Be Selfish- Help Others
Be Selfish- Help Others
We are taught to help others. I teach to help others. I, myself look for opportunity to help others. One doesn't really have to look far.
Simple acts of kindness.
We are also taught and I teach to expect nothing in return. Meaning, by you bestowing love and kindness on someone else, they don't owe you anything. You are not "one up" on them. The person being bestowed your gift of time, energy or physical product may not even acknowledge you. May not even show gratitude. Might even be crabby about it.
Be kind anyway. Help others anyway.
You are kind and helpful for the mere sake of being kind and helpful whether anything comes from it or not.
But here's the thing... something ALWAYS comes of it. I have been "catching" myself being kind, FOR the very reason that I KNOW I'll get something back from it.
I have become selfish... greedy!
I have found that when I am sad or depressed, if I focus outward, and do things for others... I feel better.
It may not come directly from the source as in say a "thank you" or a five star review, or even a smile... but, it does come back around.
I recognized this when I started being "kind" on the down low... and now it's my favorite thing to do. Help others when they don't realize they are being helped and if they did... they don't know where it's coming from.
Sometimes, I do things for others, only because I know it will make me smile. I know! Selfish!! Sure, it blesses the other person, but... oh how it makes my heart swell and feel light.
I know... I know... selfish.
I have a Book Club on this website. It's filled with books from brand new authors finding their footing in the author world which involves a heavy load of marketing. Things that most writers are not aware of when they embark on this journey. If you haven't seen it, you should really take some time to check it out... (Click here! Warning- be sure to block some time, because there is SO much to see!)
I charge a small fee to showcase their books here. I present them to you fine people and I help them build an audience. I could charge a lot of money for this service. I could do it for free. But I have found that charging a small amount allows them to feel empowered, and take the opportunity seriously.
I will not get rich from this service. Not monetarily anyway, but rich in so many other ways. I don't get to see the faces of these authors, but I remember the first time I saw my book's cover on the interwebs... it was amazing. And even if one new set of eyes saw it and remembered my name... that was progress.
Most authors don't get rich or even have a lot of money to invest launching thier baby out into the world, but one person at a time builds an audience. And so I give them access to my audience. And I get to impart small tips and tricks along the way.
I have found that when I offered to do these same things for free, it was a completely different vibe. I am treated differently. Not always, but enough that "they" trained ME how to better serve them. I still offer great advice, even if they don't order. I spend hours every day answering questions for authors, but it's different when you put money into the game. You treat advice and service with a bit more respect. You value the other person's time.
When I charge a mere $5, I am met with gratitude. I am met with eagerness to do more, learn more. I am met with a camaraderie of being inaugurated into the Author's Club. And I feed off it. Not the money... those feelings. I am selfish. I admit, I love the five star reviews. I love the thank yous and notes of gratitude sent to me... but mostly, I love seeing new authors spreading their wings and getting their work out into the world. It's no easy task. But when I scroll through the images of these books, most that are brand new to the market... I smile... selfishly, that I have them on my site. That my audience are some of the first that get to see them. That when I lay my head on my pillow at night, I know that I've helped my fellow authors in my own tiny way.
I believe I have more than one purpose. I believe we all do. I believe we are given clues to our purpose by the strengths we have been given. One of my strengths is to be able to help elevate others. It is a pure, selfish joy of mine to lift others who may be struggling in one way or another. It is a strength to help others find that missing piece of where they are to finding joy and happiness that is within reach, but they just might not be able to see it. And selfishly, I pursue this purpose. Or perhaps, it pursues me. It makes me happy. It helps me to suspend any grief I may have and I find happiness in helping others.
I am humbled that I am a person that people reach out to... to share with. It is fulfilling to me to lift others who may have stumbled. It's a privilege to be that hand they reach out to and together with both our strengths lift them back up on their feet.
When I am just focused on me... and my sadness or grief, I can't be of service to others. I am happy that my need, that selfish need to smile and feel proud of how my fingerprint was left behind on someone else's happiness propels me to stay up on my own two feet.
So, may I offer, if you are feeling sad, or disconnected or depressed... take a little bit of time to be selfish... and help others. You'll be glad you did.
Do You Still Believe
Three things. I repeatedly talk about three things that help to keep people, myself included in that category, on track and self-accountable.
1. You are where you are because of the choices you have made.
2. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
3. God has a plan. He is not surprised by anything happening in your world.
Those three beliefs have helped me for years and I know have helped others. In fact, other than, lead with love, my entire platform/belief system...whatever you want to call it, is based on those statements.
And they work pretty well. It helps us to take responsibility for the choices of our lives. It helps us to have a bit of "control" over our little corner of the world. It's an overwhelming thought believing that we have to try and "fix" others or try and change them in order to make us happy, or make our world feel orderly. It's not possible. The only person we have any say over is ourselves. The only person we can change... is looking back at us from the mirror.
It's not just a set of beliefs... those statements are based in fact. When you feel you've wandered down the wrong path and are bumped up against a brick wall, you can... every time... go backwards and see the choices that were made that got you there. And even more than the choices; the thoughts you were thinking at the time that convinced you of those choices. Which halts any kind of "victim mentality" of "why is this happening to me?"
(Yes, I realize there are things that have nothing to do with our choices, and the random acts of others, but let's focus on the bigger picture of how we govern our own lives regardless- sometimes in spite of- those around us. Okay? )
And I believe that. I believe that with all of my being. And it's easy to share these statements as advice or "warnings" to others while everything is sunny and rosy in our world.
But... what happens when it's you.
What if it's you that have found yourself in dire straits and you can't accept why or how you got there.
Do you still believe?
Are those statements still true?
Do they still stand the fact-test?
Yes. They do.
2023 began for me with the startling discovery that my husband had emptied our bank account and abandoned all responsibilities in our marriage. He broke all communication. And just walked away. (Here is where I say this isn't the first time he's walked away from our marriage... this is actually number three.)
You can see where I'm going with this, right?
