I love my life right now! Said no one ever, right? Well, I did. And I do. Seriously, no matter how difficult things get, I am grateful for my life. I love it!
I started writing a post called, Living the Life I Want, in April 2013. Looking back at my drafts I found these quotes that apply perfectly to what I’m going through now.
Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “As soon as you recover or discover something that nourishes you and brings you joy, resolve to care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
Alice Walker says, “Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”
“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Your own positive future begins in this moment. Every goal is possible from here.” – Lai Tzu
In my post, “Peace of Mind, Imagine the Possibilities “ 3-7-13, I said, “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.“
It has to do with following through. I honor the practices of self-care. I honor my core values.
“When your values are the source of your actions, even the lows become a positive experience.” –Sandi Amorin, Life Coach
So, how did I go from hard times to living my best life and loving it? It has to do with staying true to myself and to my ideals.
It’s 2019 and my theme for this year is Simple Joys. My plan is to really take it easy. It’s the no plan plan.
Of course, things are starting to come together and some events are in the works in the coming months. I’m traveling a bit here and there and my husband’s 50th birthday is happening soon. I also made a commitment to teach an art camp this summer. But these things are spread out throughout the year and I will try to remain true to my theme and allow the simple joys to be my focus.
This comes after a very difficult couple of years. I pushed myself to new limits and I was tested in unexpected ways. I spent my 49th year convinced that if I set my intention on action and activating my best self that I would be more successful than ever before and be able to reach new heights.
Ironically, one of the most symbolic things I could use to describe how that plan worked out is so cliche it’s a little embarrassing- – I actually got a treadmill and made videos on You Tube and Instagram hoping to inspire myself and others with my “take action” attitude. When in fact I spent all year literally running in place and not getting anywhere.
See one of my treadmill videos here:
To my defense, I weathered through some really tough crises with the help of my husband, family, and dearest friends and learned a lot about myself in the process. I gained a deeper perspective and I am at peace with it. I still love my treadmill as much as I love all the things I attempted during the past few years that didn’t take me as far as I had hoped.
I might not have successfully gotten a new business off the ground, made any money selling books, card decks, jewelry, or anything else, or become the superstar of my dreams – but I did take action. I tried. I worked my butt off and made the effort. Which is more than I ever did before. Doing that lead me to meeting people and going places that I otherwise never would have. More importantly, I went outside of my comfort zone and saw myself rise up and develop my abilities, hone my talents, and excel in unexpected ways.
All of it was extremely satisfying, just like knowing that I have walked the entire length of Italy (736 miles) and climbed over 2000 floors (which is the equivalent of the height of a hot air balloon in flight) during 2018 without even leaving California or being lifted off the ground.
So here it is, a new year, a new intention, a new focus. I like to take what I have learned and move forward in my life mindful that each moment has its own merit. I am a new person in many ways. I am also the best at being the me I like being too. I am going to relish that this year. I consider that the simple joy of living life.
I am the best at being the me I like.
As a life coach I often use “re-” words to help in the moving on or moving forward process. Review, recharge, refresh, renew. I heard a phrase today that really encompassed what I have been feeling. Re-become. I am so ready for that. I became who I want to be. I am fully vested. I tried a few things and that was good. Now I can re-become me. It’s that simple.
This is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability.
What does it mean to have courage? To be truly courageous? How can I step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in my life? Can I make a difference in the lives of others? I want to take the next step. And the next one after that. Are you ready to really break free and do something with your life? I am! How do we start?
Allow me to introduce you to some inspiring people who have shown how a little courage can transform not only their own life, but by sharing their stories and experiences touches the lives of countless others along the way. At some point while reading this – click on this link – and consider helping to ensure that these stories get told.
Here is What I Believe
In my heart of hearts I am fearless. I am an adventuress. I love to experience new things. In my mind I believe I can do it. I can do anything I set my sights on. I am bold. I am free. Reality sets in. I have to buy groceries. I should do some laundry. I am getting behind on my bills. I need to exercise. I digress. We tend to slip into old habits and just do what we can to finish the week. Who has time to make a difference? Madonna. She can do it. She has time. She has resources. Not me.
But, there are normal people, like me, who do amazing things and manage to still get their laundry done. There are courageous, adventurous people who make a difference in the lives of others and are facing the same daily challenges that I face, some much more challenging than mine. They inspire me. (Madonna inspires me too, she always has!)
“Help Humaira build her school! Education is not a luxury ! It’s a basic human right” -Madonna said at the Sound of Change concert in London on Saturday, June 1, 2013.
I may never have the intrepid boldness to take a stand, drop everything, and leave the country to help others – but I can support those who do.
My friend (and fellow blogger) nomadic minimalist, Raam Dev, suggests that we all come into this world a tourist. The challenge is to leave an explorer. When my son’s friend from school announced that he was going on a trip around the world with his family junior year, I was amazed and intrigued. I can’t even imagine how a person would start planning a trip like that. I could see myself and my family doing it, but I shake my head in disbelief because it would be so hard to execute such a plan. And the expense. The thought of it is overwhelming! I can only imagine the wealth of life experience my family would gain if we could ever embark on such a journey. Mark and Carrie Pullen had this pearl of wisdom for their children after broadening their horizons for nine months:
“You can live any life you choose.” ~ Carrie Pullen
Meet Jody Temple White. Meet her and her courageous family. If you have ever wondered what an ordinary person can do to make a change in the world, here is your answer. There is a documentary in the works about this bold family and their courageous travel adventure around the globe. You can help get it seen and help to inspire others. The Courage Vibe is a movement. It is inspiration. It is about transformation. It is about having the courage in life to be authentic and create sustainability; for ourselves, for others, for the World.
