BOOK FIVE HOME ON THE ROAD UPS AND DOWNS LIVING A NEW REALITY

BOOK FIVE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWARD
Joanie and Little Ralph arrive in Lakewood, Colorado to play with family, and to begin building their Network business.

CHAPTER 1 COLORADO
Market America Training Seminar, Visit with Dal. Salida Storm & Retrospect of childhood. Gorgeous scenery and panoramic views. Curecanti State Park, Black Mountain, Montrose and Ouray.

CHAPTER 2 ZION BY NIGHT: UTAH
ìZion by Night,î Old La Sal by moonlight. The Parade in Moab. Provo and Salt Lake City in a deluge. Salt Flats at 5 MPH. Answers in Wendover.

CHAPTER 3 TAKING A CHANCE IN NEVADA
Problem solving and Re-evaluations

CHAPTER 4 OREGON FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
New Viewpoints relating to my home state and family.

CHAPTER 5 REMINISCENCES AT KAH-NEE-TA
Returning to scenes of childhood memories: Madras, Warm Springs, Kah-nee-ta

CHAPTER 6 SECOND CHANCES
Second chances with Family relationships

CHAPTER 7 PLANTING SEEDS
The Family Curse, Laying Foundations and Building on Them, Reaching Out in Love

CHAPTER 8 OUT OF THE ASHES: THE PHOENIX
Regeneration: Freedom, Van, Joanie; Kathie, Julie, and other business

CHAPTER 9 LIVING IN THE PROMISED LAND
Month in Santa Clara. Visiting Van’s Mom, family and friends

CHAPTER 10 LAYING FOUNDATIONS AND BUILDING ON THEM
After twenty years, Brother, Roy, pays a visit

CHAPTER 11 GIFTS FROM GOD
Northern California Coast: Santa Cruz, Capitola, Monterey and Laguna Seca

CHAPTER 12 WE MADE IT: JERRY PITRE
Visit with Jerry Pitre in Soledad Prison

CHAPTER 13 TEMPERATURES RISING AND DIAMOND MINES
Slots and fun at Harrahís. President Clinton’s Impeachment.

CHAPTER 14 GETTING READY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
A new laptop computer and cellular phone

CHAPTER 15 SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
God Helps: Changes, Confessions, Money Matters & the 21st Century

CHAPTER 16 OPTICAL ILLUSION
Doheny Park, South Carlsbad Beach; Patterns, Denials, Impeachment Trial, New Cell Phone; and other things that go bump in the night

CHAPTER 17 OBJECTS MAY APPEAR SMALLER
Inner child growing up, and completions: new graphics, generator repairs , business, friends

CHAPTER 18 LOVING WHAT YOU DO
Return visits: Tom; loving his restaurant. Valena; Let’s do Lunch. Peter; our astronaut

CHAPTER 19 LIVING A NEW REALITY
Joanie and Little Ralph Doing Las Vegas. Dottie and Steve On the Road to Miami and back.

CHAPTER 20 TREASURE TROVE OF THE HEART
Back in Colorado with family. Business renewed. Cousin John takes us further into the 21st Century. Easter: a new beginning.

FOREWORD
A Razzle Welcome

The front door opened and Rascal, the family Australian shepherd, rushed out to greet us with his razzle welcome. His entire tail-less body wagged from head to foot, while his dog-talk told us how glad he was to see us.
My daughter, Dottie, and her husband, Steve, stood nearby, awaiting their turn for hugs, as we arrived at their doorstep in Lakewood, Colorado. We were returning from five-months traveling in our motor home throughout Texas, the Gulf States, most of The South, and northward along Lake Michigan to its Upper Peninsula, south again through Wisconsin, and then west through Minnesota, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Flashback

Van, my husband, and I were completing our third Journey in our 35 ft. Holiday Rambler motor home, which we had bought with Steve’s help at the RV dealership where he’s a salesman. The first trip had been to Oregon and northern California, then back through Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming; mostly visiting family and friends, while enjoying the scenery and getting used to our new retirement lifestyle.
After a few weeks with our family in Colorado, two feet of snow in October drove us south to the Rio Grande Valley looking for sunshine and warmth in the sub-tropics of Texas; but El Nino had other plans. We searched through clouds, wind and rain throughout southern Texas, but to no avail; though we loved South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico, we headed northwest to Arizona and Nevada, only to find more clouds and storms.
We drove to San Diego for Christmas with our California family, and then back to winter in the gambling resort town, Laughlin, Nevada, along the Colorado River. For several months, we allowed our inner kids to cavort on the free shuttle busses between casinos seeking 2-for-one frozen yogurts, 99-cent hot dogs and free 1940 movies, while parking free on their parking lots. No gambling for us, but we attended the discount movie theaters and inexpensive buffets; and saved our money to see several Las Vegas performers, who came to town: Debbie Reynolds and Roger Whitaker.
Springtime beckoned us back to Colorado for Easter, but an April snowstorm drove us south to Texas. This time we had a mission, or at least I did: to visit the Freedomers (prisoners seeking inner freedom) with whom I had corresponded, as part of my ministry-by-mail. Beginning with Dal, who has been Outside of prison for sixteen years, to his friend, Buddie, in Huntsville, Texas, Michael in Tiptonville, Tennessee (I’d already visited his brother, Adam, in an Arizona prison; and his mother and stepdad, — who were not in prison — in Texas), Chris in Kentucky, Ernest (Outside for two years) in northern North Carolina, and Al in southern North Carolina. And I included my visit with Jerry Pitre, although it had actually taken place on another trip.

And we also spent time throughout our travels with family and friends; and of course, enjoying America’s wonderful scenery, as I completed another goal: wading in the four large bodies of water: Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Gulf of Mexico, and one of the Great Lakes — Michigan.

On this trip, we’d been to several tourist attractions and National Monuments, including Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, and The Badlands. But I’d been thrilled to see the birthplace and childhood home of my adopted father (who was also my grandfather) in Deadwood, North Dakota; and also the sacred Indian grounds at Bear Mountain, near Sturgis, N.D.

An Inner Journey

During our first three trips, I’d written three books, part of my Travel Series, combining scenic interests and spiritual guidelines, while healing our inner kids (Joanie and Little Ralph) on our Inner Freedom Journey, with Godís experiential aides (like visual aids, only we get to participate).
Van and I were recovering from events in our lives that took us a bridge too far, and caused me to sress-out and Van to become traumatized from his job down-size that forced early retirement, for which we were not financially prepared. Bankruptcy and our present lifestyle became our solution.

My Focus

Now, while in Colorado, we were contemplating the need to supplement our income, as a result of several costly repair expenses. And, I anticipated time with Dottie, as she would edit my books and I’d revise them. I had a plan to get some of my books completed and marketed, so this was my focus.
Iíd already written my Joanie and Little Ralph Travel Series, and also compiled my course, Journey to Inner Freedom, which I had been writing over the years, based on the exodus of Moses from Egypt to The Promised Land, as guidelines for our inner journey. I had sent the course, in rough draft form, to Freedomers, with whom I had been corresponding and ministering for several years. Their responses to the Questions became support for future readers, as their inspiring answers and interesting stories are included.

Business Focus

Dottie and Steve were actively involved and focused on their networking business, which Van had joined. So far, he’d been content with simply being retired, but I insisted that we must seek additional income, beyond our Social Security Retirement check, which barely covered our monthly expenses; and definitely hadn’t paid for our repairs.
I’d hoped that Van would become more involved with the business, so we attended several meetings. Steve and Dottie explained more details to Van, and had already placed several people in our downline. But our part required that we first sign-up two people in order to be paid on the bonus volume credit we had accrued. When activated, we would receive weekly checks of $300.00, and more, as the business grew.

The good news about this format is that it isn’t all up to us, as the upline helps build the business for their downline. Since Van still preferred retirement to actively pursuing a new career, I prayed that this project would take hold.
However, I knew, from past experience with Van in multi-level-marketing (MLM) that I would need to participate and support his endeavors, if I ever hoped to see it produce an income. He does excellent with understanding the intricacies of the Compensation Plan, and managing the business, including the finances, and I am good with promotion and communication.

Again, I was faced with the dilemma of dividing my attention between my priorities, and Van’s. I’d hoped that I’d learned my lesson during our past MLM disaster (a venture also with Dottie and Steve), and we’d all worked to change past patterns to avoid further financial mishap. We were still struggling in the wake of our bankruptcy, which evolved from the fiasco, and our emotional health was slowly recovering, with the help of tools and technics learned while attending Debtors Anonymous (DA), a Twelve Step Program based on the Alcoholics Anonymous format for addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
I’d recognized my codependent behavior, and had spent ten years in my Codependents Anonymous (CoDa) Recovery Program (another Twelve Step offshoot). Dottie and Steve too, had been through Recovery Programs.

Now, we all felt “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” as the song suggests. Yet, I had apprehensions, and I prayed for strength and guidance to see us through this next phase of our travels, as we ventured forward to fulfill our individual and collective efforts.
We were in Lakewood to visit, and celebrate Dottie’s birthday, and Steve’s Big 50, which we did with gusto. Iíd rejoiced to also spend time with my great-grandson, Brandon (age 9), who lives nearby with his dad, Earl, who was once married to my granddaughter, Christina (my younger daughter, Gailís daughter). Brandon, Van and I took Rascal for walks on the nearby college campus, and went to the Butterfly Pavilion, where he could hold live tarantulas and other scary insects; and we could wander through a rainforest, as exotic butterflies hovered overhead.

Also, we reconnected with Dottieís girls (my granddaughters), Arianna, and her fiancÈ, Jason, who are actively involved with her parents business. And we even found time to interact with Airica, their busy teenage daughter. For instance, Dottie, Airica and I indulged in female bonding, when we went to a movie about a mother dying of cancer. It definitely had an impact on Airicaís relationship with her parents.

Now, we were ready to begin our fourth trip, combining our Recovery Process with sharing our Market America products and business, while I continued writing and corresponding with the Freedomers (my name for inmates seeking inner freedom). This would mean that we must move beyond our inner kidsí desire to play all the time (retirement) by integrating the adult needs to supplement our income.

In other words, Joanie and Little Ralph would be growing up, as we were getting on with life. They would now be entering into the Young Adult stage, which, as the Bible says, is a time to ìgive up childish ways.î Of course, this doesnít mean that we quit having fun; we simply incorporated it with building our business, as we traveled across the country and talked with our family and friends.

Chapter 1

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF COLORADO

Surprises at The Springs

Our trip unofficially began when we left our daughter, Dottie’s, home in Lakewood, Colorado. But we’d stopped for a few days at Van’s Aunt Betsy’s in Denver, and then headed south to Colorado Springs, stopping for lunch at the Rest Stop, and remaining a few hours, while I wrote the Foreword. Not my favorite part of writing, but necessary to establish the background for the forward movement.

The purpose of our stop in The Springs, as the locals call it, was twofold, combining business with pleasure. We would meet Dottie and Steve there, Saturday, for an all-day training seminar with our network business, Market America.
I’d envisioned a comfortable night in Freedom, our motor home, while awaiting the seminar, but this was the first surprise of this trip. Their covered, tiered parking lot would only accommodate vehicles under 6 ft. high; ours was 10 ft. So we circled the busy downtown streets, only to find the Friday night activities had taken all parking lots and spaces.
We finally drove to a nearby Wal-Mart for the night, and asked Steve to pick us up in the morning for a ride to the seminar.
Once there, the dynamic trainer, Mark Januzewski, took us through a rousing, quick-paced morning session, accented with statements such as, “Stay focused on your vision, not your circumstances.”
When we broke for lunch, another surprise awaited us: the hotel restaurant was short-staffed and many didn’t have lunch, because of lack of time and insufficient help.
However, my intention was to eat, so I ordered nachos, and I didn’t allow my mind to consider an option. Sure enough, midst total chaos, our huge serving of nachos arrived first, and we shared them with the others in our group. Their orders finally arrived in a to-go package, as it was time to return for the second part of the workshop session.
Our minds were jammed with more information for the next several hours, and suddenly the business aspect of our trip was over. We were dropped off at Freedom, and then said good-byes to our family.
I felt certain that Van would be inspired to get involved with the business, but I’d decided not to nag or otherwise urge him; mainly because his passive-aggressive behavior does only what he wants to do, anyway. So I’ve learned to save my energy for getting on with my own life, which is my writing and my ministry. Only time would tell the results of our recent exposure to the business, while in Colorado.

Don’t Mess With Me!

Sunday we stayed on Wal-Mart’s Supercenter parking lot in the east part of The Springs, and did our shopping, while waiting until Monday to visit our friend, Dal Culvahouse, whom I had met when I wrote to him as part of my ministry-by-mail when he was in prison.
I focused on writing, and then on Monday we visited with Dal, who informed us that since July he was now in his seventeenth year out of prison; a record, considering the high recidivism (return to prison).
The first picture that Dal had originally sent me (from prison) showed a no-nonsense man with a shaved-head, piercing eyes and “don’t mess with me” attitude.
Now, as this gentle, soft-spoken individual entered our home I looked into his eyes and saw that a transformation had taken place. I asked, “What’s different about you, Dal?”
“I’ve changed my attitude, and I’m taking herbs,” he replied. I never did learn the attitude adjustment, but he did tell me that he was taking gingko and a health remedy called rotac, a natural formula similar to Prozac. “I used to be depressed all the time,” he said, and then added, “Now I’m not.”
Van sat and listened while Dal and I discussed our mutual friend, Buddie Williams, whom I’d visited in a Huntsville, Texas prison in May.
“I’m sure glad you got to see Buddie,” Dal said. “How did he look?”
“Well, for as sick as he is, I thought he would look like death, but he really looked okay. Of course, he was upset, because he hadn’t had a warning about my visit, and hadn’t shaved. But I told him that I came to see him, and I didn’t care about whether he’d shaved or not.”
I interrupted myself and jumped up to grab a letter and handed it to Dal, as I said, “He says he barely survived the Texas heat this summer, and he doesn’t think he can make it through another one; but the winters are hard on him too with his emphysema; and as you can guess, he still smokes.”
Dal read the letter and shook his head, as he said, “I don’t think he’s going to make it.”
I agreed, and we moved on to solving the world problems, such as President Clinton’s fiasco, the earth changes, and a meteorite explosion due within a few months.
Some place along the line we managed to move inside Furr’s Restaurant, where Dal works when it’s not his day off. Dal had already eaten an early breakfast, so he smoked while Van and I ate.
Then we returned to Freedom, and continued with our conversation, until he looked at his watch and said, “I’ve got to meet someone at 4:00.” It was already 3:45, so we hugged and said our good-byes, and he walked off across the parking lot.

Let’s Head West

I said to Van, “You know, it’s early enough, let’s head West.” I was anxious to begin the trip over The Rockies, and we would be in time to see the glorious panorama of golden aspen and other fall colors.
“On the Road Again,” Van sang softly, as we headed into the mountains. Now the trip was officially beginning.
Upward we drove into the Front Range; through the foothills town of Woodland Park, where Dal wants to find a hideaway in the mountains, and into the golden aspen groves — higher and higher — with Pikes Peak in front of us, then beside us, and finally behind us; until we reached the summit, where we had a panoramic view in three directions, with Pikes Peak way in the distance to the east; and golden aspen trees twirling in the breeze.
We stopped at the summit to take camcorder pictures, and I walked up the stone steps toward the restroom pavilion, and beyond, passing a mountain bunny crouched in front of a rock cave without blinking an eye. This Rest Stop was nestled in a grove of aspen and the view was spectacular. In fact, an artist sat at an easel capturing the scene to the west: a verdant valley surrounded by high mountain peaks at sunset. Absolutely glorious!
By the time we had descended the mountain and had become part of the valley, we were into twilight, but still able to enjoy the myriad colors of gold, orange, rust, red and varying shades of green. This is the reason I chose this route, and I savored every moment. “Oh, there’s an elk amongst the trees,” but I missed the camera shot.
The sun had set when we reached Highway 287, and we could see the headlights in the distance, as we drove onward to Buena Vista, a lovely little town in a green valley with the headwaters of the Arkansas River flowing through; a favorite rafting and fishing spot for recreation enthusiasts.

Van’s Family History

Our destination, the Wal-Mart parking lot in the historic town of Salida finally loomed ahead of us in the dark, and we welcomed our first night’s stop and rest.
Van reminded me that his grandparents had once lived here, when his granddad worked as a telegrapher for the railroad. We had driven through the high country town on several trips, and enjoyed eating at the Country Bounty Restaurant, so took time, despite the threatening clouds in the west, for a delicious omelet.

Stormy Weather

When we left the restaurant and got back on the highway, the clouds were upon us, and the sky opened up with a torrential deluge.
Thus began our game of musical chairs with the weather, and the beginning of our questions: Should we stay or forge ahead? Should we take this route or that one? And thus began the ups and downs in our relationship, in addition to the highways.
It started while in Lakewood when Van refused to get Freedom repaired, though something was obviously wrong; it couldn’t get enough momentum to go up hills, so we crept at 10 MPH, while everyone else zipped right on by. I knew this wasn’t normal for an RV with this much power, but he wouldn’t listen or do anything about it, maintaining that he had asked various mechanics, and all had given confusing and conflicting explanations.
We’d discussed the problem with Steve, and he had arranged with TC, a mechanic at the RV dealership where he worked, to look into the matter; and also to see about the windshield swipes that mal-function. But Van hadn’t tended to the matter, and I had been upset with his negligence and irresponsibility in taking care of Freedom’s needs, and mine too, for the problems caused me great anxiety.
So, I’d attempted to get out of Salida, before the distant storm hit, but didn’t make it. Now, as the deluge obstructed our view, and Van refused to use the swipes, I became hysterical, shouting at him for his negligence in taking care of them, and insisting that I would not go any further without proper windshield wipers.
He puttered around town getting gas for Freedom, and trying to find a high-pressure air pump (which involved three trips through town). But he finally got these matters handled, at least, just as the rain stopped.

Diversionary Tactics

I fumed over his Diversionary Tactic that focused on minor things, while the major ones were unattended; part of his withholding, “don’t give them what they want” characteristics of his passive-aggressive behavior; something I’d learned to live with and tolerated, mostly because his good qualities offset these — most of the time. But lately, like other obsessive-compulsive disorders and addictions, they were worsening. That’s because they are a disease, and therefore progressive.
In an effort to understand Van’s behavior, I’d been researching these behaviors for years, and in recent years I had an ally in his Aunt Betsy, who had been seeking answers to her daughter’s obsessive-compulsive disorder — hoarding. The more Aunt Betsy discussed the characteristics, and the more she revealed of the family patterns, the more hopeless I had felt about any improvement in our relationship. And, furthermore, the behaviors that had annoyed me, in the past, were now becoming intolerable.
Bottom-line they were control issues that had evolved from trying to survive childhood issues. Top on the List, for me, were the money disorders that had resulted in gambling, which he had subdued by not gambling. Thank goodness. Now, the most frustrating was his unwillingness to provide an income to finance our already poverty level lifestyle. So, with an intense effort to survive, I had insisted we declare bankruptcy to get out from under our enormous debt. And I had insisted that we attend the Twelve Step program, Debtors Anonymous (DA), where we learned that we were ensnared in another addictive cycle: overspending/ underearning.
For the six-months we attended, Van shared nothing in the meetings; but he did learn a lot, though he made no visible effort to apply what he had learned.
In the meantime, I decided that Van needed the DA group for himself, and I stopped attending, and kept my focus on my Codependence Anonymous (CoDa)meetings for people who remain in a relationship with addictive personalities; a long-suffering group of individuals, at best. But, after ten-years, I was finally getting some recovery, and learning to take care of myself and my needs. And the weller I got, the more difficult it was for me to remain in a dysfunctional relationship. Yet, as I said, there were enough signs of improvement that I remained hopeful — until this latest matter.

Take Care of Me

As I yelled at Van, during the storm, I realized that much of my upset also reverted to my childhood issues, and the fact that my youthful, irresponsible parents did not take care of me or my needs. Therefore, I now wanted someone who would take responsibility for our lives, such as providing finances (beyond the meager dole of Social Security Retirement) and maintaining our home and vehicle — Freedom. And I panicked when thrown into these circumstances that left me feeling bereft and neglected. Not only in these issues, but in the matter of intimacy in our relationship, which Van simply was not able or willing to fulfill. I had long ago learned to live with these facts, and I compensated for the loss with my writing and my ministry, from whence I gleaned a certain degree of fulfillment.
As life would have it, when two perfectly compatible people are partnered, Van’s and my patterns coincide like hands and gloves. He had learned his survival mechanisms quite well, and he could turn-off and tune-out whatever I was saying — or yelling — and it didn’t faze him. But, as such, he also tuned-out anything beneficial anyone may be saying. The message he seemed to give out was “I don’t want to hear what you’re saying, and I won’t listen to you.”

Curecanti Reservoir in the Rain

Fortunately, the storm passed and we had progressed into the mountains, where I became enthralled with the surrounding beauty. As we roller-coastered up and down the mountains and canyons, our immediate destination was several tourist attractions on the western slope of The Rockies: Black Canyon and Ouray. But nighttime was coming upon us, so we selected Curecanti Reservoir for the night, and arrived at our site just in time for another rainstorm.
The Forest Ranger told us that this park usually has very little rain, but we’d hit a bad time. In any event, we settled in and I turned on the TV, only to discover we could get no reception in this remote area; so we went to bed early.
We heard the rain during the night, and awoke to low overhanging clouds that blocked our view of the nearby mountains, and almost obscured the lake too. We spent the morning trying to decide whether or not to leave, and finally decided to stay another night. I used the time to write some letters and we went for a walk by the lake later in the day, and talked with some travelers returning to Virginia from a four-month trip to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest; all this in a mini-van. They had enjoyed their trip, but were “ready for the barn” and some more living space.
The next morning we were able to use the dump, between rains, and get on our way. I had enjoyed the mountains, up to this point, but was beginning to tire of the ongoing ups and downs. Little did I know that we had just begun.

See the Black Canyon

I had no idea that it was necessary to climb to 8,000 ft. in order to see Black Canyon, and by now Freedom too, had its fill of mountain climbing, and rebelled by reducing its momentum and climbing at 5 MPH, much to the chagrin of the people behind; one of whom signaled Van to roll down his window, as he passed, and then proceeded to tell him to “use the pullouts, so others could pass.” What the man didn’t understand is that with all our weight, we can’t pull off onto those narrow, unpaved shoulders. We’d sink down the side of the mountain, which is another of my fears, anyway.
That was the first upset, as we sought out to see this much ballyhooed canyon. The second came when we looked to the west and noticed a heavy, dark cloud rapidly moving our way. As we arrived at the Visitors Center, we could hear hail ferociously pounding the roof, and the cloud now obscured the view of the canyon, even if one braved the weather and walked down the stairs to the overlook, which we didn’t. Instead, we went into the theater and watched a video of the history of the canyon. An interesting documentary, but as the lights came back on, I realized that my vision had become distorted and I couldn’t focus on anything — a symptom that sometimes occurs from high altitudes, weather changes, or bright colors, or in stressful situations. All of the above applied here, so nothing I could do, but return to Freedom, drink some KM, an herbal drink that helps oxygenate my system. I laid down and closed my eyes, as brilliant designs danced about, adding further annoyance and causing a headache; which was relieved by an aspirin.
But within a short time the symptoms cleared, as did the storm, and we traipsed down the stairs and peered over the railing at the spectacular panorama: high, steep slate-gray walls with the roaring Gunnison River at the bottom, and many jagged rock formations along the way. I took some camcorder shots for future reference, and we returned to Freedom.
“Shall we drive further to more overlooks and views, or not?” A look at the newly arriving dark clouds brought the decision: “Let’s go to the next one, look over, turn around, and go back down the mountain.” This was a revised decision from the one to stay at the RV campground near the Visitor’s Center, which was nixed when we realized it would be below freezing and could snow during the night.
We made a beeline, as fast as Freedom could go, to the Wal-Mart in Montrose and went to bed to recover from the ordeal.

Pork in Your Soup?

The next morning the sun was shining and the fluffy clouds toward our next destination, Ouray, looked safe, so we completed our errands — post office and gas — and went on our way south through a lovely green valley with colorful foliage covering the mountains on both sides. And as we neared Ouray, the true Rocky Mountains appeared with pink, lavender and purplish rocky walls towering on both sides, above the box canyon where Ouray is protectively nestled.
Only the hearty remain here for the winter, and already several businesses had closed for the season. Fortunately, Cecilia’s was still open, but only for another week, so we walked downstairs reminiscent of the ones Scarlett O’ Hara descended in Gone With the Wind.
A fun waitress brought our order, as we surveyed the antiques and pictures capturing historic Ouray. My tender, tasty hot roast beef sandwich hit the spot, and then we shared a delicious homemade raspberry cream pie made by Cecilia.
We discovered, at the cashier, that credit cards weren’t accepted, so I waited while Van went to Freedom and returned with his checkbook. In the meantime, I waited, as a deposit, and surveyed more pictures. But I had to laugh when Kip, our waitress, said to the cashier, “Well, I’ve had my big goof of the day. A customer asked, ‘Do you use pork in your potato soup,’ and I absent-mindedly said, ‘No, we use bacon.'” We all had a good laugh, and agreed it was time for her to go home.
Van returned, paid our bill, and we wandered around town breathing the mountain air and reveling in the scenery: high colorful rocky mountain walls with gold, orange and green foliage.
We passed the quaint old store buildings and homes, then walked up the hill to one of my favorite spots, Wiesbaden Spa that features an outdoor mineral pool and a vapor cave inside the rocky mountain, where you can sit in the shallow hot bath, while looking at the colorful rocks drenched in water and steam, and soak in healing mineral water and steam.
This time I only stepped briefly inside the vapor cave, as I planned to go to the public outdoor mineral pool instead. Unfortunately, I had eaten too close to my swim, and the hot water unsettled my stomach, so I didn’t stay long, much to my disappointment.
However, later down the road, I realized that the time we’d saved by my short swim made a big difference. But I’ll tell that part of the story when I get there.

Colorado Entertainment

In the meantime, we retraced our route to Ridgeway, where Dennis Weaver and his wife own The Barn, a dinner theater where Gary Davis performs. We didn’t stop this time, but at another trip we had attended his show at the theater above Cecilia’s, when Steve and Dottie were with us. His wholesome family entertainment, patriotic songs and imitation of Elvis provide an excellent evening of fun.
Our entertainment this trip was just beginning, as we climbed the foothills toward the picturesque snow-covered San Juan Mountains with their jagged peaks that offered a panoramic view across the valley. Higher and higher we crept, as Freedom inched up the mountain at 5 MPH.
I’d forgotten that this route was so steep, but when we were directly opposite the top of the snow-covered mountains, I realized we were in for more ups and downs than I’d anticipated. But the colorful foliage offset my concern of taking Freedom over this lofty route. Onward through canyons lined with aspen groves and even some orange and russet scrub oak that formed a patchwork design along the mountains.
Finally, at Placerville, we passed the turnoff to the famous Telluride, where the rich and famous play. We’d been there before, and decided to continue west along unfamiliar territory of this “Scenic Byway,” as indicated on the map. After the turnoff, the road narrowed and so did the canyon. Suddenly we were surrounded by high walls of solid red adobe and picturesque rock formations, and even caves; while on the canyon floor were evergreens and groves of golden aspen or more scrub-oak. What spectacular scenes going on form miles and miles, as I busily captured them with my camcorder.
And then we crossed a river and began climbing uphill along the sheer side of the canyon. I could see the narrow road angling upward for miles ahead, and as I noticed the crumbling roadsides from too many rainstorms and floods, I panicked. Fear took over, as I imagined the road caving under the weight of Freedom. I put down the camcorder, grabbed my eyeshades, and coward on the sofa, while Van white-knuckled his way up the canyon.
“Are we anywhere near the top yet?” I cried from under my pseudo- protection.
“No, not yet,” Van tersely replied.
I peeked from under my shades, and groaned, as I quickly looked across the canyon, and then down the sheer cliffs below, and up ahead to the ongoing incline toward the canyon rim. “Oh, God,” came out somewhere between a prayer and plead for mercy.
Several pickups and cars whizzed past our creeping pace, and roared on up the hill. “It must be commute traffic,” I gasped, ìbut where are they going? And why would they be willing to do this twice every day? It must be a deadly menace when it’s covered with ice and snow.”
At some point in our frantic evacuation, an unloaded logging truck, with its trailer rig stacked behind the cab, roared past us, and I opened my eyes to see what was making such a noise. “Good heavens,” I exclaimed, “If he can make it, surely we can.” I felt a bit safer, but kept still, my eyes covered, as the maddening slow pace continued.
“I think this is the top,” Van announced, as he rounded a turn. “Oh, I’m sorry, it’s not; but at least we’re away from the edge of the canyon.”
I uncovered my eyes and sat up. As I surveyed the interminable upward road, I sighed, “Oh, God, is there no end to this mountain?”
And then, when we did finally reach the top and saw a mesa stretching out before us with some homes and ranches, I said, “What goes up must come down. Do you think we’ll have a descent anything like this?”
“I don’t know, maybe; but we’ll be on the inside lane when we go down.”
“Thank God,” I sighed, and prepared for the descent; but it never happened. Yes, there were downhill roads, but then another mesa, and another descent. Ups and downs; and more ups and downs; and then a valley with high red rimrock and palisades glistening in the sun.
I grabbed my camcorder and exclaimed, “This is spectacular, but so far from anyplace. It must be Colorado’s best kept secret. Yet, there are homes and ranches, so people do live here.” In fact, we passed a small community named Bedrock, and in another valley a wide-spot-in-the-road called Paradox. “Now I know where to find the Paradox,” I said with a laugh, and added, “but I don’t think I ever want to come here again. This must be some breed of people to choose to live out here. They can have it, no matter how beautiful it is.”
We started up through another canyon, and noticed a sign visible from the opposite direction. I turned around and read: “Welcome to Colorful Colorado.”
At last, we had left the Ups and Downs of Colorado. But now we were facing more of the same in Utah. But that’s another chapter. And I’ll give you a Sneak Preview: It gets worse.

Chapter 2
ZION BY NIGHT: UTAH

Flashback

Once we crossed the State Line into Utah, the ups and downs continued, but it was different; now it was dark — however, the full moon gave a clear outline of the mountains and canyons.
At one point, Van asked, “What’s the flashing light?”
I looked out the window and replied, “It’s the bright moon being cut off and on by the walls of the canyon.”
This reminded me of another trip through Utah — this time in our Volvo. We’d been to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, and were on our way to I-15 following a short black line on the map that indicated a cutoff.
It was a moonless night, but the stars shone brightly, and the Big Dipper, to our right, guided our way; otherwise, it was pitch black, without any lights from cars or houses.
A sign suddenly appeared before us: Zion National Park. We were confused: how did the highway become Zion National Park? Did we make a wrong turn? No, so on we drove through the night; but eventually the Big Dipper disappeared, and we assumed that we must have changed direction. But there were no stars at all; and there were no lights, no signs, nothing to guide us.
Finally, we came to a Historical Marker, so feeling totally lost, we stopped and got out to read the sign, hoping for a clue. Then I noticed the reason we’d lost the Big Dipper. It was behind a high canyon wall. Okay, that mystery is solved, but where are we?
As Van drove onward, I studied the map, but felt disoriented and frightened. We didn’t know where we were, or how to get where we wanted to go. Yet, there had been no turnoffs, so we continued.
Suddenly, like Alice in Wonderland, we found ourselves spiraling downward in a seemingly unending tunnel. Fortunately it was well lit, but where were we going? I expected to see the Mad Hatter any minute.
After forever, we finally emerged from the tunnel and continued along the bottom of the canyon, still going through darkness.
Wait, what’s that ahead? A light, and another, and more. Houses; a community. I looked on the map, and spotted a town on the way to I-15. Hooray! We’re not lost.
Soon we arrived at the Interstate Highway and laughed, as we realized that we had gone through a top tourist attraction: Zion by night.

Old La Sal

Now, again in Utah at night, we at least had moonlight, and as we emerged onto a high plateau, we could see higher mountains in the distance outlined by the light of the moon.
“I hope we’re not going over that mountain. Surely we’ll start down from this plateau, instead.” But, as we passed some ranch homes, we began climbing higher, and the closer we got, I soon faced the inevitable: we were going over this 12,000 ft. mountain, not around; and we definitely were not going down.
As we surveyed the bleak isolation of an abandoned town designated: “Old La Sal,” by moonlight, Van said, “I’d thought we’d been at the top of the world before, but this beats them all.”
Tired of the ongoing upward climb, I moaned, “Aren’t we ever going to reach the summit?” And I’m sure Freedom had reached its limit too, as the nine-ton vehicle groaned and chugged along at five-miles-per-hour. For the hundredth time, at least, I wished that Van had taken it to the dealership to find out why it didn’t have more oomph.
Eventually we reached the top, and then began the downward trend, until we finally reached another mesa, and passed through the new town of La Sal; but there were no lights; probably because it was too isolated to have electricity, or maybe it too, was abandoned. If it were up to me to live in this inaccessible isolation, I’d definitely be “outta here.”
Soon lights appeared in the distance, and I hopefully asked Van, “Do you think we are near the main highway, or could there be another canyon between here and there?”
“I’m not sure; it’s hard to tell in this country,” he replied.
“I’m really tired of canyons,” I sighed, and then we happily came over a knoll and saw the many headlights of trucks zipping along a main highway, and within minutes we too, joined them. But we didn’t keep pace, for Freedom was gasping, as we went up and down even more canyons silhouetted in the bright moonlight.

Moab to Nephi

Our destination, for the night, was Moab, and when we pulled into Wendy’s for a late-night snack, I noticed a sign announcing RV Parking, so I asked the clerk if we could stay for the night. He agreed, and we fell into bed exhausted from a long dayís night.
By morning sunlight, we could see that we were in the middle of a valley between two colorful red canyon walls. As we moved out of the valley and up another hilltop, we noticed signs indicating The Arches National Park, and also Canyonland National Park, but we decided we’d seen enough of both; though in the distance we could see the outlines of The Arches, and we drove through more picturesque scenery.
Finally, the colors ended, and we were in the drab area along I-70 to I-15; then through more mountain passes, and finally to Flying J Truck Stop at Nephi, about an hour south of Salt Lake City and tucked along the west slope of The Rocky Mountains.
We’d been fortunate and God-guided, to avoid rain and snow in the mountains, especially since a storm was on its way from the Pacific Northwest. But, during the night the coach swayed and we could hear the raindrops; a good sign, because we knew it wasn’t snowing. In the morning, we were surrounded by clouds and the temperature had dropped. On the distant mountains we could see snow, and as we traveled north, when the clouds lifted, we noticed snow on the higher peaks along the highway. Thank God, it didnít come any lower; and the highway was clear.
Where are the Windshield Swipes?
Provo was locked into a dark cloud, and we actually passed through mixed rain and snow, but Van didn’t turn on the swipes, because they still weren’t working properly. His negligence in getting them repaired and determining the cause of Freedom’s low energy had been a source of irritation for me.
I’d resented the fact that he no longer took care of these important matters, and had decided that as much as we were compatible in many areas, I was no longer willing to settle for him not financially providing for us (Social Security Retirement was barely getting us by, and I wanted financial security). Now, as the clouds raised and lowered, and the downpour flooded the window, I became more disgruntled, shouting at him to turn on the swipes.
The problem is that whenever he does, they fly over to the far side, and if he allows them to swipe more than once, they may lock and no longer function, as had happened in the past. That’s the reason I’d wanted them fixed before we began this trip. But, for his own reasons, he hadn’t done it.
It was these “reasons” of his that caused my anger. I felt his negligence had to do with an ongoing control pattern that says, “Don’t give them what they want.” I’d lived with the result of his withholding — everything from love and intimacy to financial support — for over twenty years, and I was very close to the end of my rope. Like Freedom, I’d been pushed too far beyond my limit.
So, when we drove through Salt Lake City in a blinding downpour without benefit of windshield swipes, I was already like a taut rope. Then we came upon the road construction and detours that added total chaos to an already desperate situation. He depended on me to read road signs and guide him through these towns, but I couldn’t see them; and I began to feel panic. My buttons were now pushed to the max, and I began shouting at the top of my lungs about his shortcomings, concluding with “I want a divorce.”
Of course, Van had his hands full trying to negotiate through the heavy traffic and heavy downpour through the detours, and there’s nothing like timing for announcing the end of a marriage. Suddenly Freedom started balking and the “Check Engine” light went on. Now Van was trying to pull over to the shoulder in the drenching downpour, as he drove at ten-miles-per-hour on Interstate 80 with trucks and traffic — going through their own problems with the detours and lack of visibility.
Between the mal-functioning windshield swipes and now the engine gasping and choking, I was frantic with anger, and fear too, that we were in this precarious situation, which was totally unnecessary; if Van had done his part in taking care of it in the first place. And the fact that Steve had arranged for a mechanic to handle it for us in Lakewood made me even angrier.

Check Engine

As we passed the turnoff to the airport, I shouted, “Take me to the airport, I’m getting out of here!” But he didn’t. He had his hands full just keeping on the highway, even though at a crawl.
By this time, I was livid, but I shut up. There was nothing more to say, and I was busy planning the next stage of my life: as a single senior citizen.
Van had maneuvered us to the desolate straight stretch along the Great Salt Lake, and the rain-snow mixture had stopped, but Freedom was still creeping with its “Check Engine” light warning that it too had been pushed to the limit — and beyond. When I thought about the correlation between our vehicle and our relationship, I got even angrier and more determined to break away from this insanity and start a new life.
The Salt Flats seemed like a perfect place to release and let go the past; and now I was looking forward to a new life: I knew that by law I would get 1/2 the Social Security payment, and I could find an inexpensive place to live. I’d get my books on-line and assure myself a steady income. And, if necessary, we could sell Freedom and I’d have my 1/2, which would reimburse part of my inheritance that I’d invested in buying the motor home.
My mind was whirling, when Van found an exit and pulled off the freeway at a make-shift Truck Stop. He got out and looked at whatever men look at under the hood, and found no explanation. Of course, he was completely frazzled, and I added to his frustration by saying it was his Responsibility Factor pattern, and therefore his fault for not taking care of these matters; and furthermore, it was his Diversionary Tactics that caused the “Check Engine” sign.
“You always find a Diversionary Tactic whenever you can’t deal with things, or you’re asked to do something you don’t want to do.” And I proceeded to list the times he’d used this ploy in the past.
As we sat at the edge of the Salt Flats, in this desperate situation, hail began to splat on the rooftop. After hearing the terrible horror stories of RV’s being destroyed by hail, I figured that would be the next disaster to deal with. But the hail stopped, and Van started Freedom and continued along Salt Lake; sometimes at 30 MPH, and often at 5 MPH, as we could see in the distance more storm clouds hovering over Wendover, NV., our destination for the night.
I laughed at the irony, as we passed the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway at 5 MPH. And again acknowledged that this was a perfect place to end over twenty-years of marriage. After all, salt is purifying, and so is the desert.

Chapter 3
TAKING A CHANCE IN NEVADA

A Free Dinner?

We crept into the Peppermill Casino parking lot and parked. We could see dark clouds all around, but the storm had passed, leaving snow on the nearby mountains. Van and I were also becalmed for now, as we focused our attention on nearby diners who were counting out their savings to spend at the casino.
After finishing their steak dinner, the waitress asked them, “Was everything OK?”
The obviously hard-drinking, rapscallion-type hollered, “No. It was horrible!” She offered to give them a free meal, but he felt wealthy, and said, “No, I’ll pay for it; but it was horrible!”
Another nearby diner looked interested, and when the waitress returned, he confirmed that the ribeye steak was terrible, and he took his free meal.
When she came by to clear our plates, I said, “The meal was fine, but my prime rib was tough,” and I pointed to it. She offered to call the Supervisor, but I said, “No, I just thought you ought to know,” and smiled, as I said, “I guess it’s just one of those evenings.”

Maybe it ís Hurricane George

As we later passed a bar, while taking our Casino Walk, we noticed several fellows watching TV. Kansas City was playing football in unbelievable rain and mud. When they showed the stands, it looked like a waterfall of over a foot of water gushing around the feet of the spectators. I realized that the storm was a result of Hurricane George wreaking havoc down south, while we had felt the onslaught of a Pacific Storm. Maybe all this upheaval was affecting our relationship too.
We began chatting with the local fellows, and asked if they knew of a place to repair Freedom. Both agreed that Crawford Auto Repair was the best. Hopefully, Van would take action for repairs; but I’d picked up a free newspaper, and he noticed several repair shops in Wells — about 60 miles west. I decided to leave the matter to him and God, because I was certain that he was going through another level of inner growth, and it would go however it went. If he decided to wake up and change some patterns, then there would be hope for us, but if not, I simply had to get on with my life. And he needed to get on with his too, whatever that might me.

Fork in the Road

In any event, when I awoke the next morning the storm had passed, the sun was shining, and I felt somewhat calmer, but resolute to go our separate ways. In my meditation, I was being guided to write out an Outline relating to our marriage, starting with a Question to ask Van: “Do you really want to be married to me?”
If the answer was “Yes,” then I’d been given a list of issues to discuss. And if “No,” another list of pertinent information, such as Van’s finances being reduced in half, and the need to sell Freedom.
When I asked Van the first question, he said, “Well you have things you want to do, and I have things I want to do.”
Whew! That was a surprise, but at least it was an honest reply, for a change, and not simply what he thought was appropriate. So, I read off the rest of the list, and he looked somewhat taken aback when faced with the reality that I would receive 1/2 the Social Security and I now wanted to sell Freedom. Possibly this conversation would serve as a wake-up call.
In any event, he agreed to think it over, and we’d discuss it again in Winnemucca, Nevada, the “Fork in the road” town, where we would decide which route to take: north to Oregon or west to northern California.
This town would also be a crossroads for our relationship, because I had suggested that we could stop in Reno, if he decided on a divorce,

Freedom Balks

After breakfast, we headed out of the parking lot, only to have Freedom balk at the steep turn and upward grade; so Van cruised around the lot and came at it from another angle with a running start. This time we made it, and kept cruising onto the freeway. But faced with a long upward grade, Freedom’s “Check Engine” light went on, while we slowly climbed at 5 MPH, with the trucks, once again, zipping by us.
However, at the top we began the downward grade, and Freedom perked up, until we got into the straight stretch. Finally, Van said, “I’m going to turn around at that crossroads and go back to the Crawford Auto Repair.”
We crept back, and I sighed in relief that he was finally taking responsibility for taking care of Freedom, and I said a silent, “Thank you, God, it is done.”
As soon as Van described the symptoms to the mechanic, he said, “Sounds like the fuel filter is plugged.” He looked the situation over, and then announced, “I’m going to call another mechanic, because he knows more about RV’s.”
After awhile Louis arrived, and went right to work. From under Freedom he asked Van to get three tools from the other mechanic.
Van replied, “I guess I can remember that.”
Louis said, “Well, just tell him to come over here, and I’ll ask him.”
A long wait, and Louis yells to the mechanic, but no response. Van reports, “He seems busy.”
Nothing happens, so Louis gets the tools himself, which he should have done in the first place, in my opinion, but I figured it was more of Van’s process for his inner child; about being asked to do something he doesn’t want to do.
Nevertheless, within a short time, Louis had replaced the fuel filter, and the total cost was only $60.00. A minor cost for a major problem of long-standing. One Van maintained had started a year ago, which he had asked various mechanics about, but their response was always confusion or shrugged shoulders.
“Perhaps they are perpetuating your projection of having unsolvable problems,” I had said, and added, “that’s part of your problem: you aren’t willing to listen to anything anyone has to say, because you filter it through your own listening, which needs to perpetuate problems for you to solve, rather than giving anyone else the opportunity or option of having the right answers.”
We both knew this pattern related to his dad having rebuked Van’s efforts to sell magazines and forgetting to save money to pay for them. His dad bailed him out, but angrily said the words that were indelibilized in Van’s mind: “If you can’t do anything right, don’t do it!” And thus was born the basis of Van’s life: trying to do it right; or not doing it at all; a never-ending cycle that had no resolution.
In the meantime, I was so angered that Van hadn’t taken care of this repair in Lakewood, and had put Freedom, and me, not to mention himself, through this ordeal. I went to the phone booth and called Steve. I asked, “Do you think TC (the mechanic) would have known what the problem was had Van taken the time to have him check it over?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, and then listened while I unloaded my upset. Once that was handled, he began talking about the networking business, and encouraged me to support Van in building this business.
I felt better having someone to vent my feelings to, and returned to Freedom with renewed hope for a smooth trip.
Itís Boiling Over
Again, we went up the steep grade, and I felt relief, now that Freedom was able to travel at the normal speed. However, Van looked desperate, and pulled over to the side of the road.
“What Now?” I asked in disgust.
“It’s boiling over,” he replied.
“Why?”
“I don’t know.” He got out and surveyed the problem, then returned, and said, “I think I filled the water too full. I’ll have to siphon some out when we get to a stopping place.
“Van, why do you have to keep creating problems?” I asked. And then started in again about his Diversionary Pattern. And concluded, “Maybe you need to deal with the real issues, and stop fighting them.”
As usual, he said nothing, and I thought, “There’s no use. Better to keep my mouth shut, get along for the rest of the trip, and go our separate ways.”
After siphoning the surplus water, the rest of the trip to Wells went smoothly, and we stayed there for the night.

Joanie Needs Nurturing

Joanie had decided she needed to eat; not because she was hungry, but because she needed nurturing, so we went inside the restaurant and shared a blackberry cobbler. But that wasnít enough, especially since the ad (at the entrance) for T-bone steak looked good. But Van didn’t want any, so I ate the whole thing, rather than sharing with him; and I felt good that I’d taken care of myself, whether Van wanted any or not.
Okay, so Joanie was now fed, but the weather was predicted to be 28 degrees for a low, so I insisted the heat be turned up all night, and went to bed under my electric blanket.

How Far Can I Push?

The next morning, though sunny, the weather was cold, as predicted, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to write my chapter. But now the generator wouldn’t function properly, so I said, “Okay, I won’t fight it,” and sat down to handwrite. However, during my meditation I’d been told to discuss some matters with Van, so I followed my guidance.
Van sat down, and the words flowed from me in a calm manner: “It’s interesting the correlation between this trip, Freedom’s needs, and our relationship. It seems that you have been pushing Freedom beyond its limits, without giving proper care and attention to its basic needs. Oh, you’ve taken care of gas and water, and dumping the waste tanks; but the real problem is not being recognized and repaired. And the same is true with us; you are fine with the handling the surface needs, but my basic needs for nurturing are not being fulfilled. Your approach says, ‘How far can I push you to prove that you love me?’
“In fact, you use the same approach with your mother; only your love relationship with her is about money. In the past, you borrowed money from her for your projects, until you pushed her too far with your Buzzy enterprise (a peanut butter-honey confection that he manufactured), and she finally said, ‘No.’ Now you’ve been asking her for money to help with Freedom’s repairs. Personally, I think you need to recognize this love-concept pattern that says, ‘Please love me, please accept my love’ and find a more positive way to exchange love.”
He looked like he was listening, so I continued, “I have my part in these issues too; because my parents didn’t properly parent me, and take responsibility, I have a strong issue about needing someone to take care of the basics, such as finances, repairs, protection and what I call ‘man stuff.’
ìBut you seem to have a Control Factor that manifests as resistance, resentment and rebellion about performance; perhaps from having it drilled into you, as a child. And you’ve been fighting it all your life. It’s the passive-aggressive behavior. On the surface you seem to be a ‘good boy,’ but underneath you are saying, ‘Don’t do it; don’t give them what they want,’ and that’s your withholding pattern. As you once said, you use procrastination as another way to get love, thinking that if you don’t give them what they want, it’ll keep them around longer. And that’s a self-esteem issue.
“Perhaps itís time for you to stop looking for problems to solve, put down the armor, sword and shield, and stop fighting. In other words, let go and let God.”
He looked rather startled, so I said, “I guess it’s really a big part of your identity. Would that leave you feeling like you’d lost your identity, and were left naked and vulnerable?”
“Yes.”
“You know, it’s kind of like the TV show we watched last night, Everybody Loves Raymond. He was so busy putting out all the fires in the family, and taking care of everyone’s needs, especially his wife and mom, that it’s his life. But this show had an especially significant theme. The wife wanted help with the kids, so hired a very efficient gal that the kids loved. In fact, they preferred being with her. This caused the mother to feel jealous, as if they no longer needed her, and she fired the gal; only to later regret her actions, once she admitted the truth to Raymond. We all have these identity issues and need to be needed and accepted, and feel that we are okay.”

It’s an Ego Thing

Van nodded in agreement, so I said, “You know, this is all an ego thing. This might be a good time for you to invite your ego to merge with your God-self. It’s an important part of the Journey to Inner Freedom, and from all indications, you’re ready to take that step. It’s the time symbolized by the Israelites stepping into the River Jordan when it is still flooded. But it first requires this step of the ego surrendering its control, before leaving The Wilderness, and it’s a big step of faith.
Van had heard all this before, but he listened attentively, so I said, “You must thank your ego for the good job it’s been doing of taking care of you and protecting you, and tell your ego that it will be much more powerful and effective when it is merged with your God-self.”
I could tell by Van’s energies that he was ready, and the step had been taken on an inner level. Then I concluded, “Now you need to look again at that picture in your mind of yourself standing naked and vulnerable, and notice that you are wearing a radiant raiment of Light and a golden crown on your head, and you are not alone, for God is fighting your battles. All you have to do is surrender, and ask Him to take over. Be willing to experience love, and let it into your life, and truly begin to live.”

