Archive for the ‘Travel and Culture Category’ Category

I lived in Los Angeles for nearly 2 years, about 11 years ago. It was a long-time dream of mine to live out there in California and work in computer graphics on a Special Effects team for movies. I did live there, and I did work in computer graphics, but I never made it to get on a Spec. FX team, nor did I move up to Skywalker Ranch not far from San Francisco, like I’d originally hoped. I lived about 7 hours south of San Francisco actually, in Long Beach. I left my car in Wisconsin, and my first move out of my parents’ house, I moved 2,300 miles across the country…

…with a moving truck, through the mountainous Rockies, through sleet and snow,

…through Vegas,

…back in September 1999.

…when I moved then back to Wisconsin almost instantly almost 2 years later due to a fire (I’m calling it a “fire” because that’s what trusted friends called it at the time… it was not a physical fire, but I was in an abusive relationship, and there was a turning point), I left California in a matter of 5 days flat. Even my company helped support me due to safety issues and made sure I had a job back in Wisconsin when I arrived back. One day I was in Belmont Shore, 3 blocks from the beach, where the sun always shone and the temperature never dropped below 45 degrees even on the coldest winter day. The next day I was in Bel Aire with a suitcase catching the first plane back to Wisconsin… During my last 5 days I moved from Long Beach downtown staying at work during the night and in Belmont Shore at my apartment to pack during the day, to Lakewood, to Bel Aire… in hopes to confuse my attacker and get myself out as quickly as possible. I haven’t written about the story since it happened, so this is the first time.

The reason I’ve mentioned it is because when I got back to Wisconsin I became thoroughly depressed. The job wasn’t the same, my work friends were still in California, the weather was horrid… and I had to move back in with my folks, from having lived in my own apartment in Belmont Shore, a beautiful little town on the outskirts of Long Beach, next to a place called Naples, which had gondolas running through a man-made waterway. There were no more palm trees. There was no more warm sunshine every day. No more ocean to gaze out on. But, also no insane man trying to kill me… so, I was “home” I guess… but miserable all the same back in dreary Milwaukee.

I did eventually move on, but when I initially got off of that plane coming back to Wisconsin I’d made it clear I meant to be back in California with in 6 months… or that I’d move to China next, and it was very tempting when I saw an international flight board leaving for China from LAX near my terminal back to Wisconsin, to attempt to switch flights… but, here I was… back on the ice planet of Wisconsin. And I knew, it was my destiny.

Well, It is now 2011. In late 2010 I realized I’d hit the mark past a decade since I’d been down the street I lived on in Belmont Shore and my first apartment, which was in downtown Long Beach. I missed everything still. And I’d promised myself to return, but never lived up to it. Ok, so, I made it a New Year’s resolution to return. And today, I am a week away from that mark and everything stands against me… timing, weather, finances… but I’m going. Meanwhile I’m in the middle of a move to another residence in SouthEastern Wiscosnin, and am amidst great trials at work. But, this was the plan. And unless girls on maternity leave, leave earlier than predicted at work for their time off, I intend to be back on the street I lived on for a few short days–in a matter of only a few short days.

There is one thing in my favor though… just as the weather turned not be against my favor when I left Calfiornia for Wisconsin back in 2001, next week the weather in Long Beach and Laguna is predicted to warm up another 15 – 20 degrees and refrain from raining… so it will be in my favor. I will see old work friends. I will hit up some old favorite spots. I will walk down the streets I lived and worked on. I will walk the way I walked when I lived out there–maybe even go whale watching as I did on a monthly basis out there 10+ years ago. And I will be going to Laguna Niguel to again touch the natural marshes Crystal Cove State Park where the coast line is filled with nature and beauty. Returning yet again to Wisconsin from here will also again be really hard. I can’t prepare myself for the return any better than I could the last time I left, but I can know that I have always followed my heart, followed my dreams, and lived up to my promises to myself. This will conclude just one more. I’ve always wanted to say good-bye to the streets I lived on. I didn’t have the chance then. I intend to do that now.


