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Thursday, September 22, 2016

9/22/16-Let It Begin With Me

Bentley & Nonni on a cold, wet, lazy day. 9/22/16

Please believe me – this is not a political ad. I will delete any comments that try to make it so. I am sad and confused by the recent actions of many – especially those I know personally, others from coast-to-coast, as well as those abroad. I am truly concerned so I share this with anyone that takes the time to read it.

I’m not only concerned, sad, and confused; I have come to realize that I am also genuinely afraid. Or at least I was until I wrote this post.

My nephew is celebrating his 13th birthday today (Happy birthday Wesley!), and I recently met 3 incredible, adorable toddlers. I fell in love with them.

2011

Alexis, 8/13/16. Hayley & Kenzie, 8/27/16
 
It was surreal for me to realize this evening that I am fearful even for them. A popular phrase is going around, “What is this world coming to?” Lately I find myself chanting the same words. Then I remembered that I probably first started hearing that phrase on my own 13th birthday! Fear over the state of our nation, the affairs of the world, and for our youth and for our environment are nothing new.

They may be at new heights however. And we may be keenly aware of them, sometimes in real time, thanks to the internet. And the wars and the woes may be more rampant than they’ve ever been, but that doesn’t have to be our reality. And it doesn’t need to control us – not me, not you, not anyone.

Having said that, I want you to know that the following paragraph was what I started off writing. It was my original thought. As is often the case with writing however, this next paragraph transformed into something positive in the paragraphs beyond it. Please keep reading.

I do not understand how anyone can use words like – love, peace, greatness – in the same sentence, paragraph, discussion, universe as Trump. He proudly promotes violence, hate, arrogance and racism. Aren’t those traits purportedly the antithesis of ‘Christianity’? By definition then it should be hypocritical to claim allegiance to both. Some of my friends and even random comments, especially in social media, have shocked me as of late. Hypocrisy and atrocities abound throughout history under the banners of religion and freedom, but conflict never unites. It does not unite causes, nations, or people. Ever.

Cop killings, Black Lives Matter, #NODAPL, Treaties being broken (again), Abusive Use of Powers, Preservation of Public Lands, Aleppo, our next President, Corrupt politicians, Education, Animal and Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and the legacies from each of these issues –are all VERY important to me. And the attention I am giving to the conflicts within each is killing me – literally. I can tell.

Unity and healing (on all levels) comes from heartfelt connection and from empathy through understanding. So I hold this nation, we the people, in the brightest light possible of true love, peace and greatness. I have hope. I still believe in humanity and I know with every fiber of my being that we are One. “Love never fails” and the “truth shall set us free.” When those traits reign, we all win. Please vision it with me – that and only that.

Let it begin with me. You’ll see no more negativity from me. When I stumble into the darkness of fear whether it’s for our country, humanity, our land, or for our future generations, I will remember that I stand for love. I promote peace. And within that, all is well, always.

I have forgotten my basic beliefs lately, opting instead to get caught up in all the angst that floods our media and the internet. I will devote myself to the renewal of my soul, heart and mind by concentrating on that which I know to be pure and true. Even in the causes that are important to me, I can shift my attention and my devotion to transforming them, not fighting, struggling, hating or fearing within them. It is love and light that will have my attention moving forward. I share my beliefs with you here in case you need the reminder too:


God is Spirit, the loving source of all that is. God is the one power, all good, everywhere present, all wisdom. God is divine energy, continually creating, expressing and sustaining all creation. In God, we live and move and have our being. In Unity, some other ways we speak of God are Life, Light, Love, Substance, Principle, Law and Universal Mind.


1. God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere.
2. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.
3. We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.
4. There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our awareness of God.
5. Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.

And so it is.

When you listen to the song below, think of Nature, Oneness, Love and Peace. I love you. Together, UNITED, we’ve got this.

"Sanctuary" written by Randy Scrugs & John W. Thompson



Saturday, September 10, 2016

9/10/16-Baths and Birthdays


Bentley doesn’t look too happy in that first pic, but trust me, he usually likes his bath. It’s just that this one was outside with cold hose water, and he wanted to go play instead.

Here’s what he looked like after his bath and getting groomed.


I used to tell people all the time that Nonni and Bentley would compete to see who got to take their baths first. When I realized people were having a hard time believing me, I made a video of it.

On the day I made the videos, it was Bentley’s turn to go first.