Ask for Rick in Elko

He seemed to grasp this concept, so I decided to let him think it over, and we prepared to leave Wells. Though there were several repair shops in this town, I had asked Louis where to get the wipers fixed, and he’d said, “Dewey Chevrolet in Elko; ask for Rick.” So this was our next destination.
However, when Van inquired at the Chevrolet agency, he learned that Rick hadn’t worked there for three years, and furthermore they weren’t able to get to the windshield wipers; and not only that, they charged $56.00 an hour. Okay, so that problem didn’t get solved; another one did, and that was getting a brochure of campgrounds next door at the Bureau of Land Management, which I’d been looking for all across the country.
Elko left us with another memory, as we stopped for a Dairy Queen. Three police cars with lights flashing had blocked half the street where we needed to park, but Van went around them, and we could see several officers handcuff two teenage Latinos, and sit them down on the ground. We walked by on the other side of the street, and watched the melee from the Dairy Queen where the teen work-crew chatted about the incident, no doubt involving their schoolmates. How sad; just a normal day for kids now days, it seems.

Independence Valley Correctional Facility

We finished our cones and got back on the road. The highway was in good condition, so I had spent the hour from Wells on the computer catching up with preceding chapters. I now resumed my writing and the long, straight stretches of desert passed quickly, as Van thoughtfully warned me when the new pavement ended and the bumpy roads resumed.
At one point when I looked out the window, I saw a sign that read “Independence Valley” and I laughed, as I thought it referred to our Inner Freedom Journey process, but Van said, “The ironic part is that it’s a Correctional Facility.”
“Now that is a paradox,” I said, and a picture of the little town of Paradox, in the Colorado valley flashed through my mind.
But now, I was so happy to have computer time that I forfeited taking time out to watch the glowing golden-orange sunset hovering in the clouds over the mountains in the west. However, when I looked up, I could see its changing shades darken into deep orange and red, like a fire blazing across the horizon.

Where do we go From Winnemucca?

Long after dark we pulled into the Flying J Truck Stop in Winnemucca, and walked across the street to Denny’s Casino for a snack. The waitress was efficient, but had been called back for a second shift, and was in a hurry to get all the counter work done so they could go home early. However, we managed to learn that she had recently moved to this town from Tucson, Arizona, because her significant- other was planning to go into mining, which is an option in this area.
It was refreshing to hear someone who had found her right place in life, as she confided, “I love this town,” she said, “the people are so nice.” She then added, “I’d never go back to Tucson, because they aren’t nice there.”
We asked her about a place to get our wipers repaired, and she called in another waitress, who had lived here longer. She gave us a suggestion to ask at the local RV parks for a reference. So, with our intention to get the repairs completed, we went home and to bed.
But the next morning, Van didn’t want to get the repairs done in Winnemucca, which didn’t work for me. While he busied himself with his morning routine, I looked through a free newspaper I’d picked up at Denny’s, and saw Maga Truck Repair advertised.
Van still wanted to wait till we got to Oregon, but I insisted we at least check it out.
As fate, or God, would have it, Steve, the fellow who looked at the wipers, had repaired the ones on his parents RV and he knew exactly what to do: use some Lock-tight. He deftly removed the wipers, applied the magic product, and said, “The same thing happened to my dad; these are the wrong wipers, see?” And he showed us that the grooves in the two parts didn’t match, which caused the mal-function. He added, “These are truck blades, you’ll need to get the right wipers for this vehicle.”
Good Heavens! All it takes is someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s that simple, but not always easy. Yet, God will guide us, when we are open and receptive to the problem being solved, rather than holding onto the problem, for whatever reasons. Van gladly paid Steve the requested $10.00.
There’s a gigantic lesson in life here, if only people can learn it, and apply it. I hope our story will speak to you, and your life too will go more smoothly, if you will only give up the old patterns and insist that your ego let go of control and merge with God.
Perhaps you are wondering what happened at our fork in the road in Winnemucca. In some ways, so am I, but here’s how the story unfolded.

Evaluating the Situation

As our morning progressed, before Van completed his morning routine, I suggested that we re-evaluate our situation. Van agreed, and sat down, which is unusual; he usually stands, and seems to be on the run; part of his “don’t listen to what they have to say” pattern, no doubt. This time he seemed willing to listen, and actually subdued. Something had changed; God must have been at work.
I really didn’t know what to say, but I had turned the conversation over to God, and awaited the results.
I began, “You said that I had things I wanted to do, and you have things you want to do,” so maybe you can expand on that statement.”
At the time, my Inner Guidance had said it was really a ploy of the ego to take control, so I listened with that understanding, as Van now said, “Well, it seems that you have things planned that you want to do, but whatever I do usually gets messed up.”
This stopped me cold in my tracks. A true confession, or another ego ploy? Yet, his eyes looked sad, and I intuitively knew that he was being honest — with himself, as well as me — so I shut up and let God speak through me. I don’t remember what He said, but it bottom-lined that Van had no intentions of going his own way, so I asked him another one of the Questions that I’d written down in Wells: “What does Van Need from Me?”
“Nothing more than what you always do,” he replied.
That was too easy, and not the purpose of this discussion, so I brought up several of the subjects that had been causing dissension between us, and asked: What would help you with these issues?”
Somehow, we got down to the nitty-gritty, and concluded that Van too has a Responsibility Factor problem, and it would help him, if we could work things out together as partners, rather than it being all up to him.
That’s a unique concept. I’ve been trying to get him to work together as teammates our entire marriage; but it’s difficult for him, because of his Intimacy Issues. But we concluded that it’s not all up to Van, but God is helping, and however God does it, is right. That’s relating to his “Doing it Right” pattern. And that Van needs to give himself a lot of “Attaboys!” For every little accomplishment, he needs to say, “I did good!”
About his need for problems to solve, and feeling that he “messes up,” God suggested that Van find something he could put his efforts into that would give him some wins. Rather than making a decision, based on various considerations, he should simply make a choice.
“But I don’t know what to do,” Van interrupted.
I paused, and the words came out, “Then why not make a commitment to Market America? And don’t look at it as something you have to do all by yourself, but turn it over to God, and let Him do it. You don’t have to set goals and then try to make them happen, but let it be enough, for now, to say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ And allow the wins to happen. When you get ideas, follow them; or if an opportunity to discuss the products and company come up, let God give you the words.”
When I first started talking, Van had been looking panicky, but he gradually looked relieved, and his eyes teared, but he seemed to finally surrender his last resistance, and he said, “Okay.”
I added, “When I was talking on the phone with Steve, he said that I should ask you what I can do to support you with this business; and that I could be the front person, because I’m good at talking with people, and that you do what you’re good at, such as the paperwork and finances; and also that you are very good with knowledge about the business, and giving information. So, we can work at it together, in partnership.”
Van still looked teary, as I asked “What else would be supportive?” He shook his head, and said, “You’re always supportive.”
I remembered some of my patterns that I felt had sabotaged our last MLM business, so I said, “How about that I not criticize?”
“But you’re criticisms are supportive,” he interjected.
“Well, okay, how about that I not be negative?”
He brightened, “That’s good.”
So let’s approach this from the foregone conclusion, “Van’s OKAY? And see yourself surrounded in your radiant raiments of Light with your golden crown on your head.”
He smiled, and I knew that Winnemucca, indeed, was the fork in the road, and Van was ready to take a chance again.
“Now, it’s my turn,” I said. “I need to let you know “What I Need from Van.”
I went through my list of things that bugged me:
Diversionary Tactic, Responsibility Factor, Problems to Solve, and Finances, mentioning what would work for me. And concluded that I’d like him to participate more in decisions about our routes and places to go and stay.
Everything seemed compatible in these areas, so I continued with the format God had given me, as I said, “Now we need to write down “What is Working in our Relationship” So, I’ll start writing down some of your good qualities, and you can do the same with mine. Joanie, my inner child was getting into this one, so she made a long list, and then encouraged Little Ralph to participate, “Now, each of these is an “Attaboy.” He grinned, and she said, “So, what are some for me?”
“They’re all for you too,” he said.
“But that’s not fair; you need to say some good things about me too.”
It took awhile for Little Ralph to get into the swing of it, but we got a good sized list, and Joanie also checked the one’s on his list that applied to me.
With all this handled, our energies seemed much lighter, and we obviously didn’t need to go to Reno, so we now faced the decision about our route to Oregon.
Having gone through this process, we both seemed “Ready to take a chance” on the narrow red line on the map indicating Highway 140, which was definitely The Road Less Traveled.

Chapter 4
OREGON: FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Welcome to Oregon

I was born in Oregon; and lived there much of my life. My mom, son, a daughter, granddaughter, and many of my family and friends live there. I have approached Oregon from different routes from the south, north, east, and west (if a boat counts). And I have many memories associated with Oregon; as a state and a home. But this trip, from Winnemucca, NV. along State Road 140 to Lakeview, gave me a different perspective of Oregon, as we chose the Road Less Traveled.
On the map, the narrow red line looked harmless enough; and when we turned onto 140 the narrow paved road winding through the valley looked fine. And the 140 miles through Nevada were pleasant, as Van drove and I wrote on a chapter, even though the scenery was a bland mixture of colorless mountains and valleys; at least they didn’t have snow to hamper our journey.
But when we crossed the State Line and read “Welcome to Oregon” stamped in huge white letters across the road, we didn’t expect the road to turn into a teeth-shattering paved washboard. Yet that’s exactly what happened.
Finally, we stopped for a lunch break, at the sign reading: “Warning: 8% downhill grade next 3 miles.”
I looked at the surrounding brown barren hillsides, which we’d viewed throughout Nevada, and now into eastern Oregon. “I’ve never seen Oregon like this,” I said. “It’s so blah.”
“The road certainly doesn’t make you feel very welcome, does it?” Van said.
“No, but, at least it’s here,” I added, “and this scenery certainly gives me a different perspective of Oregon. There’s so much more of it. Perhaps I should view our visit with family and friends from a different point of view too.”
Panoramic Views
My thoughts were temporarily suspended, as we entered more picturesque landscape, colorful valleys with grazing cattle, and tree covered mountains, as we approached Lakeview, a favorite location for hunters.
After staying the night at the RV parking area on the Fairgrounds, we left Lakeview, and headed West on a more traveled thoroughfare, passing beauteous scenery, such as steaming Summer Lake, a natural hot springs. I grabbed my camcorder and filmed the lake from various locations along the way, until we stopped for lunch at a scenic picnic area overlooking the valley with its steaming lake. On the other side sheer rock formations made us think we were back in Colorado, but these ups and downs, though plentiful, were not as severe. Nevertheless, I realized that they had continued, after Colorado, and as I thought about the family visits, I wondered if I should title this book, The Ups and Downs of Life on the Road.
Now, as we continued onward, we came to another 7% downgrade that overlooked a tremendous valley with Silver Lake in the middle and grazing cattle along its bountiful shoreline.
The distant mountains were suddenly all around us, as we entered the Deschutes National Forest, and eventually turned onto Highway 97, that joins Central Oregon with California and northern Oregon and southern Washington.

Chapter 5
REMINISCENCES AT KAH-NEE-TA

The Shortest Distance

The shortest distance from Redmond to Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs, our destination, is a straight line — 27-miles — but I wanted to take a fifty-mile loop via Prineville, “Central Oregon’s Oldest Town,” according to the Welcome sign.
Nestled in a picturesque green valley, its main street features many historic buildings that look like a western movie set. Yet, the autumn leaves on the trees, and the modern shopping mall on the southern outskirts of town offered an inviting appeal as a hometown. However, the surrounding juniper trees and sagebrush reminded me that the summers are intense heat, and the winters are bleak. Nevertheless, I was glad that I’d finally taken time to visit Prineville.
Madras Main Street
The loop returned us to Highway 97, south of Madras, a farming community, now expanded by its sprawling growth from Californians seeking refuge. As we passed Sonny’s lounge and motel, I remembered when I joined several other gals from Hot Springs and meeting with the cast of the Disney movie, Tonka, which was being filmed on the Indian reservation. I’d become acquainted with one of the cast and sat on the back steps in conversation when Sal Mineo walked past us.
Now, we drove by the modern supermarket, Erickson’s Sentry, one of the chain in Central Oregon, and then the one-way highway again created two main streets. But I remembered when our 25-mile “trip to town” meant driving down Main Street, and shopping at Madras Market. And then stopping at Madras Lockers where we would stock-up on frozen meat and slabs of bacon to feed the burgeoning table of hired help, family or friends who had driven over Mt. Hood for a visit, hot bath or swim. Of course, these businesses are no longer there.
But the old Stag Cafe, where we sometimes stopped for snacks is still there, though vacant, as they now occupy a big spot on Main Street.
However, Van and I had our appetite’s set for a hamburger at Burgerville, on the north end of town. I’d succumbed to the sign out front that said “Next Good Burger is in Texas.”
While eating, I recalled that my first husband and I had once driven into town for dinner, and attended the local movie theater to see the memorable movie, A Place in the Sun, starring a beautiful, young Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
The Cascade Mountain Panorama
But that was long ago, and now Van and I drove out of the valley onto the plateau where the usual panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains, Three Sisters, Broken Top and Mt. Jefferson, were hidden by clouds and thick smoke pouring from an out-of-control fire, probably caused by lightning. The picturesque Mt. Hood, visible from Portland, parts of the Columbia River Gorge, and this part of Central Oregon was also covered with clouds, but we were happy that the sun was shining, and it wasn’t raining, as we began the next descent along the wall of the canyon toward the Deschutes River. Reminiscent of the Colorado Canyon, at least this highway was wider and seemed more secure, and it was definitely more familiar to me, as I surveyed the rugged rimrock across the valley.
We followed the river, a favorite of fishermen, through the valley and then crossed the bridge onto the Warm Springs Indian Reservation; still surrounded by high plateaus lined with rimrocks.
Warm Springs Indian Museum
I had decided that this is the day to visit the Warm Springs Indian Museum, with the thought that I might see some of the artifacts that had once hung in my parentís living room, and had been given to the manager of Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs, when it had been sold back to the Warm Springs tribe. The museum, framed by turning autumn leaves, had been carefully designed to reflect the mood and colors of the three tribes it represents: Wasco, Piutes and Warm Springs — a proud nation, who like the other tribes, had succumbed to the dominion of the U.S. Government, and yet strove to preserve their culture.
As I listened to the recorded beat of drums, accompanying the Pow Wow chanting, memories of childhood came back and I could almost smell the pungent odors of the darkened, floorless longhouse mixed with the smoke from the fire circle, as dust and roots permeated the wood frame building. In my mind, I could see the figures silhouetted against the flames, as the men, clad in their regalia of feathers and beads, danced around the fire. And sometimes the entire group, men and women, would parade rhythmically stomping their moccasined feet. Otherwise, they sat on the dirt floor huddled under blankets.
Mother liked to tell the story of me, around age 3 or 4, poking an old Indian buck and saying, “Move over, me’s cold too!” Although the museum displayed many woven baskets and beaded artifacts, the one’s I sought were not there; no doubt they still hang on the wall in the manager’s home.
I’d also hoped to see more memorabilia from the Warm Springs Agency in those early days when Dad Freeland, my paternal grandfather (who is also my adopted father) and his second wife, my adopted mother, first took me to live with them. He was the agency physician, and I barely remember the two-story frame building that first served as his office, so I rejoiced to see it in an early picture of the Agency, but the first house where I lived with them was not visible in this picture. I realized there aren’t many pictures of the Agency, because the focus was on the Indians, not the whites.
The First House on the Right
Yet, I can easily remember the scene with the new brick hospital sitting on a knoll not far from our white painted home; the first house on the right, as you crossed the cattleguard. Dad was Chief-of-Staff, and sometimes I would visit him there, and talk with Mrs. Richardson, the resident nurse.
Mother has another story she likes to tell, of sending me to the store to buy a loaf of bread. When I returned with an ice cream cone and the bread, she asked how I did that, since I only had money for the bread. I replied, “I paid for the ice cream, and sharged the bread.” As Mother told the punch line, she’d laugh uproariously recounting my antics; though, at the time, I probably got punished.
In those days, there were two general stores. Sees Mercantile (the frame building), also served as the post office. But Earl Massey owned the stucco building where most of us shopped. It’s where I purchased soda’s at wholesale to sell for profit at the Kah-Nee-Ta swim pool. But that’s ahead of my story.
Since I’m talking about Warm Springs, it’s a good time to mention that it’s the first home where I lived with my adopted parents. It was a good life, and I appreciated the security, during those Depression years, after living with my natural parents and hearing them worry and argue about not having enough money. And then, when my mother had a nervous breakdown, after the birth of my brother, Gary, my life became traumatic. She was sent to a mental hospital; Gary went to an orphanage, and I was shuffled around to relatives, until my grandparents rescued me. But I’ve written that story in other books, so let’s return to the present trip.
Once we left the museum, we drove past Warm Springs, and the house (in need of paint) by the cattleguard, and headed up the hill overlooking the valley, while I busily took pictures with my camcorder. But I missed the best shot; the bluff at the end of the plateau, overlooking the valley below; much like the scene of the Indian slumped on his horse, in the famous picture titled ìTrailís End. From here we can also see Mt. Jefferson way in the distance (on a clear day).

Then and Now
I felt sad to see the dead junipers dotting the hillsides along the ten-miles between Warm Springs and Kah-Nee-Ta, remnants from the terrible fire that had besieged the reservation, and came within a few yards of Hot Springs. Driving along the parched pasture, in my mind I could see our horses grazing inside the fence: my half-and-half black and white Shetland, Gypsy, and her off-spring, Ginger, along with the folks blue-roan, Spade. And, of course, nearby the cows awaited time to return to the barn for milking.
But that was then, and this was now: no horses and no cows. But the panoramic view remained the same: straight ahead, across the valley, another plateau with rimrock edges dominated the scene; and beyond it seemed you could see forever, while watching hues of purple, blue and pink, especially at sunset. As we passed the pasture and headed downhill, you could see Indianhead Canyon with its majestic rock formations, and at the bottom of another canyon, to the left, flowed the Warm Springs River with its towering rocky bluffs and ornate formations. Beyond this, you could see the zigzag road leading to the top of still another plateau. And from that route, on a clear day, you could see the snow-covered mountains of the Cascade Range. But from our viewpoint, they weren’t visible; instead this road zigzagged downward to the canyon floor, and followed the river along fascinating rock formations to the entrance of Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs.
From this spot, I always recall when the Tonka cast was gathered for a big scene: the cavalry was chasing Sal Mineo’s Indian character over the rugged hillside, and suddenly he fell from his horse. Within minutes, he was rescued and rushed to the hospital in a waiting ambulance.
I had joined my new friend, Raphael, at the site, and shared lunch at the commissary set up under a canopy along the river on that hot July day. We chatted as we ate our sandwich and slice of watermelon, and then rode up the canyon where they were filming another scene.
As Van now crossed the river and made the turn, I shook my head to erase the scene that had once been here. Yet, I could still see Jerome Courtland, one of the actors, walk down the hillside from their dressing-room trailer and wade into the cooling waters for a swim, while handsome Phil Carey stood by sweltering in his cavalry uniform. Now, he plays an older gentleman on a daytime soap. How time passes!

Good to be Home

But I’ve learned to live in the Present Moment, and this day too, I was filled with excitement as we swung into the Kah-Nee-Ta Village entrance. Being off-season, no one was there; instead a note invited us to register at the main lodge, so we drove back across the river and wound around the new putting range — rebuilt after the flood two years ago — and through the RV Park to my favorite spot by a juniper tree near the river.
How good it felt to be home! Even though temporary, and in the RV park, this is home; and I love it. I looked around at the new additions, since our last visit and before the flood damage had been completed. But these unfamiliar sites were not “home.” It’s the hillsides with their well-worn trails made by the cows, and followed by me, and the multi-colored rock formations with their caves; the trees now grown taller, and the red adobe hill that I’d climbed and slid down. It’s the sunshine and the river. I guess it’s the energies of Kah-Nee-Ta that I love. Even though the tribe now owns it, there’s a part of me that will always roam these hills; and it feels good to come back and feel whole again.
Since it was getting late, we decided to take the shuttle to register across the river, at the lodge, before hooking up. We began walking toward the Gift Shop to ask about the schedule, but instead, stopped and asked a couple standing by their camper.
“You have to call the office, and they’ll send someone to pick you up,” the friendly fellow explained.
Soon we were being chauffeured in the Security Guard’s white, unmarked patrol car, and let off at the lodge — an arrowhead-shaped wooden structure designed to capture the atmosphere of the reservation. Van and I love to explore the building, see what’s new, stand by the huge stone fireplace with its giant gas-log, read the posted menus, and then explore the casino. This way we are able to enjoy the ambiance and activities without paying the high prices, and then we return to Freedom and sleep in our own home. However, before Vanís retirement, we enjoyed several stays in this luxurious resort hotel. One time we benefitted from a Father’s Day special; and another time we took advantage of the lower off-season rates.

Some Day …

After studying the menu, I said, “Someday I want to be rich enough that I can stay here long enough to enjoy every meal they offer. In the meantime, though, let’s come over tomorrow for lunch.”
Van agreed, and we returned home to watch our cable TV and eat popcorn, after Van got us hooked up.
There’s nothing like the stars at Kah-Nee-Ta, and the quiet lulls one into a sound sleep; and this night was no exception. In fact, when I awoke late the next morning, I was so relaxed that I could hardly get myself out of bed in time to go swimming. Just as well, however, because the weather had dropped below 40 degrees; too cold to swim, even in a hot mineral pool. But not bad for the hot mineral tub, and by the time I was ready for the pool, the sun had warmed the air.
Pilgrimage to Kah-Nee-Ta
Noreen and Joel, the couple we’d met the night before, were soaking in the pool, so I wandered over and began chatting. As fate would have it, the opportunity arose for me to talk about my having grown up at Hot Springs, and happily I found a willing audience. At one point I mentioned the book I’d written about those memories, and they insisted on buying a copy, much to my delight.
As I dug out the copy of Pilgrimage to Kah-Nee-Ta, with the old-time picture on the cover, I wondered why I hadn’t gotten it published, or otherwise into the market place. And the next day, when they told me they had been reading it aloud to each other, and love it, I made a mental note to pursue the project of marketing.
In the meantime, Van and I enjoyed a leisurely late afternoon lunch in the lodge dining room, and then registered for another night’s stay.
Later, we took a walk on the red adobe road next to the river. I captured this beauteous spot that I call Heavenly Paradise on my camcorder, and paused long enough for the future viewers to hear the “talking river” at the spot where it gurgled through a quiet channel.
This is also the spot where my first husband, Randal, and I picnicked on our first “date.” And further up the river he had asked me to marry him. And I had once shared this memory here with our son, Marquam, when he had driven me to visit Kah-nee-ta, and we had walked along this red adobe road.
But now, the sun had already set behind the red hill, and Van and I had reached the fence with a sign saying, “No Trespassing,” so we turned around and returned home.
The next day, we awoke to a clear, sunny day, but my body ached, so I wandered over to the spa and signed up for a massage that was a date with destiny. JoAnne, my masseuse, seemed to be truly a kindred spirit, for her love for this place equaled mine, and our meeting fulfilled a wish on the part of each of us. She wanted to know more about the history of Kah-Nee-Ta. Though we barely had time in the half-hour session, we managed to exchange addresses, and she paid for a copy of Pilgrimage to Kah-Nee-Ta, which I delivered to the spa, after my hot bath and swim.
When I returned with the book, JoAnne was with a client, but the receptionist introduced me to Ron Malfara, the General Manager, who just happened to be in the spa at the time. And it felt so good that he greeted me warmly and with interest that I was the daughter of the former owner, Dr. Freeland. Somehow, this aspect of the day was even more healing than the massage and mineral water, or perhaps it was the combination, along with meeting JoAnne, and knowing that she was here enjoying my home, even though I was no longer there in person.
I felt revitalized and ready to get on with life, and especially to make sure my book would someday reach the marketplace for more readers.
When Van and I returned to Freedom, we stopped and chatted in the warm sunshine with Noreen and Joel. They again complimented my “way with words,” and encouraged me to continue writing, and getting my books sold. We exchanged names and addresses, and I said I would let them know when my Travel Series books were available; reminding myself that I needed to revise the edits Dottie had made.

A Few More for the Road

The sun was setting behind the tall hill when we finally got into Freedom, but I took a few more pictures to capture this memorable day that would soon become part of my travel reminiscences.
Then we headed across the river and up Indianhead Canyon. Once past the rock formation that formed the Indianhead, I asked Van to stop so I could take its picture with the camera; and also record a panoramic view of the canyon with the camcorder, for future viewing.
As this chapter began with views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt. Hood, going into Kah-Nee-Ta, I’ll close with several more scenes, as weíre leaving. We had chosen to leave via the zigzag road leading to the plateau that I had described earlier. This time, because of the clear, sunny day, I’d anticipated a great panoramic view of snow-covered mountains, but instead we could barely see them outlined behind a heavy smoke screen caused by the still burning fires we had seen several days before. However, Mt. Hood loomed tall and clear, but with a fluffy white cloud perched atop its peak.
We enjoyed the scene from many vantage points as we progressed across the Indian Reservation to Simnasho, and then off the reservation to Wapinitia, where the old Hartman’s store, with its gas-pump out front had once offered myriad supplies, but now no longer exists.
Across the prairie, into Tygh Valley, and Dufur we marveled at the breathtaking sight of Mt. Hood flanked by a cloud bank that turned into shades of flaming reds and oranges mixed with black. Before this scene disappeared, Mt. Rainier, in Washington state, glistened in the north with the glowing sunset. And all this, high above the rolling wheat fields of Central Oregon, as we eventually wound our way down into the valley of the Columbia River, which now reflected the moonlight.
Yes, this had been a trip of past memories, and yet it offered even more radiance, as we basked in the joy of the Present Moment.

Chapter 6
SECOND CHANCES

 

The overcast weather had cleared, and the beautiful fall colors in the Columbia River Gorge — on both sides of the river — created a framework for the top of snow-covered Mt. Adams, which peered over the patchwork hillsides on the Washington side. It was definitely no hardship to stay here, but soon after noon, we decided to move on to Portland, to visit my mom at the St. Jude Convalescent Hospital.
Up or Down?
I braced myself for another let-down, as I walked into the dining room. Because of Mother’s schizophrenia, I never knew whether she would be having one of her episodes; usually predictable, as they come in mid-November and last until after Christmas, the anniversary of the birth of my brother, Gary. The season also heralds the anniversary of Mom’s mental breakdown and placement in an institution, and the dissolution of our family. I felt she would be okay, as it was only mid-October, but Margaret, the Activity Person, greeted me and announced, “Valena has an eye infection and the cold that everyone around here has, and she’s in her funk (our name for her “I don’t want to see anybody” episodes.
“Oh no,” I moaned, “I’d hoped I’d get here in time, before it started.”
We walked down the hall past the familiar Alzheimer’s patients, and into Mom’s room. She was asleep on top of her bed, but Margaret shook her, “Valena, your daughter’s here.”
Mom looked up, moaned, and turned back toward the wall. She looked terrible, with a red swollen eye, and I said, “Well, I’ll come back later,” and I walked with Margaret back to the Dining Room.
I thought about the many times I’d attempted to see her, only to be told “I’m sick. I can’t see you.” No wonder I’d developed a “not wanted” syndrome. But, I’d managed to accept the fact: that’s how Mom is, and attain a philosophical attitude: either she’s okay, or she isn’t, and I’ll go on with my life.
At dinner time Mom walked into the room, looked over and saw me, and then sat down elsewhere. Margaret went over and talked with her, and motioned for me to join them.
“I didn’t know you were here,” Mom squealed with obvious delight, as I gave her a hug. Apparently she hadn’t been fully awake, or thought she was dreaming when Margaret awakened her with the news of my presence.
Now Mom was responsive and happy to see me, as we chatted throughout dinner and the early evening, before she went to bed and I returned to Freedom, in the parking lot, and stayed for the night.
She was even more alert the second day, as she proudly introduced me to everyone, smiling as she proclaimed, “This is my daughter.” This helps Joanie, my inner child, to heal from the many years when we weren’t together.
In the afternoon we enjoyed the live music of a guitar player-singer, who entertains at 30 nursing homes each month, in addition to his other engagements. Mom even got up and danced with the substitute Activity Director (Margaret had the day off).
Throughout the day, Mom would smile and say, “Tomorrow is Tuesday. Dr. Grossnickel will be here.” She’s always depended on her doctors for the nurturing she craved; in fact, she always had a man, even in the nursing homes, whether a patient, staff member, or doctor with whom she was “in love,” and who took precedence over my presence.
I was looking forward to meeting Dr. Grossnickel too, because I wanted to ask his approval for Mom to take O.P.C.-3, the product we use and sell, as I knew it would help minimize her symptoms, and perhaps eliminate them. He arrived around lunchtime, and Mom beamed with joy. Although she hadn’t mentioned it, he reminded me of her younger brother, Dick, and I had trouble focusing on my presentation, but he was receptive to the idea, and okayed its use. Hooray! He also prescribed an inhaler machine to help offset her heavy asthmatic cough. So his visit was a success.
I spent the rest of my time there making arrangements for the receiving and payment of the product. Finally, it was time to leave, and I assured her that we would return next week.

A Trip to the Beach with Marquam

In the meantime, we spent the next two days with my son, Marquam, and celebrated his birthday early by driving to the beach, in Freedom, for a bowl of clam chowder and some fried razor clams.
The two-hour trip over the mountains was gorgeous on this sunny day with the fall colors throughout the evergreens. From a Viewpoint we could see three snow-covered mountains; Rainier, Adams and St. Helens (with its broken top from the volcanic eruption several years ago) to the north in Washington.
We arrived at Mo’s restaurant, south of Cannon Beach, and savored their famous clam chowder, as we watched the sun glistening across the ocean, and viewed the famous Haystack Rock (often seen in pictures of the Oregon beach).
Marquam requested that we stop in Archcape at the former home of his paternal grandparents. He reassured us, “I’ve stopped there before, and the owners are real nice.”
I felt strange as my present husband drove us along the narrow road to the home of my former husband’s parents, but I knew it was important to Marquam, and I was curious to see the changes he said they’d made.
Even with the changes, I felt like I’d stepped back in time when I saw the shake house nestled back in the woods where Stella had lived happily tending her garden, or walking to the beach and post office. An addition had been made to the house, and the “old barn” had been replaced by another house, separately owned, but in both places, the natural shake siding blended into the landscape, as if they were meant to be there.
The present owners showed us through the house, and I marveled that they had carefully maintained the original design, as if it were a historic landmark. Even the former wallpaper with its bright birds had been nearly duplicated. Only the brick fireplace, replaced with stones, had been changed; otherwise, it could have been thirty-years ago.
Although the sun was nearly set when we arrived at the Archcape beach, Marquam wanted to retrace the steps to the creek, where all the kids had spent many happy hours at play. We walked out to the sand and headed south toward the protruding rocks, past a local resident sitting by a beachside fire, as Marquam relived memories of walking, running, and playing along the seashore. This had happened after his dad and I divorced, so I had missed this important part of his life, when he lived with his dad. Now I rejoiced to hear his words, as I could see the little boy turn into a young man. He talked about getting trapped atop the rock formation and being helped down by a passerby, and sometimes running ten-miles north and back.
As we arrived at the creek, we could barely see it in the dark, but in his mind, he could clearly see himself, playing with his childhood friends. And I remembered his sisters having played here at an earlier time.
Indeed, it was another second chance for us to relive these memories; and then we slowly trudged back in the dark, as the last glow of light sank behind the water.
We joined Van, who had waited at Freedom, intuitively giving us this opportunity for our second chance. Then we drove north, past Seaside, and stayed all night at an RV Park.

Fried Razor Clams

Breakfast had been so filling that we first went for a walk on the beach to work up an appetite for the fried sesame razor clams at Shilo Inn. The clouds had set in over the ocean and to the south forming a picturesque scene and also cooling the temperature, but people were enjoying the sunshine, flying kites, and sauntering along the beach or on the promenade, where we ended our walk by watching the seals inside the Aquarium, as they clapped their flappers and barked loudly for more food from the paying spectators.
Finally, we wandered into Shilo Inn and took our seats by the window overlooking the beach scene, and savored the tender, tasty clams; every bit as delicious as I had remembered. We had told Marquam this would be an early birthday celebration, so we were in a festive mode, as I gave him the special card and quietly sang “Happy Birthday.”
Back in Freedom we finished the meal with a frozen Tiramisu cake-like dessert I had purchased earlier, and then we headed back the two-hour drive home.

A Positive Sign

The next morning, I joined Mom for breakfast and delighted that she was more alert and responsive than I’d seen her in several years. Could it be the OPC-3? In any event, her cough had broken up and her eye infection was cleared up too. No doubt the inhaler machine had helped, and only time would tell the overall effect, but this was definitely a positive sign.
I spent the morning with her, and Van joined us for our farewell lunch together. And then it was time for our last good-byes, until next time. She handled it well, and talked about seeing her doctor the next day, so I knew she would be okay.
She Needs Family
I had been worried about Mom being without family visits, since her niece (my cousin) Marilyn had become partially blind from the ravages of diabetes, and could no longer drive. She had managed an Adult-Care Home, where Mom had been staying (having transferred from the one near us in California). But Marilyn’s health had badly deteriorated from diabetes, though she was only 53, and she had to quit the business. Mom had to be placed in a Nursing Home. St. Jude’s was one of the best, though for Alzheimer’s patients.
I also worried about the patients wandering into Mom’s room and sometimes becoming violent, so, when I learned that her brother, Russell (also suffering from diabetes effects, such as blindness and other deterioration), had been placed in a Nursing Home near his family (including his wife, Charlotte), I wondered about transferring Mom. However, it’s a challenge to move her, as she can’t handle change. Nevertheless, I started the process by discussing the positive aspects of being near her brother and family. She’d looked apprehensive, so I simply said, “Well, think about it.”

The Warren Homestead

We parked in our special place along the driveway at my cousin John’s (Russell and Charlotte’s son), where his parents had lived in their mobile home, since Russell’s retirement as a minister. Now, with him in the Nursing Home, and Charlotte in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, Marilyn lived with her.
I loved being with my motherís family, after all the years I hadnít seen them, when living with my adopted parents, and even afterward, because we really werenít acquainted.
Now, we discussed Mom’s situation, and also the virtues of OPC-3, especially for diabetes symptoms. They were interested, but I didn’t want to overdo the subject, and we had so many other family matters to talk about, such as the feasibility of Mom moving to be near Uncle Russ.
The next morning Charlotte played the piano for us, and later she and Marilyn entertained us with several duets. How I love these family activities.

Another Family Gathering

I looked forward to seeing my Uncle Russ, and felt this too, was a second chance, as he had been hanging on the edge of life for several years, and I feared that each visit would be the last. I didn’t have to wait too long, because John drove Charlotte, Van and I to the convalescent hospital.
Uncle Russ already had company — their pastor, Bob, and another friend from church, so with us joining them, he was surrounded. John read off a Laundry List of jokes and puns, which appealed to his dad’s sense of humor, and brought forth a volley of retaliatory responses and laughter throughout the visit.
In the meantime, John took me to meet Angie, and then we took a tour of the facility, and saw the two vacancies available for Mom. I really liked it, and I knew that she would too, especially being able to see family on a regular basis.
The visit ended with Russell playing his harmonica. Then his other visitors left, and we talked about Mom coming to the facility, and he was delighted. The rest of us left Charlotte to say tearful good-byes to her beloved husband, and then we all returned home.
Marilyn’s ham dinner with all the trimmings tasted wonderful, and the fruit salad was so good that no one wanted dessert.
At another time, I would have felt sad that I no longer had family interactions; but, as much as I enjoyed all the family activity, I realized that this time in my life is about me and my writing, and our traveling. So, I emotionally prepared myself for leaving the next day.
Van and I prepared Freedom to leave for the next phase of our Oregon visit — two more days with Marquam. However, when I went inside to say goodbye, I’d taken our extra bottle of OPC-3, and some information, in case they were interested. They were; and bought the bottle to share.

Mother and Son Adventure

Again, good-byes were said, and we drove an hour across town to Marquam’s, because he wanted me to go with him to look at apartments, as he would be moving in the near future.
This was a good Mother-Son adventure, but we were late getting started, and only toured four places. However, the last one met his criteria with its indoor pool and jacuzzi, weight room and recreation room, plus an outdoor pool. (A year later, he moved into this apartment complex).

John Glenn’s Second Chance

The next morning, while Marquam was looking up more apartments, I called his sister, Dottie, who mentioned that she was watching John Glenn, on TV, make his historic trip into space.
Talk about a Second Chance! John Glenn, in his seventies, was having his, and served as an inspiration to the rest of us reaching our Golden Years.
We watched John Glenn take off into space, and then we too took off for our trip South to California. What a memorable event to conclude our Oregon visit; and this chapter.
(I later learned that my nephew, Pete Freeland, as part of his duties with Nasa and his Astronaut training program) had sat in the seat where John Glenn now sat. It had been Peteís dream since childhood, to become an astronaut, and he had done all the necessary preparations, so it was now being fulfilled.)

Reflections

Fog in the Willamette Valley had been predicted for our onward journey, but when we started it was a clear, crisp night, so we decided to keep driving, as far as we could, until the fog set in; usually around Eugene.
But we only encountered a light fog, and while Van continued driving, I reflected on our successful visits with my family, and I rejoiced at the second chances for my relationships, such as with my mom and her brother Russell; never knowing which time will be the last.
I thought about the time with my son, Marquam, as we combined business with fun at the beach. Iíd previously told him about our business, and again offered him a second chance at the business opportunity, as I made it okay for him to say, “No.”
And when I asked if he were interested in the business, he said, ìNot now. Iím too busy.î
These communications felt good, for Marquam was honest with me about his feelings, and he had made his decision for now, based on his priorities.
It had also felt good to clean-up the misunderstanding with my cousin, Marilyn, and I was especially delighted with the possibility of our products giving her and Aunt Charlotte, and other family members, a second chance at reclaiming health.
As always, I was grateful to my cousin John for leaving the welcome mat on our parking place, while being an inspiration in his love and devotion for his parents and family.
Driving through the Willamette Valley, a slight breeze kept the fog at bay and we sped right on through, into the mountains around Roseburg, and settled at the Seven Feathers Casino parking lot in Canyonville, in the middle of the night.
The next morning, we ate brunch at the casino coffee shop and chatted with an old-timer RVer sitting next to us, while the men ate the plate-size ham and eggs special, and I enjoyed the delicious tempura shrimp lunch special.
I wondered why we had never stopped here before, but gave thanks for this excellent stopping place in southern Oregon

Chapter 7
PLANTING SEEDS

Congratulations!

The long drive from Southern Oregon to our stops in Northern California gave me time to put together a chapter about the seeds we had planted while in Oregon. Iíd been reviewing my efforts at talking about Market America to family and friends, and realized that I was depending on Dottie and Steve to bail us out. And when I reported the results of our efforts to Dottie, she had said, “Well, at least you’re planting seeds,” and she had congratulated us on our first two customers — Mom and Marilyn.
She had updated me about all the activity in their own business, which is also our downline, saying, “One lady has re-entered under you, and she’s already a high-income distributor. You’ve already qualified, and once you activate with two personally sponsored business partners, your first $300.00 check will be ready for you.

You Aren’t Doing it Right!

And that had sustained me, until her sarcastic remark that suggested that not only are we unable to handle the job, but neither are their upline, it was up to Dottie to bail everyone out, no doubt. I wondered if that were one of her patterns, and made a note to mention it to her.
But, the next phone call, when I had complained that their upline friends, rather than being supportive, had been a turn-off to my cousin Marilyn, Dottie snapped, “Well, maybe we need to fly out there and give a presentation.”
I didn’t know what to say to Marilyn, other than “I’m sorry, but give it a chance.” And I had asked Dottie to call her, because she had a lot more information, and a good rapport with her customers, but sheíd seemed hesitant to make the call, and I’d been aggravated with my daughter’s solicitous attitude about our involvement in their Networking business.
Her earlier remark had erupted when I stated that I was disappointed, because I had such hopes for the products to help alleviate the symptoms of diabetes plaguing Marilyn and many of our family members. I felt certain that her good results would encourage others to use them too, and this would support Marilyn in building a business that could be financially lucrative for her.
Not only the family members with diabetes would benefit, but I felt certain OPC-3 would help her mother, my Aunt Charlotte, offset the ravages of Alzheimerís disease, which was beginning to affect her memory. And I’d heard good reports of positive results from mental diseases too, which had drastically affected several generations in our family.

Second Chance for Marquam?

I had wanted to tell Marquam about our networking business, but was hesitant, because he had been involved in our previous MLM business, so I feared that he would give a loud and lusty “No” to any suggestion of another similar business venture. However, I took a chance and shared with him the little information I knew. He had listened with interest, and to my surprise, he asked for more input. So, we gave Marquam the packet of material that Van had only recently opened and had begun reading while I had been visiting Mom.
Apparently Marquam read it, because I was delighted the next morning when he announced that he had read through most of the material; in fact, he knew more than we did, and now wanted more details about the product prices and business costs. This is Van’s area of expertise, so I fixed breakfast, while they continued the discussion.
Marquam wanted to sample the product, but we were down to our last portion, and one taste wouldn’t give any benefits, as they are an ongoing process. So, I didn’t see any reason to give him one, which may have been a mistake. In retrospect, I suppose the sample might have made a difference, because giving him remedies is one of our Mother-Son bondings.
On the return trip, since Van and I hadn’t heard the “Getting Started” tape that accompanied our business kit, I suggested that we listen together. But I soon realized that was a bridge too far. Because it was a detailed training tape, and a lot to comprehend (even for us), Marquam soon fell asleep. It was just as well, for it was thorough and too overwhelming for a first-time exposure. What we needed was some Introductory tapes, so I made a mental note to order some for future reference. Market Americaís Unfranchise concept of a proven business plan was definitely “on the job training,” and I could see that we, too, would need much more training, even after our years in a MLM business, which was entirely different.
When he awoke, I apologized for what I had felt was a lousy presentation to him, and he said, “It was okay, but I think you should have extra product on hand.”

A Wake-up Call

The problem was that we were still reluctant to get involved, and hadn’t yet made a full commitment. But our experience with Marquam served as a wake-up call, and during the next few days the alarm was clearly ringing, as mentioned earlier.

It’s Still There
Also, I realized that I was still sensitive to criticism and rejection, as evidenced by the setback with Dottie, though I had been asking God to fight this battle for me. I’d begun to wonder if it were one that I would simply have to be aware of its presence and live with it.
I hoped not, because I secretly suspected that my fear of criticism and rejection was a stumbling block to moving out there with my books and ministry, as well as presenting the Networking program.
Looks like it’s still here, I thought, as I wrestled with the shortcoming, knowing that it was a holdover from my having been abandoned, as a child, and feeling that I’m not okay, even after many years of therapy and recovery work. Guess I have more work to do.

He Who Plants and he Who Sows are Equal

In the meantime, I had been guided to read a passage in the Bible that I felt vindicated my position: “He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are fellow workmen for God; you are God’s field, God’s building (1 Cor. 3:7-9).”
Paul had written those words to the Christians in Corinth, who were arguing over who was more important in the ministry: he or Appolos, and he had begun the message by saying, “I planted, Appolos watered, but God gave the growth.” And that’s the answer to anyone who gets involved with ego-related issues.

Only God Gives the Growth

So, I had written Dottie a letter about my feelings, but most importantly I shared the Bible passages, concluding:
“I’ve had a feeling that you resent having to mail products and info to people for us, and your other downliners. And I found it interesting that, as I was reading 1 Cor. 3:10, I was instructed to start at the beginning of the chapter. You can look it up, if you have time. Amazingly, it gets into the subject of planting and sowing, and then it says, ëSo neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, only God who gives the growth.í
The point is that we each give and do according to our ability, and God handles how it all turns out. So maybe you can take a look at where you’re coming from about your business. I know you tend to be self-righteous, but maybe there are still a few things you might need to adjust in your attitude. I realize you are doing more than your share to help us with the business, but I’m uncomfortable with your sarcastic attitude and comments, such as the one about flying out to Oregon to do a presentation. It sounds as if you feel that none of us are capable of doing this business.
Your ego is way out of line, and it will knock you on your butt, just like it did in the MLM business, if you don’t change your attitude. I don’t think there’s any reason for you to treat Van or I solicitously. We’re doing the best we can, at the time, and under the circumstances. I don’t know what Van’s problem is, but I’m sure it’s more serious than any of us realize, and he may not be capable of doing any more than he is right now, for one reason or another. And the same is true for me.
I appreciate your support and all that you do for us, and especially your editing for me, and I’m taking a chance that you will stop, as a result of this letter. But, I have to be honest, just like you do. And I am being Guided to write this to you, so maybe it too, is a result of the Affirmation you’re making.”
I referred to a Daily Motivational Affirmation that Dottie and Steve had been making. She had said that hers had been slapping her in the face and biting her in the butt, so I assumed that this letter could be another wake-up call, though I no longer wrote such letters, unless Spiritually Guided, as I had been with this one.

Good News!

In the meantime, as we headed south, Van went to a phone (the only convenience we didn’t have, as yet; but I planned to get a cellular phone in the near future) and called Dottie for information necessary to send our next order. When he returned, I had just written a note to Marilyn saying I was sorry the products and company weren’t working out for her (a communication she’d made in a recent follow-up phone call I’d made to her).

“The Family Curse”
Van reported: “Dottie called Marilyn, and she is going to attend a Market America meeting this week.”
I shouted with joy, and added, “I’m certain the products will help her, and the other family members suffering from diabetes and depression, and the ‘family curse'”(dubbed by one member to describe the various symptoms of mental illness).
Van continued, “Dottie also delivered another bottle of OPC-3 to Aunt Betsy (in Denver), and now she’s buying another bottle for Natalie.”
“Hooray,” I exclaimed. “It looks like the seeds we planted our beginning to grow. I knew Dottie hadn’t received my letter, but this was exactly what I was trying to get across to her. We planted the seeds with Marilyn and Natalie, and then continued on with our travels. Now, Dottie and her upline would be able to support and nourish them. And, in time, we would return to their areas to give further support. In the meantime, there are meetings and trainings available. I like how this networking operates; as teamwork.

Chapter 8
OUT OF THE ASHES: THE PHOENIX

High-tail Over the Passes

After making it safely over the Siskyou Summit (over 4700 ft.), before the predicted snowfall, we settled down for the night on the Wal-Mart parking lot in Yreka, California, and turned on the weather news. Shocked at the anticipated lows (around 27 degrees), and concerned about the condition of our radiator (it had been leaking its anti-freeze), we decided to high-tail past Mt. Shasta, and get out of the cold-zone, and any danger of snow.
Though we could see the snow-covered mountain outlined in the moonlight, I regretted missing its daytime beauty, and the splendor of the surrounding scenery. But, I felt much better when we again settled down for the night, several hours later, at the TA Truck Stop in Redding, with a predicted 47 degree low. Much better for us, and for Freedom.

The Leaking Radiator

The entire trip had been about Van’s anxiety over Freedom, and our efforts for the right place for further repairs. The intermittent radiator leaking had been a concern ever since we bought the motor home in Colorado, nearly two years ago. At the time, before starting on the road, Van had asked the mechanic (at the dealership) to fix it, but like going to the dentist for a toothache, only to have it stop, the radiator wasn’t leaking, so didnít get fixed. Van asked at other places, along the way, but nothing seemed to be fixable. So the leak was always an underlying problem, and when Van had voiced concern in Yreka about the possibility of the radiator freezing, because of no anti-freeze, I’d blown up.
Mainly, because it seems he has a perpetual need to fret over something; and when one thing is fixed, it’s something else. In my mind, he has a pattern that seems to need problems and challenges to be overcome.
“Why can’t we get things fixed, and let go the need for challenges?” I bellowed.
Of course, he never responds, so this time, I continued, ìAnd it isn’t only the radiator leaking, it’s an ongoing hassle over the power supply; whether it’s the alternator, generator or whatever. We seem to get the problem fixed, only to have something else for you to fret about. Can’t you find something else to occupy your need to overcome challenges? Like build this networking business, for instance.”
As usual, he didn’t respond, and as usual, I reverted to my pattern of escape, thinking silently, “I’ve got to get out of this squirrel-cage situation. I can’t stand it.” I’m fully aware that’s my pattern; one I’ve inherited from my family: “If it doesn’t work, leave.” So, I’d spent the trip over the mountains thrashing in my mind where I could go and what I could do on my own; finally concluding: no place and nothing. Furthermore, I knew that if I couldn’t work it out with Van, I’d just recreate the same problem with someone else; and I’d spent too much time and energy trying to get this relationship worked out. Yet, I felt the negativity was keeping me locked into limitation.
So, when we arrived in Redding, I made it my intention to get the “damn thing fixed once and for all.” I looked in our Exit Authority guidebook which listed several repair shops. But, I could tell that Van had no intentions of getting it done here, despite the fact it’s a truckers paradise with ample repair shops.
Of course, the main obstacle, while on the road, had been lack of money. We’d gone through our monthly dole from the government for Social Security retirement, midway through October, and were counting the days, until Nov. 3rd — payday.
“Okay, fine, then you take care of it,” I shouted, and added, “At least you can ask Mahlon (who owns a Chevron station) if he has any ideas when we arrive in Red Bluff” (our friends Kathy and Mahlon, live another thirty-miles down the road).
Van perked up, “That’s a good idea,” he said. “In fact, we might as well go on down to his station and refuel Freedom, and I’ll ask him then.”
I retorted, “I personally thought it would have been nice to buy our gas here, as a thank you for staying free; on the other hand, it’s also appropriate to give the business to our friend, Mahlon. So, you make the decision.”
I proceeded to get through the morning preparations for moving Freedom, and then Van headed out, past the gas pumps and down the highway to Mahlon’s Chevron Station in Red Bluff. After filling up, he triumphantly announced, “Mahlon is at home, so I called him there. He says to go to Campers Corral for the RV service, so we’ll do that when we get ready to go. In the meantime, Kathy is working today, but he said to go on over to the house and get Freedom hooked up.”