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I was born in Berlin and raised in cities in Wisconsin, and I’ve lived in Los Angeles… so I’ve been in the middle of a big city, in my whole life… so, although I consider myslf an organic foods shopper (in the city), and camper (when able), I am generally surrounded by noisy city traffic, an office-work-setting, cell phones ringing, and the like… what I was about to experience was a moment back in time, where a family survives self-efficiently off of their own garden, and self-created electricity… a time almost forgotten, where no pesticides are used on the food, where education and family intermingle, and where life runs according to the sun rise and set.

When I arrived to the farm, Inn Serendipity , after a 3-hour drive, at 4PM, I was exhausted. I’d been fighting a cold for the last 2 weeks and still felt under-the –weather. And, although I knew to expect a special on-location seminar finishing up around the time of my arrival, I didn’t actually know just yet what to expect from the farm… wasn’t sure where to go, where the owners were, if they had staff or not, where my room was… and felt initially overwhelmed. My boyfriend had caravanned with me there, but left as soon as he dropped me off, to drive an hour backwards to a friend’s house. He would stay there the night. I’d stay on the farm for a night.

I walked into the farm house, not knowing if I was supposed to ring first or not, but many people walked in and out… and I was too tired to stop someone else outside… most either wore long beards, or wore glasses carrying notebooks and briefcases… all ages… most looked friendly, but I felt the odd-ball, the youngest, and alone. I stood there in the dining room until someone noticed me. One o f the owners, Lisa Kirivirst, was the one who approached me and explained that she could show me to my room but was finishing the seminar on Eco-Living, and could help give me a tour shortly after and that I was welcome to stop for coffee next door but I didn’t know what that really meant. I was shown to my “Music Room,” comfortable, small, with a closed-patio, upstairs, a full-sized bed, and just the necessities, decorated with musical instruments. I looked forward to the solace and silence I imagined to follow. But, as I stood there with my baggage, I noticed instead about 50 – 100 Black Elder Beetles and Asian Ladybugs on my walls both in my room and inside my room’s patio—and the door stood wide open to welcome them… so, although I knew they couldn’t hurt me, and although I could hear my mother’s voice echoing, “what did you expect? It’s a farm! There will be bugs!” I just couldn’t rest.. so, instead, I began to walk. Lisa had mentioned that about 2 blocks from the farm existed a pathway that would eventually lead me from the farm into a woods… the sun was beginning to set, and I wasn’t sure of the path, so I walked… and walked… for an hour I walked and never found the woods… and I was so tired. And then I walked back towards the farm and found the path. I made the effort to find the forest, but kept quick on my feet to return before dark to the farm.

…and what about supper? The farm had a list of restaurants nearby, but the closest were in Monroe, and I was in Browntown without a map. I’d never find my way back in the dark on farm roads… and so I asked the other owner, John, if I could order out and have someone deliver. He wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure anymore either. I wondered if I’d go hungry that night. After all, this was a Bed & Breakfast (B&B). And at prior B&Bs you pay extra for ANYTHING they offer, and if this was a farm, well, “Really,” I thought, “What exactly would they offer?” They grow vegetables… maybe I could ask for a cucumber… At that point John was talking to who would be my neighbors that evening, a female couple, I assume who were Lesbian, although one of them mentioned she had a daughter, from out-of-town. They smiled a lot, were friendly, and always together. And John talked a lot… but I was so exhausted, at 6PM it went through one ear and out the other. And then I remembered that Lisa had mentioned “coffee” and noticed a building behind John, and interrupted him to inquire if I could go inside. I felt a bit rude by doing so, but I specifically decided to B&B there for the simple fact that I wanted to “get away from people and noise and be surrounded by healthy food” and here I was… and he did let me enter that wooden barn… and inside… to my amazement, were baskets and trays of ½-eaten goodies!!! They were homemade, labeled, all-organic, from apple crisp to pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffins!!! OH! I WAS SAVED!! Hallelujah!!! I was soon offered some homemade lemon-balm tea that was extraordinary too!

