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My Epic Journey: One Year Later

Have a good trip AVERY

Well, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the start of my Epic Journey.  One year ago, I pulled out of the driveway in search of God, inner peace, purpose and a new way of life.  As I look back on the ideals I had before I left, I think how foolish I was.  I expected this trip around the country to change my life and change me as a person.  My life has changed as have I as a person, but not because of the physicality of driving around from state to state.  Seeing the largest ball of yarn or the ocean, those things did not create the change I am experiencing today.  It was wonderful to see all the things I saw but much of it left me still wanting for something more.

Over and over again in this blog, I have mentioned how the people I have met have changed me.  That fact is still true.  This journey has allowed me to meet all kinds of people: ex-convicts, possible gang members, homeless people, wanderers, and everything in between.  My perception of people has vastly changed.  I have had the hardest of people look after me, without a request, while I sat alone in a bus station at 3 in the morning.  I have had complete strangers care about me and my well-being in situations I never imagined.  People I would have been afraid of in my old life have shown me compassion without expecting anything in return.  My heart swells just thinking about it.

When I first came up with this crazy idea I was terrified to even speak about it out loud.  I was sure my friends and family would have me committed.  Then I slowly started to feel the waters and found out that everyone was ready to stand with me and show me support I never imagined.  I could never have done this without them.

The people have definitely changed me.  But there has been other aspects to this journey that have changed me also.  Flying without a safety net (or not having a home base any longer) proved to more than I could bear in the beginning, then became more and more of a blessing as time ticked on. I have a home base now, but it is different in ways I still have yet to imagine.  The concept of not owning much, which was scary at first, is something I freely embrace now.  The weight of “things” has lifted and I can breathe again.  Goodbye things, I do not miss you.

I have learned the difference between alone and lonely.  I am alone a lot, and yes, I am lonely sometimes, but I do not have to be both all the time.  Same with sad and depressed, I no longer let the sadness turn into depression.  I have learned that having control over everything is like a prison, you are locked in and there is no way out.  Giving up control, just like giving up things, is the key that unlocks the prison door.  Trying to control everything is just too tiring and it never quite works out.  These are just some of the things I have learned over the past year.

This year has been a year of changes and re-evaluating everything I knew before.  I am still not “there” but I now have the first year under my belt and I survived.  That is a glorious feeling.  Now my heart is open to more possibilities and more opportunities.  I am looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring.  This journey is not over by any means, but it is easier to see outside of myself now.  There really is a big world out there and it actually does not revolve around me. I no longer need to carry the burden of having everything in the world depend on me (one of my major misconceptions).  I can now start to live a life that is open, even raw at times, but not closed off because of fears and uncertainty.  Every new day is uncertain, I am learning to embrace it.

Here’s to experiencing more pain, more joy, more love….just more of everything.  It is scary indeed, but worth it every step of the way!

From Ohio to North Carolina….I wonder what’s next?

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When Words Hurt

inner beauty

This has been a weird month for some reason.  Out of the blue, with no hint or preview, I was reminded that I am not physically a beautiful person by two separate and unrelated people.  I have been working on not caring what people think of me, but these words hurt.  I tried to brush them off, especially since they were said by people who barely know me but they stayed in my brain and continued to erode away any confidence I had.

I am not sure why these things were said or if I did something to bring them on.  But after stewing over the hurtful words for a couple of days, I have learned a few lessons from the experience.

Firstly, I am reminded that words do indeed hurt.  You can either build someone up with words or completely devastate them.  I knew from past mistakes that this is true, but maybe I needed a refresher course in the evils of a wayward tongue.  Even something said in jest can be hurtful.  I do not want to be that person, I want to be the one who lifts people up.  There is just not enough of that in this world today.

Secondly, I am reminded that no matter how tough I say I am on the outside, I am still affected by other people’s opinions.  That is really a lost cause.  Unless the person is someone who is close to me or someone I care about, I should take the words with a grain of salt.  I should remember that everyone these days has an opinion about everything, including my looks apparently, and they are very willing to share that opinion.  I cannot control or censor what they say, but I can control how I take those words and process them.  Sitting by myself, depressed and lingering over the words is not the choice I want to make when something is said to me.  Can I use the words said to better myself?  If so, then I need to do it and if not, I need to let them wash down the drain like dirty dishwater.

