Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day...John Hedge, USMC 1952

I love the idea of travel by train. It seems so...romantic. It's also been one of the leading contenders on my list of travel that is impractical and inefficient, coming in second to travel by bus which does not seem romantic AT ALL.

For some reason, I started researching the nuances of train travel about a month and a half ago. I did a Google search and found myself deep within the livejournal of John Hedge. I was inspired, humbled, schooled, intrigued and not just a little crazy about the guy. He speaks plainly, telling stories about his past amid the tedious but necessary details about costs, sleeping and eating during travel by rail. He traversed the US on a series of trains...dreamt of doing the same in Ireland and then made his own dream come true. He talks of the heartbreaking loss of his beloved wife, the struggles he encountered pursuing his education, his time in service to this country and his faith in God. A 70+ year old disabled man traveling to see and be seen, he accepted discomfort and obviously found it worthwhile in order to have the experiences. He walked when he could, used buses and taxis or accepted rides when they were available and offered. He stayed in bus and train stations, hostels and with host families he prearranged. He bought his food and used self-catering kitchens, saved portions of his meals out for the next meal and managed his diabetes with barely an incident.

I felt like I knew this man. I certainly found a kinship with his itch to travel. I admired his tenacity and determination. I wonder what he'd tell me about my dreams and guess that he'd say "you can do it at my age but I wish I had done it at yours!" So I started to wonder why I'm not...what I think is in the way and what exactly I could do about it. Obstacles began to dissolve in my mind and plans started to piece themselves together. I started to think about the stories I'd like to tell at 70+ years old myself. Hell, the stories I'd like to tell next year, actually!

I re-read the journal entries that inspired me the most. I began to mentally compose a thank you note to this amazing gentleman. I felt a little shy. I would smile whenever I would think of contacting him and decided to put the shyness away and let him know how much his story meant to me. His livejournal had been open in a tab on my desktop for weeks at this point...and almost daily I would re-read a little snippet here or there. I hadn't looked at dates. This time I did. He started documenting his dream trips come true 2/17/2006 and the last line of his first entry preceding his cross-USA trip entitled "Introduction" said "...I have decided to go for it. I figure I will finish the trip on the train, whether in coach or in the baggage car." He composed his last entry 1/8/2007 after he concluded his trip around Ireland. I couldn't find a way to contact him anywhere at all despite searching through the entire site. I went back to the beginning and decided to perhaps try to leave a comment. There, on the very first post, was a comment posted 4/26/2007 that stated simply "JohnHedge has passed away this week. Obituary is in Oakland Press, view online. Thank you. God Bless."

And I grieved. Almost 5 years later to the day, I wept for a man I had never met. I wept for the heartbreak of losing his wife and for his joyous faith that they would be reunited when his time on Earth had come to an end. I wept for the dogged determination that kept him moving through pain and trials so that he could leave this world only after he did what needed to be done, saw what needed to be seen and experienced what he knew was waiting in his soul to be experienced. I wept for a family of four children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren who had lost a loving and amazing man but live today with the knowledge that they all lifted him up in belief that this last dream of his was worth pursuing and that he had their full support. I just wept because my heart hurt that he died. I wept because life is fragile and unpredictable and we never know which day may be our last. I allowed myself to imagine him sitting down on his last day, closing his bible, taking off his reading glasses, closing his eyes to dream of his love and meeting her in some lovely great beyond that he was sure existed. I stopped weeping and started celebrating his life and his great reward.

I never knew John Hedge the man...but his story changed my course.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day Done of Beauty: A Post in Pictures :)

I'm behind. Waaaaaayyyyy behind in sharing my beauty~full things..

So, here's a glimpse...

♥ The dogs. Aden. Awkward...adorable.

(see the heart shaped white patch on his head?)


♥ The casa.

(my baby boy's first vehicle title!)

♥ Around these parts...

(this was the window at the 100+ year old hotel where I had Thanksgiving dinner for breakfast today!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where I Worship. Amen.

A friend posted this on facebook this morning. I smiled and in my heart there was a resounding YES!!!

I have a story to share. Not too long ago, during an interminable wait, a lovely lady asked if I had any questions about this new community I had relocated to. As a matter of fact, I did. Where can I take my recycling? I can't seem to find a center...

Two other women working behind me whispered something and then went "Mmm hmmmm...told ya, she's one of THEM." Being the shy wall flower that I am, I turned and asked if it was ME who is one of THEM. The more vocal of the two said "Well, you ARE new to town, right?" I nodded. She continued "Where will you be going to worship?" I politely said that I hadn't quite decided yet and she dropped this: "'re new to town and that nice lady there asks if you have any questions about the community and you don't ask about services or where ta go to ask about re-sigh-c'lin."

I could feel myself getting ready to argue with her. I paused. Breathed. She WAS right, actually. I quickly asked myself why this was the case and I responded kindly "You're exactly right (I wanted to say sweetheart but breathed through that urge too). But you see, I carry my God with me everywhere I go. My life is my worship. Taking care of his planet, however, actually takes effort."

