Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive

Continued from . . . What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a “Road Trip State of Mind” . . .

Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation

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Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you hear the click of the seat belt as you are getting seated on a roller coaster ride?  You know, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Will it be fun? Will it make me sick? Will it be worth it? Will it be. . . . oh . . . here we goooooo! And it starts. It is exciting.  Every breathtaking turn and each heart stopping plummet makes you smile from ear to ear.  Your screams are screams of delight! And when it is over, you wonder if you will have time to take the ride again.  You realize it was just a few minutes of joy.  And now, it’s over.  What’s next?  Well – this was nothing like that!

It started slowly, after hours and hours of driving through dirt dry desert terrain and long twisty mountain roads with nothing to see but a giant blue dome overhead and the far off promise of a horizon in the distance.  I kept thinking that in the near future we will get to our destination.  We will be sleeping in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight and in the morning we will be touring the campus that my oldest son might be calling home before long.  This might just be the first time I drive this road.  It might be the first of many times.  I was thinking about that when we started to drive up a long steady incline, through the foothills of a large mountain range stretched out before us.  It was like the long tall ascent of a big rollercoaster and the car felt like it was being pulled by cables, slow and steady, and I couldn’t see what was at the top.  My excitement was building.  I felt somewhat breathless.  That was probably my body adjusting to the altitude.  I took some slow steady breaths.  I drank some water.  I looked over the railing to the land below, and I saw a vineyard.  It seemed so out-of-place.  The only thing that looked alive and colorful was the sign for the vineyard, and the buildings, and billboards around the area.  Everything else was dry with just the hint that it had all survived the winter months and may be dormant just before Spring bursts through the vines.  I took note of the place, Grande River Vineyards, and considered it might be thriving the next time I come through here, perhaps in the Fall.  It might be worth a stop if we had time.  I closed my eyes for a while.  I repeated my mantra to myself, “I will be sleeping in Fort Collins tonight and I will wake to a new day!”

At this point my husband was driving.  He had taken over at the last gas station where we had stopped to fuel up and stretch.  I planned to drive longer, but he offered and I didn’t refuse.  I figured I could rest and then take over again in a few hours.  The next four hours of driving proved to be another testament of my husband’s stoic character.  Over the years he has been my rock.  He has the ability to stay calm and persevere through the most difficult times.  I have seen him run into a  burning building to fetch beloved items for my elderly aunt and give mouth to mouth and revive our newborn son – there is no doubt that he is an angel and a hero!  He has to be patient, calm and understanding with me!  I get nervous and I worry a lot. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the past.  I have had bouts of vertigo.  I love driving curvy roads that I am familiar with, but I get nervous and sometimes dizzy when driving through canyons where there are steep cliffs or long tunnels.  But I have learned to trust him and his abilities and boy was I glad he was driving at this point in time!

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We are Southern California city drivers.  We are used to rush hour traffic and freeways.  I shared my husband’s concerns of the hazards of driving in a snow storm with no chains, battling poor visibility, and dealing with the dreaded black ice.  This is the reason I pushed the kids to leave early that morning.  I wanted to get through this mountain range before nightfall.  I wanted to get to Fort Collins in time for dinner and a jacuzzi.  But it was about 6 PM and all I could see was mountains ahead and it was getting cold, cloudy and dark.

Driving Through the Rocky Mountains Was a Wild Ride through the State of Fear

We travelled from Henderson, Nevada through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that day.  A total of 819 miles.  The estimated driving time was exactly 12 hours.  When we stopped for lunch in Green River, Utah, it was sometime around 1 PM.  We had 400 miles to go driving along Interstate 70 through the majestic Rocky Mountains.  We had already marveled at the breathtaking and gorgeous mountains and rock formations that we saw as we drove by Arches National Park and the Colorado National Monument areas. None of it was quite as exhilarating and exciting as driving along side the Colorado River through Aspen and Vail.  The curving roads around mountain peaks, the steady ascent into higher and higher elevations, the river rushing past us, the quaint snow villages with their elegant homes and lush chalet style cabins, all of it was straight out of the Travel Channel!