By 6:30PM all of the visitors that had been there for the seminar had left. John showed me around the farm, and introduced me to their solar oven, their electric car, their solar-powered-electric-everything… I felt like I was in such a foreign place but I was indeed “wow’d” by all this… and to learn that they make enough energy on the farm to sell electricity back to the electric company! They home-school their 3rd grade son, they run a 2-room B&B on weekends, the run their organic farm, Lisa is an amazing cook, was on her feet all night in fact, they both write, and both of them are published, John delivers seminars… all very interesting! And they are self-sufficient 100%… amazed me… John and I proceeded to have a long talk in the living room inside… meanwhile Lisa brought out her first goodies since I’d eaten the muffin… unexpected, and free during my stay, were now these cucumbers, sliced, marinated in honey and fresh basil, all organic of course, stuffed with cheeses… by now I was full! But WHAT A TREAT!!

After an interesting conversation, John left to begin a bon fire. I didn’t even know it was on the agenda… I expected to be in my room drawing, writing, or even sleeping, and instead found myself engaged with Lisa, John, and their son Liam… in fact, they are all Star Wars fans too, so they really liked my license plate, and we had yet something ELSE to talk about!! …and I was getting my 2nd wind.

Soon, I was off to the bon fire… John had set out multiple chairs to choose from to sit at. He threw old barn doors on the flames, old tree branches, and I just stared—into the fire… my first fire of the year and it was already October!!! “Wow! What happened to me this year” I thought that I hadn’t even been camping yet even once to make a fire!!?? Soon the other couple came out too… and before long Lisa came out, Liam came out, and they had small homemade pizzas to offer. They buy their cheeses and dairy 2x/year from Organic Valley about 2 hours away, and put $300-worth of purchases into their freezers. How wonderful! Granted, I don’t eat a lot of cheese, but if I had dairy, it was going to be organic. So, this was fabulous. And they don’t eat meat, so there was no need for other grocery shopping.

I did from time-to-time still feel somewhat inferior in conversation, in fact, even sometimes a bit detatched… there were times I felt that the other couple staying at the farm paid more notice that I was around, but everyone’s different, and I was mostly just in awe the whole time that the owners were in fact interacting willingly as much with all of us as they were! Again, to compare, other B&Bs frequently show you to your room, and then leave you alone until breakfast. This place was the opposite—a complete “family affair” and even Liam joined in conversations. Soon Lisa offered to bring us out each some of her new pear or cherry cordials she’d made. Apparently her mother-in-law or mother has a cherry tree, and so… sure enough, I had some and it was DELICIOUS!!! By this time, I knew I was not only going to have to buy some of their produce from the farm and take it home the next day (which was offered to guests) but also buy Lisa’s cookbook. Furthermore, the solar oven I’d prior mentioned, had made spinach balls earlier in the day for seminar guests. I was amazed with the idea and John mentioned it to Lisa, and before long there was a knock at my door upstairs while I changed into some different pants for the bon fire… who was it? Lisa, with a new plate-full of spinach balls JUST FOR ME!!! Oh!!! Let me tell you… I was STUFFED like a pig, but a healthy pig was I!!! And, by then I’d noticed someone had been in my room to turn on a lamp, for it wasn’t me. And next to my night table stood another homemade cordial with a single homemade white chocolate truffle. How sweet it was… and again, it was a surprise. I can’t help but mention then, that at other B&Bs if they offer something such as a chocolate, not only do they mention that they offer it ahead-of-time (wherefore, no surprises) but they also charge extra for it. But, at Inn Serendipity, NO SUCH THING… all surprises, all fresh and organic, all homemade, and NO extra charge.