Thirdly, I sometimes forget how easy it is to judge a book by its cover.  I know that is so very clique, but it is true.  I was judged harshly by my cover by people who do not know me.  True beauty comes from a generous and kind heart, it comes from a place of humanity and concern for others, and it comes from a million or so lessons learned the hard way.  Beauty is not skin tone, hair color, fingernail length….it is how you live your life when no one is paying any attention.  It is about how you treat people and how you handle situations.  I forget that for a few days.  I am now reminded of it.

I may not be a beauty by the world’s standards and that is okay.  Looks do not last, they fade like the sunlight at dusk.  I do not want to be remembered for how tiny my pores are or how silky my hair is (neither of which is true of me by the way).  I want to be remembered for trying to become a better person.  I still have a long way to go, but I am, at least, trying.  Does that make me beautiful?  I do not know and, frankly, I am not worried about it.  As Dr. Seuss points out, “I am who I am.” (or maybe it was Popeye.)

I am glad the words were said because it made me lose my confidence for a few days.  It reminded me of a place where I no longer wanted to be.  It was a place of sadness and inner conflict.  That is a place I left behind and it should stay behind.  That place has no place in my present.  I learned that I can be hurt, but there is always something to learn from the sting.  For that I am thankful.

Hiking Clingman’s Dome

Scenery No 1

Part of my North Carolina plan was to start hiking.  I have a friend that I used to work with (shout out to Jan!) who moved here and started hiking.  She is so healthy now and I want to be like her. She is my inspiration.  Except I really do not like the outdoors, or sweating, or hiking for that matter.  I am an indoor, read a book, or binge-watch Netflix kinda gal.

Unfortunately I have found all my years of non-outdoor activity have made me rather soft.  Walking the parking lot at the grocery store can cause me to want to take a nap.  I am actually afraid that I am so out of shape that I can never recover.  Everyone says it’s never too late to start getting in shape, but I think I am the exception to that rule.  I am marshmallow soft.

Mike came to visit for his birthday and he gets hold of Jan who happens to be in town and we all meet up.  We catch up for a while and then the talk goes to taking a hike.  I start to get nervous because everything around here seems so hilly.  I am not good with hills or non-paved walkways.  But I figure I can tough it out, it is the least I can do.

They decide on Clingman’s Dome and off we go to the National Park.  I learned along  the way that it is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at 6,643 feet.  Obviously, I realize we are not going to actually climb this peak, like from the bottom of it to the top.  That is not an adventure you start at 3:30 pm on a Wednesday.  There is a parking lot with a half mile walk to the top.  I was much more at ease as I know I can probably walk that amount without major injury.

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The drive to Clingmans is worth the experience.  The National Park is overwhelmingly beautiful and is beautiful from all angles.  As we climbed, in the car, the temperature dropped and dropped from a hot and humid 90 to a refreshing 70.  Ok, I was loving this trip so far.  We did not see any wildlife on the way in but we did see a black bear and a few elk on the return trip.  That was very cool.

After about an hour, we get to the parking lot at Clingman’s Dome.  Remembering it is only a half a mile, I put a spring in my step and we started off. Little did I know that, although it would make sense since this is a mountain, that the half a mile was all uphill.  Not just up a hill, but intense, steep grades that would make a grown man or woman cry.  Luckily, there were benches every few feet and I utilized them all.  Finally, I told my walking companions that I was never going to make it before sunset and that they should go without me.  They tried to talk me into continuing but I fought them on it.  So they eventually went on without me.

As I sat on the bench I watched a variety of people coming down from the top.  Each person shouting encouragement and saying how worth it the trip was.  I saw older than me people, some were handicapped, some were out of shape like me and many other varieties of shapes and sizes.  I was wimping out and became very disappointed with myself.  Quitting, especially this early on, was not what this adventure was all about.  So I started walking up some more.  After several stops, some short and some longer, I made it to the top just as Mike and Jan were heading down.  Their faces showed such surprise and happiness that I had made it. It was worth doing just to see them. They accompanied me to the top of the observatory where it is said you can see up to five states because you are so high up.

