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.
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.
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!
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...
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.