerator pedal is jammed and you start to panic. How do you stop the car when the brakes have failed and you are going faster and faster?  Where is the runaway truck ramp when you so desperately need it? I have been accident prone since I was a very young girl. My fist major accident was when I was in second grade and I was on a bicycle and crossed a street darting out of an alley, and was hit by an oncoming car. I can still remember the ambulance ride to the hospital and being asked how to spell my name. I spelled it JAON. I in return asked if Doctor Kildare worked at the hospital where I was being taken. I am 61 years old and this was a TV show that I had watched with my older sisters and I had a crush on Richard Chamberlain. I also remember cringing because I knew I didn’t have panties on under my shorts. I suffered a head injury and my mother insisted I be discharged from the hospital because she would be able to take better care of me at home. I required stitches and it was important that I be turned frequently due to the head injury. My mother insisted that she understood the symptoms of a concussion and wanted me home with her. If I took a turn for the worse, she assured the doctor that she would bring me back to the hospital. I have another vivid memory of feeling very special when my sisters saw my head wrapped in bandages and I became the center of attention. I am a middle child with 6 sisters and a brother. Being the center of attention was a novelty to me. This was the start of many serious injuries I have sustained throughout my life, and I am determined now to focus my attention on self preservation and mindfulness.

It’s often said that a traumatic experience early in life marks a person forever, pulls her out of line, saying. “Stay there. Don’t move.”-  Jeffery Eugenides, Middlesex

I had a beautiful childhood that was full of fun and adventure, but somewhere along the way I learned to hurt myself when life sped up or became too difficult to process. I couldn’t find a way to slow down and protect myself and found it easier to be hurt, seriously hurt, so that I had no choice but be forced to recover or die. This has been a life time pattern of mine and I could use some serious therapy, and maybe some day I will seek it out… again. For now, I have Callie. She has been a tremendous help to me. I watch her navigate through life and all that it throws at her, and she does her best to take it day by day and moment by moment.

Strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it’s the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with. -Jenny Lawson

Last week in Borrego Springs, we had a serious storm blow through and we got a lot of wind and rain. Callie kept wanting to go outside so that she could climb her beloved olive trees and I kept telling her no.  Finally, after much pestering, Michael decided he would take her outside for a bit and promised to keep a close eye on her. I watched from inside as the trees danced in circles and the rain came down in big but sporadic drops. They looked so cute in the backyard together with Michael’s hair blowing all over and Callie prancing around in glee. But all of a sudden a huge blast of wind much like a mini tornado slammed into both of them and almost pulled Callie up into the air. When she was able to get her feet down on the ground and found some traction, she made a beeline for me. If I hadn’t opened the sliding door at the last second, she would have hit the glass and knocked herself senseless. It was so funny to see her loose all sense of courage and make a dash for the house as if her life depended on it!  We laughed so hard about the expression on her face and that she didn’t think MIchael was a good enough protector. She had made eye contact with me when the blast of wind had hit her and she raced toward me in a flash.  Now she is no longer quite as enthusiastic about climbing the olive trees when there is a storm brewing. Callie learned a valuable lesson and I trust that she will be a little more careful next time. 

Life is a journey and sharing it with Michael and Callie in my middle years has been a learning curve. Animals are sentient beings and the responsibility of taking care of them can either overwhelm you or add so much to your life. Callie is this tiny little package of emotion and energy and she really does seem to love me. I have always connected with animals and probably enjoy their company more than humans. She is therapeutic and great company for me and I hope to enjoy many more adventures with her. 

Childhood is the barrel they give you / to go over the falls in.  -Linda McCarriston

I am going to enjoy my life and take that barrel over the falls again with Callie and Michael, preferably a road trip, but this time I am going to slow down and write about my adventures and make sure to reflect on them to try to stay mindful, in the moment and safe!

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Living Life Wide Open

The advantages of being Bipolar are endless if you can control the ups and downs of life and minimize the damage it causes. Most of the time I live my life wide open and people would describe me as effervescent. I am a talented artist and photographer and I am now enjoying writing this blog about Callie and me. I knew that I was an artist even when I was a young child and can remember feeling disdain for children in kindergarten when they drew the sun in a corner with beams spread out over the page. That is not how the sun looks I thought to myself. I knew how to draw and paint and did not need art lessons. School has always been a difficult format for me to learn in, and I lack the fundamentals of english grammar for instance, but have managed to acquire a B.F.A. in drawing and painting at Cal State Fullerton when I was in my early 30’s. I had just finished giving birth to my daughter Lara, and graduated from college the year after. When Lara was born my creative outlet was painting portraits of her and I started photography about that time too. She became my muse and now that she is 30 herself and living on her own, Callie has taken her place. There isn’t a day that goes by that Callie doesn’t get her photo taken when we are together. There are days when I take 50 or more photos of her. It gets to the point where she actually glares at me if I take too many pictures and don’t spend enough quality time with her. When I dropped Callie off at Holiday Pet Hotel, I asked them if it would be possible to take a few photos of her while I was away in Maui. Today they sent me a photo of Callie in a Christmas hat and scarf. This photo is also on their Facebook page. This is the reward I get for being open and vivacious and if I may say so myself, Callie benefits from this too. You can just tell by the photo that she is use to being a diva and having her picture taken is no big deal! And you can tell that Callie is in very good hands at Holiday Pet Hotel…❤️