Dear Humanity

Dear humanity, I’m categorically done with you.

When being a parent means you can’t be a friend because you “don’t want to confuse things”, then I clearly don’t understand friendship. Or parenting for that matter.

When making plans with a friend means you don’t actually have to show up, then I have been doing this friendship thing wrong all these years. When I was tired and didn’t want to show up, I guess it was ok not to. With no explanation.

When your word means nothing. When you hide behind social media, and your tiny little touch screen. When it’s ok to say whatever you want and act however you want because you are protected by the anonymity of a digital device… and people are expendable. And they aren’t even human to you… I just can’t. I’m going to the mountains and I’m not coming back.

When you present this amazing, loving, socially aware presence to the public, but can’t even answer the message from a friend who desperately needs your help, or your loving presence, or your listening ear, or just the grace to let them know they matter to you… Done.

What is wrong with us? Since when does it confuse our children to be friends with someone? Maybe we should rethink what we are teaching our children about friendship. We probably wouldn’t be as sad and lonely. Since when is it ok to leave a friend sitting eating chips and salsa for an hour and a half because you “fell asleep” and forgot? Maybe we should remember what it looks like to be responsible. We would probably have more meaningful friendships. The deep, get down into the nitty gritty kind of friendships.

We live in a society of deepening anxiety and depression and we question why. We tell people to let us know if they need anything, and then ignore them when they ask. And we wonder what is happening to society and our youth.

You know what’s happening? We are. Humanity. Or the lack thereof. So you know what? I understand the people who live off the grid. Who disappear into the mountains. No-one can hurt them there. Because humanity doesn’t live there.

And it clearly doesn’t live here either.

#dearhumanity #anopenletter #whatswrongwiththeworld #anxiety #depression #socialmediaiskillingus #beafriend #behuman #beagoodhuman #rant #offthegrid #wideopenspaces

Everyone Has a Story

I bought myself some flowers yesterday. I haven’t had flowers in a very long time. My parents used to send me flowers every year on my birthday. And this year, I didn’t get flowers. Last year, I didn’t get flowers. And I realized yesterday, as I took myself on a date to the farmers market, that I deserve some flowers and it’s ok to buy them for myself.

I have been feeling kind of sorry for myself lately. See, the wheels kind of fell off my travel adventures a few weeks ago. I mean that literally and figuratively. As I rolled back in to town from Maine a little over a month ago, I had a blow out on my camper. A huge tire blowout that literally exploded up in to the camper. It looked like a bomb went off over that wheel. And then the next morning I woke up with my knee swollen up and unable to walk. A torn meniscus. I had surgery for it last week, and I don’t have my camper back yet. No wheels.

I thought maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. Tell me to slow down. Maybe tell me I need to be at home. But you know me. I’m going stir crazy. I can’t really exercise much, and going out in public is kind of limited due to fatigue and soreness. So I’ve been reading. And writing. And drawing. And coloring. Anything to help alleviate the boredom.

I’ve also been missing my Dad a lot the past week or so. Dad specifically right now. It goes back and forth, but he’s been on my mind. During one of my bouts of boredom I was cleaning out a drawer and found a few pictures of us together and that triggered it. But then on Thursday I was surrounded by a group of female friends who came to my house. And I realized that I was being wrapped in a cocoon of other women who have lost their Dads too young as well. Sarah, Emily, Leslie, Morgan. All were at my house Thursday. Then on Friday, out of the blue I had texts from Laura and Toni. Both dear friends. Both no longer have their Dads either.

I have been studying mindfulness lately and one big teaching, one thing that helps to get you out of your own head, is to remember that all over the world there are many, many people who are feeling the exact same thing you are feeling at the exact same time. You are not alone. You aren’t even unique in your suffering. And when you start to allow yourself to feel that compassion and loving kindness towards other people who are feeling the same pain you are feeling, you no longer focus solely on yourself. And it’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you are focusing on others.

Thank you ladies for being a part of my story.

#everyonehasastory #fathersanddaughters #mindfulness #buyyourselfflowers #grief #loss #friendship #nowheels

Girl You Look Amazing

These are some of my people. My girls. My gym partners. My tribe. All strong women. All beautiful women. Different sizes, shapes, skin and hair color. And we all carry our individual insecurities with us daily. Demons we fight hard to overcome. Things we share with each other because when we speak about the “shameful” things, they lose their power.

