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.

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.

 

Bearing Witness

For twelve years I was an attendee of the local San Diego Society of Friends, more commonly referred to as the Quakers. Bearing Witness is an important part of their belief and practice.

“Bearing witness is largely nonverbal. It is being a compassionate observer to the unfolding of another person’s life or a particular moment or event.” The Power of Bearing Witness”-Judith Johnson

We, all of us, at some point or another in our lives come upon crisis, large or small, good or not so good, it really makes no difference. When crisis or trauma unfolds I believe that it is helpful to have those around us who can bear witness for each other. Sometimes we help each other sort through our feelings. More often we become someone who listens and observes while the other person speaks freely from their heart. Some times it is a quiet role of helping to hold the space so the other person can take care of the business at hand.

Guests at a wedding are bearing witness. Any time any of us gather in small or large groups we bear witness to that event in time. 

“When we bear witness, we lovingly give our attention to the other without judgment. We comfort without smothering. We play a supporting role — powerfully upholding the other starring in his or her life. It is not about us. It is about them. Yet, we make a profound decision when we do not try to fix their pain and suffering or share in their experience by telling how we had a similar experience. Bearing witness says, “You are not alone. I see you. I witness what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing matters to me. I surround you with my love.” The Power of Bearing Witness-Judith Johnson

Recently I was reminded again of the importance of bearing witness. A good and dear friend of mine received some painful news. Most of the day was spent on the phone and speaking with others. I began during this process to become aware of my role, bearing witness. Being in the immediate environment, as a witness to this time, I held the space so that she could make the phone calls she needed to. It felt important to let her know she was in a kind and loving space and she could take care of business. When and if she was ready, I was there for her to talk with. I was bearing witness.

One of my favorite quotes is “We are just walking each other home”. I believe we bear witness or honor the other person and know we are each on the same path, even though we may have different directions to get there. There is nothing more honorable and special in my heart than to help each other through all the different times in our lives.

 

Many have born witness for me over the past four and half years since my husband, Jim’s death. My community of friends has grown stronger. I am only now, beginning to recognize the importance that their role was for me in those first few years after he died. Most of these friends began to bear witness for me and Jim together when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I appreciate now, how much each person has offered to me. Some gave me space to talk and cry. Others kept me distracted, playing games, going to the movies, seeing an art exhibit. All of this support offered me space to grieve and begin to heal. We do this for each other. Sometimes it is all any of us can do.

There are many sides to bearing witness. I have become more conscious of this roll as I have matured. Although Jim’s death was hard, I still see that time as something I am so grateful for. We were all right there in the moment. It was special, unique, sad, loving and every other emotion the world. All of us that were with him until the moment of his death were bearing witness to a very special moment in time.  I may not always be happy with the outcome yet I am so thankful for the moment.

Lately I have been having these flashes of the events of the day he died.  They arrive, quite unexpectedly and then within seconds they are gone. I am left sitting at a stoplight in wonder. I feel that I am finally able to sift through that day, those events, without pain. The fact that these moments come quickly and leave quickly is important. I feel that these moments have been creating space for me to consider such topics as “Bearing Witness”.

Today I am thankful for those who have actively and not so actively held the space for me. I am thankful for the times I have held the space for others. I am thankful for Bearing Witness.

Mountain Dulcimer

Mountain Dulcimer

Do you know what a mountain dulcimer is? I didn’t know what one was, until the day I walked into a gift shop and the owner was playing one. I fell in love with it. He told me that if I bought it and could not learn to play one tune, I could bring it back and my money would be returned. I took it home, learned to play Twinkle Little Star, and I kept this beautiful instrument.

Little did I know that chance encounter would change the direction of my world. I was in my 20’s, just graduated from nursing school and was looking for adventure. Every two to three years I would move to a new area of the country, get a job and explore the place I temporarily called home. I took that dulcimer with me every time I moved.

I lived in Durango Colorado for almost two years. Fort Lewis College, the four year school in town, offered a semester in, yep you guessed it, the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer. I took the semester and learned to play reasonably well. Our teacher had the class perform at different events. It was fun. I made new friends and was introduced to folk music and dancing of all kinds.

