Tag Archive | finding yourself

Clarity

This photograph popped up on my Facebook memories the other day.  It was taken at the St. Elmo Ghost Town in Colorado, in August 2015.  It was one of the last trips my ex-husband and I took before we separated about 6 months later.

That was not a good trip.  I mean, the trip itself was good, as I love traveling and seeing new places, and that vacation had a lot of new places to see!  But that trip was the end of my marriage.  I suppose anyone whose marriage has ended can probably point to the month, the day, or even the moment when they were done.  It might not mean that they marched down to the courthouse that afternoon, or even a month later, but in looking back, they knew.

My moment happened on the first day of that trip – at lunch at a Boulder brewery shortly after we flew into Denver that morning.  It was a big thing, one that I could never let go of, even after the initial incident settled down.  I told myself that I would see how things went for a little while, and see if I was satisfied with the response.  See if he followed through on the promises he made.  I’m sure you can guess that the response wasn’t good enough.  The trust was gone and with that, the marriage.

I don’t think I’m different than anyone else.  I never thought I was someone who would get divorced.  I probably stayed too long.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; wanted to believe that things would change.  I weighed the pros and cons of upsetting the balance of my life.  I went through the self-doubt and the wondering if I would ever find anyone who loved me or even cared.  Maybe my marriage was enough.  Maybe you never got the fairy tale, and something less was enough.

I am no different than anybody else in that I sometimes don’t feel confident about who I am, what I have achieved, and where I’m going.  I know in reality that it is nonsense, but it’s tough not to compare yourself to others, to not assume that everybody else somehow has it all together so much more than you do, and to not be your own worst critic.  I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve to be happy, I don’t deserve the good fortune I have had. I ruminate more when I’m tired and stressed, and I’m trying to break myself of this insidious habit.

I had a beloved boss and mentor who used to say, “you work someplace as long as it works for you.”  I have always remembered that, and I use it myself now too.  It applies to work and career, but it also applies to our personal lives.  Dr. Phil is known for asking guests, “how’s that working for you?”  It is kind of the same question.  If you are still doing the same thing, and it isn’t making you happy, don’t you owe it to yourself to try something different?

They say that sometimes you have to lose what you thought you wanted in order to make room for something better.  That one door has to close before another will open.  And that you have to sit with yourself, and learn that you are enough, before you can see that someone else is not.  I see a lot of people get stuck in life, and we all do, but you have a choice of how you will deal with it.  Will you maintain the status quo, and keep making the same choices that aren’t serving you, or will you make a change?

I have never been someone who just goes rushing into things.  It isn’t my nature.  I’m not particularly adventurous, even though some people might think otherwise.  After all, I did decide to pack up my car and head off on a several month road trip, with no real plan and only a very loose itinerary.  But I don’t see myself that way.  The irony of this is that my cautious nature used to annoy my ex-husband to no end.  But he would circle round a topic in an endless loop, unhappy with the status quo, complaining, and yet unwilling to ever do anything to change it.  I’m sure he’s still circling round his endless loop.  It might take me a while to make up my mind, evaluating all my choices and the consequences, but once I do, I set the plan in motion and go for it.

I have known that I am happier without him, but it is hard to define why.  Our marriage wasn’t awful on a day to day basis.  It was just… Stagnant.  Lifeless.  Unfulfilling.  I see this picture now and I can see exactly why, in a way that I didn’t understand then.  The body language of the man in that photo says it all.  He didn’t love me.  He didn’t want to be with me.  Posing for that photo with me was a chore.  I get that some people just don’t like being in photos, but the body language in that photo was the way it had become for him with me.  He looked this way with me, whether it was recorded or not.  He was already done, before I ever got to that point.

I have had a lot of ups and downs since this photo was taken.  My divorce was ugly and messy.  My former job was ugly and messy.  Closing those doors meant that I could let those things go and allow the light to come back in through another door.  I didn’t want to be a victim, but sometimes I have felt like one.  However, there is no future in that – being the victim.  All that holds is blame and more stagnation.  I was able to learn to shine again, and find that inner strength – the strength that had been there all along, but is sometimes hard to see when you are weighed down by other people’s shit.