Something has been bothering me for about a week and I finally decided to write about it. This doesn’t have anything to do with travel. But since I’ve been grounded the past couple of weeks with a knee injury, and since my last blog was about my history of body insecurity and past body shaming, I felt this was worth sharing.

For the past 2 weeks I have been seeing a sports medicine doctor about my knee. Sports medicine….let that sink in for a minute while you think about athletes. And how they come in all shapes and sizes. How they are all fit and active, but are hard to fit in to a neat box of how much they should weigh simply based on their height. And how this sports medicine practice sees athletes ALL DAY LONG.

After my first visit and before my follow up I received an email with some questions I needed to answer for my next appointment. Age, whether I drink, whether I smoke, etc. But then I got down to the question of what did your doctor say was your height on your last visit? I answered. And you guessed it. The next question was what did your doctor say was your weight on your last visit? And here’s the kicker. It didn’t allow me to input a weight. It gave weight RANGES…and the weight range I fell in to had a variation of 27 pounds!!! My weight was the very bottom number in that range, but I had no choice but to select it. (Side note, at only 5’3″, 27 pounds is a HUGE difference!) And do you know what the very next thing was that happened after answering the weight question? It sent me information it felt I needed to read on obesity and getting my weight under control.

Obesity? Obesity? Look at these women in this photo. None of us would ever, ever be considered obese if you see us, and watch how we train. But think about the damage something like that could do by being sent blindly out in to the universe without knowing the recipient. Body shaming… it’s very real. Body image issues are very real. And the mere mention of obesity can send a strong, intelligent individual into a tail spin of anxiety and stress.

Doctors, coaches, educators…we need to do better. We need to recognize individuals and treat them as they are. We don’t need to blanket judge them based on some antiquated index that says just because you are a certain height and weight you are obese. Stop the madness already.

And in case no-one has told you today:

#bmi #fitfam #girlyoulookamazing #dobetter #bodyshamingneedstostop #crossfit #fit #functionalfitness

Love Letters Straight to Your Heart

Every great love story has to stem from heartache somewhere, so you’ll forgive me if I give you a little back story. A hundred years ago when I was first married (not really a hundred, but you know what I mean) , my then husband and I lived in Tuscaloosa. He was in Grad school and working part time at a bike/outdoor shop. He loved to camp, and at that point I did not (irony), and one day he bought me a rain jacket. An Extra Large rain jacket. That’s how he saw me, and that lead to a host of body image issues that still haven’t completely gone away, and I HATED that jacket. It was huge and hot and didn’t do a good job of keeping me dry.

We’ve been divorced now way longer than we were ever married. And I still had that rain jacket. Up until about 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago I found myself falling in love again. With life. With nature. With travel. With camping. With MYSELF. That’s right. This love story is about me finding myself. Seeing myself as I really am. And loving myself. I am not Extra Large. I am not too dumb to understand what you do for work. And I am strong and smart enough to buy a camper, fix things that go wrong, and camp all up and down the East Coast of the good old USA ALL BY MYSELF!!!

So do you know what I did when I hit Maine? When I wanted to go hiking and it was rainy and cold? I marched my butt to the LL Bean Outlet store and bought myself my own rain jacket. In a Petite Small. Because that’s what I am. Not an XL. And I was so happy with my jacket, with myself, and with my life right then, I took this picture to show everyone. I did it all myself.

This travel journey was supposed to end this week, and I am working my way back home to take on another great birthday adventure. (International!!!) But I’m not done traveling yet. I have more I want to see. More I want to fall in love with. And more getting to know myself to do. So, stay tuned. More adventures are coming. I hope you love it as much as I do.

#alovestory #loveyourself #selfcare #travel #adventure #wanderlust #hippiegirl #rvlife #camping #llbean #threedogsandablog #makingmemoriesallovertheworld

Many the Miles

I have had some crazy experiences the past few days. Maybe not crazy, but way out of the realm for me. ( Let’s be honest, this whole adventure is out of the realm for me. But that’s the old me.) Just say that the past few days have been some of my first real “oh so this is what cross country travel is like” days. Let’s talk about New York….

