And the Adventure Continues

As I reflect on this past month of travel there is so much I appreciate about it. I am glad that I am still in good physical, mental and emotional shape to take on adventures near and far. I am thankful for my strength and agility. It is good to still be able to lift some weight and climb those trails.

After my week in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park, Mary and I continued our adventure in southern Utah. One thing I have learned from being a Tour Manager/Tour Guide, it that it is good to have a knowledgable guide with you. It enhances a trip. I was fortunate to have Mary as my guide. She had been to most of the places we explored before. All I had to do was follow where she led.

Now this could have been bad if she was not aware and respectful of the limitations of my Roadtrek. I did not have to worry about it and she never took me and EmmyLou, my rig anywhere that I could have gotten in trouble. A few times we left the RT safely parked at a visitors center and 4-wheeled it to trailheads in Mary’s handy truck, Sparklett.

A view from our campsite in Canyonlands, the Needles

We spent time in another section of Canyonlands, known at “The Needles”. Often, the campgrounds in the National Parks are full, yet right outside the park boundaries one can often find dispersed camping on BLM land or in the National Forest. Here is what is nice about this camping.

  • It is free. There are no hookups or water but if a person can be self contained it is a darn good deal.
  • You don’t have to park near anyone else. I love this kind of camping best. It is quiet. There are no neighbors who are playing loud music or arguing.
  • It is free.
  • The views are usually incredible.
  • The night skies are amazing.
  • It is free.

Mary and I hiked into areas that she had not seen in quite some time. One was Paul Bunyan’s Potty, an arch that looks more like a toilet seat.  We planned to hike further but those dark clouds on the horizon made us think of flash floods so we turned around, all too soon to save ourselves and Sparklett. It is never, ever good to be caught in a flash flood. Just saying.

We left Canyonlands behind and headed west. A little known fact about Janet Arnold. I love ferry boats. When Mary suggested we drive to Hite Marina on Lake Powell and take the Ferry across a section of the lake, I was all for it. Before we got to the ferry  we camped in Valley of the Gods (north of Monument Valley). Another BLM property. After doing the 17 mile dirt road drive through this area we climbed the Dugways, cool switchbacks with magnificent views and arrived at the ferry around noon.

Valley of the Gods

The Dugways

The Ferry

Lake Powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a beautiful sunny fall afternoon we crossed Lake Powell and began our drive on the Burr Trail. What an amazing ride. We found one of the best campsites of the trip, totally isolated, cedar trees in place and the best part was a wood slatted board. With the help of our mats and my heated outdoor shower we were able to clean up. There was no one to see us. Another BLM site.

rounding up the wagons

And, you know what I like about those sites? They are free.

The following day we traveled the rest of the Burr Trail-more switchbacks through amazing country to arrive in the town of Escalante. These little towns are truly in the middle of nowhere. This town was of interest because of my friend Therese, you can read about her in earlier posts. She is a member of the Universal Unitarian Church. Two of the members of her congregation live part time in a beautiful home in this town of approximately 800. There was an art festival in town. As I wandered through the community I walked into a pop-up art gallery and the next thing I knew I was driven to meet Bob who lives in San Diego part time and makes incredible loaves of bread when he is in Escalante. It was fun. The bread was out of this world delicious.

Riding the Burr Trail

 

After spending some of our hard saved money (BLM sites) we splurged on a hotel room for a night to get out of the cold and the rain. It is sometimes good to regroup. Someone said to me once that it is not giving up, you are just regrouping. On a cold and rainy night it was good to sleep in a warm and cozy bed at the Prospector’s Inn.

Mary and I continued on towards Kanab, stopping to hike Willis Canyon. Another little known fact about me-I love slot canyons. So does Mary. This is a wonderful little slot canyon in Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. I love slots because it never ceases to amaze me that water, wind, erosion and gravity created these special places over geological time. It also reminds me that my life is just a speck of time on this planet. It is humbling.

We meandered the slot for a greater part of the day before we headed into Kanab to driveway boondock in Mary’s  friends driveway.  And here is will I leave you on this post. There will be one more in this series. I want to dedicate the last part of this back country adventure to it’s own page. I believe you will see why when I post next.

