BOOK EIGHT: GOLDEN MOMENTS ON THE ROAD

BOOK 8

GOLDEN MOMENTS ON THE ROAD

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1   Living it Up

A trip to the moon; Hoover Dam, Sixth Sense, Luxor free parking, Bellagio Buffet, A Package Deal    

Chapter 2   Back in Time

Flashback: How we got to here; Inner Child, Family History: Joyanna, Van

Chapter 3   Back to the Future

Fun at Riverside: Western Gathering, Belonging

Chapter 4   Tis the Season

Nutcracker Suite, the real thing, A Christmas show, Fun in Laughlin

Chapter 5   Winning is More Fun

Four days with Betty, two days sick in bed, winning and losing

Chapter 6   Home for Christmas

All I Want for Christmas is Two New Tires, Holidays with Gramalene and Gary 

Chapter 7   Completions and New Beginnings   

The Big Hoopala, A Paradigm Shift for the 21st Century, Visiting Lynne, Joyce, and moving forward

Chapter 8   Here we go Again

Fun at Doheny Park, Lunch with Brother Tom, the Furnace strikes again, Birthday Bug, Changing Money Patterns, Independence

Chapter 9   Eastward Movement   

Very slowly: Pachenga Casino, Tucson visit with Adam Martin, Cousin John, Ak Chin Harrah’s, A new frig, Sojourn in Benson, Az.  Onward!

Chapter 10 All Systems Go! 

The Wilderness, Pneumonia Syndrome Uncovered, El Paso, Big Bend: Rio Grande at Sunset, Ms. Stud 

Chapter 11 Stepping Out on Faith 

The River Jordan, Kickapoo Indian Casino, Wal-Mart Parking Lots, Superbowl Weekend with Linda and Ken, Trail Riders, “No,” to David, and “Okay:” Visits with Buddie and Michael.

Chapter 12 Gift of Golden Moments

Revisiting Rip Van Winkle’s Garden (in Louisiana) for another memorable meal, setting and contact; Antebellum mansions and golden sunsets; Bayous and Buffets; The Gulf of Mexico: casinos and Cousin Carlie (in Mississippi). 

Chapter 13  Is This the River Jordan?

Florida: The Promised Land; Market America Leadership Training, Tampa

Chapter 14  Epcot Center and Kennedy Space Center

A Day at Disney World’s Epcot Center, Another Day at Kennedy Space Center (NASA)

Chapter 15  Returning is not Going Back

Daytona Beach During Bike Week and rain, Flagler Beach, St. Augustine Tour (oldest city), Stephen Foster State Park, Okeefenokee Swamp, Airplane in Road, No Electrical System, Battle of Jericho

Chapter 16 Assignment of the Land

Out of the dumps, Creeping along the way from La., Through Texas, Now Joyanna is flat in bed, And to The Promised Land, Albuquerque.     

Chapter 17  Life Goes On

Return to Colorado, Clean bill of health, Arianna’s baby shower, family Exodus to Rapid City, SD, birth of Micayla, Easter Resurrection Celebration, Final Victory.

 

CHAPTER 1

LIVING IT UP

 

A Trip to the Moon

Don’t take Highway 93 from Kingman to Henderson/Las Vegas, unless you have lots of time. Fortunately, we did; and we also had enough gas to see us through the delay caused by tourist traffic viewing the Hoover Dam. Of course, we usually manage to hit a congested area at commute traffic, or otherwise inopportune times, and this was no exception.

The sign, “Traffic Delay Friday– Sunday,” posted early along the highway, should have been ample warning, but we forged ahead, along with all the other holiday weekend traffic returning from their Thanksgiving vacation. However, we were simply moving from point A: Albuquerque, NM, to Point B: Henderson, NV., where we planned to have the generator oil changed, on our way to Point C: Laughlin, NV., for our annual pre-Christmas meeting with Van’s mom, at Harrah’s.

The next sign appeared in a desolate area that could well have been on the moon, with the huge boulders scattered along the hillsides and canyons. Again, the warning cautioned about traffic delays, and from some spots along the highway, we could see from our 35 ft. Holiday Rambler RV, the metal  snake winding over the terrain. The delay had begun, and we, too, creeped along the hills and canyons of this moonlike desolation. 

Observing the oncoming traffic appearing in clusters, or singles, we could not even imagine anything that could be causing this mammoth traffic congestion, unless it could be Hoover Dam. But, even that wouldn’t seem to create this much chaos. Wrong! 

As we snaked up one hillside and down into more canyons, and back up again, we could see the traffic winding around the curves. And finally, we came up over a crest, and we could see the cause of our condition: far below, and up the other side, were miles and miles of vehicles trapped in the tourist invasion of Hoover Dam, which sprawled behind its concrete barriar, creating a tremendous lake (partly visible from our high vantage point. Inch by inch, we wound down the mountain, taking in the magnificence of the scene: nature still looking like the moon in its bleakness, but definitely reflecting the engineering fete of mankind, as we watched the traffic making its way across the top of the dam and up the other side of the mountain.

The water seeped over the spillway and through a rock tunnel to the lower parts of Lake Mead, not visible from the highway, but to the tourists peering over the edge of the walkway, or waiting to take the elevator to the lower levels.

The congestion on the highway was nothing compared to the parking lots: tour busses, U-Hauls, RV’s, and thousands of cars and people. In the meantime, the semi-truck drivers impatiently waited in line, as did the other travelers, who only wanted to get through the mess to their destinations.

Doing Their Weekend Routines

We breathed a sigh of relief, as we took our turn crossing the dam, and then began the long ascent, equally as far as we came down the other side. And eventually, we reached the top, but then we had to drive slowly through the sprawling Boulder City, with all of its inhabitants attempting to go about their daily weekend routines. 

The expanding city would have been a nice place to live, were it not for the tourist congestion, yet the moonlike bleakness still prevailed, and everything looked gray; not green and lush, as would be expected with ample water available nearby.

By this time we were already across the border into Nevada, and soon the first casino appeared. And then we intersected with Highway 95, from Laughlin and Needles, and continued on into Henderson, adjoining Las Vegas, where we like to do our routine errands, such as shopping at Costco or Trader Joes. 

This time, however, we had made an appointment at Camping World, for Monday morning, where we would have the generator oil changed. 

But, in the meantime, we parked at the lavish Sunset Station Casino, where we would stay overnight, and we, too, went about our weekend routine: attending a movie, Sixth Sense, in one of their six theaters. 

Sixth Sense

I don’t have any trouble accepting the concept of a Sixth Sense, because I know it’s available to us all. In fact, I know people who assist the dead in finding their way through the tunnel to the Light. And I know others who have ESP and other psychic abilities. In fact, I’ve learned to fine-tune my intuitive awareness, so that I am able to receive direct Guidance from the Still Small Voice of God.

It guides us in our travels all the time, except, maybe, in being able to avoid Hoover Dam during a peak tourist season. Yet, I had wanted to see Hoover Dam, and that desire has certainly been fulfilled, without my even planning the sightseeing tour. God truly is wonderful, because our answered prayers are always perfect, when we are tuned in, and get ourselves out of the way.

Somehow, this unworldly trek into and out of Hoover Dam seemed appropriate for the opening of my new book, as we face the dawning of the new millennium; because, it too is an unknown venture, and yet, we must trust God to guide and protect us through its winding ups and downs, like the Hoover Dam surprises.

And I also trust God to guide me through each new book I’m writing, although, at the time, I have no idea where it is going. Its journey is as much unknown to me, as it is to the reader, who picks it up to share our adventure. And I like it that way, now that I’ve learned to trust God’s guidance.

For instance, this morning, in Las Vegas, Van and I talked about our plans. We were indecisive as whether to stay a few more days, or move on, so I studied the Trailer Life for options, and called several RV parks. 

The weather had been fine, up till now, but rain and wind was predicted, so we wanted to be settled someplace comfortable. Also, we wanted email accessibility, along with other amenities, and we wanted low rates. 

Once the answers were given, we talked about our priorities: we had already spent the previous day walking and shuttling to our favorite casinos, and even investigated the new Venetian Hotel Casino, with its singing gondoliers guiding the gondolas through the indoor canals.

A Package Deal

But, we aren’t into gambling or drinking, and we’d indulged in our favorite buffet, at the Bellagio, where we enjoyed five-star dining for $12.95. Now, we realized that we really didn’t want to stay in Las Vegas any longer, so I called the Riverside RV Resort, in Laughlin, and made reservations, based on a letter we had received, a month earlier, with a pre-Christmas Special package for only $49.95. We would have two nights in the RV Park, a prime rib dinner for two, bowling for two, and a breakfast buffet for two. This would really be indulging our inner kids, and it sounded like the perfect solution.

I also learned that we could check and send our e-mail for a one-time $2.00 fee, and we would have cable TV, plus a free shuttle to the casino, and we could also have our mail forwarded to the Riverside, which is the Post Office for Laughlin.

 

Chapter 2

BACK IN TIME

 

When I Was a Child

On very special occasions, when I’m feeling overcome with emotion, because I’m doing something that means a great deal to me, I feel weepy. This is when I know that my inner child, whose name is Joanie, is happy. More than happy, she’s expressing a deep inner feeling of joy that emerges from gratitude, after having endured emotional abuse or neglect for a long period of time.

For instance, as a child, when my mother’s schizophrenia began to surface, shortly after my baby brother’s birth, I was confused and scared; the person who I had turned to for nurturing and care was no longer able to fulfill those needs. In fact, at two-and-a-half, I was told (by my young, irresponsible dad, who had gone away to CCC (a work camp established by President Roosevelt to relieve the misfortunes of The Great Depression), “Take care of your mommy, Joanie.” And I didn’t know how, but I tried; and then I was blamed (by my immature dad, who was trying to cope with the situation), “You’re driving your mother crazy.” Of course, I must have failed my assignment, because I was told, “It’s all your fault,” by my frustrated, helpless dad. And then one day, it was all over.

And I’ve unconsciously carried the burden of blame; even with years of therapy and Twelve Step recovery programs, such as Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACOA) and Codependents Anonymous (CoDa), I realize that the reason I fear taking on roles of responsibility is the unconscious fear of failure, because my inner child is apprehensive that something I say or do will drive my mother (or someone) crazy, or otherwise cause an unwanted condition that is all my fault. Therefore, my subconscious self, or my ego, will protect me from taking the action that would put me in a position of the subsequent disastrous results. As a child, when my mother was placed in a mental institution, I went to live with my paternal grandparents, whom I now call Mom and Dad Freeland.

Though I felt guilty for causing my mother’s mysterious behavior, I was grateful to be away from the insanity, and no doubt I felt guilty about that too. But now I had safety and serenity; good food and care, a room of my own, and I no longer had to listen to that crying baby brother. To a child, my basic needs were met; well, almost. The nurturing and affection of natural parents was replaced by the discipline and training of my Victorian, older generation adopted parents; and I was conditioned to accept that love is discipline; being well behaved and doing what is appropriate.

The Motley Crew

Somehow, I survived, though on a gradually declining scale, through my first marriage and raising my three children (well, Randy was only seven), when I got a divorce. Then I married again, for three years, and divorced again; this time I was single in my thirties, during the wild seventies, and I truly enjoyed the freedom, despite my faltering emotional health. But, this was the self-improvement era, and I took full advantage, starting with est and Silva Mind Control. Someone once said, “Yah, they feel better, but no one else can stand them.” 

That may be true, but at least I was more able to live with myself. And those were the years of my greatest accomplishments. I served as Assistant to the Minister of the Palo Alto Unity Church, and I hung out with a group of young singles, though I was the oldest, and we had a blast. We called ourselves The Motley Crew, because of our age and varied backgrounds and interests. Palo Alto, California, in the seventies, at a metaphysical church, with a young minister and congregation, is the way to go. 

We worked hard at our inner healing and spiritual growth, and we also laughed and played a lot. I don’t know about the others in our group, but because of my age, I was not into the drug scene; I never even tried pot, nor did I smoke or drink. We always said “We are stoned in the natch.” We didn’t need artificial stimulants to get high. We were high on God and metaphysics. 

Our young minister introduced a course in Huna, the white magic of the Hawaiian Kahunas, and we learned about our three selves: conscious, subconscious and Superconscious, and we even named those levels of our mind. I came to know and understand Joann, Joy, and Joanna. But, if understanding our current life wasn’t enough, we delved into reincarnation and past life regression. I learned about my lifetime as Joanna, who was married to Chuza, steward to King Herod, and these insights added a greater dimension to my understanding of self and others.

Those were great years, filled with new knowledge and understanding on a daily basis. But, as usual, life changes, and our minister announced his intention to move on. This brought forth my Abandonment Syndrome, so I left before he did, to avoid the emotional pain of loss. I had already survived the annulment of a brief marriage (before moving to Palo Alto), and the breakup of a special relationship that left me devastated, and my emotional stability was, again, faltering. There was, yet, more to be discovered and healed; but that came later.

In the meantime, I began facilitating prosperity workshops, and opened my Rainbow Center for Prosperous Living (rainbows were popular in those days), but the sabotage aspect of my life, mentioned earlier, kept me from completing or fulfilling the many projects I would undertake; and this became a pattern of life, until this very day, despite all of my efforts.

I’d already created, operated and sold The Life Center, a health food store in Capistrano Beach, California. Fortunately, I made some money on the sale, but those were disastrous times, after my second divorce, and I was on a downhill spiral that finally took me to Palo Alto and est, and that happy, fun time in my life. 

However, unaware of my pattern, I opened another business, this time a book store with several of my friends from The Motley Crew. We handled everything from exotic llama skins to health foods to metaphysical books; but we weren’t business oriented, and eventually the two girls moved on. And the day came when my Accountant said, “Close your doors yesterday, before you are any further in debt.” 

So, I closed the doors, returned the books and other products to the Distributors, and the llama skins to the person who left them on consignment, and somehow paid my debts. 

The End of an Era

And that was the end of that era in my life, because I met Van and we began our life together. He, too, was completing an era in his life, and together we completed his cycle of closing doors.

Van had successfully manufactured a peanut butter-honey confection called, Buzzy, that was neither sticky nor oily. It was delicious, and sought out by campers, hikers and connoisseurs of a natural, healthy snack. He even had ice cream stores requesting the product, but alas, Van, who is non-social, has an aversion to selling, and he, too, has a pattern of incompletions, so once the challenges of manufacturing the product were overcome, he lost interest. Despite the fact that he had a Distributor, he sabotaged the business, and finally had to shut the doors. Actually, the landlord shut them, because Buzzy, as he called himself then, owed past rent; and he also owed $30,000 debt, which was ultimately absolved through bankruptcy.

The patterns are obvious, and it’s easy to see that our relationship was off to a good start. We started by taking a trip to Los Angeles to return my books to the Distributor, and sleeping in my car. Then we returned to his business, which hadn’t yet been closed, and slept on the floor, until the doors were locked. Somehow, we managed to get his equipment, furniture and belongings out, and stored in a friends garage; and we stayed with him and his teenage daughter (sleeping on a twin bed) for a truly indolent, carefree period of time, exemplified by the green algae in the swimming pool, and mold on the unwashed dishes. Remember, this was the seventies.

 

But, such a lifestyle was not for me, and I finally convinced Van to apply for a job, as a computer programmer, at the Wrigley’s plant in Santa Cruz. So convinced was I that he would get the job that I used the last of my savings to rent a lovely studio apartment, with deep blue tile counters, on Lawn Way in Capitola-by-the-Sea. We loved it. Walks along the beach and Friday drives into Santa Cruz for cheap Mexican Fast Food, and then back to the Capitola Theater for whatever movie was showing in the Quonset hut run by two quaint ladies; it was a good life. We even decorated the lampshade with seashells for Christmas. 

Of course, he didn’t get the job, and we were subsisting on Unemployment, but down to the last minute, before our rent was due. And then, one day the phone rang, and it was his former Distributor (for whom I had worked in the distant past), who wanted me to manage the new health food store in Sears (only a few blocks from where we had lived with our friend; the one with the green swimming pool).

Now, Van drove me to work every day, and he even helped with ordering and stocking; so our boss had two employees for the price of one, but we were getting paid, and we could stay in our beach hideaway. But the hectic drive, twice a day, over the mountain, was taking its toll, and my ears were being affected by the constant pressure change. So, we rented a studio apartment in Santa Clara, near the second Sears health food store, where I had been transferred; closer to the beach, but I still couldn’t stand the drive. 

Now it’s Your Turn

When I got my job, I told Van, “I’ll support us for six-months, and then it’ll be up to you. With this in mind, we watched the newspapers, and finally Van got on as a computer programmer at Sperry-Univac, only a few blocks from our apartment. 

I still wanted to do my own thing with a center, so I quit my job and pursued that interest for awhile, but life’s changes continued. First, my seventeen-year-old son had quit school in Oregon and wanted to move to California. Since we still had our beach studio, I said, “Okay,” and took him to the precious hideaway. But several days later, he said he couldn’t stay there alone, and insisted on living with us. Thank God for the folding door between the bedroom and living room, where he slept on the sofa. However, this was not a satisfactory arrangement.

In the meantime, my adopted mother, now in her nineties, was no longer able to live alone in Oregon, so she moved into another studio apartment in the complex. Suddenly, two people who had no family encumbrances were saddled with a teenage son and a handicapped mother.

Within a short time Mom fell, broke her hip, went to a convalescent hospital and couldn’t stay in her apartment, so Marquam stayed there. There is a God! By the time Mom returned to her apartment, Marquam was living with a friend of ours, and he’d gotten his first job, at Burger King. 

But life’s changes continued. The same day that a Realtor friend told me about a house for rent in Saratoga, my older daughter, Dottie, called from Portland to say she was separating from her husband, and wanted to bring her two-year-old daughter, Arianna, and move to our area. So, we rented the house and moved. From then on, life was a constant barrage of one or more family members living with us. I always said, “We live in a rubber house; it stretches.” It had to, but we all survived, and Van supported us through it all, both financially and otherwise. 

During this time, I wrote Pot O’ Gold Prosperous Living Course, based on my Prosperity Course. This took time, and eventually became the basis of my series of twelve booklets based on Unity’s teachings of the Twelve Powers of Man, inner energy centers that can be activated and used for healing and prosperity. 

It’s an Ordination, not a Wedding

Toward the end of the crazy seventies, on March 11, 1977, as part of my ministerial ordination ceremony, along with three others of our Motley Crew, Van and I snuck in our wedding. This was so that our subconscious selves wouldn’t be intimidated by getting married, but would think it was simply an ordination. It worked quite well, because I almost forgot to include the important event in this segment. But, we had a great ordination at the home of our minister (not Unity, but the Universal Church of the Master, where we attended a one-year training program). My son, Marquam, was there, too, along with many friends from that era; some whom we still visit during our travels to northern California.

The Freedomers

I’ll never know how or why God guided me to an abrupt change of direction, but this is what happened. While reading, Seekers, a monthly newsletter by Diane Pike and Arlene Lorrance, I noticed a letter from an inmate, Al Vaillancourt, requesting pen pals. Never! No way! Not me! But, my Guidance said to respond. So I did. Eventually he answered, and that began my twenty-year ministry with Freedomers, my name for inmates seeking inner freedom. First Al, and then the next month five more, including Dal, who asked me to write to Buddie. And each month there were more letters in the newsletter. Eventually, Diane sent me all the requests, and I had a prison ministry. 

There were so many that I began my own monthly newsletter, and I began sharing chapters from my book with the Freedomers, and they responded with inspiring letters, poems and artwork, which I wanted to share, so I began publishing them in The Rainbow Connection each month, and I‘d send copies to my family and friends. Some even helped finance the copying, postage, and much more; and sometimes the Freedomers would send money, but mostly, it was Van who paid the expenses.

Rainbow by the Sea

In any event, in 1981 we had moved to southern California into our wonderful rented home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, from where I conducted my Rainbow by the Sea Ministry-by-Mail; mostly with Freedomers. And Van worked for Fujitsu Systems of America, while continuing to support my ministry and family. At the time we moved, Dottie, Arianna and Mom lived with us, so we needed the large, three-level home that also stretched through the years, as various family members came and went. But that’s another story. 

At the height of my career, I was sending over 300 monthly newsletters, and I’d even bought an expensive copier, which caused me endless grief. I was not a publisher, nor was I a printer, but God seemed to want me to do this assignment, so He sent me people to help, such as Frank, who did the layout, a task that I could not have accomplished, at the time. And then there was Karen, who did data entry, because, of course, I needed a computer. Thank goodness, Van taught me how to use the word processor program, and I cried all the way through the lessons. And when Karen got so good at the computer that she got a fulltime job, then Denise, my masseuse, helped, and so did Helena, who also wrote a column titled, “Our Angel Helena,” and she still is an angel, though now she lives in Colorado, and is a massage therapist, whom I visit when passing through her area.

Unfortunately, my ministry-by-mail empire came crumbling down when life’s burdens went a bridge too far. I stressed-out big time, and it was not a pleasant time of my life; but we survived.

The changes continued when Van got caught in a corporate downsize job layoff that left him traumatized and depressed, although no one knew what to do about it. I used my inner child recovery technics, and somehow we managed to live through that era, until we bought our motor home and began life on the road in Freedom, the name of our 35 ft. Holiday Rambler. 

 

Chapter 3

BACK TO THE FUTURE

 

Another Era

Back to the Future

But this isn’t a history of my prison ministry, although it was an intense and fascinating part of my life, and forms the base of much of my previous writing. Perhaps that’s why I’m being Guided to refresh my mind on this part of my life.

And this book isn’t about our downward trend, or even our upward recovery. I’ve already written about all these phases of our life.

The purpose of this past history is preparation for the future, as we enter into the new millennium. And more past history enters into these first chapters, as we settled into Space 258R at the Riverside RV Resort. So, now we felt like we were coming home; and in this lifestyle, that’s a good feeling.

Besides the Two Night Pre-Christmas Package, I had also arranged for three more nights with the Pay for Two Nights, Get One Free deal. Thus, we were committed to five nights; but I was contemplating the option of staying, until mid-December, when we would meet Van’s mom at Harrah’s for four nights.

While Van busied himself hooking up our water, electricity and cable TV, I grabbed my freebie copy of Entertainer, and began marking the places and events we would frequent, during our stay. Although our finances were limited, I figured we could always move to the free parking lots, in order to attend the seasonal holiday shows, such as The Nutcracker at Riverside, and Grand Night for Singing, featuring the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Arizona Jamboree Christmas Show, starring Patti Bell, at The Ramada Express.

But, in the meantime, my eyes fell on the Western Celebrity Holiday Party, which offered an opportunity to meet with western stars of yesteryear, such as Dale Robertson, Harry Carey, Jr., and George Montgomery, all whom I thought were dead. I certainly remembered Dale Robertson from his Tales of Wells Fargo, TV series, and I wanted to mingle with these old-timers, plus a few current entertainers.

I didn’t understand why this was such a major event for me, as Van prepared to take his shower, but I was determined to get there, although it was almost over. Nevertheless, I quickly changed clothes and stood out waiting for the shuttle bus. Seldom do I do anything on my own, these days, since Van and I have taken on this togetherness lifestyle, so this was a big adventure, as I rode all by myself to the casino and wandered into the autograph area in Don’s Celebrity Theatre. 

Unfortunately, most of the celebrities had left, and I felt uncomfortable in this unfamiliar setting, especially since I had to peer at their name tags in order to see who I was talking to; but I pushed through my embarrassment and talked with two younger fellows. One had appeared as the bad guy in Karate Kid, a movie I hadn’t seen. And another currently appeared as a bad guy in Jean Van Damme’s latest movie, Deadly Weapon, which I also hadn’t seen. They were bored and the show was almost over, so they were easy to chat with, as I talked about living in our RV, while learning more about them.

But, I had a mission, to see Dale Robertson, and I continued to walk around the darkened room and try to recognize these old-time western players. Since I hadn’t brought any money, and they were selling pictures, autographs or videos, I kept walking, until I came to a stately, dark-haired lady in a black and red outfit. Her name was Virginia O’ Brien, and I recognized her pictures, as she reminded me that she had been known for her Deadpan appearance, especially when singing without any expression. Her friendly reminiscences were like a step back in time, although she had been a musical star, with such entertainers as Judy Garland, rather than a western performer, and I had truly enjoyed the great entertainment of her era.

Later, while standing by the entrance, I asked a friendly lady sitting at a table, who seemed to know everyone, if Dale Robertson was there, and she said, “He’s been here all day, but he left about ten minutes ago” — just before I arrived. I felt disappointed, because I could have just as well been there sooner. 

For some reason, it felt as if I was coming out of a long sleep, like Rip Van Winkle, or maybe it was like the people returning from their Close Encounters, because I’d been in my own coma, of sorts, while traveling and writing. And now, I felt energized by these show people, and I could begin to feel the possibilities of again being in the limelight, if I were to resume doing workshops, seminars or lectures about Changing Money Patterns or about my experiences with a prison ministry; or for that matter, I could talk about our full-time RV lifestyle. But, first, I must get my books marketable. Of course, that’s the excuse I always use, although I have several books in each series ready to sell. 

So, what is the problem? Why don’t I do it? Is it really a matter of God’s timing, or is it my own fears that hold me back?

I became so depressed over the matter that I walked around the casino a few minutes, and then took the shuttle back to our RV. I’d been gone such a short time that Van hadn’t returned from his shower at the public facility, so I sat on the step, in the sunshine, and waited. We’d been seeking warmer, clear weather ever since leaving Colorado, just ahead of the snow storm, and the sun felt good.

I hadn’t even had time to think about the above questions, when Van appeared, so I talked about the experience, and suggested that we could wander amidst the western stars later, when they were gathered for the evening show. I took time to make our reservations for the prime rib dinner offered with our Package Deal, and studied some more local entertainment magazines, plotting our itinerary for the next few weeks.

After the delicious prime rib dinner, we wandered back to Don’s Celebrity Theatre and hung out, while western stars, with their wide-brimmed hats and colorful regalia of another era wandered amongst the current entertainers preparing for the event. I chatted with several other folks, including a member of the Western Re-enactment Group, who travel to various western events, such as this. All the time, I was looking for Dale Robertson, but he never appeared. I did see Virginia O’ Brien again, and she said, “Hi,” which was nice. I would have enjoyed talking with her more, and wondered why I didn’t. However, she introduced her pretty adult daughter, Gail, to some other folks. I’d learned from her earlier that they live in the San Gabriel Mountains, and she loves it there. 

Finally, the doors were closed, and the show was about to begin, and I got myself together enough to say to Van, “It’s only $10.00 each, let’s go inside. The ticket cashier said, “I’ll give you good seats. They were reserved for high rollers, but they didn’t show up.” I was feeling something magical and mystical about this entire event, as we were escorted to seats at a table in the second row, looking right into the faces of the MC’s, Sue Ane Langdon and Mikki, whose last name I missed. 

We sat through over two hours of entertainment, everything from magic to an outstanding duo, the Double Action Girls, real cowgirls who can even yodel, and their group doing favorites, such as Mariah and Ghost Riders in the Sky. The show closed with Stan Corliss, whose group sounded like the Sons of the Pioneers, although they hadn’t even had time to practice working together. The show-stopper was a medley of theme songs from the top TV westerns, such as Bonanza, Rawhide, Have Gun Will Travel, Cheyenne, Colt 45 and many others. 

It was an evening of nostalgia, and I felt a warm-fuzzy, as if we were privy to being with a special family; one I’d been part of, as a spectator, and that was okay, because we are a necessary symbiotic part of their performance. Again, the air was alive with the energies of performers, and I felt invigorated. But, I also felt sad that this era of western entertainment was over, and I certainly agreed with the eighty-one-year old producer of westerns, from Paramount Studios, a distinguished, gray-haired gentleman, affectionately called A.C., who had worked with every old-timer in the room, when he said, “Wouldn’t it be good to have westerns back on TV?”  And, of course, the audience applauded, which only confirms my suspicion that there are a lot of viewers who are tired of the current sit-coms that are aimed at Generation X and younger. Give us some real entertainment, and maybe the Next Generation will have some worthwhile memories and values.

But they are far too brainwashed by violence and noise to appreciate the value of their legacy from the past; not only westerns, but musicals with melody and comedies that are really funny; in other words from a kinder, gentler era; the foundation of the future.

 

Chapter 4

TIS THE SEASON

 

The Nutcracker

The unrelenting battle between good and evil is brought to life in the exquisite ballet of The Nutcracker, as the story unfolds to the timeless music of Tchaikovsky. And we were privileged to walk out our door, down the terraced hill, into Don’s Celebrity Theatre, and become transported into that magical land, as performed by the Anaheim Ballet.

While awaiting the presentation, I read my program and learned that its founding directors, Lawrence and Sarma Rosenberg, have studied under leading ballet teachers, and ultimately became trainers of such stars as Anne Bancroft, for her role in Turning Point, and Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse and Joanne Woodward, to name a few. In other words, we were about to see an outstanding professional ballet company, and my enthusiasm grew, as I read, actually for the first time, the story about Clara and her family, and her gift of the nutcracker, which is broken by her mischievous brother, Fritz. She is heartbroken, and vows to protect the doll, even though she has been told to leave it under the Christmas tree, when she goes to bed.

However, she returns to the room, rescues her bandaged nutrcracker, and falls asleep. Her love for the doll is tested, during a battle between the mice, which are transformed into giants, and the toy soldiers, now come to life as an attacking army. The nutcracker is magicallly transformed into a handsome prince, and they travel through the Kingdom of Snow. 

The Second Act takes place in Candyland, as Clara and her prince are welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy, and invited to partake of the unlimited sweets, which are offered in generous amounts. And they are escorted to their seat of honor on a throne atop the cake. They watch in awe, as international guests arrive with gifts from their countries, and perform lovely ballet sequences, including the well-known “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” The ballet ends with Clara and her prince sailing off, in a walnut sailboat, into a never-to-end journey of dreams-come-true.

As the curtain went up, the story unfolded, and we were entertained for over two hours to a highly professional and skilled presentation, as exquisite ballerinas and their handsome cavaliers brought the story to life. Such a beautiful, young Clara and handsome prince; and there could never be a more perfect Sugar Plum Fairy. In fact, each performer was perfect and memorable; even the local children, who were included in the ballet, were so talented that they could not be detected from the regular dancers. 

However, during a live interview, held earlier in the day, in the casino, we learned that the three leading ballerinas (not including Clara), each had from 13 to 16 years of ballet training, so we were truly in the company of professionals. 

Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready

As I watched these dedicated, accomplished performers, I felt inspired, as I always do when seeing someone fulfilling their dreams, and I am reminded of the commitment and persistence required. 

I also wonder if I will ever fulfill my dreams. And I am always reminded, from my Inner Guidance, that I am in the process of living my dream; at least the preparation part. But sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever move beyond preparation, which reminds me of a friend, who would conclude that her life was about, “Get ready, get ready, get ready; always getting ready, but never moving on to accomplishing the goal.”

Of course, it’s said that once goals are set, we must make new ones, so it does make sense that we seem to be always “getting ready,” or preparing for the next stage of accomplish- ment.

Whenever I reach this point, in my thinking, I stop to ask myself, “Exactly what is it that you are hoping to accomplish?” And I pause to reflect, which I am doing now, during the Christmas Season, and as we reach the beginning of the new millennium. Because, as I’ve said so often, each new beginning is a time of preparation, as well as completion, of one phase of life, while awaiting the next.

That’s why we’ve been bombarded with reflections and nostalgia, as we prepare for this momentous time in history. And, of course, it’s a time for evaluating our lives and asking, “Where have I come from, where am I going, and where am I now?” Or, in other words, “What have I accomplished, and what is still yet to be done, and what am I doing about it?”

So, this chapter, while entering into the holidays, and then returning home for Christmas, will be about answering these questions for myself, and hopefully, inspiring you to re-examine your life, no matter when you are reading these words, for they are always true and appropriate.

The question, for me, is: “When will the books ever be finished and available for others to read?”

Is it a matter of “Get ready, get ready, get ready?” My former writing teacher would say, “A writer is always making changes, even on the way to the post office with the manuscript, I am making changes.” 

Wow! That’s pretty intense; but true. Our creation never seems quite ready; quite good enough. I wonder if this is part of the curse of a writer; that creative spirit never allows us to feel complete. Maybe it’s the nature of the beast, so to speak. Perhaps there is insecurity in us, a feeling of not being good enough, that has given birth to our creativity, our need to please and be acceptable. I know it’s true for me; and most artists, writers, performers have this need for approval; to hear the roar of the crowd applauding and giving accolades. 

And, on the other hand, withholding our talent, not quite ready to let go of it, could well be that fear of disapproval, rejection, not being good enough. At least, I have finally reached that place of self-honesty, and, as such, I’m about ready to let go and take my chances. 

With the new millennium, I’m at the point of saying, “If it isn’t ready, or good enough, then I’ll just have to step in faith, into the flooded waters, as the Israelites did at the River Jordan, and trust God to open the way before me, as He did for them. But, He didn’t take action (stopping the river), until they put their feet into the water; and that is the symbology of this Road Sign along our Journey to Inner Freedom

Journey to Inner Freedom

And those words are the cue for my next comments. About a thousand years ago, at least it seems that long ago, I started writing a course by the above title. It’s the story of our inner journey to freedom that parallels the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to The Promised Land. And the Road Signs are the lessons and help that God gave us, as He guided Moses in leading over 6,000 men, plus women, children and animals, to freedom from bondage to the Egyptians. But, it wasn’t an easy journey, and their were many pitfalls. In fact, according to the bible story, every one of the original travelers died off, including Moses, before they finally took that momentous step into the River Jordan and walked across to the Promised Land. And that was only the start, for beyond this new beginning came the battles of the Promised Land, which were completions of The Plagues and Wilderness conflicts that had been recognized and faced earlier in The Journey. 

But, guess what? They weren’t over, yet. Why? Because they represent the patterns that have kept us in bondage; just as the pharaoh represents the ego that won’t set us free. Oh, it’s not an easy Journey, and, therefore, it’s not an easy course to write; mainly because I’m living it and learning its symbology, as I go. 

Get Out of my Life

For instance, in the past month, I have received two hurtful communications of rejection from family members, and they have forced me to again, face these issues. The pain goes back to my early childhood, when accused of “driving my mother crazy,” or that it was “all my fault” that she lost it, and had to be placed in a mental institution, because of Schizophrenia; not because of me. And now, those same characteristics raise their ugly head, as the “family curse” strikes generation after generation. 

And I have to ask myself, “How much of my thinking and behavior is motivated by distorted thinking, and how much is truly God guided? I am certain that each of the family members, who communicated their honest feelings to me, felt they were acting from their truth, and upon their guidance from God, too. So, the messages though, in my opinion, based upon distortions of my reality, were true to theirs. Therefore, I felt no recourse than to continue to distance myself from these family members, which is a decision based upon their requests. Though it is a painful reality, I must accept the fact that I am dealing with loved ones who are in various stages of mental illness, whether or not they recognize or admit their symptoms. No, in fact, they feel totally justified in their positions, so there is no place to go with the situation, but to accept it.

But, their letters caused me to again, face the reality of my own mental and emotional health. And that, too, is painful, as it forces me to admit my own weakness and vulnerability. And, it also forces me to question my own actions and words.

So, in the depths of despair over these events, I prayed. Reduced to any ability to formulate a formal request, I simply sobbed, “Help!”

And, of course, God answered. He allowed me to see that my patterns were, again, upon me, and that I had choices: succumb to the pattern, or change it. But, first, I must identify the pattern; put into words exactly how it manifests, which assists in coming out of denial, and forces us to recognize the pattern, and how it has affected our lives. I’ve already done this, through countless episodes of its onslaught, but I repeated the procedure.

Something I say, or do, causes people to attack me with hurtful words or actions of unkindness, which has created in me a fear of rejection, or of even attempting to put myself out there for the criticism and rejection to occur.

Of course, this pattern began when my parents, and perhaps others, accused me of causing my mother’s illness. And, in truth, it could be that no one said anything, but that the young child took it upon herself to feel blame and guilt. It doesn’t matter, whether anyone else said anything, because, to this day, with all of the therapy and recovery programs I’ve gone through, the pattern of criticism and blame and rejection is as real to me as ever. It hasn’t gone away; not even when I have asked God to remove it, by thanking Him in advance, as Jesus taught us to do, when raising Lazarus from the dead.

But, what God does do, is give me further opportunity to experience the pain, until I am forced to recognize the power of the pattern, and to deal with it. And each time, another step is taken toward freedom. And that’s why The Journey is so long.

As usual, upon receiving the hurtful communications from my loved ones, my first reaction is avoidance; never see them or hear from them again. This is the family pattern for dealing with issues. But, God said “Respond to the letter, telling your truth, and saying what you feel. You don’t have to mail it, but you must speak your truth, just as they did. And, speak to the issues that have been wrongly interpreted or misunderstood.”

The Guidance made sense, because denial is fatal, and to bury my feelings and what I want to say, can only cause physical, as well as emotional disease. I had long ago learned that these pockets of negative energy are stored in our bodies and cause cancer, arthritis, heart trouble, and other unhealthy conditions. 

I’d already taken the step of talking with God about the pain, and He answered. So, I wrote the letter, and felt the intensity of the pain, as I allowed my true feelings to be expressed, rather than trying to be nice or appropriate, which is the way our generation was taught to handle anything. I read it to Van, because that is part of the healing process: share the pain and feelings with someone else; don’t deny or bury them.

Now, I am writing about it, even though that is part of the criticism, because writing is a healing factor in my life. It allows me to tell my truth, although I have refrained from writing about these issues, until now. But, I can no longer hold onto these negative energies, so without using names, this must be written.

The first letter resulted from someone’s anger over me writing about their health condition, and the good results from them using our OPC-3 product. This was felt to be an invasion of privacy, and has caused their alienation. Never mind all the positive and loving aspects of our relationship; I am permanently blacklisted.

Okay, fine, this is not the first time this person has raged over my actions or words, so I’ve long ago learned that if it weren’t one thing, it would be something else, because that’s how it is with manic-depression, so I live with it. There is no place to go with people who suffer from this disease: either stay out of their lives completely, which is difficult with someone you love, or be strong enough to survive the slings and arrows. I’m not that strong; it is too painful and too devastating, so, again, I accept the dictate: “Stay out of my life.” 

And life goes on. Perhaps, this time, I will be wise enough not to endeavor to resume the relationship; no matter how painful, because this is how it must be. The answer is: Love them enough to leave them alone. And love myself enough to move on with my life.

Letter #2, from another loved family member, is based on the same issue: “Don’t mention me in your newsletters.” I assumed this meant that I was not to mention our loving times together in my books, either, so I rewrote them, leaving this person out. 

But there was so much more to the accusations and criticisms, which amounted to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of my intentions, both word and deed. So, again, there seems no place to go with this relationship, but to say, “Goodbye,” having written the letter that will remain unsent. Anything else that I say would only be further antagonism, for it too would be misunderstood and misconstrued.  

The Light of God

I know that these incidents are part of God’s plan, although I don’t fully understand why or how. I assume that God is using them for the other persons involved in His own way, and somehow it will be a blessing to them. 

What is important to me is that God gave me the comfort and support through my Daily Readings, with these words: “So if I am struggling to make sense of a situation or to understand why someone said or did something that was hurtful to me—I remember that the Light of God is shining in me. Divine Light brings me comfort and peace.”

The next day’s words, referring to negative situations, said, “I know that there is a world of positive events continually occurring.” It continues, “I know that neighbors are helping neighbors, conflicts are being resolved, people are giving voice to loving words of support, and kindness and compassion are being expressed.”

Although, at the time, I found it difficult to agree, the reading continued, “I make every effort to promote peace as well. From the moment I awaken until the time I go to sleep, I am an ambassador of God’s love and harmony.

“I live in peace and harmony with the people in my home, my neighborhood, and my world. I do all that I can to share a message of peace and acceptance with others.”

And the Bible quote read, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5).”

Celebration of Spirit

The two letters, mentioned above, reminded me how deeply entrenched are the limitations that keep me from moving forward with my writing, and facilitating workshops or seminars, for I fear the rejection and criticism, and I have not, as yet, been able to move past this pattern; it is too deeply imbedded in my being. But, it can be overcome. 

These patterns, in the bible, are referred to as the final battles; the final overcoming. They deal with the last roots that are so firmly embedded that we know it is hopeless to try to move beyond their impact. In Journey to Inner Freedom, I use a graphic of a dandelion root, buried under a sidewalk, being pulled on, and breaking off. That’s how intense these final battles can become.

However, we mustn’t give up, because it’s the time that seems the darkest, when we think there is no hope, and in reality, there is only a 1/4 inch of darkness left, on the other side of the wall, before the light of a new dawning. And that is my hope as I approach the new millennium.

And this hope is confirmed by my Daily Reading, which reminds me that, as we get beyond the dazzle and hype of the holiday season, there is the true meaning, which is the celebration of Spirit, and when I return to these roots, I am truly coming home, and I recognize my true identity, not as the limited, hopeless person, but as a conscious connection with the spirit of God, the Christ presence, that is within me.

The comforting words say, “Within the shape and form that are my physical identity, there is a divine being. This is the genuine, authentic me that is wise and caring, strong and confident. As I live my life from the spirit of God within me, I am enriched and I help enrich the lives of family, coworkers, and the people in my community.”

This, of course, refers to the mystery hidden for ages, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” and this is the true meaning of the Celebration of Spirit, the birth of Christ within each of us.

So, despite the interpretation of others, as to my intentions, they are, and always have been, to allow the love of God to permeate every thought and expression so that whomever I am speaking with will, in some way, behold the Christ Presence and go forth divinely blessed.

So, it looks like God is supporting me in fulfilling my dream, and He isn’t through with me, yet, as I continue on this Journey into the New Millennium. And when I enter into a few moments of Oneness with God, I am transformed, and closer to the truth of my identity, and the very cells of my body sparkle with renewed energy and life.

The Bottom Line

When reading aloud to Van these words, I asked him to repeat back to me the main issue, here, and he replied, “That you feel rejected.”

I responded, “No. That isn’t it. And it’s very important to me that you, or someone, hears what I am saying and understands.” So, I re-read Something I say, or do, causes people to attack me with hurtful words or actions of unkindness, which has created in me a fear of rejection, or of even attempting to put myself out there for the criticism and rejection to occur.”

He nodded, as if to say that he understood, but I wasn’t satisfied. Somehow, the issue didn’t seem resolved. I became distracted with some crumbled dried leaves on my writing table, and got up to get my hand-vacuum, as I said, “You see, this pattern had gone on for years, even when I was teaching spiritual classes or facilitating seminars and workshops. Someone always would attack with criticism and unkindness, by taking exception to something I said. Finally, I simply wasn’t able to do it anymore.” 

The vacuum whirred, as a flash of insight came, and I said, “Maybe it isn’t me at all. Maybe it’s that what I am saying has triggered something within the person, and they are responding with an attack, rather than examining their own behavior to determine why they are feeling the need to attack me, or what I’ve said or done.”

“That’s pretty intense,” Van said, as I put the vacuum back into place.

“Yes, maybe I need to write this,” I replied, “as it seems to be coming from my Inner Guidance.”

I heard my Inner Voice saying, “You see, it’s an ego thing. The Final Battle is with the ego. When you can release the ego’s control, you will be able to take the slings and arrows, without feeling their sting. What we’re talking about here, is surrender. In order to win the Final Battle, you must surrender the ego. Until you teach this lesson, the Journey to Inner Freedom cannot be completed. And, first you must learn the lesson yourself, by surrendering the power of the ego.”

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“Remember, We taught you this lesson many years ago, on the Inner Journey, but it is time to fight the Final Battle on another level. All you have to do is let go, like the picture of the cat hanging onto the end of the rope for dear life, when it’s only a few inches from the ground. Just let go.”

“You mean ‘Let go and let God’”?

“Yes!”

Let There be Peace

But, it’s not that simple, there is more to this Final Battle of surrendering the ego; because there is a fine line between giving up, or becoming hopeless, and the bliss of nonresistance, once the ego has surrendered. It may trick you into thinking it has, but it hasn’t, until the peace has been made. And you will know when that has happened. Life will be different.

The point is that we do not want to kill the ego, for it is an important part of our psyche, it is the id, which is our identity apart from anyone else. Without the ego, we would cease to exist. So, we need to make peace with this valuable part of ourselves, not defeat or destroy it. This lesson is demonstrated in the bible, during the Battle of Gibeon, where the inhabitants tricked Joshua into making peace, rather than destroying the city and its people.

We must realize that the ego is complex and cunning, for there are different aspects of the ego, including the personal ego/will, the negative ego, and the positive ego, whose only purpose is for our survival, and it uses any weapon available to fulfill its purpose. For instance, the Bible says that it can disguise itself as God’s Guidance to mislead us into submission to its control. We think we are being godly, when in reality we are using our religion to execute control. This realization is a frightening phase of our inner journey, because we feel that we can no longer trust our own judgment, and we fear loss of control. Aha! That’s the ego’s worst nightmare, and we know that we are nearing the final victory of this battle.

Yet, it is important to understand that the ego is not the enemy, but must be loved and trained by the intellect to understand its true purpose—to protect, and to report and record.

The answer is LOVE: love yourself, and your ego and negative ego. Thank them for the fine job they have done, and explain their proper function. Then, they will work with you, and not against you.

At the earlier time, mentioned above, when God taught me how to make peace with the ego, this is how it was done:

I thanked the ego for fulfilling its part, of protecting me and keeping me alive, for without it, I would be dead. I then brought to its attention that it could fulfill its job, and be even more powerful, if it were to merge with the God energies, and work together as One. Of course, the ego liked the idea of being more powerful, so it agreed, just as described in the Battle of Gibeon, when the peace was established. 

When you read that story, you will see that a time came when there was a greater battle with their enemies, and when the Israelites and Gibeonites joined forces, there was a great victory. The fascinating, but gory, description is filled with symbology and must be properly interpreted to understand the true meaning of this battle.

But, for now, suffice to say that peace must be made with the ego, and this is done with love. I again went through this battle, when making peace with myself over the issues in my relationship with my family member, as mentioned above.

And I knew that this battle with the ego was up, when I talked with Dottie, and she shared a story relating to the wedding, that bottom-lined as the ego’s subtle bid for control. Fortunately, she realized what was happening, and surrendered. However, she added, “I’m not ready to do anything about it, at this time.” 

Okay, Dottie, but when the next phase of the Battle of Gibeon comes up, be sure that the troops are merged and at peace, so you can win the victory. 

The Riverside Employees Talent Show

God often gives me experiential aids, which go beyond visual aids, because I am going through the experience, rather than viewing, and there is a running commentary, from my Inner Guidance, which is explaining the lesson involved. 

This happened while watching the Riverside Employees Talent Show. The fun part, for me, was the human interest aspect as I observed the performers in the audience, viewing the show with their families, when not on stage. 

Throughout the entertainment, I was impressed with the quality of talent from these so- called amateurs, and I wondered why they had settled for jobs as maintenance workers or other menial positions. Probably, like me, they hadn’t reached that level of readiness to present themselves to the public. Or maybe they never would.

And in some cases, I could see the entire scenario of their lives, as they wasted away into the oblivion of booze, throughout the two-hour program; such a waste of talent and life. And it was obvious to observe how the ego had run amuck in controlling their lives. Perhaps, the drinking began as a way of coping with life, and then the addictions took over. 

However, for some, the choice not to pursue show business could have been made from a position of making peace with the ego. Perhaps the price of pursuing or attaining fame would have been too high. It’s all a matter of choice.

But, it’s to their credit that they made the effort to share their talent with fellow workers, and whatever guests happened to take advantage of the free entertainment. Most of the performers appeared at ease and comfortable in their roles; each with their own persona, whether wearing black cowboy outfits, or casual attire, or colorful costumes; accompanied by their guitar, or blending nicely with the accompanying recorded music.

Some were obviously nervous, but once they moved through their fear and got into the routine, they lost the negative ego and allowed the positive ego to sustain them. As I said, the visual aid brought home the lesson of the various aspects of ego, and its function in our daily lives.

Again, I realized that mine is faithfully protecting me from putting myself into the limelight for fear of criticism and rejection. Yet, that part of me that thrived on the acceptance and accolades, longed to return to the spotlight, for it, too, is addictive, as we receive the approval and applause. And, for me, there is the satisfaction of helping others who are suffering, and could benefit from my expertise, especially when it comes to changing patterns. So, it’s a matter of which route the ego takes to fulfill its purpose.

I could feel myself coming closer and closer to “Just do it.” And I knew that attending this talent show was another step in that direction, as I watched others overcome their fears and do what they were good at doing.

Finally, the judges had selected the winners. One award was even given for originality, and then the first and second prizes, including money, were presented. It was hard to choose only three from the twelve acts, but my favorites were honored, each outstanding with their own style and presentation. 

The Number One Winner works in the Poker Room, and he looks like a singing version of Leonardo Di Caprio. Dressed in casual attire, and seeming to be at ease with his talent, he accepted the $500.00 prize money and the applause and shouts of his co-workers. It was obvious that this young man had the qualities it would take to move forward in the entertainment business, if he chooses.

I wondered if he had made peace with his ego to win the big battle of show business. Only time would tell, but in the meantime, we enjoyed a great evening of top talent. 

The Western Dance Hall

The next night we enjoyed another evening of free entertainment from amateur performers, who were there for their own enjoyment, not to entertain. This time we watched, while eating BBQ ribs and chicken in the Riverside Western Dance Hall. This casino has an unending supply of activities and entertainment, and we were busily enjoying the ones that appealed to us.

The Western Dance Hall offers free line dancing from 5:00 to 7:00, and its western decor, with a huge replica of a white cowboy hat over the bar, is a perfect setting for the western enthusiasts, or for anyone savoring BBQ ribs and chicken. The food is a recent addition, only two months old, and we gave our approval, as we enjoyed the enthusiastic dancers filling the good-sized dance floor. Again, each one had an individual identity, as some flailed their arms and hips and anything else that moves, and others sedately followed the patterns with their hands in their pockets; but not for long, because the upbeat music soon brought the arms into full sway, as the leaders spoke the patter for the dance. 

One gal, with a yellow flower in her short, dark hair, and wearing a matching yellow western-style dress, swished and swayed throughout the entire evening; and another gal, who arrived late, became her rival as star of the show, with her own relaxed and active movements. And two white-haired ladies, in their black outfits with sparkling beadwork, joined right into the action. Of course, the guys almost all wore their hats, each having an obvious individuality. The dancers ranged in age upward from their thirties, but all had equal zest and enthusiasm. I can still hear the music and see the room swaying, as I recall the evening. It all became part of our holiday festivities. Have you ever seen Jingle Bell Rock done as a line dance?

Expanding our Limits

I thought about the possibility of Van and I getting involved in western line-dancing, but I remembered another era in my life, during my first marriage, when my husband and I square-

danced and also did round dancing. I loved it, and especially the food served for snacks, but I got so darn dizzy; and I now realized that it would still happen, because of my weird equilibrium. I can’t do merry-go-rounds or Ferris-wheels, either. And, western just isn’t our style, although I fully appreciate its appeal, especially with the options of music in the world these days.

However, Van and I were attempting to expand our limits; to experience areas where we otherwise wouldn’t be interested, because this is part of the requirements for our business, when we must answer the question: “What are you willing to do?” So, we’re taking steps for expansion by doing things we wouldn’t do, during our vacation in Laughlin. 

But, that wasn’t the extent of my pushing beyond my limits. For instance, while wandering through the collection of Classic Cars that Don Laughlin has displayed in a large portion of the facility, my Inner Guidance prodded me to approach a gal at the RV Promotion Booth and talk about our business. It’s not a busy location, and the opportunity seemed right, so I began chatting. 

To my delight, she knew all about the natural ingredients in our health products, so I knew that God had guided me to a well-qualified person, combining sales ability and product interest. The question then became: is she interested?

