Month: December 2015

Redefining What A Strong Woman Is

  
I used to think that a strong woman was the one who ran a Fortune 500 company or who was president of a bank; someone I was never going to be.  Since starting my sojourn I have redefined my definition of what a strong woman really is.  I am ashamed that this is new to me, as a woman I should have been more aware.  I guess I was brought up during a different era, so it took me a little longer.

On my journey I have met the most incredible women.  In Wyoming, I met the 70ish year old woman who is traveling the country alone, camping by herself and extremely happy to be doing it.  I have met many women who have tossed their old live in search of a new one (many times to the dismay of friends and family).  Women who are extremely concerned for animals and who foster and care for the abused ones.  I have met women who run their own local businesses, not in an attempt to get rich, but to help local economies thrive. The list goes on and on.

Strong women are everywhere, even the meek ones are strong.  They care for partners and children.  Their hands make nourishing food.  They use their backs to wash and clean.  They wipe tears and share laughter.  Some women do this alone while others share the workload.  I do not believe that any one archetype is any stronger, I have come to believe that all women are incredible in their own unique way.  

We have been programmed to think less of ourselves and that outdated way of thinking has to stop.  I know for myself I constantly believe I am doing everything wrong or that I am not smart enough…and on and on.  Many women I know feel the same way.  We are always apologizing even if we are not at fault.  Ladies, it is time to realize our inner strength.  It will be different for each of us but that should not diminish its power.  Look around and see all the things you do, really look and embrace your strengths.  Always be on the lookout for new opportunities to learn and grow.  Knowledge is power and power is strength.

This is not meant to diminish men.  I’m just tired of being weak, I want to explore my strengths and as I do I want other women to do the same.  Homemakers, mothers, executives, waitresses, nurses, secretaries, laborers, cleaners….it makes no difference, we are all stronger than we know.  Embrace the strength inside of you!

Here’s to having a little more confidence and a little more gusto.  Here’s to feeling good about our accomplishments and strategizing our future endeavors.  

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Morning Comes Early

Having never been one to jump out of bed and start the day, my new life requires that I do that now.  The morning comes early when there are horses, dogs, cats, birds, turkeys, ducks and the occasional goats to feed.  These lovely living creatures need me to care for them.

Walking outside to see the sun starting to stream over the mountains, smelling the pure mountain air and feeling the cool breeze on my skin has transformed me into a morning person.  The absolute quiet of the day and the stillness have made me fall in love with this new, albeit temporary, lifestyle.  As the kitties rub my leg and the horses nudge me toward the barn, I realize that there is much more to life than I had ever imagined.  My view was certainly very narrow.

The day continues as it always does with more chores to do and errands to run.  Then the cycle starts again as night begins to fall.  I will hear the animal voices reminding me not to forget to feed them, as if I could.  But now the sun is disappearing behind the mountain and the fresh air still brushes against my face but just with a cooler temperature.  Life is good on the farm.

I am learning that taking care of something other than myself is its own reward.  I so quickly fall into a pattern that revolves around myself.  That only leads to frustration and depression.  Caring for others opens the heart and the mind to a new way of thinking.  It makes no difference if you are helping another person or a furry friend, the mind cannot seem to concentrate on both self and others at the same time.  Thinking of others is not an automatic response for me, but the more I do, the easier it becomes.

A few more things to do then off to bed as morning does come early to the farm.

Here is to the opportunity to see a new and different life than the one I knew and to constantly expanding my horizons.

A Time for Reflection 

  
First, let me say to everyone out there…I am wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a new year full of blessings, health and joy!!

I know it has been a while since I posted anything.  I traveled a little bit, made it to Florida to visit my sister and brother-in-law, got sick and started a new home stay.  As usual there is a lot going on but I was just too ill to write about it.  I am finally feeling better, thanks to my host family and a local free clinic.  

A year ago today I was at home in Ohio thinking about taking an extended trip to the Wesr Coast.  I had a job that I had to figure out and logistics.  I was aching to hit the road but was pretty sure it was not going to happen.  Here I am a year later and I did the Epic Journey (at least part of it), left my family home of 49 Years and am living somewhat nomadic for the time being.  What an incredible and terrifying year.  

My highs have been very high and the lows below low.   I, truthfully, have been afraid most of the time.  Change is hard for me and I have had a lot of it.  I have cried more this year than I ever have and I have also laughed more than I ever have.  I have felt more isolated than I ever have and more connected than ever.  The year has been full of contradictions and confusion.  But looking back all I can really see are the people I have met.

The people who  have crossed my path have touched my life in ways I could never have imagined.  I reconnected with many of my family and long-time friends before taking this trip and that was a blessing I can never forget.  We all got busy with life and this trip seemed to bring us all together again.  My work friends supported me from the very beginning and I could never have done this without that support and love.  On the road, I met amazing people taking their own personal journeys.   I learned the trips were different but the need to dream and explore were all the same.

I have met people who have traveled the world and walked across the country in search of the perfect place to be.  I have met single women traveling alone and  finding independence and strength.  I have met many people on quests to find peace by pitching everything and starting over.  I have met people willing to take strangers into their homes and provide shelter, food and purpose.  I have had complete strangers watch out for me to be sure I was safe when traveling alone.

