Tag Archives: Travel

The Eye (or Camera) of the Beholder

canstockphoto35817083A few weeks ago we visited the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum that had a night art installation by Bruce Munro – lots of light, a little weird music, and a great deal of walking. Throw in the S’more kits being sold around a fire and it was a lovely evening. We walked along dark pathways from sight to sight, under a clear, starry sky.

Light pollution often obscures the sky in our neighborhood, so I took the opportunity to point out some constellations to my daughter. We had to keep finding dark areas to stand in because beyond the actual Munro installations, people were walking around with their phones out, taking pictures of the art.

It’s in my nature to push back against cultural trends and this one, of taking pictures in a “Kilroy was here” sort of way sends my brain off into incoherent, spluttering rants. We noticed this as we traveled the west coast last year. We’d be standing in front of some sight, an animal at a zoo, a zen garden, a perfect view of the ocean and someone would walk up, take a picture , and walk away. I wanted to yell “Have the #$%@ experience – put your phone down!”

canstockphoto19466486Part of this is my particular way of taking in an experience. I can stand for an hour in one spot just watching waves, reading informational plaques and observing people coming and going. My family moves a little faster, so I’ve gotten in the habit of breaking off on my own, finding a bench or a space where no one else is and becoming a rock. Museums are a challenge. I find some work I like and I just want to sit there for a long while, so when I go, it’s more likely to be alone.

I have friends and family who seem nearly maniacal in their picture-taking. One relative has forever earned my enmity for snapping photos of me in the hospital after I had my daughter. I was in for a long stay due to a complicated delivery and having bad reactions to pain meds. After vomiting most of the day and being poked with needles (apparently I only have one workable, ever-elusive vein). Click. Click. My husband had to keep me from ripping out the tubes and strangling her.

A friend explained to me that taking photos was how she processed experiences. As a writer, this is an approach that I can understand. The world makes more sense to me through words than any other way. But there is a compulsiveness with cameras and I see it around me every time I go out in public.

It would seem that the primary purpose of taking a picture is to capture a memory, or at least the shadow of one, so that at a later point in time, one can be reminded of an experience. What if you didn’t actually have the experience? You were there, but not present. You saw something, but you really didn’t pay any attention to it. Then the picture becomes about something else entirely. Bragging rights, a need for validation (look at me, I do stuff and have been places) and the possibility of likes.

There is also the aspect of skill. Very few of my photos are particularly good. When we travel now, I buy postcards, appreciating that someone with more skill and better equipment has already gotten the job done.

canstockphoto40253681Standing on the hotel balcony in Fort Bragg, California looking out at the Pacific Ocean, I pulled out my binoculars and scanned the horizon. Spouts of water! I looked again – more spouting and then I started to see them, dark figures coming out of the water and then retreating. An unusual time of year, but we had lucked upon a pod of whales.

If I had taken pictures, they’d be little more than vague shots of a horizon. But at the very least I would look at them and remember the excitement of yelling for my husband and daughter to come and look. I would remember the chill air and the sound of the waves. I would remember watching until the sun went down and then early in the morning, searching the horizon and finding the pod again, only a little farther north. The thrill of discovery and the awe of nature.

Many years ago we made a 13 state road trip out to the Grand Canyon and back. We saw and did a lot. While staying in Flagstaff, we drove out to Sunset Crater and did some hiking. It was a beautiful day and we hiked through the remains of craters, on paths of hardened lava, passing by a cornucopia of wildflowers and plant life. It was a really good day. I have a couple of pictures, but I have even better memories.

A day later we took a bus tour to the Grand Canyon, since we didn’t have much time before we had to head back to Mcanstockphoto3482788innesota. It ended up being a stop, take photos, get back on a bus. I have some photos and very few memories. Absolute worst way to see anything. My daughter, who was seven at the time, remembers Sunset Crater and getting to eat sugary cereal at the hotel. No memory of the Grand Canyon whatsoever.

To me, it says a little about how our brains work. When we integrate and absorb and move in the places we visit, pictures are just tickler files for memories. But it’s gotten to the point where the act of taking the picture is the memory and has nothing to do with content or context.

canstockphoto10299946I know there is no point in railing against this cultural idiosyncrasy. It’s here to stay. I just wonder how it impacts our ability to process the fully dimensional world and what that means for the human brain. My experience tells me that nothing conveys a moment better than a memory absorbed and breathed and lived.