Finally, I gave her my business card, and before we were through, of course, being a professional sales person, she gave me a ticket to spend two nights and three days at their Coast-to-Coast RV Park, across the river in Arizona. All we had to do was listen to their presentation and we would also receive two buffets and $20.00. For this, she would get credit, and if we signed up, she would receive her payment.

I’d noticed the offer in the past, and it seemed worth the effort, but I said, “Okay, we’ll do it, if you’ll listen to our presentation.” 

She said, “Actually, I am interested in doing something like this, after the New Year, and I will call you.” 

I knew that if she ever saw the concept of our business, she would recognize the possibility for earning far more money than she could make in this remote location of the Riverside Casino, so I offered to bring her some more information, and she agreed.

Another day, I took her some brochures on our products, and also a tape, but she said that she didn’t have a tape player. However, I spent some more time chatting, and promised to bring her a booklet about the business plan.

Updating our Spending Plan

As the days went by, I could feel more healing taking place within Van and me. For instance, one day we updated our Spending Plan, which had been badly neglected for several months; partly from lack of time, but mostly from lack of inclination, because it’s always an ordeal for us to discuss money matters. This goes back to the fact that we both have money issues relating to childhood patterns, either ours or our parents.

In fact, we learned that these money issues are related to obsessive-compulsive disorders, and they are as addictive as alcohol, food, or drugs, and are in the same category as gambling addictions. Once recognition of these patterns became obvious, after being broke and filing bankruptcy, we attended Debtors Anonymous and learned the tools for controlling this addiction: the Spending Plan, which is similar to a Budget, and keeping track of numbers, which means writing down all money that is spent. 

This Twelve-Step program focuses on the money disorders of Overspending and Underearning. The money patterns evolve from the need to control, similar to eating disorders, and the recovery process is slow and intense; far more complex and not as easily handled as that of recovery from alcohol, where abstaining is the solution. Yes, the addiction factor is equally difficult to manage, but the obsessive-compulsive features of money disorders requires deeper examination of one’s motivations, and delving into one’s family history of money related issues.

We’ve both spent much time examining these issues, and I’ve written about the results in other books. I’ve also facilitated workshops, which I’ve written into a course, originally titled, Money Matters. But then I discovered that Susan Orman had already published her writings under this title; so I changed mine to Changing Money Patterns, which is more descriptive of my program.

In any event, recovery from addiction and patterns is a slow and ongoing process, and the ego will continue to use them to maintain control. So, the obvious slip, of not doing our Spending Plan for three months, should have told us something. It’s no different than an alcoholic, who thinks he’s recovered enough to indulge in social drinking. It’s only a matter of time, before they again become a full-fledged alcoholic, otherwise termed a drunk. Addictions are devious and covert, and it’s so easy to succumb to their allure.

Therefore, getting ourselves back on track by updating our Spending Plan, obviously had a healing impact, and I suspected that something more had occurred when Van later thanked me for my support and help.

The most obvious benefit from keeping a Spending Plan, and daily keeping of numbers (expenditures) is that we know where we stand with our finances, and where the money is going. The more subtle benefit is being aware of the control factor relating to money. For instance, we had been given money for the purpose of keeping our RV repaired, while on the road. But we had agreed that using a portion, as a business investment, was appropriate, since we’d already spent a large amount of our personal money on previous repairs. But, it served as a shock to realize that most of the money had already been used. This meant that we might have to revise our travel plans, if repairs continued to be a sizable expense.

The Good News, learned from updating our Spending Plan, is that we were living within its framework with our monthly expenses, and we could continue to enjoy the few luxuries we were allowing ourselves during our Laughlin vacation. 

Unfortunately, the matter of not spending, can be as fatal as overspending, because it supports Van’s Silas Marner syndrome (named by me, based on the miserly character in the classic novel by that title), and it causes me to feel resentment, if not rage, because of the negative consciousness it invokes. It’s the more-less syndrome, which means that not spending and not having is considered to be good. For instance, if Van has a shirt, and gets another, he will get rid of the one he has. It’s a terribly limiting lifestyle, and I know many people, especially those from poverty backgrounds, who have this syndrome. Sadly enough, it is nearly impossible for them to rise above it in order to attain wealth, even though they may be focused on making money.

I’ve learned from my own experience, and from the research I’ve done about these money patterns that it’s almost a no-win situation. It doesn’t have to be, but most people’s ego is so in control that they won’t even listen. In fact, they become angered and attack, if I attempt to explain these matters; even if they have come to the workshop, or asked for the information. So, that’s another reason why I quit making the effort.

It Was There all the Time

Fulfillment is one of my favorite subjects, because it always reminds me of the presence of God, and His willingness to provide for our every need, when we become still, tune in, and look for the attainment.

This time, the matter of fulfillment came to my attention when I noticed that my watchband had torn, and I needed a new one, or a new watch. We happened to be in the perfect place, The Watchman, at Riverside Resort. He’s the guy who does a TV commercial flying through the air in a Superman outfit, advertising his thousands of watches at low prices.

His shop is equally funky, with every kind of watch imaginable from jeweled to Mickey Mouse. I couldn’t resist a gummy watch for my granddaughter and great-grandson, though they are probably too old for an over-sized edible watch. But grandmothers will be grandmothers.

I spent several different days searching for my perfect watch, and selected a gold chain-link style ($13.95), which the clerk encouraged me to try on. It was a good idea, because the watch was too loose, so I took it off.

I also considered the watchbands, but at $7.95, they cost almost as much as the watches, and there weren’t many to choose from. I was having a tough time making a decision, when Van said, “Why don’t you buy one of these Gemini watches?” I thought that was the name, but he was referring to my idea of a good watch, because it had a set of different colored bands. Being that I am a Gemini, I can appreciate the value of these multi-faceted options. I always go for the item that offers the most functions; if it’s a TV, VCR, Computer, FAX, and plays a piano, it’s a good deal. But, I decided to pass. 

In the meantime, I got interested in a digital watch, though I wasn’t really looking for a Sports model. Suddenly I remembered that we had a box of two new Sports watches at home, a man’s and a woman’s, that Van had sent for with some bank bonus offer.

When I returned home, I tried on the watch and decided that it would work fine for an everyday watch. And it was there all the time. 

During our stay at Riverside, I was still fretting about the smell emanating from the furnace, and I was certain that we were dying a slow death, so my intention was to get it taken care of immediately. Yet, I dreaded the hassle of unhooking and driving to an RV service shop, across the river in Bullhead City. So, imagine my amazement when I awoke one morning, looked out the window and spotted a truck that had big red letters across the side: ROADRUNNER RV, and in smaller letters: Service and Repairs. I quickly got dressed and went to the truck, explained my problem, and awaited their visit, within the hour. Now that’s service!

I’m not sure what I hoped to have happen, and I should have been pleased with the results, but I was disappointed to learn that there was nothing wrong that they felt needed fixing.

“Might be a mouse that died in the vents, or maybe something got wet,” was his competent conclusion.

Oh well, learn to live with it, I decided, and concluded, I guess if it was going to kill us, it would have by now. The important fact is that it’s been taken care of, and we didn’t even have to leave our site; not only that, there was no charge. 

This was another, of many, examples of God’s constant and amazing ways of fulfilling our needs and wants, if we just look to see what is near at hand.

The most obvious example is when I finally stop criticizing Van’s changed behavior, in recent years, and become thankful for his companionship and constant help and support, such as getting The Wedding booklet ready to send as Christmas gifts. The fact is that none of us are doing Christmas this year, other than something meaningful. For instance, Arianna requested return address labels, so Van placed the graphic, from her wedding invitations, and added their name and new address. 

I prepared the package to mail, along with a completed The Wedding, and a master copy that she could use to make more, if she wants. All this he does without complaint or hassle.

And there are the ongoing things, like emptying the garbage, dumping the sewage, hooking and unhooking, and on and on. Or the little things, like disposing of the burnt matches that I leave in the bathroom (as an inexpensive air freshener). 

On the other hand, though I’m not known for my domesticity these days (I’d rather be writing), Van found that a Christmas elf had sewn on his loose button, while he was outside fixing the awning, and he, too, felt appreciation for the “little things” that I do.

In any event, let it be remembered “It was there all the time,” and that goes for those people in our lives that we may be taking for granted.

 

The Arizona Jamboree Holiday Show

I felt disappointed that we missed “Grand Night for Singing,” the music of Rogers and Hammerstein, performed at the Ramada Express, but we were so busy with activities at The Riverside, we simply didn’t realize that it was only showing for two nights. But, I made sure that we reserved our tickets for the Arizona Jamboree Holiday Show, though I had no idea what to expect. However, I figured it would be Christmas music, and for $12.95, we couldn’t go wrong.

So, at 3:00 p.m., we started our trek: walk to The Riverside, mail the packages, give Kathy a Business Plan, indulge in a 99-cent hotdog, enjoy the early sunset along the Riverwalk to The Flamingo, pass through that casino, cross the street to the Horizon Outlet, board the free shuttle to the Ramada Express, pick up our tickets, linger over a 2-for-1 frozen yogurt in a waffle cone, sit in the lounge and listen to the free Swing Shift play swing music, then at 7:00 get in line for the show in the Pavilion Theater.

Whew! It’s a full afternoon, and we still get to watch the show. Now, this is professional entertainment, as pert dark-haired Patti Bell, sings her way through at least a half-dozen fabulous costume changes, accompanied by a talented group of guys wearing black pants and red shirts, as they played various instruments, including guitars, drums, portable piano and vibra-chord. And handsome Jesse Stockman, an award-winning fiddle champion, highlighted many numbers. We recalled seeing him several days earlier, at the Riverside Western Celebrities Show.

This group from Prescott, Arizona, presented all our favorite Christmas music, and then some, as they combined traditional with country western, and some rock and boogie. Frosty, the snowman, even came to life, before our very eyes, and danced with Patti, as the audience (comprised mostly of seniors) clapped to the music.

I must say, Patti and the band brought this audience to life, too, from the moment she bounced on stage in her strapless, fitted red satin gown with the long gloves, sparkling jewels and big smile; not to mention her pleasing voice. Everyone warmed up with a big applause for her, and kept going for every number, especially for Jesse, as he fiddled his way through Silent Night and Away in a Manger

Of course, Santa appeared for Jingle Bell Boogie, and Mrs. Santa came on stage to voice her disapproval of him taking time off, when he had work to be doing; in this case, waiting out front to sell T-shirts and other mementos.

The entertainment ended with Patti’s superb rendition of O Holy Night, wearing a fitted black gown trimmed in white feathers and accentuated by her long white satin gloves. 

After the show, they all lined up in the foyer, and listened to glowing appreciation for their outstanding performance.

And then Van and I began our homeward odyssey: across the street to The Colorado Belle showboat casino, where we stopped for their delightful BBQ chicken pizza in The Boiler Room, a realistic replica of a ship’s boiler room, according to Van’s memories of serving on ships during the Navy.

Later, we passed through the casino, noting their Christmas decorations, and then went outside. By this time the wind had turned cold, and as we rushed along the Riverwalk, I hugged myself to keep warm in my red jacket (worn for the season, not the practicality), while glimpsing the reflection of lights on the rippling water. 

Then through the Edgewater Casino, past their annual penguin display, down the escalator, out the door, and along the lower Riverwalk to the warmth of The Flamingo casino; past their purple, gold and green decorated tree, out the door, and rapidly along the water, as the river shuttles jetted across the waves. 

Ah, at last, we rushed inside the doors of The Riverside, through the warm casino, up the escalator, across the ramp (over the highway), down the stairs, and to our delight the shuttle was waiting to take us up the hill and to our home. What a delightful day of this holiday season. 

A Strange Place for a Miracle

Christmas also has its more tedious tasks, even vacationing in an RV in Laughlin, and ours was no exception. So, we chose a sunny, but windy day to complete the Mailing List, print out my annual Christmas Newsletter, and make return address labels with a red Santa pushing a sleigh full of gifts. But, in addition, Van had been preparing my booklet titled, The Wedding, which I’d planned to give as this year’s gift, since our funds were still quite low, and he made over twenty copies on our own combination printer, scanner and copier. This, in itself, is kind of a miracle, being able to complete our entire project in our motor home.

Once the 80+ letters were ready to mail, we braved the wind and walked to the PO at the casino. We’d planned to return home and do our laundry, after having a 99-cent hot dog, but passing the theater lobby, we noticed a new movie, The Green Mile, and our inner kids lost interest in the laundry, insisting that they needed a reward for accomplishing this momentous project. 

It would be an hour, until the movie, so we decided it would be the perfect time to use our free bowling coupons. Neither of us had bowled in a thousand years, at least, so this was another opportunity to push through our limitations into expansion, by doing something we don’t usually do. Van read the instructions and set up the computerized scoreboard, while I put on my bowling shoes and selected a ball. Once he had his, he took long strides up to the black line and rolled a beautiful line, knocking down most of the pins, and then picking up the rest on his second roll.

Remembering my past bowling efforts, I’d already told Van to be prepared to see the world’s worst bowler, but another miracle took place, as I actually did quite well, and even hit two different strikes, to his one. However, the game irritated my hip, and I realized that this probably would not be an activity that we would pursue, despite the fact that we really did have fun. Enough that we made the effort to try something different and had a good time.

The movie, too, turned out to be something different, but Joanie and Little Ralph were so anxious to attend a move and eat popcorn, that they had not noticed this was a Stephen King story. Heaven forbid! In fact, the marquee had promised a movie about a miracle in a strange place. Yes, Death Row in 1935 definitely is a strange place for a miracle, but we did see one. It’s just the rest of the special effects left a lot to be desired for our generation, although the theater was packed with seniors; all who probably made the same mistake that we did. Much of the story revolved around the Supervisor (Tom Hanks) of E-Block (Death Row) having a urinary tract infection, and either showed him urinating with a full stream, or on the way to the WC (water closet), or talking about it. One of the miracles was the healing of his condition by a Death Row inmate with a special gift, and the results of that event.

I wondered why I had felt inclined to attend this often gross movie, that showed the entire process of not one, nor two, but three executions in the electric chair, including one that went bad (I closed my eyes for this part). But I realized that seeing the inner workings of Death Row was definitely a visual aid for my having had a prison ministry, including one inmate who had been on Death Row and described similar sights, sounds and smells that were depicted in the movie. Fortunately, his prayers were answered and he was returned to the general population for life, where he is happily serving his time. This movie would be a good topic of conversation in a future letter to him, and the other Freedomers. But my favorite part was the performance of miracles by the inmate, and I realized that, in this day and age, violence is the only approach that would hold the interest of the younger generations. And maybe they might notice the miracles that were included in this strange Christmas Movie, with many symbolisms, such as the Second Coming of Christ, and the opportunities for kindness and good will, even in prison.

 

Chapter 5

WINNING IS MORE FUN

 

It’ll Give us Something to Play on

Pre-Christmas tradition with Van’s mom, Betty, means four days and nights at Harrah’s in Laughlin, Nv. She treats for the room, meals and slots. It’s the only time I gamble, because I’m not willing to spend the money, but she likes the company, and so we play slots a few hours after breakfast, and after dinner. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but winning is more fun.

Betty keeps us supplied in twenties to feed the hungry quarter slots, and whenever we win, she says, “That will give us something to play on.”

Van doesn’t gamble or play slots, because it could activate his obsessive-compulsive disorder, so his job is emptying the machine into the bucket, after we win, and turning the coins in to the cashier for more twenties. This time we were keeping him busy, because we were winning.

It started with my 1600-coin Jackpot with a combination of Triple and Double Diamond that amounted to $400.00. The bells rang and the light on top of the machine alerted the coin-changers, who came and handed me four crisp 100-dollar bills. It’s all very exciting, and definitely confirms that winning is more fun.

The next day, after Betty counted our winnings, she announced, “We came out ahead by $5.00!” 

It didn’t take me long to figure out that meant we’d spent $395.00 in two hours, and those odds don’t appeal to my logic, but to Betty it’s part of the fun, as she adds, “It’ll give us something to play on today.”

Again, we won some and lost some, but Betty kept us supplied in twenties this time, as she won a Jackpot on one of our favorite machines: Party Animal, which similates Party Time. Besides having five lines to win on, it sometimes offers the option of three blowers, like used on New Years Eve, which opens another game board with squares, something like a Bingo board. As it goes from square to square, you press the button and the number appears, which gives you that amount of coins. But, if it hits “Poop,” you don’t get any more money. The noise and comments add to the fun, but the main fun is winning, and this time Betty won 1,000 coins, equal to $250.00, which gave us more money to play on. And we also won and lost more, as we continued to play.

The Bonuses

Betty only allows a given amount of money for gambling, so, of course, the wins keep us going. One year we won enough that she gave me 1/2 and I bought an aqua-blue velour three-piece outfit in the clothes shop. I’d been coveting the outfit for the four months Van and I had been wintering in Laughlin, and promised myself that I’d buy it, if I came into any extra money. I call it my Lucky Harrah’s outfit, and it’s still my favorite.

Every visit, in March and December, Betty cashes in her complimentary points for us to have a steak dinner. These bonus points are based on the amount she uses the slots, and are in addition to the cash bonus that are also available. All very complicated, but explained by the host at the Harrah’s Club booth, when she went to collect her comps for the steak dinner that we planned to enjoy the next night.

This Isn’t Fun

But we didn’t get to enjoy steak night, because all three of us came down with flulike symptoms. I thought maybe I had food poisoning, because it came on so suddenly, after we returned to our room, and lasted all night. In fact, the flu-like symptoms were so intense that I became dehydrated, and my mouth felt like cotton. I was so sick that finally, about six in the morning, I asked Van to get me some help.

He called the desk, and they sent up two friendly uniformed security guards. By this time between waves of nausea and diarrhea, I was sitting in a chair, as they asked questions, and then offered to call the paramedics, who could check my vital signs and decide if I needed to be hospitalized.

I felt foolish causing all this fuss, especially since we’d heard and seen the paramedics going to The Riverside, at least once a day, and I’d seen them hauling one woman out through the casino; a prospect that I did not want to happen to me.

The guards stood near the doorway, while awaiting the paramedics, and soon I could hear the siren approaching from the distance. Then a guard said, “You have company,” and eight more uniformed men filed into the room. Several of them asked questions about my symptoms, and took my heart rate. They concluded that my vital signs were okay, and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said, “No.” 

They suggested that I get some Pepto-Bismol, when the gift shop opened. “It’s the same thing they would give you at the hospital to stop the vomiting and diarrhea,” one said, adding, “You can also get some Ginger Ale to help with the dehydration.” He also suggested Gatorade to restore the electrolights.

One paramedic told me about a clinic nearby, and suggested that we could go there, if I didn’t improve, thus saving a $700.00 ambulance charge. Whew! Now, I knew, for sure that I didn’t want to go to the hospital.

Once they left, Van went downstairs and got my remedies. Within a short time, my worst symptoms stopped and I was able to sleep. However, Van headed for the bathroom, with the flu-like conditions, and he took a Pepto-Bismol too, and went back to sleep.

We both knew we weren’t able to join Betty for breakfast, so when she called to say she, too, was sick, we assumed we’d gotten the flu bug at the same time, and it was fast acting.

The security guard had told me that there were many employees sick with the flu, so we suspected that this contagious condition had probably spread from the kitchen, or even from handling the money.

We all spent the entire day and that night in bed recuperating from our illness. And the next morning, Van and I managed to get up and have breakfast alone, as Betty was still having problems. However, we went back to bed, as soon as we returned to our rooms, concluding this is not a fun way to spend our time at Harrah’s. Winning is much more fun.

One for the Road

We all rallied enough for dinner, although Betty settled for milk-toast and ice cream dessert, while Van and I attempted to share a steak and baked potato. Neither of us finished, and Van had to leave and return to the room, because of cramps and weakness.

Betty’s Keno numbers came in twice, during dinner, for around forty-dollars each, but I wasn’t sure that I could handle the slots, as I was still feeling weak. However, I decided to give it a try, and we played several machines near the rest rooms. In the short time, together we won $175.00, and decided to give it up. So much for our big time at the casino. The truth is that we were probably money ahead for the two days we didn’t play slots and the four meals that Betty didn’t play Keno. 

With Van not on the job as Bucket Boy, I carried them to the cashier and watched the quarters magically change into paper. And then I handed the money to Betty. To my surprise, she took a $100.00 bill and handed it to me. I’m not sure that we won that much extra, but she was going home with money that she had set aside for gambling; so all in all we were money ahead. 

There is More to it

Through my years of observing patterns and assisting others in changing them, if they really want to, I’ve noticed that sickness is a compensation for something. Most people aren’t willing to admit this, because they’ve worked hard to come up with the condition that gives them the desired results. The question is: what is the desired result? And most folks aren’t able to come up with the answer, because it has been so carefully camouflaged.

For instance, Betty’s first reaction to her condition was, “It’s food poison,” and she has every reason to think this, because, in the past, she has had to abort several trips and activities, due to its debilitating symptoms; and she has returned home. I don’t kinow why this pattern started for her, but I guarantee it can be traced back to her childhood, probably related to her near-nervous breakdown, after her mother’s death, when her father took her on a trip, as advised by her doctor. Now, the pattern unconsciously flares up when triggered by similar circumstances. This time, however she stayed in her room, rather than returning home. 

So, when Van and I returned to Freedom, I asked, “What do you think this flu is all about?”

“Oh, I guess we picked up a virus,” Little Ralph answered, with his usual covert smokescreen, which I’ve learned to see through.

I didn’t reply, because I figured if he’s happy playing that game, then I’d let him. However, we had gone through the diachotomy of these Laughlin visits with his mom for several years, and he had become aware of the conflicting emotions: happiness and joy at being with his mom, versus a feeling of powerlessness at being dubbed Bucket Boy. Thus is born the passive- aggressive syndrome: appear cooperative, while inwardly resisting with whatever covert behavior restores a sense of power and control.

In the past, for many years, Van had a pattern of getting sick this time of year, starting with a cold or flu and going into pneumonia, lasting up to several months. Little Ralph had never revealed the original cause of this pattern, but the truth is that since we’ve been living in Freedom, it hasn’t happened. I suspect that our get-togethers here, in Laughlin, have helped give him insight, and to heal his relationship with his mother. This is because we have been able to talk about his feelings and release their subconscious hold. Up until now.

So I was delighted when Van asked, “Do you think there is more going on?”

I replied, “Well, you can let it go as a virus, or you can use the opportuntity for further healing and release from the pattern. It’s up to you.”

He seemed willing to listen, so I continued, “It’s a matter of becoming aware of your feelings, not labeling them good or bad, right or wrong; and then being able to take appropriate thoughts or actions to handle the situation differently.”

He didn’t say anything, so I asked, “Does that make sense?” He nodded, but added nothing more, because he processes the information internally, and then seems to release it. Seldom does he verbalize what he’s actually feeling, so if I can put it into words, he recognizes the mirroring and moves to a new level of freedom. 

This time, I brought to his attention that Betty had told me that when she was here in June, without us, she had the change people carry her buckets, and she managed just fine, so it’s important for him to understand that it isn’t about his having to take care of his mother, which I suspected is the basis of his illness, going back to the short time, as a child, when he lived with her, and, no doubt, felt the responsibility of taking care of Mom. However, after her mother’s death, when she became ill, he was sent to live with his father and grandmother. Up until a year ago, when Betty explained this event, Little Ralph had thought he was sent away, because he was a troublemaker, and it was all his fault, which is the reaction of most kids, because they are ego-centric; they think the world revolves around them. I, too, have this same pattern, and I’ve written a lot about my recovery process.

When talking about this, with Van, I asked how he could change his thinking or behavior, in the future, when spending time with his mom in Laughlin. He said, “Enjoy being with my mom.”

Of course, he always simplifies, so I expanded, “Would it help to realize that it’s not up to Little Ralph to take care of her, because she can come by herself and do quite nicely? So it’s a matter of choice, not responsibility, on your part, right?”

He nodded, then I asked, “But does it take away from your relationship with your mom?” 

He replied, “No, because our relationship has been evolving all along, in recent years.”

“Would you say the change is a matter of Little Ralph growing up and maturing?”

“Probably, and getting a different perspective.”

So What About my Part?

This is all well and good, but what about my symptoms in all this? Why did I get sick? Having recently seen the movie The Green Mile, it’s easier to explain that, as a healer, I often take on the energies from people I’m around, which makes it very uncomfortable for me, until the matter is resolved. So, when Van is going through intense emotions, which he isn’t able to process, I find myself feeling sick, weak, or other energies. In retrospect, I can see that is why I took on the negative energies, and then was able to release them, so that he wasn’t as sick with his symptoms this time. 

Also, it seemed necessary for Van’s healing process, to feel the intensity of the emotions accompanying this pattern. So, in addition to his Bucket Boy duties, and being asked by his mom to purchase her items in the the Gift Shop each day (something he seldom does, otherwise), he now was requested to purchase the remedies for me, which was defintely a bridge too far. Yet, this final blow seemed to be required for the intensity of the emotions to surface, and thus open the opportuntiy for the healing.

Although none of us enjoy the flu, or colds, or other cleansing, purification processes, they are a vital part of healing, and at times we must accept their part of the healing.

Now I know why I was Guided to see The Green Mile, as a visual aid. In the movie, the inmate, who was a healer, took on the negative energies, in order to heal the victim, and then he could release them, as flying insects that dissipated. However, in the case of the cancer victim, the negative energies were so strong that they almost destroyed him, while restoring her health.

Though this phenomenon seems freaky to most viewers, it is not unusual amongst healers. There are far more things going on than most people realize or understand. And soon the public will return to these truths, perhaps as the energies of the new millennium are experienced. It’s for sure we have gone too far to the opposite extreme, as the violence has overtaken the world. It is now time for the pendulum to return the balance of the spiritual energies. And those of us who are on the spiritual path are prayerfully adding our energies to the world healing, individually and collectively.

And What About Your Part?

The title of this chapter refers to winning, and we can all become winners, as we contribute toward the world peace and harmony. How can this be done?

It’s time to take a stand against violence and corruption, starting with saying “No,” to allowing them into consciousness. Avoid negative, violent movies, TV and games. Don’t read stories and articles that encourage violence and negativity, and begin to change your words and actions that pollute the environment. 

It will take time to change the pendulum, but each one of us makes a contribution toward the problem or the solution. The time has come for us to take responsibility for the conditions of the world, and there is something we can do.

What can you do to make a difference? And what will you do? 

Let’s all be winners! And let’s begin to live in a Win-Win World.

 

Chapter 6

“I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS”

 

On the Road

This chapter title is also the name of a song that was written during WWII for the service men who were away from home. It speaks of all the traditional memories they may have: mistletoe, a fireplace, Christmas carols, and the family gathering. And it concludes, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” 

Through the years, I’ve enjoyed the traditional family Christmases, and I’ve even spent a few away from family. For instance, I remember one year, during the wild seventies, when my significant other (at the time) and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, over to the coast and north through the farmland, seeing cattle grazing in the fields and the smoke rising from the chimneys of families gathered for the festive dinner. 

But, we chose to be alone and experience a different kind of day, that had begun by driving by Mt. Tamalpais, where hikers prepared for their version of the holiday, and ended as we drove through a nearly abandoned downtown San Francisco, and along Broadway, where the burlesque lured people who were on a different level of loneliness. The day was memorable, because of its differentness. Once back home, we concluded our simplistic celebration with raisin toast. 

Another year, Van and I were living alone at Capitola Beach in a studio apartment, and I decorated the lampshade with seashells we’d gathered along the beach, and I prepared a simple meal, which we ate, after a leisurely walk along the beach.

The point is that there are many ways to celebrate Christmas, and the hectic shopping frenzy culminated by opening presents and eating a huge turkey dinner is not the only solution to commemorating the birth of Jesus. In fact, the majority of people in the world do not recognize the event, because they are not Christians, which is a minority religion, despite all our hoopla. For instance, as I’m writing, we are spending a few free days as guests, in a Coast to Coast membership park, across the river from Laughlin, which means we are now in Arizona, but we’re actually on our way to San Diego’s North County in California.

This side trip all began when I approached Kathy, who works in the booth, at Riverside Casino, where they offer RV owners “Two free days and nights, plus $20.00,” for staying in their RV Park and listening to a 90-minute presentation about their membership program. So, here we are, looking back across the river, in the opposite direction, toward Laughlin. The first night, when we arrived, the western sky was ablaze with a glorious orange sunset, while we basked in the pinkish glow being viewed from their vantage point. In fact, they are seeing our windows of gold that are reflecting the sunset; it’s all a matter of perspective, depending on one’s viewpoint, as I’ve often said.

And once the sunset, our RV neighbor’s Christmas lights came on, and what a surprise to see a simulated Christmas tree glistening in the desert darkness. Obviously these people are among the more permanent residents in this otherwise transient environment. On the other hand, the fifth-wheeler next to us has their lights framing the picture window, so they can be on the road.

Keep it Simple

This year I decided to keep it simple, because everyone had been focused on Arianna and Jason’s November wedding, and just didn’t have the energy or finances to put our attention into the Christmas frenzy; and besides, we were on the road. 

However, I did put out our little fake Christmas tree that is already decorated, and plugged in my tiny flickering wreath with a gold star in the center. And, I set up my folding manger scene that looks like a stained glass window. So, with the Christmas angel, already in place (she stays with us all year round), our home became instantized Christmas. Now, while looking at the neighboring lights, I stuck a few cards, which had been forwarded to Riverside, into the window, to feel the loving energies of family and friends. You might call this a portable Christmas.

Other RVers along the way are more elaborate, with their conglomeration of sometimes homemade, or otherwise collected, crafts peering from their dashboard or windows or front door. But, it must be remembered that we don’t have much storage space, so full-timers economize on such extravagance.

For me, the true meaning of Christmas can be accomplished quite simply, and only takes up a small amount of space, for it is remembering the birth of Jesus and His message of love, peace and goodwill. And this is done all along the way, and at all times.

I must admit, however, that I did succumb to a quick trek into Wal-Mart, while we ventured out to buy a new battery for Freedom at nearby Winston Tires. The energies of the crowd closed in on me, and I became so weak that I thought I was going to get sick again. So, I grabbed the few needed items, including a card for Airica’s 17th birthday, and we got out of there. So much for my Christmas shopping this year.

The Happy Millennium Bear

Actually, I did, also take advantage of the gift shop at Harrah’s to buy a few gifts. I just couldn’t resist the Happy Millennium bears. There they sat with their cute faces and red, white and blue top-hats sporting a big 2000. A little red tag said “Push me,” and I did, to my delight, as a cute childish voice rang out “Happy Millennium.” I fell in love, and my only problem was how many to buy. Arlene and I had agreed not to give gifts this year, but she always does, so I decided to get one for her, and one for my brother, Gary; and then there’s Airica and Brandon, and of course, I have to have one for Freedom, so that would be for Little Ralph. 

So, the day we left Harrah’s, despite my fluish weakness, I went to purchase my bears, but they were gone. I was devastated, as I frantically looked through the aisles, but to no avail. Finally, I asked a clerk about them, and she said, “Oh, they’ve been taken away for Inventory. They’ll be back on Tuesday.” 

I couldn’t believe my ears, as I wailed, “But I wanted to buy five of them, and we’re leaving now.”

She understood that I was desperate, so stopped, and then said, “Maybe they are on the discount table.”

I’d already passed it, and hadn’t noticed any changes, but when we arrived at the table, there they were all lined up at the back, with their patriotic top-hats poking from behind the other stuffed animals.

When I glanced at the sign, I almost fainted, as I read, “40 percent discount.” They had only been $10.00, but even that had seemed a challenge, with our finances still on the economy mode, but I happily began grabbing them up and clutching their cute faces to my chest. I then put them on the counter to buy, hesitated, and bought one more, just in case; and the entire cost was only $38.00. Surely, God was taking care of me, as usual, and the true spirit of Christmas, again, became more meaningful. 

I was able to buy gifts for my loved ones, and I smiled from ear to ear, as I lugged my bag of bears out the door, and quickly showed one to Betty and Little Ralph, while pressing the label: “Happy Millennium” brought smiles to their faces. 

What a great gift for Little Ralph to remember this time with his mom, and as a memento for the new millennium for the other recipients.

Throughout the trip, whenever I pressed the “Happy Millennium” label, Little Ralph smiled and even laughed, and I knew that Joanie had come up with a good idea. 

Now, I could hardly wait to see Arlene and Gary’s faces when they heard the happy greeting. I was ready to begin the final stages of going home for Christmas.   

It’s a Wonderful Life

The final stages of returning home were delayed a few days, as we continued our free stay at the RV Park. Van rested, and I caught up on several personal letters, and we watched TV in the evenings, while watching the Christmas lights described earlier.

The last night, we stumbled onto the beginning of It’s a Wonderful Life, the traditional Christmas tale about learning to appreciate life, and especially one’s own life. The story began with the angel, Clarence, watching a flashback of George Bailey’s life, from the time he saved his brother’s life, and once prevented the druggist from accidentally poisoning a customer, to all the people he helped with loans to make their dreams come true, and including his own wife and family. 

Of course, there was the villain, who made George’s life miserable with his constant efforts to tempt and thwart George’s accomplishments, and finally, set up the circumstances that caused George to stand on the bridge, ready to commit suicide. That’s when the angel came on the scene, attempting to earn his wings by dissuading George from the fatal deed. 

When George said, “I wish I’d never been born,” Clarence showed him how life would have been, without his presence, such as saving his brother’s life, and preventing the druggist from a terrible fate, and helping everyone fulfill their dreams. And, of course, he wouldn’t have married, so his wife was a spinster; and there were no children. Ultimately, George came to appreciate his life and the contributions he’d made, and everyone lived happily ever after; and Clarence got his wings.

Interestingly, I found my Daily Reading open to the page that said, “The presence of God is my greatest gift,” and it reminded me that “God is what I need to live fully and completely.” Christmas is not about the expensive presents, but it’s about the presence of God in our lives; and remembering that God has a perfect plan for good for our lives, as we trust Him to fulfill that perfect plan through us and show us how to cooperate with it.

I always like to affirm, “Thank You, God that your perfect plan is now manifesting in our lives in Divine Order, and according to Your will, Your way, Your time, Your plan, Your guidance, and Your inspiration.”

And my Daily Reading affirms, “Your life-renewing presence within frees me from physical pain and emotional anguish. My faith in You keeps me attuned to Your voice, which calls me out to live my freedom in every moment of life.”

I Only Wanted a DQ

In my mind this story would now fade to Del Mar, California, along the beautiful Pacific Ocean, where we would be spending Christmas with my stepmother, Arlene, and my brother, Gary. But life is seldom the way we imagine, so I’ll fill in the details, keeping in mind the above affirmations.

The day started by our being picked up to attend the presentation about the Coast to Coast Membership Program by a rather gruff, unshaven representative, who drove us to the office, took us into the inner sanctum, where he began telling us the virtues of being allowed 14 days in our park, and then leaving to another park, at least 125 miles away for 7 days, before being allowed to return for another 14, and so on. The philosophy of this arrangement is so that other members will have an opportunity to stay at the park, too; otherwise, presumably all the good parks would be full all the time, and the 3,000 memberships for the 300+ spaces would not be happy. 

Personally, I was turned off right there, but we listened for the entire presentation, including an 8-minute video cross-sectioning the many parks across the nation, and then heard the financial parts, which include an initial cost, varying according to the type membership you select, and the annual dues, and the annual park dues. If one were interested in the concept, then the price would probably be acceptable, but we prefer our freedom of choice and cost. 

But, we still had to be bullied by our salesperson, who concluded the discussion by telling us the safety features, adding that someone had just told him, that morning, about an incident on the way to the park. They had been boon-docking (parking free) someplace, and awoke to find nails in their tire, which obviously cost more to replace than the cost of the park.

I don’t like such stories in my consciousness, because they attract like energies, and I felt that I had been verbally and emotionally abused by this person. Needless to say, we were happy to get back to Freedom and get on down the road, once we collected our promised $20.00.

We stopped at the post office to mail some last minute packages, and eat a Whopper Jr., then headed south to Needles. But, along the way Joanie noticed signs for Dairy Queen, and insisted that we stop at this DQ inside a mini-Truck Stop Texaco Station.

I’m not sure if that was our first mistake, or if it was a blessing in disguise. Here’s what happened: Van parked Freedom in the gravel, along the side of a building, and we went inside for our cone. I’d felt uneasy parking there, because often these places contain glass and other debris, but I let it go. 

Then, as we were leaving, one of the service station attendants came along side of Van and asked if he were trying to get air in his tire. Van replied, “No,” and the man said that the tire was going flat, and it might be a good idea. So, Van followed his instructions to drive around the building, and to the spot allocated for RV service. 

It seemed the tire must be removed and checked for the cause. By this time I was feeling apprehensive, and I wondered if someone had intentionally sabotaged our tires, because I had heard about these small town service stations, so I got out and listened to the conversation. They had already discovered a nail in one tire, and a piece of metal in another. And, as the attendant examined the other tires, he indicated that two more were about to blow out. 

I became angry, feeling that we were being ripped off, and I went ballistic when Van came inside Freedom, where I’d retreated, to announce that we would need two new tires for $600.00; like we had that kind of money. I said, “Do what you have to do,” because I could tell he was in his RV-repair-mode. We already had an appointment for Camping World in San Marcos, to repair the furnace and check the water heater. This would wipe-out our repair funds. He went back outside and okayed the work.

Soon, I stormed out and shouted to the attendant, “We are living on our Social Security, and that’s all the money we have. If this is a setup, you have the wrong people!” And I went back inside the refuge of my home, as the tire changing process took place for the next hour.

At one point, still angered, and also frightened about this strange turn of events, not to mention that we would, again, be broke, I went back and shouted to Van, so the attendant could hear, “This is the end of our travels. We will go to Arlene’s, as planned, and then we will decide where to settle down, because we cannot afford to continue traveling.”

“Well, we still need tires,” he protested.

There was nothing I could do, so I went inside and worked two crossword puzzles. But all the time I was feeling paranoid, like I was in some kind of Twilight Zone. Everything seemed surreal, and I felt alone, frightened and helpless; with no place to turn. I felt victimized.

I didn’t realize, at the time, but I was going through a deja-vous experience. In retrospect, it’s all very clear, but it wasn’t at the time. Later, I began to put together the correlation of events, which I will explain, as I go along. Suffice to say, now, that this reminded me of part of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when George, who had been a stable, easy-going, sane man suddenly seemed to go crazy. Even as we were watching the movie, I remarked to Van about the confused, frantic look in his wife’s eyes, and her emotions going between helpless and angry, as she watched this man she’d always known turn into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I’d felt the same way when Van changed from my strength and support, who had always handled everything, into a confused, helpless stranger. And then it was up to me to take care of things, and I wasn’t qualified; I simply didn’t know what to do, or how to do it. I was terrified, as I watched our finances go from stable and a comfortable lifestyle into poverty and bankruptcy, because Van wouldn’t, or couldn’t, take care of things.

I didn’t understand, then, but learned throughout therapy and my recovery process, that these events were bringing on a flashback of my early childhood trauma, when Mother went crazy, after my baby brother, Gary’s, birth. I was told to take care of them, but I was only two-and-a-half, and I didn’t know how, although I tried. And when she was taken away to a mental hospital, I was sure it was all my fault, because I didn’t take care of her. 

So the movie reminded me of the similarity of those events, and my feelings of confusion, helplessness and terror when everything familiar suddenly went crazy. This surreal experience in the service station was bringing about the same feelings. I’d gone inside for an ice cream cone, and then everything went crazy: a flat tire, metal, nails, and $600.00, which meant we would be broke. And, of course, the money is such a big factor in my story, because it began during The Great Depression, and we didn’t have money. Then Van quit working and supporting us, and again, we didn’t have money to pay our bills, and he began juggling them around and paying with credit card loans. It was insane, and it was up to me to do something about it; so I went to an attorney and he suggested bankruptcy. But that didn’t solve the problem; we still didn’t have any money, until Van’s Social Security finally kicked in, and then we down-sized from our big three-story home in southern California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, into our 35 ft. Holiday Rambler home on wheels.

In Needles, I had realized that we had just crossed the border into California, and I’d felt a chill go through me, because life had changed there, from having everything that brought me joy, including my family, my dad and step-mother, and a successful ministry. And I’d seen it all crumble and disappear: one daughter and her family moved to Colorado, the other became enmeshed in manic-depression, my adopted mother died, and then my natural dad died, I stressed-out, and my ministry dissolved; and, of course, Van’s job was down-sized, and he became traumatized. It was all too much! No wonder I felt apprehensive about returning to the area. But, now, at least I’m more aware of the inner emotions, and how they were triggered in Needles.

However, that’s not all, and I wasn’t consciously aware of any of it, at the time, as the tires were being changed. Instead, I just felt angry and confused. Finally, the work was done, and Van got in Freedom and began driving down the highway. I didn’t want to talk to him, and I knew that if I did, I’d say things that he didn’t want to hear. You see, part of this syndrome is my compulsion to leave, or have them leave; so I’d been busy planning my divorce, and what I would do with my life. It was just a matter of where, when, and how. So, I retreated to my computer table, in the back of Freedom, and put my head down, as my thoughts were swirling around in my head.

I angrily thought about the unpleasant man at the RV Park that told us about the nail in the tires, which activated a whole series of mistrust thinking, including my certainty that the service station attendant had caused the tires to flatten. And then I got angrier at Van for not taking care of things properly, and succumbing to this trickery. Of course, Saint Van, as I call him in these times, never sees bad in anything, which only makes me feel worse; like I’m such a negative bitch.

In fact, when I’d snarled at him, earlier, “All I wanted was a Dairy Queen,” he said, “Well, it’s a good thing we stopped here, or we could have had an accident out on the road, and they had the time and tires to take care of it.” Like I needed his righteousness to slap me in the face. That was supposed to be my line, so why had I turned into such a paranoid monster?

This went on, as Van rolled along the darkened highway (we’d left Laughlin around 3:00, with plenty of time to get to our destination, Barstow, before dark. But now, the sun had set long ago, and we crossed the desolate desert, with only the headlights to brighten the way. Merry Christmas!

Someplace along the way, I tried to change my thinking, allowing for the possibility that maybe I was wrong, and maybe Van was right; maybe God had brought us to the service station for help, and maybe the attendant was an angel in disguise. So, begrudgingly, I thanked God for the angels in our lives, including the guy at the RV Park. It was like turning a speeding ship away from the iceberg, and it took all my effort, because I still felt angry, especially at Van, for whatever reason.

Finally we reached Barstow and he asked for help in finding the Truck Stop, but I said, “I don’t want to help you; you’re on your own.” I knew that I was still in my syndrome, and I would only say hurtful things, so I decided not to talk at all. He got us into Rip Griffin’s, although we’d planned to find Flying J’s new Truck Stop; but I’d misplaced the brochure, and only had an old one that didn’t list it. While Van was filling up the gas, I tried to call several numbers for other locations, but I couldn’t get through, for some reason. 

Because I realized that I was in overload, and I couldn’t cope with anything, we decided to stay put. However, this stop was so loud with roaring trucks, that I suggested we attempt to find Flying J. So, Van drove up over the freeway (I-15) and toward the Outlet Mall. In the dark, I noticed we’d passed an unlit Flying J sign, so we turned around and drove back slowly, determining that it hadn’t been built yet. Darn! What else can go wrong? Van drove back to Rip Griffin’s, and we settled down for the night.

The next morning, during my meditation, I felt clear-headed, and I began asking God for an explanation and guidance about all this. The word “Insanity” flashed into my mind, and I could see clearly, much of the above explanation, including the triggering mechanisms that I’ve mentioned. But, then I realized the date: we’d made it through October’s process, and then November, with Gary’s birthday, which usually begins the anniversary of the events that dissolved my childhood family, and now, we were at the actual time when Mom “went crazy,” the week before Christmas, and subconsciously the events of the day had triggered my subconscious into reliving the past by merging it with the present. It was all made crystal clear, and another layer of healing took place. I could feel the weight lift, as tears rolled down my cheeks, while I relived that first scenario, and felt those painful feelings. I realized that I was, again, going through the Final Battle of the Journey to Inner Freedom, and that meant reliving the original trauma and releasing it.

Now, I could live more fully in the Present Moment, and enjoy this Christmas with my brother and Arlene, and whatever blessings awaited us.

The Final Battles

I didn’t think I’d be in the midst of The Final Battles, as we anticipated the last leg of our Journey to the coast, but, it makes sense that this time of year, with the memories of those early traumas, is when they would intensify, and that’s the time they often surface. So, the best way out is always through, and I’m ready to move through.

With this in mind, I wrote the above words, while in Barstow, again with tears running down my face, as I completed this level of the experience, and then I read them to Van, which furthers the healing process. Just as I finished, Dottie called, and I got to share the entire drama with her, adding my touch of humor, as I recited the irony of it all, including the RV Park salesman’s tale of the nails in the tire. 

She laughed, as the story unfolded, but she was dealing with her own processing, which she recounted. Seems her contact lens had messed up her eye, and she had to wear her glasses with tissue stuffed between them and her eye for protection. We always look within to see what is really going on with us, whenever these things occur, so we discussed her condition, without a clear understanding, which makes sense, because the eye always symbolizes understanding, or what we’re not willing or able to see; either internally or externally, or what we need to be seeing.

When I asked her what she picked up about my ordeal, she said, “You know, I’m getting that you’re already on the downward side of this; it’s just like a tight ball that is being released, and you’ll be done with it.”

I laughed, because my computer screen-saver had been on, and it’s a small round ball that comes forward and then explodes, dissipating into nothing. God never fails to come through with a good visual aid, and this time it unfolded right on cue. I said to Dottie, “Well, there’s no doubt this is a God-thing that’s happening, so I’ll just let it unfold and enjoy the experience.”

She agreed, but added, “There’s another part that I’m picking up on. It’s the ‘insanity’ part. I realize it does relate to the family mental illness, but it’s that you, as a child, knew what you were here to deal with, and you were aware of the insanity of people not being willing to live according to the spiritual principles, which they already knew before they came into this lifetime.”

“That makes sense,” I said, “because it still disturbs me that I understand all these things, about patterns, and how to attain their freedom, yet, most people aren’t willing to do what it takes. It’s because the ego is using them to maintain control, and won’t allow them to listen and understand, so they can be freed from their bondage, just like the Israelites, who cried to God for freedom, then when they got it, they complained that they were better off in Egypt; at least they had a roof over their heads and food. You’re right, to me, it is insanity. But, I don’t think that’s what this process was all about.”

“Oh, I agree, but it’s important for you to realize there is another level involved.”

“And I appreciate you bringing that to my attention, because it reminds me that I am on a Spiritual Path, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone, other than you, who I can talk to about these things these days.”

We were able to have a longer than usual visit, because Steve had gone elk hunting with the guys, and Dottie stayed home, although Airica was working, but otherwise home. Dottie was complaining, “Since Steve has retired, we’re together almost all the time, and I’d thought I could get so much done, now, but I’ve gotten so use to him being home that I can’t seem to do anything; and besides, I can’t use my eyes all that much.”

“I know what you’re talking about, “I said, ‘the same is true with Van and Me. It becomes another addictive sort of thing.” 

Just then her phone indicated another call, and she returned to happily announce, “A friend is stopping by, so I’ll get off the phone. I’ve been so bored, so I welcome any company.” I wondered if this might be a clue to Dottie’s eye problem. Because she and I are usually processing through the same stages of the Inner Journey, I concluded that it probably had something to do with her Final Battles, which would be revealed to her, in time, as she was willing to look and to see. 

It’s for sure that it wouldn’t be wise for me to fight her battles for her, as I learned years ago when I tried to solve everyone’s problems, and only succeeded in causing their resentment and ultimately crippling them from being able to stand on their own two feet. So, Dottie and I had journeyed through these various stages and attained our individual inner freedom, in the process. Now, I appreciated that she was willing to listen to my latest Final Battle story, and that she was willing to share hers with me.

The reason I say “The latest …” is because this journey is cyclic and spherical, like a vortex, and we cycle through all the stages on various levels, as we return to the soul. This is not only explained in The Bible, or metaphysics, but it’s also discussed by Carl Jung, in psychological terms, and I’ve written about it in Journey to Inner Freedom.

The Silvery Moon

Van and I managed to get on the road early, so we could avoid the predicted strong winds over the Cajon Pass, that have been known to overturn semi’s and RV’s. Since we succeeded, and quickly made our way over The Pass, I called our friend, Jim, in Murrieta, and arranged to visit.

We sat by their luxurious pool in the comfortable California afternoon sun, chatting about our inner and outer adventures, and soon the full moon appeared over the distant hills. And, as evening approached, Jim turned on the Christmas icicle lights along the fence, on the far side of the pool, and the blue ones above the patio. By now, the moon had risen higher and become silvery, adding its special effects to the magical, mystical scene.

The evening air had cooled, and we had retreated inside, where Jim turned on the Christmas tree lights that were reflecting from the sliding doors. His wife, Patty, had joined us, and when I commented on their 60 inch TV screen, Jim gave us a demonstration by inserting a DVD (disc) of the Three Tenors in Paris, and we soared over the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River, high above the French city, accompanied by their melodious voices and the Paris Symphony. Later, he transported us to Tuscany, in Italy, accompanied by the lilting voice of the blind singer as we viewed ancient ruins and the peaceful countryside. What a tranquil afternoon and evening.

Commenting on their comforts, Jim said, “Well, with Patty’s disabling arthritis, we can’t travel, so we felt that we might as well enjoy our own home.”

Nevertheless, we all went to dinner at The Hunter, in nearby Temecula, adding another dimension to the elegance of their lifestyle. 

But then, it was time to move on, and we drove to Carlsbad State Beach, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, not far from where we had once enjoyed this same view from the hillside where we lived.

The next morning, because we had to get up early for our appointment at Camping World, I looked out the uncurtained window, and gasped as the huge moon was slipping through a golden haze, into the ocean, and seemed to be within arm’s reach; a beauteous sight to begin the day.

Angels Watching Over Us

Sometimes I think I should stop writing, just in case I am subconsciously creating more things to write about. That’s my reactions to the explanation about the cause of the furnace fumes. But, on the other hand, I always hope that my writings might help someone else who is going through something similar. 

So, to recap this story: the fumes started, in Colorado, after TC replaced the motor for the furnace. He checked with an electronic leak detector, but found nothing. Yet, the fumes persisted, so TC filled in some areas with Silicon, and said the smell would probably go away. He offered to take the furnace apart and check it for cracks or leaks, but because we were in a hurry to get on the road, we decided to get on our way. 

But the fumes persisted, so we stopped at an RV repair in Albuquerque, where they discovered the set screw hadn’t been replaced, and fixed it for $27.00. However, the odor continued, and that’s when we should have pursued the matter, but we didn’t.

At Riverside RV Park, the Roadrunner RV Repair guys came inside, said they didn’t smell anything, other than furnace fumes, and left. By this time I was keeping the vent open at night, and/or not turning the furnace on, because I still felt this was a potentially dangerous situation. We were out of our RV, while staying at Harrah’s, however, at the Coast to Coast RV Park, I insisted that Van make an appointment for repairs in Bullhead City, but no one could take us. As usual, it turned out the way he wanted: an appointment at Camping World in San Marcos.

All along I had been praying for our safety and protection, but now I also prayed for Divine Order, and that the mechanic would find and fix the problem. But, when Roy turned on the furnace, and didn’t smell anything, I felt discouraged, although I kept trusting God to resolve the problem through Roy, and I kept writing on my computer. 

I knew that Roy thought he was on a wild goose chase, but he agreed to give the furnace a routine maintenance check, and took it completely apart. This wasn’t easy, because TC had sealed parts of it with Silicone, which Roy suspected could be the cause of the odor, but he kept checking. 

In the meantime, we went next door to brunch. In the past, we’d loved this place, so were disappointed to learn that it had been sold, and was now called Lynn’s, but they still had the big bun cinnamon rolls and the breakfast was good.

When we returned, Roy was banging on the furnace to get it in place, though he looked strangely becalmed, and his energies had changed, as he looked up and said, “This furnace had a massive gas leak.” 