During this semester we had a guest teacher come for a few days and help us improve on our skills. I was rather shy about playing in front of someone who could play so well. I would sit off to the side and play very quietly. Every time Neal, the teacher would come close I would stop playing. I don’t remember exactly what happened but he gave me a 6 string dulcimer to “try out”. What I remembered later is that the six string instrument was louder and he no longer needed to come too close when I played.

Enter the second dulcimer in my life. I now have a three string traditional dulcimer, made by Clifford Glen in Boone, North Carolina and I have a six string made by Blue Lion from California.
Even more important than the instruments, Neal Hellman, the dulcimer teacher became my friend.

Neal and I have been friends since the early 1980’s. We never lived close but we traveled in the same circles. He taught at music festivals and I attended them. The two of us would catch up over dinner or if time was fleeting I always took time to sit behind his sale table, and find out what was the latest happenings with my friend. I always enjoyed our encounters. E-mail also helped us stay in touch.

Neal and I are not too much alike. I think that may be what makes me like him. He is the only person I know who is able to make a full time business out of music. He plays, he records, he produces for other musicians and he sells a wonderful selection of music. He is the owner of Gourd Music. (click on the link to see his web site). He is funny and smart and fun to be around. He is a kind soul.

When he is on stage or teaching he is gregarious and entertaining. He makes everyone feel like they are the best musician in the room.

Over the years we stopped communicating. There is no reason for this, it is what sometimes happens with friends. Our lives move in different directions. Yet even though that happens, when friends get together again it is like we just saw each other yesterday.

Neal & janet

Neal & janet

Neal lives in Santa Cruz. Three days ago I reconnected with Neal. We visited, rode our bikes to Wilder Beach State Park, had dinner and watched the DNC that evening. I camped in his driveway. It was a great moment on this trip. I love seeing my friends. I especially loved seeing Neal after all these years. I have no idea why friendships happen and it really is not important to know, but I am certainly glad that he and I became friends. I am glad we remain friends still.

Friends support each other. I think they can bring out the best in each other. We can laugh together, share sorrow together and grow together and just have fun together. A lot has happened in both of our lives and I am glad we have had time to catch up. I am glad he is my friend.

Neal sitting on his deck in the Redwoods.

Neal sitting on his deck in the Redwoods.

And…You should see his yard. He has three redwoods in the yard. I am kind of enthralled by these trees.

Since this post I have been meandering up Route 1. When everything east of here is pretty darn hot I don’t mind being along the coast, in the redwoods and it maybe is 70 degrees. I am now camping near Crescent City, CA. It is near the Oregon border. Tonight I am meeting up with another good friend. No more solo camping for me, for a while. A new adventure is about to unfold.

Today I am thankful for friends, new and familiar. I am so glad Neal and I connected once again.

House Sold-Feeling Thankful and Exhausted

imagesFriday, my house closed. I no longer own a “sticks & bricks” home. Now it is Elsie, me and the Roadtrek. It has been a very hectic and emotionally fraught month. And…it is done. The new owners were already there when I dropped my friend, Phyllis at her car.

The closing on Friday went smoothly, but Thursday night, whoa. As I stood, to get ready for bed, I just sat back down and sobbed. It is not something I do often and it is a bit over whelming when it happens. I felt like I was releasing the whole spring, from the moment I injured my ankle and forward. Although I have not been too focused on the fact that this was Jim’s and my home for 21 years, this certainly is signifying a closing of this chapter in my life.

I have been on a very busy and hectic path, first getting the house ready for sale and then working like crazy this past month after it sold, culminating in today, and the closing of the house. And it is done.

Where am I heading? I am not sure. I will be in San Diego until the third week of the month. I am giving myself time to recover and I am waiting to sell my car. I will be heading towards the northwest and from there, well, it will unfold a bit at a time. In other words, I am not sure. I am taking my time to nest into my new tiny home. Elsie the cat is doing the same.Friends-Text-Design-Facebook-Cover-Photo

I have amazing and wonderful friends. I know I may have expressed this in past posts but at this moment in time, I want to share with you some of my friendships.

Janet & Phyllis on moving day

Janet & Phyllis on moving day

Phyllis, has been amazing. This woman has been helping me with the house and the sale since last February. If she wasn’t there on her own, all I had to do was ask, and she was on her way. When I felt a bit directionless, she came over and helped me organize and move ahead. The day I broke my ankle she met me in the driveway and drove me to the hospital, staying with me until they sent me home. With the help of Dee, another good friend we dismantled the house, so work could be done on it, and then the three of us put it back together again.