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Stories from the Road: The Search for Narrative

After a vacation in Montana, I’ve returned home, a head full of unorganized thoughts and a vague sense that I’m on the right path again. For months, I’ve been languishing in a purgatory of writer impotence and flailing about for some sense of purpose.

canstockphoto4003992We took the Amtrak train from St. Paul to Glacier National Park, staying in a century-old lodge with few amenities and scant Wi-fi. We paid for a view and a convenient walk from the train station. Following our arrival, we spent our days hiking and horseback riding and our evenings playing board games.

The Glacier Park Lodge is an attempt to hold onto and faintly mimic a complicated history of land and people. Displays of old photos, both in the lodge and at the railway station reflect a pride in that history. They didn’t tell the whole story.

Sometimes I get told that I have a negative perspective, but I have learned to deflect this purported insult. It intends to shut me up, but nearly always fails. This trip reminded me of one the reasons I’m a writer. I always have questions and I’m always in search of a true narrative.

I couldn’t look at photos of railway executives and Blackfoot Indians and not wonder about the dynamics of those relationships. There were pictures of Indians performing ceremonies on the lodge’s lawn for upper-middle class white families in the 1920s. Not a half century earlier, the US Army, led by a drunken major, killed 173 Blackfoot women, children and elderly men in the worst Indian massacre in Montana history, about 70 miles away.

This idea that we should just embrace the positive rankles me. It seems endemic to the contemptuous schooling of conquering nations. Human history is populated by millions of stories and many of them are not happy ones. It is sometimes said, to pompously quote Churchill, that “History is written by the victors.” I grew up with those magical history books of American history and was disappointed to see in my daughter’s lessons, that not much has changed, except a sprinkling in of a few minority figures.

While on vacation, I finished reading Weep Not, Child by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan writer. The novel is about a Kikuyu family decimated by the attempts to overthrow Britain’s colonial rule and regain native lands in the 1960s. The hope we humans cling to, sometimes blinds us to the reality, both as victims and perpetrators of atrocity. I was struck by these sentences from the book: “He would reduce everything to his will. That was the settler’s way.”

It isn’t white guilt or a need to revel in misery that appeals. It is painting a whole picture. It is avoiding simplistic thinking of good and evil. It’s recognizing the immense suffering expansionism, colonialism and war can cause. It’s understanding that human relations are complex, mired in personal ambition, revenge, fear, greed, as well as noble intention and bravery.

In the railway station, a native American man bent down looking at the photos on display. I watched him, this giant covered in tattoos. Part of me expected him to rise up, angry and disgusted. Instead, he said quietly to the older woman next to him, “They took down his picture. See? They put that one up instead.” Oh, how I wanted to ask him so many questions, but the softness and sadness in his voice prevented me from intruding. The story began writing itself.

As I watched the North Dakota and Montana plains roll by from the train window, I was reminded of my own story. I remember traveling as a kid, watching the endless miles slide by from the backseat of a Buick. My eyes would follow the power lines as they rose and fell. I’d rest my head against the window, drifting off to sleep with the comforting thump-thump of the road beneath us.

I was a born observer. And every observation is only a few minutes from a surrounding narrative, my mind filling in the details. I often go to sleep in the middle of a story, which may explain why the ending of my novel eludes me.

Being an observer means that the natural world is a feast. Initially, I was disappointed at Glacier. It’s early in the season, the lake waters are cold, flowers aren’t in full bloom and the animal youngsters have yet to be born. I felt this hunger, getting up at the crack of dawn with my binoculars, searching for birds or deer, anything to fill the landscape’s narrative.

canstockphoto25706984I waited and I searched. Bear spottings are down this year, one of the guides told us. Another swore he’d seen several on the bank of Two Medicine Lake. Instead, we were discovered by very insistent and entertaining Columbian ground squirrels at a picnic table by the lake. They knew their audience.

canstockphoto15014062On the second day of early morning watching, I was rewarded with a couple of Black-billed Magpies who, despite being members of the crow family, were not happy with the crows that came near their nest. I got a version of an aerial show, magpies v. crows. I’m happy to say the magpies won and I watched for them each morning.

I looked everywhere for stories and I found them. So often we get mired in the day-to-day that we forget our nature. Mine is that of an observer and storyteller. It’s a lovely thing to go away on vacation and to come back to one’s self.

