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!
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.
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...
Month 2 Check In
It's hard to believe that I have only been on this adventure for two months! It feels like I've been out here for at least four. I've been spending like it's been four! (#funnynotfunny)
I was supposed to check in around the 11th, so I'm a few days late.
I was whining about gas prices being a whopping $2.54 per gallon and and I was struggling with that. I just had to fill my gas tank at $3.79 per gallon. Having $70 and $80 gas trips are the norm. (and that's probably about half a tank!!). So, that's the biggest change from last month to this.
The second, is the campgrounds. It's getting more difficult to find spaces available. I realize how great camping is and I'm excited that everyone else is finally figuring that out, however... it is leaving very little space for me! Campgrounds in the midwest average in the $20- $30 range... the further west you go, you start at the $33 range and it can go up from there... WAY up. The highest I've seen was $112. PER NIGHT! And that did not come with any thing special. It's crazy. I mean, really crazy. And I didn't budget for that... so I am SO over budget.
I am down to one pair of jeans that don't have rips or tears in them. To be fair, they were old to begin with. Pretty sure I haven't bought a pair of jeans in at least ten years. But I sure have been rough on them! I love my jeans. They are my favorite thing to wear, year round. And out of all the clothes, I packed, I pretty much only wear the same 6 or 7 outfits. So, if you'd like to rub it in that I didn't need all the things I thought I would need, this would be a good place for that... because coming right behind it is the kitchen items.
Turns out, I didn't really need all of those, either. In all fairness, I was supposed to be doing a heck of a lot more cooking! I still have yet to use either of my dutch ovens. The propane stopped working in the camper (yes, there's propane in the tanks), so I have no stove (or hot water for that matter). If I can't heat it up in the microwave, it has to be eaten cold. Or I have a crock pot, so I've been making chili a lot.
So, yeah... all of my mixing bowls and baking tools, pots, pans... just being carried from one place to the next.
Which means my food supply is still in pretty good shape. Since I was ready for the thought of not having much fresh food, I haven't had to go to the store for much. Since I am the worst pioneer ever, I gave up on trying to ONLY do and eat what they did, because I can't cook outside. (Turns out wildfires are a HUGE thing this way and it's no joke. They don't allow any type of out door flames during the summer.)
So, I will probably go home with 90% of my flour and 80% of my beans that were purchased for the trip.
I've eaten out twice this month... if you want to count gas station food. And I have cheated with bottles of Pepsi about 8 times. (In my defense, they sell vanilla Pepsi here, which I can't get in the midwest, so I splurge... plus it helps ease the pain of the gas price I just paid!) Other than that, I just buy my half n half for my coffee. I need to get some veggies here soon. All the produce markets are open and I love me some fresh produce! (And still don't want scurvy.)
The Wildwood Conestoga has really taken a beating for some reason. Do the manufacturers not know that the camper is going to be set up and taken down over and over again? Don't other campers do this? It shouldn't be so fragile! It shouldn't be having so much trouble. It's only a 2017!
So, I've already mentioned my propane tanks. (No hot water, and no cooking flame), now my rear legs won't extend, so I have to figure out how to deal with that. My ball hitch either won't lock onto the ball, or won't let go! So we have this dance every single time in hooking up and unhooking to make the ball hitch fits just right. It's so aggravating!
I rarely use the air conditioning, (that could be the problem) but I had it on yesterday because it was 106 degrees and it whined the whole time... and when I turned it off for the evening, some exhaust fan (somewhere) was blowing and whining... I don't even know.
I've had three flat tires. Two on the trailer and one on Xander. (I had to get four new tires for Xander, because they were all close to going out, so I bit the bullet and did that. Ouch, but I feel safer. I do still have to buy a new spare tire for the camper just in case it happens again.)
The temperatures here are SO hot and dry, and even though I don't speed on the highway, I'm afraid of the tires over-heating or something happening. I've had to call my insurance roadside three times so far on this trip, so I can't imagine what my premium is going to look like next month. Ugh... the price of chasing your dreams.
Let's see, what else... nope, still. no videos. Not gonna happen.
I haven't written the new book either. I'm just so busy taking everything in! Every morning though, just as I am coming into conscience my brain is writing. Not that I can remember by the time I get back to my computer... but it IS up there... so there's hope. I'm thinking that once I am finished with this trip, all the ideas and senses and feelings and characters will come bubbling up.