Yelling in the Rain

“Okay,” but we’ll need to stop so I can fix lunch. I don’t want to arrive hungry, and get involved visiting without anything to eat. We can stop at the turnoff on the way to their place.”
By this time it had started raining, as predicted, and I remembered that a trucker at TA had said that it was snowing in the mountains, and I felt thankful that we had pushed through and gotten over the mountains before the storm. Now, as I fixed lunch, a car pulled off the road and parked in front of us, blocking our way. A lady ran through the rain and knocked on our door.
I opened the window, and she said, “Do you have a cellular phone?”
“No,” I replied, “I wish we did, and it’s high on our priority list.”
“Okay,” she said and rushed back to the gal who was attempting to remove the flat tire. Soon she returned and asked if we could help, but Van had already said he wasn’t strong enough to remove the lug bolts. I suggested, “Why don’t you flag someone down for help?”
She no more than got to the road than two vans pulled over. However, they were there for their own rendezvous, and didn’t get out to help.
The women got back in their car, out of the sudden downpour, and I said to Van, “I’ll bet the guys had a cell phone and called for help.” Soon they left, and eventually a fellow arrived, fixed the tire and away they all went.
I noticed that I had been feeling panic and trapped with all the cars blocking our way, and I realized that I often get that feeling; almost as an obsession. In fact, I’d been noticing that several of my old patterns had returned, such as feeling not wanted or in the way; or that something I’d say would cause them to leave or to be sick.
I’d dealt with these patterns in the past, and thought they had been overcome; now I wondered why they were surfacing again. And I wondered why I had been so irritable and yelling at Van.
Part of the reason was because we were running out of our OPC-3, and I didn’t know how long before Van would get it ordered; and after that another delay for delivery. So I had cut back on my dosage to once a day. Also, we’d run out of the trace minerals that seemed to keep me calmer, but I hadn’t replaced them, because the money was supposed to be for the OPC-3, which I’d hoped would serve the same purpose of keeping me from mood swings and from the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms. I’d been living with these conditions all my life, and just accepted them as part of life, but since taking the OPC-3, and hearing that it helped others with the same problems, I’d begun to notice the improvement, when I took the proper dosage. Being without it is definitely a way to tell whether or not the product is working. “Oh, well,” I thought it’s just one more thing I’m waiting for Van to handle.

Trick or Treat

In the meantime, it was Halloween, and we arrived at Mahlon’s in time to hear the chilling story of his triple-heart-by-pass surgery that caused him to be unconscious for 13 days earlier in the spring. But the good news is that he recovered in time to go hunting in Alaska and shoot a moose.
Kathy arrived home in time to fix Pasta Alfredo and answer the door for little witches and goblins; with Mahlon’s tiny granddaughters coming last; one as a ladybug and the other as a princess. Their parents brought pizza for an adult treat, and we enjoyed being part of their family Halloween.

Throughout the activities, Kathy had asked me if we were still doing Matol (our former MLM). We had met when she became a Supervisor under Julie’s friend, Wally. He and Julie broke up, and he wasn’t involved in the business, so Van and I made a special effort to give Kathy phone and letter support; and we visited her whenever passing through the area. In fact, we’d even been invited to her wedding to Mahlon, four years ago, in a lovely backyard ceremony, and we had coordinated the event with our trip to Colorado.
Kathy had put a lot of time and money into the business, and we felt bad that it hadn’t brought the prosperous results that we’d all expected.
Now, I wanted to tell her about this networking company that really worked, and I hoped that OPC-3 might keep Mahlon healthy, but he’s on a blood-thinner, the one thing that’s not compatible with our product. I’d already been disappointed that my Uncle Russ couldn’t use the product for the same reason, so I let go that possibility for Mahlon. However, as a mechanic, who was working on a project of rebuilding a classic Austin-Healy, I thought he might appreciate the Clear Shield product that protected the hands like invisible gloves.
Anxious for her to have a second chance to recoup her losses, I discussed the company and the products with Kathy; though she could see the benefit of this networking unfranchise business structure, she didn’t want to invest any more time or money in a home business. And I certainly didn’t blame her, especially since she was working many hours in her present job, and had extra expenses with repairs on her rental house.

Before the Frost Bites

We spent a sunny, warm Sunday chatting, as Kathy prepared a beef stew for dinner, and then worked in her yard. She’d invited me to pick the ripe tomatoes and take as many as we wanted, before the frost took the rest. Van hung out with Mahlon and his son, Brent, as they watched football, while working on the car project. But he never discussed our business or products. However, he did explain the business structure to Kathy, while she finished preparing dinner.
Brent and his family returned home to Sacramento, and soon the weekend was over, as Kathy and Mahlon resumed their workday routines. This left Van and I an opportunity to do our own projects, and I chose this warm, sunny day for a long neglected chore.

The Brush Off

With the hose, brushes, buckets and cleaner we tackled a job bigger than washing an elephant; we gave Freedom a bath. I scrubbed the lower portion, while Van reached the higher part, and also rinsed.
When the job was done, despite aching muscles, I felt such a sense of accomplishment, as we surveyed our shining chariot in the late-afternoon sun. And I wasn’t upset that night, as I heard the pitter-patter on the roof, because I was sure that the rain wouldn’t leave spots on the clean surface.
However, the next day when I examined Freedom, my heart sank at the sight of long, black streaks plummeting down its sides. “What a waste of time and energy” I groaned. “I wouldn’t mind the work, but now there’s nothing to show for it. Freedom looks worse than before.”
“Not really,” Van consoled, “It’s brighter and shinier.”

He Doesn’t do Water Pumps

I couldn’t get enthusiastic over the wash job, but I did have hopes for getting Freedom repaired when we kept our appointment at the Campers Corral. Within a short time, and cost only $32.50, the technician replaced the delay relay coil that hooks up the alternator and house batteries. That solved one major problem; but he didn’t do water pumps, which he diagnosed as the culprit, not the radiator.
He referred us to another place nearby, but Van reported that this place didn’t know how to do RV’s, or how long it would take, or how much to charge. Finally, we both agreed that the cheaper hourly rates could easily offset the higher prices at Napa, our next destination, where we planned to visit with our friend Julie.

He Does RV’s
“We could be spending time with Julie, while they work on Freedom,” I said to Van. “And we could stay at my favorite, Skyline Wilderness Park,” if we need to wait for an appointment.”
Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait at Williams Transmission, who had been recommended by the GM dealership, and located right next door. They were both across the street from the supermarket where we’d spent the night, after calling Julie for reference for the repair work. She personally knew Steve Kastner, son of the GM dealership owner.
It never ceases to amaze me how God works, and I sometimes forget when I think it’s all up to me to handle everything. Yes, the hourly rate was more expensive, but their expertise and efficiency was impeccable. Ultimately, Steve, the technician, found several contributing factors to the leakage problem. Besides the water pump, he replaced the radiator thermostat, which wasn’t functioning properly, and added Prestone to the radiator water. While he had the doghouse (inside engine cover) removed, he changed the three belts, which were cracked and nearly worn through.
I spent the day in my bedroom, with the sliding door closed, catching up on my reading, after calling Julie. She had some business appointments, but a roast was in the oven, and we were invited for dinner.

Not the Hostess With the Mostest

“I’m not the hostess with the mostest anymore,” she warned, and continued, “Those days are gone since having chronic fatigue syndrome. Now I have to rest a lot, and I can only do limited projects. Even my work has to be scheduled around my energy-level.”
I laughed, “You mean, you’re not a has-been, but you’re a have-done. In other words, you have done all those high energy projects. Now you’re relegated to being.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s it,” she said, sounding as if she could barely hold the phone up.
“Look, you don’t have to fix us a meal,” I said, feeling guilty about causing her any undue stress.
“Oh, it’s okay, I can throw a roast in the oven, but that’s about it.”
Now, between reading projects, I thought about Julie. At 26, when we’d met, she was a high-energy-output Respiratory Therapist at Stanford Hospital and supporting her husband, David, through law school.
Even then, as the Hostess with the Mostest, she would put on seven-course meals for me and our friends. And after David graduated and they divorced, she moved into a higher social level with her live-in love. But his cocaine habit interfered with the lifestyle she sought, and through the battles, she finally moved on to other needy men, and briefly married one.

Further Downhill

But the strenuous hours and wild times had already taken their toll on Julie’s health, and she was forced into early retirement. While recuperating, she lived with friends, and fell in love with Wally, a mutual acquaintance. Then still unable to work, she moved in with him and his three teenagers, thinking this would fulfill her desire for parenting. But Wally’s beer and pot addiction, plus the teenagers, took her further downhill. And when he continually postponed their marriage, she moved back with her parents in Napa.
She still had hoped that she and Wally would reconnect, but then she discovered that he had “another sweetie,” as Julie put it. And that shock took her down even further.

Hibernation

Julie tried to revive her sagging energies to build a marketing career (but had no interest in the MLM business, and neither did Wally). However, her body simply wouldn’t respond, and eventually she succumbed to the realization that she simply couldn’t do it any longer. So she hibernated in her cave, as she called the fifth-wheeler, belonging to some new friends, and parked in their backyard. They allowed her space to hang-out and rest, and they took care of her, until the time came for them to take a lengthy vacation in their RV.
She hastily bought a fixer-upper mobile home and remodeled, despite toxic paint fumes. In the meantime, she continued to press her lawsuit for disability reimbursement, and had only recently won the case. But she was, again, emotionally and physically exhausted.

Oh, You’re Early

Freedom’s repairs were completed, to the tune of $705.00, and we arrived on Julie’s doorstep fifteen-minutes early, as she had just gotten home from work and was on the phone, “Oh, you’re early,” she said.
Feeling affronted at this impersonal greeting from my best friend, whom I was anxious to see, and at a loss for what else to say, I said, “Well, we’re not officially here, yet. Van still has to park. Do you want me to leave, and come back then?”
Looking stressed, she mumbled, “No, come on in.”
Van drove Freedom back to the Recreation Room, where Julie had suggested we park, and I walked inside her charming mobile home with the Julie Touch, part of her interior design expertise. “It’s you,” I exclaimed, as I admired the sparkling, bright home she had created.

A Touch of Glass

She opened a closet and showed me the remains of the orange, gold and green seventies wallpaper, left from the previous owner, and the brown walls, which she had transformed into sage green throughout the rest of the house. A touch of glass here and a knick-knack there, and she’d created the elegance I would expect from Julie, at a minimal cost.As Van appeared, Julie handed us a glass of apple cider, and spread some cheese on specialty sesame crackers, added some vegies to dip, and tossed them on the glass-top coffee table. “That’s the best I can do,” she apologized, and sat down.
I fixed the tossed salad (from a package) and finally, dinner was served, as she said, “Sorry, this roast isn’t much, but it’s all I had in the freezer.”

Fading Fast

As we savored the meats and vegetables, my inner child, Joanie, felt devastated that her playmate, Precious, didn’t seem to be around. And I felt guilty taking up Julie’s time and energy, but we were here, so I chatted, and hoped nothing I said would upset her. Inevitably, the conversation went back to some of her bad memories, and I could see her energy level dropping, so I tried to talk about our travels, or anything that would work, but nothing brought forth much interest.
I knew she was fading fast, so I quickly washed the dishes, and we said our good-byes. I felt so sad and disappointed that Julie was so sick, and I had hoped that our OPC-3 might help, but she hauled out a bag of bottles, and said, “I’m already taking all this, and I don’t want to take anything else.”
I said, “Well, as long as it works, that’s the main thing.” I was happy that she had a doctor who prescribed natural herbs and vitamin products, even though Julie had to pay for them without reimbursement.

What’s Wrong Now?

Once out of the mobile home park, we drove around looking for a place nearer to Julie’s where we could spend the night. As we drove around several areas, Van started fussing over Freedom again.
“What’s wrong now?” I growled. I was feeling devastated by my good friend’s health, and now this started up. I simply didn’t feel like I could cope with anything else, as I complained, “Can’t we get through one day without something else for you to fret about?”
Van didn’t reply, but instead stopped at the side of the street.
Again, I asked, “What is wrong?”
“It’s overheating,” Van replied.
“Shit! I bellowed, “I’ve had enough of this lifestyle. It’s time to sell Freedom and hang it up.”
Helplessly, Van muttered, “I guess we’ve been driving too slow.”
“Van,” I hollared, “something is wrong. This is not normal. Just find a place and park.” My stress level had been pushed too far. I flopped on the couch and pulled my blanket over my head. I knew he wanted to go back to the supermarket. I’d felt lucky that we didn’t get hassled the first night, and I didn’t feel comfortable staying in the same freebie place a second night. Nevertheless, he headed back down the highway and pulled into place on the parking lot.

Hopeless and Helpless

I stayed on the couch, while he got settled for the night. As I thought about Julie, I felt hopeless and helpless, and after years of inner child healing work and therapy, I knew the feelings reverted to my childhood when I was told, “Take care of your Mommie, Joanie,” and I didn’t know how; and she got sick anyway. I knew all this, and I still felt bad, but I said to Joanie, “It’s okay to grieve and acknowledge that you feel sad and disappointed. But don’t think of yourself as feeling bad. You’re not bad.
Joanie started to sob, and then she let out her pent-up feelings and cried. And that was a healthy thing for her to do. I patted her, and said, “You’re okay, Joanie.” I love you.” And I finally dropped off to sleep.
When I awoke, I was clear about one thing, “I’m not staying here another night!” I’d wanted to stay at the Skyline Wildlife Park, where we’d stayed before, and see the wild turkeys and deer, and the beautiful sunset over the mountains above Napa Valley. So, when Van woke up, I said, “How soon will you be ready to move up to Skyline Wildlife Park?”

Hssssssssss!

Eventually, we began the long pull up the hill, and got parked. I got out of Freedom and looked at the colorful trees and red berries on the bushes, and I felt at home. “This is one of my favorite places,” I announced. “I like it almost as much as Kah-Nee-Ta, so why aren’t we staying here?”
About that time a loud hissing sound burst from the front of Freedom, and Van hastily emerged and opened the front panel. I warned Van to get his head out of the way, just as steam gushed forth.
“I told you something was wrong last night. Now what?”
Van meekly replied, “I guess we’ll have to go back to Williams Transmission.”
“Great! How much more will that cost?”
“I don’t know, but we have no choice. As soon as Freedom cools off, we’ll go back down the hill.”
“Please call first and make sure they can take us. And what are we going to do about staying here?”
“I guess we’ll have to leave. Maybe we can come back tomorrow.”
I began to feel angry, again, as I thought, “I hope all this isn’t to get out of staying here.” I too hesitated when I noticed that the rates had increased to $18.00. I had originally felt that we could afford it, because Van’s mom had paid for us to spend the month in her mobile home park, but the money we would save from not traveling wouldn’t even cover the amount we’d already paid for the repairs — on the road, and here.
We walked to the gate and explained our situation to the cashier. He agreed that we could transfer the payment to the next night, if we didn’t get back.
Finally, Freedom cooled, and we hastened down the hill and pulled into the repair shop. Again, the doghouse was removed, and the technician re-examined the situation. The manager had already agreed there would be no further labor charge, so when they announced the verdict, I felt relieved that we’d finally found the answer to the long-standing leaking problem: One of the freeon air-conditioning hoses had been rubbing against the alternator, after the repair, and had worn through, causing the freeon to leak out of the air-condition system. So now he needed to splice the tube. Apparently it had been in that position before the repairs, but the technician thought perhaps it was supposed to be that way, and didn’t adjust it.
Obviously it wasn’t in the proper position in the first place. Great! Furthermore, upon closer examination, he also discovered that the fan clutch was not engaging properly, which caused the radiator to overheat; and that was the problem we’d been having ever since we’d gotten Freedom.

It Could get Worse

Okay, these problems were solved. Now, all I had to do was resolve my feelings about Julie. I had called to update her on our situation, and she sounded terrible. “I’m coming down with a cold, and as we speak, I’m in bed. I need to rest, or this will develop into something worse.”
Still scared about the situation, I said, “Well, we’re signed in at the Skyline Wilderness RV Park, and we’ll leave there and go to Van’s mom’s over the weekend. I just don’t want to be a problem here.”
She responded, “Oh, okay. Well, I know you’re worried about getting down there.
I gave up trying to explain again that we weren’t on any time limit; and that we’d come to Napa to see her. My pattern for solving relationship problems is to leave, and it just seemed easier, rather than chance saying the wrong thing and aggravating Julie’s condition.
She’d asked me to call and give her an update, but instead, when Freedom was ready, we got in and drove to our site at the RV Park, without calling. Then we went for a walk in the woods, before the sunset, and I began explaining all these issues to Van. By the time we returned to our site, I was still explaining my feelings, and it was too late and too dark and cold to call.

Let’s go to Lunch

The next morning, I felt better, having expressed my honest feelings to Van. As I lay in bed, I heard a strange noise and looked out my window in time to see a wild turkey fly into the red-berried pyra camphor bush by our coach, and another strutting along below. Joanie jumped up to get the camera, but they had left, so she took the picture anyway, to remind her of the scene. Now that Joanie was present, she offered an idea: Tell Julie that Joanie and Little Ralph want to take Precious to lunch on Saturday, or maybe to Dairy Queen, or maybe let Precious choose the place.
Then I thought about taking her to the beach, but I remembered that our travels with her there last year hadn’t been too successful, between her health and mine. So better not chance it.
Better idea: Van and I could go to Santa Clara via the beach, and stay overnight along the way, rather than the long, hectic freeway route. That felt good. I was taking care of myself, thus avoiding further stressout, and Joanie could still spend some more time with Precious.
It had been raining throughout the day, and I kept busy on the computer, but the rain finally stopped late-afternoon, so I called to invite Julie to Dairy Queen. She wasn’t home, so I left a message.

I Love This Place

Then Little Ralph and Joanie, inspired by the sun peeking through the clouds, walked across the meadow and around the pond where the ducks and two white swans were floating. Through the trees across the pond, we could see two deer grazing in the field; and as we adjusted our gaze, we could see several more beyond them.
“I love this place,” I murmured, as we strolled along the lane to the closed gate and turned around to enjoy the pond scene again.
On the return, we walked through the Martha Walker Garden by twilight and smelled the fragrant sage and other blossoms enhanced by the rain. The brilliant orange California fuchsias and purple sage were clearly visible in the fading light, as we disturbed a flock of quail that scolded and fluttered through the branches of evergreens.
One by one the stars began to twinkle, as we made our way back to Freedom and settled down for the evening. However, the weather report announced a heavy storm coming in from the coast, with possible flooding.

Floods or Blank Wall?

“Sounds like we might need to change our plans,” I said. “Maybe the coast isn’t the place to go, if there’s flooding. Actually, Napa isn’t a good place to be either, considering the serious floods they’ve had in recent years. Do you think we should go directly to your Mom’s?”
“Well, I’d prefer not to drive along the freeway in the rain. Maybe we should stay here another night.”
I began to feel trapped, and I certainly felt as if doors were closing, or we were up against a blank wall with no door in sight. I had hoped to talk with Julie about the possibilities of her doing graphics for several of my books; and maybe doing the marketing, but she was sick, and her wall seemed to be up against any input, and I feared even discussing the subject. Yet, I should at least give her an opportunity to say “No.”
The rains and wind began during the night, as the storm began, and I felt confused and trapped, as I continued through my grieving process over Julie’s illness. I’d been feeling helpless, guilty, angry, sad and defiant. Because I hadn’t heard from her, my thoughts fluctuated between, “She doesn’t want to see us” to “She sounded so sick yesterday, maybe she’s in the hospital.” In my worst moments, I dealt with the possibility that maybe she had died.

Right With God

I was truly into grief, and wondered what else I could have — should have done: “I should have called her again, before we left the repair shop.” But we were so relieved to be done, that we wanted to get out of there; and the manager had suggested that we take Freedom on a test drive, so we went up into the hills, and when we returned to the RV Park, we took our walk. By then it was dark, and difficult to get to the phone.
Now, searching for solace, I picked up my daily reading. As usual, it gave me the message I needed, repeating words that I often write: “I am free with the freedom of Spirit, living the life I was created to live.” It reminded me that my life is not about striving for the approval of others, but listening to and following God, and doing what I feel right in my own soul. It reaffirmed that I am living according to God’s plan and guidance, and that my sincere desire is to bless others along the way.
Finally, I reached a place of release, and realized that I had done all I could for Julie, at this time, and I must let her work out her own destiny. She hadn’t asked or wanted anything from me, but understanding, which I could give, along with our love. We had made the effort to see her, and she had done her best to be with us; but now we must love her enough to let her heal in her own way and time. And we must be on our way.
With that decision, the rain stopped and the sun came out, so we moved on down the road to Santa Clara, before the next downpour started.
Before we left, I made two more attempts to call Julie, and left messages on her answering machine. It was not easy to leave, without seeing her again, but it felt like God’s Guidance for this time, and I silently affirmed, “I am in my right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.”

At Least Freedom is Soaring

This was not the way I’d thought this chapter would be written, but it’s the way it turned out. I’d thought that Kathy and Julie would see the value of the products and the business, and their lives would be transformed, as a result, and like the mythical bird, the phoenix, they would rise out of the ashes, and soar into a new beginning of health and prosperity.
But, it didn’t happen that way. And as we headed south, I knew I had been feeling anxiety about life, especially as doors seemed to be closing, so I began reviewing the recent events, especially God’s guidance for getting our RV repairs. In Red Bluff we’d gotten one long-standing problem solved, and then we were Guided to Napa where the rest of the repairs were efficiently and expediently handled. And now Freedom was working better than ever, since we’d owned the RV.
I also realized that Van should be acknowledged for having changed some attitudes in order for the patterns to be changed. I began to feel positive and uplifted. Our relationship became more harmonious, as a result.
Freedom soared along the highway, without overheating, and everything was now in good working order. Perhaps, after all, the phoenix had risen from its own ashes, only the analogy related to us, and to Freedom. And, as Dottie had said earlier about our networking efforts, we were simply “planting seeds along the way.”
In any event, we had enjoyed our visits with our friends, and anything else was up to God’s perfect plan for good, and according to His time.

Chapter 9
LIVING IN THE PROMISED LAND

Having it All

While spending the month parked at our space in Santa Clara, at the Mobile Home Park where Vanís mom lives, I said to him, “You know, we must be doing something right; now that we aren’t traveling and our parking expenses are paid by your mom, we’ll save enough money to pay the recent repairs on Freedom.”
The “something right” I mentioned is recognizing our Oneness with God and that God is the Source, looking to Him for our supply and guidance, and giving thanks (in advance) for these blessings of good.
I silently added, “Thank you, God.” remembering my constant affirmation: “God has a perfect plan for good for our lives, and it is now manifesting in Divine Order, according to His will, His way, His time, His plan, and His guidance.”
But simply knowing these Truths is not enough. Practical application is vital, if we hope to attain the desired results. I recalled that I had come down with a heavy-duty cold when we stayed here over a year ago; so now I worked on my attitude by seeing the positive aspects of our visit with Van’s mom (Betty).
I began to enumerate the additional blessings: use of Betty’s car for errands to Costco and Trader Joe’s, the post office and even a movie for Joanie and Little Ralph, and opportunity to attend church and visit our friends, whom we knew from having lived here when Van and I first met.
Remembering our month here the year before, I concluded, “You know, this is truly Living in the Promised Land. Our parking expenses are paid, we’re walking distance to the supermarket, drugstores, Kmart, restaurants and a computer store for copying.
We also had a mailbox, and could have our mail forwarded on a weekly basis, plus having letters written directly to us, for speedier delivery from regular correspondents. For instance, I needed to correspond with Jerry Pitre, in Soledad, to arrange for our visit later in the month. In the past, several of his letters to me had been lost, including my birthday card, so it felt good to have mail service at our door. Indeed all our needs were being met.
Betty’s health is failing, and her time is completely regulated, so our visiting time would be after 6:00 p.m. on the evenings she wasn’t at Bingo or otherwise unavailable, such as resting.
The first night we chatted about her recent trip to see the autumn colors in New England, and then Little Ralph got to tell his mom all about the various repairs we’d had on Freedom, and as she listened attentively, showed interest and asked questions, I thought, “This mother-son bonding is very healing for Little Ralph.”
I didn’t mind the evening visits, because I could have quality, uninterrupted time on the computer getting my writing ready for marketing, sending query letters, and corresponding with Freedomers, family and friends.
One day, as we sat at my favorite Home Town Buffet, only a few blocks from home, I said, “We are really having it all this month.”

Do it Yourself!

I had been waiting for God to put me in contact with the right person to help get my books printed and onto the Internet. I felt Silicon Valley was the perfect place, so, after lunch, I wandered into Office Max, and asked some questions. I learned that they do publishing at their larger store, and it can be handled through this one, but they didn’t know anyone to help with the project.
Then I felt Guided to an off-street computer shop and asked the Chinese lady, Sylvia, if she knew how to get a website on the Internet.

She responded in broken English, “No Internet. Too expensive, and no one can find you anyway.”
I hesitated to continue with the conversation, because I had great difficulty understanding, but she kept talking, and I realized she was saying things I needed to hear, so I listened very carefully. Indeed, I had been God-guided to this lady. She spoke of the importance of spirituality, rather than materiality; of coming from the heart, rather than materiality, as one’s motivation. And she seemed to be able to see inside me, as she spoke of my clearness and balance.
“Do it yourself,” she advised. “You watch TV shows, see their address or phone, and contact them. Don’t worry about ego. God will show you.” She kept talking. “Don’t go to Good Morning, America. Too big. Go to Good Morning, San Jose. Local. They need good ideas.”

I had told her about my books and courses for prisoners, and that they contained material from their letters.
“Recently Ted Koppel talked about prisons, but he on outside, not involved like you. This is good. It’s needed. You call, write. Maybe newspaper editors or magazines. Do it. You’ll get responses. Let God guide you.”
For years I had seen it all unfolding in my mind, and now, as she spoke, I knew God was giving her the words, and giving me the ability to hear and discern them. I knew she was right. I knew it was time, and I knew it would work. Yet it felt scary. “Am I truly ready?” I wondered. I felt panic, and the need to get away. She had promised to give me the name and phone of a customer who had her spiritual book published and made into a movie, so I said, “I’ll be back next Monday.”
I felt like I would suffocate, but once outside I began to breathe freely. “It’s coming too fast,” I thought. But I relaxed, as I reminded myself that I would continue to be guided, and that I would be able to handle it: “It is not I, but the Father within who doeth the works.”

Everything we Needed

In the meantime, we had more errands. Earlier, Van and I had been discussing whether or not to buy some trace minerals that helped my attitude.
“I’m not sure I need them, when I have our products, but we’re almost out, and you just mailed the order, so we won’t get them for another week, at least. Besides, the health food store had to order them last time, and I don’t know how long it will take.”
Nevertheless, we went to the store, where I had once worked (before I knew Van), and I asked the new manager, also Chinese, for the products. He walked to the shelf, picked up the bottles and placed them on the counter. I chatted a few minutes about the former manager and salesclerk, as well as the owner, who was now retired. Of course, we were all much older now, and it gave me a sense of the passing of time.
On the way home, I said to Van, “Isn’t it interesting that he had everything we needed? I’m sure it’s because we have our thoughts in alignment with each other, and with God; without any passive- aggressive games being played. Thank you.”
He agreed, and I continued, “I must get busy. Time is passing, and there’s so much to do. I must get organized.” But, I knew that it would all unfold in God’s perfect time.
In the next days, I began collecting my material, planning my course of action, and updating my manuscripts. But most of all, I spent time listening within for the Guidance; and following.

Something Shifted

One night, after a lively discussion of politics, which revolved around President Clinton’s escapades, Betty handed her son a check and said, “This isn’t for you; it’s for Freedom.”
He looked at it silently, and then said, “Thank you very much.”
She added, “Well, you’ve had some big repair expenses, and this will help.”
I didn’t know the amount, until later, but I thanked her, and said a silent, “Thank you, God.”
I could tell that something had shifted within him over this gift — an inner healing had taken place in the relationship between Van and his mother. Their love association revolves around money, and this time Van seemed to understand that’s how his mom shows her love.
A Trip to a Foreign Land
I think of The Promised Land as unlimited supply and all our needs being fulfilled. In other words, it’s freedom from lack and limitation. So I enjoy illustrations and experiences that reinforce this consciousness. For instance, Van’s mom lives in a part of Santa Clara that is predominantly Asian, Indian and otherwise inclined toward the Eastern lifestyle, and the businesses are operated by and geared toward them. In fact, most of the store names are written in their language, and impossible for me to read, so accordingly I don’t frequent their services.
But, across the street, where the local supermarket and drugstore once existed, is the National Market, catering to the Asian/Indian population. Our neighbor, Henry, said “It’s the place to get fresh fruits and vegetables.”
One day, when we didn’t have the car, I needed lettuce, so in the spirit of adventure, we walked to the market. Inside the door, a repugnant odor greeted us, but soon we were absorbed in the fascinating world of familiar and mostly unfamiliar produce. Of course, I couldn’t read or pronounce most of them, nor did I have a clue how to use them. Yet, a new and mysterious world of unlimited opportunities opened before us: piles of wrapped bunches of something green, like grass, were grabbed and placed in most shopping carts, along with Korean spinach and large Japanese yams and taro roots, bok choy, cabbage, watercress and bamboo stalks.
“I would need an oriental cook to use these ingredients,” I mused, and secretly longed to taste the obviously nutritious cooking that would utilize such fresh, green vegetables.
The fruits too, were exotic, and mostly unfamiliar. Other than the pineapples, bananas, oranges, apples and melons, were strange names and stranger fruits. One item, in an open freezer, looked like a pineapple (without the leafy top) and had sharp spikes covering the entire surface. DO NOT TOUCH was the loud and clear message.
I’d wondered about a melon-type fruit that had been cut in sections, and displayed its white pulp. Another shopper explained that it must be cooked. OOOPs, better leave that to the experts. I selected some fresh mung bean sprouts, not the soy bean ones, and my head of green leafy lettuce (only 39 cents) and continued wandering through the aisles, beyond the produce.
We studied packaged cookies, candies, biscuits and confections that we’d never heard of, but with tantalizing pictures; the choices were so overwhelming that I didn’t buy any. Just meandered to the end of aisles, and stopped in my tracks.
Now we found the source of the repugnant odor: open displays of fresh fish packed in ice: Japanese trout, salmon, sole, and some I’d never heard of. And if they weren’t fresh enough, live fish swam helplessly in tanks of water awaiting their selection by some discerning shopper. Lobsters awaited their fate, for only $5.99 lb. and one blue crab, so-named because of his bright blue legs, hid behind a pole.
As I watched the busy oriental clerks attending the fish market customers, I realized that behind this area was a meat market with live butchers, but no live animals, thank goodness. The meat was fresh, but not that fresh.
We’d reached the back of the market, so now began our trek toward the front through more aisles of oriental delicacies, and some piled on tables for easier viewing. One entire row featured fresh bakery items, such as breads and croissants with their delicious aroma permeating the shelves. By now we’d become accustomed to the fish odor, and our nostrils could appreciate the bakery smells.
However, it felt disheartening to be in the land of unlimited supply, and not able to spend the money to buy the exotic offerings; but we used discretion this time, and only looked. Maybe we were like the spies, who first investigated The Promised Land. But we would return to indulge in some of the newfound goodies.
In the meantime, we paid for our items at the checkout stand, and walked past stacks featuring many kinds of rice in 25 lb. bags; talk about abundance.
As we returned to the outside, we felt as if we’d been on a trip to a foreign land, without the expense.

Another Foreign Land

I’d been to Comp USA before, but this time we were again like the spies observing the new opportunities. My computer monitor had been showing signs of exhaustion, and Van had suggested that a laptop might be a desirable replacement. Sometimes I wonder if we are really ready for The Promised Land, and what would we do when we got there? Perhaps we’d feel like I did staring at the sea of computers, with myriad choices, and not a clue. Of course, I was lucky, because I had Van (a computer programmer) with me. But he too, stood looking at the notebook-size phenomenonís that had made their appearance since his retirement, and began studying the information.
At least he knew what he was reading. It was all foreign to me. My first inclination was to look for the gray keyboard, since that’s familiar. But Van said, ìThat’s not the criteria.”
Yet, I still didn’t know what I was doing, so I asked the clerk, “Why would I select this one, for instance, rather than that one?”
“Well, I showed you this one, because it’s lower priced and has the most features for the money.”
He thought he was being helpful, but I still didn’t understand. However, as Van explained various features, I began to recognize familiar words, such as bytes and megahertz, that indicate the storage capacity and computer speed — very important to avoid future frustrations, such as the speed for entering the Internet.
I couldn’t believe that these tiny laptops could hold more storage than my computer, and that they could actually access the Internet. Talk about The Promised Land of Unlimited Supply. This would open a world of information and opportunities.
But, again I was in overload, and certainly not ready to make such an important decision, so we left and ambled home beneath a glorious sunset of pink and purple and blue clouds.
During the next two days we looked at laptops in two different computer stores. Both offered Compaq, which Van felt would be the best brand for me, yet the prices and models varied, between Office Depot and Frys, The Promised Land of electronics.
I’d never been to Frys before, and marveled at the vastness of everything related to electronics and computers. The background piano music, though a few notches too loud, added an elegant touch to the professional atmosphere. The place swarmed with foreign computer buffs, mostly in suits, and the overbearing commissioned salesmen were too much present for me. I wanted to browse through the myriad options. However, the more choices caused me to feel overwhelmed, so we left.

Another Boost from Sylvia

Now I knew why it took so long for the Israelites to finally reach The Promised Land. As I keep saying, it’s a matter of consciousness and readiness. I obviously wasn’t ready. However, I began to wonder if God had other plans for me, as my monitor refused to come up each morning, until I prayed, flicked switches and waited.
The question became: “Am I ready to move into a higher level of consciousness that gives me permission to own a laptop computer?
I needed another boost from Sylvia, so I stopped by to tell her of my progress, but she was busy on the phone, and then had to leave for a class. But she asked, “Did you call the TV station yet?”
I knew I needed another boost from her, and this was it. I replied “No,” but I have a booklet for you.”
“Oh no, it cost you money to print this. Just give me your address, so we can keep in touch; and let me know when you be on TV.” And she was out the door.
“Oh well,” I thought, “my work isn’t over, yet. In fact, it’s just beginning.”
I went home and prayed for guidance and strength to follow through.

Time Warp

Two special events enforced our Promised Land consciousness, during our stay in Santa Clara.
Last time we came through, I attended the bridal shower of our friend, Jane, and we met Len; but we left before their wedding. This time we joined Jane to see a movie, Pleasantville.
The Promised Land aspect of this event is the Century Theater, which features a massive foyer with every conceivable snack item. Tables and chairs are even available to sit and eat, before attending one of sixteen movies. And, after walking along winding corridors, there’s another snack booth with fresh popcorn being popped. The packed theater proclaimed abundance, as we stood in line for tickets and snacks the day after Thanksgiving; not a wise choice of days to avoid crowds.
But fortunately they were not heading to our movie, a surreal fantasy about teenage siblings who inadvertently are whisked back in time through a TV program, similar to Ozzie and Harriet. They become members of the colorless, but perfect family, in the perfect town, in the perfect life of the fifties; until knowledge and color were introduced to upset their status quo. Yet, the fantasy offered another perspective of The Promised Land concept.

The Spirit of the Lord Upon Them

On the other hand, we too, felt like we had stepped into another reality, when attending the wedding reception for Cathy’s daughter, Renee. The last time we had seen her, she was a typical teenager. Our time warp began with the realization that Renee had grown into a beautiful 32-year-old woman, who had already married her handsome 38-year-old husband, Tim.
The Antelope Hills Recreation Room was transformed into a Cinderella setting for the Wedding Reception. The testimonials to the bride and groom began to unfold, as family and friends greeted them with reminiscences of their part in the lives of the individuals who had now become a couple.
The abundant food served as a backdrop to the love and joy of this gathering of devout Christians who lavished words of praise on the young couple for their accomplishments in overcoming “Satan’s” influence in their lives. I don’t know what happened in their past, but the Spirit of the Lord truly reflected from them at this gala event, as each paid tribute to the newlyweds, and we felt as if we’d been in a storybook setting that ended, as they rode into the sunset and lived happily ever after.
This Beginning seems an appropriate Ending to the chapter on The Promised Land, although we would continue to remain here for an entire month.

Chapter 10
LAYING FOUNDATIONS AND BUILDING ON THEM

Teamwork, such as Renee and Tim, reminded me of the rest of the Bible verses I’d been looking up (related to my concern about our visit with Julie, as I wrote in an earlier chapter): “According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11).” Again, these words spoke of the need to work in alignment.
As I’m writing these words, I’m recalling the so-called coincidence of having watched for two nights on TV the documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright, the arrogant architect, whose height of his career didn’t come, until after his sixties, and into his nineties.
Truly a genius, despite his ego, his ideas and visions became the foundation upon which his “disciples” continued to build long after his death. His most prestigious work being The Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Though he didn’t profess to being a religious person, his spirituality became the framework of his buildings, and the work of God could truly be felt in his architecture.
The teamwork involved in creating his works of art, or any endeavor, speaks to the necessity for harmony and alignment. Though Frank Lloyd Wright was egotistical and arrogant, the commentator observed that his buildings overcame those characteristics and were not a reflection of one man’s ego, but rather a synchronization of harmony, void of any ego (or words of that effect).
As I continued to meditate on the importance of planting seeds and laying foundations in the harmony of teamwork, I noticed that Van and I too, were becoming more in alignment. Whereas we had previously been out-of-sync in our separate endeavors, we were growing more together in our endeavors, which had been my long-time dream.
“Maybe I’ve just been too impatient,” I thought, “perhaps the fulfillment of these dreams are still to come. After all, Frank Lloyd Wright’s best work came in his eighties and nineties.” Somehow, seeing the documentary on his life had been a calming influence, and though I wouldn’t have cared for him, as an individual, I admired his spirit and his work, and his self-confidence, which had been instilled in him by his mother’s persistence that he was destined for greatness.

Reaching Out in Love

I hadn’t been inspired by my parents in the direction of my dreams; in fact, quite the opposite is true. I shrivel at the thought of Mom Freeland’s dominance and control; a strong-willed, high-spirited woman, which is why I recoil from similar people, such as Frank Lloyd Wright. But I feel the call of destiny with my writings and ministry. And his story inspired and encouraged me to be patient and trust God’s perfect plan for good; and to keep planting seeds with my writing, and laying foundations with my words.
Although I was anxious to get on with making the corrections and revisions, based on Dottie’s edits, my Guidance detoured me to write my Travelogue Newsletter and mail to my family, friends and Freedomers to catch up on overdue correspondence. I was aghast that some letters I owed went back to July, and I realized that traveling, as well as writing my books and courses, can be time-consuming, and I actually lose track of time. Rather a pleasant, euphoric experience, yet not conducive to harmonious relationships-by-mail.
So I got busy and composed my newsletter, and spent a week responding with overdue communications. Before I was through, I’d sent over thirty correspondences, and I felt like each word was a love-seed I’d planted, and the golden harvest would be left to God’s will and His time.
It reminded me of a little poem that went: “Little letter, be on your way; return with love another day.”

Mood Swings: Where’s my OPC-3?

I didn’t write anything on my books during this time, but when I went to my computer to compose some lengthy replies, I couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t bring up the menu, so I couldn’t use it.
I complained to Van, and he fussed with it awhile, and then announced, “I think you need a new monitor.”
Because the same thing had happened when we stayed here a year ago, I blew up: “I am not willing to play this game. I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’m not playing. So, go ask your mother to borrow her car, and we’ll go buy a new monitor!”
Van looked panic-stricken, as he said, “This isn’t our day to use her car, and I don’t want to disturb her plans.”
“Shit!” I screamed. “All you have to do is borrow it for an hour to drive across the street to Comp USA.”
“Well, I can carry it over,” he offered, unwilling to tangle with his mother’s set program.
“Okay, fine, if that’s what it takes. All I know is that I want my computer working this time, while I’m here.”
As this tirade was volleying in his direction, Van turned the computer on and off a few times, and joyfully announced, “It’s working!”
“Aha!” I slammed, “I knew it was some game you were playing. Thank you, for getting off it.”
“Well, if I am, I don’t know what it is.”
“All I know is that it wasn’t working, and now it is, and you are the one who fixed it. Thank you.”
I settled down at my computer and completed my task, without turning it off, until the end of the day.
The next morning, I confidently turned on the computer, and again it didn’t come up. “Damn!” I exclaimed. Van wasn’t up, yet, but I roused him, and he went through the same process, as I grumbled, “Okay, we’ll use a grocery cart to haul the computer for repairs.î Determined to get the computer fixed, I growled, ìLet’s go.î
Miraculously the menu appeared on the screen, and I completed another day of letter-writing. At the end of the day, I again turned off the computer.

How About a Laptop?

That night, at Betty’s, Van made a casual comment to his mom, that about knocked me off my chair. He said, “I’ve been trying to talk My Love into buying a laptop computer.”
It was news to me, but maybe he was planting a seed. In any event, I pursued the subject, and concluded that it was a plausible idea, and kept my mind open to the subject. Not that I was ready to invest my precious inheritance (the last installment being due within two months), but my computer is high priority, and it must be in top working order. I recalled that last year we had paid over $300.00 for repairs, and it’s had heavy usage, so perhaps a laptop is the answer, and a worthwhile investment. But, I decided to think it over.
The next morning, with most of my correspondence completed, I now needed to create some cards, and the computer went on without any hesitation. “Hummm,” I thought, “maybe God was emphatically telling me to focus on letters, and not book-writing.
In the meantime, while visiting our neighbor, Henry, he asked if Van could help him get his laptop connected to the Internet, and hauled out the cutest little notebook-size edition of a Brothers’ word-processor with extra communication capabilities; not a computer, as such, because it only inter-acts with the Internet.
Van helped me write this part, because, I still don’t understand what he’s talking about. But, I was sold on the concept. However, he repeatedly emphasized that it wouldn’t work for me: You need a laptop computer, because “If you got that kind, you would not be able to take your programs and use them on that system.”
I took his word for it, but the seed had not only been planted; now it was being nurtured. So I figured God was giving me a message. Our next major project became the search for my new laptop computer.
I could hardly wait to unhook the cumbersome monitor that took up our table, and had to be secured in place with a bungee-cord when we travel.
“You can sit wherever you want,” Van had prompted, “and you can easily use it, while we’re traveling, without it being affected by the bumps.”
“I’m convinced, where do I sign up?” I asked.
Since we had the car for the next several days, we examined various laptops at the numerous computer stores, and I became much more knowledgeable on the subject, and more excited about the prospect of having Windows 98 at my disposal, along with more updated features.

“Are We Still Friends?”

In the meantime, I called Dottie to see if we were still on speaking terms, after the honest communication I wrote her.
“Oh, Hey,” she responded good-naturally, and I knew everything was okay. Since I’d called from the convenience of Henry’s phone, we chatted for over an hour; broken by my prepaid calling card running out, and Dottie calling me back.
Once she updated me on the family news, she admitted that she hadn’t, as yet, called Marilyn or Aunt Betsy, “But” she said, “I did call Grandma Val, and I said, ‘What’s this rumor I hear that you may be moving into the same place as your brother.”
“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m not going to do that. I’m happy here.”
Remembering that this was the season for her funk, I asked, “How did she sound?”
“Great!”
“That’s amazing. The OPC-3 must be doing some good.” And I added, “That reminds me. I ran out of mine, and I suspect that some my anxiety about my letter to you is because, as you know, I was part of the original events that triggered the dissolution of our family, which also triggers Mom’s pattern, at this time; and I tend toward a subconscious anxiety that something dreadful will happen. And the amazing thing about these patterns is the compulsion to re-create the trauma. So, I must admit that I think my letter to you evolved from that pattern.”
She laughed, and replied, “Maybe, but I also know that when something like that happens, I have to examine my own consciousness to see what’s going on with me. As you mentioned in the letter, I’ve been having my character defects come up for review, so I looked at what you wrote, and realized that other aspects of the same pattern were surfacing. And I had the realization that it’s part of my need to feel that I make a difference. For instance, even if little things go wrong, I seem to need to get upset and yell about it, so everyone will notice how important this is.” She paused for breath, and then continued, “So, I asked God to remove the character defect, and it hasnít bothered me since then.
I was so relieved that I could relate my honest communication to Dottie, and we were still friends, that I felt as if a ton of elephants had walked off my chest.

Spiritual Seeds

Speaking of planting seeds, as I did in another chapter, backed with Sylviaís encouragement, I took another step toward fulfilling my dreams by writing a letter to Rev. Marianne Williamson, once proclaimed as “The minister to the stars” (Hollywood, that is). I had read an article, based on an interview with her, in the May 1998 Unity Magazine, in which she discussed the need to take action. Referring to a question about prisons, she said that the time for spiritual quiescence was over, and that we must now take steps to put the keys to the kingdom into application.
Because my ministry focuses on prisoners, whom I call Freedomers, I introduced myself and enclosed a copy of one of my booklets, Saying “Yes” to Inner Freedom, for and about them; and since she mentioned her organization, American Renaissance Alliance, I asked her for ideas and support to get these materials out there where they can benefit others.
Not only did I write the letter, but I mailed it the same day, which was a major accomplishment for me, as far as taking a giant step is concerned.
Toward the end of the month, I acted upon another idea; I wrote a letter a letter to the principal of Napa High School, where there had been an outbreak of gang activity, and sent along my booklet. I also prepared and sent a sample version of my defunct monthly publication, Inner Freedom Support Connection, which featured an article by Freedomer Adam Martin titled Crime Addiction and another by his brother, Michael, revealing the truth about big crime organizations controlling the gangs, essentially using these kids for financial benefits. The four-page pamphlet includes a Message From Joyanna and my Book List. (I never heard back from either contact, but these efforts became seeds for my future efforts to create a website for my Inner Freedom Ministry).

A New Foundation

It seems appropriate to mention my visits to the local Unity churches, where I had been very involved during my years in this area.
The initial impact of returning, more than twenty years later, hit the year before, when we spent a month, and I’ve recounted that story in Home on the Raod: Moving On. But the significant emotion, this year, related to the passing of time, and the changes involved. Now, despite the large congregation, I knew no one at Unity Church of Palo Alto, and I truly felt like an outsider. I’m sure these feelings were enhanced by my underlying seasonal Abandonment Issues, though I too, am moving through it with much less discomfort.
But, since my last visit, the San Jose Unity church had moved into a refurbished Bank of America (BA) building. I understood the improvement of the new, modern atmosphere; but I sorely missed the picturesque sanctuary, built around a living tree, and the offices, bookstore, and classrooms in the old Spanish style villa with its courtyard, garden, and fountain where the wedding ceremony to my second husband took place. The marriage to “Cousin John” (related only by my adoption), was short-lived. I had represented something unobtainable to him, because of our respective childhood backgrounds, and once he married me, there was no reason to continue the charade, so he left me in an apartment, and he lived with someone else. My involvement in the church helped me survive that fiasco; truly a mistake of the highest magnitude, as I referred to as an affair; not a marriage.
And the former church is also where I met James Bond, the next love in my life. Because of him, I divorced John, moved to Palo Alto, and became involved in that church. But now, all that is ancient history, which was brought to my attention when I spoke with the only two people still attending the former San Jose church; The husband and wife, Randy and Sara, both much younger than me, now had white hair; and, of course, so do I, which served as a reminder of the passing of time.
I couldn’t help thinking about the opening words of Ecclesiastes 3:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and time to lose; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Attending the new church with its new name, “Unity Center of Silicon Valley, that Thanksgiving Sunday, I never felt more strongly the effect of those words. And, added to the meaningful day, I stared in shock when a man, whom I thought was Cousin John, came into the sanctuary with a lady, and sat a few rows in front of me. It had been so long since I’d seen him that I wasn’t sure whether or not it was my long, lost cousin. But, during the get-acquainted part of the service, I spoke to him, and was relieved — and disappointed — to learn that I was shaking hands with a stranger. Yet, someday I would like to make contact with Cousin John again.
Yes, time to forgive and let go of the memories and relationships of the past, and build the future upon a new foundation, just as the church had done.

Heredity or Environment?

