Here we go again…trying something new!

I tried a cooked oyster over the weekend and it was disgusting…but I did it!

Now I’m going to be on a podcast (or 2)! I have been working on marketing my books more, and more effectively. I came upon a group on Facebook that matches pod cast hosts with people who might like to be a guest.

It’s amazing to me how many podcasters are out there! I had no idea-and I was pleasantly surprised to find many podcasters that I felt I could relate to. I’ve reached out and connected with a few-not just about my books!

When I have links, I’ll share with you all…it’ll be across the next few weeks!

Another Adventure…A big one!

I know it’s been awhile-lots going on for me and sometimes writing about it doesn’t feel quite like the thing to do…

Then again, I am super proud of myself and it’s time to BRAG!! Here’s a little background preceding the big brag-worthy moment…

In the spring, my brother told me he got a job in Yellowstone National Park as a year round carpenter. I was excited for him and looking forward to a big send off…but then my son got covid (mild) and so we all had to quarantine right around the time my brother was leaving for Wyoming.

I hadn’t really seen him since the winter as it was and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t see him off-especially considering he had no idea when he’d be back for a visit. Now most of you know about my travel anxiety…anything new and I predictable causes me stress. When I fly places, I tell my companion that they are the grown up and I am the child so they can take care of details and I can concentrate on breathing, yes I said breathing.

By the middle of May I was feeling like I wanted to see my brother badly enough that I was going to go. It was expensive, so I went alone…(read that again), I WENT ALONE.

I drove myself to the airport and that was scary-crack of dawn, backed into my son’s car in the driveway, and the parking garage seemed so full! But I found a parking spot and took a photo of where I parked and sent it to my mom-she was picking it up later. I gathered all my stuff and headed in.

I went through security smoothly and then waited for my flight. I had a good book with me so that was helpful. I had previously printed out maps of all the airports I would be heading to-I was especially nervous about Chicago but it turned out to be super easy!

When I landed in Montana, I easily found my checked bag and then the car rental company sent me a text with the exact location of my rental car, even going so far as to include photos. They were amazing! Check them out here!

And then I slowly found my way to Yellowstone-I made a couple stops along the way and even though it was a little scary for me, it was also wonderful and empowering and got easier with every stop.

I had a wonderful long weekend with my brother. We saw some beautiful skies, lots of wild animals, majestic mountains and the coldest lakes.

Soldiers Chapel
Two Oceans

And at the end of the trip, I treated myself to a massage: Check them out here! I got a hotel room and treated myself to nice dinner. I got myself to the airport nice and early the next day and after a stop in Denver and just one panic attack (we waited on the plane for takeoff and I think the anticipation got to me), I was back home.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

AND SO PROUD OF MYSELF! i did it! all on my own! and it was so much fun!

So many Bison!
Lewis Lake

And though traveling with my brother to Iceland was a little tricky, this trip went extremely well and I’m so glad that I did it!! My brother is so happy there and I think he’s really found his place in this world❤️

My brother in his uniform

North Carolina

Ever since I became a Nicholas Sparks fan (Find his books here), I’ve wanted to see the Outer Banks. After my Iceland trip it seemed possible, even likely, that o could do it!

So my folks and my husband and I went together…my folks flew down a day earlier than us, but same hotel.

As this trip was awhile ago now, I’m going to show lots of pics. Bottom line: I’d go back. I enjoyed the beaches-so empty and vast and beautiful!

New sweatshirt from The Black Pelican-our favorite restaurant
Ghost crab
Sunrise

Feeling Brave(r)

After my trip to Iceland, I was feeling like I could do anything! Well, not exactly, but I felt so proud of myself for setting aside my many fears and I wanted to keep it going.

I’ve always wanted to go to North Carolina’s Outer Banks (I’m a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks). So I looked at my bank account and decided I could do it-I booked a trip for my family in the spring-my folks are coming too. And for those who know me-this is huge!

As school began for my son and I enrolled new children in my program, I was feeling like I needed to get out and about more and exercise and have quiet reflective outings. Being so busy during the week, I just needed the peace.

I used to love hiking and having conquered that volcano hike, I decided to go hiking-by myself! I used to have so much fear about being in the woods by myself, but I found it to be peaceful and restful. I made sure I had proper gear as the season got colder, even preparing for winter hiking-which I LOVE!