“When a seed of inspiration strikes, believe it is possible. It may take years to grow and become real, but some form of it is meant for you.” ~Jody Temple White
How can I find the meaning in my life?
Be a traveler.
What is the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler? Ask Jody, John, Riley and Allison White. They realized and lived the difference on their trip around the world when they were enriched as a family while helping others as they went. I often say I am an adventuress. I am an explorer. For now on, I consider myself a traveler. I am on a journey. It is the journey of my life. I am not just visiting. I am taking an active role. I am a traveler not a tourist.
For the White family being travelers means living simply in each place they visit, immersing themselves in the culture, and meeting and helping people and animals along the way. This experience has brought them joy and enriched their relationships with each other and is shaping their lives in a way unimaginable for most families.
“Be brave and face your fears. ~ Allison White
How can we find joy in helping others? Who can we help?
Keep it simple. Think about what is truly important to you. What gets your heart beating? Living simply means getting along with fewer complications. What are the top things you could not live without? Doesn’t everyone deserve to have these things? What can you do to help make that possible for others who are less fortunate than you?
Think about what you love doing and who you love being with. What better way to express your love than to share that joy with others? How lovely it would be to help someone else to experience that joy. What a beautiful gift it would be to care about someone else’s basic needs.
What are you good at?
Are you skilled at something that you might take for granted that someone else might benefit from learning? What do you want to learn about? Sharing knowledge and learning from our experiences is an invaluable step in life’s journey.
I hear my fears saying things to hold me back. . . “How can I possibly help when I need help? My family needs help. My life is hard. I have health challenges. I am in debt. I can barely make ends meet. My family is not that supportive. I care about the world and I want to make a difference, but I am struggling right now.”
Life is daunting at times. If you make a list of all the challenges you are facing it would be as long as the list of things you would do to change the world. Life is challenging. Getting along in this world is hard. It’s scary. That’s why it takes courage to tackle these issues. Facing our fears, dealing with the obstacles, and being willing to make a change despite the challenges is why it takes bravery and fortitude to embark on a journey like this. Giving of yourself in service to others is a sacrifice.
Why should you do it?
Going outside your comfort zone is not easy to do! It takes commitment. Breaking free and making a difference in your life involves spirit. If you strive for a better life, a better human condition, if you hope to make the world a better place for future generations, or if you just aren’t satisfied with the way things are then it is time for you to make a change. You might find that in helping others, you can help yourself. The very act of making a difference in the life of another person may be the very thing you need to make a positive impact in your own life.
Doing this takes faith. Faith in yourself and your abilities. It takes faith in humanity and in the human spirit. I am not just talking about big round the world trips and building schools and digging wells kind of commitments. Any change you are willing to take to make a positive difference in your life takes faith. Faith is the belief of the uncertain. It’s what you know in your heart.
Making a leap of faith to break your habits and face your fears takes hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for a positive outcome. Having a real desire in your heart to do something new and to make a difference is having hope. It’s the inspiration, the drive, the catalyst that will see you through. Never give up hope. Any little thing you do is important. Everything you do is valuable. Everything you do makes a difference.
Embracing the courage to make a change in your life takes love. If you start with love, the possibilities are endless. It starts with loving yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do this! Love grows and continues to grow forever. If you have love in your heart you can do anything.
Transforming your life takes perseverance. It may not happen overnight. If you were to take a trip around the world, putting your life on hold for a year, giving up all of life’s conveniences and comforts, it would take a tremendous amount of planning, time, money, and support. Any change takes time to happen.
“…courage as a muscle that you can begin exercising and slowly strengthen over time.” ~Marquita Herald
Thank you Dona Donato, and the owners and founders of Giggling Gorilla Productions, Inc. GGP is a company dedicated to creating media and live events that support enhanced living, wildlife conservation, sustainability and a holistic way of life. It is because of their belief in the courage of families who can make a difference that this blog post and others like it are being written. With their help, millions of people will be inspired and hopefully donate to the Living the Courage Vibe documentary project.
“I truly believe that we all have this kind of courage and bravery hiding somewhere inside us. And if you just take the time to look, you will find that you do too.” ~Chris Lemig
If you want to read more about my adventures, click here: The Next Step
Be an explorer of life. Be a traveler on your journey. Don’t just observe the world around you like a tourist. Get active and engage yourself. Immerse yourself along the way. Life is an adventure!
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to share with you what I did to make my recent road trip with my family fun for myself and how our family survived driving over 2500 miles through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and back to our ‘home sweet home’ in Southern California.
“Life incidents can have a significant effect on your states of mind. If something powerful happens then your belief in yourself is increased.” ~Ken Ward, from Mind Mastery
Let’s recap: We traveled through Six States in Seven Days and I experienced Nine States of Mind in the Process.
I set out to share my experience going on a road trip with my husband and three teen-aged boys and explain why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it at least once in your life. I ended up learning a lot about myself, my abilities, the unique family dynamics that I have taken for granted and how much it all means to me.
I wanted to parallel the “Six States” we visited with different “States of Mind” that one goes through when a) going on a road trip and b) making big life decisions like choosing a college and experiencing empty nest syndrome. I did some research on the differences of feelings versus states of mind. I had the idea when I realized that I had to be in a certain mindset to even tackle the concept of going on a road trip at this point in my life. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows what I mean.
