Monday, July 8, 2013

A year filled with changes

Well this post has been a long time coming (nearly a year, really), but I've been so busy doing new things and having wonderful adventures that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write about all the changes that have gone on in my life the last year or so.  Last July I separated from my husband (we're now legally divorced) after 16 years of an unhappy marriage.  I won't go into detail, but I'm sure many of you know what that's like.  Not only did I leave my husband, but I also left Ohio, where I'd lived all my life.  It was a huge and scary decision, but deep down I knew it was the right one for me.  There was just nothing left for me there.  So I flew out to Arizona and found out that I love the West!  Within a few short weeks AZ felt like home, more so than Ohio ever did.  The people seem friendlier and more laid back, and I was finally able to really be myself without fear of being judged.  I'm different, but out here that's OK ;)
After a few months of being single I even got up the nerve to check out a few online dating sites.  This was actually a big step for me because I hadn't dated since I was a teenager.  I was only 21 when I got married and really never got much experience in the dating world.  I felt a little more comfortable with online dating though because I was more in control.  I got to actually exchange messages with the guys without having to meet them in person unless I chose to.  I talked with some very interesting men and discovered that there really were some good guys out there.  After being with my husband for so long I'd had my doubts.  The third man I exchanged messages with was the first one I decided to actually meet in person.  There was just something about Sal that made me want to get to know him better.
Of course I was scared silly (my first date in like, 20 years!), but I really did want to find that one man who I was meant to be with, and I knew that I couldn't hide forever. For a change I was actually listening to that inner voice and it was saying "You need to meet this man". Sal took me to the square in Prescott and we wandered the art galleries and talked about the artwork and our own creative passions.  Sal's day job is as a structural steel detailer, but in his spare time he creates abstract metal artwork.  He's creative, and has a real eye for detail.  He also loves gardening and has several gardens and a greenhouse on his 4 acre property, so we talked gardening, animals, spirituality, and exercise as well.  Our interests seemed to fall right in line with each other.  I think it was on our second date that I began to fall in love with him.  It was October and the veggies in the garden were in serious need of harvesting, so I helped him pick tomatoes and other vegetables.  This was where I got to really get to know Sal- out in the garden, getting his hands dirty, and being himself.  Since I hadn't been able to have my garden that summer, it was a real treat for me to work with Sal in his garden.  I also got to see him with his dog Ziggi.  When you see a man interacting with his dog you get to see a deeper part of him.  And it was easy to see how much he loved this dog.  Sal is happiness, and calmness, and love.  When I'm with him, whatever we may be doing, I'm happy and relaxed.
Over the course of the next few months we got to know each other better.  And as hard as I tried to deny it to myself, I was falling deeper into love with this incredible man.  I had no interest in pursuing any of the other men who I'd been exchanging messages with, even though family and friends kept telling me I couldn't just settle down with the first guy I dated after leaving my husband.  But Sal and I were meant for each other, and I couldn't deny that fact, not if I was going to be honest with myself.  We fit together so well it was just amazing.  We completed each other thoughts, reached for the same spices when cooking (and I discovered I loved cooking WITH a man, instead of just FOR him), had the same views on gardening, animals, exercise, health, and spirituality, among other things.  Yet there were enough differences to keep things interesting.  Sal's very organized and plans everything out thoroughly.  I'm much more inclined to just fly by the seat of my pants and wing it.  I discovered that I have a real knack for creating recipes without any real planning.  Sal's kitchen is stocked with healthy organic ingredients and I've come up with quite a few excellent recipes inspired by these ingredients.
I always knew that I would enjoy hiking and camping, but never got the opportunity to do that with my ex.  Sal, however, loves to go hiking and camping and lives in the perfect area for it.  My first camping trip with Sal was at the end of October, under the full Harvest moon.  It still gives me chills remembering how the moon looked rising over the mountains.  He took me to one of his favorite spots on the Verde River which is just about a mile hike away from these awesome hot springs (my first time in a hot spring as well).  This trip was truly magical and we bonded even more closely during those few days.
 I also found out that I really like riding on the back of his Harley ;)  Cruising the winding mountain roads as we ride into the sunset is a truly awesome experience.  I'm trying to keep my thoughts organized here, but SO much has happened since I met Sal.  This could end up being a very long post!
In the time I've been with Sal we've checked out Sedona, the art galleries as well as hiking in the mountains, wandered Jerome, gone camping and canoeing at Lake Mary in Flagstaff, discovered some awesome little spots on Beaver creek, and swam in the cave and under the waterfalls at Fossil creek, along with lots of other hikes and adventures.  I'm willing to try just about anything, and I know Sal will be right there by my side making sure I'm safe and having fun.
The cats and I moved in with him at the end of February and things have been just wonderful.  He had been concerned about how Ziggi would react to the cats (he always chases any cats that wander into the yard), but I knew everything would be fine.  I know animals, and I knew that Ziggi was not a vicious dog and the only reason he chased those cats was because they ran from him.  He just needed to see that Calcifer and Ginko were family.  It only took about a month before all three of them were just fine together.  It probably could have happened faster, but Sal actually needed the extra time (whether he knew it or not).  Now we're one big happy family :)
So after many years of unhappiness and merely "surviving", I suddenly have everything I've always wanted in life.  A man who is truly my partner in all things and someone that I share a deep and passionate love with, a home in the country, complete with a big ole country dog, chickens, gardens, and surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and endless opportunity to do anything I choose to in life knowing I'll have the support of the one I love most.  Last year at this time one thought was constantly going through my mind: "All I want is to be happy".  These days the thought "I am so incredibly happy!" goes through my mind on a daily basis.  Sometimes you just have to trust that God knows what he's doing and go with what feels right.  Leaving my husband was probably the hardest decision I ever made, but if I hadn't taken that leap of faith I never would have ended up where I am now.  Change can be scary, but it can also be wonderful.
This is a shot of the full moon over the Verde river taken from the hot springs
 A shot of the red rocks of Sedona, which is a very magical and healing place.  I've heard people talk about the healing energy of Sedona and actually felt it for myself when we were there.  Before we got there I wasn't in a very good mood and my arm was killing me; within a short time of being among those rocks I felt like a whole new person.
Sal and Ziggi on our camping trip at Lake Mary in Flagstaff.  Ziggi loves nothing more than fetching that tennis ball from the water!
This is our favorite spot on Beaver Creek, very private and secluded.  I just love swimming in the creek under the warm sun, surrounded by the mountains!