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Filed under Creativity, Nature, Personal, Stories from the Road, Writing

Stories from the Road: There’s Something About Larry…

canstockphoto0438807After a two week road trip around the Great Lakes, I’m making a quiet re-entry into the blogging world – homeward bound in more ways than one.

My family and I take different vacations together. I’m often up at the crack of dawn hitting the hotel fitness room or fumbling about in the dark making coffee or off on a walkabout. They sleep in unscheduled bliss. I love them and I love my mornings alone.

In Mackinaw City, Michigan, I wandered down the street near our hotel on Lake Huron, finding a locally sourced, organic coffee shop (I jest – it was a Starbucks). After ordering a luxurious, high maintenance coffee, I headed down to the pier. The concrete promenade was empty, save for the gulls swooping and diving along the shore and the occasional blare from a boat horn.

The footsteps behind me were soft and unhurried. Quiet morning, isn’t it? he said. My jaw tightened in anticipation of unwanted conversation. Or worse, some other intrusive maneuver that might require a ninja smack down. I needed coffee first.

I turned to see an elderly man wearing a Navy cap with veterans’ pins attached to it. He smiled pleasantly and I exhaled. I have a soft spot for old men, especially when they remind me of my grandpa. More often than not, they have stories and have never lost the art of conversation. We joked about being early birds. He commented that he rarely saw “young people” out at this hour.

His wife died five years back and he had been ‘adopted’ by family friends. They took him on trips and outings. It’d been nearly 30 years since he’d visited Mackinaw City. He was a retired machinist, after 38 years of working for General Motors in Flint, Michigan. Like me, he joined the military right out of high school because he didn’t have a plan. He loved to take things apart and tinker with them, which led to a job and eventual career working for GM.

He pointed to the Mackinac Bridge, remembering aloud when his parents crossed by ferry in the late 1940s, having waited for hours in their vehicle. With awe in his voice, he said “It’s really a wondrous thing.” We had driven it the day before, during high wind warnings and thought it was wondrous we had survived.

He talked about his strange career path and interest in learning more. In his 40s, GM decided to send him to a engine manufacturing plant in Australia for a couple of weeks. “Who would have ever thought that something like that could happen to a guy like me?” He shook his head in wonder.

At the age of 83, he took community college courses and chuckled about what a challenge it was, but he said he wanted to keep learning new things to fend off dementia. It seemed to have been working pretty well so far – he was a little sharper than I at that hour.

By the way, my name is Larry. We shook hands, as I introduced myself. As we strolled along the railed walk, we talked about curiosity and learning and how it makes all the difference in a person’s life. He laughed and said “You know, I look at this old mug in the mirror every morning and I wonder how I became him. I feel the same as I always have.”

I joked about my impending birthday and how every day some new ailment seemed to crop up. I told him how my husband and I were just talking about this very thing – how the road out of this life is made up of moments in between aches and pains. He nodded in agreement. “It’s the moments that count.”

We parted ways with good wishes for the rest of our journeys. At night, I slept through forgettable dreams, waking with a sense of loss. I missed my grandfather all over again. He was a man who understood that life was about the moments and the stories and the chance encounters with fellow travelers.

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“OMG I’m getting mugged NLMAO”: Moving Mindfully

This is the 3rd in a series of essays on the importance of self-defense and physical power. I am not an expert on self-defense, nor a physical fitness guru. I do not condone violence, but advocate taking whatever action or inaction is needed to survive potentially dangerous situations. Not every situation is defensible through physical force.

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Today’s post will be an exercise in the obvious for most people. Be aware of your surroundings and be able to move. This means moving mindfully and being ready to react.

Look Ma, No Hands! Or Eyes!

There is no question we are a distracted bunch of humans. Just doing a preliminary search on the internet under the terms “mugging and texting” brought up a spate of news stories around the country. This guy barely noticed that a large bear was heading his direction, and would not have been in a position to defend himself against a human assailant. This is a pretty obvious tip – watch where you are going. If you can’t see a potential attack, you can’t prevent or avoid it.

Technology is addictive – I find myself checking my phone at random times, barely even realizing that I’m doing it. I decided to draw a line in the sand. When I’m on the move, out in the open, unprotected – phone calls, emails and texts can wait. Not only will I be aware, but I’m not giving a would-be thief additional incentive of an easily attainable phone.

Pack Mule or Cheetah?