While I was... (and am, still) shocked... Surprised... Hurt... I can see the path of my choices. And when I am crying to God about my anguish, He comforts me, because He knew this was coming. The red flags were there all along. I saw them. I ignored them.
I have my reasons for going back again and again trying to hold a crumbling marriage together, but they were wrong. I didn't want to see. I didn't want to believe.
I am where I am today because of choices I made... or perhaps, didn't make. I refused to see the person before me and instead chose to believe that I could love enough for both of us. I chose to believe that I "couldn't" leave the marriage because he needed me. I chose to believe that if I just hang on, things would work themselves out... we just had to get to this point... or that goal. It's a hard truth when you have to look at that face in the mirror and acknowledge that you let her down. The lack of making choices... got us here.
Abandoned and facing bankruptcy.
I may have had the best of intentions. I may have believed I could fix things. I may have known that he didn't love me in return. But the choices I made... put me right here.
You are where you are supposed to be.
How could I possibly be where I'm supposed to be? I can accept that I made bad choices. Loved the wrong people. Trusted the wrong people, but do I deserve to be here? Is this really what my life is supposed to be? I am filled with shame. I am fighting depression. I am being humiliated and lied about and slandered. I am in such a deep, engulfing pain that it can't POSSIBLY be what is supposed to be happening right now, right?
Yes. Apparently it is.
God knows what's happening. And He is not surprised.
So... if I believe number 3. I have to believe number 2. And if I TRULY believe number 3, I need to dig in and find out what He wants me to learn from this.
Therefore, I need to lean into Him even more and not do ANYTHING without consulting Him. I am obviously grounded from making my own choices for a while because I think with my heart and not my head.
God says, "come to me and I will give you rest". He says to lay my burdens at His feet. He says that HE is the way the truth and the light and HE will make all things work for those who believe in Him. He will grant me strength in my waiting and I will get through this.
I will make new choices. I will cry. I will be sad. I will allow the feelings of guilt and abandonment to pass through me, but I will choose not to stay there. I will not seek revenge. I will forgive, but I will not forget.
I don't usually stay "down" for long. And I hope and pray this year will not be any different along those lines. I will fall back on my big three:
I am where I am because of the choices I made.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I will allow God to use this experience to mold me and repurpose it for His glory.
God was not surprised by these events. He knows my heart. He knows my blind spots. He knows my compassion. He knows resilience.
And ... I will continue to lead with love. It may be at arms length for a while, but... love is love and I can't not give it away. It's no one else's fault. (Well... maybe ONE PERSON... but...) It's no one else's fault that I should withhold love from others.
When I feel lost in my purpose; when I feel thrown off track, I hit the reset button and always go back to the original assignment: Love others as I have loved you.
Letter of Intention
Letter of Intention
I've decided to get a jump start on all the New Year's Resolutions that are going to start popping up everywhere. It's been heavy on my mind and I need to make some changes. They say that if you're serious for a life change, a few things have to be included.
1. It has to be something you're passionate about. Something you're willing to sacrifice for and not give up easily.
2. You have to be willing to create time and space around the things you want, especially if they are going to involve some serious habit or mindset shifts.
3. The specific things must be measurable. Otherwise, how else would you know if you are making progress?
4. You have to act on commitments and not feelings. So even when you don't feel like doing it or the "muse" is not speaking to you, you have to show up anyway.
And a Bonus one: You have to be SO TIRED of the way things are, you are willing to do whatever you need to change them. That saying that says, you can't keep doing the same things and expect something different to happen. I've realized that "things" aren't going to magically happen. And no one else will bring my dreams to reality... that's on me. And... I ain't getting any younger!
So guess what...
Don't be mad... but I've just dubbed thee, my accountability team. My accountability partners!
No really, your input and advice... and even admonishing will be valuable. In some cases, I'm convinced that I will not achieve these goals without outside assistance. They say it's all about who you know, right? Sometimes it just takes. getting in contact with one person and doors just start opening. Plus another group of "theys" say "it never hurts to ask."
Plus... miracles happen when people pray for each other.
So here goes... I'm laying it all on the line...
Goal Number One: Travel
This year I want to do the 1776 Tour. New York or Bust!! I've been putting it off and putting it off, but I suppose it's finally time to head up to the northeast corner of our country. I've never been to New York. (I've been avoiding it- not a big fan of all the packed streets and sidewalks) But it's still a place I need to check off my Bucket List- plus, I am anxious to visit all the surrounding states. There is SO MUCH HISTORY that I am dying to see up close and personal. I think this needs to be that year. MO, IL, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, NH, ME, MA, RI, DE, MD, VA, WV, VA, ,NC, and winter in SC.
So... I am basically starting at ground zero; tebula rasa. I do have my truck, but I no longer have a camper of any kind... so... yeah... but I have every faith that this trip will happen! Just think of all the amazing photos and stories I'll have to share!
And speaking of stories...
Goal Number Two: A New Book
This one has back story. I owe you all a new work of fiction... I realize I am now four years over due. Believe me, it hurts me more than it hurts you. I have so many stories that are swarming in my head, but my heart just hadn't been in it. I could not push through all the mindset issues, and heart break that was invading my space to get behind the computer. That takes self healing and I believe I am on the other side.
I did, however, have the best time writing out all of the postcards to those who participated last year on my Oregon Trail trip. So what if... I created a story, in the form of letters... and a new, either set of letters or a letter and some additional material get sent out twice a month. The letters will accumulate into a completed book by the end of the year. It would be under a subscription model, but you'd get an actual physical copy when the series is completed.
I'd start with one storyline, but... I have so many story ideas rattling around in my head! And, of course, I will begin with the Oregon Trail series... how fun would that be to get letters from the characters on the Oregon Trail!! And then... because it's me... there will be other surprises along the way to make it more than just a book... more than just a story... it will be an experience!!
As with everything I'm working on, I don't have all the details figured out... but I believe the funk that has been stopping me has been successfully locked up and the key has been tossed away. We both deserve a good year of story...