I haven't found where to take my recycling yet. I haven't needed to. I serendipitously met a man who takes it all for me and can use the proceeds much more than I ever could. That's my worship...fellowship...connection.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Being vs. Having...

I have a nice house. Nice things...a bit on the quirky side but nice nonetheless. I have a dog.

A couple of months ago, I had more. A lot more.

I was sitting with a friend back then, contemplating my options and speaking them out loud. I could sell my it...let the bank have it back...find a loving home for my great dane and sell one of my cars. My friend started to sweat FOR me.

I did those things...donated half of what I owned, found the perfect person to care for my home, found THE BEST new family for the biggest lap dog in the world...and wondered what the Universe had up its sleeve when my extra car was stolen and totaled.

I took a great big leap. It was liberating!

If my friend sweated over what I did back then...I wonder what she'd think about what I'm considering next...when this nice house is no longer home and it's time to change again...what if I just sold EVERYTHING?

But I'm keeping my dog. He wouldn't have it any other way.

A Couple More Days of Beauty: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥!

Thursday: ♥ Got to be the cool help and be there in a way that 2600 miles kept me from accomplishing previously.

Friday: ♥ A short solo road trip...Eminem and TSwift getting me there in a great mood...then crawfish dinner and IKEA shopping before talking with a lovely until my lids wouldn't let me listen anymore.

Saturday: ♥ Shop til we dropped, old town block of amazing...after picking up my new beach cruiser from a crazy Craigslist!!!

Sunday: ♥The smile on my boy's face was Mother's Day gift enough. A true smile. ♥ A text from my babygirl with a memory that made me smile hugely too! ♥ Spending the entire day with my momma...relaxing. ♥ A peeping then a crack in the shell...a peek at a little beak...gonna be a duckling mother soon!!!

Monday: ♥ A smoothie made by someone other than me in a lovely little place close enough that I can ride my beach cruiser to.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day Fourteen of Beauty: Simple.

♥Big fat splat-y raindrops.

♥The color turquoise.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day Thirteen~ish: Trouvé

So this isn't quite going as I had hoped. Commit to sharing three beauty~full things about every day for thirty more aware of beauty, be more present in life and on this blog. Structure. Routine. Accountability.


Not so much.

There have been forgotten days, day # 7 happened twice...I've rambled on without identifying what the beauty~full things were on one particular day and today I even forgot the password to gain access to this very space.


One of my lovelies sighed heavily and said "I really meant to do the beauty~full things with you, but..."

And I replied "you've been too busy LIVING your beauty~full things to write about them!"

I think I fell a little bit in love with that. Thank you, my lovely...for leading, loving, living as an example and reminder and celebration of beauty.

Today's beauty:
♥Finding out my gaw-juss Aunt reads my blog.
♥Finding a pair of Free People wedge sandals in my size in my latest favorite color scheme AT A THRIFT STORE FOR $5!!! (psst...same shoes on ebay for $80!!!)
♥Finding out that my first love, my babygirl can't come visit. Beauty~full? What? Oh yes, heart~burstingly beauty~FULL!!! Because she is busy blazing her own trail and creating her beauty~full life.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day Twelve of Beauty: Moving, Arriving and Yummy.

♥Waking, cleaning, organizing and planning...feels good to have movement in some direction.

♥That feeling at the airport when someone is, anticipation, excitement...more planning!

♥Beaver nuggets. Yes, I said it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day Eleven of Beauty: Past and Presence

♥The moment you set eyes on a long-time friend after too much time patterns and behavior and memories surface almost immediately. Us walking behind her mother in the grocery store almost a perfect mimic of 20+ years ago.

♥Great outdoors not so far from home but an entire world apart. Good food, great company and conversation...and one-way pig-proof screens.

♥Marking a life list item off, in tandem.

Day Whatever: Old School.

My old high school sits has a new purpose but the wide locker-lined halls are still visible through the glass doors at each end. You don't even have to get out of your car to see them, you can just pull through the bus drive. There is the cafeteria, where memories of thousands of lunches still linger...friends and laughter, drama, fights that no one could possibly remember much less remember what started them, a food fight or two, some of the best one-liners I've ever pulled off and even some frantic homework copying with minutes to spare. The auditorium where I can still smell the wood polish used on the floor, the musty aroma of the wardrobe room lined with thrift-store finds, Halloween left-overs and home-stitched frocks and the echo of our voices delivering lines. The office where Senior year found me working in attendance...mostly with integrity but occasionally the thrill of doing a favor for a friend. The English wing where some of the most nurturing souls I've ever met called home for hours while they fed imaginations and dreams. Student Council meetings were held there, and I sold donuts outside the doors of that wing almost every morning my last year there. There is the baseball field where we sat to watch the lanky boys do what they loved...and I remember thinking one friend's crush was sure to be famous for it some day...if only because with a name like his, how could he not? Ty Ganske. I wonder if I was right. The football field where the Friday Night Lights lit up and everyone took it as seriously as Sunday morning meeting. The drums. The players. The butt slaps and high-fives. The cheerleaders and dancers and twirlers. The band marching on the field and the color guard with their gossamer flags.

