Month: January 2016

Please do not think of me as whining

IMG_0648

I do not own this image. I am respectfully using it on my blog.

I know that I made a post today, I am not trying to overdo the postings.  I saw this on Facebook today and I had to repost it here.

I realize that some (or many) of my posts may sound like whining.  I certainly do not mean for that tone to come across.  As the statement above says:  I embrace being wrong because I am wrong so often.  I better embrace it or I will be miserable.  I feel free of the illusion that this quest I am on will ever be complete or even become clear.  I think that is just how life is, a little veiled in mystery.  I do, obviously, care what people think of me but not to the extent that it used to be.  I used to be paralyzed by what others thought. Finally, I am questioning everything, especially myself and my motives.

As I go along this journey, I will continue to question and fail.  It may sound like whining but it is just me putting my thoughts and concerns to the page.  I am blessed in abundance with so many good things.  The bad things in my life have served the purpose to teach things like empathy and compassion.  So even those things are a blessing.

I expect certain intangible things (mostly of myself), but I hope I never come across as feeling entitled.  That is a real problem on our society today and I certainly do not want to be one of these people who walks around wanting and wanting.

I am not sure this post was necessary, but I want this blog to be as transparent and as real as possible.  The things I write are really things I am thinking.  Right or wrong…it is how my brain works.

Thank you to whoever created the words above and the photograph.  It so completely is how I feel.

Here is to being as real as possible and I hope a little entertaining(?).

 

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The Two Sides of Me

Happy

I do not own this image but I am respectfully using it in my blog.

Last night I watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with Ben Stiller (the remake obviously).  I was moved by the story and the absolute breathtaking scenery.  Then I had an epiphany.  I know why I never seem happy…because there are two different sides to me.  If one is happy, the other cannot be happy.

I long for the quiet life I wrote about a few days ago.  Stability and structure are key to that lifestyle.  Then I see images of Greenland or Alaska and I ache to grab a backpack and just go.  I cannot seem to wrap my head around either lifestyle right now.  I am absolutely conflicted.

Really quickly, in the movie Walter Mitty is the kind of guy who did the right thing.  After his father died, he started working and taking care of things.  He had planned to travel but life stopped him in his tracks.  In order to cope, he developed quite a unique imaginary life; a life where he was significant.  Then a situation arises and he has to step up to the plate.  Out of his shell and full-bore into life.  I ended up crying happy tears for Walter and sad tears for me.  Oh, to have that kind of adventure and purpose in my life.  Yes, I know life does not work out like the movies.  Alas, there are no scripts, unlimited bank accounts or stunt doubles in real life.

So I am left to figure this all out.  Some days I hate to being so self-aware.  Why can’t I just plod along asking “Do you want fries with that?” and be happy.  Why do I always have to look at the other side of the fence and ask if it is really better?  I try to just resign myself but something inside keeps awakening the turmoil inside of me.  I give up and then I come back more resolved (yet seemingly unequipped) to make that BIG major change.

In the end of the movie, Walter’s travels and meeting of people change him profoundly.  His fear is gone and his ability to actually live life to the fullest is stronger than ever.  I ask myself if that is just a Hollywood ending or if that same feeling, albeit not the actual events of the movie, can happen in real life.  I am aware enough to know that there is no happily ever after, but what about that part in the middle?  The part that is so terrifying and so exciting at the same time, the part that transcends you to another level of awareness and the part that feeds your soul in a way nothing else can. How do I get that?

I thought the Epic Journey would do that for me.  I expected to come back from that trip completely changed and when it did not happen I was really depressed and lost all over again.  But how can just jumping in a car and running away from everything make that kind of difference?  It is just not possible.  I expected the things to change me when it was me who needed to change from the inside.  I took that journey with all the fears and insecurities I have carried my entire life.  Basically, instead of jumping off the cliff I jumped over a water puddle and expected the end results to be the same.

Where do I go from here?  I still do not know.  I highly doubt that I will be backpacking in Chile anytime soon or climbing any mountains.  So what do I do?  The sensible thing-settle down and forget all this nonsense.  I should just “get over” myself and go back to normal.  Part of me is okay with that, but part of me is screaming inside “NO!!”.

I have “officially” been on this journey for about a year and I feel no closer to an answer then I did in the beginning.  I thought by now the universe would have made itself clear to me and I would be merrily on my new path to whatever-I-am-looking for, but that does not seem to be the case.

I feel a bit like early-in-the-movie Walter Mitty.  I have my pen and travel journal ready, I just do not know what to do with it.  How pathetic am I?  For today, I guess, I will live my life as best I can and look for the adventure in every day life.  Maybe I will write a story about a woman who is adventurous, brave and everything I seem not to be.  I could live through her until I figure this out.