From the time I was a Girl Scout through time in the military, “be prepared” was emphasized. My backpack contained a full first aid kit, umbrella, books and notebooks in case I had free time, workout gear for over the lunch hour and gadgets aplenty. I was a walking FEMA preparedness trailer, without the actual trailer. Then there was the purse. If I made any purchases, there would be additional bags. Don’t even mention the 50,000 lbs of college textbooks.

Years later, after the birth of my daughter, there was the diaper bag, the stroller, the travel playpen, a bag of toys. Not to mention the helpless, wiggling child. My hands were full and I was completely hobbled. My defense at that moment would have been the fact that an assailant wouldn’t be able to move me and my entourage from Point A to Point B without a posse.

Travel light. Less to steal, less to slow you down. Take 15 minutes. Dump out the contents of your purse, laptop bag, back pack, diaper bag onto the table or counter. What have you NOT used in the last month? Repack your bag leaving those items out.

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag…and Possibly Shoes

Look at your travel container. Is it necessary or would something smaller be sufficient? I have a personal bias against purses – they seem highly inefficient, distracting, over-packed and incapacitating. Some require that one hand will never be free or that you will walk lopsidedly trying to keep it on your shoulder. Some provide long straps that can be utilized as a weapon against you.

I travel with a small backpack and don’t pack anything in the outside pocket that thieves could easily remove. My hands are free. I leave all unnecessary items at home. Purchases are in one hand and can be easily dropped in the event of attack and/or pursuit.

Shoes. I don’t wear shoes I can’t run in, but that, again, is a personal preference. If you’re going to insist on traveling in flip-flops or heels or other faux footwear, be able to get them off fast or make adjustments so that you can.

Other miscellaneous distractions. Bras and underwear. Seriously! If you have to keep pulling up the straps or fidgeting with yourself, upgrade. Fidgeting is distracting for you, brings unwanted attention and impacts your posture and confidence. Money clips and wads of cash. Really? You just made yourself a target at that last store or restaurant you visited. No one’s impressed except for thieves. Use small amounts of accessible cash. Jewelry. Never mind the attraction of would-be thieves, dangly jewelry can impede escape and get caught by grabbing hands, causing pain and distraction at a time when you need to focus on defense.

This Thing’s Got Wheels

Two wheels. I cycle to the Y for workouts and have seen firsthand the aggressive nature of drivers in vehicles. In addition to cases where the driver of the vehicle was not paying attention or refusing to engage in basic safety by giving the cyclist room, there have been criminal attacks on cyclists as well. In all cases, the number one rule of cycling self-defense is that helmet. In terms of crime and accident prevention, the best tip I’ve seen yet, besides circumstances of travel (time of day and route), is to attach a horn that mimics car horns – loud and unmistakable.

Four wheels. When we bought our most recent car, the remote key would unlock all four doors. This is convenient when traveling with family, but most of my driving is done solo. I took the car into the dealer and had them change the settings so that only the driver’s door would unlock. It means one more step when we travel as a family, but much more secure when I’m alone.

Notice who or what is parked next to your vehicle. The common warning is about the van parked next to your driver’s side. I’ve never had this happen, but I’ve very wary in parking lots. I park farther away if only to give myself a clear visual vantage point of not being surrounded by other vehicles. I scan constantly en route and interrupt grocery loading by frequently looking around.

The idea that we’re going to jump into our cars and tear out of the parking lot often doesn’t happen. Lock your doors once you’re in. Check your mirrors. Take care of business quickly and get on your way.

Be Aware.

Lighten Up.

Be Able to Move Quickly.

Use Your Imagination: If you travel regular routes in the course of going to work or school, or running errands, imagine where criminals could attack. Where could you run? Would you be able to move quickly, dressed as you are or carrying what you normally carry? If you haven’t imagined what it would be like to be attacked, start now. A criminal can and has imagined it. You will react more quickly if you have mentally run through possible scenarios.

 

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You Were One of Them, Once

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I try very hard to not use this blog as a vehicle for pointless ranting, but on occasion, I just have to get it out. Today I read that some airlines are now having child-free seating. I have high hopes for asshole-free seating, but the screening process may be too subjective. I’m fed up with people complaining about everything under the sun, but the vitriolic rants unleashed about children and parents alike are getting out of hand.

I don’t have a natural affinity for kids. I’ll be honest. I’m fond of quiet environments. I don’t like my seat being kicked or finding stray boogers attached to arm rests. But, holy shit, when did our intolerance for humankind become so high that we now need to travel in our own little bubbles?