I've also been thinking about creating a book about the actual trip- talking about what I've learned and sharing some photos... like a more complete and orderly History Revisited on paper... and also a journal/planner for other people who are getting into the camping thing. I really do love this life. (And I will be so sad when I reach the end of this trip. It's all coming too fast. ). But for others just getting started or want to document their trip but don't know how or what to say.. this journal thing might help... that's just an idea though...
So, if you're reading this and are not yet familiar with my writing style, please don't see complaining. (Okay, fine, there might be some, because this life is sometimes hard!). This is mainly documenting. I just like to keep track of stuff and I thought you might want to see the other side of things as well. I'm sorry it's not more scientific... probably why it comes across as complaining, but it's really not.
I am so happy to be doing this. It is such an adventure and I am learning so much. And not just historically speaking! I am learning more about me every day. I've discovered that I'm a lot more afraid than I thought. It's one thing to talk a big game, it's another thing to be out here facing those fears (or side skirting them) on a daily basis.
This is something that will keep me company for years to come. I have SO many pictures to go through and I can't wait to cover my walls with them!
This history and this country is absolutely amazing. I am seeing things I've never seen before and actually seeing and feeling and using all my senses, gives me such a deeper understanding to those pioneers who have traveled this road over a hundred years ago. I am so honored to be. able to do this and be able to write about if for years to come.
I will do just about anything to see ALL the monuments wherever I am traveling. Caveat to that is if I'm pulling the camper, I can't very well whip over to the side of the road to see the historical marker sign. But if I'm out and about, heck yeah, I want to see them all!
So I have to tell you about my adventure today.
I went out in search of the Oregon Buttes, that the pioneers used to guide them on their way. They could see them for miles and miles and pointed their wagons right at them to help them navigate the South Pass. (This was the only place they could get through the mountains) It was a landmark that way a high priority for them to see, and so it became so for me.
I was GOING to be content, grabbing some picture from a distance, but a woman that was working at the visiter's center of the South Pass City, told me theres a little known road that could get me closer.
I asked, "Are there signs?"
She said, "Yeah, I mean, you'll have to look for them and then there's a monument..."
There it was... I had to do it.
So I take off down this dirt road... I can see them... WAY off in the distance... I could have been, should have been happy with that... nope. There's a monument.
Make a left at the highway. Once you pass the rest area and cross over the Sweetwater River, you'll make a left.
Uh... no signs.... I go a little further, cross the Continental Divide... Now I KNOW I missed it.
Turns out the only sign of any kind, is a street sign. So, I head down the gravel road in search for the monument.
It said it would be about 10 miles, so I knew to be patient. I was only going about 30 mph, and the roads twisted and turned every which way, uphill, down hill... and I could see the buttes in the distance, getting closer, and closer...
I am snapping pictures left and right, because I just can't wrap my head around all this beauty. It's just breath taking. I'm stopping, taking pictures, inch forward...
I'm getting some really amazing shots of these buttes and then the gravel road turns to a dirt road. Pause. Do I go? Do I turn back? There is literally. NOTHING out here. No humans, no other vehicles, no phones, gas stations, or cell service.
Maybe the monument is at the base of the buttes? That's how it's been at all the other places... I keep going and then, suddenly there's a heard of pronghorn antelope! I've been waiting my whole trip to see these!!
I finally decide to stop and turn around and am looking for a safe place to do this. This road is NARROW! So I slow down even more and then around the next bend, is some of the most beautiful scenery!! I know I keep saying that, but in my head, I can't understand how the next curve can be more beautiful than the last curve!
And then I think.... NO ONE gets to see this! This stuff, right here... this is like a private show! I am literally in awe, I can't even describe it.
I had to upgrade my cloud storage after this trip!!
Okay, okay, let me fast forward, so the dirt road eventually PASSES where the base of the buttes would have. been. (I never got to the base, but the road I was on. was now veering away from them all together. I had to turn around... no really, i mean it this time. So, reluctantly, I did.
I drove a few feet and a pack of wild horses WITH A BABY runs across the road in front of me!! Omigoodness! It was so ... so.... I couldn't get out my camera fast enough. I did get some, but... again... this was just for me.