Goal Number Three: The Kindness Challenge
That funk that I mentioned has also interfered with my annual Kindness Challenge. In 2023, I'd like it to be the actual challenge I've always dreamed it could be. I've been working on it for so long and I'm done putting it to the side. This year, in June, it's going to be the BEST Kindness Challenge EVER!
This is where I'll need some help. One of the things I'd like to do is create some small handmade items (I'm thinking bookmarks) and leave them around for people to find. Along with each item will be the FB page specific for the challenge that people can send in a picture of where they found their gift. I need people from across the country to "drop" these little goodies in various locations around where they live. Parks, coffee shops, hospital waiting rooms, grocery store shelves, libraries... where ever!! I'd love to see how far and wide we can get these little gifts. So my ask here is... if I send you these gifts, would you be willing to pass them out to sneaky locations while you're out and about doing your daily outings... nothing extra.
And also, I'd like to be able to offer some... workshops? Meaningful "classes" that could help people in ways to be happier, love more, feel more gratitude... all the Leading with Love things! I'm looking for people who would want to host these short workshops. I'll need at least 4 more... so if you know of someone who has written a book, works with people or kids, has a course they need to promote... or maybe it's you!! I'd love to know about it.
(This requires me to figure out video... Yes, I'm gonna be uncomfortable, but it's going to be worth it!)
I'll probably be posting some sign up things in April to start firming up names and places.
Goal Number Four- Meet and Greets
I have been in a funk for too long. Hiding out and playing small. In my travels, I would love to reach out and meet you! I'm hoping to be able to do some book signings or some podcast conventions along the way, so keep your ears open for when I'm in your neck of the woods!
But the meet and greet I'm most excited for are Bag of Bones Podcast LIVE! I have to figure out the tech side of things and work out some collaborations, since I'm going to some of these historic places, what if we turned it into a party?!?! You could come and hang out with me as I'm recording and episodes and you can ask questions and we can interview the experts... how fun would that be??? Still plenty of history, still out traveling, but... extra!
Why have an "ordinary" podcast when you can add a little "extra" to make it...
There's still a lot of work that needs to be done to even get me pointed in the right direction, but I think this post stands as my "letter of intention" to me... well, and I guess to you too! Lol
It feels like I've been a bit lost lately succumbing to the waves around me, forgetting that I know how to paddle and that God is there to grab my hand, if I choose to reach out. I don't know how I keep forgetting that part of things. He is my lifeline. He wants me to be healed and driven to meet my purpose. I tend to lose site of that too often.
This year... things must change. Life is too short to depend on others for my own happiness. It doesn't work like that. This is my letter of intention and purpose.
2023...here I come.
A Change in Direction
A Change in Direction
The Travel Life Calls...
There's something about having to face your humanness that is very defeating. Not that I thought I was superhuman, by any means, but... stronger perhaps than others my age? Or so I liked to tell myself. Turns out I am just as human as the other fifty somethings and now a bit more fragile.
Because of the broken ribs, I've had to get my fair share of xrays over the last couple months. They have revealed more than two broken ribs. I am not one that seeks out the medical professionals at all if I can help it, so I honestly had no idea what was happening underneath my skin and I liked it that way.
Now don't be upset with me if I don't lay out all the dirty secrets here at your feet, but it should be enough to say that the doctors have discovered I have advanced scoliosis and my neck is... uh... crumbling away. They flat out told me things were going to have to change. My body was breaking down faster than it should. They said they doubt I can go on doing the things I've been doing any more and I would have to start treating my body a bit more tenderly.
I took this information and internalized it. I cried for a bit. I followed the doctor's orders and was a good, well-behaved patient.
I tried to envision the kind of life that he said was in front of me.
And then I thought... if this is really it... if these are the parameters of my future, I'd rather be happy than waiting for something to happen. What would make me happy? Being with my children, was my first thought. Since it's not fair for my children to have their adult mother sit on their doorsteps and interfere with their lives and be under their feet all the time... I had to think what ELSE would make me happy? That's easy...
Traveling. Camping. Revisiting History.
With my children's blessing- because they don't want me under their feet either, I decided to make that option happen... not sure how, but I'm going after it.
Right at this juncture, without all the sappy backstory, I literally have nothing. No home, no camper, no job, what few items I do have are sitting in a storage shed in southern Missouri. I have a truck. An ornery black cat and my lap top. I'm not in a wheel chair yet, and have no intention of going down that road until there are no more options.
I must shift my thinking. I must find a way to get back out on the road again.
This is the longest way around to have to tell you that A Touch of Spice will not be coming out December 2. Even if I finished the last word today, it couldn't get published in time. It's a Christmas story... and I want to keep it a Christmas story, which means it won't be able to be released until NEXT December. (It really is going to be a cute story and worth the wait, I promise.)
I opened up the History Revisited Group on Facebook again which I re-named Ginger Life Travel and was honestly a bit overwhelmed with the graciousness and amount of support that was extended to me. I felt so loved.
I really have no plan, but the group gives me hope. And... permission. Permission to be happy so long as I agree that they can accompany me on the journey via FB. And, I really am sorry the book isn't coming out this year. (It's been a really hard year, okay?) But I believe in order to be able to hear God's whisper,
He had to take away all the distractions and people that were in the way of me hearing my instructions.
He may tell me that I can't travel for long, and I need to be okay with that.
Also... and I guess this would be the "good news" there's nothing like getting a diagnosis that says you may not live as long as you thought to get your fired up about what legacy you are leaving behind. I have a LOT of stories I want ... NEED to tell. I guess I'd better get on it.
It's true, we don't know how long we have, but when someone comes along and so rudely tells you that you're not going to live forever... it changes the way you think about things.
Suddenly you don't want to waste time on people who don't deserve you. You don't want to waste time doing things you don't love. You don't want to waste a single moment not making sure those you love, never doubt it for a second. And... you think about the mark you will leave on the world. What will people say about me after I'm gone? I'd better make sure I have a good turnout while I still have some time.
My change in direction is... I am NOT going to "take it easy" and wait for my body to disintegrate. I'm going to go out and chase life. Meet new people. Tell others what I see in my travels and what I learn along the way. And I'm going to write. Write. and Write and Write!