As we tried to grasp the significance of this news, he pointed to a pipeline that carries the propane, and said, “This fitting was not tightened, and every time the furnace was on, the propane leaked. It could be very dangerous.”

I said to Van, God’s really been working overtime, or His angels have, taking care of us. Thank you, God.”

Van and I talked about the situation, wondering what we could, or should, have done differently along the way to take greater precautions. I knew it wasn’t a matter of being TC’s fault, although Roy felt it was negligence. I explained that he had been distraught over his wife’s health, and that might have distracted him. But in my heart, I knew this was another God-thing; if nothing more than to teach us how much our angels are always watching over us. This was really turning into a Christmas Story, and it was still three days away.

Later, Roy tested our LP alarm, which we’d relied upon to warn us of any danger from the propane fumes, only to discover that it didn’t work. This shock left us further into our Christmas Miracle of God’s angels protecting us, and guiding us to Roy to solve our furnace fumes problems.

As we were getting ready to leave, I heard another mechanic ask Roy if he was ready for Christmas. He said, “Nah, I’m in a Bah, Humbug mode; cards, and money to the grandkids, that’s all I’m doing.”

I thought about the original Scrooge, and wondered if Roy realized how much he had contributed to our Christmas. Apparently not, because I’d already thanked him for saving our lives by his persistence in solving the problem, despite the fact that he didn’t smell any furnace fumes.  

Roy didn’t realize that he was an angel among us, but he reminded me of George, in It’s a Wonderful Life, because he had made a difference in our lives; and possibly, without his diligence, the problem would not have been solved, and we could still have been asphyxiated by those deadly furnace fumes. On the other hand, what about those guys from Roadrunner RV, in Laughlin, who didn’t take the time to examine the furnace? Will there come a time when they must review their lives and see the opportunity they missed to earn their wings?

In any event, I am convinced that we are alive today only by the grace of God, because we had been inhaling those deadly propane fumes for over a month. Even though at night I had covered the furnace vent near me, and sometimes opened the ceiling air vent, plus keep the furnace turned down, we were still breathing carbon monoxide.

I was so shocked and overjoyed with this news that I tried to call Dottie, but she didn’t answer, so I called Arlene, because I also wanted to let her know that we would be arriving, as planned, later in the day. But she seemed surprised about our arrival, so I said, “Isn’t today the 23rd?” She and Van both assured me it was only the 22nd. We had another day, so we decided to return to the Carlsbad State Beach.

Joy to the World!

Although the furnace and water heater maintenance turned out to be lengthy, it was only 2:30, so we decided to stop at Mervyn’s, where Jim had said I could find a new heavy sweat shirt like his to buy for Van. 

On the way, Dottie finally returned my call and explained that Airica had driven her to the store to buy cigarettes, because the roads were icy from snow (it was only 18 degrees), and her car had snow tires. And when they returned, the garage door was open, which caused her concern, until she discovered that Steve had returned from elk hunting (without an elk), and they had been catching up on each other’s stories (while apart); now he was taking a nap from his exhaustive fun time, plus having traveled in The Rockies through a whiteout blizzard.

With this wintertime picture in my mind, I could further appreciate the joy of zipping along the highway in 70+ temperatures, as Dottie continued her saga about her eyes. I’m sharing this, because it is a vital addition to this Christmas Story.

Dottie said that for the last month or more, she had been focusing on living in the Present Moment, and just letting everything be however it was, including her eye being patched. And the more she did that, the more she was experiencing joy.

I added that joy is definitely a characteristic of Christmas, and she agreed. It felt good to be connecting with my daughter, across the miles, at this season of family’s being together. And yet, we weren’t together; but, as Dottie had reminded me, I would be enjoying the Present Moment, which I believe is the Holy Season, for it is where we experience the Presence of God, and it can be any time, all the time.

I found it necessary to remind myself of this truth, as we approached the mall where Mervyn’s is located, and I saw sights and sounds that reminded me of Christmases Past that I’d shared here with my family: the Soup Plantation and Olive Garden where we’d eaten many meals, and Chuckie Cheese, where we’d celebrated birthdays, as the kids grew up; and, of course, the times we’d shopped together. But all of that had changed now; and I knew that even if we were in Colorado, we probably wouldn’t be doing those things, because no one seemed to have time, and the kids were all grown. I did, however, conclude that we would be settling down there to enjoy the next generation that was, even now, coming into fruition in the form of Arianna and Jason’s unborn baby (due at Easter); and this, too, seemed significant, during this Holy Season.

But, for now, the Present Moment involved shopping for Van, and I took him along, because this was not so much Christmas purchases, as it was an opportunity to upgrade his consciousness to become more professional in his role as Executive Coordinator in our business. The thing is that Van hates shopping, and he’s worse than a kid, with practically no cooperation or interest. But, with a few well-chosen words on my part, he finally got into the spirit, and we moved through the process of transforming him from blue denims and long, hooded, snuggy jacket to a smart, black new fabric jacket and modern Khaki pants (the style, not the color). In addition, we bought the two heavy sweatshirts; white for special, and maroon for grubby, so I could throw away the rags). 

Whew! This was a major accomplishment, and when we finished, it was dark outside. So we stopped at Burger King for a snack, before returning to our beach site. And, for some reason, everything was different: the park entrance was still open, whereas it had been closed the night before. A trailer had parked in the vacant site across from us, blocking most of our view, but the next one was clear, so that was okay. But, the strangest difference was the number of cars passing through the park; like it had come to life. I concluded this must be the Christmas vacation crowd arriving.

In any event, the next morning, I awoke in time to see the silvery moon slowly settling into the ocean, and the wispy clouds turning golden and pinkish, as the sun began peeking over the hills to the east. And two cars (with Washington license plates) had pulled into the vacant site, but the view wasn’t blocked; all was okay.

I settled down for my meditation time in the quiet of this early morning, and as I began recalling the events about the furnace, adding my thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation, I was into the awareness of the miracle of being alive. I fully experienced a consciousness of the angels who had watched over us, and, most of all, I felt the Presence of God permeate my being, and I felt His omnipresence in everyone and everything. 

As I experienced the awesomeness and vastness of the reality of God’s omnipresence, I had a flashback (for a visual aid) of the PBS feature we’d watched the night before. I had no idea it would turn out to be part of my Christmas Story, and I hesitate to add it, wondering if it will make sense, but it’s a God-thing, so here goes. 

The show’s host was taking us on a tour of this major project in Riverside County, where they are excavating for two dam sites: East Dam and West Dam. The diggings are so deep, that they discovered prehistoric mammal bones, and there are Paleontologists documenting and storing all the finds, which will be in an expanded Visitor’s Center; they already have Max (a prehistoric mammal) on display in a temporary building. The tour covered 5-miles of the project, and that was only a small part of the total, which includes 3200 acres of dedicated land that will remain untouched by any development. And, there are also thousands of acres for recreational purposes, both water and land, such as camping. Whenever the host talked with any of the workers, they spoke in awed, almost reverent tones, about the immensity and magnitude of the project and its final outcome. 

And, the host, too, expressed this, as he stood by some of the gargantuan earth-moving equipment; one which was carrying over 300 tons of earth or rocks, and he tried to describe the vastness of the land that would be inundated by the reservoirs. It’s almost incomprehensible, especially for the California desert. In any event, we were able to grasp a small part of the overall immensity of this project, which is a pinpoint compared to the omnipresence of God. Yet, on some level, I experienced God’s reality. It’s like I was living in a radiant glow of His blessed energies, and it was Joy! Of all that God is, God is Joy!

Gradually, I became aware of sounds around me, and when I looked outside, the campground had come to life. A lady was walking her two short-haired terriers, a man went racing by on his bicycle, and another lady was playing with her short-tailed black and white mongrel-type dog. The group from Washington, perhaps on winter break from college, were basking in the glory of the warm, dry California sunshine, and several kids were gleefully running and playing alongside their RV.

I felt like Scrooge, when he opened his window and looked outside to Christmas morning, feeling the joy of life, and like he had been born anew. It’s a new awakening, I thought, and remembered that during my meditation I had realized that nothing is worth worrying about, because, God really is taking care of everything. All we need to do is let go and let God. It’s more than just words; it’s a reality.

Just then, two people on motorcycles went roaring by, and folks in a motor home went zooming past, obviously on their way elsewhere for the holidays. 

But, for us, we were home for the holidays, and I rejoiced that we could enjoy this morning in this festive atmosphere, before joining Arlene and Gary, where we would be embraced in the familiar joys of the season. I truly needed that this year; and I remembered that Arlene told me, on the phone, that Peter (my brother Bill’s son) and his cherished son, Mitchell, would be with us this year, and we would get to meet Peter’s new love, Melissa. It felt good that we would, again, have a child in our midst for Christmas, and I looked forward to this event with great joy and enthusiasm, in a different spirit than ever before. Thank God, I am alive! 

Home for Christmas

Van finally emerged from his slumbers, and put on his new clothes. I was surprised that the maroon sweatshirt and stylish gray-green pants actually added a dimension of the traditional red and green Christmas colors. 

The sun was high in the sky and our doors were open to cool off, as we enjoyed the few hours at the beach, on this day that would, eventually take us Home for Christmas. A leisurely stroll along the sandy shore, with the waves lapping at our feet, as the tide was in, and then check-out time.

Once at Arlene’s, we were swept into the holiday activities: tree, lights, last minute shopping, family, food, gifts, and our evening card game with Arlene and her sister, Phyllis.

But mostly, this Christmas was about eight-year-old Mitchell and his Pokemon. And the precious time his father and son get to spend together, before parting. So they played games, including the new Space Program Monopoly, and watched videos, Austin Powers and the Spy Who Shagged Me, not my idea of a child’s movie, but that’s how it is these days.

Soon Christmas was over and Peter returned Mitchell to his mom, and went to his home in the desert. But Gary stayed on for the next two weeks, and we did too. 

This Christmas and holiday season, I noticed that something was definitely different for me this time, and the best explanation I can give is that the changes I’d been going through, in recent months, had a lasting and proven impact. This was the first family gathering where I didn’t feel the underlying trauma of my old patterns, based on childhood issues of “not wanted,” “I don’t belong,” and “It’s all my fault.” Thank you, God. 

Chapter 7

COMPLETIONS AND NEW BEGINNINGS

End 1999; Begin 2000

Completion

There are always so many loose ends to clean up for any ending, and the end of a year, a century, and a millennium is opportunity for a gigantic Completion Process. Since I missed the last millennium, and I don’t expect to be here for the next, it’s a privilege to be part of this 1,000-year celebration, so most of the day and night I watched the TV cameras around the world complete the millennium and prepare for the 21st century and the year 2000.

There had been so much hoopla and superstition, not to mention media hype, that the anxiety had reached a fever-pitch, but party-goers didn’t let it interfere with their fun, as ABC and PBS took us on a world-wide tour of customs, traditions and celebrations. All of which was wonderful. But I did feel disappointed that more spiritual emphasis wasn’t placed on the presentations from the United States of America. I thought we seemed quite crass and indulgent compared to the rest of the world’s culture: opera, ballet and symphony. But, I guess it’s the times we live in.

Nevertheless, we made it through, until midnight, without a hitch or glitch, despite the fact there were no bananas left at the supermarket, and the bottled water supply was quickly diminishing. The clerk said it was the busiest day of the year, so someone was benefitting from all the hysteria.

We sent out for Chinese, as our only celebration for the New Year, and then we played cards. But Van and I were the only ones who stayed awake to welcome 2000. After our local countdown, Van gave me a Happy Millennium hug and kiss, getting the new beginning off to a good start.  

New Beginnings

Since Van and I had lived in nearby Leucadia, this was our home base for over twenty years, and we wanted to spend time with friends.

Renewing these relationships brought back many memories of attempted projects and seeming failures, or at best, incompletions

In retrospect, especially since revising my Changing Money Patterns, over the holidays, I realized that my friend, Joyce and I had not been completing our agreement to work on that project. Nevertheless, it isn’t so much that she couldn’t do it, if she really wanted to, because she has overcome many of her former “Can’t do,” patterns. So it would be a matter of fulfilling the title of the chapter, Do it Anyway, about Joyce in Changing Money Patterns. 

She had felt abandoned by us, when we all moved away, but I can see, now, that she has grown forward with her life, and it is working the way she wants. So, I felt the best contribution we could make would be to move on. However, I still felt an incompletion about her having invested so much into the MLM business, and having it simply end with no financial recompense. She had refinanced her home, giving her availability to the money, should she wish to invest, however, she chose not to continue.

After our visit, I suggested to Van that perhaps we could handle the business management, if she referred customers to the products through the Preferred Customer Program, and we could reimburse her with products at wholesale, and even bonus checks, should she bring in more customers. Van agreed to think about the possibilities, and I planned to get together again with Joyce, before we left the area. But she would need to try another bottle of OPC-3, and this time use the full required amount, to attain positive results. We agreed that we would donate the small size, for this experiment, as a bonus for buying the original amount, and as a Thank You for past support in our business; also as an investment in the possibility of her participation. 

Incompletions and Completions

In the meantime, I spent a day with another friend, Linda, whom I had meant when she had been Director of the Prison Ministry at the Christ Church Unity in San Diego. We had big plans for somehow joining our two prison ministries, but it didn’t happen. She eventually quit and returned to her law practice, and I finally retired my prison ministry. But, I still felt an incompletion, because it seemed that we still had some purpose in life together. 

After all, we were both Licensed Unity Teachers and had the same training and background and interests in spiritual matters. I had even become qualified to go into the San Diego Metropolitan Prison and we worked together presenting several classes to the few inmates who participated, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me; and eventually she realized it wasn’t for her, either. 

At one time, Linda had agreed to edit my Transformation’s Twelve Powers, but she made several changes that completely altered the meaning of what I’d written, and we decided that we were not well enough, as we were both too deep in our respective recovery programs to survive this project, so it was shelved. 

This time, we also managed to handle the incompletion relating to my books. While enjoying Mexican lunch at Acapulco restaurant, we again talked about our past endeavors with her helping edit and co-write some of my books; and we agreed that we were strong enough to take the project a step further. 

So, back at her house, we e-mailed the Journey to Inner Freedom manuscripts from my laptop computer to hers. It took several attempts, as we needed to change the language and programs. It was pitch dark, by the time we’d finished, but Linda and I both felt a great sense of accomplishment for having taken this momentous step. Neither of us knew exactly what we would be doing with them, but we trusted God to guide us in the next steps, as He had done with this one.

Paradigm Shifts

I think God is telling me something, and often He uses my writing to get His message clearly established in my mind. For instance, when writing my book, Down the Tube, I wrote a segment about Paradigm Shifts, which related the events of Linda and I visiting the San Diego Metro Jail. And now I was guided to review what I’d written.

I was aghast to read that I had been struggling with the same patterns: I’m not wanted, no one wants to hear what I have to say. I felt nauseous then, when going through the process, and I feel sick, again, as I’m writing, because I know the pattern is still in control; and I’m wondering if it will ever change.

This brings me to the current reason for writing this subject. Paradigm Shifts seem appropriate for the beginning of a new year, a new century and a millennium. And Philip White, the editor of Unity Magazine, agreed, for he included an article,  A New Paradigm for the 21st Century, an excerpt from Spirituality and Self-esteem, by Carol Keefer and Leona Evans.

The authors concur with my theory that civilization is approaching a new reality that will elevate us to a new perspective of wholeness; universally and individually. This transformation is in progress, as we re-examine our beliefs and where they came from. And, as we are willing to change our limited beliefs, we open the way for a Paradigm Shift, and therefore a new reality.

In my previous discussion of Paradigm Shift, I admitted that I didn’t understand the term, and I offered an unclear definition from the dictionary, and another from an author, but I like the one given in this article: When a previously held truth can be observed from a brand new perspective. 

The authors also explain that a paradigm, (pattern or mind-set) is a set of rules and regulations by which we establish boundaries, which we view as our reality. And, I’ve discovered if anyone challenges us to examine these beliefs, rules and mind-sets, we become threatened and rebellious. In fact, very few people are willing to change the status-quo of their reality; it is too unsettling, so they stay within the limited confines of their present reality and beliefs.

For instance, scientists establish a paradigm through which they view life, and if information is presented that doesn’t coincide with these boundaries, it doesn’t exist, as far as they are concerned. Galileo was imprisoned for challenging these established boundaries. And the medical profession is equally limited in willingness to accept new realities, such as Louis Pasteur’s theories about disease being caused by tiny germs. It took many decades before this paradigm shift.

An explanation in this article has given me new understanding of people’s behavior when embarking on my Journey to Inner Freedom course, which challenges them to face and change their beliefs and create new realities. The journey takes them through a Paradigm Shift, and their ego rebels; in fact, in most instances, they find reasons not to continue through the course, often attacking me, or the course, as a reason for quitting.

Anything new and unfamiliar causes resistance. This is because the ego is attached to the old ways, and cannot tolerate change, which causes it to feel threatened with a loss of power and control. As I’ve said before, the ego must be reassured that it doesn’t lose power, but gains, when it merges with the God-Power, into oneness. 

Transformation Takes Time

Again, I was being given an experiential aide, because reading the article was causing me to experience my own paradigm shift relating to my patterns. I can see, as I’ve written many times, that this procedure is ongoing and gradually takes place over a long period of time; just as described earlier, about the scientists and medical profession requiring many decades for change. Yes, there can be instant transformation, but in most cases, it takes time.   

The explanations in the article also helped me to understand the reason why people are often not willing to try, or stay with, our OPC-3 product, which causes radical changes in health and mental outlooks. One person said, “It makes me feel weird, and I don’t want any mind altering drugs.” Yes, he had thought and felt one way all his life, because of the chemical imbalance, so the change felt weird, which doesn’t mean it was bad. Nevertheless, he stopped taking the product in order to feel comfortable, rather than experience the exhilaration of freedom from limitation.

Distortions Based on Our Reality

Another person created a major upset relating to the product, and refused to take anymore, stating that it hadn’t made any difference. The truth is that she wasn’t aware of the changes in behavior, but they were obvious to us. In other words, she sabotaged the good results, as mentioned in the article: “What we believe about ourselves forms the basis of how we see the world around us. If our self-image is distorted, we are sure to find evidence of those distortions wherever we look.”   

In both instances, I found it easier to withdraw from the controversy than to attempt to change their minds. It would take more time and energy than I am willing to expend, and I prefer to invest my efforts where there is receptivity. As they say in sales, “Next.”

White Stone Sunday

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name on it, known only to him who receives it (Rev. 2:17).

White Stone Sunday, after the New Year, is a tradition in some churches, including the one I attended with Linda, and also our friend, Pat, that Sunday. 

A small white tile is used for this purpose, and we are taken into a meditation in which we ask to be given a word to write on our stone. Several words popped up, but I knew they were from my mind, rather than Spirit. Yet, they are good words: Focus, Confidence, Listen, Order. But they were spoken during the service, and I simply picked up on them, so I decided to wait, until I knew for sure my guidance was a God-given.  

The minister’s talk was about Faith, the first of the Twelve Powers, on which I have written a course, Transformation’s Twelve Powers. Speaking of the disciple, Peter, who represents that Power, Rev. Tabor reminded us that Faith can be fickle, and vacillate, as it did with Peter, who faltered many times in his faith; even denying that he knew Jesus. But, later, Peter redeemed himself, on the beach, when Jesus gave him a second chance, and Peter’s faith became strong, as he affirmed three times that he loved Jesus. 

Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) Peter answered, through inner revelation, “You are the Christ.” And Peter’s Faith was the rock (firm foundation) upon which Jesus said the church would be built.

But we must beware of the fickle faith, because we can have faith in the things we fear. As Job lamented, “The thing that I fear comes upon me” (Job 3:25). Therefore, we must direct the focus of faith to those things we desire, not what we fear.  

The Clean Slate

After the service, I asked Linda what word she’d received, even though the bible quote warns that no one is to know the word. And she said, “Nothing is to be written on the tile” (stone).

I understood that it was to remain a clean slate, symbolizing that we always have an opportunity for a fresh start; we don’t have to wait for another millennium, or century, or even a new year. Furthermore, we can impress upon the stone whatever word seems appropriate or needed for the time, so all of the words I’d received were accurate, but there would be more. It was a moment of revelation that took place in an instant, as described in the bible verse. Thank You, God, for the clean slate.

As Paul said, “Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This, as always, is my New Year’s Resolution, and one that will guide me through this new millennium.

Lunch With Pat

This was also Friendship Sunday, so we went with Linda and Pat into Fellowship Hall for snacks, while chatting with our friends, and also greeting another friend and Teacher (Linda and I are also Licensed Teachers), Joy-See, who served as Platform Assistant for that morning. It felt good to be amongst my friends, and again, I yearned to be involved with like-minded people. But, God continually reminds me that I am on a different path, so I must go where He leads me.

And today He led us to a delightful lunch with Pat, which she had prepared in her comfy bachelorette pad. A tasty vegetarian salad of rice, beans, zucchini, and other goodies, accompanied by a green salad and delicious bakery bread, lovingly prepared and served by Pat, enhanced our visit, as we caught up on our respective family news. 

As Pat talked about her family, and ex-husband, who lives with their son and his family, I recalled that she had lived a luxurious lifestyle on Cape Cod, and her apology for the simplicity of her current entertaining was understandable, but not necessary. As she said, “The price I paid far exceeded the benefits,” referring to her former husband. 

I wondered, as we compared notes on the size of our respective homes, why we were being tested in the fires of temperance, I guess I could call the transition in our lifestyles. After all, when I first met Pat, after her exodus from the east coast, I was living in a three-story home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and my life was filled with family and friends and Freedomers. But then, like Job, everything was taken from me; and the same is true for Pat, who lives across the continent from her family. 

Perhaps this is our clean slate, and someday, when we have fulfilled this part of God’s purpose for our lives, we will move on to the next turn on the path. But, for now, it was enough to enjoy the meal prepared in love by Pat, and to visit about common interests. And, while we were here, Van helped Pat get her computer skills clarified, which she greatly appreciated. 

The Birthday Bug

We made it through the Y2K bug, without a hitch, just in time for the Birthday Bug. 

We manage to survive our family episode from mid-November, until after the holidays, and think we can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with life, and then Van’s birthday syndrome hits the week after Christmas. 

Until we went on the road, I could always know the date, because Van would take to bed with the symptoms: maybe the flu, or a cold, and it would eventually turn into pneumonia. At least that’s what he calls it, and it could last from weeks to months, depending on the circumstances in his life, at the time.

I got so I hated the season, I hated him, and I hated myself for feeling in a perpetual state of anger, as we cycled through his annual death dirge. The reason I became so angry was because I knew this was another of Van’s many passive-aggressive patterns, and he even admitted it, but he would never identify its source, purpose or payoff, as I call the negative reasons for patterns. Furthermore there seemed to be nothing to discuss, because he always looked blank and like warmed-over-death, whenever I tried to probe the mysterious malady.

Miraculously, this psychosomatic disease didn’t occur in the first few years of our marriage, and it disappeared the first three years we lived in Freedom. But this year, while at Arlene’s, with my brother, the symptoms reappeared, under the guise of the flu, for the second time within a few weeks.

He sat through his birthday dinner, celebrated in conjunction with Arlene’s, which is the same day, at Hometown Buffet, and ate a pittance, rather than his usual full plate at the bountiful buffet. And he looked like death. I tried to enjoy my meal, but I knew we were in for a long siege, as we returned home (he didn’t drive) and he went to bed very early. And he stayed there for five days. 

I tried to get Van to look within and find the cause of this pattern, but why would anyone want to find the explanation of a pattern that had seemed to serve his purposes for so many years? That’s why it’s so pointless to attempt to guide someone out of their patterns. I have enough trouble recognizing and changing my own patterns.

Changing Money Patterns

I had an opportunity to review the depths of our patterns, while adding sub-titles to Changing Money Patterns, which documents the intensity of the effect of those patterns. They seemed to permeate or limit everything in our lives, including the business, which Van was ignoring, and the many other incompleted projects, his and mine, including my books-in-progress.

But, now I was feeling guidance for moving ahead with this book, at least. In fact, as I re-read the chapters relating to our friend, Joyce Cole, I decided to call and talk with her. I reminded her of the commitments we had made, and I asked if she would be interested in getting completions.

She didn’t remember the commitments, so I reminded her that I had wanted her to work with me in facilitating the Money Matters Workshops (the name I used, before Susan Orman published a book with that title). Then I’d gotten the idea of putting them in book format, so I couldn’t figure out how we could work together. But now, I suggested that we could get them onto the Internet, if she were willing to handle the orders and shipping, and deposit the money in a bank account. 

She said, “Yes,” and I added that subtitle to “Changing Money Patterns, as a completion of that book. Yeah!  

Now, I had two things I needed in order to move forward: someone to take care of orders, and a completion to the book. I also had a possibility of someone to help with the Website, as Tom had said he would e-mail me the information. 

No Freedom

Van’s reoccurence of his Birthday Bug, brought home to me how utterly dependent I am upon him. All wheels of progress stopped. For instance, we’d finally gotten a replacement of the phone that never seemed to work properly, but I would not be able to get it activated, without his help. So I was without communications, other than Arlene’s phone. And, of course, I was without transportation, other than Arlene taking me along. 

The business, too, had been at a standstill for a long time, as Van hadn’t seemed interested in doing much about it. Nor did he seem interested in helping with the computer; or much of anything, for that matter.

Aha! I think I have a clue. Could it be that the origin of Van’s bug had to do with his “I don’t want to do it,” pattern? 

As I re-read the manuscript for Changing Money Patterns, I could see the repeat of the same ol, same ol. In the past, I have referred to this syndrome as Withholding or holding out; “don’t give them what they want,” only seeming as if co-operating. 

The more I read, the angrier I became. I just couldn’t believe that I had been putting up with these passive-aggressive patterns all these years; and they really hadn’t changed. Here they were again, and here we go again. And it’s all so covert. I wondered if he really thought I didn’t know what was going on.

I was getting more in touch with my feelings, now, as I read, and I identified them: abandoned, unsupported, emotionally abused; and I felt stupid to think that I was still going through the same thing. 

There had been things I wanted to do, while in this area, and people I wanted to see, but with my transportation and communications thwarted, and it didn’t work for me being dependent upon my stepmother, who was busy managing the apartment complex and taking care of her own life.

As usual, when things aren’t working in my life, I revert to my pattern: I leave, or they leave. And I began planning my getaway: where to go, and how? 

Joyce had offered for us to stay in her extra room, and I seriously considered taking her up on it for myself. But would I be any better off: no money, no transportation, and living in someone else’s home. What I wanted was freedom and independence; financial and emotional. And I wanted my life to work.

Chapter 8

HERE WE GO AGAIN!

 

Get to the Point

We enjoyed our visit with my stepbrother, Tom, so much in the past few years, while in this area, that we decided to return. But, this would mean a drive along the coast to Long Beach, which takes us several hours through Orange County traffic. So our plan is to stop along the way, at Doheny State Park in Dana Point. A seashore spot we’ve come to enjoy, as we look right from our window, across the sand, to the sun glistening across the ocean. And the scene is enhanced by seagulls, gracefully flying, or perched on the sand dunes; and the fishing and sailboats coming into the harbor, also highlight the picture postcard scenery. 

We always take a walk along the beach, and to the restaurants at The Harbor. This time we selected El Torito, and savored a Caesar’s Salad with BBQ shrimp. Yum! And, of course, we must stop for an ice cream cone, on our return walk around the harbor, while viewing the many docked sailboats. We spotted the luxurious double-masted sailboat that we’d seen earlier, now with its sails furled, and the lucky people on board relaxing on deck. 

I once lived in this formerly sleepy, undiscovered beach town, during my divorce from my second husband, and while managing the Life Center Health Food Store that I had once owned. My son, then called Randy, stayed with me for awhile, and all I did was cry, though hopefully not in front of him. I think he had a good time playing with a neighbor boy, and I took him to the beach, which is now part of the marina and harbor.  

Visit With Brother Tom

The coast drive is always delightful, as we work our way through the congested beach cities, such as Laguna Beach, a well-known art colony, situated on a hillside that was overtaken by hippies, during their era, but now returned to its sedate airs, except for the bustling tourists. The artsy shops reflect the interests of the locals, and the many visitors, especially when the Laguna Beach Festival is in progress.

The next town, Corona Del Mar, is even more congested; but then we come to Newport Beach, adjoining Costa Mesa, which was my old stomping grounds, during the marriage mentioned above. And when my daughter, Dottie, visited us, she went with my stepdaughter (at the time) to visit her schoolmate, Ricky Powell, son of Dick Powell and June Allyson, at their beach home. I loved living in the shadows of this high-class, pricey town, and shopping at Fashion Island, when it first opened.

But, moving right along, we zoomed through Huntington Beach, a surfer’s town, and Seal Beach, and Belmont Shores, a Little Italy, with its canals and Italian motif.

I’d called Tom, and he suggested that we park at Cherry Park and walk the short distance to his Two Umbrellas Restaurant on Broadway. Since Tom was now acting as cook, he fixed us each a good meal, which he prepares with TLC. 

Van was coming down with his Birthday Syndrome, so we visited a few hours, between Tom’s busy schedules. He had been expecting someone to come talk about doing a Website, and I’d hoped to glean some information for my own use; but the person never showed up. 

Tom had to attend a meeting that evening, so Van managed to get us back to Carlsbad State Beach for the night. 

Deja-Vu

While at Doheny State Beach, the furnace had quit heating, so we made another appointment with Camping World. Van held together long enough to get us there, and we were told that a support switch had quit working, so a new one would need to be ordered. It would be here next week.

I again wondered if we were attempting to go a bridge too far by planning another trip across country, with all these breakdowns and repairs, and I had told Van as much, while at Doheny State Park. I began to suspect this might have to do with the return of his Birthday Syndrome.

 

No Longer Dependent!

I awoke Sunday morning with a giant nudge to get out of bed and take the bus to the church where I’d been very active.  The idea felt good, because I would prove that I could function, and I could be independent. I was excited, as I quickly got dressed and headed upstairs for the phone book.

Arlene was leaving for her church, but she took time to tell me that Gary’s RV wouldn’t start. Of course, he was as dependent on it for his home and transportation as we were on ours. So, this became another crisis, of many, for Gary. 

“Take care of your brother,” had been part of my early childhood syndrome, and I had overcome it, in recent years, through my recovery. So, I trusted that he would resolve his problem, and I called the North County Transit for information about the time, cost and location of bus stops; one being a block away, at the top of the hill. And, I had five minutes to get there.

I zipped out the door and up the hill, and waited. The fresh air and sunshine felt exhilarating, and I felt a new sense of freedom, as I boarded the bus, filled with only men, going, I don’t know where. But I knew where I was going, as we passed the familiar beach scenes along the Pacific Coast Highway: bikers, joggers, walkers, surfers on their Sunday morning jaunts.

I felt exhilarated with my new-found freedom and independence, as the bus bounced along the route, and I entered into a somewhat altered state of meditation. God was reminding me that the true independence is “Dependent on God in me.” A truth I must never forget.

We were making such good time that I wondered why it would take us so long, but I found out in Encinitas, the nearest town to where we had once lived, when we took an unexpected turn and stopped at the new Transportation Center for the buses, train, and Coaster (commute train). 

But, only a short stop and we were on our way, again, through eucalyptus-lined Leucadia, where I could see the hillside, above the lagoon, where we had lived. Soon we did a loop to the Ralph’s Shopping Center, and then returned to the highway. The next side trip took us to the Village Station in Carlsbad, where I got off.

I had an option to wait for another bus, which wouldn’t go very far, or walk; I opted to walk the six or seven blocks. And before I knew it, I was in the church.

Rev. Tony had already started the service, but he stopped mid-sentence, and with a big smile, said, “Joyanna! Welcome.”

I felt a warm-fuzzy, as I smiled and waved, and walked to an empty seat. 

The Highest Level of Prayer

As I started to sit down, to my surprise, the woman in front of me got up, turned around and gave me a big hug. It was Marge, a friendly-enemy, whom I was never sure to be for or against me, during those challenging days at this church. I never quite felt I fit in, although I’d taught classes and participated in most of the activities.

Now, as Tony continued his opening remarks, I realized that a lot of my problems were reflections of my own projections. I wondered how it would be now, and looking around, I could see that almost the entire congregation (30-50) was new faces, and unfamiliar to me. 

And then I heard Rev. Tony introducing the singer, a person I’d been thinking about and wishing to reconnect with: Scott Kalechstein, who calls himself a Traveling Minstrel, as he does just that, and often creates songs, as he goes. He sang a song about prayer that he’d written many years ago, in keeping with the topic: Highest Level of Prayer.

Then Rev. Tony talked about the highest level of prayer, recognition of Oneness, and offered a lovely prayer that he’d written in the January Newsletter for the New Millennium. When called upon for his second song, Scott, as he sang, created an inspiring one, based upon the words of Rev. Tony’s Prayer. 

After the service, I gave Scott a big hug, and we chatted awhile. He updated me on his activities and travels, including his latest innovation: being on a Website. And he gave me the name and phone number of the fellow who set up his Website. Yeah, now I had two options.

Then Scott invited me to accompany him to the car of Sarito, one of the newcomers, since my departure. She was selling magical cleaning cloths, though she referred to herself as “The Rag Lady.”  

Scott had left, and before I knew it, I’d bought four rags, and I don’t even clean. 

I said, “I wish I had you in my business.”

She said, “What do you do? I’m interested.”

I started telling her about our networking business, and she said, “Let’s meet tomorrow. I want to hear more.”

We made an appointment, exchanged phone numbers, and she went on her way.

I returned to the church, shaking my head in amazement at this remarkable way God had answered my prayer for our business.

While waiting to talk with Rev. Tony, I began talking with Gary, who told me about his having done resin artwork, when younger, but now suffering from the toxic effects of resin poisoning. I told him about our OPC-3 product, and he said he was definitely interested, so we exchanged phone numbers.

I then began talking with Joann, about the unique spelling of our names, as that is my name, when I’m not using my professional one. As we talked, she mentioned that she lives in Carmel Valley, which is next to Del Mar, so I asked if I could have a ride with her, and she gladly agreed.

On the freeway ride home, we chatted and I learned that she has diabetes, so I told her about OPC-3 helping to eliminate many of the depilatory symptoms. She, too, was interested and we exchanged e-mail addresses, so I could send her more information.

I felt I’d been Divinely guided to attend church in Carlsbad that morning, and I’d received many answered prayers, as experiential aides on the sermon: The Highest Level of Prayer. Thank You, God. 

Smash the Jar!

Still attempting to move forward with life, I read Van the Daily Reading, which spoke of this being the day of a new beginning. We marveled that January 10th would have that message, and I was convinced it was because of the internal process Van was going through, during this time of cleansing and purification, associated with flu, cold or pneumonia.

Van suggested that he would need a new attitude to bring about his “new beginning,” and I agreed, suggesting that he could change from “I don’t want to” to “I am willing and able,”

referring to his old pattern of withholding and holding back, accompanied by the 3 R’s: resentment, resistance and rebellion. He’d been doing so much better in recent years, and his passive-aggressive behavior had lessened, but apparently it was up, again, for him to process through to another level.

In fact, having recently reviewed the Road Sign about the Battles of the Promised Land, in my course, Journey to Inner Freedom, I recalled that the cover shows a glass jar, as the illustration of Van’s Last Battle. This refers to his non-social approach to life; as if he’s living inside a glass jar, where he can see and be seen, yet not fully participate and be involved; perhaps as a protection from the threat of intimacy, and the fear of being hurt, if too close.

So, this morning, as a step toward his new beginning, I suggested that a symbol for his changing attitudes from not wanting to willingness would be to smash the glass jar into a zillion pieces and watching it dissolve back into Divine Substance from which everything is created. Of course, this would cause him to feel exposed and vulnerable, but he must then clothe himself in the Infinite Light of God’s Presence and Protection.

All this seemed a bit overwhelming to Van, but it gave him something to work on in his own way and time. He definitely does not process things in the same way that I do, so it’s between him and God to handle the transition process.

More Battles Being Fought

  I’d rousted Van out of bed, and began packing, as we needed to get to San Marcos to have the furnace repairs completed. Also, we would need to get in touch with Sarito for an afternoon appointment. I too, was beginning to feel overloaded with the need to get everything handled, before getting on the road again. And we would need to get started, if we hoped to follow our itinerary across country to the Leadership Training in Florida by the end of February.

While Van took a shower, I went upstairs to hear the outcome of my brother’s story, and listened to it unfolded.

Attempting to get his RV towed away, before the street-cleaners came along, he rushed down to await the tow truck, just as a police officer arrived to give him a ticket. But, once he explained his plight, the officer said, “Okay.”

Then, when the tow truck deposited them at the garage that he’d called, he was told they wouldn’t work on RV’s, despite Gary had already told them that’s what was involved. Fortunately, the tow-truck driver got him to another local garage. However, the next problem came when he learned that his tow insurance doesn’t cover RV’s, contrary to his understanding of his coverage, so he had to pay $71.00. 

However, the bad news is that there had been complaints about the three RV’s parked along the street. Of course, this is typical of Del Mar’s attitude, but it got to me, and I wanted to get out of there.

By the time we carried our suitcases to Freedom, Van was weak, coughing, and barely able to function. But he managed to call Camping World to make sure the part had arrived. It hadn’t! Nevertheless, I was determined to get out of there.

Then Gary arrived to give us the good news: he’d gone to the AAA agency to discuss his insurance coverage, and asked them about the legality of being given a $76.00 ticket, before receiving a warning notice for an expired license plate. They checked the computer and learned that he had paid for the new plates, and the tags were on their way. The fine would be excused, but he would still have to protest it. 

When Gary saw Van’s condition, he encouraged us to return to Arlene’s, but I’d already stripped down our beds, and besides, this was the housecleaner’s day and she was in the midst of cleaning. I felt that we were in the way. I desperately needed to move forward.

As Van drove along the Coast Highway toward Carlsbad State Beach Park, I realized that I was in serious trouble with my own Battles. I knew that the Last Roots, as I call the Final Battle, have to do with Gary’s birth and the trauma from Mom’s mental breakdown and our family ending at that time. 

A pattern evolved that became part of my Final Battle, “Take care of your brother, Joanie,” which is tied-in with “Take care of your mommy, Joanie.” Now, with Gary’s ongoing saga of RV crisis and Van’s being sick, Joanie felt overloaded with the responsibility. Yes, I’d handled this battle on another level, but sure enough, it was up again. As I’ve said many times, this inner journey is cyclic and spherical, and we cycle through them on many levels in our ongoing journey toward our soul’s Oneness.

The more aware I became of the current cycle, I realized that there had been many indications and triggering events accumulating within the past few days. In reviewing my account of them, I noticed that I hadn’t even mentioned the most significant one, and that’s a giveaway that I’m in denial or overload. 

It’s important that I give a flashback, for my own healing process, and for the reader’s information. While driving to Long Beach to visit Tom, my cellular phone rang. It was my cousin, Marilyn, calling to tell me that Mom was to have her inflamed gall bladder removed the next morning, adding, “because of the fluid around her heart, it’s risky to perform surgery, but if they don’t remove it, she’ll get gangrene and die, because of her diabetes.” 

This was not good news, so I had prepared myself for the worst, while praying for Mom’s successful surgery and recovery. Throughout all the above chaos, the new phone didn’t seem to be working properly, or more accurately, the signal was extremely weak in this area, so communications were an ongoing hassle. Nevertheless, I managed to connect with Aunt Charlotte (Marilyn wasn’t home), and learned that Mom was okay.

Later, Marilyn called to give me the details, and added, “They took an X-ray and discovered that her arteries are so plugged that the doctor couldn’t believe she was alive. In fact, she is a time-bomb, and when it hits her, she’ll be gone.”

“Oh great!” I exclaimed, adding, “Well, at least we are warned, so we can be prepared.”

So, now, with everything else, my mom’s health is again a factor, and this won’t go away. In other words, the alternative is that she will no longer be on the planet.

Looking at the ocean, as we passed along, I thought, “No wonder I am fighting the Final Battles.” And another interesting factor flashed across my mind: At church on Sunday, the two people interested in our OPC-3 product were Joann and Gary. Does God have a sense of humor, or what? In other words, if I am supposed to be moving through another level of my Final Battles, it couldn’t be much more apparent. 

The Battles are Raging

When we arrived at the State Park, we were told that the North Area, where we had been staying, was closed; we must stay in a new site at the South Area. Now, we add to the plot that our home is no longer intact, another aspect of the original drama. And, this is true, not only for me, but for Van’s childhood drama, also, when his family dissolved, after his dad left. The plot thickens.

Once settled into our site, Van went to bed and I got on the computer. But, as the evening progressed, he got up to eat, and in the process, he turned off the outside light, which I had left on, in the hopes that Sarito or Joyce might stop by. Of course, by now it was too dark for them to see the site post, if they did show up. And with the cellular phone barely showing a signal, there wasn’t much hope of a call, either. I felt trapped and hopeless, because now I couldn’t move forward, even if I wanted to. Is it God, or me, or Van, or all of the above? Maybe it’s just fate; we aren’t meant to become successful.

The light being turned off started the onslaught, and I blew up. As Van tried to explain that he was trying to turn off the light above my writing table, I really exploded. Everything that had been building up came to a crescendo, as I started screaming, turned off my computer, turned off the light above the table, turned off the other light, and went to bed. 

In the meantime, between his lengthy coughs, I was yelling at Van to go back to bed, before he died on the spot. He happily got out of the line of fire, and that was the end of that battle, if not the war.

Wave the White Flag of Truce!

Somehow, we made it through the night, without our furnace, and I thanked God for our electric blankets, as I began to calm down. Then I thanked Him for our home being intact, and for our transportation working. And I began listing everything I was thankful for, in an effort to turn the tide of the Final Battle.

I was also thankful that the phone had somehow worked enough for Camping World to notify us that the part had come in, and we could have it installed the next day at 1:00 p.m. I made the appointment, assuming that Van would survive long enough to get it handled. 

The phone also functioned for a call to come through from Sarito, saying she had waited for a call from me the night before, but when I didn’t call, she’d made other plans. However, she still was interested in the business and wanted to get together, so we made an appointment for early Wednesday afternoon. The pieces were fitting into place.

In the meantime, we had an appointment with our friend and former neighbor, Bob Davey, so Tuesday we returned to our old neighborhood and visited with him, as another miracle story of the new millennium unfolded. He told us that they’d been considering a move to Pittsburgh to be near their son and young grandson, yet dreading to leave their paradise overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

In fact, they had just returned from spending the holidays with their family, and having their minds made up for the upheaval, when Craig dropped a time bomb: “I’m going to move to California!” We marveled, as we listened to his story of the pieces fitting into place in their lives.

And then, as planned, Van left to drive Freedom to Camping World to get the furnace handled, despite the fact that he was still deathly sick, weak, and coughing non-stop.

While he was gone, Bob and I talked about our individual spiritual journeys, as we had missed that camaraderie we had once shared. Although, as a scholar, he searched and studied the Kabbala and Jewish teachings, and I pursued the philosophy of Metaphysics, we found a common meeting ground in the basic Truths.

Bob had handwritten an eighteen-page Millennium Message, given to him in meditation, reading aloud and pausing to give explanation from time-to-time. It spoke of the differences, yet similarities, given through the metaphors of the Bible; seeming divergence, yet only one Truth, though different teachers and apparent different messages. And he spoke of love and forgiveness, understanding and tolerance.

Of course, the words were exactly what I needed to remind me of what I already knew, and I felt the healing energies removing my anger and frustration with Van. 

And then, almost as an afterthought, in answer to a question, Bob told be about a dream he’d had. 

In the dream, Bob was searching for something, but he seemed to be in a room inside floating cubes, and there were doors that would take him into other rooms. Some rooms had colors, and some had music, and some had wisdom; whatever he wanted or needed, he could go into a room and it would be fulfilled. However, it didn’t happen all the time, so he had to arrive at the proper time for the desired wish to be fulfilled.

As we discussed his dreams, in correlation with other subjects, we found they had some profound answers to our questions.   

By the time Van returned, I no longer felt abandoned and unsupported, remembering that God is always with me, and He is my never-ending support.

Bob had nourished us with angel food cake, cookies and tea, and with his wise words, and most of all with his friendship. And we recommitted to keeping in touch by phone, while apart, so that we could share the nurturing sustenance of spiritual food and friendship.

Van and I returned to our seashore site, becalmed by the balm of Bob’s healing energies, and warmed by the newly functioning furnace. Of course, after the activities of the day, Van returned to bed, exhausted, and I settled down to plan for the next day with Sarito.

Not as I Planned, but According to the Divine Plan

I spent longer than usual in my meditation, preparing for the business meeting with Sarito. I felt so excited about the possibilities of having this dynamic woman in our business, yet, I’ve had so many disappointments that I knew the only successful answer was turning it over to God, as always. 

We checked out of our site and drove along the Coast Highway to the church; much more convenient than the bus ride a few days earlier. Van parked Freedom on the vacant lot next to the church, and remained inside, because he still didn’t feel well. 

Therefore, in keeping with my new independent format, I’d planned to show a video of the Business Plan to Sarito, because I’m not that skillful in understanding all the options. But, most of all, I trusted God to guide me with what to say and do. 

It’s a good thing, because, as usual, things didn’t go as I’d planned. Sarito had left a message that she’d be late, and a meeting was taking place in the room with the VCR. But, the good news is that Gary and Joann, who had been interested in the products, were there, so I could hand-deliver the information to them.

In fact, Gary seemed interested to hear more about the products, and was willing to watch the video, which I decided to show on our VCR in Freedom. In the meantime, he wanted to buy the large OPC-3 (to relieve the symptoms of resin poisoning from his artistic days), and went to the bank for money.

However, when Sarito arrived, she vetoed the idea of entering our RV, as she didn’t want to be exposed to Van, even though he was beyond contagion. So, we went into the adjoining sanctuary, and I began showing her our Mall Talk magazine so she’d have an understanding of the products, before I started explaining the Business Plan.

Gary returned and took an interest in my presentation, even deciding to buy a bottle of Glucosatrin for his arthritis pains. However, he didn’t want to hear about the Business Plan. In the meantime, Sarito said she didn’t have much time, and would I get to that part. 

Feeling frustrated and hurried, I quickly completed the presentation of products and gave a brief explanation of the Business Plan, because I’d realized that she was no longer interested, and Gary wanted to buy his products and be on his way.

So much for my first presentation, yet I knew I had done a good job, especially under the circumstances, and I knew that this format was not what Sarito was looking for. 

On the other hand, after she left, Gary returned to our RV and completed his transaction. He also filled out the Preferred Customer Application Form so we could mail it, and he could order more products when needed.

Furthermore, as we chatted, and I mentioned my prison ministry, Gary insisted that he go home (a few blocks away) and get the address of a friend who works with prisoners in Conroe, Texas, because I would be there in a few weeks, and could look him up. Gary felt that his friend would be interested in my books and courses for inmates. 

It’s amazing how things work when we let go and let God; not as we expect, but as God directs. Thank you, God.  

Getting Ready

God directed us to move on to the Pachenga Casino, about thirty-miles inland, near Temecula, where we were to meet with Joyce the next day. And God gave Van enough energy to drive us there; and that’s all. He collapsed into bed for the next three days.

But I was where I needed to be and doing what I needed to do, while I focused on preparing Changing Money Patterns for Joyce. I’d already printed it out at Carlsbad Beach, so I now reviewed and revised the manuscript, as God continued to direct: I had replaced the chapter, It’s Not my Fault, about my brother, Gary, that I had thought was overkill for this book. Yet it seemed to belong. And I’d removed three chapters that were already in Wintering in Nevada (WIN), a compiled book about money matters, in my Inner Freedom Travel Series. 

Van remained in bed, as he continued recuperating, and I followed the guidance from  my morning meditation; replace How to Change Patterns from the Addendum to the Prologue, and revise it. And with the printout, I was able to see that I needed subtitles in the Introduction and Chapter 1, adding more changes, as I went along. 

Several hours before our designated meeting, I heard a car door slam next to Freedom, and spotted Joyce hightailing across the parking lot toward the casino. I called, and she turned around, somewhat in confusion, saying, “Oh, I didn’t think you were home.”

As she related the story of her activities the past two days, I could see that she was caught up in her addiction. She’d come over to the casino around noon the day before and played slots until 4:30 a.m. After four hours sleep, she was back, explaining that her inner child was frustrated because she had to return to work, care-taking a 90-year-old lady who was dying. I didn’t blame Joyce for trying to escape that reality. Not only had she succumbed to the gambling urge, but, after six-months of not smoking, she’d gone through an entire pack. She said that she felt trapped and there was no way out, especially about money matters.

I told her I felt the same way, but I hoped our business would provide one answer, and that we would discuss another alternative when we met later. She agreed, and disappeared between the maze of cars, on her way to the casino.

I kept working on the manuscript, then got ready and joined her for lunch. My morning’s activities of getting ready for our meeting, reminded me of something Joyce would often say, when describing her procrastination tactics (when in the MLM business) to avoid meeting with people. She would say, “Get ready, get ready, get ready.” But, of course, she’d never follow through; just spend her time getting ready.

With all the years and effort I’d spent getting my books ready, I wondered if I could now give myself permission to complete the task of getting them marketed. In any event, that was the purpose of this meeting. 

 

“Let’s do Lunch; I’ll Treat”

Joyce had offered to treat for lunch at the buffet, and with Van still zonked-out, I looked forward to the opportunity to have some time on my own, especially as part of my ongoing independence campaign. 

Wandering through the smoke-filled slot room, I searched for the “Wet and Wild” progressive machines, where she said she could be located. No wonder she relapsed into smoking again, in this environment. I could hardly breathe, but it took me asking two different people, before I finally located her. She was ready to leave, after only two hours, and confided that she’d won five-hundred dollars, but she’d had enough and she was hungry.

I went for the salads this time, and they tasted good, as we indulged in girl-talk, interspersed with ideas about getting “Changing Money Patterns” onto the Internet. She said that her son-in-law, Mark, would get us onto a website at no charge, even though that’s his business. Amazing! I now had three options for getting set up with a website and Mark seemed the best, because he and Joyce could work together. Of course, we could communicate via e-mail too. 

Joyce and talked about my other books and courses, too, wondering how we would get them all presented. “Let’s start with one, and take it from there,” I suggested.  

I began to get excited; doors were finally beginning to open. Not only little doors, but a giant door had opened in the media world: The Internet mogul, AOL, and the media mogul, Time-Warner had merged. I just happened to turn onto News hour, when the CEO’s of each company were being interviewed by Jim Leahr, and I could see that, beyond the obvious money involved, these two men were really excited about the possibilities this merger would open. For instance, it’s my understanding that we will be able to use the Internet facilities via our TV, which will definitely open doors for travelers, such as ourselves.

Maybe we should start with my completed book, Knocking on Doors, about Joyce and Van’s efforts at going door-to-door in an attempt to push through their individual and collective blocks about inter-relating with people, while in the MLM business? Of course, those doors didn’t open, because their subconscious still feared people, but now, these doors were opening, and the good part is that it could all be done via Internet, with Joyce sitting comfortably in her own home, and us on the road, or wherever we settle down; maybe we would even return to this area. Why not live in Paradise? 

But, that remained to be seen. For now, the first step was getting this manuscript to Joyce, and then her reading it and giving me feedback. And this is all either of us could deal with, at this time.

Already, we were both in overwhelm, as Joyce told me she had been talking with her negative friend about our plans, and been given a carload of obstacles. Yet, we both know that they do not have to stop us; when the time is right, God will open the doors and guide us through. 

The biggest block for us to work, after years of working on changing our money patterns,   still remained: figure out a value on the books and the workshop. The truth is that I didn’t feel ready to cope with that issue, yet. I suggested that she discuss this with Mark, and if it’s not his area of expertise, I would need to find a manager who would take care of the business matters. At one time, I had thought it would be Van, but he’s as helpless as I am about placing value on products and services. But that doesn’t need to be a block to our moving forward.