There is a level of adventurism that is different when transporting oneself over long roads to get to a destination with many points in between over taking other modes of transportation.
There is a spirit of freedom that is involved. A sense of anything being possible ensues. I was in a special state of mind, going through cycles of many thoughts and feelings on my road trip. I have held off completing the “saga” and writing the “end” of the trip for many reasons.
Now it’s time to look at the effect the many states of mind had on me and my family:
The States of Mind
I felt like I was in a State of Dilemma when I was making the plans to go on a family vacation with little funds and very little interest from the family in terms of what to do, where to go, and how and if we should take this trip at all. Was it the right decision? After all, our son would most likely choose a California school, but he had been accepted to three out-of-state schools. Shouldn’t he at least visit them before he decided? What to do? What to do?
Even though making the trek and going on the long trip was a challenge it had many benefits. We mostly looked forward to getting to visit our beloved relatives. It is the one thing that we all wanted to do. We all enjoy visiting New Mexico and had wanted to go there for a while. We love everything about it, the hospitality of our relatives, the fun places to go, things to see, and especially the food we love to eat.
That is what made the trip worthwhile for the kids. I wish we could have spent more time there. The dilemma was in the work it took to make it all happen and the state of mind was a tough one because I added the stress of trying so hard to make everyone happy in the process.
Along the way, I observed some animals and birds that I considered to be omens. You might think that is strange, but it is just what came to mind when I saw these things and it added to the drama of the experience for me. When we were getting on the freeway for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post on the corner at the on-ramp. I thought it might be a bad omen and I prayed that we would have a good trip. Later on after we had our first night in Nevada staying overnight with my mother in law, I felt better after seeing a doe running along the side of the road and that brought me a sense of peace. On the way to New Mexico driving through Colorado Springs, I saw a band of wild horses running through a range. It was quite a site to see and it was exhilarating. It was another omen, it was a good feeling that something was happening.
I felt like the true journey was just beginning and that I was on special mission. Through it all I felt like there was more I could be doing. Until we got to New Mexico and we were on the third college tour. Knowing that after this we could relax and just hang out with our family and then head home, we went to the gift shop.
Quote seen on a book in the New Mexico gift shop – after trying so hard to make everyone happy. . .
“If you want to be happy, just be.” ~Tolstoy
Is it really that easy? Can I just be? Be happy? Be content? Be satisfied.
Road Blocks and Obstacles
When things didn’t go well at the very start of the trip I felt like I was in a State of Despair. I was trying so hard to get things to work out as planned and I had to push myself hard in many directions. I needed to be assertive and calming at the same time. I was under an incredible amount of pressure. We had to be in Colorado at a certain time. All the college tours were scheduled appointments. We didn’t have any flexibility other than missing the tours and just seeing the colleges on our own.
It was interesting that the problems I had with Hertz were a matter of customer service and the failure of the company to meet my expectations. I had set high expectations for myself in planning and executing this trip. Hertz has a goal of providing a quality customer experience. My goal became to provide the best experience possible for my family. One thing I learned in this process was to expect the un-expected. I also learned that even when there is no flexibility, I am still capable of bending.
My Measure of Being a Good Mom Depends on the Level of Joy Experienced by My Least Happy Child
Being in a state of despair led me to being in a State of Confusion since I was having to make so many decisions that affected everyone and I was dealing with different attitudes and hormones while trying to make everyone comfortable and happy. I learned a lot about being prepared and having faith, in myself, in my family in our own abilities, as well in that which we cannot control.
When things went according to plan, I was in the State of Relief. This came about after being helped and receiving tender loving care and nurture from my mother in law on that first night.
I Can Always Depend on a Little Help From My Family
I relished in the comfort of knowing what to expect from our extended family. I loved being able to rely on certain things. I depended on it. I knew this trip was about visiting colleges – B-o-r-i-n-g!! We didn’t have the money or time to go to an amusement park, zip lining, fishing or river rafting while on the trip. I needed to make the connections with family be the attraction. They did not disappoint. I was relieved and enjoyed being in that state for a while. I think I am still there. Our family is awesome on both sides! The kids feel love and support from everyone. We are truly blessed. It’s never perfect, nothing ever is going to be perfect. But we appreciate who we are and where we came from.
This is How I Made the Trip FUN for Me!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting my nails done by my cousin, Shauni. She made a special appointment for me and while I was getting my nails done, her husband cut my son’s hair. They have a great shop, it is a nail salon and barber shop called Cool Claws and Hot Heads. Shauni has always made me feel welcomed and special when I am in town and it wouldn’t be a trip to New Mexico without a trip to see her. What I love most about getting my nails done by Shauni, is the chance to have one on one time to talk and catch up girl to girl on what is happening with the family. She is a busy working mom like me and we are doing many of the same things. We love to dish!
While we were there the whole family came over to my cousin’s house for dinner. That was about 30 people! I told the boys everyone would come to see them. It is an amazing show of support and solidarity when four generations of family show up to see you whenever you are in town. I used to think this kind of thing happened when my parents were visiting to show respect for them. They were very hospitable and when people came to California to visit they would stay at our home. I thought they planned these big dinners for special occasions. I expected maybe a handful of the close relatives to come, but I was overjoyed that everyone who lived in town and could make it came over to greet us. It is a big, affectionate, loving and supportive family. The love is deep and strong. We have been through a lot, we have lost a lot, and we celebrate with intention and gratitude when we are together.
