BOOK SEVEN: ON THE ROAD WITH FAMILY

BOOK 7 ON THE ROAD WITH FAMILY:

OREGON, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword

Chapter 1: I am Free in Spirit, Moving On, Mysteries, Revelations, Staying on Course, A Matter or Consequences, The Truth Shall Set You Free, As God Guides, A Change of Plans, Life gets in the Way of Business, Important News from Colorado, Coming and Going

Chapter 2: Life Gets in the Way

Important News From Colorado; Wedding Plans; Memories of Other Weddings; Memories of Other Weddings; The Present Moment; The Phone Calls

Chapter 3: To Tell the Truth

“Freedom in Writing”; Adult Ralph Meets Little Ralph; Joanie’s Debut; Know, and Do It! A Matter of Perspective; Go With the Flow; But, I Digress; To Tell the Truth; Truth or Consequences; The Truth Shall Set You Free; Ready to Take a Chance, Again

Chapter 4: Closed Doors

Go in Peace; “The Mission You are On,” Writing Down the Bones;

Chapter 5: The Eye of the Storm

Go in Peace, The Mission You Are On, Hurricane Floyd, Closed Doors, Pain in the Gut, The Abandonment Syndrome, Little Ralph’s Syndrome, Aftermath of the Storm, Changing Plans, This Trip Isn’t About the Inner Child, Crossing the Red Sea, Not the Real Thing, Release and let go

Chapter 6:   Evolution not Revolution

Visit with Jerry Pitre in Soledad Prison, Another Closed Door? It Started With a Hug, A Peaceful Mission, Some Day it will Flame Again, I’m Beginning to Believe it, The Magnitude of the Transformation Process, Journey to Inner Freedom, Thank You, God; It’s Time to Move on; Van’s Evolution

Chapter 7: Dead Ends, Detours, and Crossing 

A Foreign Country, Wasted Time, Up in Smoke, The Promised Land (Back in Oregon)

Chapter 8:  Go to the Top; 

The Northwestern Expo: Asking someone who knows pays off, Disappointments, Timing; News Flash: Steve Fires his Boss

Chapter 9:  Completions and New Beginnings;

Family and Business completions in Oregon; Beginning trip to Colorado.

Chapter 10: But It’s Only October! 

More Detours and a Dead End; Flying J’s and Angel Helena; The End of our Lifestyle; In the Wilderness; Across the River Jordan; Wild, Windy Wyoming; A Hubbub of Activity; The Bridal Shower in the Snowstorm; That’s how Mom’s and Grandma’s think; Another Family Transition; “A New Day Dawning”; Crystal Rose; Major Trend Changes; “Count Your Blessings”; “I Was Coerced”; The Thing I Fear has Come Upon me; Not a Matter of Right or Wrong; If You Don’t Like Where You Are, Make a Change; Revisiting Our Long-term Goals; Don’t Forget the Dogs and Cats; Welcome Home; It’s a Protective Mechanism

Chapter 11: It’s Time to Let Go and Let God

What do I Want to do? Cleaning up Money Matters, Preparing for Arianna’s wedding; meeting in Colorado Springs, Visit with Dal.

Chapter 12: The Wedding

Arianna and Jason’s Wedding: God smiled on the bride and groom and blessed their wedding day with perfection: sunny warm skies, loving supportive family and friends, and a well-coordinated wedding in a perfect setting.

Chapter 13: It Must Still be November

Snowbound; Let’s Head South; The Newlyweds return from their honeymoon, collect their dog and head for Rapid City, S.D., get stuck in a blizzard, but safely begin their new life together, as the family adjusts to their absence. Reports From Oregon; Van and Joyanna head south for the winter, but have problems with RV furnace; they visit Dan in Rio Rancho and spend Thanksgiving there. This book ends with gratitude.

 

FOREWORD

 

Travel and Retirement

The first four books of this series began in Colorado, at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Dottie and Steve, which is usually our base and the starting place of each new adventure in our 35 ft. Holiday Rambler motor home, where we live as full-timers. But this book changes that pattern, as it launches into a new level of our life and business, as my husband, Ralph, and I continue our inner and outer journey.

During our travels, our inner kids (Joanie and Little Ralph) have grown up, as they moved from wounded child to wonder child, and sacrificed the carefree retirement lifestyle, while traveling from coast to coast and border to border, which I faithfully recorded in the first three books, along with our process of changing patterns.

Business on the Road

But then Dottie and Steve encouraged us to join their networking business and I recorded our progress. 

Once on the road, I reported our progress throughout Book #6: Business on the Road, as we combined business with pleasure from Colorado to Oregon, where we worked with my son, Marquam, who had signed up with the business. Granted, there was more work than pleasure, but we did take him with us to the Oregon Coast for an overnight excursion between Seaside, where we enjoyed the #1 Best Clam Chowder, and Fort Stevens, where we stayed overnight at the State Park Campgrounds and viewed the mouth of the Columbia River, where it flowed into the Pacific Ocean, and also wandered through the actual ruins of Fort Stevens.

The summer was interspersed with visits to my granddaughter, Heidi and her fiancé, Randy, who live in Hood River, one of the Wind Surfing capitals of the world, and my daughter, Gail, in Redmond, who went camping with us as Indian Ford Campground, a National Forest facility. As we enjoyed family outings, these family members, and some other people we met along the way, began using our products and experiencing positive results. 

Business on the Road concludes, after taking an interlude for fun, between the mountains and the Oregon Coast, as a treat for our kids for a job well done.

When we returned, Dottie and Steve had arrived, and were combining business with pleasure on this trip to attend her 30th high school reunion. We managed to connect, during their busy schedule, at a barbecue and two business meetings, as they visited family and friends, and supported our new Distributors.

On their way back to Colorado, they stopped in Redmond to complete Lloyd and Dee’s Training.

And then we planned on traveling to California, to share the business and products with others, which I will faithfully record, as our fun and business continue

 

CHAPTER 1

I AM FREE IN SPIRIT

 

The Mystery of Sunriver

We sat at the Jumping-off-Place, Bend’s Wal-Mart parking lot, ready to begin the next phase of our inner and outer journey, which would take place in California. But first we would drive through Southern Oregon.

I picked up my Daily Reading and smiled, as I read aloud, “I am free in mind, body, and spirit.”

It’s amazing how the message always applies. This morning, we were leaving behind the summer’s activities, based around supporting and training our new business partners. We’d been somewhat confined to that commitment for three months, but now we were free to pursue whatever God guided next, or whatever we chose. And we’re always excited at the beginning of a new adventure.

Several miles down the highway, we decided to take a short side trip to Sunriver. Everyone talks about it in hushed tones of awe, so I wanted to solve the mystery of its appeal. Again, I smiled, because the Daily Reading spoke of “some inner mystery surfacing, seeking to be revealed.”

Driving through the pine trees, in an attitude of expectation, for whatever is to be revealed, describes an eagerness for the revelation of inner mysteries too, as a feeling of discontent or anticipation of change is surfacing, yet not quite identified.

I loved the correlation of the inner and outer journey, as we rounded a bend and saw “Sunriver,” etched at the entrance. However, a drive around the loop revealed very little of its hidden mysteries, for the houses and condos, and even the businesses, were woven amongst the prolific pine trees. But, the main attraction became apparent as we clearly discerned several golf courses and tennis courts; and, later, crossing the Deschutes River, famous for its excellent fishing; or viewing the nearby Mt. Bachelor, known for its ideal skiing conditions. And the refreshing aroma of pine enhanced by the sunshine added a pleasant touch.

So, the mystery is revealed: this is definitely a mountain resort community for folks who like to play, fish, or ski. Of course, that is only the surface appearance. Obviously, as in all communities, there is another aspect of life here. Perhaps the inter-relationship between the families and members of the community adds to the attraction. And the peaceful quiet, away from big city rushing and noises, would be a definite plus.

I wonder if the allure of our inner spiritual life is similar. On the surface we see the more obvious attraction: perhaps described as, “What are the outer payoffs?  Better job, more money, good health, harmonious relationships.” But, as we remain on The Path, like winding deeper into the Sunriver community, we can see there is much more. And only time and involvement will reveal more of the mystery.  

For instance, we had exited one section, and drove further into the woods, toward Mt. Bachelor, where we crossed the Deschutes River and an open meadow area on each side of its wide banks. But, soon, we tired of the trees, and decided that we preferred not to continue in that direction, so before reaching the winter ski resort, we turned around and returned to the highway.

I wonder how many of us on a spiritual path, tire of the scenic view, and leave, before we see its full splendor?

The symbology doesn’t hold true, in our case, for we were heading south, and the side road was off course; whereas, in reality, the spiritual path is always on course, no matter where we are heading.

Staying on Course

 Our trip continued to remind me of the Daily Reading, as it became a further analogy of the lesson God was giving. For instance, we had intended to turn-off to Crescent Lake, where our son-in-law, Steve, had lived during much of his youth, and then I would call him from there. But somehow, we missed the turn and kept going. After all, we had done this another trip, and it was off-purpose, now. So this could remind us to stay on course in our spiritual journey.

The same was true as we past the turnoff to Crater Lake, which was not on course for this trip. Again, we had previously visited the scene, and marveled at the immensity of the crater, almost as awesome as viewing the Grand Canyon; and we’d seen the island in the midst of the deep blue waters. And we had even taken time to enjoy a meal in the dining room with a full view of the inspiring scene.

But now, we had another destination, so after our lunch stop, at a Rest Area, we continued south.

However, Little Ralph had it in mind to stop at Klamath Falls to stay at Wal-Mart for the night, despite the fact we arrived at 2:30. I couldn’t see spending the time at Wal-Mart, when we had at least four hours of traveling available, which would take us into the Mt. Shasta area. So, here’s an example of how patterns force us into actions that we didn’t really mean to take.

Van had agreed that it was too early to stop in Klamath Falls, and he even repeated that we wanted to take the highway to Weed, California, where we would join with I-5 heading south. Yet, when he came to the fork-in-the-road, he took the one toward Wal-Mart.

I’ve learned that when the subconscious is intent upon a purpose, whether it’s the ego, inner child, or habits, patterns and addictions, the course is set, and it often takes a great deal of effort to change that direction. Van was shocked to realize what he’d done, and immediately took steps to adjust his actions, by getting into a lane that would allow him to return toward the other highway.

In the meantime, I was begging him to go ahead to Wal-Mart, because when the subconscious is that intent on a desired result, a sabotage effect can occur, such as an accident or RV needing repairs that require turning around; or any number of unforeseen events. And it’s happened so often with Van that I feared making the change this time.

However, Van realized what had happened, and recognized that he needed to make an adjustment on all levels, which he did. Otherwise, I would have been anxious and apprehensive to continue, for fear of negative repercussions.

This time, I soon had cause to wonder if his choice to remain in Klamath Falls had been God guided, because we soon discovered that the forest fires in northern California had created intense smoke over the entire area, including Mt. Shasta. I suggested that we turn around, but Van now wanted to continue. Fortunately, as we neared Mt. Shasta, the smoke was lessening, and we could see the mountain.

I’d wanted to stop to fill my water jugs with the fresh, clean water that comes from the headwaters of the Sacramento River, from a spring that allows it to flow into a little pond, where the water can be dipped, and then onward, as it forms into the river. But, when we arrived at the street to the City Park, Van felt uncomfortable about driving down the steep hill, and he especially worried about the railroad track across the road; so we moved on.

I had been concerned about a place to stay for the night, as I didn’t find any listed National or State Parks nearby. But, I knew God was guiding, when I spotted a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) sign. We’d never stayed at one, because traditionally they are more expensive than we usually pay. However, this time it felt right, and I rejoiced as we turned into the cool, wooded area (it had gotten quite warm).

As we signed in for the hook-up, which included a discount, I knew that we would be able to load up with the same water that came from the spring, the source of the city water. Thank you, God. We had changed several patterns throughout the day, and God had rewarded us by giving us what we really wanted, and not the results of habits, patterns or addictions; or the childish whims of Little Ralph wanting to stay at Wal-Mart in Klamath Falls, which was familiar to him. Whew! This had been a big lesson. But, settling into our own home, in the shadows of Mt. Shasta, midst the cool forest, we were thankful that we had become freer from the limitations that would have otherwise controlled us. And another mystery was revealed.      

 

CHAPTER 2

LIFE GETS IN THE WAY OF BUSINESS

 

Important News from Colorado

Talk about “life getting in the way of business,” Dottie had dropped a big one on me, while we chatted on the phone, before leaving Oregon. As usual, she saved the best for last, as she asked, “What are your plans for Easter?”

I knew she had something on her mind, as I rattled off our plans, concluding with wintering in Florida, to be there for our agreement to attend Leadership Training in Tampa in February. Finally, I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I asked, “Why, what’s happening?”

As she began, “Arianna’s pregnant, and her baby is due at that time,” I already knew what she was going to say. Grandmothers are pretty uncanny that way, having been around a few years.

But, there were so many questions: “I thought she and Jason had broken up; are they going back together?”

“Yes, in fact …”

“I know, we’re going to Colorado. When is the wedding?

“Probably October, or maybe sooner.”

“Wow! That messes up our plans to go to Southern California. But, I wouldn’t think of not being there for Arianna’s wedding.”

We chatted about dates and alternatives, such as Las Vegas, but she wants a wedding with all the works; and Jason’s family wants to participate, so that’s out. Finally, I asked the Big One? “So how did Steve take the news?”

“He was okay, but he told her she would have to move back with Jason, under the circumstances.

“Well, I would think so; their separation was short-lived. I hope Jason is going to settle down with a job, now.”

“Yeah, he’s really going to work with building their business.”

“It’s for sure he now has a pretty strong incentive. “I know, it’s always a matter of timing, but I have a feeling with Jason getting clear on his intentions, their business will move forward now.

We chatted about things like bridal showers and planning a wedding, and Dottie said, “I hope there’s a book like “Weddings for Dummies.” This is going to have to be simple. I just don’t have that much time to devote to it, now, with this business in full bloom. But, I want to give her a nice wedding.”

“That’s right, you didn’t have one with Leon (Arianna’s dad) or Steve.”

“Well, at least Leon and I got married in a church.”

“Oh, that’s right, and I performed the marriage ceremony for you and Steve, on the beach in your shorts, on the Capitola Beach. That’s one wedding that has lasted. How many years?”

“It’s getting close to twenty years.”

“You’ve almost caught up with Van and me; it’s been 22 years for us. It doesn’t seem possible that so many years have gone by.”

“I know.”

I knew that I would become a great-grandmother, again, when Arianna had her baby, but suddenly it hit me, “Oh my God, you’re going to be a grandmother!”

“Right!”

“Are you ready for it? Not that it matters; it’s going to happen anyway. In fact, when we were with Sherrie and her new granddaughter, I wondered if you would be such a doting grandmother.”

“Oh, I’ll enjoy it, and I’ll be glad to baby-sit, but I have a life to live, while we’re building this business.”

“Yeah, Sherrie’s business went on hold, in the last few months of Jennifer’s pregnancy, after she was in a car accident, and feared losing the baby. And it’s for sure she’s affected, now that Jennifer, Dustin, and the baby live next door, and spend most of their time at Sherrie’s.”

I wondered how much of Dottie and Steve’s life would be overtaken as grandparents. It’s for sure it would have an impact. I said aloud, “I’m glad my role is great-grandmother. I seem to have passed that phase of life. Of course, if Marquam gets married and has kids, I’ll have to do the grandmother role; but I’ll probably be too old for anything else, the rate he’s going. After all, he’s almost forty.”

 

The Wedding Plans

 My granddaughter, Arianna’s, upcoming wedding plans meant that we would need to change our schedule, and our California visits would need to be worked into our itinerary sooner, in order to allow time to travel to Colorado, before the inclement weather. This meant leaving Oregon long before we’d completed our business; at least according to my idea. But I’ve learned to trust God’s time, so I prepared myself for getting on the road, while awaiting Dottie’s return from her California visit 

Finally, she called late at night, after their meeting with Arianna, to announce that the wedding date would be Saturday, November 13th. Now she would be in a flurry of activity, such as invitations, scheduling and ordering. “Since I didn’t have a formal wedding, I’ve bought some books for doing large weddings on a small budget,” she groaned.

“We had a nice, small wedding for your sister,” I offered.

“Yeah, but I was in high school, and about all I did was show up for the event.”

“It seems like we had a larger, formal one for her second wedding.”

“I guess so, but this one is up to me, and I don’t have the foggiest idea how to do it.”

“I’m sure Airica and Arianna will be highly involved, so there’s not much reason for me to be there to help,” I said, to get a feeling of how much participation she wanted or expected from me.

“Yeah,” she said, rather absently, and went on with her train of thought, “Arianna found a place that has discontinued wedding dresses for low prices, and she found one she really likes that was marked down from $600.00 to $300.00.”

Memories of Other Weddings

I gulped, as I recalled that my first wedding gown, though lovely, had been part of a smoke-damaged group that my Uncle Fred had acquired in his salvage business. For a one time wearing, it served the purpose nicely. And I think I borrowed the veil from a family friend. Other than that, I don’t remember much about the preparations for my large formal wedding. Mom Freeland, my adopted mother, took care of all details quite nicely, and like Dottie, I was only eighteen, and all I did was show up.

Of course, I’d arranged my next two weddings. The second one we drove to the lovely home of a minister, near Seattle, for a brief, but lovely wedding, and I wore a short, floral design dress. And the third wedding, to Van, I wore a short white dress, but the ceremony was held in conjunction with my ordination ceremony, so that our inner kids wouldn’t be threatened about getting married. It, too, was in the minister’s home, with Dottie, Marquam and many friends, from our ministerial class and other activities, participating.

But, that was then, and this was now. As I think about it, I realize that the majority of my life has been lived; and now another generation begins the cycle.

The Present Moment

However, my life isn’t over, yet, and I intend to fully live every moment of it.  If I don’t, who will? And, I don’t intend to waste it with memories of the past, or anxiety about the future.

So, with that in mind, I’d been correcting and revising my Travel Series books, while waiting for the pieces of the puzzle to fit into place, such as where to go and when?

The Phone Calls

Finally, Dottie’s phone call gave me the date of Arianna’s wedding, November 13th, and I knew we had two months, before heading there.

Now, the only question: what do we do in the meantime? So, what doors would open?

In the midst of my writing, the phone rang, and it was Van’s mom, Betty. She told him that the space we’d been waiting for, in the Santa Clara RV Park, where she lives, would be open September 15.

“That’s an option,” I replied. “So, let’s see what God’s timing continues to create.”

 

Chapter 3

TO TELL THE TRUTH

 

“Freedom in Writing”

While visiting our friends, Kathy and Mahlon, in northern California, she turned me onto a little book with the provocative title “Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg. It’s an absolute gem for anyone who even thinks about writing, as well as full-bloomed writers.

Every tiny page of this 2 x 4 treasure is crammed with useful and fun ideas. But my interest peeked when I read a paragraph that describes the freedom of writing. She says that she had thought, as do most of us, that freedom means doing whatever you want; but that freedom really is being who you are. Yes!

Adult Ralph Meets Little Ralph

But most of us don’t know. Oh, we know who we think we are; or who someone has told us that we are. But, it can take a lifetime to really know ourselves. For instance, there’s the inner child part of us, and for many, it’s like with Van, who found his inner child, Little Ralph, hiding in a hole. And it took a lot of coaxing, and love, for that neglected child to feel safe enough to make himself, and his needs, known to Adult Ralph.

They started communications when Van invited the child to sit on a bench, near the hole, and began asking him questions, such as “Are you my inner child?” Then, “What name would you like me to call you?” And the biggest breakthrough came when he said, “I’m sorry I’ve neglected you all these years, but I’d like to spend time with you now.” Then he asked, “What would you like to do?”

Little Ralph wanted to see airplanes, so Van took him to the airport and they watched the planes land and take off. Little Ralph wanted to go for a plane ride, and they haven’t accomplished that, as yet, but Van did take him to the Tillamook Air Museum, and another one in Louisiana, on our travels. And their relationship has been building over the years, so that there is a firmer bond of trust, and the child can let the adult know his needs and wants. But the important factor is that the adult then fulfills those requests, or explains why they can’t be done, just as you would teach any child that it can’t have everything it wants; either because of expense or safety, or other reasons.

Joanie’s Debut

I had met Joanie long before Van and Little Ralph got acquainted. In fact, I even facilitated an Inner Child Healing Workshop for a year. And Joanie had flowered forth from a wounded child to a wonder child. Learning to hug her, honor her needs, and buying her Teddy bears and felt tip pens helped. But ice cream cones and popcorn are still major contributions to keeping Joanie happy and well-adjusted.