As Joyce and I talked, during lunch, we talked about our past efforts in MLM and the financial disasters, all of which were covered in Knocking on Doors. Of course, we finally filed bankruptcy for over $200,000.00 to get out from under the debt, especially since Van hasn’t been emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually able to work, since his down-size job layoff. Thank God for the Fresh Start Law; but the major new beginning has to take place within us, or we’ll repeat the same patterns. And Joyce reminded me that she had invested $9,000.00 just to sign up her daughters and mom; only one of which made an effort to build their business.

Yes, indeed, we had all made our mistakes, and hopefully we’d learned our lessons. As I told Joyce, “But this isn’t the time to stop; it’s the time to put what we’ve learned into practice.”

In other words, here we go again. Will we make it this time? At least we hadn’t completely given up. We were, again, pushing through our fears and limitations to start over.

After lunch, we returned to her car, and I went inside Freedom, retrieved the manuscript, and placed the precious bundle of 228 double-spaced pages into her hands. What a momentous moment! And I forgot to take a picture. But, I will remember.

In addition, I showed her the picture for the cover of Knocking on Doors, which I wasn’t satisfied with; otherwise, it too, is ready to present to the public via our website. IN fact, it was already in book format. Whew! This is getting intense. Am I ready? 

Yes!

Back to The Present Moment

Once Joyce had left, I turned my focus onto Van, and the prospects of our moving onward. He was till zonked, and showed no signs of movement, although he was breathing, and that was a good sign. But, I knew we would be staying put for at least overnight, and maybe another day. 

Despite the fact we were on a time-schedule (only a month left to reach Tampa, Fl. and visit friends, family and Freedomers along the way), I’d again reached a point where I could relax, turn it over to God, and remain in the Present Moment. Usually I’m compulsively wanting to move on, but once on the road, it’s easier, because I have to do anything I want to do now, rather than waiting until later. In other words, this is my life, wherever I am, and I can adapt to that mode. But when I get caught up in other people’s schedules, or meeting deadlines, I slip into the pattern of hurry, and I easily become overloaded. And with that syndrome, I relapse into compulsive behavior.

So, now, with Van still in bed, I could catch up some loose ends, such as updating my chapter, finishing my January Newsletter to add to my Christmas Thank you’s, and get them sent. Also, whenever I could get a clear signal on my cellular phone, I would make some calls. But, I could only do each task one step at a time, and that felt good. 

I needed this time to fallback and regroup, after the hectic schedule of the holidays, and thereafter. And I could use some me-time, so I decided to take myself to the breakfast buffet at the casino, whether or not Van was up to it. That touch of independence felt good, and I busied myself at the computer. 

Thankfulness, Gratitude, Appreciation

Van’s illness had impacted my life in many ways. First of all, my independence had been returned, as I’d enjoyed the opportunity to bask in my own energies and my own activities. And I’d become more determined to push ahead with taking care of myself, so that I wouldn’t become trapped, if something were to happen to him. Along these lines, I’d initiated a plan to start driving Freedom, as soon as possible, and I also planned to change lifestyles, because I could not, or rather, would not, attempt to keep this technical-mechanical robot on the road.

But, the most fortuitous change, resulting from Van’s illness, was a feeling of thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation for all that he does, when well and functioning. It may not be what I think he should be doing, especially relating to the business, but he does keep us moving, and he takes care of many everyday things, such as emptying garbage, adjusting the difficult antenna, running the generator, setting the clocks (the digitals need setting whenever the generator is turned off or on), transferring stuff to and from our basement, and helping with the computer technology and other mechanical-technical requirements. Also, he pays our bills and keeps track of our finances. 

So, needless to say, with him incommunicado for over a week, none of the above was handled. Oh, I could turn on the generator and turn the antenna around, but mostly Van takes care of these projects. 

My attitude was changing back to appreciating the many good qualities about Van, rather than trying to figure out how to get out of the relationship. I suspect that some of my inner changes were coinciding with his own attitude changes, while incapacitated. 

I always say that illness is simply an opportunity to discover the inner causes and patterns that are involved, if one chooses to make the changes. During his illness, Van’s old patterns of resistance, resentment and rebellion had surfaced, and his energies had not been pleasant to be around, especially since he had been too sick to smoke, so withdrawal symptoms were taking their toll. I urged him not to return to smoking, since he was already through the tough part, and I waited to see his decision.

All in all, Van had been going through a major inner transition, and we both knew it. The results remained to be seen. But, in any event, I would remain in the position of appreciating his good, positive qualities, rather than criticizing. And that, in itself, would be an improvement.

As I updated my chapter, I heard stirrings in the bedroom, and soon Van was up, getting dressed and announcing that he felt much better, ready to join me for the breakfast buffet and then drive down the hour, or so, to the desert where Gary would be camped on his choice freebie spot. Hooray!

Acceptance, Nonresistance, Surrender

I often mention my morning meditation. Sitting here, in the Anza-Borrego Desert seems an excellent time to talk about prayer and spiritual matters. So one can assume, from my opening remarks, that we made it. However, Gary’s RV didn’t get repaired: waiting for a part, so he’s not here. Probably just as well, because Van was so exhausted from the short drive that he went right to bed, leaving me to enjoy the desert peace and quiet, midst the sagebrush and sand.

Our tranquility only slightly disturbed by another RVer who discovered this well-kept secret site, behind a grove of tamarisk trees, across from the airport. Fortunately, they’re behind us, and we look westward, into the hills where we descended into this valley. 

Once Van arose for dinner and returned to bed, the nighttime serenity settled in, and a deep peace overcame me; so intense that I felt compelled to go to bed with the onset of darkness and brilliant stars. Perhaps my early sleep was enhanced by the poor reception on the TV, or maybe it was simply a matter of surrendering into the peacefulness of the desert. 

In any event, I awoke to the morning sunrise, feeling rested and ready for my morning meditation. This particular morning, I selected the above subject: acceptance, nonresistance and surrender, because it is part of my daily prayer, as I thank God for these blessings, among others. Actually, my prayer begins: Thank You, God, for your omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient spirit of good in, as, and through me; guiding, protecting, inspiring, providing, prospering, healing, revealing, releasing, clearing, renewing and blessing me/us in expected and unexpected ways, including: trust, patience, peace, joy, harmony, compatibility, cooperation, serenity, tranquility; thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation; acceptance, nonresistance and surrender. I thank You, God, for the financial success of my Inner Freedom Ministry/Books and our business (upline, downline and cross-line), while benefiting others with our products, services and business. Thank You, also, for love, harmony and health for Van and myself in our relationship with each other and everyone we contact.

It’s a rather long-winded prayer, but it covers everything that I’ve learned to express in a communication with God; and it varies from day-to-day. Sometimes it’s shorter, or longer, and at times it can be as simple as “Help.” Or, I may focus on the issues in my life, at the time; or I will pray for others with special needs.

This morning, while parked in the desert, and ready to launch into the next phase of our travels, awaiting Van’s announcement of how he’s feeling, and how far he feels ready or able to travel, I felt a need to discuss the subjects of acceptance, nonresistance and surrender.

They had been on my mind, lately, because I’d been entering into a period of independence and determination. And I wondered if they presented a conflict, so I asked God, because I’ve learned to talk things over with Him, and He usually lets me know right away. But sometimes I have to wait for the answers to be revealed, either with an experiential aid, or otherwise, as He guides me through the day.

So, I discussed with God several illustrations of this dilemma: Supposing we’re crossing the country, with Tampa, Fl. as our destination and either the weather intercedes, or the RV breaks down, or some other obstacles interfere. Do we assume that You are telling us not to continue on that course, or do we push on through? 

Or, Van awakes and he’s not able to travel today, thus causing me to miss my Sunday visit with Adam Martin, in the Tucson prison. This means we wait another week, cutting our time short with others along the way. 

At what point do I persevere with determination, and when do I say, “Okay, give it up?” And what is the difference between giving up and nonresistance; being a doormat and surrendering?

I reminded God of an illustration I often use about having goals and knowing what you want, so I said, “When we go into Sears, we must know what we want to buy, rather than saying to the clerk, ‘I want to buy something.’ The clerk asks, ‘What do you want to buy?’ and I say, ‘Oh, I don’t care, anything will do.’ How does this work with nonresistance?”

God reminded me of the wisdom of letting go and letting God, adding that He gives us the desire and the idea, such as going to Tampa, but maybe He really wants us to do something else along the way, and we never reach Florida. For instance, like Van becoming sick. Rather than being angry and frustrated, simply accept the situation and go with the flow.

I thought about my phone visit with Dottie the night before. She said that Steve was going back to RV sales, but not where he was before. He’d had several months off, and discovered that his retirement had been premature, because of Arianna’s wedding, Christmas and other family financial demands. So, does he say, “I don’t care, I said I’d retired and I won’t go back to work,” or does he accept the situation, become nonresistant and say “Okay, God, this is how it is.”? Obviously, he made the right choice, for now, to enhance their income, until the business income exceeds the amount he’s supplementing. 

I wondered if Dottie could use our help, now, especially Van handling the reports and office management. But, she’d said she didn’t feel like talking, and would call back the next day. And I contemplated the possibilities of going as far as our Texas visits, and then heading north to Colorado. We could always fly to Tampa, later. So, that was an option. Yet, the answer seemed to indicate to follow our plan, unless otherwise guided. In other words, stay in the present moment, listen to God’s guidance, and follow it. 

 

“I Don’t Give a Shit!”

My writing got interrupted by Dottie’s call, so I asked if she would need our help with the business, as an option. Then I listened for an hour, with appropriate comments, as she unwound about the things going on in their lives that had caused her inner child, Dorie, to rebel. The latest being that Steve was returning to work this morning, and she’d lost her main playmate. In addition, her second playmate, Arianna, would finally be leaving, with the arrival of Jason and Buddie (their cute dingo dog) to transport her home.

And there was much more, including the fact that she’d stayed home from a Local Seminar (in Colorado Springs) to say “Goodbye” to Arianna and “Hi” to Buddie, which is totally out of character for Dottie. Bottom-line, she’d reached a point of “I don’t give a shit.” 

OOOPS! Sounds as if Dorie is in rebellion, I asked, “Now where does that fit in with nonresistance and surrender?
Dottie replied, “It’s the same thing, only with more emotion. Either way, whether calling it surrender or ‘I don’t give a shit,” the point is that it’s giving up attachment to results. Only it takes longer to get the ego to let go, when you try to be spiritual and surrender.

Dottie added, “I’m letting it be all-right to be in this space, and that’s acceptance and nonresistance. Usually I beat myself up for not going to the trainings and doing what I am supposed to do. This time I don’t care.”

Remembering that Steve and Dottie had been going non-stop ever since his retirement, I said, “Well, are you aware that Steve has felt that he had to keep busy to justify his quitting work, and you seem to feel that you had to stay on the job too, or he would quit doing his part?”

Knowing that I’d tuned into the crux of the matter, or part of it, she said, “Yeah, I know that’s been going on too, but we haven’t talked about it.”

“Well, you need to give yourself time to reclaim your life, and do what you want to do for awhile. And maybe it would be good for you two to find something to do together that’s fun, besides working the business. In other words, you need a balance between work and play.”

I know. I was talking to Teresa about this, and she said she and Paul get overexposure sometimes too. She tried to get him to go do various activities, and he didn’t budge. Finally she said, “Go do something!”

“Right, I can sure relate to that. I’ve actually appreciated that aspect of Van’s being sick. I’ve been able to think my own thoughts and do my own thing. Of course, if I were doing that anyway, it wouldn’t be a problem; but codependency always takes its toll. Now, my challenge is to maintain my own reality, once he’s up to speed. I guess we’re all going through an adjustment of our transition process.”

My cell phone started beeping to remind me that we’d been talking about an hour, and it would soon cut-off for recharging, so we said our goodbyes. In the past, I would have been upset over the phone determining the length of our conversation, but I decided to be nonresistant about accepting Nokia’s programming of the cellular phone; thus saving my energy to update Van on the family happenings.

At this point, he had gotten up and eased himself into the day, and announced that he felt ready to move forward. This meant that we were finally heading East, and only time, and God’s guidance, would tell how far.

Chapter 9

EASTWARD MOVEMENT

Mystical Moments

The sun rose in the east, the direction we would be headed for this trip, and the peace of the desert remained with us, as we prepared for our departure. Across the dips (to allow drain-off for flooding) of the freshly asphalted highway, the miles of the barren desert sped by. And soon we had reached the Salton Sea and turned north onto Highway 85, in order to reach I-10, which would take us all the way to Texas, and beyond.

But, for now, our immediate destination was to visit Adam Martin, in Tucson. His visiting hours were only on weekends, 8 — 3, and our late start had thwarted my hopes of seeing him this weekend, or maybe even this trip, because we had lost a week in California.

Of course, the main criteria, for distance covered, was Van’s health, and he was still coughing constantly, which weakened his endurance. We stopped at a Rest Stop to fix lunch, and again at Ehrenburg Flying J Truck Stop to refuel, thinking we would stay for the night, thus missing Adam. But Van felt okay, so we pressed on, planning to by-pass Phoenix on Arizona’s 85, which ended at Gila Bend.

I had covered every possibility along the way for overnight stops, but not Gila Bend. Van had gallantly offered to drive the extra hour to Eloy’s Flying J, but I knew that would be a bridge too far, as his coughing had increased, and he was weaker. 

As we now drove across the Arizona desert, and watched the sunset in the west, I pondered our plans. I wanted to shop at Trader Joe’s in Mesa and see Cousin John, in nearby Apache Junction, which meant backtracking about 100 miles, but it was the only way I could see Adam in Tucson on Sunday. I was concerned that I hadn’t heard from Cousin, and wondered if he was all-right, as his health was precarious. I’d decided to call him, as soon as I got a decent signal, and arrange to meet the next day.

God, our Tour Guide, as usual was on the job. This time He prodded Van to insist I check my cellular phone, despite the “No Service” message, but I opted to wait until we got closer to Phoenix. Nevertheless, after his second suggestion, I was surprised to see a strong signal, with “Voice Message” indicated.

Now, if you have been following my accounts of God’s impeccable timing, you will know who called. Right! It was Cousin John saying he had been deathly ill in the hospital for a month, and had only been home two days. So, I called him back and we arranged for the next day’s get-together, and he told me to stay at the Elks Lodge free RV accommodations in Gila Bend, as his guest. You know, God never ceases to amaze me, though I should be used to it by now.

To make the mystical moment more momentous, the signal dropped, and we were disconnected. Talk about God’s Divine Timing. Could there be any doubt? Not for me, although Van was insisting that he could make it to Eloy. And by the time we reached Gila Bend, it was dark, he was exhausted, and gladly parked for the night at the convenient Elks Lodge, with a large RV parking lot (easily found along Highway 85, before entering town).

“Reinvent Yourself”

I’m not sure the purpose for having a carnival, with a Ferris wheel, adjoining the parking lot; maybe the loud music was to remind me: acceptance, nonresistance and surrender. And I don’t know why we couldn’t get TV or phone reception. Perhaps it was part of the same lesson. Nevertheless, after I fixed dinner and Van went to bed, I decided to read for awhile. Wouldn’t you know, the magazine I picked up, Modern Maturity, featured articles relating to new starts for seniors, and gave inspiring examples of those who had done just that. In fact, one of the articles was about an author who had risen above alcoholism and other self-defeating obstacles to present inspirational and spiritual autobiography workshops. I wonder, was God telling me something? Stay tuned.

The East: Within

I suspected, when the title of this chapter came to me, that there would be more to it than simply driving from California to Florida. In fact, I knew that east is symbolic of the within, so eastward movement actually refers to the inner journey. 

When the bible refers to the three wise men who came from the East to Jerusalem, it is speaking of this inner journey in search of Peace, represented by Jerusalem. Therefore, it’s understandable that I was guided to reaffirm acceptance, nonresistance and surrender, which are forerunners to reaching a consciousness of inner peace.

As we drove from Gila Bend to Tucson, on the way to visit Adam Martin in the Arizona State Prison, I was feeling peaceful, because I knew that God was taking care of His Divine Plan for my life, and all life, and I was letting Him do it.

An Ex-conman does Promotion

Who else, but an ex-conman, to promote my forthcoming Inner Freedom website? And Adam, having learned from his father, the art of the family business, was one of the best. I say, “was,” because Adam had said that he has retired, and is changing careers. 

As we chatted in the Arizona sunshine, under a makeshift shade canopy, I looked into his clear blue eyes, and I knew he was telling me the truth (though a good con man can look innocent, while lying, even to his grandmother, let alone his minister), as he reiterated his career plan: “I’ll buy some jewelry with my release cash, then I’ll make a good profit selling that to my cousin for resale. With my profit, I’ll buy some repossessed land and some fixer-up mobile homes, which I’ll buy cheap and fix up myself. Then I’ll sell them for a good profit, and buy some more. Within five years, I’ll have a million dollars, and then I’ll retire and sail around the world on my boat.”

Adam understands himself enough to know that he needs a challenge to his over-active mind, otherwise he gets bored, and then he would be susceptible to getting into trouble, so I congratulated him on his well-thought-out plan, and then we talked about many other subjects which we had shared throughout the ten-plus years we’ve corresponded. Of course, he loves to talk about his past accomplishments of his criminal lifestyle, but I could tell it was over. 

I asked about his current religious pursuits, and he talked about his Ancient Christianity Fellowship, based on the Old Testament. He had once asked me to write a letter okaying his need for certain food requirements and artifacts to practice his rituals and regimes. But he never got them, because I’d written his name, rather than mine. 

“Why didn’t you have me fix it?” I asked.

“Oh, I didn’t want to bother you,” he replied.

I agreed to do it right, if he still wanted them, then because I’d been conditioned from his lifetime at conning, I asked “Adam, is this a scam?”

“It was at first, but then I really got into it.”

Adam and I had made a commitment, many years ago, to build a church together, because I felt that he would be such a positive influence in the world, especially because he is a powerful and intelligent person. But, through the years, we’d changed our focus, and I didn’t even mention the subject. 

However, I did talk about my plans for having a website and marketing my books, and I asked if he’d handle promotions. Does a bear sleep in the winter? He came to life at the prospect, and began listing ideas.

Of course, I immediately went into overload, but I knew I had been guided to the right person for the job. My favorite and most immediate usable idea is the website name: Inner Freedom Publishing. With all my books, and retired from the ministry, it made sense. Now, we had a starting place.

The next step, for me, is getting the books completed. Many only needed address changes, and some needed final editing. Others, such as Knocking on Doors, needed the cover graphic revised. So, I had my work cut out for me, and I could do it all, as we traveled. I figured it might take six-months to a year to get everything completed. 

By then the website would be prepared, and Adam would have completed his work furlough in Arizona, and we would have completed our trip to Florida and back. Possibly we would need to spend some time in Texas, where Adam would be transferring to his mom’s address. 

All this is very exciting and can become overwhelming, so I have to release it to God, and take one step at a time. The main thing is that Adam agreed to be my promoter, and he’s well suited for the job.

After all, he claims that my influence was a contributing factor for his change. In fact, I was surprised when he said that Knocking on Doors, about Van’s money patterns, had the biggest impact in his decision to change his career. And, of course, he would write testimonials, and get others to do so, also.

Van’s Relapse

The prison wouldn’t allow Van to wait in the parking lot, even if in a car, and especially not in a motor home; anything could happen, from transporting escapees to hauling contraband goods. So he drove to a truck stop along I-10 and waited.

Although he had the opportunity to rest, while I visited Adam, he’d felt good enough to putter around getting caught up on some neglected projects. And then he met me and drove back toward Phoenix to the Flying J Truck Stop. By this time, he was exhausted and went to bed.

Tired from coughing, during the night, he slept in, which put us behind schedule for the day. But he took care of the dump, propane and gas. The problem is that he hadn’t expected long lines at each spot. And he hadn’t anticipated discovering that the refrigerator had stopped working, so everything had thawed.

Now we would need to stop at Camping World, before meeting with Cousin John. So, I called to tell John the problem. Wouldn’t you know: his son-in-law, Paul (married to Denise), works in the Service Department, and we were advised to talk with him. God never ceases to amaze me, and sometimes He uses Cousin John to fulfill these miracles.

In fact, despite John’s recent hospital episode, he had planned to meet us for lunch, so now he offered to meet us at Camping World. Thank You, God, and thank you, Cousin John.   

Shot Down

Camping World in Arizona is mecca for RV owners, and the appointments for service are about a week delay. As the old saying goes, “it isn’t what you know; it’s who you know,” and Paul said he would take time to check the refrigerator, during the day.

So the rest of us went to lunch, and we got to meet Arlene, John’s companion from Deadwood, South Dakota, who misses the quiet, small town. 

She said, “John told me I would get to see the world on this trip. All I’ve seen is rain in the Pacific Northwest and traffic and dust in Arizona.”

After lunch, we drove to Apache Junction where his RV is parked on Denise and Paul’s compound, and I had the opportunity to send and receive my email. 

Two Weaks; not 1/2 Month

But Cousin John was weakening from the two days activities, and we urged him to stay home, while Arlene drove us back to Camping World. 

Paul had told us that it would be two weeks (sometime in February), before they could repair our refrig, and we needed to be on our way, so we asked him to make an appointment for us Friday morning at Camping World in Tucson.

Van, too, was coughing and terribly weak, but he managed to drive a few blocks to Wal-Mart, where he went to bed in the afternoon and stayed all night, without even eating.

In the meantime, I went into Wal-Mart and got some ice, which I put in the refrig in an attempt to save some of the food. But I still had to toss out much of the saved leftovers, which would have made us some good meals. I decided this was good for my prosperity consciousness to let go of them, and restock at Trader Joe’s.

With Van out of the picture, I had time to do my own thing and think my own thoughts, but I was in withdrawal, which happens when your drug of choice is removed (namely Van), so rather than accomplishing much, I was in limbo, and could relate with Dottie losing her daytime playmate, and Arianna too. 

I watched TV awhile, and then decided to do something productive, so I prepared my letters to mail, and then I called Joyce, hoping that she had gotten into the manuscript. But she, too, was sick in bed with a head cold and lung congestion, and hadn’t read any of it. I could see that my plans were not going to move quickly, but probably God’s Divine Plan was right on schedule. We had a nice visit, and I learned that she had only worked two-hours, caring for the ailing lady, who then died. The hospice helpers were there, so Joyce got paid, without doing much.

This, of course, pleased her inner child, because she hates taking care of elderly, ailing people, though Joyce reminds her that this is how she earns money to have fun, in addition to paying bills. Her inner child didn’t buy it, so got sick in rebellion. 

At least Joyce is in touch with her inner battles. Van, on the other hand, remains without a clue. However, I refuse to allow him to remain in denial, so I informed him that he got sick immediately after I suggested that we change his money pattern by not asking his mom for money whenever we breakdown or need repairs. And he’s been sick ever since, which proves that he’s in rebellion.

Furthermore, since he’d been unable to smoke, during his illness, I suggested that he use this time to stop smoking, which added even more anger, especially as the withdrawal symptoms caused more coughing and discomfort, added to his weakened condition.

With the new millennium reports already coming in, from Van, Dottie and Steve, and Joyce it’s obvious that a lot of changes are happening with our former Money Matters group. As we began to move forward out of our limiting patterns and lifestyle, I could see where this inner journey, as well as the outer trip, could become more adventuresome than I had anticipated. In fact, I had assumed that with the new millennium energies things would get better. Wrong!

Now, I was beginning to suspect, just as I had thought all along, that the predictions for the end of the world were actually an inner transition, within individuals, rather than an outer holocaust. It could be a very interesting era. 

Rousted Out

I hate the knock on the door, whether in the middle of the night, or early morning, and being told that we can’t stay there, not because of Wal-Mart’s policy, but the local ordinances. Nevertheless, it was still dark when we were rousted from sleep at 6:30 a.m. by two uniformed officers. They were very polite, but bottom-line, we must leave in a half-hour.

Fortunately, Van had about eighteen hours to sleep and recuperate, so, with my pleas, on his behalf, to remain longer, they apologized, but requested that we leave. Oh, the joys of being on the road.

Once dressed and awake, we headed toward Trader Joe’s, but after three unsuccessful efforts to find it, we gave up, deciding to go to one in Tucson, after having the refrig replaced, which made a lot of sense.

So the decision was made to start toward Tucson, stop at Eloy Flying J and get through our morning routine, let Van rest several hours, and then drive on to Camping World for the night, so we’d be ready for the Friday, 8:00 a.m. appointment.

Ak-Chin Harrah’s

I know, it sounds as if I sneezed, but fortunately, my health remains good. The above is the name of the Indian Community where Harrah’s built their Phoenix area casino. I’d thought about staying there, but had forgotten, so when Van suggested it, as we drove down the freeway, after snailing through the earlier commute traffic, I rejoiced. This would be a good place for our inner kids to regroup and maybe have some fun.

“Let’s go to the buffet,” I suggested, despite the wilting food in the ice chest, formerly our refrigerator.

“Oh, I don’t think I’m up to it, but you go ahead,” I knew that was not Little Ralph’s reply, so I figured I’d give him time to get through his morning routine, and then see how he was feeling.

In the meantime, Joanie decided to go inside, on a reconnaissance trip, with a breakfast buffet on her mind. Much like Dottie, she was feeling abandoned, since her playmate had been out of it for over two weeks. And I felt the need to become more independent, so this was a good opportunity.

I barely made it in time for the 10:00 a.m. closing, so quickly sidled up to the line and loaded my plate. Then I discovered the fresh omelet bar, and ordered mushroom and cheese, which would taste good with the bacon I’d already selected. Van and I had done things together so many years that it was a new adventure all by myself, and felt oddly strange. 

I could see how newly widowed or divorced mates, after many years, have a tough adjustment period, feeling disoriented and as if something of themselves is missing. On the other hand, with Van out of it so long, I’d been developing more of an appreciation for his companionship and contribution to my life, even if it didn’t live up to my expectations. And I was making an effort to change my pattern of wanting to leave, or send him away, as a solution to every disagreement (a carried pattern from my parents) or problem, including his lengthy illness. I resented it, and felt this pattern of his, which has lasted for months in the past, could be changed, if he truly wanted to; but it serves some need that he’s not willing to give up.

After breakfast, I wandered through the casino and into the gift shop, but nothing else interested me, so I returned to Freedom

I’d wanted to use this time to complete some of my books, but I got started writing Thank You’s and catching up on my correspondence. I was so far behind, since Christmas, that I spent the entire day writing, and printing out my personally designed purple butterfly cards from last year. 

Actually, I wanted to create a new design for this year’s cards, but without Van I didn’t know how to use my new computer system, so made do with what I had; I’d already waited far too long to get this project handled, and I wanted to move on to other projects. At least, I was being independent and moving onward.

Downward Trend

Somehow, in the upheaval of our refrig dying and Van being out of it, I’d lost track of time, thinking the next day was Friday, and we’d need to leave around 1:00, but fortunately I’d lost a day, and it felt good having an entire day to complete my project. Of course, I had to stop and fix a meal, which meant heating the thawed turkey soup, and hoping it hadn’t gone bad. I’d already thrown out several bags of spoiled food, and I hated wasting it, but I realized this, too, was another challenge; being willing to let go of the leftovers, and moving to a higher level of consciousness that gives myself permission to buy new bags of frozen shrimp and mushrooms. 

In the days before Van, I didn’t have such a poverty consciousness, but it shows how one can slip into a trend of the mate. Yet, I had to admit that I must have had a tendency in that direction, or I wouldn’t have succumbed. 

I always wonder why the trend always goes downward, rather than upward. Why doesn’t the more negative mate take on the characteristics of the more positive one? Actually, when we first were together, Van was more positive and up than me, but as the years passed, he became more like his father’s negative money patterns, instead of his mother’s positive ones. Perhaps it’s a leaning toward the line of least resistance, because it takes effort to turn that pattern around.   

A Matter of Choice

Now, with Van’s illness, which I believed to be a purification, or cleansing process, I felt that these negative energies were shifting, and I anticipated a major transformation, once he got his strength back. And I continually prayed that he would make the decision not to resume smoking, which is another addiction that gets in the way of one’s freedom; not to mention its effect on his health, especially his lungs. For someone susceptible to pneumonia, it would seem a logical choice. But Van claims it’s a difficult change, because of the addiction.

The fact is that he’d already been through the withdrawal period, because he hadn’t felt like smoking, so I believe that it’s now simply a matter of choice. When he’s truly ready to give it up, he will. But it has still filled a need that he’s not willing to sacrifice. And beneath every addiction is a deeper contributing factor, one that Van still was not willing to face and deal with.

Van was in a state of transition, and it was up to him whether or not he would push through his resistance, resentment and rebellion to the other side of his transformation. Because I have researched and become an authority on pattern changes, I felt certain that his smoking, and his health pattern, were tied in with his relationship with his mother. As I said earlier, the illness started, immediately after I suggested we change the pattern by not asking her for money for our repairs. At the time, I could feel his anger energies, and then he got sick, which seems to be a pattern when he doesn’t get what he wants. And he knows all this, but would he be willing and able to push through the strong forces of opposition within himself?

He claimed that he was working with these issues, during his lengthy bedrest, so I awaited the results; only time would tell.

Zipping Right Along

One time Van and I took a bus tour of the San Diego Zoo, and we laughed when the tour guide referred to a hippopotamus very slowly waddling toward the water, as zipping right along, and that’s been part of our vocabulary when something is not moving quickly. For instance, this chapter refers to our Eastward Movement, which is definitely “zipping right along.”

We had moved about twenty miles from the Wal-Mart, where we got ousted, and we still had about an hour to the Tucson Camping World by Friday morning. So Thursday morning we plotted our strategy: we could continue on the side road, which would eventually take us back to 1-10 north of Eloy. There we could stop a few hours at Flying J, allowing Van time to rest, and then, after commute traffic, we would move on to our destination for the night; awakening the next morning in time for our appointment. Whew! That’s a major accomplishment. Talk about acceptance, nonresistance and surrender; this has got to be a new level of letting go and letting God.

Of course, we had zipped right along with the fifty-miles from the Pechanga Casino to the Anza-Borrego Desert; and from there to Gila Bend, Arizona (our longest stretch — about nine hours), for which we paid the price of setting Van’s energy back. He then pushed himself further to get me to Tucson to visit Adam, and back to the Eloy Flying J, and from there to Mesa Camping World, and then back to Tucson Camping World; a round-trip of several hours in each direction. Yep, we sure are zipping right along on our Eastward Movement.

But, in reality, this eastern journey is within, and indeed, this transition has moved through eons of energy shifts. 

The Red Sea

I knew there was more to this chapter, as a result of Van’s illness, and it finally came to light, at Ak Chin Casino, when he emerged from bed looking wan and weak, plopped into the chair and muttered a few words response to my question, “Have you figured out what this pneumonia syndrome is all about?”

“Ruth, Dad, the family breaking up,” seemed to be as much as he could speak, but as I pursued the subject, he added that it was happening to this family too, meaning our relationship.

After an hour of my pulling the information from him, we realized that the issue went back to the illustration of his living in a glass jar; not involved or participating, which is discussed in Road Sign #5, The Red Sea, in my Journey to Inner Freedom course. Only this time we took it much further, and realized that we were dealing with his Final Battle, which is the Root Cause Pattern. 

Van’s pneumonia syndrome, or Birthday Bug, as I’ve been calling it, began when he was a teenager and learned that his dad and stepmom, Ruth, were going to divorce. He felt desperate and determined to save the marriage, for surely it must be all up to him. Yet it happened anyway, and he felt helpless, disempowered, and impotent of his manliness, which he had just begun to experience. He concluded that he wasn’t able to do what he wanted, therefore he was unwilling, and ultimately the subconscious pattern became, “I don’t want to.” 

From this position, he withdrew into his glass jar, and no longer became involved, because “what’s the use? I can’t do anything about it anyway.” Someplace, during this time period, he came down with pneumonia, developed a high fever and became delirious; in other words, out of it. And thus began the pneumonia syndrome, in which he withdraws even further from involvement in life.

Now that the pattern had been identified, the negative payoff surfaced: not having to do anything about it, thus not feeling responsible for the results.

We finally turned the pattern around with the solution: willing and able; but not that it’s up to him to resolve the problems. This is left up to God. Van’s part is simply being willing and able, rather than not wanting to. 

His energies shifted, as we talked, and he seemed to shift from hopeless to possibilities, especially when I reassured him that I really want our relationship to work, and that I appreciate all the good qualities about him, and all that he does to be helpful.

The congestion began to break up in his chest, and he coughed up the remaining mucous, while his color returned to his face, and his energy started to return. 

He said he was ready to live outside the glass jar, and he didn’t feel naked and vulnerable, because he realized that God was protecting him. Actually, he felt ready to be involved with life.

I reassured him that he didn’t need to do it all at once; that small steps would be okay, much like our moving forward in small increments and that God would guide and protect him.

Now that Van had crossed his Red Sea on this higher level, he felt ready to move forward, and we drove down the road to Flying J, where he fueled Freedom.

Another Camping World Adventure

Every Camping World has different policies; some friendly, others not. Tucson Camping World is the most unique. From our experience at San Marcos, where they locked the gates at 7:00; if you were inside, you could stay overnight for your early morning appointment. So, we arrived by then, only to learn that we couldn’t stay inside, but we could park in the street outside the fence. The bright lights from inside, and the security guard making rounds assured us this would be safe. Although he had driven sixty-miles, he had enough energy to watch TV, which speaks well for the healing balm of Dr. Joyanna’s Changing Patterns Therapy. The energy that had been bottled up all these years was now released for his use.

We both went to bed early, because we had to check in by 8:00 a.m., which is early for Van to make it through his morning routine. But he made it, and got us registered for the service appointment, and returned with Bob. 

I must say, Bob reminded me of one of those Commanders of the compounds where they play War Games. He told of firing a tech for eating a piece of candy from a customer’s RV. And he explained that their service department was across the street, under an open-sided canopy, and he announced that his six men could whip ass of the big crew working inside the comfort of 

Beaudry RV, the adjoining service department. 

This was all very impressive, and we felt reassured when the tech brought in some sheets of plastic, which I assumed would go on the floor. However, when we returned to claim Freedom, there were those tell-tale grease prints on my carpet. But that comes later in the story. 

In the meantime, we weren’t allowed to remain in Freedom, so we went to Beaudry’s waiting room, where Rob boasted that they had coffee, tea, a TV, computers; and we could even check our e-mail. The only problem with this arrangement was that it took three hours to figure out how to do it; send and receive, respond and send again.

It’s easy, once you know how, which is the same theory we have about using the e-mail service at Flying J. We’d spent several hours trying to figure that one out the day before and never made it. Finally, I said, “Someday we’ll find someone who knows how it’s done.” And that’s what happened at Camping World. Another customer with a laptop showed Van how to do it, and it was easy; if you used the correct outlet: one worked and the other didn’t. Oh, the joy of life on the road.

During the course of the morning, several people came in and used the complimentary computers, and I asked them if they’d ever used the e-mail hookups at Flying J; none did. However, I was involved in writing my response to Linda’s message, and failed to respond to my inner Guidance to ask this one gentleman. After he left, the helpful customer mentioned that he said he had used the Truck Stop outlets. Darn! A missed opportunity. You’d think I would learn to follow those Inner urges. But, I didn’t, so we’d wait for another adventure.

In the meantime, Bob announced that our new frig was installed, and we went to claim our home. While Van paid the bill (credit card), I felt like crying. First off, the big grease spots on the floor, which I was determined to have Bob make good by having them removed. And second, the paneling on the refrig doors didn’t match the rest of the paneling. I felt violated and betrayed, and so wiped out that when Van returned, we just left, rather than hasseling about the grease. Not good! We should have taken care of ourselves, as well as letting Bob know the damage done by the tech, who probably would have been fired, as soon as he cleaned the mess.

I was so depressed that I went into an eating binge, after shopping at Trader Joe’s. Somehow the shopping had been a bad experience too. The store was so small and congested, and the energies of the place were crazy. I didn’t feel like shopping, but since this was the last of the TJ’s Outposts, I just wanted to get our stuff and get out of there. I was trying to stock up on our favorite items that I couldn’t find elsewhere, and stay within the Christmas Gift Certificates given us by Arlene, but I knew the vitamins were pushing us over the limit, and I was feeling my shopping panic attack; torn between what I wanted, and what I knew I couldn’t afford. So, I managed not to buy any ice cream, but Joanie felt bad, and when she spotted a Yogurt Shop, she headed over there, while Van was unloading the groceries into Freedom. 

Of course, I also felt guilty about getting the yogurt, and I knew I was in trouble when I ordered the chocolate peanut cup. In fact, I’d congratulated myself earlier in the day for having stayed away from chocolate and feeling better, as a result. Oh well, it was done, and I chomped the entire cone, only sharing one bite with Little Ralph, who really didn’t want any more, anyway.

Then, while Van drove us back toward I-10, to continue our Eastward Movement down the road another 30-miles, I wolfed down a bag of sesame snacks. Whew! This refrigerator experience had really hit me hard. I would need to find the hidden pain associated with this greasy violation of our home.

Clean-up in Benson

We were both tired from the day’s ordeal, and although Van’s energy had returned, and he even offered to drive further, it was time to stop. Besides, I kept hearing this inner urging to stop at Benson, though I didn’t know why. We had checked out the small town our first year on the road, based on a recommendation from someone, but we didn’t find any reason to remain. Now, I perused the Trailer Life, and concluded that Quarterhorse Motel and RV would be good, based on the amenities offered for the lower rates. We don’t require a golf course, swim pool, recreation hall, and the other amenities that many find necessary for life on the road.

But, this time I wanted a full-hookup, and I planned do to our laundry and freshen up Van’s germ-laden sheets and clothes, so I needed the facilities. I rejoiced at the extra luxury of Cable and decided this family operated place would work fine. 

Once we were settled in, I concluded that this would be a good location to spend a winter, as we were walking distance to a supermarket and restaurants, and there were several nearby points of interests, including Tombstone and Bisbee, two “Real Western Towns” to explore. And we were only 30-miles from Tucson’s conveniences, including Camping World, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and movies, for instance. I even asked the weekly rates, which were under $300.00; no wonder the person had recommended this place. Maybe next winter, but for now we were planning to follow our plans through Texas and on to Florida.

The next morning, I just made it to the laundry room ahead of another couple, and I thanked God for the Divine Timing that allowed us to get our laundry done. In any event, we decided to stay over another day and regroup, which meant cleaning the grease spots. At first, I sprayed on some foamy carpet cleaner, and we both gagged over the chemical smell. I noticed my Magic Cloths that I had bought from Satiro in Carlsbad, and I damped the heavy-duty cloth and began scrubbing. Within a few minutes, the spot was gone; so I continued working on the rest of them, and agreed that these cloths were magical. 

In fact, I was so thrilled that I cleaned the basins and faucets too, and then I grabbed the special dusting cloth and stood on the bed to clean the high shelves that I had always avoided. No sneezing and no flying dust. I loved it! Before long, our home was spotless, and somehow I felt free of the previous painful exploitation. Thank You, God.

And it felt as if a weight had lifted, too, that the refrigerator was working again, and I didn’t have to indulge in the do-without syndrome. But, I did laugh when I asked Van if he wanted to use the old package of almonds, or the new “World’s Largest Almonds” both from Trader Joe’s. 

Of course, he said, “Let’s use up the old ones,” which is so typical of his entire approach to life. But, rather than nag him, I decided to let it go. 

I’m sure the gods were singing this day, because even the unseasonably hot weather had cooled with high clouds and a slight wind, for my cleaning day, and the sun set on a pleasant, peaceful day. Although I lamented that I hadn’t gotten to work on completing my books, or listing the icons I would want for my website, I felt good, saying, “Oh well, guess it’s not supposed to be done today.”

 

Chapter 10

ALL SYSTEMS GO!

 

A new refrigerator, clean home, laundered clothes, showers and new attitudes marked the beginning of our launch off from Benson, Arizona; nothing like the desert for releasing, purification, and a fresh start.

I knew it was “All systems go,” when I read the Daily Reading: “Today is the beginning of a new me — a healthy, fulfilled creation of God.” It spoke of renewed confidence in oneself and faith in God, as we move forward filled with the power of God. And it reassured of God’s light guiding our way, as we are faced with making life-enhancing choices.

Buoyed with new energy and enthusiasm, it suggests that we walk with a livelier step and act like the new me, whom we truly are.

Yes! We were ready to move forward toward fulfilling our plans, as we headed across New Mexico, and into Texas, on our way to Florida. And it was certainly okay with me to have life going smoothly and no more devastating break-downs and repairs to report. I felt nenewed, confident and faith-filled, as we rolled along I-10, the highway that would take us all the way to Florida, with a few side roads and stopovers in Texas.

K-Bob’s Home-cooking

Driving through Wilcox, not far from Benson, Joanie noticed several restaurants advertisements on signboards. Both referred to Home Cooking, which tantalized her taste buds and imagination. We’d just eaten, so Our Cafe, in Wilcox, wouldn’t work, but K-Bobs, in Deming, about 125-miles down the road, would be perfect for a home cooked dinner, and she mentioned it from time-to-time to Van, who said he wasn’t hungry. 

But, as the journey progressed, across the unending desert, he was willing to stop for Joanie to eat. However, he zoomed right past the turn-off, so Joanie decided the Grand Hotel sounded even better, and he made the next exit, which took us along the road back into town. This time he drove past the Grand Hotel, but I was confused, because it had changed names, and I wasn’t sure that was the right place. 

By now we were back into town and I said “Oh, forget it, just keep going onto I-10. About that time, Van spotted K-Bobs sign on a side street, so he made the right turn and circled over to it. Joanie was pretty excited, because that’s where she’d really wanted to eat in the first place, remembering that their signboard advertised “Chicken-fried steak: $3.99.” In her mind, that’s really home-cooking, and the price was definitely right. 

Furthermore, as we walked toward the western style cafe, smelling the BBQ steak from their grill, Little Ralph decided that he would enjoy chicken fried steak, also, and Joanie smiled, because she knew he was feeling better, and this beef would add to his stamina.

Inside, I queried the waitress to make sure the dinner specialty was only $3.99, and she assured me it was, and pointed to the choice of extras, such as potatoes, coleslaw, or veggies. Joanie selected baked potato, and Little Ralph opted for mashed potatoes and gravy. 

While waiting, we eyed the western decor, watched the flames shoot up from the BBQ, and enjoyed casual chit chat.

When the heaping plate of food arrived, Joanie dived in and savored every delectable bite; not even flinching at the high fat content, although I began scraping off the fat laden batter, before the meal was over.

The New-Me Unfolding   

I know the above sounds like a very normal dinner in a typical western cafe, but somehow I knew there was much more involved, as the new-mes were getting acquainted on an entirely different level. For one thing, Van still hadn’t had a cigarette, and he seemed to be doing fine, but when I mentioned it, his eyes darkened and shifted from his pleasant self to his darker side. 

As usual, he ate in silence, though responding to my comments when I asked if he had become aware of his new-me, with his “not really,” insight.

My Inner Self seemed to have more to say than I did on the subject, because the words were given to me, “Have you given your teenage-self any comfort over the information that he shared about your pneumonia syndrome?”

“No.”

“Well, it would be a good idea,” came the message, adding, “because your teenage-self will be a supporting part of your new-me. You will be more self-assured and confident, more like you were as a Navy Frogman (Seal). And with him freeing up that suppressed energy, you will have more to put into your business.”

Not much comment, so I decided to end that subject, but I knew something big was happening, and this meal was part of it.

On the other hand, I was having a replay of codependency behavior, worrying about the cost of the meal, even though reassured by the waitress, when I spotted the baked potatoes listed as an extra $1.99; actually not an unreasonable price, but I feared that Van was upset about spending money on this meal. Yet, he wasn’t, and I realized that it was my projections, and made note that it was time to stop them, especially since he is now a new-me, so I must not limit him to his old behavior.

Further indications of Van’s new-me surfaced, after we had parked for the night at a Conoco Truck Stop in Van Horn, just as the sun was setting. We’d selected a spot in the far corner, away from the noisy trucks, but once it had gotten dark, Van noticed that the lights didn’t come on in the parking area. I’d been updating my chapter, so hadn’t noticed, but once he mentioned it, I realized that it was really dark, and isolated, because there were only a few trucks, and they were parked up front.

Van said, “If they don’t come on in about fifteen-minutes, I think we’d better move to the other Truck Stop.”

In the past, it would have been me fretting about the situation, and I would have felt unprotected, because Van wouldn’t be aware of our potentially dangerous exposure. So, his being alert to the circumstances, now, added a new depth of warmth to my feelings for his protectiveness.

Eventually, he moved us to the Love’s Truck Stop, which was well-lit and more populated, though much noisier, due to the truck generators. And when a particularly loud one pulled in next to us, I determined that I would not complain, as I inserted my earplugs. They didn’t help very much, and I was so grateful when the generator was turned off, and I could sleep soundly. Thank You, God.

I’m a New-me Too!

The neighbor trucker turned his generator on again, around 5:30 a.m., which woke me up, but he soon left, and I returned to sleep. However, later, when attempting to enter my morning meditation, another truck, even louder, pulled in, and I couldn’t concentrate, so I got up to begin the day. I’m adding these inconsequential details for those who think this lifestyle is carefree. It isn’t, as should be obvious by now. Of course, we could have paid the $12.50 and stayed at the Eagle’s Nest RV Park, adjoining the Conoco Truck Stop, but the costly repairs had curtailed our parking budget.

For some reason, I awoke feeling uneasy, maybe because I didn’t get to finish my meditation. Or maybe it was because we were ready to launch into a new adventure; and I wasn’t clear how to get there, or where to stay. I usually turn these matters over to God in my meditation, but this time I felt guided to inquire at the Truck Stop, so I asked if there was a Visitors Information Center in town, and was given directions. As I always say, “When all else fails, ask for directions.

Sarah, the helpful attendant, gave us directions, answered our questions, and handed me a magazine about Big Bend National Park, our destination. Since our TV reception was only slightly better than the cellular phone, which indicated: no service, and because it had gotten very windy, I asked about the weather, and she gave us an updated weather report, “A cold front is coming in from the West,” she announced, adding “but it isn’t due, until tomorrow.”

Thanking God for our Divine Timing, I asked, “How will it affect Big Bend?”

“It’s usually warmer there,” she replied.

I continued to feel edgy, as we drove along the two-lane road toward our destination, about 150-miles southeast. So I asked God to remove the remaining negative energies associated with my fear of impending doom, no doubt leftover from childhood. And I began to feel less anxious and more relaxed, as we moved across still another desert. In fact, I settled down at the computer and wrote a letter to Linda discussing my recent progress with Road Sign #5, The Red Sea: Dead-end.

As I wrote, I realized that this new venture, to Big Bend, symbolized another Red Sea experience for me. Facing the seeming dead-end — leaving the freeway — and pushing through the unknown, could be likened to The Israelites venture into the unknown, especially when they came to their Red Sea. And the way was opened for them when Moses lifted the rod with positive affirmations, which is what I began to do.

Based on the Daily Reading, which spoke of giving up the need to control everything in my life and surroundings, I affirmed, “I sweetly surrender,” and allowed God to take control and guide us through the trip and to our perfect destination. 

Continuing to write my e-mail to Linda, I now understood why I had found myself at an impasse when trying to straighten out a portion of the Road Sign, the night before. It was my own block that I was dealing with, and God’s way of getting my attention, because I was being willful, trying to complicate something that was already working. Now, I said, “Okay, God, I got it. I’ll let You guide me.” 

My ongoing affirmation, to change any negative pattern, became “Thank You, God, All Systems are Go!”

Points Along the Way

There’s nothing much to see on the way to Big Bend, and I was disappointed that I hadn’t read the Tour Guide Book that Sarah had given me, until after we’d passed through Marfa, a small town in the desert. You see, I’d been thinking about the movie Giant with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean ever since we passed a house that reminded of their home in the movie about life on a Texas ranch. And we’d been seeing a lot of windmills, which was an important part of that movie, where James Dean discovered oil. 

Once through the town, I read that the hotel is where the crew and performers stayed, and the movie was filmed in this area. I would have enjoyed seeing the autographed pictures that are in the hotel, but we were moving on. 

The next town, Alpine, had, as its claim to fame, the Sul Ross College, which is a large campus on the hillside, visible from the road. And it also boasts a football field, home of the Alpine Cowboys, a team purchased by a local millionaire, who wanted to watch football. We passed right through this town too. Partly because Van wasn’t feeling well, and he wanted to get settled for the night; and partly because I was disgusted with the buildup of this being the “Alps of Texas,” and it was still desert, with some barren hills in the distance. And the only trees were some unknown variety. 

Needless to say, this was a long, long side trip to see a National Park, but we were quite certain we would not come this way again, so we forged ahead, stopping long enough for me to fix salmon sandwiches for lunch.

Also, my codependency was flaring up, because of Van’s relapse, and I continually asked him if he were enjoying the trip. Although he seemed weak and low-energy, he said he was glad we were taking the trip to Big Ben, so I took his word for it.

The Wind Blew at Big Bend

We’d enjoyed warm and pleasant weather all the way to Big Bend, but when we got out of Freedom to register at the Visitors Center, the wind nearly blew us over, and it worsened the closer we got to the Rio Grande Village. But we were happy that our Golden Age Passport allowed us free admission.

The ranger had said that the full hookups were filled, and he didn’t know if there were accommodations for our 35 ft. rig at the campgrounds, but we weren’t about to turn around, now, when we were only 22-miles away. So we drove the winding, narrow road that dropped 1,000 ft. into the Rio Grande Valley, and stopped at the store for further information about staying the night.

He directed us to the campground, where we came to a ranger making her rounds. She guided us to the only spot big enough for our rig, saying that she would remove the cone that was saving the place. 

I thought, “Thank You, God, for saving our place.” When we caught up with her, she said, “I just remembered this cone is here, because they are going to move that dirt tomorrow. How long are you staying?” 

Van said, “Two days.”

She looked concerned, but said, “Well, if you see a vacant spot tomorrow, would you please move?”

Van agreed, and pulled into the space, filled out the card, enclosed the $7.00 (half price) for the two nights, walked over and put it in the self-pay stand. In the meantime, I fixed a quick dinner, which he ate, and then he went to bed very early.

The wind had been blowing the dust in all directions, but I decided to walk over to the trail to the Rio Grande, thinking it was close. Again, God’s timing came through, as I met a ranger walking toward me, along the path. She said, “No, this water is not the Rio, it’s backwater from another stream, but yes, this path leads to the Rio; about 1/4 to 1/2 mile.” She also said it’s not unusual to have this much wind here, and it wouldn’t bring a storm with it; the rains come in July and August.

With this assurance, I felt much more at ease, and crossed the wooden walkway, between the tall reeds, across the water, and then along a path that eventually wound its way up to the top of a hill, which I climbed.

The sun had already set behind the high hills to the west, and the afterglow was spreading across the valley, as I wound my way up the dirt path, passing about a dozen people coming back from their picture-taking expedition, though somewhat disappointed, because there wasn’t much color to this sunset, and they were disgruntled with the intense winds.

Further along the path, I passed a woman walking alone, and asked if she could see the Rio from the mountaintop. She said that she hadn’t seen it, but I was almost at the top, and could return down the other side, to get a different view. I love taking a round-trip, but when I got to the top, it was so windy that I feared blowing off the mountain, and returned the same way; without seeing the Elusive Rio, as I once termed the river, in another travel book I wrote about our journeys in eastern Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico.

When I returned, Van was still awake, and I told him of my ventures, saying, “If you want to see the Rio, you’ll need to drive down that road we passed that pointed to Mexico.”

He replied, “Yes, but the only way across is in a boat.”

“How do you know that?”

“I overheard the store clerk telling someone about it. He said the town has no electricity, and the restaurant has only one item, tortillas, about 1 inch in length and it costs $1.00 for three.”

