Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It is, literally, New Year's Eve...

It is morning of New Year's Eve and the main thing I would like to get off my chest is how frequently the word literally is misused.  I planned on discussing the recent rocket attacks at the Gaza Strip then following it up with some North Korean prison camp information, but then again I'm speaking figuratively, because I literally am not going to discuss either one of those things.

The funny thing is my pet peeve is something that has been around for generations.  In 1839 Charles Dickens misused literally saying his character "had literally feasted his eyes in silence on his culprit."  In the book "Garner's Modern American usage", there is a scale which gives literally a 3 out of 5 in its misuse by the majority of the population.

In an attempt to thwart this growing trend here are the facts. Literally means exactly.  It means you did exactly or experienced exactly what you said you did.  If you wait 20 minutes in line at the grocery story and say, "I literally waited all day," according to correct usage of the word, you would be a liar and a drama queen.  Here's more:

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve, Eve Revolution...

"Speckled Glass"
The subtle nuances of human behavior, along with similarities and differences in who we are, as people, fascinates me. We are constantly evolving beings, bound by nature yet all the while domesticated by schools. "Nature's" instinct, sense, and drive inevitably wrestle with "Society's" etiquette, expectation and law.  Our cells and selves tell us who we are and how to act.  One thing is certain, however, consensus is futile. Morality is disputed over dinner tables and poker tables, basketball courts and the Supreme Court.  Is gay right or is it wrong, should the rich pay more or the poor work harder and if neither made to, who is to blame?  Are you a Democrat or Republican, oh sorry, I forgot, I don't care. 

The main reason for this blog is to declare to the world my new year's resolution.  For every day of 2014 I plan to photoblog, just like this one.  My boyfriend told me I'm crazy and that I won't be able to do it.  I think a bet is in order. PS.  I don't like to lose.   See you January 1st.
"An Indiana Christmas"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Being...

Today is the day we are told to: "Never Forget."  It was a year ago today, during a cross country road trip, that I became immersed in the attempt at unlocking the secrets of the universe, and so happened to stumble upon Arlington National Cemetery.  At the time, I was detached from all things media and didn't even realize what day it was; hence, showing up at our nation's cemetery in a t-shirt, jeans and messy pony tail.  The circumstances of September 11, 2012, much like in 2001, brought me to my knees yet again over a decade later.
It happened while walking among the headstones.  A black Cadillac with tinted windows approached me slowly from behind and a man in a suit wearing an earpiece - like an agent out of The Matrix - rolled down his window and beckoned me to come over.  My aimless stroll turned to an uneasy walk of worry as I contemplated his reasons for needing to talk to me.  In a low, hushed voice he told me to walk to Section 60 and to do so quickly.  Surprised by his orders, my face must have shown how confused I was, to which he responded with a wink, "You won't be disappointed."

 While making my way to Section 60 I noticed it was eerily void of visitors, except for a well dressed man placing flowers on a grave.  Hurriedly walking, I ran through various scenarios as to what lay before me.  Reaching the destination I was confronted by yet another secret service type in full S.W.A.T gear in front of a black SUV bearing an official government seal.  I became nervous as I approached him and several other armed men. I asked if this was Section 60.  He replied, "Why?" and I repeated what the previous security man told me.  The extremely muscular man shook his head frustratedly, "He wasn't supposed to say anything to anyone."  He took a long hard look into my eyes, and, after what seemed like an eternity, he pat me down, searched my purse and allowed me to pass.  The barrage of the morning's exciting events left me after entering Section 60.  Utter stillness surrounded me and I felt a sense of aloneness I had not felt prior.  I was alone among thousands of white stones; thousands upon thousands of names and numbers etched with a permanence that only death comprehends.
All at once the immensity of the moment consumed me.  The date of births earlier than my own and  names that once were merely letters on stone now had an identity.  Right or wrong, they did what they were told, believing freedom came at an expense; their lives, as if sending people to their death is freedom.  Question after question consumed me and I felt sick.  In my youth, I had bought into the drama and hype of war much like these men and women had and I now hated myself.  I hated myself for the apathetic way I once looked at war, not realizing the true cost.  I was ripped away from this line of thinking, however, because the President of the United States drove right by me.

The secret tip from the agent earlier in the morning revealed itself as I was sternly told by the secret service to, "Get back!" as he passed.  To see the President in Arlington on 9/11, however surreal and exciting it may have been, was lost on me as I felt the sadness rising up through the graves I was standing on.

