Traveling’s Over!

I have ended my travels due to a medical emergency with my son. Matt is 29 years old and is one of the busiest guys I know. With gusto and love, he travels, rock climbs, surfs, and works full-time raising money for a nonprofit. However, Matt experienced a rare hemorrhagic stroke that has debilitated him greatly. We are confident he will recover fully, though the road may be long. We are lucky to still have him with us.

I wanted to let all of you know I am now settled in LA, California attending to his needs. My furthest destination on this second leg was Jekyll Is, Georgia.

When this chapter has ended, I hope to be moving to Oregon sometime in the future. This was an amazing adventure and I am so glad I had the opportunity to travel these last several months. I met some wonderful people, saw people I knew and loved, and loved my rig which allowed me to visit many beautiful terrains.

Though there is always so much more to see and learn, I feel complete. I coincidentally mentioned to Matt just days before the stroke, that if the trip ended right then, I was fine with it.

I learned so much from being alone on the road and creating the days for myself. I think in some ways, this trip has allowed me to once again give to others, love my life in a more full way and to some degree feel more fully here. I don’t feel as distracted by grief, though Matt’s condition has added a layer not expected. I feel dedicated to Matt, dedicated to helping in an unobtrusive way, hoping he can move on with as much love of life as he had had.

Thank you for being interested in this blog, and keeping with me in my travels. I did not feel so lonely because of it.

Many happy travels to you,

Elizabeth

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Going Forward!

March 9, 2017

HI again!

I forgot to tell you about a very important connection I made during my time in the Bay Area. That was my time with my KM group (Kalyana Mitta – spiritual friends). It was such a wonderful a visit when Joanne hosted an incredible dinner in my honor. It was very special. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of this group or the event itself. I can tell you it was quite beautiful and I thank the group for making it so special.

Since my visit with friends and family in the Bay Area, I have spent time in Los Angeles, Phoenix, AZ, Las Cruces, NM, Alpine, TX, San Antonio, TX, Austin, TX, and Houston. My next spots are Lafayette, LA and then New Orleans.

LA: Matt just had his first authored one-act play performed with the theater company he co-partners. Heard it went great! Michele of the dream group met me in Monrovia, east and north of downtown LA. Wonderful time spent with both of them.

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Michele with another dreamer, Mark Twain. Cute town.

Don’t have a pic of Matt, but you all know what he looks like! It was wonderful to be with him.

After Matt, I went to Las Cruces, NM. That was a worthy trip. I visited the Old Town Mesilla, White Sands Nat’l Monument.

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Downtown Mesilla

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White Sands National Monument, NM where people could rent out sleds and sleigh down the dunes. 

I was able to see my brother, Roy in Phoenix, AZ, as I had mentioned in the last posting. Not long after Roy left me, the furnace, the refrigerator, and the water heater stopped working! I had no idea why. I found a guy to call, he was in the next state over and could not make a home visit, but walked me through the steps to find the problem. He determined it probably was a fuse. I had to run to the store as it was late at night and would soon close for the night, I bought several, and went through the process of seeing if it was one of fuses that blew. A process, but found the culprit! I was thrilled to have all my appliances working again! I know this is not a big deal story for most of you, but for me it was. I didn’t even know what it should look like if a fuse was blown!

The most eventful though, was my time in San Antonio, TX where not 5 miles from my campground 4 – 6 tornadoes hit down in the city. Yes, there was real damage and I was really frightened. At 11:30 pm I was not quite sure what to do. I knew what was happening by an alert on my phone. Lympia and I sat in her bed and fretted for hours. Then, another alert came later about flooding – no instructions as to where to go. I kind of panicked and stayed up a lot longer trying to decide if I should knock on the neighbor’s door camper for help. I did do some important packing – the usual- photos, insurance, etc. As nobody was leaving, I decided to ride it out (!!). The next morning, I found out there were evacuations in the campground itself and one camper who came in around 4:30 am tried to park, thought there was a site, but it was the creek rising – he had to be towed out!

