Freedom from Fear

Independence. Freedom. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  
Do we even fully understand the concept and the gift we have received from both our forefathers and the men and women of our armed forces who continue to fight for that right?
We are not the only free country. We are one of the biggest and the beacon for others to follow, but we are not the only one that is free.
Nor are we the best free country. Some suggest we are the best country in the world.  
When I travel to other parts of the world and encounter freedoms there, I wonder at the assumption some make in America that ours is the best kind of freedom, the only kind of freedom for which fighting is worthwhile.  
And there are those fighting against our freedom. They want to snatch it away from any society that practices freedom, independence, autonomy from dictatorships. These powers want to invalidate the security of anyone living a life of freedom. Terror seeks to destroy any vestige of calm and peace one might find in the home sweet home of the United States of America or any other free country. 
On this Fourth of July weekend, we are assaulted by images in the media, of terror run rampant in other parts of the world. Places where we presume freedom does not exist. Places where fear and insecurity are the norm. It is in these places that we accept that this is part of daily life. But here, in America, we are not accustomed yet to the idea of a cafe being shot up by a gunman. We have not yet witnessed hostages in an every day life setting. Aside from the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings that occurred within the last year. And for those, we have a base understanding that those were different somehow. The men who directed those acts were a bit mentally unstable, after all. So, it’s different, right? Or is it?  
On The Kelly File- a show that runs each night on the Fox Network, two nights ago Megyn Kelly facilitated a town hall like gathering of people, including some of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. These folks were gathered to discuss terror in general as well as their own personal experiences with terror. When I tuned in, they were in the midst of discussing the recent Ataturk Airport Terrorist Act in Istanbul that claimed over 40 lives; it happened less than a week ago. There was an intense caution that we were now a country on alert as the director of the CIA issued warnings about the risk of an attack now on the homeland. This threat to America is evolving. Megyn cuts over to Trace Gallagher, a FOX News Correspondent- to hear a latest report on an audio recording that had been uncovered from ISIS which called on attacks on the West during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in early June and ends July 5th. 
With the recent spate of violence and especially those done in allegiance to ISIS, one has to wonder if there will be targets in the U.S. over the 4th of July holiday weekend.    
The truth is that there have been so many terroristic incidents in our country already. But just like the school shootings, our society has an ability to rebound and keep moving forward. We carry a resilience that helps us forget too soon – the violence. Until another crops up and another speech from the president reminds us that once again, violence has rung out, Iives have been lost, hope is faltering. 
Perhaps the issue is two and maybe even three fold. 1) Fear. 2) Concern over political correctness- and intent on not profiling, of not breeding hatred, of having a positive attitude and 3) a lack of understanding on the part of the west of the cultural and depth (thousands of years of history) of the hatred which exists within a population that is attracted to and becomes sucked into the threat itself: muslim extremism.   
How can the West even begin to consider a remedy to a situation for which they do not have a proper historical context or depth of understanding – of what it at the root, what has bred this hatred in the first place.   
I once sat in on a discussion regarding the overwhelming history of a people that goes back to biblical times- these tribes that hated each other from the very beginning. Sunni. Shiite. History is unclear to me- and I recognize that in order to have even an inkling of what is going on in this world of ours, I must learn all I can. How else will I have any proper insight into participating in the legal and political system as an informed citizen? Most people, I believe, vote based on popularity. It’s like a reality TV show- not a life and death consequence and responsibility.  
These tribes have hated one another for centuries, and they continue to hate each other now.

While I listen to the news and have paid attention for years, I still do not have a proper understanding of the basis of the rage and hatred and the perspective of this population that wants the west eradicated. They want to infiltrate and bring down the west.   

The idea of not profiling a population that wants to bring something called Sharia Law into the west and overtake the west with their way of life. Most people that I interact with have not paid any attention to the language that surrounds the conflict in the Middle East. Words like “Sharia Law” or “Caliphate”. They don’t mean much to most people, because most people have not been paying attention. Buried heads in the sand. Look the other way. Ignore. Think about other things. Focus on happy thoughts.  
“I have stopped watching the news” I hear from one friend. “It’s too depressing”.
It’s as if they are saying: if I ignore all of this, maybe it will just go away. And if it doesn’t go away, well…  I can’t do anything about it anyway, so what’s the use.

Back to the Kelly File, I hear one man in the audience suggest that the perpetrator of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shoot-up was a misogynistic man who also hated gay people. Megan cuts in and asks:  but is that not the characteristic of most terrorists: women hating, gay hating, western society hating men who are intent on destroying anyone who is not the same as them; are they not all mentally unstable? (my words not hers but the general idea of her thread).  
Another woman in the audience gets angry and suggests that the man in the back row has hijacked the conversation, has redirected the conversation from terrorism to domestic violence; the man has belittled the issue of terrorism and coined it domestic violence and in so doing, has made the issue smaller than it is.   
As an audience member on her couch, I wonder. What can be done? Anything? Are we to simply watch our world unravel and witness the destruction of civilization?

Freedom. It’s worth fighting for, at the very least, it’s worth paying attention to the signs of it’s destruction around the world. It’s vital to not ignore the mortal wounds to independence. Whether our country’s or any western country’s grasp of it.   
If you are diagnosed with an early stage cancer, do you ignore it and hope it will go away? Or, do you do everything in your power to eradicate it before it metastasizes? The word metastasis has already been used in the news to describe ISIS and the cells which have spread throughout the world. Is it too late? Has the cancer grown beyond the possibility of a cure. Is there no hope of remission?  
Independence Day. I hope for a day when we can once again fly our flag with confidence in freedom, security, peace and happiness- a happiness that is not overshadowed by fear

Pinching the flow of creativity

In Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way, I find a compelling chapter that covers the importance of recovering a sense of self-protection when it comes to one’s creative potential.   This protection is against the blocks that each artist employs to pinch the flow of creativity.   It’s as if once we have really gotten going, it’s the natural order of things to try to squelch it. To sabotage the wide range of possibilities that exists within each of us.


The various methods of blocking we employ range from food abuse, sex abuse, liquor or drug abuse, distracting ourselves with busyness – and other addictions in general.

Why is it that we do this pinching off of creative flow on purpose?




It’s plain and simple fear.


It’s as if the hunger for the high that comes from the wave we ride is too much to handle.


Or, perhaps it’s that the small snapshot of hope that this life is extraordinary is dampened by the reality that life is hard.   We reach dramatically for the high only knowing that the high is really just outside our grasp and even if we push ourselves to reach even higher, we will never truly grasp the golden egg.   Not really. It’s there within reach, but something always forces us back down to earth and we must start over again.


And that is exhausting.


So, after time, perhaps we reach less fervently.


We barely extend the arm and we still climb, but we don’t climb as high.   For then, the drop is less painful.


And then one day, we look up and once again we wish and hope that we were wrong.


And, we try again. And we push ourselves to go to heights we never reached before and then, we fall. Again.   And, we’re not sure why we tried again in the first place.


Did we forgot what the fall would feel like? The disappointment. The disgust. The fear of failure. All over again.   The cycle. Again.


Perhaps it is a matter of reaching this time for some help.


