Tag Archives: change

Journey

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This is what I am moving toward: my family, grandchildren especially.

I looked at my list of posts over the past year and was tickled to see a post about Monarch butterflies followed by my getting-ready-to-move post. Disconnected? I think not.

Both posts are about migration and survival.

My last post I was packing in preparation for my move from Connecticut to Texas. That certainly qualifies as a migration, and not in preparation for winter, metaphorical or seasonal.

This post is about the move itself.

Day 1

I picked up the 16-foot Budget moving truck at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 14th. My plan was to load up the truck and leave the following morning.

Oh, the plans of mice and men–of mice and men.

I arrived home to find no one working, no one packing, no one accomplishing anything necessary to achieving my goal of leaving the next morning.

I took a few deep breaths and began to engage each son, explaining what I would like to see done and why. I always include the why when engaging my children, grown or not.

I realize now that I handled the move entirely wrong. Hindsight and all that.

Needless to say, we (yes, they finally kicked into gear) continued packing while my moving truck sat empty at the top of the driveway. It remained there overnight. I tried not to cry.

Day 2

Saturday morning dawned, filled with bird songs and cries, sunshine and fluffy clouds. It was a perfect day to begin our journey.

And then I looked around and realized there were only a handful of boxes completely packed, sealed and labeled. The kitchen was not packed.

I had tried to sell as much stuff as I could at a 3-day tag sale. Very little interest and less than $100 made, I now had all that stuff there that needed to be dealt with (dump and Goodwill).

I don’t remember what time the boys finally woke up and began to pack. It wasn’t early.

It was on this day that I got an answer to the question: “Are you going with us to Texas?”

I had been asking my 21-year-old son this for weeks with no answer. I mean not even his typical grunt was forthcoming. He didn’t know.

Suddenly, he was coming with us. He had not assisted us in any significant way prior to this point. I was nearly pulling my hair out.

Now I had one more person’s belongings to accommodate on the truck and my storage unit (which I already rented – my daughter picked up the keys for me that week).

If nothing else, I am a mom. I would never leave one of my children if I could help them be where they wanted to be. And I certainly knew that Texas, specifically Austin, was where this computer programmer, game developing musician needed to be. Of course, he could come with us.

And suddenly things were happening. It was like the trip itself had been holding its breath, waiting for my 21-year-old to commit to the move.

The floodgates opened and stuff flew into boxes, got loaded onto the truck, and progress was being made.

However, not enough got done to leave on Saturday. I announced that I had canceled our hotel reservations for the next two days and replanned our trip for a Sunday departure.

Everyone stopped working and called it a day; not what I wanted.

I was exhausted; I was beyond exhausted. I took two naproxen for pain and called it a night.

Day 3

I had been waking up around 4:30 a.m. the last three days, and this day was no exception. I can get a lot done in the early morning hours. So I did.

Packed boxes were everywhere. Many household items had made it out to the truck in the evening prior, much that had to be unloaded before we could begin seriously loading the truck properly. Yes, there is a right way to load a moving truck, and I had to supervise closely while still trying to pack and supervise the boys packing. I was exhausted by 10 a.m.

Around this time my 27-year-old son arrived to pick up the house and pickup truck keys and discuss caring for the house until his father decided to engage (my estranged husband was giving everyone the silent treatment, refusing to answer the phone or discuss me and our sons leaving for Texas). I had asked one of my son’s friends to help care for the house, to house sit even which he agreed to do.

The second set of floodgates opened and the move was happening.

I knew that the house would be cared for, cleaning would get done, and projects dealt with. I offered money and money talks (even though I don’t have money for such things – you do what you have to do).

Approaching noon, the truck was finally loaded. The cars were loaded with computers and other items that were deemed too delicate to go on the truck. When I drove the truck up the driveway to get it out of the way so the pickup could get back to work hauling stuff off (driven by friend), I realized that the tag sale stuff was still there. Sigh.

I told the boys that we weren’t leaving until everything we weren’t taking was either hauled to the dump or stowed in the workshop and/or garage. We were not leaving a mess (of course not).

An hour later, we were ready. Actually ready!!!

I nearly cried when we pulled out, our caravan of moving truck and two cars.