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Flooding in campground, San Antonio, TX

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After the flood, campground

I spoke with the office personnel the next morning and found there is a plan in place for the campground. We would have had 4 hours and a place to be sent. Whew!

Now in Austin, I am calmed down and have really enjoyed, as much as I can, the city. After leaving my friends and family it has been a lonely road for me. I think I am still grieving the loss of Tom, though it’s been almost 3 years. Can you believe that? And, I can’t want him any more than I do now. And, I am fully living my life, enjoying what the world is offering, and experiencing a lot. So, it’s not one or the other, it’s both/and.

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Graffiti Hill, stories of old foundations given over to artwork by anyone who wishes to express themselves. Austin, TX

Texas. Let me try and find worthy items of note for you: I did enjoy a little town called Alpine north of Big Bend National Park. From here, I explored Fort Davis and the park. Wow. On the day I went the winds were ferocious! It gave me a good sense of how difficult it might be to live there.

Fort Davis was interesting because it was mostly manned by black soldiers, the Buffalo Soldiers, in the 1860s. They were there to “protect” the citizens from the Native Americans. They did not see much battle so what the fort showed was how they all lived together at that time under government orders. A lot of buildings were restored and several were original. Worth seeing.

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Fort Davis

Just down the road was a botanical garden and being winter, it was lacking lushness. Though, I did see some flowering! Nice grounds and interesting work they are doing, botanically speaking.

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Flowering Mexican Redbud

When I visited Big Bend, the weather was warm and sunny. I found this park to be very interesting because there was varying terrain. Some areas reminded me of the Grand Canyon, some Sedona, AZ, and some of the hoo doos of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Pretty gorgeous and I highly recommend going!

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Big Bend National Park, Tx

Austin is so obviously a liberal city! The overheard conversations are radically (but no, not radical!) different here than elsewhere in Texas. For example, and this is a shout out to Courtney, I was in ‘Austin Java’, a coffee house, when two women spoke of their right to decide what to do with their own bodies. The first woman, a thirty-something, was adamant: No one should have the right to decide on my future or what I will do with my body! I found her coming back to this point several times during my lunch there. The second, a twenty-something, nodded in agreement repeatedly. Woman number one was relaying her time at the hospital, obviously a health care worker, she sounded like a nurse or doctor. Vehemently expressing herself, I found this unusual in my travels.

Most conversations I have overheard are ones of a relatively light nature: what other people have said and what they think of it; the food, the weather, some about god but in a way to acknowledge the help from ‘him’; most about family members and their plight. Never politics! Yeah, I eavesdrop! I love to gauge the mood of the city I am in and to see what is important to the folks there. And, it really does seem to be different from state to state, from city to city.

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Wildlife in Austin Parks

Now, in a small town near Houston – Highlands, TX, I find myself wanting to get to more lush surroundings. It is an industrial city, polluted and not very pretty. I am on the San Jacinto River and it is part lovely and part ugly. I did like Austin because it was a green friendly city, with lots of parks, water features and kind to pets. Another feature I find of the most interesting cities is the inclusion of hills. Not often, in my experience, are there attractive and desirable cities that are completely flat.

Here is the view from my campground in Highlands:

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Not too bad. From here, Lympia and I could watch 2 brown pelicans each day scoop up their meals. And, there were Forster’s Terns whose dives rivaled those of the pelicans! (We also could see the fires from smokestacks that went on 24/7)

One of the greatest places we have been is to the Baytown Nature Center in Baytown, TX. Here, one could walk for miles smack dab in the middle of industrial activity and not even know it. I was able to see great blue herons, egrets and a Roseate Spoonbill! That was exciting. She was too far away for pictures, though.

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Can you see the owl house? 

This was such an incredible place that I spent hours walking and driving around the grounds.