I excused myself from the bon fire before 10PM and headed to my room. My bathroom was across the hall. A small shower, even smaller toilet, and small sink waited for me. In the shower was homemade soap—and it smelled of sweet peppermint… by the time I got out of the shower the whole floor smelled like peppermint—it was INTOXICATINGLY WONDERFUL!!!

Exhausted, I figured the bugs wouldn’t bother me so much… I turned out the lights… –but since some of the Black Elder Beetles had also fallen onto my sheets, granted they came from the outside and wouldn’t hurt me, I still had a hard time sleeping for it… so I woke in the night on the hour. (*NOTE: Chances are, most weeks and months this is not the case and I just happened to be there when the bugs were at worst)… And breakfast was to be served at 8:30AM… so, although I technically had 8 hours of rest, I woke constantly… and felt very tired the next morning…

I have to admit, I had a few early “Superman” moments where I flashbacked to the movies of when he grew up on a farm… after all, that’s where I saw it all: on TV… until now. Otherwise I’d only ever been to a single other B&B on a farm, and the experience wasn’t nearly as intimate.

I never got to writing or reading or even drawing… heck, I didn’t even get around to sitting on my patio like I thought I would… but, I did get a wealth of information, a lot of great new foods to try, and a very awesome new experience. And anyone who knows me, knows that come hell or high water, nothing will stop me for adventure.

Breakfast was served. Lisa and John were both wearing aprons and helping serve. I had coffee, homemade grape juice, potato-onion pancakes, applesauce, & a hot tomato-crouton side, an dyes, I had another pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffin. The 3 of us guests sat on the downstairs porch together at a small table with candles lit, and were served. It was very intimate. At first I felt slightly uncomfortable because I did not know this other couple well, and I had no one else to sit with to defer my attention, but luckily they were a nice pair and soon I excused myself once again… and took another walk. This time I walked down that path aforementioned, into the woods, and back. When I returned I gathered my produce, picked up my book, paid for my night, and asked if I could sit outside until my boyfriend returned to caravan with me again home. They were very obliging although check-out was 11AM. The other couple stayed until past Noon in fact, and I left at 11:15. None of us were charged extra. They did ask for cash. Luckily everyone in September had sent small donations for my birthday, to be used specifically for this cause/retreat. And, this is what I used. I bought Lisa’s cookbook, my night’s stay, a huge carton of freshly picked organic spinach from their garden, 6 potatoes, 1 onion and 4 heads of garlic… in fact, I think I ordered 2, but got 4. And, just before I headed out the door, as I was thanking them for their hospitality, Lisa asked if I’d like to try their homemade frozen yogurt they’d just made… so I got to try that too! Creamy goodness! What a note to leave on!

Would I go again? Absolutely. Who then would I recommend this for? I recommend Inn Serendipity for anyone who is:
-single, and wants a get-away from the city
-couples who are mutually interested in learning about how a family survives self-efficiently on a farm
-those interested in organic foods, who enjoy a family environment
-anyone who doesn’t expect a spa or to hang out at a bar all night, but enjoys starlight and crickets chirping at night and maybe an organic cordial before bedtime as a treat instead
-anyone moderately sociable who prefers a more intimate setting of small groups
-anyone who prefers not to worry about a front-desk, can carry their own bags and isn’t worried about walking alone outside in a rural community or worried about harmless bugs
-anyone interested to taste an amazing array of organic homemade foods in a ma-n-pa setting

*Note: Here’s a Link to Lisa’s Award-winning Baking/Cooking
And here’s info on John’s Eco-Car

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I read this article today, and my heart became heavy:

Pilot Whales Beached

…the worst part is, no one knows why whales strand themselves, but it’s been happening for a long time. My favorite animal/mammal is a Blue Whale. I have loved marine life my _entire_ life, and it’s been part of the allure to why I became a hula dancer and member of the local Ohana. I was given a nickname during my college years, “Ocean Girl” and it stands true to date… there is no such connection to another part of this planet I feel stronger than to the sea, and all the mysterious creatures who live there.