And yet, I’m not sure how that can be done, considering the intense hold the past has upon us, such as the influences of heredity and environment. These too, are seeds; and they lay the foundation upon which we build our lives.
I became acutely aware of this one evening when Betty began talking about her father and his effect on her life, and I realized his grandfather’s impact on Van too, as she unraveled the story. “My father was cheap!” Betty snapped, as she grimaced in remembrance, and then continued, “He inherited some land in Oklahoma where oil was eventually discovered, and then left it to Phillips University, with only 10 percent going to us kids; and all this, because they promised to erect a plague in honor of his 25-years on the school board. But the school never sent us our checks, until I stopped by there and brought it to their attention. Furthermore, they never erected the plaque, either.”
I asked, “If your father was so cheap, how did you develop such good money patterns?”
“From my mother,” she replied, “but mostly I learned them from experience. My parents never gave me an allowance, and I was spoiled rotten, because when I wanted or needed something I got it. Then, after my mother died, and I had to go to work to support myself and Ralph, I opened charge accounts every place. Of course, when the bills came due, I didn’t have enough money. So I quickly learned that I must live within my income; so I talked with each creditor, and promised to pay $10.00 a month, until the debts were paid; and I did too! From then on, I lived within my income.”
“Well, at least you learned. Most people today simply get further in debt; and then declare bankruptcy,” I commented.
“Yes, and that’s too bad,” she agreed.
Later in the conversation I decided to let her know that Van’s money matters had deteriorated into a Silas Marner complex.
She looked surprised and said to him, “You’d better wise up.”
He looked uncomfortable, and I said, “I’m telling your mother on you,” but he didn’t say anything, so I figured enough said, and changed the subject. Whether or not anything would result from the conversation, I didn’t know, but I sure felt better, having made the communication to his mother, and no longer having to endure the discomfort by myself.
I was beginning to realize that the foundation laid by the VanCamps and his Grandfather (his momís dad) were taking their toll, and unless Van was willing to make the effort, the patterns would inevitably take him down; and I determined that I would not be taken down with him.
I still didn’t understand the complexity of his money matters, but I knew they were the result of childhood patterns involving his mom and dad, as evidenced by this conversation with Betty. But Van had been doing inner healing work about his money issues that had resulted in underearning and overspending. And now he realized that God is the Source, and his mother is the channel through which God supplied this money. A vital realization had been achieved.
At the beginning of this visit, I had suggested that Van observe his mother’s approach to money, and perhaps glean something beneficial to offset his Silas Marner (based on the character from a Classic by that name) approach, as I called his more-less-is-good consciousness.
His mom is generous, yet conservative in her money matters. Since her husband’s death, over twenty years ago, she’d made choices that suited her lifestyle and desires. For instance, she lived in a moderately priced mobile park and drove a smaller car, so she could spend her money on selected cruises, tours, and trips.
She had recently returned from a tour of the autumn colors in New England, and was now planning a trip to meet us in Laughlin, NV. the week before Christmas. Because of her health, she would no longer take cruises, but she said, “I’ve seen all that I want; I’m ready to stay home, unless I feel like taking another cruise through the Panama Canal; but I won’t get off the ship. It’s too difficult for me to get around.”
I laughed to myself, because I figured Betty would be traveling, if at all possible, and that’s what keeps her going. However, she is a woman of pride and dignity, and must use a cane for steadiness, and a wheelchair makes it possible for her to get through the airports. So she would not continue traveling, were she not able to handle herself with dignity.
On the other hand, Van’s dad (Ralph Sr.) never made enough money to support himself and his family, though he was a pharmacist and always worked. But Betty and he had divorced when Little Ralph was still an infant, and her parents took care of him, while she went to school and worked, until her mom died. On the verge of a nervous breakdown over her mother’s death, Betty sent her son to live with his dad and grandmother, where he lived off-and-on, even after his dad remarried.
After Ralph Jr. grew up and joined the Navy, he became estranged from his father for over twenty-two-years. When I finally talked Van into visiting him, his dad was at work in his own drugstore in the small town of Fowler, Colorado.
The shelves were sparsely filled, and the fountain and restaurant weren’t in operation, and he was terribly in debt, which was his pattern. But he was on the job, obviously a victim of the hard-work syndrome.
I remember Van telling me that he had attempted to help his dad establish an orderly bookkeeping system, but his dad would have none of it; so Van said, “Have-at-it,” and left him alone for over twenty years.
In the meantime, his dad had divorced and remarried several times, and had acquired something of value, after all. Much to Van’s surprise, the attractive young girl in the drugstore turned out to be his half-sister, Kim, whom Van had never met, nor did he even know existed. She was the ìsomething of valueî that his dad had to show for the rest of his life, in addition to his son, of course.
“Typical of the Van Camp clan,” as his mother would say, adding, “He got all his bad characteristics from them,” according to Betty. And laughing, she added, “He got his good ones from my side of the family.”
Rather harsh words, but unfortunately partially true, I had to admit, after hearing their family history from Van’s Aunt Betsy.
However, the older boys (Ralph Sr.’s brothers) had worked hard to provide their mom with the basic necessities, because their dad, a railroad telegrapher, traveled about the country spending his money on various schemes that didn’t pan out; thus having none for his family. After their parents divorced, the boys continued to support their mom, though she also worked hard making and selling quilts.
Two months, after our second visit with Van’s dad, he died of emphysema that developed into pneumonia, and Kim returned to Minnesota to live near her mother. Through the years, I’ve kept in contact at Christmas, and learned that she eventually moved to Seattle, Washington. But, true to the Van Camps, she preferred not to make further contact, so that ended another relationship.

Kith and Kin

On the other hand, Van has a step-brother, Roy, whom he hadn’t seen in thirty-years (before my time with him) — typical of Van Camps. This estrangement had been largely affected by the fact that Roy had leant Van money for one of his projects, and it had never been repaid. I had recently asked Roy’s mother, Ruth (Van’s stepmother, with whom he had lived, until she divorced his dad),) to ask Roy how he would feel about seeing Van.
His stepbrother replied, “I’d feel better about it, if he repaid the $2,000.00 he owes me.”
Somehow, through the years, the timing wasn’t right, nor did Van have the money to repay Roy. Yet, a meeting between the two was essential for the inner healing of both. So, I wrote to Ruth, letting her know about our month in Santa Clara, and asked if she thought the timing would be right for the get-together.

Kissing Cousins

With all the family reunions, I decided to get closure on my relationship with Cousin John. I’d found him listed in the phone book, and had driven to the location to learn whether it was his home or business. Arriving on a Sunday, we discovered business offices that were closed.
“Okay, that’s enough for now,” I said to Van. “We’ll return on a weekday.” I’ve learned, through the years of my recovery, not to push myself beyond my limits and not to overload myself emotionally, as well as physically, so taking my recovery “One step at a time,” it seemed appropriate to approach the next stage of the visit at another time.
I’d heard that he was traveling around the country in an RV, so I prepared for the fact that he would be elsewhere. But, at least I could attain this information from a receptionist, or whoever would greet us at the office.
Of course, I also had his phone number, and I could call; but this seemed more threatening than the office visit.

Another Family Curse

One of Van’s family patterns is non-social, and as such, they follow an out-of- sight-out-of-mind policy. For instance, Van didn’t see his father for over twenty-years, until I insisted we make the pilgrimage to Colorado for them to reconnect. The first challenge was finding Van’s Aunt Betsy in Denver. She had moved, but fortunately we located her, and she told us where to find Van’s dad: a small town on the prairies east of Pueblo.
They had a grand reunion in Ralph Sr.’s drug store in Fowler, where a third person unknowingly became involved. Van discovered that he had a twenty-two-year-old sister, Kim, and there was no denying the family resemblance: reddish hair, blue eyes and fair complexion.
The siblings met and chatted, but the only connection thereafter were Christmas cards between Kim and me. We might have seen her when traveling to Colorado, but Ralph Sr. died, after our visit the next year. Then Kim returned to live near her mother in Minnesota, and eventually moved to Seattle.
In the meantime, I instigated a reunion between Van and his sister, Sharon, who lives in northern California, but she chose to disconnect again.
However, I had contacted her mother, Ruth, and we had visited them (also her husband, Ed,) during our travels. At that time, she updated us on Van’s brother, Roy, who lived in the Bay Area. They hadn’t seen each other either, in over twenty-years. But my efforts to get them together hadn’t materialized.

The Surprise Visit

This background sets the scene for the last day of our stay in Santa Clara. I had sent Ruth a newsletter, before Thanksgiving, and told her our address for the month. Unfortunately, the holiday delayed the mail delivery, but Ruth called her son, Roy, and gave him our address.
I know it was by God’s grace that we were home, though getting ready to leave on errands. Van stood outside, under our neighbor’s awning, having a cigarette, when a van drove up and parked behind Freedom.
I’d put on my jacket to leave, when I heard voices, and looked outside. I knew immediately, from pictures, that it was Roy, and flew out the door, in the blustery weather, and shouted, “I know who you are,” and flung my arms around him.
In the meantime, Van was in shock, because I hadn’t mentioned to him that I’d written Ruth in an effort to set up a meeting with his brother. In fact, when he first saw Roy, he thought it was their Uncle Gene, who lives in Denver, because there was such a strong family resemblance; though Gene is much older.
We stood outside chatting a few minutes, and then welcomed another family member into our traveling home, as Roy began talking about his invention: Grill Wizard; a long-handled gadget with a detachable wire scrubber and spatula. A very clever device to take the drudgery out of an otherwise fun pastime, barbecuing.
I need to explain that inventing is another family characteristic, and Van has had his share, before we met. For instance, his Buzzy confection (peanut butter and honey) had occupied several years of his time to concoct the proper preparation of ingredients and invent the machinery. Actually, we met through his distributor, and the product was being marketed. But, within a short time, Van had come up against his barriers (financial and emotional) and soon his thriving business became defunct, and he filed bankruptcy.
Such a sad story for something with so much potential. It’s another one of those “could have” stories; we could have been millionaires.
I could see the same pattern, as Roy made his presentation and unraveled his story. Of course, we supported his enthusiasm, as we could see the potential for his invention. However, he too, enjoys the creativity, but abhors the sales and marketing. In fact, he approached us to become involved by setting up a sales booth in Quartzsite, Arizona, a mecca for flea market enthusiasts.
“But Van is like you, he doesn’t like the sales aspect,” I explained, and Roy looked disappointed. I suspected that might have been his motivation for pushing through the barrier to make contact with his brother. But, whatever the apparent reason, the important result is the healing factor of them getting together.
And, as they talked, my mind drifted back to an unresolved issue between the brothers: Van had borrowed money from Roy to finance his Buzzy business; and he had never repaid it, which was still a sore point for Roy, and with good reason. But he isn’t aware of the family curse that has afflicted some of the members. I don’t understand enough to explain; nor would I try. I only know that despite Van’s many wonderful characteristics, this is another obsessive-compulsion disorder that manifests as a money matter, and prevents him from properly dealing with money issues.
My concern in the matter is finding a solution that would heal this apparent chemical disorder. There is hope that OPC-3 is an answer. However, talking about it, with the people involved, is a vital step in the healing process. But our schedule didn’t allow the time to remain in the area, so this is a story that will unfold. At least, the seeds are planted (by their reconnecting) and the foundation has been laid.

Chapter 11
GIFTS FROM GOD

Sunset in Santa Cruz

Sunset in Santa Cruz, California, found us overlooking the famous Natural Bridge rock formation as the sun began to fade behind the ocean; a picturesque gift from God with a golden glow highlighting the seagulls sitting atop the protruding rocks and reflecting from the tide flowing into the seashore. But the main feature this day was the high breakers crashing against the rocks and seawall.
Of course, the surfers had arrived en masse and were riding the waves in this exceptional phenomenon. Spectators lined the fence and banks with exclamations of “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” when the powerful breakers crashed beneath them. Soon they were silhouettes in the sunset, and we forced ourselves to leave this beautiful scene, for we had another destination to reach.
But this scenic drive must include a view of the Santa Cruz pier jutting into the rolling waves; and the Boardwalk with its roller coaster and fun rides, which were now lighted against the darkness. With some sadness, we noticed that the Dream Inn hotel had been redecorated and the name changed, which indicated the passing of time.

Nothing Stays the Same

Nothing stays the same, and I acutely felt this reality, as we passed Brommer Street, while driving through Santa Cruz.
“Mom Freeland lived in that mobile home park around the corner,” I said to Van. The mixed emotions returned, as I remembered visits here; but, as usual, the saddest memory is knowing that the last time I saw my beloved Dad Freeland here, was when he drove me to the bus station, from La Selva, where they lived, at the time (before his death). I smiled and returned his wave, through my parting tears. Little did I know that would be my last memory of Dad. He had been hospitalized with flu that turned into pneumonia, and never recovered.

Now, we were approaching Capitola, a quaint seaside town that is especially dear to our hearts; for this is where Van and I first lived together. The massive icicle-like white Christmas lights dripped from every building along the main street, giving a mystical appearance to this Fairyland village-by-the-sea.
We drove onto the Esplanade and parked near our immediate destination, El Torro Bravo, the Mexican restaurant around the corner from our studio apartment, where we ate our Friday night dinner, before crossing the street to the Capitola Theater. No matter what movie, we always attended those crazy seventies flicks, with Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Tom Hanks, and the like. Though we were the older generation, and some of the tomfoolery seemed quite risquÈ, we nevertheless enjoyed our weekly outing. In recent years the Capitola Theater had been sold by the last of the two elderly sisters, and it has become a theater for live productions, such as “Hansel and Gretel,” which, according to the billboard, would be presented in two weeks.

Sometimes Now is Better

This night, I rushed ahead to El Torro Bravo, while Van studied the meter instructions, then I ran back, and shouted, “You can park free in the theater parking lot, according to the sign on the restaurant.”
Van moved Freedom and got situated, while I studied the menu and made my selection: prawn enchilada with beans and rice, which had not been on the menu when we ate there. He returned and we chomped chips and reminisced, while noticing the green boughs and red balls hanging strategically to give a Christmas atmosphere.
When the waitress took our order, I said, “We’re parked in the theater lot, do we need you to validate our ticket?”
“Not this time of year; there isn’t even an attendant.”
I loved being here during this off-season with only a few diners quietly chatting; contrasted to our last visit: Labor Day, when we had to park elsewhere and take a shuttle into this bustling community that featured a sandcastle contest. We too, had walked along the beach, in the afternoon sun, and admired their architecture, while watching the milling crowd.
Soon the waitress brought our food, and I asked, “We’re traveling in our motor home, do you think we could stay parked overnight at the theater?”
She looked over at the vacant parking lot, except for Freedom, and said, “I don’t see why not; there’s nothing going on over there right now. But you might ask the people inside. Just open the door, and go on in; you’ll see them working on the sets.”
We thanked her, and as I tasted the first morsel, I said to Van, “This is the best enchilada I’ve ever eaten; the prawns make the difference.” Of course the special sauce and family recipes add to their “Family owned and operated” success; and it was like a step back in time, sitting here in this quiet corner of the world. But our serenity was soon disrupted by a family of seven, with their baby and small boy. Yet, their laughter and chatter simply added another dimension to the evening, and we continued to enjoy the moments.
After dinner, when we walked outside past the sandbags outside the doorway, I said, “Do you remember the big flood when we lived here? The water came right up here to the front door.”
Van nodded, as we approached Lawn Way (which was really a lawn; no street), and turned toward the studio apartment where we had lived, and he added, “From the looks of the mud, I’d say it’s happened again.”
“I suppose it’s the high tides and giant waves that did it,” I replied, and then paused outside the unpretentious front of our former home, and said, “It was our palace; and I loved the gorgeous royal blue tiles on the countertops.”
We walked past several doors to the corner, and turned along the main street, where we again saw the Fairyland icicle-like lights, and past the tourist-oriented shops offering such temptations as blown glass specialties, custom clothes, jewelry, candies or espresso coffee. And, at the next corner, St. John’s Helpful Shop featured second-hand Christmas gift ideas.
Then we returned to Freedom, in the parking lot nestled against the hillside with tiered apartments and homes built to capture the ocean view and picturesque town.
But first we headed toward the former Quonset hut, now faced with peachy stucco-board with painted artificial windows that gave a Mediterranean appearance. I opened the ajar door, and walked inside, with Van cautiously following behind. The memories flowed, as we saw the old popcorn machine and candy counter, then walked up the stairs and peeked inside. Sure enough, a crew were busily painting and hammering, so I interrupted, “We asked at the El Torro about staying parked in our motor home for the night, but she said to ask you.”
They stopped, looked at each other, and said, “If it’s okay with them, it’s okay with us.” We chatted awhile about the “good ole days,” and life “on the road,” and then we retired to Freedom.
That night, after Van had gone to sleep and the inside lights were off, I opened the curtains and looked outside. To one side I could see the icicle lights joyfully lighting the main street, and a Christmas tree with its colorful lights adding its touch of gaiety to the corner. And to the west, the lights along the Capitola pier stretched out into the ocean, as the waves loudly rolled into shore, visible beneath the full moon casting its beams on the bay. I felt my own warm glow, as my eyes continued to take in the scene: the theater’s windows next to us, and El Torro Bravo’s cute adobe-style facade with its windows now darkened, and the other cottage-type buildings across the street.
I smiled and thought, “Thank you, God, for your gift of this parking place. I know it’s unusual for someone to be allowed to park here all night, but You know how important it is for me to spend the night here once more. And I know that I must release this place, and move on; but for tonight, I am thankful for this Present Moment.
Lying in my bed, hearing the roar of the ocean and the sounds of the cars and trucks passing along the main street, I heard a car door slam, and jumped up to look outside, as I thought it was right next to us; but it was down by the Esplanade, and I realized that this setting, nestled beneath the hillside, creates a natural amphitheater, which causes the sounds to seem much louder, and I thought, “This could be called ‘The Sights and Sounds of Capitola,’ but I feel that tonight is ‘A Gift From God,’ so that will be my title.
But the next morning, the sights and sounds continued, as the daily Parade of Vehicles began: this time the street cleaner lead, followed by a police car and bus with intermittent pickups, vans and autos. Some took the route along the main street and others chose the scenic route along The Esplanade. And, of course, there were the walkers, runners, joggers, and strollers with their dogs.
When we walked along the beach and around the town, we too, savored its sights and sounds.
The tide was in — way in — and the seaweed had strewn about what was left of the beach; seagulls were squawking and fighting over several tasty underwater tidbits that had surfaced, and others formed piles, with odds and ends of shoes that had become unsuspecting victims of the rampaging surf.
First we strolled along the high concrete embankment that formed the shoreside park perched along the bank. We stood looking along the Monterey Bay to the south, where its namesake, the town of Monterey, could be seen in the distance. I asked Van, “Do you remember the double rainbow in front of a dark cloud when we had that heavy storm?”
He nodded, as suddenly a loud splash roused us from the past and brought us into the moment, with water hitting the nearby rail. We laughed, and ambled back toward the beach, looking for a way to get over the seawall, since its opening had been closed with heavy wooden gates to protect the city from flooding.
We settled for climbing over the wall and landing on the sand not too far below. Then we wandered north along the narrow beach (the south was impassable due to the waves crashing against the wall of the hillside. But we weren’t able to walk very far north, either, because the Soquel River had formed a channel, and there was no way to cross, without wading through the cold water. No thanks; not today. But, we stood looking at the colorful haciendas on the other side, a painter’s delight: some white, and some hot pink, and some gold, but all with red tile roofs. And above them, the Coast Highway climbed along the embankment.
Add to the scene: the Capitola pier with its buildings and the picture is complete, until you turn around and see the ocean side of the restaurants that line the Esplanade, and people sitting inside eating their specialty omelets, fruits and pastries.
Of course, the tables and chairs on the abandoned deck promised fairer weather in the summertime, but in the meantime, we scrambled up over the concrete wall, and greeted the meter-man (a paraplegic in a wheelchair), who sat talking with another local in the morning sunshine.
We jumped down from the wall, and continued our walk along The Esplanade, past Zelda’s restaurant (where we saw the people eating), and the other businesses, with our destination clearly in mind: Polar Bear Ice Cream. The owner was just opening the doors, and we were her first customers for this early morning ice cream cone (10:00). Though we were familiar with the selections, we studied the new additions, and Van chose pumpkin on a sugar cone, while I opted for chocolate-peanut butter on a regular cone.
As we meandered along the street, toward Freedom, we passed several cats: one black-and-white model had a face like a cartoon caricature; kind of square with the markings creating a Garfield expression, accentuated by scraggly whiskers and ears; no doubt the results of many street fights.
A stroll through Capitola Mall is a must; so we passed the Espresso shop with its outdoor tables, and greeted the owner, who sat sipping his morning cuppa and reading the newspaper. As usual, I tried to interest Van in a hat from the center stall, but he was busy studying the old-time local pictures hanging on the walls. So I glanced into the specialty shops offering natural fabrics, cosmetics and a unique collection of arts and crafts. But we didn’t buy.
Across the street, we kept going past my favorite haunt, “Rainbows,” featuring rainbow knickknacks, and turned back to Lawn Way, where a rotund tabby cat meowed a friendly “Hello” and rubbed up against our legs for its morning strokes. This one resembled the catfood commercial from a few years back, and we laughed at its arrogant, though friendly attitude.
I love this town, or should I say village? And tears welled-up, as Van finally angled Freedom from the parking lot and headed inland, past the overlook of the Monterey Bay (our next destination), and toward the freeway.
But we soon discovered that God had a different plan for this day, and we were enjoying each moment: past the power plant with its towering smokestack and hovering fluffy cloud from its emissions, and the fishing harbor at Moss Landing; along the shortcut through the artichoke fields that look like rows of giant thistles, and the pungent brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower being harvested for Christmas dinners.

Okay, an RV Park Will Do

Nearing Monterey, we could see the houses peaking from the trees on the hillside, and the businesses along the harbor, beyond the dunes. And then Van said, “There’s a Costco; did you want to buy some film?”
“Oh, yes; please stop,” I replied; and he took the exit that brought us to the shopping center. Because we didn’t really have any special plans for this area, other than driving along its scenic coastal route, we took our time shopping at Costco, asking about the Satellite dishes, laptops and cellular phones.
And then, after I served lunch (a roasted chicken from Costco), we wandered around the other stores: Circuit City, Office Depot and the GTE outlet asking more questions and finalizing decisions for our purchases, which would be after January 1st. As lovely as the scenic gifts from God, we also considered this stop to be a bonanza where we could research our future purchases, while parked in one location. Thank you, God.
By the time we left, it was dark, and we still hadn’t found a place to stay for the night. We did, however, learn that we couldn’t stay here; the police would be called and we’d be towed away. I later read a local freebie paper that discussed the plight of the local homeless, who live in cars, campers and vans (in addition to the street-people) and the area has ordinances to keep them away from their businesses and homes.
Therefore, the only place for RVers are the RV parks. But we didn’t know that, so we spent an hour retracing our route looking for State Parks, only to learn that they don’t allow overnight parking. Finally, we returned to ELIO RV Park, along the highway, and didn’t even offer an ocean view, but charged more than a motel. Okay, so we’re lucky to find a place. Thank you, God.
We hadn’t realized how lucky, until the rains came, as predicted, and we were happy to be in this protected grove, on the inner side from the ocean. I spent the time on the computer, thankful for the hookup, and Van took advantage of the free hot showers. All-in-all, this was another gift from God.

What a Sight!

And they weren’t through, yet. By check-out time the rain had stopped, and as we drove south on Highway 1, past Monterey, to Pacific Grove, the sun came out. And when we worked our way back to the ocean, along Highway 68, the sun was shining in all in its glory and reflecting over the ocean, as the still wild, foamy waves crashed over the rocks. What a sight! Blue skies, azure waters, white foam and golden sun. We stopped to take pictures and eat lunch. Truly a gorgeous gift from God.
And so was the rest of the day along the coast, through Monterey’s Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf, and south again past Carmel Highlands, where the movie, Same Time Next Year, was filmed.
But I drew the line at going further south toward Big Sur, because we’d heard that landslides had closed the highway, and I didn’t really feel safe along that narrow highway, high above the ocean, even if it was repaired. We’d already seen those breathtaking views in the past, and even today. Now it was near sunset, and time to find a place to stay for the night. Okay, God, what gift do you have for us tonight?

ìA Steep Inclineî: A 16 Percent Grade

We were heading inland toward the Rodeo Grounds in Salinas, but God guided us to turn into the Laguna Seca RV Park, despite the Trailer Life warning “Steep incline.”
Oh, my God, have you ever driven up a 16 percent grade in a 35 ft. motor home? Thank God we had the fuel filter and cooler fan repaired, before we tackled this challenge.
But the view was worth it: Golden sunset through the dark clouds on the ocean side, and pink fluffy clouds over the valley on the other, with rolling oak-tree covered hills all around. Okay, God, this will work. Thank you!
We felt like we were on top of the world, from our perch overlooking the valley toward the ocean; and sunrise presented another spectacular view of fluffy pink-peachy clouds. But soon the gray clouds appeared, and I decided to put in some computer time.

A View of The Grand Prix

Mid-morning I heard a shrill howling, squealing sound, and realized that the Laguna Seca racetrack had been cleared of water from the heavy rains the day before, and the races were in progress. Okay, no doubt it’s time to move on.
I turned off my computer and joined Van, overlooking a stretch of the race track. He turned around with a wide grin on his face, as Little Ralph announced, “I’m watching the Grand Prix. He’s going a thousand-miles-an-hour!”
I raced back to Freedom, grabbed my camera and got back in time for Little Ralph to capture the moment, as the bug-like race car zipped by in the distance. Truly a grand moment for Little Ralph, and a memorable gift. Thank you, God.

Chapter 12
WE MADE IT, AFTER ALL!

 

We left the Wal-Mart parking lot in Salinas, and drove past the shopping mall onto 101 (the freeway south), past the exit where we had gotten a quick lube for Freedom the day before, along with a full tank of gas.
And now, I could feel the torturous pain of the fieldworkers, as we drove through the Salinas Valley of John Steinbeck fame, depicted in his book, “The Grapes of Wrath,” that records the infamy and horror of degradation mankind must stoop, in order to survive the life of the itinerant farm families.
And only the night before, I’d turned the dial from an expose’ of similar conditions endured by the Mexican farm labor, especially the hardships on the children, who work in the fields from a young age and become physically disabled from the hard work.
But I didn’t want to think about that now, because I had another mission before me. I was thankful for the sunshine creating an eerie steam or mist that hovered over the dark brown plowed fields, soaking wet from the earlier rain, as I anticipated my visit at the notorious Soledad Prison, another site of mankindís inhumanity: solving problems by putting them away in body warehouses, and depriving them of the normal decencies of life.
A few miles ahead, I would visit Jerry Pitre, one of the more recent Freedomers, who is the epitome of patience, love and support; and an abiding trust in the Father’s plan unfolding.
For instance, over a year earlier, I’d planned to see him, but when I called the prison to make sure everything was in order for my visit, I learned that my Visitors Application Form had not been received, or for whatever reason, I was not on his Approved Visit List.
I’d cried in disappointment and frustration over the prison systems policy, for the process to get approval would take several weeks, and I didn’t have the time. So I wrote to Jerry with the news, and he said, “The Father must have a good reason, so we’ll wait and see what happens.”
In the meantime, I sent in another Visitors Application Form, and eventually made it to the Approved List: a momentous accomplishment with the prison system.
As we drove through the heavy energies of the Salinas Valley, looking beyond the fields to the bald mountains on each side, my anxiety built; not about seeing Jerry, but concerned whether or not I’d make it through the endless requirements.
I’d unearthed the “Rules and Regulations” sheet he’d sent, and shuddered at the Dress Code, which would not allow light or dark blue clothing, including denims or jeans; or forest colors, such as green or brown; because the inmates or staff wear these colors, and an escapee could confiscate the clothes from a visitor, in their escape plans. And I later learned that burgundy is not allowed either, because it’s a gang color. I finally settled for purple pants and a white sweat shirt with a lavender heart and turquoise accents. And I worried about the silver and gold sparkles, for fear they might set off the metal detector. Underneath the sweat shirt I wore a colorful print blouse, in case it got too hot, as it often does in prison waiting rooms; and, of course, it did, so the blouse is what Iím wearing in the pictures Jerry had taken.
Needless to say, no metal is allowed, and I wondered about the zipper in my jacket. We’re allowed to take $30.00 for the vending machines and Polaroid pictures, but no bills larger than 5’s. And of course, you must have picture ID and the Visit Approval notification.
I’d built up so much anxiety over the qualifications that I had a headache, but it finally subsided when I affirmed “Everything’s in Divine Order. God is in charge of this visit.”
I glanced around the walls in Freedom and spotted three cards that Jerry had made and sent me on various occasions. The latest two being: a Halloween card with a ghost and pumpkin that glows in the dark, and a Thanksgiving card with a comical turkey. He sends one for every occasion, and some are true works of art; even the envelopes have butterflies. In fact, his envelope inspired my butterfly logo.
Sometimes our mail doesn’t make it through the system, and it’s such a disappointment for both of us. For instance, my June birthday card didn’t arrive, and I hadn’t heard from him in several months. Since we were traveling, I hadn’t written him, either. Finally, I sent a Newsletter with a note asking why he hadn’t written, and he immediately responded to say his birthday card to me had been returned, marked, “Unable to deliver,” and he’d also written several letters that hadn’t been returned, and which I obviously never received. He remailed my birthday card, and Joanie, my inner child was delighted with the Tweety Bird type design and wonderful verse that he’d created; through the years, always a different design and a different verse, and always butterflies and lots of love and support.
Jerry always tells me how much he enjoys my Newsletters, because I make everything so real, and he feels that he’s right there in the experience of what I’m seeing. Whenever I’m describing a word picture, I ask myself, “Will Jerry be able to experience this?” If the answer is “Yes,” I know I’ve done my job; If “No,” I make it clearer.
Van took the exit marked “Soledad Correctional Facility,” and drove past the entrance booth, but no one was inside, so he pulled over to decide where to park. God always takes care of us, and just then a van pulled next to him and an officer asked if we needed help.
Following the officers advice, we pulled into the parking lot and walked to the building by the flag. Thank goodness for the sunny day, even if it was cold. And I was thankful that Van could walk with me. Sometimes they won’t let him park Freedom at the facility, because it could serve as an escape vehicle, I guess.
Once inside the small Visitor’s Processing Room, I got in line to find out the right line. Everything here, as all prisons, is based on Rules, Regulations and Policy. If you can fulfill all requirements, everything goes smoothly; if not, you don’t get your visit no matter how far you’ve driven, or what the circumstances.
For instance, a heavy-set elderly grandmother in a red jogging outfit sat on a chair instructing her daughter and granddaughter, who were trying to make it through the process: “Forget it, let’s just go home.” I didn’t blame here, I felt the same way, and I was just starting. But the younger gals persisted, and eventually made their way through the metal detector and out the door. Poor thing could hardly walk from arthritis, no doubt, and had her white hair curled real cute in an effort to make her visit. Sad!
I noticed they solved the zipper problem by having all jackets and even shoes removed, because there’s a metal brace inside some shoes, and metal eyelets in others.
I made it through the lines and filled out my proper form for the Visiting Pass, with only one mistake, which caused me to panic when the officer asked, “Where’s your birth certificate?”
“I’m not a minor,” I replied.
“You marked this spot,” he said, pointing to the square on the page.
“Oh, I didn’t have my glasses on, and I thought it asked how many were visiting.” He made the right corrections, and pointed for me to sit down and wait; but like the others, I stood. After all, I still hadn’t made it through the metal detector.
In the meantime, others were going through the process, which didn’t deviate for anyone. One distinguished gentleman walked up to the window and was immediately told he couldn’t visit; he was wearing blue jeans. Without any hesitation, he left, and eventually returned wearing khaki pants. How he happened to have them along is beyond me; but if not, he wouldn’t have a visit.
This room processed visitors for Central Prison and the “new prison.” They informed me that Jerry was here; but if not, I would follow others who went outside and boarded a shuttle to the new prison. “Do you ever feel like you’re a robot?” I asked myself. This procedure reminded me of some sci-fi movies I’d seen.
An officer at the counter motioned for Van to approach, but I explained that he was with me, and not going inside. Later another officer beckoned, so Van obeyed, and then returned. “He noticed my blue denim pants, and I told him I wasn’t going inside,” he explained. I laughed, because Van will not visit the Freedomers, despite the fact they all invite him, and send him greetings and well-wishes with every letter, which he appreciates. But it’s his policy, not to succumb to the hassle, and besides, “They want to see you.”
By this time, I’d relaxed to some extent, but I wasn’t inside yet, and I remembered getting through this far when visiting Chris Estep, and then being told I couldn’t visit, because I wasn’t wearing a bra. That time, Van had already left with Freedom, and wouldn’t return for four hours. Besides, I wasn’t willing to come this far and not see Chris. After a major upset, tears, and talking with two supervisors, I finally reminded them that the policy said, “undergarments must be worn,” and I wear a tank-top undergarment. They agreed, and I got my visit, but I had felt demeaned, and the effects of that body-search still haunted me.
Now, I unlaced my shoes and removed my jacket in readiness, and soon made my way through the metal detector. Hooray! I waved to Van, and waited for the door to be electronically opened and closed, then waited for the heavy iron gate to open.
I felt exhilaration, as I walked along the paved walk to the ramp, but I wasn’t inside, yet. I went inside another door: another processing room, where they took my pass. “Jerry’s already in here,” the officer announced.
“Really?” I was amazed. For some reason, I’d thought I would be his only visitor, since he knew I would be here this day. In fact, I had the impression that Jerry didn’t have other outsiders; at least he’d never mentioned any.
I hesitated at the door to the Visitors Room, because I wasn’t sure what he looked like, though I’d seen one picture, and I knew he was black, with lots of long hair and glasses. An officer began looking for him, too, and finally went to find a picture ID
I thought I’d spotted Jerry, but the fellow got up, walked past me, and to the back of the room. The officer spoke to him, and then he turned around and smiled, as he came toward me. We hugged, which is allowed in this prison, and he said, “You’re really here.”
I replied, “Yes, we made it, after all.” And then I laughed and said, “That will be the title of the chapter about our visit.”
Then he guided me to his seat and introduced me to a pretty black lady dressed in a pale lavender satin dress, almost like a wedding gown,
“What a pretty dress,” I said.
“Jerry bought this dress for my birthday,” Virginia said with a happy smile.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. And from then on, the visit seemed to go at warp speed, and suddenly it was time to leave.
I had arrived inside about 10:00, so Virginia had had some alone time with Jerry. In the meantime, I had difficulty hearing Jerry, so asked if I could sit between them, because I didn’t want to miss anything he said. But she had driven all the way from Los Angeles, so around 1:30, I said, “Would you like to sit next to Jerry? Or I can leave early, so you two can have some more alone time together.”
She looked quite wistful, though trying to be polite, and said, “Well, maybe a little time.” By now I’d come to know that Virginia was well acquainted with her inner child, and she was the one who needed more time with “Daddy,” as she called Jerry.
“I hate to have this visit end,” Jerry said, and added, “I wish it could go on forever.”
He’d been glowing all day with his two ladies, and we’d even taken pictures to capture the moment. Of course, cameras aren’t allowed, either, but Virginia bought four ducats for the Polaroid photographer. He took two with her and Jerry, one with me and Jerry, and one with him in the middle with his arms around Virginia and me. They each grabbed the ones they wanted, and gave me the one with the three of us. Such a gift! For so many years, I’d done the giving, but Virginia had told me that she does in-home-care, and earns a good wage, so I allowed myself to be a gracious receiver.
At two o’ clock, I got up for hugs, and then they walked me to the door of the Visitors Room. We all three agreed that if our letters weren’t reaching their destination, we would write again, rather than waiting so long, because Virginia and Jerry didn’t always receive each others letters, either.
Then we hugged again, and I headed out the door. It was hard to leave these precious moments with such special people, but we would all have the memories, and I could write about our visit to recapture them, so Jerry would have a clear word picture.
Walking back along the sidewalk to the Visitors Entrance, I again felt a sense of exhilaration, freedom, buoyancy; as if I had completed an assignment, or I had fulfilled my qualifications. Maybe it’s that I had passed my test. In other words, I had felt God-guided to visit the prisons and meet in person certain Freedomers, and Jerry was the last one. I had established a pattern of accomplishing my goal. Now, I had this feeling of relief and release, like I could now turn my attention to the next part of my life.
I passed through the two electronic doors to the outside — the free world — and I felt exalted, as I walked across the parking lot. Yes, I may visit others, if we go to Florida, but having seen Jerry, I heard the words: “Mission Accomplished!”
Once in Freedom and on the road again, I relived the experience, while telling Van:
“You may recall that Jerry is in prison, because he was a member of the Black Panthers.” Van nodded, and I continued, “To refresh your mind, I’ll read the letter he wrote on the subject:

“You asked why I am in prison; well that’s a long, crazy story, and ain’t nobody gonna believe me anyway. To begin with, I was a member of the Black Panther movement.
“We considered ourselves to be soldiers of the people. A revolutionist is what I thought of myself to be. As I wanted to be a part of revolutionizing the government by that of presenting New Methods that would work as a whole for all people. Well, that didn’t work out, and the FBI, before long had an all point bulletin out to kill us on sight. Well, when I was finally captured, I was charged with murder, and kidnap, and my sentence was life. Even though I didn’t do any of that, this is the hand that God, and God alone has dealt me. After all, He did declare the end right from the beginning; and even all that (even that happened to me) in the middle of it all, is still His works concerning His will for me, for He is in total control.
“When this first happened to me, it proved to confirm my beliefs that there was no justice for the poor people; or better yet, the have nots. Well, later on, through the years, I began to see with a different set of eyes; the eye of understanding was with me, and what I saw at that moment changed my life forever. I saw something greater than all my beliefs in this world, and that was a vision, and revelations that told me to not conform to the ways of this world. Before I get off into expressing what that meant to me, let me say this: My lawyer has always pointed out to me to not write or talk to anyone about my case due to the nature of how they built it against me, etc., in which I will not go into this letter. Hopefully, when we visit, I will fill you in on a waterfront of information, OK?
“I hope this letter will show to be a part and parcel of one whole, in other words, cover the issue of why I am here in prison.
“If you hold a man in condemnation to his faults, you will push him further down into the ground where he will never have an opportunity to rise up into wholeness of spirit, mind and body. They don’t ever look into our hearts and minds here in prison to truly see who is sitting on the throne of our minds. Through the years, I have learned to never condemn anyone that I claim to want to help. Everyone has faults, and no one is proud of them. No one desires to perpetuate them, and yet that is the very thing this prison system does. To me, there must be understanding on the part of the captives and captor; there must be compassion; there must be love; and that means understanding and compassion whether the prisoner is full of sin or ignorance. “In the degree that we can live and behold those about us without condemnation, always maintaining the attitude of “Neither do I condemn thee,” as spoken by Jesus, do we lift ourselves and others from the burden of their errors, and that sets us, as well as those we condemn, free to receive God’s grace. If anyone commits a sin, we are to forgive them seventy times seven, but what man can’t see into the law of those who can spiritually discern can do the things of the Spirit, if I can address it that way.
ìYou know, Joyanna, unless we, as people, go to God for but one purpose — for God and God alone — we are acknowledging two powers, to do something to the nasty little evil power. Rest will never come, nor will peace, as long as we are waiting for a great big God to do something to an error. Peace will come only when we “Be Still” and sit quietly in the realization of knowing that the only thing we should seek is the total realization of God. For the minute that we try to direct God to bring us companionship or a home, an occupation, or a talent, God then becomes the means to an end.
ìThat is shocking, when we stop to think about it; it is almost blasphemous, this idea of using God; and yet, the commonly accepted concept of prayer is that God will do something for you, or that by our words, God can be influenced in the right direction. That is not prayer, and that is why most prayers are not effective. The only effective prayer is the attainment of God-realization. Knowing that He declared the End right from the very beginning, and everything between, as well; in that way we can prove that we as people, or Sons of God, have absolute faith in Him and Him alone. When I pray to the Father, I only ask for one thing, if anything, and that is ‘Father, please don’t move that mountain from in front of me, but give me understanding that I need to get through it. That’s my prayer concerning things I say I want.
“You ask about my family. Mom died in 1987, and my father died in 1993, and the only family that I have is The Father, and those He blessed me with to come into my life, as being sent by Him, as my blessing, such as you are to me, and that’s a fact.
“I’m at work now, so I’ll have to cut this short. I’ll be writing to you again real soon.”

I stopped reading, and said, “He didn’t say much about the Black Panthers, did he?” Then added, “I asked him if he was in Soledad when they killed George Jackson and the Soledad Seven. He replied that he was, and added that he was on TV when they came to cover the incident.” I vaguely recalled the furor, and now commented to Van, “Jerry was a part of history, wasn’t he?”
“Oh, yes,” Van replied.
“You know, I think I visited someone in this prison during that time. It was my first prison visit, and I hated the heavy, negative energies. It’s really different now, but Jerry says it’s worse. Maybe it’s a matter of who I’m visiting.
“Anyway, the point of bringing all this up is because it explains something about Jerry. He’s an activist; even now, with his peaceful, patient approach, he’s still an idealist, and much of our conversation revolved around his philosophy or beliefs, especially the one mentioned in his letter, about the Alpha and the Omega: the Beginning and the End, and everything between being one and the same — God. He’s seeing the Y2K, thing as part of this.”
“What are you talking about?” Van asked.
“Oh, he sees the fact that the computers aren’t programmed beyond the year 2,000, as an indication that the world will end at that time. In fact, I had written that he would be the last Freedomer that I visit, unless I make it to Florida to see Bobby Lusk and Pepin. And he found that to be significant in regard to this philosophy.”
I paused a few moments, but Van didn’t respond, so I continued, “Let’s see what he says earlier in this same letter on the subject.
“The harvest is already complete, before the seed is in the ground. Let me say it this way: We go to the movies, but we don’t ever stop to think that the film we’re going to witness was a complete picture, before it was shown on the screen: it merely unfolded in time and space to our view. To acknowledge that the only unfolding, only truth, the only life there is, is God, and that is not subject to material beliefs, is the way to maintain the life and vitality of your body in its absolute perfecting.
ìRemember that God declared the End right from the very Beginning, and all that’s in-between, and the middle, as well. Then life is not subject to material conditions, or to mental beliefs: it is subject only to Itself, which is God, the Law and the Life. But to look at this any other way is to be carnally minded, as we know: Romans 8:6-7.
“Joyanna, I guess I am trying to say that we are all seeking to find something that we are already. For we are created in His image and likeness, but we refuse to believe that, not only do we refuse to believe the reality of that, we also fail to realize that He said that He was a jealous God, and not to put or place anything before Him, not even ourselves. But we give His power in us to material things, such as our private interpretations, concepts and carnal minded (worldly) opinions, allowing them to have and hold power over us, placing ourselves into our very own private captivity, by denying the Real Power, which can only be ONE POWER, ONE GOD, ONE FATHER, THE ALL in ALL POWER. For He that is in us is greater than all powers in the world. In our world of thoughts, in our belief, in our likes and dislikes, as I said: His rain falls on the just and the unjust. He shines His SUNLIGHT on the good and bad, He is the only real complete POWER, and we should do all we can to make that a daily realization in our minds, so that it serves no one else, but the Father, as He is and actually does exist.
“I’m supposed to be writing you a letter, huh? Well now you know what’s been happening with me, lately. I start out to write, and so many thoughts come to mind, whereupon I just kick back in thought and enjoy them, and seek for ways to clothe them into words. I just wanted to share that with you.”
I’d finished the letter, and added, “That’s mostly what Jerry was talking about throughout the day. However, it was my intention to make a few communications, so I managed to tell him that Jane is working on his drawing for the cover of Knocking on Doors, and I plan to give credit to both names. And also that Jane might write to him. As if he needs anything else to do. You know, he works five days a week from 9:00 to 5:00, and then he has Virginia and her two daughters and granddaughter to write and to make and send cards to, in addition to our correspondence and cards he does for me. And he does a lot of reading and studying too, and other artwork and crafts. He definitely fulfills the philosophy of having time serve him, while he’s serving time.”
I laughed, as I thought about Virginia’s inner child running amuck when the conversation got too heavy or boring, and I explained to Van, “Jerry understands, because he had read my article, Come Out of the Hole, about you finding Little Ralph, and he smiled, when I recounted the story for Virginia, then he said, ‘I can always tell when her little girl is talking, because of the changed voice and expression on her face, and she grabs her fingers on one hand with the other.'” I paused, then added, “No wonder she looks so young. I always say that connection with the inner child is the Fountain of Youth, and she agrees.”
Then I changed the subject, somewhat, as I said, “Jerry is quite thin, and Virginia’s main concern is fattening him up. She bought some snacks from the machines, and then tried to get him to eat. He almost gagged on the chicken burrito, but did better with the fruit bowl and micro-waved popcorn, which he offered to me; and I ate some popcorn.”
I thought about our visit, to see if I’d forgotten anything, and then said, “Oh, yes, I tried to get in some discussion about my books and courses, because I wanted to ask him what he thought about aiming my Travel Series for the Freedomers. He agreed, and we talked about the TV Magazine-type programs, such as Dateline, focusing on prisons and prisoners lately. And Jerry told me that Oprah wanted to do a story about him, but he suggested a theme that didn’t appeal to her, so I don’t know where that one is going. He also mentioned two friends who will be featured in January on Dateline. I was happy to hear that some attention is finally going toward the Last Frontier, as I call prisons, or Body Warehouses, as they are sometimes called.”
I interrupted myself, “That reminds me, you know the glow-in-the-dark cards that Jerry makes?” Van nodded, so I continued, “Jerry says that Hallmark is after him for the right to use it, but he has the patent. I didn’t get the details, but he says it was an accident that he got the patent. I’ll have to hear more about that story someday.”
By the time I finished telling about my visit, we’d passed through San Luis Obispo, and sat at Shore Cliffs, our favorite motel-restaurant in Pismo Beach. The restaurant exuded an air of celebration with its Christmas decor, and we were celebrating the completion of my prison visit with Jerry. We’d been anticipating their famous coconut fried shrimp, but they no longer featured them so I ordered a huge bowl of rich, creamy clam chowder, as another completion: seafood while at the Pacific Ocean.
Of course, we now have Freedom, so didn’t stay at the motel. Instead, we wended our way through town to the Oceana State Beach and settled down for the night. Somehow, I felt more like I was on vacation, or retired, than I had since beginning this lifestyle. It was as if a huge weight had lifted; not that seeing Jerry was a burden, but that I had completed a Divine Assignment for reasons I didn’t fully understand; enough to know that it was done. Now, I could truly be free to move forward to whatever lies ahead.
The next morning, after falling asleep to the sound of raindrops on our head, we awoke to sunshine beaming through the trees and across the lagoon next to us. It was truly a special place, and I chose to write this chapter in such an inspiring setting.
Later in the day, we walked along the beach with the sun shining on us, though it was cool. Van informed me that he’d seen a map on the Weather Report that showed this area being below average temperatures (20’s at night), and Laughlin, NV. (where we were heading) above average, and the East as higher than average with its 60’s & 70’s. The report also mentioned snow in San Diego, which is unheard of. But, as I wrote these words, the Evening News reported snow in Las Vegas (only 90 miles from our destination).
Despite the weather changes, due to La Nina, we were still making it, after all, in our motor home lifestyle, and I still managed to continue my ministry and writing.
I thought it would be a great conclusion to this chapter with a quote from Jerry’s letter that preceded our visit, in response to my long overdue letter:
“I’ve been wondering what had happened to you and Van. I sent you letters, even a Birthday card, and it came back marked “Unable to be delivered.” None of my letters to you came back, so I took it for granted that they were reaching you. It was truly a glad sight to see that I had finally received word from you. I was so concerned about you and Van. For months I kept waiting to hear from you, and today brought me Heaven right here on earth.
ìAs I read all that’s been going on with you, your words painted everything you said crystal clear, for through your words I saw as you saw, in one spirit and one mind. I truly enjoyed all you said, as per usual, the very way you say things paint well on the canvas of my mind the colors and real beauty that you are so beautifully gifted with to write and clothe into words. Thank you ever so much for sharing your blessing with me. I truly cherish and fully respect that spirit of Him that manifests through you. You are a true light of Truth, and I love you immortally for being you, because if you ever stopped being you, there would be no one to stand in your place; no one! And that’s a real fact. I feel so brand new; I got a letter from you!
ìGee, how Iíve missed hearing from you. From now on, I intend to write more often, so at least weeks and months won’t go by.
ìI’m so happy to hear that the Almighty Himself has protected you and Van on your journey.
ìPlease tell Van “Hello” for me, and if and when you come this way, I hope to see you and talk with you, and just enjoy each other’s company.”
This letter conveys the love and good energies of Jerry Pitre, but the chapter didn’t seem complete, until I began preparing my Christmas cards. My Inner Guidance brought to my attention a part of our conversation that, in retrospect, is the most vital.
Jerry and Virginia had been discussing spiritual matters relating to the concept of good and evil, when Jerry said, “But there is no evil; why?” And Virginia replied, “Because God said, “Everything is good and very good.”
As I thought about those words, the true meaning of Christmas became clearer, and the Bible words came to me: “In the beginning — God.”
Yes, “In the Beginning, and the Ending — and everything in between,” as Jerry said. And the important message is: “Everything is good and very good.”
I’ve taught this reality for years, but suddenly I understood its Truth: God is good, you are good, I am good; all is good! Because all is created from the essence, or energy, of God — and God is Good! That’s why he pronounced His creation: Good!
So, the true meaning of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, is to remind us that God is Good: and All is Good; for All is God: the Alpha and the Omega; and everything in between.
It’s the realization of Oneness as God. Not “with God,” for that denotes separation; but “as God: ONE.”
With these words, the title of this chapter, “We Made it, After All,” is more meaningful.

Chapter 13 TEMPERATUREíS RISING AND DIAMOND MINES

A Christmas Carol?

I feel like I’m going to write a new version of A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dicken Classic, as it’s based around Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. And through it all runs an historic event.
The Present
Since this is a Travel Series, let’s begin with The Present. Having blazoned our way across the Mojave Desert in high winds from Mojave all the way to Laughlin, we happily found a place to park at Avi Casino on the Indian Reservation south of Laughlin, our current destination, where we rock and rolled all night.
I’d already had 100 colored copies made of a picture with Van and me standing by Freedom, as the basis of our Christmas card, which I’d decided to create and print out on my computer, rather than have copies made. It was a time-consuming process that Van and I had been doing at our various stops along the way.
So, at Avi, I kept the computer working, until Van was ready to move on to Riverside Casino in Laughlin, where the process continued for several more days, while we parked on their free parking lot.