So I am sorry you may have to wait just a bit longer for the next book... but not THAT much longer, I promise.
Broken Ribs and a Cup of Coffee
Broken Ribs and a Cup of Coffee
Here I am... just sitting... the temperatures are dropping outside and if you know absolutely anything about me, that is a sign of fear and dread in my world.
I have been a snowbird for the last seven years and was pretty happy with that way of life.
I'd winter where it was warm, 97% of the time. I was usually near water. I was able to get out and about to explore most days. (Hurricane season was sometimes tricky, but it's not like they sneak up on you. You have a pretty good idea of when they're coming and if you need to pack up or not!)
When the danger of cold weather was past, I could make my way up north to visit family and see what else I could find; dragging my camper along behind ready for new adventures.
I haven't owned a winter coat in seven years. I barely wear shoes, for that matter. I am SUCH a beach baby at heart.
Well... this year is going to be a bit different. I am officially trapped in colder weather.
The first weekend in October, I busted my ribs. I didn't think much of it at the time, but five days later, when I was still having trouble breathing, I went in and had it x-rayed. One rib broken, one fractured. Not a thing they can do for it except to tell me to be still for the next 6-8 weeks and don't lift anything over 5-8 pounds.
Trapped. Trapped in cold weather until at least the end of the year.
Trying the see the best in a freezing situation, I find myself inside a new experiment. How to make this the best winter ever? It's a big ask. The cold weather is not just something I complain about for fun (we all have to have our "thing"). The cold, damp weather is actually pretty painful for me since I have arthritis in a good number of my joints. But, it could be worse. I could certainly be worse.
I choose to fill my brain with happy thoughts. I flood my heart with gratitude. I reflect on all the ways that I am blessed.
I am near my family. A rarity since I have found wings... I haven't spent Christmas with my grandchildren in all those years of snow-birding, because... well... cold. (I transferred my Christmas spirit to Easter. Easter is my favorite holiday and I pull out all the stops for this holiday!). But this year, I get to spoil them EXTRA, actually ON Christmas! (Their parents may even INSIST I head back to the south by the time I get done! Lol!)
With out being allowed to do much other than sit around and forcefully WILL my bones to grow back together, it allows me to brainstorm and putter around with other ideas I've been wanting to do, but just couldn't find the time ... Boy, have I got time now! This is the best injury when you have a laptop close by! (Hint- I ALWAYS have a laptop close by.)
I'm ahead in my Bag of Bones Podcast episodes for the first time in... forever. That feels pretty good. I'm working on the new book that now I have NO excuse for it not being released on time at the beginning of December. Plus plans for a years-worth of new books to come out in 2023. (The way my luck runs is that I'll get all these things started then get released from couch therapy and be right back in the rat race!)
The damage was enough that I was informed that I probably won't be able to travel the way I was used to and that I will need to make some pretty severe changes in my future activities. If that ends up being the case, I am so grateful for my adventures over the years and wouldn't trade them for anything. I'll have to be more careful where I end of an invalid next time though, THAT'S for sure!
Okay fine... I know you're asking but how... how did you break your ribs? I was broken in the most loving way possible. With a hug. A hug from a 21 year old football player that was just trying to pop my back. And he did... just went a little beyond that. I heard a crunch, but neither of us believed that I was actually broken...
The evening wore on and I was hugged again and again and the more you love someone, you just want to squeeze them so tight so they know right? Can I just say, I am SO LOVED. Each squeeze probably added to the fracture.
Adding to that... I am pretty active and chest pain or no chest pain, work had to be done, so I pushed through it lifting and carrying... just doin' what I do... until I couldn't anymore.
My jaw dropped when I saw the x-ray.
So now I sit. Trying to figure out how I'm going to be able to NOT step one foot out the door until the crocus comes up. Not gonna happen, so I sip my coffee and snuggle under the piles of blankets begrudging letting others take care of me. I am so loved. I must keep my whining to a minimum.
I love to travel. And the majority of the time, I travel alone. I am often asked questions about my adventures and I love to talk about the places I go and the things I see, but I also get a lot of questions about my thoughts on safety.
So while it's fresh on my mind- since I just finished up a trip from the West Coast- I thought I'd share a few of them here and then some tips I've learned along the way.
So, just to start- I never just wander. When I travel, I always have a destination in mind... and on the way there is pretty much the only time I am spontaneous. I do like to have at least 75% of my trip planned. I usually pull a camper, but this last trip, I lived out of my truck. (I can write an entire article on the pros and cons of just that! Lol!)
I love history, so most of my sidetrips are usually triggered from that but I am also a HUGE fan of natural beauty. I'm a sucker for a waterfall or a sunset and have been known to go out of my way for some beautiful scenery. And yes, I love being outdoors, so this kind of lifestyle fits me to a tee.
I absolutely love to travel and I am always looking for a new adventure or places I haven't been. I am working on the United States and have yet to visit other countries.
Okay, now to your safety.
I'm often asked if I'm I ever scared...
Yes. Yes I am. And there's a fine line between trusting your gut and realizing you may just be looking for things to make you afraid. Trust your gut. If you are ever in a situation and it just doesn't feel right, pay attention.
- Always let someone know where you are.
I am constantly checking in with someone in my circle when and where I stop for the night and when I leave again in the morning. Sometimes I'll let them know where I'm headed, or when I've crossed markers like state lines. Always let someone know where you are. My phone is always linked to someone else, so if anything happens, they can ping my phone... which makes sense that the next one is:
- Always have your cell phone on you. Carry it with you everywhere. Don't leave it in your car, keep it with you. You may need to make an emergency call. You may need someone to find you. You may need a flashlight. You may fall and hurt yourself... and if you ever feel uncomfortable or feel you might be in a dangerous situation- call someone and just talk with them. Even better, FaceTime them. They can see where you are and can see if anyone comes up to you and most times, it will deter anyone's interest in you.
- Always have self protection.