Is my new life perfect?  Nope – not on your life.  But it is a lot more even-keeled.  I’m content.  Comfortable in my own skin.  And happy.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

 

Facebook Memories

Ah Facebook memories, you are a complicated bunch…

I have been on Facebook for a little more than 10 years now and have posted various photos and thoughts on life along the way.  As a result, most days, I get a Facebook memories post.  And that’s where it gets complicated.

I, like other people I’m sure, have a tendency to want to remember the happy times and not the bad memories.  Facebook, I’m sure, wants to remind you of those.  But not all of my memories are happy, and even some of those that were at one time have become tainted by what came later.

I see all those posts of my early marriage, when I thought I was going to have a genuinely happy union.  I was bright-eyed and fresh-faced and wanting to make it work.  But the posts later showed a person who was just pretending.  Keeping up the appearance of a happy marriage, while I felt like I was the only one trying in our relationship.

Me on the Mary’s Rock Trail

I planned vacations, only to hear complaints about how a drive was too long or a historic site too boring, or how we didn’t do what he wanted to do, even though he hadn’t given any input when asked.  I see the pictures of him hiking far in front of me, with no interest in interacting.  I see pictures of my food at dinner, or selfies at national parks, because there was no way he was going to agree to a picture with me.  I see what I call the mug shots; those times when I insisted on a photo, and he just tried to ruin it with a sour expression.  Those Facebook memories are complicated; I loved the places we went and the things we did, but I hated having to “manage” a person who was so often so focused on the negative.

But I also see the experiences that have come since then – the trips with girlfriends and by myself, the hikes, the happy hours, family times, the morning walks.  I see that I have found joy again, that cheerful face that shines through in photos.  I have grown immeasurably and become more comfortable in my own skin.  I have gotten older, and lost love ones along the way, but still see the happy times.  I have faced my share of adversity, and despite it, I enjoy the experience of living.  I enjoy my life!  Those Facebook memories are welcomed.  Places that I want to see again, and people that I love spending time with.

My Facebook memories currently include lots of photos of my trip last year – I love seeing them but it is making me nostalgic about being on the road again.  I think about all the places I visited, and all the ones I didn’t have time to make it to.  I long for that kind of freedom again, and I hope I get more opportunities to travel without so much of an agenda or a timeline.  I worried about that last year as my trip began; would I be too nervous if I didn’t have everything planned out?  Where would I stay each night?  What if I got bored?  What if I got lost?  But it was quite the opposite in fact – I came to enjoy not having a reservation to make it to each night.  I could stay longer if I wanted to or move on earlier.  Freedom.

Me on the bank of the Yellowstone River

For now, work is keeping me from being on the road.  So I focus on those memories, and knowing that I will be making more soon!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Glacier and my Marriage

One of the reasons for this trip was to shake off the painful end of my marriage and start fresh.  I don’t talk about it much, but perhaps I should.

Glacier National Park was one of the places that I had long talked about visiting with my ex-husband when we were married.  We never made it there.  At the end of our marriage, and during our divorce, I came to know another man in my husband, one so completely foreign to me that I wondered who I had actually been married to.  His behavior and his treatment of me was such a complete 180 from the early years, that I began to believe that it had all been a game to him.  I still don’t know who he really was, and I probably never will.

I would never have been able to afford this trip if I had remained married.  Getting divorced meant a level of financial (and emotional) freedom that I had not known in years.  My ex was an incredible drain on my finances, because he didn’t pull his weight financially and he was a huge spendthrift.  That was the one fight that we had over and over and over in our marriage, because his spending was bleeding us dry.  It was at the point that I was considering not allowing him to have his own credit card, and just giving him a cash allowance.  What is the point of being married to someone if you feel like you are treating them like a child?  I know he wasn’t happy with the situation either, but for whatever reason, he was just never willing to rein in the spending.

Long story short, getting divorced meant I was able to save a lot more money.  The drain on my life was gone.  Additionally, if I had still been married, he probably wouldn’t have been too keen on the idea of me taking several months away.  Let’s be honest, he probably would have wanted me to get a new job right away (or not leave the old one), so he could continue wasting all our money.

