Resting in the inbewteens

One of my best and truest friends turned 40 a few days ago.

In this weird, always trying to see the wonderful, season of life, what would have been a large, possibly lavish, crowded blowout, had to take on a very different, though no less special turn.

We celebrated, just the two of us, last Saturday, with a day trip to a new hiking venue and a delicious dinner at a new restaurant.

This isn’t a new thing for us, we’ve been celebrating each other for 17 years and though it wasn’t ever for a pandemic, we have had to pivot plenty of other times and have found a sort of comfort in each being pliable enough to do that…a mark of true friendship.

US

Catharsis isn’t new for me…my mind never shuts off…like EVER!!!! I do, however, try to make it as healthy a process as I can.

On this particular trip, amongst all the wonderful conversation, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the devotions I had been reading and the actual hike itself.

The overwhelming message of this year, so far, has been that the waiting, stillness, the pause, the silence, the unknown has just as much purpose and meaning as whatever we want to call the the thing at the end of it. That’s a frustrating notion, I know, believe me! I feel like my whole life has been spent being anxious about what next, or isn’t here yet…the health/wellness, financial stability, a career, self esteem, Mr. Right, the perfect answers, the right questions, what I should be doing/what I want to do, who I should be/who I want to be…to the literal thought “I should be thinking about/pondering/planning right now, right”…

That sounds exhausting, doesn’t it!?! You are right…it’s been more exhausting than actually climbing a trail called “Vertical Mile”.

Almost straight up

However, I have been attempting to try to slow down a bit, to “try” a little less, to hit pause more, to find peace in the silence…

How fruitful to find out that there is more going on in the unseen, unheard, unknown than I ever could have realized…and now we’ve arrived at the point of this post…

When Ash and I started hiking, it was NOT easy. I was about 70lbs heavier and though I’ve always been determined and active (as in I could do it), it didn’t come without the breathless complaining and wishing it was over a few minutes in. The labored breath was nothing compared to how uncomfortable it was, at first, that being outdoors was the only thing that quieted my thoughts enough for them to make sense.

There have been so many times when hikes and camping were the only times I felt like I had anything figured out, because, not much matters out there, except what is right in front of you…you are forced to be present and you experience everything it has to offer you.

It’s this virtually effortless thing that I crave now…presence, awareness, intentionality, just being…

We were in the middle of our assent of that Vertical Mile and were stopping for a second or third breather when lyrics to a song that isn’t particularly special to me were the only thing I could hear for a few minuets.

“There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb”

That might seem like a pessimistic way to view life (and that’s unlike me) but I have found very fitting, for my life at least. All of our hopes, dreams and desires take so much work that there are days we aren’t sure they are even worth it…

But during that breather, we turned around, hearts pounding and breathless, to see the view and from only a quarter in, it was pretty spectacular!! You know what else was pretty darn cool? We were both smiling ridiculously wide smiles of triumph. We are never in a rush to get to the top and take in each and everything there is to see/feel along the way.

I use to hate the feeling of my labored breath…it made me believe all the lies I told myself…it made me feel weak…

Today, it’s one of my favorite feelings because it let’s me know that I am alive and that I’ve just gotten through something difficult and that if I need to, I can take a break and rest, until the next hard thing and when I look back, I’ll see all the remarkable things that happened inbetween.

I have to disagree with Miley here and say that, most of the time it is about what is waiting on the other side, because we really want all of those things BUT the speed is something I think we can agree on.

Patience isn’t easy for anyone but I am learning that it’s a gift…A gift that if practiced, will pleasantly surprise us, if we let it.

What I am really trying to say here is, let yourself go a little bit…be gentle with yourself on your way to living your dreams…take time to pause, breath in everything/everyone around you and keep going at pace that is all yours and rest in the inbetweens…

After all, some of those hopes and dreams might just be found there ❀

~CC

I Burn for YOu

Greetings ALL!!!

Just in case you couldn’t tell by the title, the fourth book in our 2021 romance journey takes us into the world of the Bridgerton family, circa early 1800’s England, in the books of Julia Quinn.

Renae and I have zero problem admitting that we happened upon this book series AFTER binge watching season 1 of the series on Netflix this past December but very much look forward to far surpassing where the show has gotten by biting off the first 4 books in the series with this block of the book club.

