Seeking Solitude

TypeWriter ImageThe outside world looms larger than life. The television blares. People talk and laugh. A car alarm sounds off. A dog barks.It is in moments like these when I struggle. All, I want is a moment of quiet where I can become lost within my own mind, focus on my thoughts, and capture the story running through the recesses of my mind.

Quieting my exterior, I immerse myself in my writing. Pounding away at the keyboard, I have somehow effectively managed to remove myself from the life happening around me.

It’s time. I am ready to converse and laugh, but the silence is deafening. My world is quiet. Everyone around me seems to be submersed in their own activities. Restless, I prowl about. Like a precocious two year old, I want to throw a fit and harass my family into paying attention to me.

It’s a fine line to walk. As a traveler and a writer, I have a need to experience life. I have a need to – feel the wind on my face,  experience the stifling muggy heat of Virginia, smell the dank mustiness of an earthy farm, hear the story of the woman who works at the five and dime store, suffer through the agony of defeat, wade in the waves crashing against the pristine white shores of the sandy Florida beaches, laugh until I cry, navigate my way along the hustling city streets of New York, and to be overwhelmed with gratitude. I have a need to do it all, to see it all, to experience it all.

I’ve had enough. Bursting at the seams, I’m ready to implode. My body needs rest and my mind needs relief. Armed with my laptop, I squire away. I’ll be better once I spend the next few hours, days, or possibly weeks pounding away at the keyboard.

Daily Prompt

 

 

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Liebster Award

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Thank You for the Nomination:

I’d like to sincerely thank Mom and Me Publishing for nominating my blog. Please take a moment to check out their amazing blog: Mom and Me Publishing. This mom and daughter duo are a lively, creative, and funny writing team that offer beautiful insight. 

The Official Rules of the Liebster Award 2016

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.

  • Display the award on your blog – by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a widget.

  • Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.

  • Provide 10 random facts about yourself (optional).

  • Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 200 followers (*You can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets readers know this information.)

  • List these rules in your post.

  • Answer the 11 questions you were asked by the blogger who nominated you.

  • Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer when they post their nomination. 

  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated them for a Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.

A Blog I Like Reading: 

Hill Top Heaven is a creative and imaginative blog written by Cathy Holdsworth. Cathy has a zest for life which is powerfully portrayed in her blog posts. She uses her blog to explore her passion for life, travel, food, decorating, and writing. I happened to stumble upon Hill Top Heaven by chance, but it immediately captured my attention. Cathy’s perspective on life and her travels continue to draw me in.

While I enjoy Cathy’s travel adventures, I think my favorite post in her blog is ‘The Painting – A Short Story.’ This short story transported me into the marriage of Frank and his wife. This story brought me to the verge of tears. Year after year, this wife endured endless abuse at the hands of her husband. Using her imagination, she escaped by jumping into a Monet landscape. In this landscape she was everything she’d ever hoped to be – young, beautiful, and loved. One day, her dream came true. She finally escaped her husband, and found her hard earned happiness.

10 Random Facts About Myself:

  1. I’m a traveler who explores the United States in my 34 ft RV, I have affectionately nicknamed The Beast.

  2. I’m a mom who homeschool/roadschools.

  3. I’m short – only five foot.

  4. I love coffee, and I tend to be cranky without my morning cup.

  5. I’m afraid of heights, but I love to fly.

  6. Like most bloggers and writers, I love to read.

  7. I’ve never milked a cow, but eventually I will.

  8. I hate bananas.

  9. I absolutely adore New York City.

  10. I love listening to loud music while driving.

 I Nominate the Following Blogs:

Answers to the 11 Questions I was Asked:

  1. What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
    • My favorite books are autobiographies which have been defined as authentic texts. I love reading about other people’s lives and experiences.
  2. Coffee, Tea, or neither?
    • Coffee – Definitely coffee.
  3. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
    • I prefer dogs. I have a Beagle and a Scottish Terrier.
  4. What’s one of the most moving experiences you’ve had?
    • The most moving experience I’ve had is giving birth.
  5. What makes you whole-heartedly happy?
    • Traveling – I love traveling.
  6. What book turned you into a “reader”? Or- What book has had the most impact on you?
    • I can’t name a specific book, but there are two authors that strongly impacted my love for reading: Dorothy Allison and Maya Angelou.
  7. What is your day like?
    • My average day depends on whether or not we are traveling. On travel days – I wake early, rush to get ready, and hit the road. On non-travel days – I sleep late, wake, explore my surroundings, and write.
  8. Briefly, describe yourself.
    • Writer. Blogger. Traveler. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Reader. Amateur Photographer.
  9. Why did you create your blog?
    • I was inspired by Casey Neistat, a YouTube Blogger. He started his vlog to constantly be creating and honing his craft. I loved this concept, and knew my writing would benefit from the same.
  10. Do you have a suggestion for us fellow bloggers on how to promote our page?
    • My only advice would be to read other blogs and interact with other bloggers. I also use social media to promote my page.
  11. Which tag do you search the most?
    • Travel and Life – are my two favorite tags.

Questions to Answer:

    1. What is your favorite place in the world?

    2. Why did you begin blogging?

    3. What is the worst nightmare?

    4. What is your overall strategy with your blog?

    5. What is your best memory?

    6. What was the scariest moment you’ve ever experienced.

    7. What is your favorite food?

    8. Who inspires you?

    9. What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog? 

    10. What is your favorite quote?

    11. Where do you find inspiration for your blog?

Sakura-Con

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An annual anime convention, Sakura-Con takes place at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA.

Excitement hangs in the air. Costumes decorate the city streets. Sakura-Con is here.

My daughter has spent months planning, crafting, and sewing together her costumes. She loves anime, and this particular convention holds a special place in her heart. It is the first, she attended.

Walking into the convention center, I’m instantly transported into a world of imagination and make believe. It is a world, I struggle to understand.

There are throngs of people everywhere. Hesitantly, I follow my daughter’s lead through the crowd. I don’t know what to make of the scene around me.Looking around, I wonder if saying “yes” to this event was such a good idea. People are everywhere in various states of dress – women and men in skimpy outfits, furry creatures, people decked out in armor, women and men in beautiful gowns, and anime characters galore. Moving about the crowd, I’m struck by the overwhelming sense of friendship and camaraderie. People talk, laugh, and pose for pictures with the characters they like.

Picking up a schedule, we map out our day. There are numerous activities, we can participate in – various panels, costume contests, fashion shows, meet and greets with different voice actors, band performances, anime video premiers,  gaming competitions, and more. The options are endless.

The stamina needed to keep up with it all is insane. Constantly on the go, the events run from early in the morning until after midnight.I’m exhausted by the end of the first day.This anime world is a crazy, but I’m comforted to know it is all in good fun.

The stamina needed to keep up with it all is insane. The events run from early in the morning until after midnight, entertaining everyone and keeping them on the go.

On the second day, I know what to expect and better prepare myself. Bringing my laptop and camera with me, I sit myself at a central location while my daughter goes to the events with her friends. Sometimes, I join them. Surprisingly, there are events that hold my attention. Other times, I simply wander about taking pictures.

By the third and final day, I’ve learned a few things. The panels have helped enlighten me. The anime videos have entertained me. The detailed work put into the costumes have astonished me. The friendly open people have helped to welcome me into their world.

We’ve attended several Sakura-Con’s over the years, and I still struggle to understand the world of anime. I couldn’t begin to tell you which character belongs to which anime. However, I have fun every time I go.

More Information on Sakura-Con

Homeless America

Do you ever worry it could happen to you? I never used to, but I do now. My eyes were pried open when I began traveling the United States.

Homelessness isn’t an allusive problem, but a reality. It is no longer a problem that exists somewhere, out there. From the smallest of towns to the largest cities, homelessness is steadily becoming more prevalent.

Look around. Do you see it? Has it made its way to your town – to your neighborhood?

Anacortes, Washington:

During the summer months, tourists can be seen milling about the town moving from shop to shop. Once little more than a fishing village, Anacortes evolved over the years into a prosperous town thanks to the tourist industry. Ideally located on Fidalgo Island, Anacortes is the gateway to the San Juan Islands.

Commercial fishing boats can still be found docked at the Cap Sante Marina, but pleasure boats are now the majority. Sadly, the fishing industry has diminished over the year as costs and regulations have increased.

It was in this little, scenic seaport town that we met Perry.

