Really?

So, the trip of a lifetime started oddly. All day I filled the time with trivial household tasks as I was, I think, very prepared to leave and mentally already gone. Finally time to go to the airport I loaded up and we rolled.

I had this plan that once arrived in Atlanta, with a long layover until my flight to South Korea, I would proceed to Councourse A and have dinner at P.F.Changs. I timed my daytime meals around this plan. HAH! My flight to Atlanta ended up delayed almost three hours. First an inbound flight delayed for weather in Texas, then a complete ground stop in Atlanta. Uncertain as to when I would actually arrive in Atlanta and with dropping blood sugar, I was reduced to a sandwich and chips in Daytona. Anticlimactic to say the least.

So here I am in the ATL waiting for my 15 hour flight to Inchon, to be followed by 4 hours to Bangkok. A year ago it seemed cool to be able to say “I am going to Thailand when I retire.” Today while ironing a shirt it seemed surreal and almost unbelievable that I am actually doing this.

I have taught myself a few basic words of the Thai language. I have Baht in my wallet and intra Southeast Asia flights and guesthouse reservations. And oh my God, I am actually going to Thailand and Cambodia by myself. Meeting people to be sure, but traveling alone.

For the last three years I have been adventuring about the United States, learning to be happy alone, learning to adventure alone. So I have been practicing for this moment, becoming ready to completely step out of my homeself comfort zone and do what I have always wanted to do. See new places, meet new people, live.

Thi di doy (loosely phonetic). Goodby

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Solo ~ Just Means Singing Alone

In the last few years I have done a lot of traveling alone. Now when it is during the week and I have a briefcase, people just look at me as another business traveler. And since I don’t really go anywhere interesting, I generally sit at a table with a book to eat my dinner.  When I travel for myself, everything is different.

First, no briefcase. Second, dressed as my true self – generally funkier than my 50 or so year work armor. Yes, I said armor, I have worn suits, or at least dress pants and tops for most of my adult life.  Except when I first began and judges did not allow female attorneys to wear pants in court. As I spent more and more time in and out of jails, with clients, it became necessary to be sure my armor was pants in case of a lockdown. I also thought of professional garb, and heels, as armor as I chose to be a gladiator in a man’s world.  Figure it out.

Anyway third, I don’t need receipts. Fourth, I sit at the bar.  Dressing as myself and sitting at the bar are ways of making myself more open to opportunities, to life.  They are ways of becoming more vulnerable.  But what is funny about all this is that people are always astounded that I, a woman of a certain age, silver hair and all, am traveling alone.

I am currently on my second weekend trip the impetus for which was simply an art exhibition I wanted to see. The first to Oklahoma City where I had a most splendid adventure and now to Asheville where I will do the same. Why are people surprised? I have no idea but I have fun with it and people often buy me coffee or dessert or whatever in their amazement of my solo-ness. Strange.

It gives me great pleasure to just do the things that please me, art, music, food.  Today I surprised a busker by singing harmony to his not so talented melody as I went by.  Today I had a long talk with a homeless man about feet on a bench on a quaint street.  Today I had latte and a warm fresh croissant in a lovely bakery in mid morning with my book.  Today I visited a wonderful bookstore and my favorite chocolate shop. Tonight I will go hear bluegrass for dinner.  What a wonderful day.  Would it be nice to share it with a like minded partner, sure. But solo is just fine with me. Be amazed.

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Learning ~ It’s Never Too Late

First, social media. Yes, like every baby boomer I have learned the basics of Facebook. And I do mean basics. The “gif” thing still escapes me but I don’t really care.  I spent a weekend recently setting up an “author” page, which you are probably on, and getting schooled on Twitter.  I now understand why everyone is looking down all the time, your twitter has to be maintained, stay fresh.

So ok, I have acknowledged that I am an author and my mentor and guru decided I could be trusted not to muck up my WordPress site and gave me “tools”.  Trust, how wonderful.  Joy, now I had to learn to use them.

