Comfort Zone

Small Town Girl

NYC

Like John Mellencamp, I grew up in a small town and I lived in a small town.  Whereas he loved it, I hated it most of the time.  Oh, how I wanted to be like Mary Tyler Moore and move into a really cool apartment and have a really awesome job.  I dreamed of being a big city girl.  I thought I would hang out at art museums, listen to symphonies, drink fancy beverages, write awesome prose and basically just be very bohemian (a word I had to look up before wanting to become it).

I always put off my dream of writing because I had not experienced anything.  I thought only living in a city like New York or Chicago would give me the cred I needed to write and to be cool.  I have already established from other blog posts, that when God was giving out coolness I must have been in the ladies room or quite possibly taking a nap.  Cool is not who I am.

Let me tell you about my two days in New York City.  I was given an opportunity to visit New York City for a travel coordinator’s seminar.  I jumped at the chance and packed my bags.  I had been to Chicago many times and Los Angeles too.  I figured New York was going to be the place I fell in love with, the place that would change my life.

The plane landed in Newark and from that moment on I hardly drew a breath.  All the people, all the commotion and the overall bigness of everything started to overwhelm me.  Every movie I had ever seen about NYC flooded my memory all at once.  I somehow got into a cab (which was way smaller than I had imagined it to be) and got to my hotel.  When I got out of the cab, the city noises were almost deafening.

I finally got to my room on the 12th floor.  I quickly bolted the door and placed a chair in front of it for added security.  I slowly moved toward the window and looked out.  Buildings were everywhere, as far as I could see.  Even that far up all I could hear were car horns and sirens.  The sidewalks were wall-to-wall people.  More people on one street than lived in my entire hometown.  I gingerly moved over to the corner of the room, fell to the floor hugging my knees and stayed in a fetal position for most of that first day.  Overwhelmed did not begin to cover how I felt.

Not sure if or when I even slept, most of the day was a blur.  I had obligations to fulfill regarding this trip so I made myself get out and go to the seminar.  After it was done, I walked to the Chrysler Building thinking it was the Empire State Building.  That is how “cosmopolitan” I was.  At home, I always considered myself so citified, when in reality I was really just a small town girl and New York City was not the place for me.  I was lost and afraid the entire time I was there.  I walked to Times Square which was larger than I thought it would be but at the same time smaller than I thought it would be.  It seemed very surreal to me.

Saddened on the way home, I realized that all my grand dreams were just that…dreams.  Nothing was as I had thought it would be.  I was pathetic in the big city.  I was so very sad when it hit me that I was just small town.

Fast forward to North Carolina.  I stayed in Asheville for a while.  Asheville is in no way similar to  NYC but it is a fair size town with lots of people.  I never felt secure there.  I never felt like I fit in.  It is a lovely town with lovely people but it just was not for me.  Then I found Bryson City.  A town more like where I came from.  My comfort level went through the roof.  This town fit me and I fit it.  Everyone literally knows everyone else.  The people in the diners are friendly as are the shop owners.  There is a slower pace that small towns have that I require in order to thrive.

I cannot live under the constant pressure of a big city.  I can do without the over-abundance of micro-breweries and dance clubs.  I like shopping at Family Dollar and Freds.  I do not need specialty shops and fancy places.  My heart is heavy that I am really not as cool as I once thought I was, but I understand it now.  Some people are made for the big city and some are not.  I am not.  I am learning to embrace my small town attitude and be thankful that I, at least, got to see a few big towns in my life.  I guess part of the journey is finding out not only what works but what doesn’t.

I guess, like John, I will probably die in a small town and I am finally ok with that.

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Taming the Tiger

angry tiger

Anger has always been an issue for me.  My personality type gets overwhelmed very easily and when that would happen I simply lashed out like an angry tiger.  I may not even have been really mad but frustrated about a situation.  Luckily it usually took a while for the tiger inside me to work up enough steam to blow, but when it did it was not a pretty sight.  My angry outbursts are among my biggest of regrets in life.

Now that I have time to reflect I look back on those days when the tiger controlled me.  Like so many people, I was over-stressed, always broke, behind on bills, not satisfied with work, felt sick all the time and my to-do list was ever growing.  I felt like I was never staying afloat, let alone getting ahead.  I looked around and saw friends who seemed to have it all together while I felt as if I was unraveling a little more every day.

