Back in Pennsylvania?
Phew, I made it. Another notch on my cross-country adventure belt - this makes four! Using the southern route, I took advantage of stopping to visit family and friends along the way. I'm proud to say I made it safely across the United States in eight days (more details on that trip in another post).
Adding another pin to my Pennsylvania map since landing in Biglerville on May 8th, I can't help but laugh and wonder who and how names of towns are created. However, one in particular undoubtedly gets a reaction among friends, that's Shickshinny, the town where my Dad owned a home that sat on a mountain side before it was lost in a fire. His new house isn't quite as remote, but it's definitely a close second.
My roots are in PA - I grew up in the "village" of Harleysville, and left for California after college. I spent nine years making San Diego my home, and I can't say enough good things about the place. Ideal weather conditions, active lifestyle, endless opportunities and amazing places to explore combined with a decent food and social scene are more than enough to keep anyone content. But more than that, "a place is only as good as the people you know in it". I've made some amazing friends, some I've grown to call "family"; I am grateful to have been fortunate enough to explore and create lasting memories with these individuals.
In order to fulfill my dreams in life, risks and sacrifices are part of the process. Since getting laid off earlier this year, my dream, intuition and background preparations to build a "Tiny House" with my Dad when he retired seemed to all-of-a-sudden take a front seat. He let me know he was planning to retire at the end of the year, and that this would be a good time for me to come home, save money and stay with him to learn tricks of the trade and undertake the adventure of building my dream home together. I like to call this my second "mini retirement".
Father / Daughter Bonding Time
Without the pivotal influence of my father, I'm not sure I would have the courage and strength to overcome obstacles and take certain necessary risks in order to follow and fulfill my dreams. Connecting the dots of my life until now, his guidance, support and wisdom throughout my journey has directly affected and helped create the person I have become. I am beyond grateful for having him by my side to share and support me through whatever life has in store.
Instilling values, morals, and life lessons since birth, I find that with each new day, I continue to reveal and realize parts of him that are woven into me. I wear these traits with pride, and am using this rare opportunity to live and learn from him at his home in central Pennsylvania. I'm excited to have the opportunity for us to spend time together at this stage in our lives - I'm finding that we are both learning things from each other, which is extremely fulfilling.
What Doesn't Kill Me...
Living with my Dad has been an adjustment to say the least. Being away from the nest and independent for so long makes you forget what it's like living with your parent(s). They have rules, and the generational gap tests our patience and makes for constant compromising. His love for the nature and the outdoors landed him smack dab in the middle of Michaux State Forest, surrounded by wildlife. I'm constantly on guard for bugs, critters, and my worst fear, snakes. After less than a month, all in or within 30 feet of his house, I've encountered ants and stink bugs around every corner, deer, turkey, birds, bees, a salamander, and just to test my fear, a long black snake.
Upstairs, looking out the bathroom window, I yelled to my dad as the two foot black snake is slowly making its way up a tree in front of the property. My dad, anxious to check it out, took a picture and escorted it about 30 yards down the mountain. Not before I got so hysterical and irrational I start crying and blurting out "I'm never going outside again" and "It's so big". I get goosebumps every time I recall the traumatizing event. Also, you should consider yourselves lucky that I even posted this picture; I now edit this post with no glasses so I'm blind, and you can image the fun I had trying to resize it as small as possible in order for me to tolerate it in my blog.
I've since calmed down, reflected and accepted the fact that seeing these creatures are inevitable, and they serve a purpose to help keep critters down. The snake powder that Dad spread around the property after the event puts me a little more at ease, but I am by no means comfortable.
Continuing my Aikido Practice
Finding a dojo and practicing Aikido in San Diego was one of the best things I did for myself, starting 2014 off right. With the help of my dad, he found Aikido of San Diego and told me to check it out. After visiting the dojo and connecting with the space and members, I wasted not time signing up to start my practice immediately. The community and friends I made combined with learning from sensei Dave Goldberg was something very special. Long-time members expressed how the dojo is different from anywhere else I would practice. From what I experienced in my short time being a part of the dojo, I knew moving to PA and trying to find another dojo like Aikido of San Diego would be impossible. I am grateful to have created a strong foundation through the teachings of sensei Dave Goldberg, and will always keep my practice in San Diego close; I look forward to participating and reconnecting with the group at a retreat next year in Joshua Tree, CA. For now, I am concentrating on building on my skills at Aikido of Yushin Dojo in York, PA. Practicing under sensei Kirby Cartwright, this new training dojo is and hour and a half away from home, making the commitment that much harder to stick to. Determined to continue my practice, I decided to incorporate visiting my college roommate and family while I am in the area; it has really worked out wonderfully so far!
Re-connecting with my College Roommate!
Leah and I met as freshman roommates, randomly selected to be paired together in Beard Hall at York College of Pennsylvania. I have a lot of great memories with her, I'm recalling so many memories at the moment that make me smile and know that we were meant to be connected. I watched her then boyfriend, Jason grow in love and soon after college, all going to Leah's grand plan, they got married and have since completed their family with two kids and a Labrador Retriever, Bella.
Her family doesn't live far from York, and with Jason studying to get his MBA, working full-time, starting a furniture company and helping to manage his family, they welcomed me into the mix. Spending quality time with Leah, connecting with Jason and their kids, and building on our already amazing friendship has been such a blessing. My social life has drastically fell off since moving back to PA, so seeing her is a breathe of fresh air and makes the trip more than worth it. // EFR
My first visit since my last one about two years ago, I needed an ice breaker - I found these cool LED balloons and figured they would be a great gift to win the kids over. It reminded me of when my brother and I were younger and used to play volleyball or games like "don't let the balloon touch the lava (floor). I wrapped it up in the local newspaper and presented it to Nicholas upon my arrival, but made him wait to open them (how cruel). Needless to say they were a hit in the bouncy house in their basement, we all had fun playing like kids. I'm very much looking forward to spending more time together with this amazing family.