As I have loads of time at some of these places I stay because there is nothing around, I do listen to dharma talks and old music. One day I was listening to Cat Stevens, On the Road to Find Out. The answer lies within! Though he beseeches us to ‘pick up the good book now’, I will  be content just to listen to his incredible songs.

I will report more as I venture into Louisiana, hoping to see good friends in New Orleans and have Deble visit me there.

I am at once glad to be on the road and sad to do this alone. I am really appreciating my friends and family right now. Miss you all so much,

 

Love,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

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Lessons From the Road

February 16, 2017

 Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape. – bell hooks

This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.  -Elizabeth Gilbert

On a more practical level, I am learning what it means to be a single woman in the world. I have not had this experience since I was 18.  I know what it means now to go to a party single, without a spouse or a boyfriend; being the third wheel, to not have the advantage of debriefing on the way home and learning from one another. It is a very odd experience. Sometimes I have felt the need to defend myself, as if it’s wrong to be single, or letting people know I am okay because they feel concerned for my happiness. Sometimes I found myself not part of the conversation, not included because it was a bonding time for the other two in a couple.

Mostly, I felt the loneliness a woman can feel in a social situation. What is striking is not that I am now one of a class of people who must go it alone, voluntary or not, but that I have never had a sense of sympathy or understanding prior to now. Of course, some find being single in any situation not difficult at all. I am addressing those times where it is awkward to be alone in a crowd and having no connection to someone I love. I am learning to be sensitive to this.

So now I am alone, and I actually like some aspects of it. I like the feeling of going somewhere and knowing I am free to come and go as I please. But the flip side is there is no one to share the experiences with, no one to bounce off ideas and to have fun with; to have someone with me as I feel sadness or pain, to turn to and laugh at the same thing we see and perceive. I now have the chance to see another point of view.

And, arrogance. I have had my turn at understanding my own arrogance in a few situations. One is assumptions I make as being a white woman of privilege on the road. I have come to see my mostly left-coaster viewpoints as one of privilege and not of principle (mostly!). I have assumed that all must feel as I do in some way. Unconsciously, of course. For example, one MUST always recycle and have a place to recycle. Well, it turns out that many states do not have the facilities to recycle all materials and thus we throw away a lot of items to the landfill. But, this attitude is based on ignorance. I entered the situation with the assumption that EVERYONE SHOULD recycle ALL materials whenever possible.  A rather uppity stance.

Another is based on the fact that I mostly have money and assume I will always have the means to get money. This is not the case for many. I found myself entering into conversations where my assumption is that the person can find the means to accomplish or acquire something. Again, not always the case. Education in the most experiential way! Yes, intellectually, this is easy to see, but attitudes? Not always caught up to speed.

Lastly, the arrogance of being able to speak to anyone on the street as an entitlement. I have always considered myself friendly and easy to talk to. But, as a service dog owner, I found this reversed in a way that taught me how this can be intrusive.  People have asked me why I have a service dog, what does she do for me and what did it take to get this status. (Questions not really okay to ask) Normally this would have been fine. However, I have a secret to keep and having people ask me these questions meant I had to lie. It occurred to me that when I engage others in discussions they might not want to divulge the who and why of themselves. Which is totally fine. I had the ‘aha’ that let me see I need to be more aware of others and the signals we give each other to determine what level of interest they might have. I really felt the embarrassment of how in the past I have been so intrusive just so I could talk with them.  (True confessions!)

Hoping your December holidays were great! Realizing they might have been tainted by the election, a saving grace was the March! I marched in Dallas, TX with my dreamer friends and loved every minute of it. Came back to chaos in the White House and feel the need to really step up and do something about our direction. If anyone is aware of events, protests, etc, occurring in the south, up the east coast and across the US and Canada, please let me know. I will try and attend those actions before I settle in Oregon.