Before John Bradshaw made the inner child, a household term, I had been introduced to the concept by my massage therapist. At first, I felt foolish putting my arms around myself, as a form of hugging the child, and I certainly felt uncomfortable with buying her stuffed animals, but it was all part of getting to know myself. Then I wrote books, such as Saying “Yes” to myself about my process. Of course, I still haven’t gotten my books into the market place, but I’m getting closer all the time, as more aspects of myself are healed, and my self-confidence returns.

Know, and Do It!

And that brings up the rest of the paragraph in Writing Down The Bones. She says that freedom means knowing what you are supposed to do on this earth, and then doing it. I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’m daily taking steps, such as writing, revising and completing. But, I always manage to find reasons for not taking the work out to the market place. I’m not sure whether it’s a matter of getting sidetracked, lack of self-confidence, or Divine Timing; or all the above.

I do believe that when the time is right, and I am ready, and all the factors are in place it will happen in God’s Perfect Time. In the meantime, I live and I write what I live, which is basically the thesis of Ms. Goldberg’s book: write what you know, any way you can to get it on paper, and through the process you will become a good writer. Yeah, if you revise and revise and revise.

As my writing teacher used to say, “I’m still making corrections on the way to the post office to mail the manuscript to the publisher.” And to most writers, it’s never done. So, the time finally comes when you take it out of the computer and out of the closet, and you send it. And guess what? It probably comes back. My writing teacher said, “You’ll have enough rejection letters to paper your bathroom.

I never accepted that negative affirmation, but it doesn’t matter whether I did or not; I still have those rejection letters, but not on the bathroom wall. They’re now in a file, under my daughter’s stairs.

I’ve decided that this is the time in my life to travel, and to build our business, and to write about it. And there will come the time to get the books to the public; and I will know, without forcing it (as I’ve done in the past), and without doubt.

In the meantime, life is about a healthy balance, as God guides. And right now He’s guiding us to be with Kathy and Mahlon for awhile, on our way to visit Van’s mom.

A Matter of Perspective

Time spent with Kathy always put things in perspective. She’s a “go with the flow” type person, and it always turns out just as it is supposed to. For instance, she had warned me that a baby shower for Mahlon’s daughter, Chris, would be taking place at her house on Saturday, so it would be better if we came later in the month. But, our schedule shifted, and we arrived several days before the baby shower.

I’d warned her of the change, via her new e-mail program, and she’d said, “Okay.” So, we got hooked up to their convenient electrical outlet at the far side of the driveway, in time to accompany them out for a Mexican dinner, which gave us time to chat.

And I knew Divine Timing was involved when Kathy announced that the next day would be her first day off in eleven, so we would have time to visit, while I followed her around cleaning house for the baby shower, and riding along to town on errands.

Somehow, in the process of girl-talk and catching up on each other’s family news, she said that she was interested in our business, so I chatted about it, on the move, which is how Kathy likes to do things. And we agreed that when she had some time, Van would sit down with her and explain the business plan.

Much to my surprise, she even suggested that Van discuss it with Mahlon, too, as his recent enforced premature retirement would necessitate another source of income, once he got tired of having all this free time. Unfortunately, it was taken up with golf games and other important activities, such as football games on the weekend, when Kathy was available; so the plan was presented individually.

Go With the Flow

In the meantime, the day of the baby shower arrived, and Kathy invited me to attend. This felt a little scary, because it was mostly family and friends of Chris, but I finally decided it was a good opportunity for me to push through my anxiety and have a good time, which I did.

But, I hadn’t brought a shower gift, and I began fretting, though Kathy said, “Don’t worry about it.” So, I decided to make a card on my computer, personalizing one I’d done previously for another baby event. And I added money to the card, “To be used for something needed.”

I hadn’t been to a baby shower in a long time, but I especially enjoyed this one, because I allowed Joanie to have fun. For her, this consisted of eating and playing games. She even won a prize! And the food was fun, because it was a luncheon shower, with lots of food, and even lasagna.

This “go with the flow” shower was even more fun, because with three hostesses, everyone had a different idea of how it should happen. So it started on the patio with the first course: fruit or vegetable salads, party tray snacks. But the lasagna wasn’t done. Then we played a few games of “Bingo,” but the 100+ temperature chased us inside to the comfort of air conditioning. There we ate the lasagna and garlic bread, and whatever else we wanted to go with it: salads, meat, cheese, olives, fruit, which had been brought inside. Once I’d eaten, I took a plate of food to Van, who had remained in Freedom, while the other men escaped by going elsewhere to watch their Saturday sports, and tend the kids.

I’d begun talking with Martha, the grandmother of Chris, and had told her about OPC-3, so she wanted more information, which I brought in from my trip to feed Van. And we continued chatting throughout the afternoon, when we weren’t having more games. However, the main event, opening presents, took up more time.

And finally, the sheet-cake, decorated in white and blue (they knew it’s a boy) was served, as the final course, and guests soon began to leave, as two of the guys returned. So, I told Van “It’s safe; you need to come inside for your piece of cake.”

I thought the day was perfect, but after everyone had left, except for Kathy, and Mahlon’s daughter, Bobbie, who was one of the hostesses, I learned that the day had really taxed Kathy’s ability to “Go with the flow.” It seemed that the hostesses had differing opinions of how to present a baby shower: the fifty’s formal approach versus the modern casual, “no games” way. As it all turned out, we had it all, only in stages, as described, allowing the mother-to-be to choose the timing when she wanted to eat, play games, or open presents. And it all turned out great, except for the gal who was trying to keep everything under control. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all. And I learned another lesson in flexibility, without being directly involved: it’s not cool to try to control, but rather, “Go with the flow.”

But, I Digress

It’s been said by some public speakers, “I never let the title of my talk interfere with what I have to say.” And I have more to say that relates to the subject: knowing yourself.” I covered the subject of the inner child, but there is so much more to us, such as the three phases known as conscious, subconscious, and superconscious, which I’ve also named: Joann (conscious), Joy (subconscious) and Joanna (superconscious), which gave me the composite name I use in writing: Joyanna. So, along with my inner child, Joanie, the name incorporates many facets of myself, and I’ve written about them all, in the past.

But there is more; for instance, the ego has a dominant control in who we are and how we function. I’ve finally learned that inviting the ego (small i) to merge with the spiritual identity (I) eliminates much of the self-centered sabotage that can occur, as the ego attempts to fulfill its mission of protecting oneself, when  it gets pumped up and tries to control everyone and everything. The merging allows for a more balanced relationship with these aspects of self. And, I also thank the ego for doing a great job, but I remind it that it will do even better when merged with the “I.”

And, of course, there are the habits, patterns, addictions, and syndromes that take over our identity, until we can’t become separated from them. “I’m not my addiction,” can be a positive affirmation. Or, “I’m not a victim, I’m victorious,” helps to remove me from the victim identity that tries to take over.

Others tend to become so involved with their career, children, politics, religion or other interests that they become one with them, and lose sight of their own identity. I used to say, “I’m so one with Unity, that I don’t know where I end and it begins.” I thought, at the time, that was good, but I learned, in later years, that’s totally codependent. Too much involvement with anything is unhealthy, except Oneness with God. But, even religion, as such, can become a “drug of choice,” as some label overzealousness.

Fortunately for me, God removed me from the Unity church, and taught me to find myself, apart from Unity. I still love Unity’s teachings, but I am not Unity; and I’ve become more universal with my approach.

To Tell the Truth

I guess in this day and age, I must explain that statement relates to a Game Show of the sixties, “To Tell the Truth.”  Everyone would pretend to be telling the truth about themselves, but only one was the real person being described.

Recently a Christian friend asked me, “When were you saved?” Meaning when did I accept Jesus as my savior?

I honestly replied, “At a Billy Graham Crusade in Portland, Oregon.” But, I went on to say, “I’ve also studied metaphysics, and I’ve gotten great insights from healing my inner child and doing my recovery in the Twelve Step Programs, such as Coda. But my best experience is my one-on-one relationship with God, and He guides me in all that I do. I have no doubt of that.”

Though that may not have been the answer the friend wanted. It was the truth about and for me. And I felt good about it, because I had previously feared that she would reject me, once she learned that I was not a “born-again Christian.” I am a Christian, and I have definitely gone through the born-again Christian, but I do not subscribe to all of their beliefs.

I do believe, however, that a person can be consumed by their beliefs, too, and lose their true identity when they become their beliefs. After all, there are many, many beliefs; so are they all wrong, but the so-called chosen one, whichever one they subscribe to? I don’t think so.

In fact, I’ve known too many people with authentic experiences and explanations of the validity of different “Truths,” which make sense to me. And, I have the validity of my own Truth. So, will the real Truth please stand up? 

Truth or Consequences

Natalie Goldberg is right; it is freeing to write the Truth. Yet, even as I wrote the above words, I fear there are those who will criticize and reject, for that has been my experience in the past. No doubt, because of my projections, which, of course, are based on my past experiences. Good Heavens! No wonder we never truly know our true identity. We are so busy trying to please, and be who or whatever someone else wants of us.  

For instance, the above title relates to another, even earlier, Game Show: if you didn’t tell the truth, you must pay the consequences; and no one could possibly answer the question, before the buzzer sounded, so they always had to pay a consequence of some dumb game or gag.

So, I’ll probably have a consequence to pay for this truth, but I’m going to tell it anyway; and enjoy even more freedom.

You see, I didn’t write about it, at the time, because I was too close to the experience, and I was reeling from the consequence of a truth I’d already told; in my August newsletter.

I’d written that my daughter, Gail, had been receiving good results from taking our OPC-3, and some other of our Isotonix products. And, I added, that they were helping her manic-depression, suicidal ideations and her recent bout with shingles.

Years ago she had asked me not to send my newsletters to her, and not to mention her in them, either. I’d obliged her request for many years, until I learned in my Twelve Step Recovery Programs that the “Don’t Talk About” rule in families with alcoholic or mental illness or drug problems contributes to a codependent’s illness. The program says the phenomenon of living with these people is like having an elephant in the living room, and everyone sees it, but no one mentions it being there. It’s either a matter of denial, or shame, or the family disease. So, I started writing my truth about Gail’s diseases, including her mental illness and her addictions, from which she is now recovering; in other words, she isn’t using them.

But the truth, by her own admission, is that she’s an obsessive-compulsive personality, which is not entirely her fault, but a matter of heredity. Of course, she made the choices that perpetuated the problem, and some day she may need to take responsibility for them; but that’s not my decision. Mostly, she prefers to blame me, or the family tendency toward addictions and mental illness.

In any event, I didn’t send her a copy of the newsletter; but I sent one to each of her daughters, as I usually do to keep in touch, and one of them mentioned to Gail about what I’d written.

Apparently this set her into rage. At least, that’s the report I got from Dottie, Steve and Airica, when they stopped to visit her, on their way back to Colorado. She was so explosive, in fact that they left as soon as they could get away. And they met us, along with Lloyd and Dee, for an important business session.

In addition, Gail had gotten it in her mind that they were only going to see her as a sidelight to this meeting. And there was no use for them to explain that they had originally planned that route home for the purpose of visiting her, and that they had been going to have the meeting with Lloyd and Dee in Portland, before everyone left there. But, this is the way it happened, and I have to assume that it’s a combination of the collective consciousness of everyone involved; whether that is good or bad. It’s what happened.

The main part of Gail’s anger is shame-based, because she got it in her mind that shingles is a sexually transmitted disease, based on the doctor’s explanation that it’s related to chicken pox and a form of Herpes. In that case, I wonder, why is it that I know many old, single, sexually inactive ladies who had shingles. The fact is that she’s mistaken, but it doesn’t matter.

I know, based on past experiences with Gail, that if it hadn’t been that issue, it would have been another, because that’s the nature of her manic-depressive disease, and she’s been angry at me, and blaming me, and bad-mouthing me for years. It’s just something I’ve had to learn to live with.

But, as a result of this latest explosion, I’ve decided not to continue providing her with our company products. It’s not a matter of whether or not they help her, but rather that something would happen to cause another upset, because that’s the way she would sabotage my otherwise good intentions.

As Gail said, during our time together in Oregon: “Disappointment is an honest emotion, and we need to recognize, identify and heal it.” I am disappointed that the good relationship with Gail ended this way, and that we aren’t able to maintain a harmonious one. But, I will have to continue to deal with my disappointment, and accept Gail’s mental illness as a reality of life, just as I have done with my natural mother’s schizophrenia and my adopted mother’s alcoholism.

It’s for sure, when she reads these words, and I’m sure she will, someday, if I’m still living, there will be consequences. But, for now, I will accept the consequences of deeper levels of freedom for me; and perhaps, for someone reading these words, there will be healing and freedom.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

I’m not sure Natalie Goldberg meant for this much truth to be revealed, but I think she knew exactly what she was suggesting; and it is writing truth, rather than concealing it, that brings freedom. For sure, 

It’s her little book, which encourages freedom of expression and truth, is a blessing to everyone who reads it.

And the fact that I’m reading it in Red Bluff brings to mind further opportunity for writing the truth about my feelings. For it is here, in this small town, where we visited our friend, Julie, and her fiancé, Wally, when we were building our MLM business, and they signed up for the business. We were elated, because Wally was a salesman, once having become a millionaire selling Electrolux vacuums. But booze and marijuana took their toll, and his empire crumbled.

But, when we met him, he was building a successful landscape business, and Kathy was a customer, although we didn’t meet her, until later, when she literally talked him into signing her up in the MLM business, because his head just wasn’t into it. So, we became her main support in the business. And she did quite well, but the truth is that MLM’s are not set up for the average person to make money, so she finally became discouraged, as do so many who go into MLM’s with great hope that their dreams will be fulfilled; only to see them thwarted.

Our dreams were definitely crushed in that business, especially when Julie and Wally split up, and neither of them took the responsibility of repaying the $2,000.00 we’d advanced for them to become Supervisors. Of course, that was another painful lesson we learned, and promised ourselves not to make the mistake, with this business.

But, we felt that helping my son, Marquam, get started was an exception to the rule. It wasn’t, because when he quit the business, without bringing it to fruition, our investment was lost. And, furthermore, all of his (our) upline lost the Business Volume points that had been placed under him, because of the mistake. This is another truth that I had decided not to write, but must now give myself permission to put into words. Hopefully, moving out of denial of this experience will free us from making any more such fatal errors.

I had hoped that we had learned these money matters lessons, but the truth is that the patterns are still there, and only God can remove them.

Ready to Take a Chance, Again

As we’ve attended meetings and trainings for this networking business, we’ve learned the differences between this company and MLM’s, and I’ve explained this to Kathy, mostly via newsletters and personal notes. And she’s seen the progress we are all making with this company, and the promised money is manifesting for us, as we make the effort to build our business.

Now, I’m happy to report that, as I’ve been writing, Van made a presentation of the Business Plan to Kathy, and she has decided to sign up with the business! I admire her for being willing to take a chance again, as have so many others who got burned in MLM’s. This company does fulfill its promise, and now we can support Kathy in building it to a profitable success. And, with the lessons we’ve learned from experience, plus our training, we are well-qualified to manage our blossoming business; and teach them to do the same.

 

Chapter 4

CLOSED DOORS

 

Go in Peace

God gives me inspiration from so many places, but often it comes from my Daily Reading, such as this day, with the Bible quote, “Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord” (Judges 18:6). And this chapter will expand upon this verse.

From Kathy’s to Cathy’s, is a few hour’s drive, but a big reality shift, as we moved from the rural environment of Red Bluff to the metropolitan atmosphere of San Francisco and Oakland, and the surrounding communities. Although Cathy lives in a suburb, once a cow pasture, the hustle and bustle of the city is a stone’s throw away. Yet, she manages to maintain her own peaceful environment within the walls of her home and yard.

The trees she and her deceased husband planted a few short years ago have become a forest, the grape vines have become a jungle, and the rose bushes are out of control, but she likes it, because it gives her privacy, and a semblance of peace in the hectic pace surrounding her. For Cathy, it’s a necessity, for like so many women who got caught up in the repercussions of divorce and being a single mom, while supporting her daughter, she suddenly found herself stressed out.

Rest and a quieter lifestyle became mandatory, so she had married Wayne and they moved into this quiet suburb. As her strength gradually returned, she began working with crafts, such as jewelry, T-shirts, teddy bears, and other projects. Eventually she got involved in craft shows, and her life took a new direction; one requiring rest periods throughout the day, and a restricted diet that allowed her system to repair.

Prior to her collapse, Cathy’s beautiful daughter, Renee, had grown and become involved in her own life, as a body builder, so Cathy became interested in breeding, raising, and selling Lapsos dogs, and their presence is seen and heard throughout the house and backyard. Although they disappear into individual kennels when she has company, they otherwise bark and get intrusive with their friendliness.

But the dogs are not the main attraction in her museum-like home; it’s the antique dolls, teddy bears and collectibles that grab one’s attention, creating a uniqueness and unworldly atmosphere of lace, China and lampshades.

The antique clocks, Victrola’s and lamps entered the scene after Wayne became ill and died; and eventually Glenn became her significant other. They share an interest in collectibles, and haunt the flea markets and garage sales in their spare time.

In contrast to the former years of dancing and socializing, Cathy’s life is now formulated with rest, crafts, Lapsos and antiques. In addition, is her pursuit of good health, and this trip we were lavished with a large glass of freshly made vegetable juice; and when we got ready to leave, we were invited to pick fresh seedless grapes from her ample vineyard.

“The Mission You are On,”

The Bible verse upon which this chapter is based, speaks about being on a mission, and I have felt God guided in my travels, as in this business. Not so much from the premise of “What’s in it for me?” But rather, “What does God want me to do; and how can I assist or support others?”

Although Cathy has her own health regime, it had been my intention to tell her about our health care products, which I did over a late breakfast at a Waffle Shop. She listened attentively, and agreed that our OPC-3 might be the answer she was seeking to help rebuild her Nervous System.

We left her the catalogue, after discussing the benefits of these desirable items. She also liked the cosmetics, and we concluded the session by having her fill out the Preferred Customer Application Form.

Surely this is a God mission (“under the eye of the Lord”), for it seems to be working quite well. My job is to listen to His guidance, and follow it. Then let Him guide the other person, as to whether or not that is the right product. 

In the past, when we were into our MLM business, Cathy had signed up, but her husband threw a fit, and we had to collect all the products. It had been an unpleasant experience, but our friendship survived; although her husband didn’t.

Now, we wanted to move beyond that experience, and give Cathy the opportunity to try our OPC-3. And often it doesn’t work; not because the product isn’t good, but because the person is on a path, whether of their choosing or God’s, I don’t know, that may not respond to these ingredients.

As I’ve said before, and Cathy and I agreed, “There are people who are enjoying poor health, for whatever reason, and to offer them an option that would make them well might be against their inner wants, such as attention, nurturing or control. And it could be in contradiction to their destiny.

In Cathy’s case, she is overcoming the downward trend, and she thanks God for making her see things differently so that she can become well. That’s how she got onto the juice program, and also using a whey protein powder that is working for her. And, maybe, the OPC-3 will fit into her health regime. But, with her delicate system, it must be taken in small amounts and gradually work up to larger amounts. We’ll see how it works for her.

Writing Down the Bones

Since returning her book, I’d been on quest of the book Kathy had let me read, and it was my intention to stop at a mall on the way to Betty’s (Van’s mom). However, our time with Cathy lasted into the commute traffic, so we were weighing the various options; hopefully to avoid the traffic jams and also buy the book.

By the time we’d reached the fork-in-the road, I’d decided it was too late to take the back roads to 680, so I said, “Let’s go back to I-80 and find the Barnes and Noble bookstore that Cathy mentioned.”

The next two hours were an exercise in futility, as we got hopelessly lost, entangled in commute traffic, and into our own tempest of inner child patterns and conflicts. Ultimately, the bottom-line conclusion being a combination of lack of communication and not knowing what we were doing or where we were going.

Natalie Goldberg (author of Writing Down the Bones) speaks of practice writing, so I’m going to indulge myself. I’d thought the mall was further east along Highway 80, and we were already at the ramp, when Van pointed out the mall across the freeway, across from Denny’s where we had eaten with Cathy, the night before.

“Okay, cross the freeway; don’t turn,” I commanded.

We drove into the busy mall, but no book store, so I said, “Park and we’ll ask for directions.” But, of course, men aren’t into asking directions, so we kept going around in circles; down one street, around the block, only it didn’t go back to the street we were on; and we kept taking wrong turns and wrong streets, until we were in an undesirable part of Richmond; several miles from where we had started, and even further from the book store.

Now, the problem was to find the freeway and get out of here, but we were in the wrong lane to make the left turn onto the ramp, so we went around another block, or two, or three, or more. Suddenly, there was the street, no place near where we thought it was. But Van managed to make the turn, get into the right lane (from this direction) and onto the freeway ramp.