The best part of my friendship with Phyllis is that we can get really angry at each other and then become friends again. This type of interaction is often seen in families. I have two sisters and I remember moments with them, similar to the one described above. Phyllis is one more sister, not by blood but by kind. I am glad to have such a selfless person as a friend.

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The beautiful pine

I am currently residing at Yvonne’s house. We work together, as tour guides in San Diego, and she is a friend. While she is off traveling she offered me a corner of her driveway, full hook-up included, for me to camp in my RV. The best part is the use of her home and the most amazing back yard. It has a huge pine tree which is where I am sitting as I write this. Even better is that Elsie is here with me, enjoying her much needed outdoor time. Even though it is warm, the wind is blowing gently and I am loving every minute of it. Somewhere in the distance mariachi music is playing. This is the perfect place for me to have some recovery time.

When I first broke my ankle, Yvonne came to the house, with food and good company. She used to work for Jim at Grossmont College. Now she and I are friends. I appreciate her generosity and support.

UnknownBarbara, well what can I say?  She was my realtor and is still my friend. I appreciate her high tolerance level for anxious moments in her clients lives. She was there every single step of the way, starting in February when the work on the house started. Barbara has continued to be there for me in person, by text, phone and e-mail. She made me feel respected and honored. I appreciate that she gave me the illusion of control. Without her, I would have been lost. I feel like our friendship has deepened through the whole experience of selling my house. We made quite a team. Thank you Barbara.

Me & My Kayak

Me & My Kayak

Nancy is storing my kayaks, and motor scooter. We have been friends for as long as I have lived here. When I asked for her help with these items she never flinched, just said yes and there they went. Sometime before I leave, we will create a pulley system in her garage and hang the kayaks. It will be fun, as many adventures with her are. Even though her life is busy we always seem to find time to spend together and I know I have her full support for the adventure ahead of me.

I could continue, yet hopefully you get the idea. It is important to have good and valued friends. I feel fortunate that there are several in my life, close by and at a distance. As I prepare to travel I will be visiting and spending time with some of my more far-away-friends. Having friends scattered to the 4 winds makes my adventure a bit less daunting. Friends make life more manageable when things are tough and more fun when life is running smoothly. Every day I am thankful for my friends. I am especially thankful for those who have so strongly supported me over the past month and the past three and half years since Jim’s death.

 

 

IMG_3060Sold, Sold, Sold! Oh my God, my house is sold!!!! It went on the market late last Monday afternoon. Late Tuesday my house was sold for the asking price. I am stunned and every other emotion as well.

I had no idea this would happen so fast. I am walking around in a bit of a daze. There are moments I find I am happy and excited. Then there are moments where I am scared and wondering “what have I done?”. And then there is the daze. So many emotions and they show up at the oddest of times. I am not sure which one will be there until it presents itself.

I feel a bit overwhelmed with all the prep work that needs to be done. The paper work is huge. Today I received all the paperwork from the escrow company. There are times I wonder, where is Jim? It would be so much easier with him. I will forge ahead alone, though. It is hard to be single and do something so big. I feel so tiny.

I find I am doing the same thing I did, right after Jim died. I make a list of all that has to be done and then I pick two or three items to do a day and then I stop. I try to remember to leave the house and go do something fun. I find fun can be huge or as simple as an afternoon at Santee Lakes, taking photos and laying on the grass. It is good to remember to breath and relax.

An Afternoon at the Lakes

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Just after the first of the year I began to work on the inside and outside of my house. It is not that I haven’t been busy, yet in the next month, I feel overwhelmed with the thought, of the amount of work that needs to be done. What do I keep? What do I sell? What do I give away? When is the garage sale?

Where do I go from here? In the middle of this past week, the check engine light in my RV went on. Now I am also in the middle of getting new nox sensors and dealing with Mercedes Benz and Holland Motor Homes. Sometime I get tired of being strong and holding on. But strong and holding on, I do.