Life and its tender fragility revealed itself that day in Section 60.  Section 60 also taught me that trading human lives for freedom is a lie, and is based wholly on greed, power and ego and not for the betterment of our country's interest.  It taught me that violence and/or war is outdated and has no place in this world which we, a now global community, reside.  I learned that sacrificing life for a cause is still sacrificing life, no matter the cause.  If we learned anything from September 11th, and from the loss of life and our freedoms since that time, it's that: "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Response to Dear Miley Cyrus...

"I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hangout like an overheated hound dog."
"I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public."
"This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no,” made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance."

Excerpts from a letter from a mother to her daughter with regards to Miley Cyrus: http://roadkillgoldfish.com/2013/08/26/dear-daughter-let-miley-cyrus-be-a-lesson-to-you/#comments

Reading this woman's anger fueled post brought me to tears.  The mother's lack of compassion for her teenage daughter and teenagers in general astounded me.  Had she not been a teenager before?  Had she not experienced the questioning and experimentation that comes with this period?  Had she not made mistakes and learned lessons from her own choices?  These questions led me to find answers. 

According to psychology's human stages of development, "Teens need to develop a sense of self and personal identity. Success and failures, in doing so, builds a strong sense of self, while disallowing a teen to do so leads to role confusion and a weak sense of self."  If the teenager cannot make mistakes or be honest about who they are or want to be, the individual will struggle with their identity.  As a mental health therapist, I've worked with countless women who come to counseling with low opinions of themselves due to overbearing parents.  Low self esteem led these women to make poor personal choices and in relationships which contributed to abusive, controlling situations.

Awareness is the first step to changing the way we parent and bring these young women up in the world.  Miley Cyrus is a 20 year old girl doing what the majority of other kids her age do in finding their way.  She is not the poster child for morality.  What 20 year old kid is?  It's her job to be a kid, make mistakes, and find her own way.  It is important that mothers are educated and understand the influence they have over their children, while not losing sight of what it's like to be an imperfect teenager.  I never have and never will emulate any one as much as I do my own mother.

Monday, August 19, 2013

You know what...

I've been plagued with feelings of fear and losing myself in love, only for it to end in tragedy.  The story replays again and again and at the end leaves me lost and alone.  Writing during these times helps alleviate my mind from the emotional dead ends and rabbit holes it creates.  These mazes, created from the endless bits of information taken from the world around me, is my mind trying to work out problems .  As is the case when I solve mazes, I so too utilize the same skill here.  To begin to solve this puzzle called life, I start from the end and work to the beginning.  Envisioning the end result and working backwards, helps break issues into manageable steps.  As is with this scenario-the maze-asking the right question is far more important than the right answer.

 How do I know whose opinion to listen to?  Is any one person's opinion more valid/correct than another person's?  How much of the news, my family's beliefs, my religious upbringing and schooling play into how I see the world?  I find it is easy to slip and get lost in life because there are no one size fits all answers.  Even though uncertainty exists around every corner, that does not mean feeling scared or anxious or getting on prescription medications is the answer.  Mistakes serve as lessons and lessons are the building blocks of life.  Yet it has become all too common for us turn on ourselves or blame each other when a mistake is made.  We are taught to be separate, to compete and compare ourselves with each other.  This separateness leads to loneliness and feeling misunderstood.  Questioning why we think the way we do is the first step in undoing the past's painful scars.
What if most of what we were taught was due to that person's past pain and their only awareness was trying to keep you from feeling the same pain

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'm coming out...

There are certain things I know and others I don't.  I lead with this just in case I get too ahead of myself and start to speak all knowing and prophetic-like.  The fact is, I don't know a lot.  In my ability to admit I don't know a lot, helps me to be an open minded, critical thinker. 

First things first, I don't believe in god.  Gasp or shrug, whichever suits you, then get over it.  My beliefs will not change anyone else's beliefs that do not desire their beliefs to be changed.  Just as the color of one's skin, sexual orientation, height and weight may not be good indicators of one's values, so too should my worth be based on more important factors than my religious beliefs.

I like to write to push the boundaries within myself.  When my internal voice gets shaken or fearful about what others might think, that is, more than likely, where I put my energy.

The point is, I'm more comfortable in my skin than I've ever been.  Driving around the country over the past year has been a life changing experience which has left me wanting to continue pushing myself, along with using what I've learned to create in artistic ways. 