Today I am so grateful of the experiences I have had over the past month. I love seeing places of such beauty and peace. Nature has always been a very healing place for me. It clears my mind of all the “stuff” and helps me to gain clarity. I am thankful today for all those open spaces that allow me and others to get clear once again. Knowing that these places exist help me to live in the more urban areas for periods of time before I venture out into the outback once again.

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Traveling the Back-Country

Today I realized it has been almost a month since I posted. Time flies when one is traveling and enjoying life, most of the time.

Where have I been? After the dentist gave me his OK, I left San Diego in early September. I was heading for a grand adventure in southern Utah.

hiking in Flagstaff

First, though, I stopped to visit a dear friend in Flagstaff, AZ. If you follow the archives of this site back to the beginning, you may find one with a photo of many intravenous fluids. The post is titled “Hating the Once a Nurse Always a Nurse Idea.” Yep, that was Sharon. She has since recovered and is leading a happy and full life with the support of family and friends around her. Elsie and I spent two nights with her. It is fun to catch up and explore each others worlds. I love my friends.

Next stop was Durango, Colorado. I dropped Miss Elsie off to visit with my friend Deana for a little over two weeks. The national parks are very limited as to where they allow animals. Elsie got to spend the time in Durango while I ventured off with friends in Canyonlands National Park.

One of the nice parts of living in my Roadtrek is meeting other people. Linda, Mary and I have become friends due to our love of travel and other mutual interests. We especially like to wander off into the back country. On a warm summer afternoon we met up in Moab, Utah.

See the white rock-it is why it is called the White Rim—–Musselman Arch

The plan was to drive the White Rim Trail. Mary and I had secured our free campsite reservations back in the spring. Linda rented a jeep and along with Mary’s fancy camper on her truck we went 4-wheel driving. This road is all dirt and definitely requires high clearance vehicles. Covering about twenty miles a day we explored the back country of Canyonlands for five nights. It was amazing, awesome, spectacular and any other adjectives you can think of that would describe this vast open space. It was filled with canyons and plateaus, hoodoos, rivers, slot canyons, water cisterns and so much more.

Descending to the White Rim on the Schafer Trail

What makes a successful trip?

  • The first thing I can think of is that we all were willing to pitch in and help each other out. I still believe in the rule “you are only as strong as the weakest member of your group”. By helping each other out we were equal and strong.
  • We planned our meals together and went shopping in Moab before the trip began.
  • When someone needed time alone, it was respected.
  • A good Gin & Tonic, glass of wine or a beer helps smooth things over at the end of the day.
  • Although we never said lets pack up and leave, all of a sudden it would just happen and everyone was ready to go at about the same time.
  • Ample time was given for photos and exploring. It helps to travel with other photographers.📸
  • Communication is key to a successful adventure of any sort.

Mary, Linda, Janet

Our trip was successful and fun. There were moments of stillness during each day to appreciate the sunrise or sunset. Although we saw little wildlife, Linda did see a bighorn sheep. I saw a bunny and a beaver.  I realized as we got to the end of the trip we had taken very few photos of each other. There was so much expansiveness that I believe we forgot to look closer, when taking photos. We did manage one selfie. (thank you Linda)

There was not one moment that was more important than any other. Every time we saw something amazing there was another amazing moment around the next bend. Linda really got into the 4-wheeling part of this adventure. It was fun to ride with her. Often the hills were done more than once.



When I think back on this week, I find I am grateful for the opportunity that presented itself. Thank you Mary. It was nice for a week, to not be connected to my phone or computer. I was still pretty hooked to my camera. I got to enjoy the good companionship of others and saw country that I may never see again. I discovered I still like camping in a tent. I appreciated Linda listening to me when I needed a shoulder.

Camping on the Green River

I hope that we will each have the opportunity to travel together again. Sadly at the end of the week Linda needed to return to Boise and her family. Mary and I adventured on for another week. Now I am in Colorado, reunited with Miss Elsie and spending time on my land.

Remember that clicking on any photo will enlarge it. It is worth the time to do that. This was amazing country.

Next post-Mary and my adventure continues.

 

Arriving & Departing

Two weeks ago I arrived in San Diego. It was hot, like really hot. Even though I don’t mind camping in all kinds of weather….the heat did me in. I lasted a day. I don’t care if I have air conditioning in my rig, I don’t care if my little home on wheels is super comfortable. When it is over 100 degrees at 7 pm, I give up.