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I have been wanting to get away (much like in the story/movie, “Eat, Pray, Love”) and meditate the same way in Bali… but of course, it’s not that easy. Time and money fail me. I’m also a divorcee much like the subject in that story… also similar to another favorite movie of mine, Under the Tuscan Sun… and I’ve been wanting to get away and be in silence, away from the city again, since I returned from Hawaii, to no avail. I moved into a country-suburban unit originally to do just that, and yet it’s not working for me… I want to be away from everything known to me and be new, and feel refreshed again, be in the sun, the air, and heal… even if a weekend can only plant a seed, I am open to any and all possibilities!

So, I’ve newly, and quite serendipitously come across, and checked myself in to a Green World B&B called “Inn Serendipity” and I do believe the price, the place, and the environment is right on… not only is this place on an organic farm, but they believe in earth conservation, and put gravity into the silence… I’m very, very much looking forward to going, next month overnight to think, breathe, eat, pray, write, meditate, and sleep, sleep, sleep!!!

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Someone asked me today at work, “So, when’s your next big trip and where are you going?” My immediate response was, “My next trip is to move.” She asked, “Move? As to another state?” I said, “No, just to move, out of the place I’ve been living with my exBF.” And that’s my focus. In August 2009 I began planning my trip for April/May 2010 to go to Hawaii. And I made it. Now, it’s August 2010, and I am intending to get my ducks in line, get a bed again, get a computer, and reclaim my independence again and move in April 2011… alone.

Apartment Hunting… something I haven’t done in 2 years and something I haven’t had to do alone in 7. The first time I moved out of my parents’ I moved across the country, 2,300 miles away. I moved for work, and in with a girlfriend of mine, so that I could work in California in my field. She moved from Downey to Long Beach for me and I moved across the states to meet her there. After 6 months of a difficult roommate relationship, a failed long-term boyfriend (BF) relationship, I started a new romantic involvement and simultaneously wanted to move out of my apartment. We fought regularly, and one day something happened with his white Bug we were driving in and we came to a halt, and he called his dad (a cop) about it, and his dad came to what I thought would be our rescue. But, his dad just yelled at my BF and then my BF yelled back at his dad, so loud in fact, that it was I was embarrassed by both. My BF called me by his side, but instead I just began walking away entirely. And so, the 3 of us left individually… I walked… and walked… and I walked 5 miles until I came to the suburban Belmont Heights, followed by Belmont Shore. I had a binder with me, and I noticed “For Rent” signs… so I began jotting down every number on those signs. And then when I found my route home, I began calling those numbers. Back then I had no cell phone, so my roommate and I shared a phone. To make a longer story shorter, I was put on a waiting list of 3 people ahead of me, for the cutest place in Belmont Shore. Rent for the studio was $675 in 2000. Today in 2010, you’re lucky if you can find a studio for that in Wisconsin in a nice area, by comparison. So, this year marks 10 years from my first 2 apartments. Needless to say, I made the cut and took the apartment, and lived alone for the first time, 2,300 miles away from any family or close friends.

Since then, I’ve only lived alone 1 other time. Then, I was working in the Historic Third Ward doing Computer Graphics, around 2003, and I lived in Whitefish Bay in a 1-Bdrm apartment on Henry Clay. I loved that place. And it allowed me to retrieve my things out of storage from my move from CA back to WI again. I lived there for nearly 2+1/2 years. But, in the meantime my then-BF quickly became my husband and immediately went overseas to fight in a fire zone. So, I continued to live alone for over another year until he returned… and when he returned he didn’t like the upscale “Whitefish Bay” area which reminded me a little of Belmont Shore in CA, so we agreed to move to Bay View… culture shock for me, but at least I wasn’t alone. And right around the time that I became at ease with the neighborhood and culture of Bay View, my then-husband and I separated and later divorced. And I’d won another full-time scholarship, so I went back to school and moved back in with my folks, putting my things back in storage again.