Throughout the entire trip, my very techie family referred to Siri on their iPhones whenever my husband would ask a question.  Where is the nearest burger joint?  Where is the nearest gas station?  “I wonder how cold it is outside?” My hubby would tease.  Even though he could see that number get lower and lower on the dashboard thermometer, one of the boys would ask, “Siri, what is the temperature outside right now?”  “It’s 38 degrees right now.”  Siri would answer. We knew the forecast in Vail was snow.  The weather was at the freezing point, there were dark clouds over head, and we were going up steep mountain roads.  It began snowing as soon as we reached the summit of the mountain in Vail.

At first they were just pretty flurries of snow flakes hitting the windshield.  We still had a light glow from the sky behind us and the mountainside looked so pretty with the tall fir trees lining the slopes covered with fresh snow.  Ahead it was dark and looming.  There seemed to be fewer cars on the road and at some points we were all alone.  As the snow started to fall all around us, I was surprisingly calm.  A part of me (I will admit, a huge part of me!) was all, “Yeah! I knew it would snow, take that Hertz! My husband knew what he was doing when he reserved this vehicle.” We were prepared for this moment.  Did we know what we were doing exactly?  Heck no!  But we had our safe roadworthy brand new Chevy Traverse All Wheel Drive and we were damned well going to need it for the next several miles. The rest of me was holding on for dear life and praying the Rosary in my head as my husband tried not to show any sign of fear lest he freak me out.  The next hour of my life was spent singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables with my sons in the back seats watching the original Superman on the DVD player with headphones on while I thought positive loving calm beautiful thoughts of kittens and puppies.

We followed another SUV with a Colorado license plate rather closely due to the very poor visibility.  I figured they must be experienced driving through this area.  My husband knows everything about cars and how to drive them and he is very skilled with using the proper gears and shifting at the right time . . . etcetera, so on and so forth.  He knew what he was doing.  But I felt his stress and concern.  It wasn’t terribly dangerous or frightening and we were very lucky that the snow although it was sticking to the ground, was not wet or icy.  We did not see any accidents or stalled vehicles.  It was just slow going through heavy snow over the highest point of the mountain and then a very long slow descent down down down on a curvy road until we made it to the bottom.  It felt like skiing down a black diamond run that you ended up on by accident when you are first learning to ski or snowboard.  There is only one way down.  We took our time and made it.  We were incredibly encouraging to each other through it all.  The boys were quietly enjoying their movie even though I interrupted them often with, “Did you see that? Look over there!”

Always the Adventuress, I loved every moment of this trip.  My teen-aged sons rolled their eyes.  To them, it was like you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.  Overall it was impressive to them and they enjoyed it.  But I was taking it all in like I would enjoy a bouquet of flowers admiring each flower for its individual beauty and scent.  I loved that gorgeous drive and I hope to go back again, someday!

I will post even more about the trip, the college visits, the food, and what happened next in the coming days when we arrive in New Mexico. 

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Everything Miz Meliz

What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a Road Trip State of Mind

What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”

photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Let’s go on a road trip!

First, don’t mess with me! I am determined to make sure everyone has a good time and is comfortable. And I mean it! Hopefully, everyone ends up having a reasonably good time and no one gets hurt. Second, like most things in life, going on a vacation is a journey. Obviously! But it is a process. There is a beginning, middle and end. I have some experience at this, so I planned it all out and it went pretty well. Lastly, even though our lives were never truly at risk, any trip is about survival. Especially when a perfectly normal family unit is going to be cooped up for hours on end in close quarters. Here is how we all survived. . .

THREE TIPS that helped me to enjoy a road trip through SIX STATES in SEVEN DAYS with FOUR BOYS:

#1 Do everything you can to drive a big, comfortable, and reliable vehicle.

#2 Pack lots of water bottles, snacks, medicine and chocolate.

