grief, Personal Stories, Self-Help, Travel, Uncategorized

The Winding Road

Oh, the winding road

up, down, and around

guiding us on our journey

to places we don’t know…

Have you ever set out on a trip with itinerary in hand only to be overwhelmed by a misadventure? And you’re so glad it happened because no other time would you have thought to include the experience in your trip?

I find those are my favorite experiences in life. Or, at least the most memorable.

Like the time we spent Christmas in Hong Kong. The kids and I went to a Christmas Eve church service. On the walk back to our hotel we found ourselves caught up in throngs of people… walking. The busy streets were blocked off, musician played, people were smiling and talking. While my son went back to the hotel, Mel and I kept walking and watching, trying to figure out where all the people were going.

Hong Kong
Christmas Eve in Hong Kong-2013

“Nowhere,” the doorman answered at the hotel. “People just like to come out and be together. It’s a tradition.”

Then there was the time Mel and I stopped in Louisville’s Cherokee park to snap a couple pictures of statues for our book. The beautiful trails, cliffs, and gardens stole my breath! Who knew a 409 acre park existed smack in the middle of the city.

A year ago, we were in Albuquerque, NM during monsoon season. We had just entered a restaurant when it started to downpour. We counted ourselves lucky–until we left. While we have flooding in Ohio, the water drains quickly in most places, especially town. Not so in Albuquerque. Entire roads were under water. What to do? Drive or wait?

flash flood

The water was not retreating, so we waded through the ankle deep water to our car. As we drove back to the B & B, I was only a little bit more nervous than when we got turned around on the sandy roads in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Best Way to Experience
The New Jersey Pine Barrens

When you’re recording memories, no experience is a wasted. Unless stress and worry enter to rob the fun.

Isn’t life the same way? We set out with an itinerary–not to experience a great vacation–but to have a good life. Earn a degree, embark on a career, start a family…

Then we get pulled by the crowd, lured a new direction, detoured by a flash flood that rips through our life.

Loss happens. Illness happens. Divorce. Unexpected changes. We’re stuck… and lost. How did we end up in the backwoods of nowhere? What do we do?

Our hearts might be too numb to care, but our head knows we mustn’t get caught on an unfamiliar back road after the sun goes down. That’s an unsafe place where we might completely lose ourselves.

At some point, we have to put one foot in front of the other and move toward civilization to the people who can support us, keep us from harm, and help us wade through the heartache, pain, and confusion.

It isn’t easy. Around every corner we’re ambushed by memories and emotions threatening to drown us. Then one day, the storms quiets. The waters recede.

And the sun peeks through the trees.

The road we once knew is unrecognizable. It’s scary as we face lifestyle and career changes. What if we fail? What if we drive people away? What if we breakdown? What if we’re happy…

With persistence and help (counseling, supportive family and friends, church, etc), we will venture out again… on the new path. And it will be scary, but what if it’s the one thing that allows the flood (and the pain and heartache) to make sense?

Life is Better

Life is one big journey of obstacles and opportunities. Take a risk. Dare to be happy.

Have you ever been caught unawares in a flash flood?

Have you ever experienced any pleasant surprises during a trip or vacation? Did something happen that you weren’t expecting?

My mind always seems to gravitate toward grief and loss. I think it comes from being a counselor, but also overcoming so much loss at every stage of life. These experiences and working with the senior population most of my career have taught me to lean on my faith and trust in the hope I know is real. This is  my refuge. My sheltering place.