Priorities

But we did not come to Laughlin to spend our time doing Christmas cards; there were more important activities on our agenda, which accounts for the title of this chapter, (explained later). For now, priorities involved munching the famous 99-cent hot dogs, loaded with sauerkraut and condiments, along with the free beverage: and then a quick trip braving the wind to cross the street to the Visitors Center for coupons at the other casinos.
Then, of course, we challenged the wind along the River Walk, beside the Colorado River, and made our way to Ramada Express for our two-for-one huge frozen yogurt in a waffle cone. And one day we wandered down to Colorado Belle, the casino that looks like a river boat, for a delicious pizza in their Boiler Room that looks like a ship’s innards.
Another day, the wind had stopped, so we trekked to the Horizon Outlet (a discount mall) and caught a shuttle to the newly named River Palms, where we enjoyed their breakfast buffet, for only $2.29; a price increase from $1.79. Not only is the price reasonable, but they prepare your individual omelet, too.

Christmas Cards Mailed

Somehow, through it all, we got all the Christmas cards finished and mailed at the Laughlin Post Office, in the Riverside Casino. And I even wrapped and mailed the only present I sent this year — to my great-grandson, Brandon. The rest were easily handled checks that went into the special cards I bought for family members

Pre-Christmas Traditions

On Monday, we moved Freedom to Harrah’s parking lot; the one on the hill where the RV’s park. The main purpose of this time in Laughlin was our annual pre-Christmas tradition with Van’s mom, Betty, who was flying in from Santa Clara. She generously pays for our room, meals, and my slots (Van no longer gambles, as it triggers his obsessive-compulsive addiction).
The schedule is always the same: 10:00 breakfast, while Betty plays Keno (win or lose) and we visit. When we’re through, we play slots for several hours, until we win a big one, or have used our daily allotment of money. Betty is not compulsive, at all, but very methodical about her gambling: it’s for fun, and she knows exactly how much she will spend. Van’s job is to keep the twenties supplied (after being given them by Betty), so that we don’t run out; and he must cash-in our winnings periodically, after cheering us on when this happens. He enjoys these rituals, because he’s with his mom and me; and we’re all having fun.
Early afternoon, she retires to her room to rest and watch TV, and we do our thing, which varies; but at 5:00 we meet Betty for dinner and visit, while she plays Keno. Then afterward we play slots, until about 8:30 or 9:00, at which time she returns to her room, and we have the time for ourselves. Sometimes, if there’s a good live show, we all attend; but none this time. However, last year, with Van’s assistance, she made the effort to go with us in a taxi to see Debbie Reynold’s show at the Riverside Casino. But it’s difficult, as she must rely on a cane, due to weakness in her legs.

A New Tradition?

This year, we were all mostly glued to our TV’s, watching President Clinton’s Impeachment hearings. And then, at meals, Betty and I would thrash over the events of the day, feeling fortunate that we were together in order to make sure the affairs of the world are properly handled at the Capital. We always joke about it being our job.
Fortunately, we’re in agreement about Clinton’s fiasco, and the handling of it, being a political game. Of course, he knows that too, which was explained by Sam Donaldson, who said that Clinton is an expert at campaigning, which is how he views these proceedings, and his only concern is winning. In other words, it’s not about right or wrong, but winning. And ultimately, when he came out for his interview, after the Impeachment vote, he said that he would not resign, and that he would be there on his last day: two years from then.
Well, that’s politics, and the rest of us have our lives to live, as well. For me, in the past, this time of year had always brought unconscious anxieties relating to the dissolution of my birth family when I was young. But this year, with the combination of my Inner Freedom Journey and the outer actions of using our miraculous product, OPC-3, the chemical imbalance seemed to be resolved. For the first time, I did not feel the compulsion of that childhood trauma affecting my life, so I was free to enjoy the Christmas Present.

Aha! This Explains it

That meant having fun at Harrah’s. Betty and I had selected two machines, next to each other, that we liked to play, and they give this chapter its title. Betty’s machine is called Diamond Mines, and my favorite is Temperature’s Rising.
Diamond Mines uses graphics, at the top of the machine, that depict a diamond mine: three empty columns (tunnels) that fill with large diamonds, when they appear on the slot. They make a tinkle sound, like diamonds clinking, when they drop against each other. And when each tunnel fills, they fall into the open coal-like cars (train), waiting below. When it’s full, it chug-chugs away, with a sound like deep in a mine; and another three-car train pulls into place.
Every spin of the wheel is a chance to win, and there are bonuses. But the ever-present possibility of winning the 1600-coin jackpot, when all three “Triple Diamonds” appear, keeps her going; and causes much excitement when they appear above or below the pay-off line.
The Temperature’s Rising machine nearly defies description: the graphic at the top shows a giant thermometer with the bulb at the bottom colored red. Whenever a cherry or three bars appear (which is quite often), the red begins to fill the rest of the thermometer. And when the red reaches the top, sirens go off and flashing flames flare out the top; and of course, you win a bonus. Not all that much, but enough to keep coaxing you on, in hopes of winning the Big One with the right combination on the wheel. I especially like this machine, because it pays “Five Times Play” whenever the symbol appears with two other winning symbols, such as bars or sevens. Three “Five Times Play” pay 15,000 coins ($3,750.00). Oh boy!

Spending Ralphís Inheritance

Neither of us made the Big Jackpot, but I won 1100 coins twice, and Betty won a smaller jackpot too. Of course, the amount we put in exceeded the amount of our wins, but we had fun, and we didn’t lose too much. This time Betty didn’t win much on her Keno games, so they sustained the heavy losses. Some years, when we win more than lose, Betty shares the winnings with me; but fortunately, she doesn’t expect me to pay her back the losses. “I’m spending Ralph’s inheritance,” she says with a laugh, and doesn’t make an issue. “It’s called gambling,” she says. That’s why I come here. “Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose.”
I had told Van that he could learn from his mother’s example about handling money. Unfortunately, he’s tended to follow the patterns of his father in recent years, which is the underearner syndrome. However, he is making a valiant effort to change the obsessive-compulsive patterns.

Christmas Past Scenario

In the meantime, The Christmas season was continuing, and I called Dottie to check on my mother’s progress, for she was the main character in our family Christmas Past scenario. Every year, as I’ve said before, from mid-November, until after Christmas, she goes into her funk, or schizophrenia episode, as it’s more accurately called. So this year I wanted to see what happened with her being on OPC-3. Dottie had called Mom a week or so earlier, and she was doing great, which caused us great rejoicing.
But this time, Dottie reported that her sponsor, Teresa, who had agreed to keep Mom supplied in OPC-3, announced that she had been told, at the convalescent hospital, that there was no order from Mom’s doctor for her to have it, and she was no longer being given the product. And, furthermore, they weren’t going to pay Teresa for the bottle; yet they would keep it.

Joyanna’s Temperature Rising

Talk about “Temperature’s Rising,” mine went red hot, just like the machine, and over the top. But, I really didn’t know who to call, or exactly what to do about it. So, I decided to pray, and leave it with God’s care; and if I 
    !”#$%&’()*+,-./0123456789:;<=>?@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ[\]^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz{|}~Å felt guided to do something, I would.
I couldn’t imagine who or why Mom’s OPC-3 was being sabotaged. But I became suspicious when I remembered that she doesn’t have much money available for this purpose, and someone may have decided the money should go elsewhere. This really made me angry. But it was only conjecture, and I didn’t have the facts, so I again chose to remain calm and pray. Months later, when I again visited Mom, I learned that the OPC-3 had caused her insulin level to rise, for some unknown reason, rather than balancing it, like it does for most people.

Seventy-times-seven: A Winning Number

In the meantime, I read my Daily Word, Unity’s daily meditation. Wouldn’t you know, the subject was forgiveness, reminding us that Jesus said we must forgive “seventy-times- seven, which means however many times it’s necessary to release the past and the hurt associated with it.
I realized that I was still being influenced by the childhood admonishment, “Take care of your Mommy, Joanie.” So, I again turned her over to God’s care, and trusted Him to do what was best for her. It was a difficult process, but one necessary to release us both from the Christmas Past.

Christmas Future?

In the midst of all these seasonal activities, Clinton had announced that he had ordered the bombing of Iraq, due to Saddam Hussein’s refusal to fulfill the terms of his agreement to allow U.N inspection of his country for weapons of mass destruction.
Oh, these times we live in! Why should anyone need to be inspected for building “weapons of mass destruction”?
Somehow, it seems to me that the Clinton debacle and the bombings are all part of an overall transition to bring us back to fulfilling God’s Perfect Plan for Peace on Earth, and that’s where Christmas Future enters this story.
The world has strayed so far from God, and it’s only a matter of time, before we will be brought back. The question has been: “What will God use to get our attention?” So far, it doesn’t seem that anything has succeeded: not wars, not economical dives, not weather disasters, not a President’s escapades. So what will it take?
Perhaps this part of the chapter can only be written by each individual. Personally, I feel that the reason people are so opposed to President Clinton’s Impeachment is because it will force them to also deal with their own accountability, such as Livingston’s decision to resign as Speaker of the House, based on his past infidelity and extra-marital affairs. What if each person began to take responsibility for his or her own accountability?

Chapter 14
Getting Ready for the 21st Century

My Computer Died

During the holidays, my computer finally died, and I didnít write on my chapters, leaving out the important transition that introduced me to 21st Century technology. Finally, when I mastered my new laptop Toshiba, I wrote a personal letter to Jerry Pitre that updated on our activities, and responded to news from him. It follows:
1/17/99
Dear Friends,
My goodness! I havenít written to you since last year. We had a wonderful Christmas with Arlene and Gary. It was a time to remain in the Present Moment, and not lament over the Good Old Days, when all of our family was together, and Dad was alive. We miss him, but his presence is always with us, especially when we slept in his bedroom. And we had fun playing cards with Arlene and her sister, Phyllis, who lives in the next condo. And we enjoyed Arleneís good cooking, including homemade cookies.
Iím now writing on a new Toshiba laptop computer with Windows 98, and lots of bells and whistles, plus more file storage. Iím still getting used to it, while Van is studying all the new stuff, and loving it. Yeah!
I think the timing is right, and this is a turnaround for him. I havenít seen him so excited in years. My monitor died, and I wasnít able to use my old computer, so I decided to buy a laptop. Turns out I had to buy a new monitor, anyway, in order to transfer the files. So now I have two computers. Iíve decided to use the old one for the heavy duty publishing work, at least for now, and use ìThank Youî for letter-writing and books. Thatís the name I gave it. I have a feeling Van will be spending more time on the computer now, too, so good that we have two. But, I will give the old one to my granddaughter, Arianna, when we see her.
Iíll also be getting a new portable printer. As you may have noticed, this one squishes the lines every so often, and will not be able to print manuscripts, or camera-ready masters. And Iím getting ready to move forward with my publishing and marketing. If I ever get settled in one place long enough.
I thought we would be staying in Leucadia, a beach town where we used to live, at an RV park for several months. But we stayed at a State Park by the beach, and liked it so much that we have returned. We can stay two weeks, then leave, and return for another two weeks — only 30 days a year in each State Park, so weíve got several others lined up.
Itís nice being in familiar territory. We know where our favorite shopping places are, and our bank, and the PO. Theyíve built a new mall nearby, and it has an Office Depot. Yeah! Thatís where I bought my new laptop. Weíre also near Arleneís, where we spent Christmas and New Years and the birthdays — hers and Vanís.
So much has been happening lately that I havenít had time to work on my writing. We spent four days in Long Beach at Golden Shores RV Park, where we met my brother Garyís daughters, Valena Sue and Millie, and her kids, Sara and Sasan, for a great visit. We congregated at my step-brother, Tomís, restaurant for an outstanding meal. What a fun day!
Another day we met with Tom and his partner, Manny, to spend time with them, and they treated us to a BBQ rib dinner at their new restaurant, Jimmy C’s. The weather is nice, and it was a great day.
Between Christmas and New Year’s, we spent several days with my Cousin John, whom Iíd been trying to locate. He contacted me, and turns out he lives in a very fancy RV and travels around the country. We caught up with him in this area, so enjoyed some good meals and visits with him at restaurants. He has a complete computer setup, so we learned a lot from him. We also got good information for a cellular phone, which is a necessity in this lifestyle; so weíve ordered it through AT&T, which is the best deal for our needs, as it has one price, and is setup for traveling, with digital and analog, whatever that means. We’ll mostly use it for emergencies to save monthly expenses. Iím really excited about having a phone, but must keep my calls short, or it gets too costly.
Thereís been so much to learn, and weíd already been researching the various options, so concluded this will be best.
I guess thatís the highlights of this New Year’s update.
This week we’re back at Doheny State Park in Dana Point, and just love it. The sand and surf is right outside our doorstep, and we can see and hear it from here. It’s really crowded over the three-day weekend. Today we walked a long way up-hill along the Pacific Coast Highway for brunch at a favorite restaurant with delicious food, where we used to eat when living in this area.
Before I knew Van and before the Dana Point Harbor and all the new buildings were built, I lived near her. Now, I can’t even find the place, as it’s been demolished and rebuilt. I liked the area then, when it was a sleepy little coast town. I always said it was the place to invest, and I was right. This area is booming. Another of lifeís missed opportunities.
Now, I’m going to start responding to your recent letters and cards.
How I enjoyed the water-color you did of me! An amazing likeness; almost identical to the picture. Rather startling, as I don’t realize I’m that old. In my mind, I see myself as younger, because that’s how I feel; mostly because of the influence of Joanie, my inner child. You certainly are talented with all forms of art. And Joanie adores the Santa Claus picture. She wants to keep it up all year, along with your other cards that adorn our small home. But we’ll keep it with our Christmas decorations, and use it each year. It has now become part of our yearly Christmas tradition.
I, too, have felt an inner peace since our visit. It’s almost as if it was a fulfillment of some Divine Assignment. I’m glad the visit meant so much to you.
Jerry, you amaze me: 937 Christmas cards! I don’t know how you do it. You are a human dynamo. And to think that I always thought of you as being alone in the world. And then I find out you have ample family to support and correspond with and send picture cards.
I’m glad you found the chapter, We Made it After All, (about our visit) pleasing. With my somewhat fading memory, it amazes me that I remember what is important for my writings. Of course, I give all credit to God, and whoever my unseen writers are. Now, they want me to get into the advanced technology available with my new computer. It’s equipped to speak into it, or dictate my text, so we’ll see how that goes. Van bought the necessary equipment, and will learn how to do it, and then teach me. What an innovation!
I’m glad you enjoyed my Christmas card. As you noticed, the Alpha and Omega idea was inspired by you; or God inspired it through you.
My computer was down for awhile, and then we were learning to use the new one, and changing files, etc. As I said, so much going on, such as staying at Arlene’s, and visiting family, and enjoying the holidays. Then thank you’s and responding to letters.
We should also have our new cellular phone next week. What a blessing that will be!
I’m trying to get time to work on my books, but wanted to write to you and make sure I’ve thanked you for the wonderful greeting cards.
As long as I need a new printer, I’m thinking about getting a combination printer-copier, so we could do our own copying wherever we are, but not sure if we really want to get into that operation again. I hated it when we had a copier before, but they’ve improved much since then. It’s a matter of whether or not Van is willing to help with it. He’s doing better all the time. Even better than his old self!
For instance, thereís more receptivity and acceptance of upgrading our lifestyle, such as my insistence that we purchase a cellular phone, as a safety feature for this lifestyle. Of course, I was looking forward to the convenience of talking in our home, rather than battling the cold or heat to talk from outdoor public telephones. So, we researched the options, including asking Cousin John. We decided on AT&Tís wireless service: one charge, no more; no roaming fees, or other hassles.
The decision was made, and while in Long Beach, we stood at a phone booth with the sun beating on us, ordering our phone. I wanted him to handle the transaction, as part of my desire for someone to take care of these business matters, but also because I get confused and frustrated with too much coming at me. But he insisted that I talk, as it would be in my name, and Iíd need to answer the questions. First question was about the financing, so I turned it back over to Van. And then they wanted to know more about my info, so he handed the phone back to me. On it went, but we finally got through. The phone would be sent to our Golden, Colorado address, in order to qualify for the service we wanted, and then forwarded to Arleneís, along with our next mail.
Gotta turn off the generator, so I’ll close for now, Jerry, and thank you so much for all the kind words about me and my writing. It keeps me inspired. We are a good mutual support system, as we appreciate each other’s work.

Here are a Few Notes on our Holiday Activities

When I bought my new Toshiba laptop computer, it came with an electronic jigsaw puzzle. With a click on the mouse, I could move a piece into place. Within a short time the puzzle was at a standstill. It wasnít finished, yet everything seemed intact, but I had pieces left, and none fit. Obviously, something was amiss, so I pressed the ìHelpî key and learned that I could touch ìControlî and the right side of the mouse to remove a piece that had seemed to fit. The problem is that the incomplete picture looked like the sinking of the Titanic. After I finished, quite a different scene appeared: a peaceful sailing yacht with happy, laughing passengers.
This holiday season gave me the opportunity to see more pieces of the Family Puzzle relating to my brother, Gary. Although some seemed intact, in reality the picture was askew. The question became: How do I rearrange the pieces to reflect the proper picture. And furthermore, is there anything I can do? Or is it none of my business?
I concluded that I would continue to live in the Present Moment, and let God guide me through the Holy Season. If I were to become involved, I would know what to say or do.
The festivities took place at my stepmother, Arleneís bright, cheerful condo in Del Mar, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In the past, there would be large family gatherings, with Dad at the head of the table. But he had died several years ago, and most of the family had moved, or were otherwise busy getting on with their lives. This year there would be only the four, including my brother, Gary.

Family Gathering at the Two Umbrellas

Van and I enjoyed a family get-together, when staying at the Golden Shores RV Park in Long Beach. Garyís daughter, Valena (named after our mother), drove a short distance from Hermosa Beach, while Millie, her half-sister (Mildredís daughter), came through LA from Beverly Hills with Sara and Sasan (Millieís children). We then surprised my step-brother, Tom (Arleneís son) by arriving for lunch at his Two Umbrellas Restaurant. What fun! We all rode from the RV Park in Millieís van, and were walking along the street toward the restaurant. I looked up, and there was Tom walking from his second restaurant, Jimmy Cís. He looked totally aghast with surprise, this sunny Sunday afternoon, to see members of his family.
I laughed and gave him a big hug, followed by the rest of the group, and we all walked around the corner to Two Umbrellas. What a stir, as we all chatted and settled into two round tables in the center of the picturesque room lined with paintings by local artists in this artsy community near Long Beach Harbor. Further excitement ensued as everyone greeted Tomís twenty-something daughter, Brianna, busily waiting tables, and his partner, Manny, who also works in the restaurants part time.
Van and I had been here before, but it was the first time for the others to enjoy Tomís easy-going hospitality in this casual atmosphere. We selected from an extensive menu offering a variety of entrees from breakfast, lunch or dinner. I chose Jerusalem Muffin with artichoke hearts on rye bread with Hollandaise sauce and served with a pile of fried potato sections. Delicious! Everyone savored their own favorite preference, such as chorizo and eggs for Millie and Broadway Hamburger for Valena Sue.
Tom and Manny joined us and I tried to keep up with all the conversations taking place. How I treasure such golden moments, as family get-togethers; whether around the table with Dad at the head (as in the old days), or with the Colorado clan. But this gathering felt so special, because itís the younger generation, and they are busy making their way in the world, without the cherished family connection once enjoyed when Dad was alive and younger. Then, he and Arlene would have braved the traffic to convene at various households. But now, other than twice when Arlene and her sister, Phyllis, came to the restaurant, it doesnít happen. So Van and I try to fill in the gap, during our travels.

AT&T on its Way

While at the RV Park, in Long Beach, we talked with a neighbor couple, who are truck drivers, and they gave us some good input about cellular phones, so we ordered one from AT&T, and looked for its arrival at Arleneís, when we returned there.

Vanís New Technology

In the meantime, we remained at Doheny Park enjoying the beach. It was Martin Luther Kingís three-day weekend, and the place was packed, but we had a good spot, though we had to peek around those who reserved the front row with the unobstructed view. Nevertheless, we walked on the beach and to the harbor; and even up the hill along Pacific Coast Highway for Sunday brunch at a favorite restaurant we remembered from when we would take Sunday drives.
As we walked past a heavily developed business area, I tried to determine where the motel that I once lived in had been, but the area had changed so much, it was impossible. However, Van spotted a Radio Shack, and suggested that we buy a headphone-microphone setup for my new laptop computer. Heíd gotten very excited about using the program that Cousin John had given us that allowed me to dictate, rather than type. This new innovation was even beyond my grasp, but I was excited at the possibilities and willing to learn. And most of all, I was thrilled that Van was interested in discovering how it works, and then teaching me. Surely, God was at work in this ongoing recovery process. And as has been said, ìGod works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.î

God’s Wonders

We had an opportunity to witness Godís wonders in nature one day, while returning from a walk, and crossing the bridge over the lagoon, which is fed by San Juan Creek, but fluctuates according to the tide. When the tideís in, itís full of water, but when out, itís a mud-flat where thousands of seagulls and black ducks hangout. This day it was full, and when we walked over to the beach, we discovered that a high, thick sand bar had blocked the water. And we could see a narrow cut through the sand that allowed the water to flow toward the ocean.
As we approached, a jogger jumped across the narrow breach, and stumbled, but kept going. When we reached the spot, we could see his footprints along with some others, and also tracks from a vehicle that had passed by earlier on dry the sand; both now divided by the ever-widening channel.
But already the banks were being eroded and the chasm was widening. Too wide, now, to jump across. Very quickly the sand was cracking, and then falling into the water, and as we stood in awe watching this phenomenon of nature, I wondered how the jogger would return across this churning torrent.
Within minutes, a wedge of sand-wall would crumble, and soon the gushing water formed a cascading current that shifted from side-to-side with massive force that erupted into voluminous water-mountains. Sometimes they would forge forward then hit underwater sand dunes, and shoot back into the next oncoming wave, creating picturesque waterscapes.
Before our eyes, the ocean was reclaiming its own, as a furious water-avalanche returned from whence it came. Then roared forth again toward the shore hitting full force upon the outcoming flood and erupting into another gigantic upheaval.
While we stood mesmerized, others gathered along the opposite bank. Soon the runner returned, and stopped in his tracks. ìWow!î he gasped, and then added, ìI felt the sand give under my jump. It must have been just enough pressure to start the cave-in.î
Looking at the widening gap, I said, ìSee how powerful you are. There’s no returning this way. I guess you’ll have to go to the bridge.”
He looked at the far end of the lagoon, and started running. Obviously his priorities did not include watching the results of his fateful jump.
Nevertheless, we continued to stand transfixed by natureís show, and quickly our attention focused on a huge tree root that had been lodged along the shoreline, and now became threatened by the shifting waters. Within minutes the hurtling engorgement swooshed to the shore and undermined the root, casting it into the swirling current.
We worried that boaters or surfers would inadvertently crash into it, but our concerns subsided, along with the waters, as they began to spread out along the shore, and the tree again became lodged in the sand; at least for now.
Gradually we had back-stepped, as the sand along the bank where we stood would crack and crumble into the grasping water. Finally, the breach had widened enough that the water flow decreased, and the mudflats were again visible. And very quickly deluged by the waiting birds and ducks, that now scurried about diving their beaks into the mud for dinner.
We decided to tear ourselves away from the spectacle in order to prepare and eat our meal, and to watch the evening news.

Seven Steps of Financial Responsibility

So, with the responsibility of receiving the final Inheritance Gift, I felt obligated (to myself) to disburse it wisely. First, tithe to Godís work. Second, pay my debts. Third, set an amount aside, often called ìPay myself.î Fourth, investment. Fifth, gifts. Sixth, current needs. Seventh, current expenses.
I prayed for Godís guidance, and began the process, as Iíve mentioned earlier. My tithe went into the Inner Freedom Ministry bank accounts (checking and savings), which had been depleted to a minimum amount. This meant that we were paying all church expenses, such as copying and postage from our personal account, which we considered our monthly tithe. And we also allotted an amount to cover the cost of ministry housing, transportation and communication, which is provided by Freedom, our church-on-wheels. With the new tithe, I would once again be able to afford copies of books for Freedomers, in addition to paying for the newsletter expenses from ministry funds, rather than personal money deducted from our monthly Social Security Retirement. Thus our monthly spending for personal use will be increased. Good, maybe we would have money to buy clothes which is on our Spending, although there is never enough money to purchase them.

A ìNo Noî

But, better yet, came the idea of paying off our credit cards, thus freeing more monthly money for personal use. In this case, it would pay for our monthly cellular phone bill. This meant no more charging, which is a ìNo No,î anyway, in DA; broken in order to keep Freedom going when the repair expenses got beyond us; but still a ìNo No.î
The Joy of Giving
Then I came to the idea of allotting a percentage of my personal CD (Certified Deposit) for each of my kids and grandkids. A small amount, but a nest egg for the future, whenever the CD is cashed. So, I prepared a Gift Announcement Card for each one on my computer, and got it mailed. This was an exciting process for me, and I felt good being able to finally do something for them, after these years of limited income. Iíd gotten the idea from Arleneís generosity, and I had a feeling this act of joyful giving (though small) served as a turning point in my prosperity consciousness.

Joanieís Toy

Once these steps had been taken, and the money allotted, I happily arrived at Costco to buy an inexpensive, special offer Featherweight vacuum for myself. Not that Iím into housecleaning, but this one seemed to Joanie more like a toy, so she liked it, and it would serve the purpose for our small carpet surface.

Gemini’s Delight

While at Costco, we looked at the printers and word-scanners, but my eyes fell on a combination that even included a copier! A Geminiís delight, as I always say, and if it has a piano, and sings and dances, even better; just a sidelight to my personality, and how I think.
I had Van put it in the cart, and we went off to buy extra cartridges, but discovered they didnít carry the ones for this Multi-purpose model. So, I looked up a sales person to ask if they would be available.
This is where the story turns. Joe, the twentysomething electronics person, informed me that this would not be a satisfactory model for my needs. ìYou get what you pay for,î he reminded me. Good Heavens, that saying began with my grandparentís generation, and it may be true, but I had felt an Inner Guidance to buy this model. Yet I returned it, and began talking with him about other options, such as a more expensive, and therefore more efficient and powerful multi-purpose model. Or, the best recommendation: individual printer, scanner and copier. I was willing to invest a reasonable amount in the upgraded tools for my writing, but I would not exceed my allotment. My other concern was the space factor. After all, we only had limited space in Freedom. Before long, I was totally confused and ready to forget the whole idea.
But, instead, we walked around the store and bought some food items, picked up the pictures I had left for developing, and eventually returned to the printer section. Despite Joeís warning, and Vanís agreement, I still felt a strong Inner Guidance that this moderate priced compact model would be the right combination for us. So I asked Van to reload it, and we went through the checkout, and to Freedom, waiting in the parking lot.

A Turning Point

This purchase marked another major turning point in our recovery process, and it reflected a change of consciousness for us both. We had taken our time in planning for it, rather than compulsively spending too much money, and we had prayed and asked Godís guidance. Therefore, I had no doubt that this was the right setup for my needs, because I had grown into it by right of consciousness.
In the past, when we bought a new computer, the entire program locked-up with all our new entries added, so we had to return it, buy another, and Van reprogrammed and reloaded it. But this time I knew there would be no problem, because we were both in alignment and agreement, thus neither of us would sabotage this upgraded step.
When we returned to the State Park, we were welcomed with another improvement. Before we had left for lunch and shopping, we had signed up for a more expensive beachfront space with a panoramic view of the harbor and ocean from Dana Point to San Clemente. This meant we could watch the ocean and weather changes, including sunsets and tide, from our home.
However, it was already dark, so we busied ourselves with preparations for using the new toys. Joanie unpacked and assembled her vacuum, and Van read the directions for Geminiís Delight, the name I gave my new multi-purpose equipment.

Beginning of Wonderful Things

When I awoke the next morning, raised up in bed, and looked out at the scene — sand, ocean, seagulls, blue sky and sunshine — I knew that Van and I, at least, had made a major transition, and I silently said, ìThank you, God. May this be the beginning of wonderful things for us all.î
The day was wonderful for us, as I updated my chapter, and Van began putting together Geminiís Delight. When the final countdown came, he needed to hookup to Thank You, my laptop computer, so I signed off and busied myself with making room for the new set-up by moving away the old printer and word scanner, watching the changing scene from my window, and working a crossword puzzle. In other words, it took all afternoon.
But when he finished, he handed me a beautiful test copy from the printer, and I rejoiced to have a page without a squish across it, as had happened with my old printer. Within a short time he printed out an entire chapter for me to send to a Freedomer, and I was delighted. So far so good. Now to the word scanner and copier. But that would be another day.
In the course of my transition, Iíd been learning to slow down, and not take on too much, too fast, too soon. And Iíd noticed that I donít go into my overload syndrome, nor does Van. Thus, we are getting along more harmoniously, if I let him do his thing in his own time, and let him know that I appreciate his efforts.
Iíve also noticed that heís enjoying what heís doing to help get my new system in operation. And heís returning to his wonderful self more every day. Iím not sure what weíre doing right, but ìThank you, God.î

Chapter 15
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

An Experiential Aide

Iím laughing as I begin entering this chapter, because God has given me an experiential aide, as I call an experience that illustrates a point; thus going beyond a mere visual aide.
Again sitting at Doheny State Park in Dana Point, overlooking the sand and sea, with a flock of seagulls shifting between the beach and sky, much like Alfred Hitchcockís thriller, Birds, Iíd been reading aloud my last chapter to Van, when he announced that he must walk over to the entrance to pay for our site.
Suddenly I panicked, because I wanted to begin writing a new chapter, but I didnít know how to work all the new technics on my new laptop. Instantaneously I went through the entire Abandonment Syndrome. I knew that was what was happening, but I felt helpless to pull myself out of it.
The funny part: I was planning to write about this very issue, only I didnít realize that was where the story would be going. Now, I know. Thankfully, Van remained long enough to get me started, and then he was out the door.
Left alone, watching the circling seagulls over the water glistening in the sunlight, I tried to gather my thoughts in order to capture this elusive pattern, and thus be free of it once and for all. Oh, Iíve had an awareness of it from time to time, and Iíve even written about it, with the resultant freedom. But, as Iíve said before, this healing process is cyclic and spherical; and it looks like itís surfacing again, at a deeper level.
I am reminded that this pattern evolves from the fact that my parents werenít able to parent or nurture me. Or perhaps itís more accurate to say that their parenting was cut-off from me, abruptly, and as Iíve mentioned before, there was no continuity. My mother, whom I depended on to function in a familiar way, suddenly ìwent crazy.î And my reality, as I had known it, changed forever.
My adopted parents filled the role, as far as physical needs were concerned, but the emotional nurturing was missing. Iím seeing more clearly, as I observe the different generations, that the Generation Gap is a reality, and major contributing factor in relationships. Keep in mind that my adopted parents were also my grandparents; therefore weíre talking serious generation difference. So I was raised by a Victorian-type, disciplinarian father (even though he was my natural grandfather), who did not hold, hug or kiss. Therefore, my love-association with him, and Mom too, was discipline. However, I always knew that Dad loved me, and I loved him. But the only way I managed to get his attention was when he disciplined, or helped with my homework.
Iíve confessed, through writing, and sharing with Van, that I had a terrible time with story-problems, and would keep Dad at my side, while struggling through them. In recent years, Iíve come to understand that this is partly due to what is now termed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Iím sure itís somehow associated with the chemical imbalance problems, because it improves when I stay with my OPC-3 and other supplements. But, in all honesty, I also suspect there was a certain amount of subconscious effort to keep Dad by my side as long as possible.
In any event, when Van started to leave, while I was reading my chapter to him, I felt a plethora of emotions that reverted to those childhood moments. In fact, I could again feel the warm fuzzyies with Dad sitting beside me; a love-concept of the highest magnitude, and my tendency to keep him there.
Now, however, the realization reminded me of the years with Van, and the changes that have transpired in us both. For instance, when I first got a computer, Van would patiently give me lessons, and I would cry my way through them. Now, I understand that was because of the ADD syndrome of too much coming at me at once, and my inability to process it. Also, the left-brain/right-brain capabilities enter the picture. Iím more inclined toward the creative and intuitive, rather than intellectual, so donít bother me with technical information. Simply give me the bottom-line: How does it work? And make it easy.
Nevertheless, these computer lessons offered an opportunity for closeness with Van, who has problems with intimacy issues. And, in the beginning, his helpfulness was enjoyable for us both. I always admired and appreciated his patience, thoughtfulness and gentleness, but then he began to change, and it frightened me.
But it wasnít until after his job layoff as a computer programmer that his underlying resistance, resentment and rebellion (the 3Rís) became more apparent. By this time I had become aware of some of the patterns, which I referred to as glitches in his otherwise perfect behavior. Up until now, I had been able to depend on Van to take care of things, such as finances and almost everything, while I was going through my stress-out and recovery. And that was vitally important to me. However, with these changes, he no longer seemed willing or able to do much of anything. I didnít know, at the time, that he was traumatized, as a result of his job layoff.
I thought the solution might be for him to make contact with his inner child, Little Ralph (his given name is Ralph, Jr.). Van never attended workshops, nor would he read books on the subject, so I reverted to my pattern, when the person Iím depending on no longer is able to function: Itís all up to me. I took Van through the process of meeting, releasing and healing his wounded inner child. Sometimes I think I should have left well-enough alone, because going through the various Developmental Stages through his childhood, teens and young adult seemed unending. Iíd already gone through my own process, and I was ready to get on with life, but now I had to raise this obstinate Little Ralph. I didnít enjoy raising my own kids through these stages, nor did I enjoy my own inner child healing process, and I certainly didnít know I had signed-up for raising his.
During this time, Van wasnít interested in much of anything, let alone the computer. In fact, it was as if it were the enemy, along with me. So, when he did condescend to helping, I had to deal with the 3Rís, and it was only long enough to get me through the momentary problem, and he was gone. Certainly, there was no misconstruing this gesture with love or intimacy.
My life fluctuated between living with a brat kid, rebellious teenager, or obnoxious young adult, and I wondered if it would ever end. Surely he would process through the stages, as had the rest of us.
Most of the time, I fluctuated between grit-teeth endurance, or ìIím outta here,î because my pattern is to leave, when the going gets tough. Thatís because my mom bailed out; so either I leave, or they leave. Thatís the pattern. But somehow we struggled through. If it hadnít been for our lifestyle on the road, weíd never have made it. Though confined to a small living area, there was enough diversity to keep us from taking it out on each other.
Gradually Van began to show glimpses of the wonderful person I married, which would give me hope. But then he would revert to Little Ralph, or the teenager, or young adult. The worst part, for me, was the finances and trying to get him to help with my book publishing. Most of the time I felt angry, but my writing kept me going.
How I longed for him to take care of things, and how glad I was when he finally resumed handling the finances. And that was the crux of the matter all along. The problem for Van reverted around Money Matters, and began to heal when we both attended Debtors Anonymous. Although Van had once considered himself a Financial Consultant, he had to return to basics by keeping a monthly Spending Plan and a daily accounting of our spending.
Each month we would sit down and go through the ordeal of preparing our Spending Plan. Neither of us wanted to do it, itís as if we both reverted to kids. It was terrible. But each month got better, and with concentrated effort, we were actually living within our income.
Somehow we managed to travel across the United States: coast to coast and border to border within our income, despite unexpected expenditures from costly repairs. And all the time we were both going through our recovery process, while our inner kids were growing up.
Early on, I had faced the fact that Van wasnít taking care of us, and for sure I couldnít handle it, so I learned to rely totally on God. If anyone was going to ìwatch over me,î it would be God, and I had to trust Him only, for taking care of us.
However, God often uses people and circumstances to fulfill His job, such as my stepmother, Arlene, who had chosen to give each of the seven kids, including Dadís three boys and me, and her three boys equal financial gifts spread over three years. With this in mind, I suggested that we invest in a motor home, but we werenít able to finance it with these terms, so Vanís mom advanced the full payment, and I repaid her my half. She took the other half out of Vanís eventual inheritance. Thank you, God, for working through these wonderful mothers.
Finally, this year, I made my final payment, and I had money left to replace my dying computer with a laptop.
I just know that this is all part of Godís perfect plan for good in our lives, and I am so thankful that I named my new computer, ìThank You.î
The blessings far exceeded my expectations, as Van got excited, or should I say enthusiastic about setting up my new computer. Perhaps it was working with Cousin John, or maybe helping my brother Gary get started with his word processor; and Van even taught Arlene how to use her word processor. In any event, something struck a chord, and heís been happily investigating all the complicated facets of the updated technology, including Windows 98. None of which I would be able to do without his input. Remember, Iím right-brain.
Much to my delight, I now have a built-in Dictionary; and my pursuit of a ìBartlettís Familiar Quotationsî is no longer necessary, because I have one. In fact, this computer is so modern, that when I learn how to do it, Iíll be able to dictate, rather than type, my writings.

What Happened?

I keep asking myself, ìWhat happened? What brought about the wonderful change in Van?î
Perhaps it was simply the timing factor, or a decision he made; or maybe it had to do with some attitude changes on my part. For instance, I began to realize that it seems to be Vanís nature to help; possibly because of his relationship with his mom. In other words, he likes to do it, and Iím willing to let him.
It wasnít until I had deposited my inheritance check and we began discussing its disbursement that I realized ìwhat had happened.î
This phase of Little Ralphís healing process began with the meeting between him and his brother, Roy. No doubt, some block had been jarred loose, because he had lightened afterward. Yet, he never is able to communicate these inner workings, so I simply have to guess; and trust that God is handling it.
The next step came as a result of my inheritance check. I had asked God to guide me in its disbursement, starting with repayment of my last installment on the loan from his mother. Then I remembered that we had agreed that part of his recovery process relating to money matters, would be for him to have $500.00, from the sale of our Volvo. But instead, Dottie and Steve bought it on an exchange basis (theyíre storing our stuff in their basement, thus applying the former $55.00 storage fee toward the car purchase), and therefore we didnít get the opportunity to fulfill this promise.
So, the idea came to me to give him $500.00 to invest in the Stock Market, which once served as an obsession, hoping that he would once again find something to get excited about.
But he didnít seem very interested, and I assumed it might be that he realizes that for him this could become too obsessive-compulsive. Then another idea came to me, and I said, ìWhat do you think about putting it toward repaying Roy, and consider it an investment in his invention? That would serve two good purposes, and could be an important step in your recovery process?î
Van looked stunned, because he simply doesnít think about such things, for some reason. But he nodded, and said, ìOkay,î without much interest either way. Typical.
Later, when discussing with Arlene our plans for the check, I mentioned this debt, and Vanís first step toward repayment. She said, ìItís always good to repay your debts.î Among other reasons for Van respecting her advice: they share the same Capricorn birthsign, so Iím sure he took her words seriously.
In any event, Van became committed to the repayment process; in fact, enthusiastic. He happily wrote out the check. Because Van wonít write letters (another of his phobias, along with hating to talk on the phone) I wrote the accompanying letter to Roy, and then read it to Van. I had explained Vanís money matter issues, inherited from their family, and offered an apology on Vanís behalf. And then suggested the possibility of it being an investment in his business, if he agreed; but emphasized that this was not a string attached to the check. Van heartily okayed the letter, and the check was included.
In the meantime, Iíd been guided to include a copy of my book, Knocking on Doors, about Vanís struggle with his money matters, and I hoped it would help Roy understand the issue a little better. Then we walked to the nearest mailbox and sent it on its way.
As Iíve said before, I donít really understand the dynamics of what goes on with Van about these money issues, but Iím able to see the changes and recognize that something is happening.

Clintonís ìCampaigningî

And we noticed that something is happening in our country too, as we watched President Clintonís State of the Union Address, and were amazed at his unquestionable ability to make everything sound and look good. But, as brought out afterward, by the Republican speakers, and others who were later interviewed, there was no sound basis for his optimism. It was all ìcampaigning,î as reporter Sam Donaldson explained. Yet, his speech brought up his ratings even more, and he rushed right out and continued ìcampaigningî with the public the next day; even while his Impeachment Trial droned on.
I began to realize that Clinton knew exactly what he was doing, and, in fact, he was working with Universal Laws: focusing on the positive, rather than the negative; and getting on with his life. I had a feeling that this would all turn out okay for him, and also for everyone involved. I didnít know how, as yet, but I felt sure that it would soon become apparent. And I was also certain that God was watching over us all, and guiding this entire transformational process into a higher state of consciousness.
Another Tidal Wave
As we watched the senate grappling with the presidentís Impeachment Trial, a tidal wave of another kind seemed to be engulfing the nation, and I felt the return of feelings that someone who was supposed to be trustworthy and watching over us, had changed. Doubt and mistrust had cast an aura across the nation, and we wondered if he could be depended on to truly take care of our needs, or were we all victims in a quagmire of lies and deception.
Nevertheless, as inevitably as the floodgates of the lagoon had opened and spread forth the gushing water, we were embroiled in an Impeachment Process, and it would continue to gain momentum, like the avalanching water, taking with it whatever gets in its way.

Accountability and Responsibility

But something was happening in the senate, and across the United States. I could see it in the newspapers, and the sitcoms, and the TV reports. A shift was taking place in the stories that emphasized accountability and responsibility. The words werenít necessarily spoken, as such, but a flood was upon the face of the deep, and it felt good. The inevitable change that turns the tide of history was in progress, and I rejoiced that, indeed, God was alive, and well, and taking care of us.
Indeed, His Presence is the overall message of this chapter, though it has come to me in various experiential aides, and with the financial support of our mothers, and Vanís returning contribution toward taking care of us in his expected ways. And, yet another version of being taken care of completes this chapter.
It has been manifesting as the recovery process from the underearning-overspending syndrome, which I have mentioned throughout this chapter. In the Debtorís Anonymous (DA) program, which served as a basis for our turning around this disease-addiction, we follow the precepts of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous, for they are tools that work for anyone who works them. And we have a set of Guidelines, such as keeping our Spending Plan and Daily Numbers; and others that guide our spending and earning habits. Bottom-line: Donít spend beyond our Plan, and live within our income. There are more, but they are all tools for accountability and responsibility.

Chapter 16
THE OPTICAL ILLUSION

A Game of Tag

Things are not always what they seem. For instance, from our window in Freedom it looks as if the sand stretches straight out to the waterís edge. However, the clue to this illusion is that we cannot see the waves lapping against the shore, because they are below an embankment.
Therefore, one morning when the waves suddenly appeared to be directly in front of us, it seemed as if they could easily wash right into the parking area. We had been watching in fascination from the comfort and safety of our home, as the seagulls fluttered about pecking at whatever nourishment they could find, and then squawking and flying en masse, as another wave threatened to engulf them.
Finally, I couldnít stand the suspense of wondering why the breakers had suddenly become such a threat, so we scrambled out of Freedom and walked toward the water, only to discover a sandy ravine between us and the oncoming tide. What a relief!
We slid down the slope and climbed up the other side, and from a safe distance, we could enjoy the game of tag between the waves and the seagulls, without fear that we would be swept away. Yet, as we walked along the shoreline, we too, became unsuspecting participants in the game when an extra surge brought the water toward us, and we jumped and ran quickly to one side, to avoid its rushing advance.
Often, life is an optical illusion, and all is not what it seems to be. But upon further examination, the mystery can be solved. However, the interim can be a game of tag, as we try to avoid the threatening onslaught that would engulf us.
I think patterns fit into this category, and it takes a wary eye and constant vigilance to side step the ever-present danger of false appearances; and in some cases out and out lies, because often others have hidden agendas or secret motives that would lead us astray. And their impact can unknowingly lead us down the garden path, or at worst, domino effect our lives.

An Historical Tidal Wave

Iím noticing this phenomenon in several instances, during the time Iím writing this chapter. The most obvious is the Impeachment Trial for President Clinton. Iíve already made some comments, as itís been progressing; and indeed, like the ocean waves, it has become a tidal wave that can engulf our lives, if we let it. As if we have any choice; and we do.
As far as the TV is concerned, we can change the channel or turn it off; and we can avoid reading the newspaper and magazine articles. This, at least, keeps us from being victimized by the media onslaught. But have you given much thought to the repercussions in our lives of a man afflicted with sexual addictions that are a result of the patterns in his life; and probably relate to the actions of generations before him?
Iíve been listening to the tidbits of information from insiders, and have gleaned insights to this manís behavior that are frightening. For instance, everything he does is planned and calculated for the ultimate purpose of winning approval and votes; first to get into office, and then to stay in office, and now for his very survival. And itís working.
Itís amazing, but despite the repercussions from Bill Clintonís obsessive-compulsive behavior, we learned that, after his State of the Union speech, in the middle of his trial, his popularity has increased. If there were an election today, the American people would vote him into office again.

So what is happening here?

As Iíve said before, itís a Quantum Leap, or Hundredth Monkey syndrome, which is rapidly gaining momentum, and the tide is shifting. But what is it shifting to?
I see the attitude of the American public changing from indifference and tolerance, ìOh, we always knew that heís Slick Willie,î as one lady laughed away his actions, during an interview early in the proceedings. To taking responsibility by hearing the facts, as presented before the Grand Jury and then the Senate turned jurors. And ultimately by forgiving President Clintonís actions and demanding that his accusers do the same.
Therefore, I wonder if the Optical Illusion is that the lesson to be learned and the action to be taken is not blame and punishment, but rather, a new approach: forgiveness. But beyond that is a new reality: that we can commit a so-called unforgivable act, especially one that ìwe donít talk aboutî and then everyone talks about it, and finally a solution is found.
You see, the illusion is that the issue is perjury and obstruction of justice; but the truth is that the man is suffering from an addiction that, like alcohol and other addictions, is a disease. And it needs to be treated. My, what a Hundredth Monkey action it would be to talk about the disease-addiction, and then take appropriate steps for recovery.
I agree with his lover-mistress for thirty years (before and during his marriage to Hillary), who admitted her own sexual addiction and has been in a recovery program. She says that President Clinton needs treatment for his sexual addiction. Wouldnít that be a perfect solution for this ìcrimeî; that his censure be to participate in a Recovery Program for sexual addiction?

Denial is An Optical Illusion

During my recovery program, I once attended a Twelve Step program for Incest Survivors for several months, and learned more than I ever wanted to know about sexual behavior and addiction. I was in denial about the effects of this predatorís actions, and even now, I find it nearly impossible to write these words. But, Iím being guided to do it, and Iím convinced it will be short.
As Iím writing, I see that denial is the ìoptical illusionî that keeps us from realizing that things are not always what they seem to be. Iíve been watching this entire sexual issue with President Clinton from the viewpoint of an observer, rather than a participant; or should I say victim?
Not once have I thought to myself, ìI have been where Monica Lewinski has been.î Of course, it wasnít with the President of the United States, but the circumstances were similar. This handsome hockey player was my ice skating instructor, and I was only twelve, but I was madly in love, as only an impressionable preteen can be, under the circumstances.
Probably that would have been as far as the relationship went, but Mom Freeland invited him to dinner, and eventually to Hot Springs. And thatís where the trysts began; though Iíve learned through therapy that it was called seduction. After all, I didnít even know what sex was. I only knew how I felt about him, and I trusted him, so anything he initiated was okay with me. And this is where the illustration at the beginning of the chapter takes over: a tidal wave of emotions and actions that involved deceit and lies in order to cover-up these ongoing sexual encounters that continued throughout my teens. And yet, if anyone had tried to interfere, I would not have admitted to my secret life. Instead, I created an illusion of sweetness and innocence, bordering on prudishness.
In retrospect, I can certainly see how Clinton and Monica became ensnarled in their own creation, and I agree with former Senator Bumper, who said, ìTheyíve both suffered enough from their actions. Now is the time for healing and getting on with life.î And the American public agrees. Now letís see what the Senate says.

It Says Here

In the meantime, our lives continued, and we returned to Del Mar to collect our mail, including our new cellular phone (and initiate it), and exchange e-mail on my new laptop (with the help of Arís phone line). It seemed to be a time of Extended Communications, and, in fact, expanding our outreach.
In the process, I discovered another Optical Illusion, so to speak, under the heading, ìAll is not what it seems to be.î Itís about the cellular phone.
Van spent hours studying the Instruction Booklet, and explaining to me the intricacies of this state of the art, 21st Century technology, that also provided a calculator, Daytime Planner, Voice Mail, e-mail, and several games. Heaven forbid! I had all I could do to use the phone.
The first step, of course, was to plug it into an outlet and charge it for 24-hours. Then disconnect, and discharge another 24-hours, and finally reconnect and recharge twelve hours, and then completely discharge again. You do this several times to initiate the batteries, and then youíre ready to go.
However, after the first 24-hours charging, the phone is usable, and the first call is to AT&T to register our service with them. Here Van encounters the first fallacy: this hi-tech convenience was not a simple procedure. He had to key-in two special numbers, in order to activate the phone, because we were not in an AT&T area. This meant we were in ìRoamî mode. When we move into an AT&T area, the phone display will read ìHome;î then we need to again call AT&T and re-register into their system.
During the same call, Van learned that our 600-minute-limit would be cut to 500, because of the billing sequence between ìHomeî and ìRoam.î Now I know why this subject is being discussed in the Optical Illusion chapter. Already, things are not what they seem to be.

