There are so many things going on in my life right now, so many changes. Though I am trying to walk a new path, I sometimes doubt myself and my strength to do this. I feel like I cannot go on, but then I realize that it is the fire that purifies and on the other side of these trials is the hope of peace and healing. I need to take the focus off of me and focus on God.
Many people who did great things failed time and time again before they reached their goals. It is well documented that Edison, Ford and more all lived with their failures and then triumphed. So why I am I here today feeling bad about all my failures in life? I guess because I feel like the failures outweigh the triumphs right now.
- I failed my way out of high school
- My first marriage failed
- I received my Associate Degree but failed to finish my Bachelor’s
- I failed owning my own online bookstore
- My failed radio show career
- I have failed miserably at knitting, crocheting, painting, and many other crafts
The list actually goes on…and on. Well, you get the point. Why do I bring it up today? Because a year ago I opened a little gift shop and just about everything went wrong from the start. I thought I would have be able to work another job, run the shop and keep up with all the other things life threw at me. I was wrong and the gift shop always suffered. Today I have to try to close it down and sell off the inventory. It is a sad day because I know in my heart I never gave it the attention it needed. During these times of questioning, the entire failure list always shows up again like an old friend saying “Hey, I’m here! Look at me!” It is hard to ignore the past. As I look forward to my upcoming Epic Journey, I worry that I will fail there also. I am expecting to do many new things and to learn a lot from all I experience. Then my mind starts thinking that I am too shy to meet new people every day, I am too weak to handle the grueling driving schedule, I am too soft to sleep in the car and eat rations and a myriad of other possible failure points. Then I start to cease up with horror and fear that I am just wasting the money and time and that I should just stay home. A new part of my personality has started to emerge, one I think that comes only with age. This new part of me says that the only reason I failed so much is because I tried so much. Sure things could have come out differently, but those experiences made me who I am today; the person who is planning on taking an Epic Journey of self-awareness and awareness of others. What is the worst thing that can happen? I came back home with my tail between my legs. At least, I should have some really interesting stories! On the other hand, what if this is my success and I find a way a new, healthier way to live (I am trying to cut out all the extra stress in my life). What if I do, as many travelers say, come back changed? What if I see the world and it opens my eyes to all the wonder and amazement I have missed? History shows that I may fail on this Epic Journey, but I also think I am ready for a win (it has been a while). Maybe this will be my Thomas Edison or Henry Ford moment. I will give it my best and shot and see what happens. No matter what it should be an interesting ride!! Thank you for joining me on this journey.
I’m sorry I have not posted more this week. There are LOTS of exciting things happening involving my trip. But I had a long week at work and my creative juices were non-existent. So if you don’t mind, I will try to post a few things this weekend to keep everyone one up to speed. Thank you for your patience!!
P.S. It is now less than two months until my “Launch” date!!
Thank you to everyone who has looked at my blog. I truly appreciate it and love you for it!! Please remember that starting on July 25, the actual travel posts will begin. Right now, I am still in the planning and executing stages of the trip. Not as exciting as the trip itself, but I hope to keep you interested enough to keep following so that when the trip starts we can see the country together.
I have been visiting great blogs about women who travel solo. These women are amazing. I study where they have gone and what they have done and I am in awe. I know women who have traveled solo for work and I am in awe. I know women who have traveled the world in the military and I am in awe. Meeting and reading about these women is inspiring me to be better and I hope that my small trip (compared to some!) will be interesting to you. I do have a feeling it will change me and I hope it inspires you to fulfill a dream, whatever it may be.
I have always wanted to travel, but I spent most of my life afraid. I would think of all things that could happen and I would be paralyzed with fear. That fear barely let me leave the house for a couple of years. Embracing the fear made me feel better, I thought it actually kept me safe when in reality it just kept me prisoner. I overcame some of it, but fear still has its grips on me..even today. But thanks to my brave friends and new friends I am meeting locally and via the Internet, I am casting my fears away, casting them onto the Lord where they belong.
This trip has no political agenda, no hidden meanings or undercurrents, it is strictly about a shy and fearful woman waking from her self-induced small world view and doing something totally out of character with the hopes of being better. I want to be better on all levels: a better person, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend and a better citizen of the world. I cannot do that with the blinders I have on.