 This is a shot from inside the cave on Fossil Creek- it's a truly breathtaking place.  This is where Sal took me for my birthday, and I can honestly say it was the best birthday ever!

And this is me and Ziggi taking a rest on the 8 mile (UPHILL!) hike back from Fossil Creek.  We were ALL sore the next day- LOL.  But it was totally worth it!
I took this picture just the other day, and it is so perfect.  I've finally found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. :)
For all of you who have made it to the end of this rambling post, I thank you for your patience with me ;)  I hope to be able to post on a more regular basis, as there is quite a bit I would like to share with all my readers, including some of my recipes, what's happening in the garden, critter exploits, and my continuing adventures in my wonderful new life.  I do enjoy writing, and I always like to hear your comments and feedback as well.
~Michelle of CreativeCritters


  1. I'm so happy to read about your life changes, Michelle. You've done a very brave thing and it's brought you many rewards. I believe that you and Sal are meant for each other.... and your life will be filled with many more joyful adventures!

    1. Thanks so much! For the first time in my life I feel as though I am truly and fully alive and no one is holding me back from the things I want to do. Sal is wonderful at encouraging me to try new things. Having that support really makes a difference!

  2. Congratulations! I am so happy for you and cannot wait to hear more.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I'm sure I'll have plenty more to write about! :)

  3. hi there,sweetie....loved reading about the changes which I have waited quite some time to know!....couldn't be happier for you and know that you deserve all good things in this life....tell Sal that I said he has a special flower to nurture and give Ziggi a belly rub from me....smiling at ya!....hugs,gayle

    1. Hi Gayle! I've been wanting to tell the world about my wonderful new life, but have held off for a while (maybe I didn't want to jinx it- LOL). It's so nice to wake up happy every morning, looking forward to the day and knowing that it's going to be a good one, spent with some I love (not to mention several critters I love too).