It took me years to get this move started. I had asked my estranged husband to help me move, to help me sell our house, to help me be near my elderly, very sick mother and he refused. Keeping me in Connecticut was his last bit of control over me. Cutting me off from our finances hadn’t brought me back to him. Forcing me to live in poverty hadn’t brought me back to him. Ignoring me hadn’t brought me back to him. Tough love just didn’t work, because I was not a drug-addicted, rebellious child. I was his equal partner in a marriage that had started out with great potential. Control and abuse destroyed it.

But this day, Sunday, July 15, 2017, I drove away from my prison, declaring that I was free.

We drove across Connecticut to New York and I celebrated.

We drove through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee that first day. We drove for 8 long hours, arriving at our first destination after 10 p.m.

We all crashed, exhausted, but not before a celebratory drink or two. We were far, far away from Connecticut and closer to our destination.

Days 4, 5 and 6

The following days we drove as long as I could handle driving. When I arrived at a hotel where I thought I had a reservation, the lovely clerk made sure we had a room. I found everyone I met along the way was helpful and kind.

Each day we would arrive at our hotel, my legs would be so swollen I could barely walk. I would spend the next few hours drinking Mullein leaf tea with my legs elevated so that my legs would not sustain permanent damage. This trip was not easy for me physically. But it was not going to kill me, so we drove and drove.

I drove the moving truck every single mile. My sons were reluctant to drive it, so I did. I actually enjoyed that truck a bit, being up high, being treated kindly by truckers hauling all the stuff that Americans need to live and enjoy life. The roads were crowded, but most drivers were courteous.

Day 7

Thursday, July 20, 2017, we lazily awakened in our Holiday Inn located in Livingston, Louisiana (very nice place). We were less than 5 hours from our final destination.

I had been trying to figure out how to time unloading the truck into the storage unit and where to park the moving truck overnight. My storage unit manager said I could not leave it there. I couldn’t reach the drop-off facility manager. It was stressful. My contract stated that I could not drop off the truck after hours (which turned out to be untrue).

I had this whole dilemma at the back of my mind as we drove the last miles to Houston. When we crossed over into Texas, I texted my daughter.

“Welcome home!” she texted back. I cried tears of joy.

And just typing those words makes me cry with joy, with relief.

We had picked up four two-way radios in northern Alabama (I think that’s where it was). So we chattered back and forth between cars. When we stopped for gas about an hour away, I told them that the sky looks different in Texas. They didn’t believe me, but I stand by that.

Politics aside (please ignore Texas politics—pols here have all gone insane), Texas is a beautiful, crazy, fun, full-of-life place to live. It is never boring. Never.

That big sky. Oh, that big sky.

We arrived in Houston and drove for about 30 minutes to my storage unit where my daughter and granddaughter were waiting for us. Lots of hugs. So many hugs. I exclaimed over and over how happy I was to finally be in Houston. My granddaughter was happy as always. She is always happy.

I admit the unloading was tortuous. I didn’t do much because I couldn’t. It was crazy hot and humid. My sons were melting. But they did it.

And then I got a brilliant idea. I would just park the moving truck in front of the drop-off location and leave a note that I would be there first thing in the morning to check it in. I left my lock on the back and took the keys with me. Haha! A whole ‘nother story, but it worked out fine. The grizzled, old facility manager and I bonded the next morning after he told me he thought I was just some stupid Yankee for leaving the truck without dropping the keys in the drop box (yeah, I could have dropped it off after hours). So funny!

I called my mom and let her know that we had arrived and that I planned to drive to Austin Saturday to spend the weekend with her and my stepdad.

I emailed a couple of people that we reached our destination safely. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and fell asleep soundly on my inflatable mattress in my granddaughter’s room (she loves that I sleep in her room).

This part of my journey is over. I am without a place of my own right now, but I am welcome in my daughter’s home and my mom’s home. They love me and embrace me. That is what I have yearned for all those years I was being held prisoner in Connecticut (I held myself prisoner as well by trying to do what was right by the house, the property, be responsible and I did have a teenager in high school there).

Update: July 25, 2017

My mom found out yesterday afternoon that she has late-stage cancer. I am devastated. I will be here for her, though. We will walk this path together. And this is why I felt an urgency to get to Texas.