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Bobby, our host in Dallas

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Michele, who was gifted this pussy hat on the march itself

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Lastly, I’d like to tell you about the experience of staying with friends these last 6 weeks. Deble, a good friend in Santa Rosa hosted me for many weeks and let Lympia and I go as we pleased while enjoying her daughter, Alexis as well. It was wonderful to be unencumbered with responsibilities and to know it wasn’t a burden on her. Also, Jane (Vallejo) and Bobby (Texas) were incredible too. And! Jane’s husband, Harvey took care of Lympia and another dog while we were in Dallas! Wow, that was a gift. Thank you, Harvey! It’s been great to be with good friends – like a shot in the arm before I head off for several months.

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Deble on the beach at Half Moon Bay

I was able to see friends in my groups: Course in Miracles, Dream group and Monday night meditation, as well as the Moms group. Loved it all!

allisonme-crockett3Me and Allison in Crockett

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On a walk in SLO with Joe

Camping in drenched Felton, just outside of Santa Cruz and it’s incredible. All the gushing of the creeks and river is glorious! But, I worried I’d be swept away by the current! Spent some lovely time with my dharma buddy, Sheila and her husband Joe in San Louis Obispo (SLO).

Because I have waited so long to publish this post, I have needed to amend the writing and thus taking even longer to post.

I spent some lovely time with Matt who tried to give as much time as possible for me even though he is incredibly busy with a great ‘Millenials Don’t Suck’ podcast, performances for his theater company, New Guard, and lastly, his day job with JP/HRO. So, I felt pretty lucky for any time he was able to spend with me.

I also got a chance to spend time with a fellow dreamer, Michele in Monrovia, LA. Neat little town.

Then, a few days with my brother, Roy in Phoenix, AZ. We visited the National Museum of Musical Instruments. Wow! Fantastic!! We also got a chance to go up to Prescott, AZ, a little town with a sweet downtown and a lovely man-made lake. It was wonderful just to be with him.

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Roy and me at the Musical Instrument Museum

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This work of art is done meticulously in mother of pearl

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A wonderful building in downtown Prescott – check out the deer at the top of the building!

I know I am rushing through this, but I feel so remiss in not communicating with you all sooner. After Roy left, I headed for Las Cruces, and now in Alpine, Texas where I will attempt to visit Big Bend National Park 1.5 hours south.  There is also Fort Davis, where there is also a lot to see. I will keep you posted!

 

So much love to you all,

Elizabeth

 

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and–in spite of True Romance magazines–we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely–at least, not all the time–but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.” -Hunter S. Thompson

 

“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” -Alice Koller

 

 

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Arizona, Again!

I’m back in Arizona! I will be making a last trip before the holidays to visit with my brother, Roy and his wife, Carol. I decided to run another post because the last one neglected to mention things I’ve been up to these last several weeks.

After leaving Allison in Sedona, I went back to LA to visit with Matt and Deble.  Deble and I got in some good eating, but unfortunately, I got sick and so Deble’s time with me was a mixed bag. We did have dinner with Matt, which was great and a little walking around.(Don’t worry, there will be some good times in New Orleans this coming March!)

Thanksgiving was spent in Berkeley with Courtney, Isabella and Emil as well as Matt. Matt and I drove up in the rig and stayed in the Anthony Chabot campground on Lake Chabot, Oakland. When I booked it online, I could swear it was for full hookups. Not so. No hookups at all! But, it was a good reminder that I can actually dry camp. It did take 45 minutes to an hour to get to Courtney’s one way, but it was worth it.

Weird: The entire time I was in the East Bay the only pictures I got were of Courtney!

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The holiday was so great – had fun listening to Isabella recite her music and play for me her composition on the piano. Isabella was so willing to play for me, show me gymnastics on the balance beam Emil made for her, and to also generously spend time with me. It was glorious.