#3 Have a plan to make it fun, for yourself.

“Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind.”
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Yeah, we drove over 2500 miles in seven days. It was pretty hard at times and we had a blast at times. It was worth it, but it took a lot of planning and forethought to survive it. I would like to share with you why we actually needed to do it, how we actually ended up doing it, and why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it – at least once in your life! I believe in living life fully and making each moment count. I like to celebrate the milestones and create memorable events for my family. I became determined to take the task of visiting colleges and turn it into a vacation.

In the Beginning, I Found Myself in a State of Dilemma

We live in California and we wanted to take our oldest son to see three universities that he has been accepted to for the Fall. Two of the Universities are in Colorado and one is in New Mexico. We had a week off for Spring Break and a little savings to use for a trip. The money we had saved was not enough for all of us to travel by air and stay in hotels at all three locations, so we had to make some choices. I looked at it from many angles. I could afford to send my son to visit the schools if either my husband or I went with him, flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico and flew back from there. That was not only a hassle, but how would we decide who would go with him? Our first dilemma.

I soon realized that all five of us could go on the trip if we drove and stayed with relatives for most of the time. Since we have four drivers and lots of relatives in these areas, I thought – “Great, problem solved!” The best part being that we would get to see some of our beloved relatives and we were overdue for a trip to one of our favorite places to visit! I thought it would be a good experience for the younger boys to visit these colleges and see what they have in store for them down the road. Then I realized we don’t have a reliable vehicle that all of us would be comfortable in for many hours at a time. That’s the second dilemma.

I did a web search of hotels, rental cars, and driving distances and figured out a way we could manage this trip. I reached out to my relatives and confirmed that all five of us could stay with my cousin in New Mexico for three nights, the longest part of the vacation. My son and I coordinated the visits with the three schools and I worked out a schedule from there. I priced out the rental cars online and found a pretty good deal with one and my husband chose the type of vehicle he wanted to drive for the trip. I found some amazing hotels with great reviews in the vicinity of the two schools we were visiting in Colorado, and got awesome deals since I was booking far in advance and online.

I put together an itinerary, got someone to feed the cats and watch the house, and I set to work on creating a memorable experience for our family. It wasn’t until the day we left on the trip that I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
This says it all!

On the First Day, I was in a State of Despair

I know that sounds dramatic, but it certainly was an urgent and desperate situation! The whole trip I planned depended on the perfect vehicle. It had to be spacious and it had to be reliable. I have three teen-aged boys and my husband and I aren’t exactly “compact” so it needed to be comfortable. Since we are on a tight budget it needed to be affordable. We were going to be driving over the Rocky Mountains and snow was predicted on the days we were going to be there, so it needed to be an all wheel drive vehicle. Mostly, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my family to be comfortable. I wanted to make my husband and kids happy. They weren’t as excited as I was about taking this road trip!

I thought I found the solution when I went through Hertz. I did, but it was a very difficult and disappointing ordeal. The main reason it became so harrowing is the poor customer service we received when we went to pick up the vehicle. The car I reserved was not available and the substitute was not at all acceptable. I called twice in advance to see if the vehicle I reserved would be there and both times was told that it or a comparable vehicle would be there when I arrived at my appointed time. It turned out that the staff did nothing to honor that commitment. They accepted what they believed to be the closest thing and never bothered to notify me. When we arrived, my husband and I waited forty-five minutes before anyone could even help us and then we found out about the mini-van. My stress is beginning to elevate now just thinking about it. If it had not been that important to my husband, we would have driven that mini-van through the blizzard we hit in Vail, Colorado. But instead, I stuck my heels in the ground, we made some calls, we delayed our departure and we exchanged it at a different Hertz location within the vicinity. It took some work, actual work, on the part of the employees at Hertz, but they were in fact able to provide the vehicle that I reserved. I think it was a surprise even to them! We ended up in a brand new, just off the lot, the window sticker still attached, Chevy Traverse LT AWD. Exactly what I had reserved.

Photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2013
Crazy Car Rental Experience

I won’t go into details about the employees at Hertz and I would never name names, but they could stand to learn a lot about customer service, respect, common sense, courtesy and compassion, none of which was observed at either of the locations I had to interact with.

I must say that it all turned out okay in the end. The District Manager at Hertz did a lot to make it work out for us, but it is important to note that I had to really work hard to get what I wanted and I was not satisfied with my overall customer experience. Since Hertz claims their goal is “to provide the best customer experience possible”, they seriously failed to meet it. Eventually they discounted the rental, but I had to go through the corporate office by getting their attention on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/Hertz) and publicly proclaiming my dissatisfaction. If you know me, you know how extremely difficult it was for me to do that. I am probably the most positive person you will ever meet and it saddened me to complain. I was of course happy to get a discount, but what I am still waiting for is an apology and I would like to see the management take responsibility and show me how they plan to improve the service at my local office before I will ever consider returning to or recommending Hertz again. Service and reliability are extremely important to me. It was particularly challenging to remain calm and upbeat during this experience and it was vital that I didn’t get upset at the beginning of the trip. I had to use restraint to show my kids how I could take care of things without totally freaking out! I put myself under a lot of pressure to make this trip great and this was the very first step.

When we finally drove away and I was on the road for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post at the freeway on ramp. I wondered if that was an omen. At that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed that it would only get better from there. Thank God that was the worst of it!

If you like to read about travel disasters and conquests, visit this blog: http://elliott.org/ I will keep you posted on what I now call the “Hertz State of Despair.” I will recommend them if I ever get a note of apology and some clear perspective on how they plan to meet their goal of providing a positive experience for their customers.

That First Night, I Slept Soundly in a State of Relief

It was late. We were about four hours behind schedule. I had originally hoped to have time to have dinner with my mother-in-law in Henderson, Nevada on our first night. The boys were looking forward to hanging out with their cousin. My husband planned to meet up with his brother. None of that happened, but we were welcomed by my husband’s mother close to midnight when we finally arrived on her doorstep. Even though we said not to go to any trouble, she had of course cooked for us! She warmed up the food and laid it out on the table and we sat down to eat as if it were the normal dinner time. I knew if we weren’t there, she would be sound asleep! We felt at home and I relaxed for the first time in over 24 hours! We were safe and warm and comfortable.

The boys were aggravated when I told them that I wanted to leave at 5 AM. My husband was annoyed when he realized that we still had a 14-16 hour drive ahead of us the next day. No one understood that the first night was a mere “lay-over” and “rest stop” for what was to be the longest and most difficult, yet most beautiful and exciting part of our drive.

I planned that first night to be easy and carefree. I could depend on my mother-in-law and she came through with flying colors! This is a beautiful person who knows how to make the people she cares about feel special. If we needed it, wanted it, dreamed of it, she had it for us. I am not kidding! Sneezing? Is it allergies? She had a package of medicine for us to take. Forgot your tooth-brush? Here is a brand new one. Need snacks and drinks for the road? I bought extra. I made cookies. Take them. We hardly had room, but she filled the rental car with the essentials (most things I had thought of and packed already, but we graciously accepted anyway.) A roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex. Even a pretty outfit for me to wear on Easter! She loves to give me clothes! I will probably be like that someday with my daughters-in-law! She got up early and made breakfast for us. She was at the door to see us off and wish us well.