Then Nonni finally got her turn.

Nonni gets a bath tomorrow when it’s supposed to be warmer here. She won’t like the outside bath as much either, but I’ll double-dose the treats because it’s her birthday month. My Nonnikins was 11 on 9/4! Unbelievable! Love her so!


Happy birthday Nonni! I’m so grateful for my furbabies.

Monday, September 5, 2016

9/5/16-Van Insulation Installation


Prior to installing insulation, getting relief from the heat was not pretty.

That first pic is one that #bigboyepictoy took of me on a ladder while I was securing reflectix to the outside of my van. The following pics show what it looked like after I finished getting it wrapped in tarps and silver.



Like I said, not pretty. But it was effective. To a degree. About 5 degrees to be exact, but oh SO ghetto!

Plus, when I wanted to go anywhere I had to take all that down. Then when I got back, I’d have to set it up again. A big pain in the ass! Forgive the profanity, but I’m actually being nice. It truly was no way to live, but we do what we have to do, right?

And I was grateful to Bob Wells for the idea and for going with me to help me get what I needed to accomplish the task.

HOWEVER, I am even more grateful to now have insulation! Woohoo!!!

While I was at the summer RTR someone anonymously gave Bob $$ for me to get insulation. What a blessing! Whoever you are, thank you!! And I’m sure anyone that had to look at my rig during the RTR also thanks you. LOL.

Then my friend Tracy sent me fabric. Here’s the video of me opening that package. (Thank you, Michael, for the vid.)


Here’s a pic of me cutting out some of the fabric.


Thank you #bigboyepictoy for helping me with the cutting of the foam boards as well as the installation of the wrapped pieces. Thank you Juli and Tanner for the use of your shop!


There is still more to be done, but for now, here is the result. I love it!


Bring on the heat, as well as the winter. We’re ready now. :))))

#bigboyepictoy's beautiful granddaughters



Sunday, August 28, 2016

8/28/16-Hypervigilance, My Fire Breathing Dragon


This post is extremely long. That’s because it is more like a research paper or a sociology essay than a blog post. Ugh. But I chose to not condense it because it is one of my most important articles to date. For me at least, IMHO (in my humble opinion).

HYPERVIGILANCE

I interrupt my regularly scheduled blog posts to bring you an epiphany. A major epiphany. The kind that is life-changing and leads to enormous growth - personally and spiritually. The kind I hope I can use to help others. That is my fervent hope and prayer.

You don’t grow up like I did without learning vigilance. Over time, to survive, you become hypervigilant. I will share a couple of examples...

By the time I was 4, I knew how to “assess” the household for danger – even in the middle of the night. For example, I had to determine whether or not it was safe to go down the hallway to the restroom. I would stay very still and listen. I didn’t lie there motionless out of fear, necessarily – it’s just that I had already learned movement impairs hearing. To assess danger, I needed to hear a pin drop. So, I would blink in the dark, and without so much as a twitch, listen intently. Muffled voices, someone pacing, muted crying or even the house being too quiet – were all signs that I needed to stay in my room. Vigilance.

One afternoon, age 5, I woke up jubilantly from a nap. And forgot to listen. I skipped down the hallway to the restroom, and when I came out; my stepfather was waiting for me. I’ll never know exactly what I did wrong, but it was something about making too much noise and running in the house. I was a skinny, writhe-y little something back then, and capable of quick getaways. I slid past him and ran down the hallway toward my bedroom. If I had turned left and gone through the master bedroom and out their back door to the patio, instead of trying to make it to my room, I would have escaped. Instead, at the last second he blocked my right turn and grabbed my hair. Which he then used to pull me to the living room for my punishment. Barbarism. Mother’s solution for that event? She put a full-length mirror up at the end of the hallway. Good one ma. The night it was installed she tucked me in and whispered, “Be sure to watch behind you from now on.” Hypervigilance.

In my book, Kaleidoscope 9, most of the stories are based on true events. Sleeping in the Alley and Condemned House come to mind. Yes, I slept in the alley, and yes, I hid behind panels in the walls of a house that was later condemned. My childhood was tumultuous and violent right up until I left 2 months before my 16th birthday. As you can imagine, one doesn’t survive an upbringing like that without fallout.