Good Advice

Thanks to Mary, at the Golden Shores RV Park, we learned that it would be best for us to sign-up for a Colorado base, thus avoiding the long-distance charge for Dottie to call us (as she lives in that area-code). However, anyone outside the 303 area would have to pay long-distance; and the rest of the call would be charged to us. Another eye-opener for this ìone chargeî offer. But, it was still the best deal for our lifestyle.

A Hot Phone

Finally, the big moment arrived when I called Dottie. I announced that I would only give the number to her and Arlene, because I didnít want to use up my 500 minutes. Before long, the phone became so hot, I had to hold it away from my ear.
The next morning, Van called the AT&T and described the hot-phone problem. After about an hour on ìhold,î he learned thatís characteristic of this model. Great! Itís a calculator, Dayplanner, Voice Mail, game, and also an ear-warmer. At least, it will encourage me to keep my conversations short, and to hold the phone away from my ear.

My Purse is Ringing

The next episode came when we were driving in the sunshine, along the Pacific Coast Highway, by the Torrey Pines Golf Course, with the ocean visible in the distance. We were marveling at the unusual occurrence of snow along the mountain-tops to the east, when the phone, inside my purse, began ringing.
I was delighted to hear Dottieís voice, and described the view to her, as we were experiencing it.
Within a short time, the phone garbled with static, then beeped, and then beeped twice; and then went dead. I was terribly upset at this disruption, and could not reconnect. Oh well, Dottie understood about cellular phones, so Iíd call her back later.
Van figured it must need more charging, so he plugged it in and recharged. The next time we talked, the static began again, and Dottie said, ìThatís what happened the last time,î so we hung up. But Van said it was ìbreaking upî for some other reason.
I donít do well with these situations, and became frustrated, as these occurrences became quite frequent. Apparently itís one of the hazards of cellular phones; though weíd been told that it shouldnít happen with this more expensive model. So much for that fallacy, too.

Things Definitely are not What They Seem

Since I began this chapter with a beach scene, Iíll add another one here. Again, an optical illusion gives a false impression. From the top of Del Mar Heights Road, heading toward the ocean, the appearance is a straight shot into the water. But the truth is that the road stops at a barricade, and one can follow a narrow path in either direction; a short distance south gives a panoramic view to La Jolla and looking west to the horizon, which is a favorite at sunset. However, it ends at a precipice, so itís preferable to walk northward; with the same horizon, and the shoreline stretching about twenty-miles to Oceanside Harbor.
Directly below, the railroad track separates us from the sandy beach, and almost any day you can see someone walking, jogging, or even bicycling along the train right-of-way, despite the sign advising against it. But everyone knows thatís a legal protection for the railways, in case someone gets injured.
On the weekend, of course, the pedestrian traffic increases; especially far below along the beach. This day, we took an alternate route by walking along the street into the condominium complex, and out the other end (after the street deadends); bypassing the precipice and then continuing south, along the Pacific Coast Highway. This undeveloped area is a favorite trail down the sloping hillside (rather than over the cliffs) across the railroad tracks, and finally onto the beach. While walking, you can watch the breathtaking view described earlier; and now with the waves rolling onto the wide sandy beach in the bay between Del Mar and La Jolla, we watched in awe.
Itís usually a carnival-like atmosphere here, because the highway swoops over a high bridge, and then along the beach; and parking spaces allow easier access. This is either the destination of the walkers, joggers, runners or bikers; or the beginning. And, for some, itís simply a place to swim, surf, frolic, or sit and relax.
Now we could see that the tide was out, and further up the beach the rocks were exposed, leaving tide pools to explore. We hurried along, before the tide came back in, and soon I left Van strolling along the sand, while I meandered over the rocks, peering into the tide pools. This time there were hundreds of slimy-type creatures that looked as if they should be in shells — like clams, maybe, in a desperate attempt to stay in the water, rather than die on the rocks, as many did. I carefully pushed several into deeper water, and tried to avoid stepping on the others that were beyond help.

ìIím Walking on the Bottom of the Oceanî

Of course, there were the usual colorful flora and fauna, and those squishy things that spurt water and close up, when you push on them. And this time, because the water was so low, the tall green underwater grass was exposed and lying flat on the rocks, rather than waving happily in their natural habitat. My inner child jauntily jumped across waterways, and thought, ìIím walking on the bottom of the ocean. Iíll bet Van has seen scenes like this, when he was a frogman.î
I looked over at him walking along the shore, perfectly happy avoiding the familiar scene. Instead, his inner child was waving at a passing train or plane or helicopter, as he enjoyed the winter sunshine and blue skies.
As I ambled over the ocean bottom, the terrain shifted from volcanic-type rocks to a flat, almost solid area, interrupted by maze-like ruts carved by the oceanís currents. Even now, the waves would roll into shore and gush along the water canyons, sometimes splashing into the air, as I carefully selected my route across the fascinating patterns.
In time, I reached the end of the rocks, and returned to walk along the shore with Van. Sometimes, I would look up to the top of the cliffs, and see the people walking along the railroad tracks and looking down at us. And every-so-often I would stop and savor a special scene, such as the trickling waterfalls bouncing off the rocks above, and spreading over the sand; so we would have to watch our step to keep from getting our feet soaked.

Makeshift Steps of Sand

When we reached the place beneath our starting point (Arleneís apartment), we stopped to rest awhile, and I again pondered the feasibility of scurrying up the makeshift steps, carved in the sand and used by the surfers as a shortcut. Iíd tried it several years ago, and my knees and legs turned to rubber, and Iíd become panicked and frozen, but prayed my way to the top; and then ached for several days.
As I watched the surfers maneuver their boards easily up or down the cliff-path, I realized that itís another of those optical illusions that arenít what they seem. Discretion being the better part of valor, we trudged onward to Del Mar Beach and the easy access used by the hordes of beach-comers; most of whom stay within the designated beach, or calculate their walk for a shorter distance. Yet, this is the destination or beginning of others, such as ourselves, who make the round- trip: either on the beach, along the railroad tracks, or the higher trail.

A Glorious Panorama

We chose to return via the railroad tracks, and we stood firmly in a wider spot when the train whizzed by leaving a powerful wind in its wake. But we were safe, and soon managed to reach the high trail at sunset. Several nights earlier, during a shorter walk, Iíd seen a whale spouting several times, and this time I spotted a porpoise gracefully bobbing through the water. Other nights the sunset reflects a glorious panorama of golds and oranges from La Jolla to Oceanside Harbor, but this one, not quite as spectacular, but nevertheless awesome, diminished into silvers and grays mirroring across the smooth steely water.

More New Technology

Midst visiting all the family and friends, Van continued studying the instruction manuals for our new Canon printer-copier-word scanner, and applying his knowledge. Of course, Iíd thought we had a mini-printing setup, and could publish all the books weíd need to fill the vast orders I anticipated, once we got our website. But, in the midst of printing the first booklet, it stopped; it seems that, after only a hundred copies, it ran out of ink in the middle of a booklet. This is not okay, because itís hard to pick-up where we left off.
Okay, so the new technology is more costly than the horse-and-plow: a small tank of black ink costs $8.00; and a colored tank cost $22.00. Iíd already begun my colored Valentineís greetings, but had only done ten; hoping to do another ten, at least. Whew! Costly. Thank goodness I had tithed to my Inner Freedom Ministry account from my inheritance check. Now, I could afford to continue using this high-tech equipment. So we bought a large cartridge of black ink (for reproducing the booklets), which cost $30.00, and would print 2,000 pages (it says here).
Getting ready for the 21st Century definitely has its challenges. The next one appeared when I checked my first three booklets (in my Journey to Inner Freedom course) that were complete and ready to print. Horrors! The layout had shifted from one computer to the other, and all graphics now appeared in the middle of the text; a time-consuming process to adjust them, but no choice. So what seemed copy-ready was not. Another optical illusion.

ìA Few Sprinklesî

I decided it was time to end this chapter, but it wasnít through with me, yet. For instance, the evening news reported that we would have a few ìsprinklesî the next day, and then the usual warm San Diego weather for, at least, the next week. So we renewed our time at the site on the cliffs overlooking the ocean at South Carlsbad State Park. The next day we awoke to a full-fledged rainstorm; but it didnít matter, as far as our view was concerned, because neighbors arrived to the north and parked in such a way that cut-off our entire view of the shoreline. Oh well, it gave us further motivation to continue with our printing projects, prior to the ink squelching those plans. And I realized that the ìsprinklesî had been another illusion.
With all these blockages, I began to notice another pattern surfacing. Ever since installing the high-tech system, I no longer knew what I was doing. I had to ask Van every time I wanted to start, stop, or do anything beyond writing. The old discomfort of feeling trapped caused me to become irritable.

Van’s Challenges

But this time, in my new light of understanding, I realized that the situation could be an important part of our healing process. For instance, Van likes to be helpful, and this gave him something he could do; an opportunity to be useful by applying his knowledge of computers. With all these new challenges, he suddenly came to life, and he had reason to be excited about getting up each day.
However, the challenges also brought to light his old pattern: If you can’t do it right; don˝ˇˇˇÇÉÑÖÜáàâäãåçéèêëíìîïñóòôöõúùûü†°¢£§•¶ß®©™´¨≠ÆØ∞±≤≥¥µ∂∑∏π∫ªºΩæø¿¡¬√ƒ≈∆«»… ÀÃÕŒœ–—“”‘’÷◊ÿŸ⁄€‹›fifl‡·‚„‰ÂÊÁËÈÍÎÏÌÓÔÒÚÛÙıˆ˜¯˙˝ˇˇˇ˚¸˝˛ˇít do it.î Because he had been out of the computer industry a few years, new technology had passed him by, and he didn;t know what to do, either, without reading the manual; and sometimes his efforts didnít work, as he anticipated. This caused him to beat himself up. I would remind him: ìYou are okay. Just because you donít know how to do it, doesn’t mean you aren’t a good person.î

And soon he could push through the challenge, and move on. The healing continued as he reminded himself that it was okay not to know what to do, or how to do it. His Navy Seal love of challenges kicked in, and he began to enjoy them again. Only it was no longer a balm for his ego when he succeeded, or a self- inflicted ego, or a beating when he failed. He actually enjoyed the process. Joy returned to our lives, as Van’s wonderful self returned.

A New Order of Responsibility and Accountability

In the meantime, a more universal challenge continued to unfold, as The Impeachment Trial of President Clinton droned on. No one paid much attention anymore, but I still enjoyed the human interest, plus, I firmly believed that God was using this incident to unfold a new order of responsibility and accountability; and I could hardly wait to see how it evolved.
I rejoiced as the House Managers spoke of the necessity for these characteristics, and I thought sure the tide was turning. But, again, things were not as they seemed, because the Presidentís defense team would turn these apparent truths into another reality to prove their own points that he had not committed impeachable offenses.
Fortunately, nothing of higher importance seemed to be happening during these early months of the New Year, so life went on for most of us. Yet, I noticed an ongoing shift in the sitcoms and other programs, as well as the focus of news stories on recognition of responsibility and accountability. For instance, Mike Tyson returned to prison for more infractions of the law, and O.J. Simpsonís treasured possessions were being sold to begin payment of his court awarded wrongful death payment.
And other news stories got our attention. For instance, a young black man was released from prisonís Death Row, when a Journalism class took on the assignment and proved his innocence, while causing the real perpetrator to confess. Ah hah! It is happening. The tide is turning, and a gradual change of taking responsibility and making accountability is moving across the face of the world.
Sadly, in the midst of these changes, another news event of major significance took place. King Hussein died, and the shift of power went to his older son, Abdullah, a young man who had been educated in the United States, and who had been active in the military regime in his country. Suddenly the responsibility of power was thrust upon him, rather than to the kingís brother. Would this prove to be good judgment, and would he be accountable for the job. Only time would tell. But surely, as the saga of those countries unfold, we will see the activity of God at work. And, it will be no optical illusion.

Things that go Bump in the Night

Fear is another example of an optical illusion that isnít what it seems to be. I had another opportunity to confront one of my underlying fears that had manifested as a body reaction. Iíd thought these symptoms were merely another of my weird body behavior, but God brought to my attention that they could be eliminated.
This healing process unfolded as we were parked on the high bluffs above the Pacific Ocean with the beautiful view of rolling waves roaring into the seashore. In the past, I had noticed that the intense roar of the ocean causes me physical discomfort, similar to the ones from barometric changes. I thought the OPC-3 would have removed this distress. However, the first time we stayed here, we arrived at night, and the ocean roar seemed annoying, I attributed my discomfort to the first-night syndrome I often experience, before getting used to a place. I used my earplugs, and slept comfortably through the night, and we left the next day.
The second time, we stayed several days, but the sun was shining, and the ocean, along with the weather, seemed peaceful, until a mild winter storm arrived and then I again noticed the loud roar of the ocean. By now the sky had clouded, the usual barometer changes occurred, and my body responded by feeling heavy pressure, like a weight upon it that made it hard to breathe. My head became spinny, and I felt lightheaded. Not comfortable feelings, and definitely not conducive to enjoying this fabulous beach scene. But, soon the weather cleared, and I felt better, except for the heavy energies at night of the oceanís roar. With my earplugs, which only lowered the noise decibel, it felt like a heavy windstorm was in progress, and I could actually imagine that the RV was swaying from the wind. This reality brought forth the sensation of fear, because I dread windstorms.
Eight years ago, during my inner child healing process, I had become aware of these fears relating to childhood, when they became associated with having been left alone in a terrible, noisy windstorm. Yet, Iíd concluded this was simply one of those realities I simply had to learn to live with.
But one morning when I awoke to the oceanís noisy energies, I again felt the RV swaying in the wind, and looked outside to discover a quiet, calm morning, with only the ocean below continuing its tidal change. So, I closed my eyes and began a healing meditation to eliminate my reacting to this fear oriented pattern from my childhood. God explained that my body reaction to the barometric changes was also related to this memory, and I could be free of it now that I had recognized the association.

A Deeper Trust in Godís Protection

I spoke my prayer for removing patterns: ìThank you, God, for removing the negative energies of this pattern. Please return them to Your Source, and transform them into positive and productive energies for good.î I then focused my thoughts on His will for good for me this day, and released the meditation.
I felt much lighter and freer, and from then on I could enjoy the sounds of the ocean without childhood memories bringing on symptoms of fear. The imagined dangers of the unknown that accompany the bump in the night could be replaced with a deeper trust in Godís protection.

Chapter 17
OBJECTS MAY APPEAR SMALLER

Interruptions and Standstills

Life became a series of interruptions and standstills. For instance, I awoke one morning with two black dots in my vision; like those annoying floaters that sometimes trickle through our vision, and disappear; only this one didnít go away, which caused an interruption to my vision. I could see, but it was disorienting, which added to the discomforts I felt from being above the ocean, especially with the intense energies of the ocean, along with barometric changes.
I expected the speck to go away, but it didnít, so I went to the Urgent Care facility to make sure it wasnít a symptom of brain tumor, or something equally devastating. ìItís a floaterî the doctor said, adding, ìThey donít know what causes them, and thereís nothing you can do for it.î He assured me it would probably go away. In the meantime, it was terribly annoying; like looking around a log.

ìSome People are Like Thatî

While at the doctorís, I asked about my bodyís reaction to barometric changes, and he said, ìSome people are like that.î But no offer of help. It reminded me of the doctor, many years ago, who concluded, ìYou have a migraine personality.î Oh, thank you, now I feel much better. I didnít then, and I donít now, but I learned to live with it. (I have since learned that there is a connection between my migraines and the barometric changes, and I can minimize it with OPC-3 and Oxygen Plus, another product that we sell).
This doctor did come up with a solution to my awful heartburn reflux: ìTake digestive enzymes.î Iíd worked in health food stores, and even owned one, but had given up on the enzymes, because of my adverse reaction to Hydrochloric acid, so didnít plan on taking anymore. Iíd stick with Tums. (Actually, our company later acquired an enzyme that has relieved the problem).

Hereís Cause for Upset

While parked at the ocean, I checked my three completed manuscripts in preparation for printing them out on our new printer. I happily sat down at my laptop to review the booklets for my Journey to Inner Freedom course.
At the introduction to the Publisher Program, a Notice appeared on the screen: ìThere might be a change from your original version in format and font.î When I examined my manuscripts, I discovered that every manuscript had shifted, and all graphics and text were out of alignment; pictures appeared in the middle of the text, and chapter headlines were often at the bottom of pages. It was a mess that would take hours to restore. Again, the promises of the state of art technology werenít quite as wonderful as advertised.
I went into a major upset, but Van patiently undertook the project. However, before tackling the new format, he printed out 30 Valentines, so I used my time to prepare, address, and send them out. I felt love for everyone who came to mind, as I added a note to each Valentine. But, quite truthfully, I wasnít feeling much love in my heart for lifeís current surprises, and I felt myself slipping into an unwanted pattern; and I didnít even know what it was.

Whereís Dave?

Van spent his time getting the booklets ready for Charter Copies, where Iíd had all my previous books prepared, and I was delighted that I could now have copies made up of all manuscripts, with the familiar expertise of Dave, my favorite copy person.
However, I became apprehensive, one day, when driving by the strip mall and not seeing their sign. I hoped that Iíd just overlooked it, so I called and a recording announced that they were unavailable. Maybe theyíre still on Christmas Vacation. I left a message that I needed to know if they were still in business; but no one returned my call.

A Distortion of Reality

Now, I began to wonder about Godís perfect plan for me; nothing seemed to be what I thought it would be, and I questioned my own judgment. One morning, as I sat in the passengerís seat, looking out the window, I noticed the small print on the outside rearview window: ìObjects may appear smaller than actual size.î Right, another distortion of reality.
The situation reminded me of a commercial that Dennyís restaurant had been running: a woman who has just eaten at Dennyís is sitting in a chair, in her mind she sees a little puppy, but when she calls it, a huge dog jumps onto her lap and knocks her over. It didnít make much sense, but one assumes (by the dialogue of the unseen commentator) that the meal at Dennyís had been so huge that her reality was distorted. I fantasized that probably the commercial evolved from an advertising executive, at the deadline for his new ad campaign, sitting in traffic too long, on the way to work. Shear boredom forced him to recite the message on the back of the rear-view mirror: ìobjects may appear smaller than actual size,î and voila, a commercial is born.
This chapter evolved in a similar way. First I had to live through it, during our inner and outer travels. And neither was much fun, as Iíve already mentioned, when it began to evolve. We were still parked in South Carlsbad Beach State Park, and I figured the eye-speck-incident would be part of ìOptical Illusions.î But, as events began to unfold, it soon became apparent that a new chapter was being written.

It Got Worse

The next setback resulted from the generator problems. The Weather Report predicted another storm, so we decided to move back to Arleneís for a few days, while completing our business in the area. But when Van attempted to start the generator, our plans were thwarted by a clanking sound and a sputter. Since our friend, Bob Davey, an airline mechanic, would be stopping by at noon, Van waited and asked his advice.
Sure enough, Bob diagnosed the problem, and drew diagrams in the sand to describe it: something to do with the gears, on the starter for the generator, wearing down. But he also advised Van to start the engine awhile, before the generator, to avoid the problem.
But it got worse, and Van concluded that heís not willing to do mechanics, so I asked him to make an appointment with nearby Camping World, the service and supplies Mecca for RVers. However, he hates making phone calls, so decided that we would just stop by. Thatís a laugh, as they are always lined-up days in advance. By Thursday, with the weekend coming, I insisted that he call, and he got an appointment for the next afternoon.

Thwarted Again

We planned our departure from the San Diego area in conjunction with the repairs, as itís on the way out of town. We would spend the night at Wal-Martís, not far from Camping World, and Iíd made arrangements to meet two friends there the next morning. This would give us an opportunity to visit, before leaving the area.
These plans were thwarted about 11:00 p.m. when a knock on the door awakened us. I hate those middle of the night disruptions. Of course, it was the security guard announcing that we couldnít stay there overnight — a city ordinance.
Since Camping World locks their gates for the night, and not knowing anyplace else to stay, we decided to drive all the way back to the coast and park by Ralphís Market for the rest of the night. Weíd once been roused there, too, by security, but he had told us that we could park next door and that was our destination.

Parking Lot Visits

We got up early the next morning and drove back to Wal-Mart for our appointments and visits with our friends. After getting caught up on news, both gals also bought OPC-3. It always makes me happy when I think someone will find the healing benefits of our products.
Another incompletion surfaced when I called Arlene and learned that a graphic for a book cover had arrived. Weíd planned that she would send it to Laughlin, but instead, my brother, Gary, would be near Camping World, so we met there. Since he owns a 28ft. Dolphin camper, he enjoyed his first encounter with Mecca, and spent the afternoon.

The Problem is not Solved

In the meantime, the mechanic discovered that the generator starter wire had worn down to the bare wire, so he replaced it. In addition the sparkplugs and tune-up had been handled, and we were ready to head out about sunset.
The first clue that something wasnít right came when Van started the generator for me to use the microwave to fix a quick snack, before leaving. The newly repaired generator chugged and coughed, but finally grabbed hold. However, I decided to move on, before dinner, in order to catch the last sunlight. We werenít sure of directions to the Pechanga Casino on the Indian Reservation near Temecula (described by our friend, Joyce), but the darkness enfolded us, before our arrival. Nevertheless, we found it, and I again prepared to heat our dinner. But this time the generator would not catch hold, and it became obvious that the problem had not been solved.
By this time, I wasnít feeling good, so went to bed. The next day Van announced that he didnít feel good, either, so we both spent the day resting, although we wasted more energy trying to decide what to do about our situation.
We had driven to Temecula to visit our friend, Jim, and then planned to keep traveling northwest back to Long Beach and then north through Los Angeles to visit more family. So the dilemma for returning to Camping World to complete the repairs became the issue. Should we continue north to the facility in San Bernardino, or return south to San Marcos?
Why do these RV breakdowns always occur on a weekend or holiday? In any event, Van agreed to call San Marcos. They said they would be glad to solve the problem on Monday, and Van felt we should return there, as they were familiar with the work they had already done.

At a Standstill

We were at a standstill, and itís my belief that vehicle breakdowns, as well as body challenges, are symptoms of something else on our inner journey. Fix the inner, and the outer will respond. Or vice versa. Since we had attempted to solve the problem by having the generator repaired, and it didnít get completed, perhaps we were up against an inner obstacle. And both our bodies and vehicle seemed to indicate energy blockage. So, whose and what; and where and why? Between snoozes and glancing at the surrounding hillsides, near the casino, I reviewed the situation.

Reviewing the Situation

Looking back I recalled that Iíd been having more body aches, and decided to go to my former massage therapist, Debbie. However, her phone number had been disconnected, so I called a mutual friend, Denise, who had been my original masseuse, and was given a new number. But there was never an answer, nor a message machine, so I gave up and followed my guidance to go to Denise.
We had once been friends, but drifted apart. Now, Joanie was excited to again see her, because she was the first person to tell me about contacting my inner child; and that began the most important part of my inner journey: healing my wounded inner child.
I can remember Denise telling me to ask her name, which was Joanie, and then to put my arms around myself, as a gesture to hug Joanie. Then I learned to nurture and love her, and most of all to listen to her, and make sure her needs were met.
It was at that time I became involved in Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA), and eventually discovered John Bradshawís lifesaving book and TV series, Homecoming, and I even attended his in-person workshops. The big step came when I facilitated a workshop for a year in my home. Now, Joanie is a happy, whole functioning part of myself, and we have good communication and rapport. As Iím writing, I can see how the title ties in with this inner child subject; which is an integral (but unseen) part of the outer adult appearance.
The hardest part of recovery, for me, was standing by while Van went through his inner child recovery process. Knowing when to help, and when to shut up, became challenging. But even worse was giving myself permission to get angry and express my feelings, as his inner child (Little Ralph) began to assert himself. Soon we found ourselves in arguments, as Van allowed himself to express his emotions and opinions; and differing viewpoints emerged.
Little Ralph often reverted to the hole, where Van first discovered him, and long periods of withdrawal or silence caused the most friction between us, as his extended inability to make decisions or get interested in anything continued. This required me to take care of things that he had previously handled, and it triggered Joanieís reactions to her parents not parenting, and the responsibility being placed on her (at only two-years-old).
John Bradshaw says this premature burden of responsibility placed on a child, by their parents inability to parent, causes deep inner anger, because the child feels robbed of its childhood; at a time when they should normally be carefree and taken care of. But the caretaking pattern begins with this early programming, and the birth of codependency evolves, and thatís another Twelve-Step program: Codependents Anonymous (CoDa).
Now, on the massage table, as my body began to release the tension, Joanie insisted that I tell Denise ìThank You,î for getting us together. Denise explained that a lady from Germany had told her about the inner child healing process long before John Bradshawís book and TV series.

Blocked Energies Cleared

Breaking through the barriers between Denise and I cleared more blocked energy in my body, but the massage didnít relieve all of my body discomfort, nor did the floater disappear from my eye. I suspected the symptoms could be Joanieís reactions from staying at my stepmotherís, and being concerned about her tiredness, backache and kidney problems, which triggered that childhood memory of my own motherís uncharacteristic behavior. In addition, my brother, Gary, whose birth had begun Momís health failure, was also staying there, and his ìmore-lessî patterns frustrated me; partially because I could see Vanís behavior headed in that direction, if he didnít correct the patterns.
All these factors came together at a most opportune time: the anniversary of Dadís death, February 17th. I had thought it best to stay with Arlene, until after that date, as a comfort to her, but she said she was okay. Nevertheless, we stayed, because now we were awaiting the arrival of our mail and products, which were delayed over the three-day Presidentís Day holiday. Besides, God wasnít through with us, yet.
In another attempt to relieve my body aches and floater, I had made an appointment with Dr. Tracy Magie, a chiropractor who specializes in Applied Kinesiology. I ran through my litany of complaints, and she quickly did her work. As she is also a Nutritionist, I asked her about the digestive enzymes, and she reminded me of something I already knew, but had overlooked: papaya enzymes; natural, non-acid and delicious.

More Reviewing

When we returned, the mail had arrived, but not the packages; so we waited another day. I decided to take Lynne to lunch, as a pre-birthday celebration, and delighted to see her new radiance; obviously a result of the OPC-3.
Weíd already spent more time with Bob Davey, and it felt good to remain another day to see Lynneís progress. Both would become Preferred Customers, and could order directly from the company, with the help of Market Americaís ìMall Without Wallsî catalog, which listed all our products. We would still get bonus credits, plus 50% of the profit. It certainly felt worth the difference to have this convenience for our customers; and besides, we could be on our way.
By now, I was anxious to get on the road, and rejoiced that the package had arrived. But, I had one more OPC-3 project: Get my brother on the product! This is easier said than done, but I had been talking about it, and showing him the video and article extolling its virtues; so now, I simply handed him a bottle, and said, ìGary, you need to take this.î
He said, ìI donít have that much money on me, and Iíve already spent several hundred dollars on my new contacts and other supplements. I donít make that kind of money.î
ìOkay,î I said, ìsend me a check.î
ìI donít have a checking account. I donít need it. His grappling with this money transaction seemed painful, but he said, ìI can arrange for Arlene to send you one.î
ìThatís fine,î I replied, ìjust start taking it. Youíll be glad. Remember how much you like KM? This is even better. Trust me. You know how you feel when you try to tell someone about something beneficial, and they wonít listen?î
ìYeah, I know,î he said, as he cautiously took the bottle and turned it around in his hand. I pointed out that the directions were on the side, and also gave him a brochure and some other literature, and added, ìNow be sure to call Dottie, before you need a new supply. And when youíre ready to become a Preferred Customer, sheíll send you the Application Form.î I decided not to confuse him with facts, at this point. The deed was done; he accepted the transaction. I could hardly wait to hear his good report in the near future.
Unfortunately, we were leaving, and he would be heading in another direction. But, first we had to go to Camping World in San Marcos, and he would be going nearby to pick up his contact lenses. So we all said our ìGood-byes,î and we headed to Wal-Mart, where this chapter begins.

Denial Isnít a River in Egypt

But, in retrospect, I wonder why I forgot to ask Gary about his first dose of OPC-3. Could it be that I didnít want to hear that he hadnít taken it, as yet, or perhaps that heíd had a bad reaction? With Gary, these are definite possibilities, and I didnít want to trigger my old pattern: ìTake care of your brother, Joanie.î Heís a big boy now, and he can take care of himself. At least, itís not up to me. I learned that much from my codependency recovery program.
I began to wonder how much I had been in denial during our visit at Arleneís, especially about the impact of being with Gary during the anniversary of Dadís death, and actually sleeping in his bedroom and seeing his clothes and belongings still in place. So does the block in my eye represent something Iím not seeing, or willing to see?
On the other hand, what was going on with Van that the generator still wasnít working? As I pondered these questions, I finally drifted into sleep for the night on the casino parking lot.

Back to the Present

The next morning, I awoke feeling much better. In fact, I even began writing this chapter. Then we moved on to visit our friends Jim and Patty. They were gracious hosts, as they toured us through their impressive brand new home; in fact the Jacuzzi and pool still werenít completed. These seeming luxuries, and their move to the desert, were part of their effort to find a new area and lifestyle to relieve Pattyís painful and disabling arthritis symptoms.
Iíd hesitated to mention OPC-3, but during lunch at Marie Callendarís, I couldnít resist sharing some information about its benefits, especially for arthritis. Much to my amazement, Patty said, ìIíll buy a bottle.î
ìYouíll want to take this too,î I immediately said to Jim, who was suffering from high blood pressure, ìso you might as well buy a large bottle.î He agreed, and again I looked forward to a future good report of freedom from suffering, while heaving a sigh of relief that I had pushed through my barriers of talking about our products.
Back at their home, Van entertained Jim, who has the travel bug, with stories of our travels, adding the downside of our repair woes to his sympathetic ear; another special blessing for us, as most people arenít interested, or donít have the time to listen. So our visit with Jim and Patty was especially enjoyable and healing for Little Ralph.
All too soon, it was time to leave, and Jim drove us back to Albertsonís parking lot, where he had gotten permission for us to stay for the night. Ordinarily, in this exclusive residential area, ordinances forbidding overnight parking are in effect.

Another RV Mystery

We awoke early the next morning and began our 30-mile trek back to Camping World, filled with expectations of a quick solution to the generator problem. Wrong! Leroy, the mechanic, could find nothing wrong with its performance, suggesting that it needed a new carburetor; so he referred us to Funday RV Service (generator specialists).
Soon Van was ready to go. ìDonít need a new carburetor,î he announced, and added, ìHe just tweaked it, and said itís okay.î
ìSounds like another mystery of RVing,î I replied.
Our next stop, on this ìCompletion Day,î before another attempt to head north, took us to the Oceanside Wal-Mart, to replace two batteries weíd bought in Kentucky. They werenít holding their charge, and Van thought this could account for our recent problems: electricity not getting through the wires.
Sure enough, they were not charging. No wonder we were running out of electricity in the middle of the night, thus turning off our electric blankets. The batteries were replaced; not only at no charge, but with a small refund for the new less expensive ones; another good reason for shopping Wal-Mart, with their coast-to-coast stores and generous refund and replacement policy.

Transformations and Completions

Somehow, the time had gotten away from us, during the past month, and we hadnít been able to get our haircuts and were looking frowzy. The day before, while awaiting Jim and Pattyís arrival, Iíd spotted a Supercut near Albertsons, and sent Van for a quick cut. He returned looking upbeat and transformed with his new short cut, like Rick Schroederís on NYPD. Now, I took advantage of the opportunity to get mine cut at another Supercut by Wal-Marts. One advantage of short haircuts, while on the road, is the availability of fast, inexpensive haircuts; and usually they are quite satisfactory. I, too, felt rejuvenated with this personal grooming activity, and we now moved forward; or I should say backward, as we returned to the coast area for more completions.
First, we replenished our propane and drinking water at an Exxon station featuring these services. Then we returned to Arleneís to pick up the package of the new B-12 that Dottie promised would give us more energy. On the way, I thought about the so-called coincidence of Freedomís generator and our energy levels, and wondered if this were the clue to the correlation.
Walking into the garage, and past the downstairs bedroom (Dadís room, where we had slept), I noticed that the beds and furniture had been rearranged. What a phenomenon! Somehow, this change seemed to make a tremendous difference. Dadís energies were not as prevalent; or was it simply that the energies of the room had shifted? In any event, whatever happened, I could feel the impact.
I walked upstairs, and Gary laughed at all of us being reunited again, when we had thought we were going in different directions, not knowing when we would see each other again. Apparently, as I said earlier, ìGod wasnít through with us,î yet, and we needed one more meeting for another completion.

More Rear-viewing

This explanation will take a little background, and is vital for the lesson involved. You see, I once presented workshops, which I called Money Matters, and then I wrote a book that told the ongoing stories of some of us that participated in the workshops. In fact, many of my writings attempt to solve the mysteries of peopleís money behavior, based on the patterns evolving from their childhood issues with money; mostly influenced by their parents money patterns. In retrospect, it seems that my entire life has been about observing and experiencing these money sagas, and maybe someday Iíll be able to assist others to face theirs and become free from the bondage or enslavement caused by these generational money patterns.
For instance, when Gary accepted the bottle of OPC-3 from us, as mentioned earlier, it was painful watching him deal with the money aspect of the transaction. He seems to have a compulsive need to hold onto his money, and an unwillingness to spend it, even for his personal needs and health. This compulsion, associated with low self-esteem, is no doubt related to his having been abandoned by his parents, when our mother became incapacitated, after his birth, and he was placed in an orphanage when only three-weeks-old.
But the pattern did not begin with him, as Iíve seen our dad carry out the same behavior. In his case, the trauma began when his dad abandoned him when a youngster, then kidnapped him, and took him to Washington D.C., while attending George Washington University Medical School.
Dad always said, ìHe kidnapped me, and then he didnít want me.î Dad Freeland soon sent for his wife to come raise their son, and she maintained a boarding house to help put Dad Freeland through Medical School. Then he abandoned them, and eventually married Gladys, (Mom Freeland). So, the multi-generational patterns are well-established, and no wonder Gary and I have money issues.
The difference is that I have been going through recovery programs, such as Debtors Anonymous, and endeavoring to change these patterns. Now, I decided to no longer take the abusive — though not intentional — behavior, and allow Gary, as well as myself, to change the patterns.
First, I asked, ìGary, have you been taking your OPC-3?î
He looked up, ìYep, I have.î
ìCongratulations,î I ventured, then said, ìYou know, as long as weíre here, how about paying for it, now, so we wonít have to hassle with it during our travels?î
Oh, my God, what an ordeal! He looked as if heíd been shot, and then mumbled, ìI did get some money from the bank, but Iíve had so many expenses.î He took out his wallet, rummaged through it, and then went downstairs to look for his private stash.
In the meantime, Arlene heard the raucous and said, ìDoes Gary owe you some money?î
ìYes,î
ìWell, let me pay you, and he can pay me back when he has it.î
In the meantime, Gary returned with the money, and I asked him to pay it to Van, The Money Man.
I felt like fainting from the high voltage energy involved; but like the downstairs bedroom, a major transformation took place, as patterns changed, and we were all now free to move onward.

Memories of Helena

However, the completions continued, as we retraced our route along the coast. First, I wanted to fulfill a request from our friend, Helena, in Colorado, to obtain the address of another massage therapist from a mutual friend, Dr. Steven Vogue, a chiropractor. His tall, craggy appearance gave a modern-day version of Abraham Lincoln, and his loving, caring demeanor reached out to everyone, as they gravitated to his office.
As Van maneuvered Freedom through the narrow streets of this beach town, a flood of memories surfaced. When we first lived in Encinitas, Dr. Vogueís office was the hub of new age activity. Anything of importance happened here; or he was somehow involved. It was in his original office, down the street, where I first met Denise and Helena, who are both massage therapists, vegetarians, and typically New Age. Or they were, at the time. Denise has become a born-again Christian and lives alone in her two-story mansion that she remodeled and added onto (from a one-story ranch-style home); all paid for by massaging aching bodies.
On the other hand, although Helena eventually attended Massage School, and has a growing clientele, she is still a Hippie-at-heart, living midst myriad plants in her basement apartment in Colorado, and ecstatically happy with her newfound love, Leo.
I can still remember her smiling face, long hair and backpack, as she wandered into town. She could have been an escapee from the 70ís Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco. But her route had started in Colorado, then to Arizona, and the car broke down in Encinitas, where she gravitated to a small pocket of free spirits congregated at the Community Market. This was the original natural foods store there, where we could amble through rows of fresh organic veggies and bins of nuts and grains on our way to the juice bar or freshly ground peanut butter. It was wonderful; and so alive, and so right that Helena worked there, as her cheery laugh wafted through the aisles. And, of course, she roomed with some of the employees, in a commune lifestyle overlooking the ocean; a memorable time for Helena, before she returned home to Colorado.

It Was the Best of Times

It was a memorable time for Van and I, too. We lived in our big house on the hill, also overlooking the ocean, and my ìRainbow by the Seaî ministry-by-mail was at its peak, and my family all lived nearby. Van was the foundation of our lives, and supported our lifestyle, emotionally and financially, while working as a successful computer programmer-analyst.
Some of us attended Rev. Kevís Religious Science Church on Second Street, where I flourished as Assistant-to-the-Minister, and Platform Assistant; greeting the Sunday worshippers and giving announcements, including ones about my classes and workshops. It was the best of times. It was the eighties!
But, it all changed when the Community Market moved into the newly built ìLumber Yardî mall across Highway 101; and cleaned-up their act. Dr. Vogue moved his office and named it The Optimum Health Center, and Helena moved back to Colorado.
Riding along these streets I felt pangs of sadness, as I remembered my own personal downfall. I had longed to establish my own center, so I opened The ìPot Oí Gold Centerî in an office next to Dr. Vogues original Chiropractor Office, with the help of Jonathan, one of the local New Agers.
We had great fun putting it all together, but once the doors were open, I came up against another of my codependency symptoms: inability to complete projects. I really didnít know how to operate a business, and I seemed to sabotage myself with an underlying feeling ìI canít do this.î Somehow, I kept customers away; at least I didnít attract any. And eventually the center went the way of all good ideas that have no basis in reality. I closed the doors.

Like Long-lost Friends

Now, as Van pulled Freedom in front of the Optimum Health Center, I remembered that our relationship with Steven had drifted apart through the years, as we all pursued our individual lifestyles. Now, I opened the front door to the Center, and approached the receptionist and explained my mission. She suggested that I write it down, as he was with a patient.
I couldnít find Helenaís address in my purse, so returned to Freedom for it. When I got back, Steven was standing behind the desk, saying ìGoodbyeî to his patient. He stopped everything, gave me a giant hug, and greeted me like a long-lost friend. As we spoke of Helena and her quest to locate their mutual friend, it was as if the years had momentarily parted, and we were back in those marvelous energies of the eighties.
But, of course, our lifestyle had changed, and I pointed to Freedom waiting out front. Steven said, ìIs Van out there?î I nodded, and he left his patient, rushed outside, leaped up the steps, and surprised Van, sitting in the driverís seat, with a big hug and greeting. It was all so rushed, and suddenly he was gone.

And it was the Worst of Times

Van slowly drove Freedom up the street, and onto Highway 101 north, and I said, ìI guess that was an important completion for us both.î
ìIt wasnít a completion for me,î Van responded.
ìWell, it should be,î I replied, ìbecause you and he had a business relationship. Remember, when you were doing Financial Consulting, he was one of your clients? Then, when he had an audit, his lady-friend called you for some of the paperwork. As I recall, she got quite impatient and verbal. It wasnít a very good experience, and we both felt hurt, so stayed away from any further encounters.î
Van concentrated on driving down the highway, and concluded his part of the discussion by saying, ìRight.î I guess thatís as far as I could hope to get with his ìcompletion.î But I added, ìIíve blocked it out of my mind so much, that Iím not even sure if sheís the same gal at his reception desk.î
ìOh,î he grunted, as if the subject were over.
But it wasnít ìover,î in my opinion. His Financial Consultant venture was just one more name on the long list of incompletions in Vanís entrepreneurial endeavors. So, I asked, ìWhat do you think about, when you recall your Financial Consultant service? Do you feel like a failure and beat yourself up, or what?î
ìSometimes. Sometimes I feel that Iíve learned from it, and would set it up differently next time.î
I still wasnít satisfied with his response, so pushed further, ìDo you think it was a good idea, or are you in denial about it, or how do you approach it?î
He looked kind of resigned, as he replied, ìOh, I guess it was one of those things when I tried to help someone out, and it didnít work out. It was probably something I shouldnít have been doing.î
ìWell, maybe itís another symptom of codependency. If you were trained, and had the background, you would do good. For instance, you were a top computer programmer-analyst. Itís obviously the difference between bonafide business, and a ìgood idea with no basis in reality.íî
ìRight!î
That was probably the most Van would say on this, and I wasnít in a mood to pursue the subject, right now, because I was in pursuit of another completion for myself.

Reconnecting With Debbie

The entire time weíd been in the area, Iíd been trying to contact another former masseuse of mine, Debbie, whom Iíd also considered a friend. My letters had been returned with an expired address change, and her phone numbers either had been disconnected or didnít respond. Finally, I got her work number, but she had always been with a client.
I really needed to see her, at least one more time, to find out why she never sent me the Angel Bear books and T-shirt that she had created. And I simply wanted to reconnect or disconnect, if that were the case. So, while Van was filling our gas tank at Costco, on the way out of town, I called one more time; and actually got to talk with her. We arranged to meet in about an hour, near her office, and I was delighted when she gave me a tour of this full-service spa.
ìI went back to Cosmetology School, and I now give facials and do makeup. Itís so much easier than a full day of massages,î she beamed happily, as she pointed out the elaborate steam table and wet room, and then took me into the bright and cheerful cosmetic department.
Her two pre-teen daughters accompanied us to Starbucks, and we caught up on all the important information. Joanie was devastated to learn that Debbie had mailed the Angel Bear products, and I hadnít received them. But Debbie agreed to send another shipment, when they were available again.
The biggest news came with her announcement: ìI am engaged!î And the follow-up: ìItís Guy, the same fellow I was dating several years ago.î He had truly seemed to be her soulmate, and I was so happy for her.
Now that Iíd seen Debbie and had her updated address and phone numbers, I felt a completion, and ready to move on. She and the girls stopped by Freedom, and greeted Van, and then we said our ìGood-byes,î and went our separate ways.

All This for That?

By now it was dark, but we knew our way to Doheny State Park at Dana Point, and easily pulled into our favorite beachfront site.
The next day, overlooking the sun dancing across the ocean and the seagulls flying in formation or sitting along the sandy bank, I began writing this chapter; and then I read it to Van, asking for his feedback.
ìItís good,î he exclaimed.
ìBut itís not complete,î I complained, ìand I donít know where to go with it.î He looked puzzled, and I continued, ìWell, for instance, I still donít think weíve explained the correlation between the generator malfunctions and your patterns, and I have a feeling thereís a lot more to it.î He looked blank, so I said, ìOkay, it all goes back to your refusal to make the phone call to Camping World to make an appointment for the repairs. Your plan was your usual pattern of not taking action, until youíre forced into it.î
He nodded and said, ìRight.î
ìSo I went on, ìItís like you said, ëmaybe weíll find a place in Las Vegas or Colorado.í Good Heavens, thatís a long time and a long way, especially considering that the generator wasnít working properly. And then when you did make the call the next day, our appointment was Friday, which put us into the weekend, so we had to wait until Monday for the follow-up activity. What do you think is the message from all that?î
He looked up brightly, and said, ìI donít like to talk on the phone,î paused, and then added, ìAnd I donít like to use the phone.î He looked quite content with that response, and I could tell that I was now having a conversation with Little Ralph.
Great! All this for that. I felt like ending the conversation, but it didnít seem to be over, so I said, ìYou know, I think a lot of this has to do with Little Ralphís growing-up process. It isnít enough to say ëI donít want to do it, so I wonít.í Sometimes we have to push through things and do it anyway. For instance, the other day Dottie talked about a training session she needed to attend, but didnít want to go alone. Early that morning someone called and asked her to bring the overhead projector setup, so she was forced to go anyway.
ìWhen she called me, soon after returning, she was energized and elated, as she reported her triumph, and said, ëYou know what they say about the successful people doing what those who fail donít do; whether they feel like it or not!íî
I paused and continued, ìThe point is that part of growing up is doing it anyway; and Adult Ralph needs to take Little Ralph by the hand again, and get him out of his hole; and teach him these realities of life.î

ìWelcome to the Worldî

He didnít look convinced, so I said, ìRemember, we learned in our inner child recovery program that the wounded child is stuck someplace in his developmental stages, and all that blocked energy is waiting to be released, once you free-up the child from wherever itís stuck. So maybe thatís what is going on with the malfunctioning generator. After all, itís about blocked energy, so what areas do you think are still blocked with Little Ralph?î
He reluctantly replied, ìI guess I need to get out of my comfort zone.î
ìThatís good,î I said, hoping to encourage his wise insight; and then added, ìRemember, you always have choices. You can function at whatever level you choose, such as my brother, Gary, or you can make the effort to move forward to a new level. And thereís no right or wrong; itís simply a matter of choices.î
I could see a transformation taking place, like a light going on, as Little Ralph began to take Adult Ralphís hand, and come out of his hole. Hooray, Welcome to the World.
Van busied himself making copies on our new copier, and several times throughout the day he turned on the generator, and it hummed like ìthe nature of the beast,î just as the generator expert had said it was supposed to.

Poor Little Rich Girl

But that night I wanted to watch Lauren Bacallís portrayal of Doris Duke, the daughter of a tobacco tycoon, and the wealthiest woman in the world (along with her friend, Barbara Hutton), at the time.
Wanting to make sure we had plenty of electricity, Van attempted to turn on the generator (although it was past the parks stipulated time to run generators) and it again gasped, chugged and choked. So he turned it off.
Thinking he was into his withholding that manifests as ìDonít give them what they want,î I growled, ìOkay, fine I wonít watch it,î and turned over in bed. But he turned it on anyway, so I watched, and quickly became absorbed in the story of the Poor Little Rich Girl, who had everything, and yet had nothing that she really wanted. Early in her childhood, her dad had set the pattern, ìDonít let anyone hurt you.î And her mother had warned, ìNo one will ever want you; theyíll only want your money.î
The self-fulfilling prophecy had been set in motion, and the story painfully proved that even for the wealthy, patterns are established in childhood, and control our entire lives; unless we are able to recognize and change them. And thatís something that money canít buy. But it can be attained by anyone, if only they recognize the patterns and are willing to make the necessary choices to change them.

Maybe it’s “Objects Appearing Larger”

In that regard, Van apparently made his choices, because the electricity sustained the electric blanket through the night, and when he again attempted to start the generator, during the appropriate hours, the beast coughed a few times, then hummed without a complaint, for the next hour, until he turned it off.
I laughed when Van said, ìWere I to be superstitious, I would think that the generator only runs in the daylight hours.î
ìOr, at least during the designated hours,î I suggested, and he nodded.
Little Ralph seemed to have moved past his energy blockage, as Adult Ralph updated his paperwork, seeming much freer than in the past when tackling this project.
In retrospect, this chapter about objects appearing smaller may relate to the inner child. For instance, they appear larger, as being adults, when in reality they are still wounded inner kids that need love and understanding. And they need nurturing and support in order to free-up the blocked energies to their adulthood.

Chapter 18
LOVING WHAT YOU DO

Leaving our Peaceful Beach Sanctuary

The next phase of our travels, Orange County and Los Angeles, would be fast, zippy, hectic and congested. But, I wanted to visit my brother Tom, and his roommate, Manny, in Long Beach again, and then push through the barriers (mine, Vanís and whatever) to drive through Los Angeles and visit my niece, Valena Sue, on her lunch break.
But first we must move through the zippy energies of Orange County. So, we left our quiet, peaceful beach sanctuary at Doheny State Park (in Dana Point), and continued north along the Pacific Coast Highway, in the warm morning sun.
Memories of Sad Times
This section of highway brings back memories of another era in my life, as we pass through Dana Point, and the location of the Green Lantern Motel, which is replaced by so many buildings and businesses that I canít pinpoint where the motel once stood.
I usually donít choose to recall these memories, because they were a sad and lonely time in my life; a transition period, after the divorce from my second husband, Eric. I seldom mention him, although he was an important part of my life; especially since he was my passport from Oregon to Southern California. Iíd always longed to live there, where I felt my destiny would one day take me; and it did: to Costa Mesa; on the mesa above Newport Beach, just a few miles up the coast from Dana Point.
Unfortunately, it was during this unhappy time that my son, then called Randy, (now he prefers Marquam or Randal) came to visit. It seemed to me that I spent all my time crying, because I hadnít adjusted to being single.
But I did take Marquam to the beach (before the sprawling Dana Harbor existed), and he enjoyed playing with a neighbor boy. I was managing the Life Center Health Food Store that I had owned, and then sold; and where I also spent a lot of time in the backroom crying. So, itís understandable that I donít spend much time reviving these memories.