For those of you that haven’t seen the show or previously read the books, The Duke and I is the love story of the eldest Bridgerton daughter, Daphne, and the self admitted lifelong bachelor, Simon Bassett.

In a time and society where most people don’t marry for love, Daphne, is just hoping she can find someone that she can at least tolerate for the rest of her life, you know, maybe even a friend, while Simon is hoping is his time in London is short lived and that he can manage flying under the radar in his first season as the new Duke of Hastings.

Together they plan a rouse…They’ll convince everyone they are courting, Daphne will gain popularity with ALL other eligible suitors and Simon will get a break from ALL would be mother-in-laws.

The plan goes well, very well, until they begin to realize that in all the charaded balls, garden walks and family outings, they are bonding, becoming true friends and more than lusting after eachother…

What happens next, you’ll have to read for yourselves, as we don’t ever want to spoil too much around here, but let’s just say, YOU’LL WANT TO KNOW!!!

The added bonus to this story is the delightful commentary added by Lady Whistledown, the author of the most popular society gossip paper in the ton. We hope we get more of her in the books to come!!

We tried to have a little fun with this round of blog posts and found some coloring pages to portray what we might wear to a ball if we were to have danced around back then.

LR’s Page
CC’s Page

Until our next waltz, happy reading!

~CC & LR

pulling in the bins

Like any other writer, I’m guessing, the muse often finds me at almost every place I am, except in front of the computer. I don’t mind it, in fact, I’m quite use to it by now πŸ™‚

Most days I have to let the words and ideas come and go with a prayer that I will remember them the next time I am actually where I can write them down.

I don’t know what else to say here besides that up until very recently I was stuck in whatever habits I was stuck in. With writing that meant, as I mentioned above, having all the ideas and dreams, maybe a few notes jotted down somewhere but no real desire to formally put them down. Around the house, it meant thinking everything had a place but most of the time looking at chaos. At work it, it sadly meant, counting down the hours until another day was done.

It’s not been a terrible way to go about things, truthfully, but that didn’t mean something wasn’t lacking. I didn’t intend for the clichΓ© of all new years to find me doing yet more unraveling of myself but I’m genuinely happy to say that it has!

A few months ago, I started adding things to my routine that had been absent for a really long time (morning prayer, meditation and reading my bible). It was a bit messy at first because I never for one second realized that I had even missed doing it and when I realized I had, I did that thing I do where I wish I could go backwards and change everything…We can’t my dears, I’ve tried at least a million times.

The more peace and joy I found there, the more I desired it other areas of my life…again…that’s not something that you can even know is missing UNTIL YOU REALLY FEEL IT AGAIN!!

Work, where I am more than I am anywhere else (as are all of us), is the first place I noticed a difference. I’d started being mindful of my day in those early morning moments and by the time I got started, my smile was so wide one might have thought I was up to something. All of those good moments birthed even more good moments and now, after 9 1/2 years, I have more joy and enthusiasm than I started my career with…WIN…and that also means completely relishing my days off.

Relationships…I’ve got the most incredible people in my life, I sincerely do and while I know they would disagree with me here, I have to say that they have lifted and carried me through most of this life with an uneven stack against them. I’ve tried, they know and the Lord knows I’ve tried but I’ve needed so much help along the way. I’ve come to realize that the people we are given are A GIFT more in the past few months than in my 38 years combined. When you really start to pay attention to what you put in to a relationship MORE than what you get out of it, you begin to realize that with the people meant to be your people, it becomes fellowship, something that you want to participate in more and more and that there is no end to the grace, mercy, comfort, refinement, forgiveness, support and love…invaluable, dear ones, INVALUABLE.

Home…As a long time wanderer, I’ve been the poster child for “home is where the heart is”. I’ve fallen in love with, almost, every destination I’ve ever been to and found years of true comfort in the homes of friends and family along the way. I’ve been in my little hobbit hole for 2.5 years and I’ve put in a lot of mental work to be “ok” here and while more days than not, it’s true, if you could have seen it along the way you may have told yourself it didn’t look like I cared about it at all. Haha, I know, I am being too hard on myself again but it’s true. In all my good intentions to keep a home, I ended up, most days, with a big ole pile of chaos. A few weeks ago, I was ready to take some steps, years in the making…feeling worthy enough to spend some money on myself and make some improvements around the house. My parents (aka the head of my fellowship and biggest support system) came to my rescue and helped me put the first parts of my plan into motion. It’s been four days since the new tv stand went up in my clutter free living room, I can actually see the cabinet space it turns out I did have in the kitchen and the 4 small changes I made in the bathroom make it seem like its actually smiling at me…In those four days I’ve realized that there is plenty of home where my heart is but there hasn’t been much heart where my home is…I am suppose to care about where I am at while I am there and I am FINALLY DOING IT!!!!!!