The world is finally catching up to that fact. Or at least I hope we are. Science is also catching up. The amazing article below depicts beautifully how a tumultuous childhood affects adulthood. The title doesn’t do it justice, in fact I wish they had chosen any of the other focal points discussed in the article other than poverty, but they didn’t ask me. Please ignore the title and read it anyway.

I absolutely love the synchronicity that this article came out the same week I had my epiphany: How Poverty Affects the Brain

For those of us who had such a childhood, we, my kith and kind, can’t just “let it go” and/or “move on” or “get over it.” I can’t tell you how many times I was told such things over the years, and not once was any of it ever helpful. Nor at the time was it possible. As it turns out however, it is possible to do just that. I’m living proof of it, but it doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t magic that happens at the snap of one’s fingers. It’s a process, and that process is different for everyone over varying amounts of time.

Like the peeling of an onion, layer by layer, I worked hard for many years to process through, learn from and incorporate the dynamics of my childhood. With all that I have overcome in my life, I was very surprised to realize this week that a childhood remnant has been lurking in the shadows all this time. Blown. Away. Am I.

I share the actual epiphany below, but first here’s the story behind it...

MINUTE BY MINUTE

I spent the first decade of my adult life acting out to forget and run away from my childhood. Then I spent the next decade trying to control it and all the feelings welling up from it, as well as everything and everyone around me. Finally I got the help I needed in the form of professional help throughout the next decade and all of that led to a spiritual awakening (not religion) for which I am eternally grateFULL. Layer by layer I healed.

A therapist once told me that it’s like having major surgery on every layer of our being. The incision is made, the “infection” is removed, and then it’s replaced with something healthy. After that, self care is learned while the wound heals and the new is assimilated. Sometimes the wound remains a gaping hole for a prolonged period until the body accepts the replacement and self care becomes gentle enough to allow healing. Finally, the next layer is ready for surgery. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. That’s what it was like for me, and I suspect the same is true for most that have the courage to face the painful process.


I am whole today from all that hard work, self-acceptance, and love. I am at peace – brain injury and all. I no longer have the big gaping holes and wounds from my childhood that used to drive my behavior and wreck my life. Again, it wasn’t easy, but I’m proof it’s doable.

So NO ONE can be more surprised than I about this....

My Epiphany

I need minute by minute reassurance
for my minute to minute fear of rejection
due to my hypervigilance
that is present every waking moment of every day
to guard against ANY perceived injustices.

Holy cow!

I italicized the word need because of course that is not a truth. In fact, I’m quite certain that ALL my needs are met – even temporal feelings and needs. My faith is strong in that. ... Yet there it was ... My core makeup laid out in one long sentence.

I also italicized the word perceived because I had to add that in. It wasn’t there when I first formulated the statement. Until now my reality had always been to guard against “all” injustices. Period. I don’t think everything is an injustice, but once one is perceived, I have learned that I am unable to discern the real from fake.

How sad.

That’s what this blog post is about.

Hypervigilance taught me well. I can walk into a restaurant and before being greeted by the hostess, I can tell you approximately how many patrons are within sight, which ones are rowdy, which ones are drinking, which ones are unhappy, stressed or carefree. I can usually also tell you the relationship dynamics at each table. And I rarely miss the mark.

I’ve only seen one other person do such a rundown and that was in a scene from the movie, Heat, with Ashley Judd who plays a detective. Samuel L. Jackson asks her character to describe the patrons in the restaurant without looking – after another cop is unable to do so. She does it with her back to the tables, without the perusal time her partner was given, and is spot on. That was in a movie, but I can do that.

For years I’ve told my stepsister, who grew up in a safe, loving home, that I’d give anything to be able to not “notice” things; to be able to be around people and be oblivious to detail. That would be such a huge gift. In that wish I was referencing the hypervigilance. Even then I wasn’t aware that it had become a giant fire breathing dragon ready to take on the slightest perceived injustice.


He is by my side 24/7, even during my sleep. I know this because I can wake in the middle of the night just to turn over. Immediately a perimeter scan of my surroundings is done, a gauge of any changes in outdoor temps is also done, and I’m aware if any nearby neighbors are still up or have changed status since I went to bed. All of that is done within the time it takes to turn over and go right back to sleep.

It was after a night of sleeplessness and wrestling with the realization of all of this, that the epiphany hit me. It felt like I had been hit upside the head with a 2x4. It took me several days to recover and land squarely on my feet again.