And now, in Ajo, AZ, I am surrounded by interesting life: Palo Verde trees, Saguaros, various other cacti, coyotes howling in the early mornings, woodpeckers stuffing things into Saguaros, etc. I have had a leisurely touring of the town of Ajo, which is very small but sweet. The plaza is really beautiful – I am sorry if my pictures don’t convey their beauty – and there are interesting things around the town.

Church on the plaza

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the wild nearby my RV campsite in Ajo

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Rusted tin cans in a nearby area. The trash found in places like this is amazing. So prevalent and surprising. 

 

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Palo Verde Tree – all green, including the bark!

I was able to take Lympia on a hike in a beautiful canyon, Alamo Canyon, in the Organ Pipe National Monument about 30 miles from my rv park. Gorgeous, with mountains surrounding the park, lots of organ pipe cactus and saguaro. Also, in this area are several mines for copper, gold, Arizona metals, etc. I did visit one in town, where the manager, a long time miner wants to see Trump help reopen the mine. He claims there are millions of pounds of copper still left in the mine. How will Trump help to do this? By relaxing the environmental controls on mining and the byproducts the industry creates, thereby enabling the owners of the mine to employ once again. Ugh.

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Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe Nat’l Monument

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A baby Chollo cactus. I found her to be really beautiful.

Another great part of this town is the artist’s community that has taken over the ‘conference’ center just outside of the plaza. Really beautiful grounds that have been transformed into an edible garden where the products get sold each week, and a demonstration garden that showcases flowering and xeriscaping. I will be going down to the farmers market tomorrow morning – see what I can find.

veggie-garden-inside-comples a veggie garden in the courtyard of the ‘conference’ center where artists have taken over the production of an organic garden, chickens raised for eggs, and education for what flora would best grow in this region

conference-bldg-for-artists The ‘Sonoran Desert Conference Center’ 

Lots of flowering plants in a demonstration garden out front of the center. Flowering in December!

Talking with my teacher, Sharda Rogell, we were questioning whether it was time to be done with this trip altogether. I don’t feel ‘done’, baked, or ready to re-enter the world of stationary living. The reason is because I still feel nagging in the back of my mind, that will surface as dissatisfaction when I return. The nagging is that I have not completely gotten myself to a place of confidence and security that I want to have when I settle down. I am stronger now than I was when I started this trip, but I do feel I need to come back with a clarity and sense of purpose.  I have never lived alone and this is my chance to find a measure of who I am and what it is I want.

I will probably wait until after the holidays to write again, especially since I will be seeing most of you soon.

 

All my love and gratitude for you, my friends and family,

Elizabeth

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Learning and Living With a False Personality Structure

What a time this is! I am alternately sad and angry and optimistic at the possibilities for change that will allow us to accept what is actually happening: our resolve to do the right thing, our persistence at following our hearts, and our compassion for others in less fortunate circumstances have the potential for deep changes in our culture. It will take a great deal of focus and as in our meditation, concentration.

There is love, and then there is fear. For those of us who are comfortable, it is easier to come from a place of love. This will make a difference, I am convinced.

Though I am reading an obscure novel that might not be considered great reading, I still feel I get a lot out of the content. Probably nobody has heard of The Fifth Rule of Ten (Tenzing Norbu Mystery), by Gay Hendricks.  It is a good series based on a monk who left his monastery, Dharamshala, the Dalai Lama’s in Tibet, and came to the US when he was just 18. He didn’t just come to anywhere, USA, but to LA. The book is about how he reconciles his Buddhist ideals and knowledge with his commitment to being a cop who carries a gun that in fact, may be used. I like it a lot. He then becomes a private eye, which I have always wanted to be.

One idea brought up in this last book of the series, number 5, is that Narcissists need to create false structures to be upheld and the weaker the false structure, the more support required. Otherwise, if the structure falls apart, their world is essentially scary and untenable. So, they use their talents to recruit others to regulate their reality whenever possible.