“It would be worth it for the adventure,” I replied.

“Well, you can go by yourself, then, because I sure don’t want to go.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I rallied. “Maybe you will feel more like it tomorrow.”

“No, I won’t,” he insisted.

The truth is that I probably wouldn’t want to go, either. But, we would surely drive down to the river.

A Good Place to Release

What better place than the desert to reformat The Wilderness Maze, Road Sign #6 of my Journey to Inner Freedom course? Midst the 80 degree winter temperature, I not only handled the manuscript transfer by myself, while Van slept, but I accomplished the tedious job of changing indents, which meant that all subtitles had to be re-centered. I felt very good about my independence, and getting the job done. In fact, it went quite smoothly; but Van, on the other hand was experiencing a full case of chemicalization, which is the detoxing process one can briefly suffer, while going through the wilderness process of transition. In other words, he felt flu-like, including diarrhea. I appreciated his participation, because I wasn’t sure about using two of Keith Smyth’s more graphic cartoons relating to this releasing process; but with Van’s experiential aid, I knew they must be included, and I placed them in the Addendum.   

Van still seemed to be processing his pneumonia syndrome origins, as Teenage Ralph’s anger became apparent throughout the day, and we attempted to define the problem. “I’m Not Wanted” again surfaced, and we discussed the fact that most teenagers feel that way, although in his case it seemed quite true, as his dad was a loner, too, and had no skills for relating with his son; mostly because he had been abandoned by his dad. And on and on the cycle goes.

We concluded that Van must find something positive about his teens that could serve as a focus. With my prompting, he admitted that his stepmother, Ruth, provided a comfortable, clean home and she cooked good meals. So that became his basis for changing that negative, “nothing works” teenage pattern.

The Beauty of the Desert

By mid-afternoon I needed a break, so BBQ’d hamburgers, another job that is usually Van’s, but he was still woozy, so I prepared them, and we enjoyed Trader Joe’s contribution to our campout.

Later, prior to sunset, I invited Van to take a walk in search of the Elusive Rio, and he accepted. 

This time, we took the lower Nature Walk trail, as I pointed to the high point where I had climbed the night before. We had no wind today, but the sun had hidden behind a large cloud, which I figured would give a great sunset, and provided a respite from the intense rays, which made the walk more comfortable.

We crossed the board walk, through the backwater, and spotted a big bird perched in the tree, which I captured with my camcorder, and continued on through the valley floor. The rugged hills I’d climbed were to our left, and to the right were rows of varying colors and sizes of reeds forming a colorful foreground to the plateau, where the sun would soon set. In the distance ahead, we could see some buildings on the Mexican side of the river, and they were partially hidden by low bushes that hid the Elusive Rio. 

As we walked in that direction, we could see the colorful cliffs that reflect the sunsets. But with all this beauty, the captivating picture postcard scene looked across the reeds and backwater, beyond and between the plateau, where high peaked rugged mountains formed a backdrop. And nestled in the trees to the right was the campground. Truly, this valley became an oasis in this otherwise desolate desert.

The path took us by some round mortar holes in solid embedded rocks, made by earlier tribes who ground seeds and grains into meal. Closer to the river, the soil became sandy; at first coarse, and then finer, which made it difficult to walk, but showed the many footprints of others who had made this trek. 

Finally, we reached the banks of the still hidden river, and pushed through a labyrinth- like opening in the bushes. At last, we stood on the banks of the fairly wide, and not too muddy, Rio Grande; an exhilarating moment, and one that lasted for much longer, as we continued to follow the path to other riverside openings showing the rapids gurgling over the large rocks, some exposed above water, and elsewhere were quiet pools. Truly a memorable scene; but to make sure I didn’t forget, I took camcorder shots, and several with the still camera.

In the meantime, the sun was coming from behind the clouds and its rays shown across the river and reflected off the steep cliffs on the other side, where we had seen a person leading a burro along the path. From time to time we could hear its brays, as they made their way toward their destination. 

Concerned that we wouldn’t get back, before dark, Van had started our return, but, as the sunset became more golden across the clouds, forming lovely patterns, I kept taking more shots. Eventually, we reached three other folks who were also enjoying the scene and capturing it with their cameras, as the colors transformed into deeper golds, then orange, and finally shades of red. 

At different intervals, we would think the colors couldn’t possibly get any more glorious, so we began walking back, along the path, only to see even more spectacular scenes; now across the reeds, with the plateau and jagged mountain peaks in the background. Such Beauty! 

We managed to reach the backwater bridge just as the red glow looked like giant flames encompassing the deadened trees, including the one where I’d filmed the bird in the branches. It was gone, but the outline of the tree against the flaming sky and reflecting on the water was even more picturesque, and I continued filming, until the last shade of red finally gave way to darkness, allowing only enough light to safely make our way back to Freedom.

Give it Up!

Once back home, darkness had set in, and we settled down with popcorn, which I popped, as Van was too exhausted from his lengthy, though healing walk. Again, we talked about his feelings and the patterns that he now felt ready to give up. We tried to find more ways to assist Teenage Ralph release those angry emotions, so I read aloud the Daily Reading, “God is in charge of my life, and I am preparing myself to experience the good in every situation. God is in charge and God always knows what is best for me.”

Somehow, the words seemed to have a soothing effect, and Van went to bed. But he coughed and coughed, and went through more releasing throughout the night. 

The next morning, while completing The Wilderness Maze, I read him the symptoms of chemicalization, and the importance of elimination and releasing in this transitional process. He agreed that, indeed, he was going through his own wilderness process.

I reassured him, “But, the next Road Sign is “Crossing the River Jordan,” and it does get better for awhile, before the next level of the Battles of the Promised Land take us through to the conclusion of the Transformation Process. I’d better get busy reformatting that booklet.

Our last activities at Big Bend were to dump the RV tanks, which seemed especially symbolic of letting go and letting God. I check my e-mail, which included sending several messages that I had taken the time to write, while Van completed his tasks.

However, when we arrived at the Rio Grande Visitors Center, the doors were locked; the people were at lunch. But Van had the impression the email outlet was at the Park Headquarters, so we began the 22-mile return, along the winding road, only to discover that, indeed, the email hookup was at the other location; and furthermore, it was outside by the public phone.

I felt disappointed, because I’d built up to the completion of this grand finale, and now I had no idea when my messages would get sent. Why hadn’t we waited the 1/2 hour till the staff returned from lunch? What was the big hurry, anyway, and what were our priorities?

The more I thought about it, the more upset I became, because this was typical of the game Van and I get caught in; his being out of it, my codependence about his condition, and important matters getting dropped out. I felt really ready to give up this syndrome; and I wondered how much of it was wrapped-up in his Teenage Ralph process. 

I prayed that it would be removed, as we drove on up the road toward the east entrance, which would take us to Marathon, on our way toward Del Rio. 

Since Van was feeling better, and I felt we were getting ready to cross our River Jordan and move into The Promised Land, I decided this would be a good time to start playing the business motivational tapes that Dottie and Steve sent us for Christmas. Ms. Stud, the peppy speaker, added just the right touch to our Exodus from the National Park, and soon we arrived at the last Visitors Center. Van suggested that they might have an e-mail outlet, but no such luck, so I let it go, trusting God’s perfect time to send/receive my e-mail.

I laughed, as we continued listening to the tapes, when Ms. Stud referred to a song by The Eagles. The words spoke of being a victim and feeling sorry for oneself, concluding, “Get Over it.” 

A Marathon in Texas

Again, I had my expectations built, as we approached Marathon, thinking it might be similar to Alpine, but it was a very small town with the main Highway 90, between Van Horn (at I-10) and Del Rio, going through it. 

When studying the Big Bend magazine, which I’d gotten at the Van Horn Visitors Center, I’d noticed an ad for Hotel Gage, which I thought was in Alpine, and I’d felt disappointed when we zipped right through town, without stopping. But, while reading about Marathon, I discovered that the restored western hotel was here, so I insisted we stop in front of the picturesque brick building, which, like the rest of town, faced onto Highway 90. My intentions were to enjoy a fine dining meal in the ambiance of the Old West, but the dining room didn’t open until 6:00 p.m., and I was hungry.

While viewing the western motif, saddles, lariats, and pictures, I learned from the hotel clerk that the chuck wagon, across the railroad tracks, would be a good choice for our late lunch.

I need to put this explanation into writing, because it’s another pattern that I want to identify and eliminate, as it’s plagued our entire marriage, taking away much of the otherwise joy of our relationship, especially our travels. 

You see, perhaps as a control issue, Van tends toward holding back, or withholding. Typical of his passive-aggressive behavior, when asked what he would like to do, he says, “I don’t care, whatever you want to do,” but then when a choice is made, he doesn’t participate or become involved, or even seem interested. In fact, I recently asked him, “If you didn’t have me, or someone else, planning your life, what would you do?”

“I don’t know,” he answered, with no expression or interest in even caring.

So, I have to make most decisions, based on what I would enjoy, or what I think he might want to do. How codependent is that? 

Joanie wanted to go to the chuck wagon, and as we crossed the tracks, she laughed at the sign advertising the Dry Bean Chuck wagon. I had a feeling that an adventure was in store, and when we drove down the gravel road and pulled in front of a Mexican style adobe building with arches along the veranda, I knew it would be different; but I had no idea how much entertain- ment awaited us inside.

The chuck wagon, a remodeled two-story home, offered two doors. I opened the wrong one, and a woman said, “The restaurant is next door.” I hadn’t noticed the signs, but as I took the few steps, I heard someone walking upstairs, and I met a western-type fellow with a big black cowboy hat coming down the stairs. He greeted us, and we followed him into a colorful room with old-time pictures and three tables brightly decorated with checkered cloths. I chose the one furthest from the music.

Richard held up the whiteboard with the menu offerings, and I succumbed to another of my codependent characteristics: I wanted a chuck wagon meal, like the brisket, but they seemed too expensive, so instead I selected what Van chose, turkey sandwich, which turned out to be like a deli offering on a homemade roll. Good, but not what I really wanted, so I topped it off with a “scrumptious, homemade peach cobbler,” baked by his wife, Rosemary, according to the handout that Richard handed Van, who was totally not into it.

However, the food was not the main attraction, as we soon discovered. Richard Nichols, the Cowboy Entertainer, of the Will Rogers variety, explained that he had grown up on a nearby 87,000 acre ranch, nineteen-miles from the road into Big Bend, with seven brothers and three sisters. They had no electricity, so they entertained themselves and each other. That’s how he became a story-teller. He’d been on David Letterman’s show and traveled across Europe, Canada, South America and the United States with his cowboy show, which also includes music.

When two other customers showed up, his show-business instinct responded, and he shifted from dialogue to entertainment, including two recitations relating to life on the ranch. 

Soon the third table filled with four hearty fellows, who admitted they’d been in the desert too long, and ordered cobbler. It didn’t take long for Richard to include them with a poem we’d heard at the Cowboy gathering at Riverside in Laughlin. But he made it his own with his original delivery, and everyone laughed with him, but not nearly as much as he laughed at his own tales. 

We could not have been better entertained, had we stopped in at Will Roger’s cafe and listened to the master. It’s my contention that Richard has a long way to go in show business, although he already keeps busy entertaining at conventions and other gatherings. His favorite stage is the patio, where he puts on a chuck wagon feed and 60-minute show, with cowboy tales, songs and poetry for $23.95. He doesn’t charge for the patio food, due to state regulations, so you pay for the entertainment, and “the food is free.”

We lost all track of time in this enchanted setting, but finally the other customers roused from the show, and we joined them, as we sauntered outside and took pictures to remember this delightful respite in our travels, and the man who made it happen, Richard Nichols and his wife, Rosemary. 

Van had been drained throughout the day, and was so out of it that he kept his back to Richard, while slowly chewing his sandwich throughout the entertainment. Now, I concluded the best plan was to find a hole and crawl in it, so he could rest, because it was 170-miles to Del Rio, with very little in-between. And, we’d managed to travel the 90-miles from Big Bend to Marathon, so this was surely a big accomplishment for one day.

We holed-in at the Marathon Motel and RV Park, where we were signed-in by a pleasant white-haired fellow, George, who said he’d traveled around the world, but this is his favorite climate. He’s a mason, and had built himself a home nearby, but stays in a trailer at the park, when on- duty.

In retrospect, I can see that the handwriting was on the wall, for the next events, because my triggering mechanisms had been building. First, the disappointments and Van’s out-of-it behavior; and at the RV Park, I’d looked forward to a peaceful evening watching cable TV, as advertised. 

But, when Van hooked it up, we got fuzzy, black-and-white reception, so he spent more time than his weakened condition could handle trying to fix it. Finally, he got George to come help, and after stringing another cable from the next hookup, it still didn’t work right. By now, my disappointment had given way to upset, especially when another RV pulled in between us and a view of the setting sun. I’d managed to make that be okay, as I could still see the mountains above the vehicle, but I had gone a bridge-too-far, and I flopped down on the back bedroom bed.

Van finally hooked the cable to another outlet on Freedom, and got the TV working, but I didn’t care. I was done. So, he sat down and watched Diagnosis Murder, while I tried to figure out my own mystery. 

The Triggering Mechanism

The missing piece to the puzzle that sent me over the edge, this time, added the final triggering mechanism: the weather report had been going on the TV in the office, when we signed in, and it spoke of terrible snow and ice and rain storms throughout The South and Eastern Texas, the very region we would be traveling; and that’s why I had wanted to watch TV, to get a clear picture of what we were up against, and what direction we should take.

Now, the childhood pattern was complete: someone sick, not functioning in normal role, responsibility being up to me, disappointment, my not knowing what to do about the decision- making. Overload! And I really felt angry at Van for this ongoing sickness pattern of his. Our “All Systems Go” had come to a complete stop.

And that wasn’t all. When I awoke the next morning, there was a total gray-out, as the fog had settled in and the temperatures had dropped to the mid-thirties; overnight from wearing shorts to watching George in his sheepherders’ jacket. It was cold. So I thanked God, as I kept turning up the heat. But the big upset came when I tried to start my computer, and it wouldn’t turn on. 

Okay, I’d been reading about and affirming “Faith and Peace” from my Daily Reading,

so now I closed the computer and spoke the word, “PEACE”! Then I picked it up and looked at the side, where the “on” button was located. I felt a tiny switch, which I moved back and forth, and then pushed the button again. It started. Thank You, God. I assumed that it had somehow gotten turned off when Van took the computer to the Office to see if they did email, while asking George to help with the TV. They didn’t

By the time Van got up, I’d updated my chapter, and we discussed the weather. The fog had lifted, and it had warmed somewhat, so we decided to move forward, dealing only with the immediate situation. The Weather News said that the conditions further east would improve next week, and we wouldn’t be there, until then, anyway. Van was even feeling more energetic.

So, it’s all systems go.

Grandmother’s Ranch House

Our first quest for the day had been to find the restaurant that our dining companions had mentioned the day before. All I knew was it was in the next town, Sanderson, and they served lots of good food; enough to send Joanie in hot pursuit. About an hour down the road, we came into Sanderson, which offered three or four restaurants and a bevy of Mexican cantinas. But, their most recent claim to fame (by the Texas Legislature) proclaimed this town with the honor: “Cactus Capital of Texas.” 

But, after our Tour Guide lead us to Grandmother’s Ranch House, we felt it should be honored with “Best Food,” however many others have laid claim to that title. Nevertheless, my smoked brisket, brown beans and corn were delicious and filling, which eliminated my desert option of homemade coconut pie. Van worked his way through the Daily Special: homemade meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, broccoli and homemade biscuits; taking some home for later.

A Legend in his own Time

Another hour down the road, from Sanderson, brought us to Langtry, Judge Roy Bean’s town, claimed to be named after Lillie Langtry, the famous English actress and singer. But railroad historians say it bears the name of one of their construction foremen. I like the legend about “Jersey Lily” best. And there are so many legends about the “Hanging Judge,” it’s hard to know fact from fiction. For instance, the brochure says there are no records of his actually hanging anyone, although he dished out some harsh sentences, such as fining a horse thief all his valuables and gun, and turning him loose in the desert with the words, “Don’t ever return here, or you’ll be hanged.”

Do you think the story about Lillie Langtry visiting the town is true? It is, and there are pictures to prove it. Unfortunately, she arrived a few months after the Judge died. But the Opera House, was the name he’d given his home, which he had hoped would lure her to Langtry. There was no opera house.

And he really did promote a prize fight between Maher and Fitzsimmons, but fighting was illegal in Texas, so he built a bridge across the river (Rio), and it was held in Mexico, where he made bucks on the betting.

The “Jersey Lilly” still stands today, and we actually walked inside and saw the original pictures and billiard table legs, and other mementoes of Judge Roy Bean. And we walked through a replica of his Opera House, with a bed, table and stove similar to his. 

Believe me, the Old West is still alive today in Langtry, although it’s almost a ghost town. But the Department of Transportation has done a great job with its Visitor Center, and I highly recommend this stop, which Van even enjoyed, despite his still weakened condition. However, we both passed up walking through the elaborate Cactus Garden, because of the extreme cold; in the 30’s.

The Ongoing Saga of the Elusive Rio

Our search for The Elusive Rio, featured in Home on the Road; Moving on, continued at Langtry. 

Although we’d finally gotten a good view of the Rio Grande, it must be remembered that the river flows across Texas, and serves as the border between Mexico, to the south. Therefore, its presence is a big part of our southern route, but that doesn’t mean we’ve seen much of it. Not at all, even though we have been within a few feet at times, and several miles at others.

For instance, Langtry is above the Rio, but the river is so far below, in the canyon, that even if we stood at the top, we wouldn’t be able to see it. However, we could see the caves in the solid rock canyon walls, across the river, in Mexico, even from the Visitors Center. But we chose not to drive to the edge, thinking we would see the Rio later. Wrong!

The highway paralleled the river all the way to Del Rio, and we saw the Amistad Reservoir, which was created from the waters, but not the river. 

I must mention that this Reservoir covers miles and miles, which is an amazing sight in the midst of the desert. It’s a favorite fishing and recreational destination for Texans, Travelers, and RVers. And the camping, along its shores, is provided at no cost, by the National Parks. We would have been tempted, but the cold weather and our schedule urged us onward.

We didn’t stop in Del Rio (which means by the river), though it’s a large town and has a Wal-Mart, and probably a view of the Elusive Rio. Instead, we drove on through changing terrain, to Eagle Pass; sometimes seeing herds of cattle, sheep, goats, or even wild animals, like deer and javelin, along the roadside.

“The Eagle has Landed”

However, our sights were set on the Eagle; the Lucky Eagle Casino, which was even more elusive than the Rio, but situated near it. No, we didn’t see the river, but we did find the casino. 

The signboard, and even the Texas Travel Guide Book, made it sound quite easy, so Van didn’t bother asking at the filling station, which is characteristic of men; they prefer to figure it out for themselves, or get lost. We chose the latter, which was enhanced by the darkness and confusing streets and signs, or lack of. So he finally drove into a high school and asked directions. 

While he was inside, a fellow walked by Freedom, so I opened the window and asked the warmly clad local for directions. He concluded that it was so hard to find, he would guide us part way. I could tell we were in The South, by their friendly, helpful ways. When Van returned, they chatted awhile, and he learned that Brian had been helping to decorate the school for some event.

I’m not sure why he was driving his dump truck; probably his wife or kid had the car. He seemed to be that kind of guy. Anyway, he drove off into the night, and Van followed. I worked a crossword puzzle, because I was upset over the insanity of Van not asking directions at the service station.

In any event, after guiding us back toward town, and to the turnoff, Brian finally stopped and bid goodbye, after saying, “After you turn onto the road to the casino, you will eventually think you are on the wrong road, but keep going. You won’t see it, until you are there.”

These directions were sounding complicated, so I asked, “Do they allow RVers to stay overnight?” 

“Oh yes, I’ve seen them there. And they have security guards too, and it’s well-lit.”

Away he went, and we were on our own. Just as Brian said, the well-lit sign with an arrow pointed us onto another road, which went on forever (three more miles), and we would have been sure we were lost, had it not been for Brian’s good directions; and some that Van had learned from someone inside the school.

“There will be a community of houses for awhile, but then they stop, and there’s nothing; but don’t give up, it’s out there.”

On the way, Van told me a story that Brian had told him: The Kickapoo Indians had been living under the International Bridge crossing. The towns-folks didn’t like them there, because it was trashy and posed a serious health hazard, so they besieged the mayor to get rid of them.

He went to the Indian chief about the matter, and got into a fist fight. When the mayor got back to his office, he realized that fist fighting didn’t resolve the matter; he needed to take a better approach. So, he got with his buddies in state government for a solution, and they came up with 128 acres, south of town, along the river (Rio), and funding to build them homes, a community center and a regular Indian Reservation, which the Kickapoos had never had, although other tribes enjoyed those land grants. 

A few years later, someone came up with the idea of building a casino. Of course, the mayor hadn’t anticipated that eventuality, but that’s what happened. And that’s why it is so far from town, on the alloted 128 acres.”

According to the Travel Guide Book, they have a state-of-the-art casino complete with bingo, Las Vegas style gambling and even a restaurant and Sports Bar. I could hardly wait to see this place.

Finally, we arrived, at 8:30 p.m., under the cloak of darkness, and headed to the far corner of the parking lot. Much to our surprise, Van announced, “They have RV hookups over here.” Sure enough, all the conveniences of home, even cable TV, if we’d had a proper connection between their outlet and Freedom; but we didn’t. However, that didn’t mean there wasn’t TV. Heaven forbid, no. Of course, it was all in Spanish, so we gave up on that idea.

Van went to bed, and I spent a few hours unloading a basket where I’d filed everything that I planned to take care of later. The basket was much lighter, when I finished, and I knew this was another symbolic gesture toward our ongoing elimination process. Surely Van would feel better the next day, too.

Chapter 11

STEPPING OUT ON FAITH

 

Crossing the River Jordan

Snowstorms, freezing rain, ice and cold had plagued the Southeast during the week preceding the Superbowl. And the weather in our area of Texas had dropped into the 40’s. Our question became “How far do we go and when?” Do we press on to Tampa, Fl., for the Leadership Training event, or do we find the warmest place in southern Texas for the winter?

There was no reason to assume that God would not continue guiding us within Divine Order and Timing, so we left Eagle Pass and moved on East toward Pawnee, the home of Adam and Michael Martin’s mom, Linda, and her husband Ken.

I’d hoped for warm weather this trip, because we had gotten stuck in the mud the last time we visited, and God sent along a gravel truck to pull us out, when needed. With that in mind, I wanted to change the pattern of fear and apprehension, so we decided to leave The Wilderness and step out on faith into The River Jordan.

I also wanted to begin working on Road Sign #7, Crossing the River Jordan, so it could be completed in booklet format. The correlation of timing seemed right, as we followed the route I’d outlined, but the secondary roads were too rough, so I waited. But I thought about the theme of that lesson: When we have faced inner child issues, patterns and limitations, and made the necessary changes and our consciousness has reached the place of readiness to leave The Wilderness Maze, we step into the River Jordan, while it’s still flooded. That’s the act of faith necessary, before God stops the waters and allows us to walk forward on the dry land of the river bed.  

This all makes sense when we understand that the River Jordan represents our personal unconscious (the sum-total of all our beliefs, experiences, thoughts and feelings), and not to be confused with the Red Sea, which symbolizes collective unconscious (everyone’s). Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with anyone’s negativity but our own here, which is bad enough. After all, how many times have we tried to cross that line of limitation, only to turn back and say, “I can’t do it?” 

Van’s River Jordan

Van was feeling stronger and felt confident that he could take us forward to Pawnee, about 200 miles, and we bounced along the back-roads toward our destination. But Van faced his River Jordan, when he came to the “Pavement Ends” sign. He turned back, because he didn’t want to take Freedom over the rough road where the construction had been in progress (only temporarily stopped on this Saturday). It was the unknown; he had no idea how far the bumpy road would last. But I assured him, “It’s a good road on the map, and we came this way last time; besides Freedom is a recreation vehicle, it’s designed for rough roads. Remember, we drove over twenty-miles on gravel road one time” (I didn’t mention that we had already traveled thirty-miles that time, and the pavement ended, so again, he had been forced through his River Jordan).

About this time, a van came along and stopped, while Van negotiated his turnaround. I said, “Roll down your window and ask him how far the dirt road continues.”

“About five miles,” the man replied. 

Van asked, “Is there another way to Three Rivers” (the next town). The man shook his head and pointed down the road, “This is it.” And he drove on through. 

In the meantime, several other vehicles had passed by, so Van faced the inevitable and turned back the way we’d been heading. He drove very slowly across the rocky, bumpy road, as other vehicles zoomed by and left us in a cloud of dust. 

I knew Van was going through his River Jordan, on his inner journey, because he has so much anxiety about driving Freedom over unpaved roads, but he pushed on through (without much choice in the matter), and within five-miles we returned to pavement and continued our journey. 

Writing these words, I recall that one of Van’s obstacles in life is “not having a choice,” and it reverts to his childhood. When he was about ten, he learned that his dad had rented a basement apartment (in someone’s home), with the agreement that Little Ralph would mow the lawn and shovel snow. But the boy didn’t know about the arrangement, until he overheard his stepmom, Ruth, on the phone, talking about it. This created a deep resentment in Little Ralph, because he didn’t have a choice; it was simply taken for granted that’s what he must do, and the impact of this assumption left him feeling powerless. And the incident formed a basic pattern that we term a root cause. In fact, when facing this one, again, in the Battles of the Promised Land, its intensity would be considered the “Final Battle.”

I shared this insight with Van, and I could see the light bulb go on in his eyes. Thank You, God, for giving me this information to pass along to Van, and others who may read these words and understand that a similar childhood incident took away their power and left them feeling anger and resentment; thus a pattern being formed that would repeat throughout their life.

I said to Van, “So, okay, now you’ve got this piece of the puzzle, so what? Does it help, or make any difference?” I was thinking that we needed to come up with something positive to replace the vacuum.

But he replied in a firm, positive voice, “Yes it does. Recognition helps a lot,” and his voice trailed off, as I hastened to add the words to the page. 

Then I pursued my point, “But what would it take to replace the feeling of powerlessness to that of empowerment?” I recalled that, in the past, when he’d first talked about this painful issue, I suggested that I would always ask his okay, before making an assumption that he would do something. Often, when I realized he was dealing with this issue, I would say, “It’s not about you mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, you have a choice,” and he would realize that pattern was a burr under his saddle. And that solution had worked quite well, until he came up against it at this level. 

Now, the entire ball (pneumonia syndrome) seemed to burst open, as I started putting the pieces to the puzzle together: In California, when the Birthday Bug had again bitten, Little Ralph was feeling like he was being “told to mow the lawn and shovel snow,” and he had no choice in the matter. I’d known, even then, the issue had to do with him having to do something he didn’t want to do, but I didn’t have all the pieces, or maybe the timing wasn’t right. 

Obviously, Van had his own process to go through, and now the time was right, so I said, “You know, you’ve always had a choice. For instance, you’ve seemed resentful about helping me with the computer, but I asked you, before I started this writing project, especially the self-publishing, if you would be willing to participate, and you said, ‘Yes.’”

He agreed, “That’s right.”

He’d gone into the bathroom to brush his teeth, and I felt cut-off, which is typical of his behavior, and mine, when these intense subjects are being discussed.

But this time Van emerged from brushing his teeth, with a new lightness about him, and added, “That’s why recognition means a lot, because I can say, “Oh, okay, that’s what’s going on.”

I continued, “And before we bought Freedom, I asked if you were willing to do all the projects that are needed to keep it functioning, and you said, ‘Yes.’ So maybe you need to remind Little Ralph and Teenage Ralph about this. Or maybe it’s time to reevaluate the situation. Maybe you never really wanted to do any of these things, and you just said ‘Yes’ to be agreeable and get along; in other words, being codependent. So, now we’re at a crossroads. We can go forward, we can go back, or we can go to Southern Texas or even to Colorado. And you can make a choice in this new light of truth and understanding. Is your life going to be controlled by Little Ralph and Teenage Ralph, or are they willing to merge with Adult Ralph, and work together in their decision-making?”

He was busy eating his breakfast, and didn’t respond. But at some point he said, “We’ll need to get Freedom a drink, before we leave this Truck Stop.”

Obviously his mind had gone on to other subjects, so I asked, “Do you consider this conversation complete?”

He looked surprised that I would even ask, so I assumed that it was over for him, and I said, “Well, I’ve asked a lot of questions, and none of them have been answered. Does that mean you’re thinking about it, or does it mean that you’re in overload and it’s time to end the subject?”
He matter-of-fact replied, “Well, yes, it’s been quite a lot,” and took another bite of cereal. 

BBQ in Pawnee

Okay, so take a cue, Joyanna. Stop. Don’t pursue it at this time. Bring up the questions later, after spending Super Bowl Sunday with Linda and Ken.

We’d already spent an enjoyable evening with them, despite the fact I hadn’t been able to send my email to let Linda know when we were arriving. But, as usual, our Tour Guide took care of things. They had gone shopping in town and bought the chicken, which Ken had barbecued, and Linda had made a potato salad and desert; not having a clue that we would be arriving. God never ceases to amaze me.

In the meantime, my cellular phone was still “not in service,” so we stopped at a Truck Stop, near Three Rivers, and I called, but she hadn’t answered. I left a message saying that we would be at the church in Pawnee, and hoped they’d meet us there. As we drove the 13-miles to Pawnee, I wondered if we should try the new dirt road into their acreage, but decided to wait and see.

When we approached the church, there sat their red Kia and Linda waving from inside. Thank You, God.

Linda said it had rained, and we probably wouldn’t want to drive into their driveway, so we rode the few miles with her, and she agreed to bring us back, later, then we could return to the Truck Stop for the night.

I just love their double-wide modular home, which is so elegant and homey with blues and whites, and even a cheerful fire in the fireplace on this cold winter evening. But, at least it wasn’t raining, and we had a great visit and delicious meal; and entertainment by their two cats. Tag liked to sprawl upside-down in front of the fireplace, and the Sylvester, the younger one, actually chased a furry ball and returned it to be tossed again. I’d never seen a cat do that, and he loved playing the game, until he got tired, of course.

After a pleasant evening and checking my email, plus sending the message to Linda about our arrival, it was time to return home, with the promise of getting together the next day for the Super bowl.

Super Bowl Sunday

As planned, Linda met us in Pawnee, at the elementary school, where Van had parked, after getting unstuck in the mud, on our last visit. When we returned to the house, she busied herself preparing goodies for snacking, and then made spaghetti sauce from scratch, using a jar of her own home-canned tomatoes, fresh vegetables and deer meat that she had shot in their backyard. Talk about southern hospitality and home cooking! Linda and Ken made us feel right at home. 

While the spaghetti sauce was cooking, she and I bundled up and went for a walk through their acreage, accompanied by Blondie, a white Lab, and Mama, a golden something. Ken had cleared roadways in several directions, which made walking easy, but the rest of the land was nearly impenetrable with thickets of brush and low hanging tree branches. 

As we walked, Linda pointed out their plans to build a circular driveway, barn and a patio. At the far end of the property, near the fence and extended cleared area, under two large live oak trees, was the land she had allotted for Adam to build his home, when he made parole. I had a vision of Adam living here peacefully; and I knew it would be his Promised Land to fulfill his dreams, and hers, too, in the time when he would marry and have children. At this time, though Linda has three sons, none are married and she has no grandchildren. But she is only in her fifties, and those happy times are still before her.

On our return to the house, the dogs began barking and then Blondie started yipping. Next time I saw her, crimson blood-stained her rear leg. “Oh oh,” Linda exclaimed, “she got gored by a javelina.” They had explained the day before that these ugly, prolific combination of rodent and wild pig have a long snout and horns protruding from the side of their face. And the dogs do battle with them on a regular basis. Between that and the cacti, the dogs have a tough life. But, Linda said they are good watchdogs. 

However, they had gone with Ken, earlier, when we watched, from the kitchen window, a coyote stroll across the yard, not too far from the house. And the birds had invaded the front yard, knowing the dogs were away. Needless to say, this is real country, and Linda and Ken enjoy the peace and tranquility.

After viewing the deer blind and releasing some corn from the feeder, we strolled back to the house just in time for the start of the Big Game: St. Louis Rams (formerly from LA) and the Tennessee Oilers (formerly from Houston). It got off to a slow start, with the Rams managing 9 points from field goals; and that was it, until the last quarter, after an Oiler player was injured and carried off in the ambulance. Suddenly, the game came to life; first the Rams scored a touchdown, and before it was over, the momentum changed to the Oilers, and they made two touchdowns. At one point the game was tied, but it ended 23-16 in favor of the Oilers. Ken and Linda were happy, as they were cheering for their states former team. Although I was pulling for the Rams, from our former state, the Oilers earned their win.

We’d been snacking on Linda’s homemade dip and chips, but during the slower part of the game, we took a break for her delicious home cooked spaghetti dinner.

Ken’s teenage son, JC, had joined us for watching the game. When he first returned, he related a story, “We stopped to pet the calf (in the pen down the road) and it slipped out between the bars, so we had to chase it. We were worried that its mom was going to chase us, but we managed to finally drag it back into the pen.” Just another day on the ranch. Linda said that JC had helped them string the barbed-wire fence along the property, too. He seemed to be doing okay, and at 17, he had only one more year of high school, where he plays varsity basketball and pitches baseball, hoping to make a scholarship to college at Austin A and M. 

I always find inspiration from the stories of faith and courage of the players that we hear during the human interest segments of the program, and this was no exception. How about  Warner, the young man of deep religious faith, who isn’t afraid to speak the word over the networks. Five years ago, he was a stock boy in a supermarket; and today he is a superstar, voted MVP, in the Superbowl. That’s inspiration, proving you can do what you set out to do.

But even more inspiring proof of faith and courage came to us during the commercial where Christopher Reeves, through the wonders of computer technology, is shown getting up from his wheelchair and walking. Some people thought that ad was in poor taste, or that it would be upsetting to Christopher, but this man of faith knows that he will one day walk again, and for him this ad is a visualization of that reality. Surely, if he can transform from Clark Kent to Superman, and from horseback to a wheelchair, he can walk again; and we can all support his dream, with the help of the visualization.

Super bowl 34 will always be a pleasant memory for Van and me, as we recall sitting by the fireplace, with the cats sprawled in front for its warmth; when not plopped on someone’s lap, or the back of the sofa. We will always remember the friendship and hospitality of this Texas family, who have become friends. 

And a Little Bit of Business

Linda is good at sales, and we’d wanted to explain our business plan, while here, without inflicting it on our visit. So, we arranged to meet her Monday in Kenedy (fifteen-miles east, on our way to visit her son, Michael, further north) on Wal-Mart’s parking lot, where we would spend the night. She had errands in town, and we wanted to treat her to lunch, so this plan seemed feasible.

An Unusual Interruption

Speaking of distances, here’s an unusual story: we were sitting in Freedom, going through the product information, when Van waved to two ladies, who were standing outside our window. Linda said, “Those ladies are flirting with your husband,” and there was a knock on our door.

I opened it, and one lady introduced herself as the principal of the school in Pawnee, and the other lady as the school superintendent. They asked if we had been parked at their school the day before, and then explained that a break-in had occurred at their school the night before, and they wondered if we had seen anything, because several people mentioned that there had been an RV parked there. And then someone had come to town to the doctor and spotted the RV on Wal-Mart’s parking lot, took down our license plate number, and called the principal in Pawnee. And, of course, the two ladies immediately drove over here in hot pursuit to track down the culprits who had stolen three VCR’s.

Van looked blank, and I said, “As a matter of fact, I saw three people running from behind the gym, in front of our RV, and down the side street.” Van looked amazed, as I unraveled my story, explaining that he was in the bathroom, at the time, and missed it all. When he came out, our minds were on getting on down the road, and I forgot to mention the incident.

I gave a description of the three, explaining that they seemed to be carrying something large and flat, possibly a VCR, and that one had stopped a moment, under the light, possibly to rearrange his load, in front of the RV, and then joined the others, as they ran into the darkness.

I laughed, as I said, “When I first saw them, I hoped they hadn’t been up to any crime, because surely we would be suspect, having been parked alongside the gym.”

Fortunately, the ladies didn’t suspect us, but they wondered what we might have seen. We had explained that we’d come to visit Linda, and the superintendent knew her, because their kids study together, after school. My goodness, what a small world.

This could have been a traumatizing situation, under different circumstances, and I was thankful for Linda’s presence.

Van added that he had noticed three people standing in front of a truck, along the highway, once we were on the road, and suggested that they might have seen something, too.

The ladies were finally satisfied that we’d given them all the information, and asked me to call, if I thought of anything else. I gave them our business card, so they could call me, if needed, and they left. 

I’m not sure why this incident took place, and that we were part of it, but it adds a a touch of mystery and interest to our visit in Pawnee, Texas. 

Meanwhile, Back to Business

After this interruption, we decided to move our business to the restaurant, where Van continued explaining the Business Plan.

We knew that she wasn’t ready to invest in the business, now, but my idea was to sign her up as a Preferred Customer (at no cost to her), so she could receive the catalogs and become more familiar with the products and order them, at her convenience. With our traveling lifestyle, this is the best arrangement.

Much to my surprise, I’d forgotten that she had already sent in the PC Application form, and had received several quarterly catalogs. But she hadn’t realized that’s what they were and had thrown them out, which proves that follow-up is a must, especially in long-distance sponsoring.

Our meeting with Linda also reminded me that I must do follow-up, either by phone, letter, or in person, with our other Preferred Customers. 

Trail Riders Going to San Antonio

When we walked out of the restaurant, I noticed two horseback riders across the highway, and once outside we could see an entire parade of horses, riders, and wagons of various sizes and types. Linda explained that it’s Trail Riders, on their way to the big roundup in San Antonio. Only in Texas! Further up the road, after we said “Goodbye” to Linda, we passed them, as they were settling down in an open area for the night. 

And when we too settled down in Sequin, at a Wal-Mart, an hour up the highway, we watched on the news about the thousands of Trail Riders converging on San Antonio, and the news showed a huge chuck wagon preparing dinner for those who had already arrived. What a fun event to see unfolding. But we were traveling on.

Regrouping

The next morning, under drizzling skies, Van and I talked about the next phase of our trip. We were enroute to visit David Carter and I needed to ascertain whether he was still in Gatesville prison, or if he had been released to the Halfway House in Waco. Finally, after no signal on my cellular phone throughout Texas, and most of the other states, I had a signal, so I called the pastor at the Halfway House to see what he knew, and if he could arrange for me to see David during the week, if he were still at Gatesville. I’d also decided to call the chaplain in Conroe, whose name had been given to me by the new friend we’d met in California. The pieces were beginning to fit into place, as we prepared to move forward.

Van and I also discussed where to have our mail and products sent, as we began to cross country. We decided that we would have our mail sent to Georgetown, where we would stay, until we could visit David; and our products would be sent to my cousin, Carlie, in Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast.

In addition, we needed to take time for Freedom’s needs, so we would have the batteries tested at Wal-Mart, where we could buy new ones, if necessary, and the lube could be done up the highway, where Van spotted a Lube Xpress, the night before, when we’d taken a wrong turn. And, while here, I would stock up on a few groceries. Also, since I had a cellular signal, this seemed a good time and place to make several needed phone calls.

Win Some; Lose Some

By the end of the day, I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry, at the turn of events. First off, I learned that David Carter was still in Gatesville. After talking with a chaplain there, I discovered that my name was not on his Visiting List, much to my surprise, having sent in my Visitor’s Application way in advance, and being informed by David that I was on his List. This could have been good news, because not being on his Visitors List made me eligible for a Pastoral Visit, since I’m his minister. But this would require several days of red tape, including verification from my church, among other things. The chaplain let me know that the warden was a stickler for policy and procedure, and I’d learned not to think I could be an exception. If any requirement is not met, the visit is off.

I decided not to make the effort, because David had written that he didn’t want to visit with me through a window with a phone, and I had to assume that, for that reason, he hadn’t put my name on his Visitors List. But, I hadn’t received my mail, lately, so I didn’t know the status of the situation. I was just glad that I found out, before driving the extra distance, out of our way, to the prison. I am learning the secrets to avoiding some of the pitfalls in prison visits.

With that in mind, I also called Huntsville Walls Unit, and asked for Molly Stanley, the lady who helped with my last Special Visit to Buddie. However, I learned that she had retired two years ago, soon after I was there, apparently, and Connie took care of the arrangements for Thursday at 2:00 p.m. I’d learned this procedure from not calling in advance the last time, although Molly did let me have the visit. Thank You, God.

Once that decision was made, we managed to do our shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, my favorite place to shop, and Van had the house-batteries checked, while out in the pouring rain. But, another closed door; they needed to be charged in order to get accurate results, and we hadn’t driven or used our generator overnight, and that ended that.

However, we did get the Lube Express done, despite the rain, although with fear and trepidation, when the manager informed us we were the first big rig, since they had opened three months ago. It was a tight squeeze, getting Freedom into the bay, but it was done, with the help of three or four employees shouting directions and waving Van on, as they love doing at these Fast Lube places; much like a bunch of kids playing War Games. 

Our next project was to drive to Flying J Truck Stop for a full service: gas, dump, propane and water. But, in the pouring rain, at commute traffic, I decided to take a side trip for the night to New Braunfels (settled by Germans and featuring their food and smoked meats, according to the signs and Travel Guide), thinking it would be a small, quaint, picturesque town. But, wrong again, at this point in time, it’s like an extension of San Antonio, which I’d been trying to avoid, because of traffic and hassle. But, we got more of the same here, including street construction that made driving a nightmare. 

After another rainy night in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I called the jail in Conroe (thank God for the signal working on the phone) and found out all the needed information for visiting Michael Martin. Jails are not as strict, so I could visit any day between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. I asked about the dress-code and learned that conservative clothes were acceptable, and no T-shirts or sweat pants. I also asked for directions, and discovered that it’s not easy to find, so I was glad for that precaution.

By the time we reached the Flying J Truck Stop, the rain had stopped and Van was able to take care of Freedom’s needs, while I wrote a few letters and the last of my Thank You’s on the computer and printed them out. It’s sometimes difficult to take care of these mundane tasks when traveling, and I try to work them in, during short breaks, such as this, when it’s too disruptive for longer writing projects. And it felt good to have them handled and mailed. 

We’d returned to I-10 and driven about twenty-miles toward San Antonio to the Truck Stop, so returning East, along I-10, it started raining again, while I was finishing a letter on the computer. I heard Van mutter something, but didn’t pay attention, until he pulled off the highway onto a side road and stopped.

“What’s the matter?” I asked in alarm. I hate it when this happens, because it usually means something has gone wrong with Freedom, and I’m so conditioned to Van’s past behavior that I became apprehensive, because we’d both noticed a Camping World sign in New Braunfels. I’d hoped we could get by, without another repair, but now I wondered if I’d rejoiced too soon.

“It’s the windshield wiper,” Van replied. “I guess the gadget I used to keep it working doesn’t work in the wind. Now the blade went too far over and stuck.” He was getting on his jacket and shoes, which he always removes, and heading out the door.

We’d already been through the windshield wiper not working in heavy rain, and I didn’t want to go through this again, especially since we were heading into winter weather. 

When he returned, I asked, so do we need to go to Camping World and get it fixed?”

“No, I don’t think so.?

“So what do you plan to do?”

“Well, maybe it won’t rain, or I can stop and wipe the windows.”

“Good Heavens, Van, I’m not willing to go through the anxiety of windshield wipers not working.”

“Oh, I think it’ll be okay?”

At least it had stopped raining, but they were still wet from before, and Van zoomed along, looking between the raindrops that were blowing sideways across the window. I wasn’t up to a hassle, so turned it over to God, and continued writing. It didn’t rain the rest of the day, as we drove toward Houston, and then north to Conroe, where we stayed at the Wal-Mart parking lot.

“I Still Wish You Roses”

Huntsville is less than thirty-miles from Conroe, north on I-45, the main highway between Houston and Dallas, and it’s typical of eastern Texas; trees and hills. Since we had been here before, while visiting Buddie Williams, we knew the procedure, yet I was still tense and anxious.

Perhaps it’s the high, solid brick walls themselves or this Walls Unit, or the energies of this notorious original Texas State Prison; a lot of heavy-duty criminals, and wardens, have passed through these walls. 

Sitting on the bench, waiting for Connie, who had replaced Molly, who retired shortly after my last visit. I recalled my last visit with Buddie. I’d walked into the building and asked for Molly Stanley, as he had written, thinking I’d make an appointment for the next day, but to my surprise, she arranged for the Special Visit that day; in a special room, where we talked through a screened window, with the guard nearby. Only Buddie and I were visiting, because it was not the usual weekend visiting time.

Now, once I’d signed in, I was told to go through the electronically operated gate and into a brass-barred area adjoining the main entrance. Much to my surprise, I could see Buddie already sitting in there awaiting our appointed visit. He looked good, considering his delicate health condition, but very serious; too many years in prison, and struggling to stay alive had taken their toll.

But this time we got to hug and then sit at a table, as we both chatted about things of interest. And at one point I said, “Buddie, this is considered a Pastoral Visitor, since I am a minister. I suppose we should be talking about spiritual things, but I know how you feel, and you know how I feel about such matters, so I don’t think that’s necessary, do you?”

He agreed, and went on talking about the present conditions in prison. For instance, 1/3 of the prison population has hepatitis, and 1-percent of them are being treated. The rest are untreated and the disease is running rampant amongst the inmates, and even the staff, and ultimately, as they are released, or otherwise contact others, we are all exposed. In other words, the condition is of epidemic proportions. And, of course, Aides is another threat to the unprotected inmates. That means that in addition to the usual dangers, violence, noise and death, there is the problem of these epidemics.

But, as might be suspected, racial intolerance is the biggest problem, and Blacks are even less tolerant than Whites. But they stay together, and so do the Latinos, but Whites don’t support each other, unless they are in the White Supremacy movement.

And, as I’d heard before, the younger criminals have no respect, no loyalty and no fear, therefore, they are an enigma to the older ones, who do have certain standards. In other words, the conditions of the world in general are reflected within the limited confines of the prison community. And that’s how it is.

Prison is not a Country Club, as some people think, so one has to find within oneself the will and way to survive, just as on the outside. For Buddie, it’s repairing watches, or anything that can keep him busy; and this he does at a little workbench in the shop. Because of his health, it’s difficult to survive the summer heat, so Buddie has a routine of staying in the air-conditioned areas. But winters are even more challenging. At a given date (in winter), each inmate is given a jacket, and extra blanket, for the winter; and on another day (in spring) they are taken away. It doesn’t matter if it gets cold sooner, or stays cold longer; that’s how it’s done.

Yes, they each have a small black and white TV, but what you watch is often determined by the cellies preference, and you can imagine the noise, with all TV’s going, plus the yelling and other constant noises. Buddie explained that there are colored TV’s in the Day Rooms, which are usually turned to sports events, and he wondered why the sports enthusiasts don’t go there, so the others can have a choice of programs; but it doesn’t usually work that way.

Buddie was not complaining, but simply sharing the daily facts of his life, just as I shared about our travels, breakdowns, repairs, and the events in our family. It was a pleasant visit, and he mentioned several times how much it meant to him; and I enjoyed my time with Buddie, too. 

We talked about his possibilities of parole, as I asked, “With your failing health, why can’t you get out, like Clyde (another Freedomer of mutual acquaintance) did, before he died?”

“They changed the policy in Texas, and they don’t do that anymore. Besides, the only place I could go is with my mom or brothers, and she has gotten too old, and I just can’t put any of my family through the hassle of taking care of me. I’m better off staying right here.”

He paused, and then explained “There’s a unit for old prisoners, and I can go there, as a last resort, but it’s no place you want to go, unless you are dying or have Alzheimer’s. As it is, I’m able to get the medications and treatment I need; and I go to the infirmary several times a week to use the inhaler. It’s working out okay, if I can just keep busy.” 

We chatted about family, and our travels, and then, all too soon, the two hours had passed, and it was time to leave with another hug, and Buddie’s traditional closing, “I still wish you roses.”

Back on the outside, looking at The Walls, several young men (just released from prison), walked in their newfound freedom, toward the bus station, a block away. I had seen them inside earlier, in their prison whites (a two-piece cotton outfit), but now, in their mustering out clothes, they looked like anyone else on the streets. I shuddered, as they passed by, wondering how long, before they commit their next crime, because the recidivism (return to prison) is high; and, after all, they have had no rehabilitation, only higher education in the art of crime. And life goes on.

“I’ve Been Through my Plague”

For us, life going on meant staying at Wal-Mart in Huntsville, for the night, and then returning to Conroe to visit Michael Martin, Linda’s son and Adam’s younger brother. He’d told me, in his last letter, to have my wits about me, because he had a lot to say, so I wondered what that was all about. I’d already told him that I didn’t want to hear about his racial intolerance, that I simply wanted to have a good visit. 

Michael had accidentally shot his best friend, while they were on a drinking binge, and they both were paying a high price: Roger died in his youth, and Michael forfeited his freedom by spending five years (between age 25 and 30) in prison. And he, too, had been a victim, as had his brother, of their dad’s criminal addiction and his impact on their lives. I’d first corresponded with Donnie, while he was in Leavenworth prison, for several years. He’d become a special friend, before his untimely death in a shootout in Phoenix, as Adam watched him fall to his death in a field. But I’ve written a book, Not my Day to Die, about that story. And I’ve written about Adam in Unmasked, so this is about Michael.

When we first began writing, at Adam’s suggestion, Big Mike was full of himself. He’d followed in his dad and brother’s footsteps, and he loved the rush of crime, and fast living, riding his Harley, running with a fast crowd and pushing life to the max. Had he not been arrested, he would have been dead by now. But God has other plans for Donnie’s boy, and I’m sure his dad is watching over him, too.

Big Mike had been forewarned on how to do time, and he chose the route of many: become a Bible-totin’-quotin’ Christian. This gives some special privileges and keeps you out of trouble. But his anger and ego were his worst enemies, besides his addiction to the rush of his criminal lifestyle. 

I took him down another road, a Journey to Inner Freedom, and he soon realized that his Bible quotes didn’t impress me, so we began to explore the patterns established by his dad’s influence; and his brother’s, too; and to assist Michael in finding himself.

Michael has a good mind, and he’s willing to learn. Before long, he realized that he hadn’t been living his own life, by choice, and he didn’t even know himself. At times, my letters and books zapped him hard, and his ego would rebel, and I’d get a taste of his anger, but we forged ahead.

I’d been sending him the Road Signs for Journey to Inner Freedom, and the relationship had been mutually advantageous, because his interest and response motivated me to keep working on the course toward its completion. However, the third Road Sign, Evaluation, which required deeper introspection into his ego and patterns, caused an emotional reaction that he wasn’t able to deal with. The next thing I knew, he’d gotten involved in the White Supremacy movement, quite popular in prison. As Buddie had said, the Blacks and Latinos have their groups, and this served as the bonding for radical Whites. These groups, gangs, movements, or crusades give the young inmates a feeling of belonging and being part of something bigger; in many cases it replaces the dysfunctional or non-existent family bonding. 

And for the radical, such as Michael, it becomes a drug-of-choice. And more important, it feeds their egos, occupies their minds and gives them something to do. But he came up against a brick wall with the two women in his life, Linda and me. She put it more bluntly, but he got the point, when she said, “I don’t want to hear any of that crap.” When I heard that one, I applauded, because I’d been firing off letters with more words that weren’t nearly as effective. 

Adam, too, had warned Michael that his involvement in the radical, racist movement could get him into serious trouble and prevent his release from prison; he would become a political advocate of the Black Panther caliber. Of course, Michael’s ego flourished on that level of importance and recognition, but his good judgment soon saw the fallacies of the so-called religious base, with inaccurate Bible references that supported their claims, as “The chosen ones.” This came to my attention when he sent a six-foot scroll outlining the roots of the two factions: Whites on one side and Blacks, Latinos and Jews on the other. The faulty doctrine supported bigotry and hate aimed toward the ignorant and gullible.