Family support came in handy especially for our son in making his decision on what college to choose. Everyone in New Mexico wanted him to choose UNM. My cousin in Colorado, was encouraging about CUB. But they all gave him such positive and nurturing advice. They had his back and are proud of him no matter what he chose. It has to be his decision. Having family support is invaluable. I needed to be with them. I needed a big dose of that strength and fortitude. I think it will last for a while.
What Did I Learn From All of This?
The best take-away? I wasn’t in this alone – I had lots of help, mother-in-law, husband, kids, cousins, friends. I had the positive reinforcement that I needed. The purpose of the trip was to visit colleges and decide on which one our son would attend. I tried to be positive and guide him in making an informed decision without making the decision for him. It was completely successful on that front. I give the other boys credit for hanging in there purely for the ride. I think they got a lot out of it that will come into play later in their lives. For now, they showed their support for their brother. They showed respect to me and their Dad. The enjoyed the time spent with family. I still have the feeling that I owe them one. . . but I can always fall back on the guilt trip of labor pains and dirty diapers!
One of my regular states of being is the State of Awe and Wonderment. I am blessed every day that I can see the beauty in things. This was particularly evident the day we drove through the many different terrains and mountains. It was an amazing day. The sky was so clear and I will never forget how perfectly beautiful everything was and how impressed I was with the way the scenery changed so rapidly. It was like fast forwarding through my life. I felt like I was fast forwarding through life the past few years. Everything has changed so much since my parents passed on and my children have grown. I just needed to catch up. I was finally able to catch up on this trip.
Seeing the beauty in everything, I learned to appreciate nature and the feeling of being a small yet integral part of something so big. This became evident in my role in my family as well.
Some parts of the trip were heart-stopping and crazy and I found myself in a State of Excitement and Anticipation! This was the case during our Wild Rocky Mountain drive on the way to Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a quick ride much like the roller coaster of life with its ups and downs twists and turns, exhilaration, excitement, and even its let downs and disappointments. Through it all we discovered the thrill of adventure and teachable moments. I practiced patience and trust. My husband was my hero and I was reminded why I love him so much.
At the pinnacle of the ride, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, I was immersed in a State of Fear. We were driving through a snowstorm in Vail, Colorado and even though I was terrified on the inside, I remained calm on the outside. Our traverse through a difficult situation gave me the feeling of being able to conquer anything. I gained self-confidence and regained composure and respect for my partner in life and our kids. Our family as a unit stuck through it with grace. Getting over the mountain, seeing what is on the other side, the roller coaster ride, the snowstorm, are all metaphors for what is about to happen with our oldest son graduating from high school and going away to college, as well as our families adjustment to growing up and moving on in life.
Along the way I discovered a new mantra,
“I will wake to a new day.” I will. It is a new day.
After going through all of this I found myself in the perfect State of Enchantment and Bliss. I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, being able to spend the time with the family and eating our favorite foods, and for making the most of the situation. The good feelings started when we were in Boulder, Colorado. After settling in to a wonderful hotel and relaxing a bit, my hubby and I went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings plant. It was the perfect place to unwind and re-energize!
Kicking back and hanging out in Boulder on Easter Sunday with the boys was another highlight of the trip. I enjoyed walking around town looking at shops, and taking in the ambiance of the little college town. The best part was going into the LUSH store and getting hand and wrist massages and learning about natural skin care products. Luckily the pretty college student was more than happy to help me and the three boys! I never get such great service when I go shopping alone. Hmmm, wonder why?
I think I managed to share with my family the best part of road trips. It’s the fun spontaneous side trips that are meant to be enjoyed just for the sake of having fun. Driving into New Mexico, I took some awesome pictures of the beautiful evening sky and sunset. For me, I had reached my destination at that point. That was a sight that I had on my list. There is nothing quite like it.
This leads me to where I ended up as a result of this undertaking, I am happy to finally reach this destination in the State of Contentment and Accomplishment. It wasn’t enough that our son was accepted at a college and was making the decision to accept an offer with support from loved ones, but it was in appreciating each other in the process and learning how much we love our home and its stable environment. We realized that appreciating the best qualities of each member of the family, recognizing that we take each other for granted at times, blessing the fact that we need each other and complement each other, loving the little things that makes us each unique and valuable is what we gained by taking this journey together. It took going away to realize that. To emphasize and instill that in the minds and hearts of my children meant the world to me.
It was worth every dime it took and every mile we drove to achieve that level of knowing and to settle in to that state of being.
I have always said if you can dream it, you can be it. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. If you can see yourself in a place, you can go there. This trip was difficult because we went to different places to “try them on for size.” We went for the purpose of trying things out to see how it feels to be there, to see if our son could make a go of it there. Trying new things was the name of the game. We were breaking out of our comfort zone. We were all imagining ourselves in a new place. We were trying on a new learning environment and living space for our son and imagining a new family dynamic at home. It became a new rung on the ladder of development for me as a mother and a wife, for us as a family. I learned through this entire process that it is time to change my state of mind. Now I know how to do it. And I know what state of mind I have transitioned to. I am not afraid anymore. I am confident. I know I am not alone in this. I am compelled and excited about what is ahead. I can do it. I am open to new experiences. I have grown up a bit. It might not happen without bouts of dilemma and despair, fears and woe, wonder and awe, excitement and anticipation. It will be with a sense of relief, love, nurture, accomplishment, confidence, grace and contentment.
This is who I am. This is how I operate. It is all part of the journey. It is all part of a process.