I have been thinking about my own ‘needed’ structures that I construct and hope that others will help maintain. (I think we all do this to some extent, it’s just that Narcissists REALLY need them!) One such structure is the view of my self as personality. However I see myself, I need others to see me in the same light. I may alter what I say and do somewhat to have the other perceive me just so. And this was true for my unwanted slogan, ‘I’m so busy, so sorry, I can’t do that now.’ I look at that now that I have been on the road for 5 months and feel ashamed by it.

There is so much pushing away with this sentiment and I recognize it’s because of my fear of intimacy. I must have felt that getting close – or “too close” was just too scary. I didn’t trust myself, and most likely, I didn’t feel I could be really loved. I feel sorry for doing this repeatedly over the many years. I know it made me feel important and a ‘somebody’. Consequently, I know I have lost time in making deeper friendships and now I resolve to try and be as committed to the time I spend with folks as meaningful and long-lasting.

I spent some really good time with Matt and Courtney, Isabella and Emil this Thanksgiving. It was lovely and very important for our family. Not having Tom here to keep us coalesced, it now seems up to me, the matriarch (!!) to deepen our ties and the love we have to share.

Many blessings to you all, I really look forward to seeing you in December. This will be after some time with my brother and his wife in Tucson, AZ.          Love, Elizabeth

I spent some wonderful time in New Mexico at Georgia O’Keeffe’s home, Ghost Ranch, in Acqui. Santa Fe was incredible too! Here’s some photos from the experience.

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Padernal Mountain, one of the images often seen in her paintings. 

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A familiar image from her paintings, as well. But, this is real! 

 

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Oldest Church in Santa Fe

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Sculpture art in Sante Fe, on famed art gallery road: Canyon Rd.

 

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Kind of how I feel sometimes when I am on the road seeing the beautiful sites of this country. 

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Fun, Reality Testing and Connections

I was asked recently what I have learned thus far on my trip. I like to think I have learned a lot about my ego/self, not to mention all the technical things I’ve learned about driving and setting up the trailer.  I am so conscious of my mind and how powerful it is in the making of my experience and how it determines my time day to day.

I have sensed that I learned a lot on this trip and yet, have not ‘cured’ my loneliness and aloneness. I am understanding in a visceral way, that my life is so about my perception and how I use my mind and my innate and learned skills to go forward. For example, I realized tonight that I am a bit fearful of the winds and the likelihood of very cold weather. I am faced with the choice of going out and doing what I want to do and the pull to stay inside to be as safe (seemingly) as can be. (Mind you, this rig of 22 feet of aluminum is not at all ‘safe’ in all weather.  I am facing snow and freezing temps in the next week and feel this is not really what I had in mind, especially driving in the inclement weather.)

Speaking with my friend, I rattled off a lot of what I had learned but now feel a detachment  from those ideas. I am still very much in a learning mode with the aid of people I love, including Allison who visited me for a week in Sedona, AZ.  I am also very aware that I am in a privileged position to travel for so long and not have to worry about keeping a job. I will have to when I settle down, but for now I am free to explore my inner life as well as the outer one.

An aspect of healing is having fun and that is just what we did in Sedona. Wow! The rock sliding at Slide Rock State Park was so much fun! I really can’t believe I actually did it. One should have a little more cushioning on the butt to make it painless but I still felt the thrill of being taken along the creek. We had other adventures as well, hiking up canyons and rock formations, seeing a bat (!) in a rock crevice, eating great food, and generally having a good time with great weather.

Allison, Cathedral Hill, Sedona, AZ

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hills-surrounding-bell-rock-sedona Hills surrounding Chapel in the Hill. 

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A bat found between 2 rocks at hip level on our hike to Bell Rock, Sedona.

 Allison and me the first night here. 

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amitabha-stupa-sedonaThe Amitabha Stupa in Sedona. sculpture-at-stupasedona

Sculpture on stupa grounds

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Allison riding the rocks at Slide Rock State Park!

