Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

Life and A Half Assed Product Review-  Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak by Intex

It has been a busy summer. It’s now looking to be a busy autumn season also.  I’m happy to report that. My absence from my blogging projects were due to being too darn busy and not having the time to dedicate to sitting down and typing out thoughtful or even informative blog posts. I’d offer an apology but I can’t be sorry because things were pretty good.

I confess that I am superstitious in a way that I hate talking about things going well or even being happy for fear that I might somehow jinx myself and have the opposite happen. This might sound silly but others may understand completely. Talking about the weather seems to change the weather.

In the Spring, I wrote about how I was going to start shopping for a new kayak.  I am still shopping for a new kayak. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to dedicate to research and thenpurchase exactly what I wanted. I decided that since I didn’t have the time to go on multiple paddle trips, that I might as well not even buy one.  So I didn’t.

This summer went by really fast! Before I knew it Dom was back to school!

Up until recently, I hadn’t been on a paddle trip since Memorial Day Weekend when I went camping and did a run on the Pigeon River. One time all summer. Not exactly great. With that said, I did hike and camp a lot.

I still dream of owning my own kayak.

As fate would have it, I came across a posting to a yard sale page I follow on Facebook,  where a local gentleman was selling an inflatable kayak at a reasonable price. I went ahead and bought it. I’ve been able to take it out twice in the week that I’ve owned it and I wish I was out in it right now.

This proved my theory that I would go more often if I owned my own kayak.  It also proved to me that it wasn’t a passing obsession and I’ve wanted to get my own since last year. At least I know I really want one. With that said, I am going to wait until spring to make that purchase. Maybe. It may still come sooner.

What did I get?

I got the Challenger K1 by Intex.


This is a basic inflatable kayak that should only be used on calm lakes ( no Lake Michigan for me ) rivers and channels. It came with an inflatable seat,inflatable foot brace, oar, bow/stern lines, skeg (fin) and a foot pump. It has two Boston valves and it  is easy to inflate and deflate. Once I figured out what I was doing the whole thing took me about ten minutes to get together from box to water.

The seat can be buckled in and is also held in place by plastic buckles on both sides of the interior. I don’t know how I feel about the seat. You can take it or leave it. I sort of felt awkward with it and I felt sort of up high versus with the kayak. I suppose that’s a matter of personal preference.

The skeg slides on to the hull of the kayak. I tried taking it out with and without the skeg. I would recommend using the skeg as it seems to really improve tracking and steering. It is really easy to attach and unattach the skeg. It slides on and locks into place.

It weighs approximately 20 pounds. The oar snaps together.  I want to remind everyone also that this is not a high dollar outfit. The oar is basic and cheaply made. With that said, I have been using them just fine. You can’t strong arm them or you may break them.  Also, the oar coul stand to be approximately 4 inches longer. However, with that said, the oar was usable and I got along just fine.

Since I have no interested in white water rafting or actually going out onto Lake Michgan, this is the perfect product for me. I mostly enjoy floating and paddling around at a leisurely pace and on my own time. There is nothing in a hurry about me when I am out on the water.

The Challenger K1 retails from $70-$100 online. It’s a good starter for someone who is looking for something affordable that doesn’t have real high expectations. I think it’s also good for someone who isn’t sure if they are going to continue with their interest in kayaking. Or hey, if you’re like me and just want something to tide you over until you get exactly what you want, it’s perfect.

This kayak has decent reviews. I want to add to that. The only thing I don’t like about it has nothing to do with the kayak itself and everything to do with the storage bag it came with. Shoddy. I am currently only using the bag to store the oar, seat, foot brace and the pump. When the kayak actually comes out of the back of my car,  I am going to place it in a plastic storage tub with a lid to store it.

I also want to point out that Intex is known for its pools, spas, inflatable mattresses and even other sporting goods. I have owned two versions of the Intex Easy Set pool and was very happy with them.  I also own Intex brand mattresses for camping and am pleased with them also.

You can check out their website and products on their website by clicking HERE

It is what it is. I think that as long as I take care of it, it will last while.  Since I enjoy paddling around on Worster Lake, which is a man made lake, I have to really watch out for branches under the water from where the area was flooded to create the lake. The material that the kayak is made from is durable however, I am sure that if a branch, rock or even a fishing hook could cause a tear.
My plan is still to get my “real” kayak and keep this one as a spare in the event that someone wants to come with me.  So far so good with it. It’s currently folded up in the back of my SUV.  I see no point in taking it in and storing it until I am done with it for the season. If I don’t get my other kayak before the end of fall, I probably won’t bother putting it away until it starts getting cold.

I hope everyone is having a good season!! I will write again when I have more time!

The box the kayak came in.

Everything always fits perfectly in the bag before you take it out.

The contents will never go back in this way. Ha!

The kayak has two Boston valves.

The state of Indiana requires you to have a watercraft permit. The permit was $5.00 and is good for one calendar year.

Maiden voyage of the SS Inflatable on Worster Lake, Potato Creek State Park Indiana

Decorate Your Own Soul-Living Your Life

Lake Michigan J.Koczan photo 2016

Lake Michigan
J.Koczan photo 2016

 

I’ve been somewhat selfishly enjoying life a bit lately. It’s interesting how I can consider doing things for myself to be selfish, but I can be my own monster. I feel guilty for it sometimes.   The truth is, I’m at that point where I need to take care of myself or I can’t effectively take care of anyone else.