A year later, I was done with school starting yet another new career, I was newly divorced, and my sister was diagnosed with cancer. I also was seeing a new guy again… and he lived in Wauwatosa. He took me under his wing during this time of trial for me, and I moved in with him slowly. 2 years later we moved out together, got my things again out of storage, and moved to Germantown. That’s where we’ve been now for the last 2 years… and once again, only 4 months ago, I’ve gone through another break-up. And this time we’re amiable with one another and it’s a mutual agreement. There is however a catalyst, and I’m dating yet again… this time though, it’s more difficult. I haven’t been independent since before I was married you see, and I got rid of my single bed when I got married. And, I never owned a computer ‘cause I always had one to share. And my new budding relationship is somewhat unsteady at times, but the good thing is that he and I are in agreement—both he and I agree we need to individually be independent again, before we ever move in together. And right now he’s living with his folks again. And I’m still living with my exBF.

Yes, so this is the next trip I’m taking: the adventure back to independence. And it’s scarier than you think. I have to save to cover my a** … I have to make sure that if something should happen with my career for instance, that I have a computer, internet, and printer to keep a current resume at all times. I need to make sure that I can work with applications necessary to my field. I also need a good night’s sleep, which means I need a bed again. And so, while I get my ducks in a row here I will be going through winter months, repairing also my car, and relinquishing ½ of my accumulated credit debt, while saving for the obvious rent, bed, and computer set-up. And then, in April 2011, I intend to make the big move. And my ex is ok with it, and my new relationship is too, and that’s all that matters I guess… who knows what will happen between now and then? After a failed 5-year relationship with my former husband, and failed 4-year relationship with my live-in-ex-BF, I’ve lost a lot of my identity. Although I’ve kept dancing, and going out on my own, and intentionally have been out to give myself “Artist Dates” (going out solo hiking, walking, to meditate, etc.) the 3rd identities I’d together created with my former significant others while being in those long-term relationships are gone. And there’s a feeling of loss. Emptiness. Void. That part is equally if not more scary than just reclaiming my independence… what to fill that void with now… especially when my new romantic relationship is unevolved, and we have very little time together? Where to go with that time and loss of mutual understanding and connectedness? It’s the big question… do we “live in the past” or do we “recreate” ourselves now?

I don’t have a home. I haven’t lived in a single place longer than just over 2 years since I was a kid. And every time I’ve brought my “things” out of storage to feel more “at home”, it’s short-lived… and so, maybe I’m meant to be a pilgrim. I don’t know yet… it’s funny, my skills and previous careers have always made me stay relatively put, so I can’t travel a great deal except for pleasure a week or two during the course of a year… and yet, I move around enough within that space I’m allowed, that it’s as if there’s a wild animal trying to break free inside of me… where to go? Where to land? Where to fall? Who is really going to be there if not myself? I haven’t been able to “count” on anyone or believe anyone would stay…. and this fear of abandonment has not served a purpose, except to promote my capability of changing… something that ignites life. Change is hard on all of us, but necessary to grow. And if nothing else, I AM A GROWER!!! I want to see the world. I want to explore… and it’s almost as if I’m trapped and running around in a barn that has several sectors. I’ve moved from sector to sector, to another barn and back, but ultimately I just want to leave the barn entirely I think and ride free. That desire must be a stronger force in my life, so that I haven’t been able to feel the gravity of the pain of feeling abandoned for too long… it’s an unbearable depth of feeling for me to feel so “left” by others, and so… although I’m heading again back into possible isolation, possible desolation, I must struggle to refrain from turning inward, and even though extroversion is not my strength, I must again change, move, reclaim my independence, and keep a flicker of hope alive—that maybe this time love will see me through… but even if it fails me again, this chick is used to falling and getting back up… and it’s with every time that I do get back up that I realize what kind of strength god has actually instilled within me.