I know I have told all of you this before but….here it is again. I have wonderful friends. They are caring and loving and giving. I feel fortunate. My dear friend Pat rescued me from the heat and took Elsie and myself into her home for most of the two weeks. I feel so fortunate and grateful to her. I got to sleep in a comfortable bed with air conditioning. Elsie had a large space to romp about in. Pat and I had ample time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I am grateful to Pat and to those treasured shared moments in time.

Entering into San Diego this time was hard. I had a busy agenda. Most of what I needed to do is complete. I am signed up for Medicare. The next step of my dental work is complete. The rig is ready to roll. Once all that was done I had time to visit with friends. It was a busy couple weeks.

Emotionally I have been all over the place. Coming to San Diego really triggers all kinds of emotions and feelings for me. I feel vulnerable. I feel strong. I feel sad. I feel joy. Sometimes I am close to tears, more often I am not. Man those emotions really bounce around. I wonder sometimes if I don’t feel a sense of displacement when I arrive here. It is not unusual to have friends welcome me home and yet I am not sure this is my home. I am beginning to feel a longing to figure out where home is to me.

I don’t think I stayed here long enough. It felt rushed. I think when I return in November or December I will stay at least a month. Maybe I can find a rental and Elsie and I can settle in and see how it really feels. I don’t think I will spend all winter in San Diego. I have a longing to winter up north, somewhere in the Monterey Peninsula. That is a changeable goal. Everything is changeable. Life is change. I am certainly learning that and yet I  need to be reminded.

The view from close to where i am camping.

Tonight I am camped on Mission Bay in San Diego and am enjoying the temperate ocean breeze. Tomorrow morning I am heading inland. Elsie is going to visit a friend of mine in Colorado for about two weeks. She has been to Deana’s before. Deana and her sweet pup are going to care take Elsie for two weeks while I head to southern Utah and adventure off with my good friends Mary and Linda.

We are going into the back country of Canyonlands National Park. I am excited and looking forward to this next adventure. It is fun to have met others who like to do the same things I do. Some of this adventuring is a bit daunting on my own. When I am with others, it becomes a grand and fun adventure and less of a challenge.

The full package of who I am follows along with me each day. I am grateful to have friends I can call and share deep felt emotions with. I am grateful for friends to have fun with, share a dinner, share a movie or just sit and talk. I keep seeing and feeling the phrase in my mind “all we can do is walk each other home”. I am glad to have those around me who are willing walk the journey with me.

Tonight I am feeling so grateful and every other emotion in between.

 

 

Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.

 

 

Bees & Distraction

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There are times in my life that I am given the gift of distraction. Sometimes distraction works well when the rest of life is a bit overwhelming. It also may bring with it small miracles, new friends and lessons, always lessons.

Chemotherapy is not fun. Mix it with radiation and it becomes even less fun. After Jim was diagnosed with salivary glad cancer, he had to endure a summer of this mix. It was a challenge and not much fun, at all.

IMG_1258Enter the major distraction of that summer. One afternoon at the end of June I was working in the yard when I happened to look down and there were bees swarming around my legs. They were not landing, I was just being paid a lot of close attention. I noticed they were going under our shed in the backyard. When I informed Jim that I thought there were honey bees under the shed, he brushed it off and said they were probably miner bees and would be gone in 6 weeks.

The next few days showed increased bee activity and still Jim’s response was unchanged. I finally took a few photos of the bees and started to do my own research. The following Saturday there was a free lecture on bees at one of the local library branches. I informed Jim that we were going to the talk. I knew if I went alone he might still doubt the outcome.

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Eric ready to work

Enter Eric, the man that both of us quickly labeled the bee whisperer. He confirmed my suspicions that we did indeed have a hive of honey bees under our shed. We wanted to remove the hive, alive. Eric came to the house and after observing the shed and the bees he gave us three options.

  1. Cut the floor out of the shed and he could remove them. Nope, Jim didn’t like this idea.
  2. Lift the shed up on that side and work with removing the hive that way. Nope, Jim didn’t like that idea either.
  3. Since we had already put a fine mesh screen around the bottom of the shed, Eric suggested putting in a one way bee door. This would allow the bees to come out but not to go back in. We would put a portable hive outside so that the bees might find a new home. Then we had to wait for the queen, herself, to emerge.
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Eric & Jim putting in the Bee Door

Jim chose option number 3. I, also, was good with this option. So began the six week saga of removing the bees. This was a practice in patience. The first bee door did not work, so we tried again. Eric would come by about every third night to see how things were progressing. We became friends with Eric. Jim and he had wonderful long conversations about many common interests. What I appreciated was that Eric never asked what was going on with Jim, they just got to know each other as people.