No answers. I hate that.  I sometimes come to conclusions as I am writing but not this time.  I guess the question is just too big for an easy answer.  I will keep pondering it all and look for that proverbial open window or door.  For now the two sides of me will have to play nice until such a time as I have a plan.  Looks like the Epic Journey is no where near complete and that the ride has barely even started.

Here is to self-awareness:  you make me miserable, but you also make me grow.  I wish it was easier, but that is not how this whole life thing works.

 

One Night in Tapoco

Tapoco

These are photographs from the brochure. I will add my photographs shortly.

Have you ever tried something out of the blue and it turned out to be magical?  One night in Tapoco proved to be that for me.  Let me explain.

I had one night to myself between home stays and I thought I would treat myself to a night in a hotel. The night before the stay I made my reservation at the Historic Tapoco Lodge in Robbinsville, North Carolina.  I had been there once for a few moments when I was lost, and I thought then that I wanted to return there one day.

The Tapoco Lodge was built in 1930 by ALCOA.  It was used for company functions and corporate getaways during the hydroelectric efforts going on at the time.  It changed hands over the years and reopened to the public in 1955. Now the lodge has a rightful place on the National Register of Historic Places.

I am going to save the details of actually getting to The Tapoco for another post.  You get there by “riding the dragon”.  My friends, that is a story in and of itself!

At The Tapoco you have several choices for lodging.  You can stay in the hotel or one of several cabins sprinkled throughout the woods. I opted to stay in one of the cabins. I was thinking it would be rustic but I was wrong.  The cabin was so absolutely cozy and inviting.  It was small (which is right up my alley) but it felt like home as soon as I walked in the door.  I never wanted to leave.  I am sure the hotel rooms are lovely, but I cannot imagine that they can even compare to the comfort of the cabins.

The timing of this visit was just after Thanksgiving and the lobby was decorated so beautifully with Christmas trees, sparkling lights, giant bulbs and wreaths galore.  A fire was blazing and I set there for a while enjoying the exquisite view of the river nearby.  Never have I felt so relaxed sitting in a hotel lobby.

Since the hotel is not an easy place to get to, their hours are curtailed during the winter months.  I believe they even close completely for the brunt of winter.  Luckily, I wanted to stay over a weekend night and they were still open.  As I walked the grounds on a cool, yet sunny, November afternoon, I noticed a rather large quonset hut which turned out to be an actual working movie theater.  At 7:30, the movies start.  I thought that was wonderful.  At 8:00, you can go to the communal fire pit and enjoy smore’s and popcorn.  Those are amenities you just do not get everywhere.

I was starting to get hungry and wondered what my choices were going to be out here in the middle of, basically, nowhere.  There are two restaurants on the premises.  You can enjoy a very fine and proper Appalachian meal at Jasper’s or you can sink your teeth into some good old-fashioned cooking at the Slickrock Riverside Grill.  Since I am more of a hamburger-kinda gal, I went to the grill.  The salad, burger and fries were some of the best I had eaten and very fresh.   You can sit outside enjoying the river or watch a game on the inside.   Could this place get any better?

Yes, it can.  The grounds of The Tapoco are breathtaking.  There are 120 acres of the most stunning landscapes you can find.  There are mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and forest all around.  You can choose from several hiking trails or go biking…it is your choice.  Beauty is all around.

Everyone I met there was truly friendly, even the maintenance man waved as he drove by in his golf cart.  The staff are trained in the art of customer service and it shows everywhere.

I know this sounds like a long-winded commercial for the hotel, but I was just really impressed.   It was one of those respites that comes along when you are so tired and overwhelmed.  My few hours there proved to be so healing.  Everything from seeing the Christmas lights to enjoying a small hike around the grounds helped to calm me and restored my focus.  A place can do that and I am so glad I got to visit this place.

I am sure summers are a little more chaotic due but the time I spent was time well spent and I would do it again!

Here’s to a respite for a weary traveler and for enjoying the little luxuries that make life truly amazing.

P.S.  I have pictures, but I cannot find them now. Once I locate them I will post them.

 

 

 

 

I Wish I May…I Wish I Might???

wish board

Pathetic as it may be, this is my wish board.

This is going to sound idiotic, but I never understood the purpose of a wish.  I get that when you wish for something you are asking for something in particular or some other tangible item that you do not currently have.  It could also be something intangible like a superpower or the like.  But when you wish, who are you talking to?  It is not a prayer like to God, so who is listening to all these wishes?  I am so confused.