Have you ever driven through New York? How crazy is it? Now imagine doing that towing a camper. A camper you’ve only been towing a couple of months and are still new to. My new friend I made while I was in Maryland told me I absolutely did not want to drive through New York during the day with a camper, and that I needed to go through there around midnight. Me. Doing anything at midnight besides sleeping. Let that simmer.

But I thought about it and realized they were right, so I broke down camp in Maryland Sunday night at 9:00 and hit the road. ( Have I mentioned I don’t see that great at night?) It wasn’t terrible, but then I hit the New Jersey turnpike and started to stress. So dark. So many huge 18 wheelers. Flying. Because they do this all the time. And it started to rain just a little bit. I slowed down. Then I hit New York.

Y’all NY is crazy. You have lanes running beside lanes. If you’re in a car you go to the left. A trailer or truck, to the right. Well, what if you’re a car towing a trailer? I need you to tell me. Because I just don’t know. I slowed down more. It started raining harder. Then, the George Washington bridge. I hate a bridge.

Well, this one has 2 levels. Trucks up top, cars on the lower level. Again, which one am I? Somebody tell me. But somehow I ended up on the lower level. And it was even raining inside there. I didn’t even dare look at either side of me. I was just holding on, tears rolling down my face, trying not to throw up. At this point I was driving 40 MPH and I will never, ever yell at anyone for driving too slow on curves and stuff again. I get it sister. You do what you need to do.

Then I made it to my exit from the bridge and it was a tiny curvy lane that didn’t look like a Volkswagen would fit through it and I thought really? This is what we’re doing now? Ok. Why not. But I made it through, and made it out of the city and started to try to find a rest area to pull over and sleep for a few hours. It was 2:00 AM at this point and I was hurting. But guess what. There’s no rest areas…anywhere. (No street lights either but we won’t talk about that.)

So I found myself in Connecticut. And GPS has me going down this highway where vehicles over 8ft tall are prohibited because of short bridges. Just try and stop me because at this point I DON’T CARE. I need sleep and I have no idea how to get anywhere. And it’s still pitch dark. Finally I found an exit for Stanford. And it said there were hotels. I was about to just go pay for one for the night when I found a WalMart. The best friend of RV travelers. So I pulled in that parking lot at 3:00AM, tried to convince the pups that it was ok to go potty here, and then tried to sleep.

I woke up at 7:30 AM, and walked over to WalMart. When I walked in and saw they had a Dunkin Donuts inside, I nearly dropped to my knees and kissed the floor. Fortified with coffee, I decided I was going to drive the rest of the way to Maine that day. I only had 450 miles left to go, and I was ready to hit my destination. And I did it. And it is so spectacular it took my breath away. This time I cried happy tears. And I got here in time to see the sunset from the steps of my camper.

There’s too many sunsets I haven’t seen. You can’t waste the day wishing it’d slow down. ~ Sara Bareilles “Many the Miles”.

#travel #mainewelcomehome #adventure #wanderlust #hippiegirl #rvtravels #threedogsandablog #manythemiles #makingmemoriesallovertheworld #dinkindonuts #notwithoutcoffee #walmart

Magic and Greyhounds

Magical days. The kind of days you have when you let go of preconceptions of how the day should go, and open your arms and your heart to what is given to you in its place.

I have developed a passion for stand up paddle board (SUP) and did it every day when I was in the Keys. But the last couple of weeks, as I’ve worked my way up the East Coast, the weather hasn’t cooperated and it’s affected my mood. Yesterday, my first full day in Maryland it was supposed to be partly sunny and 78. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. I was going to SUP. I got my board out, inflated it and put it in the water. But 78 and sunny in Maryland is different than in Florida and the wind was insane. I couldn’t make any headway. So I glumly got out of the water and put my board away. A friend suggested I might need to find a new hobby for this weather and I snapped back maybe I should just go back south.

Instead I looked on TripAdvisor (bless this app) for things to do near me. I already had places planned I wanted to visit over the next 2 days, so I wanted something different. It recommended Main Street Berlin, the town where I’m staying. A cute historical street full of shopping and restaurants. It wasn’t exactly how I thought I’d spend my day but I said screw it, I’ll go.