Having shared that, I want to emphatically state that I believe God and the Universe, each of us, ALL are love - pure and simple. I also wholeheartedly believe that growth can be gentle. I affirm that change, hand-in-hand as Spirit, can also be positive and quick, and celebrated with ease. This however was not. It was brutal and it was a consciousness that took 50+ years to attain. I felt nauseous from the impact.

FEAR

I was sick to my stomach throughout that initial night because Spirit gave me the discernment to see exactly how my patterns have been repeating, and how I was in the throngs of repeating them again. I was ready to walk out on a perfectly good friendship when absolutely nothing was really wrong. That was the repeating pattern. I’ve accepted for quite awhile now that I am the common denominator in all my relationship angsts, and I’ve been asking Spirit, professionals and my tribe to help me figure it out. Finally, my part was made very clear to me.

After a long, sleepless night, I spoke to a friend early that morning – a friend who knows me well and that I could count on to speak honestly and boldly to me about my character defects – a friend that had experienced such behavior with me in the past. I explained that I was about to destroy yet another relationship. And why? What for? Glaringly the answer was “for no good reason – other than fear and hypervigilance.” I was filled with dread and remorse that I was about to do it again – to myself or anyone else.

Thank you my anonymous friend for being there for me, for being honest with me, and for helping me look my worst fears in the eye – only to see that they were me. Sincerely, thank you.

FEAR = False Events Appearing Real.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

My entire life I have been running away when there is even just the slightest hint of danger – real or perceived. My feet almost have to be nailed to the ground to make me stay put. I take permanent flight over a temporary feeling from a perceived threat that may or may not even be real. I’ve done it with family members, friends, boyfriends, and even in business. What the heck? How did I not see this before? More importantly, how do I break the cycle?

My friend’s suggestion gave me hope: If I’m not in imminent danger, if I’m okay – food, shelter, support, and the basics are covered – WAIT 48 HOURS. That’s it. Simply wait 48 hours after my fire breathing dragon perceives an injustice, keep my mouth shut and see if the world doesn’t blow up or burn down. Just sit quietly and see if the threat is real. Be still.

Okay, I thought. I know how to do that.

What I didn’t know is how hard it would be or how often throughout each day my fire breathing dragon would rear its ugly head when there was absolutely no good reason for it. The reality is that the only threat is me.

Then the question became, “How many times, once the dragon is alerted, have I overreacted and made decisions based on a perceived threat instead of making a decision from a well thought out personal preference?”

The answer was astonishing. My whole life. Every single time.

Not most of the time. Not just since adulthood. My whole life. Every single time.

REJECTION

Fear of rejection is the number one threat that alerts the fire breathing dragon. Each of us may have a different definition of rejection, but for me it comes in many forms. Here are my key triggers I’ve identified so far. The fear strikes immediately, is autonomic and uncontrolled.

I feel rejected when someone:
  • withholds affection
  • uses a sharp tongue
  • excludes me
  • is silent or unresponsive
  • leaves me

Here’s a shocker (she says facetiously)....

I am beginning to understand that the majority of the dissonance in my relationships has been due to my hypervigilance, FEAR and propensity to flight.

The article shared above does a good job of explaining how the mind can get stuck on evaluating everything as a Code Red Threat (my terminology and synopsis). Rejection should not be, and of course is not, a Code Red situation. I get that, and even though I’ve worked hard over the years to develop self love and spiritual centeredness, I’ve always known that fear of rejection loomed heavily over me. I’ve wondered since I’ve overcome so much already but couldn’t shake it, that perhaps it would always be with me and I just needed to learn to deal with it.

In the past, I’ve been told I take things too personally. I examined that, deeply. It didn’t fit. In my mind, I wasn’t taking things personally, I was being threatened. I’ve also been told on occasion that my fears seem like paranoia. So I researched paranoia. It didn’t fit either. I’ve also researched all kinds of personality disorders to see if any of them fit. Nope. But everything in the article does fit. The drama in my life and my relationship angsts that I have yet to get a handle on seem to boil down to my epiphany – hypervigilance and a fire breathing dragon.

That’s why the professionals missed it, and why I’m so grateful for light being shed on this phenomenon from a scientific and medical perspective. There is hope for those of us who have truly overcome the ramifications of abuse, but still have difficulty living a stable life. Trust me, I’ve tried everything else.

My mind and body, and even my heart, did not know until this week that the perceived injustices were not real.

