Happy Birthday Baby!

Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  As I think about what would be a good gift for her, I want to share my heart, my love.  There is no gift that I can give her that may affect her life in any greater way.

I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  It was a hot July day, not as hot as today, but I was so ready to get this pregnancy over with.  I was big and uncomfortable and I was trying all the old wives’ tales to get the job done.  Finally, at midnight, I went into labor.  I went into the hospital in the middle of the night.  In the morning they broke my water to try to speed things up and at noon they gave me pitocin and she was born in time for dinner.  I broke all the blood vessels in my face pushing for at least an hour.  All I wanted to do was eat and sleep.

My first baby had arrived!  I had no idea at that time that she would have four siblings.  She was 6lb 14 oz and when I held her in my arm, her little bottom was in my hand and her head rested where my arm bent.  It was amazing to have this tiny little being to take care of.  It was such an all-consuming job, sometimes I would forget to take care of myself.  She was such a good baby.  She didn’t cry.  She would sleep for four hours and nurse a little bit, but enough she grew very quickly.

And I remember when I was 23, the age she has reached today, three years before she was born.  My father had his first heart attack that year.  I thought that if he died no man would love me and shortly after that I was engaged to be married to a man I hardly knew.  That marriage didn’t happen, but the next year I was married to my children’s father.  I can tell you in hind sight, that although I may have thought I was confident, I did not even know the concept of loving myself first, so I can really love someone else, more importantly, looking for someone who loved himself, so he could truly love me.

I have learned after two divorces and cancer, that loving yourself is important for so many reasons.  Knowing yourself and your purpose can help you to make heart driven decisions which could help your happiness.  And trusting yourself and the divinity that is within you will help you to relax and live a healthier life.  How I wish I knew then, what I know now and maybe your life can be different because I have shared.

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Independence Artventure

Independence Day is a good day to sign divorce papers!  It is especially symbolic because my first date with that husband was on the 4th of July.  I met him at a party the night before.

I cannot say the relationship resembled the fourth of July.  There weren’t fireworks, or explosions or much independence.  He was mellow, we didn’t fight and we did everything together, for awhile.  While he liked me, he did everything I wanted to do and I did everything he wanted to do.  Sometimes, we probably didn’t want to, but we did anyway.  When he stopped doing what I liked to do, I had other friends who would join me.  I became busy working and wasn’t able to do everything he wanted to do.  The bad thing about that was that we would usually not even discuss the issue.  He would clam up and stew and I just ignored it.  I didn’t even know how much until the end. 

Maybe it was before the end, when he was drunk enough to yell at me and tell me all of the things he didn’t like about me.  These were the very same criticisms that my first ex had pointed out on a continual basis.  Up to that point, I thought I was with a man who loved me unconditionally with all of my faults.  I was wrong, he thought I would change.

In fact, I did change.  In my view, I changed for the better.  But, in his view, I didn’t change the way he wanted me to.  In order for him to stay in our relationship he might have to develop personally.  This might require introspection.  This could be painful.  It was painful for me.  At that time, I considered change hard.  Everything was a struggle.  I am happy to report that I am free from struggle.

And, so, this Artventure is a journey to freedom to be who I am without the concern of other people judging me.  At the same time, I am trying not to judge others.  This is not an easy task.  I have to throw away expectations and consider everything a choice or something I have created.  If I don’t feel like I have control over any part of an event, then I must choose my reaction.  Will I judge, will I shift or will I do something different?  The most important part of the reaction is to detach from harmful emotions.  Or, feel it, acknowledge it and let it go quickly.  These were totally foreign concepts when I first heard them.  Now, they help me to enjoy my life more and the imperfect people in it.

I always have to come back to this.  I love myself.  It was not an easy thing to do.  I am getting to know myself better and better all the time.  We are all like onions, with outer layers that hide inner layers unless we uncover them to discover what is really driving our reactions.  I do things that I enjoy.  I do things with a variety of people, then when one leaves me hanging, I have options.  And, I am not afraid to do things by myself.  I did this before husbands and children and I am doing it again, sometimes.  I find, all I have to do is reach out and it isn’t too hard to find somebody else who thought they might be doing something by themselves, but now, doesn’t have to.

The hardest step that I am working on is trust.  This starts with trusting myself and the divinity that resides within me.  I trust enough for some things and not others.  This is like loving yourself, which you must do in order to truly love others.  I have learned that where I am at this moment is exactly where I should be for some reason.  I may not always know why.  I may see the learning later.  I am loving life and designing it to be fun and easy.  

Independently, for now: )

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Not My Last Time in Vegas…

The first time I was in Vegas was when I was sixteen.  My family drove there.  There was a race through the dessert called the Mint 500 and my father was helping in the pit crew with radios (good old walkie talkies).  Do those things exist any longer?