Now, before you dismiss this one with, well, I have a gun, hang on. If you are attacked, they are not going to wait until you fish down to the bottom of your purse or unlock the glove compartment to get your weapon before they proceed. You need some kind of weapon, whatever one you are comfortable with, on your person or in your hand whenever you stop somewhere or are alone. Always, Always, Always in rest areas. Make sure you have multiple options that are easily attainable no matter where you are. Meaning. have them in several places in your vehicle as well as on you.
A caveat to that... know how to use it. And be prepared to use it. If anyone gets close enough to me that I'm able to USE any of my weapons, I won't stop fighting until I am safe.
- Don't wear your hair in a ponytail. (Researching murders and serial killers, you learn weird things.). They look for this and will use your ponytail as a handle. Does this mean you can never wear one? No, just if you're by yourself and in a not-so-crowded space, maybe not then... or wear a low one or a close to the head braid.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look at everything. Notice where the cars are parked. Hallways. Alleys. People.
-Don't wear headphones or earbuds. When you are out there on your own, you need all of your senses. You certainly don't want to make it easy for someone to be able to sneak up on you.
- Be aware of your cell phone usage. This falls back to "Be aware of your surroundings." If you have your head down, lost in your phone, you're not paying attention to the people around you. Also, try to have your back to a wall or lean against your vehicle while using your phone, so you have one less angle you have to worry about. And on that note...
-Women are the worst about getting into their cars and checking their phones without shutting their doors or locking them. I am guilty of this too. After I fill up the tank at a gas station, I'm usually checking missed messages or my gps... and I leave myself wide open for attack. Get in your vehicle, shut the door, lock it and then check your stuff.
-Make eye contact. Attackers look for easy prey. Shy or timid prey. Don't be that. Stand up straight and hold your head up. If you look at every person in the eye as you pass one another, it's not only a sign of confidence, but you already have a solid look at the person's face. They are less likely to attack you if you can identify them.
- Always park under a light. Make sure you can see and be seen.
- Don't let your gas tank get so low that you are dependent on the "next" gas station. You don't know what that place will be! Pick ones that are well lit and "bonus" if they have security cameras. (and clean bathrooms!)
We have to acknowledge that whenever you choose to travel alone, you are accepting that there is some risk. Something bad could happen. You choose that traveling solo is worth the risk so, even though this section might be uncomfortable, it's quite necessary.
- Security cameras. Always look for and AT the security cameras. Know where they are and always let them see you. If anything should happen to you, this will give the police a time stamp and a visual of where you were. Always look directly into the camera.
- When you go into a gas station, always say something to the cashier. The more unique the better. Ask a question. Pay them a compliment. Say something funny. Drop your change. Be memorable. If something happens to you; when the officers ask, "do you remember seeing this person?" Hopefully they will say, "yeah, that's the lady that complimented me on my hair."
- Have an ICE contact clearly marked in your phone or wallet. (ICE= In Case of Emergency). Make it easy for authorities to be able to connect to your people... just in case.
- Always let those you love know you love them, because... you just don't know.
I don't say these things to be morbid, and even by doing every single thing does not mean it will be 100% effective. But it might help.
Life is too short to pass up opportunities that make you happy or to stay in one place because of fear. But you can also be smart about it.
These aren't in any order, I just added them as they came to me... and yes, I follow each one. I love my family and as much as I love going out to wander, I love coming back home to see their faces. So I try to be as safe as I possibly can.
I hope these help you too.
Follow your heart. Make some memories. Have adventures! Leave a legacy. You only get one time around so make the most of it!
Welcome to My Darkside
Welcome to My Darkside
I have tried for decades to keep the two very distinct sides of my personality separate. I am very much a Christian and yet, there's a darkside to my creative vein.
I have always been drawn to the dark side of history. I'd dive into the outlaws and the gangsters, and then as I got older the serial killers. But the mainstream of my life was/is very clean and shiny... I am quite the rule-follower and do my best to see the best in others and lead with love.
I decided that I was so fascinated at how others function SO differently than myself. My study of the brain began here.
I eventually decided to allow the dark side some creative space knowing that God made me and knew ahead of time what He was getting himself into! Lol!
When it was suggested I create a podcast, I had to figure out what topic I could legit dive into regularly and never get bored of. History. That was easy. I love American history and am still a bit resentful of my teachers for not fanning this flame in my youth.
I knew I didn't want to do serial killers, I don't want to turn them into rockstars. They are still evil creatures and their acts are not something to celebrate, but with all the fascination of true crime and serial killers, I knew there were others (thousands upon thousands) that liked to dip their toe on the dark side. I gave myself permission to create the Bag of Bones Podcast. Revealing the dark side of American history.
Murderers, outlaws, tyranny, battles, hauntings (I do love a good ghost story!), folklore, racism, tragedy, and straight up stupidity. So things don't get too dark, I add in some quirky and strange stories that may have been swept under the rug that make us question how our species have survived some decisions. Lol.
I am having a blast. I spend a huge amount of time diving into my weekly episodes to bring you well researched and as factual information that is available to me. I read tons of articles, books, documents and court transcripts to give me every opportunity to bring you the facts from our yesterdays. I am in LOVE with my podcast. (Am I allowed to say that? Lol)
I believe I come at every single episode with a heart of integrity, not just to glorify the ugly and headline-grabbers. Many episodes are meant to shine a light on how we, as a country thought and believed, so as not to forget... and repeat. Other episodes are biographies that reveal so much more of the subject matter than just the "crime" or "tragedy". Some are very difficult for me. I am sometimes more sensitive than I should be if I'm going to share these stories. Other times, I let you see my opinion ... I tend to be quite sarcastic, I'm told...
But I love 99% of my podcast... not what happened, but the opportunity to share it with others in a way where (hopefully) it will NOT be boring and just regurgitating facts and dates. These moments in history involved real people, real emotions, real choices, real consequences... our history IS people.
All that to say, I was happy to discover that many of my Christian friends and followers enjoyed the Bag of Bones Podcast.