Magic. Pure, unadulterated magic. First of all, there’s free parking. I’ve been spending time in cities where I pay a minimum of $20 just to park so I can walk around and spend more money. FREE!!! Then I stumbled in a store called Yuppy Puppy. I couldn’t help it when I saw an outline on their glass front door with a special place for nose prints. I roamed around the shop and spent a few minutes talking with the lady who works there about my travels and where I’m headed next. When I came out and turned left…..nirvana….the next shop was The Greyhound-an Indie Bookstore. I walked in and it was like walking in to the library of someone’s home, with chairs and art and books and 2 lovely ladies working. I usually am not much of a talker but the owner, Susan Wimbrow, immediately started talking to me about books, and the book she had written (which I bought, along with 4 others) and she just drew me in. She offered me a glass of wine and the 3 of us ended up sitting and sharing stories and even a few tears, for about the next half hour. They recommended a place for me to eat lunch, and Susan hugged me when I left.

My next stop was Blacksmith Bar & Restaurant, which had the best burger I have eaten in a while. They specialize in local, farm to table, and the recommendation was perfect. From there I thought I was done and would just head back to camp, but I found a place called Sisters, and walked in thinking it was just a little gift shop, but it turned out to be a wine shop with a little seating area at the back and I spent another hour chatting with more locals. (I can just feel my friends shock as they read this because they know I don’t really talk to anyone.) One lady told me about some live music that will be happening at a little place right down the street from camp, and I’ll probably check it out tonight.

All of this magic just because “the day didn’t work out like I thought it should”. Be open. Be friendly. Step out of your comfort zone. “Every adventure is worthwhile.” ~ Amelia Earhart

#mainstreetberlin #thegreyhound #blacksmithberlin #sisters #travel #adventure #wanderlust #hippiegirl #sup #makingmemoriesallovertheworld #berlinmaryland #mayallyourpainsbechampagne

Song For a Winters Night

One year ago the music stopped. My parents loved music. We always sang. Around the house. In the car. They had beautiful voices. I guess maybe we took them for granted.

The last few days of Dads life we sang to him. I sang to him. I sang songs I knew he loved. And I sang Church songs to him. I would hold his hand. I would start to think it was silly, or I would start crying, and I would stop. Then he would ever so lightly squeeze my hand. He didn’t think it was silly. He couldn’t eat. And he couldn’t drink. But he could hear me. So I kept singing. Sometimes Mom joined in. And Karen too.

A month after he passed it was Christmas. It was cold and I had bundled Mom up and we drove to Chris’s Moms house for Christmas. Neither of us was really feeling it, but as we were driving home a Sarah McLachlan song came on. Song For a Winters Night. I didn’t really know the words but I started humming along, harmonizing. The only singing I really know how to do. Mom reached out to me then and said to “me you have a really pretty voice”. I brushed it off. Emotions were raw. But it was the last compliment she would ever pay me. It would be the last time we sang. I hang on to that compliment because the dementia made her give more grief than compliments the last few months of her life.

3 months later she would go in the hospital and not come home. The last week of her life so many people came to sit with her and pay their respects. She had had a stroke at that point and didn’t know they were there. And I was so angry. I wanted them to go. I wanted her all to myself. I would crawl up in the hospital bed with her and curl around her and sing to her. Elvis. Willie. Church songs. It didn’t matter. I wanted to pull her into my lap and wrap around her and sing. I wanted to hold her like she held me when I was a Freshman in college and suffering my first heartbreak. When she held me in her lap, much too grown for that, in the rocking chair on our front porch. I wanted time to stop and everyone to go so I could hold her like she held me. And heal her broken heart from losing Dad.

A few days later she was gone. And yesterday as I was driving, 1 day shy of the 1st Anniversary of losing her, that Sarah McLachlan song came on. I generally skip over Christmas songs when it’s not Christmas. But I let it play. And I hummed along. And I mumbled the words I didn’t really know, about wishing I could have you near, and holding the hands I love. And I missed my Mom. And I missed my Dad.

Then I came back to my camper and I played The Oak Ridge Boys. And I sang the songs I knew. The songs they loved. And I imagined we were all singing and harmonizing together one more time. And I held them near, one more time.

#grief #losingyourparents #imissyoumom #imissyoudad #oneyear #musicheals #wewerecaregivers #endalz #parkinsonsdisease #christmasmusic #songforawintersnight