This blog speaks a lot to “finding center.” I am sure that phrase means many different things to many different people. Some people may equate this with “finding yourself.” I am not sure if the definition for me fits any particular square peg, but I thought I would define finding center for me.
For me finding center means: finding time to be with God and spending time in His word, having enough attention span to actually enjoy reading a book or cross stitching a pattern, listening to the breeze through the trees without the prerequisite television on in the background, learning a new skill, looking at the day for what it is, finding time to exercise just because it is good for me, and enjoying the journey, to name a few things.
My life has become a series of events/tasks to check off in a planner. Over the years I have found that I constantly make lists and then work for that red checkmark I place next to the task that is complete, then it is on to the next task. That is all fine and good and it makes sense when you are working at a goal. But when it becomes the only way you can live, joy and wonder have left the building.
You read the sayings that tell you to enjoy the journey, and that life is not about the destination but the steps it takes to get there. I have lost that ability, or maybe never had it to begin with. My life focuses on getting from Point A to Point B then Point C. I have no idea how to enjoy the journey. I need those red checkmarks in my life to know that I am actually doing something. One day, a few years ago, I realized that I no longer wanted to live just for red checkmarks.
That is what this trip is about for me. I have tried other ways to “enjoy the journey” but they have not worked. I enjoyed the journey starting with a to-do list that required red checkmarks to show how much I was enjoying the journey. As you can imagine, that technique got me nowhere.
I am not saying that it is bad to have to-do lists. They have suited me very well in the past, but now that I am older I do not want to be quite so regimented. With that realization comes the fact that I know no other way to live by what my planner says. My heart told me that I needed to do something fairly radical to get my life to center and that is what this trip is about.
This trip is definitely about the journey and all the amazing things I am going to see along the way. I spend my time in the car now just watching things, people and experiences zoom by on my way to my destination. I see everything from the perspective of the rear view mirror. Even if I am interested, it is too late as the experiences is already gone.
I think technology is fine, I am not ready to turn Amish but for me it has made me impatient and full of anxiety. How many times have we all stood in front of the microwave mad because it is taking so long? How much anxiety is created because you never seem to get “it” all done in day, a week, a month or even a year? Road rage and depression are by-products of our modern life. I just want to get off the roller coaster and see what I have been missing.
So when I speak of finding center, I just mean that I need to find a way to relax and not feel guilty. I need to have an attention span that is longer than a music video. I need to be able to feel things again and enjoy the experiences. I can be experiencing something now but all the time I am thinking about the next experience, never enjoying the present time.
One day I will be out of tomorrow’s and I am terribly afraid that I will look back on my life and see that I never cherished the today’s of my life, I only looked for the tomorrows. I think that would be a very sad realization and I hope and pray that this trip teaches me that today is fine enough. If I am blessed with a tomorrow, then I can enjoy it when it gets here.
I was duped. No, that actually implies that I was unaware of the duping. I knew, knew all along. I fell for the lie, hook line and sinker. I wanted it so badly I threw any trepidations I had out the window. It was not until I was older and mostly burned out that I realized my youthful years were spend chasing the elusive American Dream. The dream which fell short in my case. Work hard and you will have a better life than the generations before you. I believed the bigger house, better car, clothes overflowing, and stuff would make my life better.
I came forth out of the womb always wanting something, more more more was all I could think of. My childhood allowance was never enough, I was always begging for advance so I could get more candy; more candy than I needed or was good for me. Promises of some elusive deed in order to get paid now so I could spend it now.
As I grew older, I continued down the same path. What could I get that would make me happy? That sparkly thing will surely make me happy and when it did not I had to keep looking. Please do not get me wrong, my life was not bad but I just knew the more I had the happier I would be. Since I did not make enough money to continue in that lifestyle, I found credit. We all know what happens then. The tide turns and you end up working just to keep the creditors at bay.
One job turned to two jobs, tired turned to exhaustion, hopefulness turned to hopelessness and so on it goes. I wish I would have learned early in life that things cannot make you happy but I was a slow student, I mean really slow. In the back of my mind, I convinced myself that I deserved these things when, in fact, I was not deserving at all. I convinced myself the next thing would be the one that brought the entire dream together, but it did not. I was exhausted, depressed and deeply in debt.