I was so worried about that because I am billed in every book store and webpage as a Christian Author... and I still am... but then, I just veered a little sideways. I thought I was going to have to build an entire new website to cater to this new whim of mine and honestly, that still would be the best option, but instead, I decided to embrace it. You never know who might come in for one thing and get intrigued by another.
Many have suggested that I use a pen name for my dark side activities, but then I decided that because I am very hands on... very much involved with my following, that might not be such a good idea. I love getting to know my fans and readers. Sidenote: I'm hoping to go another level of connection and sign myself up for more book tours and conventions in the future- SO, I might as well not use a pen name since it's going to be Elizabeth Bourgeret that shows up to all the things... I might as well have my name on all the things.
Yes, this does offer a bit of confusion when people are researching me...
So... after saying all that... it has been decided. If and when I write a book that slips into the Dark Side, I will use a pen name. It won't be a secret, I won't be trying to hide who I really am, but this way, I will have the opportunity to reach an entire new audience and those who have been introduced to me as a Christian author, and pick up the "wrong" book, won't be surprised.
I waffled back and forth with this decision and I've talked with other authors with multiple pen names, and they recommend this practice to help book stores and on-line formats better know where to catalogue my writings.
The answer, is ...yes, I have decided on a pen name. You will be introduced to her when I finally get time to tap into a new genre... it may take a minute.
I'm entering in to my third year of the podcast and am still learning, but I'm going to treat it more like a business this year than a hobby. So, if you are already a fan, keep an eye out for a brand new newsletter, merch and other ways to interact.
Also- because I can't help myself- I will be launching new novels that will fall under the Dark Side category. I've suppressed it as long as I could! Lol! The story ideas just wouldn't stop coming! I must write them down! So, with books AND a podcast AND merch, I will be a more welcome attendant to conventions and festivals.
You'll see the reflection in the website, there will be a Dark Side section that will outline all the Bag of Bones details and release information on the books that fit there.
Whooo!! That feels good to get it off my chest and actually make a decision! Not that I need permission or approval, but I never want to alienate someone who is new to my world and this decision has been rattling around my head for at least three years, so it's nice to be able to move forward.
That being said-
Watch for some changes on the website and for new merch and books coming your way on both the Christian side and the Dark side.
You can't truly appreciate the light without experiencing the dark.
(Pretty sure that's my new motto, because it is 100% accurate. I would have never been saved had I not first had to walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt.)
If you haven't tuned in to any of the Bag of Bones episodes, do me a favor and check them out. I promise you, there really is something there for everyone! I do my best to warn against the really bad stuff... so go ahead, cross over to the dark side... (ooo... that sounded really creepy... I love it!)
Bag of Bones Podcast can be found on any podcast platform. We really are everywhere! New episodes almost every week. (I had to build in breaks this year because it is really very work intensive and I get a little swallowed up, but I will average at the very least 3 per month.)
(I've put together a Topics page, so if you'd like to search a specific subject, you can see those here.)
Follow on Facebook or Instagram and you'll be tapping into my warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
And as always, keep checking back here, as to the new developments! I'm super excited to share these new stories and episodes with you, my friends.
Welcome to my Dark Side.
Bag of Bones on Apple ITunes
Bag of Bones on Spotify
Bag of Bones on IHeart Radio
Update! Check out the new blog Beyond the Bones! It's an extension to the Podcast but also allows a place for me to add other interesting historic stories you will love or may have never heard of but not quite long enough for an episode! Check it out here!
Fear of Success...
Fear of Success
This is a reprinted article from September 2012.
Unfinished projects. Unpacked boxes. Incomplete story-lines. Unpublished works. Story of my life.
The book, Captive Heart, that is currently being published has been sitting on my shelf for years. Untouched, unloved and unseen by the public.
It is really easy to hide from success if you stop just short of it ever becoming a possibility. Thus, all of my unfinished projects become a protective wall to hide behind so I never know how success could change my life for better or worse.
Why would anyone fear becoming successful? Doesn't everyone dream of a small amount of fame at some point in their life? But what happens when you get it? Will you be ready for everything that goes along with it?
Granted, success comes in many levels (not everything has to be the paparazzi kind, it could be something as simple as losing weight or, I don't know, publishing a book...). It also depends on how much value you attach to it. If you give your end goals too much weight, it can in turn, weigh you down.
If you are hoping that your success validates who you are making you feel that you are finally smart enough, thin enough, rich enough or popular enough the weight of success can become more of a burden than a reward. Not only to achieve it, but to maintain it!
If your success is just another check mark of things to do before you die, then you will be able to enjoy and relish every moment that comes from it. You will feel Success- Full.
But , more likely, it will come and go like many of our successes (promotion at work, winning the bowling championship, quitting smoking) that we don't take the time to acknowledge or celebrate therefore creating the stress that comes from a bigger success. We don't know how to handle it! We never feel Success-Full.
Add to that, all those details that come with success. The ones you don't really think about when you're picturing the accolades. Failure. New responsibilities. Time constraints. Criticisms. Being in the spotlight. Maintaining. It's no wonder we end up subconsciously sabotaging any success we might have.
I personally tend to put a lot of weight on success. I feel I have to prove something to myself and to others, that says, "I CAN finish something. I CAN turn my mistakes around. I CAN learn from my past and create a better future."
So for years, I have engaged in, what I recognize now as self- sabotaging behaviors to make sure I would never reach the levels of success that would make me have to face such challenges. It's easier to sit back and dream of the "someday I will..." than to actually go after it and possibly fail while the world looks on waiting to see the outcome.
I had become a Master Procrastinator. Cleverly thinking of ways to do anything but what will take me closer to my end goals. I would compromise my goals and tell myself things like, "I was probably going to fail anyway so why bother trying?" Have you been there? Not going to apply for that job... join that gym... open that savings account... Most of the time, this fear happens subconsciously. We don't realize exactly WHY we aren't trying harder, just that it's easier to find other distractions.
Failure, or rather, incompletion, I can deal with. Success was too terrifying to even attempt.