My first solo hike-Mt Philo 10/8/2021

One hike led to a mountaintop lake where I sat down on a weather worn log and refueled. I started thinking of my young adult self and how many opportunities I missed out on because of my fears…there were too many to count.

Silver Lake 10/22/2021 (I stripped down to my underwear and swam!)

It all boils down to anything unknown…travel, food, new people (men in particular whether in the workplace or proximity), animals, even going to an appointment in a new building. My fear of the unknown has been hampering my experiences and relationships for much too long.

So now I practice embracing the unknown…I say practice because it’s a process and I’m not always successful. Though I am proud to say I’m making progress and finally beginning to live a richer life for it!

Rattlesnake Cliffs 10/28/2021 I was too tired to find the good lookout spot -next time!
Silent Cliff-Long Trail 11/7/2021
Robert Frost Interpretive Trail-water tower 11/19/2021
Falls of Lana 12/4/2021 a short hike after getting over being sick
Snake Mountain 12/5/2021 lots of coughing still…can’t wait to do it again!
VAST trail near my house 12/18/2021
Mount Philo 12/26/2021 hiked down in the dark-spooky!
Great Cliff long trail 1/8/2022 so steep at the top but worth it!
Wright Park 1/23/2022
Buck Mountain 1/30/2022 a new fave!!

That’s all for now!!

ICELAND! I did it!

The trip was AMAZING. It was also eye opening and challenging in ways I did not expect.

First things first: it was the coolest place I never knew I wanted to see. The history, the landscape, the people…it was a unique experience, and so worth the anxiety I had felt at first.

And next, traveling with my brother…I definitely got to know him better…unfortunately he’s not nearly as enjoyable as I would have thought…that’s life though, right? But a trip this really is how you truly get to know someone and learn how to work toward common goals. I have no regrets, though let’s just say that a trip like that with my brother was a one time event…

And finally, I am so proud of myself! I really had to stretch out of my comfort zone just to get on a plane…and I spent an entire day walking the city BY MYSELF! They went off to the northern peninsula and I stayed behind. I wasn’t scared at all, like I’d thought I would be. I didn’t get lost and I felt really comfortable-what a surprise!!

So much to say…

I’m just going to dive in-lots of growth and triumph lately!

I’m going to Iceland in a couple weeks! Back in May, my brother was texting me a bit and mentioned that he was going to Iceland in August. Without even thinking, I replied, “ooh! Can I come?” To which he replied that indeed I could. This may not seem like a big deal, but for those that know me, it is. In fact, I shared on Facebook that I was going and several friends thought it was a joke! I have a lot of fear, always have. I don’t travel much because I get anxious with the unknown and like to be in control-I’m a terrible flyer! And I’m not sure if Covid is the reason, or maybe I’m realizing I’m getting older, but I found myself shedding that fear faster than a snake sheds it’s skin! I surprised myself, and I’m truly excited to go on this trip! I feel like Iceland is the coolest place I never knew I wanted to go-and I get to go with my little brother! We need to spend some quality time together-life is short!

I’ve finally been able to let go of michael, (mostly). It’s funny, I’ve been hanging onto this friendship for so long, so tightly, and reading a book finally got me to shift my thinking. I read The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd while on vacation, and it had quite an effect on me. The vivid descriptions and poignant thoughts and experiences of the characters spoke to me in a way that was hard to explain…of course, the characters’ experiences were different than mine, but the author still had a way of capturing some of the feelings that go along with my own unique journey. It also sparked an idea for a new children’s book, though I haven’t gotten it down on paper yet! Here are a couple quotes from the book that have stayed with me (the very first one gave me goosebumps when I read it):

“I marvel at how I was before I met him, how I lived molded to the smallest space possible, my days the size of little beads that passed without passion through my fingers.”

