July 10, 2014

Heading West Tomorrow

Yes, I wish I was heading this far west, but alas, I am only driving to see my brother and sister-in-law in Simi Valley, CA tomorrow! If I am lucky, I may make it out to the beach in Ventura or Malibu. More than likely, I will be spending the weekend land locked visiting with family.

My Mom has been wanting to go over to see my brother's new kitchen for a while now, and since driving any length of time is very draining for my Dad, it is up to me to ferry them back and forth to LA. I don't really mind. I have the free time now, and it will be good to get out of the heat and humidity for a couple days.

It is hard to believe that it is July 10. One month ago, I was sitting in my classroom at Regent University. I love the residency requirement for my program. It takes a big bite out of my finances each year, but the time spent on campus and with the Professors and students is worth it. I always come back home filled with such warm memories. I love VA most of all, and if I had a place where I would like to go for retirement, I would pick Virginia (or northeast North Carolina). I would settled near the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think I could be very happy living in either place. The key for me is trees. I love trees, and I want to live some place where there are LOTS of trees.

Arizona is nice, and it has its own sort of "beautiful" to it -- that rugged desert kind of beautiful. Sedona is gorgeous, and you can get a good fill of trees if you drive up north to Flagstaff. The forests in Northern AZ are mostly pine. There is a lot of scrub, and open range land. It is pretty in its own way, but it is not the same as in other parts of the country were there are woodland forests with all sorts of trees.

For example, where I grew up in IL, there were lots of trees. Our little town bordered a lot of farm land, and interspersed in and around the suburban landscape were pockets of woodland forests, prairie meadows and ponds (lots of ponds). I think my favorite memory from my childhood was exploring ponds. There was a small pond near my house, and every day it seemed, I would end up at the pond. In summer, it was to race boats, catch frogs, or build dams. In the winter, it was to ice skate.

My dream work/retirement location will not be in AZ (I already know this for certain). I moved here in 1996 in order to be closer to my in-laws. It was a huge sacrifice for me to leave my family in Northern CA. I came here because I felt a need to serve -- to serve my my ex-husband's parents who were ill and in need of care. In 2000, my parents retired here, and it has been good to have them near by again. My Dad likes the heat, but my mother wants to move some place else (she doesn't want snow, but she would trade anything for the desert heat). My ex-husband's parents moved to MO to be near their daughter, and now that my son is almost done with school, there is part of me that says "why stay here any longer?" He has wanted to move to another state (well, he wants to live in another country) for a long time. He has been asking me to move for the past couple years.

I have already told my parents that once I graduate from Regent (in May 2017), I will be moving to another state. I have been breaking that news to them for a while now -- just so they get used to the fact that I will have to relocate. AZ doesn't offer a lot of full-time teaching positions -- there are three major Universities in the state, and two Christian Universities. Faculty positions are difficult to come by so the best you can do is teach adjunct, which I am already doing. I need a full-time teaching position with salary and benefits and that means that I will need to move to wherever there is a job opportunity for me. Some of the places I have considered moving for work include VA, NC, TN, GA, and FL (though this is my least favorite place due to the humidity). I am open to moving anywhere so long as I can get a full-time position teaching at a college/University.

My preferred work/retirement location consists of:
  • A stable state economy
  • Good cost of living/cost of housing ratio
  • Conservative politics preferred (low taxes, state is run well)
  • Moderate weather (if my parents come with me -- little to no snow)
  • Lots of trees and open spaces
  • Colleges/Universities (public or private) aka -- a job!
I would love to buy a house with some land. Trees are a must, but I do need space for a good sized garden. I love to garden and I want to be able to have plenty of room to grow veggies. I also would like a good sized lawn -- yeah, I know -- mowing and raking. Yep, my bucket list includes a John Deere tractor or at the least a riding lawn mower (this is just because at heart I am a Daddy's girl who wished she would have been raised on the family farm!)

I don't need a big house nor do I need a fancy one. I like older homes, and I like fixer uppers (so long as they don't require major fixing). I love to paint and repair, but I can't really do major work anymore (because of my back).

My Mom is pretty much on board with my plans. Dad doesn't want to move because he doesn't think he is able to move again. I have committed to taking care of my parents so where ever I go, they will follow. At some point, they will need to move into a more care type home (like independent living or assisted living) so I would like to move some place where there are these types of places near by so that they could be close to me, but not living with me (I love my parents, but I do miss my privacy).

So right now, Lord willing and providing, I am staying in Phoenix until I graduate from Regent. If the Lord opens a door of opportunity sooner than 2017, then I will move before I graduate. I am actually going to start looking for full-time positions next year. I need to wait until I am a third-year student and I have two years of teaching experience (three would be best). My hope is to find an instructor position now, and then once I have my degree conferred, I could be promoted to Assistant Professor.

I am thinking the best time frame for moving some place else is 2016. My son is starting at ASU West in the fall, and he should be able to complete his BA by May 2016. Just factoring in the cost of student housing, etc., it is best for me to stay put until he is finished with school. ASU West is only 25 minutes from us so he can commute to school. Once he graduates, he will probably go on to graduate school. Either that or he has said he wants to study abroad for a year or two. I am thinking that he will probably do the graduate study, which is more practical for him.

I used to think I had to move to where he could finish his schooling, but now that I am in a good place career-wise, I am thinking that he may end up at a grad school in a completely different state. He is at the point where he needs to get out of the house and experience living on his own for a while. I trust him. He is responsible, and he is a solid young man. I think it would do him good to be able to travel a bit, live on his own, and find his purpose and his place in the world.

Anyhoo, just some rambling thoughts for today. I just looked at the clock, and I realized that I have to be over at church in 15 minutes. I am interviewing people today for my special study, and I am not even dressed yet! Yikes!!

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