Like a Rolling Stone

I just can’t seem to stop moving. Literally.

Years ago, someone asked my sister if I would be around for a while.  Her response, “She’s a rolling stone.”

Let’s see.

1969-1987:      Mom and Dad’s house. Birth through high school graduation.

1987-1991:      University of Wisconsin –Madison.  2 years in the dorms. My first apartment was torched by an arsonist and the location is where the Kohl center now resides. I find this very suspicious.  Second apartment was a total dive on South Orchard Street near Union South.  The kind of apartment that is still available when the semester has already started.  Year 4 we had a great apartment on Pinckney Street which was right off the square and near lots of good bars.  Perfect.

1991-1992:      Year off.  Spent some time in a shack in Clark, CO, another dive apartment on Langdon Street in Madison, and finally my Mom and Dad’s place again.

1992-1996:       First year apartment was a total dive in Forest Grove, OR.  The following three years were spent in a much better place in Beaverton, OR with my two roomies Nicolas and Trevor.  We are still very good friends. We would have parties after we took our board exams and there would be a bunch of future optometrists getting hammered and lifting weights and being crazy in general.

1997:       Charlotte, NC:  My first job as an optometrist.  I had a pretty decent apartment.  My sister came to visit with paint rollers in her suitcase and we painted the place.  Living room wall blue, my bedroom purple.  We must have done a decent job because I got my deposit back.  When it came time to move, two friends came to get me.  Big Mike took one look at my sofa and said, “Oh no, I am not moving that cheap sofa down 2 flight of stairs again.” This sofa had been purchased for 100 bucks in Oregon at a rummage sale and had been transported to both Wisconsin and North Carolina.  We threw it over the balcony and put the broken bits into the dumpster clearly marked no personal items.  Had a great dinner and bottle of wine at Manzetti’s and got the hell out of there.

1998:       Returned to Wisconsin.  Lived with Mom. (Dad was in heaven by then.) I filled-in all around the area working for a bunch of optometrists.  My Mom was my roommate/secretary/Mom.  Once in a while I run into one of the doctors I used to fill-in for.  Whenever he sees me the first thing he says is, “How is your Mom?” They used to plan my schedule and did a great job.

1998-2000:      I bought my first house on Lake Street.  Great bungalow.  Fabulous garden because the previous owner really was a master gardener. (Unlike, me…. I am a wannabe.)  My Mom helped me plant a raspberry patch and asparagus patch.  Later, both were destroyed by the next owners who built a bigger garage.  It was my first place.  When a good friend got married, I was able to host several of the groomsmen instead of them having to stay in a hotel. I remember making cinnamon rolls from a can and orange juice from a can and they thought I was freaking Martha Stewart. Fun.

2000:       Sold the first house because I was working out of town and the commute was getting to me. Made a small profit, so that was good.  Moved into a historic apartment in an old factory. Great loft.  Historic Fox River Mills.  It was pricey, more than my house payment but fun.  Lived there until I blew my ACL skiing and couldn’t make it up the steep stairs to the loft.  Back to Mom’s…

2001:       Knee better. Rented a crazy apartment above the old dime store on Main Street. I remember I was just getting out of the shower watching CNBC when the Towers fell.  That was such a terrible tragedy.

2002:       Moved to Oshkosh, WI and lived in a small apartment for a very short time.  Bought my tiny 2 bed/1 bath green and white “cottage”. No lake. Just a small, cute as pie house.  The best thing about the place was that it was in the direct path of the largest airshow on the planet, the EAA, which is held every July.  I would be outside watering my flowers and watch the B-52’s fly directly over me.  I think the pilots must of thought, “Who’s the crazy chick watering her flowers in her nightie?” I loved it.

At the time I was dating a much older guy (17 years) who was financially more established and in a completely different socio-economic sphere.  It took a while but eventually I started having some of his friends and family over for dinner. I have to say they were all good sports and didn’t make me feel bad about my tiny house or hand me down furniture.  In fact, I think they liked how relaxed my place was- not fussy!

We used to go to the Pioneer Inn on Lake Winnebago.  It has been destroyed now, but used to have a great little tiki bar with live music in the summer. One particular summer night, the vodka was flowing and I did my best Stevie Nicks impersonation.

‘I’ll follow you down til the sound of my voice will haaauuuunt yooooo.’

To this day my now ex-sweetheart doesn’t like to listen to Fleetwood Mac anymore because it reminds him of me.  It was a really good impersonation.  I did the spinny-dance moves and everything.

2007:       Work change.  Moved to…guess where? Mom’s house again. The tiny house sold very quickly and I was desperate and threw everything into boxes and moved in with Mom.