Now…the real reason for this post…

It’s my day off and I have been resting in between chores, I promise, but while I was out pulling in my trash and recycling bins earlier today, something quotable came to mind and it’s taken an entire blogpost to get to it (SO ME) πŸ˜‰

I like to be tough (or lazy depending on your interpretation) and pull both bins in at the same time. I hopped across the ditch, bins in tow, and that made me laugh at myself a)because that takes zero effort these days and b)I knew that my face matched my shirt which read “Happy Camper”.

I looked down at my shirt and on to all the other things to see down to my feet and after a few self critical minuets, I went back to FEELING the smile on my face and thought

“Of all the things I have thought of, dreamed of and wanted to be, MYSELF, is becoming my favorite”

That’ll waiver at times, I’m sure…but today it’s the REALEST of things and I am basking in it!!

MUCH LOVE Y’ALL

~CC

Three Sisters Island Trilogy

Hello All!

Here we are, at the end of our first three books in our To Be Read pile for 2021.

What I love about Renae and I is that the only thing we are focused on with the maiden voyage of this book club is being gentle with it…we read as we read, discuss as we discuss and post about as we post about it.

Since these three books are so closely woven together, we decided to share about them in one post.

In this series, Three Sisters, is an island off of Massachusetts, formed, as the legend goes, by three witches escaping the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s. The closest I could come to visual aids for this post was to pull a few shots from a trip I took to Cape Cod in 2018.

The history of Three Sisters Island is filled with the stories of the three sisters, witches, whose elements are air, earth, and fire. Together they formed a circled bond that built and protected the island for 300 years though the blood of their lineage. Each sister had a story that would fulfill prophecy when the time came for that protection to be tested.

The Three Sisters Island Trilogy is where the prophecy came together.

In Dance Upon the Air, the first book in the series, Nell, comes to the Island, drawn to it both as an escape from her past and because she literally feels drawn to it. It called to her.

She settles in quickly when she gets a job and housing from the local bookshop owner, Mia, who happens to need a cook and a tenant for her cottage rental property. Nell sends the small island into a flutter with her effortless expertise in the kitchen and finds instant kinship with Mia, who feels her magic instantly and urges her to lean in to it.

Nell captures one person’s attention specifically, Zack Todd, the eligible bachelor sheriff who is drawn to her by both her nature and her mystery. Along with his spit fire sister, Ripley, this group of islanders must band together to help protect Nell from the danger she’s fought so hard to put behind her.

Her element is Air.

Ripley Todd, second in command to serve and protect Three Sisters takes center stage in Heaven and Earth.

Fresh off the heels of Nell’s story, Mac Booke, paranormal researcher/historian, comes to the island he already knows most of the history of to get a first hand account from local witch Mia Devlin, who he hopes to persuade to help him with his studies of the unusual and supernatural.

He has a run in and is immediately intrigued by the smart mouthed Deputy Todd first.

This story takes us into Ripley’s struggle to just be a normal protector of the island as she fights her gift and bloodline with almost everything she has…but the storm coming requires her to risk it all to lean into what she fights and face her fears.

Her element is Earth.

Mia Devlin, local legendary witch and entrepreneur is no stranger to the reader by the time her full story finds us in Face the Fire.

All is calm but not entirely bright as Mia senses the prophecy (and the darkness) looming just beyond reach, threating all she loves, as soon as the lives of their dreams start to come together.

Making matters worse, Sam Logan, the one who left her heart in pieces a decade ago, comes back to Three Sisters seeking to make amends. He’ll find out that isn’t so easy.

Torn between the very real struggle in her heart and the literal threat to those she loves most, Mia must face the biggest parts of this story alone.

Her element is Fire.

It wouldn’t be fair to give you so much of the story that you wouldn’t want to pick these books up yourself, right!?