I had to give up the monument, and while I might have been disappointed for maybe a minute, so many other things made this side trip SO worth it!! The views, the scenery- these mountains were painted!!! They had blue and red and peach colored stripes!! My God, is an awesome God. And they are hidden back here along a long, long (LONG) dirt road. I feel so very priviledged. (I will be sharing many of the photos in the History Revisited facebook group if you're curious.
On the way back, after getting back to the gravel, I look to my left and down this tiny little dirt driveway, is a stand. I start cracking up laughing. Is that my monument???? I whip the truck and pull up next to it. There it was... my monument/plaque to let me know how important the Oregon Buttes were to the pioneers.
And to think... if I HAD found the monument when other normal people would have... I would have missed the whole show.
And if just this story alone, doesn't have you believing in miracles and that He watches every step... then here's the rest of the story.
When I'm almost home, a warning light pops up on my dash. I can't do anything right now, so I go straight back to the campground to look it up. Tire pressure.
I'm so tired and worn out from this trip, but decide to go check it out, because I have another long drive tomorrow.
My rear tire on the driver's side is FLAT. Not low... F. L. A.T.
I call the good folks at the Roadside Service, I pay lots of money to every year and they send a guy out. Fixed. No problem.
But- IF that tire would have gone flat out there on that dirt road... I would have been in serious trouble. There was no phone signal. There were no cars passing by. There was nothing.
I am so thankful that God was watching over me and got me safely home. I do believe in miracles because I witness them on a regular basis, this time, today, they were happening to me.
I love to hear the pitter patter of rain on my roof. It’s usually quite calming. Even as it begins to get heavier and I hear the sound of the thunder and the flash of lightning come closer together, I am still at peace. But just as I am about to drift off to sleep a clap of thunder startles me and I remember that I am “on” the Oregon Trail. My peace is gone as my brain frantically searches it’s research memory bank to try and recall what they would have done on such a night.
It’s still early on the trip, we haven’t even been on the trail for thirty days as yet, which means the wagons are still pretty full with provisions. There would be no room to crawl into the safety of the wagon.
Some brought along tents to sleep in but most would sleep out under the stars or under the wagon. The wind rocks my sturdy little Wildwood Conestoga and I am literally worried to where I can’t sleep wondering what they would have done. Lightning flashes and cracks across the sky and lights up the inside of my camper.
I was lying in my bed already planning and plotting how I was going to have to hook up the camper and leave even while it was storming. I was going to put a dry towel and a dry change of clothes in the truck, add a dry towel to the seat. Don’t wear jeans, they hold too much water. Which hoodie should I wear? You’ll want to hurry, I’m reminding myself, but don’t go so fast you forget a step… that’s even more dangerous…
I thought, I will be as tired as they would have been… I can’t sleep for thinking. They couldn’t sleep for all the rain… and the potential dangers of lightening and fierce winds, flash floods…being out on the open praire with no protection. No trees. Nothing.
How terrifying for them. They could have gotten no sleep. They couldn’t possibly be dry no matter where they went. And here, still in Nebraska, the rain is coming down so hard and so fast that the ground can’t absorb it making streams and soaking the ground and everything in it’s path.
What did they do? What did they do?
Did they have towels to dry their faces? Did they have a change of clothes? A change of shoes? Their blankets had to be soaked. Their tents would have blown over. Their lean-tos would have been useless. What did they do?
The panic that I feel, even while in the safety of my own bed is real. This is how I make the scenes for my books so vivid, because before I write them, I can feel them. Even as I write this, though the storm has passed and the sun is shining, the panic swells back up in my chest as I think about their discomfort. Their weariness. And the children.
And the horses! And the cattle! No protection!
The storm raged pretty fiercely all through the night but by morning, it was finished with it’s tantrum and went on its way.
I was able to hook up the camper to the truck with little inconvenience other than some mud. I’m sure we both assessed the damages, if any and make adjustments. They had to rise at 4- hook up the oxen to their wagons, load up all their wet gear (hopefully get to change into some dry clothes) and trudge through the thick, muddy grass onto their next stop.
Today, I am driving the equivalent of 16 of their travel days.
The heart wants what the heart wants. How many times have you heard people say that to explain why they stay in a toxic relationship?
The statement usually goes along with a shrug. Nothing they can do about it. They just love their mate so much that it would do no good to leave because they would find their way back. The circumstances are beyond their control.