So, even though getting divorced was not what I had wanted for myself, and even though that year and a half was the most miserable time in my life so far, it was a blessing.  I am happier now that I don’t have his negativity and contempt weighing on my soul.  Someone else can have him be a drain on their finances and clean up his messes.  Someone else can listen to his lies.  I’m way better off.  I had a friend who told me that he looked at photos of my ex and me, and saw a woman trying to make it work, trying to be happy, and a man standing next to her who didn’t care about her at all.  He was right.  I don’t think my ex cared about me.  At least not at the end; I’ll never know if he ever did.

Before I went on this trip, I had never hiked alone.  Realistically though, I probably had.  My ex never actually hiked with me; instead he consistently walked between 20 and 50 feet in front of me when we went hiking.  There was rarely any interaction.  I have more pictures of his back, hiking in front of me, than I do of the two of us together.  So when I took this trip, I thought about that.  I had been hiking alone for most of my marriage.  This wouldn’t be any different – I got this.

 

I have told the story of the hat that he gave me. That hat that he had purchased for the girlfriend he was with at the end of our marriage, then decided to give to me instead.  The Avalanche Lake hike in Glacier National Park was the first hike I wore that hat for.  I thought I would hate it, but that hat grew on me.  It was a way to turn around the past and empower myself – to find my joy.  This was just the beginning of that new life, of feeling like I could travel by myself, hike by myself, and make my own way.

Me at Avalanche Lake

Glacier was just the start…

Circus Trip 2018: Washington

Day 1, July 16, 2018

My trip began in a whirlwind of to-do’s and jet lag.  Yes, I realize the contradiction there, and that’s part of what made that week such insanity…  I got home from my London trip early Sunday morning and was planning to depart on my big road trip one week later, the next Sunday morning.

In between I had to:

Work my last two days at my job
Do some happy hours/get togethers with friends and say my temporary goodbyes
Pack the car
See my parents
Get groceries
Get my house in order for several months away
Set up my new health insurance
Get Coraline set up at my parent’s house
See my horse
Get some sleep!  The pain of jetlag is real!

I took an extra day to get everything done, because I was stressing a little bit.  Are you kidding me?  What were you thinking – deciding to take off alone in your car for a several month jaunt around the country!!?  I went anyway.

Pulling away

I got on the road on Monday morning, July 16, 2018 at a few minutes after 9.  I had planned to take Highway 2, which is a little slower but more beautiful than I-90 in Washington.  I got to the junction, got on Highway 2, and was greeted by traffic.  At a standstill.  The only movement was from people taking the exit to get off…  I had a few minutes to ponder before I had to decide, and chose to get back off Highway 2 and head down to I-90 instead.  Later I saw there had been a fatality accident, so who knows how long I would have been sitting there…

I decided that I wasn’t going to sight-see my way through Washington, since I have lived here my whole life and I can always see Washington on a weekend trip!  I did want to break up the drive a bit though, since Washington is a wide state.

Once I made it through the Seattle metro area and onto I-90, it was smooth sailing but very hot!  I stopped for lunch in Roslyn, Washington and poked around a bit there.  I have driven by so many times, but have never stopped.  Roslyn was founded as a coal mining company town in 1883, but eventually transitioned to forestry and tourism.  You probably know Roslyn without knowing you do; it was the fictitious town of Cicely, Alaska in the television show Northern Exposure.

I ate my lunch at the cemetery, because I love historic cemeteries; they are so peaceful.  Roslyn’s is rather unique, in that it has 26 different ethnic cemeteries all next to each other.  It reflects the ethnic diversity of the early miners, and the headstones and decorations in the cemetery show the cultural differences well.  After I ate, I wandered the quiet streets and took a few photos, but didn’t spend much time. The Brick Tavern is said to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in Washington state, and was used for scenes of Northern Exposure.

 

After leaving Roslyn, I continued my drive, and stopped for a bit at the Wild Horses monument in Vantage.  The monument is a group of metal horses placed on the cliffs overlooking the Columbia River.  It is an iconic view from Interstate 90 for anyone who has driven this stretch.  I have loved these horses for years, but it has been a long time since I stopped here to check them out.

