Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Chapter of 2010

At the start of this year, I felt like “story” was to be the theme.

2009 was the year of “unexpected surprises”. All of 2009 echoed that motif and when it was time to flip the calendar, I was excited about the story that would be told in 2010. I should have known that the story would read far different than I anticipated and would be filled with twists that I didn’t see coming.

There were unpredicted turns in all areas of my life.

I spent two-thirds of the year unemployed and survived on my savings. I writhed in uncertainty and floundered with little direction. There were speed bumps and U-turns and detours that kept my head spinning and my heart mangled. There are many pages that could have been written differently and many days that could have been lived better. My goals went M.I.A as my decisions were paralyzed. I waited, as if some unidentified shooting star would give me a clue. What I “should” do wrestled with what I really want for my life. Desire vs. Reality smack-down.

I traveled more this year than I have in any 12 months, ever. From the beaches of Key West to the shores of Whidbey Island, I saw the beauty of this great land from coast to coast. There’s something about experiencing the diversity of values and lifestyles and accents of different regions that filled me with a new sense of pride in my country and appreciation for life.

The story of 2010 wasn’t a best selling thriller but never the less, I learned that when my expectation does not get the desired result, it is what I choose that creates the turning point which allows the story to take off in a new way.

I uncovered new dimensions in my own character and polarizing people and even a triangle of love. After all, a good story involves love being pulled in multiple directions. Story is about choices. In 2010 I made some good ones and some not so good ones. Story is fraught with crisis. There was plenty of inner conflict and interpersonal conflict and conflict of physical and financial limitations.

But the magic of story that gripped me in 2010 is the contrast of what happens outwardly, on the surface, the seen parts of life verses what is happening on the inside, the feelings, thoughts and truth that lie underneath what is seen. There is always something else going on. Nothing is as it seems.

Knowing there is more than what I can see in any given situation is the hope that pushes me into 2011. 
The story isn’t over but the next act sure is in need of a miracle.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cheer

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Love Rewards The Brave

Truism courtesy of Danielle Laporte

I love that thought.

What does it really mean to be brave?

It means sending an email or a text message when I’m uncertain of how it will be received.

It means asking an uncomfortable question that might be returned with a flippant response.

It means openly responding from a fragile place when I want to protect my heart.

It means taking a risk when the past tries to make me believe the future will be no different. 

It means offering kindness when my trust has been betrayed.

It means not giving up when that would be the easiest and logical thing to do.

The rewards of love often are not as we expect.

Silence may be the only response to a brave text or email.

Ridicule may punctuate the response to an uncomfortable question.

Disconnection may close the open conversation.

The future may, in fact, repeat the past.

Another wound may crush the gesture of kindness.

Loneliness may be the only companion of sticking with it.

Being brave does not guarantee benefits on our terms.

The prize may indeed be gained by getting what we want
The riches of love may lie in the strength of character that courage has created.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Epic Expedition: The Home Stretch

The 4Runner wagon train pointed westward once again as the sun came up over Colorado on Day 14. 

A pit stop at The Great Salt Lake marked halfway for that day. 

Driving west from Salt Lake City, we traversed 100 miles of desolation. It was flat and literally possessed no life. Not one animal, tree, town, tumbleweed, bird, or bush could be seen for miles. Interestingly, mountains in the distance bordered the desert but leading up to those mountains was nothing. It was the most intriguing terrain that we had driven through so far. In west Texas, New Mexico, parts of Colorado and even east Utah, the desolate spots still had sage brush and prairie grass, birds and prairie dogs, but this was a different kind of desert; completely lifeless.

Every town in Nevada that's big enough to have a gas station and hotel was dotted with casinos, some of which were sun bleached and had seen better days. In Nevada, the sun beats down on all who take a risk whether big or small; but it sets with a spectacle to rival blinking lights and ringing slot machines. 

Crossing into California, we took another lakeside detour. Lake Tahoe was well worth roving 45 minutes off course.

 The skies were filled with sunshine for 2 weeks and 2/3 of the states we passed through. Then, northern California spoke up and reminded us that we were nearing the Pacific Northwest. It rained for the next five days.

Redding, California is home to the sundial bridge. A unique sight to see but slippery when wet.

Up, over Mt. Shasta, we dropped into Oregon, driving from south to north.

Then, Portland and on to Seattle.

Finally, to Whidbey Island.

Of all the diversity that is offered by these United States, the final destination of this trip brought the pay-off.

The grandeur of jagged peaks rising from sea level is breathtaking.

Sitting on the peaceful shores of this island, I could let time pass without a care. 
The beauty is that enchanting.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Epic Expedition: In The Middle

They say everything is bigger in Texas. I’m not sure if that’s true but I can tell you that we covered some serious mileage in that state. After spending a day and a half in the Dallas – Fort Worth area it was time to brave the desolation of west Texas. There’s not much to look at but miles of dry open space with a few cotton and hay fields for good measure. 

Amarillo was nice enough to welcome us by late afternoon. The famed Big Texan Steak Ranch was on our list of roadside stops. If you can eat the 72 oz. steak dinner in one hour, it’s free. As much as I like a free meal, that one just wasn’t worth the digestive cost.

After driving 712 miles through the state of Texas alone, we crossed into The Land of Enchantment as the sun was sinking. I do believe those are bullet holes in the welcome sign. New Mexico isn’t very enchanting to me but what do I know?   

Next up, Colorado - and a weeklong pause. Taking the southern route from Raton, NM, we stopped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

The wheels stopped rolling while we stayed at Leah’s parents home. The Parker ranch sits at the base of Grand Mesa, in Cedaredge Colorado. This sleepy town holds the paradox of being so far from my current life and yet it’s still so much a part of who I am. This valley and the surrounding mountains are branded on me.

Autumn in the Rockies is like the grand finale of fireworks on the 4th of July. The month of October is when the hills explode in 3-D color. The rugged peaks slide into winter with a dazzling display. Gold, red, orange, and brown are woven like ribbons among the evergreens.

Hiking the largest flat-topped mountain in the world was an afternoon delight.

360 degrees of breathtaking views filled each morning and evening.

With that, our stay in colorful Colorado has come to an end. The last leg of this journey is straight ahead.