To not climb on our own.   To rely on a circle of like minding individuals who can cheer us on and remind us of our full potential. To not isolate ourselves in our art. But to reach for other artists, in whatever discipline that art form yields.   And to listen to their stories, their motivations, their hopes.


Where are these people?     They can be found at (perhaps) an Artist’s Way Group near you. Search for it on the internet- you’d be surprised. I found one and I am headed there later today.   I have only attended one session back on a cold February night at a local library when a storm was brewing. Many  made it that night, despite the horrible ice and snow crusted road conditions. And we spoke, each one of us, about what our creativity outlets were and how are creativity flowed.   And, it was a marvelous evening.  The memory of it dances around my mind as one of the most delightful times I have spent with other human company.     Tonight, we will discuss what makes for Authentic Creativity- and the focus is on Julia Cameron’s book- week 10 (chapter 10).


Cameron shares in in this chapter:

“The choice to block is a creative U-Turn. We turn back on ourselves. Like water forced to a standstill, we turn stagnant. The self-honesty lurking in us all always knows when we choose against our greater good. It marks a little jot on our spiritual blackboard: “Did it again.”.   And then: “It takes grace and courage to admit and surrender our blocking devices.”   And also: “As we become aware of our blocking devices – food, busyness, alcohol, sex, other drugs- we can feel our U-turn as we make them. The blocks no longer work effectively. Over time, we will try – perhaps slowly at first and erratically – to ride out the anxiety and see where we emerge. Anxiety is fuel. We can use it to write with, paint with and worth with.”



As I consider the years and years of wasted time. Finding distractions. Not following through. Reaching but not grasping. Shutting off the flow.   Dulling the ache with food and binge TV watching. Putting off creativity.   I realize how much truth lies in Cameron’s words.   And how marvelous it is that she wrote this book to reach the many who would pick up the book in an effort to reach deep inside and find the creative well that exists within each one of us, and tap it.


So grateful for these moments of discovery and awareness – and hope.

A Room to Write.



There are so many potential distractions as I make my way to a place of writing.   My mind is all over the place.   I pick up my iPad to check on the WordPress stats. I browse through other people’s posts. I like this one, comment on another. Consider other social media. And then there are web searches for ideas on what to write about.   There is a time and a place for all of this activity. But when the time comes when I am to sit and just write, I need to pull myself away from those distractions and focus my attention completely on the vital task at hand. Daily pages. Morning pages.



In an Advice series of posts on WordPress, author Amanda McCormick offers up encouragement to other writers. One of Amanda’s most recent posts offers that one must make time to write and she shares a quote from J.K Rowling which suggests: “I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards her firstborn egg”- I like that image. It’s vivid and feels active. Guard your time to write. With this focus, and Amanda’s urgings, I find her to be a generous soul. How kind to create a place other writers can go to get helpful information and resources on improving and reaching for their own goals. She shares in her profile that she has been writing since she was eleven years old. How magnificent for her that she knew so early on what her passion was. And how lovely that part of her writing make-up is to care about offering advice to others. She helps to propel others in a community of writers to forge their own way.

Amanda sets a goal of 1K words for herself a day.   And I consider that this is a manageable goal for me as well. I know it is physically possible because I pushed out around 1600 words a day during NaNoWriMo; of course, in that instance, I had a specific focus: a novel and a set of characters. And in that novel, I had investment – even from the very beginning. The core of the idea of the novel was bubbling up inside of me and pressing to get out.   And it was such fun. And, now I have this collection of 54000+ words to work through.   And even that stage is filled with excitement and enjoyment mixed in with some frustration and wonder. How will it end? I have the beginning and parts of the middle and need to finish it, re-arrange it and nurture it into its full potential.


During this next period of daily pages, I could lean into that project as well, when other things don’t pop up for me. Or, can I? Are daily pages meant to take me onto a completely different tack?   A way to talk to my inner self, to consult my wise soul and find new threads to explore?


On Thursday, I am going to a community Artist’s Way meeting.   On that day, I am encouraged to bring a sample representation of authentic creativity. It could be one of my former posts.  Am I ready to share my authentic self with a group of others? The whole point of my blog at the beginning was anonymity. It was safe. No one that I knew would push me down.   No one to invalidate my passion. I don’t know why I thought anyone would invalidate me. Maybe because I didn’t feel valid in the first place?   I didn’t feel I could honestly call myself a writer.   I mean, who did I think I was?


And now?   Who do I think I am?


Am I a writer?   Do I have the right to call myself a writer?


Isn’t it interesting how we can disqualify ourselves so easily?  Is it because we have a higher ideal of what we consider a valid writer?   Do I have a high standard and am I not sure that I measure up to it? What would it take? Is it because I never took formal training in writing?   My degree is in something else.   Had I spent four to eight years in formal schooling on writing, would that have done it for me?   Would I have felt more legitimate as a writer?   Would I have felt I could justifiably render and submit a quality product to an audience via a professional editor and publisher?   Am I not legitimate today because of this lack of formal training?


Still, I write. And when I write, I feel better.   It refreshes me and invigorates me.   When I am writing, I have an energy that feels positive and hopeful.   So, I will keep writing. And, if it turns into something of a professional quality and if someone feels it is good enough, then that’s a bonus.   The goal for me cannot be publication on its own.   I don’t want to just publish. I want to express, create, unfurl and extend what is inside of me onto the page. To see it before me so that I can better understand life, mine and the universe.   Connections. Mysteries. All of it.   One word at a time.


A year ago, I sought out the idea of organizing my life and creating a space to cradle my passion for writing.   I picked up books on organizing, including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.   Up until then, my room was a disorganized mess. I did not have a place to write. The room had to contain all of my earthly belongings when I decided to move back into my parent’s home to help in their senior years. I got rid of so much when I moved in.   Sent things on to other homes that I felt could use the items. Offered up furnishings to people who had a need, kitchen supplies to others. The rest to Goodwill. Still, so much remained that had to be contained within one bedroom and a walk in closet.   The room was wall to wall stuff… a place of chaos and certainly not a place of peace and encouragement for creativity.   When I needed to write, I would go instead to coffee houses and plop down for a few hours to write.  It was a solution. But somehow required special planning. It was not as spontaneous as I would have liked. I really needed a safe and quiet place to go and write. A Room of My Own- to write.


Over the course of the last six months, I have employed other strategies to minimize my stuff. I took a class on Vision Mapping and came away with some good ideas. More bags exited the home containing clothes, household items, shoes and books. With this activity, I have made room.   And this morning is my first morning of writing in my new space, on a new desk. A corner of my room has now been officially  converted to my writing space.   The place I can go to write. A real desk. The window is open to my right, facing the woods. I hear the rustle of leaves as the wind ebbs and flows.   From my TV, I hear the gentle sounds of pan flutes and steel drums from the Soundscapes Channel that I turned on when I got myself ready to write.   The volume is quite low, barely audible. Truly background music. And, now that song ends and it morphs into a new piece by Matthew Labarge called “First Light”, a soft piano tune that quietly frames my writing space. I look over at the TV momentarily and I see that the Soundscape Channel screen offers quotes.   The one facing me now is:


“Resolve to know thyself; and know that he who finds himself loses his misery” – Matthew Arnold.