It is my time to shine.
More on the States of Mind
If you want to learn more about ‘The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind,” Here’s a great excerpt from a blog called Positive Juice:
“Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference. Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:
* Joy versus contentment. * Anger versus resentment. * Sadness versus depression. * Love versus being in love. * Envy versus jealousy. * Delight versus appreciation. * Embarrassment versus shame. * Sureness versus faith. * Annoyance versus exasperation. * Urgency versus desperation. * Acceptance versus resignation. * Disgust versus hatred. * Relaxation versus peace of mind. * Hope versus optimism. * Desire versus longing. * Fear versus paranoia.
Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren’t] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.
The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.
A lot of the time, you can see when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.
Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.
Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation
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!
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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What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”
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.
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.
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!
Beautiful Las Vegas Strip
Jagged Mountain Tops in the Distance
Fake Animals on the Road Side
Early Morning Leaving Town
Sunrise over Nevada
The First Mesa We Saw
It’s not too late to go to Vegas!
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!
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!
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.
If you would like to take a rest and transport yourself on a mini-vacation, click here.
This post is all about adventure! Particularly women as adventurers.
Adventure may mean different things to different people. But it’s a fact that it gives life zest and spark and is directly linked to creativity. Besides, you don’t have to be an adrenaline addict or thrill junkie to enjoy the spirit of adventure.
The theme is “Spirit of Adventure: How to Invite Adventure and Enjoy Serendipity.”
In the last AYWM post I mused about my vision for my life and my future. I now believe that I can do it if I can see it. I made a vision board and looked at photos of things that I want to make happen in my life. Now, it is time to set sail on my quest. I will discover my dreams. I will be an adventurer!
Creative Project Coach, Sue Mitchell, discusses the relationship of adventure, serendipity and creativity and how being adventurous helps creative projects. She talks about building self-confidence and finding life’s meaning through being adventurous and how inviting more adventure into your life, awakens the adventurer in you.
It has been said that, “Adventure is the marrow of life.” I have been encouraged to work to achieve the essence of the vision I’ve created, and to feel free to shake off any rigidity about how that has to look. Apparently, adventure awaits me! Let’s see. . .
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
When it comes to designing my life, I have always left room for you, Serendipity. You have been so gracious and helpful in being just where I needed you when I needed you, even when I didn’t know it myself. Your ways are so subtle and delicate. Like the wind, you blow in and allow me to join you if I care to, never making me feel guilty, sometimes hardly noticeable, always there. You aren’t mysterious or obvious, although your ways are mysterious to me! You show up when the timing is right, and I always feel like you heard me calling out to you even when I had no voice. I would say that when things go your way, it is a happy accident. Being in the right place at the right time is one thing, but when one thing leads to another and everything falls into place, that is when my heart smiles because I know I did the right thing listening to you to begin with. You encourage me to take risks sometimes, I like that! You are always with me when I travel and venture out. You make the best things happen at parties and on vacations! It’s always unexpected and fun! When I started this year with writing my blog and devoting myself to the exercises in “A Year with Myself” I made no plan, no design, other than to discover. Thank you for being there to make it enjoyable, interesting and exciting! I look forward to seeing you present yourself throughout my journey this year. I will try to remain open to the possibilities and be on the look out for you around each corner!
Adventure is an exciting or very unusual experience, participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises:
the spirit of adventure.
At the beginning of 2012, I resolved to make experiencemy focus. I planned to be fully engaged in each moment and enjoy each experience that either came my way or that I created for myself and my family. I had no idea that the Spirit of Adventure would be along for the ride! Your involvement has helped me realize that every day can be an adventure if I want it to be! I have been meeting so many wonderful new people and I have had opportunities to do some pretty amazing things. Having you on my side is making life so much more interesting and hopeful. I am so happy and excited about the blogging, writing and photography and I love that you lend yourself to my creativity and joy. I appreciate having you with my on my journey and I am glad I can count on you to continue to make things exciting and fun while I plan the direction I will take throughout my life!
Dear Serendipity and Adventure,
You are cordially invited to join me as I strive to reach the following goals in my life. . .
I want to be a writer. I want to gain readership. I plan to start by writing and blogging, participating in the 52 week process of AYWM and then turn that experience into a book. I also want to write a novel and guest host on other blogs and magazines. My hope is to be inspired as I inspire others. I want to keep up the endorphins that I get when I write and let that happy feeling spread to my family and friends. Like a runner’s high – it can be contagious. So many people have already told me that they see a difference in me. I hope that it affects the people I love most in my life as much as my friendship affects people when we first meet. I want to help people and I want to improve my life as I go along. I want to be a successful published writer and enjoy the fruits of my success to finally put the money woes behind me and secure a future for my kids and for myself and my husband. I want to be able to freelance and write and work from home and for myself by the time my youngest son graduates from high school. I want to lay the groundwork now and build it for my future. I want to do what I am passionate about. I want to be myself and be true to my self and to my core values. I want to express myself creatively and make a difference in this world. I want to make a splash!
What I really want to achieve is to live a life doing what I am passionate about doing (writing) and making money doing it in order to eventually be able to work from home and be my own boss. Ways I can do this: start now. Write anything and everything. See everything as an opportunity. Write reviews of all of my experiences. Blog blog blog. Attend blogger conferences. Take writing classes. Meet other writers. Send writing examples to publishers. Self publish. Do poetry readings. Network and give my business card and the link to my blog to everyone I meet. I won’t be shy. I will seize the day. Ask friends for help. Get advice from other accomplished writers. Read more. Read magazines and articles. Follow more blogs. Publish old poems and writings. Copyright material. Write a business plan, vision and mission for a writing business. Write a story board for my novel. Write outlines for all of my ideas. Contact writers and artists that have inspired me by twitter, and email. Establish a focus on my style of writing. Practice writing. Get organized. Pray. Ask God to guide me.
