Tag Archives: vacation

Road Trip

mike2My brother and I that first summer at the farm.


The summer I turned 8 years old was one filled change.  Change was nothing new in my life and that summer was to be no exception.  We were in the process of moving into a new house.  I didn’t know it yet, but this was going to be a positive change for me. I would meet the family that would help me survive my childhood.

I had been introduced to my Uncle Joe and his family earlier that year and I had visited them a couple of  times that summer.  My grandmother took me for a ride and parked by a small lake in downtown Charleston.   She tried to break the news to me  that my Uncle Joe was really my father.  She was shocked to find that I remembered him and already knew he was my father.

My grandmother sent me to a girl scout  camp for a week towards the end of summer.   It wasn’t one of her better ideas. I had serious abandonment, anxiety, and fear issues.   They had to call her twice that week, because  I had an upset stomach every day and experienced night terrors.   I was already something of a misfit and that didn’t do much to help.

When Saturday morning came I was packed and ready to leave.  Grandmother put everything in the car, shut the door, and sat for a minute before telling me that we were going on a trip.   I wasn’t sure what to think as she explained that we were going to West Virginia to visit my other grandparents.  She asked if I remembered them.  I told her I didn’t.  Another moment passed and she asked if I remembered my little brother.  She went on to explain that when my parents left my brother was sent to West Virginia to live with my father’s parents.  It was a bit much for my 7 year old mind to take in.

It was a long drive. Interstates were beginning to be built, but at that time it was all 2 lane and 4 lane highways.  Road signs were the most interesting thing along the way.  The were Smokey the Bear signs were my favorite.  Along the way we also encountered the famous Burma Shave signs.  The signs were placed in groups of 5 or 6, spread apart by short distances in between.  Each sign would add another line to a somewhat silly set of rhymes with the last one reading, “Burma Shave.”  As we moved into the Blue Ridge mountains we saw signs advising drivers of falling rocks and curves in the road ahead.   We arrived in the small farm community where my grandparents lived in time for supper.  I wasn’t sure what to think of the 6 year old boy with several teeth missing, but we bonded quickly .

Over the next ten years my Grandmother and I would repeat this trip every summer.  We would wake at 5am to be sure we arrived before dark.  I sat at the small Formica top table in the kitchen and ate breakfast.  Grandmother pulled out her Bible and read verses someone had designated as ones to read before travel.  She said a prayer for our safety and off we went.  We watched for the same landmarks and signs each year.  We always ate at the same small cafeteria for lunch.  My excitement would build when we arrived in the mountains because I knew we were getting closer.

I cherished those two weeks I spent with my brother each summer .  We spent that time getting to know each other and sharing our secret thoughts about life, family, and the future.  We haven’t been able to spend as much time together as I would like since we became adults.  We talk on the phone, text, and email.  We share family pictures on facebook.   We may not have had the typical brother-sister relationship growing up, but he is my baby brother just the same.   My brother and I have talked about taking a road trip back to Flat Top, West Virginia together one day.  Maybe I should call him and start making plans for next summer.

Hey Mike—-ROAD TRIP!
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Summer Story


Summer is beginning and I was thinking back to last year.  June 2012 – I was at the beginning of some difficult changes at my job.  I knew things were going be different, but I had no idea how different.   I was excited about the beginning of summer as I always am.  I was looking forward my brother visiting from Texas.  I was planning a trip to see another brother and a special friend up north.  I was in good physical health.  I had great friends and was building some new friendships.   By the end of summer, I had resigned from my job, started the process of ending my marriage, decided to go to college, and my world was turned upside down.

I haven’t had a full time job since summer ended last year.  I am searching for a part time job and hope to have something in place in the next couple of weeks.  I want to take time this summer to play, relax, and rebuild my health after fighting upper respiratory problems since January.   I will turn 62 in August and begin collecting social security.  I will taking some online summer classes at school. I am beginning to realize that I am getting older and may need to make some life adjustments.  I have a sense that once again  summer will bring change to my life.

I am ready for some summer sun, beach time, walking barefoot, and seeing what my summer story will be like this year.
The WordCount Blogathon

So Glad To Be Home


Vacations are a strange creature.  I was so excited about an adventure aboard the train going to New York and Vermont.  I counted the weeks and then days until time to leave.  I have always loved traveling by train and I was excited to visit my brother and friend, Donna.  I must have packed and repacked 4 or 5 times.   I shared some of my adventures along the way in my blog.