Needless to say, the relationship between us was strained to the max. But I was traveling, and otherwise involved in our business, so I prayed a lot, and went about my life. And Michael completed his time in Tennessee and was sent to Jasper, Texas, to serve time for armed robbery in this state. 

The difference between the two states approach to the Criminal Justice System is equal to the jolt from Kindergarten to College. Whop! He’s into bigtime stuff. Like he said, “They make the rules, but they don’t play by the rules; and they don’t care.” So when Michael tried his strong-arm legalese on Texas, they laughed and tightened their grip. And when he received a Christmas card from the Klu Klux Klan bigshot, he got shipped to the Montgomery County Jail in Conroe, which is where I visited him.   

I had already told him that I didn’t want to hear about his White Supremacy activities, but rather we could talk about other things. However, when he walked into the tiny booth and sat down opposite me, on the other side of the glass wall, I could tell his energies were calm and he seemed changed.

But, as we each picked up the phone, necessary for communication, I was still ready for combat, and dreading it, because I hadn’t heard anything from him for over a month, and I was not aware of any change.

Of course, I must remember that Michael is an accomplished conman, and he can play out any role he chooses, and be convincing. Yet, during the four hours, covering a multitude of subjects, he seemed to have done a hundred-percent turnaround. The radical aspect had given away to peace, and he had brought his ego into surrender to Yahweh’s will, without the racist connotations.

I would have thought he was giving me a snow-job, except that he has nothing to gain; and when I suggested that he cool his approach with the authorities, he maintained that he must stand on his convictions, based on The Word (Jesus) as presented in The Bible. He claimed that he had managed to convince the authorities of his non-involvement in the racist movement.

He admitted that he had been off-base with his previous affiliations, and that he now could see the error of his way, having been fed by his ego, and he apologized for having put us all through the process, but thanked me for staying by him.

Furthermore, he spoke of a book he’d been reading, written by someone he respects, and it supported everything I had been teaching him about the Adversary being within oneself. This realization had taken away his “The Devil made me do it” escape goat, and he now had to take full responsibility for his past, and present, actions; not to mention his future behavior. 

From this point, we had common grounds for communications, and the four hours went all too quickly. I’d been told I had an “unlimited time limit,” yet, when I came out, the clerk was astounded that I had been there for such a long time.

I said, “I’m only coming this way once, and we had a lot to talk about.”

Indeed, we did. I’d wanted to find out whether or not he was interested in the Journey to Inner Freedom, and we talked about the impact my course had on him. 

I reminded him that he hadn’t responded to The Plagues Road Sign, and I suspected that his ego had taken him down the Garden Path to dissuade him from continuing with this inner journey.

He said, “I went through my Plagues.” And with great insight, he talked about himself, his ego, and his Path. Michael was back, or maybe for the first time, he was aware of who he was. I rejoiced over his newfound freedom, and at one point, I shared with him about Van’s illness, and how quickly he had healed, once he became aware of the pattern that had him in its grip. Van is a male role-model for the Freedomers, and they can relate to his challenges and over-comings, and they all respect him, which encourages me to continue sharing his story, as well as my own. 

Before we concluded our visit, we talked about his mom, and I shared about our pleasant visit with them over Super bowl Sunday. Michael asked about my family, and I updated him on their activities. He smiled and said, “Your face glows when you talk about your granddaughters.”

I said, “Yes, then I am being a grandmother. And I’m proud of them.”

He spoke of his plans for the future, once outside, “I’m at a place in life where I just want things simple: a cabin, my dog, and a camera; I can’t have a gun, so I’ll use my camera.” Knowing Michael, this sounded oversimplified, but it expresses his state of mind, at the time. We also talked about visiting him in Texas, at his mom’s, until he can get his own place; and he mentioned visiting us in Colorado, “Van and I can go skiing,” he said.

Michael could talk about his future, outside of prison, because even with his questionable status with TDC (Texas Department of Corrections), his time should have been running concurrent with his Tennessee incarceration, and that would now be up. But, David Carter was up against this same issue: his time was up long ago, yet he hadn’t been released, so he must do his own legal work to attain his freedom. 

He does have a court-appointed attorney; a very young one, with only one year’s practice, so he, too, is working on his own behalf, being quite adept at writing his own writs and other legal requirements; none of which I understand, but bottom-line, he should be getting out very soon.

This will be a time of great joy for Linda, to have both her sons free from prison, and experiencing inner freedom also. In time, she should have the grandchildren she longs for. As I told Michael, be careful whom you select as a wife, for she will not only be the mother of your children, but also of your mom’s grandchildren. I said this, because his past choices had not come from that base of selection. But, he says those days are behind him, adding, with a smile, “I’ve grown up.”

High on God

He talked about the rush he got during his wild days, and admitted that it had been hard to give up, and I said, “Yes, but now you are High on God,” and he smiled. I added, “You can be ‘stoned in the natch,’ as one person described the high from living a simple, healthy life.” 

He agreed, but added, “Actually, I want to drive a truck, and I can make enough money, even staying within Texas, to do some body-building; and then I want to do some research about the criminal addiction concept that you have mentioned in your writing. I think there’s a lot to it.”

My ego couldn’t resist a smile to think that Michael had gotten some value from my efforts, but actually, it was his brother, Adam, who wrote an article about the criminal addiction concept. I’d always hoped that one, or both of the boys, would be inspired enough to reach out and help others, either as writers, ministers, or lecturers, because they had been through it, and they could influence a lot of young people. 

In fact, they are both doing this, already, with fellow inmates. And yet, there is such a need out there, to reach the multitudes. Who knows, in time, they may do just that. And perhaps we will all work together toward this goal.

But, for now, Van and I must move on, and we followed the directions Michael had given me for heading east out of Conroe. After all, he had lived in this town, with his mom and Adam, many years ago, and he knew the highways and byways.

The next morning, while preparing to write about my visit with Michael, I smiled at my Daily Reading. It spoke of our search for fulfillment, often in all the wrong places, and then through an awareness of God, realizing they had been needless detours from the ultimate goal of fulfillment. It concludes, “With God, my life is whole and complete.” 

The Bible verse speaks of Michael, and so many others in the world today, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost” (Luke 15:6).

And, yet, as Michael says, “If I hadn’t gone through my Plagues, I wouldn’t be where I am today; I wouldn’t have the understanding and tolerance that I’ve gained from recognizing the places my ego can take me, if I let it. Now I know that God is the only answer, and the greatest rush in life.”

 

Chapter 12

GIFT OF GOLDEN MOMENTS

 

A Silver Box Memory

Louisiana offers the opportunity for many golden moments, hours, days, weeks; perhaps a lifetime. And, as such, Van and I carry many golden memories of our short visit to Louisiana when we crossed the state first time. Sometimes these are referred to as Silver Box Memories, because we tend to carry them around in an invisible silver box.

They had begun with our tour of the Tabasco Plant at Avery Island near New Iberia, and from there to Rip Van Winkle’s Garden, where we were introduced to the best of Southern dining at their Jefferson Cafe, named after the original owner of the estate, Joseph Jefferson, and actor. And this time we chose to begin our Southern exposure overlooking the same tranquil lake and gardens, with picturesque Spanish moss hanging from the trees. 

We’d been talking about the lunch meal ever since we crossed the border and stopped at the improvised Visitor’s Center (the main one was closed due to sewer lines being installed and blocking the entrance) and got the brochure, along with a new Travel Guide and map; might as well be updated. I’d planned to have the same crawfish etouffe, and encouraged Van to give himself permission to indulge in its extravagance.

So, when we arrived at the entrance gate and were told “The cafe closed at 3:00,” I almost cried; but I insisted we quickly try to become exceptions, because it was only a few minutes after the time. But the young waitress didn’t budge, as she pleasantly offered to the ladies ahead of us, “You can have dessert and beverage.” They accepted her offer, while I was explaining that we’d come across the country looking forward to this meal,” and she suggested we return for dinner at 6:00, and brought me a menu. 

In the meantime, the hostess had appeared from someplace and asked, “Can I help you?” I explained our plight, and she said, “Just a minute,” and went to the kitchen; soon returning with a pleasant smile, announcing, “I was able to talk the cooks into fixing your meal; come this way.”

Walking into the charming dining room with the full view, I sighed in relief, knowing that life with Joanie would have been impossible, had we missed this favorite meal in her special setting. I also said a silent, “Thank You, God,” and sat at the little table with two pinkish camellias smiling their greeting. 

I studied the menu to make sure they still had the crawfish combination that included the deep fried crawfish, and when Kimball arrived to take our order, Van, too had decided on the same order. I silently cheered, especially since he really didn’t see anything else he wanted.

Now, it’s time to mention that Kimball had waited on us last time, and his presence made the setting perfect, and I said the same to him, adding, “I mentioned in my book that you reminded me of the twins in Gone With the Wind.” 

He said, “Coincidentally, I am a twin.”

Of course, I was elated, even though he explained, “my brother is taller and he’s interested in mechanics,” whereas Kimball confirmed our memory that he was studying to become a cartoonist. He added, “I’ve shifted my major to general art in preparation for teaching.”

I reacted with surprise, because he had had such high aspirations, but he explained, “I really want to stay in this area, and the principal from my high school has offered me a job teaching there, when I’ve graduated.” Then he added, “But I’ve had to drop out college this year, because I had to buy a new car.” I looked disappointed, and quickly added, “but I’ll be going back, as soon as I get the money together.”

This conversation had taken place between his taking our order and bringing the food, but he discreetly allowed us to eat in peace, once he’d brought our roll of fresh hot bread. 

Looking at the sun, slowly sliding from behind the tree limbs and reflecting across the lake, I said to Van, “I could live in this setting very easily, even in the hot, humid summer. I’d just stay inside the air-conditioning.” I envied Joseph Jefferson for finding and affording this luxury, and I again promised myself that I would oneday be financially able to live in such a setting, should I so desire, when I found where I wanted to settle down. I reminded myself that Michael had said that he would be able to provide us all with such a place, and I believed him.

In the meantime, I knew that my Inner Freedom Publishing would be the key to such luxury, in God’s perfect time, and when I got my books ready. That brought to my attention that I still needed the cover redone for Knocking on Doors, and I asked Kimball if he would be interested in the project, and I would pay his fee.

He was delighted and accepted the job, after I brought him copies of the incompleted version. But, all this came after we settled on pecan pie, since their notorious sweet potato pie was no longer available; the last pastry cook took his recipe with him. “But the new baker brought her own pecan pie recipe,” Kimball explained, and it’s excellent; you won’t be disappointed.” We weren’t, as Van and I shared the delectable, rich dessert; not too sweet, but a pleasant delight to our tastebuds.

Needless to say, this Golden Moment had lingered into a few golden hours, by the time the sun began setting into the lake, and Kimball had been dismissed for the day, with our exchange of addresses and phone numbers. 

After Van and I wandered across the lawn, along the lakeshore, taking pictures of the humongous cypress trees draped with moss, and admiring the early blooming daffodils and other spring flowers, we returned to Freedom, slowly drove away from this section of Paradise, waving to Kimball, who had joined a friend, and was playing his guitar, adding another touch to this Golden Moment.

Tarnished Gold

I knew that taking the Scenic Route, rather than I-10, and backtracking, we would tend to keep going south along Highway 90, and of course, when I remembered the Cyprus Bayou Casino, that’s where we headed for the night on their parking lot.

I remembered that the highway had been bumpy, and we had gotten lost the last trip, but now I knew exactly how to get there. That is, I would have, had they not rerouted the entrance road. Actually, it was much better now, and they had signs to guide us along the way; a great improvement.

We selected a parking area away from the tour buses, so as not to have to listen to generators all night. I was really tired of them at the Truck Stops, and I chose this out-of-the-way location to avoid the noise. In fact, I selected a space away from all other RV’s too, just to make sure I’d have a quiet, peaceful night. Wrong!

Another RV pulled in two spaces from us, and then the couple went to the casino, while we watched my favorite TV, Lawrence Welk’s reruns. Ah, peace. Wrong!

Fairly early, the couple returned and turned on their generator. Okay, they’ll turn it off when they go to bed. Wrong!

In the meantime, we had gone to bed, so I inserted my earplugs, which lessened the noise decible somewhat, and I went to sleep. But each time I awoke, the unusually loud generator was still vibrating in my ears. Of course, we weren’t about to get up and move, at this point, and I managed to go back to sleep.

I’d hoped they would be the type to get on the road early, but no such luck. So, I gave up doing my mediation, because the noise was so distracting that I couldn’t hear the Still Small Voice within my own head. The problem is that I have unusually sensitive hearing, and the noise was like a constant jackhammer blasting my senses.

When Van finally awoke, he said, “Good Morning, how are you feeling today?” Mistake! Ordinarily I try to be pleasant when we start the day, and in response to his greeting, but this time I began complaining, “There is not another vehicle in this entire huge parking lot, so why do we have to attract to ourselves this obnoxious situation?”

He didn’t have an answer, and I continued grumbling. Finally, I tried to update my writing, and started this new chapter, but writing requires a certain amount of peaceful energies, and the vibration had gotten to me, so I gave up and took my shower.

Afterward, with them still there, I suggested to Van that we could move. We didn’t have to be victims to their rude behavior; most RVers do not run their generators past 10:00, even if the quiet is not being enforced in an RV park. And seldom do they run them all night; but we seemed to be lucky in having attracted this annoyance.

I don’t believe in accidents or coincidence; there’s usually a reason, or a lesson involved, so we could ignore the opportunity, or move through it and learn whatever is being offered.

First off, I urged Van to move us out of earshot, which we should have done the night before, when we realized the generator would be on all night. But, we hadn’t done it. We had allowed ourselves to fall into the pattern of being victimized. 

I Am Not a Victim!

I know how easy it is to fall into the victim syndrome, because it becomes a pattern, as a result of being victimized. In fact, I could feel my own inner memories reacting to the constant bombardment, as I relived the incessant barrage of abuse from my alcoholic adopted mother, in the worst years of her addictive behavior. Ordinarily, we bury these memories, or remain in denial of their traumatic torture, but this generator battering on my consciousness forced the memories to surface; and perhaps that was the purpose of this experience; so they could surface, be healed and released.

In any event, Van moved Freedom, and I settled down to my computer to put these feelings into words, while he continued with his morning ritual. 

Several hours later, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I glanced out the kitchen window and noticed that the RV had moved closer to us. 

I laughed, as I brought it to Van’s attention, and he said, “They are getting ready to leave.” Finally, after awhile, around noon, they did leave. But by this time the tour buses had congregated in the furthest parking lot, and the daily noise had come into full sway. But it was far enough away that it wasn’t offensive, and we remained long enough to complete our activities.

Spending Plan Update

Van had gotten way behind with his financial accounting, during his illness, and we hadn’t stayed in one place long enough for him to do it, so today was the day. It’s not my idea of a Golden Moment, but the Daily Reading says “This day is one of golden moments,” and I realize that blessings of the moment come, not only in the pleasant experiences, but also in opportunities for learning, or accomplishing tasks, whether desirable or not.

Throughout the morning, I had been having insights into the next step along our inner journey, as I prepared to complete Crossing the River Jordan. I knew it had to do with the Spending Plan, and therefore it was a money issue.

I first became aware of this fact when I heard Van talking, on the cell phone, to the bank; a task he had been putting off far too long. First of all, he hates talking on the phone, and second, it was obvious that he was juggling our finances around; a symptom I’d come to recognize in our Debtors Anonymous (DA) program. 

In other words, we were still processing through the effects from him not asking his mother for money to bail us out, after the expenses of buying two new tires and a new refrigerator, totaling around $2,000.00, which he had charged. So, bottom-line, we weren’t out of the woods on this, yet; not at all. The issue still remained to be dealt with, and I geared myself for my part in the process, when we would go over the updated Spending Plan. This meant accounting for the expenses the past several months, which should have been done monthly.

Now, I began to suspect that Van’s Birthday Bug, somehow, involved money, because he became sick the day after I suggested that he stop his negative money pattern, borrowing money from his mom, to pay for the new tires and other repairs in California; even before the new refrigerator. So, we had only discovered the tip of the iceberg. There was more to come.  

To my surprise, the Spending Plan session went quite smoothly and quickly. Van had done a good job of preparation and our monthly expenses had stayed within the budget. However, the repairs had far exceeded our income, and Van explained that American Express has a new policy of allowing payments on one-time purchases over $350.00, which Van had been arranging over the phone. 

I made sure that he now discussed the results with me, because we had learned in DA that secrecy, about one’s financial affairs, is symptomatic of the disease; and it is a disease, similar to alcohol, codependency, and other addictive disorders. However, the cure is quite different; abstaining from money is unreasonable, but keeping a Spending Plan and writing down daily spendings are the two main recovery tools. Talking about your finances with your spouse is another, and often causes the most difficulty for members of DA, because money is a control issue. Not charging is a no-no in this Twelve Step Program, and we had succumbed to the lure, but I felt it was a better option than Van asking his mom for money; so I decided not to pursue the issue, at this time. Actually, there is nothing wrong with Van’s mom helping with our finances, as she says, “It’s his money.” The problem is the underlying dependency pattern, rather than his taking responsibility for his own financial obligations. Once Van changes that childhood money-love concept (between him and his mother), he has healed the issue, and is then free of that condition.

Codependents, whether living with an alcoholic, or a mate with money disorders, become hypervigilant, symptomatic of their disease; and I am a recovering codependent. But, I could tell that I was slipping, because I felt apprehensive about Van’s having slipped into his money- control disorder. But the good news is that he hadn’t, thus we completed our session and got back on the road, having experienced a golden moment of another kind; but a good one.

I asked Van what he thought was the action that he was taking to recover from that money disorder pattern, and he said, “Taking responsibility for it.”

 

Joanie’s Lost Opportunity

Rather than return to I-10, we had decided to explore new territory in the Land of Golden Moments (Louisiana). Since we had taken Highway 90 to New Orleans our last trip, and enjoyed the wonders of the swampy back-country, we opted for a northerly route from Morgan City. But we made a wrong turn and found ourselves on Highway 70, which followed the Afalaya Route, a waterway that is more elusive than the Rio Grande, because it’s on the other side of a high dike. But we enjoyed the sights of the swamps and swamp-dwellers on the other side of the road.

As I studied the map, and we came to a junction, I said, “Go straight; it’ll take us to White Castle. It’s the town near the Nottoway Plantation that we toured last time. I hadn’t planned to go there again, but we’re so close, we can drive by and take a picture.” 

Joanie began getting excited to once again see the majestic antebellum house with its grand columns, as we drove through town and crossed onto the 405 loop. Now, we were alongside yet another elusive river: the Mississippi, which was on the other side of a high dike, necessary to prevent flooding. Soon we came to several antebellum homes, and I thought we had arrived, but I looked at the picture and realized these were smaller, so we drove on, and on, and on, until we had completed the loop; but we never saw Nottoway. 

Now, Joanie fell into a funk, because she had allowed herself to get excited, and was now disappointed. We could just have easily turned to the right and found the correct 405 loop (there were two of them), but she decided she needed to deny herself that joy, a syndrome that I suspect goes back to childhood. Van even offered, but something had happened, and Joanie was in another moment in time, from the past, and she said, “No.” Of course, she’d hoped Van would turn around, but he’s not inclined to be a mind reader, so he turned away and headed toward I-10, to continue our journey. And Joanie pouted and complained. 

Joanie Learns her Lesson

It was her own fault, and another lesson was learned: say what you want and don’t play games. By now we were on a road that could eventually take us to Joanie’s favorite antebellum home, Oak Alley, the one with the columns at the end of a wide pathway formed by 28 live oak trees growing together into a labyrinth of branches above. However, our route would turn off, before we got there. Nevertheless, when we passed the sign to Vacherie, Joanie said, “There’s the turnoff to the other antebellum home that we toured last time.”

Van had zoomed by, but he asked, “Do you want to see it?” He, too, had learned a lesson: don’t do what she says, do what she wants. Quite codependent, but necessary when dealing with women. Unless, of course, they learn to say what they really want.

Joanie said, “Yes,” and he turned around. All I wanted was to get a camcorder shot, as we drove by, but we arrived as the sun was going down and it was dark under the shade of the trees, so Van pulled off the road in a convenient place for picture taking. 

In addition, we climbed up the bank and there spread before us, with a glorious sunset reflecting in the waters, was the Mississippi River. And to add to the sight, a tugboat was pushing a barge into the scene. 

That’s the still picture I took, and that golden memory I will keep. Thank You, God. Yes, we also got camcorder shots of the river scene and the Oak Alley Plantation, with its lights glowing in the distance. This golden moment was a completion, not only for now, but for the lesson involved; she said “Yes,” to what she wanted; and she got it.

The Moments Extend to Hours

Crossing the Mississippi River, further down the road, a few minutes later, during the same sunset, proved to be another golden moment. Once we got onto I-55, we were looking forward to dinner in Hammond, while parked at Wal-Mart, but instead, we ate in the swamp, parked on the highway built on stilts. A police car had parked across both northbound lanes, preventing the traffic from moving forward. Our assumption that there was a wreck ahead became confirmed when the first, and then second, tow truck forged through the backed-up traffic, pushing their way between the vehicles and the railing, on the right side; no small feat. 

Impatient travelers had emerged from their cars and tramped through the dark to determine the cause of their homeward-bound Sunday evening delay. It was obvious we weren’t going anyplace soon, so I prepared our meal and we ate. In the meantime, an ambulance driver chose to force everyone on the left side out of his way, rather than using the already cleared right side; and later another emergency vehicle did the same thing. 

Of course, everyone had turned off their engines to conserve gas, but after an hour or so, they were getting cold and impatient. Yet, there was nothing anyone could do, but wait, and wait, and wait. It was a mess, but we happily kept warm, while eating our evening meal and creating another version of golden moments — totaling an-hour-and-a-half. 

Finally, the police car moved, and we all surged onward to our destination; ours being Wal-Mart for the night, and buying a few items the next morning, before moving on.

A Brief Visit with Downliners

The phone had beeped, when we were parked above the swamp, but no one was on the line; simply a message saying “Dottie called.” But when I talked to her, she said she hadn’t called, but her phone, too, had rung. I’m thinking this was a Golden Moment of Higher Communications, because she mentioned that I should call a down-liner’s Dad, in Picayune, Mississippi, since we would be going close by, and they are in our downline.

Actually, I not only called, but we were invited for lunch at Shoney’s to meet with them for a delightful visit. This is what I love about our business: meeting wonderful new people who are excited about their business, sharing information and encouragement.

Hal had flown to Colorado and taken all the trainings in a six-day period, two given by Dottie, but his wife, Clara, hadn’t gone, so they appreciated our visit and input, especially since they don’t have a local program; in fact, when there is one, it will be Hal who initiates it. He has a wide open field before him.

We asked if he were going to the Leadership Training, and he said that it wouldn’t work out this year; but I knew we would be seeing him, again, at future gatherings. However, for now, they had things to do, so we bid farewell, and continued on.

First Glimpse of The Gulf 

From Picayune we drove south, along Highway 43, to Waveland, and then east on 90, anxious to get our first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico. But first we crossed the long bridge over Bay St. Louis, and drove through Pass Christian, where my Cousin Carlie lives. But she had said she would be in New Orleans over the weekend, and Monday, so we had decided to stay the night at one of the casinos along the coast, either in Gulfport or Biloxi. 

I love the drive along Highway 90, beginning in Pass Christian, with the white sand and glistening water on one side and the luxury homes, such as newscaster, Cokie Roberts, family compound. But this time became laden with more tedious moments, as we were backed up in traffic, first due to traffic-light maintenance, and then by a car fire, complete with a firetruck. But, with this scenery, who cares? Well, most of the drivers, because they tried to by-pass the melee, only to come back to the second delay. Meantime, we plotted onward, only to find that Gulfport’s Grand Casino didn’t have RV parking. 

Golden Sunset Over The Gulf

Finally, we made it to the President Casino in Biloxi, and happily turned into their driveway, when I spotted a sign that read: Overnight RV parking prohibited. Darn! We didn’t feel like plodding back through the traffic, so we parked for awhile to watch the golden sun setting into The Gulf. 

I insisted that Van ask other RVers parked there, if they were staying overnight, and he returned with his report: “They aren’t sure whether or not to stay here. They stayed at Copa, in Gulfport, last night, and it’s a good place.”

“That’s the one we decided not to venture down the long driveway,” I added, “but since we know it’s okay, we can go back there. But let’s stay here, until the traffic settles down, and watch the sunset. ”

We were eating some ice cream when the knock came on the door. Van answered and the security guard informed him, “It’s okay for you to park here, but please park in one space, rather than across the spaces.” So he moved to the space between the other RV’s, and we finished our ice cream.

But we both went outside to watch the sun, now a big red ball, as it passed behind the fog bank. Several others came out, too, and with the shared information, we learned that it’s okay to park here overnight. And they have a great buffet, including breakfast; but the best deal is at Copa, where anyone over 54 gets a free breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and biscuit. Oh boy, that’s for me! But tonight we would stay put and watch the water lap at the edge of the parking lot. 

A Taste of The South

We didn’t feel like moving fast enough to make it to Copa for the free breakfast; and we didn’t even make it to the breakfast buffet here, but we decided to go for the lunch buffet; although $7.95, they featured a tempting array of authentic southern cooking: boiled crawfish, and etouffe, rice and beans, seafood gumbo, catfish, cornbread, collard greens, and much more. And the desserts included peanut butter pie, so I didn’t look much further.

I asked the server how to eat the tiny boiled crawfish and she broke off the tail, like a lobster, and squeezed one end for me to pull out the pittance of meat; too much hassle for me. I preferred their crawfish etouffe, where the work was already done, and it was a tasty sauce. But when she told me to suck the juice out of the head, I balked. She laughed and said, “It’s better with beer.” I declined both. 

We lingered over our meal, and then returned to Freedom. I’d left several messages for Cousin Carlie, but she hadn’t returned from New Orleans, so we decided to move on to the Copa Casino for the night, before the commute traffic set in.

The Joy of Reuniting With a Loved One 

While we were in the final stages of preparation, another knock on our door. It was Carlie, who had followed my message, either at Copa or President, and found us. I later learned that I hadn’t given her our cell phone number, so she tracked us down. Now, that’s southern hospitality, and, as I told her, it’s probably something I would do. It felt good to be with real family (Carlie’s mom and my mom are half-sisters; close enough, when you consider the various marriages, divorces and adoptions). 

We sat in the sunshine reflecting across the water and chatted awhile, lingering in the Golden Moment. Finally, I rode with her, and Van stopped to get gas for Freedom, and we met at her cute little house in the woods. Of course, we never stopped talking, even when Van arrived, and we continued, until she stopped to fix a sandwich.

Communications from Afar

When we walked inside her screened porch door, the forwarded box of mail was awaiting us, and I anxiously searched through to see who had written, but saved the reading, until later. For a month’s mail, I was surprised not to hear from Jerry Pitre or Adam Martin, but I was happy for the rest of the mail, including Van’s Birthday card from his mom.

Our cell phone rang, as Carlie began fixing the sandwiches, and it was Dottie, again trying to update, only we now had a low signal. I began wondering why it always happen we’re talking. I’d called her from the President Casino, where we had a strong signal, but she explained why she hadn’t returned my call sooner.

“I’ve been on the phone all day,” she complained, “trying to find a place for you to park your RV in Tampa. There is no place, except the airport, which costs $8.00 a day. You could park there, meet my plane, and we could take a taxi to the hotel.”

“What about Lazy Daze RV Resort?”
“Booked! There’s no place. So, here’s the deal: Steve’s not going, so you and Van can share my hotel room and the cost.”

“How much”

“It’s $160.00 a night, for three nights.” I groaned. This was beginning to sound like another River Jordan, or possibly we were up against the Battles of the Promised Land. And, of course, it was all about money issues: theirs, and ours; and not enough for the commitment. It’s also sounding like another pattern. The question is: Do we push through, upgrade our prosperity consciousness, or give up? Or possibly find another solution? 

Of course, the only answer is turning it over to God, who settled the immediate question by having the phone go dead from the low signal. That had been happening a lot, lately. But this seemed like good timing. At least it would give us time to talk it over, examine our consciousness, and our bank accounts.

So, it looked like Dottie and Steve were changing their money patterns by the decision that only one would go, while Steve continued working, thus cutting their expenses in half, and yet being represented at the Leadership Training.

And I certainly appreciated her taking the time and effort to pursue the RV parking possibilities, because I had assumed that it would work out at the Marriott, or the Lazy Daze RV, if all else failed. Wrong! Now what?

Van’s first reaction was not to go, but I felt there was much more involved, and it was another opportunity to push through our limitations and move forward and upward. We’d been hassling over money issues, lately, especially his regressing into not taking responsibility for our finances, which we learned had slipped badly, during his illness, including ISF in the business bank account. Fortunately, Dottie had finally checked into the joint-account and when she discovered the balance deficit, she added some money from sales of our products that she keeps on hand. So that problem had been temporarily solved. 

But our downline on one side had dropped out, and we would need to put our attention into taking care of that problem, or we would lose our entire business. I couldn’t even deal with that issue just now. And I was beginning to wonder if Van had any intentions of doing anything about it. Things were not looking good.

I Release to God

I love it! As usual, the Daily Reading came to the rescue: “Concerning a challenge I am facing, I see myself free of worry and stress. I give the challenge to God for a divine result, and the divine solution that will be revealed to me.”

The next day Dottie called to announce that she wasn’t going to Tampa, either, which didn’t surprise me. I’d had this feeling all along, and I often questioned myself, “Are we taking this cross-country trip, because they will be there, or for ourselves?

Fortunately, she had disposed of the hotel room, and felt she could find someone to buy their tickets for the Leadership Training, also. I was in a quandary, because I had thought ours were already purchased; but they weren’t, and now we didn’t have the money. Should we forge ahead; or start our return trip? And where would we go? I truly felt we were at another crossroads.

Dottie had informed me that the baby shower for Arianna would be March 25th, and should we be there for the event, I was invited, which gave us an option.

In the meantime, we were here to enjoy our time with Carlie, and that’s exactly what I planned to do.

A Free Lunch

Carlie had collected coupons for us to have a free lunch buffet at the Magic Casino in Bay St. Louis. There really is such a thing as a free lunch, but there was a catch; we had to sign up for their Players Card, and then stand in the long line with other free-lunchers. But we chatted, and the time went quickly. As we moved along, we realized that Van and I had lunch here on our last trip, and we again enjoyed a full southern menu, similar to the President Casino; and this one was free.

After lunch, we sat a few minutes to listen to the entertainer, and to our amazement, it was the same person who had played his guitar and sang on our last visit. He sits in a chair, and at the end, when he leaves, he uses a cane. I still find him inspiring for his ongoing efforts to do what he loves.

What is a King Cake?

Our jaunt concluded with Carlie stopping at the Chevron station for gas; and a colorful King Cake. We had seen them at Wal-Marts, but didn’t know what they were. Carlie explained that they are a Mardi Gras tradition, thus the gaudy purple, gold and green piles of sugar on the top. The coffeecake type confection is served at gatherings to celebrate the festivities. And there is a surprise: baked inside the cake is a small plastic baby; whoever gets it must bring the King Cake to the next gathering.

Carlie selected the “double deluxe,” which had a filling of cream cheese, chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, and peaches; each in a section of the cake, with cream cheese in all sections. I carried the heavy delicacy, and looked forward to tasting it the next morning, although it is actually considered a dessert, but, because it is so rich, the King Cake is usually served with coffee, as the only featured food. 

That makes sense, however, we had cereal and milk to offset the sweetness.

Dying to Get into this Place

Another tradition for Carlie is the Thursday afternoon group, and I was invited. It started at a neighbor’s hot tub, but, as several of the ladies became more elderly, they were unable to sit in the heated water, so the group began meeting at different members’ homes for a snack and chat. However, two of the friends had recently died; one death had been two weeks prior to this meeting, and the funeral had only been a week ago, so there were only three ladies remaining. 

The lady who was to have this week’s gathering, called Carlie to cancel, because she was taking care of her son’s children, since he had separated from his wife. This was proving to be an awesome task for this eighty-something grandmother, and she wisely chose her priorities.

In the meantime, the third member called Carlie and asked if she would drive her to the cemetery to visit the grave of their recently deceased friend, Selma, who had died as a result of a car accident.

They weren’t quite sure where the cemetery was located, but they knew the name, so we began the adventure. At the first, a newer one, with only a small patch of land and mausoleum, we all got out and looked for the grave, because they didn’t know its location; only that it would be a fresh grave. 

Lennie offered some help, “Her parent’s name is Manski, and she will be buried at their plot, along with her husband; his last name is George.” There weren’t many new graves, and it didn’t take long to determine this was the wrong place. 

The second, older cemetery, featured the above-ground graves encased in cement, which are common in New Orleans, and elsewhere if the land is subject to flooding. Otherwise, the caskets have been known to float to the surface, and create a difficult problem. Carlie explained that the predominant names in this cemetery were well-known pioneers and landowners of the area, including the Favre family, related to Brett Favre, the football quarterback.

Finally, we came to a combination monument works and cemetery, Garden of Memories, and we asked at the office. Indeed, this was the place, and the office clerk took us to the graveside. Just as Lennie had said, there were the graves of her parents, Manski, and her husband, with Selma’s new grave next to him. The flowers on top of the grave were still fresh, as were the red carnations on a wreath lying beside the grave. It had fallen over, and I picked it up and set it in place, as I said, “Hi Selma. I’d hoped to meet you at the Thursday group, but it’s good that we are able to come here today to pay our respects. God bless you.” 

Carlie and Lennie joined me, and each spoke to Selma, obviously feeling the depth of the finality of this meeting with their friend. 

I was glad the sun was shining and it was a pleasant day for this trek, as we silently returned to Carlie’s, where she had planned to serve the King Cake and coffee. But Lennie asked, in her German accent, “Could we skip the coffee and dessert today. I’d like to go home.” She paused, and then added, “But I’d like to stop and meet your husband.”

I brought Van out of Freedom, where he’d been catching up on his paperwork, and  Lennie, a generous, thoughtful lady, gave me a hand crocheted Mardi Gras memento, and then took her Happy Mardi Gras pin off her shirt for Van. 

At Lennie’s house, she graciously invited me to ride in her elevator (installed three years ago, after her leg injury in her car accident), to the second floor living quarters, a precaution necessary in case of floods, especially since she lived along a bayou, which lead to the bay, and into the gulf. 

In answer to my question, she said they had had great times in their boat, when her husband was alive, and they were younger. Her home reflected the good times she had shared with him, and I felt a sadness of those days having gone by. But Lennie keeps living in the Present Moment, such as her crocheting, and her yard work. I saw the pink camellia bush, where she had picked a blossom and laid it on Selma’s grave. 

Now, while showing me her plants that she tenderly cares for, in the garage (no longer home for her car, since she gave up driving), she picked up a Calendula, and handed it to me, “Would you like to have this for your home?” 

I started to say, “No,” because of the hazards life on the road for plants, but instead, I accepted her gesture of friendship, and happily held the plant, as we returned home; and then I placed it on the dashboard to remind me of this day and these ladies who were carrying on with life, despite their losses and sorrows. 

The plant, soon ready to bloom, would remind me to appreciate life, and having Van to share it with me, as we continued on our journey.

 

Chapter 13

IS THIS THE RIVER JORDAN?

 

Questions to be Answered

As much as I wanted to already have crossed the River Jordan, I suspected that momentous event was still ahead of us on this cycle through the inner journey. Yes, Van had faced and passed through an obstacle on our way to visit Linda and Ken, when he came to the end of the pavement; but this time, with the news from Dottie that they weren’t going to Leadership Training, Van and I were both at another standstill. It was okay, because we were planning to spend a week with Carlie, and we were enjoying our time together, but we still had to face the rest of our Journey, both inner and outer.

One morning, while Carlie was doing errands, I went through the manuscript for Road Sign #7, Crossing the River Jordan, and discovered that I hadn’t made the corrections of Dottie’s edits. And, furthermore, I now had the task before me of transferring it to booklet form, which is time-consuming and somewhat tedious, so obviously this is where we were stopped. 

Many questions regarding our travels needed to be asked and answered. For instance, were we willing to push through the seeming obstacles and attend the Leadership Training? And how would we feel, if we gave up, after traveling this distance for that main purpose? Or, was that really the purpose of this trip? If not; what is?

I had told Dottie that I was proud of them for making the decision not to attend this year’s event, under the circumstances of their finances not being available. But, as I told her, neither are ours. So, does this mean that we, too, should forgo the additional expenses; or is our lesson different? 

After all, we do have living accommodations, and we are within a day of the destination, having crossed the entire continent. Should we pay Dottie and Steve for the tickets and take a chance on the rest of the obstacles being overcome? Are we ready for this major stepping out on faith?

Again the only answer seemed to be to turn it over to God, and await the Guidance. 

Time to Move on

Although we were having a great time with Carlie, we’d been there a little over a week, when I felt that we must continue our journey. I really wanted to push through the obstacles and attend Leadership Training, especially since Van still wanted to go on to Florida, and I knew I would feel much better about myself for doing it, and not giving up. So I alerted Dottie to find another set of tickets for us, since she had followed my earlier instructions to find a buyer for her set; it seemed necessary in order for them to complete their money matters process; whatever it was. And we obviously still had ours before us, since we now needed to buy our two tickets, and find a place to stay, while in Tampa.

I’d been feeling inner guidance to contact my granddaughter, while in Tampa, and I asked Dottie to call her and see if that would work out. Since she is one of the family members who has requested that I not mention them in my writing, it must suffice to say that she said, “Okay.” 

Somehow, this confirmation also seemed like a signal to move forward, although I planned to make our own way through the obstacles of the River Jordan, such as a place to stay and transportation to get back and forth to the Convention Center in downtown Tampa.  

Obstacles to Overcome

The Gulf Coast had been experiencing fog for several days, including the morning we were to leave, so we took our time getting ready, waiting for it to lift. Then we said our goodbyes to Carlie, and ventured into the overcast day. 

The first opening to our forward movement was my discovery of a Flying J Truck Stop in Gulfport, on I-10, which worked out great, as we decided to take the less scenic freeway to avoid the coastal fog. 

Once fueled, heading eastward seemed somewhat ominous due to the overcast skies, and I knew for sure that we were ready to cross the River Jordan, so I braced myself for the excitement of seeing how God would open the way before us.

Within a few miles, the signal on my cellular phone returned, so I called Dottie to let her know we were on our way. She confirmed that our tickets had been handled, and we would get them from Paul and Teresa, our upline, and friends of Dottie and Steve for over twenty-years; and now our friends too. We would meet them at the Marriott Hotel in Tampa, which is near the Convention Center. One major hurdle had been handled. 

Of course, as we talked, the signal cut out again, but at least we had the important information. 

The next obstacle was to find a dump, since the one at Flying J had been out of order. In the meantime, it had started raining, and the windshield swipes still didn’t work right, so I asked Van to stop at the next Rest Stop and clear the windows. Fortunately, by that time the rain stopped, but it felt safer to have them cleared. At the same place, we discovered a dump, so that was taken care of.

Now, we approached Mobile, Alabama, a town where we had gotten lost in an unsavory part of town, and I felt frightened, until we made our way back to the freeway. Now, I had no intentions of getting off I-10 for any reason, as we went through the tunnel under part of Mobile Bay, and then crossed the long causeway over the rest. This reminded us of our last trip, when we drove to Pensacola, so we could say we’d been to Florida. On the return trip, we stopped at a seafood along the Perdido Shores in Alabama and enjoyed the best seafood ever; and then we asked the waiter for a place to stay that night, and he gave us directions to a picturesque RV park where he lived, along the Mobile Backbay. 

We’d walked out on the pier that evening and watched them wading in the shallow water while bringing in the crab nets. Two old-timers, sitting on a bench, with their dogs lying on the deck, told us about the recent Jubilee, when the fish jump from the water to the shore, because the water becomes too hot. 

This trip, we decided not to go out of our way to that place; instead, we continued along the freeway, until we crossed the border into Florida, and stopped at the Welcome Center in hopes of getting a map, some brochures and a Travel Guidebook. I feared that we were too late, but fortunately they stayed open, until 6:00, and we availed ourselves of the free information pertaining to our route; also I got booklets that listed the RV parks and State Parks, and I even got some that gave discount coupons at motels, so I figured we would definitely find a place to stay in Tampa.

But the most immediate problem was to find a place to stay for the night, especially since I began not feeling good; possibly from the humidity that had suddenly set in. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized it was probably the free orange juice so generously given at the Welcome Center. Van had suggested that we stay there, but we’d never stayed overnight at a Rest Stop, and I’d heard they can be dangerous; in fact, they had posted a warning to RVers to be careful, as scammers and thieves were haunting them. For this reason, many of the Rest Stops employed fulltime Security Guards.

Nevertheless, I was so groggy from the pressure in my head that I rushed out the door and asked the Security Guard if we could stay overnight. 

He said, “Yes, No, and Maybe.” And then explained that they’re only supposed to allow us to remain three hours, but if it’s not busy, they will let us stay overnight.

I said, “I’m so tired, I just can’t go any further.”

He gave me directions to move to a better parking space, away from the noisy trucks, and I happily returned to give the good news to Van, who was trying to figure out directions to a Wal-Mart in Pensacola. He too was tired, and relieved to stay the night. Thank You, God. 

With my head pressures, I didn’t feel like cooking, and we were thankful to Carlie, as we savored her Jambalaya leftovers, which she had sent along. It felt good to settle down, relax, and watch TV for the evening. 

Now that we had made our first effort toward moving on, and with the obstacles being overcome, I felt assured that the rest of the trip would go smoothly.

Preparation for the Promised Land

Once we left Pensacola (home base of the Blue Angels precision flyers), with its many waterways and bridges, we began the next phase of our journey, southward along the Florida Gulf Coast; miles and miles and miles of homes, condos, high-rise apartments, motels and businesses along the unending white sandy beaches, with the waves lapping against the shore. Surely this must be The Promised Land, and we marveled that so many people had chosen this luxurious lifestyle. 

Yet, even in The Promised Land, my main question was “How can they live here, knowing that a hurricane could wipe it all out in a moment? Of course, I’d lived in California, with the constant threat of an earthquake, for over twenty-years, and I could relate to the attitude: “I don’t care, it’s worth the chance to enjoy this weather and lifestyle.

I envied these people being able to live midst these surroundings, but I knew it wouldn’t work for me. I’d felt the stress of impending doom when I lived in California, and I was glad to be away from it. However, living in a motor home, traveling across the country, was not much less stressful, as far as weather hazards are concerned; yet, we had been very fortunate, having avoided those conditions. 

I had turned these matters over to our Tour Guide, and we had been guided and protected, and I trusted that we would continue to be safe. So, it was simply a matter of me changing my mindset and enjoying Florida. Having gone through my brochures, maps and booklets, I’d begun to realize the magnitude of the bounteous offerings here, and I looked forward to this new adventure.

Nevertheless, in order to participate in the Leadership Training, we would need to make wise choices on the spending of our money, so even in The Promised Land, we selected Wal-Mart for our overnight stops and continued to eat the delicious leftovers provided by Carlie; adding some fresh veggies and ice cream to complete our own banquet table of life. After all, we already had been dining quite lavishly between Carlie’s home-cooking and the buffets. So, at this time, prudence became the by-word.

I still resent having to live this frugally, but I remind myself of a truth I learned, while wintering in Laughlin, NV., another setting of lavish abundance: even millionaires have to make choices about their spending. And as someone once said, “For them it’s simply a matter of adding a few more zeros.” The truth is that living in The Promised Land is a matter of one’s attitude: am I coming from lack, or abundance; is the cup half-full or half-empty? Will I worry about the impending doom of a hurricane, or will I enjoy the beauty and bounty of life? 

And with Van, would it be turning off light switches and continuing his conserving approach, or would he be able to change his attitude to allow the wealth of the universe to flow into our lives? 

The truth is: if we are in a Promised Land consciousness, we will continue to reap the harvest; if not, it will never happen. So, my assignment is to turn within and cultivate my own consciousness, knowing that all that I desire and neeed will be added.

The River Jordan is the Personal Unconscious

Sunday morning, before the final stage of our trip to Tampa, site of the Leadership Training, seemed a good time to re-read the bible story of crossing the River Jordan, keeping in mind that it’s all symbolic. The Jordan River represents the personal unconscious; everything we’ve stored in our subconscious, based on our past experiences, in contrast to crossing the Red Sea, which deals with mass consciousness (everyone’s subconscious projections). 

So, we have all the obstacles and limitations that tell us why we can’t make it, plus the possibilities for success, confronting our forward movement. No wonder it’s an impasse, taking forty-years, according to the bible. Of course, that number is symbolic, representing however long it takes to reach the point in time when we are ready to take that first step into the flooded waters of our burgeoning unconscious: will I; won’t I? Which part of our thoughts and beliefs will win?

When reading the biblical version, I wonder if it’s worth the effort, because we soon learn that the battles of the Promised Land await us. Perhaps it’s easier and safer to stay forever in The Wilderness. Yet, the ultimate blessings are promised, so let’s go for it. 

As Van drove through the forests, I read aloud from my monthly spiritual magazine in an effort to reinforce our positive outlook. However, inevitably such subjects lead to a discussion that goes nowhere: my asking Van what applies to him, his not knowing, and my letting him know; ending up in an impasse. Yep! It must be the flooded river.

However, this time was a little different, because we got to an answer (from him) about one aspect of his behavior that fit another piece into the puzzle of Ralph. In this instance, I asked why he always seems to cut-off, tune-out or push away incoming data, information and other input, even music.

His answer bottom-lined that it’s the repetition. In other words, if he heard it once, he got it; there’s no need to hear it over and over and over.

  Ah hah! Another clue to the engineer’s mind, in contrast to so many of us that need to hear something many times in order to grasp the full content; such as seminars, workshops and lectures. 

I personally think his approach, as so many others, evolves from our conditioned reflex to the ongoing verbiage from parents. Some people block it out, others dissociate and aren’t even there, and many do the opposite of what they are told; they rebel. Attention deficit disorder could develop from this syndrome. Still others develop characteristics of resentment and resistance, and they formulate our behavior in all relationships. They may vary, according to whether we are reacting to a mother, or a father, and which role the other person is fulfilling in our mind. It’s all so complex, and there are many books written on the subject; far more qualified than I care to cover in my Travel Series. However, I have certainly written my share of books and courses that address these issues.

But, for now, we are moving along; suffice to say that Van’s explanation, and our discussion, gave tremendous insight into his reactions. Finally, I asked, “Do you think you have benefitted, overall, from all of the conversations we have had on these subjects?”

 

Overwhelm and Overload

As usual, his answer “Yes,” closed the subject. But, just as well, because we were moving into the more populated towns leading into metropolitan Tampa and it was time to plot our course: would we go over the long causeway and through town, or around Tampa Bay?    

I was already feeling overwhelmed from the sudden influx of traffic and energies, so I opted to by-pass the main thoroughfare and approach Tampa from the northwest, which, I felt would take us closer to the Convention Center, which we were trying to find in order to determine if we could park there during the Leadership Training.

We passed the airport, and finally turned onto North Tampa Street, but of course, this was too far north, and the street became nearly impassable for our big rig, so we zigzagged through town, until we were downtown, midst the tall buildings, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which would be the Tampa headquarters. As promised, two blocks later we found the parking for the Convention Center, but it didn’t look too promising for our RV, as it was a parking garage.

Fortunately, because we’d chosen Sunday for our scouting expedition, there was not too much traffic, and we were able to circle the area several times to get our bearings and find our way out of downtown.

“Just get me out of here, I’m in overload,” I begged, as we headed east on the freeway toward the Flying J Truck Stop, our destination for the night. On the way, we passed the fairgrounds, where the Tampa Fair was in full-swing, off-season for most, but not in sunny Florida. Of course, this event, along with the three-day President’s Weekend, accounted for a greater influx of traffic and people, as we learned when trying to find a place to park. 

We couldn’t understand why Flying J had such a small parking lot, especially for trucks, as we gratefully found one last space. Our purpose, now, was to listen to God’s guidance and arrange for a place to stay, and also where to park, while in town.

Getting Ourselves Handled

After awhile, my head began to clear from the pressure caused by humidity and heat, and aggravated by stress. So, now that I finally had a good signal, I reconnected with Dottie and announced that we had made it to Tampa. She again suggested that I call my granddaughter. 

But first, I wanted to try to get ourselves handled, so I called our friend, Sherrie, who would be coming from Oregon, and learned their plans: sharing a room with another couple at the Marriott, and going to Busch Gardens in a taxi. 

I’d noticed that we were next to the Lazy Daze RV Resort, which Dottie had called and learned they were booked. But, my Guidance said that we could get a place, if we went in person, so we did. And, sure enough, we could rent a space for five days. However, the prices had risen to $25.00 a night, which would have been okay, but we still didn’t have transportation to town or parking. The office gal suggested we rent a car, and gave us the phone number of Enterprise Car Rental. 

So, with all this information, I now felt ready to call my granddaughter, knowing that we could survive, on our own. I didn’t want to be an imposition on her. I felt relieved when she shouted with joy, “Grandma, you’re here!” And she warmly invited us to park in her driveway. Hooray! Thank You, God.

“It’s The Promised Land!”

I’d made arrangements to meet Paul and Teresa, our upline friends, and get the tickets for 

the Leadership Training, plus paying them. I’d also called the Convention Center and learned that we couldn’t park on their lots, but I was told about a vacant lot across the street. So the day of registration, Thursday, we left early in order to make our parking arrangements. While Van remained parked curbside, I rushed in and made the ticket transaction, and also crossed the street and talked with someone at the vacant lot. No, we couldn’t park there, but he pointed down the street to another lot, assuring me that we could even park there overnight.

Van got us into the self-park lot, a grassy area alongside the canal, an offshoot of Tampa Bay. But we weren’t sure about the price, so I called the number on their sign. Soon a representative arrived and we were told it would cost $30.00 a day, and we could stay overnight in our RV; no driving to a Wal-Mart each night and fighting commute traffic each morning. What a blessing! Thank You, God. 

When I called Dottie with a report of our arrangements, describing the grass, water, palm trees and only two blocks from the Convention Center, she said, “It’s The Promised Land!” Looking out our window at the blue sky, sun on the water, and peaceful surroundings, I agreed.

And everything fell into place, during the next three days. For instance, as we walked to the Convention Center to handle our Registration, we saw Steve and Cindy, whom we know from Dottie’s downline. They suggested we join them for a snack, after we registered, and we ate in the Hotel Marriott restaurant. What a joy to be with people we know, in this grand setting, while parked in our affordable Paradise. 

They explained that this hotel is brand new and this is the first group to stay here; they are the first people to sleep in these beds. As such, throughout the weekend, we learned of many bugs that needed to be worked out, such as elevators sticking, plumbing not working, and most annoying: meals not prepared in time to get back to our meeting.

However, this evening with Steve and Cindy was perfect and not crowded, as I savored a bowl of thick, tasty chicken noodle soup and homemade hot rolls and Van ate chili. We mentioned that there would be a hockey game, across the street at the Ice Palace, forgetting that they are hockey fans. The next day they told us that they got to attend the game free (rather than paying the high price of tickets), because they arrived late and spoke to someone who gave them the free vouchers. And their favored team won, making the evening fun, exciting and memorable for them. We had been invited to go with them, but decided to settle down for the night, in our home in Paradise, and watch TV. It had already been an exciting day; and there was much more to come.    

The First Day

A major stress-factor for me is trying to decide what to wear to these events. There seems to be an inside knowing, by most attendees, what to wear on which day, for they will all arrive in casuals one time, and in business attire the next, and another they are all in their company jackets. But Dottie said Leadership Training is not like that; nevertheless, I wore my blazer (not traditional professional black, but with colorful designs) with matching slacks and a coordinated blouse. And my loafer shoes for comfort. Then I added my silver eagle pin, designating our Executive Coordinator level, and my gold Foundation Pin with the number 10, for obtaining that many Preferred Customers. The required name tag completed my outfit. I managed to get Van out of his warm sweatshirt and into his blue and white striped with red highlights (our company colors) sweatshirt and blue pants, but I forgot to check his shoes: black tennies with untied laces. Oh well.

