Friday, February 7, 2014

Life is a Journey Not a Guided Tour

My husband Tom wore a hat that said "Life is a Journey not a Guided Tour." Those words resonated with me after his untimely, sudden death just after we moved to Oregon on our great adventure that would end with our retirement to our home secluded in Ocean Woodlands, a half-acre filled with wild Rhododendron, salal, myrtle wood  trees, huckleberry and blackberry bushes. I had a teaching position at Camp Florence and had intended on working there until retirement while we remodeled our beach cottage and expanded Tom's business idea - Naturally Wild. Nine months after we moved to Florence, Tom was dead at age 55. I had a struggling business, a home with a lot of potential and a job which I dearly loved. Family wanted me to come back to Kentucky but I couldn't leave the job and Tom's unfulfilled dream, so I refinanced the home, surrendered the business, dedicated myself to my career and started building a life for myself in Florence based on my passions and dreams alone for the first time in my life. These were singing, dancing, teaching and writing. I bought a bike and a kayak and found a "home" here until suddenly my whole career and retirement ended when I lost a job due to becoming a whistle blower.

Robert Burns wrote "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee (often go astray). As I entered one of the darkest periods of my life, I kept rehashing how my plans had always crashed and burned and fell into quite a victim mode that threatened not only my financial well being, but my health as well. During a dark morning on a secluded part of my paper route around Siltcoos Lake as I listened to the natural world coming to life and greeting the sunrise, I remembered the words on Tom's hat and the following poem was the result.

                                                               Hills of Home ©

In the summers of her youthful past,
She walked barefoot through the long bladed grass
That grew along the honey-suckled hills of
Her Old Kentucky Home.

And the perfumed air that filled her lungs
Brought a spark of life into her infant soul
Nourished by the wild berries she watched ripen and grow
Into cobblers and homemade ice cream
For summers’ eves with lightening bugs aglow.

But the robin in spring and red bird in winter,
Chirped a call heard deep within her,
To trade her Sunday shoes that walked the straight and narrow path
For sparkling, glass slippers that yearned to roam
In search of love and adventure far from her Old Kentucky Home.

And romance blossomed among the garden paths of Versailles
And the Left Bank of Paris.
But the slippers faded into shimmering moonlight on the Seine,
So she found garden clogs to work the terrain
To build love and contentment with a home of her own
Amid the honey-suckled vines of her Old Kentucky Home.

But the robin in spring and red bird in winter
Chirped a call heard deep within her,
To follow her love to Eldorado and the Seven Cities of Gold
Promised in stories and myths of old.

When that love withered and died in the desert heat,
She donned hiking boots to retreat
With her new love to the lush, green woodlands aside ocean dunes
 Amid quiet streams filled with salmon and the call of the loon.

Left alone in Eden by death’s early knell,
She felt her paradise turning to hell.
But she found solace for her soul biking the salty sea shore
And donned dancing shoes for music and loved once more.

But the strong winds in summer and heavy rains in winter,
Drowned love once more and sent her
Back to the rooted vines that climbed high on the hills
Of her Old Kentucky Home.

Now, in the autumn of her years she roams barefoot once more,
To the song of the robin in spring and red bird in winter
That chirp the secret of unconditional love rooted deep within her
                                  And spreading wide across the hills of her Old Kentucky Home.

After writing the poem, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to sell my house and move back to Kentucky. The housing market was booming and I stood to make quite a profit but for me, the universe was not ready for the move. I still had some karma - both good and bad - to complete so I took the house off the market, refinanced once again so I could do the final work that needed to be done in order to sell and write a book. The result was "The Peacemaker." Then the housing bubble burst and when I was ready to sell again I was completely under water with my mortgage. I continued to struggle to keep the house by free lance writing to add to my retirement income which was affected by the whistle blowing activity.

 After completion of a ghost writing project and a trip to Hawaii with family in 2012, I made the difficult decision to free myself of the house so that I could move back to the "Hills of Home." While I was waiting for that to happen, I decided to write for myself again. Although free lance writing had paid the bills for me, I had more to create myself - the result was "A Squeaky Wheel Gets Oiled - The Musical" and a short story called "The Season." It is now time for me to move and I know where that will be.

 Although I will probably be in Florence through the summer because of my play, I will be spending a lot of time investigating the purchase of a small plot of land somewhere in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains so that I can put a small log cabin with a loft on it where I can retreat to continue to write and explore the hills of home when I am not traveling. I have learned to set my thoughts and visions around what "feels right" along my journey and follow my heart. As I look back on my journey, I know that everything I experienced along the way was just a building block to where I am today. I no longer feel a victim to the strong winds and currents that come my way because I have learned to "go with the flow" listen to the "call of the robin in spring and red bird in winter" and embrace them as part of what has been the rich experience of my life. As the man was heard saying while falling from a skyscraper "so far so good."   



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