By now the commute traffic had begun, and bumper-to-bumper became the pace, as we snailed back to where we had started, and then beyond, attempting to find the book store. But the mall I’d expected to see wasn’t in sight, and I began to suspect that it never was where I thought it was.

I’d lost it long before this, and Van was browbeaten by my nagging and yelling, because I’d blamed him for the mess we were in; and he’d accepted the blame, because he hadn’t informed me that his mother would be going to Bingo, and we wouldn’t need to get there at any special time, which made a big difference in planning our time.

Finally, because Van was so frenzied, he could no longer make good decisions, I yelled, “Get off the freeway, no matter what it takes or where we are; and park, before you get us killed.”

He got us to the Hilltop Mall, which featured Macy’s and other big stores, but, as I suspected it was the wrong place. In any event, he parked and I hit the bed and hid my eyes, while my head quit spinning. So he muttered, I’ll go ask where to find Barnes and Noble.”

No more than he’d opened the door, and I heard another male voice saying, “You can’t park an RV here; it’s not zoned for it.”

Van meekly responded, “Not even if we’re shopping?”

“NO!”

Somehow, Van mustered enough nerve to ask, “Where is Barnes and Noble bookstore?”

He got the directions, and silently returned to the driver’s seat (I’d told him not to talk to me), and began driving. Within a few minutes, he stopped, and announced pleasantly, “We’re at Barnes and Noble.”

I waited awhile longer, since we were going to sit out the commute traffic anyway. Then we went inside and I bought my book. Mission accomplished.

 

CHAPTER 5

THE EYE OF THE STORM

 

Hurricane Floyd

When we returned, I turned on the TV in order to watch the news about Hurricane Floyd. We’d already survived the massive evacuation in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and I knew that hopeless chaos had resulted, despite the fact that the storm had by-passed those areas. But the TV wasn’t talking about it; instead, they were focusing on the more newsworthy events in Washington DC, Maryland and New York, as the hurricane moved northward toward New England.

As a writer, I’m always interested in the human interest, and noted that several children had drowned, while too close to the river’s edge. And, of course, there were the usual complaints over the inconveniences; as if anyone could be blamed for the hurricane changing its path. After all, the agencies were only trying to save lives in the event of the catastrophe predicted from this massive energy with winds up to 180 MPH.

 In Florida, the worst damage came from the mass mandatory evacuation, when both directions of the freeway were releasing this outward bound exodus. Now they know how Moses felt, and the “six-hundred-thousand men on foot, besides women and children,” and the animals too; mass chaos and far too confusing for me to even think about.

But, the time elapsed, and commute traffic should have quieted, so we moved out too, and hit the freeway, I-80, right into the backed up traffic, but only until they turned off onto another freeway; then we drove along the bay, and past Berkeley and the Bay Bridge, where we could have seen across to San Francisco, except for the heavy fog enshrouding the city; then through Oakland, and the coliseum where the “A’s” would continue playing (a deal to sell them had fallen through that day), and finally we arrived in our reserved parking space at the mobile park where Van’s mom lives.

Once Van got us hooked up, I continued watching the news, as New Yorkers got wind-blown and drenched from the fury of Floyd.

The theme of the Daily Reading that had inspired this chapter was “Achievement,” and I began our two-week stay in Santa Clara with great anticipation of great accomplishment, because we would be in one place, without interruptions, other than our evening visits with Betty. So, I could complete my backlog of writing projects, such as revising two more books for Dottie to do final editing.

She had recently announced that the one I’d sent home with her was about ready for me to make corrections of her latest edits, and I happily looked forward to having my first Travel Book ready to market. Yet, I knew that unless my “mission is under the eye of the Lord,” it wouldn’t happen, so I got back to living in the present moment, and taking life one step at a time.

This meant following the words of the Daily Reading, “I trust the wisdom of God to point me in the right direction, inspired by God.”

Closed Doors

I had been excited about our trip to Santa Clara, because I wanted to revisit our friend, Henry, whom we had met the last time we stayed. He’d begun using the OPC-3, but then he decided to stop everything he was taking, because his health seemed to be worsening.

We pulled into our space after dark, but Henry came out to greet us and ask if we needed his car moved. I was happy to see him, as we’d developed a close friendship during our last visit, and I said, “You didn’t answer your phone, so we had to come see how you’re doing.”

He said he had been sick, as I knew from one time he did answer his phone, and I truly was worried about my friend. A number of years ago, he had been poisoned by chemicals, while working for NASA, and had been told he only had a short time to live. Being older and single, he sold one of his homes and traveled abroad. When his money ran out, he sold another home and traveled more. This continued for several years, until he was in Tibet (he’s also on a spiritual quest) and the high altitude followed by sudden drops to warm climate, when he went to the city, affected his ear and the side of his face, so he returned here to his mobile home and began various healing treatments.

When I met him, he was on a multitude of supplements, but was willing to add OPC-3. However, his sensitive system was already in overload from so many pills and treatments, so he couldn’t tell what was doing what; in the process, his health deteriorated. In disgust, he stopped everything, including OPC-3. I knew, if he would just take OPC-3 in the right quantity for him, his health would respond.

So, the next day, when I mentioned the information I had for him from Dr. Garner’s Health Seminar, about the use of our products, I was taken aback when he refused to even hear about it, reiterating that he’s taking nothing; but focusing on right thinking and his spiritual practices. Okay, I can relate to that.

Another day I asked if I could use his phone to check our e-mail and he refused, without explanation. I had the option of using Betty’s phone, but it’s a hassle to disturb her routine, and Henry had been more than accommodating when we were here before. So, I wondered what this was all about.

This closed door attitude was beginning to feel uncomfortable, but I appreciated his honesty and forthrightness. Yet, I wondered why the changed attitude. I knew I hadn’t done anything to cause it, so I again attempted friendship by offering him a bag of fresh grapes that Van had picked at Cathy’s. He refused, saying he’d just bought four pounds at the Asian Market; reasonable enough.

Okay, but I am extremely sensitive to rejection, and this was now hurting my sensitivity, so I reverted to my usual response of retaliation; I would no longer endeavor to reach out to him. If he wanted to continue the friendship, it would be up to him. I didn’t need this kind of abuse, despite the fact it was reasonable on his part. Mostly, it was his closed door attitude; so I closed mine, too.

Pain in the Gut

In the meantime, we’d been into our usual routine when visiting Van’s mom: daytimes to do our thing, and evenings at her place. I spent the days getting my books into the book format for self-publishing, with Van’s help. And the evenings were about solving the world’s political problems and bashing Clinton and others who found Betty’s disfavor.

I know how to conduct myself in this controlled environment, because I grew up under the same kind of regime. It is a breeding ground for codependency, and I was an expert. So is Van. He says nothing, and lets his mom and I do all the talking; might as well, because he can’t get a word in edgewise. For me, it’s a survival mechanism; talking about her favorite subjects gets us through the evenings, without unpleasant incidence from saying the wrong thing. I simply agree.

And that’s where Van developed his passive-aggressive personality; he agrees to anything, but underneath is a raging volcano of resistance, resentment and rebellion. Through the years, he’s more in touch with this pattern, and with recognition has come healing and freedom.

However, my inner child still quivers from the repercussions of the time we told her we would be moving to southern California (from near her in northern California). She blew sky high; and we were in a restaurant at the time. She didn’t have anything to do with us for years; much to my relief. But, of course, for Van it perpetuated his rejection syndrome.

After a number of years, I finally wrote a letter telling her how it was hurting him, and she finally resumed relationships. As long as I follow Van’s lead, and don’t talk about anything controversial (to her viewpoints), or reveal much of what’s going on in our lives, everything is okay.

Nevertheless, I’m on egg-shells, until we leave. One year I came down with a horrendous cold, so couldn’t visit with her, and Van got to have his mom to himself. Since then, I’ve tried to convince Joanie that we don’t have to get sick to stay home, so last year went okay for the month we were here. But this year Joanie has her defenses in place, which appeared as God-awful pain in my gut; so intense that I could hardly walk. It’s reasonable to stay home, but I didn’t want to perpetuate this pattern, so I insisted that we go anyway, except for one evening when the pain was absolutely too intense.

The joy and peace of staying home alone, which is a rare experience in our confined existence, was ecstatic; and almost worth the pain; however, I felt too bad to do anything, but sleep.

Finally, I’d had enough, so one morning I took an Epsom Salts sits bath in my tiny cubicle tub, and I felt like a pretzel. Then I wrapped up in blankets on my couch and massaged my aching gut with a vibrator, and added a soothing lotion, afterward.

That afternoon I felt better, so we walked next door to Pho Hoa’s Noodle House for a nurturing bowl of chicken noodle soup; one of Joanie’s favorite fun things to do, because it’s an adventure, like a trip to a foreign country, without all the inconvenience and expense.

The Abandonment Syndrome

The healing was finally under way, but I had planned to see my favorite chiropractor while in the area. The last treatment with her kept me going for two years, and I looked forward to another. In fact, I secretly suspected that Joanie had created these pains to assure herself of this luxury, which isn’t part of our current lifestyle.

I tried to reassure her that we would go, whether in pain or not, as the adjustments were necessary for good physical health. Nevertheless, she was apprehensive that it wouldn’t happen, so on Monday, I called to make my appointment.

My old patterns were already triggered, as they always are when we come to this area, because the relationship with Betty requires me to revert to feelings and behavior that I have worked for ten years to move beyond. And the disquieting events with Henry had been upsetting, so, I was already feeling sensitive when I called Dr. Charlotte at her busy Palo Alto clinic.

First, they have an answering machine that tells the office hours. Then they say, “Leave a message and your call will be returned on the 1/2 hour. If it’s an emergency call …” and they list the doctors and their numbers.

I waited for the time, and then longer. Finally, my call was returned and I asked for an appointment. The answer, “Dr. Charlotte is going on maternity leave in a week. Her schedule is full, and she’s not taking any more appointments.”

I about died. Joanie lost it. But I tried to get enough information to take care of myself. For instance, they gave me a referral; but it wouldn’t be the same. I felt a very special bonding with Dr. Charlotte: her grandfather was a chiropractor, like mine was a doctor; and she had special insights and remedies that others wouldn’t have. My Abandonment Syndrome had kicked in, and I could barely function.

When I asked, I did learn that, after the baby, sometime she would resume practice, but not in this clinic. I would be notified, if on her mailing list, which I am. This helped pacify Joanie, somewhat, but she was into grieving her loss.

Making an appointment with someone else was almost insurmountable, but necessary, so I called the referral and arranged for an appointment that afternoon. Then I asked if they took Medicare, and was reassured that they did.

With this handled, I felt relieved, but soon the phone rang, and I was told that the doctor didn’t take Medicare with new patients, due to the complications, legality, etc. However, it was explained that they could give me the senior discount, so I asked “How much?”

“The first appointment includes an examination and treatment, and would cost $120.00, but with the senior discount, it would be only $90.00. And each treatment thereafter would only be $40.00”

I went into confusion; I would gladly have paid Dr. Charlotte that amount, and I did, the first time, but I only had one appointment with her. Now, as much as I needed a treatment, I balked at putting out that additional cost. Finally, the receptionist added that she could give me a referral to a chiropractor who does take Medicare. Once reassured that they follow the same treatment procedure, I decided to go for Dr. Judy in Mountain View, which was closer.

This receptionist informed me that Dr. Judy charges $31.00 for all treatments, and it is covered by Medicare, but I must pay for the visit, and send the bill to Medicare for reimbursement. I made my appointment for Wednesday, as Betty uses her car on Tuesday, and got directions, putting an end to that transaction.

Little Ralph’s Syndrome

However, the disappointment and change put a pall on the day, although I attempted to move onward with my writing projects. The plan was for Van to transfer a graphic to the newly formatted book, which is usually a short procedure. However, as fate would have it, this cartoon required modifications that he couldn’t seem to accomplish, so it took all afternoon.

This in itself is reasonable, except that I knew that his need to be in control, as a defense mechanism, had caused him to revert to his Syndrome: withholding, “don’t give them what they want.” We’d been through this issue so many times that I intuitively knew it had returned, as a result of being with his mother. He can’t do anything about controlling her, so he subconsciously projects his feelings of helplessness onto me, and then asserts control. Of course, he has no idea he’s doing this; it’s an unconscious behavior masked by a supposed willingness to do as he’s being directed.

Aftermath of the Storm

I tried to accomplish other projects, as the day droned away with him at the computer, but I was dealing with my own emotions. Finally, I gave up the effort, and turned on the TV. Now we were seeing scenes of the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd: devastating floods throughout the state of North Carolina, with dead pigs and chickens, and contaminated floodwaters running everywhere through towns, homes and farms. The chaos was overwhelming, and I felt sadness for these people and their lifestyles, for we had traveled through there a year ago. In fact, we had visited Al Vaillancourt, my #1 con (first inmate I ever wrote to), near Fayetteville, and then drove on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, through this country. And we had also driven past Raleigh, close to the area where the contaminated water was threatening lives. 

“Oh God,” I prayed, “please be with these people through this terrible ordeal.” Somehow, I felt a kinship with their suffering. And the worst part is that another storm was on its way; this time from the Gulf of Mexico and it would come across Florida from the east coast, across Tampa, where we were planning to spend the winter. I was definitely having second thoughts about our travel plans.

Changing Plans

In fact, our plans were changing on a regular basis, and I suspected that the subject was still about our “mission being under the eye of the Lord,” as this chapter suggests. And I kept reminding myself of this truth, while going through the chiropractor episode, as I affirmed, “I know this is part of God’s plan for good, so there is good in these changes. We will be returning to Oregon.

Furthermore, Lloyd and Dee were burning up the e-mail with good news of their progress telling people about the products and business; and they would be attending the Western Expo, also. In other words, we needed to support our Business Partners by being there.

This Trip Isn’t About the Inner Child

I’ve already written four books about Joanie and Little Ralph, and this book isn’t supposed to be about them, although they are always part of everything we do, and for best results their presence needs to be felt and acknowledge, and their needs must be honored and fulfilled one way or another; for instance, either by buying them an ice cream cone, or by explaining that we can’t have one at this time; and then getting on with the business at hand. Otherwise, the kids are running the business, and there are negative repercussions.

Along those lines, it’s time for a confession, and I shudder to think of the reactions when Dottie is editing this, because she gets very upset about me eating chocolate; only because it sometimes causes my vision to distort and migraine headaches One of the few times she’s expressed annoyance at my dietary habits came from one of these episodes, and I actually cut way back on eating chocolate.

However, when Cathy brought Van and I a snack of ice cream and brownies to eat while she napped, Joanie dug in with gusto. Later in the day, Cathy gave us a big glass of freshly juiced veggies. And, during dinner, I began getting severe cramps, which I blamed on the juice. It wasn’t until several days after we were at Betty’s that I began to wonder if the pains were caused by the chocolate brownies. Probably; but I concluded that the delicious brownie was worth the pain. And I also concluded that maybe I should stop eating chocolate. That would be the adult way to handle the problem.

After all, part of growing up is learning to take responsibility for our actions; and also learning to discipline oneself, since we no longer have parents telling us what to do. Perhaps this is why God is giving us this lesson, as I’m writing this chapter. It is the “wisdom of God” pointing me in the right direction,” as mentioned earlier. Darn! I sure hate to give up chocolate.

On the other hand, because I had to wait two days for my appointment, I decided to increase my OPC-3. Each day I added two more capfuls, interspersed throughout the day, and taken two hours after meals; and each day I felt much better; almost no pain. Now, I wondered if that was because the damage from the chocolate, or maybe the ice cream, was healing; or was it from the increased OPC-3? Or was it simply that the lesson was being learned? Or it could be that Joanie knew she would get her chiropractic treatment, and we would be leaving in a week. Whatever! The fact remains that I was feeling much better. And life was moving on.

Crossing the Red Sea

Moving on for us, while in Santa Clara, meant following my Guidance to return to my Journey to Inner Freedom course that I’d been working on for over ten years. Because the material in this inner journey is so intense, I can only work on it for short periods of time, as I process through the next level. Or, sometimes it’s Van, who is going through the changes. The worst times are when we both are undergoing transformation.

You can rest assured that when we’re in Santa Clara, we both move through our process; and this time was no exception. I always know when God is guiding me, because everything we do is right on target for whatever lessons are up. Yet, when I was directed to work on Road Sign #5, Crossing the Red Sea: Deadend, which had shelved for a year, I didn’t suspect that we, too, would find ourselves at a Dead-end.

Looking back at the week, I could see the closed doors were related to this Book. And the lesson would be how I move through the obstacles. In other words, events happen, but it’s how we react to them that makes the difference. For instance, the hurricanes and floods in this country, and the earthquakes elsewhere, were natural events, beyond human control. Lives were lost or changed in the blink of an eye, but the heroes and victims usually were a matter of choice, depending on inner and outer thoughts and actions. 

Often these events seem distant and unrelated to us, if not in our immediate environment, but last year Van and I were traveling through The Carolina’s coast, and we had seen many of the areas that were now devastated, and I felt such sadness and loss on their behalf. And when Hurricane Harvey passed over Western Florida, I knew that my granddaughter, Christina was experiencing her first hurricane, as she lives near Tampa.

In the meantime, we were going through our own inner upheavals, as Van moved the Red Sea from the word processor to the publisher program, and put it into a book format. This part went smoothly, but when he attempted to place the cartoon graphics into place, I noticed that the handwritten verbiage in one cartoon was illegible. For the next three days, he found himself at a Dead-end of his limited knowledge in applying the complex functions of the Adobe graphics program.

In itself, this is not a big problem, because Van’s passion is fixing things that don’t work, and he loves challenges that are within his capabilities. But now he was dealing with Little Ralph, who, unbeknown to Van, was projecting his 3 R’s: resentment, resistance and rebellion. Of course, I was fully aware of the transition from the adult to the child, because of the energy change, not to mention the behavior. And it drives me up the wall, because, for me, dealing with Little Ralph is a dead-end. I had enough trouble raising my own kids, and as far as I’m concerned, “Been there; done that.” But no such luck. First I had my own inner kid, Joanie, to assist from wounded child to wonder child; and, for a year, I facilitated a group of others in this transition process. Of course, Van refused to participate, which is another of his defense mechanisms.

However, after he got caught in a corporation downsize and was unemployed, he became traumatized, over a long period of time, and I had no idea what had happened to him. All I knew was that the person I had depended on to handle everything from finances to decision-making wasn’t there. He had been replaced by an unknown entity who couldn’t take care of anything, much less make a decision. And the responsibility was now placed on me; but I was still in my own recovery process, and barely able to take care of myself, let alone him.

Too bad! Somebody had to do something; so I began taking steps to get us through the transition: first, I retained a lawyer to handle our financial crisis by filing bankruptcy (unable to work, Van had been juggling money between credit card loans and bank accounts, and somehow making our monthly payments, but we were terribly in debt). Then we downsized our lifestyle, when we moved from our cherished three-level home in San Diego’s North County, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and began our life on the road.

Traveling was truly a Godsend, as both our inner kids continued through the healing process. And through it all, God guided me in raising Little Ralph; a job I did not relish, but was qualified to do, with God’s help. It’s easier to go through your own healing and recovery program, because you are in control of yourself. But it’s another challenge when working with a resistant, resentful, rebellious brat, who had been deeply wounded and damaged by the actions of irresponsible parents.

But, somehow, by the Grace of God, we survived, and here we were, again, stopped at the Red Sea. It never seems to amaze me how God’s timing is so impeccable; to combine Van’s relationship with his mother, whom he loves, and the cartoon graphic’s need for clarification. And the words that had him baffled? “Subconscious Level: Hidden Treasure” written on the side of a sunken chest, and discovered by a scuba diver. The cartoon shows an underwater scene depicting the deep inner self searching for the buried treasure, and the caption reads: “Why surf-board when we could scuba dive?” 

What more appropriate graphic for Van’s dead-end experience, when you consider that he is simply not in touch with his deep inner self, especially his feelings?  They have been so buried that he exists, as if a robot following whatever anyone dictates; because, as a kid, that’s what he did to survive.

My job has been to get him back in touch with those feelings, and to change the unproductive patterns that bring him to a dead-end. So, I asked him, “What do you need to do to cross your Red Sea?”

Blank look, as if to ask, “What Red Sea?”

This always sets me off, because I know that Little Ralph has taken over, so I am not dealing with the logical adult, but the wounded kid, who doesn’t listen to anything I say, anyway; another pattern learned in childhood as a survival mechanism when adults leash their lengthy bawling outs, usually at the dinner table. So, his learned pattern became: 1, Avoid the dinner table. 2. Keep your mind on something else, until they are finished.

The problem with that technic is that sometimes people are saying something worth hearing, such as what Moses did to get across the Red Sea.

After a lengthy lecture from me, Little Ralph (or Van) finally came up with a brilliant answer: “They parted the Red Sea?” With a question mark. Of course, he knew the answer all along; it’s just part of the kid’s game, which I no longer am willing to play.