Sadness and depression enveloped me and I could not see an out to the way I was feeling.  That made the tiger even madder.  It was a vicious cycle that seemed to never end.  When I knew the house was going to be lost to the bank and a new life had to start, I was felt crushed.  I tried to be excited about the uncertainty of it all.  Inside I turned into a scared child.  I pretended to be okay but the fear was overwhelming.  The tiger was ready to strike at any time.  I prayed for an end, even if it meant the end of me.  Extreme, I know, but I was completely hopeless all the while showing a smile on the outside.

Fast forward about six months.  Things have settled down for the time being.  I found a job that makes me happy and makes me want to be there even on my days off.  I found a nice, quiet place to live and the tiger inside of me is at rest.  I still get overwhelmed.  When you work with the public, things are going to happen and people are going to push, but for the most part I have enjoyed everyone I have met so far on this journey.

I realize now that the stuff I thought I took comfort in actually feed the fuel for the tiger.  The things overwhelmed me as did the bills to pay for those things.  In my dark and alone times, I thought of how to live without all the stuff but my ideals were unrealistic.  When I realized that I became upset all over again.  Now after living a very simple life for a while, I am rejoicing in the lack of things.  Lack used to mean something negative to me, now it is a goal to reach.  I now find comfort in little things like a soft blanket or a really good cup of coffee.  I no longer need the fancy coffee maker to make the coffee, I will leave that to someone else.  As long as I can find a way to wash, I have my three t-shirts and two pairs of pants are just right.  Everything I own fits in one suitcase. Lightness has overcome the darkness and I actually feel as if I can breathe again.

The process felt like I was in labor for about six months.  There were times when the pain manifested it self physically.  My eyes ached from crying, my muscles hurt and my voice was hoarse from yelling at God.  Now I wake up without an alarm clock, not fretting the day, but rejoicing that God did not listen to me and end me all those months back.  The smile then was forced and fake, the smile today is real and genuine for the first I can remember.  The tears I cry now are happy tears.

Not everything is perfect, I still experience sadness and am lonely at times, but what happens when the good days start to outnumber the bad days.  Life becomes a totally different animal.  No longer am I tied to an angry tiger and that feels good.

I used to think I could not live without this or that, but when you start to live without this or that you have more room for happiness and love.  All my experiences in life, good and bad, have gotten me to here.  I cannot express what it feels like to actually have a second chance.  I could never feel gratitude before because I was so miserable, now I am thankful for everything.

happiness

Here is to saying goodbye to the angry tiger and hello to the…..cute and fuzzy bunny (?) inside of me.  Wishing you happiness and love in your life too!

 

 

 

Getting Old: It Is Not for the Faint of Heart

older sign

As the saying goes, getting older is not for the weak.  I am finding that statement to be one of the most truthful statements I have ever heard.  As I look through the postings on social media, I see people who are ill, depressed, lost, depleted and grieving.  That names just a few of the human conditions being dealt with on a daily basis.  My heart breaks for my friends who are suffering.

I am sitting here right now contemplating the latest of many losses already this year.  Prince.  I was a huge fan back in the day and his loss is weighing heavy.  But it is not just him, it is all of the loses I have endeared in this life.  There are days I wake up and my first thought is that I am going to call my mother today.  Well, I cannot do that because she went to heaven several years ago along with my father and my sister.  But I would do anything to hear her voice and get her advice one more time.

I am blessed that I do believe in Heaven and believe that I will see them again, but for those days when the heaviness of loss is almost unbearable, that time cannot come soon enough.  I took my loved ones for granted.  I never dreamed that they would ever be gone.  Yet, they are and the loss is epic all these years later.

That is not to say that one cannot experience loss at a young age. There are so many young people hurting from their loss suffered in childhood or young adulthood.  Loss is not, by any means, gifted only to the older.  I realize that, but I am personally getting older and that is where my particular viewpoint focuses.

So add the new aches and pains of older age, the possibility for accidents and disease, the questionable future of retirement and the uncertainty (which again crosses all age lines) of this political  future we are all looking at and getting older stings a little more.  Yes, it is better than the alternative, but it still hurts.

