Tornado weather rolling through…Commotion, stress and pushing in line…Is this the US we remember?…

Hand-carved wood houses.

It’s not the people…It’s the lifestyle, the traffic, the number of people, and…the sense of urgency; time constraints, digital and Wi-Fi issues, fender benders, meetings, playdates, softball games, and the hard-working, overbooked lives of many Americans and others throughout the world. For us, it’s glaring while here in the USA.

We don’t fit in. I ask myself the question, “Did we ever fit in?”  Looking back over our past lives, we too got caught in the hamster wheel of life, perpetually trying to get through the activity of the moment to get to the next. 

Flower samples of blooms in Butchart Gardens with notes naming each variety.

Living in the moment was nearly impossible. Rushing, speeding, and eating in the car with greasy hands on the wheel as the result of consuming the less-than-desirable quality of fast food or what we perceived as more healthy carry out in an attempt to get us through another long, painstaking day.

In our old lives, we counted on both hands the number of people we knew taking anti-anxiety drugs. Now it’s even more.  I spotted this article today in the New York Times, which may be found here about the rampant use of the drug Xanax and antidepressants in adults and children. It’s worth reading this story.

More flower samples.

Now there’s a stress-relieving device called a “fidget spinner” for use by those who can’t sit quietly and reflect, read a book, watch a movie or relax. When hands and fingers go idle after clicking on keyboards and screens day and night, such a distraction is needed by many to keep their digits active.

Tens of millions of “fidget spinners” have been sold. See this article for details. A few days ago, I noticed Tom twiddling his thumbs (for the first time) while we sat in standstill traffic, surely an anxious response to the stressful road conditions. 

The stress was evident in the lines in his brow, the scowl on his face. Yet, after almost five years of feeling calm 98% of the time, he maintained his cool, avoiding his occasional “overly grumpy” demeanor that may arise on busy travel days.

It’s always fun to see local handcrafted works.

As for me and my usual “overly bubbly” (and at times annoying) demeanor, I’m holding my own. Spending time with the people we love is a welcomed buffer and stress reliever, although traveling to them takes its toll, particularly on Tom.

Since we arrived 16 days ago, on no less than 10 occasions, we’ve been asked, “When will you move back to Minnesota or even the US?” We hedge, anticipating a reaction that may not be positive when we respond with “It’s not in the cards.”

Invariably, they continue with, “What about when you physically cannot travel anymore?”  We always remind ourselves of the beautiful 90 plus-year-old couple we met at dinner on our first cruise in January 2013. They’d been traveling the world for decades and still had no plans to stop, to settle down. 

Handcrafted sculptures.

Health provided, that could be us. And, if health fails, there are plenty of countries throughout the world where we can get the healthcare we need, stay until we’ve improved, and perhaps eventually stay until we can continue. 

But why worry about that now? Worry is the single highest cause of stress which ultimately has an impact on health. We don’t worry about the future. We plan it. We embrace it. We dream of it. 

Most of all, every day, we strive to “live in the moment,” cherishing wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing. At the moment, we’re calmly situated in the hotel’s “living room,” sipping great coffee with “real” cream, watching weather reports and maps on TV, illustrating where the storms and tornado warnings are headed. 

Metal sea sculptures for sale at the gift shop in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Today will be a quiet day for us, barring the continuing thunder.  Satisfied after having spent considerable time with family and friends this past week, we’re laying low, maybe heading out for a little shopping for jeans for Tom. With no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, it makes sense to shop here instead of in Nevada.

We continue to replace most of our clothing with new shorts, jeans, tee shirts, shirts, and underwear to avoid the cost of shipping items in the next year or so. We’ll bring the items we’re replacing to the local Goodwill store.

The abundance of selections, colors, sizes can be daunting.  Yesterday, when I spent 45 minutes in Macy’s purchasing shirts and jeans, I left before I’d found everything on my list. The waiting for assistance, the line at the fitting room when all were full, the processing time for a single sale only reminded me of how adapted I’d been in my old life to all the chaos and commotion. Now? Not so much.

The shop was bustling with tourists.

We’ll continue to enjoy these remaining 26 days in Minnesota and then will be off to Nevada for three weeks for more traffic and commotion, softened by the joy of spending time with son Richard in Henderson and sister Susan in Las Vegas. 

Then, we’ll be on our way back to new and familiar remote locations; quiet countryside, a barren desert, desolate Antarctica, and the exquisite savannahs, plains, and bush in Africa. 

May your day be free of stress!

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2016: (Please see paragraph below photo caption)

In Bali, a fisherman on a tiny homemade raft most likely fishing for squid which is caught close to the shore. For more photos, please click here.
P.S. It was two years ago today our ship arrived in Sydney, Australia.  We were both horribly ill with the worse virus of our lives (caught on the ship), each with a fever and feeling dreadful.  We barely remember the three-hour flight from Sydney to Cairns and the excruciating wait at the rental car counter. How we ever managed to find the house in Trinity Beach baffles us to this day.  It took us three more weeks to recover, but we were thrilled to be settled in the lovely holiday home and beach community. None of life is exempt from stress brought on by circumstances that befall us all. Even our usual relatively stress-free life may become stressful from time to time.