On My First Hike

On My First Hike

This past weekend I had a last minute opportunity to go camping up in the mountains east of San Diego with a good friend, Pat. It was a good weekend. I did my first hike since my broken ankle, 1 mile. I am still practicing. Pat and I share an unfortunate common experience, the loss of our husbands, way too soon. I am glad she was there because on Saturday afternoon I hit an emotional wall. It has been a long time since I have cried and it felt so good to have a moment of release. I am glad I have friends who create a safe environment for me to feel vulnerable and loved.

When I look at my house, I realize with this sale and moving into my RV, I am closing a chapter of my life. This is one chapter I had always hoped I would not have to close. It has made my vulnerability and emotions ride close to the surface. I will miss the house for a while until new adventures unfold. I know I will always carry Jim close to my heart. Just because the house is gone does not mean he will be forgotten. There is no way I could ever forget the valuable time we shared together. The house is only a symbol and when I can sweep all the emotions aside, I feel good about the sale. I feel good I am moving forward, even if I am not sure where I am going.

Now I am heading for the attic. Marking one more off my list. Yep I am adventuring into the unknown. And what an adventure it is going to be. I hope you continue to come along for the ride.

 

 

 

Acts of Loving Kindness

imagesThis past week I finally met my new neighbor. Gavin Jay was born about two weeks ago. I had to wait until I was over a cold and my broken ankle casted before I could venture next door to meet this little one. He is such a new baby, all soft and warm and, well, new.

JJ and Athena are developing into such loving parents. While I was visiting, Athena prepared to breast feed. JJ came up behind her and pulled her long hair back to help in the preparation. This was a small moment in time. This one small and rather unremarkable act drew my attention. It was such  loving thing for him to do. In that one small act I witnessed the love they have for each other. It made me think of all those moments that we easily let slide by without acknowledgement.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a couple doing these touching acts. I believe these acts are given to us every day, sometimes by total strangers. Because they are brief moments in time, frequently they go by unnoticed. I wonder what our individual worlds would be like if we acknowledged each of these acts.

Jim and I had a very strong and loving relationship. As I look back I believe both of us took the time to acknowledge these small daily acts. I feel that this was a part of what made our relationship so strong.

Since I broke my ankle I have begun to take the time to acknowledge the large and small acts that my friends and people I don’t know well are doing for me. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for these on-going moments. What have they been doing? Here is a sampling.

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  • Janet has been kindly driving me to my orthopedic appointments. We use the driving time to catch up. I hope she finds it as enjoyable as I do. She also borrowed a wheelchair from her church so it was easier for me to get around my home.
  • Nancy came over right after this happened and fixed the netting on the fence in my back yard so Miss Elsie the cat could go outside without leaving the yard. I don’t know if Elsie is thankful for this, I know I am.
  • Yvonne showed up the Monday after my event in the desert with a sampling of foods from Trader Joes and good conversation. She also took over a three day tour I was suppose to do the week after I broke my ankle. I am so thankful for her willingness to take this on at the last minute.
  • Phyllis has been coming over about twice a week. She has been helping me pack boxes and moving them to the shed, so that I can clear the house before the painters come in early April. She also has been schlepping me to doctors appointments. It is another good time for us to catch up. She continues to be a good friend.
  • A New Way to Get Around

    A New Way to Get Around

    Gary, who I had not met until last Monday, offered up his knee scooter so I could get around even easier. I love this scooter. I need to make sure that I am careful on it. It is kind of fun to go fast. Gary and Penny drove down from Orange County. We went out to lunch and the time flew by. I felt like I had known these two for much longer.

  • My neighbors are taking in and out the trash cans. I go to visit Kelly and Jeff and their two toddlers. I am always welcomed with open arms.
  • JJ, my other neighbor (with the baby) has offered to help finish up a couple of projects in my yard, started pre-broken ankle.
  • Tomorrow several people I know from work, yoga (the teacher), and long time friends are coming to help me move things out of the house for the paint job. I have learned that if I ask for what I need, people are more than willing to give of their time to help out. I feel very fortunate.

The above list is just a small demonstration of what others have been doing for me. I am so grateful for each and every act of kindness and caring. It makes my heart feel full and brings emotion forward. I am grateful.

I want to remember to do this for others. If I find it so touching, then others may also. Sometimes I believe that small daily acts of kindness and love are all any of us can do. We are all in this world together and sometimes all we can do is give of ourselves to each other. And I end here with a quote from Ram Dass.

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

Baba Ram Dass

Baba Ram Dass