Moving Right along: Orange County

Fortunately, we moved quickly onward this sunny day along the coast, through hectic, congested Laguna Beach, where the highway is torn up with reconstruction. This exclusive, artistic community was once invaded by the hippies in the sixties. But, it survived the ordeal, and flourishes with its own energies, which are annually shared with thousands of others, during the Pageant of The Masters, bringing to life a living panorama of paintings by the master painters, such as Van Gogh.
Once through that congestion, we passed along more serene seaside, but, within a short time we were in Corona Del Mar, another exclusive community with too much traffic through its main street.
Though once its own entity, this town now serves as the gateway to Newport Beach, a much larger and even more exclusive community boasting a picturesque harbor and expensive boats. John Wayne once lived here; and so did June Allyson, who may still own her home on the bay.
With this brief glimpse of that part of my history (when married to Eric, we lived in nearby Costa Mesa), weíll move on through Orange Countyís coastline. The very different energies of Huntington Beach greet us, as we cross a bridge, and enter this high-energy beach town. The enclosed beach is only accessible through the gates, and one must pay an entry fee for all beach activities, including an RV area.
Further north, we pass Bolsa-Chica State Park, which also offers all beach activities, and an RV area, with hookups, for a price. Weíd considered spending some time here, but itís rather bleak, with only sand and sea, which is ideal for those activities; but not for our lifestyle.
Soon we passed the hotel in Seal Beach, where Van and I had stayed overnight, before we turned into turtles (with our home attached). We had enjoyed its vibes then, as now, and the white stuffed seal that had rested on our pillow, as a gift, now rides on our dashboard, along with our other stuffed animal family.
This town, too, is an expensive, hectic, and congested beach community; and offers no RV parks. And the same is true for Belmont Shores and Naples, with its canals, and named after its Italian namesake. The truth is that I really enjoy these communities, and, as we drove through, I thought that I would love to spend time there; wandering past the shops and dining in one of the eateries. But, we zipped right on by, and I sighed in resignation that it was another dream that would never be fulfilled.
Completions
Finally, we made our way along the Long Beach Harbor, through town, and to Golden Shores RV Park, where we had stayed the last time we visited Tom. It was here that we had met Mary and John, the husband-wife truckers, and their son, who travels with them and is home-schooled by his mom.
In our visits, Iíd learned that she had diabetes, so I extolled the virtues of OPC-3, and she bought a bottle. Now, I asked about them, at the desk, and learned that they were in town. In fact, the receptionist told me that John had been deathly sick and was recuperating from surgery.
My list of Completions, included seeing them again, and following up to see if she needed more products. However, the last phone conversation revealed that she hadnít even started using it. Too bad; she doesnít realize that she has a gold mine in her cupboard; and if John had taken it, he may not have needed surgery; and if he did, the recovery would have been speedy. The receptionist assigned us the space next to John and Mary, where we parked. However, tomorrow would be time to talk with Mary.
Joanieís Quest
I had other things on my mind today, as Joanie was now on a quest to have lunch at the Two Umbrellaís, Tom and Mannyís restaurant, and it closes at 2:00 p.m., so we scurried through our parking procedure, and walked to the local free shuttle, called Passport, a cute little red trolley-type.
Last time we were here, Joanie had wanted to push through any resistance to trying this new venture, but Tom gave us a ride, and we didnít do it. Now, he was cooking, and couldnít chauffeur us, and Joanie and Little Ralph were delighted, as they scrambled aboard. In fact, he chose to stand, so he could see the sights of downtown Long Beach: the tall buildings, the Aquarium, and the old hotel. Joanie busied herself studying the other riders: business men, tourists, and several locals, which include street-people and mothers-with-children.
End of an Era
Despite Joanie and Little Ralphís involvement, another priority must be handled by our adult selves, which involved getting off the shuttle and going to Wells Fargo Bank.
Once inside the bank, we approached the teller, and as I handed him my account numbers, Joanie let Joann explain the transaction, ìI want to close both accounts.î Marvin carefully began the paperwork, and I held my breath, because they were my Inner Freedom Ministry accounts, and sometimes thereís red tape for such a transaction. But, it was much easier to close, than open; simply a matter of determining the exact amounts, and then giving me a check.
As Marvin painstakingly plodded through the procedure, I realized that this event should not be minimized. Although there had been no income for my ministry in a long time, other than the personal tithe I had recently deposited, the monthly service charge had depleted all previous funds. In truth, the ministry had not flourished, as I had anticipated; and in fact, I had no ministry income, and thus no need for an account. Therefore, sadly, closing this account put closure on my Inner Freedom Ministry.
But I wasnít ready to deal with this momentous reality, yet, and I was taking the process one-step-at-a-time. I knew God must be guiding me, because I heard my voice interrupt Marvin, just as he was ready to prepare the check, ìIf it cost $4.00 for the check, and then I have to carry it around with me, why not temporarily transfer the monies into my personal account?î He looked surprised, and said, ìSure, no problem.î
Van said, ìGood move, My Love,î and I knew a major step had been taken. Up until now, I had barely been able to handle financial matters, for some reason. But now it felt as if a deep inner healing had taken place. Some block had been removed, and I was preparing to move forward. But first, I must complete this transaction, and put a stop to the monthly service charges for inactivity in my ministry account.
Within minutes, Marvin handed me the receipt for the transaction, and I felt a sense of relief and rejoicing for this major transaction; but I didnít know, at the time, its importance.

Lunch at Two Umbrellas

In the meantime, Joanie and Little Ralph returned to the Passport stop, and waited for the next trolley. This one was smaller and more crowded, with an interesting array of riders, which had now shifted, as we headed out of downtown; mostly street-people and the like. Well, after all, it was free.
Iíd carefully explained to the driver where I needed to go, and he said, ìWeíll get you there.î And sure enough, he did: Gaviotta Street. Joanie and Little Ralph piled off the bus, and giggled with delight at their accomplishment.
ìWe did it,î Joanie said.
And Little Ralph bubbled, ìIt was fun!î
We gleefully walked the two blocks to Two Umbrellaís, chattering about our great feat of taking the trolley into town, transacting our business, and continuing on our way; and then getting off at the right place. What an adventure for two little kids growing up! And the best part, we were having fun together. I feared that Joanie would start skipping along the street, in her joy; but she contained herself.
Soon we came to the corner of Broadway, and looked both directions trying to spot the umbrellas out front. A kindly fellow sitting on a bench, awaiting a city bus, looked helpful, and then directed us into the next block, as I explained our mission.
By this time we were starved, and happy that Tom suggested that we find a table, and he announced that he would fix our lunch, as it was the cookís day off. What fun! Joanie already knew what she wanted from last time: Jerusalem Benedict, with artichoke hearts, on rye bread; and home fries with feta and veggies. And Little Ralph couldnít resist Broadway Panhandler Omelet, which had everything. I think the title appealed to him, because it reflected the local color of this unique community.
The Silence is Broken
Joanie loves chatting with Tom, because he tells the truth, and doesnít mind talking about his involvement in this gay community and his relationship with Manny, his significant other. After years of family silence, it had been such a relief when the truth came out.
Weíd met Manny the first time at Dadís funeral; and a year later (before leaving the area), we had journeyed northward to visit them at the Two Umbrellaís. It had been such a joy, because the silence had been broken, and we could now all enjoy our relationship.
Once Joanie finished lunch, I stood in the kitchen and chatted with Tom, as he prepared meals for the other customers, mostly regulars. In the small cubicle, housing the stove and counters, my fifty-something redhead brother reminded me of a TV sequence I had once seen: a cop directing traffic, like a well-orchestrated and choreographed production, with musical background. All Tom needed was the music, because he moved quickly and efficiently, from years of practice. Of course, there were constant interruptions: Marty, the waitress, bringing more orders, the phone ringing, or customers coming back to chat; all very folksy and homey. I loved it.

A Time to Share

Soon, the last customer was fed, and had left, while Tom had cleaned up the kitchen and finished his work. Little Ralph had finally finished his omelet, and we all piled into Tomís truck and went to his pleasant stucco house a few blocks away.
We chatted awhile, and then he said he must go to the wholesalers for more supplies, so I went along, and left Little Ralph to fend for himself, chuckling over a New Yorker Dog Cartoons book, and then visiting with Manny, after he returned from work.
I always forget about these hair-raising, breathtaking runs to the wholesalers, and I thank God that Iím taking OPC-3, or Iím not sure Iíd survive the hectic traffic and fast trip; but Tom is used to it, and I trust his driving. To me, itís worth the risk of heart failure, just to have Tomís undivided attention. Itís the only time we can get into some nitty-gritty discussions, and this was no exception, as we each revealed our inner thoughts and dreams.
Tom spoke of having visited the Oasis School, catering to young gay males, and his desire to work with young gays, in an effort to impart their understanding and self-confidence relating to their feelings and the obstacles involved. I encouraged him to pursue that dream, and shared my desire to get my books ìout there,î and maybe do workshops, while being honest about my possible fear of success. It felt good to share these interests, and before I knew it, we’d swished between trucks and commute traffic, and arrived at Jetroís, the gigantic wholesale distribution center.
Again, Tom knew exactly what he needed and where to get it, and soon weíd moved through the stacked aisles and refrigeration units, and were back on the road. Along the way, he had confided h 
    !”#$%&’()*+,-./0123456789:;<=>?@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ[\]^_`abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxy{˝ˇˇˇ|}~Äow happy he is with Manny, and with life. At one point he said, ìIíd never live with a woman again. Itís too difficult.î And another time, commenting on my observation that heís doing what he loves, he said, ìYes, even though itís more stress than Iíve ever had, Iím really happy with my life, now.î
For me, this conversation had been satisfying, and I could now move on, knowing that all is well with Brother Tom. But, the day wasnít over, yet.

Doing Chinese in Belmont Shares

After we delivered the supplies to Two Umbrellas, we collected Manny and Van, and loaded into their other car, heading for ìChineseî in Belmont Shores. And to my delight, we soon sat in one of those eateries that Iíd wished I could enjoy. I had wanted to pass along some information about OPC-3 to them, which I did, and promised to mail a brochure; and that was all I said about that.
And, after a pleasant meal, we all wandered along the shops that I had wished to see. And then Tom deposited us back at Golden Shores RV Park.
Yes, this time with Tom was now a completion, and I was ready to move on. But first, I needed to talk with Mary and John.

Tell Her I’m Not Home

Itís funny, because I kept getting the message that she didnít want to talk with me, and rather than saying so, Mary had her son stall me off. This time, however, her husband, John came outside, and we discussed his pancreatic attack and surgery. And I explained the healing factors of OPC–3, urging him to share the bottle Mary had purchased from me, while re-emphasizing the value for Mary using it too, to eliminate, or at least reduce, the hazards of diabetes symptoms, the reason I originally told her about the productís virtues.
My purpose is to relieve people of suffering, but I think they thought of me, as an unwanted nuisance, and I felt uncomfortable, so I gave him further information in the booklet Van had prepared, and soon I said, ìGoodbye,î without ever seeing Mary. John had said they must get ready to travel, as this would be their first trip, since his sickness, and right after I went back inside Freedom, they took off. I still had an uncomfortable feeling, but blessed them, and turned their well-being over to God, and released them.
Since we were paying a premium price for this space, we spent the morning taking advantage of the conveniences. I vacuumed, cleaned, and then did the laundry; and we both took showers: Van went to the public showers, and I enjoyed the privacy of ours. Iíd learned that the office even had an outlet to check e-mail, so took time to read mine, and answer.
ìLetís Do Lunchî
When Iíd called Millie, in an attempt to reach my niece, Valena, who now lives with her sister, she had said, ìI donít know; we are all so busy, maybe you could meet her around I-405 and Wilshire, where she works, and do lunch.î
Finally, a bit past check-out time, we hit the road again. This would be the most challenging part for us, because we must take the freeways into Los Angeles, and then exit onto Wilshire to look for a place to park Freedom. Iíd managed to talk to Valena, the night before, and she agreed to meet us for lunch the next day, giving us one day to locate a parking place and stay overnight, before ìdoing lunch.î
I had studied my various travel books, but could find no place for RVís in the Los Angeles Metro area, so concluded that Carpenteria State Park, south of Santa Barbara, or Valencia, or Simi Valley, equally far away, would be the only choices. Valena had told me that we might be able to park around UCLA or the Veteranís Hospital, so, now, as I watched the map, and navigated Van through the infamous Los Angeles freeways, we finally reached Wilshire Blvd., and exited.
Oh my gosh, the city traffic was worse than the freeways, and we missed our left turn onto Veteran Avenue. Attempting to go around the block and try again, we waited at the stoplight in downtown Westwood, on Wilshire Blvd. I tried to absorb the local color, but the high energies were so intense, I was overwhelmed, and could relate with the distraught lady, who had started across the street and got stranded, when the light changed. Fortunately, the cars waited, as she stood paralyzed in traffic. One driver put his arm out the window, and pointed for her to return to the sidewalk. No one else offered any assistance, and I held my breath, as she finally made it back to the curb.
ìThis is enough for me,î I gasped. ìIíve already got enough local color.î But Van had made the turn, and finally got us headed north on Veteran Ave., only to discover that it was the wrong street. We drove past the Los Angeles National Cemetery, and had gotten to Sunset Blvd. by this time. I recoiled at a sign that indicated no vehicles over 6,000 lbs. were allowed. Too late, no place else to go, so we took a quick turn along the famous street, until we could finally return to the 405 freeway and head back south to Wilshire Blvd. again. We were rapidly getting the message that RVís are not welcome in Los Angeles; at least not this area.
This time we turned south on Veteran Ave., and into a parking lot; only they were all Permit Parking for employees of the Federal Building. So, we went on through to Sepulveda Blvd., and then headed west on Wilshire Blvd., under the freeway.
We spotted the Veteranís Administration Building, and headed toward it, somehow arriving by the Waltham Theater, where we actually found some parking spaces, and stopped to regroup, as we were totally hassled and in overload.
As we began to relax from the stress of traffic, I thought about Valena living at this hectic pace. I was happy for her; and itís for sure she had worked hard for this lifestyle: graduating from University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), majoring in Communications, and then working for Aaron Spelling. And now managing an Accounting Office, right here on Wilshire Boulevard, and loving it.

It’s Too Much

But, at this stage of our lives, itís too much. Give us the simpler life. So, while surveying the situation, and reviewing the map, we concluded that the State Parks and RV parks, which were about an hour away, would be more our speed. But, even if we did get there, and back for lunch the next day, where would we park? It didnít feel safe to leave Freedom unattended here, and the parking lots that we saw were either full, or limited to Permit Parking.
Finally, I said, ìYou know what? This isnít working. Valena sounded stressed at trying to work out lunch with us, and Iím just not up to all this. Iím sure she will understand, and be relieved, if we simply leave town.î
So Much for Lunch on Wilshire Blvd
Van agreed, and we both felt lighter, after making this decision. I then suggested, ìWe can head on north 405, and take Highway 14 to Lancaster, and maybe we can contact my nephew, Pete Freeland, for a brief visit.î
ìSounds good,î Van said, and I picked up the cell phone and called Valena.
She didnít want to hurt my feelings, but she did sound relieved too, as I said, ìWe can keep in touch with e-mail, and maybe we can get together in Portland this summer, and you can meet your Grandmother Valena,î I added, after telling her our decision.
ìIíd like that,î she said.
Then I said, ìI did want to tell you about OPC-3, because it would help you cope with the stress of life.î
ìIíd like to know more about it, why donít you send me some information?î
ìSounds good; Iíll do that.î
Once those decisions were made, Van and I grabbed some sunflower seeds and Trail Mix, and I said, ìSo much for lunch on Wilshire Boulevard.î We looked around, and then I asked, ìWhatís that building across the street?î I read the words at the top, ìVA Medical Center. Great, itís the one we were looking for! It must be Godís timing. Oh Well, letís get on the road.î
As we made the turn onto Wilshire Blvd., a svelte twenty-something gal breezed by with her radio music wafting through the open windows, and as she passed, I laughed out loud at the license plate: ìWHATEVA,î which seemed to summarize our Wilshire Boulevard experience.

A Major Transition

Within a short time, we had made the transition that merges I-405, into I-5; and then we took Highway 14 toward the nearby desert: Palmdale, Lancaster, and Mojave. The abrupt transition between Metropolitan Los Angeles and the desert — sixty-miles northeast — became immediately apparent, as we drove through an ongoing, upward mountain pass.
Freedom chugged over barren rolling hills that reminded me of The Wilderness phase of Journey to Inner Freedom, my course about the correlation between the exodus from Egypt to The Promised Land and the inner transition from bondage to freedom.
I hadnít realized, until the next morning, when revealed in a meditation, that I too, was going through a major transition; and so was Van. Actually, we had been going through it all along, and soon we would be experiencing an entirely new reality. I suspected that something had shifted, when Van pulled off Wilshire Boulevard onto I-405, and said, ìThat was fun.î
Never, in all the years Iíve known him, had he made such a comment; and definitely not about maneuvering through hectic traffic. Something had happened!
Perhaps our years of inner journeying were culminating into fruition; the inner kids were reaching maturity, and would now merge with the adult-selves, and we could move forward with our lives into a more productive era. Not that retirement, traveling, and having fun arenít productive; but, for me, there has got to be more to life; more opportunity for contribution and making a difference; more exposure, of my books and courses, where they can reach out and touch more lives. At least, thatís my dream.
And I should have known that God had something going on, because we were guided to attend a movie, across the street from our Wal-Mart parking spot in Lancaster. Joanie and Little Ralph wanted to see Robin Williams, as Patch Adams, but we had missed the last showing for the day. We then selected October Sky, without any idea what it was about, other than the posterís indication that it was by the producer of Field of Dreams.
While waiting for the movie to begin, my cell phone rang, and I went to the lobby to talk with Dottie. I felt happy that I had insisted, while in Wal-Mart, that Van call to increase our maximum time (the first two months, weíd run out in two weeks).

Dottie and Steve in Transition

I didnít realize, at the time, but Dottieís frequent phone calls, along the way, from Colorado to Miami, Florida, were part of the transition process; theirs and ours. They were on their way (in the RV that Steve had borrowed from the dealership) to the companyís Leadership Training. She called, on their cell phone, to say, ìWeíre stopped in a rainstorm in Kentucky, near the border of Tennessee, and Iím bored.î
ìI think itís part of the Transition Process,î I said, then added, ìAt the moment, weíre in the desert; you know, symbolic of The Wilderness.î Then I explained, ìWeíre at the movies, and itís about to begin, so Iíll get back with you later.î
I knew that they were going through their own growing up process, as Dottie and Steve took Airica and Arianna with them, on this important business project to attend Market Americaís annual Leadership Training Program. Determined to make the trip within their finances, as a pattern change, they had wavered between driving their car or taking the train, and finally compromised on borrowing the RV. In the past, they would fly, and then wonder how to pay the debt; though they always made it. Now, they were solvent, and would have money awaiting their return; a major pattern change.

He Changed his Destiny

When I returned to my seat, the previews had ended, and the movie began. It was about a seventeen-year-old boy, Homer, who lived in West Virginia, where working in the coal mines would be his destiny.
But, one day he saw Sputnik cross the skies, and he got bitten by the rocket bug; and his dream became to build a rocket. His inspiring true story unfolded, as his two buddies joined in his project; assisted by their fourth partner, a nerd, who knew something about science and could apply his knowledge toward understanding whatever they read on the subject.
With the support and encouragement of their teacher, the boys eventually built a rocket and Homer took it to the State Science Fair, and then the National Science Fair, where it won them scholarships to college. The rest is history: Homer Kinkaid went to Houston, and finally helped build the first rocket that went into space. His dream was fulfilled, as he continued working with NASA on the space project.
I couldnít help marveling at Godís Perfect Timing, because we were seeing this movie in the shadows of Edwards Air Force Base, the heart of the NASA Program, where the space shuttle is built, and overhauled, after each flight. And we would be visiting my nephew, Pete, who is in the astronaut program; a fulfillment of his long-time dream.

A New Identity

But, in the meantime, I awoke early in the morning, and began my meditation, talking with God about various matters, and then listening to Him.
I hadnít taken time to discuss with Him, my defunct Inner Freedom Ministry bank account, and what to do with the money, now temporarily in my personal account. I mused, ìPerhaps I should open another personal account; maybe use the name I call my superconscious-self, Joanna. That would be a switch, and surely a new identity: Joanna Van Camp. I wonder who she is? Then we would be: Ralph and Joanna Van Camp. Maybe that would mark the beginning of our partnership that Iíve always dreamed about.î
God answered, ìYes, that is your new identity; and also Ralphís, as he too, is changing energy levels.
I pondered that information, and then, as I prayed for Inner Freedom-Books, I asked, ìSo shall I open the new Inner Freedom Ministry account in Colorado, or what?î
The answer came, ìYou will not open a ministry account, because that phase of your life is over.î
I felt a sense of loss, and began grieving the end of my ministry, but realized that there wasnít much left to it anymore; it had already been phasing out. For instance, Adam Martin hadnít written in months, and his brother, Michael, had gotten involved with the White Supremacists; and I had a feeling that Jerry Pitre, a former Black Panther, would soon be released from prison. And the others were more friends or pen-pals, than ministry. Not that I planned to eliminate my association with these Freedomers, who had become friends. We would remain friends, as long as they continued to communicate.
But now, God gave me a vision of my new future: Inner Freedom Books, which would incorporate my ministry, as such, because many of them are based on my ministry and the Freedomers participation in my courses. However, the emphasis would be shifted: more businesslike; more professional, but definitely doing what I love.
ìBut God,î I protested, sounding like Moses, ìI donít know what to do. Iíve tried to get a publisher, or agent. No doors opened.î
ìItís a matter of timing,î God replied, and continued, ìI will open the doors, when it is the right time and place. You will know.î
ìAll right,î I replied, ìIím listening. Just let me know.î

Preparation and Focus

Seeing the movie, October Sky, had been Godís perfect timing, as we would be visiting my nephew, Peter, whose lifetime dream (since a child) had been to become an astronaut. And now, in his early thirties, he was involved in the NASA Space Program, as an astronaut! In a few months, he would begin training in Houston, Texas, and he is scheduled for the May 10, 2001 launch for additional assembly on the Space Station. I could hardly wait to talk with him.
Pete is a totally gracious host, and he gave us a tour of his new ranch-style home in California (where he had moved from Oregon), complete with pool, Jacuzzi, air-conditioning and, of course, barbecue.
Peteís home, filled with memorabilia and mementos relating to flight, could be a museum for future astronauts to study about preparation and focus. For instance, he excelled in Civil Air Patrol, and earned certificates and awards, such as the Amelia Earhart Award, designated to Colonel Peter Freeland (his CAP status), that indicate his obvious early focus on his dream. Now, as an astronaut, he is Captain Peter Freeland, and his title proves the fruition of his dedication and commitment.
Of course, Little Ralph (Vanís inner child) loves all the miniature airplanes and rockets, and the posters and other information, especially since Van has a pilotís license (though he hasnít flown, since Iíve known him).
Peteís floor-to-ceiling bookshelves abound with titles relating to flight, reminding us that attaining oneís dream does not just happen; but is a steady progression and evolvement. In reality, there are very few overnight successes; it just seems that way, because we didnít know about the endless hours leading up to the final accomplishment.

Keeping Priorities and Balance

It must be understood, that for Pete, as thrilling as the astronaut program is, the joy of his life is Mitchum, his seven-year-old son, who lives with his mom, but spends summers with Pete. And alternate weekends, Pete flies to Portland to be with Mitchum. During these visits they go to the beach or mountains, or simply enjoy the indoor-outdoor pool at a local hotel. Last year they traveled to Australia for a spectacular vacation; and this year they will fly to Hawaii and watch the volcanoes; and needless to say, Mitchum has been immersed in all aspects of his dadís career, and loves it.
So, the tour of Peteís single-parent home includes a fully-equipped bedroom full-of-toys for Mitchum; and the energies are equally divided, between astronaut and parent. What a blend of a truly balanced, inspiring person, whom Iím proud to know and call my nephew.
Of course, I am impressed with Peteís life, but Joanie (my inner child) especially loves to visit him, because he always sets out chips and other goodies, and he prepares a delicious barbecue.

A Matter of Perspective

As he put the steaks and chicken breasts on to cook, he recalled the last time he had seen us, ìThat was last year, in Oregon, before I was accepted in the Astronaut Program. A lot has changed from your last visit.î
I agreed, ìRight, a big change, and itís quite a transition.î I thought about the many transitions we were all going through, as I realized that we had traveled from coast-to-coast and border-to-border, since then. And, of course, Pete had flown between Oregon, California, Texas (Houston) and Florida, during the same time frame.
We listened with rapt attention, as he shared about watching the launch that put John Glenn back into space, ìI sat in the seat, where he would sit, while I was pre-testing the equipment for him,î Pete said with a wide grin, as he showed us pictures. Joanieís favorite is the one of Pete in his orange astronaut pre-flight suit. But when he put on his light-blue flight suit for us taking his picture, she immediately changed her preference.
Pete showed us a fascinating 20-minute video (heíd gotten in Houston) about the astronaut training that helped us understand his program and relate to what he soon would be doing in Houston.

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Pete mentioned that the ballyhooed ìmost watched interview of the centuryî would be shown, so our evening was capped by combined entertainment: the main feature being Barbara Walters interviewing Monica Lewinski. But even more interesting was watching two men, of different generations and varied backgrounds (one a former frogman, and the other an astronaut), vacillating between watching and not watching; guffawing and ignoring, depending on the intensity of the content. And it was comments during this interview that I realized another attribute of an astronaut: a sense of humor, which would bring him through the intense challenges of his chosen career.
Personally, I was impressed with Monica; and with Barbara. It was no small chore, and she had done her homework, to ask the right questions, and to know when to back off. Though Barbara appeared stern and disapproving, she obviously created an environment for Monica to feel safe and trusting, to reveal so much of herself.
On the other hand, I could relate to the girlís obvious delight in recalling those secret, exciting, challenging stolen moments with the President of the United States. But I cheered when she said that she finally ìfell out of loveî with him. After all, enough is enough, and surely the moment-of-truth was painful, when she realized the man had been gratifying his sexual compulsion at her expense. But, on the other hand, she had been fulfilling her girlish fantasy, at his expense. However, all-in-all, I would say they deserved each other, and itís time for us all to get on with other matters. And, I pray that she, too, will find her dream to fulfill.

And Hereís Another Transition

I guess what impressed me most, is that Monica has obviously been through her own transition. Though some said her body language and giggles revealed her lack of self-confidence, I felt that she had come to grips with some of her inner demons, and she seemed to have some insights into what motivates her, such as recalling her childhood statement, ìYou canít boss me.î Obviously, the girl is headstrong, and she is paying a price for her rebellion against authority and control. Iím sure a psychiatrist would have a field-day analyzing the causes of her actions, based on her childhood issues and patterns. But, I chose not to spend any more time on her fifteen-minutes of fame. I was too busy working on my own.

The Grand Finale

The desert winds blew stronger than usual, so we postponed our departure, until the next day, and Peteís test launch too, was delayed, because of the winds. However, he left early in the morning, for his usual workday, which could include a flight to Houston or Miami; or catching the Boeing corporate jet to the Los Angeles area office, or simply fulfilling his duties at the local plant. Whatever Pete does, he radiates joy and optimism; no negative discussions, but totally focused on the productive aspects of his life, as he pursues his dream.

Rocket Launches

I too, worked on my dream, as I updated my chapter in our windy rock-and-rolling motor home. And then, in the evening, Pete came home briefly, and left to teach scuba diving. Before he left, he reminded us that the rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, at the coast, would be clearly visible from his backyard within fifteen-minutes.
Joanie and Little Ralph scrambled down the steps, went into the backyard, and peered into the darkness beyond his fence. Soon, a majestic phenomenon appeared in the western skies: a breathtaking, bright orange flame, followed by a gigantic fan-shaped white light, shot through the night.
ìTalk about a visual aide,î I commented to Van, ìthis is the next best thing to being at the actual event.î And then I added, ìWhich reminds me, I promised Pete that we would be at his rocket launch in Cape Kennedy, May 2001, so weíd better put that on our travel calendar.î
Little Ralph interrupted his enthralled gaze into the ethers to say, ìOkay.î
The desert night air had cooled, and soon we accepted Peteís earlier offer to watch TV in his home. And again, I marveled at Godís timing and order, because we happened to tune into a program I had wanted to see: Andrew Lloyd Webbers 50th Birthday Celebration, paying tribute to another man who had followed his dream, and made a magnificent contribution to our culture, with such music as Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Evita to mention a few.
Now, I sat enthralled, as his inspiring music, and story, concluded our visit in this outer space technology Mecca, the Mojave Desert in California. And I thought about the equally inspiring story of Peter Freeland, who, as a child, had a dream to become an astronaut, and was now fulfilling it.
The next morning, while preparing for our departure, I heard the jet passing overhead, and I knew that his test launch for today was a ìGo.î And soon, in the not-too-distant future, we would be standing amongst the viewers at Cape Kennedy, as another rocket launch concludes its successful takeoff, and Peter completes his appointment with destiny.

ìThe Right Stuffî

In the meantime, I concluded my chapter, and we headed Freedom across the desert toward our appointment with Vanís mother in Laughlin; but that would be another chapter.
However, as we wended our way across the desert, I thought about Peteís comment, when I asked how he overcame the trauma of his parentsí divorce, and other conditions in his childhood, and he said, ìYour body is not in the past, so thereís no reason that your mind needs to be there.î
Pete is truly the ìRight Stuffî of an astronaut, and itís clear that he loves what he is doing, as his life and accomplishments offer inspiration for others to follow, no matter what their dreams may be.

Peteís Project Hits Dan Ratherís Evening News

Imagine our surprise and delight, when watching Dan Ratherís Evening News that night, after Peteís launch, and our departure, to see TV coverage of the ìHistorical Event.î Apparently this test had been considered newsworthy, as Peteís shuttle rocket, was testing the X-38, an emergency escape shuttle for future satellites and space stations. Sure enough, the news coverage showed the shuttle, and the X-38 dropping back to the ground, as Dan Rather explained what Pete had told us. However, Pete had added that the project had come about, because of the emergency aboard the Russian cosmonautís Mir, when there was a possibility of one being injured, and there was no way to get him down. Now, there is an emergency escape vehicle, X-38, and Pete is part of the team testing this project.
And further excitement, for us, came when the same news program showed a panoramic picture of the rocket launch from Vandenberg, which we had seen the night before from Peteís backyard. And Dan added that it had been aborted mid-air, which accounts for its short duration.
We truly felt that we had been immersed in the Space Program for a short time, and we could appreciate Peteís zeal for his everyday participation, by doing what he loves.

Chapter 19
LIVING A NEW REALITY

Make Different Choices

As Iíve said earlier, we create our life by our choices, based on our consciousness: thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences. And itís not a matter of right or wrong; good or bad, but simply how it is. Most of us donít want to take responsibility for this reality. We would much rather sit back, act surprised, or victimized, and say, ìThey did it to me;î whether it be family, boss, government, or God. However, the truth is, if we donít like our circumstances, we can change our consciousness, and make different choices.
We knew that we were in a new reality, after our Wilshire Boulevard and Space Program exposure, because our lives had shifted. The first clue came when we were planning where to have a late lunch. Iíd considered a truck stop that Joanie liked, because of the beef stew, and other home cooking, but we by-passed it, and found ourselves approaching Victorville.

Roy Rogers Museum

ìLetís go to Roy Rogers Museum,î Joanie exclaimed. ìWeíve never done that together, although I once visited the old one in Apple Valley. And we can eat at their Roy Rogers Restaurant.î
We stopped at the new facility, off I-15 in Victorville, and Little Ralph perked up too, as we rushed inside; only to discover they no longer have a restaurant.
ìOkay, letís go across the street to Home Town Buffet,î which both kids enjoy.
By the time we had eaten and returned, we only had an hour left, until closing, and the kindly receptionist said, ìIf you donít get through tonight, you can return tomorrow morning.î
ìWeíre in our motor home,î I explained, ìis it okay to park here overnight?î
She nodded, so we paid, and went inside. Looking at all their mementos and awards, I said to Van, ìItís amazing how two people, Roy and his wife, Dale Evans, could create so much living in one lifetime; and bless so many lives.î
Although the younger generations may not know them, Roy, the King of the Cowboys, and Dale, the Queen of the West, were more popular in movies, comics, color books and even TV and personal appearances than The Beatles; and, along with his famous horse, Trigger, they originated the marketing ideas that brought their images onto lunch boxes, guns and holsters, and lariats to name a few. They were truly heroes, and they were loved by all ages, because they lived exemplary lives; both in their public image, and their private family.
As I again read about their tragic losses, the untimely death of three children, I commented to Van, ìDespite their own sorrows, they gave so much joy to others. And, of course, it came back to them a-thousand-fold from their adoring fans and family.î
Little Ralph was busily absorbing all the information and looking in the many cases, so Joanie wandered on, along the maze of corridors, then spotted Trigger, Royís horse that had been stuffed (after it died), standing on his hind feet, in his famous stance. When Little Ralph came up, I shared my favorite memory of my last visit to the Roy Rogers Museum, in nearby Apple Valley, ìA little boy saw Trigger, and said, ëLook Dad, heís doing a wheelie.î Of course, the child was thinking of a motorcycle, at the time.
After we completed our tour, I shared the story with the sales clerk in the Gift Shop, while paying for a postcard showing Roy on Trigger, doing his ìwheelie.î She loved it, and said, ìRoy would have loved that. I must share it with his son, Dusty.î And as we left, she was telling the other clerk. I knew this story would remain with them all, as it had me. But now, I regretted that I hadnít passed it along, while Roy was still alive; he had recently died (in 1998).

Inspiring Examples

Of course, we didnít have time to see everything in one hour, so we stayed overnight in Freedom, and watched Michelle Kwanís ice skating special, spotlighting Disney movies. I remembered that she had overcome the stress of success, and made a spectacular comeback. Another featured performer, Oksana Baiul, had bottomed-out from drinking, and then overcame her inner demons to return to her profession. And no one will forget the shock to learn of Scott Hamiltonís cancer, and our joy at his recovery; thanks to his strength and determination. So many of these famous skaters have suffered personal tragedy, and overcame its trauma, to go on with their careers. For instance, Nancy Kerrigan recovered from having her legs injured by an unscrupulous attacker; and Ekterina, the lovely pair-skater who overcame her personal grief, when her young husband suddenly died of a heart attack. And now she is a successful solo skater, while raising her young daughter.
In recent years, while contemplating the prospect of my books being published, and my presenting workshops, seminars or lectures, Iíve faced the possibility of becoming famous. And so I study others who are in the spotlight, hoping to glean strength and inspiration from them. Roy Rogers, (Joanieís childhood hero) and Dale Evans are definitely inspiring examples of people who have handled their success and notoriety with finesse and humility. And I admire these ice skaters too, while wondering if I will ever manage to get my act together enough to again make the effort to get my books published and marketed. Would this mean appearances on Oprah and others? And could I handle the public appearances?
Only time will tell; but first I must continue with my inner preparation, while writing my books. And, for now, our priorities focus on completing our travel phase, as I revise the edits made by Dottie, whom we would be seeing for Easter, after our playtime in Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada.

A Major Shift

As part of our new reality, we would journey onward to Las Vegas, which would be another major shift for us. Usually, we avoid its glitz and hype, but this time we decided to move right into the midst of it, and I planned to make a reservation at Circusland RV Park, offered at the Circus Circus Casino; the only RV Park on The Strip.
I had no idea the Winston Cup Car Races were going on, and reservations for the weekend were unavailable, but we stopped at Whiskey Peteís Casino, at Stateline, and availed ourselves of their free parking area and phones.
With Las Vegas less than an hour away, I think of this brief interlude equaling the Israelites camped on the banks of the River Jordan, before taking the first steps into the water, while making the last inner and outer preparations for fulfilling their goal: The Promised Land.

Foiled by Technology

We too, had our final activities and so-called tests, as we made choices. First, we needed to use the public phones, because the malfunctioning battery to our cellular phone had been replaced (at LA Cellular Superstore) in Victorville. This meant that the new one must go through another recharge: twenty-four hours plugged in, without use, then discharged for three times, in order to hold its charge; a process we had already gone through with the first battery.
And yet, it would beep, and then go dead, within a brief conversation, never seeming to hold its charge. I suspected that something was wrong, but Van tends to put-up-with such inconveniences; a characteristic I blame on his Silas Marner patterns of getting along without, or making do.
However, this time it was his idea (at the suggestion of a Customer Representative in Wal-Martís LA Cellular booth), to have the battery tested and replaced, if necessary, while in Victorville. But, we didnít have time to wait the two days required, so the manager waived the requirement and replaced the battery.
At first I was happy to accomplish this necessary mission, but when the rep said we would have to start over, I became disheartened. This meant more than 24-hours without my phone, while it went through the recharging process. I went through withdrawal symptoms; mainly because Dottie and family were still in Miami, and I wanted to keep in touch, especially during their return trip to Colorado, in the RV.
Van laughed at my distress, and this sent me into orbit, and so I blew up, accusing him of relapse into his Silas Marner consciousness. This caused him to feel defensive and falsely accused and Little Ralph withdrew into his hole.
As we crossed the desert toward Las Vegas, my main concern now became to get to Circusland RV Park and hook up, so we could charge the battery for twenty-four hours. However, this was Saturday, and I knew there would be no vacancies, even on a normal weekend. But when I called from Whiskey Peteís, and learned about the Winston Cup Races, I was appalled at the high price for Sunday night, so I made the reservation for Monday and Tuesday (at their normally low rate). This meant staying overnight here, but I figured that would be better than attempting to stay at Flying J Truck Stop in Las Vegas.
Okay, so that was handled; now I called Steveís cellular phone to let Dottie know we were phoneless, and I smiled when she said ìWeíre in a carriage, riding from the restaurant to our hotel.î She sounded happy and laughing; and it felt good to be connected with them, during this fun experience. And I was relieved to have delivered my message.

I Apologize

Now, Joanie had in mind to get an ice cream cone, but when seeing posters advertising strawberry shortcake, she opted for the coffee shop. Here, she tried convincing Little Ralph to order their Spaghetti Special, but he wasnít ready to order anything for himself. However, she wanted to eat, to nurture herself and compensate for the ordeal of losing her cellular phone, and also handling the necessary telephone transactions. Little Ralph finally agreed to share a roast beef dinner (ballyhooed as ìThe best anywhereî) and the strawberry shortcake. Neither were ìthe best,î but she ate them with gusto, and felt much better.
However, I had this nagging feeling that I needed to apologize to Van (and Little Ralph) for my accusations about the cellular phone. So the next morning I explained, ìItís like a person who has lived with an alcoholic for many years; then he/she stops drinking. In the meantime, the mate has become hyper vigilante and conditioned to living with the addictive behavior; so when the addict comes home late, or smelling like alcohol (from anotherís drink being spilled), the mate assumes the worst. It takes time to trust, and to adjust to the new behavior. Anyway, I apologize for assuming that you had relapsed.î
He looked rather disgruntled, so I continued, ìYou know, Little Ralph needs to understand what Iím saying, and not take it upon himself to throw the baby out with the bath water, and assume that heís not okay, and retreat to his hole.î
He brightened and said, ìI understand, and I appreciate your apology.î

Three Fingers Pointing Back

Something had been nagging in the back of my mind, and finally surfaced. Now, I must reveal a deep secret that seems to be part of any Recovery Program.
Itís been said, ìWhen you point a finger at someone, there are three other fingers pointing back at you.î Or, another way of putting it, ìThe faults you see in another are only annoying, because they are reflecting those in your own consciousness.î I hate that. Surely I do not have the Silas Marner complex that I see so vividly in Vanís patterns.î
But the truth is that I do. And thatís the deep secret that I must now confess. There is part of me that thinks ìIíll get my ìAtta Girlî award for doing without; for self-sacrificing.î Now, as Iím admitting it, if Iím honest with myself, I can look back through my life, and see this ongoing pattern.
Yet, there is part of me that enjoys the fruits of the promise given in the Bible, ìI have come that you might have life; and have it more abundantlyî (John 10:10).
Perhaps it is my Gemini (twin) personality? No, not really, because when I think about it, Van too, has both aspects of this phenomenon. Part of him enjoys the abundant life: fine dining, plays, travel, and museums.
So what is the explanation?
As Iím writing, Iíve stopped to think about it, and itís as if my life suddenly flashed before my eyes, along with the insights Iíve gleaned about Vanís lifetime patterns; not to mention our multi-generational legacy. Bottom-line, itís a self-esteem issue. But itís also conditioning: if we lived in poverty, or deprivation, itís what weíve learned; and thus, itís what weíve become, which is true of all learned behavior.
Remembering my dad talk about gathering coal, along the railroad tracks, for the stove, during The Great Depression; and hearing of the hardships Vanís father, and his paternal family endured then too, I can see the impact on our generation.
And yet, each of us had other, more positive influences. For instance, I was removed from that environment, when adopted by my paternal grandparents, and my life at Kah-nee-ta Hot Springs was a virtual paradise. Thank goodness! However, I can remember being praised for making choices that saved money; and silent messages from Mom Freeland indicated a frugal consciousness that I took on myself.
On the other hand, Vanís motherís family enjoyed prosperity, and his motherís influence encouraged the better life: restaurants, plays, museums and culture. So, again, why have we unconsciously chosen the negative influences?
In the Twelve Step Programs, we learn that children of alcoholics often become alcoholics, though they hated the lifestyle of their parents. And, no doubt, the subtle negative influence of our frugal parents created our underearning (have-not) consciousness.
This seemed enough to consider, for now, so I said to Van, Letís just take Las Vegas one-step-at-a-time,î and added, ìwe can enjoy it without getting overwhelmed and frustrated.î
ìSounds good,î he said,

No RV Turnaround

Okay, now we were ready to move forward to Las Vegas. But first, our Tour Guide, directed us to the Nevada State Tourist Information Center in Jean, NV., about thirty-miles south of Las Vegas.
The road leading to the Center was wide and welcoming, but when we came to the entrance, a sign read: NO RV TURNAROUND BEYOND THIS POINT.
ìWell, they sure donít make RVers feel welcome,î I grumbled, as Van drove further down the road, looking for a turnaround. In the meantime, we came to a post office, and gratefully mailed our letters; but that didnít solve our problem of where to park, while visiting the Visitors Center.
ìWe can park at the Mobile Station,î Van suggested, and easily parked in the ample area. This meant walking through the hedge, and across the street in the cool wind, but we made it okay.
Long ago I learned to verbalize my feelings to the person concerned, rather than internalize them and contribute toward my unhealthy consequences, so once inside the center, I asked the receptionist, ìWhat does the state of Nevada have against RVers?î
The pleasant attendant said, ìWell, itís a long story. Bottom-line, the Casino over there donated this land, and the adjoining property for an RV park, but they changed their minds about developing that part. Someday, we hope to have a larger parking lot to accommodate RVís. Iím sorry for the inconvenience.î
With that communication handled, I felt ready to continue my business. I asked directions to Circus Circus for our RV parking and also to Rio Hotel and Casino, where we planned to partake of their highly rated buffet. He began marking on an area map, and handed it to me. Then he gave us the state map, an RV parks brochure, and several promotional magazines.
I asked about coupons, and he directed me to one of the many racks offering everything from gambling instructions to hotel accommodations, and local points of interest. As I searched for and selected several coupons, I heard the lady receptionist talking with Van about The Treasures of Russia display being offered at the Rio. I felt attracted to hear more, so joined in the conversation, and made a mental note to see this display.
As we talked, she told us exactly where to park our RV, beyond the parking garage in an ample overflow parking lot, also used by trucks and RVís. And when we said we were going to their buffet, she asked ìThere are two, which one do you plan to attend?î
I wasnít sure, because Dottie had raved about the seafood buffet, but I hadnít realized there were more than one buffet. ìOh, yes,î she replied, and opened one of the magazines, thumbed through to ìBuffets,î and read the hours and prices available for the Rio.
Remembering that Dottie had described the many options of ethnic and other food displays, I concluded that the Carnival World Buffet was the one. Fortified with all this information, and loaded with magazines, brochures and maps, we thanked the receptionist and headed back to Freedom.
As Van headed on toward Las Vegas, I browsed through several magazines, thankful for this preview, because Iím learning to offset the overwhelming impact of arriving in an unfamiliar city and trying to figure out all the options. Both Van and I go into overload; so taking time to get the necessary information has become part of our travel plans.

The #1 Tour Guide

I always say, ìGod is our Tour Guide,î and Las Vegas is no exception. And, of course, the extras, such as the receptionist giving us directions to the parking lot and buffet, are provided by our Personal Tour Guide: God.
Joanie was excited about this stop in Las Vegas, because our pattern is usually to by-pass it, as if they give Brownie Points for not doing Sin City, as it is sometimes called. But our new reality seemed to lift some unseen barrier, and I realized that, if life is a matter of choices, then Las Vegas offers a smorgasbord. And we get to experience the results of our consciousness.
Van carefully followed the map (given to us at the Information Center), then drove right into the driveway, past the parking garage, and into the spacious overflow lot. By this time, we felt ready to enjoy this stop: the Rio Carnival Buffet.
Inside The Rio
These modern hotel/casinos are enormous, and the Rio, voted ìThe best hotel in the world,î with its new additions, requires a road map. However, the back entrance from the parking lot had none, only a vast decorative hallway, so we asked a guest ìWhich way to the buffet?î
Following his directions, past the Keno, we found Directories with arrows that guided us through the vast casino and finally to the waiting line. Joanie was starving, and impatient to begin the buffet, but fortunately a friendly lady began chatting, and the time passed pleasantly.
Joanie had eaten a light snack earlier, and had gone all morning without food, in order to have a hefty appetite; but being too hungry isnít the best approach, because we didnít take time to examine all our options: USA, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Caribbean, plus pizza, salads, desserts, and a diner offering hamburgers, etc. Instead, we headed for the closest section — USA — selected breakfast items, and headed for our table to begin eating.
Little Ralph too, enjoys a good buffet, so while he slowly chewed each bite, Joanie finished her plate, and zipped around the room to survey the remaining bountiful array. Returning with her new plate heaped with seafood, she said, ìDarn, I should have seen what was available first. Now, Iíll be too full to eat all the food I want.î
However, while she made a hearty effort, Little Ralph disappeared, and soon returned with his new choices.
In the meantime, Joanie had slowed down, and began looking around at the crowd carrying plates piled high, and returning again and again for more, and she said, ìI donít see where thereís enough food in the world to provide for all these buffets.î
Little Ralph didnít seem concerned, as he kept chewing; so Joanie set forth for her dessert. ìOh my gosh, thereís so much!î But she selected a miniature cream puff and chocolate Èclair, and a sugar-free boysenberry mousse.
ìIíve learned my lessons at these buffets,î she announced to Little Ralph, ìI canít eat all that sweet dessert, so this will be perfect.î
Soon she had finished, and as she awaited Little Ralphís second and third trips to various sections, I began thinking about Godís abundance, and recalled an article Iíd once written about the Banquet Table of Life.
Some people will select a few morsels, and think God is pleased; and others will heap their plates with no remorse, other than needing an Alka-Seltzer. So, what difference does it make? Again, isnít it really a matter of preference and choice? Iím sure that God will not reward the dieters any more than He blesses the eaters.

Praise the Lord

As for being blessed by the Lord, once our buffet was completed, the next item on our Las Vegas agenda meant calling my longtime friend, Rev. Elvera Rittel, a fundamentalist, who pastored her flock of the homeless in this city for many years, leaving little red bibles in phone booths, and otherwise spreading the word.
Our daughters, Dottie and Connie, had been friends since grade school, until Connie jumped from a Las Vegas high-level parking lot and died; a victim of manic-depression. She was Elveraís second daughter to die an untimely death. Her oldest daughter, Susan, had died of a brain tumor, while in her twenties, carrying her unborn child.
But Elvera had remained faithful, and now answered the phone, ìPraise the Lord,î and then turned it over to her only surviving daughter, Patty, who explained, ìWeíre watching a woman on TV, can you call back in 1/2 hour?î
When we finally connected, Elvera said, ìYouíre timing is good. I just got out of the hospital. I had pneumonia and heart failure. It was terrible, for two weeks, but Praise the Lord, Iím still alive, and Patty is taking such good care of me. Sheís cooking me three-meals-a-day, and really pampering me. After she leaves, my son, Rick, will be here.î
I updated her on my family, and mentioned that I had been concerned that she hadnít responded to my mail.
ìI sent your Christmas card to General Delivery in Laughlin, as you said, but it was returned.î
ìOh, I guess we had already left. Iím so sorry I missed hearing from you. But I thought you had moved, because one of my letters to you was returned.î
Elvera explained that several other friends had their letters returned too. She sounded anxious to get off the phone, so I said, ìWell, Iíd always thought we were friends, and I felt sad to lose track of you. Iíll write again, and send you my correct address.

Please take care of yourself.î

This contact with Elvera served as another completion, and I felt relieved to know that we were again connected. When she mentioned the extent of her health challenges, I asked if she would be interested in the OPC-3 product that Dottie was selling, and she said, ìNo. Iím following my doctorís program.î
Again, it was necessary to release someone I cared about into Godís care, and trust Him. I also knew that I could not interfere with anotherís destiny, so I said a silent prayer of blessing, and went on with my life.
Later, I wondered why Elvera, with all her praying and praising, went through so much suffering, and now this latest health challenge. But, I concluded that, as she said, the Lord blessed her with Pattyís pampering; and thatís probably what Elvera wanted and needed, at this time in her life. God does work in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

Masquerade Village Parade

Have you ever seen a parade suspended from the ceiling? Rio offers this fun extravaganza, complete with floats, music, dancing girls tossing beads, and a giant bird. Joanie and Little Ralph, like all kids, watched in fascination as the floats came out of an opening in the wall, and glided along an upside-down rail in the ceiling.
Then one float lowered a bridge, and the dancing girls came out onto the balcony, where we stood, and continued their gyrations. And, at times, the performers tossed beads, New Orleans style, to the audience. But Joanie didnít get any beads, because the tall, grabby people in front got in the way. So, later, while walking by the slots, she carefully looked at the potted artificial plants along the parade route, and gleefully squealed with delight when she spotted a shiny red necklace coiled around a plant. She extricated it, and placed it around her neck, and then caught up with Little Ralph to display her newfound gems. He was delighted, because he had tried to catch one for her, but had missed. Now, the kids danced along the corridor toward their next activity.