Okay, so from there on, I took him back through the process of changing patterns:

Step 1.  Recognition: coming out of denial and into identifying the pattern, and its causes, and its repercussions. In this case the pattern, which was also discussed in the original course, is based on withholding, or “Don’t give them what they want,” which is a form of control substituted for a feeling of impotence or helplessness that is prevalent with children of highly controlling parents, or ones who do not give them recognition acceptance and a feeling of self-worth. In other words, their message is, “Who you are, what you need, and what you do is of no interest to me.”

Step 2. Acceptance: “Yes, these things happened to me, and as a result, I developed these patterns, and it has caused these results. That’s how my parents are, and that’s how I am, and that’s what happened.”

Step 3. Tell the truth: Ask yourself, “What are the negative payoffs?” In other words, what do these patterns give you? Probably the biggest answer is “Getting along with my parents.” In other words, survival. Sometimes the negative payoff is nurturing, or attention.

Step 4. Are you willing to change the pattern? In some cases the payoff is so great, that the person doesn’t want to make the effort to change. And that’s okay, but they have to be willing to accept the consequences, whatever they may be. For Van it’s peace at any price. And the price is that he sacrificed his feelings and his freedom.

Step 5. Changing the Pattern: If you are willing to change, then do whatever it takes to turn the pattern around. It can be an attitude change; or it can be outer action. But, most of all, ask God to remove the pattern, because they are too entrenched, like an addiction, to handle by ourselves. Take tiny steps, if the change is too overwhelming.

Step 6. Keep focused on the new direction; don’t look back. Otherwise, the pattern will get you. Remember, in the bible Lots wife turned to salt when she looked back.

Step 7. Thank God for helping you to remove this pattern. Also use this step at the beginning, to reveal the pattern and the changes that are needed, and throughout the process.

The combination of visiting his mom and working on the Red Sea graphic finally brought Van out of his Dead End, and the clearly discernible words, “Subconscious Level of Hidden Treasure” made its appearance on the sea chest.

Not the Real Thing

I wish I could report some miraculous happening from my appointment with Dr. Judith, and maybe it was and I missed the significance. Perhaps the experience was to remind me that life seldom goes as we expect; it has changes and life goes on. The best we can do is focus on the present moment, and not waste time regretting that things aren’t the way we expected. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

In all reality, Dr. Judith fulfilled my current need, which was to laugh; and we did. She also listened to all my questions and attempted to determine the cause of the sudden pain in my gut. We both concluded it was a muscle spasm, and it could have been from something I ate, but more than likely it related to the emotional stress of the upcoming visit with Van’s mom. Actually I enjoy time with Van’s mom, but I live in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing; and even my innocent gestures, such as offering grapes, are curtly rebuffed. My inner child is scared, and the gut reflects her anxiety.

And, of course, Betty’s unpredictable behavior reminds me of the regime in which I grew up with my adopted mother; not to mention my schizophrenic natural mother and my mentally ill daughter. It’s too much; even as I write, my stomach is knotting. So the laughter was good. For instance, Dr. Judith said she was going to visit her in-laws in southern Texas, and wouldn’t be around for any appointments, after Monday. She revealed that the way she copes with visiting her in-laws is joining into their alcoholic drinking fests, which keeps her pleasantly sedated. I contemplated that option, but decided not to add more problems to my life.

In response to my input that I’d done inner child and CoDa recovery work, Dr. Judith confirmed what I’d finally concluded: when it’s all said and done, you’re still the same person with the same history and the same reactions. The only difference is that you are aware of why you behave the way you do, and it brings you to a position of acceptance. Bottom-line; that’s it.

And, no doubt, that’s what I needed to hear at this particular time in my life, because that’s where God guided me.

Yet, after I left, I felt that emptiness one feels when looking for something, or someone, for fulfillment. It simply isn’t out there; it’s an inside job, and that’s where we must find satisfaction. God is the healer. And God is the Real Thing. So that’s the lesson God wanted me to learn this trip to Santa Clara.  

Release and Let Go

We were crossing the Red Sea and moving on; leaving behind Henry to fulfill his destiny, without our help; and without having fulfilled my expectations of a treatment from Dr. Charlotte. Furthermore, Joanie hadn’t felt she’d had much fun this time. But the trip had been successful, because we had crossed the Red Sea, and that Road Sign, as I call the lessons along this Inner Journey to Inner Freedom, was finished.

 

Chapter 6

EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION

Another Closed Door?

Although God had guided me to visit Jerry Pitre, in Soledad Prison, I was apprehensive, because of the doors that had been closed this trip to Santa Clara. Would this be another closed door?

When visiting Freedomers across the country, I discovered that there are so many variables when visiting inmates; so many rules and policies that regulate their lives, and even the visitors, and failure to conform can abort an anticipated visit. It matters not whether you are a minister, or a gang member: if you fulfill the rules, it’s go; if not, it’s stop.

For instance, when I attempted to visit Chris Estep in Kentucky, I had called the Visitors Information officer to make sure I knew the rules and policies, as well as days and times for visits. Yet, when I got there, after Van had dropped me off and left, I was frisked, and then my visit was aborted, because I wasn’t wearing a bra; instead, I was wearing my usual tank top undergarment.

Faced with four hours of waiting for Van’s return, plus disappointment, after traveling so far, I began crying. This was not according to policy, so a higher authority was brought in, and then another; one whose mind-set was not closed, and he finally realized that the policy stated “undergarments must be worn,” and my tank top qualified, and the visit was allowed.

Now, in the Soledad Visitors Center, I watched one lady, with the wrong colored pants, being told that she couldn’t wear black jeans This prison was more accommodating than most, as they have extra clothes, which she could borrow. I hadn’t known this, so I’d fretted over what to wear that wasn’t blue denim, forest green, black or camouflage color (all worn by inmates or guards), and settled for a multi-colored floral pattern. But were the pants considered “too tight”?

While waiting admission, I surveyed the attire of other visitors, and concluded that my pants were okay.

Even after passing through the metal detector, I feared that the visit would be denied for some reason, because this process triggers my abandonment tape. And when the guard walked around the room with ID, obviously looking for someone, I knew I would be told that Jerry couldn’t make it for some reason. Either he was sick, or confined to his cell, or working, or some unforeseen eventuality, I was certain, because so much time had passed, and all the other visitors were united with their inmate; but not Jerry and me. I figured, oh well, we had an hour’s drive for nothing; the view wasn’t even enjoyable, because of the heavy smoke from the nearby fires at Big Sur.

It Started With a Hug

However, eventually Jerry arrived and I breathed a sigh of relief, as we exchanged one of the two hugs allowed; the other was saved for when we parted. Some facilities are so strict that no touching is allowed during the visit, but I noticed people indulging in intimacies, such as gals leaning across the guys lap, or one gal was rubbing a guy’s stomach, and another fellow had lifted his lady onto a high counter (at the window with phones, for inmates denied physical visits) and they were embracing. I could see the anguish on the loved ones, and especially the children. Needless to say, I was glad that I wasn’t involved in a romantic relationship with a prisoner.

Fortunately, Jerry and I had a relationship that transcended these, for we were one on our spiritual journey, and he informed me, in his last letter, that he was a Freedomer, and I was stuck with him. So I felt secure in this reassurance; and my abandonment tape could relax for the time being.

I say this, because he was amongst the last, of over a thousand, with whom I had corresponded; the rest had all disappeared, and most without even a goodbye. Yet he faithfully corresponded despite his busy schedule: eighteen-hour work days, as a clerk, and in his spare time making greeting cards for family, friends, and for sale; and in addition, he spends time in meditation, where he receives direct messages and guidance.

Other than this, he has nothing to do. But today he said that I had caught him resting, because he was contemplating the recent reappearance in his life of his son, with whom he had lost contact. The twenty-four-year-old had located his dad to tell him that he was dying of an inherited disease (from his mother).

I empathized with Jerry over this most recent news, because I knew that he was still grieving over the loss of his lady-love, Virginia, whom I had met on my last visit, which was also her birthday, December 5th, as Jerry reminded me. I remembered that she was wearing a beautiful lilac satin dress, which Jerry had financed (with his meager prison pay, and selling cards he created for inmates) for her birthday gift.

From the moment Jerry sat down, he had been talking about these important issues in his life, but soon we were launching into our spiritual journey, and the energies were high, as we discussed the joy of feeling God’s oneness and our experiences along the way that brought us to this awareness and other insights in our travels. It was joyous to be sharing these energies, and the time zipped by.

Finally, we decided to take a snack break, and we selected our sodas and microwave popcorn, then returned to our seats — two chairs by a low table — in a large room full of family and friends talking with their loved ones, all wearing large denim blue work shirts and blue jeans.

A Peaceful Mission

I again asked Jerry about the reason for his incarceration, as a member of the Black Panthers, and I referred to the Soledad Seven. He smiled and indicated that he was one of them. In fact, he had been their Lieutenant of Finances. From this point, Jerry’s conversation took me into a world where I had very little knowledge, as he talked about how and why he got started. A story that I am not going to write, because it’s his story to tell, and he will one day write it in his own words.

But his will not be a tell-all book; it will be an educational process, because he feels they were involved in a war with a purpose: to set their people free. Yes, they have fulfilled the dream of integration, but there is more to the dream, and he now realizes that this must be a peaceful process that will take time. And he also realizes that he has been prepared by God to write the words that can set all people free.

At some point, I said, “Jerry, it must be evolution, not revolution,” and he agreed. Then I added, “That could be the title of your book!” I thought a few minutes, then continued, “Your book must include all these beautiful stories you have told me about you father’s wisdom and your mother’s love, and about the hungry boy at the hamburger stand that prompted your involvement in this crusade; and the killings that fired your anger into action. It’s all important to the overall story; because it’s part of the evolution. Then you can write about the spiritual truths that you have learned during your twenty-four years of incarceration.”

Jerry’s mind was whirring, as he could see the words he must put onto paper, and the peaceful mission that he must follow to bring fulfillment of the dream. As he spoke, he talked about the courses that I have been writing, such as Journey to Inner Freedom, and their purpose which would finally come into fruition.

Some Day it will Flame Again

Earlier in the conversation, I had laughed as Jerry talked about my writings with great complimentary statements, such as “You should be a legend,” and “I can always go to your writings and find deeper levels of truth.” And he talked of using my courses for teaching inmates in the Pre-Release Class, and of passing out copies of my writings to other inmates, and he said, “Your ministry isn’t over; it will never be over. Even now, people are reading your writings. There is still a glowing ember, and someday it will flame again.”

As he spoke of the possibilities for using my writings, I began to feel hope that maybe there is a much larger purpose for all this than I had realized. Oh, like most writers, I had always held a vision of reaching many people with my words, and setting them free from inner bondage; but I had no idea my work would be associated with a transformed former Black Panther. I felt a sense of awe, and of humility, as I contemplated the possibilities. It was too overwhelming, so I silently said, “Okay, God, as You will.”

In the past, I had prayed for direction, and I had prayed for a spiritual partner, but the only answer I’d heard was “Shut up and keep writing.” Now, I laughed, as I thought, “He was here all the time, and I didn’t realize it was Jerry.” Oh, I knew Jerry’s letters and writings were valuable and inspiring, and I had certainly used them in my various books, and also in my promotional material. But, until this conversation, I had no idea the magnitude of Jerry’s involvement in my future work, or his influence over a large number of people who could benefit from these courses that I had been guided to write for and about Freedomers. Nor did I realize Jerry’s abilities and capabilities to create a movement, so to speak. He had already done that, but now his mission was peaceful and spiritual.

Would this actually happen? I wondered, and would my writings truly reach out and touch, as part of this?

I’m Beginning to Believe it

I had been telling Jerry for several years that he would be out of prison soon. I didn’t know how, but I had an inner knowing. In fact, I wondered why it was taking so long. Then, quietly, he told me, “You’d been telling me that I’d be released; then others began telling me, and I began to believe it.” He paused, and then added, “Recently my counselor told me that, with my son dying, I may be released to care for him.” His eyes softened, as he said, “I hate to think that this is how it happens, but I can only leave it in the hands of the Father.”

These words, spoken by a one-time activist, reflected the years it has taken for God’s work to be fulfilled in him, for the evolution to be completed that would transform Jerry into a pacifist; a modern-day miracle.

The Magnitude of the Transformation Process

I’d been corresponding with Jerry for over ten years, and until now, I had no idea the magnitude of that transformation process. I hadn’t even known why he was in prison, until a year ago when I visited him, and he told me; adding that he can’t write about it, yet, because of the government repercussions.

I asked, “Why are you in a state prison, rather than a federal one?”

“Because we were tried at a state level.”

I forgot to ask “Why,” but I did ask how he had gotten transferred from San Quentin and Folsom to Soledad.

“Because I haven’t gotten any points.” I didn’t ask for clarification, but I assumed it was because of good behavior.

I asked, “How many of the Black Panthers are still in prison?

“Only two of us, since Geronimo was released.”

He mentioned another one, whose name I missed, but he asked, “Did you happen to see the interview with us on 60 Minutes?”

“No, I didn’t know about it.”

“I wrote you.”

“Maybe it’s one of those letters I didn’t get. I wonder if they considered it subversive, and didn’t send it?”

Journey to Inner Freedom

We pondered that a few minutes, and I felt the nudge from my Inner Guidance to bring up a question, “Jerry, it feels like it’s time for me to start sending you the Journey to Inner Freedom course, but it’s very intense, as its purpose is to bring the ego into alignment with the Higher Power, and the ego will fight with every weapon it has, which is ample, to remain in control. In fact, everyone who has started this course has disappeared from my life, or otherwise been taken on a different path, by the ego. You will have to remain strong.”

“I’ve already told you that I am a Freedomer, and I won’t leave,” he reassured me, adding, “I’ve been dealing with the ego, and I can catch myself when it tries to take over.”

“Okay, I will get a copy printed and send to you, but it will take time for you to do the course; and I need your feedback.”

“I can find time, and I’ll let you know how it’s going. I’d be privileged to have you send it to me. Anything you write is valuable.”

Jerry is my one-man fan club, and his words of support and encouragement keep me writing. In fact, as I’ve told him, “I always have you in mind when I’m writing about a picturesque spot, and I ask myself, “Am I writing this so Jerry can see and experience it?’”

He confirmed that in the recent chapter I’d sent, about staying at Walton Lake, he could hear the kids shouting and laughing, and he could see the entire scenes I had written. He could even smell the pine trees. And that was my intention, so I felt good about my efforts. As I told Jerry, “Every writer needs a reader. It’s symbiosis, and you fill that need for me. But there is much more involved with Journey to Inner Freedom, for us both, and I feel that the time is right. Besides, having you take the course will motivate me to keep writing.” I paused, thinking about the loss factor, as I added, “Michael Martin was doing it, but the ego took him off course, and he wasn’t strong enough to recognize it and come back. You just can’t imagine how powerful it is, if we allow it. So that’s why we need to bring the ego into alignment with God; then that power is available to us for positive purposes.”

“Oh, I understand,” Jerry said, nodding his head, “I’ve been through the temptations. For instance, I just got a letter from Virginia, and my first reaction was to hurt her, as I’d been hurt, but I had to take that away from the ego. I’ve decided to wait, until I feel the Father’s guidance on what to do about her letter.”

“Right,” I said, rejoicing at his wisdom. “There are so many ways you can go with this, so listen for that inner guidance.”

Returning to the possibility of his release, I asked, “Do you have a place to go and a job?”

“Yes, a friend of my dad’s has said that I can stay there, and he has several job opportunities for me.”

“But, won’t you want to be near your son?”

“I just don’t know how they are going to work that out,” he replied. “I’ll have to leave that with the Father, too. I don’t have the answers.”

Earlier we had been talking about working together, after his release, and I still wondered how that would take place. Jerry said he would be happy to work with our business, taking orders, or helping any way he could. Now, after talking about the larger overall picture, I could see that God already had it all handled, so I simply released it, remembering, “Shut up, and keep writing.”

I knew that I would have my hands full getting the manuscripts ready to copy into books. And I would need to keep working on this course to keep ahead of Jerry, and to get it finished. It had already been over ten years, as I was going through my own process of the Inner Journey, and I could not force it. But this felt like the sign that I was to keep working on it, and with Jerry’s support and encouragement, I would be motivated to keep going.

Now, it made sense to me that I had been guided to work on this course, while we were in Santa Clara, and I had seven Road Signs in the book format; only five more to complete. But, I knew from experience that the process couldn’t be rushed. As I said to Jerry, “Evolution not Revolution,” and this truth especially applies to the Inner Journey of spiritual unfoldment.

Thank You, God

Yet, in Truth, everything is already done with God. It’s like Jerry always teaches: God is the Alpha and Omega; the beginning, the ending, and everything in-between. So when he spoke a prayer that he offers, asking “God, please …” I said, “That’s a good prayer, but change it to “God, thank you … which is the prayer Jesus used when raising Lazarus, because He knew that with God, it was already done, and it was simply a matter of aligning with that reality.”  

Jerry looked like he’d been shot, and he replied, “Yes, you’re right. Thank you.”

We’d been talking non-stop for three hours, and suddenly we noticed the movement in the room, as visitors were saying “Goodbye,” and inmates were returning to their cells. Jerry and I were both feeling energized from our spiritual discussion, and we kept talking, as he walked me to the entrance gate. Then we got our second hugs, and went our separate ways, knowing that we were really not separate, because all-is-one-as-God.

It’s Time to Move on

I’d been thinking about Jerry’s last letter, and even re-read it, before our visit, so his words were fresh in my mind; and walking back to the gate, I realized that I must include his letter. The portion relating to relationships follows:

“I really enjoyed your words: ‘I guess the explanation for what seems to be unanswered prayer is that we are not aware of God’s overall Divine Plan for us, and therefore, we cannot always see how our present circumstances fulfill His Plan. But, we can always affirm, ‘I trust that You are showing me how to cooperate with Your Plan. And then release the results to God.’

“Joyanna, for me it hasn’t been that simple to raise above my loss of Virginia. I felt sad, hurt, a fool, and so much more; but I had to face myself and come to realize that God never makes mistakes, and I’m learning to fully accept that. I say this, Joyanna, because in my heart I know that there is a reason.

“I guess it would be safe to say that when someone comes into our lives it’s for a reason; usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly, or inwardly. They may have come only to assist you through a difficult time, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend, and, of course, they are. They are there for the reason you need them. Then, without any wrongdoing on our part, or at an most inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they simply walk away. Sometimes they act up or out, and force you to take a stand. What we must realize, and I’m only now becoming somewhat conscious of this, is that our need has been met, our desires fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer we sent has been answered and it is now time to move on.

“Now, when a person comes into your life for a season, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, and learn. They may bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unusual amount of joy. Believe me, it’s real! But now realize that it’s only for a short season. In the same way that leaves must fall from the trees, as you mentioned in your letter, or the moon becomes full and then disappears, a seasonal relationship will end at the Divinely Appointed Time.

“I know myself, I didn’t want to see the time come, but when it comes, there is nothing a person can say or do to make it work. There is no one we can blame; and we sure as Hell can’t fix it, nor can we even explain it, as right now, I’m having a real problem trying to even clothe what I’m trying to say.

“So I can only conclude that when the end of a season comes in a loving relationship, the only thing for anyone to do is to let it go, and know that all things will work for the good for those who truly love the Father. And like you also said, Joyanna, “It all comes to how we choose to live with the results.” Life is truly a challenge, and it doesn’t matter what difficulties we face, our worth is measured by how we face those difficulties.

“That’s why I cherish your presence in my life, Joyanna, because you are real, and what’s real has no end, nor beginning, it just is naturally the way it is, and that’s what I see in you. I am a Freedomer, and I will always be. I’m not leaving. You’re stuck with me.”

Van’s Evolution

Van met me outside the gate, and I began sharing with him all the exciting things Jerry and I had been talking about, as we walked to the car, and then drove the hour back to Santa Clara. He listened attentively, and I concluded, “Jerry says that in his meditations he sees that soon you will be moving into a very special place setting that will provide you with a lot of the things your heart truly desires. It’s all being set up for you, so be expecting the gifts and many blessings.” We both thought it’s about the business.

I’d told Jerry that Van’s evolution, too, had been unfolding. And I explained that after his job downsize layoff, he had been traumatized, as if he’d been paralyzed, and he could hardly function. And then the long recovery process had been in progress, and he had to learn to do things all over again, almost as if he’d had a stroke. It had been a slow, agonizing process, but we could now see the positive results.

I also felt that my focus had been to support Van’s recovery process, but this visit with his mother would serve as a graduation, and he was now able to move forward with our business, as his own transformation was unfolding on a higher level.