The scenery was breathtaking and surreal at the same time.  It did not seem possible to be over 6,600 feet up, on top of a mountain.  My brain was having a hard time believing what my eyes were seeing.  It was beautiful.  As I took some time to catch my breath, I realized that climbing this mountain, albeit not so much climbing as walking a path, was more than just taking a hike for me.  It was overcoming my fears of heights, and fears of having a panic attack due to the strain.  The fact that I even made it without collapsing made me so inspired to keep trying new things.

By the time we got back to the car, I was exhausted but in a good way.  I was thrilled that I toughened up and did it.  Mike and Jan were proud of me and that encourages me to do more.  At first glance, the mountain seemed to have won, but I steadied myself and talked myself into completing the journey.  I also prayed a lot for strength as I struggled up the walkway.  But it got done and I could not be happier.

Muhammad Ali said “Don’t count the days.  Make the days count” and that day counted in my book as an accomplishment that I can be proud of.  If you ever get the chance to “climb” Clingmans Dome, I highly advise you do it.

Observatory

Please note:  the photographs in this post were not taken by me.  I have some great shots that I took.  Once I figure out how to get them transferred from my camera, I will post separately.

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.

Blessings I Shall Be Counting

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1,2,3…

I have all of God’s blessings with me

4, 5, 6…

The blessings make for a very long list

7, 8, 9…

It’s time I take them all and count them as mine

Don’t worry I won’t quit my day job to write poetry…oh wait, I don’t have a day job.  LOL.  Anyway, I have been struggling to find anything of interest to say.  Words have not been coming and my idea well is somewhat dry.  I want to keep this blog entertaining, but sometimes I lack any interest in myself at all.  Such is the case lately.

Then I met a woman, a mother of a friend. Meeting her has changed my view of myself.  My life has always allowed me to indulge myself in self-absorption.  My world view tends to revolve around me although I see other things and people in life.  I do have empathy but I spend quite a bit of time worrying about me and my situations.

It is hard to look outside that, especially when your life is turned all around and you are searching for some meaning and direction; which is where I am at right now.  Meeting this woman* has opened my eyes to what other people are going through. You may know a person but knowing what they are going through are two different things.  She is a vibrant and intelligent woman with many passions who has had to switch those passions off in order to care for a family member who is very ill.  A woman whose best friend is no longer able to be that person due to illness that is ravaging his body.

Is this courageous person bitter?  No.  Is she struggling to try to do fill the roles of two people?  Yes, but her attitude is surprisingly calm and in control.  I am sure that underneath it all, she has self-doubt, but she knows what needs done and does the tasks at hand.  I watched her the last few days deal with this overwhelming turn her life has taken and she lives with absolute grace.  I can barely show grace on good day, let alone with the things she must deal with.

I am so tired of myself.  I cannot imagine having to let go of all I held dear and become a person who unselfishly gives and gives to another who cannot give much back at this time.  That is true and unconditional love.   I am crying as I write this at the reality of my own faults; which are many (see it is always about me).  I can barely get through a day without, at least, one pity party for myself.  I do not believe there is time or room for pity parties in her life.  What good would they do anyway?  There are happy couple pictures all over her home; pictures that reflect better days. Oh, how I long for those days for her but, alas, they are probably gone for good.  My heart is so sad.

Depression grips me some days and I cannot see anything but sorrow and sadness.  I shake myself trying to get those thoughts out of my head but the veil of darkness does not leave.  How does my new friend find the spark to get up every morning and face the day?  To say I am impressed is an understatement.

Seeing outside of myself really has allowed me to see the many blessings I have in my life.  Perfect my life is not, nor will it ever be.  Perfect is not the goal in reality. Living with grace no matter what the circumstances is a pretty good goal.  To meet someone so full of grace has inspired me to be a better me.   As I have stated many, many times in this blog, I always assumed it would be the “Epic Journey” that opened my eyes and yet again, it is not the traveling but the people I have met along the way who have changed me.  I have met so many wild and wonderful people, people with lives on hold, people unsure of their destiny and future, people who are hurting and people who love in ways I could not have imagined this time last year.