I will work to develop the inner resources to follow through on my dream project.
When I was a little girl everything was an adventure. I lived in a world of adults. Some of my favorite adventures involved tagging along with my parents or my siblings and being given adult responsibilities. I have been thinking a lot lately of the groups that my mom was a part of. I was the mascot of the Women’s Air-force Mother’s Club. Being in women’s groups now online I realize the necessity of a support group and I love the positive ways that women support one another.
Besides tagging along with my parents, we also took lots of road trips and went camping. My parents were pretty adventurous, however subtle. My mom loved going for walks when we would camp at KOA’s and we often would come across a cemetery. I think walking through a cemetery with my mom was an adventure of imagination because we would make up stories of the people who were buried there.
There are few times I remember doing anything on my own or without my parents. I went on trips with my school that were fun. But the best times were those trips with my folks.
Once I learned to drive I became an explorer. If I took a wrong turn I never considered myself lost, just on an adventure. I have never had the feeling of being physically lost. I always knew I could either find my way home or end up going somewhere special. Some of the best experiences I have had have been stumbled upon.
In researching about adventure, I learned that there is a big difference between being an adventurer and being an adventuress. I thought it would be fun to look at some literary examples of both.
Dating back to the beginning of Modern Times, women such as myself have dreamed of being adventurous.
The definition of Adventuress is: A woman who seeks social and financial advancement by unscrupulous means. A woman who seeks adventure, especially one who seeks success or money through daring exploits.
Just as in the book, THE ADVENTURESS by Coralie Stanton GROSSET & DUNLAP, 1907, Miriam Lemiere is described as, “This woman who spoke half a dozen languages with perfect ease, who painted, sculptured, wrote; who could hold her own with men and politicians; who knew the last word in everything; and who had she lived in fifteenth century would have ruled kingdoms and altered the destinies of nations, was nothing more or less than a moneylender – a society vampire.” “. . . There was always something great, something magnificent, about her wickedness.”
In another book by the same title written almost 100 years later,we have yet another example of an adventuress. In The Adventuress (2006)A Graphic Novel by Audrey Niffenegger, the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Time Traveler’s Wife, returns with another evocative “novel in pictures,” the much-anticipated follow-up to 2005’s The Three Incestuous Sisters. The Adventuress follows the dreamlike journey of an alchemist’s daughter. After she is kidnapped by a lascivious baron, she turns herself into a moth and flees to the garden of a charming butterfly collector named Napoleon Bonaparte. The story of how the two become lovers, and how their affair ends in tragedy and transcendence, is told through Niffenegger’s spare prose and haunting aquatint etchings. With a stunning and distinctive visual style reminiscent of the work of Edward Gorey, this gothic romance packs the emotional heft of the world’s great fairy tales.
A further search for ‘adventuress’ brought me to a page primarily about famous female pirates and adventuresses, or women of great adventure and courage.
There have been many women of the past who didn’t want to live within the confines of society’s idea of what a woman should be. Some of the ladies were willing to dress as men in order to go out into the world and fulfill their passions. Many of those women were pirates. They actually lived and were real, they were not fairy tale characters!
An adventuress was willing to go to any lengths to escape her bonds. An adventuress was willing to be unpopular.
Some went where no man had gone before. Others held the torch for women to follow. All faced risks and overcame them.
So let’s take a look at some of the greatest adventurers who have really made a splash and led the way to go where no one had gone before.
True inspiring stories of women who were true explorers and lived the spirit of adventure.
Nellie Bly 1864-1922 Journalist
(born May 5, 1864, Cochran’s Mills, Pa., U.S.—died Jan. 27, 1922, New York, N.Y.) U.S. newspaper writer. Bly started writing for The Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1885, producing feature articles on such subjects as divorce and slum life. After joining the New York World, she feigned insanity to get into an asylum and wrote an exposé that brought about needed reforms. Beginning in 1889, in an attempt to beat the fictional record in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, she circled the globe in about 72 days, 6 hours. The much-publicized trip made her by name a celebrated synonym for a female star reporter.
Susan Butcher 1954-2006 Athlete
Born Susan Howlet Butcher on December 26, 1954 in Boston, Massachusetts. Susan Butcher was raised in Cambridge and studied to become a veterinarian technician at Colorado State University. She eventually moved to Alaska to pursue her passion for dogsled racing and to train for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Susan Butcher competed in her first Iditarod in 1985, but was forced to withdraw early after two of her dogs were killed and six were injured in an accident involving a moose. She went on to win the grueling race in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990. In doing so, she became the second four-time winner and the first to win four out of five sequential years. Susan Butcher dominated the sport for over a decade, placing in the top five 12 times during her career. She has won several honors, including the National Women’s Sports Foundation Amateur Athlete of The Year Award, the U.S. Victor Award and Female Athlete of the Year award.
In 2005, Susan Butcher was diagnosed with leukemia. She died on August 5, 2006 and is survived by her husband, attorney and fellow dog racer David Monson, and their two daughters, Tekla and Chisana.