A blurb from my recent writing:

"She liked her day.  She's always conflicted in her head because she felt pushed and pulled between what other people thought of her.  Yet, at the end of the day, exhausted from berry picking, window washing, and other household chores, along with the minor buzz from a shot of vodka she'd taken moments earlier, she cared less about what "they" thought.  "They" being the thoughts in her head that turned into the voices of people she had known, whose opinion mattered, and to which she gave far too much credit.  Even though she knew the voices were far too hard on her, she enjoyed the constant internal battle.  She, being quite rebellious in everything she did, would argue and debate, or most anything else, with her internal dialog. For a time she worked on being in the "now", which meant adhering to Eckhart Tolle's monotone, spiritual ramblings.  However, she "now" lived her life as close to simple, connected and open-ended as possible.  Even still, guilt, a dark, unapologetic beast, the emotion that backed "they", was her emotional drug of choice."

Monday, May 20, 2013

Think for yourself...

We're back in Washington, staying at my parent's house and enjoying regular scheduled showers.  While on the road, rest area sinks became my regular go-to for hygienic needs, so staying here is quite a treat.
Today's post comes from a growing awareness, turned to concern, about the lack of curiosity and questioning I see in the world.  A ridiculous example comes from Facebook and an article a woman posted about insects that get into women's bras and plant larvae into their breasts. She, along with several others commented,  "I hope this doesn't happen to me", "OH MY GOSH, this is HORRIBLE", you get the point.  My thoughts quickly turned to, "are people really that stupid"?  For one, logic alone should nullify any truth one finds in these urban legends.  And two, if logic isn't one's strong suit, a quick search on the internet can expose the truth in this falsity.  On a side note if, in fact, you like grotesque stuff, Google "bra bugs" to see what I'm talking about.  My point is, we are lacking the skills to critically think.
Critical thinking evaluates assumptions, and instead of answering questions, it questions answers.  Critical thinking says, I know my parents, teachers, and friends think this way, but what do I think and why do I think this way?
Prior to my road trip I invested leisure time into self help books and inspirational cd's.  The underlying message I was telling myself is that someone else has the answers, and if I keep listening they will solve my problems.  False.  I now understand I am the only person who can solve my problems.  Also, most of the "problems" the self help books focus on, are not problems at all.

Brooklyn, my niece
Each of us go through life stages, come to understandings and process life circumstances on an individual basis.  Each person is unique and for anyone to say "I know what's best for you", or "I have found the truth", is something to be curious and weary of.  If you're going through the pain of losing someone, a major transition in life, or other crisis find a friend, group, or counselor for support and healing.  On the other hand, understand that YOU are not the problem.  You do not need to be fixed.  You do not need to read the latest book or get the latest product to be alright.  Realizing this is the most scary yet liberating truth I've found.  Scary because continual searching becomes a part of your identity.  It becomes who you are.  And if you're not searching then who are you?  Liberating because you are the expert, the one to turn to, and inside you is where you'll find the answers. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hear Me Meow...

Two of the most common questions asked during my solo travels are "aren't you scared?" and "why are you doing this?"  Should I be?  And if so, why am I not?  After reading an interesting article about women on the road, http://theamericanreader.com/green-screen-the-lack-of-female-road-narratives-and-why-it-matters/, along with my personal experience, there appears to be an inability of society to understand women adventurers as well as an ability to identify with them.
I feel it necessary to say I am not a feminist.  I do not want to burn bras nor have an ax to grind.  I merely like to share my experience as it relates to the greater whole, when and where I see fit.  As a woman with the desire to explore, adventure and connect with people from different places and spaces, I am here to say there is nothing wrong with me.  I'm not running from anything, nor do I need protection to do so.

I experienced a family reunion while in Minnesota where most all the women my age had five or more children and were pregnant (no joke). Their ability to understand how I could forgo my womanly duties was beyond them.  Question after question ensued as they tried to wrap their heads around my lifestyle.  
The conversation was interesting, yet somewhat frustrating because they hadn't been given the opportunity, as I had,  to make a choice whether that was the life they wanted, and it was instead an obligation.  Another experience while visiting Indiana, with a young woman in her early 20's, went similarly.  As we talked over orange juice at the local Denny's she explained that she was going to community college solely for her "Mrs." degree.  Not having heard of a "Mrs." degree I asked her to explain.  She said it was to pass the time until she got proposed to by her boyfriend, at which time she would become a housewife and mother.  When I asked if that was what she wanted, she began to cry and told me that she wasn't very smart and couldn't be anything else.  Confused, I asked who told her that and she said her father and brothers.  