However, we can tell you that we were very drawn to many things in this series.

The setting is almost perfect for us. A picturesque, small but seasonally busy, island, with one bookstore/coffee/tea shop, a Magik Inn, a pizza place and a quaint little cottage with woods at it’s back that always seems to be vacant for the right person.

We’ve always loved the idea of magic, benevolent, good, life giving/sustaining magic so it was easy to read the bits of kitchen magic build to the literal grabbing of lightening. It made us smile to think of them having such normal day to day lives, using a charm here, a crystal there, a blessed candle and still be able to protect the entire island if they needed to…the perfect blend of muggle/wizard πŸ˜‰

There is a strong sense of fellowship/kinship/sisterhood in these stories. As two friends who instantly felt connected, Renae and I were easily drawn to both Nell/Mia connecting/bonding and choosing each other without hesitation and also Mia/Ripley, not blood but closely connected since birth, forced into distance and following that old bond back to each other, choosing each other. And then, the entire group, a blend of blood and non-blood, all made a family, a chosen family.

Sisterhood, is a constant choosing of one another and though there are several, steamy, dreamy scenes of love (very handsomely written men) in these books, we are drawn to the love of the sisters the most ❀

Our elements are Air and Earth…you know…if you believe in that sort of thing πŸ˜‰

Until next time, happy reading,

~CC & LR

A Little Romance

Hello Readers and welcome to a newly renovated room On Wanderwood Lane!

My dear friend Renae and I met a little over 15 years ago and became fast friends, nay, kindred spirits via many, many things but one of our favorites was reading.

At that time we both worked 3rd shift together on a big and busy floor of the hospital. When the majority of the patients were asleep and in between call bells, we would chat about things like, travel destinations, our favorite times in history and, well, love.

It didn’t take long for us to begin to trade books. My Mom was really into historical romance at the time, so that was the theme for us also and though I don’t know the exact number we read, by the time other co workers got involved, it was pushing 100, I’m sure.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. I was fresh off my binge watch of Bridgerton and I immediately told Renae about it. It took a few days for me to realize it was based off a book series (hey, I’m off most social media, how would I know?) but when I did, I went to my local used book store and bought out their stock!!!

One train of thought led to another and I decided to ask Renae if she wanted to read the books along with me. SHE AGREED!!! Then my brain went in to overdrive and excitedly got the idea of starting a book club with her.

As most of you know, or perhaps don’t, I read a whopping two books last year and though they were good, I had zero momentum to read. Once I got myself back in to romance mode, a genre I hadn’t read since that earlier time with Renae, I realized it would be the perfect gateway to a more steady reading momentum…mostly because I know how fast I can read a good romance AND there are some pressures I actually thrive under!

Now, we didn’t start with the Julia Quinn series, because at the time there were only three weeks left in January. So, we decided to re-read one of our favorite series by Nora Roberts.

This is one of two NR series that will show up throughout the year as we make our way through an island off Massachusetts, the TON, Virgin River, Draycott Abbey, Ireland and MORE.

We hope you will enjoy turning the page with us and whatever you are reading, we hope you find great joy in it!!!

~CC & RA

new year, new things

Hello Dear Readers,

Please forgive the couple of weeks I’ve missed in my postings BUT I am back!

What have I been up to???

Well, if you sensed a Lady Whistledown flair to my intro (and you know who that is) then you will know that I fell, delightfully, down the Bridgerton rabbit hole and haven’t quite resurfaced.

I’m off of most social media these days so I had no clue the series was based on a series of books by Julia Quinn. I was so excited by that fact that I went to a local used book store and, although, it wasn’t this particular series, I bought them out of their stock! While asking about it, the kind clerk also pointed out that Virgin River is also a (rather large) book series…so I also purchased several of those.

Getting back into one of my great loves is something I wanted to bring to this new season of life and after having a book related chat with one of my dearest friends (and fellow page turners), we decided to start a teeny tiny book club.

Two Sisters Book Club was born out of deciding, with only three weeks left in January, that we would start with re-reading one of our favorite series by Nora Roberts, Three Sisters Island Trilogy.

We are very excited about it and I will tell you more about that in the introduction page.