Amelia Earhart 1897-1939 Pilot
At a Long Beach air show in 1920, Amelia Earhart took a plane ride that transformed her life. It was only 10 minutes, but when she landed she knew she had to learn to fly. Working at a variety of jobs, from photographer to truck driver, she earned enough money to take flying lessons from pioneer female aviator Anita “Neta” Snook. Earhart immersed herself in learning to fly. She read everything she could find on flying, and spent much of her time at the airfield. She cropped her hair short, in the style of other women aviators. Worried what the other, more experienced pilots might think of her, she even slept in her new leather jacket for three nights to give it a more “worn” look.
In the summer of 1921, Earhart purchased a second-hand Kinner Airster biplane painted bright yellow. She nicknamed it “The Canary,” and set out to make a name for herself in aviation. On October 22, 1922, she flew her plane to 14,000 feet—the world altitude record for female pilots. On May 15, 1923, Amelia Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license. She had several notable flights and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, and the first person to have flown both oceans. In 1937, she mysteriously disappeared while trying to circumnavigate the globe from the equator.
Gertrude Ederle 1906-2003 Athlete
Ederle early became an avid swimmer. She was a leading exponent of the eight-beat crawl (eight kicks for each full arm stroke) and between 1921 and 1925 held 29 national and world amateur swimming records. In 1922 she broke seven records in a single afternoon at Brighton Beach, N.Y. At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris she was a member of the U.S. team that won a gold medal in the 4 100-metre freestyle relay. She also captured bronze medals in the 100-metre and 400-metre freestyle events.
In 1925 Ederle made an unsuccessful attempt to swim the English Channel, but the following year she returned to France to try again. In the face of widespread doubt that a woman could accomplish the feat, she set out from Cape Gris-Nez near Calais, France, on August 6 and swam the 35 miles (56 km) to Dover, Kent, Eng., in 14 hours 31 minutes, beating the men’s world record by 1 hour 59 minutes. Ederle was greeted on her return to New York City by a ticker-tape parade, and she toured for a time as a professional swimmer. A series of misfortunes, culminating in a serious back injury in 1933, ended her public career for a time, but in 1939 she appeared in Billy Rose’s Aquacade at the New York World’s Fair.
Ederle, whose hearing was permanently impaired while achieving her English Channel triumph, later became a swimming instructor for deaf children. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965 and the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
Sally Ride 1951- Educator, Astronaut, Physicist
Born on May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles, California. Sally Ride made history in 1983 when she became the first American woman in space. She grew up in Los Angeles and went to Stanford University where she was a double major in physics and English. Ride received bachelor’s degrees in both subjects in 1973. She continued to study physics at the university, earning a master’s degree in 1975 and a Ph.D. in 1978.
That same year, Sally Ride beat out 1,000 other applicants for a spot in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) astronaut program. She went through the program’s rigorous training program and got her chance to go into space and the record books in 1983. On June 18, Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger. As a mission specialist, she helped deploy satellites and worked other projects. She returned to Earth on June 24.
The next year, Sally Ride again served as a mission specialist on a space shuttle flight in October. She was scheduled to take a third trip, but it was cancelled after the tragic Challenger accident on January 28, 1986. After the accident, Ride served on the presidential commission that investigated the space shuttle explosion.
After NASA, Sally Ride became the director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego, as well as a professor of physics at the school in 1989. In 2001, she started her own company to create educational programs and products known as Sally Ride Science to help inspire girls and young women to pursue their interests in science and math. Ride serves as president and CEO.
For her contributions to her field and to society, Sally Ride has received many honors, including the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award. She has been inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Sacagawea 1788-1812 Interpreter
Daughter of a Shoshone chief, it is not known exactly when she was born. Some sources say 1788 while others say 1787 and 1786. Around the age of 12, Sacagawea was captured by Hidatsa Indians, an enemy of the Shoshones. She was then sold to a French-Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau who made her one of his wives.
Sacagawea and her husband lived among the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians in the upper Missouri River area (present-day North Dakota). In November 1804, an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered the area. Often called the Corps of Discovery, the expedition planned to explore newly acquired western lands and find a route to the Pacific Ocean. The group built Fort Mandan, and elected to stay there for the winter. Lewis and Clark met Charbonneau and quickly hired him to serve as interpreter on their expedition. Even though she was pregnant with her first child, Sacagawea was chosen to accompany them on their mission. Lewis and Clark believed that her knowledge of the Shoshone language would help them later in their journey.
In February 1805, Sacagawea gave birth to a son named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Despite traveling with a newborn child during the trek, Sacagawea proved to be helpful in many ways. She was skilled at finding edible plants. When a boat she was riding on capsized, she was able to save some of its cargo, including important documents and supplies. She also served as a symbol of peace – a group traveling with a woman and a child were treated with less suspicion than a group of men alone.
Sacagawea also made a miraculous discovery of her own during the trip west. When the corps encountered a group of Shoshone Indians, she soon realized that its leader was actually her brother Cameahwait. It was through her that the expedition was able to buy horses from the Shoshone to cross the Rocky Mountains. Despite this joyous family reunion, Sacagawea remained with the explorers for the trip west.
After reaching the Pacific coast in November 1805, Sacagawea was allowed to cast her vote along with the other members of the expedition for where they would build a fort to stay for the winter. They built Fort Clatsop near present-day Astoria, Oregon, and they remained there until March of the following year. Sacagawea, her husband, and her son remained with the expedition on the return trip east until they reached the Mandan villages.