From experience, the decision to follow curiosity and dreams is not an easy path.  Around every corner there lurks outdated views from men AND women about how women "ought" to act.
 I'm not the stereotypical woman, yet I'm a woman nonetheless.  A woman who has challenged what path to take, not out of spite, not out of anger, but just because it's how I've chosen to live my life.  My hope is that instead of viewing women that choose alternative lifestyles as broken, hopelessly lost, or property for men (more on that in my upcoming book), we can accept and learn from the differences these women provide.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rights of Passage...

I'm listening to Joni Mitchell, watching puffy clouds take shape and pondering life. Here is the stream of consciousness that has come from my Wyoming wandering mind.  

Prior to leaving last August I had a conversation about Native American culture and the tradition of a spiritual quest adolescents embark on as a rite of passage into adulthood.  During the journey, the individual goes off into nature for several days, separated from their family, friends, and life as they have come to know it.  It is through this separation the adolescent becomes an adult, taking responsibility for themselves and understanding their contribution to a healthy society.

I suppose my journey mirrors this tradition.  I separated from society and continually challenged what I thought I knew to be true.  It has helped to keep what's important in perspective.  I  now understand the comfort and certainty life affords, especially in our western culture.  This ease fills people with expectation and entitlement in their day to day existence, which adds to their unhappy lives.  While on day 6 of my fast, I witnessed an overweight man scowl, shake his head and swear when he arrived at a longer line than he had expected for food.

Our lives are what we make of it.  We can bitch because we have to sit it traffic.  We can complain because we don't like our job.  We can blame other people when things don't go our way.  That is our right.  But just because it is our right, does not mean it will bring happiness.

Happiness comes from accepting life as it is, in each moment.  It's not always easy and at times it is hard.  Harder than you ever thought possible.  However, if you only get one shot at this life, wouldn't you want to smile more than frown,  laugh more than cry, and treat life and all that's in it as you would your last breath?  I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Walter Hagen, "Don't hurry, don't worry, and don't forget to smell the roses."        

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

True Life...

I've lacked inspiration to blog.  And, I love to blog.  When I feel less than inspired, I need to figure out why.  I realized, more than ever, that I love to write.  I like to write to share thoughts and insights.  Even though it continually scares me to put my thoughts on paper, in fear of being judged and criticized, I'm getting over it.

I'd like to share some insights, as learned from my relationship.  Living in a car or in the basement of your parent's house is difficult.  This fact of life has made learning to communicate each other's language that much more  imperative in order to stay together.  Pride on both our parts may have had a little to do with the times we broke up in Washington, California, Texas and Florida.  Ultimately, the need to be right doesn't fix anything.  All it does is keep the letting go of whatever it is you're fighting about that much more in focus.  Being right is a matter of opinion, anyway.   I'm competitive as they come, but I've realized someone's feelings aren't something to be right about.  Even though I'm a prideful Seattle Seahawks fan - ranked 1st  and Percy Harvin as a wide receiver --what, what --competition is a detriment to relationships.

Lastly, I'll share my current plan to make money.  My first plan several months ago had me contacting Scion about financing my trip. Which I didn't do, and then Scion came out with a marketing plan that financed four kids to take Scion's cars around the country.  Shit.  Here's my latest plan worth millions. Chris and I met for the first time in September, outside a gas station in New Hampshire.  Not having even talked to him yet, the first thing he asked me to was play catch with his PooF football.  Since our first catch, we play catch in every state we travel through.   Poof, similar to Nerf, wear out every couple months.  I was thinking.  What if I email PooF, tell them about our falling in love over catch, solving fights by playing catch and so forth then we become their new advertisement? We get free footballs and gas money to drive the van to play catch in Europe, Asia, New Zeleand, Australia, and Iceland.  Boo-yah!   Dreams....don't you love 'em?

We're headed towards Colorado, Utah, Nevada soon but not until I sell my car for gas money and a new audio system in the van.  Over and out from the parent's basement.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stopping to Smell the Roses...