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Special thanks

I want to thank my friend, Charlotte Gelston. She has been my greatest inspiration and the one who told me to just pack up and go. Stop worrying about the house. Just go. So I did.

Charlotte is a woman of God who knows how to show the love of God. It isn’t religion to her; she believes her very life is meant to express God’s love toward others. And it does. I have never met someone who is a more genuine Christian.

I do believe in the power of prayer, and I know that she and the other member of our small knitting group, Ginny, prayed for me every minute and every mile of the move.

Thank you.

Responsibility — Ducking, Grasping, Evading

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Hodgson Mill was one of the first companies to be non-GMO verified.

Hodgson Mill was one of the first companies to be non-GMO verified.

I often express the opinion that we must support local small businesses or they won’t be there when we need them. If we typically stop in, see what they carry, then go home and order the same “stuff” online for a small discount or for the purpose of avoiding the evil sales tax, then we are a big part of the economic troubles this country faces. One by one, small businesses are disappearing. We all rail against Wal-Mart as the big monster that pays its employees so little that they must apply for SNAP if they want to feed their children. We then stop in a Dunkin’ Donuts four to five times a week for that inexpensive cup of flavored coffee, breezing in and out, not even considering the circumstances of the person who made that coffee. Did you know that Dunkin’ Donuts pays their employees minimum wage to start and then depends on high turnover to keep wages low?

We all love to rail against the huge conglomerates that outsource jobs to third world countries so that they can make a buck and avoid paying taxes here in the United States. What is the difference between those CEOs and us? Absolutely nothing. Just because we aren’t rich doesn’t mean we aren’t guilty or complicit in the economic woes our country faces. The Wal-Mart mentality has infected us all: we want a lot of “stuff” for less money. And nowadays we want that “stuff” shipped to our front doors in boxes with big smiles, because we are so special. We have been duped.

Homemade organic whole wheat flatbread cooked in my Made-in-the-USA Lodge cast iron skillet.

Homemade organic whole wheat flatbread cooked in my Made-in-the-USA Lodge cast iron skillet.

Grasping at straws, we blame others for the economy. The Republicans blame big spending Democrats. The Democrats blame the 1%. The Libertarians blame both Republicans and Democrats decrying regulation and big government. The average people blame the average people of the other big party. The blame is thrown all around like a hot potato. No one wants to hold that potato and let it cool in their hands, thinking that if they stop and look at it they will get burned. Even worse, they will get the blame. Well, I have news for all of you, and me and US: it is everyone’s fault. We have been seduced by shiny trinkets, little mirrors and beads, just as the Native Americans were seduced to give up their land and freedom. The lower and middle-income people of this country have been seduced by “stuff.” Lots and lots of stuff. Useless stuff. Stuff to hold our stuff. Stuff that shines. Stuff that glitters. Stuff that makes us feel oh so special. Stuff that makes our stuff seem special.

How does this relate to being GMO free and healthy and having happy children? How many of us avoided GMOs over the Halloween holiday? I confess that I bought one bag of candy, and it was not organic or GMO-free. I caved. I was seduced by the memories of Halloweens past as a child, enjoying that big bag of loot. I did a quick grocery store run last night. My 13 year old has been craving Crispix cereal. I decided I would walk down the cereal aisle, find that cereal and at least read the label (I haven’t been down the cereal aisle in over 2 years). Oh, I didn’t get far. Ingredients listed rice, no problem. It went downhill from there. Sugar is made from GMO sugar beets. Then milled corn which is GMO corn, guaranteed. I stopped there. Nope. We will continue to go without cold cereal. The final nail in the coffin is that Crispix is made by Kellogg’s which I boycott because of their fight against GMO labeling initiatives. While they manufacture and ship non-GMO versions of all of our cereals to Europe and then sell them for less than the US versions, they scream and yell about how costly it will be to indicate that the cereals they sell here contain GMO ingredients. Nope. I am not supporting that company by giving them my money. The boycott continues.

Reading labels is important.

Reading labels is important.


We are so brainwashed by advertisers and seductive companies that make us feel good about eating crap, food that is killing us. And we embrace it. Sometimes guiltily, but still we embrace it. It makes us feel good. It makes us something. It makes us a big part of the problem.