When I planned the original trip I thought it was going to be about the things I saw and the things I did.  I was wholly and completely wrong.  Those things made an impression but it was who I met along the way that have changed me.  I have grown in ways I could never have imagined a year ago.  I have learned lessons and heard stories that have literally blown me away.  

There are times when I miss my own couch or bed.  Sometimes while driving, especially at night, I look at homes with the warm glow of light shining through the windows and I miss my own space but then I realize that I am on a different path right now.  I may settle down in one place again but for now I still need to expand my comfort zone and learn more of the lessons life has for me.

To everyone who has followed this crazy journey with me and to everyone who has supported me, my gratitude is unwavering. I could never have done this without you.  There are new plans being made for 2016, so the journey is not over yet.  I hope and pray that you will continue to be with me as I try new things.  My life is blessed because of you and I thank God daily for your love.

Here’s to family and friends this Christmas season and to all the best life has to offer in 2016!!  Thank you again everyone!!

Greetings From Florida

  

Honestly I’ve never been a big fan of Florida. Seems every time I ever visited I would have asthma symptoms or get a really bad sinus infection. I have avoided Florida for those reasons.
  
I’m actually in Florida now. Doing my laundry at the hotel I am staying at. I’m sitting by the ornate pool listening to fountains all around. With a temperature in the 70s and the sun shining. I am thinking what’s not to love?

  
Everyone I have encountered has been delightful and everyone seems to be smiling. I’m sure it is a little different come the dog days of summer but for this day in mid December it is perfection.

  
I’m visiting my sister and brother in law. The lifestyle is so completely different from that of up north. Casual seems to be the word of the day…everyday. I feel like this is a perfect place to write; fresh air, gentle breezes, warm sun. I get it Mr. Hemingway, I get it.  

  
 I always figured that since I am not a swimmer and or adventurer that an outdoor climate just was not for me. Heck I do not even own a pair of shorts nor have I ever. Flip flops…don’t own a pair. But I feel a creative muse here.  

  
I was an ocean snob thinking that the Pacific Ocean was the only one to live be. I berated the Atlantic Ocean saying that it was not as pretty. I went to the beach the other day and it was beautiful. The sun was shining bright and the ocean breeze felt like a cold drink of water on a warm day.

Never had I even considered a beach lifestyle. But the last few winters up north have fouled my taste for cold and snow. I do not miss obsessing about weather reports that seemed to change by the minute. Tired I am of driving on snow and ice and praying I don’t go into a ditch. No more fretting about heating bills and freezing pipes.

I think I used winter wear to be somewhat invisible.  Being in a warm climate makes you somewhat vulnerable and I don’t like to feel that way.  But the sun actually feels good on my skin.  What a surprise.

I do not know if I will find myself here on a more permanent basis. There seem to be jobs and cheap places to live. I know the summers would kill me. I guess the way things are going in my life anything is possible. The art of discovery is starting to intrigue me. I need to throw away old theories and misconceptions and see things in a new light. Here is to finally opening my eyes and seeing things around me.

Lessons Learned on a Bus

greyhoundThis week I decided that I needed to visit my sister in Florida. I also thought it would be a grand idea to take a Greyhound so that I could experience that, for the first time, and write about it.  I looked at the ticket and saw that it was going to take 30 hours but that did not phase me.  I blew that fact off and pressed purchase.

So Monday morning Mike took me to the bus station. I was perplexed to find out it did not look like any bus station I had seen in the movies or on TV.  It was basically a one-room building with a few chairs and some lockers.  Okay I thought this is still an experience.

When the bus arrived, everyone literally ran out of the building. I immediately started to worry that I was going to have to sit in the bus equivalent of the middle seat all the way to Florida.  But luckily I found a seat and no one sat next to me all the way to our third stop (still in North Carolina).  We had to depart the bus as it was time to clean the bus.  I stood outside and wished I could be on the road and not standing in a parking lot next to a construction rental store.

A man approached me and started talking about Jesus. He was very nice but I was a little afraid of who I was going to meet on the bus (we have all heard the stories, right?).  He kept talking and touching my arm.  He told me that he served 23 years in prison and that he was so happy to have found Jesus.   He was worried that I had not eaten or had anything to drink.  He was very kind and any misconceptions I may have had were dispelled.  Then we parted ways.

I met a very large Cuban man at one of the 5-hour layovers. He was worried that I was getting cold outside when he told me there was a sitting room inside.  He then kept an eye on me the rest of the trip.  I also sat next to a tattooed young man on the way to Orlando who was the most polite young man.

I know that one must be cautious in this day and age. Bad things can happen and I am fairly shut-off to new people, especially when I am by myself but I learned an important lesson on this bus trip.  (1) Always read the schedule – a couple of 5-hour layovers can be grueling, (2) You cannot judge a book by its cover and (3) Most Greyhound stops are convenience stores attached to gas stations.  There are good people out there and I actually felt safe the entire time I was on the bus or at the terminals.

I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed the 30-hour bus ride, but it was not horrible. The overnight layover was a little hard.  It was an interesting trip and I am glad I did it.  I am flying, however, back to North Carolina.

Here’s to not judging people due to fear and the unknown and here’s to riding the bus.