2008:       Bought my current house.  Super cute.  A little bigger. 3 bed/2 bath.  Great yard, on a river with a bit of a cliff in back.  I did make a few improvements to the place. Always thinking ahead to when I would sell it.

Guess what?  I haven’t sold it.  I have officially been in this house the longest I have stayed in a single place since I graduated from high school.  Woo hoo.  I did put it up for sale for a short time about three years ago anticipating another job change. It didn’t happen.  I am glad I stayed.  I also had a weak moment this winter when we had the worst winter in 100 years.  I was sorely tempted to move south.  But, I didn’t.

I must be planning to stay a while because I am starting to make changes to the place that are just for me- not for adding resale value.  I have never done that before.

All bets are off though if I win the Powerball. Then I might have to buy a compound in Miami Beach and a ski chalet in Steamboat. (A girl can be a dreamer, can’t she?)

Am I still a rolling stone?  It would seem I have worn a flat spot that has landed. I roll a bit and then come to rest, back in the same spot.  That’s ok.  I feel good about it.

The potential to roll is there. As long as I have that it seems to be enough. For now.

Lake Street House Front



Lake Street House Back


Lake Street Bloom
Historic Fox River Mills Loft
Green and White ‘Cottage” Oshkosh Front
Green and White ‘Cottage” Oshkosh Back
Current House Back Garden
Current House Side Yard View of my Neighbor Jerry’s Tree.

The Grind

For awhile now I have been wondering, “Is this all there is?”

Specifically, when it comes to work and everyday life. It’s so boring! I have talked about this with my sisters and some close friends. Basically, we came to the conclusion that our 40’s and 50’s are spent doing the necessary things that will ultimately allow us to enjoy life later. I call it The Grind.

See, unless you are born fabulously wealthy and gorgeous and live on a tropical island…..then maybe it is all ok. But for the rest of us, we are figuring out how we got this far in the first place, do we really want to be here, do we want to stay here, what lies ahead and how do we get there. Whew. I am exhausted.

At least I am not in my twenties. At the time I thought it was great, but I was totally clueless and my life kind of just ‘happened’. I hope it is different now and that young adults have more common sense and maturity than I had. Basically, I went to the same college my sisters attended, did the same stuff, had a blast, and graduated with a History of Science degree. My Dad asked me what I would do with a History of Science degree. I said, “Nothing! I have to go to school some more to actually do something.” Wow. Now, I kind of get why Mom and Dad encouraged me to get a degree like accounting, nursing, teaching, engineering,….you know, the kind you can actually get a job with after you graduate. Anyway, it all worked out. I took a year off, tended bar, cleaned a lot of toilets on a dude ranch, worked in a hospital and figured out that I would/should be an Optometrist. All’s well that ends well…right?

Yesterday I read an article by Betty Liu- Anchor at “In the Loop” at Bloomberg TV on linkedIn called: Why Jeffrey Katzenberg Thinks You Should Stop Following Your Passion. I liked it. The gist of the discussion is that we are always being told to “follow your passion” and you will have a great career and life. Jeffrey Katzenberg actually advised to “follow your skill” and the passion will follow. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense to me.

What is my skill?

The gift of gab? I think maybe so. ( After all, I was voted Most Talkative in high school – scary, but true.) That actually works for being an Optometrist so I am going to go with it.

I digress. Back to The Grind. I am currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. So far, it is hitting home for me. I think this book could be useful for both women and men. It starts out with the notion that we have all been brainwashed to think that success is achieved by accumulating wealth and power. Sure, both of those things are nice to have. But at what cost to our health, relationships and overall well-being? Arianna talks about Thriving which is completely different than Succeeding.

Thriving involves four elements which include: Well-being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving.

Well-being involves being physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged in the act of living. Right now. Not later. Take a minute to breathe.

Some days I feel like I haven’t taken a breath all day.

I won’t go into too much of the book except to say that I am going to make an effort to get more sleep, disconnect from media now and again, enjoy quality time with people I care about, give thanks, and pay attention to the stuff that really matters to me. I am going to have to think about that part. What really matters to me?

For awhile now I have been doing Affirmations. Sometimes, they come very easily to me. You know, the obvious (but important) ones such as my health is good, my family’s health is good, I have a job, I like my little house, I love my dog. …

Sometimes they don’t come as easily. That is when I say to myself, ” I am thankful that so and so isn’t driving me crazy anymore.” That is probably a borderline affirmation, but beggars can’t be choosers. Or when I am grateful that my life isn’t someone else’s…. that is probably considered bad affirmation etiquette. It’s a work in progress.

I think with a some effort and good humor it’s possible that The Grind may turn into Thriving. Wouldn’t that be grand? On that note, I will go for that walk and breathe…and do some affirmations (the good kind.)