I need to count my blessings and not just say the words but actually do it.  I need to see my life in a different light and I need to remove myself from the center of my universe and be more like my friend.  Grace no matter what, grace to the end.  I have a feeling the journey will be a long one.

  • I did not mention my friend’s name out of respect for her privacy.  I hope you all understand.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

The Heart is Heavy from Loss

missed

Today, I just heard that a mentor of mine has passed away.  His name was Bill and he started the company I worked at for almost 20 years.  Today, I am flooded with memories of my time there, some good and some bad but all were amazing.

When I started working in 1989, I was really a lost soul (even more than I am today).  I had recently gotten divorced, had no real job experience to speak of (retail, some bank experience) and I only had my GED.  I had been interviewing all over the place and getting the same response:  sorry, you do not have experience or education.  So when I interviewed, I was asked why I was having such trouble finding a job and I explained what I was being told.

Many years later, the HR Manager told me that when she heard me say that I could not get a job because of lack of experience and education, she decided right than and there that she would get me both.  That was the corporate culture, set forth by Bill and his partner.  Not only do you grow your business, but you grow your employees.  There was an entire culture built around that philosophy.  Many people gained work and life experience as well as a degree. They had a very generous education policy that allowed many to get their degrees, including me.

When I started it was in the Mail Room.  I was scared every day that I was going to goof something up.  I apologized constantly to everyone, I must have looked so pathetic.  One day Bill came up to me in the mail room and asked me what did I know.  Taken aback by the question, I said not much and continued to do my work.  He then asked me what they were paying me for.  That was his sense of humor, but I did not realize it at the time.  For the next two years or so, every time I saw Bill I would start to sweat and shake.  When I had to do something for him, I would do it so completely wrong because I was totally nervous.

I eventually did get over all that and he became a mentor to me.  There were days when he would walk around the facility talking to just about everyone (and he knew all our names), he would get to my office and sit down and either ask me a question about how I thought things were going or something completely random.  He would often tell a story, and when he told a story it was riveting.  Sometimes I would work Saturdays just to get caught up and he would visit my office and ask why I could not get my work done during the week.  Again, it was his sense of humor.

My work days were filled with hard work, learning new things, making lifetime friends, giving back to the community, and having fun.  We all worked hard but when it came time to relax, we did that too.  Picnics, parties and luncheons were all coordinated to either celebrate a milestone or give everyone a break after a long stretch of work. The employees were cared for.

I learned many things about business from Bill, but also things about life.  My life before was unstructured and not cohesive.  I learned to wear many different hats and I gained so much experience.  All the time watching this interesting man run his business and continue to be humble.  His humanity and humility are the things this world will miss the most.  We live in a society where Donald’s and Kanye’s boast about their greatness.  I learned from Bill if you are truly great, you do not have to tell a soul.  It can be seen and felt.  With Bill it was.

I shudder to think where my life would be without knowing Bill and all the people who I worked with.  It was truly a family of sorts.  We would fight, tease, and be rough on each other but in the end we all admired and loved one another.  That is what Bill taught us.  Unfortunately, like all good things, those times ended and people moved on.  I have kept in touch with many and lost touch with many.  I never really talked with Bill after I left, and I regret that.  But his presence lived on in my life and will continue to.

Some people touch your life in ways that cannot be explained.  Bill touched my life and those of many others in that way.  He left a legacy in every person who knew him.  His light will shine for decades to come and I am honored to have known him.

Goodbye, Bill, your life showed me how to live. You WILL be missed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

The Road So Far – Lessons Learned

The Road So Far

I do not own this image, but I am respectfully using it in my blog and it is a homage to my favorite show ever, Supernatural!!