So, what do I want to be? An explorer? An adventurer? An adventuress? Perhaps a mash-up of all of these examples!
The year my Dad died . . was actually a good year for me because I had many opportunities to travel, which I love. I traveled a lot and saw many beautiful things. I never knew when I started out this year that it would be the last year my father would be in my life.
When I look at the beautiful pictures and videos that I took, it makes me think of so many things. Like how life continues to go on even after someone you love is gone. How even though I can’t show my parents the amazing pictures that I took, I believe that they can still see them.
My year started out on a dream vacation to Disneyworld. We took the boys and my mother-in-law to Florida. We enjoyed our children on that trip. It was our chance to make some family memories that we hope they will treasure their whole lives. We were there for New Year’s Eve and we had the time of our lives. During the fireworks, I thought to myself that I couldn’t imagine being happier.
Some of the places I happened to visit this year I had been to before with my parents. They loved to take trips and we often went camping. We drove up the coast on more than one occasion and went to San Jose, Seattle, Victoria B.C. and many points in between. I was reminded of the adventures that I experienced with them as a young girl as I embarked on my own adventures this year.
In April, Lito and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by taking a 4 day trip to Seattle, Washington. My niece, Ally, and my Dad stayed with the boys. Lito and I had a great time. We stayed at a “4 Diamond” hotel and dined at incredible restaurants. We toured Seattle and visited some awesome museums. We went to the Space Needle and took a ferry to British Columbia. At Butchart Gardens we saw the most amazing flowers and landscape. We had High Tea at the Empress Hotel. It was very romantic.
When we returned home from that trip, we talked Dad into staying an extra night. He went home in the morning after stopping to see me at work. That was the last time I saw him. That weekend was the last weekend the boys spent with their Grandpa. We were so grateful to him for all the time he spent with us and for everything he did for us.
A few of the most amazing pictures I have ever taken were actually at my Dad’s funeral. Well, more specifically at the reception following the funeral. Colin suggested we do a balloon release, and boy did we. We wrote messages on the balloons and then let them go into the clearest, bluest sky ever. Red, white and blue balloons, for Memorial Day, in memory of Dad’s patriotism, service and love of his country. It was a poignant moment and I was so glad I took pictures of it. It was uplifting to be with my family at that moment. I took a group picture of everyone just after we released the balloons. I was standing on a hill, so they all look as if they are bidding my parents a farewell into Heaven!
At the end of June, I went to Charleston, South Carolina for work. I loved it there. It was a nice reprieve from work, from the family, kids, grieving. I needed to get away on my own and this gave me a chance to focus on something – training for work, as well as get away and experience something by myself. It felt so strange to go somewhere like this and not be able to share it with Mom or Dad. Dad did know I was planning that trip. He would have been amazed that Lito was so supportive of me going so far away on my own! He was a little backwards when it came to that kind of thing. Maybe we are the ones who are backwards?
I loved the hospitality in the South. The people who live there have so much pride in their surroundings. I was taken in by the beauty in the simplicity of the things that I saw. I loved the birds and the bridges, the water, the history and the architecture.
I felt like my Dad would have been proud of me for taking this trip. I liked to make my Dad proud. I was constantly seeking his approval, and my mom’s. That’s what has been the hardest change to accept, that I don’t have my sounding board. That I am on my own, no one to make proud in the same way my parents would be proud of me. Deep in my heart, I know they will always be watching over me.
Just after my birthday, in July, I went to Dayton, Ohio for work. Getting through my birthday was the most difficult part of the grieving process so far. I missed my parents so much. It helped to have a trip planned to keep my mind off things. There wasn’t any sightseeing involved in this trip, but I found the University of Dayton to be absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed spending time on campus and was inspired by the work of the Marianists there. I had a great time and met some wonderful people. Again, a great escape!
I have been able to spend these bittersweet moments going through the grieving process and still somewhat enjoy myself. At times I felt guilty for having fun, but then I would think that my parents would want me to experience these things, admire their beauty, share them with my family and enjoy them myself.
Lito had a chance to escape this year too. He spent much of his time racing radio controlled motorcycles. He set some goals for himself and has had a great time achieving them. He has brought home some humongous trophies. We have all been so proud of him. I am sure this was a healthy way for him to deal with his grief as well. He was very close to my parents too. Lito had a chance to take a trip by himself to race in Battle Ground, Washington. Back to the Pacific Northwest for five days! He had a great time and came back a winner!
The boys spent a few weeks in Henderson, Nevada visiting their Lola and Uncle Ron during this time. When we went to pick them up – we spent a night at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. We wanted to spend some time with them doing the things that they like to do. So, it was roller coasters and carnival games. We had a good time. When we got home the boys mentioned to me how much they miss their Grandpa. They missed spending part of their summer with him and Grandma, too.
The boys and I accompanied Lito to his last race so far this year in San Jose, California.
It was a fun overnight trip. We spent a day sightseeing around town. We took the boys to the Tech Museum which was right up their alley. We also took them to the Winchester Mystery House, which was interesting and touching because I recall going there with my Mom and Dad. We watched Lito race and had a fun time. The long drive home wasn’t bad. Our little family cruisin’ in our minivan. We enjoy being together and that’s what counts.
We traveled some, saw some amazing things, went to baseball games and spent some time with family and friends. We are hopeful for what the future will bring. Who knows where our lives will lead. Whatever happens, good or bad, I will have the strength and love of my family and the beautiful memory of my parents to get me through.
These are all the beautiful things that I saw the year my Dad died. . .