As more and more of the bees could not get back into the hive they started hanging in a huge clump on the side of the shed. On one of Eric’s stops at the house he brought a spray bottle with something that bees don’t like the smell of and sprayed it on the clump of bees on the shed. He did this in hopes that the bees would check out the portable hive and think it was a good alternative. With a huge swarm of bees circling above, Eric walked to the hive and got down on his knees and said “Oh look the girls are fanning their wings” He told us that the wing fanning meant they were sending out pheromones to let the swarm know they had found an alternative home. Within five minutes the bees were in the hive. It was amazing to watch.

Click on the photos above and it will become a slideshow.

A few nights later I noticed all these bees hanging on the side of the portable hive. Eric was called. When he arrived he took the lid off the portable hive and noted that the queen was inside. Success!!!! There were about 20,000 bees in that hive. Whoa! It took about 6 weeks for this to occur. After waiting a few more days, one night, after dark, Eric arrived, climbed into his bee keeping suit, smoked them so they would be drowsy, bungie corded the hive and took them to their new home in Rancho Santa Fe.

When Jim completed chemo and radiation and was feeling more normal, he spent an afternoon cleaning out the hive from under the shed. It was amazing the number of combs that he pulled out. It was a major hive, successfully removed. Once all of this was finished we re-meshed the whole underside of the shed and once again, were free of bees.

For most of the summer Jim and I stood on the deck every day and watched the bees. We had major discussions of what we would do if the alternative we chose did not work. Both of us looked forward to Eric’s visits. And, both of us learned  a lot about bees. We felt good, because we had saved a hive of honey bees. For those of you who are not aware, honey bees are endangered. It is important to save every single one.

The summer of the bees was a great distraction for Jim and myself. Rather than focusing inward, which is not uncommon, in times of crisis, we were given the opportunity to continue to be part of the larger world, thanks to Eric and the honey bees. We had a story to tell to our friends and family. There was something we needed to check on every day. Often you could find us sitting on the deck with our binoculars watching these little creatures do their thing. When Jim was feeling really awful, he would sit himself in one of the zero gravity chairs on the deck and watch. It got him outdoors and gave him a welcome distraction and something to tell his friends when he would meet them at the beach on Saturdays.  Those little honey bees helped us make it through that summer, providing a most welcome distraction.

Praise Bees-Praise Distractions.

 

 

 

An Idaho Summer

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My Idaho summer is coming to a close. Summer in a home surrounded by water and mountains, what more could I ask for? I knew very little about this state before I arrived. Although I have only explored a small section of a rather large state, I now know it is a place I will return to again.

I have relished my stationary time. I was able to nest and relax. I did not feel like I needed to be on the go every minute. There were many benefits to being here. An outstanding benefit-getting to know Linda better,strengthening our friendship and enjoying her company. It was delightful.

I became part of a community, if only for a short time. It doesn’t take long in a small town for the major players to take notice of a new person. The post office in Donnelly, by the time I left, knew me by name. They also told me they would see me next summer.😁 I have enjoyed becoming part of  a community even it was temporary.

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Elsie bathing in the late Afternoon Sun

Elsie also enjoyed the larger digs. I think she was glad to be left behind to nap at will. She enjoyed having space to run. It was hard for me to have to move her again. It was me being emotional, she really hasn’t seemed to mind.

We are in Boise this week. I am, once again, house sitting for Misty the Invisible Cat. When Linda asked me if I could help them out while they are off on vacation, how could I say no? They gave me their second home without hesitation. This is what friends do for friends.

I am, temporarily,  going to become an advertisement for Idaho as I create one of my list about why Idaho is truly the “Gem State”.