It is important enough to repeat: Until this week, I did not know that the injustices I had perceived in past relationships were not real.

Wow.

The realization has changed how I interact, think and feel in almost everything I do. Life without listening to the ferocious dragon is much simpler, more calm, and beautiful.

The pain, the confusion, the wild thoughts, and the turmoil are still going on inside me (for now), but at least none of it (I hope) is spilling out on to others around me.

AN APOLOGY

I am grieving for the losses in my life. The realization that I cost a lot of wonderful people heartache is not an easy pill to swallow. What turmoil and drama!

Unfortunately, I cannot repair those bridges. Many I can no longer even contact. But I can do something about it moving forward. I can make sure that I allow at least 48 hours before turning the reigns over to my dragon.

Here’s the real kicker – So far, I have yet to go beyond a 4 hour wait without being shown unequivocally that my Code Red reaction was completely, and utterly unnecessary. More importantly, the perspective was outright WRONG – on all fronts! I thought I might experience that some of the time, but not ALL of the time!

What I also want my wonderful readers to understand is that currently this is happening at least a dozen times a day for me. A dozen times a day of pain – and joy. Pain because it is still internally tumultuous, but joy because it gives me the answers to so many unanswered questions in my life. Questions I’ve been asking counselors and God during prayer and meditation for years. I am grateful for the resolution.

TESTING THE HYPOTHESIS

The scientist and teacher in me needed to find a way to quantify what was happening, and track my progress. So I now have 2 tests I perform every time the dragon reacts. I allow the 48-hour wait period to see if it’s true, and I assign a number to the emotion from a 1-10 scale. Ten is the maximum, over the top, unable to calm my mind or control my emotions number. To date I’ve gone as high as 16.

The good news is that the escalation never lasts and I’m already seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. It is a fascinating experiment. Most numbers assigned begin to decline within a few hours. The egregious 16 lasted overnight, faded to a 10 by mid-morning and was gone completely by noon. The threat never existed.

Recovery is imminent. I’m positive of that. This is too elating, enlightening and encouraging for it not to be. I am training my mind to think differently, and my emotions to react differently. According to the article, I am also retraining my nervous system and physiological makeup, including the gray matter in my brain. For someone who is a traumatic brain injury thriver, that is exhilarating.

For anyone interested, Dr. Caroline Leaf has made a lot of progress in the field of rebuilding neural network connectivity. You can visit her website and buy her books (here).

It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to make decisions based on personal preference vs. fear. For now, and I suspect for several months, I will be in “test” mode so I don’t plan on making any decisions for the next six months. Period. I’ve been trying all my life to get this corrected. A few more months of laying low is nothing.

TBI HS SYMPTOMS

My symptoms ramp up with stress. According to the attached article and a multitude of other studies worldwide, that should be no surprise. I can’t help but wonder how much LESS stress I will encounter once the dragon sleeps and the drama decreases. I have wanted nothing but love and stability since I could walk. Love – check. It’s a spiritual thing. We are ONE and I no longer need anything external to know and be love. Stability however? It’s been elusive. Until now. I am so hopeful. Determined.

In the last two months I’ve had three injuries. I took a fall that resulted in a concussion. I also lost time while cooking (a type of seizure), and scalded my hand. I’m lucky. It looks like only one finger will permanently scar. And recently I had a heat stroke. Throughout all this, the only stress I was actually experiencing was internal because the dragon was on a rampage. There wasn’t anything else wrong in my life.

Rebuilding neural networks and leaving the Code Red zone is going to be life changing on many levels. I can hardly wait to see how it plays out with my TBI.

The Rest of the Story

It is very odd to me that I have incurred a traumatic brain injury as an adult because the truth is; I probably suffered brain injury from several incidents that occurred while I was growing up. I’ve had more than one neurologist tell me that, but there’s no way to confirm it. Here’s what I think is great about both aspects though.

We are learning from solid research that gray matter can be rebuilt. It doesn’t matter whether the networks atrophied from an endangered childhood as depicted in the attached article, or whether it’s the result of direct brain damage. The result is the same. That’s great. I celebrate that. I still have hopes of regaining what I’ve lost in abilities one day.

And I want to take it a step further.