When I drive through that bus drive, those memories that have long been buried come rushing to the surface and make my heart ache a little bit. I remember the last week with all of the excitement of finally escaping the halls and walls and the work. The parties that were planned so elaborately and the time we knew we'd be spending on the beach or at each others' homes as we wrapped up our high school years together. I remember vividly one moment, sitting in the stands of the football field, practicing for graduation...we were hung-over, drinking Alka-Seltzer with our darkest sunglasses on...and time stopped for a second. It hit me that this was the end of something that I had no preparation to be without. We had grown up together, all of us...and we were parting. Soon. We would carry with us our memories and our intentions to stay in touch...some we would mean but some we would be incapable of following through on. This was the last time we would be together LIKE THIS. I was sitting in a crowd of people knowing that for many of us, this realization would hit and hit hard but I had never felt so alone or bereft as I did at that moment. Time started back up and minutes later we were laughing and planning the next night's adventure. That feeling faded and dissipated. I still had that day.

It's been over twenty years since that day. I drove through the bus drive recently and the feeling came rushing back. It's a breath-catching feeling like a punch in the gut...and I relived feeling alone and bereft all over again. I actually cried. I thought about what I would tell that younger version of me when time stopped that day...where I would tell her to place importance...who to cut loose and who to hang on to very tightly. Who would slip away and stay gone and who would drift away only to return when the rhythms of life revealed themselves to be the right timing. Whose time on earth would end too soon and who she would wish had taken their place.

The tears dried and like time resuming those twenty some years prior, it happened again...the feeling faded and dissipated. Those hurts were necessary. Those relationships that ended did so in tune to a rhythm that can't be predicted. Mistakes needed to be made and growth on our own timelines was absolutely necessary.

The sights and smells and memories and feelings from the past as I drove through that bus drive became a drum beat in my heart of a rhythm that is totally out of my control or prediction and the reminder came rushing back...just is what you have. Today. This day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day Eight: What I Want...That I Already Have

I vaguely remember Cinco de Mayo last year. I had just returned from a cruise...not just A cruise but AN AMAZING cruise. I literally partied like a rockstar...with actual rockstars. I came home smiling ear to ear, thinking that life still had spontaneity and fun and adventure...and that my impending 40th birthday didn't mean I had to become all grown up all the time.

Then it took over a week to catch up on sleep I lost on that non-stop party, the uncomfortable bed, the flights, the missed flights, another uncomfortable bed and a stilted drive home due to an extremely necessary but totally draining relationship implosion with a fellow traveler.

When I got my bearings, my 40th birthday was just over the next horizon. There is nothing vague about my memory of Dieciséis de Junio last year. I spent hours upon hours in the nurturing presence of a lovely soul...traveling again but this time more centered and balanced. I was surrounded by love, laughter, great food, drink, sauna, art, creativity and quirkiness in the US capital of Quirky.

It is almost a year later. When I came home from that trip, I journaled quite a bit. I knew I wanted more of something...some essence that I couldn't quite capture in lists of "what I want"...and there were many many attempts. That essence was simply more of what I had on those two trips combined.

Great Food & Drink.

Sprinkle in some thunder storms, daily yoga, getting outdoors. Art...both creating and enjoying. Meditation and quiet. Beach. Squirrels.

It is almost three months since my world crashed. The entire thing. Where I live. Where I work. How I parent. Where I parent from. What I drive. Who I trust. Where I sleep. Where my money comes from. Who I am, basically.

Truly? Right now I have the time and the space and the exact environment that is listed in all of my above "wants."

Danielle LaPorte said it best: Here’s what happens when you find evidence of dreams come true in your current reality (even if it’s a stretch to do so)
: you take the neediness vibe out of your aspirations, and when you’re less desperate you think more clearly and act more calmly
: you muster up gratitude (and gratitude is a form of empowerment)
: you might realize that you’re further along than you’ve been giving yourself credit for (hello confidence!)

It's time to take the neediness vibe out and call on courage, gratitude and confidence.

What a relief...a permission slip to joy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day Seven of Beauty: Serendipity.

♥There is something lovely and healing and poetic about such a time of struggle and strain in my life becoming THE THING that connected me by heartstrings to others.

♥Meditating. Focusing. Then accomplishing TONS of administrative calls back to back...with every answer being EXACTLY what I had hoped to hear. Manifested.

♥Leopard toenails that make me smile each time they catch my eye...and my momma's sometimes it's hers that catch my eye and make me smile.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day Seven of Beauty: best Best BEST EVER!

♥Furminator. Best. Purchase. EVER! (Thank you EBay for having it super cheap...and for addressing it to the dog)

♥How I Met Your Mother. Best. TV show. EVER! (Thank you Netflix for 136 episodes live streaming)

♥Mucinex. Best. Breathing. EVER! (yeah, no thanks here...although it had great effects, it tasted horrible and made me crazy wonky...but, breathing! yay!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day Six of Beauty: Love, Sleep and Breaking Bread

I'm having trouble keeping up this time. It's there...I feel it...I just have to focus a little harder sometimes.

♥Slight bright vandalism with a positive message.

♥Slowing down...including a nap.

♥Spaghetti dinner that took 20 years to accomplish.