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.
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.
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...
The birds are singing. The sun is shining. The days are longer. The air is warmer. The flowers are blooming and my travel clock alarm is ringing in my soul!!
It must be Spring!
I love this time of year and look forward to it with great anticipation. THIS, is MY new year. THIS is when my new year's goals hit the ground running. I LOVE the Spring!
Everything just feels so fresh and new. The winters hit me so hard, even in the South. It's still too cold, too dark and too confining. So when the first signs of Spring start to show, my soul perks up, and I know that my days of being trapped indoors are almost at an end. By this time, I am SO ready to kick my way out of my chrysalis and start my new adventures.
I am usually plotting out some grand adventure, surrounded by maps and destinations, historical points, and "must see" scenic views and lists of lists of lists, with high hopes and throwing caution to the wind... but this year, I must behave. Last year (and the year before, if I'm being honest) were a little too costly and I wasn't able to recoup my losses. So... sadly, this year, as promised, I will stay put.
But don't think I'll be idle!
The new book in the Leading with Love Series, Falling in Love with You, is scheduled to come out in May and for the first time, I'm also going to try and have the next FICTION (Miracles from Ashes) out by November. Two books in one year.... I dunno.... but I'm trying.
Plus this is a great time to try out the newer versions of the workshops on a smaller scale. Work out the kinks so when I AM ready to travel again, they will be fine-tuned and ready to be offered to the nation!! (Gotta think big, right?) And I am missing working with my teens so much that I'm thinking of pulling one or two of their workshops out of the closet and dusting them off too. (Have to keep busy so I don't think about relocating!)
I have gotten so much feedback from everyone and I am so grateful that you love my work, my stories and my mission. I just need to stay more focused and not let the lure of rivers, lakes and oceans (or the yellow dashes on the highway that always promise to lead some place completely new) distract me. Easier said than done. But keeping busy should help.
I will stay in Georgia for a while longer, but there should be plenty of new and exciting things to see right here in my own back yard. There is tons of history, and the scenery here is so beautiful. Plus with my writing, it should be enough to keep me occupied. (read: distracted!)
My heart longs for the open highways and the wanderlust whispers to my heart to go search for things I've never seen. So, I'll need you to help hold me accountable!
Spring means new beginnings...
A fresh start...
A chance to make this year amazing...
I have a lot planned for this "new year" and I hope it yields great returns!
Happy Spring, y'all!