We strolled the two blocks in plenty of time for the 8:30 opening, and wandered toward the auditorium, as we spotted our friend (borrowed from Dottie and Steve), Sherrie. “I’ve been watching for you,” she said, adding, “Ed’s holding our seats.” They had arrived an hour earlier and gotten good seats, saving two for us. How nice! And we hadn’t even made those arrangements; they just did it.

Ed and Sherrie live on acreage in Oregon, and had generously provided us a place to park, and amply fed us, much of our time there last summer. They are like that; good folks, and a joy to know. It was our pleasure to spend most of our time with them, including the ill-fated lunch break. 

After a lengthy wait, we finally got seated in two separate booths. Van then quickly requested two bowls of the chicken soup from the manager, and it was soon served, while four different waitresses came by to say they would be right back to take our order. In the meantime, we finished our soup and a basket of rolls, but Ed and Sherrie never got their meal. We agreed that I would bring sandwich makings for lunch the next day.

Sherrie was exhausted, after a day of sitting and absorbing, and they went to their room. I’d turned off my cellular phone, as requested, during the day, and when I picked it up to call Dottie, while watching the sunset, I noticed a missed call from Steve and Cindy. They invited us to join them at poolside (on the 3rd floor), where we continued watching the sunset, while chatting. Finally, they decided to ride the trolley, but it was getting too coolish for us, so we went home.

It’s About Salmon Sandwiches

Van didn’t sleep well, because he was worried about us waking up in time for me to get the sandwich makings to Sherrie’s refrigerator, as planned. I’d already mixed the salmon in a plastic container, and had everything ready. But I’d awakened early, too, from the impact of Van’s energies. So I got up and went through my preparations. 

Now, what would I wear? I’d discovered that people were wearing everything from shorts and tank tops to beaded shirts and long skirts, so I decided that Tampa was the place to wear an outfit that my daughter, Gail, had given me: a flamboyant, colorful skirt with a Caribbean design and a white top with a matching design on the pocket and back. For me, this outfit was a coming-out attire, because I would never have worn it, up until now. But, it felt and looked good, so away I went, at 6:45 a.m., with sandwich makings and chips. Van, on the other hand, took his time and met us at the Convention Center.

This time, I joined Ed and Sherrie for the 7:30 cattle drive of 10,000 people trying to get their favorite seats. Sherrie decided to change our location to the risers at the back of the auditorium, and we sat in the front row, with a large screen to watch the events. Otherwise, they were like miniatures way, way in the distance.

Lunch time went much smoother, except that it was up to me to get it together, but everyone fixed their own. Sherrie and I decided that a cheesecake would be nice, so she called room service. Of course, they were still busy in the restaurant, so it didn’t come in time to eat, but Ed waited and put it in the refrigerator, and we shared it that night with dinner, which was also ordered from room service.

Our meals were handled, other than large pretzels for snacks, and a turkey sandwich for Sherrie and I at different times, when our appetite alarms went off, either that or we were bored from the long, long sitting sessions, and needed a break. Since we aren’t smokers, the snacks helped a lot.

Human Interest Appeals to me

I tolerate the rest of it, but I enjoy the human interest aspect of conventions and other meetings, such as Leadership Training. Fortunately, Market America incorporates lots of it, with stories of improved health and recognition for business accomplishments. It’s time consuming, but a vital part of our company’s activities. We hadn’t qualified for any recognitions, other than having received a $300.00 check. 

And, of course, there is the socializing between, and during, meetings.

For instance, we’ve met all of Dottie and Steve’s downline; at least the ones who attended this Leadership Training, and it was fun saying “Hi,” or waving when we would see them. And the Big Social Event came when Paul and Teresa invited us all for a get-together Saturday evening. My assignment, given by Dottie, was to make sure everyone was introduced, and also that we all meet Tracy, our upliner, who lives in Washington state. So, as their emissary, I fulfilled my assignment, and had a good time watching the interaction. 

In addition, this was the opportunity for us to receive our products that Dottie had sent to be hand-delivered to us, so I happily got re-supplied, while Van wrote the checks.

Because Ed and Sherrie are also in Paul and Teresa’s downline, though in another leg than ours, they were here too, and it was like a family gathering; much to my delight. But, eventually the party broke up, and we wandered homeward in the Florida moonlight.

Getting Down to Business

Of course, this weekend was not all fun and games.  We were here for a purpose: to learn, and to hear the communications from our Executive Team. And this happened for three days from 8:30 — 1:30 and from 2:15 until 6:30. Much of the training we had heard before, but each time reinforces the others, and takes us further. We are involved in the Preferred Customer program, and the session describing and reinforcing its concepts motivated us to contact our customers and give them more support and attention. This was a good thing, because when we reconnected with our forwarded mail, we discovered that five of our PC’s needed to be renewed, which Van did immediately.

An Answer to Prayers

Always a highlight of these events are the announcements of new products and services, and this time was even more exciting, because we learned that a new website had been installed and would be ready for action on Monday morning. The program allowed us each to have our own company website, and eventually we would be able to buy, or sell, other websites. Oh my God! I almost fainted from excitement. This means that I will be able to own and create my Inner Freedom Ministry Books (new name) website, with step-by-step instructions. 

The good thing about this is that Van will be getting Dottie’s business website installed and operating, and will then know how to do mine. Hooray! God really does have a Divine Plan, and He’s finally revealing it. In the meantime, I must get busy and prepare my part of the promotional material, and I know God will guide me with this too. In fact, I already have much of it ready.

So, this news confirms that it’s time for us to return to Colorado, so Van can work with Dottie and Steve’s business, and I can complete my writing projects and prepare my promotional material. And we will both continue building our business.   

We returned to our grassy parking site and boarded Freedom. Now we were home; and ready to move on, remembering that The Promised Land is a state of consciousness and we take it with us wherever we go. 

Chapter 14

AROUND THE WORLD AND OUTER SPACE:

EPCOT AND KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

 

Setting our own Pace

Masses of people is always overwhelming, and when you add an unknown situation, it’s overload. But this time we approached Disney World’s Epcot Center in a relaxed state of mind, arriving at 10:30 a.m., before the crowd. The attendants guided Freedom to a front parking space with no problem and we set our own pace, as we exited Freedom and strolled toward the shuttle that took us to the front gates. Even there, we walked up to the window and bought our tickets.

Once inside, we sat down and surveyed our surroundings, while studying our guidebooklet and maps, plotting out our course. A giant globe with a huge 2,000 on top is the center of attraction at the entrance, with flower gardens, shrubs and fountains; and, of course thousands of people milling about, in a hurry to get to the next place.

Millennium Village

The World Showcase appealed to us, where we could sample food from every country; but first we walked along the lake and over the bridge to the Millennium Village, where people and cultures from 25 different countries are displayed under one roof, within easy access. Tastes and aromas of eight different countries, from spicy dishes of Africa to flavorful tastes of the Orient. We selected a pulled pork sandwich from the Pacific rim and a chicken peanut wrap from the Caribbean, with a sweet Chrysanthemum tea chaser. I withstood the temptation of dessert for later.

We sauntered through the various displays and then went into the Israel movie presentation, because I’d been enjoying the gentle music, which we could hear while eating. But a warning out front stated that it’s a simulated turbulent ride, because of my inner ear imbalance, I opted for the stationary seats. Thank goodness! I could see the travelers, including Van, rocking and rolling in their simulation seats and enjoyed a trip through the Holy Land. In the elevated Swedish four seasons display, we got a misty spray through spring, and chilling-out in winter. Another Scandinavian country, Denmark, presented a live puppet show by Hans Christian Anderson. 

An English Tea Garden

We meandered over the bridge and along the large lake, with shuttle boats dashing about, to the first country along the World Showcase.

An English pub, and an Irish cottage where you can buy tea, created the United Kingdom atmosphere, but I favored a stroll through an English Garden with lovely flowers of all colors, and cooling shrubs and trees. I could stay here all day, but so much more to see and experience. 

Parlez-vous Francais?

Since we hadn’t eaten dessert at the Millennium Village, and some time had passed when we reached the second country, we selected French pastry (a chocolate eclair for me and a Napoleon for Van) and sat down inside, rather than the sidewalk seats in the hot sun.

I had studied French in grade school, from Madame Reed, but it had faded from memory, when we were challenged entrance into the French movie presentation, “You must speak French to enter.” I tried to be clever, with my response, but all I could say was “Merci Beaucoup” (Thank you very much). It worked, and we entered the theater for a simulated tour of the River Seine, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and Arch D’Triumph, and other French scenes (without moving seats).

Mysterious Morocco

Wandering through the narrow streets and the market place of Marrakesh, briefly transported us to that country, and I was thankful to have the experience, and still be in the safety of the USA. But, while there, one could buy delicate imported fashions, leather goods and pottery. Or you could enjoy the spicy lamb, chicken or couscous at the Marrakesh Restaurant. We moved on.

Out of Sequence

The beating drums and dancing warriors in the Japanese setting, though out of sequence, added color along the walk, but the seagulls complained loudly about the noise, and I agreed, so we hurried along to the next featured country, without stopping for a meal at the exotic Mitsukoshi Restaurant, although the aromas made it tempting.

The American Adventure

Between Japan and Italy, a gigantic colonial style building invited us to review our American history. I almost passed it by, but thank goodness we stopped, entered the building and walked up the stairs, above the balcony where the American Singers were completing their presentation of folk songs, and into the theater. 

Here, Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin relived our historical past, while taking us on a visual recap of famous events, from signing the Declaration of Independence to the Atomic era; and I was amazed at how much history I had actually lived through.

No Gondola Rides; Instead a Biergarten

The gondolas of Italy were lined up along the lake shoreline, but we passed Italy’s cuisine, opting for Germany’s Beer Garden with delicious bratwurst and sauerkraut. I also bought a bottle of Zephyrhills water, as I’d already drunk mine in the Florida heat (80+).

The China Wall; Beginning to End

We walked past The Outpost, a snack bar and trading post, representing the jungle countries, possibly Australia (not otherwise represented), on our way to China. 

Walt Disney didn’t duplicate the China Wall, but he gave us the next best thing: a large-screen movie about China that took us to many parts of The Wall, including the beginning and ending, and we experienced many of China’s varied landscapes and climates, including the snow-covered mountains and the sizzling desert, and the modern cities, including Shanghai and Hong Kong, and Beijing with its Forbidden City and Tienneman Square; a fascinating presentation of a diverse and complex country.

The Maelstrom or the Viking Ship

Although Sweden and Denmark were represented in the Millennium Village, Norway had its own complex in the World Showcase, beginning with a stone replica of the Stave Church and a wild boat ride, which we by-passed in favor of a gentle walk on the replica of a wooden Viking Ship, like they used to attack England. Van enjoyed that display, but we’d worked up an appetite, and he liked the cinnamon rolls even better.

The Parade at a Mexican Cantina

An impressive replica of an Inca Temple greeted us at the Mexican site, and when we entered, a team of exotic Aztec dancers passed on their way outside to perform. But we thought they had already finished with an inside presentation, so we took the gentle boat ride instead. No bumps or drops; not even water splashing. Just a quiet, but colorful ride, with happy dancing and singing, much like “It’s a Small, Small World.” 

When we returned outside, the Aztec dancers were completing their program and posing for pictures with members of the audience; we passed on that one. But, we decided to have the Combination Plate for dinner at the Mexican Cantina, sitting at tables overlooking the lake. 

I overheard the folks at the next table talking about the parade, and learned that it would start in a few minutes, right in front of the cantina, but we would have to move to a different location to see it. 

Once in place, we watched the extravaganza parade before us, as they came from inside the Inca Temple, along a pathway, turned and began their route. I marveled at the intricate dance they performed, while holding huge wings, or flags, or a type of tall puppet. And as it got darker, their costumes lit up. Between each group, a float with a character playing drums added the music. You’d have to be there to fully appreciate its beauty, and we did, as I recorded part of each segment with my camcorder. 

The Living Sea

A delightful interlude, but much more to see, and it was getting cold, so we headed toward the parking lot to get our jackets. However, I feared we would run out of time, so I suggested that we go to the Living Seas exhibit first.

It’s good that we did, because we would not have had time to see everything, as this is actually an aquarium, and I overheard an attendant mention that the manatee had just been returned today, and to my joy we saw the cute mammal; something like a seal, only flatter. My quest to see dolphins was finally fulfilled when two cavorted in a huge tank; one even zoomed right in front of me from the top to the bottom of the tank. How I love their smiling faces. Many tanks of exotic fish, and several tanks of colorful coral, occupied our time.

Fireworks and a Light Show

Before we realized it, we no longer had enough time to return to Freedom for our jackets and get back to the lake in time for the fireworks and light display. But we were getting chilled in the night air, so we rushed into the Imagination Attraction, hoping to get warm.

The ride took us through all kinds of tests and exercises for the imagination, much like the old Monsanto ride in Disneyland, where we seemed to shrink, or ride upside down. And we watched some of the other displays, while getting warm. Then we hurried to find a place at the lake to watch the spectacular extravaganza of fireworks, colorful fountains and shooting lasers.

Soon it was over, and we happily joined the ten-thousand other people who had enjoyed this day at Epcot Center, as we walked to the shuttles and returned to our home. Then we drove to the Wal-Mart in Orlando and parked for the second night, dreaming of travels through foreign countries, dolphins and fireworks.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

I was so proud of Van for selecting the Maximum Access Badge for our tour, which allowed us to see two IMAX shows instead of one, plus the bus tour of the three sites: Apollo/Saturn V Center, Launch Complex 39 Observation Gantry and International Space Station Center. In addition we had access to all Visitor Center exhibits and the Robot Scouts.

We opted to take the bus tour first, allowing ample time to examine all the stops at our leisure, and re-board a bus to continue the tour whenever we were ready.

 

Launch Complex 39 Observation Gantry

Each tour bus is equipped with mini-TV’s spaced throughout each side of the bus, and that serve as our tour guide, explaining the sights and points of interest along the way. My favorite explanation was the shuttle crawler that reminded me of the hippopotamus story I told in another chapter. This humongous crawler, under full load: assembled space shuttle, creeps at 1MPH, and when empty zips along at a staggering 2 MPH. 

The drive to the Kennedy Space Center took us over a long causeway that crossed the backwaters from the Atlantic Ocean, and the bus trip to the first stop went past jungle, swamp, and water, as it’s in a wildlife sanctuary. The driver mentioned possibility of seeing alligator, but they weren’t visible; however, I saw one on our way to the Space Center; and when we were leaving the last stop, I spotted a manta ray in a swamp, basking in the sun.

But this trip wasn’t about the wildlife, it’s about outer space, and we were able to climb or take an elevator (my choice) to the fourth floor, where we could easily see two launch pads, in the distance, about 3 and 4 miles away. With the help of the TV Tour Guide, preparing our minds, we could almost imagine the sight of a rocket launch. However, we were closer than most people are allowed for the real thing; and on the way to the second stop, we got to see the press viewing area, and later we passed the stands for the families and VIPS. 

This was exciting for Van and I, because we knew that on May 10, 2001, our family astronaut, Pete Freeland, would be launching-off, and his invited guests would be sitting in those seats. In fact, he and his son, Mitchell, actually sat in these seats when watching John Glenn’s launch in June, 1999; and Pete had sat in the astronaut’s seat, while doing the pre-flight checklist, as part of his duties for NASA. All this made the tour much more exciting and personal for us.

When we first arrived at the site, we watched a movie about the history of rocket launching, which brought to mind the vacillating failures and successes of the early beginnings of our rocket program compared to the sophistication of today’s space accomplishments. 

Apollo/Saturn V

By the second stop we were thoroughly brainwashed with the sights and sounds of rocket launches, mostly familiar from having seen Tom Hanks recreate Jim Lovell’s famous words in the movie, Apollo 13 “Houston, we have a problem.” And, of course, our briefing movie brought it all back to mind, so when the doors opened and we walked into the larger-than- football-field Apollo/ Saturn V rocket stretching above our heads, we were reliving the drama that almost took the lives of the Apollo 13 crew. 

Someone, trying to get a photo of the rocket, said, “It’s impossible to get it all in one picture.” Thank goodness I had my camcorder with me, but it was still difficult to grasp and capture, in mind or film, this enormous space vehicle. In addition the original lunar modular and the moon exploration vehicle were also on display. 

I’d been preoccupied trying to find the moon rock, and forgot to see the actual outfit worn by Jim Lovell, but what a thrill being allowed the honor of touching an actual piece of moon rock displayed in a unique case where we could reach our hand under a window and into the case, without any possibility of removing the rock. 

I was still in search of the second display, when we decided to eat lunch at the Moonrock Cafe, and sat at a table under the Apollo/ Saturn V rocket. While eating, I spotted the larger moon rock in a case; another sample of the lunar rock, which I immortalized in pictures. We relived the landing on the moon in the Lunar Theater, as we watched Walter Cronkite’s narration of the memorable event, which I remembered having watched many years ago.

International Space Station Center

What a privilege to watch technicians preparing actual components for launch, and then to walk through mock-ups of the separate modules for the future space station; seeing and feeling what it will be like in outer space. Again, this was even more interesting, because it is where Pete Freeland will be spending four-months, after his launch into space.

By the time we arrived here, we were thoroughly enmeshed in the space program, but it wasn’t over, yet, and we had already spent five-hours on the tour.

IMAX 1 and 2

Once we had returned to the Visitor’s Center, we watched on a five-story-high screen, as the story of the astronauts on Mir unfold. Utterly fascinating scenes, and mind-staggering accounts of their life-in-space, including coverage of a woman who lived in space for six-months.

And from there we watched another one, The Dream is Alive, about astronauts on a mission to retrieve a defunct satellite and repair it in space; fabulous scenery from outer space. Beyond my comprehension how they can do what they do. But Thank God they do it. Several women were included in this mission, also, including Judy Retnick, who died in that terrible explosion in space.

In fact, I saw her name, and the other astronauts who died in space, on the outdoors Astronaut Memorial, as the sun was beginning to set. What a sight!

And from there we went on board the Explorer shuttle and took pictures of this memorable space vehicle.

It’s amazing how much space-history we have lived through in our lifetime; and it is just beginning.  

 

Chapter 15

RETURNING IS NOT GOING BACK

Preparing to Move on

We contemplated the situation, and decided we were complete with this part of Florida and ready to head north. Although this direction would be the beginning of our return trip, we preferred to think of it as going forward, because we would be taking a different route and seeing new sights; always in a forward movement, never going back.

Because my plans to visit Freedomers, Pepin and Bobby had been thwarted, due to my name not being on their Visiting Lists and policy requiring a ten-working-day background check for a Pastoral Visit, I took time to write them both a letter. And I also updated my chapter, before taking to the road, again. 

Daytona’s Bike Week Begins

Although we try to avoid congestion and high profile events, fate would have it that we arrived in Daytona Beach the first day of Bike Week, when thousands of bikers deluge the city and everyplace for a hundred miles, at least. We figured this out when we began spotting signs and banners reading “Welcome Bikers” by businesses hoping to fill their coffers. And some towns had erected carnival-like welcoming stations, but it was the bars and motels that boasted the most bikes parked out front; at least the ones that weren’t on the highway. Therefore the otherwise tranquil drive along the Atlantic Coast was filled with roaring cyclists. 

As if this confusion weren’t enough, the skies loomed dark with heavy clouds, which made me want to by-pass Daytona Beach and head west; but Van thought we should enjoy the activities, and I still wanted to get my picture at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, for proof of our coast-to-coast junket. So we forged ahead through the deluge of bikers, and even rain, which hit just as we had parked at the beach.

We sheltered the cameras under our shirts and made a dash for the water’s edge, as the wind and rain dampened our spirits. But the rest of the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, as we inched on through town, once getting the picture at the beach.

Eventually the clouds passed and the rain stopped, but the wind continued throughout the day. In the meantime, downtown Daytona Beach, was bedlam, and Main Street had been blocked off to all traffic, but cyclists. Fortunately, we didn’t need to take that route, nor the International Speedway Boulevard, where the motorcycle races would take place. Although we had hoped to see the famous site of the Daytona 500 Races, we opted to avoid that challenge and continue along the beach route through thousands of milling masses; a fashion show of what to wear to the Bikers Convention. The prize, however, goes to the young gal in leather, at least the part that was covered was leather; but her rear buns were fully exposed. 

The truth is that the crowd was well-behaved, at least on this first day. However, at the beach I spoke with a young biker sitting in the trunk of his car, and I asked if he was having a good time. He seemed bummed out, as he told of seeing a motorcycle accident earlier in the day that had backed-up the traffic. “I think he died,” the fellow sadly reported. Certainly, it was a bad start for this exciting week; but perhaps it added a touch of sobriety to the melee.

Miles and miles in either direction, along the coast, the cycles roared southward to join the conclave, no doubt having to stay in other towns for the week; or perhaps they’re locals making their way for the day. In any event, Daytona Beach provided a memorable time for us. 

Beach Time

Continuing northward, the clouds had past, the sun was shining, and the beach was beckoning, so when we finally found a picnic area with room to park, we pulled off and spent some leisurely time at the less-populated Flagler Beach. After lunch, I printed out my letters, and then we went to the water’s edge, where I waded in the Atlantic Ocean, while Van took a camcorder shot and another still picture.

The sun felt good, as I picked up several shells along the orange-colored coarse sand of this beach, much different from the white powder-like sand of the Gulf Coast. We wandered along the beach and began talking with a sunburned couple, in their forties, from Washington state. They had been fishing and caught five, a combination of whiting, trout and others, as the seagulls and pelicans waited patiently for their share.

These folks have family in Florida, where they leave their camper in storage, and then travel across the state in their car to spend the winter. She told me about a sightseeing train in St. Augustine, which seemed worth the time, before completing our tourist segment of the trip. 

I was reluctant to leave, but I’d misplaced my sunscreen and I didn’t want to burn, so we returned to Freedom and continued.

“Houston, we Have a Problem”

Highway A1A follows along the coast, with condos and private homes lining the shores, both of the ocean and also the lagoons, inlets and other waterways between the barrier islands and the mainland; a pleasurable drive, but our serenity was jarred when Van announced, “Nothing is working,” as Freedom began to lose power and slow down.

“Pull over to the edge,” I shouted in panic.

“I can’t, that’s the problem.”

We’d had a problem-free trip with Freedom, and I certainly wasn’t ready for anything to happen in this setting, especially with no place to get help. Miraculously, Van turned the switch and it started, with no explanation as to what had happened. All we could say was “Thank You, God,” and pray that it wouldn’t happen again.

Yet, our fingers were crossed, as we continued driving. Once we reached St. Augustine, we headed to Highway 1 and parked at Wal-Mart for the night.

St. Augustine: The Oldest City

When we awoke to one more day of Florida sunshine, we decided to stop at the Visitor’s Information Center and ask about the train ride, mentioned at the beach the day before. This was the right place, so we bought tickets and boarded the red train. 

We had no idea what to expect, so the trip and each stop was a delight. Within a block of boarding, we passed picturesque Fort Castillo de Menendez, overlooking Mantazas Bay, Old Town with its famous St. George Street, the Oldest Wooden School House which is the oldest wooden structure in the city .A few blocks further we saw the oldest house in the country. 

We awed over the fabulous Flagler College, once a fabulous hotel designed and financed by Henry Flagler, partner of John D. Rockefeller, both founders of Standard Oil Company. Flagler’s dream was to build a winter resort town for the northern rich and famous, and with his money this hotel was a good start, followed by several other magnificent buildings erected by competitors which were also visible on our tour.

The Fountain of Youth

Several museums were on the train route, too, but we continued on, and decided to de-train at Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth and walked around the peaceful grounds outside, rather than paying the entrance fee; therefore we weren’t able to sample the elixir from the mineral springs, thought to be the source of the Fountain of Youth. Instead, I swigged my Zephyrhills Mineral water, while waiting for the next train. 

“The Best Nachos Ever”

We opted not to visit Ripley’s Original Believe it or Not, housed in a castle, formerly owned by Margaret Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling; instead we returned to St. George Street, on another train, and strolled midst bikers and tourists, by the many shops, in search for the best place to eat lunch. Finally, I spotted the Grist Mill, with a waterwheel, and climbed the wooden stairs to the funky Mill Top Tavern. Van thought I had flipped, but their posted menu and the live music were appealing, and I was in the mood for mild adventure, as we seated ourselves on the old wooden bench, and listened to the sixties singer. With all the bikers added to the Sunday tourists, the order took a long time, but when it came, Van said, “It’s the best ever Nachos, other than Dottie’s, that is.” We savored the tangy cheese and mildly spiced chili topped with diced tomatoes, while watching the passersby, including the red train loaded with more sightseers. And Van laughed at a father trying to get his toddlers to enjoy the thrill of rolling down the grassy slopes of the lawn, across the street at the fort.

All This and Entertainment too!

A walk down St. George Street provided further thrills: an old-timer one-man-band with a wild getup of strange creatures hanging from his instruments; a mime, and an incredible living statue; all beyond description. It was a joyful time, but we soon felt the need to return to Freedom and continue our travels.

Starke Brings Back Memories

Driving along the tree-lined highway between St. Augustine and Starke, I begin to think about my original prison ministry, because many of the Florida Freedomers were incarcerated there, including Bobby Lusk and Pepin. Now Pepin was in Daytona Beach and Bobby was in Raiford; both prisons were on our route, and again, it saddened me not to be able to visit these Freedomers. So, instead of writing about my visit with them, I decided to include a few memories of corresponding over twenty years. 

Bobby spent many years on Death Row, and his recent letter reminded me of how close he came to being executed, before being returned to general population three years ago. I remember an angry young man’s letters, but through the years, after he became a Christian, he mellowed, and I often published his inspiring letters in my monthly publications. But nothing had prepared me for the recent surprising announcement that he had been married, by proxy, to a woman in England. Who would ever think a prisoner in Florida would become married to an English woman living in England. But God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, and this wonderful lady is helping Bobby’s lawyers prepare his case for clemency, so that he can be free to live with her and his two stepsons in England. He has been a faithful Freedomer and friend for over twenty years.

The same is true for Pepin, who has never missed sending me a greeting card for every special occasion all these years. He once offered to translate my book, Pot O’ Gold Prosperous Living Course into Spanish, but I’m rewriting it, so asked him to wait, until it was revised. 

Pepin once had a vision that motivates his faith and his dream of returning to his country, Puerto Rico. His story is included in my earlier writings, The Freedomers Say “Yes” to Inner Freedom, so I won’t repeat it here.

I don’t understand why God didn’t open the doors for me to visit these two Freedomers, who have become friends, but I must abide by His will, and move on, as He guides.

“Way Down Upon the Suwannee River”

The smoke from Georgia’s fires became thick, as we approached Lake City, and we wondered if we should revise our sightseeing plans in that direction, not far across the border in Georgia. But the smoke had cleared by the time we reached Wal-Mart, so we stayed for the night, looking forward to another new adventure.

And we certainly had a great day! Starting at Stephen Foster’s State Park in White Springs, Florida, walking under the huge live oak trees with the Spanish Moss, or studying the dioramas and other memorabilia of this famous songwriter from another era. Most of the younger generation will never hear Oh Susanna, My Old Kentucky Home, I Dream of Jeannie, Old Black Joe, or Swanee River (Old Folks at Home). They belong to a different era, just as the big bands had theirs, and so did John Denver have his time. Personally, I believe that John Denver’s music will live on, and will symbolize the seventies, just as Stephen Foster’s music reflects his culture. Interestingly, Stephen Foster sold the rights to his most famous song, Swanee River, to the Director of The Christy Minstrels, and his name isn’t even on the original sheet music. But, in time, he was identified as the rightful composer.

I felt disillusioned to learn that Stephen Foster had never been to the Suwannee River; in fact, he lived in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania, but he spent time in The South, and My Old Kentucky Home actually belonged to his cousin, a judge, who lived in Bardstown, Kentucky. We stayed at that State Park, also bearing his name, and attended the outdoor musical in a picturesque amphitheater. 

At the gift shop here, I bought a tape of Stephen Foster’s music performed by the cast of the play (about his life) in Bardstown.

Now, it made me happy to return to these memories of the graceful South, at this location, along the Suwannee River; even though he never saw it. The story goes that he had written the words, using a different river, but it didn’t sound right, so he went to his brother’s office (where he wrote the song at the desk that is now on display at the museum) and asked his brother for the name of another southern river. They looked in an Atlas, selected Suwannee River, changing the spelling to better fit with the lyrics. 

We needed to move on, but I couldn’t resist the invitation of the hostess to visit the glass bead artisan’s studio. As we watched his fascinating creation of an exotic piece of one-of-a-kind jewelry, he began talking of his ADD (attention deficit disorder), and other health challenges. So, of course, I shared with him about our wonderful OPC-3 product, and he was interested. I gave him our card and a brochure, and I also gave him a Preferred Customer Application Form. Although we didn’t have any product with us, he could order it whenever he was ready. I felt good that I had followed my Inner Guidance to go to the bead artisan’s studio, and I felt good about my presentation. Now, the rest would be up to him and God.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

The name always fascinates me, so how could I miss the opportunity to drive out of our way to see this Georgia Swamp? However, the wetness of the swamp depends on the amount of rain, and this year’s scarcity of rain caused a dry condition. Besides that, I was disappointed, as I’d expected to see large trees with hanging Spanish Moss, hundreds of alligators and other wildlife, and the usual swamp scenery. Maybe, if we’d taken the boat ride, we would have seen just that, but instead, we walked on the 2000 ft. boardwalk into a nearly waterless swamp. Nevertheless, we saw two alligators at the boat rental docks, and got some good pictures of the menacing creatures, who looked benign, as they splashed in the murky water, and later one sunned himself on the warm cement boat ramp. 

We contemplated staying overnight at this State Park, also named Stephen Foster, and taking the boat tour in the morning, but we needed to economize, and we were anxious to keep going, so retraced our route to Fargo, and then headed west on Highway 94 toward Valdosta. 

 

Seize the Moment

I mention this route, because we were breezing along the tree-lined highway when a flagman waved us to stop. He explained that a crop-duster plane would be heading toward us on the road, take off and spray nitrogen on the trees. I grabbed my camcorder and poised myself to capture the moment. 

Soon the plane zoomed toward us, smoke pouring from his engines (requested by the flagman for benefit of the camera) and the flagman said, “It may look like he won’t make it, but don’t worry, he will.” I was glad he said that, because I could hear the crash and see myself in Heaven, but within a few feet he pulled up and over Freedom. Whew! That was a close one, and definitely added a memorable adventure to our trip, and I captured it all on film.

This eventful day concluded with a glorious Georgia sunset spreading a panoramic splashing of oranges, golds and reds above the trees with a flaming orange ball in the middle. We followed it, listening to the tape of Stephen Foster’s music, until the last color faded beneath the horizon. In fact, we were so taken with the evening that we missed our turnoff that would take us back to the border and our Flying J Truck Stop destination for the night. So we had to drive an extra distance to another highway and backtrack. Yet the inspirational moments were worth the time and we still felt the glow when we happily settled down for the night.

What we Didn’t do and What we Did

In retrospect, as I’m writing this chapter, I can see that this return trip amounted to a lot of what we didn’t do, such as not visiting three Freedomers, because I had already realized that we wouldn’t have time to take a side trip to visit David Carter, in Texas, in addition to the two I missed seeing in Florida. 

When I called Cousin Carlie, from the Flying J, I had to use the pay telephone, because we were on Roam, and Van refused to pay money to use our own free long-distance phone. I’d forgotten just when the Mardi Gras parade would take place, and hoped we could make it, but she told me the next day would be Fat Tuesday, as they call Mardi Gras Day, so this became another thing we didn’t do; no way would we make it, so we began revising our plans. We still wanted to stop by Carlie’s for a hug, and maybe have another casino buffet, but there was no longer a time factor. However, we were still aiming to reach Denver for Arianna’s baby shower, March 25th, which gave us three weeks.

Therefore, we decided to stop in Thomasville, on Highway 84, and tour the fabulous winter homes of the wealthy northerners; and also the Pebble Hill Plantation. 

The stop at the Georgia Visitors Center set the tone for the day. When I asked for a map and the receptionist handed me one like we had gotten at Okefenokee, I said, “No thanks, it’s hard to read.”

Her snippy young, red lips parted to say, “No, it isn’t!”

I retorted, “Oh, thank you.” And I tartly asked for the Georgia Tour guide and some brochures on Thomasville. When Van appeared, I said to him, “I guess that’s all, after the rudeness.” When I looked back at the receptionist, her face looked like a thunder cloud, and I said to her, “Well, I don’t appreciate being made wrong about my experience of the map,” adding, “For me it was difficult to read the tiny print.”

She explained that she thought I was talking about their old map, but this was a new one.” She held up the old one, and I said, “Well, I’ll take it.”

Later, after we’d looked around and taken several more brochures, we started to leave, and she said, “I apologize.”

I replied, “Okay, I just had expected more friendliness from Georgia, and you were the first person we talked to here. It didn’t leave a very good impression.” I’m sure, by her woeful look, that the encounter had given her cause to reassess her attitude, but we were moving on.

The day didn’t improve much, as we attempted to tour the Lapham/Patterson Winter Home, a Historic Site, only to find the doors locked and a hand scrawled sign on a white board, saying: Tours on the hour only. Ring bell for a tour.” It was 11:11, but we hadn’t seen anyone going in earlier, so I rang the bell. No one appeared. We walked around the bright yellow and russet trimmed house, noting its unusual architecture, and decided to leave. 

A very long train slowly moving along the tracks, at the crossing, delayed our travels to the Pebble Hill Plantation, and when we arrived, we were disappointed to note that the driveway was too narrow for our RV, so we continued on by. 

I had had enough of Georgia, by this time, so rather than return to town and look for the largest living live oak tree, I said, “Let’s just keep going south on this highway to I-10, at Tallahassee. At least we will be able to see the capital of Florida.” Wrong! The tall trees separated the highway from any view of the city, so I filmed the water tower that announced, Tallahassee, and let it go at that. We did, however, stop at a Rest Stop long enough for lunch, but nothing was visible but more trucks and RV’s.

We had been aware of an increasing large number of RV’s, especially those pulling enclosed trailers, presumably with motorcycles inside. To confirm my assumption that they were on their way to Daytona Beach’s Bike Week, I opened my window and asked a biker who was checking his open-air trailer. 

“We’re on our way back,” he said.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“OIO,” he drawled with a strange twang that didn’t sound northern, but maybe it was country.

“Did you have a good time?”

He smiled a toothless grin and replied, “Yah!”

I decided to leave it at that. Even if I was wrong about the direction, I was right about Bike Week; it accounted for much of the traffic—mostly headed toward Daytona Beach, not all that far away. It just seemed like it, because we had taken our side trip.

But now I was tired of sightseeing, and felt a sudden urge to move onward, covering as much distance as possible in the shortest amount of time, within reason. In other words, whatever we had done, up to this point, would be the most of our tourist trip; the rest of the way would be a direct route to Colorado, especially while the weather was still good along the way.

Ash Wednesday: Adjustments

My Daily Reading reminded me that today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, but typical of our philosophy, rather than giving up a food, it suggested that we make adjustments in our thinking and in our activities. For instance, we can give up fear by acknowledging that God goes with me into each new day of unexplored territory, and sustains me through every experience that may seem to be a virtual wilderness.

Within a few hours of reading these words, I had reason to reflect on them with renewed faith. To avoid the bumpy cement of I-10, Van was driving along Highway 90, through the town of Milton, when Freedom died; all electrical functions stopped, such as the power steering, brakes, and everything that would allow Van to control the movement. He couldn’t steer or stop, as we aimed toward the light posts at the side of the street. I figured, we would, at least be able to stop, without hurting anyone else. But, as the power died and we coasted toward the light posts, Van quickly turned the ignition key and was able to steer away from them. Whew!

But that was too close for comfort, so he pulled into a tire sales lot and asked where we could get electrical repairs. Then he walked down the street to the place, but they directed him to Ard’s Automotive, across the street. We held our breath, as Van made a U-turn and got us parked Thank You, God.

As usual, God guided us to the perfect time and place for the repairs, as they used a computerized scanner that talks to all electrical systems and detects the problem. In this case, it was the control module on the distributor and a rotary button that needed replacing. The reason it only happened at the coast, and again here, was due to the heat. But it was only a matter of time before it wouldn’t work at all, and it could have been a deadly accident. 

Again, we owe our lives to our guardian angels; and also to Van for getting to a repair shop, and to the mechanics for detecting and fixing the problem. Not only did they repair the electrical malfunction, but also the windshield wipers, much to my relief, especially with a storm predicted to hit this area in the next few days. Thank You, God, for Divine Timing.

It’s times like this when my faith is deepened, and I am able to release the underlying fear syndrome of something bad is going to happen. So Ash Wednesday got off to a good start, and we looked forward to the Resurrection of Easter Sunday.

 

And the Rains Came

Our return visit with Carlie gave us an opportunity to check email and do laundry, plus another lunch buffet at Magic Casino. This time we went on Thursday, as we’d missed the Wednesday free lunch, but it wasn’t the same; the menu was different and the food just didn’t taste as good. Carlie said that they had new managers, and we hoped this wasn’t an example of the new regime. Anyway, it was a completion, and we were ready to move on.

But we didn’t go very far. Van zipped down the highway and soon crossed the border from Mississippi into Louisiana, taking I-12 to avoid New Orleans. Although we’d missed the Mardi Gras, and most of the departing exodus, we were now on a direct course to Colorado, with only the necessary stops: Wal-Mart and Flying J’s. However, God had other plans, as Van again gasped and turned the ignition key.

“Are we okay?” I asked in panic, while looking up from my writing.

“Not really,” he muttered, while coasting to the side of the road, and studying the control panels.

“Van, there’s a pickup parked ahead of us,” I shouted.

He’d gotten started and was able to swerve around the vehicle, while saying, “I’ll pull into the Weigh Station up ahead.”

He negotiated the maneuver by switching the ignition key on and off, until we were parked between several trucks that had overloads. I too, was in overload, as I said, “It’s too dangerous to drive; call a tow truck! 

Van went to the Weigh Station to ask about local repair shops; and to keep calm, I kept writing. He finally returned and said, “I’ll let the tow truck driver select the repair shop,” and he called our Emergency Road Service. They soon arrived from nearby Hammond, where we had stayed on our way East.

Now, we were forced to remain three days on the Big Wheel Diesel Repair’s graveled parking lot, over the weekend, and until the mechanic could get through his backlog of repairs.

Once the fear of danger, and the bumpy ride in the tow truck, was over, we settled in for the ordeal of waiting. We were both too stressed and perplexed to think about anything else, so the first afternoon I read my magazine that had arrived in our forwarded mail that we had gotten at Carlie’s. That evening we watched TV and learned that a storm was heading our way with heavy rain, wind, thunder, and maybe hail.

“Well, I guess this is where God decided we should ride out the storm,” I concluded, and settled down for sleep.

Usually I dread these storms, but my faith was deepening, during these perilous moments when there is nothing we can do, but trust God to see us through the danger. So, I barely noticed the rain on the roof, and when I again awoke, the storm was over, without the predicted intense weather.

Although this area missed the full brunt of the storm, the evening news reported heavy damage between Baton Rouge and Dallas, the area we would have been going through. “Thank You, God.” 

Forced to stay put for three days wasn’t our idea of the trip’s itinerary, but I’d wanted time to move The Battle of Jericho into the booklet format, so I began the tedious process, while Van spent the day getting through his routine, and helping me, as needed.

I’d been dreading The Battles, because they represent the control issues between the personal ego and will versus God’s will. ‘It’s a time in consciousness when we must actually come to grips with the ego, and its weapons of control: patterns, addictions, limitations, and whatever has been keeping us from moving forward; either the ego wins and remains in control, or we become the victors and take control of our own life. 

Why doesn’t this surprise me? Here we were, literally stopped, with no control. Total surrender to God’s will is the only solution; versus the alternative of being upset and frustrated, which wouldn’t have changed the situation.

This time, I spent three hours changing the format, before moving it to the smaller booklet, because Van thought that would be easier. Wrong! Once I’d moved the entire manuscript, it all returned to the previous format, and had to be done again. 

By this time, my head was feeling the pressure of the tedious work, and I was now frustrated over the waste of precious time, when I have so much more editing and revising. I’d been asking Van’s help throughout the day, and he had been very cooperative, but as I got more frustrated and verbal, and asked him to complete the project, his mood changed too. 

We seemed to be acting out The Battle of Jericho, without fully understanding who or what the enemy was, or how to win the victory. Every time I tried to discuss the subject of our being in this battle, Van seemed oblivious, yet he certainly wasn’t his usually cheerful self, so the day ended with an impasse. 

But, at least the booklet was finished, and I didn’t even want to think about the next battle. Instead the next day we would work on our Spending Plan, which in itself is a battle, and I secretly suspected this would take us through the Battle of Ai, whether we liked it or not.

The Only Way to Win is to Surrender

Before venturing into the Spending Plan for the Battle of Ai, I felt guided to read this chapter to Van, as he went through his morning routine. Sometimes his inner child sabotages these sessions with a Diversionary Tactic, which successfully distracts me from my communication and always sets me off into another dissertation; but this time he listened attentively, as he ate his dried apricots and cinnamon roll, and completed his thirty times of chewing each bite.

When I’d finished, it came to me to ask, “What seems to be the main thread of this chapter?”

I knew he had been paying attention, because he immediately replied, “Turn it over to God.”

I said, “You’re right, but that is the answer to my second question, which gives the solution to the answer to my first question.”

He looked puzzled, and I gave him a few hints, “If we’re fighting the Battle of Jericho, and it’s about the personal ego and will, what seemed to be the main issue every time the electrical system cut off?”

“We were stopped,” he replied.

“Yes, and that meant you had no control, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Okay, so the bottom-line in the Battle of Jericho is giving up the ego’s control and surrendering to God’s will, which makes it obvious that you have been in the battle throughout this process with Freedom’s latest episodes. In fact, you even reached outside of yourself by calling Steve Grace and your mom, but the solution is simply, as you said, “Turning it over to God.”

Van looked pensive, as I continued, “Even Jesus said, “I, of myself, can do nothing: it is the Father within who doeth the works.” And again, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “Father, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” In other words, it is not my personal ego self, but the Father (God within) who does the work. And this is the most important message of The Bible; and it is the glory of the Easter Story; that we must go through the crucifixion (crossing out of the ego-self) in order to accomplish the resurrection (lifting up to a higher self) and the Ascension (awareness of oneness with God). We can ignore the lesson, or we can get it; like the electrical system wasn’t properly repaired in Milton, so here it is again to be dealt with. Will we surrender, or try to remain in control?”

Van had finished his breakfast and sat down, as he listened; then he asked, “Do you think I should call Ard’s Auto in Milton and ask them about the problem?”

I was surprised at this question, but it indicated a willingness to listen within, where he obviously had gotten the idea. In fact, I had gotten that idea on Friday, but he hadn’t responded; now, with his ego out of the way, when the idea came from within, he heard it.

I replied, “Yes, I think that is a good idea.” Enough had been said, and I returned to my computer, while Van busied himself preparing for our Spending Plan discussion, later in the day.  

Battle of Ai Ai Ai

To my surprise and relief, the Spending Plan for our personal finances went smoothly, although we were a bit short from our February Entertainment Expenses, while in Florida. The solution would be to cut out parking costs, during March. The important fact to be remembered about the month of February is that we actually moved ourselves into the Promised Land consciousness, stepped forward in faith, and we did what we wanted and needed to do. In other words, we made the demand and the universe paid in full.

But now we were fighting the Battles of the Promised Land, which always come when the ego tries to regain its stronghold. No sooner had we won the Battle of Jericho, than we squared off for the Battle of Ai, a defeat which always comes on the heels of the victory, because the ego lets us think we have it made. Not so! 

In my Journey to Inner Freedom Course, I’ve used a graphic of a bedraggled knight, in his beaten-up suit of armor and broken lance, with the caption “Some days the dragon wins.” It perfectly captures the dejected feeling, when we thought we had it made, after our glorious victory in the Battle of Jericho, only to get defeated at the Battle of Ai. 

Here’s a quick recap of my version of the Bible story: With their tales between their legs, after the defeat at the city of Ai, Joshua cried out “Why?” to God, only to be told that someone in his army (Achan) had withheld treasure and buried it underneath his own tent. It’s a long story, and worth reading in Joshua 7- 9; bottom-line, Achan was stoned to death and the treasure returned to the Lord.

Then the Lord gave Joshua instructions on how to fight and win this battle; their defeat came, because they hadn’t asked God, but had attempted to make it on their own (an ego attitude). Now, God told Joshua, “Lay an ambush.” The idea was to trick the army of Ai to leave the city wide open, in pursuit of the smaller group, which had invaded the city. Then the main body of Joshua’s army captured and destroyed the city of Ai, while the first group turned around and defeated their pursuers, joined by the returning army. Nothing was left of that city, but a pile of stones, which remains, until this day, according to the bible. A fascinating, if not gory story, and the battle tactics are still used in modern warfare.

But, the important issues that apply to us, in our inner journey, are the lessons relating to greed, withholding and holding-out, and accountability, which became obvious when Van and I attempted to update our business bookkeeping; neglected since his pneumonia syndrome in January. There was no entry for that month, and it became necessary to search both checkbooks and past invoices in order to account for the financial transactions. However, since nothing had been done, relating to the business, there was only the automatic withdrawal from the business account for our monthly purchases. 

February and March went through the same procedure, and it was obvious how little Van had put into this business in three months. Talk about withholding. I felt that he was definitely withholding himself from building our business. I was aghast at the expenses versus income, which showed a minus of several thousand dollars. However, March, so far, was looking good, with a plus for income; a strong indication that we could be on the upward swing, if we kept our focus and attention on God to guide us with this business. Most of these transactions, however, were done by Dottie, who receives our monthly shipments and sells them to her customers, depositing the money in our joint-account. The facts spoke for themselves, but unless Van could get the message and make the changes, it wouldn’t make much difference.

An interesting phenomenon evolved, during our three days on the Big Wheels parking lot. Van began coughing a bit the first day, and by the second, he was coughing a lot, and the third day, Sunday, he had developed his pneumonia syndrome symptoms. This was no coincidence; something was definitely up, and it had to do with the Battle of Ai. 

As his condition worsened, I became concerned for his well-being. It seemed as if he was literally in a life and death battle, and I wondered how far it would go. In fact, I called Dottie with the warning that if things didn’t improve, we might need Steve to come drive us back. Furthermore, I informed Van that he’d better consider going to the hospital. Yet, in my own mind and heart, I knew this was all part of his latest battle, because God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform along this Journey to Inner Freedom. I had been through my own intense battles, when I was writing the course, but now, while revising and completing it, Van seemed to be processing through his inner battles.

Without becoming totally codependent over his latest attacks, I busied myself with making the corrections, which I’d neglected doing, on both battles. Despite the distractions of his coughing and heavy breathing, I tried to stay focused on God’s guidance.

Finally, Monday morning, a mechanic came over, asked questions, checked a few things, and disappeared shaking his head.

I suggested to Van, “Maybe you should call Robert, the mechanic in Milton, since they are now familiar with the electrical setup.” 

He’d come up with the idea himself, the day before, but then didn’t call. Now, he agreed, and despite his reluctance to talk on the phone, he called. Robert didn’t have any answers, either, but said he would talk to his boss, Johnny, when he came in, and call us; but he didn’t.

Freedom’s electrical problem seemed to be directly related to these battles, and I knew that it would be resolved as soon as Van had won his inner victory with this battle; and I suspected that it was something in which he was in denial. For instance, I asked him if he didn’t want to return to Colorado, adding, “It’s interesting that this electrical problem, which causes Freedom to literally stop in its tracks, has been going on ever since we began our return trip. You might take a look at that. Perhaps the truth about your true feelings is what you are withholding.”

Nothing more was done, until 1:30 pm., when we were towed into the bay and the same computerized scanner was used. At first, the engine died, and they were able to continue testing, but for some reason, like going to a dentist and the pain stops, the engine kept running. As a result, they weren’t able to detect the cause or solution of the problem, and suggested that maybe someone had moved a loose wire into place. The mechanic and Van took Freedom on a test drive down the freeway, but I stayed in the Customer Lounge and visited with a fiftyish lady truck driver, who drove in team with her husband. 

They were awaiting parts, and we talked about our electrical problem, which she said is the hardest to detect and correct. And we talked about the stress of truck drivers going through all kinds of weather and traffic conditions. She said they had sold their service station-garage to get away from the stress, but for her, after three years, this was more stressful. And they don’t even have time to enjoy the trip along the way, such as touring New Orleans, or other places; they just keep trucking.

Van and the mechanic returned and we were dismissed, without charge, as unfixable. This meant the problem had not been fixed, and at any time, driving down the road, it would stop, without control. I was terrified and apparently Van was, too, because he arranged with the owner to stay overnight, after he drove up the road and filled the gas tank. Again, I remained in the Customer Lounge, but the truck driver’s parts had arrived, and they were paying their bill and getting ready to leave. Must be nice!

When Van returned, he looked ashen, as he reported, “It happened again, on the way to the service station.” We were both devastated and stymied. We simply could not continue traveling, under these circumstances. And we certainly were feeling defeated at our Battle of Ai. What was required to bring about this victory? What were we withholding or holding back from God, or ourselves?

Once settled into our niche for the night, I called Dottie and reported our dilemma. She said she would call Steve and arrange a three-way with a mechanic. Within minutes, they were on the phone, after Dottie had screeched to Steve, “There must be some mechanic in this entire world who knows how to fix an electrical problem!”

The mechanic asked Van some questions, and then gave some suggestions, which he could give to the mechanic here. Also, Van hoped that the engine, again, would not perform, so the mechanic could locate the problem with the detector.

As usual, the next day we were told they would begin working on Freedom at 8:00 a.m., but they didn’t show up, until he went in and jogged their memory.

In the meantime, Van and I fought our own Battle of Ai, as I suggested, “Since you really don’t want to go to Colorado or help Dottie and I with our computer work, just take me to the bus station, and I’ll get there on my own; then you can go wherever you want, and I’m sure your pneumonia syndrome will clear up, and Freedom will work fine.” 

I was not in a good mood, and I’d had enough of this syndrome, and he knew I was serious, as he said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. We’ll make it to Colorado; and I really enjoy helping with the computers.”

This conversation went along, at varying degrees of vocal magnitude (on my part), rehashing the obvious conclusion I’d reached, based on everything stopping, periodically, since our return trip began. I added, “Any child could add this together, and now, this pneumonia syndrome starting when you helped me on the computer tells me it’s time to let you do whatever you want, and I’ll do the same, which is go to Colorado.”

Van seemed sincere in wanting to work things out, so we talked about options, such as his making clear communications about his feelings and what he wanted. I reminded him that withholding communications is one of the buried things symbolized by Achan’s actions, which caused their defeat the first time. 

As the discussion continued, I said, “You know, maybe this all boils down to your pattern based on your father’s telling you, ‘If you can’t do it right; don’t do it all,’ which evolved into your perfectionism compulsion, and thus a reluctance to attempt anything that you might not know how to fix.”

The energies seemed to lighten, as this revelation continued, and soon Van’s tightened chest began to loosen, and we talked about a new way of approaching these matters. But, bottom-line, was the need to surrender, at the level of down-on-your-knees, admitting to God that you can’t do it yourself, and asking God to take over control of your life. This issue (control), of course, is the real crux of the matter, and until you are willing to give up control, you will not win the battle.”

He was quiet awhile, and then he said, “I know, I have to surrender to win.”