The next day, after my visit with Jerry, I asked Van, “So what did you do with three hours by yourself, while waiting for me?”

He replied, “Oh, I was thinking about the business; planning my strategy our left side and right side, and how that would all fit into place.”

Hooray! Where’s the cap and gown; Pomp and Circumstances, and fireworks? For truly Van has graduated.

Now is the Time

My own evolution had been in progress for over ten years, but now it was time for me to move forward with my writing, and whatever else God had planned. Until it is revealed, I would simply “Shut up and keep writing.”

In the meantime, it was time to leave Santa Clara and return to Oregon for the next stage of our evolvement. And this would be another chapter in our Book of Life, as our business adventures took us onward.   

 

Chapter 7

DEAD ENDS, DETOURS AND CROSSINGS

 

Visiting a Foreign Country

Once home from visiting Jerry, we walked across the street to the Shilpa Indian Cuisine restaurant for another adventure in this international community. Though we had eaten here once, we still felt as if we were in a foreign country, as we surveyed the menu and tried to make our selections. Finally, I concluded that the buffet would be the best opportunity to choose from an array of colorful and exotic foods.

Small portions first, to determine which would not set our taste buds and stomachs aflame. I started with an ample portion of rice to offset the spicy sauces and main dishes, then added a spoonful of the orange colored chicken concoction, and also the tanish lentils and potatoes and some of the tasty red clay-baked chicken, and more rice — yellow with curry — which turned out to be spicy. The variety of unique Indian breads, such as nan (like heated pita), rice cakes, and the crispy cracker-like lentil were delicious. I also enjoyed the deep fried chick pea and chicken dumplings, and a green bean dumpling; neither were like American dumplings.

The receptionist explained that South Indian food is fried or baked, but not the North Indian food, which are the more familiar sauce-like dishes. I said, “Then the South Indians must be fatter,” but the receptionist replied, “No, they are traditionally thinner, and the North Indians are fatter.” I laughed, “Well, that destroyed the American theory of not eating fats in order to be thin.” 

Desserts were a milky rice in rice milk, an orange sponge-like pudding called Halwah, which I thought would be Halvah, but it wasn’t, and delicious mango soft ice cream that tasted like a mango.

As we finished our meal, the waiter explained that this food was not considered spicy, but was prepared for the American taste. In fact, if an American asks for “spicy,” the waiter puts an “A” on the ticket; and an “I” indicates if it’s an Indian’s request, because theirs is very, very spicy. Ours was mostly tolerable, although Van’s eyes were watering and his face was flushed. For some reason, my body seemed to crave this food, and I enjoyed the adventure.

On the other hand, my anticipated journey into the Asian Market, the next day, was disappointing, as the lettuce was wilted, and the prices were much higher than our previous visit. And, as much as I tried to find something different that I could try, nothing appealed, so we settled for bananas and the least wilted head of lettuce and some baby bok choy.

It’s not that they didn’t have exotic, strange items; they did. In fact, they even had live crabs in a tank, and fresh fish and meat, and lots of rice, noodles, imported cookies, and things we couldn’t read, let alone pronounce. But they just didn’t appeal to me this day, so I felt somewhat disappointed with this adventure.

Wasted Time

Perhaps I was still reacting to my efforts to have a copy made of Road Sign #1 (for Jerry), at Office Depot; only to discover that the original, that had Dottie’s edits, was too messed up to send to him. We would need to print out a new manuscript. So, although we finished binding Road Sign #4 (which had been copied at another time), I wouldn’t be sending it to him for several months. And I felt like that project was wasted time.

Yet, it was not as disappointing as the next day’s efforts. We were preparing to leave Santa Clara, but I was determined to get the book ready and sent to Jerry, so I printed out the corrected and updated manuscript, and Van made back-to-back copies, and stapled the pages into its book format with the orange cover. I placed the finished book in an envelope and put it out for the mailman.

So, that project was completed, and it was obviously as far as God would have me go, since we needed to prepare to get on the road. But, I insisted on going a bridge too far. I felt so good about having Road Sign #1 completed that I tried to print out the manuscript for Road Sign #3. However, no matter how many times or ways I approached the project, the “Warning” sign appeared that totally blocked any further progress. I know that God often uses His computer technology to let me know “This is not the time,” but I was determined. Nevertheless, I finally had to admit defeat, and let God win this battle; though I wasn’t even printing out the Battles of the Promised Land, at this time. That would come later, in  Road Sign #8. In any event, I stopped trying to force the issue, and began the final preparations for our departure.

Are We Having Fun, Yet?

As we pulled out the driveway, I said a little prayer of releasing and blessing for Henry, as he never made an effort to visit, during our entire stay, and he didn’t come out to say “Goodbye.”

I felt sad, because I had thought of him as a good friend, but those doors never reopened, so we moved on.

Likewise, when we visited our friends, Jane and Len, we had enjoyed a great pizza dinner and good conversation at Milan Pizza. Then we returned to their home and were invited to join them by watching their rented video,  Shakespeare in Love. But Len soon excused himself and went to bed, which is understandable, as he gets up around 4:00 a.m.; although not the next day, Sunday. Within a short time, Jane got up to check her e-mail, and then said she was terribly tired and asked us to leave.

We had no problem with her honest communication, but she seemed distracted and upset, as we returned to Betty’s car for the return trip. We said our goodbye’s and headed home, discussing the strange and abrupt end to our visit. Although I had written to Jane about our business and products, which would have been beneficial for their health and finances, we hadn’t even talked with them about our products or business, because that door seemed closed. So, again, we released them to God’s care, and moved onward; back to Oregon, where we had a full weekend of meetings, trainings and fun.

Up in Smoke

The entire time we’d been in Santa Clara, the skies were more hazy than usual, because of the ongoing fire at Big Sur, which burned thousands of acres and homes. In addition, a huge pile of discarded tires had been struck by lightning and were burning out of control. We were looking forward to again breathing fresh air further north, and we happily left the 90+ temperatures.

Somehow the process of getting from Santa Clara to the 680 Freeway north through Walnut Creek, and across the bay at Martinez, seemed like a mini-version of the Exodus from Egypt to The Promised Land: so much traffic and congestion formed a Sea of Humanity that can become a literal Dead End; and it’s definitely like The Wilderness Maze trying to negotiate the freeways. And, like the bible story, we even crossed the River Jordan (at Martinez), but once over the bay, we still had the traffic on I-80.

But, the ongoing malls and businesses provided some good, as I’d spotted a Boston Market, and we stopped for lunch; ordering a whole chicken and four side dishes, so we could take some along for the Journey. This abundance of food gave Joanie some joy, after her disappointments in Santa Clara, and she was convinced that we had truly entered The Promised Land. But then, the main purpose of the trip was for Van to visit his mom, and he did. In fact, I stayed home the last night so they could have more visit time.

Now, back on the road, and heading north on 515, we began to notice a huge plume of smoke in the northeast, and it became closer, as we approached Red Bluff, and we realized that it was in the Lassen National Forest area, where my brother, Gary, is a lookout. I remembered that we’d left here in smoke, and I’d heard on the Weather News that there had been a fire in Shasta County, near Redding, but this was new.

Indeed, as we left the freeway and headed east toward Kathy and Mahlon’s, the smoke cloud was larger, darker and closer. And that night, from their home, we could see the orange flames glowing in the distance. It seemed as if everything was orange: the sun appeared as an orange ball through the smoke, and later the moon became another orange globe, as it worked its way upward, above the fire.

The Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Cloud

With all this fire and smoke, we seemed to be experiencing the Pillar of Fire by night and the Pillar of Cloud by day that accompanied the Israelites on their Exodus, and served as protection and guidance.

The Pillar of Cloud symbolizes the Light of spiritual understanding to guide us, and The Pillar of Fire symbolizes the witness of the Spirit on the altar of love as a glow of light that opens understanding.

The smoky cloud during the day, and the glowing flames at night definitely were with us, and I knew God was again, taking us through the steps of the Journey to Inner Freedom, and apparently the light of Love and Understanding were the current signposts.

Talking with Kathy, again, about the opportunities with our networking business, I understood that she really was interested, but the timing was not right, so we lovingly released her to God’s care and continued on our northward journey.

My Inner Guidance reminded me that crossing the Sacramento River, a few miles from Kathy’s, symbolized stepping out in faith into the flooded River Jordan, in our inner journey; and I knew that this step must be taken, before God would stop the waters of our inner voices that chatter, as they reiterate all the negativity stored in our personal consciousness telling us, “It can’t be done.” With the Israelites, these limitations were reported by the scouts who returned to report there were “giants” in The Promised Land. Like the Red Sea, which represents mass consciousness, The River Jordan is another Dead End, only its barriers are limited to our own personal consciousness.

I could see why these “giants” we’d been facing in northern California could become Dead Ends, but the message from God states, “Release the past, and move forward.”

Obviously this meant to push through the smoke, obliterating our view of Mt. Shasta, which usually looms in the distance. And, no doubt, it meant to push through any inner discouragement or disappointment.

Moses and the Water; Van and the Jugs

Within an hour we were at the foot of Mt. Shasta, and we could faintly see its gray slopes, bared of snow at this late season. At least, we knew it was still there, despite false appearances from the distance. This too, must be symbolic of our quest for the spiritual Truths that may seem obliterated, but are there all the time.

We stopped to refill my water containers, which is symbolic of Moses hitting the stone for water. The first time he obeyed the Word of God, without negative repercussions; but the second time he was willful and took matters into his own hands, and also took credit for providing the water, rather than giving credit to God. And this was the reason Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land.

Van had taken a large measuring cup to fill the jugs from the fountain, but soon a maintenance man showed him the spigot at the side of the fountain, and he was then able to easily fill the plastic jugs. When he complimented me on the success of our water project, I said, “Give credit to our Tour Guide” (God).

Clear Skies and Mountain Passes

Within half-an-hour from Mt. Shasta we could see clear blue sky ahead, and soon we were again breathing fresh air. Thank You, God.

Up, up, and over The Siskiyou Mountains; a fairly easy trek this time of year, but when they are covered with ice and snow, it’s another treacherous Dead End; and I had spent many hours stuck in the snow banks here; but not today. Thank You, God.

Soon we read the “Welcome to Oregon” sign, and quickly we descended the other side of the mountains, and passed through Ashland, the town of the Shakespeare Festival, with a replica stage like the one in the video we’d recently seen in the movie, with Jane.

Between Grants Pass and Canyonville, our stop for the night, were seven mountain passes and summits, and my head was reeling from the ups and downs. As far as I’m concerned, they represented the “Battles of the Promised Land,” and I was ready to stop for the night at the Seven Feathers Indian Casino. How interesting that the number seven is also used symbolically in the Exodus saga to represent completion. I certainly felt complete with this symbolic journey, and I was ready for Living in the Promised Land.

Living in The Promised Land

When it’s not raining, Oregon’s green mountains and farmland, with its blue skies and sunshine, is the nearest thing to The Promised Land, and our last day of traveling, for now, truly felt as if we had made it, after all.

We started with a delicious $3.25 Breakfast Special: eggs, hash browns, ham and toast in the Seven Feather’s Cow Creek Restaurant. Then drove through the lush forested mountains between the Cascades and The Coast Range, and finally expanded into the bountiful Willamette Valley farmlands. And the sun was shining upon the land. God surely was with us this day, and we felt His Presence.   

Oh, My God!

As we approached Eugene, I studied the horizon and groaned, “Oh, My God,” we are surrounded by smoke! And I don’t think it’s the Pillar of Cloud, as a protection.”

Further north, into the valley, I realized that Mt. Hood was not visible; it was as if a curtain had been pulled across the horizon and the Cascade Mountains had disappeared. And when we settled down at Salem, in Denny’s overflow parking lot, I turned on the news and learned that many acres were burning out of control in the timbers of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. In fact, at Hee Hee Mill, where my parents once owned land, an Indian lady being interviewed, said that her pasture land was nothing but charred remains, and her horses had no place to graze.

I gasped in shock when the news reporter said that Highway 26, the main southern route, was closed to all traffic, because of the fire. This meant that all traffic had to detour several hours out of their way, through Wapinitia and Maupin, to reach their destination. In other words, Bear Springs Campground, where we like to stay and fill up our water jugs, is inaccessible, and the entire Cascade Range would be in a cloud of smoke.   

And I felt deep concern, because Lloyd and Dee were due to come through that route to attend the Expo, and I felt relief when the reporter said the highway would open the next morning; and I remembered that Dee said they would leave mid-morning; talk about Divine Timing.

But, the next morning when I awoke, I had a headache and my lungs were congested, due to the smoke. Ironic, I thought, that we left smoky California thinking we’d breathe fresh air in Oregon, but smoke has no bounds, and here it was again.

The news updated the devastation along the eastern coast caused by floods and rain, and the weather report announced another cold front coming through the middle of the country, including Denver, where Dottie confirmed that they’d already had cold and snow.

I began to wonder if the fear mongers, who predict the imminent end of the world, were right. But, I reminded myself that an omnipresent God is everywhere, and I began to align my thoughts with God in the air and smoke and rain and cold, saying, “I am One.” And immediate peace came over me. I also affirmed Oneness for everyone else, knowing that everything is working together for good, despite all appearances to the contrary. As Jerry Pitre likes to remind us, “God is the Alpha and Omega; the beginning and end, and everything in-between. Thank You, God.

Friendship is Like That

Bonnie, Van and I sat in Freedom chatting about old times and good times, as if we had just seen each other; yet, it had been two years, since we parked in her front yard in Washington, near the Canadian border, at the onset of her career change. But, we jumped right into our conversation, as if we had just left off; friendships are like that.

Once I’d asked enough questions to know the details of her housing, job requirements and reactions to living in Oregon, we began recalling highlights of our past history.

After ten years in college and ten years as a Microbiologist, she realized it wasn’t the career for her, and she spent another ten years buying and remodeling her two homes, and keeping company with her cat family (varying in size from eight to ten, as they wandered into her life).

Now, she had completed her formal chaplaincy training at Gonzaga University and was at the Oregon State Mental Hospital, in Salem, for a one-year residency. Coincidentally, her assignment was to spiritually nurture the forensic patients; ones who had committed crimes and had been placed here by the court. So, we had a common ground of working with the soul needs of prisoners.

I wondered if my writings would be useful to her, as some were written for and about the Freedomers, and showed great insight into their thinking and behavior. Perhaps this was another door that would be opening. Time would tell, but I decided to give her a copy of Freedomers Say “Yes” to Inner Freedom.

I also happily shared with her a stack of my Daily Readings and some outdated magazines, plus some grapes from Cathy, and some tomatoes from Kathy. Bonnie had always been so generous, and it felt good to be giving her something useful that would also lighten our load in Freedom.

And friendships being like that, I asked her to sign up as a Preferred Customers, at no cost to her; and she gladly filled out the Application Form and handed it back; adding that she would like to buy the OPC-3, when she has the money. Right now, she’s on minimal pay, while still learning, but her home, food, and phone are provided, and she only needs to walk across campus to work.

“Bonnie,” I said, “you really are living in the Promised Land right now, when you stop to think about it.” And I added, “Your basic needs are provided, you’re doing what you choose to do, and you are where you want to be for this period in your life.”

“Well, yes,” she agreed, “But I want to have my kitties with me. I really miss them.” Looking around at our home-on-wheels, she said, “You know, I could live in something like this, and have my kitties with me, too.”

Earlier she had described the “cat condo” she had built for her cat family, while they lived in a friend’s backyard, complete with a people-bed, view window and ample cat run. In truth, they too, are living in The Promised Land, where everything is provided. Of course, they miss their “mommy” (Bonnie).

But, all-in-all, this is a good time in Bonnie’s life, and I rejoiced to see her well and happy, for she had been through a long Journey to Inner Freedom. And she certainly earned and deserved her present good life.

Chapter 8

GO TO THE TOP

 

Ask Someone Who Knows

When I took est, the popular self-awareness program back in the 70’s, I learned a valuable technic for problem-solving: “Go to the person who can do something about it.” And I’ve attempted to follow that advice. In other words, don’t grumble and complain where it won’t do any good, or don’t ask someone who doesn’t know the answer, or can’t do anything to fix the problem. If you have a complaint, problem or question, ask someone who knows the answer, or who can solve the problem, or fix the complaint.

Sometimes I don’t know who that person might be, such as when I realized that I must get approval for using my writings. I asked Dottie what to do, and she asked Teresa, her upline. But she wasn’t quite sure, so I asked another upliner, who said I should just change the name of the company (in my book) to avoid any problems. But that wasn’t the answer I wanted or needed, so I shelved the matter, until I would know what to do.

When I heard that the Executive Vice-President of our business would be at the Expo, the idea came to me to ask him for the answer. This man is really at the top, second to the founder, so if anyone knows, he does. But, I sometimes shrivel at meeting such authority figures, and I back- burnered the idea. In the meantime, we got involved in returning from California for the Expo, and then staying at Ed and Sherrie’s, getting to the Friday evening meeting, and then up early the next morning for the all-day training.

I noticed only one person talking with him, so, without really thinking about it, I stood by and waited until he was available, and then I introduced myself, saying, “I’m a writer, and we live in our RV and travel around the country doing our Business on the Road.” Then I asked, “Can I use the name and business in my writings?”

 He said, “Yes, just don’t present yourself as a representative of the company, but as an Independent Distributor; and get permission from our founder’s wife.

Then I asked, “Is it possible that the company might be an outlet for my books?”

And he replied, “Yes, absolutely, but you must be a higher pin level, in order to establish credibility.”

“Like dangling a carrot” I concluded, and he nodded.

I flew back to my seat, as I was so high from this experience. For one thing, that I had nerve to ask him; and of course, his reply. (The fact is, I never asked and I’ve deleted the name of the company).

What do You Like Best?

The format for the Expo begins Friday night, where the Business Partners can bring guests to see the products, hear about the business, and experience the company and the people. We were delighted that Lloyd and Dee drove in from Prineville, through the fire that had closed the main Highway 26 for two days, and on their way to Texas, after the event. They were tired and overwhelmed with the 1,000+ crowd, flashing lights and loud music, and I was taken aback when I asked Dee, “What did you like best?”

She replied, “When it was over.”

However, I understood exactly how she felt, because I’ve been there. The first year I could hardly wait for it to be over; but I managed to retain something from each event. If nothing else, it was an opportunity for me to experience the information one of the “seven times, seven ways from seven people” that is recommended. I hated it, but I loved it, because I knew it would get me where I needed and wanted to go. And the fact that Lloyd and Dee were here indicated that they wanted to get to the top money-making position; and I knew they would make it. I also knew it would be a long climb 

What is it?

I was thrilled that Lloyd and Dee would be able to receive their first training here, which would give them a certificate for attending another level of training when the opportunity presented itself .

Again, it’s an enormous amount of information in a short time, especially for the first time. 

A highlight came when the speaker pulled several people from the audience onto the stage to give their “What is it?” This is our planned response for when we are asked the question about the business. Each one varies, but must essentially cover some basic information, without being put on the spot. One lady, Mary, absolutely froze, and the speaker helped her through the process, which provided a good learning opportunity for us all, without being in the spotlight.

We all felt that Mary had made a difference by giving us this visual aide, but her act was topped when the speaker brought April onto the stage. She too was unable to get the words out, so he asked to have her sponsor join her. At this point I figured this was a planned scenario, because her sponsor is her sister, Teresa, who is our upline and friend of Dottie and Steve.

 But he didn’t know that Teresa was April’s sister; it just happened that way, and Teresa, having been on the stage many times, gave a delightful performance. First, she said that they had rehearsed the “What is it?” until 2:00 a.m., and April had her response down, so she really knows it.

Later, while having our dinner snack in the lobby, April said that she, too, thought this had been planned with Teresa, but it really wasn’t, as Teresa confirmed. I’d called Dottie, in Colorado, during the break, so I told April, “The story is already back in Colorado, and she flushed red, again, at the realization that her dilemma was now history. But she added, “I sure will know my “What is it?”

Egg Rolls, Anyone?

The lunch break had been a mad rush of 1,000 people trying to find food in a limited time. We dashed up the street to a deli, only to discover it was closed on weekends. Our next choice was a Chinese restaurant, which had not expected such an influx of people, but managed to get us seated and fed within our time frame; and they served an excellent meal. The sweet and sour pork was a favorite, but I selected fried rice with shrimp, chicken, beef and vegetables, which was delicious and satisfying.

I may have been thinking about the earlier presentation of our newest product: a Diet, when I selected my lunch. The truth is that I’d been interested in a sensible, tasty meal plan, and I’d made an inner commitment to this one. In fact, they had product available, but the lines had been so long that I figured I wouldn’t get any. And, when I realized there was still some left, they had closed their cash register, and I couldn’t get it. It’s probably just as well, because I’d decided to wait until after Arianna’s wedding, in November, to start the diet. The other factor is the money, and these programs are not in Van’s reality, so they are not included in our Spending Plan, but with our anticipated increase in bonus checks, we would be able to afford it; and, it would be up to me to make sure it happens. 