We actually camped in Las Vegas.  The campground was not like any I had ever seen before.  Most campgrounds are in the woods with lots of trees.  This campground was a parking lot.  There was a pool, a Jacuzzi and even a casino.  I don’t remember what it was called but my bet is that it doesn’t exist any longer. 

Visiting Caesars Palace late one night, we saw a big cock roach in the hall.  It may have a different name in Vegas, these things live in palm trees I am told.  We also went to Circus, Circus which was a lot of fun.  I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember I got to pull on some slots.  They were one armed bandits at the time.  The slots I have seen recently just have a button that you push.  Not the same thrill to me.

The second time I was in Vegas, it was on the way to Los Angeles when my oldest son was first going to school.  He was only 18, not old enough to gamble or drink and we had other agendas anyway.  Pierce was skateboarding everywhere we stopped on the way to California.  I was checking out the art scene and found an opening scheduled for the day we were there.  Pierce had a great time skating a couple parks and I enjoyed talking to a lot of artists in Vegas.

This time, we were just passing through, not planning on doing any sightseeing.  But, I wanted Dillon to have the chance to see the strip and our host suggested we wait til dark.  Then she told us where to start to see the whole thing.  I hadn’t seen it all last time.  It was quite amazing!  The lights, the people, the man made volcano, we got to see a lot while we sat in traffic.  If I hadn’t been so tired from driving all day, I might have ventured inside the Stratosphere.  One of my teachers bungee jumped off of it last year.  I just want to see the view.

So, I’ll have to go back sometime…with adults!Image

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Utahhhh…

I picked up aromatherapy in Boulder.  What is aromatherapy?  It is a tincture, a liquid spray of a combination of herbs, which have some purpose and you can get them for anything under the sun.  Boulder is a place well known for healthy living and natural alternatives.  I asked someone where I could get essential oils and they recommended Rebecca’s Apothecary.  So, I went there with Dillon, who was not happy about the drive and the only thing he wanted to do was drive all the rest of the way without sleeping.  Of course, he can’t drive!

So, I go into this store and Dillon finds a seat where he can play games on my iphone and I go to the other side of the store to discretely talk to the clerk.  I tell her I need something for a fifteen year old who is extremely irritated by four days of  driving from Pennsylvania and we have three more to go to get to Los Angeles.  She has just the thing!  She offers me three choices and I take two of them.  She offers small bottles, but I take the big ones.

Dillon is rarely agreeable to the natural alternatives I offer, so when we get in the car, I spray myself all over.  He, of course, complains of the smell.  And while he doesn’t enjoy the scenery in Colorado the way that I do, he isn’t quite as irritated.  Even when he is, I am immune.  I believe this stuff works: )

We stay in Grand Junction, which is beautiful.  Surrounded by colorful mountains, in the middle of nowhere, I don’t know what people do that live there, there isn’t enough time to talk to our hosts.  We arrive late and they leave early for work.

Most of our drive today is through Utah.  I am using the spray on myself and whenever Dillon is out of the car, I am spraying his seat.  I am trusting that it will be a long time before he has any interest in reading my blog about this trip.  While my older kids think I am somewhat cool, he doesn’t.  I am just mom and he is stuck with me.

Today, there is a huge turn around in Dillon’s attitude.  He loves the drive through Utah.  I had told him time and time again that when Pierce and I drove through Utah it was dark and I knew that we missed something and I would not drive through it in the dark again.  Having longer days during this trip is nice also.  It was fall when Pierce and I were traveling.

Dillon surprised me when he became excited about Utah, he wanted to stop at every pull-off.  They called them view points.  He even took my camera and walked as far as he could before the dessert heat forced him back to the car for some water.  I am not sure that I have ever seen him this excited about anything besides his xbox or a new game.  He wants to move to Utah and will most likely have to wait until he is an adult for that.  His interest was so strong, he was even looking things up online.  Near one viewpoint was a sign for a town called Moore.  He wondered who might live there, in the middle of nowhere.  I guessed twelve people.  The answer was five, but back in 1930 there were 130 residents.  Maybe on another roadtrip we will stop and see it.

When we arrive in Vegas, our host has a young son and I think this adds to Dillon’s comfort level.  He shares this was one of his favorite places to stay.  But, even though he enjoyed the day, he still doesn’t want to drive home.  He would like to get on an airplane and fly home.  It would be faster, but not as scenic.  I will go through Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff and Santa Fe on the way home.  He has no idea what he would miss.  Not that he has any options.  I am confident that the aromatherapy spray will help with the trip home as well!

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Phinally, some Phab Photos!

Having lived in Pennsylvania so long, I have grown used to the landscape.  It doesn’t excite me much even though it may be beautiful.  Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas weren’t a lot different or weren’t terribly exciting to me.  But today – driving through Colorado – I just love it!

It looks like a profile to me!