Well then!   Isn’t that part of finding an Authentic Self- and guiding that self into Authentic Creativity.   Tuning into our true self and sharing that in some way with others or even, with oneself. Is art not art unless it is shared? And, can the sharing be with oneself?   Must one have an immediate audience for the art to be enjoyed.   Can that audience not be the self? At least for the moment.   And there you go; 1K+ done!


I have more to write today, and more time to do it.   I now turn to the novel.   How does Nina get involved in the underground movement? Who draws her in? When exactly does it happen and what are the stages of it?   What are her fears and does she find purpose in it? What are her risks and what does she accomplish? So many threads.


Ah, yes. Indeed. It Is Time to Write.

To submit or to live- must it be a choice?

Another thread from my novel in progress.  .

Love this writing thing!


It was all too much to consider and answer here, sitting on a blanket with Frederika.   Still, Oslo wasn’t that far from Hvitsten.  How could she make sure that if she took the leap, she would still have at least a few visits permitted her in order to see her family each year?  Like Fred had from Halvor, allowing her permission to take off now and then to see Nina.  The truth is she was afraid of losing herself to someone else, like Frederika had lost herself to Halvor.   She was afraid of putting herself on the shelf for someone else, of having to ask for permission for things.  It seemed odd as an adult that she would not have authority over her own life.  Her thoughts shifted to her Tante Liv whose marriage, she was told, had begun as the romance of the decade only to end up in an abusive power hungry struggle filled with misery.



As a young girl, Nina had witnessed Tante Liv and Oncle Bjarte’s strained marriage, the sharpness of tongue that Bjarte threw upon Liv when he was displeased with her.  She never got any story right.  He would correct her and interrupt her at every turn.  Nina watched as Liv lost her voice over the years and ended up rarely vocalizing any opinion.  The playfulness that she remembered of Liv as a young woman when Nina was just a little girl, had all but vanished.  In its place was a pale woman that mostly obeyed her husband’s every whim and wish.   She knew Liv was this way in order to keep the peace at home.  Liv detested conflict.  It made Nina sad to watch Liv transform from this vibrant young woman with the most amazing smile and laugh, into a silent soul in the background of their lives.   It was a rare moment to hear her laugh anymore or to see her eyes twinkle as they had when they played and rode the horses together when she was a young girl.  Bjarte and Liv never had children and Nina wondered if maybe this was a part of the displeasure and irritation that accompanied Oncle Bjarte everywhere he went.



She wondered what life might have been like if Liv had been blessed with a child or two.  At least she would have a vessel into which she could direct her love.  As it was, she knew that Liv primarily focused on raising the pigs and making a clean home for Bjarte.  Their house was always immaculate and she wasn’t sure whether this was driven by Bjarte’s stern demeanor and demands or if this had been a natural inclination for Liv, perhaps a way for her to simply push forward and make life bearable.  Bjarte walked around as if the world was against him and that his fate was to endure it rather than enjoy the many instances of beauty one finds when each dawn breaks.



Nina did not understand people who couldn’t see how amazing nature was and all that was within it.  One only had to stop moving, look around and listen.  Become aware of  one’s surroundings.   These experiences placed a struggle within Nina whenever she considered a life shared with another soul.  If she committed herself to someone else, would that someone drain her of her own soul and energy?



At her age, she should be thinking mostly of the excitement of romance and the thrill of love.   But unlike some of her contemporaries, she had an observant tendency and when she expressed those observations out loud, particularly at school, she would be chastised.   She kept most of it to herself but was keenly aware of the downfalls of being partnered with a mismatched suitor.  So she wanted to pace herself when it came to marriage and hoped that she would see signs of danger before it was too late for her.  Until she found someone who seemed to share in her passions, she knew deep down that a partnership with the wrong person would be a life sentence of loneliness.





A Conflict of Interest?

How do you feel today, Miss Katherine?
It’s a question I feel compelled to ask myself. Taking my pulse. Checking on my vitals.

I ask the question because I know that right now, I need an honest answer to it.

My answer:
I feel water logged. I feel shell shocked. I am dizzy from being blasted with too many canned marketing strategies and threats to my future if I don’t comply with the dictum. Yes. Overwhelmed and unsure.
I just attended a mandatory Certified Sandals Specialist Workshop. The pony show comes around each year and travel agencies that want to remain in good standing send off their agents to the training to ensure promotional benefits for the coming year.

It’s a power packed half day intensive product training that gets us up to speed on all of their resorts throughout the Caribbean. By itself, that sounds fine, right? After all, it’s important to know that whether this resort just had a full renovation of several lodging buildings and that this other resort now come with the plunge pools within the suites and that they have added privacy curtains so that other guests walking by the unit do not get a full frontal of the couple enjoying themselves on their balcony sans clothing. Sandals is not a nudist resort and not much in the Hedonism category so while it’s all about the romance, it is also all about elegance and decorum.
The reason I am vibrating at full decibel from the training is that the intensity of the message and how to grow our business, how to be successful, how to not fall behind, how to ensure optimum sales, is to dial into the Millennium Market. They are tech savvy and are not slowing down. The video they showed to illustrate who the Millennial Generation is- had me wanting to run for the hills. Why? Because all of this contradicts with a brand new door that I am considering opening which could lead me to a more peaceful existence – quite possibly  for the rest of my life. Simplicity. Minimalists. Leading a more meaningful life with less.

I ask myself:  Is this a big conflict of interest?
Last week, I had the great pleasure of being invited to see The Minimalists Movie by a cherished friend.  A kindred spirit.  We watched this documentary which was produced by two gentlemen and their team: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. They have been promoting their Minimalist lifestyle for several years now- they have written a few books, gone on some tour. It all started with one of them uncovering this lifestyle and finding happiness might very well be attainable within its principles. It talks about the fact that the recipe for Minimalists can vary by person- not everyone lives by the same recipe. Different strategies work best for different people. But, it’s about finding the right ingredients for oneself. And, ditching the rat race in time (because, even if you win the rat race, in the end you are still just a rat) and in its place, seeking to find a much simpler way to make ends meet. Instead of chasing the American Dream (which boils down to chasing ways to acquire more stuff and with stuff, more status), they have opted to live a life of passions. And, knowing that each person has many passions. Not just one.   We are not born an accountant.  We are not born a sales person.   We are not born a lawyer.   These are things that comprise a more complex being that within him or herself contains many valuable attributes.  Our society does not seem to get that as it pushes each one of us into a box of one thing.  So we must fight this bent and instead, we must find a focus- for a time, focus on one of our passions.  And,  give everything we have to that one passion – all of it, all your energy.  Nurture it.  Developed it.  And, then, maybe- just maybe.. the passion will grow and flourish and one day, you mightfind an opportunity to make a living with the success of that passion.
In response to the oft asked question: “What Do You Do?” these guys offer that we all individually do lots of things: we brush our teeth, we take showers, we enjoy walks, we engage in hobbies perhaps- the “Do” in the question does not need to be answered in a way that seeks to fulfill the questioners real goal which is to figure out where you fit in within the construct of society: “How do you measure up against where I am- what do you do? How much do you make? What kind of car do you drive? What is your zip code? And thus, what is your value to society?” The goal behind the question feels a bit disgusting when it is spelled out. After all, we are worth more than what we make, right? We are worth more than the physical stuff we acquire, or how our homes look, or what kind of wheels take us from point A to point B, right?