Driving along R Avenue, we were headed down to the docks when we drove past a man slowly making his way down the sidewalk while pulling a metal cart behind him. The cart seemed to be filled with all his worldly possessions. Scuffed and worn, he looked like he’d seen better days.

Pulling off the road, I rolled down my window and offered him some money.

Smiling, he softly shook his head. “While I appreciate your generosity, I never accept something without giving something in return. Will you give me a second?”

Mildly surprised, I nodded in agreement.

Turning to his cart, he dug through it until he found what he was looking for.

Smiling, he held out a baby carriage for me, he’d built out of a beer can. “I saw your little one in the back, and thought you might like this. Be careful, don’t let her play with it. The edges are sharp.”

Taking the carriage, I admired his work. “Thank you. It’s beautiful.”

Visiting for a few minutes before parting ways, I learned that Perry had made the streets of Anacortes his home for the last three years. He loved the area, but would like to move somewhere a little warmer. The damp winters make his arthritis act up.

Washington DC:

Home to the President of the United States, Washington D.C. is a beautiful hustling city that lies along the Potomac River. Well-known for its monuments, museums, and galleries, the city is rich in culture. However, it is also well-known for its homeless problem.

It is here in our Nation’s Capital that 12,215 people were found to be homeless on January 28, 2016, by the COG Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee.

The problem is only too evident when you drive through the city. Tents and tarps set up under a bridge create a temporary community. This makeshift tent city is one of hundreds popping up around the United States.

Orlando, Florida:

This past Christmas was our first on the road. We spent our holiday season at Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake in Orlando, Florida. A hundred and eighty-three acres of rich green land adjacent to beautiful Turkey Lake, the park was a lovely change from the cold Alaskan Christmas we had experienced the previous year.

Exploring Orlando and the surrounding areas, we spent approximately a month at the park. While there, we came to meet a nice young family who also happened to be staying there. On the surface, their family appears similar to mine. Like us, they are a family of five and they are a mobile. However, that is where the similarities seem to end.

We are an extended family with grandparents, parent, and two teenagers. We made a conscious choice to give up our stationary lives and adopt a nomadic traveling lifestyle. Our home is a thirty-four foot RV that we navigate around the highways and back roads of the United States. We live doing what we please.

They are a traditional family with a father, mother, and three young girls. Their mobile life isn’t by choice. They are a homeless family who primarily live out of their car. They expand their home to include a small tent when they are fortunate enough to be able to afford the fees of a campground or park. They live in fear that someone will find out they live out of their car, and will tear their family apart.

How desperate would I have to be, to knock on someone’s door to ask for help?

I’ve turned this question over and over in my mind, but I still don’t know the answer. It is something I simply can’t imagine. Perhaps, it is one of those situations where you just need to be there to understand.

In the last year, I’ve heard that knock four times. It comes as a surprise every time. Although, I imagine it’s easier and less intimidating to approach an RV than it is the door of a two story home. We do what we can to help – providing sack lunches and warm blankets. It isn’t nearly enough, but I like to think it helps.

Homelessness happens easier and faster than many of us realize. The reality of it is, it can happen to anyone for any reason.

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The Musings of a Mom Raising a Teenager

 Raising a teenage daughter has been one of the scariest experiences of my life, but the end is in sight. At nineteen, my daughter and I can almost close the book on these years. At this point, I’m feeling pretty confident. My chances of surviving this war and coming out the other side without any significant wounds seems to be extremely promising.

The teen years aren’t easy. There were many times I wondered if I’d make it through unscathed. I happened to be one of the lucky ones. Many parents aren’t nearly as lucky. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. There is no predestined parenting path anyone can take to guarantee your child’s safety, well being, and happiness.

When my daughter was younger, I’d worry and stress over nonsensical things. Anxious that her head size wasn’t within the normal range for other infants her age, I worried that this would somehow affect her ability to learn. I drove myself crazy wondering if she was getting enough protein in her diet because she would refuse to eat meat. A working mom, I didn’t want to be an absentee parent causing my daughter to resent me, so I’d kill myself trying to juggle and rearrange work to make it to every recital, play, and soccer match. If only I’d have known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have worried quite so much. Perhaps, I’d have a few less grey hairs or gotten a little more sleep.