A lovely drive through Garden of the Gods

Up to now, I took pics just because that is what I do.  I have taken pics of clouds, towers, farms, phallic things, trees, bridges , tunnels and architecture, but there is something about the Rocky Mountains that just takes my breath away, time and time again.

When I woke up in St Louis, I decided that I had to go to Garden of the Gods.  So I spent the first couple hours of the day reminiscing.  I lived in Colorado Springs back in 1995 and went to GoG frequently.  I hated leaving and planned to return.  Almost 20 years later, I have now driven through it briefly.  Much of it was unrecognizable to me.

I went by the house we built, the rock Pierce climbed on pretending he was the Lion King, and through Garden of the Gods despite Dillon protesting.  All he wants to do is get to CA.  I am much more about the drive.  Meeting people through couch surfing and seeing things I have never seen before.  I also don’t want to drive when it is dark and I can’t see the landscape.  I missed much of Utah last time.

If you have read my time travel poem , you know I have decided that I must have been a gypsy in another life.  When I arrived at the home of my Grand Junction host, who was fabulously gracious by accommodating me last minute, there was someone in the parking lot working on a small trailer like I saw on Top Gear once.  It looks like something I may have to consider, as I continue to travel back and forth across the country, if for nothing else than hauling stuff.  Too many more times and I will have to consider a van or small RV even.  As I saw people in Boulder and the small CO mountain towns we passed through today with their back packs, I imagined myself with a portable easel and canvas, moving from place to place painting some of the scenes that I have photographed, but on the scene.  How much more fun it would be to paint live than from a photo.  At least I have seen the sights in person!

So, there’s a thought.  That’s how all things begin, with a thought.  Like the book I will have completed next month.  It will be filled with thoughts, reflections of learning experiences, photos, stories, poems and a few illustrations by yours truly.

I am emptying my camera cards before I go to bed and charging up my camera batteries.  I anticipate another great day for photos tomorrow.  Tomorrow night we sleep in Vegas, or don’t sleep: )

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Boulder has Bolder Squirrels!

Pearl Street is the place to see in Boulder.  It is a plaza of sorts in between the old buildings with lots of shops of all kinds.  We went near there to Rebecca’s Apothecary.  I was looking for some aromatherapy to take the edge off after four days of driving.  They had just the thing!  Then we went to Pearl Street for Pizza.  While there was seating inside, it was way too nice a day to be inside.  The plaza had benches everywhere, so we found a spot.

We happened to be near a grassy place where two guys were sitting under a tree.  There was something very interesting going on.  A squirrel kept going towards the one guy’s guitar and when the guy would begin to pick it up in an effort to scare the squirrel away, this squirrel wasn’t running away like the squirrels in Pennsylvania would.  I asked, in my trying to be funny always way, “Do squirrels around here like to play guitar?”  I didn’t notice that the other guy was eating.  They told me that squirrels will bite your hand to get your food.  Ultimately, they threw food a distance away to get it away from them.  Even then, the squirrel hesitated, obviously preferring being hand-fed.

As I told someone else the story, they told me a story of having a backpack right beside them with a large muffin tucked inside.  The pack was unzipped and a squirrel approached, made eye contact as if to say, “I’m going for it!”  The squirrel went into the pack, grabbed the muffin, and made eye contact again as he was leaving as if to say, “Thanks!”

I don’t know who trained who around here, but these bold squirrels never have to hibernate.  They must be the happiest squirrels in the world!

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Smiling in St Louis: )

When I spoke to my upcoming host, generally you call ahead to let them know what time you will arrive, it was obvious we would become fast friends.   We arrived when she was already preparing dinner, a very nice welcome!  Definitely the best I have eaten on the trip so far.  Best thing about it, all vegies!    I really should eat like this every day, one of those things to start tomorrow.

We went to an Improv club where she was performing that evening and I had a great time laughing.  Then, she gave me a little tour of that area which had an abundance of art and antiques.  She would have loved for us to stay longer so she could show us around.  I will have to schedule more time there next trip.

I woke up aware that I had a lot of dreams the night before and while I couldn’t remember any of them, the first thing I said is, “I must go to Garden of the Gods.”  It is a little out of the way, but not far enough to deter the decision.  I did happen to see a picture of it somewhere last week, and thought it was a shame I wouldn’t see it this trip.  It has been almost 20 years since it was in my back yard, I cannot believe how time flies!  Dillon bulks, but he hasn’t seen any of CO yet.

I love CO so much, I am looking at a school in Boulder for a Master Program in Art Therapy.  I will also look in Santa Fe,  Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.  I already looked at a program near San Francisco.  I make applications in the Fall.  Going back to school is one of the most significant decisions that I made following my trip West in 2010.  One of the best decisions I have made!  It has definitely contributed to my life’s transformation.

On to Kansas, Boulder, Grand Junction, Vegas then LA!  Smiling all the way!

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