For the past week, most waking moments that are not occupied with my work tasks, have been spent thinking about the concepts of The Minimalists. This past weekend, I gathered up two big trash bags of clothes from my closet and I donated them. It’s a start. I am intrigued by the idea of reducing my stuff, of reducing my debt, or reducing the required resources that only serve to rob me of my time and energy and focus on the things that I wish I had more time to focus on the most. Things like: Writing, Knitting, Reading, Walking my Dog, Sitting on a bench by the lake and feeling the wind on my face, enjoying my aging parents while they are still around.

I spend so much time commuting and working, as do most people. And I do this because it is expected and because I have to because I have filled my life with stuff that costs money and I am chasing that American Dream. Because after all, the American Dream is meant to make me happy. Right? I mean, right????
I took a class about two years that is called: Financial Peace University. It’s offered through churches, and the goal is to put side-by-side the concepts of money, of understanding that it’s not my money but that I am meant to be the keeper and manager of that money for God. It’s about values and understanding how an off-kilter value system creates chaos. The class was meant to whip me into financial shape and instill upon me some good values and reminders so that moving forward I would not make the same mistakes as previous years. Well, I still churn the debt merry-go-round. I have not really gotten off yet. Oh sure, I pay cash more than before. I have paid off some plastic. But occasionally, I pull out the plastic once again – even though I know it is insane behavior and I contribute once again to a necessary rat race craziness to pay that off once again.

It needs to stop. I need to stop.

At fifty, I feel as though I have little time before the ride is over. It’s an overstatement, but feels real. And then, I recall finding a picture of Dad at his fiftieth birthday party thrown by Mom in our Barrington, IL lower level. A big group gathered around tables with a larger than life picture of Dad behind him – a black and white that someone snapped at a previous party when he had just a few too many. He looked bloated and drunk in that picture. It was meant to be funny. I digress. It’s looking at his face on that October in 1979 that I realize that this party was 37 years ago!! He has had life for 37 more years from that time. And he has experienced so much. I can too. It’s not over. I may not be blessed to live the same 37+ years that Dad has, but hopefully, at least ten or twenty more. I hope. Barring disease and other catastrophic fates. And so, today is the day to start living those years well.
This afternoon, I am taking time for me after the morning blast of marketing campaigns aimed at getting me to energize and sell beach resort all inclusive vacations. Ringing in my ears are the words from our Business Development Manager at Sandals, urging me to give him 5 room bookings in the coming 30 days – if I do so, he will reward me with a $100 booking bonus and more! I look back over my shoulder at that memory from about four hours ago and I nod to it and say, ok- I will see what I can do. But not now.


I found myself two hours ago in a section of Barnes and Noble, browsing through the Arts & Crafts section of books. Within that shelf, I found a journal concept with a whole series of books designed to prompt the diary keeper. A journal that has headers at the top of each page that prods the writer to fill the page with ideas. I don’t need that kind of journal, I think to myself. No. I pass those up. And, then- I find a different kind of journal written by Keri Smith, author of Wreck This Journal. In this book that I found, the title jumps out at me: The Wander Society. I open to the introduction. And there, I find her reference to Walt Whitman and how his book: Leaves of Grass “the Deathbed Edition” moved and shook her. And I am curious. Why? What was it about Walt Whitman’s book that created such a stir? I continue through the introduction to learn that the Wandering Society is basically fueled by WW (Walt Whitman) – Wanderer Extraordinaire. Now that is something I can sink my teeth into. I am pulled into the fray. I must learn more. Keri shares that only a few times in her lifetime has she been so moved by a book than the afternoon she spent with Leaves of Grass. Her description of her reaction to his words are encapsulated with expressions like: “my chest ached, my breath quickened, and my face flushed”. Sounds like a passionate problem of sorts. And I admit, I want some of that. So, I grab Keri’s book because as I thumb through it, I see it is not a journal after all but a book filled with ideas on wandering. And I oh so want to wander. I want to find my path down uncharted weed growing brambles where my foot finds purchase on a rock as it moves from the woods to the shore and helps me make my way so that I can sit on a large boulder overlooking the ocean and watch the gulls plunge into the wild foam and spray.   This perch helps me to hear the shrieks of other distant gulls as they move inland to find rest. Oh my – where did that even come from? I press on.
The first few pages of Keri’s book has now fully grabbed my attention, I dare to surmise that Keri and I will likely get along very well together, and I somewhere down in the midst of this moment – thank her for writing this volume. I make my way to the Poetry Wall within Barnes and Noble, for now I must find Walt Whitman and his Leaves of Grass. And I find several versions. The first edition version, a small pocket book. And then, larger versions that contain the many editions. And then, the version that contains the first and deathbed version. I pull that one. And I sit to read the introduction. And once again, I am drawn into the mystery of poetry and of the voices of old that somehow captured a time that in many ways has been reimagined today. The same quandaries and burdens. It reminds of the timelessness of the Bible. Many discard the Bible – push it aside. It is not relevant. But how wrong they are. Principles for humanity do not change. We are basically the same as when man first began. We carry the same desperate wants and needs and passions and fears.
I decide I am satisfied with my selections and decide to add Walt to my pile. I consider one final idea, and that is to move to the writing wall. The “how to write” section, I call it. The reference wall. I want something that will give me knowledge on the basics of poetry writing. Unsuccessful in that quest.    I proceed to the check-out counter and I figure that I can look up Poetry Writing and theory … on-line. For now, I have plenty to keep me busy. And I feel satisfied,  truly satisfied.   I am investing time in my passion. I plan to sit and write and read and revel in the words of old. And dream big  dreams …of a new reality and a new plan. One step at a time. One poem at a time. One word at a time. I find my rest in this.

Living Without You

“I can’t live, if living is without you.”.

The lyrics from the Air Supply Song of the late 1980s sprung to mind last night, as Mom came to me after their return from a Memorial Day Picnic celebration with friends and shared with me her most recent news.

Several months ago now, a friend from her Scandinavian social group had died of an aggressive cancer. She left behind her dear husband. Last night, Mom shares with me that this husband had expressed grief recently, stating he didn’t know how he would be able to live without her. It’s an expression, I am sure, often heard in these circles- as friends pass. This group is primarily senior in age, with people mostly in their 70s and 80s.

“You did hear about Bjarte didn’t you?” She asks, seemingly certain I should already know the news.

“No, Mom- what about Bjarte?”.

“He shot himself.”


“Mom – oh my, when did it happen? He shot himself?”


Mom nods “yes, they found him. The trauma of it put his daughter in law in the hospital. It happens you know, often with men. They can’t handle life when their wives did everything for them.”

I think of Mom and how she does every single thing for Dad. He would be lost without her. I would be there of course, if that happened. But it is true in that generation, the women cook, clean, lay out the clothes. It’s fairly common that these men just sit back on retirement and the wife does everything. She takes care of their bills. She now does the driving. She takes care of his pills.

She looks at me. “We must make time to go through everything. We just don’t know from day to day how much time we have. I need you to have a full understanding of all of his pills – it’s so important that you know the proper dosage of his blood pressure pills”. She looks away, and then at me again “and mine too, you need to know my list of pills.” I nod. “Yes, Mom- it’s very important, we must make the time”.