I don’t think my little darling is the center of the universe (mine perhaps, but not everyone else’s). When she was a toddler, I had to swiftly escort her from a grocery store when she had a temper tantrum. Of course, I did not escape without being glared at – it was humiliating.  Parenting is hard, but apparently being a spectator is even worse. And please don’t regale me with bullshit tales about how your parents beat you into submission or silenced you with a glance. And that you never acted up or were tired or hungry or scared. You need to sit in the memory-free section, apparently.

Intolerance has reached an all-time high in our society, where people are allowed to sue and rail against and be indignant about and indulged over every petty little irritant, all while living in their annoying and hypocritical glass houses, yakking on their cell phones and snipping their toenail clippings off in every direction. Humans are annoying. Little humans are annoying, too – they’re just slightly more ignorant about that fact.

Kids aren’t for everyone. I get it. But neither are crabby old people and boorish salesmen and perfume-y blabbers or depressed slackers who smell like smoke or uptight business people attached to their umbilical cords of technology and miniature booze bottles. Everyone likes to think that they are models of decorum, even if they whistle when they breathe, crack their knuckles, shake their leg nervously, expel heavy sighs every two minutes or have to get up to pee every five. Loud people, smelly people, cranky people, lonely people – which are you today and why should I put up with it?

I’ll tell you why. Because none of us are any more special than the other. We’re humans. I am a naturally irritable person and I have a low sensory tolerance for all kinds of shit. But is that your problem? Are your behaviors any less legitimate than my pissiness? It’s on me to cultivate compassion and tolerance. It is my responsibility. What someone else does, unless it endangers my safety, is a gift, an everyday challenge to my abilities to be tolerant, to not rage, to not believe that my space and time should be an inviolate temperature-controlled soundproof buffer zone at all times.

There’s a lot of people on this planet. Airlines are doing their best to keep a flailing industry aloft by screwing over their economy passengers with miniscule seat space and a passenger starvation plan. I get claustrophobic just looking at the picture of airline seats. I’m pretty sure as kids, most of us weren’t shoved elbows to ass into a tin can and asked to respect each others’ space/privacy/knees jammed into the back of the seat.

They’re creating box seats for the corporate elite and are growing a segregated seating system. Does anybody remember sucking secondhand smoke during an entire flight? With how many more irritations will we feed airlines’ sagging bottom lines? They are doing their damnedest to turn us all into intolerant jerks. I want, I deserve, you have no right to, you shouldn’t… It reminds me of Dr. Doolittle’s Pushmi-pullyu with decency stuck squarely in the middle. This sense of entitlement to a pristine environment is a losing game on a planet with 7+ billion people.

We’re getting ready to take our daughter on her first airline flight this next year. The intolerant better hope they don’t end up sitting next to me. They’ll wish they’d purchased a ticket in the snore and vomit-free seating section.

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Filed under Humor, In the News, Parenting

Tea with Miss Marple

canstockphoto1542595When I was younger, I had big ideas about travel and the jet set life I would lead. My family never traveled much when I was a child, with the exception of my mother going back to England on occasion. My travel dreams started in books, where I could read about different places and times and people. When I joined the Army, I began to meet people from all walks of life and then I was stationed in Germany (West, at the time) for a couple of years, where I traveled to other European countries.

After the Army, I returned to the midwest to attend college and to get my bearings. I was still single, struggling to juggle jobs and school and some self-destructive habits/boyfriends. I would hear about my Army buddies – one worked for a while at the Pentagon, another became a diplomat, many went into law enforcement. Their lives sounded exciting – they traveled and interacted with important people or had important jobs. I felt envy and a little shame that I weren’t more ambitious or adventurous.

In truth, I’ve always been a homebody and it showed when I traveled. I liked to observe and was never happier in my travels than when I could find a good cup of tea or coffee and a park bench. I like to watch people – how they interact, how they laugh, how their self-consciousness showed or didn’t. I’ve never wanted to climb to the peak of a mountain or eat raw, squiggly things off a piece of bark. I’ve never wanted to meet movie stars or have front row seats or backstage passes. I like to go places and sit very still, unobserved and undisturbed.