I’d been aghast to learn that the U.S. overweight problem is out of control, with 97 million obese people; that’s 1 out of every 3 people, and childhood obesity is up 3 percent. Of course, this is mostly because Americans use food as a sedative or a love substitute, and it’s killing us. It’s the #2 killer, with 300,000 deaths a year; smoking is #1. Can you believe that 50 billion dollars has been spent on obesity? Because of obesity, diabetes is on the rise, and prostate cancer is a result, along with arthritis.

The disgusting part is that these statistics are no accident. We are bombarded with 70,000 food ads per child per year, not to mention those aimed at adults. I wonder when people will reclaim their lives from the addictions that are inflicted upon us.

During lunch, we all sat together at a table in the sun, and had an opportunity to get better acquainted, which was perfect, as Sherrie is such a good support person, and is willing to communicate over the e-mail with Lloyd and Dee. 

 

Profiles of Success

My favorite part of these events is the Profiles of Success, because it’s the human interest segment, where everyday people, such as us, tell their stories: why they are doing it, how the products and company have helped them, their current income and how they made it. Some of the speakers break into tears, or can’t even talk, when they tell about the difference these products and the company have made in their lives.

Every story is unique and inspiring, not only from those who spoke, but anyone in the audience too.

I love how this company works. No wonder they call it Networking, because these people aren’t even in our line, yet they support everyone, just as we do. It’s how the system works. And that’s why we have National Training, Meetings, Seminars System meeting guide book that lists every meeting and the contact people across the country. In fact, Lloyd and Dee plan to attend meetings in Houston, Texas, near their son, whom they would be visiting within the week. What a system!

Motivation From Within

The above heading was the title of the speaker’s closing comments, as he said, “Miracles can happen when you believe. To believe is the component we must have; to believe and have confidence work hand-in-hand. Confidence is faith, trust and a consciousness of feeling sure. Expect to win.”

He spoke of Enthusiasm, Attitude and Persistence as three building blocks to success, concluding, “Enthusiasm is contagious and comes from within. Don’t get bored, get better.” He gave an illustration: The fox chasing the rabbit. He said, “The fox is running for his dinner, but the rabbit is running for his life. Which is more motivated?”

Regarding Attitude, he said, “Cut loose fear; go for success.” And he urged, “Alter your life with a great attitude.”

Illustrating the need for Persistence, he referred to the plight in North Carolina, the state where company’s corporate headquarters is located. He said, “3600 families in North Carolina lost everything. They can give up and remain homeless, or they can start over. Treat setbacks as stepping stones.”

He added further tools for success that utilizes all the building blocks, “Forget about yourself and focus on the other person. Love what you do, and get excited. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.” And he suggested, “You may have to fight a battle more than once in order to win.”

He hit home with the comment, “Mentally be ready to accept responsibility for your own actions.”

Then he said, “Give yourself 25 reasons why to be in this business; and he grabbed his portable mike and went into the audience asking each person approached for one reason. Of course they came easily to the lips, and I smiled when Lloyd, in his aisle seat, quickly responded “Products.”

These comments only highlight the overall inspiration and motivation given by the speaker. It’s said, “A picture’s worth a thousand words,” because even the best chosen words aren’t able to completely convey an experience. For instance, they aren’t able to capture the inner, as well as his outer, energy. I can tell you about his running up on the stage and dancing to the music; and I can tell you of his endless efforts on behalf of the company, and for the benefit of us all. But attending one of these corporate events and actually experiencing him, and everything and everybody is essential for the training and motivation and inspiration.

This was proven, after the seminar was over and I asked Dee, “Now, what did you like best about the Expo?” And her eyes sparkled, as she replied, “Everything.”

As I always say, “An experience needs no words.” So, for anyone in our business, or even considering it as a possibility, I encourage you to attend the corporate events, and every meeting and training that is available.

We all said our goodbyes. I asked Lloyd, “Having experienced this Expo, do you feel that Van and I fulfilled our part in working with you and Dee?”

He said, “Yes, and it is duplicable. We can do the same with our people.”

His answer made me realize how much we had learned and how far we had come, thanks to the Training .

We floated up the escalator and to our cars, high on the energies of our recent experience.

News Flash! Steve Fires His Boss

The day after the Expo, while still at Sherrie’s, Dottie and Steve broke the news (by phone) that Steve had “fired his boss,” and he’s retired to work his business full time. This is a great step on faith, into the flooded River Jordan, but they know that God will continue to provide, for He is the Source of their supply; and not his RV sales job.

They are already earning their weekly $300.00 Business Volume checks, plus their retail sales profit, and additional bonus checks, so the decision was not without a firm foundation, especially with God as their Source.

There is always a story to accompany such a momentous event, and Steve’s story is that his decision was reached after receiving a 0-paycheck, despite his time on the job and sales made. He decided he could work for himself and do better putting the time into his own business. Yeah Steve!

After returning from a long day at work, driving over a hundred miles, and arriving home at 8:30 P.M. and hearing Steve’s announcement, Ed called to tell him, “I’m jealous.” But, he knew that he too, soon will be able to retire. Indeed Steve’s emancipation will motivate others to reach this accomplishment. And they did it in less than three years, just as promised. Of course, it’s taken a lot of hard work, and inner changes, but the fact is that it works.

And the Rains Came

The pitter patter on our rooftop, during the night, indicated that the rain season was upon us, and our timing was right to move on from Oregon, because it will be raining for the next 9 months.

Another shower came to my attention when Dottie had said that a bridal shower for Arianna would be in two weeks, and also with Steve retiring they were going full thrust with their business, and could use our help; also, she mentioned that I could have time to write, plus help her with the wedding preparations, so the decision was made to finish our visits in Oregon and head east, within the week.

We said goodbye to Sherrie and Ed, and thanked them for their ongoing support and hospitality, which made such a difference in our business and lives.

Taking a picture for our memory book, I laughed at Freedom sitting in the framed building, without a roof (the huge shop that Ed is building), as the rains began. And I said a prayer that he would have the needed time to complete the job quickly.

Do You Want to Work This Plan?

While writing this chapter, I had asked Van’s input for his highlights of the Expo, As Van pointed out, like all of this company’s products and services, it is excellent, and worth investigating. Regarding our business, Van added, “We know this proven business plan works. The only question is: do you want to work this plan?”

I might add that Van is fully restored to his wonderful self, and ready to move forward with our lives and our business. It’s another feature of attending these corporate events; they take you to new and higher levels toward the top.

So, when I say my daily prayers, I always give thanks for God’s guidance, protection and inspiration for us, and our business, and everyone in it: all the way to the top.

 

Chapter 9

COMPLETIONS AND NEW BEGINNINGS

 

He’s in Good Hands

Part of finishing business in Oregon meant knowing that our customers were in good hands with Paul and Teresa. In fact, at the Expo she said, “I always have time to work with your people. That’s why I’m here.” I must add that Teresa’s ongoing support and inspiration is a great motivation for me in this business. It’s easy to see how they have become so successful.

Cleaning up Money Matters

An important completion meant seeing Marquam to clean up the last of our financial transactions relating to his now defunct venture into our business. It was difficult for all three of us, because it meant discussing money and changing patterns. But the completion literally changed the energy between us, and I knew that our business would flourish, as a result. And now we could resume our relationships, without the unfinished money issues between us.

But It’s Only October

On our way, across the Willamette River and past Oregon City, I began thinking about our next stop, before leaving Oregon: seeing Mom at the convalescent hospital. She’d been doing so well on her new medications, but I knew that her downward trend begins in November, and I was thankful that we would be able to see her, while she’s still her wonderful self.

But, when I arrived, I was greeted by Margaret, the Activities Director, who told me, “She’s not doing good.”

“But it’s only October, she should be doing okay,” I protested.

“I know, but the doctor had to take her off her medication, because she’d gotten the flu, and the meds were affecting her breathing.” Now, she was better, so they had resumed the medication, but it hadn’t kicked in, as yet, and the transition caused her premature downward episode.

Margaret always has mom’s best interests at heart, and she happily said, “She’s having her breathing treatment, but I’ll go tell her she has a surprise.”

I followed the sound of accordion music into the dining room, as a guest performer jauntily played “Beer Barrel Polka.” He then launched into “Somewhere My Love,” one of Mom’s favorite songs, but she still hadn’t appeared. Then I tried to remember the name of another number, when I noticed that Jack, an old-timer that reminded me of Uncle Milt, was quietly singing the words to “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” as he supped his coffee. Considering that the man is almost totally deaf, and has to be yelled at for him to hear, this was quite interesting.

Finally, Mom arrived on Margaret’s arm, and she smiled, then joined me and began dancing to the last number. I thought, “She’s doing great. What’s the problem?”

I soon found out, as the music stopped and we sat down. She munched on the sugarless chocolate I brought her, and we started chatting about all the family news. Soon she looked frantic, and then said, “I’ve got to go.” About then Margaret came by, asked if she needed to use the rest room, and when Mom nodded no, Margaret encouraged her to stay, as she guided us to the table. But a few minutes later Mom got up, as she again said, “I’ve got to go,” so I took her arm and we walked to her room, where she plopped onto the bed and closed her eyes. She wasn’t asleep, but she simply wasn’t there, and further visiting was impossible.

Of course, Joanie can’t handle these lapses, and when Margaret appeared to say, “Van’s here,” I said, “I don’t think there’s any point staying for dinner, even if it is egg salad sandwiches and beef barley soup,” as I’d been promised.

Margaret looked at Mom and agreed, so I gave mom a kiss, and we walked to the door with Margaret, who promised to write letters on Mom’s behalf. She also informed me, “Val’s roommate, Viola, who is 97-years-old, is dying of colon cancer, and your mom knows this. I think that’s another reason she’s not doing well.”

“Oh, no wonder,” I said, and I felt sad that Viola, a sweet, quiet lady, was dying. Now I understood why she had been so agitated and chattering, when I was in their room. The problem is that she doesn’t hear, and it’s impossible to respond to her, although I tried. Margaret and I agreed that Mom’s inability to deal with change would be badly affected by Viola’s death; and the longer it drags on, the worse it will be. Margaret promised to keep me updated on Mom and Viola.

As we said our goodbyes and returned to Freedom, I felt sad and disappointed, yet, I had learned not to let these visits take me down, because it’s simply part of the reality of having a mentally ill mother, living in a convalescent hospital, surrounded by elderly, ill people. All I could do was to keep moving forward.

Last Stop at the Warren Homestead

The day had been too much, so I called my cousin, Marilyn, at the Warren Family Homestead, owned by her brother (my cousin), John, and said, “I’m done in. I’m going to bed when we arrive. I’ll see you in the morning.” At least I was smart enough to take care of Joanie, and not push her a bridge too far with any further activity.

The next morning, Aunt Charlotte (Marilyn and John’s mom), greeted me at the door of their mobile home, and invited us to lunch. Then Marilyn arrived and we chatted about her upcoming bus trip to Texas to visit her daughter and family. 

She then left to baby-sit her nieces and nephew, who live on the Homestead. And the next morning, she went to help their mom, Jeanine, at an all-day sidewalk sale in town.

In the meantime, Aunt Charlotte played the piano, and then fixed lunch. After doing dishes, we went for a short walk, and then went with John and his wife, Donna, to visit Uncle Russell (Mom’s brother), who lives in a nearby convalescent hospital, since his diabetes symptoms had caused his blindness and other debilitating symptoms that made it impossible for Aunt Charlotte to continue his home care. I’d been warned that he, too, was worsening, and sometimes doesn’t recognize his family, and even yells at them; all part of the deterioration of mind and body from diabetes and old age.

Fortunately, when I walked over to his bed and greeted him, he knew me, and we had a wonderful visit. Thank goodness, as Joanie just couldn’t bear to have her Uncle Russ not recognize her, or even worse, to be angry and yelling. 

Now, with the Warren Family visits complete, we arranged to meet for lunch at Verna’s restaurant, in nearby Sandy, for a family gathering, as we headed toward the Columbia River Highway.

Doin’ Our Own Thing

The heavy rains had finally let loose when we left the Warren Homestead, and continued as we began our trip to Colorado, along the Columbia River, but finally ended during the night. So when we awoke in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Hood River, the sunshine promised a glorious day, after we made a few purchases at the store.

Following the Columbia River’s panoramic view of barges and tugboats, with long trains snaking along the tracks, on the Washington side, with trucks and autos dotting the winding highway along the river’s edge was about all the input my frazzled brain and emotions could endure. And even that seemed too much, so I relaxed by reading a mystery I’d bought on sale at the Flying J Truck Stop in Troutdale; the first of our many stops at our home-away-from home across country on I-84 and 80.

Once out of the picturesque Columbia River Gorge, the terrain is bland, wheat color, until we crawl up the steep, winding road that takes us into the Blue Mountains. As we passed Emigrant Springs Campground, I recalled our first trip to Oregon in our motor home. It was springtime, and when we climbed the mountain trail by our site, the spring flowers were blooming in a riot of colors, and left their memory emblazoned on my mind.

Now, we zoomed right past, anxious to get beyond these high mountains before the first snowfall, which could happen any time during this October autumn season. And, even if we make it past these mountains, we still have the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, so the mode is to move right along to La Grande for our first Flying J stopover for this trip. 

Chapter 10

BUT IT’S STILL ONLY OCTOBER

 

Flying J’s and Angel Helena

I’d planned to use this subtitle in the last chapter, as a brief part of our trip from Oregon to Colorado, but the events along the way warranted an entire chapter, which I decided would be an extension of an earlier subtitle. Here’s what happened. 

When we reached the La Grande Flying J Truck Stop, we took on fuel, but it was still early, the weather was lovely, and we decided to keep going to the next one in Caldwell, Idaho. From here I called our friend, Helena, in Loveland, Colorado, to let her know we would be stopping overnight. Besides an enjoyable visit, I looked forward to her TLC massage.

We had been friends since we met in California at a chiropractor’s office, where she worked. Even then, she longed to become a massage therapist, but it was many years later, after she returned home that she finally attended a massage school and completed training. She had helped with my monthly “Rainbow Connection,” and wrote several love-full articles for a column, which I titled “Our Angel Helena.” Nowadays, our trips usually begin and end with a stopover at Helena’s.

The day’s drive across Idaho went quickly, and we spent the next night at Flying J in Willard Bay, north of Ogden, Utah; a quiet, pleasant spot at the foot of The Rockies western slope. And I could tell we were into their energies, because my head pressures and body tightness had already begun, despite the antioxidants I was taking.

However, nothing to do but head onward and push right on through the mountain barrier, which was difficult, because the minute we got onto I-80, we encountered a detour that took us for at least 20 miles over terrible bumpy roads. I worried about the impact on Freedom, as we bounced along behind the semi’s that contribute to the deteriorated highways.

Yet, the truckers are dependent on the highways, and we are dependent on the truckers bringing us our products. I always laugh at a sign along the freeway: “If you bought it, a trucker brought it.”

More Detours and a Dead End

Finally, the detour ended, but I was beginning to feel like I was literally taking the Journey to Inner Freedom. However, this detour was only the beginning.

We had planned to zip across the boring plains of Wyoming, and stay at the Flying J in Rawlins, but we weren’t far across the border, when a strange clanging noise got our attention. Van pulled off the highway at the next Rest Stop and examined the situation.

Not knowing all that much about engines, he intuitively announced, “I think I’ve thrown a rod.”

“I’m sure it’s just something that’s jarred loose because of the rough road,” I concluded, not knowing fully the impact of a “thrown rod.”

However, we called Steve, who contacted his mechanic friend, TC, and Van’s fears were confirmed and expanded upon. “You’ll need a new engine!” My worst fears of the road were now upon us, as TC said, “If you were to go through the shop where I work, it would cost about $8,500.00.”

I began crying, because I knew there was no way we would be willing or able to pay that amount of money, or anything near, even though TC said he could do it for around $6,000.00 in his spare time.  Besides, we were nearly 400 miles from there. However, TC said, “Well, maybe you can drive slowly and make it to Lakewood.”

So, we crept along the freeway another ten miles, past Little America and suddenly the clanging intensified. I said, “There’s no way we can make it, take that next turnoff, and we’ll go back to Little America. I saw a sign along the highway advertising a mechanic on duty.”

Van carefully exited, and then found a frontage road to follow back to Little America. By this time I was really in tears.

The End of our Lifestyle

My inner child was devastated, because I knew this would be the end of our life on the road. The problem now was a matter of how to get from here to Dottie’s; and what to do with Freedom. So, while Van talked with the mechanic, I walked tearfully to the deli and bought their special 35-cent ice cream cone, and returned outside in the wild Wyoming wind.

Soon Van joined me, and announced, “They don’t do engines here, but I talked to an outfit in Green River that will put in a new engine for $6,000.00, but it may take ten days or so; and we’ll have to be towed there.”

“I guess we’d miss the bridal shower, but that’s not the point. The point is that we don’t have the money, and even if we did, it’s a lot of money; far too much to spend on repairs.” I cried some more, as I tried to figure out a solution. There wasn’t one.

“I’ll go get Freedom,” Van said sorrowfully, adding, “We can stay in the parking lot for tonight.”

When he got Freedom situated, I climbed on board, curled up on the couch and cried. I felt totally and helplessly at the end of the road. Not only was this our home and our transportation; it was our lifestyle, and no matter how I tried to put things together in my mind. I was at a Dead End.

Yet, someplace in the process, I had been praying, if only to say “Help!

Little Ralph, too, was devastated, so he went over and got himself an ice cream cone, while Joanie cried.

When he returned, Van said, “I’ll call Mom and see what she suggests.”

“$6,000.00? I don’t think so!” As far as I was concerned, this was a bridge too far. “And even if she did come up with the money, what would we do when the next thing went out, such as the transmission?”

Despite my hopelessness, Van called his mother, while I sobbed hopelessly.

In the Wilderness

“She said ‘Okay,’” Van reported, then added, “But it’ll be tomorrow, before she can arrange to get the money out of the bank. And I’ll call a tow truck then, too.”

In the meantime, Van again talked with Steve and TC. The solution seemed to be to get Freedom to Lakewood; but how? Steve called for towing estimates, and learned that a flatbed truck would transport it for $700.00, but he forgot to ask if we could ride along, though that’s usually an option.

At least we now had hope, but I was still devastated. I knew that our world had ended. It was so real, and I was totally into the drama, experiencing every emotion of hopelessness.

I’m not sure when I finally realized what was happening with me, but it’s always some place in The Wilderness that we come into an awareness of the impact our childhood trauma’s still have on our lives. In other words, we are still reliving then, even in the midst of now.

But, I’ve had enough recovery, therapy and healing to recognize, at some point, that I’m caught in the cycle. And it began to dawn on me: Mom had already started into her cycle, and this crisis had triggered me into mine. It was still only October, but my inner child was reliving the devastation of losing my mom, my dad, my home, my family. I was into my Abandonment Syndrome.

“Okay, Joanie, that was then; this is now,” I began to explain. We are not a helpless child, I’m here, now, to help us through this, and God is too. We can make it; at least to Lakewood.”

I awoke the next morning feeling somewhat better. At least I was able to say my prayers and listen for the answers, which were quite clear: Take one step at a time. Stay in the Present Moment. First, get towed to Rock Springs. Then move as Guided.

Okay, so Van called the Good Sam Emergency Road Service, which would pay for towing to the nearest repair service. He also called his mom to start the process for the money to be available.

I called Dottie and arranged for us to stay with them, and I prayed for Divine Order, while planning what we would need to take with us. Sometimes I would cry, because it was so hard to face leaving our home where everything was so convenient and familiar. Now, we were facing change of the highest magnitude. But, I thanked God that our home wasn’t destroyed, and we would be able to live in it. However, if we were to stay in Colorado, then we would need to find a more permanent place, and I asked Dottie to check into several possibilities.

She reported that my first choice would be available in November and the monthly price was affordable. But then I remembered the need for first and last month rent, plus financially qualifying, and I felt hopeless again. Then Dottie told me about a duplex near them that suddenly had a For Rent sign, and I felt certain that was the answer. However, there was no phone number, and the next day the sign was gone. Again, I felt confused, but then I read my Daily Reading, which happened to affirm Divine Order. It said: “I cooperate with that order by following the divine guidance I am given and by answering the call of Spirit to live life fully.”

With the coincidence of this affirmation, I felt as if this entire process was part of God’s Divine Plan. I didn’t understand why, but I accepted it.

Across the River Jordan

The tow truck was two-hours late, but when the big, yellow semi arrived, I felt more secure. And when we got into the comfortable cab with Winston, a pleasant, friendly thirtysomething fellow, I relaxed and surrendered into the flow of the events.