Freshening up the blog to include an update of what’s to be included is also one of the things I have been up to these past few weeks. I still have several older trips to tell you all about and I am working on organizing all of those photos in between regular adult life, reading and working on other posts. Suffice it to say, more of my photography will continue to be added and I am excited about continuing to develop my craft over the next year as I begin to start taking my camera with me everywhere I go again! Stay tuned to Tookish Travels for those updates.

For years, I had been going to writer meetings, workshops and found myself friends with most of the local writer scene and the sound advice seemed to find a commonality in reading and writing going hand in hand. While I haven’t put any real work into my book series in about a year, I have great hope that all the reading I’ll be doing this year will have me aching to work on my own project! Here’s hoping!

Let’s see…outside of still working (and enjoying) my full time job, daily household chores and keeping up with friends/family, I think that is about it!

I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll see you here again soon!

~CC

Bring me that horizon

It’s 4:52pm on December 31st 2020 and I just started a pot, yes I said it, a pot of coffee.

I had my freshly re-written notes in preparation to start another, hopefully, dazzling piece of blogdom BUT they are now in the garbage.

See, while watching sappy Holiday movies these past few weeks, I had pen/paper beside me, jotting down the things that really made me say “YES” and was super stoked about sharing the wisdom I found there, only, once I sat down, it wasn’t what I wanted to talk about at all. So, I tossed them.

We are all waiting for this day to mean something HUGE, right!?!

We need the literal end to 2020 to literally usher in the HOPE and PROMISE in 2021, right!?!

Don’t we always need that though? Something craptastic to end so that something brand new can replace it?

I think πŸ˜‰ 1,000 thoughts, and probably more came and went today as I made my way through it. The seesaw of what should be (should’ve been), could be (could have been) and what will be played over and over and over again. When the door to my little Hobbit hole closed behind me, I, tearfully, realized how exhausted of it I was. Still “trying” instead of “being”…UGHhhhhhhh

What if, for the rest of the day, I didn’t take notes, didn’t make any plans, I didn’t reflect and I didn’t wish for anything…what if I’m just tired.

As soon as I sat down to say whatever came off my fingers, this song came into my head and I’ve been able to listen to it about 5 times while getting the rest of this out…and it’s the absolute cry of my heart!!!!!

Live It Well

Take the burden from my arms
Take the anchors off my lungs
Take me broken and make me one
Break the silence and make it a song

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken all my soul
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short; I wanna live it well, yeah

I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for
Awaken all my soul
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short; I wanna live it well, yeah

I got one life and one love
I got one voice, but maybe that’s enough
Cause with one heartbeat and two hands to give
I got one shot and one life to live
One life to live, yeah
And every breath you take is a miracle

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell (one love)
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for (the one, yeah)
Awaken all my soul
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you’re the one I’m living for

(One life) One life, one love
(One love) One life, one love
(One voice) One voice, yeah
(And that’s enough) And that’s enough, oh
(One heartbeat, two hands to give)
I got one shot and one life to live, one life to live

It isn’t about making it to midnight…it’s about everything that comes after it!!!!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR ya’ll!!! LIVE IT WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lessons from a gratitude jar

I am sure you are probably thinking to yourselves…this’ll be a quick one CC…we know what you learned from your jar…You are FULL of Gratitude!?!?!?!?!?!

HAHAHA…well, you aren’t wrong…BUT…I observed so much more!!!

Keeping a block of post it notes beside the jar made it VERY easy to jot something down and throw it in and while I had a pretty good idea of what I would find when I looked back over them, I was stunned at the lessons echoing there.

So, I’ve wrestled with the “not knowing” of things for years, 2020 was no different. In all of this I realized that feeling has a lot of different names…uncertainty, anxiety, impatience, fear, self doubt, obsession and even paranoia. ALL of those words come with some pretty unmatched baggage.