I arrived at the train station early only to find out the train was delayed almost an hour.  I am not necessarily patient in these situations.  I was anxious to get on board and begin my journey.    I met a couple of folks traveling from Germany and passed the time talking with them.   I was very excited to see Washington, DC, Baltimore, Md. , and New York City, even though I wasn’t stopping in any of them for long.

My first stop to visit my brother in Pooghkeepsie, NY was so much fun.  We visited the Duchess County Fair, ate take out Thai food at the drive in movie, and walked almost 4 miles across the scenic Hudson River.  Then it was off to Vermont.  I hadn’t spent time with Donna in over 3 years so it was great to reconnect and visit as well as do some shopping in scenic Vermont.

Towards the end of the week, I started to think more about home.  I had loved the trip but I was ready to come home.    It reminded me of Thanksgiving.  You know, you plan a meal and spend hours cooking and preparing the feast, put all the food out, dig in, and sometime just after you take that second serving of dressing and sweet potato casserole, you are just ready to stop eating and retreat to the couch to relax.

When people ask about my trip, I am excited to fill them in on the details but always end with, “But I am really glad to be home. “   Home is not so much a specific place, like my house, but it is here in my community of family, friends, and familiar places.  It’s where I always go to the same hairdresser, doctor, grocery stores, restaurants, and more.  It is familiar and comfortable; it is safe.   In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy kept telling everyone, “There’s no place like home.”

I grew up here in Charleston, SC and this place has always been home for me.  I have moved away on numerous occasions.  This place holds my memories and my heart.  It has been and will always be a part of me.  But I haven’t always felt as though I had a home.  I have usually had a place to live that was my own, but so many didn’t feel like home. (Yes, there were two times in my life that I didn’t have place to live, but that is a story for another time.)  Even my house growing up didn’t feel like a home.   When I moved back here 15 years ago, I knew I had come home.  My community of family and friends has been growing continually since then.

In the past couple of years, I have been coming home in another way.  I am coming home to me.  I am discovering who I am.  I am learning to accept the person I am and can be.   I spent so much of my life believing I wasn’t OK.  In a post Coloring Outside the Lines, I talked about being the child and woman I was told to be.  I knew it wasn’t me but “they” didn’t seem to like me.  I tried so hard to keep coloring inside the lines and stay in my box.

I have come home to me.  I want to spend the rest of my years here in this body learning and discovering all the amazing things that are me.  I have opened my heart, mind, and soul to God and said, “OK, I get it.  I am the one who turned away from You.  I am the one who wasn’t able to accept the person you made me to be. So here I am. I am ready.”

I am building my community for this purpose. I am opening my mind to learn and see things I have closed my eyes to before.  Wonderful teachers and new friends have come into my life.   I have kept family and old friends who love me as I am and are excited to see the new things happening in my life.  Some of them are a bit confused and I bet just a little worried at times, but they are loving me just the same.  I recently  left my job after twelve years and have no real idea what is coming next.  I am sharing my secrets, my dreams, my ideas, and life with some of these people.  Excitement, awe, and still at times, just a bit of fear fill my days.

In the The Wiz (1978), Glinda the Good Witch and Dorothy have this conversation:

Glinda the Good:   Well, Dorothy, you were wise and good enough to help your friends to come here and find what was inside them all the time. That’s true for you, also.

Dorothy:   Home? Inside of me? I don’t understand.

Glinda the Good:   Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere.

Maybe I have been on a rather long and odd vacation most of my life.  All I know is that it was an adventure; sometimes great and many times very painful.   But I have found my way home and I am so very glad to be here.

Breathing Room

I am part of a women’s life coaching group called “Your Possible Life” group.  Dr. Kathy Murphy leads the group and I have loved working with her.  Check our her site for retreats and her book.   She constantly reminds us to “BREATHE.”   We had lunch together a few weeks ago and during our time together, she had to remind me a couple of times.   It seems we get so caught up in the emotions, the fear, the thoughts, and all the chaos in our mind that we forget to stop long enough to hear the wise, caring, and loving voice.  It is there if we can just stop long enough to hear it.  Believing it is a whole other story.

I haven’t had much time to breathe over the past several months.  My husband’s health is taking a toll on both of us.  I am responsible for everything in our household from paying bills to making sure he gets to doctor’s appointments.  I have made some tough, but necessary decisions about taking care of myself.  I have to work to push the guilt aside but it is a useless emotion.