As we talked about our options, Winston offered to take us by the mechanic in Green River, on our way to Rock Springs, where the owner had been calling around to find us other options.

We had considered the possibility of leaving Freedom and taking a bus to Denver, where Dottie and Steve could meet us. But this would mean returning when the job was done, and the weather could change at any time. I opted for making the trip now, while we had sunny, warm weather, even if it meant being towed.

I enjoyed the ride with Winston, and Freedom was riding along behind quite nicely, so I asked “How much would it cost for you to tow us to Lakewood?”

Winston replied, “I don’t know, but I’ll call my boss from the service station in Green River.”

I remembered that on our trip West, it was Green River where we had met a single- mother, Heidi, and her baby that was miserable with allergies. I’d told her about OPC-3 for healing allergies, and also the great business opportunities with this business. She was flying to Minnesota the next day to take the baby to the Mayo Clinic, and she would be staying with her grandmother, who was paying expenses. I gave her our business card and she promised to get back in touch with us. But she hadn’t. So now I asked Winston if he knew her. He didn’t.

However, I’d made up my mind to talk to him about the business opportunity, so I began asking him questions to learn if he would be a good business partner.

In the meantime, we stopped at K Motives and talked with them about doing the job, learning that it could take several weeks, and we could not stay in Freedom. This, of course would mean staying in a motel. Again, the weather was a factor, besides the cost, so I opted to move on.

Winston returned from the phone call to his boss, Bruce, reporting, “It would cost $875.00 to be towed to Lakewood.”

Van and I were in agreement, so we said, “Let’s go for it.” But he needed to explain to Bruce that our money wouldn’t be available for another day.

“You can’t leave until tomorrow, anyway,” Bruce said, agreeing to our financial arrangements.

 

Wild, Windy Wyoming

Wyoming is windy, no doubt about it. We found that out when blowing across the parking lot at Little America, while eating our cone. And again at Macy’s Towing Service, when we got out of the tow truck and walked to the office eating sand instead of a cone. Therefore, I wasn’t thrilled to learn that we would be spending the night (in Freedom) on the lot; but we were alive and well, and now had a plan, so this was our option.

Fortunately the wind died down toward evening, and we settled into our evening routine in Freedom. Neither of us slept well, and we were ready early when Winston came back and again hooked us up to the tow truck.

We piled on board and the trip began, after a stop for refueling. Winston is a talker, and chatted about his various jobs, which included ranching; even on an elk ranch in Colorado at one time.

As part of my intention to get him into the business, I began asking about his dreams and plans. The more I heard, the more impressed I became with the possibilities of his being in this business. I learned that he had good business judgement, as he talked about saving up to buy his own flatbed truck. And he had long-range plans, as he shared his dream of someday owning his own ranch.

The trip was passing pleasantly, and Freedom had been riding smoothly, despite the wind; but once we climbed into the mountains between Laramie and Cheyenne, the wind shifted and came from the south, which caused Van to worry about the awning, so Winston stopped and they checked it carefully.

All was okay, so we continued. Now, I began presenting the business opportunity to Winston, and he responded favorably, saying, “I’ve been looking for something to provide extra income.”

So, I turned the conversation over to Van, and he explained the Business Plan. Winston actually understood the opportunity and grasped the unique concept.

By the time we reached Lakewood, Winston had asked for information that he could share with his girlfriend, Brandy, a college student studying accounting and business,

Once at TC’s (also involved in the business), he and Van chatted with Winston, while he unhooked Freedom and placed it in the driveway. I located the catalog and brochures and gave Winston the website where he could learn much more.

Then Dottie and Steve arrived to give us a ride to their home, and I introduced them, too, as his prospective upline. By now it was time for Winston to return and for us to get on with the next phase of our lives.

A Hubbub of Activity

As we began our new regime, living at my daughter’s home, I laughed at my Daily Reading: “I soar with spiritual freedom that God has given me.” It spoke of a fledgling bird being pushed from the parent’s nest, only our situation was reversed somehow. However, the words went on to talk of being urged on to greater good, and I affirmed this truth.

We were immediately caught up in the whirl of activity that always exists in the world of my daughter’s family: the phone constantly ringing with business and personal calls, errands to be run, and paperwork; all part of managing their rapidly growing organization. And with Steve now retired and home, the activity is intensified.

Of course, they also have a home life, which includes their two daughters: teenage Airica, who is homeschooling, and her boyfriend, Josh, who spend most of their time at home, when not working.

But the hubbub of activity, at this time, revolved around Arianna’s forthcoming marriage to Jason. And the weekend bridal shower, and Jason’s bachelor party, took first precedence. This meant Dottie and I must first wrap presents. Fortunately I’d brought extra gift paper, and the activity became another mother-daughter bonding event. Or, it would have, but Dottie is always in a hurry, and this was not top on her list, so her approach was: hurry up and get it over.

Jason, in the meantime, had driven the six-hours, with a friend, to Rapid City, South Dakota for the weekend, as this was the location of his bachelor party, and also their future home together; right after the wedding. They felt that a fresh start in his hometown, where he could do carpentry with a friend, would be a wise choice. And it would be only an hour from his parents, who live in Eastern Wyoming.

 Because of the timing factor and delay in ordering the wedding invitations, Arianna decided to design them herself, with Van’s help, on the computer, which became a major process for the next several days. And then there was the mailing list and addressing envelopes; a disorganized group effort, such as Dottie not finding her Christmas card list of addresses. Yet, somehow, it was done, and the invitations were mailed.

The Bridal Shower in the Snowstorm

Full credit for the bridal shower goes to Airica, who planned, prepared and hosted it all by herself; with the help of Josh, and her best friend, Brooke.

You see, in this hectic lifestyle, with Arianna and her friends all working and Dottie’s involvement with their business, no one else could help. For instance, the morning of the shower, we accompanied Dottie and Steve to a three-hour New Distributor Training, and arrived home a half-hour before the festivities.

And, of course, this being Colorado in October, Mother Nature added her presence with an all-day snowstorm; not bad enough to halt traffic, but plenty to lay a thick white blanket over everything.

Airica made cupcakes, decorated the house, put out veggies, chips and goodies for snacks, and then hosted the games, complete with prizes. The ten guests ranged in age from Airica’s teenage friend to Grandmother Joyanna, with Arianna’s and Dottie’s friends filling in the middle years; and everyone had a good time.

The gifts, mostly chosen from Arianna’s Gift Registration, added some useful, new items to her homemaking repertoire, much to her delight; although she did receive three bathroom accessories set: toothbrush holder, soap dish and cup. My gift was a month-in-advance cookbook, and Dottie selected a spice rack of seasonings.

That’s how Mom’s and Grandma’s think

While the shower was in progress, Van and Steve, along with the dogs and cats, felt ostracized in the garage, although they were watching football, so not hurting too badly. And they snuck in for some snacks at the end of the festivities.

With this milestone past, Arianna and Van spent the rest of the afternoon working on her wedding invitations, which involved some learning processes on computer technology for them both.

Van and I felt good to be able to contribute to this important time in Arianna’s life with our presence and abilities; and Dottie appreciated our support, as did Arianna. It was a warm fuzzy family activity in the midst of the softly falling snow.

Another Family Transition

There’s something about October being a time of transition: the time of harvest and completions. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the phone call came to tell me that my Uncle Russ (Mom’s mother) had made his transition during this season.

Marilyn had left a message to call her, and I knew what she would say, “Dad died this morning.” She explained that his condition had worsened, and he’d been taken to the hospital, where he rallied briefly, and spoke to everyone. Thinking it would be longer, they all went home; only to be called back in the early morning. His son, John, had received the call and, with his wife, Donna, went to the hospital. But seeing how quickly he was slipping away, he rushed home to get his sister, Marilyn, and Russ’s wife, Charlotte.

Marilyn sobbed as she said, “He died ten minutes before we got there.”

I quickly said, “But Marilyn, I know it’s a natural reaction to feel guilty that you weren’t with him, but you know that you and Aunt Charlotte, and John have done more than most families to be with Uncle Russ through this time.”

“I know,” she replied, and added, “I don’t think it would have been good for Mom to be there, anyway. She’s taking it very hard.”

I responded, “Well, he’s been her entire life, and she’ll be so lost without him. I hope you’ll plan to stay with her, now.”

“Oh, I will,” she reassured me. “But, I’m afraid Mom won’t live very long without Dad.”

I agreed, and asked, “Aren’t you glad you got sick, and weren’t able to go to Texas. Otherwise, you would have been there now, and would have come right back.”

“Oh, yes, God really guided me on that.” We talked a bit longer, and said our goodbyes.

I felt bad that I wasn’t there to attend Uncle Russ’s funeral, but I had to trust God’s timing. After all, I’d been in Oregon five months, and I was so happy that he’d been responsive and recognized me on our last visit. So now, I went to my room and had a quiet tribute to my Uncle Russ, remembering the time’s we’d been together, and that he’d come to visit me and my family several times through the years, despite the fact that I had been adopted and not raised with my mother’s family.

I remembered Uncle Russ’s flaming red hair, when younger, and his distinctive voice, almost a southern tone. He’d felt the call to the ministry, and had gone to Multnomah Bible College. In the course of events, while fulfilling his duties, he met Charlotte, also active in the church; and the rest is history.

As I told Marilyn, “Your dad touched many lives and he’s earned his reward in Heaven.”

 

“A New Day Dawning”

One of the highlights of any trip to Lakewood is attending Mile High Church of Religious Science, and in October the entire church participates in the Adventures in Faith program, a spiritual inner journey, always with a different and appropriate theme. This year’s theme, “A New Day Dawning,” was about change. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

With the millennium looming before us, we are all anticipating change, as everyone seems to be going through changes, and it’s comforting to know that we certainly are no exceptions. In fact, when TC tried to cash Van’s check to buy the motor, the bank put a seven-day-hold, which delayed the repairs, and time when we would return to the familiarity and comfort of Freedom. Dottie’s home is fine, but I slept on our old love-seat, which wasn’t as comfortable as my own bed. And every time I need something, it’s in Freedom. So change is no stranger to us.

Furthermore, Van’s mom announced that she would be planning to meet us in Laughlin in December, after all, so I was now in a state of flux, because I’d decided to stay in Lakewood for the winter. But, I kept praying and listening to God’s guidance.

For now, I was enjoying my family and I was totally enmeshed in their activities, so attending church on Sunday morning with Dottie was a welcome respite, and the subject matter gave me nurturing and refueling.

In the evening we attended the monthly Healing Service, and it felt good to pray for our family, friends, Freedomers and business and motor home repairs, and for World Peace.

Crystal Rose

The sun was shining brightly and the snow nearly melted when we drove upward into the foothills of The Rockies to Crystal Rose, the location for Arianna’s wedding. It’s not far from Buffalo Bill’s grave, which we had visited in the past. But this day the big event was securing the time and date; a good idea, considering that the invitations were being printed by Van, as we spoke.

Now, it was Arianna and Dottie, who had already seen the place, and Steve and I viewing it for the first time; a rustic, low-ceiling interior replete with tables, dance floor, bar, and the  entire regalia necessary for a wedding; no fuss or bother, once the details were settled. Then, like a well-orchestrated play, everything would fall nicely into place.

We hoped that the view would improve for the Big Day, because this day had clouded over, obliterating the panoramic view of Denver far below, beneath the clouds. But that detail must be left to Mother Nature. Everything else is handled by the Crystal Rose staff, including the music and parking, meals and beverages; and a selection of color preferences for the decor. Arianna’s choice is purple and silver.

Later, nearer the actual date, these final arrangements would be made, but for now the check would be signed and the walk-through of the buffet area, bride’s and groom’s dressing rooms, and other questions answered would suffice.

When we walked outside, Steve had been attempting to start the faulty motor, but was looking under the hood, as softly falling snow fell upon his shoulders. We waited in the car, while the manager of Crystal Rose gave a jump start, and the large snowflakes continued, with the threat of much more to come. After awhile, the gals decided to go back inside, but Dottie gave the starter one more turn, and it started.

“That’s it!” Steve exclaimed, as he got into the car. We’re getting this fixed today.

Major Trend Changes

As we descended the mountain, the snowflakes diminished, and we were soon under the cloud layer that we had looked upon from Crystal Rose.

True to his word, Steve and Dottie took the car for the repairs, and another major hurtle had been made, in a day of big changes.

Earlier, on the way to the Crystal Rose, Dottie had explained that they had made a decision to change a money policy; rather than paying bills at the eleventh-hour, they would pay upon receipt of the bill. I could feel the depths of this energy shift, and I said, “Well, they say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, so this change will lift you to another new level, and the business will respond accordingly.” Perhaps the climb up the mountain symbolized this upward trend in their thinking. And getting the car repaired, rather than putting up with, was another shift in consciousness.

But the day wasn’t over, yet, and the fun was just beginning. Arianna went to work, and Van joined the rest of us on a jaunt to Costco for a major shopping stock up.

Dottie and Steve like to rush through the store, buy what they need, and get out; whereas for Joanie and Little Ralph it’s an adventure to be slowly savored. This day, was especially fun, because Steve heaped on huge cuts of meat and large boxes of other goodies. On the other hand, Dottie, who can’t tolerate an over-stuffed refrigerator or cupboards, got a headache from this over-indulgence of shopping, and she gingerly added the bare necessities, while cringing with each new addition to the cart. However, she announced that she does much better than she used to when dealing with her bugaboo about food.

In addition to the accomplishments of the day, the Crystal Rose was secured for the wedding date, and Arianna’s invitations were finished; and with Jason’s help getting his addresses done, they would be mailed the next day.

And yet, one more major change had occurred during this Monday: a new approach to money matters, which allowed for getting the necessary car repairs.

I knew something was in the process of breaking forth, during the first week of studying  A New Day Dawning. The lesson was about change, and we’d certainly been going through that upheaval lately. I was sleeping on the old russet loveseat that had once been ours, and now rested in Dottie’s large basement family room, while Van slept in the guest room on our former twin bed that we had donated to their household. All this, while Freedom sat alone in TC’s driveway awaiting him to work on it in his spare time.

The weekly lesson suggested that we draw a line across the width of a blank page and indicate the changes that have taken place in our lives, starting as far back as we can remember. Of course, I started with two current changes: the motor dying in Freedom and Arianna’s wedding, which brought us to Lakewood, Colorado. Then I filled in my marriages and divorces, ministry and stress out, amongst other events. And finally listed the early trauma in my life: my brother, Gary’s birth, Mom’s mental illness, our home life ending, and my new life with Mom and Dad Freeland.

The next exercise asked to put an “H” by each event that seemed to happen to us, and a “M” by each one that we initiated. Once this was done, the exercise suggested that we select one of each category and answer the question: “I handled this change in my life by …”

From the “H” category, I chose: Motor in Freedom Died. And for the “M” category, I listed: Life in Freedom; our on the road lifestyle.

I wrote: “I handled the motor ordeal by crying, praying, accepting, and taking action, as God guided. Step One: Being towed to Rock Springs with the Good Sam Emergency Road Service. Step Two: Continuing to be towed to Lakewood, where we wanted to be. In other words, being willing to make changes, and then going through the open doors; choosing new directions, trusting God, and affirming Divine Order and Timing; and living in the Present Moment (See asterisk).

The asterisk had been placed by the original childhood trauma that impacted my life; meaning that these events that happened to me formed the patterns for the rest of my life.

I chose for the change that I initiated: Our lifestyle in Freedom. I handled this change by wanting it, choosing it, accepting it. I also recognized that despite the fact that in the past I resisted change, this lifestyle offered constant change. So, I admitted that I enjoy change and mild adventure — not danger. But I listen to God’s guidance and follow it.

Then I wrote: “So why do I resist change and fear the possibility of mishaps: inclement weather, Freedom’s breakdowns, or other dangers. In other words, I’m not in control of what happens (See asterisk).

“Count Your Blessings”

This process had been going on throughout the week, with other factors being brought to my attention. For instance, I’d read an article on forgiveness in a religious magazine that added another facet to the overall picture.

The authoress spoke of an incident that had impacted her life, and how unforgiveness had caused her to become hard-hearted, until she attended a forgiveness workshop in which she recalled the event, felt the feelings, and healed the pain. Her life was transformed, and complete forgiveness became a way of life, as she attended a therapist and unearthed even deeper feelings that brought forth more healing.

In this article, she speaks of various ways people deal with circumstances, such as developing a protective shield around themselves to avoid the pain. And there are others who use spiritual tools, such as denials and affirmations, to sugar-coat their reactions. I could relate to the author’s comment that this can cause us to become inauthentic by affirming positive statements that conflict with our true feelings, which leads to physical and emotional damage. Or some people can become sleepwalkers with no feelings at all about anything; no lows, but no highs either.

Many of us were taught to be brave and stoic, such as Jackie Kennedy over the death of her husband. An act of bravery, on her part, but possibly contributing to her early death, by burying her true feelings and causing them to erupt as health conditions that can be deadly.

Then there are the old clichés: “God never sends you more than you can handle, Count your blessings, no use crying over spilt milk.” Yet, the pain is still buried within us, and can cause physical manifestations.  

“I Was Coerced”

Added to the above happenings, we learned that a family member had called the Preferred Customer Program Director to say that she had been coerced into signing into the program, and wanted nothing to do with it, and to remove her name from the mailing list. We were shocked, not to mention hurt, that someone who had willingly signed up, would call our company and make such an inflammatory statement. So, I was being with the incident, and praying for guidance as to how to approach it when next talking with her.

Of course, God always uses His own methods for getting my attention, and this was just one more factor, added to the others, that finally brought me to a meditation, and the following realizations.

The Thing I Fear has Come Upon me

The asterisk incident, mentioned above, became the pattern that triggered much of my behavior throughout my life. It was like that deep hole that never got filled or freed of the pain; and it was never clearly defined, until this level of cycling through the healing process. Now, it became clear: the actions, conditions, circumstances and people outside of myself adversely impacting my life without my having any control over the effects.

It’s as if I went through life with my arms crossed to protect myself from further harm, and at the same time they were pushing outward to ward off anyone from coming too close, as a survival mechanism from too much pain and hurt coming at me. The family member’s accusations of coercion, for instance, came like a knife blade stabbing into my heart. And I always live in fear of this sort of attack, thus it becomes a projection that attracts the very action that I fear; as Job said, “The thing I fear has come upon me.” This universal law can be depended on to be fulfilled, unless we change the underlying pattern.

Therefore, as this revelation unfolded and brought these realities to me, I felt a terrible pain in my heart, and I asked God to remove the negative energies from the pattern, return them to God and transform them into positive and productive energies for good. Soon, my body lightened, and a huge weight lifted from my chest and heart area.

Not a Matter of Right or Wrong

Now, I could contemplate our future plans from a different viewpoint; one that I know to be true, but that was clouded by the negative energies of the former pattern, which would become another projection: something bad is going to happen.

I remembered that God’s will is for good, so no matter what direction we traveled, or what decision we made, God would still guide, protect and support us. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, but simply making the choice and trusting God.

With the freedom to fully experience my feelings, rather than trying to be appropriate or please God, as discussed in the forgiveness section, I could make my choices based on what’s true for me, and what I really want to do.

For now, we were in Lakewood, and we would remain here, until after Arianna’s wedding, and whenever Freedom was ready, and as God guides in perfect timing.

Then we would head south, perhaps to visit our friend, Dan in Albuquerque, before heading west to Laughlin, where we would meet with Van’s mom for more fun at the desert casino along the Colorado River.

If You Don’t Like Where You Are, Make a Change

Wouldn’t you know that the universe is supporting this chapter, and A New Day Dawning. For instance, the following poem appeared on my e-mail:

 

IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHERE YOU ARE, MAKE A CHANGE

 

The first step toward getting somewhere

is to decide that you’re not going to stay where you are.

 

You are a product of your environment.

So choose an environment that will best develop you toward your objective. 

 

Analyze your life in terms of your environment.

Are the things around you helping you toward your success —

or are they holding you back?

 

Your world today is a living expression

of how you are using and have used your mind.

It’s something you can change at any time.

 

Revisiting Our Long-term Goals

I became uncomfortable when approaching the above subject in A New Day Dawning, because it forced me to re-examine my focus and my priorities with questions such as: Am I living my vision? If not, what changes am I ready to commit to right now? What do I want my life to look like these next 12 months? What do I want to do differently? How do I want to present myself to the world?

The Weekly Activity invited me to decide on a second step in my journey that I am willing to accomplish this week. This took some special meditation, because I had chosen to focus on the business for one year, and we were only six-months into that commitment. Yet, my long-term goal revolves around my writing and my books. So keeping a balance between the two is essential to prevent me from feeling that I am selling myself out.