May god grant you peace on your journeys and may he direct our sails.

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Today’s Travel BLOG: Living on Pluto…

We’ve all heard the phrase, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade.”

Sometimes though, life gives us a combination of woodchips, black tar, sweetarts, and grasshoppers instead. Sometimes we travel to another planet to experience a wonder, and have trouble with the atmosphere and environment regardless… We land on a foreign planet that is marvelous in our eyes, but we can’t even breathe oxygen on it… it would kill us to stay… ok, so the real compound-question is, “when’s the last time you were in a new beautiful place and you wanted to stay forever, but all the cards are not in your favor and being played against you?” In my case, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be together on the outside… After all, sometimes there are consequences to landing in foreign places… what if you don’t have a passport? What if you’re in the wrong cultural attire? What if what if what if…??? Whether your love is a dance class, a puppy, or a person, entering in on the new relationship is foreign in the beginning, but there are often obvious consequences to new beginnings… for instance, if you broke your leg and you start a dance class, chances are you’re going to injure yourself further. In the same way, if you are married and start dating someone new, chances are you’re going to ruin your marriage. Even though I consider myself an artist, I sometimes can’t think in multiple dimensions enough to know what to do outside forces of nature, which, by the way, are greatly affecting my new involvement, yet the love itself is of purity. There is no consequence I can readily see that would kill off (no broken leg, no marriage, etc.) this pure love other than the environment we’re in… so, what does it mean? Vague? That’s ok. I am trying not to give myself away entirely here…

Some say, “Live life to the fullest.” Some say, “Put yourself first.” Others say, “Put God first.” I’ve heard, “Nothing comes on a silver platter; persistence is everything.” And I’ve heard, “When the house is on fire, LEAVE.” Ok… so, all these tid-bits are great advice, but now how to apply them? My life is full of richness and depth. I do believe any companion of mine (friend/family/partner) is probably never bored because I’m very actively involved with the world around us, and to humbly put it, “I live life to the fullest.” And yet, I’m in a very confusing place right now.

As an INFJ, I think on multiple levels constantly, caring about my life, and all the lives that touch me and I might touch, as well as The Spiritual… always on a search for meaning. My philosophy is, “if it doesn’t mean anything, it’s not worth my time or yours.”

I also believe my life shared can be more enriched than standing alone. To each his/her own, but I do enjoy companionship and all of the benefits that come with being in a relationship. Unfortunately, I refuse to define an actual “romantic relationship” any further ’cause it would include “expectations” of what a relationship would be and those are opinions at best. And so, this struggle is my lemon… this confusing new place is my woodchip cocktail… I’m in a battle with myself trying to learn what’s best for ME, what God wants of me, what my partner needs of me, how to be self-sufficiently satisfied and love without expectation, is this meaningful enough, can I do with so little time, can I manage with such a difficult family, and do I need to just be more persistent and patient waiting for the unknown within the relationship itself?

I’m divorced. I have no children. I’ve lived in various states and countries, and I know who I am. I have had multiple creative careers. I know my strengths and weaknesses. And, I know what I definitely am uninterested in as well. The planet I’ve chosen isn’t Venus or Mars, ’cause either men or women would inhabit it… the planet I’m on must therefore be Pluto because it’s ice cold and everyone related to my companion is some kind of ice scuplture–it is extremely hard to see them human at all sometimes, though I try. They’re all very talented, but I can’t chip away at the ice and it’s frighteningly freezing… meanwhile, is my “house on fire”? If it is, it’s STILL not enough to melt the freezing cold.

At the same time, somewhere else in the universe, coffee is brewing on another whole planet all together, and I’ve had many, many offers recently to travel and see new lands, other planets, peoples, cultures, families… metaphorically speaking. But my heart belongs on Pluto… maybe not WITH Pluto, but it’s there all the same… my love after all lived there first.