I opened SO many post it’s that read things like “awakening”, “figured out”, “got confirmation”, “finally understand”…to…”30 days”, “60 days”, “334 days”, “6 months” etc…NONE of those made me FEEL grateful. They made me wonder why I bothered measuring anything when I clearly had a hard time soaking in the seemingly same AH-HA moments. ONE of them said “hamster wheel” and I got hit right in the gut with the fact that I’d been creating that very hamster wheel, over and over again…all year…

B O O M…

Now, not all of them were like that. I managed to write down some pretty incredible moments, moments that took the subtle but constant frustration in my heart to that place of quiet joy and warmth, the kind of place that turns the corners of your mouth UP in genuine appreciation…maybe I didn’t miss it ALL in being in my head SO OFTEN…maybe…

I ripped almost all of 2020s gratitude up and threw them away, praying that as I did, I would put away the part of me that gets so caught in the Doing that she isn’t Being…that I wouldn’t write a single thing down for the sake of “keeping up with it” but instead pay attention to the FEELINGS…that I would write down nothing but the times that made my heart sing SO LOUDLY that I’d want to literally bottle it up…

Folks…The bottom line here is, the only thing(s) I am good at start and end with living from my HEART. I am a lover, giver and server. That’s gotten twisted and manipulated (by my own self and others) so many times it seems impossible BUT it’s the first place I go when I want to truly understand…anything outside of that creates that season of my soul where I TRY TOO HARD, which creates inauthenticity, which creates uncertainty, self doubt, fear, obsession, paranoia and frustration. Does that hamster wheel sound familiar to anyone else.

God wanted me to get this before the year is over and I am 100% sure of it because I had post it note proof of it…

There isn’t any value in what we keep up with if it doesn’t ultimately feed our souls…so, for me, that means a lot less keeping up with days/dates/times/weeks/months and more “how wide did my smile get that time”, “wow, that cry felt really amazing”, “I am SO into this moment I forgot to capture it on social media”, “Gosh, I love them”, “I hope there are 1,000 more days like that one”…

Please don’t get me wrong here, shit happens and I am not saying I’ll glaze over what’s put in path to continue to stretch and grow me…what I’m saying is that I am done dwelling there.

In 2021, I want to follow the road up/down/and around the bend with (as someone very dear to me once said) no rear view mirrors and I want to dump out my giant sized jar at the end of it and say “YEAH GIRL, YOU LIVED!!!”

We’ve Got a long way to go and plenty of time to get there

VACATION, all I ever wanted…

My new (old) polaroid

My vacation destinations over the past few years have been adventure seeking, ocean hopping, home escaping, breathtaking trips to places like Ireland (twice) and Italy. Everyday had a fun filled itinerary and I eagerly (though still often times anxiously) awaited there with my camera/phone/notebook ready to not miss a single thing and share almost min by min. They were incredible and though I had no plans at the start of 2020, I was hoping I’d find one like those…

I don’t think anything could have prepared any of us for the the lessons we’d learn this year, least of all me and least of all how many…

…BUT I sit here with MASSIVE gratitude that this BIG little trip found me, exactly when it did…somewhere in the middle of immense happiness, insecurity, joyful anticipation and exhaustion.

Let me tell you about it.

It’s a real place πŸ™‚

The day after Thanksgiving, B and I hit the road around 4:30am, destination Texas, with an ETA of about 8pm that night. We were on our way to stay (for me to meet) with friends of his and hang out for the week. Not having it mapped out was new for me but I’d been working on being ok with not knowing every detail, so I rolled with it.

Our route took us into the Tennessee mountains around sun up and for a hundreds of miles the misty fog and sunlight played hide and seek. Somehow it made me breathe easier and I began to daydream, to even think about writing for the first time in half a year.

The soundtrack was a super eclectic mix of songs B has introduced me to in the time we’ve been together and though I assumed we’d talk most of the drive, I found great comfort in just listening to him sing them as we rolled on. He likes to make me laugh and I did that a lot, relaxing us both, I think.

I’d say it felt it took forever to get to the much anticipated city of Texarkana but I was enjoying the ride so much, it almost went by too quickly…And for those that aren’t super aware (like me, sadly), Texarkana is made famous in the movie Smokey and the Bandit (one of B’s favorites) and though up until then I had to be reminded of that, I won’t forget it again πŸ™‚ In fact, we even watched it one of the nights we were in TX.

I am without a doubt a landscape lover and this drive from NC over through Tennessee, down through Arkansas into Texas did not disappoint. I may have taken like one photo because I was just so into taking it all in. BLISS

After several hours of dark, peaceful, long and winding roads, we arrived in our sweetly lit destination city and were warmly greeted by our hosts for week, where we spent the remainder of the evening sharing lots of laughter.

Our hosts for the week happen to run Monster Trucks Wars , so though I was very intimidated by my lack of general knowledge, I was VERY excited to be around something new.