I realized that I’ve spent too much time waiting for other people and that came to a stop. Seriously, if I waited for someone else to go out and do things, I would never leave the house.  What a boring life that is. I’ve sat on the sidelines of life long enough.

Is it strange for a woman to go off on her own? It shouldn’t be. I’ve gotten some strange feedback from people who seem amazed that a woman can wander off and go camping, hiking, kayaking or just travel all on her own.

Since the beginning of May, I’ve gone hiking so many times I can’t even remember. I’ve gone on actual camping trips twice. I kayaked, camped and hiked on Memorial Day Weekend. I drove far enough away from home that I wouldn’t run into anyone who knew me.

I posted numerous photographs from the places I’ve been on my Facebook.  I even created separate album for the various parks and nature preserves I visited.  I wanted to give organized  examples of these places to my friends so that they can get an idea of what it is like in order to plan their own trips. I consider myself a test subject in a lot of ways.

The question that I keep hearing over and over is “You went by yourself?”

Yes.  The reaction I usually  get are disbelief and amazement. Almost like I did a really cool magic trick and they can’t believe it. I honestly don’t know if I should be insulted or not. I’m not exactly a wilting flower.  Or dainty.

When I disappeared over Memorial Day Weekend, I even left my dogs at home. I didn’t want to take care of them with the heat that was expected or while I was out on the river. I hiked and kayaked and didn’t worry about anyone but myself.  It was amazing.

I obtained my own firewood. I can build a fire like nobody’s business. I can also set up my own tent and make my own meals. I know how to read a map. I can pump my own gas and pay for it.  I’m so damned capable of these things.  I don’t need anyone else’s help for the things that I want to go and do.

I was shuttled to the spot on the river where I wanted to start  my trip. I set off on my own and even rescued a drunk who rolled their kayak. You shouldn’t fear drowning in two feet of water. Stand up. I glided along and enjoyed the fresh air and the sunshine. For a moment, I forgot all about the problems that waited for me at home.

One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned in life over the past few years is that you need to get out and do things even if it means that you travel alone. Otherwise, you will miss out on a lot of life.  Don’t wait for anyone or anything. Just go.

“Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.”   There’s much debate on who actually made that statement, but I repeat it to myself a lot.

I am capable and so are you.

There should be no stigma attached to a woman doing for herself, no matter what it is. You certainly shouldn’t limit yourself based on that attitude.  Sure it can feel weird, different or even scary at first, but I assure you that you will have no regrets.

 

The Morning Stare: Contemplating Life and Disapointing Others

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The view from my mug

I got to sleep in a little bit this morning. Which means I was up around 8am instead of the usual 6am.  I milled around the house for awhile before I decided that I wanted a cup of Earl Grey Tea.

I’m actually not much of a tea drinker. Apart from sun tea in the summer time, I really don’t drink it that much. I think I started drinking this particular kind when I decided that I drank too much coffee.

It’s the healthier alternative when all you really want in the first place is a mug full of something warm in your hand.  Coffee can be fattening while tea is usually good for you. Earl Grey has a lot of health benefits. Click HERE to learn more about that.

This lesson has been brought to you by the woman who makes baked fudge and eats it at midnight. I bragged wrote about that here at If You Eat Your Feelings, Make Em’ Delicious: Baked Fudge.

I sat at the kitchen table for a long time. Just thinking. After thirty minutes slipped by, I think I just changed positions in my chair and kept on thinking. I get into these moods sometimes.

Lately, I have been really questioning what’s going on around me. Today, I wanted to shove everything away from me like an empty plate. I want out. I don’t want to do this stuff anymore.

I don’t remember the last time I ever did something because I actually, whole heartedly wanted to.  The more I examine my station in life, the more I see that I really allowed myself to fall under the instruction of other people.

Even right now, I don’t know that I want to continue in my career. I really don’t know that I want to go back to what I did before. I really don’t know that the decision to go back was really mine to begin with. It keeps coming up.

I am tired of being in a place that is thankless. Nobody ever has anything nice to say, I get yelled at all the time, and I really don’t feel like I am doing anything good to make a difference.  Then there’s the public.

I know that all of this comes from being ill.  I had a lot of time to think about things. I had a lot of time to over think and analyze situations and people. I came to ugly conclusions. I see a lot of things as they are and not how I want to see them. It isn’t great.

So here I sit, zoning out and writing speeches in my head to give to people who probably don’t give a shit about me anyway and to those that do, they will likely be disappointed in all of my decisions.

Have you ever found yourself under achieving because it caused less drama than if you were excellent at what you were doing? I have. I play dumb or don’t answer sometimes. It’s just easier.

I’m not even really sure anymore that I care about or even like or love the people that I am in fear of disappointing. It’s sad when I think about how the majority of people who were supposed to matter, don’t.

It almost makes me wish I had gotten sick ten years ago. I could have really used this attitude ten years ago. Make it eleven. I would have set boundaries, goals and had vision. Right now, I am ready to make a big change. Job, scenery. I want to move and I really am ready to take the leap. I just have to figure it all out.

I’m not even unhappy as a person. I am simply unhappy with what I am looking at around me. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with wanting to make changes when you discover that where you’ve been isn’t where you want to be.

Anyway, my tea got cold. I don’t really like tea all that much. I stuck it in the microwave and forgot about it. Still mostly full. I think my favorite part about having tea is the mugs I drink it from.