After all, everyone faces failure. That makes it a common denominator. And it IS true that you will learn more, gain more long lasting wisdom from failure than you will from success, but is staying in that "comfort zone" of failure enough? We all have that gene in us to WANT success, and DREAM of a better life even if it means something as simple as getting a degree, buying a new car, being debt free... But success... who teaches you how to deal with success?
You've heard the saying, If at first you don't succeed, try, try again? But what happens when you DO succeed? Where's the clever saying for that? Who teaches you how to deal with new-found resentment and labels from others? How to juggle the new responsibilities that come with the outcome of your success? And what if you don't like it?
Don't get me wrong, I consider myself Success-Full. I have learned to acknowledge and appreciate the smaller, daily successes. (It lead me to create my How to Feel Success-Full lecture series.) So it doesn't have to be an all or nothing feeling that could very well rob you of the pleasure of your accomplishment!
But the publishing of this book, my very first, is stretching me to a level of success that I have not had as yet and a whole new list of "consequences" that I'm not so sure I'm ready for!
I had subconsciously trained myself to stop short of becoming too successful for any number of the above mentioned reasons. And while my past has taught me the lessons that I now pass on to others, and I wouldn't be who I am today without it, I don't know if I'm ready for the scrutiny, the judgement that comes along with decisions I've made long ago, and just my works in general.
My friend Mary Spezia pointed out that maybe God is using me for this very thing. He wants me to face this fear, and teach others... But when I tell her that I'm not ready for that (already making excuses for avoiding success), she assures me that God will make me ready. Simple as that.
I am a born-again Christian and believe me, I fought Jesus every step of the way. But He saved me for a reason, and if my mistakes might be able to prevent others from the same, that's not so bad right?
So, here I am at the crossroads. This is where many of us sit. Regret for the past and fear for the future. I can either push forward and greet success without fear or stay on the same path, hiding behind my wall of unfinished projects... regretting it forever.
I choose to move forward. Face my fears, keep procrastination at bay and see what God has in store for me. I'm putting my book out for people to read, I've created this website to widen my audience, I've added new topics to speak on...
Then again, my book may not even sell, no one will read this website and no one will hire me to speak anymore and all this fretting will have been for nothing.
Oh well, if at first you don't succeed....
Ten Years Later...
I'm sorry to say, I still struggle with procrastination. As we approach the 10th anniversary for the release of Captive Heart, my very first novel, I have to admit that I haven't found the secret to combat the fear of success. I still catch myself before allowing my reach to go beyond what I feel I "deserve", and stop short of launching programs that I feel can bless others.
I am a constant student and continue to search for the final answer that will heal everyone's anxiety about facing fear and dare I say, even embrace it. I'm still searching. A few more novels under my belt and a podcast, I know that I am called for more. I have to learn to trust in my capabilities and trust in my purpose. But it is not a magic pill, or a motivational quote. It's a daily, constant work.
Ten years later, I say again... don't give up, roll with the punches and don't be afraid to try again.
Love is Never Wasted
Love is Never Wasted
We are called to love. We all need love and we all want to love.
But sometimes the thought of giving love can be a bit scary. What if the love you send out isn't returned? What if you do more for someone else than they do for you? What if they flat out shun your love? What if they weren't the person they lead you to believe they were? What if they accept your love and then suddenly, take it away? Then what?
The beauty of love is that it is meant to be given liberally, without any strings attached.
You can't make others love you. You can't expect love to be returned. It would be nice, but not always a reality. And what's more, their version of what love is may not match yours. Which is why love, should you choose to bestow it should be unconditional.
What that means is, I will love you no matter what. No matter what kind of day you're having. No matter if your breath smells. No matter if you've hurt me. No matter if we disagree. No matter if you've left the cap off the toothpaste... again. Conditional love is based on terms: I will only love you if you do X, Y & Z. But if you don't, then, I'm off the hook. I don't have to love you.
The downside to this, is many times, the other person doesn't even know what the X, Y & Z conditions are and sometimes we can't even put them into words. We just know when they haven't been met and to "punish" the other person, we can withhold our love... it whatever form that may be.
Loving someone unconditionally doesn't mean that you are required to "put up with" unhealthy behavior. You don't. Let me say that again because it's so important...
You do not have to tolerate poor, or abusive, or unhealthy behavior- ever.
But you can still love them. You can remove yourself from the situation in however many degrees you need to feel comfortable. You don't have to be "with" someone to love them. You can separate from them and still love them.
In the case of a marriage, you can see that things are not "working" and sometimes that leads to divorce. That can still happen and you can still love them.
In the case of family... sometimes you have to put up boundaries to protect your heart and soul or your growth or safety, but you can still love them.
Friendships will come and go as the seasons. People may fade in and fade out. Others may end badly, that doesn't mean you can't still love them.
You get to choose what your love for other people looks like. It's not a one-size-fits-all.
The underlying current of every being is love. We are all searching for it. We all want to feel it. And we all want to give it. It doesn't always show up in passionate, romantic love, it's also small forms of love. That shows up as kindness. Compassion. Empathy. A quiet smile.
Relationships are part of the deal. Some interactions you just want more of. You crave that friendship. You clicked with that human in a romantic way. Your family member is your best friend and confidant.
What keeps those relationships vibrant, is love. Yes, yes, there's more to it than that, but we all know you can only "fake" love for so long. So if the love isn't there, is it really worth pursuing?
Inevitably, sometimes a relationship doesn't turn out as we had hoped. Again, we have no control over what the other person feels and does. And when your passions don't match, it's a painful thing. There could be anger. There could be resentment, betrayal, loss.... It hurts. And it will hurt for a while. Even though you feel, that for your own safety or sanity, you never want to love again, don't let that happen.
You are so much better than the people around you that have chosen to hurt you. And yes, I say chosen because that's what it is... a choice. 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 makes it very clear of what love is, and what it isn't... if you're ever in doubt.
And it is too, a choice if you decide to stay within the relationship, or let it go. Only you can decide that.
Should you chose to go, I hope you can look back and say that you gave love. You showered that person or persons with so much love that when the dust settles they can't help but see it.
Let all things you do be done in love because it's the only thing that really matters. Even in anger, don't let your anger go so far as to step outside of love.