As children get older the dangers compound. My mind swirls with the possibilities of dangers lurking out there threatening to damage or destroy my daughter’s well-being: peer pressure, bullying, depression, a destructive unhealthy self-image, eating disorders, cutting, underage drinking, drugs, smoking, texting while driving, sexting, car accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, rape, fighting, school violence, being kidnapped, shop lifting, an over-inflated ego and a sense of privilege, and my list of worries goes on and on. Ever vigilant, I was often accused of being over protective, but it didn’t matter. I simply didn’t care. I would do everything within my power to ensure my daughter’s well-being.

A relatively good girl, my daughter is a sensible, intelligent, and beautiful young woman who has the world in the palm of her hand. After taking this last year off, she’ll be attending college in the fall. Some would say my vigilance paid off, they’d be wrong. The truth of it is, I simply got lucky. My daughter could have easily fallen prey to any number of the dangers I feared. There is absolutely nothing any of us can do to guarantee our child survives the tumultuous teenage years. All we can do is watch out for them, love them, and hope we get lucky.

U.S.A Traveling Tips and Tricks

 

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I’ve been on the road for a year, but people still don’t understand. I’m often questioned by people in my old life. Why? How? Their looks of confusion and sometimes derision are both amusing and annoying. They can’t seem to understand why or how I could give up my old life to live this way, but that is okay. They don’t need to. My journey is not theirs. However, for those of you who share my interest in living this way, I’d like to share with you a few things, I’ve learned along the way.

  • This is a life not a vacation. 
    • Before deciding to take this step, I read everything I could on the subject of full time travel. Like a sponge, I absorbed information and advice from all directions. It was one of these articles, in particular, that resonated with me. It was about a powerful executive married couple who gave up their stationary lives to travel the world. However, in less than a year, they were broke and working ‘menial’ jobs, so they could eat and have a place to sleep at night. Instead of living within their means, they blew through their money on extravagant activities, four star hotels, and elaborate meals. Bemoaning their new lives, they warned people in the article not to do what they did. No, they weren’t warning people not to blow through their money as if there’s no tomorrow, they were warning people not to become full time travelers. This couple’s irresponsibility served me well. I continuously remind myself this is my life, not a vacation. It is important to budget accordingly. It also made me question myself on my dedication to do what was necessary to live this life. Would I be willing to stop traveling if needed to re enter the workforce, and take on ‘menial’ jobs (as they put it) to build up my travel fund if needed? The answer came only too easily. Unequivocally “YES.” There is no shame in a hard honest day’s work. I’ve done it before, and I’d gladly do it again to be able to be a full time traveler.
  • Cutting costs from the very beginning, we did everything we could to eliminate extravagant monthly bills that would prevent us from traveling.
    • Shopping around, we found a second-hand RV within our means. Paying cash for it up front, we bought it outright. Working together, we invested hard work and sweat equity into it to making it a comfortable, accommodating home that is distinctly ours. By doing this, we were able to increase the value of our RV while saving ourselves from having costly monthly payments.
    • Debt can be destructive to freedom. We avoid credit cards. If we can’t afford to pay cash for what we need, we simply do without.
  • We rarely eat out. Cooking at home is economical, healthier, and simply tastes better.
  • We avoid buying snacks or drinks from convenience stores when filling up our vehicle with diesel. It is an expensive convenience, we do without.
  • We are a family of five which can become expensive very quickly when traveling and sightseeing.
    • Fortunately, the United States has a wealth of free and low cost fun, entertaining, and educational attractions and activities. Doing my homework ahead of time, I google each state we travel in, and notate what is available.
    • I keep my eyes peeled for discounts, coupons, and offers that may make sightseeing more affordable and accessible.
      • The America the Beautiful: National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is one such amazing deal. For a low yearly cost, this pass provides entrance or access to more than two thousand Federal Recreation Parks and Sites through out the United States. It is definitely a great deal, and has saved my family a ton of money.  Find a Federal Park
    • Get off the beaten path. I love big cities, but small towns have their own distinct charm. Explore what is out there.
    • For those attractions that may be more expensive, we simply do as other families do. We save until we have the money to go. Disneyworld may be the happiest place on Earth, but it is definitely not the most affordable.
  • Campgrounds and RV parks are often spendy. Boondocking is a great way to combat this expense.
    • Wal-Mart’s, Home Depot, and Lowes are usually pretty accommodating if you park at the far end of their parking lots. However, I always call and speak with a manager to receive permission beforehand. There are some cities whose ordinances forbid boondocking.
    • Free Campsite Interactive Map is another wonderful tool, I frequently use. This interactive map is a great way to locate various free and low cost campsites in any area you happen to be in. Providing reviews and coordinates, this map is easy to use.
  • Always be safe. 
    • Trust your instincts. image
    • Do NOT catalog where you’ve been on a map you adhere to the side of your RV. This is a dangerous practice. By doing this you are notifying everyone that you are a full time traveler who has everything you own in your RV (electronics, jewelry, and personal documents). While it is fun to document and record your adventures, just keep it to the inside of your RV.
    • Invest in a weather radio. These radios will alert you to storms along the way that you may not be aware of. There is nothing worse than driving into something you could easily have avoided.
    • Joining AAA is a travel service that is well worth the money. If you have a breakdown on the road, help is only a phone call away.
  • Be friendly and meet the locals. They often know about the best places to go, to shop, and to eat (when you decide to splurge).