Ok, so what’s right and what’s wrong? What can I still do when I try not to expect? How can I revel in the infrequent moments of utter happiness, so few and far between, when I find myself suffering the rest of the time? Are those passionate moments of bliss worth fighting for; this tiny beautiful dream I’ve found waking glimpses of? Do I even need ask? I believe nothing else could compare to those moments, and so I write this BLOG in question, but with patience… and so, here I am… I can’t make real lemonade with only ice. I can’t make a true cocktail with tar. But, don’t forget, there are sweetarts too, to lessen the severity of the piercing cold… granted, I can’t live off of sweetarts forever.

    And I am a grower, creator, and lover.

It’s frigg’in cold though right here and I don’t know if my heart can continue to survive when it isn’t powerful enough to melt the ice… I have to know what to prioritize now, ’cause my universe as been turned upside-down.

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Rocky Mountain, Colorado Hiking

Na Ala Hele – Oahu, Hawaii Hiking

There’s nothing like hiking to clear your head. For starters, it’s free to roam here… and inhaling fresh air is healthy, as is walking and moving. And I have a state park sticker on my car, so although I may need to take in my car early the same morning for repairs, the rest of the day I’ll be on my own to do as I please, and I’ve learned well how to be on my own. I’m unafraid of going to the movies alone. Unafraid to take a walk, hike, or even swim alone as long as I’ve taken safety precautions (life guard on duty/necessary emergency equipment for hiking, cell phone, etc). I’ll admit, I don’t like sleeping alone. I don’t like living alone, but some things life puts us through to teach us anyway… through the years I have moved around a lot, and I’ve had friends come and go, family relocate, and I am most assuredly able and capable of doing things alone. One thing I used to frequently do solo was hike… especially if I felt “down.” And lately, I’ve been “down” a bit more often again… for starters, I was divorced 5 years ago, and then within a year started a new 4-year relationship. That just ended. And now I’m dating again, but it’s a new, intense, and frequently a somewhat chaotic scenario, and so disappointment frequents me. Instead of allowing it to be all-consuming though, I’ve begun to incorporate the very things I did before this all started (granted, I don’t feel I ever “lost” myself, but I do prioritize my romantic involvement always, who in turn can become my center of the universe… SO, to better put things in perspective, I am immersing myself sometimes again where I feel the most alive and free and also completely alone.) One of those places is HIKING. It’s low-impact, tones the lower body, helps to provide mental clarity, assists with cardiovascular benefits, and is a nice break from the gym. All that aside, it’s nice to be in fresh air, among the green trees, the singing birds, sometimes even see the mountains, the lush tropical forests, and feel more a part of nature itself. I’ve hiked in Hawaii, Colorado, California, Nevada, in Germany… and frequently in Wisconsin.

Map of trails in Wisconsin

I intend to try part of a hike around Lake Geneva, WI. It’s one I haven’t done alone yet. It’ll be easy, and I’ll be surrouonded by the public so I won’t be isolated… some days I deliberately isolate myself (like I have in Hawaii, across the planet, all alone) but as with all things, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times, alert, and smart. This time I’ll be near enough to state parks and forests that if I choose to, I can hike them, and also close enough to a touristy area, where I can trek a path around the lake instead if I wish.

What do you need on your typical hike? You need lots of water, a backpack, hiking boots, good socks, loose clothing, layers, skin protection, rain gear, something to munch on, a hat, and sometimes a hiking pole helps (I wouldn’t hike in Hawaii without one–too slippery!) A safety/first aid kit is something easy to make, and I always carry one in my pack when I hike alone. Click EMERGENCY HIKING KIT to learn how to make your own. I store mine in a large 12 oz. used (clean) aluminum can resealed with pastic and a rubber band.

To Explore is To Be Happy! Make your hike your own.

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