The sculpture was designed and created by sculptor David Govedare, from Chewelah, Washington.  The original idea was for a 36-foot tall woven steel basket, tipped by Grandfather, the symbolic Great Spirit, to let 18 horses escape and run free.

The sculpture was intended as a gift during Washington’s Centennial celebration in 1989. The state gave the land to Grant County, but donor funds fell short and there wasn’t enough money to complete the project. 15 horses were completed and stand atop the hill.  You can hike up the steep hill to get a close up view, but the temperature was 98 degrees that afternoon so I opted not to climb that hill.

 

I arrived at my destination at about 7 that evening – Elk, Washington, just outside of Spokane.  I was staying with a childhood friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in ages!  Kim has a new baby – he was 7 months old last July.  We checked out her farm, ate pizza, drank wine, and caught up on life.  It was good to not have to worry about finding a campground right out of the gate and it was relaxing spending time with an old, dear friend.  It was a great start to the trip!

Kim’s Farm, where I spent my first night

 

Bham-Elk-Map

Bellingham to Elk, Washington

 

Circus Trip 2018: The Series Begins

I’m always a bit behind on this blog.  I love writing about my travels and goings-on, and I like to be informative, so my posts always take a while to create.  2018 was a big year for travel for me, since almost half the year was spent away from home.

Since I have wrapped up London, my big road trip last year, the one I named the Circus Road Trip, is the next series on the agenda.  I had been staring at a blank page for a while, pondering how to start.  A writer’s block so to speak.  I mean, how do I start to tackle such a huge, momentous and long event in my life?  I didn’t even really know why, until a conversation last night made me realize.  It’s my Dad.

My Dad loved seeing places and loved road trips too.  He built out my car with my bed for the trip; I mean let’s be real, I was the assistant on that project.  He always read my blog posts and looked at my Facebook pictures.  My mom always made sure to tell him when there was a new post, because he didn’t have a Facebook account of his own.  He always wanted to know where I had been and what I thought of it, and mentioned places I had gone to that he wanted to visit too.

For those of you who are newer to this blog, I wrote last summer about the Circus Road Trip’s origins.  I departed in mid-July and spent several months on the road, traveling through much of the United States, and seeing so much along the way.

Today it has been one month (and also four weeks) since Dad died.  It has kind of flown by, with all the tasks to be done, trying to maintain some semblance of my own life, and let’s be honest, some days where I didn’t feel up to doing much at all.  He would have loved to read about this trip, and I know he was (sometimes impatiently) waiting for these posts to appear.  I know some of the rest of you have been waiting as well.

This is the last posed photograph of my Dad and me, taken in Michigan before my cousin’s wedding in September, while I was on the trip.

So this series is for you Dad.  I know you are up there somewhere reading.  I love you and I hope you enjoy.

 

Note: For those of you who want to read or refresh yourself on the posts I posted while I was on the trip, here they are in order:

1. The Reveal
2. The Build
3. The Hat
4. 11 Days In
5. August Already?
6. Land of Lincoln
7. Heartbreaking Bridge
8. 1 Month In
9. Respite
10. Comparisons
11. Early September
12. New Beginnings
13. A Break
14. Westward
15. Reset
16. Rain
17. The Mighty 5
18. Historic Toilets
19. Kindness
20. Down time
21. Blowout
22. Still Sick
23. No Regrets
24. The Home Stretch
25. Withdrawals

Circus Trip 2018: One Month In

It is hard to believe, but as of today I have been on the road a month! I had my doubts about whether I would be able to last this long…

I am in Lexington, KY, waiting for my tour of the Mary Todd Lincoln house in Lexington, KY. It’s raining…

To date, I have stayed under a roof for five nights. Four in homes, and 1 in the living quarters of a horse trailer (think air conditioned RV if you aren’t familiar). The rest have been camping, with some combo of car sleeping and tent camping. The car beats the tent for comfort, as long as it isn’t too hot.

I have been having fun seeing everything, and have come to some realizations. This life of travel suits me (although the rain is tough when I am camping). Abraham Lincoln lived in an awful lot of places. I have been to five Lincoln home sites (not counting the White House) and still there are more.

I knew this, of course, but it is so hard passing up so many cool sites! There are so many places that deserve a whole week just on their own! If I did that though I would never make it home! Hmmm… Interesting idea.