They want to be in a relationship so badly that they are willing to settle for things less than they deserve. Sometimes it shows up as abuse. Sometimes it's neglect. Sometimes the puzzle pieces just don't fit, but it's not uncomfortable enough to do anything about.
Oh! I just want to shake some sense into these people! That is not love! Love goes both ways! Love doesn't just take and take and take. The heart does NOT want that!
I believe that you believe that it is love. But if I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, love NEVER hurts. That is not the design of love.
The thought of leaving hurts, I know. The thought of being on your own is scary. Having to start all over again with someone new is daunting. But you are worth more than staying in a relationship that doesn't serve you.
I've got news for you.... the heart wants a loving partner. The heart wants love in return. We were built to give love and seek love in return. SEEK LOVE IN RETURN!!! Notice what 's missing??
We want to believe that love is a feeling... that we just are swept away, and we have no control over the flow of the current. Whether it's calm, or it pulls you under and you're gasping for breath.
But love doesn't just happen. Love is a functioning, growing system that two people are supposed to work together to create. When it's love, you are both building a foundation. One that will last and that you can stand on and feel solid ground when a storm comes.
When a relationship is only one sided, that is not love. If you are feeling alone, or that you are doing all the "work" to maintain this relationship, what kind of a foundation does it have to stand on? We all know that a foundation that is littered with cracks or chunks missing isn't going to last for long. And every storm that comes along chips away at those crack a little more each time....
How long can the heart really "want' emptiness just to have someone lay beside them at night? How many excuses do you need to make to others, or worse, yourself for the bruises... or the lonely times... or the neglect? Where does love say that you should tolerate lies, or deceit or unfaithfulness? Let me give you a hint- it DOESN'T!
The heart wants what the heart wants...
That is just romanticized logic for staying in a defective relationship. Because sometimes it's easier to take the neglect than it is to face the conflict that will come. The guilt that rises and gets caught in our throat. The emptiness of being alone. The pain of rejection. The fear of the unknown reaction. The terror of the known reaction...
Love yourself enough to know if you are in a toxic relationship. Love yourself enough to know when to walk away. Yes, it will be difficult. We have no control of what others do and do not do. We can't expect them to love us back just because we pour out love on them.
Let me say that again: You have not control over what others do. It is not your fault if your partner makes bad, unhealthy choices for your relationship.
You only have control over what you do. What you think, how you respond, your actions, and... what you tolerate.
I'm sure you can read the passion I'm feeling under these words. I'd say that at least 75% of your emails to me deal with unrequited love. And almost every single plea for help is the same... the truth, the signs, the red flags, are all right there, but we love him or her so much that we are blindsided. What many of you are looking for is permission to leave. The others are looking for reasons why... I don't have those answers, but I do know this:
You can't love someone enough for two. You can't; no matter how much you'd like to.
You can't make someone change if they don't want to.
You can't be someone you're not, in order for them to "love you more".
And sadly, most people don't change. If their behavior hurts you, most likely, it will continue.
No matter what you may think you deserve... I promise you, it's never so bad that you should tolerate abusive behavior. Physical. Mental or Emotional. No one else gets the right to mead out your "punishment" as they see fit.
Love yourself, just a tiny bit... just look inward, and see the smallest spark... it's waiting to be seen. You are worth more. You deserve love.
Take one step toward releasing yourself from a toxic relationship. Just one. Then do it again the next day and the next... That spark will grow and ignite a fire inside you and you'll look back and wonder how you put up with such nonsense for so long.
I hope to get that email saying that you have had enough and you are standing your ground; living life on your terms, loving the way love is meant to be.
The heart wants love. Real love. Don't just shrug and take whatever the wind blows your way. Let today be the day that you choose. Let today be the day that you take responsibility for what your heart wants. Just one step.
I'll be waiting for your email. :)
1 Corinthians 13:4
Comment below with #justonestep if you are ready to own your choices or you are showing your support for others in toxic relationships.
Blame It On Any 'Ol Thing
I got my first piece of hate mail...
Don't get me wrong, I've gotten "dislike" mail before. If someone didn't like one of my books or had a differing, intelligent opinion, I've gotten those...
But this one was an all in, all out hate mail. It was a personal attack.
My first reaction was defensive, WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS???
Then I went to sad, Why would he say those things? That's so mean!