Yes, you can be angry. Raging angry. But it's how you respond... how you react. Don't ever choose hate if you can help it.
It's lonely on the highroad, but love is never wasted. Let it be a sprinkling left behind you that you can look back on and others can see where it leads. Those who need love, just might be looking for you.
You have a purpose and you have a calling. You are called to love. Don't go through life keeping that love all to yourself. No matter the consequences, choose to love.
The Whole Story
The Whole Story
This is going to be such a hard post to write, so bare with me...
Things have shifted. And in a big way. Things don't always go as planned, and... you have to shift. The emotion is still really close to the surface so, I apologize if it spews out across the page, but... you've been with me this far, and you're still here so this won't be the first time. Lol
To start... my husband left me in February this year. I knew I was taking this trip alone so, that was just that. If I'm being honest, I didn't give myself much time to work through that grief because I'm a master of being busy. I am always going, doing, creating... all the things. Being a life student and a relationship coach... it is really hard to swallow that my own marriage wasn't a perfect and lovely textbook example. It is humiliating, if I have to put a word on it. It feels like I learned nothing if I couldn't even see and remedy the issues in my own marriage. I must be a terrible relationahip coach.
What they don't tell you in your relationship classes, and you have to pretty much figure out for yourself is that... sometimes, you can't control another person's actions. And by sometimes, I mean, MOST times. You have no control over someone else's choices.
I had no control over his leaving me... I just had to decide how I was going to respond and what I was going to do next.
Fast forward to half way through my trip...
My husband's health is failing. He suffered injuries while serving his country and they are tired of being ignored. In short- his vertebrae is crumbling and trying without success to reframe his bones and muscle structure to still give him support. It's not working. He's going to require surgery (or series of surgeries, and if it sounds like I'm making light of it, please understand that it's my defense mechanism. )
I need to get back and take care of my husband. I love my husband and this is that part "in sickness and in health" that I agreed to whether he did or not. I believe in marriage and I want a happy marriage, but I can only do what I can do. And do it to the best of my ability without judgment, or punishment and in an unconditionally, loving way. And what I need to do is get to Alabama to get my husband through this surgery and physical therapy on the other side, in the most loving and supportive way I know how. God is pretty amazing and is capable of turning this marriage around at any point, so I walk in faith.
No dates have been set, as yet for the surgery and I have come to realize that I will no longer be able to travel. It's a hard pill to swallow since I've worked so hard to finally get here and now I have to put it to rest. I am so very thankful that I was able to have this one last bang of a trip. (Sidenote: This is WHY you don't wait until retirement to follow your dreams or do the things your heart tugs you toward. Don't ignore it. Don't wait... you might not get the chance "later".)
I am beyond grateful that I got to follow The Oregon Trail... It wasn't the trip that was originally planned, but I'm not sad. I saw so many things. I learned so many things. I made friends along the way. I learned things about myself that I would have never discovered otherwise. I got to "meet" all of you. These memories will set me up for a very long time.
I have yet to go through all the photos, something to look forward to.
A lot of new wheels have been put into motion.
- I cancelled the PostCard Club.
As I have mentioned before, I did not receive an income from the Club, and more times than not, it cost more than it brought it. Plus, I will no longer be traveling, so it seemed the right thing to do.
I have decided that all the members will still get their ornament and the 2020 group will still get their digital copy of my book A Devil's Errand when it is released. I will still send out all the postcards for the month of September and for those who purchased for the full year, I'll send along other gifts instead to make up the difference.
- The History Revisited Facebook Group.
The group... oh... this is hard... I have enjoyed my time with you so much and I have loved getting to know you throughout the years. And those who popped in every once in a while... I saw and appreciate you too!
Seeing as how I'm about to be a full-time caregiver, I feel the best course of action is to delete the group as I won't have the time to keep up with it and again... not going to be traveling or visiting historical sites until further notice.
I will still be producing the Bag of Bones Podcast, for those of you who need your history fix. I'm going to turn all of my (spare) attentions on that and my author life. I'll be writing books, coaching and maybe creating some new writing or history courses, I don't know. I have no idea what my future looks like, but my writing is everything so it will continue in some form or another.
I would be so honored if you would follow me on my Facebook page(s)-
Elizabeth Bourgeret- Author and/or Bag of Bones Podcast
Perhaps we can continue our friendships there.
If neither of those are a fit for you, please know that I will miss you and again, have enjoyed beyond words your participation and presence in my life.
- The Wildwood Conestoga
I am grateful that I will get to visit with my children (both in MO) and my family (mostly in AR) before I get settled in Alabama where my husband and his family reside.
The Conestoga will be sold next month. It has served me well, kept me safe and the new owner gets a new set of tires! Lol!
What a good, mostly sturdy companion it turned out to be :)
Money is about to get extremely tight, so I am downsizing in every way.
I have been so blessed and so ridiculously grateful to have been able to come on this adventure. It truly has been an adventure of a life time and I am beyond thankful that I was able to make it to Oregon.
I have earned my Coast to Coast title and being an ocean girl at heart, that's no small thing.
I have SO many new story ideas that have come from this trip so I will never run out of book tasks. And being able to see what they saw, feel what they felt, touch the flora and fauna, cry with their pain, celebrate thier victories... I promise you to give their stories true depth and emotion so you feel as if you are there. Witnessing the land and their crossing (even the California route too!) I will have SUCH an advantage to creating an authentic Oregon Trail Series.
So, I am blessed. I'm not upset. A little sad, (okay fine, a lot sad) but I know that I will continue to be blessed in other ways, because my God loves me, and shows me everyday.
So I walk... and drive... in faith.
Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for being my penpals.
If this could NOT be a good-bye, but just a transition... that would be really great.
So... not goodbye... I'll see you on my author page or the Bag of Bones page
And don't count me out... there's more to come from this plucky author, I promise...
Helpful links to stay in touch:
Bag of Bones Facebook Page
Elizabeth Bourgeret- Author Page
Follow Elizabeth on Facebook!