She continues “you need to know where everything is. Our papers. Everything”. I nod again and look her in the eye and hold her hand “of course, everything” I say.

It’s such a tender part of life, those years when friends- one after the other, pass away. Some suddenly, others after years of suffering.

“How many were at the party?” I interrupt the bleakness of the moment.

“About fifteen or so” she offers.

“How did they like your store bought lemon cake?” I ask with a smile.

“I don’t know, no one said, but I loved it. It was so delicious. Just like a homemade Blottkake from Norway” she smiled at me. “No one noticed, there were a lot of store bought items”.

I was glad she had opted to buy the cake. She had been stressed about it the day before and had procrastinated and had a headache that morning. It was good that she had given herself permission to buy instead of bake. In this case, anyway.

“The table was full of things and there were several deli containers – people do that you know?” She reflects “they just go to the deli and buy a pasta salad and their done”. “It’s ok to do that from time to time, Mom. No one will fault you for a barbecue or picnic” I offer.

“Hey you” she coos to my sweet Sofie lying next to me on a pillow. “Are you still lounging around?” She reaches for Sofie and Sofie just gazes back at he, her typical luxuriant self. I tap Sofie’s bottom gently to urge her to move closer to Mom. “Come now Sofie, say hi” I tease gently and she responds by moving right up to Mom and allowing herself within range of her caresses. “She is so beautiful” Mom says. She moves her hand up and down her silky fur. She smiles and gets up from the bed. “Well, I better head up” she says. “Goodnight, Mom”. “Goodnight, Katherine- love you.” “I love you too, Mom”.

She retreats and I linger on thoughts of her tonight. Hearing the news about Bjarte. The shock of it all. All of the people she has had to say goodbye to in the past year. Her likely reflection on mortality and the reality of it all. She is nearly eighty years old now. They are both so young in spirit, most of the time. But I see the slower pace. And, her difficulty in climbing the stairs, her right knee troubling her. Her hearing and her memory at times. Signs of age. And, Dad, nearing ninety.

While I will sit with her to go over everything, we will not focus on that inevitable moment in time when I will have to say goodbye to them. Instead, live each moment of each day as a celebration of the day we have today. We must cherish each day. And, I will plan fun outings to make the mundane more exciting. They have stopped traveling, so we must plan outings to celebrate our home city and state. Make life special. Each day.

And I must not focus on those words from Air Supply. I must find joy in moments alone so that I can must the courage to live without them, when the time comes.

All is Clear on the Extremities Front!

It’s amazing what one water pill will do. I can already feel the positive effects of this drug on my body. My legs, ankles and feet are still just a bit swollen, but progress is a foot (pun intended).

I returned from my marvelous adventure in Greece late Saturday night and continued to worry about my legs and ankles. I had traversed many countries via four flights, taking me from Mykonos to Athens, Athens to Munich, Munich to Chicago and finally, Chicago to Minneapolis. My feet and ankles ached from the skin being stretched, and my legs had an overall feeling of having been bruised. Each step hurt. So, I decided to check in with the GP. Better safe than sorry. Doc asked me to describe in detail all of the events of the past week, and he was concerned. While he could offer a water pill and we could see how it goes- he didn’t feel comfortable because of the range of symptoms. So, he ordered the ultrasound of both legs and an MRI of my chest, to rule out clots and pulmonary embolism.

After a few hours at St. Paul Radiology last night, I was given the all clear. With much relief, I headed to the pharmacy to fill the water pill RX which doc suggested would ease the excess water in the legs. “You should notice an improvement within three to four days” he said. “If not, call me”. The odd ash all over my legs and feet itched like a crazy obsession, and he recommended some Benadryl should take care of it.

I slept so much better last night with this diagnosis. No back of the mind fears of a clot traveling to my heart or lungs, or brain. Had it not been for my Factor V Leiden condition, I might have been less over cautious. But, now that I know all is just fine, I will wait for the swelling to reduce and the itching to stop.
It’s back to life as normal. And that certainly feels good. All is clear on the extremities front, and this offers me a chance to redirect my attention onto more energizing matters.

While all this was going on this weekend, we had company on Sunday. It had been shared that I was working on a novel and they asked that I read some of it to them. I read a part of my novel that I had not looked at for over six months. As I read it, it felt good. It felt right. And it gave me another boost of energy to think about focusing my attention back onto the novel. Here is that excerpt:

As a preface- the main character Nina enjoys a visit from her best friend Frederika. The story is set in the late 1930s, just prior to the Nazi occupation of Norway.

It was nearly three o’clock and Nina knew by now that Fredrika would just be arriving at the top of the roadway.  She eagerly finished up with milking Lisbet, tugging for one last draw from her teat and then wiped her hands on the towel laying on her lap before rising and pulling the milking stool out from under her.  She gently patted Lisbet “good girl” she cooed.   She walked back to the refrigeration system to deposit the afternoon’s product making sure to properly seal the container and wipe around it.   She grabbed the large mop that was hung high up on the barn wall and pushed it into the large pail of warm sudsy water and then quickly swished it throughout the milking area to clean up any residue.   She didn’t mind the milking duties.  Half the time she was deep in thought about one of the books she was reading or her next outing with Lilly.   But she always looked forward to a visit from Fred and she quickly made her way out of the barn to Lilly, already saddled and waiting just outside.  She mounted her and gently urged her to trot up the roadway towards the gate.  On her way out she passed Vera who was on her way to the barn “enjoy your painting time” Nina offered.   “Is it already time for Fred’s arrival?” asked Vera.  “Yes, she should be here by now”.    “Say hi and tell her we look forward to seeing her at dinner”.  With that Vera waved her sister on and smiled.  Those two had been inseparable since they were first enrolled in that choir when they were about ten years old.  It was an amazing bond and she wished she had a friend as close to her as Fred was to Nina.       



It had been over three months already since Fredrika last visited on one of her weekend jaunts and Nina was so excited to hear the news on how things were going for her in Moss.  Although her Far could get some supplies locally and he had regularly scheduled deliveries of provisions, it could be months before they headed in to the bigger town south of them for a resupply of those essentials that only an in person excursion could render.  Nina had written to Fred a few weeks ago asking her to pick up a few things for them; a favorite shampoo and almond hand cream. And, there she was, on time as usual, already dismounted from Nordlys and she was working on the chain that held the gate closed.  The journey by horse from Moss to Hvitsten was likely around two hours and one would think by now that Fred, not to mention Nordlys, would need a rest.  Nordlys was an amazingly beautiful stallion with a coat so black it often had shines of blue and green depending on where he stood relative to the sea, sky and pastures.  His coat reflected the nature surrounding him and Fred thought of the name to describe the ethereal Northern Lights that often danced and played out before them in winter time, depending on the atmospheric conditions.  The colors as well as the lightness of the flowing sky were a wonderful description for this animal that could perform amazing feats in the ring.  Nina was glad that even though they had moved to the city, they could still have a few horses stabled at a nearby farm.   She was sure Fred would have gone crazy without her access to Nordlys.   “Hei Fred, so good to see you, here let me help.”   Fred gave her the famous broad smile and flipped her long thick flaxen braid back over her shoulder “Hi Nina, it’s been too long, so glad we could schedule the weekend… I love our time together and Halvor didn’t mind.  Do you want to head out over the meadow through the marsh? Maybe we could walk along the beach for a while until we get to the bend.”    About a year ago, Fred and Halvor moved to the small city of Moss situated twenty kilometers south to open a restaurant, a dream of Halvor’s for years.  With the opening of Den Minne Kjøkken (The Memory Kitchen), he was finally getting a chance to try his hand at cooking professionally.  Halvor’s concept was to offer food that would take every Norwegian down memory lane, to a time of comfort and gathering with those that were the most important.  The space itself was designed to create atmosphere and warmth, a place where one could come in and spend time with friends and family as if entertaining in one’s own home.   The ingredients that Halvor introduced as well as the changing menu were always fashioned to create moments of joy and connection for people and a reflection back to more secure times.  It was as if Halvor already knew times ahead were going to require this comfort.  As much as Fred enjoyed her life with Halvor in the small city of Moss, whenever she anticipated her visits with Nina, she would long for time spent on her favorite shoreline.   “Sure, that sounds perfect- let’s drop your pack and head out”.  