One of my favorite story characters is Miss Jane Marple, written into life by Agatha Christie. Miss Marple is an elderly woman with a keen sense of observation and the ability to see the larger picture by being well-versed in all the workings of her little village, St. Mary Mead. She spends much of her time (even while vacationing in the Caribbean) sitting and knitting while she watches the world go by. Because human nature is universal, she is a sharp and skilled detective because she knows people and their behaviors. Her world appears small, but because it interests and excites her, she has a view to the world at large.

We have a small suburban yard, but it’s an entire ecosystem. We don’t use any chemicals,  so our gardens attract all manner of creatures. We have stacks of books that identify beetles and butterflies and bees and we rush excitedly to grab the guides whenever something new shows up. It thrills me when I hear my daughter excitedly say “Mom, there’s a hawk on the fence”  and she runs to grab our bird books.  The world is in our yard – life, death, pestilence and amazing examples of survival. But it’s only there for us because we are interested and curious.

I love this idea that openness and curiosity means that there are adventures, stories of interest and new things to learn around every corner, no matter where you are. I am not as good about people, since, in day-to-day life, staring at them is considered rude and there are very few good guide books. I can find an occasional park bench, but in city life, the park bench is one’s willingness to make and to listen to small talk – in the grocery store, on a bus, out in the yard as neighbors walk by. This park bench requires listening while shutting off judgment and opinions. It is staying open to another human’s experience of the world.

My envy of others’ adventures has morphed into an understanding that we are not all the same kind of travelers in this world. And we are not always the same kind of traveler throughout our lives. Sometimes our adventures happen right at home – a new career, raising children, retiring, learning a new hobby or language, stepping outside our comfort zones. For now, I have all the adventure I can handle. I am content, for the moment, to sit back in my armchair with a good cup of tea and take in the world. No knitting required.

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Filed under Blogging, Humor, Personal, Writing

How to Pack When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was Nellie Bly, Reporter by Nina Brown Baker. It told the true story of Elizabeth Cochrane, a pioneering female journalist who wrote under the pseudonym Nellie Bly. In 1889, she presented the idea to her editors to take a trip around the world, attempting to make Jules Vernes’ Around the World in Eighty Days a reality.

She took with her a sturdy dress made especially for constant wear, a coat, some underwear, a bag of toiletries and required currency. 72 days later, after transportation debacles, storms on the high seas and the purchase of a monkey named McGinty, she completed her journey and was celebrated throughout the nation. She had packed light, but with the idea that she would be traveling in all conditions of weather, on all manner of transportation, and that she would encounter unforeseen circumstances.

I am beginning a journey of my own. Today I decided to leave my job of almost 12 years, submitting a letter of resignation. My end date is a few months out to ensure a smooth transition. It was a difficult decision to make. I like my employers and for a long time, I really liked my job.

I have often described myself in terms of what I have been paid to do: soldier, library manager, program coordinator, administrative assistant, business manager – always excited when I had the next new business card in hand. I have worked all of my adult life, sometimes juggling multiple jobs, doing what I needed to do to support myself. I never saw beyond the next promotion, the next pay raise, or the next new project I would undertake.

I took on other titles along the way: wife, mom, caregiver, volunteer. I stopped thinking beyond the next meal, the next house chore, the next scheduled lesson. My juggling act of work and family started to falter. Balls were dropped. I felt trapped, angry and a tad rebellious.

I started writing again after a long hiatus. I started blogging. I got a tattoo. I began to unravel and it felt like everything was falling away. I let go of perfectionism and being the “good” anything. I stopped telling people I was a business manager. I stopped telling people stories about my kid. I stopped knowing what I was doing.

I know now. I want to pursue a writing career. I don’t know if I have the talent or the discipline to embrace the dream of my five-year-old self. I have fortunate circumstances that allow me to find out. Initially, I was embarrassed that I have a choice, because I was always the poor kid who never stopped wanting. Good fortune doesn’t really register. But it has occurred to me that I should be more ashamed that I would waste such an opportunity.

Without my family and their support, I may have continued to hold on tightly to habitual security. I would have struggled to overcome my apathetic malaise, reapplied my efforts to being a good employee and a “good” everything else, until the next dip in the roller coaster.

I think it’s finally too late, though. I’ve gone off the rails. I hear echoes of the future and like sirens on the rocks, they only call me forward. I have packed lightly for the journey, with faith in myself, trust that everything will be okay, and a little bit of middle aged moxie. I hope I get to where I’m going – before I run out of clean underwear.

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