It’s not enough that we rebuild the brain for functionality and IQ. The entire system – the mind, autonomic and emotional – has to understand what has happened. Those of us in the trenches have to be made aware that our perceptions are altered. And I’d be willing to bet that it is true across the board. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, your race, your age of atrophy, or age of epiphany/understanding – case in point – or what caused the decline. All of it has to be relearned and rebuilt.

I’ve been through the Byron Katie training, “Is It True?” I’ve also learned to check in with others to see if we’re on the same page. What I’m talking about is at a much deeper level. And it is that level that has to be addressed for those of us that are skewed. Everything else enhances the quality of our lives and gives us necessary skills, but it doesn’t get rid of the dragon.

Lastly, as a former teacher in a low socioeconomic school, I can’t help but wonder how many of my students could have benefited from this knowledge. Perhaps they weren’t suffering from disruptive behavioral disorders such as ADD/ADHD, OCD or the like. Maybe they were (are) stuck in Code Red and have a fire breathing dragon that’s by their side all the time.

You take something away from a 3 or 4 year old in a Code Red state of mind, what happens? You frown at a 6 year old who’s being abused at home and I guarantee you they go Code Red, at least internally. Two students have a disagreement in the hallway and one or both of them operate from a Code Red status, well, watch out. I saw it daily.

What if we could teach NVC/MYL, meditation, yoga and other techniques to help keep the dragons at bay? What if it became common knowledge that we need to educate parents and children on this phenomenon? I don’t think we have to wait until socioeconomic changes trickle down and drug kids in the meantime with psych meds. Those things may be needed but this is also something that can help people now!

I realize that sounds simple. Trust me. I’m in the throngs of it – as an adult – and I know it is not. But I believe it is doable. It starts with articles like the one I have attached, and research by educators like Dr. Leaf, and internal peace work like that of NVC/MYL. It spreads with you and me, the medical community, the school systems, and the parents.

We don’t automatically have to label troubled kids or at risk youth or even adults for that matter.

Rethink. Retrain. Rebuild.


It’s a gauntlet I’ve picked up that I doubt I’ll ever put down. In fact, “My Fire Eating Dragon” sounds like a good book title to me. I’m on it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

8/12/16-They Come and They Go


WARNING: This post is a bit snarky. Read at your own risk. And for what it’s worth.... I’m feeling better just writing about it and getting this published. You’ve been warned.

I’m tired. And perhaps that is not a good time to write a post, but it is what it is and I’m tired of being anything other than what I am – in each moment – whatever that may be. I no longer have the energy for it. All of the shoulda’s, woulda’s and coulda’s are just going to have to take a break for awhile.

I’m also tired of trying to catch up on a blog that is so ridiculously behind I can’t even see it in my rearview mirror anymore. So you, my wonderful readers, are about to get a synopsis of 3 exciting, boring, wonderful and tumultuous months.

You’ll have to read between the lines and make shit up because I’m also tired of talking about my illness. For now.

I’m tired of trying to make sense of it all too. I’m tired of trying to understand why people closest to me don’t get it (and by it, I mean me). And I’m tired of trying to think. It hurts. Literally. Get me. Love me. Understand me. Have patience for me. Or stay the hell away from me. I don’t care. Did I mention I’m tired?

So here’s a novel idea. I quit. I’m going to do what I can, when I can, in whatever way that shows up. If that is frustrating for others, I don’t care. For now. I’m sure I’ll get back to my cheery, loving self again soon.

And yeah, I hear it. I can’t believe it either. And I’m telling myself I need to change it. I need to get connected, centered and happy before I scare people. If I wait for that, however, I’ll die in the silence. And that I won’t do anymore for anyone. Not even for me. So I write.

Read or don’t read. I don’t care. For now.

LOVE COMES RUNNING

When I left CA in May, I landed on a wing and a prayer in the Coconino National Forest outside Flagstaff, AZ, on the familiar A-1 Mountain Road where I started off with Bob Wells originally last October. I had nothing left in me. What little emotional reserves that remained when I left CA were used up on the road back to AZ.

So when I arrived, I parked, turned my engine off and basically sent out a SOS to any friends that might be in the area, and went to sleep. Within 24 hours I heard from dozens of beautiful beings and had 2 rigs parked next to me. As word got out that I was okay, a bff in TX borrowed a saying from her bff in CO, “Love comes running.”

Thank you to all that responded. And a special thank you to Al and Judy for taking walks with me, letting me rest, and even feeding me. You nursed me back to life without even knowing the depths of your gestures. Love came running, indeed. Namaste.