They both mounted their horses and walked up the roadway to the main house.   “Gunnar!” Nina called out, “Hei… come and take Fred’s pack for us”.   Gunnar came running down the dirt road towards them with a big smile.    Gunnar still harbored his childhood feelings for Frederika, and they had not diminished since the first time he set eyes on her when Nina came home with her from choir practice one day all those years ago.  Gunnar had seen her in the hallways at school, but never really had a chance to interact with her since he was a few grades behind them.   So when Nina announced one day that she had become friends with Fred and that she was inviting her to their home, Gunnar couldn’t believe his luck.  “Hi Fred, how are things?”   “Very good, Gunnar.  The business is just beginning to take off and Halvor is getting easier to live with now because of it” she beamed at Gunnar, never knowing that her mention of Halvor resulted in him feeling slighted once again.   

Fred never really knew the depth of Gunnar’s feelings for her.  Sure, she knew there was a slight crush but she had no idea how miserable he was when she was around because of how she played with him as if he were a little brother.  And besides, she was married now.  She felt that Gunnar must be over his childhood feelings by now.    Alas, no- as silly as it was he couldn’t shed his affections and still longed for her to look at him the way girls look at someone with whom they are deeply in love.   Gunnar shrugged knowing it was pointless and he felt embarrassed wondering if she had any inkling of the emotional rumblings going on in his gut.  He grabbed her overnight pack and waved them off “see you at the supper table when you get back!”, and with that he retreated back up the driveway to the house.



They started off with a slow paced walk down through what they called the boulevard, which was a long straight path bordered by majestic birch trees that formed a privacy fence for several hundred meters before the path curved and opened up into the vast meadow where the sheep grazed in one paddock and the horses were contained just beyond in the other.  Both paddocks faced the ocean and between the two was a lovely alleyway formed by the fences which allowed one to stroll down to the beach. “How is the mill doing these days?  Is Mona getting stocked up enough for the next market? Is she showcasing any new colors this time?”    Mona had been busy for months dying the wools for the next fiber market held in Moss, an annual event in late May.   “Oh, you know Mor, each year she churns out more skeins than the last and the fiber community just loves her for it.  She has a new shade that she is calling Brilliant Amethyst which she is getting from the big crop of heather that she harvested last spring.  But it’s the Tyttebær Red that I think will be the biggest hit this year”.   The markets were an opportunity to help refill part of the farm’s working fund.    

Mona was an expert at harvesting the yarn from her prized Spælsau Sheep.   The fiber they provided was so silky and soft. They made incredibly beautiful sweaters that were prized for their softness and perfect for those that couldn’t handle the itch from other wool yarns.  Mona’s colors all came from the nature that surrounded the property; she mostly used the wild flowers and berries and various wild grasses, but occasionally she would incorporate fallen leaves, twigs – anything from which she could soak and harvest a unique pigment. She generally always had a batch of neutrals and also a colorful splash of brilliant prismatic colors which were great for combining with the neutrals or using on their own for an uplifting shawl or coat.   She had once made a coat out of the dye lot she made from the tart berry: Tyttebær, which not only made the best sauce accompaniment for her roasts and meatballs, but also created a deep blood garnet colored dye which ended up as one of the most beautiful full length wool capes that Fred had ever seen, bordering on the mystical.  

In winter time, Mona wore that cape everywhere she went and in the bleakness of winter, one could always locate her from afar by looking for the red splash of color amongst the dull white of the snow, and the ashen browns of the soggy brush and leafless tree limbs reaching for the sky.  She had recreated the shade once again, but this dye lot had a deeper tinge, an almost black red.  Along with the naturally brilliant colors of Mona’s dye lots, she also offered muted tones as well as natural whites, blacks and grey-blues which were a staple for every knitter and weaver.  Her skeins were sought after throughout the region and on opening day at market, most of her supply would dwindle down to a few dozen skeins.   This time she was working towards an even more substantial supply than the last market which she hoped would take her through at least two full days of the market.    “That’s wonderful, Nina.  I am so glad that Mona still thrives with her wool business.  Her yarns are so amazing”.    “I know what you mean- at market I don’t see anything that compares to it- those Spælsau sheep make all the difference.”        


So the novel is in progress. Characters are developing. Storylines are evolving. The project continues… I only wish I had more time to dedicate to it each day.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Thoreau.


Vascular Alarm in Santorini

Santorini Blue

The last two days in Santorini have been memorable, for sure.
Two nights ago, I had my first encounter with a medical concern while on a group trip. Being that one in the group that ends up demanding special attention from hosts for a condition of bloating legs and a potential circulation crisis is embarrassing and generally makes me very uncomfortable. It leaves me completely mortified.

It all started with the day we left Crete for Santorini. Half way across on the ferry, I noticed my legs were extraordinarily puffy. I jokingly referred to my ankles as cankles. It got a good laugh. At least out of me.



But then, as the day wore on, those cankles were getting more and more puffy and my sandals were digging into my skin. The back of my calves were aching and pulling and I began to feel nauseous.



We had a brief break in the afternoon with only an hour to refresh in our rooms before we were scheduled to head off for a tour to the archeological dig: Akrotiri. I was given advice to elevate my legs in the room. I arrived in the room, found an extra pillow and positioned it onto my headboard which was actually a half wall separating the bedroom from the living area. The bed itself faces the window to the vineyards. I position my bottom right up against the pillows on the headboard and place my legs up in the air leaning against another pillow. I begin to search for symptoms on an on-line medical site on my phone – trying to find information on swollen legs and feet, swallowing issues, light headedness… dizziness.