I have also been struggling with a life changing decision about my job.  I haven’t been able to share this news in my blog until now.   In mid July I resigned from my job.  My last day will be  August 31. I have been doing this for almost 12 years and it was one of the most difficult decisions I have made.  I know I made the right decision but it seems a  somewhat illogical decision to many people.   I went back to see my therapist before I made the final decision.  She has taught me to be logical and not base decisions on just emotions.  I was sure she would talk me out of this.  But NO, she encouraged my decision.   I told her it wasn’t logical.  She laughed and said that for most people it probably wasn’t.

I stepped out on faith, believing in my heart that this is the path I am to walk at this time in my life.  I was offered a part time position that is a great fit for me and I will still be working with many of the people I enjoy.  I have the opportunity to take a Life Coaching certification course beginning in Oct.  I really have no idea where I am heading, but I am OK with that today.

I have an amazing support system in place.  My family (My kids and grands) are a source of strength and joy in my life.   Jan and I are going to do the Couch to 5K program.  She has been my voice of reason on the days I look in the mirror  and ask myself, “what the  *** are you thinking?”   You can read her blog here. The people I have been working with these past 12 years are very  encouraging and supportive.

Tonight I get on the train and head to New York for a couple of days with my brother Billy.  We are going to have a couple of days to relax, talk and have some fun.  Then I am off to Danby, Vt to spend time with Donna.  We have been friends for 25 years now and have seen each other at the some of the highest and lowest points in our lives.   We are going to play and get reconnected.

I am officially taking time today to start breathing.  You may see posts over the next few months that go from calm and excited about the journey to “OMG-HELP!”   However, for the next week be looking for some posts about fun, relaxing, travel, and friends (some I am visiting and some I am missing).    And if you see me starting to turn a bit blue from time to time, please remind me to just  BREATHE.

All Aboard

You may have noticed that I did not finish the 30 Day Letter Challenge.  I do intend to write all of the letters, just not in 30 days.  I will intersperse them during the next few months.  For the next couple of weeks I will be sharing my vacation trip with you. There are going to be a couple of surprise announcements in these posts, so you will want to pay attention.

I have had a trip planned for several months.  There were no definitive details for this trip, but I knew I was taking a trip.  The trip actually planned itself through a number of random events.  Coincidences?  I don’t think so.  I made a choice to follow my heart and what I believe was God’s guidance.  Once I made the decision, everything began to happen so fast, I could hardly keep up with it.

I am so excited because I am taking the train.  I love travel by train.  And –I don’t fly. You can read more about that here.  I have taken the train across country (round trip).  I have traveled to Chicago and Cleveland by train and I have taken the train from Charleston, SC to the Baltimore/DC area on a number of occasions.  I love the rhythmic sounds of the train on the track.  The train becomes a small community while you are in route.  There is a dining car, a snack bar area, and some trains have a viewing car complete with windows from top to bottom.  I have enjoyed conversations with travelers from around the world.

I will be going to New York City for a brief layover and then on to Poughkeepski, NY to see my brother for a couple of days.  I go from there to a very small town (population about 1,300) called Danby, Vt.  Pearl Buck spent her last days in Danby so I am hoping to glean some inspiration from the area.  More importantly, I am going to visit a longtime friend.  I will share more about her in another blog post.

During lunch today, I told my friends I had decided to do this blog series.  We created a short version to give an idea of how it might read.

Day 1  Loved the train ride. Got some sleep before departing in the morning.  Brother picking me up shortly.

 Day 2  Having a great time with my brother.  I miss Jan and Anna.

 Day 3  Getting ready to go to Vermont.  (Small tear forms) I really miss Jan and Anna. 

 Day 4   Donna and I having a great time.  Jan is calling asking when are I am coming back.  I am asking why doesn’t she do something drastic like hitchhike here.

 Day 5  Going into severe withdrawal.  Going to resort to SKYPE.

 Day 6  Back on train.  “Conductor, can you make this thing go any faster?”

I have an idea it may go this way because Jan and the family just came back from a week on vacation.  We are going to plan these things better next year!

I need a break from things here.  I am very excited about this trip and spending time with my brother and with Donna.  I am looking forward to sharing my adventures with you as it happens.  I will make time to write while I am away because writing is my memory, my release, my grounding, and my passion.  I know I am going to miss my family and my friends.

I return at 6:00am in the middle of the week. I will head home to unpack, shower and go the office to check in.  I will then head straight to the church to see Jan.  I have my fantasy football league draft that night with my son.  I will stop by and see my daughter before that.  Going to be a very busy day.

A few days after I return, my life will take a rather interesting turn.  I can’t wait to share it with you.  Be sure to come back over the next two weeks and take this journey with me.

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