I’ve only been on the road for a year, but I can’t imagine going back to my old life. Why would I? This is the life, literally. I may have had a large home with four bedrooms, two and a half bath, but I was never there to enjoy any of it. 70, 80, 100 hour work weeks were the norm. I saw my family in passing on my way to work or my way to bed. Now, I live simply but the rewards are far greater.

 

 

 

A Day in My Crazy Life

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On average non-travel mornings when we aren’t exploring and trekking across states, I sleep late, wake leisurely, and pull myself out of bed around eight-thirty or nine. Once I open my eyes, I lay there willing myself to move. To get up, to get going. Creativity and productivity waits for no one. I move as if I’m in a trance, stumbling my way to our small kitchen, I pour myself that ever important first cup of coffee. As my morning java seeps in, I pull myself together, and grab my shower. After I’ve showered and put myself together, I’m ready to go. I grab my second cup of coffee, my laptop, and head outside. I let the fresh air filter into my system as I spend the better part of the day, pounding away at my keyboard.

It is a beautiful routine that is distinctly mine, and I love it. Perhaps, I value this part of my day so much because for years I was forced to wake at five every morning, rushing from the time my feet hit the floor. After doing this day after day, year after year, you’d think it would have become an ingrained habit, but it never did.Waking at this ungodly hour was something I easily relinquished. Now, I sleep late and stay awake into the wee hours of the morning.

This morning started off just like any other. It was a perfect morning then suddenly it wasn’t. Setting my coffee down on the picnic table, I looked at the clouds moving in and wondered if we’d see the storms earlier than they were predicting. Sitting down, I allowed my mind to wander over the possible adventures I’d share in today’s blog. Which will it be? Would I write the time I kicked up my heels and square danced in Missoula, Montana? Would I explore the time we boogie boarded at Smyrna Beach, Florida? Would I explain how we once went on a quest for Lebanon Bologna in Pennsylvania? The possibilities are promising.

Suddenly, my day comes crashing to a halt. My laptop turns on, but no matter what I do the screen remains blank. Nothing I do helps. My laptop which is less than three months old is fried. After calling the company’s trouble shooting hotline, I learn that it is likely a problem with the internal hard drive. Translation, I will be without one of my most prized possessions for two and a half weeks while it is out for repair.

Are you kidding me? I’ve been stripped of the tool I use to write. How could this happen – my laptop is less than three months old. I’m super careful with it. It has to be shoddy manufacturing. When I come up for air, relief hits me. My laptop is under warranty. I won’t have to worry about digging into my own pocket to come up with the money to repair it, and I’m thankful that I didn’t loose any of my work. I’d had the forethought to back up everything on flash drives just in case something like this ever happened.

Some of you who follow my blog, might be wondering why I’m sharing this with you. This entry is different than my others. Normally, I explore the different experiences I’ve had, places I’ve been, and people I’ve met while living and traveling across the states. Believe me, that was my plan.

However, today’s misfortune gave me the opportunity to explore something a little different. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from my crazy, but amazing life.