 

It has almost been one month since I left the only home I have known most of my life and with very few belongings. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I have actually learned a lot about me and about life. Here are some of the lessons that have hit home:

 

  • Plans NEVER go the way you think they will: I cannot tell you how many plans I have made only to have them change a few times into something completely different. I am learning the hard lesson of going with the flow. This is hard for me but it is a lesson that must be learned in order to cancel out all the chaos all around.
  • Strangers are amazing: I am still amazed that complete strangers will take me into their home and give me shelter and food in exchange for some work. It is so easy to live in a bubble, just seeing your own life and not venturing out much. That is how I lived my life; consumed by my problems with a very small worldview. My Hosts are bigger view people and it is helping me to see that way too.
  • Even if you get rid of most of your stuff, it is still too much stuff: I seriously downsized. I cannot believe how much stuff I got rid of and, guess what, I still have too much stuff. As you start to live a life without things, you realize how little you need to actually live. Of course, I am lucky enough to enjoy the things our Hosts have, but having lived on the road for a few weeks prior to all this showed me that I can still live good and not have a lot. It is not about living without, but about truly living with what you have.
  • Being old and living on the road is not for the weak: I have spent most of my life working behind a desk and not really exercising or moving much. Now my life consists of movement and activity. It is hard on this old woman!!! Some days I think actual work is easier than this lifestyle. Even though I am still kind of weak, I am getting stronger by the day and thinner (yippee).
  • There are days when you just plain miss a fluffy bed: Having slept in the car (front and back seat), in a tent on an air mattress, on a thin mattress in a cabin and a futon. This goes along with the previous lesson, getting old is hard but you adapt and it all works out. It is still better than sleeping on the ground which I cannot ever imagine doing anyway!!
  • You cannot go anywhere or get anything done in five minutes: the next time someone says I will be there in five minutes, expect it to be at least 20. I guess there are a few things that can get done in that time frame, but for the most part life is messier and takes longer to clean up after.
  • Buy local and meet the locals: The local people of any place are the gems of the area. I have learned to go to hometown hardware stores, fruit markets, diners and more. The local people love to tell their stories and it is a slice of Americana that we must preserve. Local businesses are the backbone of this country and need support!!

 

That is all I can think of for now. I am sure more will come to me as this crazy journey continues. In the meantime, I absolutely need to tell you about a new friend: Luke P. As I was running errands today in the rain, I saw a man walking with a broken umbrella. Since my journey started, I look at people’s situations differently and clearer. I ran and got a new umbrella and new gloves. NOTE: I am not telling you this because I am such a great person, but because what happens in a minute.

 

I stopped and gave Luke the umbrella and asked where he was going. To a town less than an hour away he told me, so we decided that it would be better to drive there in the rain than walk. On the way, I found out all the things Luke has done: walked around the country, rode his bike in snowstorm in Colorado, took culinary classes and now he is a cook at a men’s shelter. He was a respectful and courteous young man and quite the inspiration. He loves helping people and seeing new things. His worldview was amazing to me and getting to speak with him for even a short time inspired me to be a better person (which is what my sojourn is all about). I am so glad I got to meet Luke and hear his unique story. The more I travel and meet travelers, the more I grow as a person. The stories I am hearing are changing my life. Everyone told me that travel would change me, I never realized how much travelers were going to change me. What a wonderful lesson learned!!

Phase Two: Fresh Starts and New Beginnings in North Carolina

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

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

Many things have changed since coming back from my journey.  Since everything was in flux, I was not really able to discuss the changes, but now I can.  This is actually Phase 2 of my Epic Journey.  The first part was the trip itself.  While I was actually doing the trip, I felt it was yet another of my failures, but in retrospect, it has actually prepared me for this new phase.  I learned things that I did not realize until later and the difficult experiences made me realize that I am not quite as soft as I thought I was.

Over the past few weeks, Mike and I have been cleaning out our belongings.  Getting rid of anything that is non-essential.  We had decided to live our lives more consciously and without a lot of physical entanglements.  I have lived in this same house for about 48 years and it has accumulated much stuff.  Getting rid of the stuff has proved to be much more difficult than I had ever imagined.  It is not so much the getting rid of it, but finding a home for the stuff when everyone is buried under their own stuff and just the sheer volume of things to get rid of has been quite a hurdle.  I decided a while ago that I was tired of the stuff owning me and now I am finally getting to a point where that will not be the case any longer.  If it does not fit in Devi, it does not go with us.