“That’s right,” I said, adding, “and that’s not the same as ‘turning it over to God,’ which only indicates an attitude of not taking responsibility for it yourself. There is a difference.”

Time wore on, and I returned to my computer, while Van struggled with his inner battle, awaiting the arrival of the mechanic. The truth is that he was only the outer vehicle for completing the process; the main repairs were being done within Van.

At one point, I stopped to read my Daily Reading, and then shared with him its message, “I am renewed as I let go of the past by forgiving all in the past.” I realized that these patterns from the past are keeping us locked into the past, and preventing us from experiencing the presence of God in the present moment. And we had reached a new level of releasing these limitations of the past. The reading reminded us to call on God’s love to heal and transform any emotional storm, and I’m sure that includes any inner battles too.

I suggested that Van return to the office and ask about getting serviced, and he replied, “Okay, but give me time to regain my strength,” having been through another coughing jag. His inner child was really taking this pneumonia syndrome to the max.

And it only got worse when the mechanic, again, tested with his computer scanner and threw up his hands, saying, “can’t fix what isn’t broken,” charged us $55.00 and left us to fend for ourselves.

Van began heavy coughing, and it was more than my inner child could handle, so she began crying and sobbing hysterically, concluding by lying on the bed in fitful sobs, between anguished groans of “Help.” Yet, feeling totally deserted and helpless, a memory from childhood abandonment. And my fight-or-flight pattern kicked-in, as she whimpered, “I’m going to the bus station and get to Denver.” Then she got angry at the owner for his cruel way of handling this situation, and fantasized going to the office and raging at him, but that didn’t seem worth the effort, once I realized what kind of person I was dealing with.

The point is that we were in such a helpless, vulnerable position; not knowing what to do, and fearing the danger of going on the road in this condition. My prayers for help must have gotten to the right connection, because I grabbed my jacket and went out the door, and then headed to the Sheriff’s office, which was next door. 

When I walked in the back door, an officer in a room, asked, “Can I help you?” I began sobbing, “I hope so,” and began spieling my story. The kindly, white-haired officer reassured me that everything would be okay, and said that he would call a part-time deputy who does RV repairs. He left to call, and then returned to say that I could return to my RV, and Malcom would be there in a 1/2-hour.

As I returned to Freedom, I felt such relief, because I knew this help was God-guided, and I felt certain everything would be okay. But, I needed to nurture my frantic inner child, so I fixed some cheese and crackers for her and Little Ralph, who was still sniffing and coughing; obviously this was his way of nurturing himself, because he’d been swigging home-remedies and wiping his nose for three-days.

I told him that someone would be here to help, and he was just going to let me handle it, but I wasn’t willing to play that game, so I insisted he talk to Malcom, who arrived and began checking the wiring and ignition switch. Within a short time, it was cutting out, and he called someone named Hilton to report the problem, and then explained to us, “I don’t do electrical, but I came to see if I could help, when my deputy friend called.” Then he arranged with Hilton to get us serviced right away at the Chevrolet Dealership, where he worked as a mechanic.

Malcolm gave us directions, and then followed to make sure we got there okay, and he went inside and talked with Hilton. Very soon we were in his capable, friendly hands, as he drove Freedom to the back of the dealership and began dismantling the ignition, having already determined it was the cause and ordering the part to be quickly delivered from a nearby parts company.

While we waited, Hilton filled us in on the bad antics and reputation of the Big Wheels company, and he added, as I had already concluded, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” In other words, we had been victimized by one of the type places we’d heard about in our travels. Hilton then said, “If you ever find yourself in this situation again, just have them tow you to a Chevrolet Dealership that works on RV’s, because they will know what to do for your Chevrolet chassis.” And he gave us a phone number to call about any Chevrolet Dealership to inquire if they work on RV’s.

Feeling much relieved, we thanked Hilton for the information, and waited for the new ignition to arrive. Soon it was fixed, and we were on our way to the local Wal-Mart, so Van could rest, before continuing on our journey.

Throughout the day I had been calling Dottie and reporting our progress. At one point, I’d asked her for a weather report, from their Weather News Channel, and she repeated, as she watched, “Heavy storms in Dallas, and the entire East Texas and Western Louisiana area, going into Missouri and Arkansas.” This foreboding report had really added to my earlier frustration, and caused Joanie’s breakdown. Now, at the Chevrolet Dealership, it began raining, and I realized that God’s timing in this episode was, as usual, impeccable.

In one of our conversations, Dottie insisted that an issue for me is not taking charge of things, although that is my true nature, and I always want Van to handle everything, but this time when I took charge, things got done. So, maybe this is part of my hidden things in my Battle of Ai. 

Van’s Surrender Experience

Because Van was feeling so weak, we agreed to drive a few blocks to the Wal-Mart where we had stayed on our way East, through Hammond. He began heaving and gasping, while I was giving Dottie a report on our progress, and I thought he was having a heart attack or stroke, but he said it was an energy shift. Dottie, who is in her second week of not smoking, maintained it’s from not smoking and having to deal with his feelings, which he’d always covered up with a cigarette. 

That was okay for him, but I decided to deal with my emotions (mostly of relief and thankfulness), I would go shopping. However, while grabbing my shopping list, I noticed that Van was really in trouble, so I said, “I think you need to go to the hospital.”

To my surprise, he didn’t object, and then I knew we had a problem, because he has never been to doctor, let alone the hospital, during our twenty-three-years of marriage. And I’d never had to deal with Van’s pneumonia syndrome, other than on an emotional healing level. But, this time it had gone a bridge too far.

Feeling frightened and abandoned, with Van so sick, I went into Wal-Mart and asked the Greeter for the Security Guard. She summoned a Supervisor, who called a Manager. It seemed an interminable time, but soon two of them arrived, and when I told them my husband was sick, and needed help, they walked with me to the RV. The minute they heard his heavy gasping, they had the Security Guard, who also arrived in her car, call an ambulance. 

While awaiting the ambulance, I went inside Freedom and asked Van for his Social Security card, but he didn’t know where it was. I began grabbing stacks from his “file” in a cupboard above the driver’s seat, but we couldn’t find it. So, I started handing him envelopes and he came across the Medicare card still intact in its original letter from Social Security. I grabbed it, and handed him his jacket, just as the ambulance arrived.

It’s wonderful how one can rise to the occasion, when necessary, under duress. Somehow, I managed to quickly call Dottie and alert her of the emergency, and then Van locked the door, and was loaded onto a stretcher and into the ambulance, while I climbed into the back seat next to him.

Barry, the attendant, quickly evaluated the situation, as Adam, the driver, sped toward the hospital. It didn’t take long for Barry to determine that Van was really sick, and he began administering an inhalant to aide his breathing, and hooked Van up to oxygen. “Oh my God, this is not good,” I thought, but I felt relief that we were getting help, and I knew this was the right time and the right place. Barry confirmed what the Sheriff Deputy had told me, when I had sobbed out my story, and he suggested taking Van to the hospital: “It’s a good hospital.”

We soon found out, as Barry and Adam wheeled Van into his cubicle in the ER, and then Barry escorted me to the Admittance Office, even offering to return us to Freedom, at no charge, should we need the transportation. The manager at Wal-Mart had also offered to retrieve us, and I was feeling the true spirit of southern hospitality and friendliness, at a time when needed. Thank You, God

With Van’s Medicare card, and answering a few questions, the task was over, and I was returned to Van. By now, still with the oxygen connection, he was hooked up to more machines; and a nurse and doctor were with him, taking blood and efficiently doing their job. Soon the EKG attendant arrived and hooked him up to another machine, but he finished and went on his way to the next emergency patient. He was replaced by the Certified Respiratory Therapist, who administered more inhalant through a steaming tube, which caused Van to rouse enough to comment to the nurse, when she returned, “They brought me a cigar.”

I’d asked the CRT a few questions about his work, and he told me that he drives two hours, each way, for his eight-hour night shift, but he doesn’t mind, because “it’s a good hospital and good pay.” He said that he had really wanted to be a doctor, and should have gone to medical school, but he likes his job. I reassured him that he was good at it, and making a contribution. 

The X-Ray technician came and whisked Van away, and I tried to call Dottie, but my cellular phone had no signal. So I sat and read the label on a box, which I don’t even remember what I read, because so many things were happening. When Van was returned, he felt much better and chatted, while we waited for the results of the tests and X-Rays.

Three hours had elapsed, Barry and Adam had left and brought back another emergency patient, and it was now around 9:30 p.m. Doctor Guidrae (an Acacian name) appeared to inform Van that he didn’t have pneumonia, but he should be admitted to the hospital for several days. Van, now feeling better, and able to breathe, despite his heavy coughing, balked, as I knew he would. But the doctor told him that he had been very sick, and had a fever, caused by bronchitis, which aggravated his emphysema, a condition he would always have with him.

I couldn’t get beyond this indictment, “Emphysema!” His dad had it, and coughed all the time; and he told Van, “Stop smoking as soon as you can, so you won’t have this happen to you.” Probably the best gift his dad ever gave him, but Van hadn’t stopped, until his last pneumonia syndrome, which evidently isn’t really pneumonia. Well, thank goodness. After all, that can be fatal, whereas bronchitis can be cured.

After the doctor left the room to order an antibiotic, I suggested to Van that he’d better stay, and assured him that I could either stay at the hospital, or return to Freedom. He agreed, and I went to the desk to tell Dr. Guidrae. Barry was still at the desk, and asked if I needed a ride, and then offered to drive Freedom back and park in the hospital parking lot. He said that they were really busy, but he would do it between calls. Van okayed the arrangement, and I rode in the front seat, with Adam, back to Wal-Mart.

I noticed raindrops on the windshield, and asked if it had been raining. He replied, “Yes, twice, and more is due” and added, “We’ll be really busy tonight, because these guys drive crazy, and they speed-up when it rains, which is bad when it hasn’t rained for so long, and the streets will be slick and oily.”

When we passed the Big Wheels, he pointed out their substation, across the street, which I had noticed earlier, and he said, “We’re not stationed there, we’re by the bad part of town, but the people are good to us, and we talk their language, so we get along.”

I laughed, adding, “They probably know they may need your services, so they want to keep on your good side.”

He replied, “Yeah, we get a lot of calls from there. It’s really bad.”

As we approached Wal-Mart, we could see a police car, with its blue light flashing, blocking the street into Wal-Mart; and another one was at the front of the building. However, he allowed the ambulance to enter the street, and Adam asked, “What’s happening?”

“There’s been a bomb threat at Wal-Mart,” the officer replied. Adam drove across the lot to Freedom, as I gasped, “A bomb threat. He’s got to be kidding,” but he wasn’t. The employees were lined-up in the adjoining parking lot, and customers were leaving in their cars, while teenage on-lookers milled about the lot, and police officers were everywhere.

“Good Heavens,” I muttered, “I’m glad I hadn’t arranged to stay here alone all night, or even that Van and I had stayed here, especially in his condition.” Silently, I said, “Thank You, God, your timing is impeccable.” 

Barry got into Freedom, familiarized himself with the panel and gearshift, adjusted the levelers, as Van had instructed, and away we went, with Adam following behind in the ambulance, past the flashing police cars, and back to the hospital.

I offered Adam and Barry a tip, but they both refused, so I gave them each a hug, and even gave one to another ambulance driver, who had delivered an emergency patient; all in a day’s work for them, but a mission of mercy for us, especially getting Freedom here.

I couldn’t believe the events of this day, but they really happened, and I decided to take Barry’s suggestion and see how Van was doing in his new environment, and report about the bomb threat.

He was sitting propped up in bed, with a cute, dark-haired nurse attending him, after having brought sandwich and juice, and she asked me, “Would you like something?”

Jennifer brought me a turkey sandwich, with real turkey, on a delicious croissant roll. After the events of this day, it was nurturing to my inner child, and Joanie wolfed it down with delight, while telling Little Ralph, who was thriving on all the attention, about her adventures, and the Wal-Mart bomb threat. He couldn’t believe his ears, either, as he carefully chewed each bite thirty times. I thought, “If he had only been as careful about not smoking, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” But, it went the way it went, so all I could do, now, was play it out. And hopefully, the OPC-3 and other Isotonix products would help his body to heal, in time. But, for now, medications were the answer.

In the midst of our chomping and sharing, the cellular phone rang, and it was Dottie and Steve checking up. I related the events of our Emergency Room adventure, and the Wal-Mart bomb threat, and reassured them that Van was doing much better. This was a first for all of our family, and I told them how much I appreciated their support throughout the day, and our challenges with Freedom. It made the difference for me, even though they were so far away, and I thanked them for being there. Steve probably breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he wouldn’t have to make a flying trip to drive us to Denver; and I did too. Whew!

When I returned to Freedom and settled down for the night, the picture of Van propped up on his bed, happily eating his turkey sandwich, flashed before me, and I realized that he was no longer in resistance, but he had actually surrendered to the experience. And I knew that he would be at a whole new level of life, after this experience.

Let There be Light

I knew this was all part of our Battles of The Promised Land, and as this new saga began, as it unfolded, I realized that we were now fighting a new battle, The Battle of Gibeon, and I thought, as I have before, when working on writing this Journey to Inner Freedom course, “I’m going to stop writing; not only this course, but everything, because I don’t want to continue creating these traumas to write about.” But I knew that they would happen, anyway, so I might as well be aware of them, make the necessary inner adjustments, and keep doing what I enjoy.

So, while Van recovered in his hospital setup, I reviewed The Battle of Gibeon, and was amazed at what I discovered. This battle is about healing the body and Transformation. The first part of the story is about the deception perpetrated by our subconscious upon the conscious in an attempt to convince us that the old habits and desires of the Egypt consciousness (“If it feels good do it”) of bondage to the sensual have been surrendered. Although we are close, we have not, yet, totally given up the old habits. You can read the Book of Joshua in the bible for this exciting story of deceit and cunning.

Prior to this time, Van had tried to convince himself that he had surrendered, and he had been unwilling to give up smoking, although he hadn’t smoked since his Pneumonia Syndrome in January, yet, in his own mind, he was still holding onto the control aspect of the addiction. In fact, being passive aggressive, he had not given up control of anything; he just made it look as if he had.

In the second part of the Battle of Gibeon, the five kings are captured and imprisoned in a cave, before being hanged. I originally thought the cave symbolized darkness, but I learned that it represents the cells of the body, which are composed of electrons and protons, plus the one component that scientists know exists, but have not been able to identify. Paul, in the New Testament, refers to it as the “Mystery hidden for ages—Christ in you, your hope of glory.” In other words, it is the Light of God within each atom.

The five kings represent the five senses, which must be transformed into a higher level of consciousness. That’s why they must be hanged, because in transformation, the old way must die, or give way to the new, which is also symbolized by the crucifixion (crossing out), before the resurrection. The bible symbology is fascinating, and far supersedes the literal translation.

So, Van’s hospital experience was the culmination of this transformation process, which requires a complete surrender of personal ego will to God’s will. Many people think this means you are giving up something, but in truth, you are only giving up the lesser for the greater; no longer separation, but merging into Oneness. 

I always dreamed of the time when this would happen with Van, and I now waited in high anticipation to see how the transformation would affect his life. But, that’s another chapter, and it doesn’t mean that life is now smooth sailing, because there are still those Final Battles to be fought. But they come, after the Assignment of the Land.

In the meantime, the conclusion of this chapter relates, what are described in the Bible as the “Last Skirmishes,” cleaning up and tying together loose ends, so to speak. In this case, answering such questions as “How did Van survive his hospital experience?” Or, “How did Joyanna do by herself in Freedom for two days?

The first day, I spent the morning reviewing The Battle of Gibeon and editing, as I went along. I even turned on the generator to recharge the batteries, and I reset my clocks, a job usually handled by Van. 

Around noon, the predicted rainstorm had begun, but by the time it hit in force, I had gone inside to spend the afternoon with Van; and have lunch with him.

Joanie and Little Ralph’s First Day at the Hospital

Van was snoozing in the darkened room, and he awoke when I arrived. I opened the curtain, so we could watch the storm from the safety of the hospital, rather than rocking and rolling in Freedom.

Lunch was on its way, so I turned on the lights and arranged my chair. However, this time I didn’t get my own tray; I had to go to the cafeteria, select my food, and bring it back to the room. This provided an adventure for Joanie, who, as a ten-year-old child, had surveyed every nook and cranny of the hospital when Mom Freeland was there. And, of course, Dad Freeland was a doctor, and when he was chief of staff at the new brick hospital at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, five-year-old Joanie had thoroughly toured its corridors and rooms. So finding the new cafeteria here was a lark. 

When I returned, with my southern baked chicken and sweet potato pie, Little Ralph was savoring his beef pot pie, potato salad, herbed biscuit and banana. Of course, Joanie had to taste everything, and concluded she hadn’t missed much, but Little Ralph enjoyed his banquet. 

He took a long time, because of chewing so long, and with nurses visits, and administering of his “peace pipe,” as Little Ralph now called his inhaler treatments. When things quieted down, he turned on the TV and we watched Simon Templar on the Movie Channel. 

The only “skirmishes,” this day were the frustration of not being able to hear the TV, and chatting with Mr. White, Van’s neighbor, who was waiting to go home. Also Joanie was upset when she bought a local paper to read all about the Wal-Mart bomb threat, only to discover it wasn’t mentioned. 

Otherwise, it was a pleasant day, and Little Ralph even let Van talk with Dottie about computer related stuff, without any resistance. Aha! This was the first sign of the transformation, as he cheerfully told her, “I’ll be able to help you with that when we get there.”

Joanie hadn’t been too impressed with her lunch, so we shared Little Ralph’s baked pork chop, which he gladly divided and put on his dinner roll, while Joanie sampled the cooked carrot rounds. There was ample for two people, and she didn’t even eat the pimento noodle and cheese or canned purple plums.

Earlier in the day, we learned that a tornado had hit Houma, a large town about a hundred-miles south of Hammond, so I was concerned as to whether or not it was headed our way, and we watched the Weather News, learning that the storm was dissipating, as I could see by looking out the window. However, Denver was in the midst of a snowstorm, although Dottie had minimized its severity, as she always does when discussing their weather. I always suspect that she’s a member of the Chamber of Commerce, because she loves Colorado’s blue skies and quickly changing weather.

While we ate,Van’s male nurse, Victor, arrived and chatted with him awhile; man stuff. And after he left, the cleaning ladies were sanitizing and preparing Mr. White’s bed for the next arrival, as he had finally gotten to leave, shortly before dinner.

I asked the lady if she could get the sound louder, and she took the broom handle and adjusted the TV, perched on a high shelf for favorable viewing. Now, even that skirmish was handled. But I was tired, and soon took leave of Van, and returned home, in the parking lot, and went to bed early. I didn’t even watch TV. There was no further storm, and I slept soundly, until morning.

Good News; Bad News

The Good News, of course, that Van didn’t have pneumonia, soon gave way to the Bad News that he has emphysema. Van had asked the doctor for further details, and when I arrived Wednesday, the information sheets were on the table.

I read through them, and felt angry, more than anything else, to think that this could have been prevented by a decision ten-years ago, when his dad, between coughing attacks, suggested that he stop smoking as soon as possible, to avoid emphysema. But, of course, one word from his dad, and that would be exactly what Van wouldn’t do. Now, he would pay the price for his obstinacy the rest of his life, because there is no cure for this lung disorder, other than to stop smoking, and Van had already stopped, during his last bronchial attack, several months earlier.

Further reading the information sheet revealed that it is necessary to avoid high altitude and cold climate, as well as humid weather, such as we were experiencing in The South. Getting out of here might help, but now I understood why Denver’s Mile High altitude brought on his Pneumonia Syndrome; it wasn’t just his attitude. However, I firmly believe that can make the difference; and he now has the choice to give in to this indictment, or say a loud and lusty “NO!” Only time would tell which decision he would make. If he wants an excuse to live in Arizona or Laughlin, he has it. And if the attention in the hospital seduces his inner child, then I can write his future, without having to guess at the results.

In fact, God gave me an experiential aide, while I chatted with a man in the waiting room. I began talking about Van having emphysema, and he said he does too, although he had quit smoking, it wasn’t soon enough; the damage was done. Then he told me he was waiting to take his wife home, because she is dying of cancer, and there is nothing they can do. She had quit smoking thirteen-years ago, but it was too late. Now, at 58, her life was over, and her husband lamented, “Only last year we were camping and fishing and having a good time.”

Van’s peace-pipe was replaced with an inhaler that he would be using the rest of his life, as needed, during future attacks. Oh Joy! Something wonderful to look forward to forever. But, again, it could be the last time he ever uses it; the choice is his.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am no longer a caretaker, and I cannot see myself living out my life taking care of a chronically sick man. My preference has been for someone to take care of me, and Van abdicated that responsibility when he decided not to work and financially support us, any further, after his job downsize-layoff. We were no way prepared for retirement, but he retired, leaving us with no income, which eventually lead to bankruptcy, and the downsize of our lifestyle, living in Freedom, on Social Security Retirement, and scrimping to make it through each month. This was not my idea of the Golden Years, and I planned on doing something about it, starting with my website.

Joanie wasn’t a happy camper, when I went to the cafeteria and bought a chicken sandwich, and ate lunch with Van. But I didn’t stay long, because he would be taking his shower and walk and inhaler practice, so I returned to Freedom. But, despite my feeling of urgency to get through these battles, I didn’t feel like doing my project of moving The Battle of Gibeon to the booklet format. In fact, the humid weather and recent stress had affected me, too, and I’d developed chest congestion and a dry cough; probably sympathy pains for Van. In any event, I rested.

However, not for long, because I had awakened that morning with the idea of offering Barry, the ambulance attendant, membership into our business, as a thank you for his helping to get Freedom moved. I thought of it like ”teaching him to fish, rather than giving him a fish,” as the saying goes, thus he would have the potential to replace the high salary that he had enjoyed, as District Manager, before his downsize. This way, he would be his own boss, and he could still offer health and support to people, which he said he enjoys.

So, I went in pursuit of finding out how to contact him. I walked through the Emergency Room waiting area, and looked outside, but he wasn’t in the ambulance area. I could see that this was an uncomfortable process for me, and I didn’t exactly know what to do, so I wandered upstairs and checked on Van, who was now eating dinner. Then I spotted an ambulance driver taking the cancer victim down the hall, on her last trip home. I asked if Barry was working today, and they said, “No.” So I asked how I could contact him to give a thank you gift, and they gave me the office phone number. Good! A reprieve; now I wouldn’t be able to call until they opened the next morning. 

I returned to Van’s room and learned that he still hadn’t handled the tasks for the day, and he probably wouldn’t be discharged as early as he thought, because the doctor hadn’t set up the paperwork; so, now, he would have to wait, until the doctor came in the morning. “It’s a long process,” the nurse told him. We studied the Weather News, and learned that it would be okay; no storms. I wasn’t feeling good, so I said, “I’ll see you in the morning, whenever you get out to Freedom.” 

The Last Skirmishes

I didn’t do any writing then, either. I just relaxed, savoring my last few hours alone, and watched TV. I even managed to put the antennae up by myself, but I wasn’t able to adjust the dial to bring in color. No big deal and I later learned, from Van, that it wasn’t the roof dial, but the color control that needed adjusting.

While Van had been in the hospital, I’d been revising my “Battles of The Promised Land,” manuscript, and was dismayed to remind myself that, after the three major battles mentioned in this chapter, there are the “Last Skirmishes,” which must be fought and won, before the next phase of the saga, “Assignment of the Land.”

In retrospect, Van’s victory, in these battles, came through his hospital Surrender Experience, but mine had a different manifestation, and Dottie had put it into words when she talked about my being able to take charge and function on my own. So, my victory came with doing just that. First, getting help for taking Van to the hospital. This meant letting the Wal-Mart people know what was happening, and having their support through the process, without my having to do it all by myself. 

Remember, the promise is, “Jehovah will fight the battles,” and, for me, that meant having help, such as the store managers, the security person, and the ambulance driver and attendant. Of course, once we arrived at the ER, it was out of my hands, and we were blessed with efficient, friendly caregivers. For a first time hospital experience, which this was for Van, God guided us to the best, North Oak Hospital in Hammond, La. I don’t recommend you go there to become ill, but they are excellent. And they really enjoyed Van, as I overheard one caregiver remark to another, “I’m going to miss Mr. VanCamp; why not send the others home, and let him stay.”

Whew! That’s pretty heavy. For one thing, it’s an example of symbiosis, a mutually reciprocal relationship, where one is dependent on the other to exist. For instance, a nurse or doctor needs a patient, or there is no purpose for their services. A writer needs a reader, even though the initial act of creativity is self-expression, but then they need someone to appreciate their efforts, like an artist needs someone to see his paintings for complete fulfillment. So the danger, for a patient, is to get caught up into the system, so to speak.

And for Van, or at least Little Ralph, that could have been quite easy, to enjoy the ongoing attention and acceptance. But he isn’t inclined that way, and he was more than delighted to be released from the hospital and begin the next phase of our journey. And I was more than happy to have him fulfill his part in our teamwork, although I knew that I could handle his part, if necessary. 

With this in mind, the Last Skirmishes had been fought and won, and we were ready to move on.

Chapter 16

ASSIGNMENT OF THE LAND

It’s About Dumping

When this title for the chapter came to me, I thought it would be about my contacting Barry, the ambulance attendant, and signing him up for the business. But, my call to his company’s office only gave me his last name; not his phone number or address. So when I got to Wal-Mart, after Van’s discharge from the hospital, I looked in the phone book and discovered about twenty such last names, and none named Barry. This door was not opening, at this time, and I felt pressure to continue my shopping, pick up Van’s prescriptions, and get on the road, while he still had the energy.

Needless to say, Van was happy to be dismissed, overjoyed to be home, and anxious to be on the road again. He reassured me that he felt fine, even though I’d insisted that the volunteer host wheel him to Freedom, to conserve his energy, if nothing else. However, we took time for lunch at Wal-Mart’s parking lot, before moving on.

Our first effort for the trip was to dump the collection that had accumulated, while we had been at Big Wheels and the hospital. However, the first Rest Stop had their dump cemented over. Later, we stopped at a Truck Stop, listed in one of my books, but they didn’t have one.

I was beginning to wonder how far we would need to go, before we could get rid of our waste, and concluded that it must be a leftover Last Skirmish, and the significance would be revealed to me in its proper time. 

In the meantime, we happily headed northwest, through Baton Rouge toward Shreveport. I had no idea that Van would feel up to driving that far, but it was our destination, with the agreement that we would stop whenever he felt tired. 

Part of our anxiety to “blow this pop stand,” as Van put it, was to avoid the upcoming thunderstorms due here that afternoon, and hopefully scoot between the ones predicted in Dallas. But, we trusted God’s guidance and timing, as we headed down the highway, taking several backroads, and enjoying the scenery.

Much of Louisiana is swampland, although they’re not wet, because of the current drought. However, a good part of the landscape were tranquil green pastures with grazing cattle and small farms. And, the further north, the more trees, such as pines, and even a few hills.

But, you are probably worrying about our need for finding a dump, and, believe me, we were too. I suggested that we pay at an RV park, and get it over with, but Van assured me that we could make it to Flying J, if necessary. I held my breath, and sighed in relief when we pulled into a lovely Rest Stop, with the best dump station in the country, according to Van. 

What a relief! Now, with Freedom and Van repaired, our shopping done, and the dump handled, we were able to concentrate on Living in The Promised Land, as we continued onward toward Shreveport, under pleasant skies.

Everything is on Hold

I was still concerned, because I hadn’t contacted Barry, nor Malcom, with my offer of giving them the thank you gift, an opportunity to build this business. Yet, the doors hadn’t opened, and I simply wasn’t able to force them, so I decided that I could take care of it, later, when things were more settled. At least I had Malcom’s business card and I knew Barry’s last name and how to contact him through the ambulance company. For now, that would be enough.

In the meantime, I had a feeling there would be more lessons regarding this chapter, and I decided that it would be much easier to be forewarned, so I reviewed Road Sign #8, Assignment of the Land. It reminded me of a part of the journey that I’d just as soon forget, but it’s not too bad, if you know what you are getting into. Or, maybe I should say what you’re not getting into, because this is The Void, an aspect of every transition, when nothing seems to be happening; although there is a lot going on within the cells of our bodies, as the transformation is in progress on an internal, unseen level.

I suspected that this is the reason we were not, as yet, able to follow through on the idea to offer this business opportunity to Barry and Malcom. It’s a matter of timing.

There was no doubt that something was happening, on a cell level, with Van and, after our Flying J stopover, west of Shreveport, near the border of Texas. On the way, we’d gone through a bit of rain, but nothing serious, and the morning was overcast and humid. When we awoke, we both were congested, and I sounded worse than he did. But we managed to take our respective remedies (his meds and my Isotonix) and get ourselves together and on the road.

However, talk about The Void; I have no idea what exists between Shreveport, La. and Albuquerque, because I was flat in bed most of the time. Whatever I was processing, on a cellular level, knocked me out; I had no energy, could barely lift my head from the pillow, and my voice sounded like Gravel Gertie. In fact, when I talked to Dottie, she said, “Can’t you get something like Van’s taking?”

I said, “No way, I wouldn’t put those toxins in my body, and I’ll be just fine once I get my OPC-3 at Dan’s, in Albuquerque. You did mail it didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did, and it will be waiting for you when you get there,”

Somehow, between hacking and coughing, Van managed to drive across Texas, with two layovers, rather than just one. And we changed our course from I-40 in Amarillo to taking slower, less hectic back-roads. Of course, you couldn’t prove it by me, other than the few times I raised up and looked out the window. But from what I saw, once we left the green farmlands of Eastern Texas, were flat, dry miles of nothing; perfect visual aide for The Void.

With nothing else to do, even though my head was congested and it was hard to think clearly, my thoughts were mumble jumbles of what I wanted to say about “Assignment of the Land.” 

I vaguely remembered writing something about a trip we once took through Northern Nevada, long before we lived on the road in Freedom. At the time, I was writing the original course and studying the bible and Metaphysical Dictionary for this Road Sign. Along the way, we saw farms and sheep ranches and desert; people living out their lives doing whatever was necessary for their daily routine. In some cases, a matter of survival; and for others a choice of lifestyle. I wrote pages and pages on the subject, as God was giving me the insights and words, much like He was doing on this trip, even though I was flat in bed.

For instance, seeing the lush farms in Louisiana and the expansive ranches of Texas, or even the junkyards in front of some dilapidated shacks, or the well-manicured mansions everyone symbolized the Assignment of the Land.

So, what does the Bible say about this part of the story? You may recall that there were Twelve Tribes of Israel, based on the twelve sons of Jacob, whose name was changed (by God) to Israel. However, the tribe of the oldest son of Joseph, Manasseh, was divided as half-tribes (half chose to stay east of the River Jordan to raise sheep). And, of course the tribe of Levi received no land, for they were the priests and were supported by the tithes and offerings of the other tribes. Each tribe, name, city and location is symbolic, and studying the meaning is fascinating, but my point, here, is simply to whet your appetite for more of this subject in the Journey to Inner Freedom Course. 

For instance, each tribe represents one of the centers within our body (In the New Testament they are represented by the Twelve Disciples, who are more spiritually evolved, under the teachings of Jesus). And the purpose of this Journey to Inner Freedom has been the evolution process, often referred to as Regeneration, which is the gradual, ongoing lifting up of the cells of our body from the material to the spiritual; by surrendering the ego self to God’s will. 

Despite the fact that Van and I began improving immediately after taking our OPC-3 and Oxygen Plus, I knew that we had been going through this cellular change, which is sometimes called chemicalization, an uncomfortable detoxification process, when shifting from one level of consciousness to another.

Fortunately, our friend, Dan, a Unity minister, understands what I’m talking about, or he would have thought we were highly contagious, as Van and I both coughed and wheezed, when we arrived. Van, at least able to walk, announced our arrival, grabbed the package with our remedies, said, “We’ll see you tomorrow,” and returned to Freedom, with his prized possession. We both took our dosages, and within an hour my head had cleared and my weakness diminished.

By morning, after my third dose, I was able to get up and work on the computer, with my head clear enough to know what I wanted to say. Most of all, in retrospect, I marveled that God truly had fought our battles for us by getting us to Albuquerque without any hazardous weather conditions, while we were traveling. Yet, we arrived just ahead of a terrible storm that dumped over a foot of snow in The Rockies, including the Denver area; but we were not driving in it; we were safely parked in Dan’s driveway keeping warm with our furnace working nicely, visiting with Dan, as planned, for the two days of siege.

The Siege is Over

When the storm was over and the mountain passes cleared, we continued north to Denver. In the meantime, I had remembered an important aspect of The Void: find something to fill the seeming emptiness. In other words do something, anything; take a small step toward whatever is before you to do. That’s what the Twelve Tribes of Israel did, once they were allotted their land, they simply did what was before them to do; the everyday things in life, which had been Van’s answer when I asked, “What would you do if this condition were no longer part of your life?”

His reply, “Enjoy living my life.”

I thought his answer was over-simplified; but when I wrote the above words, I realized that the answer really is quite simple: Simply enjoy doing whatever you’re doing.

And What Would That Look Like?

Although I’d had parts of this idea, before, I awakened from my Void, the first morning at Dan’s, and I realized that the timing was perfect, and it surely fit in with this chapter.

As much as I had enjoyed our travel era, I felt ready to settle down, and Arianna’s baby arriving, plus Airica entering her senior year in high school, this seemed the time and place. So, I’d been mulling over in my mind the various options: an RV park, which would involve our need for transportation, or an apartment. Both would be costly. Of course, we could, and would park in front of Dottie’s home for awhile, but then what?

The point is that our being there involves Van being able to work with Dottie’s computer, and our participating in the business, so a near proximity is mandatory. I’d thought about trying to rent a place to park Freedom in a neighboring yard, because, unfortunately, their house sits on a slight hillside, and the eaves overlap to such an extent that our RV wouldn’t fit there. 

But, the other side of the house had less of a hill, and if we were to hire someone to remove the dirt and put in a driveway, Freedom would fit beneath the eaves. With the money we’d be saving by not traveling, we could pay for the work and still be financially ahead. I got excited thinking about being able to have the family dog, Rascal, visit us, without his having to be let out the front door, because we would be inside the backyard.

The more I thought about it, especially with Van’s current health conditions, the better I liked the idea. But that wasn’t all; a further idea came to have a door made into their large basement room, which I could use for my writing projects to be spread out, and I could pay Dottie rent. This way, if weather conditions became hazardous, or too cold, or too hot, we could stay inside. And, in time, we could even put in a basement window so I could see more than the sky.

I’d planned to wait and talk to Dottie in person, but I couldn’t stand it, so I called her and presented the idea. It became too overwhelming for her to comprehend all in one conversation, so I suggested we approach it in several different phases, starting with the earthmoving and paving, so we would have a permanent place to park, and then go from there. We agreed to discuss the idea further when we arrived. At least she wasn’t opposed, and this would give us a plan: something for Van’s interest, while I could get my website going and more books ready.

Celebrating the Dawning of New Life

I awoke, after a fretful sleep, interrupted by frantic coughing attacks, with an affirmation going through my mind: I surrender all that stands between me and living in The Promised Land. Because I had spent some of my awake time editing and revising Assignment of the Land, but mostly The Last Skirmishes, the lesson on surrender had been in my subconscious mind, as I heard myself saying, “I let go attachment to results. It’s not necessary to be right, especially if it means being dead right.”

Before going to sleep, I had been thinking and praying about Van, and wondering if he would ever be able to function at a normal pace again. The two days at Dan’s, he had been in bed, or working his way through his morning routine, which now took all day, between coughs, gasping for breath and inhaling his medications. I just knew that I could not live the rest of my life like this, and I was ready to move forward. 

He would have to decide, on a deep inner level, if he was going too, or not. I had already said that I would take the bus to Denver on Friday, whether or not he was well enough to get me there, because I wasn’t willing to get this close and then miss Arianna’s baby shower. And I had gone to sleep, after a coughing jag, planning to ask Dan to take me to the bus station. 

I had been through too many of these passive-aggressive control games with Van, and I wasn’t willing to play anymore. If he wanted to, then he would need someone who was willing to put up with it; not me. We were truly going through these Last Skirmishes, and I remembered that “giving up being right” is one of them; and that some people will insist on being right, even if it kills them, and in many cases their rightness does cost their lives.

As far as I am concerned, surrendering does not mean doing things Van’s way, which is part of the passive-aggressive approach: wearing them down until you get your own way. It isn’t a matter of one person having to lose so another can win. I prefer the win-win approach, so everyone wins, and no one loses. So, this subtle tug-of-war would have to stop, because I would no longer waste my energy on this frugal game.

After saying my affirmations a few more times, and then again, asking God to remove all negative energies associated with my congestion, return them to God, and transform them into positive and creative energies for good. This, of course, was accentuated by lusty, wrenching coughs. I knew I was in battle with these Last Skirmishes, and I was determined to win.

Finally, in disgust, I did what I knew I had to do: I got up, heated some water and made a hot poultice, which I placed on my chest, over gobs of Vicks; a home remedy that still works. Midst heavy coughing and groans, I repeated the process three times, and then placed the poultice over my face and coughed some more.

I knew the procedure was doing the needed releasing of mucous, as well as those hold-out buried energies involving the Last Skirmishes, as the tight grip on my chest began to release. Hooray! I had won the battle.

Once the process was over, my Inner Voice was taking me through a step-by-step celebration: Change into your warm green leisure suit; the healing energies will be nurturing. Brew a cup of Echinacea Plus tea and drink while eating a rice cake. I was guided to bring my plant and new stuffed animals (gifts along the trip) from the front dashboard and arrange them around me on the couch, or where I could see them. I began to laugh at their cute faces and costumes: the silver astronaut suit of my NASA Monkey, the gold, purple and green of my Mardi Gras bear, the heart clutch in the arms of my Love Bear, and the white and purple hand- crocheted Mardi Gras Snoopy and undesignated creature, with their be-ribboned hats. 

Then I was told to put on my new Stephen Foster tape album, and the room seemed to lighten to the tune of “Way Down Upon the Swanee River” and the happy memories of the day we bought them at Stephen Foster State Park along the Suwanee River. And each song seemed to be giving me a special message for this day, such as Beautiful Dreamer spoke of a woman’s awakening, as I was doing in preparation for my new life.

By the time My Old Kentucky Home played, I was up on my feet dancing a jig when the words sang out, “Weep no more, My Lady,” I pressed the Millennium Bear’s tummy, and laughed with joy when he shouted out “HAPPY MILLENNIUM!” What a fun party. Even Van roused from his recuperation bed and began his morning routine; not clear what we were celebrating. But I’d been told that it was the Dawning of my New Life, and I rejoiced.

I looked out the window, as a robin lit in a tree, and several smaller birds flitted about; all symbolic of this new springtime awakening I was experiencing. I think the first clue that something special was happening began the night before when I checked my email and read, maybe four messages congratulating me on the chapter on our days at Disney’s Epcot Center and Kennedy Space Center that I had sent out the week before, and saying that I really made it come alive, and they want to go there. Is that a harbinger of good things coming, or what?

At the height of the festivities, I noticed the time, and realized that I had time to take Dan  needed: to be out among the living. I grabbed my coat and purse and headed for a special day in my New Life.

For many years, Unity had been the center of my life, and I had been Assistant- to-the- Minister at one church, serving as Platform Person, while also teaching adult and Sunday School classes at various churches. I am a Licensed Unity Teacher and though I seldom teach at Unity now, most of my writing is based on my background in Unity. I’m proud to say these teachings have saved my life, many times, and they are the foundation of my life, having given me the basis for learning to live in the Presence of God in the Present Moment. 

This is Where I am With my Life, Now

My day at Unity Christ Church was another healing gift from God, as I chatted with Paula, a pleasant person and Church Treasurer, who was painting a hallway, as her part in the renovation project, since Dan has become the interim minister.

When she left for lunch, I sat down in the Prayer Room and relaxed; then felt Guided to pick up a Unity Magazine from the basket by the chair. It was an issue I had not finished reading, so I felt attracted to an article I hadn’t noticed, with the provocative title, “Hell in the Hallway.”

Wouldn’t you know, the words were exactly what I needed to read, and they fit right in with my current writings, referring to The Void, between one door closing and another door opening, when we’re standing out in the hall, so to speak. The author mentioned several points that I have covered in my course, and in this chapter, and I felt it confirmed my words. I especially enjoyed her reminder that change is the only way God has of making things better. There may be some who don’t agree that life has gotten better for them, after it dealt the low blows, and they refuse to wait patiently, in faith, until the better things happen.

The article reminded me that I had written a book that is actually completed, called Knocking on Doors, about Van’s corporate-job-downsize-layoff. At first, he looked for the blessing, as he happily began ringing doorbells, with his partner, in an effort to build the MLM we were involved in. But, as the rejection mounted, and they finally gave up, he went into a downward tailspin and never really came out of it. In other words, he became traumatized and depressed, which was totally unlike the Van we all knew and admired.

Talking with Rev. Dan about this, he offered some insight from his own personal experience of identifying the classic burn-out syndrome. “It took me years,” Dan said, “but if he can find something else to get excited about, he’ll get on with his life.” 

I’d been trying to help Van find that “something” for over five years, and I still hoped that our business would add to his zest for life. In fact, I had actually seen him enthusiastic when working on the computer for Dottie’s business, and he had said that he would be willing to present the Business Plan at some Kick-Offs, which Dottie and Steve had arranged for him to do. So, now, the opportunity would be there for him to again find that zest for life.

Picture This

What a morning scene: Van and I roused early to prepare for our departure. He busied himself with his modern-times inhaler and antibiotics, while I boiled up a pot of hot water, soaked my hot towel and plastered my chest with Vicks. Togetherness to the max, only apart; same thing, only different, which pretty much symbolizes our relationship. But, I’m thinking Rev. Dan is right, when he said, “You two must be compatible; otherwise how could you live together like this for three years? Either that or we are sicker than we think. But not for long, because we both dosed ourselves with our Isotonix brew and each day we were feeling stronger and weller.

In any event, I’d been getting a much clearer picture of this Road Sign, which I would be adding to the original, because I always get burned-out at this point and never work on it as much. No wonder it’s taken so long to complete this course: about twenty-years.

Watching Rev. Dan happily at work in his church setting, and seeing the light in his eyes and the joy in his heart, I said, “You know, Dan, isn’t it a good feeling for you to have finally figured out what works for you, doing this interim ministry, and being able to be right here at home?”

He smiled. Having known Dan for over twenty-years, and seeing him fighting some of his battles, I knew that he was in his right place; at least for now. And I was glad for him.

But the day at his church also reminded me, that as much as I love Unity, I’d been there and done that, and I was moving on to something different. I thought about my brother, Gary, again in Australia’s Outback for a few months, and I knew how right that was for him. And all along the trip, we’d seen people doing what they do and usually happy doing it.

This, then, is the lesson of Assignment of the Land: Something like the old adage, Find where your niche is, “bloom where you’re planted,” or “brighten the corner where you are.” It doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing it forever, but enjoy your allotment: take action; start doing something positive and productive now. And use your faculty of Imagination to picture yourself in your right place, happy doing your thing.

Head ‘em up; Move ‘em Out

Although the weather still stormed, the predictions were for warmer skies on Thursday, and it seemed like a good time to move over the mountain passes in New Mexico, and maybe even Colorado; the first one north of Santa Fe, and the second at Ratton Pass. We would break the trip into two days, so Van could rest, and we could stop for lunch in Santa Fe, with our friend, Judy.

As promised, the storm was over, the clouds were lifting, and we had blue skies. Van had become totally focused on getting us down the road; this meant locate drinking water for us, propane for Freedom and also dumping our tanks, so that became our objective, once I’d called Judy and made arrangements for lunch in Santa Fe. That has a nice ring; like a good subtitle. But this section is about more.

For instance, I’d begun visualizing how it must have been for The Israelites to end their journey, after traveling for several generations. After all, most of the older ones had died, and it was the next generation, at least, that finally hung up their walking shoes and wagons, or whatever transportation they still had, and traded them in for seeds to grow crops, lumber to build homes and fences, and otherwise stay put. What a transition that must have been.

In fact, I can relate to them, because as Van and I are ready to park it, I can see the adjustments that will be involved. And I’m thinking that may well be the Final Battles for us.

But I am excited and ready for this change, especially since we received a number of emails responding to the chapter I had sent about the Epcot and Kennedy Space Centers. They said they felt like they were there with us. What a win!

Rolling across the hills toward Santa Fe, the cell phone rang, and it was Dottie telling me that Joyce had left a message for me on the answering machine, which Dottie played. She was excited about an idea she had for Money Matters. Wow! It was happening.

I didn’t even know what “It” was, as yet, but I’d been taking the action and steps, as Guided, and now the seeds were growing; we would be having crops to harvest.

Again, this was an Assignment of the Land, issue, because I had been asking several people to take part in certain areas of my books, and they were responding with positive feedback. In other words, it wasn’t about me doing it all, but disbursing the assignments, and letting each person bloom where they are planted. How exciting!

 

Lunch in Santa Fe

Oh, okay, I’ll do it; why not? You see, it fits right in, because I had asked Judy to edit some manuscripts for me, and she had been thinking about it, but doesn’t have a computer; she uses the one at work. But, it felt right, so I wanted to pursue the subject with her, and offer her the Travel Series project. 

Judy looked great with her short hair style, growing back from radiation, when she discovered her cancer had returned. She seemed mellower, more relaxed, and at peace. We enjoyed our luncheon visit, about our travels and mutual interests; and this time she and Van briefly exchanged hospital experiences. And then I presented my idea, about her editing and working with the Travel Series, as much as I understood it; and she was interested. She said she would edit one chapter and see how it goes. I was excited and I didn’t even know exactly what it was all about. But it was enough to know that God knows, and it’s part of His Divine Plan.

Over the Mountain Pass

Blue skies, fluffy white clouds and sun shining on the snowless roads and forests; exactly the way I imagined it, but hard to expect, after three days of this spring storm. I relaxed on my sofa and thought about my website. I’d been disgusted with Van, when Judy asked him how people make money on it, and he said, “They don’t.” A big put-down for another of my projects, and I told him that would no longer work for me; either he could support what I’m doing, or don’t be part of it.

I could feel this pattern becoming more threatening, and I wondered if it was more him, or me, that perpetuated it. Probably both, but I took time to ask God to remove it from me, while acknowledging Him, as the one presence and one power in the universe, and therefore that negative part of Van had no power over my life, unless God or I gave it to him. And I released the matter to God, as we soon came out of the first mountain pass.

After talking with Judy, I remembered that God had once given me the ideas and plans for something, but it was long before websites, and I hadn’t fully understood. Now I could see that the ideas would, again, come back to me, as I began to prepare my website, and I became excited, but I remembered that I must take things one step at a time, and allow them to unfold.

In the meantime, while Van easily drove us over Raton Pass, under clear, blue skies I revised my manuscript.

Loss of Control

The next morning, as the sun came up over the Wal-Mart parking lot in Pueblo, Colorado, I rejoiced knowing that within a few hours we would be at Dottie’s and off the road. Believe me, I was ready. This last part of the trip, from Louisiana, had been tough on us both and we needed to recuperate. But I had a full agenda for my time, getting the website ready and completing some more books.

I began thinking about Van’s health challenges, knowing that he would be resting most of the time, and helping Dottie, whenever he felt up to it. And I realized that’s usually the pattern when we’re in Colorado. I’d always thought he hated it, but now I realize that the high altitude may have been a contributing factor, because of his emphysema, which he’d probably had for many years.

On the other hand, these periods, when he spends much time sleeping, would seem to be a form of The Void, when nothing is being done. And I realized, if that’s the case, he’s spent much of his life there. And that’s interesting, because I remember that he hated The Void, when we first discovered it, saying, “We should have a warning when we’re going into such a time. But, as I’m understanding more about this, I realize that, for Van, it was actually a control gimmick. For him, being in bed is being in control. It had become a survival mechanism early in his life to cope with whatever he found insurmountable. The message clearly read: leave me alone.

Thinking about this, in Pueblo, as I completed my current work on these manuscripts, it occurred to me that The Void is so offensive, because it’s a period when we feel that we have no control. We can’t seem to make anything happen; we can’t force things to work or time to go faster. Nothing seems to be working the way we think it should. For many, life has been about being in control, which manifests in subtle, covert behavior, such as passive-aggressive; and sometimes more obvious-as-a sledgehammer words and actions, evidenced by the violence in our world.

So, once we’ve been brought to our knees, and we surrender, life is no longer about being in control, because that’s what was released. But the ego doesn’t like this, and that’s when the internal battles begin, which manifest as outer confrontations that require ongoing surrendering in order to win. It’s not a one-time event, but happens daily, if not hourly, as the ego continues to hurtle its heavy artillery in order to remain in control. We must continually say, “No, No, No!” Until the inner victory is won. And once it’s won on one level, it’s over on all levels. At least, until we cycle through the process again, because it is cyclic and spherical, like a vortex. Therefore, we will come up against these issues again, until we have won the war with the personal ego-will and are constantly living in the presence of God. The Bible calls it at-one-ment; reaching a place of oneness with God. We’ll know when that time comes, because those former conditions will no longer exist. 

But most people aren’t willing to begin the Journey, let alone continue with the process, as it becomes more intense. They are content living out their petty games of control and convincing themselves that they are big-time winners.

A Promised Land Consciousness

The truth is that we are always in the presence of God, and never separate, but we must overcome the obstacles that keep us from experiencing our oneness; when it becomes real to us.

And this is the secret, which I reveal at the end of the course: We are always in The Promised Land; it’s just a matter of realizing it. 

As I discussed these matters with Van, before the last phase of our outer journey, I said, “It’s necessary to develop a Promised Land Consciousness,” and I asked “What do you suppose defines that?”

He said, “Just keep surrendering.”

I agreed, but I knew there was something more. The words seemed to flow from me, “It’s becoming aware of our oneness and knowing that when we are always living in the presence of God, there is no reality of lack, because with God everything is already present. It is just a matter of calling forth, which we do by our thinking. This is how we co-create with God. We see that there is no lack and we become aware of the everywhere presence of everything, which we can attain according to our thoughts.” 

We were doing this all along, but we were doing it out of ignorance. For instance, if our main underlying objective and desire was to remain in control, then that’s what continually appeared in our lives; opportunities to remain in control, using whatever technics we had perfected for survival.

But once we surrendered that need to remain in control, we reached a new level of consciousness: having it all. Now, we could co-create, with God, whatever we truly desired.”

I could feel an aura of lightness in our midst, as these words came through me, and I knew that I was speaking truth. Van agreed, and too, seemed to be in this glow. In fact, when he awoke, he had said that he was feeling much better, and his energies were noticeably lighter. Obviously some inner healing had taken place, during the night, which coincided with the fact that our outer travels were about to culminate.

This final morning on the road had truly brought us into a Promised Land consciousness, and I was excited to get on with Living in The Promised Land. 

I Have an Idea

Before moving on, I wanted to return the call to Joyce, who was reviewing my manuscript for Changing Money Patterns. 

“I have an idea,” she said, bursting with enthusiasm, “it came to me between sleep and waking the other morning, why not put the workshop on Internet?”

“That’s a perfect idea,” I responded.

“Well, you know that I don’t know anything about computers or Internet, but it makes sense, doesn’t it?”

“Yes it does, and this proves to me that you are right person to be assigned this project. I know it is going to prove lucrative for us, and that God is guiding us, especially since He gave you that idea. 

“Oh, I sent the manuscript back to you this morning,” Joyce added.

“Okay, I’ll start working on it when I get to Dottie’s. I think it should be my high priority project for the website. I’ll keep you posted.”

“I’m thinking I may need to change my priorities and get a computer,” Joyce mused. 

“Yeah, I think you’re going to need one to receive and fill the orders. I’m not sure how it’s all going together, yet, but your call, and the inner messages I’m getting, tell me it’s time to start.”

Once we were off the phone, Van started driving toward Lakewood, and we knew that we were completing this phase of our life’s journey, and ready for the next one, as God guided.