The next thing I know, I wake on the bed and look at my phone and see that I am ten minutes late for the group. Horrified I pull myself off the bed and go the bathroom to comb my hair. I am unsteady on my feet, dizzy. I throw on a sweater and pull out my lipstick. I sit down on the toilet to quickly take care of business. The hotel room phone rings, I am sure it is the group leader. Oh no- I have become that one agent- the one that is holding up the group. I can’t believe it. I am never that agent. I am always working on being the one that no matter what, is there before the rest have gathered. Ten to fifteen minutes early. I see that now I am going on twenty minutes late. I am truly beyond horrified. This is my worst nightmare. I hate being this person. I open the door to my room, and I am greeted by Apostolis, our hotel host. He has come to retrieve me and I am suddenly so grateful that I at least was ready to walk out the door. I try to talk to him and find that my speech is slightly slurred and that I am having trouble with a few words. My cell phone rings… It’s Lynne our group leader. I try telling her that I am with Apostolis but can’t quite come up with his name, so as we walk towards the group bus down the winding streets of the hotel village, I tell her that I am with the Greek God and as soon as that is out of my mouth, I regret it. I am being just goofy now- likely out of embarrassment.



We reach the bus and I see that everyone is onboard the bus and waiting for me. I mumble an apology as I board. I am feeling nauseous this whole time and my legs are hurting ..aching all the way up the calf into my thighs. Both legs.



The afternoon progresses, we reach the archeological site. And, as we walk through Akrotini, I start feeling just a little better. The air conditioning is helping. The site is magnificent and I am amazed by the story of this city that was buried by lava and ash. The preservation of the buildings. The possibility that this is the actual Lost City of Atlantis. We learn about this Minoan Civilization that goes back 1700 years BC. My mind is pulled in a different direction from my legs. I feel a light breeze from the AC on my body. I start to feel a little better.


After Akrotiri, we head out for a visit to Vedema Hotel’s Beach Club – a chance to see what our clients will experience if they take advantage of the shuttle that would transport them from hotel way up in the hills to the beach, complete with beautiful outdoor pool, bar, cabanas and black sand beach oceanfront chairs with the traditional straw umbrellas. Lovely. My legs are puffing up once again and I am having trouble. I can see by the sandal strap that my circulation is once again changing and my calves are aching. It is suggested that I elevate my legs and with guidance from a fellow traveler, I place myself backwards on one of the lounge chairs, with my legs up on the head rest facing the sky. My back and head towards the foot of the lounger. I sit like this for about 10-15 minutes before the group is called once again to move to the next activity- return to hotel to have our wine tasting in the hotel’s wine cave, and dinner in another wine cave.


I make it half way through dinner before my legs begin to really throb. I am having a bit of trouble with my throat again, and so uncomfortable. I attempt to move my legs under the table- swirling them around with the exercises one finds suggested for airline flights. As I eat my meal, I try to not make a fuss by I am hurting. People around me are talking. Enjoying themselves. I just don’t want to be the bother. I just want this to end. I say a prayer. Please help my legs – help this not become the problem it could be. Please.

Our group leader pops over to my side of the long table set in a wine cave and invites me to check out for the rest of the night, go get some rest, she says.  And, if you don’t feel like you can join us tomorrow, let me know by text in the morning. It will be a very long 12 hour day tomorrow with lots of steps. I marvel at the invitation. Oh, yes- that would be wise. I can’t imagine climbing the stairs of Santorini under this painful condition. I tell her I will see how I feel in the morning. Perhaps the night will make a difference.


Several fellow travelers insist on escorting me back to my room. The group has been lovely. Genuinely caring people and I don’t sense any irritation from them that I have become the problem child in the group. The delicate flower that needs special attention. Again, this whole idea makes me even more nauseous. I just can’t handle being the one in the group that either holds the group back or creates a “special consideration” environment. Can’t tolerate the idea.



And yet, here I am. Swollen legs. Throat tight. Nausea.

On my return to the room, I soak my feet in a cold spray of water from the bathtub. On the bed, I layer pillows vertically, as high as I can make it so that I can elevate my legs above my heart for awhile. I soak towels in cold water to create compresses for my legs. And, I climb into bed, and cover my legs in the cold wet towels. I watch a little CNN to catch up on the day’s news.
The next morning, my ankles and feet are still tight. I feel light headed. My lips are puffy. I text our lovely host to let her know that I am taking her up on her offer to allow myself some time to rest and heal. The day’s hotel site inspections will mean a lot of climbing of steep staircases and then descent as well … Up and Down. And then, a Catamaran Ride followed by Dinner. At least twelve hours away without rest. She agrees it is a wise choice and then suggests I call the hotel front desk to see the doctor. I had been told the night before that the doctor had been called so he is expecting my call if I should need him. I agree to see the doctor. At this point, there is a bit of fear involved as I worry about potential DVT. If it had not been for the throat and lip puffiness, or the pains that shoot up into my lower buttocks as if a sciatica reaction, I would beg off. But then, there is also the group to consider. And, if this is more serious, I need to know.


The doctor comes within an hour and listens to my description of symptoms. He does my vitals: oxygen and blood pressure. My oxygen is high, and he explains this is likely due to stress. I am taking in too much air, breathing heavy due to my anxiety over the situation. My blood pressure is high and for me this is very abnormal. I am one of those people who never has high blood pressure; it is 145/85. High for me for sure. Again, likely due to stress. What he is concerned about is my throat symptoms and nausea and dizziness. He feels the veins on the top of my ankles, pressing gently down and waiting- perhaps counting pulse. Not sure entirely but he then shares that he is checking the blood flow through my veins. He tells me that I am having a muscular reaction in my calves. And, a Neurovascular impact. He prescribes an RX of muscle relaxants and advises me to take it easy today, to elevate my legs and to use the cold compresses. The plan was to spend the day taking care of my legs. I am so grateful to have been given this break from the busy schedule to ensure my legs an chance to recover.


After a full day of rest, in the early evening, I rejoin the group with another agent who had medical concerns on this journey. Hers is associated with COPD. So, there are two of us who had to deviate for a few hours from the main itinerary planned. In the evening, we are transferred out to a hotel on the cliffs to join the larger group and have a site inspection of that property – built into a cliff. Stairs, stairs and more stairs. I don’t want to be a bother. But, I just spent the day elevating my legs and taking muscle relaxants and now I am about to climb cliff stairs for a hotel site inspection… Oy. Hard to say no to our gracious hosts. The other gal and I do receive a modified version of the inspection, with fewer rooms, and it’s all good.



During dinner, I begin to feel the swelling start again on my feel, ankles and calves. And, I worry. What will happen if this does not correct itself soon. I try to shift my mind to other thoughts. I drink my water. I avoid salt as best I can and I enjoy our hosts and conversations around the table as we gaze down the cliffs into the ocean and to the horizon before us and enjoy also the vistas of Fira Town opposite us. During dinner, a community across the bay is celebrating something special with tiny bursts of fireworks viewed from this long distance away. So small from our vantage point that a picture would be pointless. So we just enjoy them. And relax. And take in the fresh air.


At the conclusion of the dinner, we climb back to the top of the resort via one staircase after another, until we find the minibuses awaiting our return to our host resort. I worry on the bus ride back to our hotel, as I feel my feet once again swelling and aching. Upon my return to my hotel room, I repeat the steps to reduce the swelling: cold compresses and elevation.

Today, our departure day from Santorini, I am grateful to wake up with much improvement with my condition. Still slightly swollen but so much better than the day before. I actually experience hope that this may be over. And, I make a mental note to avoid the climbs as much as possible. And this is made possible because the hosts on the group tour insist I let them know if I need to sit out a site inspection or climbing here and there. Later today, another site inspection. Unless the inspection is anything like Fira Town on Santorini, I should be ok.

