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,, 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  Around every corner there lurks outdated views from men AND women about how women "ought" to act.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."