After three tries and several repetitions, and a couple of requests for refresher texts, I managed to make a “tweet box”. I felt deeply accomplished.  I find that no matter how many times you tell me how to do something I cannot master it until I do it myself, hands on, several times.

And so it is with much in life. I have not been an adventurer since I was quite young.  In my late teens and twenties I was fearless, some of the reasons for which are for another time.  I was unafraid to go anywhere, do most anything.  I find now that I am willing and desirous of finding that courage again. With the “wisdom of age” however came fear and as a result, reluctance.

So how do you learn courage?  The same way you learn to tweet, by practicing, by doing, by going beyond the borders of what you already know. You learn to be alone by practicing being alone, by doing things you like to do even as they feel awkward.  Tweeting regularly is more work than I would have thought, but then again, so is courage.

Here I go again my friends.

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On Becoming September 2016

It is an odd thing, this life.  Just when you think things are settled and you feel as if you have a sense of knowing where it is all going, BAM it changes.  And even stranger, just when you feel as if you know who you are, BAM, you are shedding your behaviors, people and places like a snake shedding its skin.

I think being part of a couple gives you this odd sense of safety, of invisibility and of belonging.  No matter how difficult your relationship may be, you are not “single” in a world of doubles.  So what to do? Shed my “double” skin and set about discovering where I am in the world, in my life.

I was listening to public radio and heard a story about an amazing exhibit of Matisse and his various contemporaries, essentially his career, being brought to the art museum in Oklahoma City from Paris.  Without stopping to think about how odd that might sound, I made a reservation to go to Oklahoma City for the weekend.  I am, after all, single.  My son is a grown, sort of, man.  I can do whatever I want and could afford to do it.

And before I could get too scared, I went.  And I went all over, did many things, ate, listened to music, visited art, gardens and memorials, talked to strangers and had a great time.  People are curious about you when you go places by yourself, especially as a woman of a certain age, and that makes it easy to talk.

I have a most dear friend who, when I say I am afraid to do something, or can’t do something, says “remember who you are, you can do anything”.  What a wonderful thing to be reminded with love and admiration.   So it isn’t really about “becoming” it’s about “getting back” to the self you lost, suppressed, ignored, forgot about.  It is about doing the things you love, the things that bring you joy; it’s about rediscovering those things and the pleasure they bring.  Or as my brothers would say, it’s about getting your groove back.

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Things Miss Kitty Wants You To Know #1 ~ Looks Can Be Deceiving

Ok, says Miss Kitty, we have been together for fifteen of your almost eighteen years. As a result, I think I know you pretty well and I have some things to say.

Just because I am skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough. As you know, I was gone for three weeks. And you (all of you) assumed I was dead. Because I am old, and because I was gone. But I surprised you… I came back. If I could talk I would tell you where I was, but then I might have to kill you. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t pretty. And you know I came back skin and bones, but I’m okay.

I have had a pretty interesting life as cat lives go. I was abandoned by my mother when I was four weeks old and was rescued by a crazy old public defender. He put us in a big box and brought us to the office where your mom found me. I was different even then. All my brothers and sisters were plain old tabby cats. I, on the other hand, am a delicate, beautiful long-haired, blue-eyed chocolate point siamese.
As you know yourself, being different isn’t easy.

Since then I have been a cossetted house pet, a wild New England barn cat and lots of things in between. In New Mexico I ran with horses and patrolled the perimeter, watching the house for enemies. In Florida I walked the golf course with your mom and dad and, of course, the dogs. By the way, I have trained several dogs in my life. I have always chosen what I wanted to be. Sometimes a cuddly house cat, sometimes living almost exclusively outdoors. I have reinvented myself many times. But how I chose to be was always my choice.

I was a beautiful cat, even when I lived in the barn. With my beautiful long fur, nobody would have guessed I was a barn cat. I have always been skittish, but I can be very loyal. I look very very delicate but I have grown old despite my many adventures. I might have come home really skinny but I am tough. So remember, don’t judge a book by its cover, often there is much more to people than meets the eye; you never know who you might be talking to.

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