The group has been so gracious. I have not felt any negative repercussion to my special needs these last 48 hours. So perhaps, this time, the group is different. Compassionate. Kind. Understanding and Human. We need to give each other a break in life. One never knows the specific circumstances of another persons drama.



This was a lesson for me in tolerance of others. Grace and mercy. For other trips ahead of me, when that one agent has to beg off or special concessions are to be made, remember your time at Vedema Resort in Santorini and how gracious and kind they all were, and compassionate and accommodating. And remember the smiles and encouragement of so many on the group who expressed concern and genuine care and not resentment – nor disdain.


It’s been such a lovely trip.

Respite in the Bay of Elounda

It’s been over a week since my last entry. I sit facing an island that used to be a Venetian Fortress in Crete before it became the last leper colony in the 1950s. I face this island from my hotel room at the Blue Palace, in Elounda, Crete, Greece. It’s my third day in Greece. Having just come from Athens, And having just finished a stat at the Grand Bretagne, this island haven is a nice respite from the fast paced city life.



I chill out after our group luncheon of salads and fish. Delicious fare as we gaze at moored boats in the harbor and take om the azure blue ocean. The weather today is a bit gray and threatens with light showers and a cooler breeze.

I sit on my deck listening to a bit of Chopin to take full advantage of my deck, feel the breeze caress My skin and this cherished time carved out for me to write. I can’t waste another moment of writing opportunity. This time is precious to me and I grab it and hold it with great care. Others may wander and explore the resorts offerings, perhaps some at this very moment are taking in a spa treatment. But I, no- not I. I sit on my deck listening to Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op 9 No 1 by Chopin. The breeze has become a bit more volatile. I sit in my nightgown and bathrobe provided by the hotel and enjoy my perch. The blue waters and some local fisherman boats bob before me. My own plunge pool sits unused, the waters are pushed by the winds which provides evidence that to dip my foot or even leg into the waters could prove chilly. So, I sit up here in my director chair and I lean onto the wooden table which overlooks the brilliant blue ocean and the islands beyond.

So much to take in and so much to comprehend. I am sitting in a five star hotel on the island of Crete. Yes. Me. Sitting here listening to the wind, to Chopin, to the sounds of my Logitech keyboard doing it’s thing as my thoughts flow from my mind to my fingertips to the screen.
At lunch, perhaps I indulged just a bit too much on the dry white wine from the region. To the point that I somewhat curse my dopey feeling as I consider the bed and an afternoon nap. It’s about three hours away from dinner with the group, more food, more laughing, more connecting with fellow travel sales consultants that primarily serve the luxury market. Only ten of us selected from around the country to participate in this Familiarization Event. My selection due to my agency’s high volume with the supplier; not my own – since I am fairly new with this agency. But the potential is there, for I have been fortunate to serve quite a few luxury leads passed along from our owner and others within the company that trust my background and my approach. I feel quite fortunate and blessed. I am learning so much already and anticipate the extent to which this knowledge will be used upon my return.
All of this is surface, really. On a personal level, I find the geographic location is ideal for someone seeking respite from the touristy hot spots. The quiet of the bay of Elounda draws me in. I am entranced already. I could spend a significant amount of time in this very place, if I were permitted to do so. The brilliant blue waters are mesmerizing.



The Rock as it appears in t he distance, strangely comforting in its historic significance. This whole country with its history dating back to well before Christ ..well, it’s enchanting. Even the chirp of the birds and echo of the wind seem different somehow.



And, now, the heavy water pellets from the rain are dancing on my private balcony plunge pool waters. No different really than any other rain shower on top of a pool in any other part of the world. Yet- here it sounds and feels different to me. The plunge pool has been interrupted from its primary purpose- to sooth and hydrate and offer relaxation to guests. I need not enter the waters myself to receive such nourishment for my soul. I look at the drops bouncing into the pool waters and I rejoice at my own sense of merriment in this moment. Time for me. Time to feel the wind on my calfs, bare as they are under my nightgown as I sit privately drinking in this experience. Just me, my keyboard, the sound of the wind and the rain and the view of the island that at one time provided protection for this people of the bay.



When I rejoin the group, I will learn of all the activity and accomplishment they have managed in our short three hour window of down time from the group schedule. And, I will secretly rejoice at the time I had to cherish on my own, on my deck, with the privacy of rock walls sheltering me from neighboring eyes. The palms down at the beach offering a metronome sway to the sound of the wind, and yet offering up their own tempo.


I am grateful for the roof overhead on my deck which protects me from the now pouring rain. It’s not a burden. The rain soothes.   And, I know, tomorrow will be a different day. Seventies predicted, sunshine and a chance to do some sightseeing. There is plenty of time ahead for that sort of busyness. No. Now, it is time to appreciate the window of quiet I have been afforded. To cherish this silence interrupted only by the sound of rain drops pelting my recliner furnishings on the deck facing the Bay of Elounda.


And… the next morning, this:



See you in Santorini?

Book Group. Walk and Talk and bring your dog along! Sounds like my kind of outing. I had signed up for that book group long ago. But to date, have not attended. I am in their list of members but have not shown up. I have a feeling this will be a good group for me. The books are focused on a global exploration through literature. Well then, what have I been waiting for?

I head for Greece in a few days, another work trip. I am very excited. And, as I prepare my reading list for the trip, what better way to travel than to prepare for the next book group gathering by reading their next selection: Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas. This book is set in Colorado during the Great Depression. In the acknowledgment section of the books, I read a quote from a novelist encouraging the author to pursue her novel: “You’ve really got the bug about doing Breckenridge,” she wrote. “I feel quite sure about you and you have the grace to grow … As you have found out, the stuff out of which such books are made has to seep into a person”.    

It’s that last bit that captured my attention. Is that how it is with my own novel. Is it seeping into me first? I have written so many words for that novel, and each time I go back and read a section, I know that I am doing the right thing. But it is taking time. I feel as though if I am to be successful in capturing the essence of the characters, I need to not rush. What is incredible to me as I reread portions of my own novel is that these characters are no longer characters really, I can actually sense them- they have a life of their own. I never really understood that concept when reading about it from other authors’ experiences. But in my case, all of the main cast so far offers a rich canvas. Nina, Vera, Lars, Vidar, Mona, Sigrid. Each of them and others, should I mention Gunnar, all of them have a bit of me now. And, I can’t let them down. I must press on and finish their stories. I must give them life on the page and hope and purpose and settle certain matters, bring closure to others. It’s magic.    
I am hooked on this writing thing and in many ways wish it was not the ‘hobby’ that it is … I wish it could be my every moment, and my every day. Is that possible?  Could that be my next step in shifting to a life of purpose?

I need to pack up and head to my work desk to add a frequent flyer number to someone’s airline ticket record, process a final payment on an Iceland Self-Drive Itinerary, create final documents for a couple’s romantic escape to Paris. And I will pick up this thread later, perhaps tomorrow… Perhaps in Athens, Greece on Friday. 

 This travel career is not a bad gig, don’t get me wrong. It just seems I never have enough hours in my day to give my writing the time and nurture it deserves.   See you next time- maybe in Santorini?  Mykonos or… might I be in Crete?