As sad as I am to say, it usually takes a trip to get me behind my camera these days BUT I’m excited that I got it out and explored the first day.

My Dad and both grandfathers were truckers so while waking up to horses running through the fields was stunning, it was the rig and trailers that had me in my feels. It took me right back to when my Dad took me to work with him and let me climb up in the truck with him…you know, the kind of memory you let fade sometimes. For about half the morning I thought about how cool it would be to learn to drive it. I’d never have the nerve in a parking lot but something about that field made it feel possible. I never said anything. I regret that.

After a while, I followed the guys into the shop, where they gave me reign to photograph.

Up until this point in life, I’d only seen a Monster Truck on tv, so, it was a pretty freaking cool thing to see three of them, up close and personal. Seeing them on BIG tires and in their glory would have been neat but I wouldn’t have gotten to climb up in one and get a small taste of the drivers seat. PRICELESS

I don’t think it was a coincidence at all that I fit into the Sheriff car with Tombstone on the side.
Can you tell I am excited!?!

This would be another moment when my imagination would get the best of me and I’d wonder for a moment if I’d be brave enough to drive it around the practice track outside. I never said anything. I don’t regret that one.

I didn’t really learn much about the trucks themselves but it didn’t keep me from imagining them crushing cars to the sound of a roaring crowd or laughing excitedly as they cranked one up for me! I’ll see one in person one day and it’ll be SUPER cool to say “Oh yeah, I know that guy”.

It didn’t take long at all for me to realize this trip was going to be a different pace than most others, that I was going to have to find rest and though it’s uncomfortable for me to slow down sometimes (because that’s when the mirror shows up), I leaned into it and started by putting my phone on Do Not Disturb (it’s still on it :))

In between the roar of the truck/other engines, the tinkering, the smell of shop fluids I still can’t name, my walks/workouts around the property and an occasional nap, we were treated to some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. From homestyle buffets, to BBQ, Tex/Mex, to pizza and burgers to a gas station croissant, EVERYTHING I tasted was fantastic, seriously everything.

This was the second time that I’ve been able to be in a completely new place during Christmas time, so my only ask was to see lights and once again, I found myself too enamored to take many photos. It might seem silly to get so emotional about lights but they connect us all…NC/TX and the rest of the world and that made me smile.

As quickly as our arrival came, so did our departure but not before taking the long way home, via a pit stop in Oklahoma. I had no idea exactly what we were getting ourselves into but B had me at old cars and more time on the road with him!

A lot of names came up on our visit with Harper and I didn’t know any of them (of course B did though) but Darryl Starbird fit the theme of the trip so we headed to the Darryl Starbird National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum

There was so much to like about this stop. It’s as far off a beaten path as you can get…well, maybe not in Oklahoma ;), it was the perfect break from the rainy day, we were the only ones there AND it was opened up, just for us by Darryl’s wife. It’s not everyday you get to meet the people your admittance fee goes directly to and to me you can not match that kind of personal experience. It made the rest of the tour that much more enjoyable.

We would have been there for hours reading the walls of magazine and newspaper clippings of the inductees but we happily took our time combing through the cars. As you can see, there is indescribable (at least for me) craftsmanship showcased there, that I am unlikely to see again. INCREDIBLE

And OH YEAH…On the way in/out these guys greeted us!

We laid our, at this point slightly achy heads, down at a neat rustic hotel in Missouri. The perfect ending to a truly great trip.

It rained on two of our travels days but the sun came out for the home stretch.

I’d like to say that I was glad to be going home but with each mile we got closer, I realized that the same “things” I was in the middle of where still waiting for me…

So, what do I have for you all after a week of reflection???

7 Days of wide open space and a different pace was a game changer…though I may not have fully seen it while actually in it.

You don’t have to know a single thing about what you are looking at to be in awe of it. You can get a stupid wide grin in just the excitement of someone’s else’s passion. Don’t for one second miss getting that kind of contact high, you’ll be happier for it.

You can be a talkative person and a good listener/observer at the same time, and you should.

It’s ok not to share every single minute of your trip with people who aren’t there. ENJOY the people who are there and catch everyone else up when you get back. Do Not Disturb saved me from so much anxiety while I was away.

No one can read your mind. It’s ok to say what’s on it, even if you think it’s silly.