Travel tips for maximum adventure in life

1) Plan as little as possible- this will allow for flexibility, spontaneity, and creativity in moment to moment decisions.  Planning makes a choice in this moment for a future moment, and the future is not here yet, which seems kinda crazy when you think of it that way, doesn't it?
2) Bring necessity items-this is in line with living a simple life.  The more things you have that you don't need the more mental/emotional/psychological clutter one keeps.  It's commendable to give your excess stuff to someone who will actually use it.  The truth is things get in the way.  The next time you want to buy something you don't need ask "do I need this to live?" and your answer will most likely to be no, to which you can start to train yourself to find happiness from with"in" yourself and with"out" stuff.
3) Get off the highway- back roads, dirt roads, and no roads force you to slow down and look out the window.  Looking out the window with only the goal of "seeing" and "observing" encourages mindfulness.  This helps decrease stress and anxiety.  So, do it more!
4) Go under the speed limit- by slowing down in life you decrease accidents, careless mistakes, and missed opportunities.  Even though everyone around you is going faster, honking at you, and flipping you the bird, smile because you have something figured out that they don't.  Life will unfold no matter what pace you go, and according to my favorite quote by Walter Hagen, "don't hurry, don't worry, you're only here for a short visit and be sure to smell the roses."
5) Don't take vacations- a vacation implies a trip of recreation separate from the life you currently live.  Don't vacate your life for a quick glimpse at a more relaxed, enjoyable lifestyle outside of your everyday existence.  Set up your life as close to a vacation, adventure, journey as possible to program yourself that life is meant to be enjoyed always, not only a week a year.

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!  


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Is This The End?...

A life long dream came true this morning for Miles as we watched a rocket launch nearby the Kennedy Space Center.  Shorty after this historic event, Miles said jokingly, "everything here on out is going to be insignificant, I just witnessed a rocket for chrissake".  You know something, he's right. Although the successes and the dreams accomplished continue to pile up on this road trip, so too does the disappointment of not knowing what to do, after doing the undoable.

In Key West, the insecurities of my dwindling savings and how I am going to make money came crashing down on me.  With only North Carolina to see to finish the continental 48 states, I realized my road tripping adventure is coming to a close.  The life I have become accustomed to living, with spontaneous left or right decisions, u-turns, parking lot living is on its final leg.  My favorite question of "where are you today?" has become an all too familiar one that I enjoy filling family and friends in on.  Currently in a parking lot in Hilton Head, South Carolina, for your information.  But in all honesty, the sadness of letting go of the most meaningful existence I can imagine, made the past few weeks miserable at times.  
There are those who would give anything to live someone else's life, to trade places so that they can feel what it's like to live the "good life".  But at the end of the day, I have come to understand they struggle just as you do.  They fear, they agonize, cry, and fall down only to get back up again.  

In Virginia I talked to Rome, the new lead singer of the popular band Sublime.  At the time I was pretty awe struck to be conversing with someone who had everything, in my mind; money, a popular band, traveling the country, and fame. But as we continued to talk and he was curious about me traveling around the country, living out of my car, with no plan, he said "I wish I had your life."  This person I watched sing in front of thousands of fans an hour earlier, was now telling me he was jealous of me? 

I've realized true success comes from living out your dream.  And the dream is your life as it is.  It might not be something you're very proud or are embarrassed of but that doesn't matter. Ask yourself how can I love, forgive, relax, and enjoy what's right in front of me a little more.  Then, you'll be one step closer to your dream.    


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Myself I Trust

Being in a relationship and staying who you are isn't an easy task, believe me I know.  Not only in romantic relationships is it difficult, but interacting with people, period.  The more emotionally attached, the more we are affected.  A common pitfall we find ourselves in is allowing another person's truth or view of reality to overshadow our own.  In these cases we become powerless to the other person and start to only see their way.  This is more than apparent in emotionally or physically abusive relationships where one person, through power and control, preys on someone with a weak sense of self.

If you find yourself or hear someone saying "I don't even know who I am anymore," I lose myself in relationships," or "where do I begin and you end?" you know it is indicating a loss of self and an over-identification of another's beliefs.  More often than not it is a parent-child relationship, or romantic partnership relationship where there is a need to be loved.  Be aware of the emotion "resentment", as it also indicates this type of relationship is present.  Resentment comes when too much power is given to the other person and we don't listen to ourselves.
Here are some important things to remember.  No matter what you are still you despite the kind of relationship you are in.  You are of equal importance to ANYONE standing in front of you.  You bring your unique perspective, experiences, and passions that offer a different way of seeing the world and that is everything.  There are people who only think from their perspective and are incapable of really hearing and seeing you, which is frustrating, but at the same time knowing this can help you to let go of the need for their approval or understanding.  Own who you are, your weaknesses, your strengths, and never give up.  


Monday, February 11, 2013

Undressing New Orleans...

Cemetery at night in downtown New Orleans

The "Voodoo Queen", Marie Laveau's grave, where people leave trinkets and mark  x's to pay homage.
Trinkets left at Marie Laveau's grave
Pink ladies showing their stuff

Photograph of the photographer
Pounding fists while celebrating Mardi Gras

Free beer and music at New Orleans brewery
Local Mardi Gras party

The devastating effects of hurricanes is apparent throughout New Orleans

The method used during Katrina to indicate the need of  the inhabitants