  • It is called the “Gem State”, because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho.
  • Idaho’s state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. In 1890, Emma Edwards Green submitted the design for the State Seal competition sponsored by the First Legislature for the State of Idaho.
  • The drivers give wide berth to bicyclists. As a cyclist,  I noticed this again and again. It is greatly appreciated.
  • The lakes are beautiful and become warm enough in the summer to swim in. I really appreciate this, as I grew up on a lake in northern NJ and love swimming in fresh water.
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Cascade Lake

  • Outdoor activity is everywhere. Hiking? Yep. Biking? Yep. There are a lot of off the road bike paths, that are well maintained. I didn’t have to worry as much about traffic. Kayaking or Paddle Boarding? Yep.
  • Summer is full of special events. I spent one three-day weekend at the Roseberry annual Music Festival. There were three nights of great music. It was very much a family affair. Young children ran among the adults. I brought my folding chair, set it in place and wandered. The entertainment included local and nationally known bands. fullsizeoutput_80a9It was a great way to spend the weekend. The person who was in charge of parking gave me my favorite spot every night. Small towns are fun that way.
  • Wildlife abounds. I enjoyed all of it. The Sandhill Cranes called to me several times, early in the morning hours. I loved the fox that lived over near Roseberry and am happy that I got to take photos of her.

 

  • There were reminders that I was in the west. A favorite of my time here, was the day my friends and I came upon a herd of sheep, being herded by sheepdogs and people to the high country for the summer.
  • I looked forward to the drive across Cascade Lake every time I needed to go somewhere.
  • There were so many nicely graded dirt roads to venture off on.
  • Wildflowers abound. When one season is done the next one is coming into full bloom. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Have I mentioned the people? Everyone was welcoming. I could always find someone to aid me when I needed it. I walked into a dentist office, in McCall, and asked if I could make an appointment for a dental cleaning. No problem. They didn’t need x-rays, they didn’t contact my dentist they just got me in.
  • Water abounds. Lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and all were running wild and well above normal this past spring.
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    Sawtooth Mts & Stanley Lake

    I love water.

  • Idaho is home to beautiful mountain ranges. I loved the short time I spent at the edges of the Sawtooth Wilderness. It was stunning.
  • Boise is known for it’s Greenbelt. It was off-limits to me this spring (too much water) yet now I am able to get out and bike distance with little interference. It rides along the Boise River where a late summer past time appears to be floating the river in rafts and inner tubes.

I will treasure my Idaho summer for a long time to come. It has given me time to be introspective, have fun out there in the wilds and be reminded of the importance of community.

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Next stop, Oregon and the Eclipse.

 

Life is an Adventure

Sometimes I try to get creative when I write a new post. After leaving it for a few days, I come back, review it and am amazed that it sounds awful and pretentious. I delete it and start over.

When I first started this blog, I sat in front of my computer and tried to think creatively and I was an utter failure. I could think of nothing to say. Then this little voice inside me said “write from your heart”. I have been doing this ever since.

I just deleted a post I started a few days ago. What makes me think I can write as an expert or an authority on anything? I am mucking through my existence like most others. Each day I can look at what I have accomplished or not accomplished and realize I am still trying to figure “it” out. Some days I feel like I am a bit closer to knowing and some days it feels like I am just starting out.

 

Life is an adventure. When I was single, back in my 20’s and 30’s, I explored and questioned and found amazing things. Many topics helped me stretch my boundaries and grow in ways I would have never imagined. I traveled to exotic and not so exotic places. I studied with teachers. Everything I did shaped me into who I am today.

So the real question becomes, who am I today? I know I am an accumulation of my life experiences, which seems like a pat answer, with no definition at all. Over the past few months I have had time to reflect on this question and, guess what?, I still have no answer.

I like to think of myself as an honest and kind person. Most of the time I am there, yet, not always. I keep learning from others. Linda who, along with her husband, loaned me their “cabin” in northern Idaho has been a good example for me. We have had some long and interesting talks. I realized that I would like to follow her example of taking a situation and looking at it from many perspectives. There is no black and white, not really, in this world we humans inhabit. I realize that I do not have the whole picture in any situation I walk into. It is good to step back and observe more, create less opinions or judgement too early. By doing this I have met and developed some very good and loving friendships. I have grown in my own person and feel I am the better for it.

It is hard to acknowledge that I am full of human frailty, like most others. What I choose to do with this knowledge leads me in repeated and new directions. It helps me to grow and change and I would like to think become more bendable, like trees blowing in the wind. It is OK to be frail because within that is strength, determination, growth and kindness. I don’t mind bending like the wind, as long as I come back up straight, sure and strong and enjoying life as it is, in this moment.