Getting older has some advantages.  I enjoy the wisdom I have now that was completely nonexistent in my younger years.  The filters now work on my mouth much better than before.  I have deeper understanding and empathy for others now.  Those are just a few of the blessings that come with age.  Most days, you can see those positives and put the negatives out of the picture for a day or however long.  But the losses never really go away, do they?  You never quite stop missing the parent, sibling, family member or friend.  You even miss the celebrities you never met.  I see a picture of Princess Diana and I feel remorse to this day.  I hear Stevie Ray Vaughn and my heart skips a little beat.  That is all part of being human.

I am happy that as I age, I do not feel the overwhelming need to rush at everything I do or to do every single request that comes my way.  I have learned to say “No” as a complete sentence.  That was unheard of as a young person.  My back hurts now and I have a garden variety of other ailments that come with getting older.  The once broken heart has mended a bit and appears to still be working, and that is a good thing.  To add insult to injury, I now pee a little when I cough, laugh or sneeze, I pass more gas, my favorite foods give me heartburn and the reflection in my mirror is unrecognizable at times.  As my mother used to say sarcastically, “More fun.”

The reason, in my mind, why aging is not for the faint of heart is because burying pain and angst is no longer an option as when you were younger.  When I was younger I could make myself so busy those thoughts never entered my mind.  Now in the dark silence of the many sleepless nights I encounter, the reality comes to the forefront and stays there.  There is no dismissing it or moving on.  Age seems to make you deal with it, sometimes once and for all and sometimes over and over.

We all will deal with things that make us wonder about that alternative that is so much worse than this, but in the end we should all be glad for each new sunrise we see and each day we get to say “I love you” to those important people who are left.  I think for today I will stand in the Purple Rain and let it wash my tears of sadness away.

Tomorrow is another day I hope to see.  If I do, it will have its share of pain and sorrow, but lets hope yours and mine are gifted with some peace and lots of love.  That is all we can ask for.

No More Wringing of the Hands

wringing of hands

I worry about everything.  Things that are possible, things that are impossible and all that is in between.  Basically I wring my hands a lot.  I have known for a long time that worrying is a waste of precious time, but I cannot seem to drop the habit.  I feel as if I do not worry about something, that thing is going to happen.  It is a vicious circle.

This is not a new behavior for me.  As a child, I worried that my parents would die, that I would get sick or that some catastrophe (like nuclear attack) would happen.  It was the groundwork for my OCD in later years.  OCD that hampered my life for so long.

So here I am on a quest, and I have something holding me back.  I knew it was fear but the fear is based in my worry.  Now is the time I need to break the chain of both fear and worry.

No more rethinking every conversation, no more coming up with scenarios that are not  ever going to happen and no more wringing of hands.  I cannot even imagine how freeing it would be to step out the front door in the morning and not have that dark rain cloud over my head telling me to stay in and hide.

I have found it is actually easier to be fearful than to be brave.  Which makes sense; going out on a limb, so to speak, is scary no matter who you are.  After talking with many people who have done exciting things, I have found out that brave people are not necessarily unafraid, but the fear does not stop them.  Some say that the fear actually encourages them to keep going and pushes them further.

I am going to take baby steps.  Firstly, stop wringing of my hands.  Secondly, I need to accept the fear I feel as motivation to walk over it and start experiencing all those things I have been looking for.  Modern life is always trying to cramp the bold style; scary news broadcasts, all kinds of media that exploit the horrendous nature of some humans, and just a general fear of those things we do not understand.  Life seems to have become full of random, unexplainable violence. That will do a lot to keep you behind closed doors.

For today, I will let the sun shine on my face.  I will feel the breeze blowing through my hair. I want to smell the outdoors and hear the sounds of nature.  I am excited to finally be taking steps to actually go outside my comfort zone, not just words.

Here is to being brave, even if it is a small step.  It is, at least, a forward step.

praying hands

Here is from going from wringing hands to praying hands.

Half Full or Half Empty?