Of course, the insecurities kicked in, Maybe he's right. Maybe I shouldn't be advising people. After all, what do I know? I'm nobody special...
Luckily, my brain took over at that point and shut my sensitive heart down!
The long and short of it was that he was blaming me for his girlfriend leaving him. "Because of you, I lost my best friend and lover". That was probably the nicest thing he said in the whole context of the email. The rest was hateful....
Blame is everyone's first response to pain. We automatically look for an outside source we can pin the hurt on to help us deal with it. But things can never reach a solution until we go back and see what our part of the problem was and take responsibility for it. It is not an easy thing to do, but blaming will keep you in the EXACT same place that you are right now.
He went on to say that I was filling her head with stuff like "she deserves better" and that sometimes we "have to be alone until we figure out what is right for us".
Yeah... sounds like something I would say.
Honestly, I don't know specifically who this former couple is but I am thinking that she probably did the right thing by leaving. Because at no point of his rant did he mention that he loved her or was willing to make any changes to win her back. It was all about how his life is miserable without her. That's not love. That's inconvenience.
While this hateful letter was meant to (most likely) tear me down, make me quiet down or maybe even stop me from what I'm doing, but I'm afraid it did a few things in the opposite direction. This is what I have learned from this act of angry opposition:
- While it was probably very difficult for her to leave, she was able to because someone out there gave her the courage to believe in herself. If that was me, I am honored.
- I am doing the right thing. The things that I write are not unique or brilliant, but they are written in a way that the words I write resonate with the ones who are meant to get something from them. What I write and how I write is important to someone, somewhere. And if I am helping even one person, I'm doing the right thing.
- I am becoming a worthy opponent. The Devil is passive until you become a threat and then he begins his attacks. I must be doing something right to get him to turn his attentions to my humble writings. It's okay. I have the Light on my side and it continues to shine down the path I am supposed to be on. (I just have to work on getting a thicker skin!)
- And the writer of the email, you can blame her leaving on any 'ol thing you want to, but the bottom line is: She would have NEVER left you, if you had been treating her right.
Women (in general) are more forgiving. They often give more chances than are healthy. They see the beauty in you and hope and pray it comes to the surface and often stay longer than they should to see it happen. They want and need the security of commitment... It's how we are built. (I know there are exceptions and that is fine, but even the most independent woman want to be needed)
And dear writer of the email that launched an entire blog post-
I don't know if your heart is really broken because she left, or just your pride but here are a few words that I hope will heal your heart.
-I'm am sure that she still loves you and left you unwillingly. From your words, it sounds as if she had to convince herself to step away from the relationship. So, she didn't leave you because she loves you any less.
-I'm also pretty sure she didn't leave you for someone else. She left to save herself. If she DID go to someone else, I can guarantee that it has been building for some time and you just didn't notice that someone else had been giving her the things you were not.
-And finally, if you are unwilling to change or at the very least SEE that you need to change, please, let her go. Don't call her. Don't text her. Don't show up at her job. Don't be her friend on Facebook. Don't try and "just be friends". If you're aren't going to step up to the plate and give her your everything- then give her nothing. Let her go. Let her heal.
-I don't say these things to be cruel, but there is something missing from your relationship and until you find out what that is, she is hurting. And if you love her that should inspire you to do everything in your power to lesson that. Even if that means walking away. If you want to win her back- become the man she SEES in you. But don't woo her back if you're just going to be the same person that hurt her in the first place. Please.
Love is trying to figure out what things you did wrong and CHANGING them because it wasn't working. Love is ALWAYS about the other person. You get love by giving it away. Simple as that.
I'm glad we've had this little talk... I feel much better.
How Do You React?
We all have pain. We all suffer loss. We all have to go through experiences that we'd rather avoid. The question is, how do you react when you are faced with unpleasantries?
We have no control over the things that life is going to throw at us. Sometimes it seems as if we are being "picked on" by the universe or God or whomever you choose to blame. When the truth is, we all have our fair share. Some people get it dumped on them all at one time, others have a constant stream of disappointment, still others have it dispersed through out life at an even pace so as barely to disrupt their daily activity.