“I wonder if perhaps they (the mermaids) saved me. I know this much, the mermaids came to me in the pink hours of my life…for them I dove with arms outstretched, my life streaming out behind me, a leap against all proprieties and expectations, but a leap that was somehow saving and necessary. They caught me after I hit the water, baring me not to the surface but to the bottom, and only then, pulling me back up.”
“yes, here I am returning, the woman who bore herself to the bottom and back, the woman who wanted to swim like dolphins leaping waves and diving, who wanted only to belong to herself.”
“What I loved in him most was my own aliveness-his ability to give me back to myself…”.
“At first it was difficult for me…to realize i would only know you as a memory or a longing…YOU BROUGHT ME DEEPER INTO LIFE…”

Over the winter, my liver function was terrible, and after a lifestyle overhaul, I’m finally feeling better (and fitting into my clothes better than I have in years). I’d been having gut issues for years, and when combined with my terrible diet and super sweet tooth, and my alcoholic youth, my liver was angry. My blood pressure was sky high and would not come down despite being on four different medications. After running blood tests, the doctor told me I either had to prepare for my liver to shut down completely or change the way I was living…so I stopped eating butter and sugar. That was the simplest and least overwhelming step I could take right away. Next I started drinking more water, again, simple and not at all overwhelming. As the pounds began to drop, I added frequent but light exercise…I found that the workouts felt easy and that gave my mood a boost. That led to adding more healthy foods, I lightened my sugar and butter restrictions a bit as a reward. Gradually, working out has become easier to build into my life, and I actually look forward to it, sometimes crave it. I’ve switched to protein pasta and cereal, and it’s been good. I also changed my grocery-shopping mindset-I now spend more money that I used to on produce. I used to skip out on the $4 honeydew or the $5.99/lb cherries. Now I let myself buy them as a treat. It’s cheaper than the ice cream, soda, or chips I used to get and so much more satisfying! And though I am still a work in progress, I feel strong and healthy and it’s wonderful!

Remedy and Light

Awhile back, I was talking with my therapist about a bright spot in my childhood. I was 9 or 10, maybe younger. Because one of my issues had been feeling invisible, it was so memorable…one of my mom’s boyfriends (yes plural but there were only a few) took an interest in me. A prior boyfriend of hers had done the opposite and I think this guy may have sensed that.

His name was Paul, and I remember one time he wanted to take me hiking. We first went downtown to the bakery (an incredibly rare occurrence) and I got to pick out any doughnut I wanted: I chose lemon filled covered in powdered sugar! Then we went for a drive, probably just to north Springfield or Perkinsville, but it seemed like another world.

Anyway, we had a pleasant little outing and I felt special. It was a welcome feeling. But of course my therapist asked me questions like, “did he touch you at all?” And “did you feel like it was a secret?”

I did not like that she said that, though I suppose it was reasonable for her to ask since I clearly have lots of issues. My point was, actually is, that every kid needs somebody, well, not just kids, everyone needs someone to be their light, their joy, their champion, their remedy…And yes, sometimes, it may look like “grooming” so adults who cultivate relationships with children should be mindful, transparent, appropriate, and responsible in their interactions. Because as Mr. Rogers tells us:

My point is that it feels good to have your world brightened by another person, and in turn, lighting up another’s persons world feels wonderful as well. To be the person that ignites a fire in someone can be intoxicating, to help someone grow and change is invigorating, and when you see the chain reaction that comes from it, it makes you feel powerful, competent, and alive.

That’s what I am trying to do these days with my books and in my professional and personal life, slowly but surely. My dear friend Michael and I had to part ways, but I find comfort in the light I brought to his life and the color he brought to mine. My close friend Laura passed away 8 years ago, and I try to be the authentic type of friend to others that she was to me-honest, flawed, human. And there are numerous children over the years who still cherish their outdoor adventures and fields trips and investigations with me. I am the auntie who always gives the coolest books and brings doughnut holes. I am the mom that thanks the teachers for their work with my son, even in high school, and I am the client who tells the plow guy “thank you” every time he has to clear the snow. I’m also the customer at the grocery store who walks her cart all the way back inside after shopping even though they have people who do that. I am trying my best to be “a rainbow in someone’s cloud” when I can…

Self-Care

I ran across a post today that I quickly read, posted my comment and moved on. and then I went back to it…

Check it out here

They wanted to know what we think of when we hear “self-care”. For me, that’s an easy one…at least it is now. I grew up feeling like it was my job to be a people pleaser, boat steadier, and peace keeper (most of you know this already), so self-care wasn’t on my radar at all.