By 5/15/16, Al had hit the road and I felt strong enough to join my good friend Bob Wells and the rest of the caravan camped about 20 miles away. Judy went the evening before. I promptly had a blow out on the interstate. At first I panicked, but the furbabies and I were okay, and I soon realized nothing else mattered. After I collected myself, I called my insurance company. They dispatched a tow truck and the furbabies and I got a “free” ride to the local tire company. Since it was a Sunday, we spent the night in their parking lot. Monday morning bright and early, I was their first customer. I bought two new tires and felt quite proud that I handled it all (with some confirmation and reassurance from my friend Bob by phone).



2016 SUMMER RTR

For the next few weeks a lot of us hung out in a camp near Williams, AZ, waiting for the summer RTR. The 2016 Summer RTR was scheduled for June 16-June 26, but it was called short as the crowd outgrew forest regulations. No one expected such a large crowd and we did not have the necessary permit to continue so the rangers politely invited us to leave - by noon the next day.

The week that we were there was full of good times, gatherings and classes. It was good to see old friends and make new ones too. In fact, the RTR peeps will get a dedicated blog post soon. Until then, if you want to know more about the RTR, here are 2 links to get you started:





EXODUS AND GIFTS

When the RTR was called to an abrupt halt, we all had to go somewhere. I wanted cooler temps! Flag was in the middle of a very unusual heat wave so a friend and I scouted for higher grounds. We found the ticket near Mt. Humphreys, the tallest peak in AZ. Several of the RTR folk followed us. I will write a blog post about our stay at Mt. Humphreys later (because some really cool things happened there; pun intended), but for now here is a pic of us leaving the RTR. Bob joked about me leading a caravan. My response? ....

Now that’s funny right there; I don’t care who you are.



MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK

After we left Mt. Humphreys, Robert (a new friend from the RTR) and I decided to join Bob and some of the caravan in Leadville, CO. Along the way we stayed overnight at Mesa Verde National Park. That is another place that will get a post of its own because it was AWE-mazing! Until then, here’s just ONE pic of the ancient cliff dwellings we saw. The park protects at least 600 cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Pueblo people that inhabited the area from AD 600 to 1300.


LEADVILLE, CO

I haven’t decided whether or not Leadville will get its own blog post. As the highest incorporated city in North America, it certainly fit the bill for cooler temps, but it also unraveled me. Getting there we traveled through some beautiful country, but the trip was long and arduous. Then, once we arrived, there were people everywhere! Don’t get me wrong. I like people. I are one, but I require quiet time and there just wasn’t much of that during our stay in Leadville. There were some other issues too, including poor wifi signal. I may share more later. We’ll see. Overall, I may be in the vast minority of the U.S. who isn’t a fan.

In spite of my take on Leadville, it was a privilege to camp with the Mobile Codger, Randy Vines, and his group, as well as Bob again. We had some great campfire chats and you can read more about Leadville and our time together on Bob’s blog (here) or on Randy’s blog (here).

Campfire Chats

Campfire Dancing - Maybe - Sort of.

During our time in Leadville, Robert and I decided to buy Bob’s trailer and start traveling together. (Thank you, Bob!) As friends and traveling companions it’s a win-win for both of us. He upgrades from a Camry to a trailer, and I get help driving and maintaining my van. So, on 7/14, my birthday, we took off for Pahrump, NV to retrieve the trailer. That was a straight run. We went through Las Vegas (déjà vu) and right back to Flagstaff. The following two pics are a summation of that trip from my perspective.



That last pic was taken while we were outside Flagstaff near Bonneville in a campground that is known as “Fred’s Camp.” We had a couple of good days there and then for no apparent reason, the wifi signal gave out. Robert has to have high speed access for his work so no bueno! We checked with other campers in the area and they confirmed the same for their sites. We waited one more day and then moved down the road to what is now known as “Camp James.”

Flagstaff has monsoons. Big ones. You can read more about them (here). I will write a blog post about all of that as well, but in the few weeks we were there (with a lot of the caravan members from RTR), it was somewhat grueling – at least for us. The trailer hitch had ‘issues’ so Robert made trips to WY without me. That was a bummer. Then I almost got stuck on the hill due to the monsoons washing out the roads. And finally, I did get stuck, literally, in the mud while trying to leave.