How can this be? I believe it is how we react to these events that determines the radius of destruction it plays in our lives. How you react places the value on the negative event. Is it going to shut you down? Move you to a cardboard box in an alley? Is every event catastrophic? Or can you get through it with a few minor tweaks? Is it something you have to work a little harder to push through? Or something that would turn out better if you just lay low for a while? Grief and tragedy affects each one of us in different ways. Learn to know your telltale behavior when times get rough to learn if you need to alter a few things to make life easier, you stronger, thicker skinned, or whatever the change might have to be.
I do not belittle any tragedy that goes on in people's lives. God knows, I've had plenty to try and keep me down. The Devil loves to challenge my faith on a regular basis. And yet...
The doctors of the medical community have diagnosed me with clinical manic depression. Which, basically gives me permission to have crying jags, eating binges and months of solitude and a list of medications to choose from if I so desire. Because of this condition, I have the green light to turn my heartbreaks, my letdowns, my bumps in the road, my catastrophes of any size to take control over my life, my emotions and my well-being. Well, guess what...
I choose not to let the weight of the world control my destiny!
Let alone my month, my week, my days. Okay, sometimes... many times it can have an hour or two, but then it's time to get back up and get back to life.
Being diagnosed with depression, means that I sometimes have to work harder to see the sunshine instead of the rain, but since I know that about myself, I know what I have to do. It isn't easy. Like I said, I have permission by the professionals to sit around in my pajamas for days on end and wallow. But that's not the kind of life that I want.
I choose to keep the sunshine on my face so the shadows stay behind me. I am not in denial. When these bad things come up, I make a choice as how to deal with them. I do my best not to make mountains out of molehills. I don't let gossip or what others think of me take a hold of my life or alter me.
I know, that I am being the best person I can be under any circumstance.
So, how do you react? When bad things happen, do you let it sink in and take over? Complaining doesn't help. Constantly bringing it to the surface doesn't help. Gossiping, or using the feel-sorry-for-me-card doesn't help. Don't discuss your problems with others unless they can help you. Either by support, or getting you through the situation. By constantly telling everyone how miserable you are only makes you a whiner. Enough of the reality tv show attitude. Your dirty laundry wasn't meant to be scattered all over the front yard. I'm not saying hide it. But I'm saying don't flaunt it. I'm not saying pretend everything is fine when it isn't, I'm suggesting reserving your comments on the situation for specific people. People that can help you and have your best interests at heart.
Like I said, what life throws at us is out of our control. But you can make it three times worse if you give in to pressure, or depression, or bullying, or grief, or brick walls. There is ALWAYS another way. There is ALWAYS another choice.
Choose the sunshine.... Always choose the sunshine.
I don't know what I'm afraid of. I've been here before... at the crossroads. But every time I make my way to this point, I am stricken with fear. Choices. Go right? Go left? Go straight? ... go back? What if it's the wrong choice?
I am standing at the crossroads. I can see the choices before me... and that familiar fear creeps up my throat and makes it hard to breathe. I am deathly afraid of failure.
Its actually a ridiculous circle of events, I work and work and work so hard just to get me to this point and then I am freaked out when I get here. And one of two things is going to happen... Either, I will push ahead and give it my all and will face whatever outcome results from it, or subconsciously sabotage the project so that when I fail I have something to blame it on. Is it sad that I can literally SEE my two choices before me?
This is a big one. It's not like changing the color of my livingroom walls or even buying a new car. My choices in front of me are life changing. If I fail at this, it will knock me back quite a few notches. Sure, I've been there before, at the bottom of the failure pile ... but I don't like it. I realize that sometimes you have to fail before you can succeed, and I could really use a success.
If you've been following my blogs, you have seen how I am shifting slightly in my niche. I am turning my focus to teens and family coaching and diving in head first into the workshops and seminars. I have peace about my decision right up until the time I have to take action on it. So I've done all the small things, the research, the writing, the connections, the announcements... but now, it's actually time to do it. It's time to offer my first workshop. It's time to suck it up and start making videos for on-line seminars and the blogs, etc. It's time to make the new website go live. It's time to put the wheels in motion.
Scary stuff... Scary, scary stuff...
So, this is me where I am at this juncture of my writing career. Thank you for letting me share my trials with you and thank you for your prayers and kind words. I know the direction I need to follow. I am standing in the crossroads, but I know the direction I need to take. It's just a matter of taking that first step.
Maybe tomorrow.... yes, definitely tomorrow.