The Treasures of Russia

The Treasures of Russia, on loan to the Rio, are truly a Divine Extra, provided by our Tour Guide, via the receptionist at the Information Center.
For a few moments, we were transported to Russia, as we wandered through the rooms, viewing these priceless treasures, with Charlton Hestonís voice (speaking through the earphones of the Walkman Audio Tape), describing each article and work of art.
I marveled at the privilege of attending this exclusive tour (only showing here, until April 15th), and being able to see these pictures, clothes, furniture and memorabilia that have never before been seen, outside of Petrohof, Palaces of the Tsars. We walked through a replica wing of the Monplaisir Palace that housed the art collection of Emperor Peter I, complete with reproduced views from the windows: the sea on the left side, and the ornate, meticulously landscaped palace gardens on the left.
In the next display, we viewed the actual bed slept in by Peter I, and, in fact, his entire bedroom. And then we were directed up the winding stairs that brought us into the recreated courtyard of Peterhof, with pictures of the palace, fountains, statues and three waterfalls that view out to the sea.
An older couple, in our midst, told the attendant that they had taken a boat tour to this original spot, but had not been allowed to see the actual scene. The attendant said that some tour boats allow time for the tourists to walk to these gardens.
Still enthralled with the magnificence of this scene, we walked through another door into a re-creation of several dining rooms replete with crystal, and exotic porcelain settings made at the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
Itís hard to define the splendor of this display, and harder to select a favorite. But, perhaps the actual coronation throne of the Emperor Nicholas II impressed me the most. Or the Imperial Chanticleer Egg, and other artwork by Faberge, too, are memorable.
In order to recapture these Treasures of Russia, I bought a souvenir book, which I planned to give to Arianna, my granddaughter, of Russian descent (on her fatherís side).

To Each His Own

What a comedown: from the Treasures of Russia to the back parking lot at Gold Coast Casino. Weíd learned from the Security Officer at Rio that overnight parking is not allowed, in accordance with State Health Department ordinances; however, he said that Gold Coast Okays trucks and RVs. And weíd also learned, at the Tourist Info Center, that some other casinos allow overnight parking too; so we later planned to check them out, after our two nights in the Circus Circus RV Park, which would begin the next day, after the Winston Cup Races were over.
But first, our Gold Coast experience wasnít too bad: well lit, quiet and safe. However, within the first few minutes, I saw a uniformed guard exit his tower atop the parking garage, so I said to Van, ìHold on a few minutes; letís see what happens,î feeling somewhat like being in a prison compound, with its high tower.
Sure enough, the young security-guard swaggered up to the window, and very politely informed us to ìmove forward or back one row, to allow room for the trucks to turn.î His request was reasonable, and we gladly moved, happy for this overnight safe space. He added, ìThe Health Department doesnít allow living on these parking lots, and it could cost the casino $10,000.00, but I donít know if youíre staying overnight, right?î
The next morning, Van suggested, ìDo you think we should go into the casino for a token appearance?î
Iíd seen a sign proclaiming: ìBreakfast $1.95,î so we went inside. After an afternoon at The Rio, these energies lambasted me like a baseball bat; but we went into the Monterey Cafe and ordered the Breakfast Special.
ìItís from 11:00 p.m., until 6:00 a.m., and itís past that time,î the waitress informed us.
ìOkay, Iíll have oatmeal,î Van replied, while I quickly searched the menu.
ìThey stopped serving cereals at 11: 00 a.m.,î she replied, then added, ìBut Iíll see if I can still get it for you.î
I ordered eggs, potatoes and toast, and she disappeared. Later, she returned with Vanís oatmeal and my order. Somehow, after the World Carnival Buffet at Rio, I had difficulty gagging down my breakfast; not that Iím a snob, but this place was okay for parking, not for eating. Even the change-lady said, ìOh, itís okay,î when I asked about their buffet, while getting directions for the cafe.
I said to Van, ìI wonder what this experience is all about?î And he shrugged, so I continued, ìMaybe itís about balance.î But my inner voice said, ìItís about choices, according to consciousness. These people are perfectly happy here, and itís okay for them. To each his own; no right or wrong. Youíve simply selected another level of reality; and you will now be happier in those energies.î
That made sense, and I kept the message in mind, throughout our stay in Las Vegas, as we fluctuated between Circus Circus and Caesarís Palace or The Mirage.

Lifeís a Circus

Entrance into Circusland RV Park is recommended from Industrial Rd., to avoid the hectic traffic, and we followed the arrows through 385 sites, before arriving at the Registration Office. Fortunately, Iíd already made reservations, as all the spaces were either filled or reserved; and some people were turned away. ìThank You, Tour Guide.î
But, the receptionist wasnít quite as accommodating; apparently hassled and tired; she was rude and impatient, though she did wait, while Van returned to get his ìGood Samî discount card. And for that, I will give her a ì+,î but otherwise, I wrote a negative on the Comment Card, because I was disappointed at being mistreated. Joanie had awaited this experience for many years, and the receptionist wasnít letting it be fun, so I decided someone needed to hear about it.
However, this time, I went through instant retribution for my criticism, because I imagined all manner of retaliatory actions, either by her boyfriend or husband. However, I quickly put those thoughts out of mind, after Van got us hooked up, and my cellular phone connected for the 24-hour charging, and we left for our adventure.
First, we walked to the main casino and midway, but the vibes were so intense that I went into confusion and couldnít find our way out; so I got a map from the Security Desk. I realized that the main reason for my disorientation was that I needed to eat, so we found the free Coupon Books. However, after recently having the best at Rio, we didnít want a buffet; and the 99-cent hot dog didnít quite seem right, either, so we decided to go elsewhere.
But the free midway act, the Flying Marioís, began, so we stayed to watch this truly dare-devil performance of the four trapeze artists swoop from swing- to-swing. Weíd already missed the last daily performance of the clowns, so we headed outside.

The Las Vegas Strip.

The last time we were at The Riviera, watching George Carlinís act, this casino rated tops; but now, while having Panda Express Chinese food, in one of their restaurants, it didnít seem as impressive. No doubt, itís the influence of the new super casinos and the remodeling of others; all reaching out to the family and young adult business. The attractions must be spectacular and exciting: the erupting volcano at The Mirage, or the Pirate Battles at Treasure Island, for todayís crowds.
Personally, I enjoy strolling under the simulated blue skies of The Forum, an indoor high-price shopping mall, at Caesarís Palace. I donít spend any money at the Beverly Hills shops, such as Versace or Gucci, but I love to people-watch, as theyíre shopping, or eating at Wolfgang Puckís Spago or Chinos.
And the statues that come to life entertain Joanie and Little Ralph. All this is free, and can last as long as oneís legs and back hold out. Unfortunately, my back chose this inopportune time to give out, and it took all my effort to keep going. My only acquiescence to the pain was taking a city bus to Caesarís, and the hotel trolley back to Circus Circus.
But, in the meantime, Joanie enjoyed every minute. Vanís first priority, buying tickets to Willie Nelson for Wednesday, had been a high priority, but he soon found a ticket booth, and once handled, Little Ralph got into the spirit of the fun.
The Trojan Horse at FXís Toy Store
He delighted in watching the gigantic Trojan Horse at FXís Toy Store, and both kids took the escalator to the third floor in absolute awe at the vast amount of toys, including a full-size Darth Vader that speaks, when his buttons are pushed. And the plush stuffed toys range in prices upward, over $2,000.00, such as the Black Panther, holding its offspring in its mouth.
ìJust think,î I said, ìthis store is where people in this lifestyle shop for their kids; must be nice; maybe, someday; but not for us today.î
Still inside the toy store, Joanie paused at the Monopoly Cafe, contemplating an ice cream cone, but decided to wait for another location. However, Little Ralph had gotten into the mood of the place, and walked across the floor xylophone, making musical sounds; then he peered into the telescope (inside the giant Trojan Horse) to spy on the unsuspecting passersby far below.
The only way to the second floor is via escalator to the third floor, and finding another one back down. And both kids delighted in the mystery of finding the only way out: an elevator in front of the horse.

Coming to Life

Finally, back in the main hallway of The Forum, Joanie spotted Swensons Ice Cream, and selected a strawberry frozen yogurt, which she shared with Little Ralph, since he chose not to have one of his own; and they ate it, while watching another set of statues come to life. What fun!
We meandered from Caesars to The Mirage, and Joanie watched the Siberian tiger, lying on his high throne, surveying his admirers. But Little Ralph was far more interested in watching the volcano spew fire and smoke into the air, and riding the shuttle to Treasure Island, where he hoped to watch The Pirates Battle. We were both disappointed to learn that it had been postponed, due to the wind.

The Hidden Trolley

By now, my back was about to give out, and I was getting a blister on my foot from so much walking, and we still had to walk several blocks, along The Strip, to find the Hotel Trolley stop. After asking several people, we finally found it, behind the Imperial Palace. If we had known, we could have gotten it at Harrahís, but the loading zone is hidden back in the parking area, and was actually further than the Imperial Palace. Nevertheless, we boarded, and then watched all the activity and traffic, as we slowly returned home; stopping at every hotel, and then walking across the street from The Riviera, where we had started, to Circus Circus.
This had been a full evening, returning to the familiar casinos along The Strip, and we were happy to board the shuttle that took us right to our doorstep.

Play a Little Tune

When I was a youngster, to emphasize a point Mom Freeland would say ìPlay that on your piano.î And I laughed, in later years, to find a note, written in my piano lesson book, in my handwriting, obviously the result of something Iíd been told to ìplay on my piano.î This illustration of my childhood sense of humor is an introduction to a major turnaround in Living a New Reality. This story requires further background that happened when we lived in Colorado for six-months.
The local newspaper featured a full-size picture of Tommy Tunes, the Broadway musical star, advertising his appearance, on tour, in Denver. Joanie cut out the page and tacked it on the wall, as a visualization to insure that I would be able to see his performance. However, we decided to return to California, before that date, and missing him became a major incompletion for Joanie.
Iíd once seen a production number, with Tommy Tunes, on TV, and became enchanted with the way he moved his 6í6î lithe body in such agility and rhythm. Somehow, to me, he represents the ultimate of a Broadway performer, an unobtainable opportunity for me to ever attend. So being able to see Tommy Tunes in person epitomizes the Impossible Dream.
Of course, Van had already purchased tickets to see Willie Nelson, so when I saw, in the Las Vegas Whatís On magazine that Tommy Tunes was performing at the MGM Grand, I knew it would be out of the question to attend. Itís part of my conditioning, not only from childhood and the impact of The Great Depression, but also from the codependency of living with frugal husbands, including Van. Itís simply not done.
Why not? Who says you canít feast at the banquet table of life, especially in Las Vegas? Others do it, and lightning doesnít strike them dead, so who wrote these rules for me? And who says they canít be broken?
Well, of course, my first consideration was that Van would never approve. So, who made him God? I guess the answer is: I did. By my projections, if nothing else; the husband is always the final word, or so says the childhood (and adult) conditioning of our generation. And yet, these traditions are disintegrating, with the last few generations. Thank goodness!
However, the switch is that Van encouraged me to order tickets to Tommy Tune! And I did, but I was so excited and overwhelmed, on the phone, that I could hardly complete the transaction. Finally, the deed was done, and we were committed to attend the 7:30 show that night!

Even on a Stretcher

A phenomenon of living a new reality is that the old patterns try to retain control; and subconscious programming will often attempt to sabotage the new lifestyle. For instance, when Dottie and Steve were preparing to travel to Miami, Florida, her back tightened, and she spent several days, with chiropractors and workouts, plus affirmations and prayers, and sheer willpower getting pain free and flexible. And while we were at Caesarís Palace, my back began hurting.
I spent the morning in meditation, while applying liniment; and I finally took a Tylenol, and a hot shower, determined that I would not succumb to the control of this old limiting pattern.
As Iíve often said, ìIíll go, even if I have to go on a stretcher.î This signifies to my subconscious that I am in control; not the pattern.

Report from Missouri

By the time we were ready ÅÇÉÑÖÜáàâäãåçéèêëíìîïñóòôöõúùûü†°¢£§•¶ß®©™´¨≠ÆØ∞±≤≥¥µ∂∑∏π∫ªºΩæø¿¡¬√ƒ≈∆«»… ÀÃÕŒœ–—“”‘’÷◊ÿŸ⁄€‹›fifl‡·‚„‰ÂÊÁËÈÍÎÏÌÓÔÒÚÛÙıˆ˜¯˘˙˚¸˛ˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇˇto go to the Stardust for a lunch buffet, using their coupons, I was able to move more freely. But, I had one more important step in this ongoing reality transition: the cellular phone had completed its 24-hour charge, and I was anxious to check-in with Dottie, who was still on the road.
Airica answered, ìIím tired of this RV life,î she announced.
ìWell, itís better than the same trip in a car, right?î She agreed, and handed the phone to Dottie.
ìItís cold here,î she complained. ìWeíve stopped in Warrenton, Missouri, so Steve could take a nap; then weíre heading on, as far West as we can get tonight.î Sheíd gone inside a Flying J Truck Stop to get some popcorn, and was returning to the RV, and the said, ìWhat are these tiny white flakes; is it snowing?î
In the background, I heard Steve reply, ìYes.î And suddenly her voice disappeared, so I decided to call later, after our buffet and Tommy Tunes.

Reality Shift

We rode the complimentary monorail from the RV Park to Circus Circus Casino, and then rushed to the Stardust buffet, just in time, as they were closing at 3:00 p.m. Nevertheless, having recouped our appetite (after the Rio buffet), we heaped our plates, and enjoyed their bountiful fare.
Iíd been debating whether or not to return home and dress up for the MGM Grand, but finally opted to keep going, and if necessary, we could buy a dressier outfit. That too, was a new reality.
Riding the Las Vegas Strip Trolley and viewing all the magnificent new hotel casinos, such as the New York New York, Luxor, Bellagio; and the newest, Mandalay Bay, which opened in the last week, our driver kept us entertained with jokes and comments. His antics helped the time to pass, as he negotiated the commute traffic along The Strip.
An hour later, we passed the giant lions in front of the MGM Grand, and soon collected our tickets at the Box Office. In the meantime, as we wandered through the immense corridors and along the shops and restaurants, Iíd been having another kind of reality check. I certainly didnít remember the MGM being like this, and finally asked the Security Guard, who had guided us to the Box Office. He said that they moved from the location now owned by Bally, and rebuilt the casino that had been in this location; and last year another addition and remodeling brought it to this present magnificence.

In the Center; and High Up

We had arrived two hours early, but I was relieved to be here, and have our tickets in hand, so we could relax and wander through the casino, lobby, and past the restaurants, such as the high-priced Gatsbyís Gourmet Restaurant, where ìdinner attireî is required. But, moderate-priced restaurants, such as Wolfgang Puck, are available; and McDonaldís, and others, await those eating at the International Cuisine mall.
Finally, we climbed to our seats ìin the center,î as the ticket agent had promised; but he hadnít mentioned the top row. At first, I was disappointed, but soon realized the blessing of being far above the smoke, loud music and flashing lights. Joanie liked to rest her arms on the railing, and Little Ralph was fascinated with the computer technology booth (in front of us) that monitored the show with terribly technical equipment. And best of all, we werenít crowded; only one other couple at our table, and the grandma-grandpa-types were soon ready to leave. ìI donít know what we expected,î she sighed, obviously disenchanted.
However, Joanie was enthralled, from the moment we entered, and she laughed when the pre-show comics cavorted across the stage, into the audience, and even from the ceiling, simulating supposedly impromptu activities of stagehands. Actually, the most talented one, sang and danced during part of his routine, and the time passed quickly.

Pure Bliss

But when the actual show began, and Tommy Tunes, ìThe First Gentleman of Broadway,î came onstage, Joanie entered an altered state of pure bliss. From his opening number, ìIn Dreams,î she immersed into the magical world of dreams and illusion, as the theme unfurled: dreams really can come true; and took us through the enchantment of childhood fantasy, including King Arthurís court and Merlin; and then we actually experienced traveling in a time-machine to the scary sci-fi world of the Morlocks, thanks to laser technology.
Again, I never cease to be amazed at our Tour Guides precision in combining experiential aids with life. In this case, EFX deals with the wonderful world of illusion and reality, while skillfully blending the two, as Adult Tommy endeavors to tutor Little Tommy (played by a non-dancing child actor) into the knowledge of his true identity; in this scenario itís King Arthur.
Of course, Joanieís favorite skit involved an Intergalactic Circus, with cleverly costumed munchkin-types dancing and cavorting, while the Flying Kagonovitchís, highly skilled daredevil trapeze artists, perform breathtaking maneuvers above the net.
Little Ralphís favorite: The Cosmic Jig, teamed Tommy, in sparkling red tails and top hat, tap dancing on a reverberating, amplified section of the stage, accompanied by the entire troupe in colorful costumes, in the background; truly a panoramic production number.
Joanie wasnít very happy with the Houdini segment, because Tommy, portraying the master magician, reenacted his death-defying ìSpike Cage Escapeî and ìChinese Water Torture Escape, numbers; and they were too realistic, as Houdiniís wife, Bess, portrayed by an actress, watched and reported in horror, as she thought her husband was drowning. But their memorable duet, Tonight, met with Joanieís approval.
And the best part, because it satisfied her human interest quest, came when Tommy sat down on the edge of the stage, chatted with the audience and answered questions. He talked about going from Texas to New York, and winning nine Tony Awards, and then fulfilling his dream, being in a Las Vegas show.
Fulfillment of dreams and completions summarize the overall theme and message of this stupendous experience; and afterward, we walked through the MGM toward the Las Vegas Strip Trolley.

A Bridge Too Far

When we passed the Brown Derby, Joanie decided to take the new reality to another level, so walked inside the prestigious Fine Dining Restaurant and asked, ìIs there a dress code?î
The aristocratic looking MaÓtre D, dressed in a black tuxedo asked, ìDo you have a dinner reservation?î
ìNo, we just wanted the ìbaked potato with the works, thatís listed on the menu.î
ìOh, Iím sorry, but you must have a dinner reservation,î he said, obviously a ploy to discourage the riffraff, who were not willing to order the pricey dinners.
Undaunted, we stopped at the Food Festival and ordered a pan pizza, although my preference was the Teriyaki Noodle Bowl. Somehow, I felt Iíd ìgone a bridge too far,î in Vanís thinking; and my codependency kicked in.
Something had shifted with Van, about the time we were at The Forum, when he bought the tickets for Willie Nelson, or sooner. And I had been attempting to discover what triggered his pattern; or at least, identify the pattern. But, he was in it, and no use probing.
Matters got worse the next day, when we began to make our transition from Circus Circus to The Orleans, where we would await Willieís show. Iíd been focused on updating my chapter, and Van busied himself with readying Freedom. But I stopped the process to discuss his apparent mood swing.
ìItís a matter of choices, you know. If Little Ralph thinks he has to please me, based on his childhood pattern of pleasing your mother.î I paused, and then added, ìIf you have other preferences, you can always voice them, and then we can negotiate.î No response or feedback from him, as he left to take a shower, and I continued writing.
When he returned, I pursued the subject, but nothing seemed changed, so I decided to check-in with Dottie again: ìWeíre coming into Denver,î she happily announced, and added, ìOur cell-phone was out all across Kansas and Missouri, and we just got back. Itís in the fifties here.î
ìSounds like youíre happy to be home,î I said.
ìYou bet,î she responded, ìand we have blue skies too!î The phone again cut-out, so I hung up and finished getting ready for our departure.
As Van drove out of the park, I said, ìYouíll probably want to go the way we came, to avoid the hectic traffic on The Strip.î
He paused at the driveway, and looked both ways, as I said, ìWell, maybe it would be easier to go left and take another street to the freeway.î
He turned right, and proceeded to get into the main traffic onto The Strip, as there was no apparent on-ramp toward the freeway. Now, he was asking me, ìWhich street should I take?î And I blew up. My anger seemed to erupt from the fact that I was being asked to bail him out of the mess that he had gotten into, and also, because he hadnít studied the map to determine the best route. Now, he was committed to The Strip, and its hectic traffic that I had attempted to help him avoid.
I grabbed my camcorder and began taking pictures of the fabulous places where we had been sightseeing for the past several days, but I continued growling the entire route, though Iíd hoped we could survive this town, without a major upset. Now we were into one, and I wasnít quite sure why, other than my frustration over Vanís mood switch, and not being able to regain the rapport we had been enjoying in this new reality, for such a brief time.
Had we failed at changing to our new reality? Were the old patterns winning the battle, after all? Is it true: there is no hope? Should I have left well enough alone, and not attempted to resolve his mood change?
No answers came forth, so in the meantime, I asked God to help.

What’s Overnight Parking?

At The Orleans parking lot, and wondering whether we could park overnight, I prayed that someone, in the other RVís, would shed light on the policy here. I kept writing and Van got out for a cigarette. Soon another RVer walked over and chatted awhile.
When Van returned, he said, ìThe fellow said he found a note on his RV stating ëNo overnight camping.í When he asked what constitutes overnight, he was told, ëusing your levelers,í and he said, ëso, if I donít use them, I can stay here?í And the guy replied, ëYes.íî
I thought, ìThank You, God, that problem is solved. Now what?î
When we first arrived at the parking lot, I had noticed Willie Nelsonís bus, with a scene of a guitar painted on the back, and another colorful scene stating ìThe red-haired stranger,î on the side.

Memories of Luckenbach

I had no idea exactly how far my Tour Guide would take me in living a new reality; but I soon experienced the next adventure. However, this story also requires a little history.
I often mention two Freedomers, Michael and Adam Martin, in my writings; and sometimes I refer to their father, Donnie Halbert, with whom I corresponded for several years; before I knew his sons. These men were actively involved in the Family Business: crime, and all have paid their debt to society, by spending time in prison; but Donnie paid a higher price: his life. Iíve written an entire book, Not my Day to Die, about this self-proclaimed hi-tech criminal, in which I mentioned the time he spent at Luckenbach, Texas, while on the lam. And he told about Willie Nelson, sitting by the pot-bellied stove playing his guitar and singing. He has often sung about this unique town.
I know the place is unique, because we visited there, and I felt as if I were Alice In Wonderland, falling into the rabbit-hole, as we parked outside, and walked along the narrow, tree-shrouded street into the quaint town: one old wooden building housing the general store, post office and famous bar; and another large frame building, where the Country Western performers play for the dancers.
The day we were there, we were heralded with the voice of Willie Nelson wafting through the windows, and I peeked inside the dance hall. A young man, Billie Moon, was sweeping the floor, while listening to a recording of Willie on the speaker system. We spent several hours in this enchanted place, as I talked with Billie, learning more about Willie. ìWhen he gives a concert here,î Billie said, ìthey set up a stage in that large parking area and itís filled with thousands of people.î
I could feel Willie in our midst, especially when we stepped inside the bar and saw the pot-bellied stove. And then the local bar tender, Jimmie Lee Jones, also a musician, played his guitar and sang for us. What a memory!

ìOn the Road Againî

Wherever weíve traveled, around the country, we’ve seen posters advertising Willie’s appearance; always at a future date, when we wouldn’t be there. So now I savored another completion, as we were sitting in the Branson Theater in The Orleans Casino in Las Vegas, listening to Willie perform.
The first hour, he strode onto the stage, without any announcement or fanfare, and went through his program, somewhat by rote, without any comments or personalization. Of course, it was Willie’s repertoire, music and voice, but it didnít seem as if he were there. Finally, he concluded this part of the program with On the Road Again, the song I was waiting to hear, and I feared the show was over.

The Show was Just Beginning

But, in truth, it was just beginning; now he came to life, as his outstanding instrumental improvisation, with his expert touch, brought out the full capability of his guitar. Accompanied by his six-member band, including a harmonica player, who literally made his instrument talk, they entertained, without break; totaling two-and-a-half-hours.
And the show wasnít over, yet. Willie put down his guitar, walked to the edge of the stage and began shaking hands and signing autographs from one side of the stage to the other, as people lined up, reaching out with their items to be signed; including one person with a guitar, which Willie dutifully autographed.
Van and I stood by our seats watching, as I tried to work up the nerve to approach. I had been feeling the presence of Donnie Halbert all evening, and he seemed to be telling me what to say to Willie, but I waited, until the last few people were in line; then I moved forward, clutching the ticket for him to autograph.
Finally, I was next in line, so I handed him the ticket, and asked, ìDo you remember Donnie Halbert from Luckenbach, Texas?î
Sitting in a chair, from where he had been signing autographs, kissing the ladies, and shaking hands with the men, Willie looked at me, rather quizzically, and said, ìThat name sounds familiar.î
I should have known that he wouldnít reveal anything, because Luckenbach is a safe space, and no one knows whoís there; at least, if they do, they arenít telling. So, I said, ìI have a ministry with prisoners, and I also write to his son, Adam Martin.î
He looked at me, and said, ìYes, those names sound familiar.î
I shared a bit more, and then added, ìThat was before Donnie got himself killed.î
Van later said that Willie registered a brief wince, at that news, but I had continued, ìI wrote a book about Donnie, and wrote to you for help in getting it published.î
ìI didnít know anything about it,î Willie said.
ìI know, thatís because it was sent back to me, by your agents.î
He looked a bit confused, and then I said, ìDonnie asked me to say ëHií to you.î I looked directly into Willieís eyes, and I knew that he understood the message.
I started to back away, and he said, ìDonít I get a kiss?î
Surprised, I leaned forward and got kissed right on the mouth, as I pressed against his knees with my hands, for balance.
Oh, if only I had brought my camera; but none were allowed. Nevertheless, others brought theirs, and captured these precious moments; apparently with Willieís instructions to the security guards not to interfere. Itís part of his love of his fans, and willingness to interact with them.
And then others were approaching, so I backed away, and said, “Thank you, Willie.”

It’s Time

Walking back up the aisle, of the theater, I thought, ìThis exchange with Willie was definitely another level of new reality for me. If Iím honest with myself, I have to admit that, in the past, I would have felt too intimidated and insecure to carry-out the meeting with Willie. But his receptivity and personal attention to what I was saying, has been a gift, a special blessing, and I feel like itís moved me to another level of self-confidence and readiness to again go out into the world, this time with my books. Itís time to stop getting ready, and start doing.î
But, I knew that God would guide me into the right steps, in His Divine Time. In the meantime, when we awoke the next morning, I asked Van to take a picture of Willieís bus, and then it was time for us to get on the road again.
Back Home Again; in a Snow Storm
I could hardly wait to call Dottie, now that they were back home and off the road. Her answering machine had a new message, as she said in a very professional voice: ìThis is Dottie and Steve, for unfranchised owners with Market America. We are not home; please leave a message.î
I quickly called Steveís cellular phone, and when he answered, I said, ìWow, Iím impressed. What a change! I can tell that you two are living a new reality,î as a result of attending the Leadership Training Program.î
ìYeah,î he replied, ìThis business really works. When they asked, at the meeting, for all Executive Coordinators (which we are) to stand, over 6,400 stood; thatís two-out-of-three, who are working their business at this level. Iíve talked to many, and they say itís really easy.î
ìAll you have to do is work the business, rightî
ìRight, and you two are doing it! You should have heard me praising your work to our supervisors, Paul and Teresa. Weíre all impressed.î
ìHey, I love the pats on the back. Thanks!î
I could tell the trip had fired his enthusiasm for the business, but I asked, ìAre you still as enthused about RV travel, after driving one on your trip?î
ìOh yeah, only Iím not ready to go full-time, and Iíd want a larger RV, with a separate bedroom; this one had a pull-down bed, and it was inconvenient for the four of us.î
Then he handed the phone to Dottie, but she said, ìI have so much to do, and I have to take Steve to work right now, because itís starting to snow. They expect about 3 inches.î
ìGood Heavens,î I exclaimed, then added, ìTalk about Godís Timing; you made it home just in time.î
ìRight! But I gotta go. Talk to you, later.î
I hung up, and said to Van, ìTheyíre having snow. Are we nuts to be going there in two weeks? Of course, in the Denver area the snow melts quickly, and the weather changes so fast, who knows what it will be doing by then.î

Maybe There’s Hope

Preoccupied with writing on a pad on his lap, he absently replied, ìRight.î
I looked over, at the numbers and diagram, and asked, ìIs that a new game, or what?î
ìItís the hierarchy for Market America.î
I almost fainted to hear that he was finally, after all these years, putting his attention toward our business. But, I coolly patted his shoulder, and said, ìYouíre so wonderful. I always knew you would do great, once you put your mind to it.î
He continued with his project, and I had no intentions of interrupting, but my mind began racing, ìMaybe lifeís not going to be about getting my books out there, right now. Maybe itís going to be about working together to build our business. After all, Dottie said they could use our help back there.î
I began to get excited, as I looked forward to returning to our family in Colorado, our only other home, and I thought, ìWell, even if it does snow, it will feel good to be home again. Weíll just stay in Freedom at the RV Park, and keep warm. And it will be fun to take the bus to Dottieís and work with the business. Also, she edits my writing, and can help prepare manuscripts for publishing. Yes, it will be good to be home again. Itís time.î

Much Better Vibes

The man in The Orleans parking lot (the first day), also gave Van directions for staying at the Excalibur parking lot, so we headed there to complete our Las Vegas experience of living a new reality.
Van drove past the Excalibur Casino, along Tropicana, then turned onto Las Vegas Boulevard to the next street, and followed the RV parking signs; but just as he was about to turn in, I directed him to the left parking lot, where I also saw RVís.
I prefer these energies, of the incredible Luxor Hotel, a massive black pyramid, with a colossal Sphinx out front; and everything inside in giant proportions. If anything could take me to a higher level of consciousness, itís a stroll throughout this vast complex. Itís hard to comprehend how anyone could even conjure up the idea of five gigantic pharaohs in a row, or as many Cleopatras. On this second visit, I was still awestruck at the enormity of this place, even though I learned that itís a development of the Circus Circus Enterprises. One thing for sure, they sure know how to do extravaganzas!
Despite all this magnificence, nothing would do, but Joanie wanted a Haagen-Dazs Swiss chocolate almond ice cream cone in Giza Galleria, an exotic shopping area, where they gave a free sample of ìthe worldís best fudge, which was delicious. I also bought a video of Las Vegas and a deck of Luxor used cards, as souvenirs for my family in Colorado.
Joanie was disappointed that Cleopatraís barge had been replaced by a Sports Book, during the remodeling, in the past five years, and a Food Court had replaced an upstairs restaurant, along with other changes, such as King Tuts Museum; a replica of his tomb and treasures.

King Tut’s Tomb

Having begun our new realities tour with The Treasures of Russia, it seemed a fitting conclusion to see King Tuts tomb; and the reproductions were elaborate, including his golden casket, shrine and throne, plus alabaster and other fascinating artifacts.
ìMy favorite was King Tutís golden casket; what did you like best?î Joanie asked Little Ralph.
ìI liked it all,î he replied.
But what did you like the very best?î she prodded.
ìOh, I guess, if I had to pick something, it would be the tomb itself, which showed how advanced the Egyptian civilization was, at that time.î I suspected that was Vanís answer, rather than Little Ralph; but I let it go; he probably did ìlike it all.î
From Egypt to New York, via England and Mandalay Bay
Once we were saturated with the Luxor, we followed the long, winding ramp to the new Mandalay Bay Casino, but a loud siren-type noise, flashing emergency lights, and a malfunctioning public address system (part of a test fire-drill) soon sent us out, despite the exotic Caribbean decor. Nothing else offset this disappointing experience.
However, there was much more to come during this final tour, as we found our way back, through the Luxor, and across the walkway to the Excalibur. Weíd seen it before, so quickly continued along another walkway, over the street, to New York New York. Of course, its skyscrapers skyline, with the giant Statue of Liberty, is the most impressive part of this complex; unless you are a fan of New York City, and its high intensity. Iím not sure if they import the people from there too, but they sure captured the hype, along with the ambiance.

Even God Draws a Line

We had intended pushing on further, to Bellagio for a touch of Italy, but decided that balance and timing were important factors to be considered. And by this time, we were both exhausted; my back hurt and I was getting blisters, again, so we made our way quickly back to the soothing pyramid energies at the Luxor. Earlier, Joanie had spotted the Nile Deli, and we returned for a delicious evening snack. Joanie had her mind set on chicken matzo ball soup and chicken salad sandwich with coleslaw, and Little Ralph opted for turkey sandwich with potato salad, and split pea soup; a perfect completion to our tour from Egypt to Mandalay Bay, and England to New York, and back to Freedom.
When we had ridden by Bellagio (means beautiful lake, in Italian) at night, on the shuttle trolley, the blue colored lights on their lake were dancing, but we didnít stop to watch. Now, in the daylight, Van drove Freedom around back and parked in the ìOversize Parking Lotî so I could feel a completion with my Las Vegas experience. I realize that even God had to draw-a-line someplace, in His creation, but our Tour Guide had saved the best for last.

The Best for Last

When we entered the picturesque, grandiose lobby, I thought its colorful ceiling display was decorative balloons in flower-like designs, but I was mistaken. I later learned that itís their ten- million-dollar hand-blown colored glass chandelier, which adds a festive touch to the tasteful ambiance: carpets and fixtures highlighted by exquisite flower displays.
But this was only the beginning. Soon we came to The Conservatory, enhanced by a multitude of yellow flowers, including fragrant tulips and daffodils complimented by various white ones, and accented with blues or purples; of course, they are balanced with green shrubbery, white trellises and bridges that gracefully arch over little ponds or streams. And from the high ceiling, massive golden valances and bows add more color and elegance.
Within The Conservatory we find the art museum, featuring Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir and Gaugin, for those willing to pay a small admission fee for culture; and the expensive restaurants offer fine dining with a tranquil setting, at a high price.
However, we joined the thousands of other tourists, who simply strolled along the garden paths and past the magnificent staircase, with its huge portrait of Van Gogh and Gaugin, then back into the casino area.
A pianist played soft background music for the folks having tea, overlooking the brightly colored canopies flounced above the slots and tables, giving an appearance of an Italian drawing room; and the poker tables discreetly hid behind arched openings.
Soon we wandered along a corridor, similar to The Forum at Caesarís Palace, only with arched windows forming the ceiling, rather than imitation sky. This area offers designer shops, such as Armani and Gucci, or others, such as Tiffany; and more fine dining restaurants; some with tables overlooking the passersby, who were surveying the diners eating their exotic meals. And further along, we could see through the high, arched windows to the ìbeautiful lakeî outdoors, surrounded by evergreens and colorful flowers, along the shore.
Another elegantly decorated corridor took us into the entrance to the outdoor pool and spa area that looked like the Italian Riviera, with sparkling pools and fountains partially obscured by evergreen pines and other shrubs gently waving in the breeze; and rows of white cots for sunning, lined the main swimming pool, where hotel guests were tanning.
By the time weíd explored the massive corridors leading to the Convention Center, weíd worked up an appetite, with all this walking, and Joanie succumbed to her urge for a final buffet. Well, after all, who could resist an opportunity to dine in this exquisite atmosphere? Little Ralph probably could settle for a hamburger in the Food Court, but not Joanie.
Fortunately for our Spending Plan, this abundant lunch buffet only cost $12.00, and actually surpassed The Rio in elegance and taste. For this last buffet in Las Vegas, Joanie heaped her plate with peeled raw shrimp, smoked trout, baby back ribs, Caesarí salad and other exotic fare; no basics here. And she concluded this is the place to throw caution to the winds, as she chose a delicious chocolate mousse, followed by several other equally decadent desserts. And she sampled several that Little Ralph selected, such as a chocolate eclair filled with rich dark chocolate custard.

But Our Tripís not Over, Yet

With the buffet finished, I figured enough-is-enough, and we headed back to Freedom, but Little Ralph spotted the monorail to Monte Carlo, and we climbed on board. My feet and back were beginning to ache, but I figured weíd stay on board for the return trip, with no more walking. Wrong!
ìDidnít you want to get a video of Tommy Tunes, at the MGM Grand?î Van asked.
ìYes, but I thought weíd drive Freedom there,î I replied.
ìWell, itís just across the street, so letís walk.î
However, this turned out to be another ìbridge too far.î Iíll bet we walked ten blocks, at least, through hotels and casinos, only to learn that they donít have a video of Tommy Tunes, yet. But, I was given a number to call, at a later time, to order an audio, when they are available.
Fortunately, we discovered a monorail from MGM Grand to Ballyís, and a People Mover from there back to Bellagioís. And the next time we passed their monorail, we kept right on going to Freedom.

Maintaining Balance

In a city of excesses and extravaganzas, discretion and balance are keys to maintaining your mental equilibrium, without getting hooked into addictions and indiscretions. Some survive safely, and others succumb to the wiles of temptation.
Weíd reached our limit, and it was time to move on. Getting back to basics, we stopped at the last Trader Joeís, between here and Colorado (and none there, either) to restock our supplies.

Chapter 20
TREASURE TROVE OF THE HEART

King Tutís Tomb Revisited

Godís wonders never cease to amaze me, especially when He reveals them with such obvious relevance, as revealed the first Sunday back in Lakewood, Colorado. Dottie and I sat in the packed Mile High Church of Religious Science on Palm Sunday, enjoying each otherís company, and the spiritual energies of this special service.
We were saddened to learn that Dr. Fred Voight, founding minister and now Minister Emeritus, had died and been given a Memorial Service of love within the past two weeks, and yet the love energies permeated the service far beyond the sense of loss or grief. In fact, we looked forward in expectation, as we settled down to listen to Surrender to Greatness, the sermon topic, after the opening inspiration of meditation and music, such as Anne Achenbachís traditional Palm Sunday solo, The Holy City.
I couldnít believe my ears when Rev. Roger Teel, the minister, who speaks to 1,000 congregants thrice, every Sunday, began describing the story of Howard Carter, who discovered King Tutís tomb. A story we had recently heard on video at the Luxor Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas, as we prepared to tour the replica of the famous tomb. Rev. Roger reminded us that when asked what he had seen, Howard said, ìWonderful things, some that I havenít yet discovered.î
As the sermonís thesis went on to suggest that we all have within us a treasure trove of undiscovered possibilities, I marveled that God had guided me to see this experiential aide. And when the minister spoke of the alabaster box that had contained a small amount of ointment, I could clearly picture the container, because I had recently seen the replica.
Also, the remnants of the seeds of grain that were tested, planted, and grown, after 2,000 years, flashed into mind, as he said that we all have within us the seeds of greatness, no matter how dormant they may be, and God reminded me that part of our greatness is unlocking the inner splendor of love.
I thought about Isochrome, one of our Isotonix products, which contains Coenzyme Q-10, that it is the biochemical spark that supplies energy to the cells. When we remember that the heart muscle is the center of love, and like any muscle: if you donít use it, you lose it, itís easy to see how the expression of love energizes us.
As Rev. Teel continued to weave the story of King Tutís tomb into his thesis, Surrender to Greatness, my mind again reflected on recent events involving our Market America business, as an illustration of his topic, and I could see that God was giving me an appropriate and exciting conclusion to this book.
You may recall that this book started with us in Colorado, and attending a Market America seminar with Dottie and Steve. I had hoped that Van would become involved, but his apathy discouraged my pursuing the subject; and I got busy with my life, including my writing and ministry, and visiting Dal Culvahouse, a Freedomer who has been making it out of prison for seventeen years. And then we headed West, over mountains and canyons, until we finally reached Oregon, where we shared the business with some members of my family, including my son, Marquam. He was interested, but he wasnít in a position to get involved or make the commitment.
At the time, I said, ìIím planting seeds,î because Van and I simply werenít willing or able to give a well-qualified presentation. And like the seeds, in the Bible, that fell by the wayside, our customers did too.
Having attended a seminar in Portland, Oregon, we felt somewhat more qualified, but still not ready to make a strong commitment. However, as we traveled South, we kept telling family and friends; and some began taking OPC-3. Several even became Preferred Customers, so they could order direct from the company headquarters.

Seeds Come into Fruition

While in Laughlin, I called my son, and again mentioned the possibility of his becoming involved in the business. He agreed, and arrangements were made for him to connect with Ed and Sherrie (in Oregon) to complete the transaction.
In the meantime, at Dottie and Steveís, we attended several meetings with their group. At the second meeting, he asked each of us to answer the question: What is it? Our answers were to reflect an explanation of our business, as it would be presented to a prospect. Some good ones were given, and then Van volunteered.
I almost fell off my chair, as he launched into a professional role-playing process with Steve, giving an illustration that caused the two salesmen present to applaud, along with the rest of us, and marvel at his excellent posturing, as they call the replication of the trainer we had seen in Portland, Oregon.
In church, as Rev. Teel talked about the seeds that had been planted and grown, after 2,000 years, I thought about the seeds that had been planted in Vanís mind and experience at the various Market America activities we had attended, such as the International Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the seminars and trainings in Colorado Springs, and Portland; and how they had sprouted into fruition at the proper time.
My heart swelled with joy and pride over Vanís accomplishment; and I knew that we were entering into a new era in our lives. I said to him, ìYour methods will bring us the money; mine will reach out and help relieve those in pain. And, as such, it will serve as my new ministry; in a different format. Who knows what doors God is opening?î

ìSome Seeds Fall on Good Soilî

One evening, while at Dottie and Steveís, I had occasion to recall the Parable of the Sower, in which Jesus discusses the various pitfalls that can befall the seeds, if not planted wisely. He said that some seeds fall along the path, and the birds devour them. And that other seeds fall into rocky ground without much soil, and are scorched by the sun, and soon wither away. Yet others are cast amongst thorns, and the weeds choke them. But the seeds that fell on good soil ìbrought forth grain.î
I saw the results of the seeds that fell on good soil, when a downliner and friend of Dottie and Steve came to visit. She was distraught over her young adult son, who still lived at home, and still behaved as a typical disrespectful teenager.
Van and I were invited to sit in on the discussion, and I endeavored to refrain from advice giving, though I did add some words of encouragement relating to self-empowerment. But the majority of the support came from Steve, who shared his own journey through the weeds, until he finally was forced to attend an Anger Management Program. Now, he allowed the good seeds that had been sown to speak to his friend, as he told the truth about his own experiences and the positive results in his relationship with his daughter, Airica.
I laughed inwardly, as Steve gave advice that reminded me of the years when he and Dottie, along with their young daughters, lived with us. We too, had made a contract relating to our living arrangement, based upon the fact that it was our home, and they were guests; thus certain behavior would be expected, including respect, and his need to get a job by a certain date; if not, he was to leave. The date came, and Steve went — at my insistence. This began another turning point in his life.
And now, he was advising another on the benefits of applying tough love, with the reassurance, ìItís hard, but if you stick with it, you will both be stronger.î I can attest to the fact that it was certainly hard for me, at the time, going through the ordeal of my adult kids coming back home to roost; but I wasnít willing to leave them out on the street, either. And, like Steve said, ìTheyíll find a way to survive.î He did, and was the better for it. Dottie and the girls remained with us, and Steve found a place to live, a job, and more self-esteem, as he went through more growing up of his inner child.
And now he was able to give wise advice to another in a similar situation.

ìDown the Roadî

When we last saw Cousin John, in California, he said, ìSee you down the road,î and the Easter weekend would be the time. As mentioned earlier, he too, lives in his RV, and had been wintering with his daughter in Arizona. Since he was heading north on I-25, through Denver, on his way from Arizona to Rapid City, South Dakota, we had arranged for him to spend Easter with us, at Dottieís. So when the snow began falling, right on schedule (it always snows in April) during Maundy Thursday (Passover, or Last Supper) of Easter weekend, I called to warn him.
ìWhere are you?î I asked.
ìJust coming into Albuquerque,î he replied.
ìHowís the weather?î
ìNice. Sunny,î he answered.
ìWell, you might want to stay there,î I suggested, and updated him on our weather report: ìWe could get up to three inches of snow in the next two days.î
ìOkay, Iíll find a Wal-Mart, and wait, Thanks,î he said, and added, ìIíll see you Saturday.î
We prepared to sit out the storm, but by Friday afternoon it stopped, and that night Dottie and Steve held their scheduled Kick-Off. However, no guests showed up, so the presenter, Fred Soto, a twenty-six-year-old successful Market America entrepreneur and trainer, gave a hard- hitting program designed to motivate the group to get off their duffís and build their business. Van was urged to give another demonstration of his previous presentation, and did. And I even decided to order our business cards, as another step to move forward.
Iíd already been writing, calling and e-mailing our customers and interested prospects, and received several more orders for OPC-3.
On Saturday morning, ìin the tombî day, of the Easter saga, I couldnít stand the suspense, so called John.
ìWhere are you,î I again asked.
ìIím at the Dakota Ridge RV Park that you told me about, in Golden. Iíll see you in a few hours, after I get showered and ready.î
ìHow did you get here so early?î
ìOh, I left Albuquerque about 3:00 a.m., and drove straight through.î
ìNo snow over the passes?î
ìOh, yeah, but the roads were clear. No problem.î
Why would I be surprised that John came through without any hassle? He always creates his own reality. When he arrived, driving his white tow car that looked like a chocolate sundae (from the thick mud and mercury caused by riding through the slush, on a trailer behind his RV), he announced that we could go with him to a car wash to get his white car cleaned, and visit along the way.
Enroute, we caught up on each otherís travel itinerary, and discussed the possibility of meeting in Florida during the next winter. But of more immediate concern, we mentioned the need to finish transferring our files from the old computer to the new laptop, in order to move forward with our preparation for the 21st century that he had started us on in California.
With this in mind, we needed a program and cable from his RV, so he drove us out to Golden, where we had spent our first two months in Freedom in this same park (two years ago), also in the April snow banks. Seeing the RVís sitting like quiet sentinels in the snow, brought back memories, and I realized that we had learned a lot since those beginnings of our new lifestyle (which I wrote about in my first book, Home On The Road; The Beginning.
Now, as John collected his program and cable, and I greeted his Basenji dog, Clee, I knew that transferring these files meant releasing my old computer, and moving forward. And it wouldnít be Joanie and Little Ralph; it would be grownup Ralph and Joanna, our new adult, identities for building our Market America business.
We returned to Dottieís, and Van moved the old computer into the house. After dinner he and John made the transfer of files, while Dottie and I prepared the seven-layer salad that must be refrigerated overnight for Easter dinner.
It took about an hour for the transition, and with this momentous task accomplished, I knew that Van and I were preparing to leave our tomb and be resurrected into our new life.

A Most Unusual Day

Mile High Church of Religious Science is so crowded (3 services with 1,000 each one; plus overflow; not to mention parking hassles) on Easter Sunday that we broke tradition and didnít go. But this was a non-traditional Easter, anyway, with rotisserie pork roast for the main course, accompanied by mashed potatoes and gravy, the seven-layer salad and fruit ambrosia. Also, the family gathering had shifted from the traditional gatherings, at my dad and Arleneís in California, which would never happen again. Now, the clan consisted of the younger generations, Dottieís daughters, Airica and Arianna, and her significant other, Jason; Earl and Brandon (my great grandson and his dad); Dottie and Steve, Van and I.
And for the first time in this clan, Cousin John, who was not a blood relative, but still family. In fact, he and I were the only ones who knew each other from childhood.
Easter Sunday began with me attempting to clean out the tomb of our home by putting things back in place (after our travels), while listening to taped Easter music, and a service from another year. When I heard the words, ìAllow your heart to be opened, as a tomb,î I realized that God had directed me to another experiential aide that was appropriate for this chapter, and this lesson.
I was asked to give the table blessing, which focused on enjoying this gathering in the Present Moment, and releasing the memories of past Easters. I especially said this for Cousin John, for he had reminded me earlier, that he and I had been gathering Easter eggs, when youngsters, the day he was told that his mother had died. He was only nine-years-old, and his life had abruptly changed.
While we shared our Easter meal, I was glad that Iíve learned to live in the Present Moment, for these family gatherings and relationships can be heavily charged with emotions, especially thinking about past gatherings and family members not here. And all too soon the day was over, and Cousin John said his goodbyes, and returned home to prepare for his early departure to Rapid City, SD.

ìHe Is Risenî

Although Easter had passed, our resurrection was still in progress, and on Monday a series of events took us all through our own personal transition: from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Resurrection.
The conclusion of this phase of our lives requires a flashback to our past history, beginning about ten years ago, when Dottie, Steve, Van and I were involved in another Multi-Level Marketing business. To compound the complexity, we were all living together in our big home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in California.
In some ways, it was an idyllic time in our lives, but the intensity of our various patterns constantly played off each other, causing chaos. In an effort to help us change patterns, I devised a workshop format, which I called Money Matters, and the four of us attempted to recognize and change our money patterns by identifying their origins in our childhood. Of course, they all reverted to the influence of our parents in some way; either their direct programming, or our reactions to whatever happened.
Throughout the interim years, Iíve been writing a book based on the Money Matters experience, but Iíve never been able to finish it. I always suspected that itís because we havenít finished living it, yet. And from time-to-time, Iíve included our money issues in my Travel Series.
Now, it seems, the time has come to conclude both books; this one, Home on the Road: The Ups and Downs, and Money Matters. But, in the meantime, I discovered that someone else has taken that title for her money program. So this left me with no alternative, but to change mine; but what?

As our personal Easter scenario unfolded, the title seemed obvious, with the question: ìWhy wasnít that the title all along? “Changing Money Patterns” is what the book always has been about, and that is its new title, which tells the entire story.
And the Travel Series will also change format, because Joanie and Little Ralph are grown up, now; though they still are part of us, as all phases of our lives remain intact, like the oak tree within the acorn, and vice versa. So, we will journey forward, now, as our adult selves, with the next title, Home on the Road: Business Can Be Fun, yet to be lived.