At the moment we were about to take off, I really wanted to bring her with me! I needed another woman to balance out the hormones in the car. I could feel it already. It was going to be a bumpy ride! Me against the boys. They are easy going and good kids, but I am sensitive to their little remarks. I am a people pleaser and they never seem satisfied. If I plan ham, they want turkey. If I plan turkey, they want ham. You get it. They are gracious and sweet, but given a 50/50 chance to get things right, I always make the wrong guess. And there are three of them! The odds are stacked against me! Is that all in my head? If you ask any one of them or my husband, they will tell you, “Yes.” But think about it. Even logically, I knew that I needed to be at my most calm, best and easy going self to survive this trip. I think this is the first time ever I wished my mother-in-law was with me! I certainly wouldn’t have wished this experience on anyone else. No girlfriend could have taken it. I know I am in a “special mom place” when I am in the mother hen role. Since I no longer have my sister or my mom around to back me up, the only one who could have pulled it off was my MIL. Yet, would I come out alive after a trip with her and her grandchildren and son? Thankfully, I will never know for sure! But packed to the gills with chocolate, drinks, and allergy medicine, I knew I had everything I needed to make it through. Only five more states to go!

The Second Day I discovered myself in a State of Awe and Wonderment

We quickly drove through the dry barren desert area of Nevada and into Arizona in the first few hours of the drive. We spent most of the day driving through Utah. None of us had ever been through this part of Utah before. In fact, only my second son and myself had ever been to Utah. I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City once and my son had been to Park City with another family last Summer. So, this was very new and exciting. Driving through this part of the country is amazing and difficult to describe, but I will do my best.

We were truly in awe. The trek through Arizona was like being in the movie Cars. There is no doubt that the movie and the ride at California Adventure is based on someone’s travels on the very roads we were on. The rugged terrain, the mountains, cliffs and gulleys were crazy gorgeous, colorful, jagged, rocky and out of this world. It was a curvy, dangerous, and fun road to drive!

Everything seemed to smooth out when we entered Utah. The terrain was calm and the mountains were smooth and the lightly dusted mountain tops in the distance were soft and serene. It looked like someone had gone through moments before with powdered sugar and sifted it on the tops of the mountains that looked like giant mounds of lemon cookies. Then I began to notice that the shrubs and trees were getting bigger and the mountains were getting closer. We drove through them and it was no big deal. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. If this is the snow I had heard about, then we are doing great!” Little did I know!

The terrain changed drastically through this part of Utah. We saw every different kind of mountain that I could have ever imagined on this leg of the trip. They were all different sizes, shapes and colors. It felt like we went back in time. I imagined the dinosaurs walking over those giant rocks. I felt like we were on a different planet. The bright reds and coppers of the soil and the layers of rock jutting out of the ground at disturbing angles made me think of earthquakes and volcanoes. I had nothing but my imagination to keep me occupied during the long hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. For hours we saw nothing but mountains and sky. It was breathtaking. They are majestic. They are mystifying. They are high! The elevation grew with every mile. We are used to being at sea level! Before we knew it we were at the mile high mark. Over 5000 feet. And with each mile it got colder. I told the boys to bring jackets, none of us brought anything heavier than a sweatshirt! I think we had one coat between the five of us!

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We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at Green River, Utah. There was not much green and I didn’t see a river. It was dry and barren and barely anything in sight for miles. There was a stretch of road that was slightly inhabited. We stopped at a burger joint that would be worthy of a spot on the show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had green chile burgers and tater tots. It was delicious! I had a soft serve chocolate ice cream. We rested and the boys played ball in the parking lot. (Dirt road on the side of the building.) The boys play lacrosse and the locals were in awe having never seen such a thing. They were a hit!

As we made our way through Utah, we continued to see the most amazing views of mountains and scenery! Everything got bigger and bigger and I felt small as we zipped by in our “little” car. As we started to drive up through the mountains, around each turn I would notice we were driving higher and higher and there were more and more mountains. It seemed we would never get to the “top”. Around each bend there were more and bigger mountains to climb. Until we got to a point that seemed to be at the base of another set of mountains. Welcome to Colorado, the sign said! We were almost at our destination for the day! The time had changed and we realized we gained an hour. Were we an hour closer? No. In fact with the long stop for lunch and the time change, the time estimated for arrival to Fort Collins, Colorado was 9:00 PM.

When we finally did arrive in Fort Collins, with the time change accounted for, we had been travelling for 17 hours. technically that was just the first day! The boys weren’t too happy with me that first night! I haven’t even gotten to the part about the snow storm!