And it’s funny, when I thought about self-care, I figured an evening out with friends after a tough week would suffice. And for some folks, maybe that would be enough. Buy a new outfit or get your nails done, and you feel wonderful for a few days…right?

Nope. I’ve discovered that people like me (sorta anyway, because there is only 1 of me)…we need lots of self-care built into our lives in order to feel like ourselves for more than just an evening or a weekend. and so I say, self-care is an attitude, a disposition, a way of living.

For me, this means (almost) daily exercise, a weekly scheduled day of rest, dedicated friend time, and saying a guilt-free NO when I need to. I had to give myself permission to put my own needs first.

To me, self-care used to be a list of special things to do when I felt stressed. Now, self-care has become a list of things to keep me feeling mentally healthy, happy and capable of coping with stress that may arise, a tool of resilience that I never knew I needed.

My hope is that you will think about your own self-care… i actually created a self-care action plan for a workshop awhile back. If you’re interested, send me an email and I’d be happy to share it with you.

Dignity

We buried my aunt today. I chose to say a few words at the small family service…here they are:

Since Betty’s death, I’ve been hearing the word dignity as it related to how she handled her illness.  I kept thinking that it was not a word I would’ve used…it conjured an image of a stuffy polite little gray hair who was always prim and proper. (No offense Betty, but I think things like “tough ol’ bird, or “spitfire”)

So I decided to think about what that word really means, and I found confirmation that dignity is indeed the best possible word when described by Maya Angelou…

“Dignity-the word itself-has come to mean different things to different people, as many words do.  It doesn’t just mean always being stiff and composed.  It means a belief in oneself, that one is worthy of the best.  Dignity means that what I have to say is important, and I will say it when it is important for me to say it.  Dignity really means that I deserve the best treatment I can receive.  And that I have the responsibility to give the best treatment I can to other people.”

And to that end, she not only died with dignity, she lived with it too.  She was always a kind neighbor, dedicated in work and volunteering, a thoughtful friend, and especially a loving aunt….oh, and she was one sassy sister, right bob?

So I say to Betty: thank you for setting the example for all of us, to live and die with dignity, and for always showing up.  It’s not only the special occasions that showed me who you were…it was being part of those everyday moments: cooking with you, giving you a ride, or eating pie together.  And thank you for choosing to make us family-because you didn’t have to-especially considering what a delight I was in the beginning especially.  And finally, thank you for making me one of your friends-when you came to tea time and invited me to join you and your friends for girls night-you made my heart happy.

Rest In Peace Betty

Hi there!

I’ve started writing a few times only to delete and begin again…over and over. I’m sitting in my kayak, floating on my favorite small lake. The sun is shining, the water is calm except for the occasional wake from others. And my thoughts are scattered.

Back in May, my gramps passed away. He was 99 years old, and it was his time. Covid-19 was not the culprit, though it impacted his death: only brief end of life visits from close family, one person per day…no service of any kind, and no one was allowed to attend the burial despite the outdoor location because it was a veterans cemetery and the guidelines prohibited it. I’ve decided to write a book about him to help me cope, also though, to honor the extraordinary man that he was. It’ll take awhile, though….

My aunt is dying. She has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She’s 79 now, diagnosed a year ago and still kickin’! She appears weak, fragile, and a little scattered at times, but it doesn’t slow her down. And her attitude is just as feisty as its always been. In my adult years, we have become much closer and if she left this earth tomorrow, I’d know that we spent our time well, and that she knows how important she is to me.

And I have a new baby nephew and I would very much like to meet him…Covid-19 is keeping me away though. I don’t want to risk giving him germs or getting any myself on the way to visit. So I stay away. My fear is that the virus will skyrocket again and it’ll be a year or more till I can meet him…but caring means staying home, right?

And I published my third children’s book! It was a collaboration with my mentor, Louise Dietzel…and it turned out wonderfully! The children love the pictures and the adventure that they get to have along with the story, and Louise teared up when I brought copies to her-she was so pleased. It is not yet in bookstores, but can be found here for now. My illustrator created a website featuring our books which led to me writing a descriptive sentence that I am quite proud of: “Stories that nurture the hearts and minds of young children and that strengthen the spirit of the adults who love them.”

That’s enough for now I suppose…I’m surprising myself these days…eating better, exercising, focusing on building relationships with friends, and by being just…ME!