I love meeting and chatting with people along the way. Getting book recommendations, learning people’s stories, sharing a little about mine. I think some people don’t know what to think about a woman wandering, with only this vague itinerary. But every now and again, someone just gets it! That is neat to experience.

I will never love bourbon. There is a lot of great wine around though!!

I do wish the rain would stop, and that all mosquitoes die. I shouldn’t really be complaining about the rain; it hasn’t been much of an issue. So far, no ticks – so someone above seems to be looking down on me. Happy middle of August!!

The Circus Trip: Revealed

I have said before that this blog has been my happy place for the last several years.  I love travel, history, and wine, and I love sharing my adventures with all of you.  Yet they say change is the one constant, and that holds true in my own life too.

As a result of recent life changes, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection, and a lot of way-finding.  As this directional adjustment is going to include travel, and likely quite a bit of wine, it only makes sense to me that I include you on my journey here.  It is guaranteed to be a lot bumpier and more raw than some of my other journeys, but the rest is basically unknown territory.

As is to be expected, I have felt a bit lost after my divorce.  I know a lot of people do.  My divorce wasn’t easy or amicable and I found that the man I thought I had married wasn’t at all the man I had thought he was.  I don’t want to dwell on this or relive it, but it certainly contributed to my feelings of loss recently, as have some other events.  They have damaged my ability to trust, and I am still healing.  It’s pretty amazing how a few people and their actions can make you question your self-worth so thoroughly, even when you are a confident, intelligent, capable person.

As one of my employees is fond of saying, “What fresh fuckery is this?”  I feel like I have experienced more than my fair share of fuckery lately, and I need to let it go.  There are a whole lot of circus animals out there that just aren’t mine to care about anymore…  And therein lies the title of this post…

Often though, in the face of adversity, there is opportunity.  I have decided to do something huge, just for me; I am quitting my job to travel the U.S. for a few months.  Just me and my car, whom I have named Viaje.   I need to find myself again.

I never thought that I would be a person who would just hit the road without much of an itinerary or a timeline; that world is for hippier, more free-spirited people than me.  But I think something more extreme is what I need to get out of the rut I find myself stuck in.  I need to figure out again that I am strong and capable, and that I am enough.  I need to relearn that there is purpose in this life.  I need to know that there are kind people in this world, even if I know I will run into some unkind ones too.  Hopefully the kind ones will outnumber the jerks.  I need to figure out how to make it alone.  I need to see and feel peace again.  I need to heal.

I am on a budget, unless one of you wants to be my anonymous benefactor, so I’ll be doing it with a combination of car camping and couch-surfing, with perhaps the occasional hotel night thrown in if I am really itching for a good, hot shower and some TV (I can’t let that happen too often though – darned budget).  If any friends and family, both well-known and little known, are interested in sharing some time, or inviting me for a brief stay to connect or reconnect and find some laughter and human connection, I would welcome that!

I won’t be going everywhere, but if you would like to get together, and/or are willing to put up with me for a night or two (or more, but that would be completely up to you and my itinerary), let me know here and we’ll see if I will be in your area.

The next few months of blog posts are likely to deal more with my emotional experience than I have revealed here in the past, but I decided that my process of healing needs to include that level of openness.  Maybe someone else can benefit from my trials.  Other antics may include freezing my butt off, sweating to death, not being able to get the camp stove working, singeing my hair in a campfire, spraying bug spray in my eye, turning into one giant, itchy mosquito welt (they love me) and being bitten by (hopefully not) ticks.  The trip is also bound to include some gorgeous sunsets, great hikes, fantastic historical sites, and wine consumed from either a mug or a melamine cup…  There might even be smores!

They say what doesn’t kill you…??? To that end, I will still be posting here, and as I still have a ton of previous trip stuff to catch up on (including a trip to London that I arrived home from early this morning!!!), this blog will be a combination of past and present posts.  I will likely be posting less frequently though, as I will have to find a place for the night each night…  Priorities…  You will be more likely to find current updates on Instagram or Twitter (my username on both platforms is @wineandhistory), so I hope you will follow along there as well.

I hope you will follow along on this crazy adventure of mine!