I finally got off the hill (thank you Michael! and James). Robert came back from WY to get me and we decided to promptly leave Flagstaff while the getting was good. Currently, I am in WY with him as he visits family and awaits his daughter’s wedding and festivities during Labor Day weekend. The good news is – I no longer have to drive by myself. The bad news is – it appears I no longer can. For now.


I’ll fill in the blanks on some of it in future posts, but there you have it – the long and the short of it for the last 3 months. I hope you’re not as tired as I am after just reading about it. I promise I will try to make future blogs more cheery. Or not. Whatever. Later!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

7/13/16-Volcanic Tablelands Bishop CA 20160505-20150510


The furbabies and I loved the Volcanic Tablelands outside of Bishop CA. A huge shout out and thank you to my friend, Glenn, for sending me the coordinates to a fabulous campsite.

It was here that I discovered my Nonnikins likes heights! Who knew?!? Not only does she like heights, she would scale the cliffs like she was a mountain goat! It scared me immensely, but it made her so happy I had to hold my breath and let her play.


Here’s a staged pic of Nonni and Bentley on the ledge. Nonni’s expression seems to say, “What’s the big deal?” Oy vey.


Ravens love to soar high in the sky, and we were so high up Ravens buzzed us daily. It was a thrill to hear their unique “swish swish” wing-flapping rhythm.



Another pic of my darling furbabies.


You should have seen me trying to drive stakes through the VOLCANIC TABLELANDS in order to secure the patio and dog mats. There’s a reason it’s named “volcanic and table”. Derrrr me. LOL.

Nonetheless, the land, such as it was, yielded beautiful plants and flowers. Amazing.

PIC 7

One day I looked up to see Jim and Gayle, of Life’s LittleAdventures. After following their blog for almost 5 years I finally got to meet them in person. You can read their blog post on our meeting (here). What a thrill that was for me! Thank you Gayle and Jim!



To celebrate Mother’s Day, May 8, I took a pic of Nonni and Bentley. And my bff, Connie, sent me a pic of our Miss Hope. A purrfect ending to my stay in CA.





TBI HS SYMPTOMS - The Rest of the Story

After Jim and Gayle left, I was wishing I had been brave enough to tell them that I was alone and scared, and worried about getting back to Arizona to be with Bob and the caravan again. But how do you tell someone you just met a story like that? You don’t. Or at least I don’t.

Plus I was in constant contact with my bff and tribe member, Tracy, and she had offered to come get me so I wasn’t exactly all alone. Still, I was at the end of my tether, so to speak, and concerned each day that I might not make it to the next. Colvin came to Volcanic Tablelands after I had been there awhile, but stayed just two nights. He was about to leave again when I had one of my worst seizures ever. He stayed with me through that, and we parted ways for good the following day.

Here is where I hesitate to be transparent with you my wonderful readers, but I am committed to making a difference for others that might also be recovering from a brain injury. I’m also committed to living courageously and authentically as described by BreneBrown in The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. It is who I want to be. So, I share….

The seizure from hell left me partially blind in my lower left eye, and to date, that has not cleared up. I can only assume by now that it is permanent. No, I am not driving all the way back to Texas to be checked by my doctors. Repeatedly they have made it clear there is nothing that can be done for my HS, Hippocampal Sclerosis, or the tissue damage that has been done behind my left eye from a horrible tumble I took last year that landed me in the ER. I will see my doctors again next spring when I return to Texas, and that is that. I know to some that seems highly irresponsible.

So might this next bit of information….

Once we agreed we were going our separate ways, Colvin headed north as had been our plan all along, and I plugged Flagstaff in to Siri. Here is where I did something you might not understand....

I drove.

The day after a major seizure, and with vision in my left eye partially gone, I drove. And it felt good.

I’ll share more about the drive from Bishop, CA to Flagstaff, AZ and what happened there in my next post, but at 40 mph I drove the back roads to freedom and restoration. It was worth it. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Was it the smartest thing for me to do? Logically, probably not. Healthwise, it was marginal. For my spirit, it was electrifying.

Was I afraid? Yes. I felt the fear and did it anyway. Could it have gone a million ways wrong? Yes. But it didn’t. I am so blessed to have so many who care for me. Also, my faith in God and Oneness has never been stronger. Wait until you read my upcoming blog posts my wonderful readers. You are going to meet some amazing people.


XOXO and KOKO!