Read more about the trip in the next installment at Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive.  Follow this blog to be notified when new posts are published or subscribe to the newsletter. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know. Heck, leave a comment anyway! I love to hear from you!

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Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Do you Instagram? Follow Miz Meliz @mizmelissa and See Beautiful Vacation Pictures!

I love Instagram!  I feel really connected with people when I know they are following my adventures.  With Instagram I can post a picture, improve the way it looks by adding a filter and a frame, write a caption, include a hashtag, share it instantly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr, and even check in via Foursquare.

New Mexico
New Mexico

On my recent Spring Break Vacation, I asked my friends to follow me on Instagram @mizmelissa for daily updates.  I went on a road trip with my family and we made lots of stops.  We drove over 2500 miles in one week.  We drove through beautiful terrain and I saw some of the most exquisite views of the sky that I have ever seen.  All the pictures I took were with my iPhone and mostly through the window of the passenger seat! I think my pics came out pretty good and I enjoyed sharing them!

I called my trip Six States in Seven Days and I will chronicle my travels in my next few posts.  The trip was amazing for many reasons.  It was a great break from routine and get away with my family.  I planned meet ups with family and friends that I haven’t seen in years.  The main objective and reason for the trip was to visit the universities that my son had been accepted to and help him make a decision on where to attend in the Fall.  It was probably the last family road trip vacation I take with my three sons.  This vacation was also a great way to test my social media skills and have an adventure!

If you want to see the 25 pictures that I posted on Instagram during my trip either click  HERE and see them on my Instagram page, or you can search for the hashtag #mizmeliz. If you like what you see, I hope you follow me to see more fun and gorgeous photos. Let me know your Instagram name so I can follow you!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Everything Miz Meliz

Flip Flop Day

I’ve been on a Spring Break vacation. It’s a road trip. Over 2400 miles in a week’s time. I’ll write all about it in the next few days. I saw this sign in Flagstaff, Arizona today. It sums up my feelings on most non-vacation days. It reminded me to be grateful for relaxation and easy going days! It made me realize how lucky I am to have fun in the sun, sandy beach, wiggle my toes kind of days.

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If you would like to take a rest and transport yourself on a mini-vacation, click here.

Everything Miz Meliz, Videos I made

Take a Mini Vacation with Miz Meliz

It’s Spring Break and for a lot of people that means it’s time to take a vacation or a road trip. Here is a way you can take a little trip and get some rest and relaxation in under three minutes! I made this video for you. Sit back and relax. Go on a brief adventure. Remember, it’s your journey and you make it beautiful. . .

Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Welcome Spring’s First Day

mocking biird

I knew it was Spring because my little friend arrived early this morning!
She sang and sang her little song to greet me and all the neighbors.

I knew it was her because of the undeniable repertoire of sounds in her vernacular:
Unless she brought with her a parade of voices, I am certain she did not!

I think her travels have taken her to many exotic places and tropical locales.

I am sure I heard tell of crickets and katydids, frogs and mice, chipmunks and monkeys,
whistles, parrots, owls, and car alarms!

What an exciting life of travel and adventure my little friend has!
She will sing her song all season long and into the summer months.

I will know it is her by her distinctive sounds, her undeniable ability to mimick:
Unless in fact there is a parade of voices outside my window, I am certain there is not!

I am sure at the hour she sings the darkness would hide the crickets and katydids, frogs and mice,
but the rest of the critters could not be out there!

I can’t wait until her husband arrives and the singing will be in stereo!

Ahh!  The lovely sounds of Spring!

Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Change: It’s in the Air

"Onward and Upward" photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2012 http://mizmeliz.com

Change

Change is in the air that I breathe.
It is in every single breath I take.
It is just like the scent of orange blossoms
 and night-blooming jasmine.
Change engulfs me as I breathe it in.
There is no escaping it.
It is in the air I breathe.
Change is now within.
~Melissa Reyes 3-14-13

This is about healing.