You are created to be uniquely you and whoever that is, is enough. I literally lost the only ring I wore that had this engraved in it on this trip because I needed this reminder. Trust me, after too many years spent learning this one over and over and over…it’s actual easy to “Just Be”, especially when everything else is stripped away.

It’s ok to laugh, really, please, don’t take things too personally or seriously that you miss an opportunity to release tension that way.

It’s ok to feel things and for the love of God let yourself and explain the tears, suppressed emotion is no good for anyone.

If you’ve got a good driver/copilot/teammate, appreciate them.

I can dig Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash but Willie, not so much.

This year has magnified every, single normal stress that anyone can have.

This year, of all years, we shouldn’t need reminders to love, give, forgive and serve each other more…to appreciate more than we try to possess…to be “in” and write every good moment on our hearts and let the rest go but here we are, writing blogs about it, huh!?!?

Life isn’t easy…we are going to rise and fall a thousand times and we have to remember that it isn’t about the falls, it’s about rising and who we have in our corners to help us get there πŸ™‚

See you down the road!

Environment

Happy Wednesday ya’ll!!

 

As it turns out, my consistency here will start with the once a week mindfulness post I mentioned last week.

Straight off the heels of cultivating MORE mindfulness in my life, today, I am going to talk about how I work to create a successful environment for myself.

 

 

I don’t have it all figured out but have learned what works for me, so, here goes!

 

1-Support: From the moment I began to really work hard on taking care of myself, this has been the biggest and most valuable tool in my arsenal. For me, it looks like several individual connections that create my tribe. Being seen and heard are the biggest game changers in believing in yourself. Embrace vulnerability, let others see/hear it and watch how much you grow. Let yourself learn to love YOU and let others do the same…you’ll LOVE even better than before. My mental/emotional/physical/spiritual corners have all been helped by sharing the journey with people who walk with me, no matter the terrain.

2-Rituals: For years I had a morning/evening ritual. It began and ended with a beverage. It didn’t seem to matter if I even fed myself, I had to start the day with coffee and end it with hot tea or a glass of wine. I don’t know why it took me so long to connect the consistency of it to other areas of my life but one day, earlier in the year, I took that idea and added some healthier options to it…As I take my morning vitamins, I put out my evening vitamins so that they are always ready…I have a 64oz bottle of water on my counter so that I always have my hydration supply within reach and portable…I try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on my days off, so that my body clock doesn’t get messed up…I have learned I like creating patterns, I like it a lot! It takes the guess work out of the rest of my day and lends itself creating a lifestyle out of something that started so small.

3-Preparation: Uggggggggg, procrastination and the unexpected thrill of getting something done under a crunch time plagued most of my adult life. Call it a combination of being SUPER laid back and the fear of failing even before I started but I just couldn’t work it out. Last year, when I found the meal program that became my life, my BIGGEST success followed being ready for what was ahead. Yep, meal prep…Blah… I know you are asking yourselves why on Earth a 36 year old can’t go to the grocery store and the eye roll is justified BUT what can I say…for most of my adult life, I lived with wonderful roommates who either made it a group event or did it for me (thanks Chris <3). It wasn’t fun for me and I no interest in caring about it…until I did…My only goal when I started that meal plan was to only have in my house what met those needs so that I couldn’t be tempted by other things…I mean, I can dig some take out BUT once I’m home, I won’t get back in my car to go get it πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t always perfect but believe me, the weeks I went into not having to think about how I was going to fuel my body, were the weeks I saw/felt the greatest changes in it.

4-Every Day Is Brand New: I, originally, didn’t plan on a 4th note BUT I wouldn’t be here without this mindset. Do NOT GIVE UP on yourself, EVER. We are human, we are going toΒ  stumble, fall, fail, hell even jump into the pits sometimes…We can’t stay there! My friend Janet and I really helped each other see this when we were in the thick of maintaining the meal plan changes. Each time we thought we screwed up, we would remind one another that this thing we were doing was creating a lifestyle and you don’t just give up on that because you think you mess up for a moment. Learning to be kinder to yourself is freedom my friends, trust me!

 

I have sighted health/wellness examples for creating an environment of success in my life but I hope I have been able to convey that once you apply something to one area of life, it starts a ripple affect to the other areas too πŸ™‚

 

Have a great Wednesday everyone! Thanks for stopping by!!

 

~CC