One of the most wonderful aspects of being out here on my own is knowing I will have contact with those I love. I have a phone date with my dharma buddy every 3 weeks or so, another friend almost as frequently and another who I am still coaching. I also have several games on the iphone going with others: Words with Friends. Fun. Others I speak with from time to time and I have a session with my teacher every so often, as well. So, lots of contact and lots of love coming my way. I really don’t think I could do this trip without the consistent contact from my communities. And of course, my family. It truly allows me to feel whole and connected.

Speaking of connection, I spent a couple of days with my brother, Roy and his wife, Carol just before I went up to Sedona. Right now, they are living in Tucson, AZ. It was wonderful to visit with them and see that their 5 month-old, 50 pound Airdale, played well with Lympia. So satisfying! We will return for a full week in December.

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Roy and Angus, Tucson, AZ

I am now in Sante Fe, NM. Lots of fun things here to do. Lympia and I went up the hill to the Audubon Center and Sanctuary where we took a lovely hike in the rain. Today, we will be going on the Ghost Ranch tour. We have been to the art museum and Canyon Rd where there are an abundance of galleries and sculpture gardens.

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The Goddess of Compassion in a lovely garden supporting Tibet; Ghandi in another

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She reminds me on my granddaughter, Isabella composing music in a relaxed way.

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And, in Gallup, NM. A visitor in my campground. 

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A bull snake on our afternoon walk.

BIG NEWS: I have taken off the ring Tom gave me that kinda looks like a wedding ring that I have worn on my left hand wedding finger. The minute I did, I cried. I am still wanting him to be with me, here and now. But, as my friend said, I am not going to meet anyone with that ring on. It has been rather quiet. So, just to try a little reality of not being married any longer and not having a partner, I took it off. I am hoping this is another step in my healing.

Enough for now!

Look forward to seeing you all in December!

All my love,

Elizabeth

 

 

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Metaphors, Mirrors and MO

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Aren’t they adorable? (sculpture at Catholic church/school, Quebec)

I view my life as series of metaphors: when I am eating too many sweets I am reminded that there is too little sweetness in my life; when I was into having lemon in my hot water all day long,  I needed to balance the sweet with the bitter. (Or, accept the bitter that life hands you….); when I find myself wanting something at night to eat, not for nourishment, but for satisfying a taste sensation, I know it’s because I have a hole that needs to be filled; when I am excessively agitated, I tend to think that my heart is not willing to accept something and I then see how my heart has been closed.

Messages are in these metaphors for me. Deeply, I look into my psyche to discover what actually is happening through my perceived metaphors. And, they are acutely personal. It’s my perception and would not necessarily work for anyone else.

One always-present metaphor is the open road. Here is the opportunity to experience all that life is offering and at the same time, there is deep and lasting loneliness. It’s as if the universe is saying ‘here, take it all’, and at the same time, keeping me in check with the painful feelings accompanying my new aloneness. This is not necessarily negative, in fact, it is useful and I tend to grow keeping alert to the significance of feelings and thoughts in my everyday life.

I was at a crossroads when I decided to take this long cross-country trip. Not knowing what to do with my life, yet knowing to continue as I had been was not an option, I needed to kinesthetically experience those crossroads. I am doing that now.

Each person who comes to join me brings with her or Matt,  a new personality for which to challenge myself. All are wonderful people and bring great diversity of feelings, knowledge and interest. I find myself riding the wave of their particular sensibilities which may or may not be mine. I am fluid with their needs and adjust to their modus operandi. It has been interesting to see the way a visitor will show me a little more about myself.  I am continually reminded that what I see in another is what I am inside as well.

I have found myself quite resilient and adaptable.  A good trait to have when there is great loss in your life.

When I left you last, I was about to visit with Matt in Chicago. What a trip that was!

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Ever working …. Matt after our boat tour of Chicago Architecture, does this remind you of anyone? Now, he is helping to manage the tragedy in Haiti.