This is about healing and moving on after experiencing the loss of a loved one.  It is about love and joy and forgiveness.  It is about letting go and moving forward. This is about taking care of myself.  Healing myself. Forgiving myself for the sadness I feel.

 “As far as taking care of myself, I try to do it through love and kindness. I now take time to forgive myself for mistakes, for not getting everything done, for taking a walk instead of finishing up client work if I need to and all the other little things I used to feel guilty for on a daily basis. I remind myself that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone or myself. But, I can still promise to do my best and that’s enough.” ~Naomi Niles

A shift in the balance of my world is happening. 

My sister (who passed away in July 2011, 18 months ago) was married to a great man for 25 years. In fact she died on their anniversary. They were a very romantic couple and they have an amazing story. I am still very close to my brother-in-law. He is a dear friend, confidant, and brother in every sense. I trust him and care deeply for him. That is why I was happy when he told me he is getting remarried. Deep inside I am sad because I am still grieving the untimely death of my sister and sad over how things turned out and what could have been. That is the first shift that my heart bleeds over.

They call it a major life change.

Another bitter-sweet thing happening in my life is that my oldest son is graduating from high school and will be going away to college. Our home and family dynamics will be changing. One of my babies is about to fly off on his own and leave the nest. He is my most independent child. He has always been my little helper. I have every confidence that he will be fine on his own. He has become a fine young man and I am quite proud of him. But what will become of us? How will the two younger brothers get along? What will it be like with just the four of us. And in a few years, three? And then one day, just the two of us?  Empty Nest Syndrome is hitting me hard. My heart is shaken. My mind is mush. My emotions are running high.

I am experiencing a new set of feelings. It’s not like anything I have been through before. It is excitement and joy mixed with equal parts sorrow and fear. All of the emotions are wrestling together and it is impossible to see who is winning. Which emotion is getting pinned, which one will come out on top. Should I cry? If I do cry will it be tears of happiness or sorrow? Or, both?

I am coping with the loss I feel. I miss my sister, my parents, the way things used to be when the kids were small. My biggest worries then were if I was spoiling my kids and if I was spending enough time with my family. No, it’s not possible to spoil a child. And no, I could never have spent enough time with my family. I wish I had some of those days back. Just one more Christmas or Easter. One more birthday. It’s so hard to move on and be happy. It is necessary. I know it is. I need to keep moving forward. I need to be happy about these changes. Because the people who are experiencing the change are doing the right things and they are moving on and they deserve to be happy.

“Challenges will continue to come. It is my choice to look for the joy or to let my spirit sink back into grief.  I choose joy.” ~Donna Thomas, Author

I choose to be happy, too!  I know it is a choice. I can get through it holding on to the past, gripping on tightly to the memories, dragging my feet trying desperately to not let go of the past because it was good and I loved it so much. Or, I can keep those memories safely in my heart where they can thrive inside of me, where I can embrace them joyfully as needed, and share the stories with my children and theirs someday of the remarkable and lovable family I have. I can skip happily forward, onward, and upward to better and more triumphant times.

"Onward and Upward" photo by Melissa Reyes Copyright 2012 http://mizmeliz.com

“For everything there is a season. . . a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep; and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance. . . ” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

I want my family to look at me and see a gracious, graceful, peaceful woman who has been touched by love and who shines joyfully. I do not want pity nor do I want a cloud of sorrow over me because I have lost my loved ones.  I live a blessed life. I was blessed to have amazing parents who loved me and a sister who inspired me. I am blessed to have a wonderful marriage and that my husband is my best friend. I am blessed to have great kids who make me proud.

These things will never ever change.

Love never dies.
People live forever in our heart.
Change is inevitable.
Nothing is insurmountable.
I can do this!

It’s time to shine!

If you are suffering from the loss of a loved one, a major break up, or you live with someone whose parent or sibling has passed away, you might benefit from reading more about the Stages of Grief.  See my post: When Grief Revisits Me and Good Grief: 8 Stages of Grief.

Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Peace of Mind: Imagining the Possibilities

Peace of Mind:

Where are you?

How do I find you?

When can I feel you?

Can I create you?

"peace of mind" photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2012 http://mizmeliz.com @mizmeliz #mizmeliz

I’ve been “in my head” a lot lately.  Thinking about all of my responsibilities.  Things that I am concerned about.  I’ve learned how to remain calm and stay positive.  I have learned how to “nurture the now.”  When my thoughts drift to thinking about how I will pay my taxes and what will happen when my firstborn goes off to college, I calm myself by recalling that worrying and over-thinking does nothing but create stress.

“Meditation brings me peace and helps me feel connected to the rest of the world.” ~Amy Grams, Nutrition Educator/Coach @AmyGrams

Knowing that stress causes ailments to manifest and weaken me, I recall the goodness that surrounds me and I regain my strength.  It is almost instant.  My head lifts.  I feel light.  When I walk, I walk tall.  When I speak, I speak with love.

“Learn to calm down the winds of your mind, and you will enjoy great inner peace.” ~Remez Sasson, Author of Peace of Mind in Daily Life @RemezSasson

"peace of mind" photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2012 http://mizmeliz.com @mizmeliz #mizmeliz

When I think about the future, I do all I can to replace the worrisome thoughts that creep into my mind with thoughts of hope.  I begin to dream about the wonderful possibilities.  The beautiful memories of my youth and my life with my parents come to mind.  I know I will build those memories with my own children.  I imagine what it will be like to have grandchildren, to travel with my husband and to retire and have time to enjoy things like gardening and shopping.  A huge smile is on my face!

 “Nurture the now and the flower will come.” ~Jagran Kiran

When I dream hopeful thoughts, I think about the now.  What am I feeling now.  I am happy.  I am feeling good.  I love my family.  I have friends.  I have the capability of handling anything that comes my way.  I have managed just fine so far.  I am in my peaceful zone.

What are you worrying about ? 

How can you create peace of mind for yourself right now?

Everything Miz Meliz

This is for all my friends who “use” Social Media and for those who want to learn more about it. In case you don’t know, you are reading social media right now. Welcome to the club! Read on and I hope you enjoy my Triberr Friend, Jan Moran’s post and recap of 19 Things Successful People Do on Social Media via Forbes. . . .

Jan Moran's Smart & Stylish: Ideas to enrich your lifestyle

Social Media Party

Social media is an important tool for entrepreneurs, author-preneurs, and corporate folks alike. It’s been reported that 69% of adults use social mediaNow, more than ever, it’s important to understand the keys for success.

How do you build a brand and develop a following? Like face-to-face social interactions, social media interactions are also improved by being genuine, by speaking to the individual. In writing, the reader/audience has to fall in love with the protagonist. In the business I founded, I used to tell my team that we wanted our clients to fall in love with us and our service. Answer the phone with a smile, because people can hear happiness. Care. Be authentic.

We’re all individuals, and we each have a special way of sharing our message. For example, I like the quick interactions on Twitter, I like sharing news from my Triberr friends. Facebook and Pinterest are growing…

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Everything Miz Meliz

March Madness or #SpringCleaning?

It’s March. . . . again! Time for Spring Cleaning! Here are some thoughts and tips on the subject.

Miz Meliz

The birds are singing, it is a beautiful sunny day!

Is that Spring on the way?

As Spring approaches the idea of “Spring Cleaning” comes to mind. Unfortunately, my home is always in need of a good cleaning, and a complete overhaul sounds daunting. The thought is somewhat stressful even. Where should I begin? I look around and everything I look at needs to be cleaned, repaired, removed or replaced. It is overwhelming. I can’t get away from it. I don’t want to be around it. I try to find a clean space to work, to read, to write, to think. Anything and everything I do is haunted by the thought, “I should clean up first,” or “I don’t deserve to spend so much time writing and doing my own things – I can’t even keep a clean house.” Even my kids know that they can’t have a…

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