In my last career position, we had a corporate strategy meeting where we all added ideas to a wish board.  I was new to the concept and found it intriguing.  Everyone contributed ideas about how to make the company better for employees and customers as well as stronger financially.  There were no wrong ideas, so we were all free to add things that would have been considered over-the-top in a regular corporate meeting atmosphere.  Then the best-of-the-best were picked and added to a wish board that hung in the lobby as a reminder of where we wanted to take the company.

I have to admit I snickered a little under my breath at the idea.  Then after one particularly desperate day, I thought I would make my own wish board (I actually called it a dream board, but I believe they are the same thing).  It was way harder to do it for things I wanted in my life, there was no real out-of-box thinking.  The reason, I think, for that is because it is my life and I know I am never hitting the road with Bad Company or shredding down a mountain slope on a snowboard.  Not happening, so I felt the need to be a little more realistic.

I purposely used a smaller sheet of paper because I wanted everything on my list to be of importance to me.  I started with a picture of a tiny house.  I have wanted a tiny house for years.  I have read the books about the lifestyle and watched the television shows.  I am having doubts about it becoming a reality for me, but I put it out there as my foundation.  So, let’s just call it the fact that I want to live with a much smaller footprint whether it be a small apartment or a tiny home.  Smaller is really the key for the base of my board.

Then came what to do with my life.  I would like to work from home as a writer.  Yet, another thing that might not be in my future.  I am going to write no matter what, but I cannot see it paying rent or feeding me.  But again, it is the foundation for all of this.  I really think I should not be negative at this point, but I am also very realistic.  Unfortunately.  I used to dream big, but life sort of took that ability away from me.  Too negative?  Maybe.  This concept is harder than it seems.

Since I do not see a New York Times Bestseller in my immediate future, I need a job.  I just want a job that I am trained to do and one that I love.  I want to feel like I am making a difference and supporting myself in the process.  Having not “worked” at a regular job for a while, I have to admit the thing I hated about a regular job is the thing I miss the most.  The structure or you could call it having a purpose (that sounds much better).  I need that sense of on-going purpose.

Tiny footprint, writing and purpose.  Good start.  A few other things that followed included:  daily Bible study, volunteering, consistent exercise, frugal living, eating clean and making my own food as much as I can and my own cleaning products.  That is basically my dream board.  Funny, how when I put it this way, I see that I actually have some control over these factors.  Not really wish material (other than the tiny home).  So, do I not understand the concept after all?  I am still so confused.

What about my wanderlust?  I still want to continue the Epic Journey, but it needs to be thought out better.  I never realized just how expensive a journey like that would be (I could never have done it without your support), or how grueling it would be.  I need to take some time and reconsider the remaining portion of the trip. It will happen, I promise.  I just need to regroup.

What about home/farm stays?  I am struggling with my true abilities to do this type of work.  The past 53 years of my life have done nothing to prepare me for this particular lifestyle.  I feel useless at times and that just plain makes me sad.  Another thing I need to rethink.

To sum it all up, my wish board is more like at To Do List.  I can keep wishing for these things but without taking action, they will never happen.  Getting back to my original thought, I guess I really do not understand the concept of what a wish is for.  Do you go into a wish knowing it is just a pipe dream or somewhere in the back of your mind, do you think it could happen?  What happens when you wait and wait and the wish does not come to pass?  Seems to me wishes are pathways to be disilllusioned.

I think I will put my wish board away somewhere and turn it into my To Do List.  That is concrete and measurable.  I will leave the wishes to others. I honestly wish I could believe in the power of wishes, but I guess I am too pragmatic.

Here is to a healthy and attainable To Do List for those of us who are uncontrollably realistic…

and here is to those lovely souls who have dreams and wishes, may they become real and change your life in a way that adds more light to the darkness of this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh My…How Things Change

Change Ahead

Change is my new mantra.  It is so funny to think about, but I used to avoid change at all costs, now the landslide I call my life is constantly shifting.  I was thinking this morning about all the little things that have changed in my life.

I used to wash my hands constantly.  Yes, slightly obsessive.  Now, I can go to the barn then make a sandwich and never give my hands another thought.  Of course, if they are covered in something I will wash them, but not the 30 times a day I used to.

My old rule was if I wore something for longer than five minutes, it had to be washed and dried.  I was constantly doing laundry of clothes I never really wore.  Now, I have to remember to change my clothes after a few days.  I forget sometimes how long I have worn an outfit.  Pants can go a couple weeks and shirts a couple days.