 

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Maureen Cheever, a former Progressive Education Network board member and reader for Tom’s book, me overlooking the Chicago River in downtown Chicago.  We had a blast exploring the Art Institute, Millennium Park and finding great eats. Maureen helped navigate all this for Matt and I. 

Matt and I loved Chicago. We explored and wandered and navigated the archaic, or plain sadistic parking and roadways in the city. In Millennium Park, we listened to some great music in the theater (they were doing a tribute to Buddy Guy and the music was great!) and spent a lot of time at the Art Institute. jay-pritzker-pavilion-millenium-prk-chicago

The Jay Pritzker Pavillion

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Rodin, my favorite sculptor

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Can you tell the building is zig zaggy on the outside?

There are so many design and safety elements to the building structures in Chicago that I am sure I missed a lot of information while touring by boat on the river. Here are a couple of interesting designs that I could actually shoot from the water:

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The bottom of the photo shows how there is a lip as the design changes.

What became clear were the challenges the architects faced over the years: area constraints meant they would have to build out higher up, while keeping the structure strong; mostly glass sides meant finding the right materials to see through clearly while withstanding the winds and other weather (we did see a couple of examples where the material used for ‘glass’ did not uphold), sometimes not blocking other’s views, etc. It was an interesting tour and I learned so much about how to make the structure strong. It was discovered I believe in the early 60s that if you create a concrete and metal core deep enough into the bedrock, you can do almost  anything to the design of the building, including building outward if necessary. img_0879

This is an incomplete building;  you can see the jutting out to increase area space while adhering to the ground dimensional constraints. 

And, I just like this shot:

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I then picked up my dreamer friend, Janis in Chicago for a 2 week tour together. We first went to visit our good friend, Mary Lois, a retired Dominican nun who is now living at the ‘motherhouse’ in Sinsinawa, WI. It was wonderful to see her environment and how all the women respected and loved each other.

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Janis, Mary Lois, and me

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These are examples of styrofoam art by one of the sisters. 

Mary Lois toured us through nearby Galena. What a wonderful town with gorgeous architecture. galena-street

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Most of the buildings here were built in the 1800s.

Janis and I went on to the Upper Peninsula, MI, Saulte Saint Marie, Canada, Montreal and Quebec. It was a wonderful experience to tour a beautiful country with a good friend.

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Upper Peninsula, Michigan with Janis.

We did so much and saw so much that it will be hard to relay all that here. But, here are some photos to quench your obvious thirst!

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A mural in Montreal – Plateau-Mont-Royal

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Notre Dam Basilica, Montreal

Who cannot be impressed by the Notre Dam Basilica in Montreal? Though it went through fires, it still is over 150 years old.

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In the square in Quebec, a statue of Salvador Dali’s Alice in Wonderland

And, just walking along the streets in Quebec we find treasures:

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A mural showing the history of Quebec (under French and English rule and finally becoming semi-independent: with its own government, but also governed by that of Canada and England – it’s complicated!). 

So many more pics to show, but I feel I might have gone on too long as it is. Maybe in subsequent posts, I will insert older pictures you may still be interested in.

I am learning a great deal about what environment I will be most happy in: certainly not the city! I need the green, trees, beauty and a lot fewer people. This is a new discovery for me. I always thought that I loved the city. Maybe I just changed.

I the went to visit family in East Aurora, NY, Richmond and Mineral,VA, and Asheville, NC. I don’t have many pictures from these visits, except for my brother and his wife, Ernie and Kelly in Asheville.

 

ern-kelly-and-lympKelly, Ernie and Lympia

 

Loved my time with them and I was off to see a sick friend outside of Raleigh, NC. So glad I went!

I am making my way to Sedona, AZ, where I will meet up with Allison. I hope it won’t be this long again til I write! Too many things to share!

 

All my love,

Elizabeth

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