At the end of this week, we will be starting a completely new life.  We are going to be leaving this home and our home state for a new location in North Carolina.  During this entire process, Mike and I have talked and talked about everything and what we feel we need at this point in our lives.  Years of being one lost paycheck away from disaster has taken its toll, stress has made us sick and it seems we may have actually forgotten how to live.

Part of Phase One was to try a farmstay out in Oregon, but due to unforeseen situations, that never came to pass.  We decided that we would give the farmstay idea another try in North Carolina.  The idea is to connect, through an organization called Help Exchange, volunteers (that would be us) with people who are in need of assistance either on their farms or teaching facilities.  Tasks are detailed and volunteers are usually give room and board in exchange for the jobs they will do.  It is a great symbiotic working relationship because the people in need receive the assistance they desire and the volunteers are given the opportunity to give back while having a roof over their heads.  These stays can be short-term or long-term, it all depends on what is needed.

We actually have a couple of exciting stays lined up for the next few months.  There are about ten opportunities just in the location we are looking at, so the opportunities seem good for now.  We will be nomadic for the next few months; if we like the options, we may stay that way indefinitely.

As the blog starts the next phase, it will still be about self-discovery but now it will also be about something more than just me.  We will be meeting people who are living outside the box and who will, hopefully, teach us how to do the same.  My eyes are going to be opened to new ways of life that I never even imagined before.  The plan is to live lighter, live healthier and to live simpler.

Leaving everything we know and leaving my ultimate comfort zone is proving to be a challenge.  But I could sit in the same place for the rest of my life and play it safe like I have done for so long.  I could watch myself get more and more depressed because my fears and doubts would be running my life or I can step outside and start living.  It is time to start living and helping others.  I wanted my Epic Journey to give me answers to how to live my life, it seemed to only give me more questions, but now I see that when asked the right questions, the answers start to fall into place.

I wanted to thank everyone again who supported my trip.  It was life changing and I could never have done it without your support.  I hope you will stay tuned to find out about this new adventure.  We should be on our first short farmstay by the weekend.  I am looking forward to it (I am scared to death) and I hope you will walk this new path with me.  Thank you for listening.

I Can Never Thank You Enough …. There is More To Come

Make-A-Wish Donation Receipt.

Make-A-Wish Donation Receipt.

Thanks to all of you I was able to make a donation to the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I promised that part of the proceeds collected would go there, and the funds are being electronically sent as I write this.  I volunteered for this organization for many years and even though I do not currently, I love what they do for the children they help.  So THANK YOU AGAIN for giving me the opportunity to help them!!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone again for your support regarding my Epic Journey.  As many of you know, the journey is not complete.  I promise there will be more to come.  Unfortunately, life, as it does, has interrupted the journey for now.  But it will continue and I hope it will be much more interesting now that I am a little smarter about traveling.

I hit some road blocks before, during, and after the trip.  I am sorry that the original trip did not go as planned, but I still learned a lot.  I still have much to learn and I hope you will continue to be interested in the blog.  The changes coming up in my life are the biggest challenges I have ever faced, so it should be interesting 🙂

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

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

Thank you again to everyone who helped with this trip.   If I left anyone out, please know it was honestly by accident.  I appreciate everyone and I am honored that you cared enough to take the time to help and encourage me!!

  • To everyone who shared my blog with others
  • To all the people who came into my shop and dropped money in my travel jar
  • Carson
  • Cindy
  • Debbie
  • Carol
  • Chris
  • Randi
  • Gary
  • Rita
  • Jill
  • Terrie
  • Cathy
  • Mike
  • Mary
  • Joyce
  • Ed
  • Wayne
  • Janet
  • Joan
  • Chuck
  • Jon
  • Patricia
  • Kelley
  • Jan
  • Amy
  • Ernie
  • Kimberly
  • Lisa
  • Marty
  • Avery
  • Dawn
  • Jenny
  • Debi
  • Dani
  • Melanie
  • Tracy
  • Rick
  • Theresia
  • Rich
  • Catherine
  • Denise
  • Branson
  • Patti
  • Bill
  • Robert

Once more, thank you and please stay tuned for another exciting adventure!!!