Grocery store runs were an almost daily norm for me.  If I saw a recipe and did not have an ingredient, off to the store I went (and bought a lot more than that one item).  I have learned to improvise.  Now I use what I have or do without.  “Going to town” now means planning ahead and being resourceful in the meantime.

Most of my life has been spent sitting behind a desk; shuffling papers,typing, answering phones and other non-physical activities.  Due to that lifestyle, I became very soft and doughy.  Now I am walking and moving so much more.  What an amazing difference that makes.  I am down about 30 lbs. (with quite a few to go) just by getting out of the chair once in a while.  After you get used to it, moving actually does feel good!  I am even considering starting to hike  — well, I still in the thinking stage of that one.

Food, what can I say.  My old idea of food had to come to me in a prettty, shiny package all wrapped up nice and secure.  I knew where food really came from but I liked the idea of sanitary food.  I have found that food that is home grown, locally grown or just fresh from a farmer’s market tastes so much better.  I no longer need the plastic wrap to make me comfortable eating food.  Also, how much better is it when the food has been tended to and cared for.  You can actually taste the difference.  Sometimes I even accidentally eat a little dirt.

There are so many little things that have changed, I could go on for days.  The real thing though is how much more open I am.  I am still scared to death every day of my new life.  Mostly, I have no idea what I am doing or what is going to happen next, but I am open to the experiences.  I used to be so closed off, I just wanted to be alone.  It was just easier to be by myself.  I had no reason to meet anyone new.

Yesterday, I met a fellow Helpxer who came to my hosts home to help with a project.  We all had a great day talking about life, traveling, pain, insecurity and joy.  We talked the gambit of emotions and feelings.  At the end of the day, my new friend is going her separate way but I am hoping we can stay in contact as our journeys are similar.  I realized my struggles with uncertainty and feeling lost are not abnormal.  Lot of people, more put together than me, struggle too.

So as I think of all my personal changes and the fact that they make me feel as if I am standing on shifting sand at times, they are making me a more open person to all this world has to offer.  Talking to strangers, doing jobs I never dreamed of, and just putting myself out there are things I could have never done without the changes in my life.  The added bonus is the incredible people I am meeting are showing me new ideas and new ways to think that get me outside of my head.

There are days I curse change and wish I could wrap up in my blankie and just wallow but change is not allowing that behavior any longer.  I was very comfortable being enveloped by my sorrow and fear; we had become friends.  Now it has all changed and is continuing to change.  I am interested to see where the tide takes me and what my next adventure is.

Thank you for sharing with me.  Here’s to change and all that that entails!

 

 

Finally Invited to the Cool Kids Party

  

Nerd is not a word I would use to describe myself;I am simply not smart enough to be a nerd (not fishing for a complement, just stating a fact).  I also most definitely was not a cool “kid” either.  In high school, all those years ago, I was not invited to those cool kid parties (yes, I am over it😫).  I used to sit at home on Friday nights and imagine what fun and totally cool things were going on.  Come Monday there would be quiet whispers just out of earshot about what happened.  Alas, I accepted my life as an uncool.

Fast forward to a year ago and I was invited to join some of my classmates at a local pub.  I was very uncertain about going but I did.  It was a great time.  But I did realize that the cool kids were now cool adults and I was still uncool.  Luckily,  the coolness factor just was not as important as it once was.

Last weekend my host family (definitely cool kids) invited me to join them at a friend’s 50th birthday party.  I knew going in that I was not going to know anyone but I decided to put myself out there for a change and come what may.  As soon as I hit the door I was telling my story, listening to really cool stories and mingling.  Later in the evening the birthday girl and her friends started a jam session.  You could hear the music by the really cool bonfire while drinking really cool local beer on tap.  The attitude was casual and friendly.  Everyone brought a dish, so you had an eclectic mix of food and beverage.   I talked to many people and laughed a lot.

On the way home, as I sat in the afterglow, I realized that at 53 years old I finally made it to my first cool kids party and it felt good.  It was not so much about what happened as it was about the connections made.  I got some email addresses of people who I wanted to follow as they also pursued their own life changes.  I hope we can stay in contact and encourage each other along the twisting road that is a 360 degree change.

I sure did have a good time and feel so blessed that I was able to experience such an amazing event.  Had I been a cool kid in school, this party might not have been a big deal.  But for uncool me, it was a true highlight of my quest and journey.  Everyone was so welcoming, I hope to be more like those cool kids in my everyday life.  Funny how something so simple can be so inspiring.

Here’s to cool kids making nice with the uncool.  We need each other to make the world a better place indeed.  Oh what fun was had!