Half full

The other day I was emailing my sister about the things going on in my life.  She is my best cheerleader; she picks me up when I fall, she encourages me when I am down, and helps me think clear when my mind is cloudy.  This particular day I as down more than my usual amount and she encouraged me.  Then she said that she was a glass half full person.  I have heard that saying so many times, but I never really thought about what it meant.

What does that mean?  In her case, I believe, it means that as long as there is something in the glass she still has hope and blessings in her life.  She does see the positive in life.

So in the reverse, I suppose, it would mean that if your glass was half empty that you feel that you are lacking in something, in need of whatever was in the glass even though there is still some remaining.

I got to thinking about a glass of iced tea (my favorite!).  The glass comes to me full and after I take my first sip I worry when am I going to get more.  The glass isn’t even half empty yet and I am already ruminating about running out. I can no longer enjoy the tea because I am worrying about it. The same is true with Oreo’s.  I eat the first one and I feel the need to get a new package for when the first package is gone.  How messed up is that?!?  It is almost like hoarding, but not quite.  I do not want to keep the tea or the Oreo’s indefinitely.  I want to consume them but I want to be sure I have more for the next time.

So, the half-full, half-empty scenario does not seem to work for me.  I do not want lots of things, but the things that I do want I tend to want in overflow mode.  Then comes the time I have had my fill of Oreo’s and I move on to PopTarts or some other thing.  Then the cycle starts all over again.

After much thought, I do not think I really want the Oreo’s, but I want the comfort they provide.  I want to hoard comfort.  I realize that I am so afraid of losing the few things that give me comfort that I am in a constant state of anxiety trying to be comforted.  I know it makes no sense.  I think that is why the epic journey did not work as well as I had hoped because I could not live in the moment.  I had to be on the look out for my next comforting moment.

When I speak of comfort I do not necessarily mean a posh bed with a down comforter.  I mean the intangible feeling of being safe and secure; having my own space where I can just be.  I had a hard time finding that on the road.  Devi became my comfort zone as she represented a space that was mine, and even today she is that to me.

I feel I am in constant anxiety mode worrying that my comfort zone will be gone or that I will have to find a new one, so I am always looking.  I am never enjoying today because tomorrow I may be out of Oreo’s.  It is no wonder I am never happy or content, I am always on the edge of the cliff.

That explains a lot.  Now, how do I fix it?  Do I give up Oreo’s all together and learn to live without them?  I have written in the past wondering how important a comfort zone really is and I am still struggling with that ideal.  I need to start living in the moment, but I honestly do not know how.  I should be able to eat the Oreo’s and not worry about getting more.  I should be able to eat them and move onto HoHo’s or whatever that particular day offers me.  Each day is different and I think I look to the Oreo’s to be the consistent thing, the comfort, in my life.

I have to learn that, as the saying goes, it is the journey not the destination that is what makes life worth living.  I have been fighting the journey all the time saying that the journey is all I want in life.  I have been afraid; afraid of change, afraid of discomfort, afraid of everything.  Now it is time for me to wipe all that away and live today without worrying about the Oreo’s for tomorrow.  For tomorrow there will either by Oreo’s or maybe even something better.  I cannot hold on so tightly to an ideal that I cannot live my life.

I spent many years  barely able to leave the house without extreme terror.  I was literally afraid of everything and everyone.  I was miserable. I finally learned to step out of it, but not completely.  I must have held onto some of that fear as it has resurfaced.  The comfort I thought I felt being in that house and not being able to go out actually turned into a prison rather than a place of comfort.  I am starting to do that again without the house part.  I have no real place to hide and it is freaking me out.

Understanding the problem is the first step to recovering from it.  Maybe now I can start working on weaning myself off of the Oreo’s and enjoying the things going on around me instead of worrying about tomorrow.  I want to be a glass half full person.  I want to see the possibilities and not the reasons it will not work.  I am going to start enjoying the moment and forget about tomorrow.  As it has been said, tomorrow is not guaranteed anyway.  Why ruin today because I have to plan out tomorrow?

I am sure this is going to be easier said then done, but now I understand the Oreo’s in my life and I think I can make some changes.

Here is to the people in your life who are your cheerleaders…we all need them and I hope to “get well enough” to be that for someone else.  Those people are the ones that create the change in life.  Thank you to Rita for being my cheerleader.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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!!