In the back of my mind, I figured if it got really bad I could sell everything. It turns out that no one wants my used stuff, and if they do they only wanted it if it was cheap. All that money I spent on pretty things and no one else really cared about them. I was a complete fool.
Now the mantra seems to be less is more and I see it now. Your possessions should not own you as mine did. I worked and worked just to pay off the debt and the happiness they were supposed to bring was nonexistent. What if the things you had were functional and/or something that really, truly meant something? How better would life be if you could sit on your porch and drink a cup of tea knowing you did not have to work 80 hours this week to just barely get by. Once that concept really hit me, I realized how wrong I had been. How greedy and thoughtless I had been. Now was my chance to turn the tables.
I have downsized over the years and with each item that is no longer in my possession, I feel lighter. Unfortunately there is still a lot of stuff to go, stuff no one really wants and that stuff has made me feel as if I was drowning. It all needs to go. My experiment for this trip is to take it all down to what I need to live and what brings me a little bit of comfort. One box is all I get to take with me. That box will house my personal belongs that I just cannot live without. If I find along the way, that an item no longer fits that need, I will give it away or throw it away. By the time I return home, I should be well on my way to living with less and hope to never be that person I was before. The person who thought of only herself. I want this trip to change me permanently, I want to be healthier in so many ways; spiritually, physically, and mentally.
It may seem selfish to being taking this trip and I am struggling with that. But if I do not make a major change in my life, I am not sure where I will go. I do not want this trip to be a trip of leisure as much as I want it to be a challenge, the likes I have never endured. I want this trip to be hard and uncomfortable and when I get out of the car somewhere I want to actually see it. My attention span is and has been about as long as a music video (remember those?). I miss the fact that I cannot sit still long enough to read a chapter in a book. I have numbed my brain so much with electronic entertainment that I have lost the ability to converse on a personal level with another human being, I think of what is only next not what is right now and my brain rarely stops thinking about things that are meaningless. These I believe, in my case, are side effects of the American Dream.
It is time to change the ideal of American Dream to be as individual as each one of us is. My dream might not be yours, and vice versa. I believe the American Dream is still a valid concept, it just needs to be changed and reviewed a little more often. Maybe it is not about McMansions and fast cars, maybe it is about helping someone out and living a more moderate life. I hope this trip opens my closed eyes and my closed heart. As I said before, the person in the mirror is a stranger to me and I do not like that at all.
The year was 1977, I was 15 years old, living in a very small town and being very dispassionate about my life. On a summer day, I walked into a movie theater and my life was never the same. The things I saw that afternoon changed me and created in me a permanent state of wanderlust. The movie that changed everything was “Smokey and the Bandit.” I sat riveted in my seat experiencing the freedom of being on the road in a really cool car. I longed for that kind of freedom and my desire to travel was born.
When I was younger I was able to take a few really awesome road trips with my mother and sister. I watched them both travel the world and live in different places. I, on the other hand, stayed mostly close to home desperately wanting to be one of them. I admired my sister for taking the chances in life I was too afraid to take.
I read an article many years ago (sorry I do not remember what publication it was in) about Angelina Jolie – pre-babies and pre-marriage. She spoke of how she was a lone traveler much of her life and said that all she needed was a backpack and she could live anywhere for weeks. Talk about freedom, talk about excitement, talk about cool.
Many years later I became obsessed with a little television show called “Supernatural.” The story is of two brothers who drive around the country on back roads “saving people, hunting things.” They live in cheap motels or their car (another really cool car -1967 Chevy Impala). They live with very little and do not acquire much along the way. Before you say anything, I know it is a television show but I love the lone lifestyle personified in the show.
Watching Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” made me want to go out and rent a “Great Red Shark” cherry red convertible, which was actually Hunters personal 1971 Chevy Impala loaned to Terry Gilliam and Johnny Depp for the movie (yet, another cool Impala) and tear up Las Vegas in truly old school style. Okay, not really…I would end up feeling terrible about that type of behavior. The book painted such a strong picture of what a road trip feels like. I wanted that kind of life (minus the drugs, guns, etc.).
Many of my favorite Classic Rock songs speak about life on the road. I lived my life only dreaming of such a life. I am so excited to have a chance to live it if only for a brief time. Thank you to all the Road Warriors I have known, including my husband, who have inspired me and kept the dream alive.