It is time to stop blaming big corporations and politicians for everything wrong with this country. It is time to take responsibility for what has happened in the United States. When you buy cheap “stuff” made in China, you are supporting the downfall of this country. Now, I’m not saying we can never buy something made in China. There is a good chance that if we make that commitment we might not find a necessary item when it is needed. But, and this is a big but, I made a commitment to buy using my conscience two years ago. The big plus to this commitment is that I now end up with much better quality items, and a lot less “stuff.” I do buy items made in the USA every chance I get. I rarely buy anything at Target because they carry fewer items made in the USA; most of their store brands are made in China.

When grocery shopping, label reading is imperative. Know how to spot GMO ingredients and do not buy those products. The next step is to take 5 minutes to go online to the corporate website for that product, click Contact Us, let the company know that you will not buy their food products until they source non-GMO ingredients, and move on with your day. Taking the time to communicate your demands as a customer is vital. You are breaking the cycle of gullible consumer sucked in by their crafty marketing schemes. You communicate that you are much too intelligent to be fooled by their campaign ads that lie about how costly it will be to label GMO ingredients.

It is time for Americans to take responsibility for the condition of our nation. I am one of you, and I am trying to be involved, discerning, and not a blind consumer. I will vote out any politician who did not support labeling laws. I will not support, with my purchasing power, companies that do not source non-GMO ingredients. I will not buy gifts for my children this holiday season that are cheap and without true lasting value (I am knitting each of my children wool socks made from yarn I purchased at a local yarn shop that hand dyes local fibers — my boys asked for these for Christmas). Let us all decide and work at being a part of the solution to the economic woes our country is facing. We are powerful because we are the consumers. Shop locally whenever possible. Gift thoughtfully, supporting local businesses and companies that employ Americans. Wield your power wisely. You are powerful!

My next post will focus on reading labels as you navigate through the holidays. This can be one of the most difficult times to avoid GMOs.

Finding the Sky

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After moving to Connecticut I quickly began to feel claustrophobic. It was an emotional and physical sense of claustrophobia. One hundred years ago Connecticut was 75% farmland. Today Connecticut is 75% forest. Don’t get me wrong; I love trees. I am a tree planter. I have even planted trees when I rented. I have planted flowers, shrubs, vegetable gardens and herbs wherever I’ve gone. I transformed our St. Petersburg home into a garden paradise front and back. But in Connecticut there are so many trees that the sky is mostly obscured. You drive Connecticut backroads and they are lined with trees. Even in the cities there are trees everywhere there aren’t buildings. You can spend an hour or two traversing trails in Connecticut state parks with the perceived goal of a breathtaking vista only to arrive at your destination to find the view once again obscured by trees, shrubs and vines. Connecticut is lush but its landscape is obscured by so much vegetation. It is difficult to see the sky from most locations.

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So when I drive someplace and the landscape suddenly opens up it takes my breath away. My heart leaps for joy! I can suddenly see farther than a few feet ahead of me. I can see there is a big world out there.

Everyday life can be a lot like this: the big picture becomes obscured by the mundane, clamoring din of circumstances, responsibilities and events. We can end up paralyzed, frozen to a situation’s realities that we know should be different. But can they be different? Hemmed in by a dense forest of obstacles, roadblocks, and even foes we become resigned to circumstances and just allow the status quo to rule our lives. True friends will say, “Ahem, it doesn’t need to be that way.” If we have the strength or just a little bit of fight left in us we embark on the quest I call “Finding the Sky,” that place where we once again realize that there is a big, wide world out there completely different than what we are living, a world full of hope and promise.

We cannot push aside the obscuring forest. It is immovable. We must look for a different vantage point, one far above this limited view. It is an exhausting journey because we are assailed by depression, self-doubt and even naysayers. If we hear but do not embrace the lies of these dark forces we can make progress, a little each day. Then something miraculous happens. One day, as we are journeying along there it is: the big, limitless sky. The blinders of the forest are gone. We can see to the left. We can see to the right. Most importantly, we can see ahead a future full of light, full of hope, and full of life. We have found the sky.

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