However, with my edited book manuscripts in Freedom and me at Dottie’s, I was somewhat limited in my direction. But I opted to work on the one book that I did bring with me, and to assume that was God’s guidance. And, of course, I kept my daily update on this current chapter. With the other activities, this seemed enough for now.

Yet, as we attended the Trainings and as Van worked with Dottie and Steve on business, I noticed that he was getting much more involved. His old zest for life was returning, and it occurred to me that perhaps this would become his purpose in life, and I could put more focus on mine. I also knew that it would be important for me to support him with my participation too. So, each day I included some activity toward our long term goals and I also spent time updating my chapter, studying A New Day Dawning and corresponding with Freedomers.

Don’t Forget the Dogs and Cats

I once wrote a piece about the family dog, Rascal, which was more favorable received than my other writings. It spoke of Rascal’s patterns, as an Australian Sheepdog. Though he’d never seen a sheep, he ran a figure-eight pattern in the back yard, similar to the herding configuration, and he’d worn a path in the backyard. Furthermore, he’s typically possessive and protective, as one guarding his herd and he must know where each member of the household is at all times. It’s just inbred and he can’t help it; much like we can’t help many of our inherited or learned compulsions.

And there was the incident when Angel, Arianna’s cat, came to live with them. Rascal stood like a statue, not moving a hair on his head and barely breathing, as Angel rubbed around his legs and under his stomach, purring happily over her newfound friend. It took awhile, because it’s against his dog nature to fraternize with cats; but his sheepdog compulsion to herd his flock forced him to include Angel on his agenda.

But, in the due course of time, there were changes: Angel had five little kittens, which she safely placed under the center of the queen-sized bed, and Rascal plopped in the middle of the bed, with his head pressed between the mattress and headboard, overseeing the new addition to his flock, all day long.

The kittens grew up, and several were given away, but he still had Angel and two kittens to tend. But then Arianna, who had moved into her own apartment and acquired a part Dingo dog, had to send the four-month-old home, because she wasn’t supposed to have pets.

Now, an older and more sedate Rascal had a real challenge: a lively pup that wanted to play all day long, and that emulated the older dogs every move from the razzle welcome, my name for Rascal’s overwhelming tail-less body wag to the dog language whines and whimpers of greeting. Whatever Rascal did, Buddie did too, and Rascal had no respite from his new companion. But, in time, they became bonded, and would play ball or sock-pull together, transferring the object from one mouth to the other; or tossing the ball for each other. And when someone came to visit, they had to endure the razzle welcome of both overzealous dogs.

And somehow the gingham dogs and the calico cats manage to live together in some semblance of peace. Of course all animals are dutifully spoiled, and mealtimes are a riot, as Angel is given her tidbits on the basement stairs to protect her from sharing her food with her offspring; and they eat on the countertop to protect them from the dogs, who are usually fed in the garage.

But, appropriate for this October theme, Rascal and Buddie will have their own trauma to face in November, when Arianna and Jason take Buddie with them to their new home in South Dakota. I suspect that Rascal will welcome having his privacy and kingship of the household restored, but he will miss his Buddie.

On the other hand, Buddie will be happy to return to his mom and dad, as he grieves each time they visit and then leave. So the move will restore the happy family.

In the meantime, as I write, the three calico cats are sprawled out on the chairs, sofas or beds in the basement, which is their domain, usually free from the invasion of dogs, or people, unless they have company, such as now.

Welcome Home

Finally, the last Sunday in October, Halloween, TC brought Freedom home;  Or, I should say, brought our home and transportation back to us, and I spent the day moving back home, while Airica and her friend, Josh, assembled their costume: Raggedy Ann and Andy.

I’d always hated Halloween; perhaps it’s somehow associated with the breakup of my natural family, but this year, I seemed to feel okay about it, and I enjoyed seeing the trick-or- treaters in their cute costumes. In fact, I was looking out the door at a newly arrived group, when I spotted an especially gruesome one. Much to my surprise, it was my great-grandson, Brandon, in his Grim Reaper outfit. They all came inside, and I snapped pictures, while he showed us his bounty, and we watched Raggedy Ann and Andy trade each other’s goodies.

When I returned to Freedom, later that night, I wondered why I didn’t seem particularly happy about returning home. In fact, it’s more like I resented it, and I felt angry, numb and confused.

It’s a Protective Mechanism

I’d wondered if this month, and this chapter, would ever end, or if there was any point to it. When I awoke the next morning, in my own home and own bed, I asked God why I felt so indifferent about Freedom, and the answer began to unfold, as another level of understanding and healing the inner child trauma. No wonder it was happening this time of year; it’s a conclusion to the chapter, and another further healing of that early childhood trauma.

The explanation came to me that having Freedom break down and taken away, reverted in my inner child’s mind to my parent’s leaving me, and my being taken to live with Mom and Dad Freeland. And the next time I saw my natural mom and dad, I felt the above indifference, along with the other emotions.

It’s like when Dottie and Steve leave Rascal home and go away. He’s in a funk the entire time they’re gone, but when they return, he’s indifferent, as if to punish them, and it sometimes takes awhile for him to warm up to them, again.

Children often react the same way: not glad to see the parents–hurt, wary, not as open-knowing they’ve been abandoned, and it could happen again. Some call it the loss of innocence, when you realize that bad things can happen to your otherwise sheltered, secure life; and for me, it happened at a young age. Thereafter, I always knew it could happen, so I’ve maintained the above cautious, closed approach to relationships; even to Freedom: don’t let it mean too much, or you’ll be hurt, disappointed, abandoned; it’s a Protective Mechanism.

But the important healing aspect of this experience was the realization that the Abandonment Syndrome Pattern had been reversed. By Freedom being returned to us, and ready to move onward, I could release the lifetime trauma.

Now that I understood in this light, I felt free of the traumatic impact from that early childhood abandonment. And I felt able to move forward in a more open, optimistic attitude.

At last, I could let go of this chapter, as the month of October quietly slipped into November.

 

Chapter 11

IT’S TIME TO LET GO AND LET GOD

What do I Want to do?

The New Day Dawning program had reached its fourth week, and the intensity increased, as the questions and exercises had been focusing on our dreams and desires. While away from Freedom, I continually asked myself: What do I want to do?

I contemplated many options, such as renting an apartment near Dottie, staying in Freedom at an RV park during the winter, getting involved in the church in Albuquerque where Dan Mueller would be an interim minister, or wintering in Laughlin, as we’d done the first year.

“Transformational Moments: Birthing New Visions of Self,” the topic for this week began with Sunday’s sermon, which emphasized that we must push through our fears and feelings of limitations to become all that we are meant to be: to see and embrace the new vision of ourselves, uncover our buried potential, identify our spiritual purpose and what we want to contribute to the world, and to practice patience and self-acceptance in the midst of change.

The special guest for Sunday was a blind gal who had fulfilled her dreams of being on the stage, despite her parents telling her it was impossible. Now, she not only was nominated for an award for the Denver area’s theatrical performances, but she won the part of the blind girl in “Wait Until Dark,” the first time a blind woman performed that role.

Needless to say, we were all inspired, and I began to wonder what was standing in the way of what I’d set out to do in life with my writing, teaching and facilitating workshops and seminars.

I prayed about it, and asked God, but the most answer I ever get is that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing right now.

In the meantime, Van and I were attending meetings, and he was working with Dottie in the business management, such as printing our reports from the computer, and otherwise being involved. He was participating at a higher level than ever before, and even did the opening for a Kick-off, much to everyone’s amazement. I knew that he was ready to assume a more active part in this business, which would give me permission to return to my activities.

Yet, I had agreed to a one-year commitment to the business, which wouldn’t be over for another six-months, so I said, “Okay, God, this is still Your Divine Plan and I trust You to show me what I am to do. I’ll simply let go and let God.”

Tears welled in my eyes Monday morning, as I saw the words of my Daily Reading. As always, it held the answers to my questions, as it referred to the future as a great mystery, and reminded me that I can only live in the present moment and I’m always living in the presence of God, and therefore it is a future of hope, because God is always guiding me. So, bottom-line, I trust God to let me know what I’m supposed to do, and when.

The Wedding Preparations

Of course, Arianna’s wedding would be happening in another two weeks, and for now it seemed to be everyone’s main focus. I had been included in seeing her dress when she went for a fitting, and she looked lovely. And I went along for buying the top of the wedding cake, Guest Book, feathered pen, garter and other necessary incidentals. Although Arianna picked out the tuxes for the groom and groomsmen, Dottie and I were consulted for final approval. And I’d been along when Dottie was doing errands and asked Arianna to look for a long, black skirt for business meetings. Here we found the perfect gowns for the bridesmaids, and a dress for Dottie, so that problem had been solved.

Van had spent much time trying to get a picture of the maid-of-honor in a dress that she wanted to wear, and finally got it through the internet, which showed us the colors that worked for the bridesmaids.

Once Arianna moved from her apartment, with the help of us all, and moved in with her parents, the pieces were fitting together. Jason had loaded a U-Haul, with Steve’s help, and moved their furniture to South Dakota, where he had a job. He would return in time for the wedding. 

The Crystal Rose had been secured as the wedding facility, the cake and flowers were ordered, the photographer settled, and the music arranged.

Let’s Take a Break

Within the week, Rachelle, the maid-of-honor would be flying in from California, in time for the Bachelorette Party, and Dottie was contemplating new kitchen floors and painting the inside of the house. This seemed like a good time for us to visit Van’s Aunt Betsy.

In the meantime, her brother, Van’s Uncle Gene, was in the hospital with kidney failure, but she okayed our visit, despite her daily runs to the hospital.

So, we were again on the road; at least for a short trip across town. I insisted on a bath for Freedom at the Truck and RV Wash, which only cost $35.00, a far-cry from the $200.00 we’d paid in April, for an at-home wash, sealant and wax. But, that meant we wouldn’t need the extra treatment this time.

Then we drove to Golden and got our mail at Mail Box Etc., and to East Denver, along I-70, for fueling and dumping at Flying J Truck Stop. Finally, we arrived at Aunt Betsy’s long after dark. Van went in to visit, but I was too exhausted from all the family energies that morning. A gunman had shot a police officer near our neighborhood, and the streets were closed down, four helicopters were overhead, and the Swat Team was involved.

This had triggered Airica’s anxieties resulting from the Columbine shooting, and Steve had insisted she stay home from work. The stress caused her to become emotional and shout false accusations to me that I was laughing at her. Heaven forbid! I was truly concerned about her emotional well-being, but now I’d become distraught and took it out on Van when he got lost in Golden and drove around in circles. All in all, it had been too much for one day.

Actually, after a few days’ rest, I realized that I was, again, in overload, and the respite was good. Arianna’s wedding preparations would move along without my help, especially since her maid-of-honor would be arriving a week early for the Bachelorette Party.

Is it Us; or the Times?

It felt good to be on the road again, after a few days visit with Aunt Betsy, although she was busy going to the hospital to visit her brother, Van’s Uncle Gene, who had been admitted into the Emergency Room with kidney failure. But, he was out of danger, and we moved on to our planned meeting in Colorado Springs.

We met Dottie and Steve at the Colorado Music Hall, with the intentions of helping setup for the Colorado District Rally. But it was already done, so we all went to late lunch, instead. As we rode, they updated on wedding plans, with the report that Rachelle had arrived and everything was in full swing.

I asked how Airica was doing, and then brought up the question of the accusation that I’d been laughing at her. Steve said it was a misunderstanding; that she was actually referring to him laughing at her. In any event, that mix-up was resolved, and I felt much better.

Lunch was finished, they had checked into their hotel and changed, and we were walking toward the parking lot, when two ladies from the balcony above shouted, “You’d better not go out there, now, as a carjacking is in progress. We peered into the darkness and saw the headlights, but nothing else was visible. Nevertheless, we retreated to the door and Steve tried to get it open with the plastic keycard, but it didn’t work. Not willing to get shot down on the doorstep, Dottie grabbed for the key and, of course, it opened, allowing us into the safety of the entranceway.

Is it us, or the times? Why would we again be involved in criminal activity? The previous shooting, in Lakewood, had been three blocks away; this was at our doorstep. Yet, in both instances, I didn’t feel panic, but trusted the presence of God and His protection.

A November Rally in Colorado Springs

He danced and pranced onto the stage, accompanied by the upbeat music; and then he told us how he had earned between $36,000.00 and $45,000.00 every four weeks; and then showed us how we could too. The speaker then gave an impressive all-day and evening seminar that motivated many of us to become re-committed to our business. And throughout the day, he gave us many, many tips for building and managing our business.

All of this was inspiring, but my favorite part is the Profiles of Success, when the couples (or individuals), earning top money, share their stories; many with tears in their eyes, as they tell of physical healings or financial breakthroughs, in addition to personal growth. These are ordinary folks who followed the proven business plan and made it work, proving that any of us can do it too.

Among the first three giving their testimonials were Dottie and Steve; and they hadn’t even told us, so I didn’t have my camcorder with me. Steve is a good public speaker and does well on the stage, but this time he was barely started, when he became so emotional about the blessings of this business that he couldn’t talk any more. But, Dottie spoke about personal growth and wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, and she, too, broke up, but she completed her talk, mostly because she didn’t mention that the OPC-3 had put her MS into remission; otherwise, she always breaks into tears.

Another important function of these gatherings is the recognition of accomplishment for different pin levels. We would have been amongst the Executive Coordinators, but that honor had been put on hold, as mentioned earlier.

However, Van and I were among the group called to the stage for having earned at least one $300.00 BV check, and again for having earned our Preferred Customer Foundation Pin, for having at least ten Preferred Customers. It felt comfortable to me, and I even introduced myself, along with the others, but in answer to “Where are you from?” I said, “We’re on the road in our motor home.”

In the past, I’ve been on the stage and in front of groups and audiences, as part of my church activities and as a facilitator of workshops and seminars, but I hadn’t done it for awhile, and needed practice. So this felt like an excellent opportunity.

Of course, the additional benefit of these gatherings is the camaraderie with friends and associates during the meal breaks, and we enjoyed the opportunity to ride with Dottie and Steve to the restaurant where we joined our downline.

On the last ride, I felt guided to discuss with my daughter and Steve an itinerary for the next year that would involve them, as I said, “After our trip to Laughlin and California, we’ll head east through Texas to visit our friends Linda and Ken, and talk with them about the business. Then we’ll see my cousin Carlie in Mississippi on our way to Tampa, Florida, for the Leadership Training in February. Throughout the spring we’ll work our way up the eastern coast and return across the northern states or Canada.”

The words seemed to flow from my lips, as I continued, “I know that you are planning to build a large business and you’re on your way to the top, which means you’ll have several thousand downline to manage, including the computer entries and reports, etc., so I’m wondering if it would be helpful for us to settle wherever you are, and Van can help manage the business, which includes ours too?”

As the words came out, I realized that this seemed to be an answer to my question: “What do I want to do?” Because, while Van would be building and managing the business, I would be free to continue with my writing, which meant completing many books I’d started and needed time in one place to complete. Also, it meant putting my focus into them, which I hadn’t done since making the one-year commitment to focus on building our business.

Now, my inner Guidance said that Van would be ready to take over, once we completed this trip; in fact, he’d already been doing the computer work for Dottie, and they work well together.

The pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fit into place, as Dottie and Steve agreed with this plan of action, but Steve added, “You know that we don’t plan to stay in this area, after another year or so.”

“That’s okay, we’ll go where you go. There would be no reason for us to stay in Denver, if you aren’t here.”

Somehow, this District Rally had been a turning point for us, as I’m sure it was for many others, because they said so when given the opportunity on stage, later in the program, during more Profiles of Success. In fact, the difference in the participants from the morning opening, when the host and hostess tried to warm us up, and at the closing, when we spontaneously shouted and applauded, indicated the shift. Indeed, the speaker is an excellent example of the successful accomplishments in this company, and he gave us his formula for success.

A Matter of Taking Action

When the seminar was over, Van and I stayed overnight on the Wal-Mart parking lot in east Colorado Springs, near the Colorado Music Hall, and we were spending the day, so we could have some alone time.

I’d planned to catch up on my writing, but after my morning meditation, I began talking with Van about our plans. Again, the words seemed to flow from a wellspring within, as I talked.

“The seminar was great, now it’s a matter of taking action. Are you ready to put the technics and teachings into application?”

He seemed hesitant to launch into his own business building program, so I referred to the conversation with Dottie and Steve about working with them, and he agreed that would be a good plan, after we returned from our next trip across the country.

I explained that I had been considering my dreams and goals, while participating in “A New Day Dawning,” and I now needed to communicate with him about the results. In fact, communication seemed to be the key word of the conversation.

I mentioned that he, Dottie and Steve, had been working well together during their sessions in the smoke-filled garage, which I avoided for my health’s sake. And that he had really come to life when doing the computer work and reports for Dottie. I also noted that the same pattern had fallen into place with this business, as with our MLM partnership; I seemed to be the odd-man-out, and I concluded, “It’s no one’s fault; it’s just how it is.”

I continued, “And the other part is that you don’t include me, or inform me, of what’s going on; you keep it all inside yourself. For instance, I have no idea where we are, or where we are going with our status, since we lost the BV’s.”

Van apologized and said he’d try to change that pattern.

But I replied, “No, I don’t think it’s necessary, because you’ve tried to change it, and now it’s time to accept that’s just how it is with you; and that’s a positive, rather than a negative, from my viewpoint, because you are now ready to handle the management of this business, and I can be freed-up to focus on my books.”

Van looked like he’d been deserted, but I hastily explained, “I’ll continue to be interested and involved in the business, and I’ll support it in the ways that I can, but I have another dream and I need to pursue it. You need this business to give you a purpose and reason for getting up in the morning. And I’ve seen how alive you’ve been while working with Dottie, so let’s go with what works.”

In some ways, Van seemed disappointed, but he also looked relieved and excited about becoming the CEO of our business. For the first time, I could see that he felt qualified and able to function in this managerial position; thanks to years of inner child healing and personal growth.

We talked for several hours, recognizing that we were at a crossroads in our lives. At some point, I said, “You have said, in the past, that your purpose in life is to fix things that don’t work, but this means something has to be created ‘not working,’ so you can have a purpose of ‘fixing it.’ Perhaps you could change your purpose to be more positive.”

He agreed that was a good idea, and concluded, “Okay, so I’ll just let things be, and look for the obvious.”

“Do you mean that you’ll do whatever comes up for you to do that you can do, as God guides?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Well, that sounds pretty much like letting go and letting God, and living in the Present Moment.”

We were both in a new level of reality when we pulled out of the Wal-Mart parking lot. Van was clear about his role in the business and I could see an inner strength pushing him forward, which released me to move onward toward fulfilling my dreams.

Neither of us knew exactly how our individual and collective goals would be attained, but we were confident that God would guide us every step of the way, as confirmed by Eli, a minister, who is also in our business and who shared, as a Profile of Success, his story of the Lord’s part in guiding them with building their prosperous and successful business. I’d made a point to talk with him at the end of the day, and he agreed that the key to combining the spiritual and financial dreams is balance. Indeed, we listen to God’s guidance, but we also take action as directed by our mentors, 

Collecting Another Hug

I was taking action in my ministerial calling by visiting one of my original Freedomers, Dal, at Furr’s restaurant, where he works. I’d seen him for a minute in his busy job as cook, when he checked the food line, and he came to our table for a few minutes to meet Dottie and Steve. We agreed to meet the next day at 4:00 p.m. in Furr’s parking lot, and we were on time. So was he.

When we had corresponded, during his incarceration, we promised that we would one day meet in person for a big hug, and we did that several years earlier, while passing through Colorado Springs. Now, we again hugged on our front doorstep, and then we accompanied him inside the restaurant for a dinner; his treat.

As old friends, we caught up on the latest family news and he repeated his reason for not visiting his family, “When I visited my son and his wife in Reno several years ago, everyone else got mad that I didn’t go see them. I don’t have time or money to travel to Montana and Southern California to see them, so I don’t see any of them.”

Dal had been writing that he’s due for a change, so I asked him his plans, but he wasn’t sure, only that “I can only stay in one place so long, then I get restless and want a change; I’ve been here five years, and it’s time to move on. Besides, I’m tired. Today, between 11:00 and 2:00, I cooked for 900 people. I don’t mind the physical labor, but the pressure of trying to keep everyone fed is too stressful.”

His stories of some of the customers always regales us, such as the old negro lady who walked in nearly flat-chested, and walked out with a buxom bust enhanced by food stuffed in her jacket pockets. He said no one ever stopped her, and added, “I think she died; I haven’t seen her for a long time.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t the food, only too much of it,” I added.

“Yeah,” he said, “the people at this Furr’s eat more than any other. If we have 1,000 people, we have to cook enough for 2,5000.”

“How many are senior citizens?” I asked.

“About 67 percent.”

“It’s hard to imagine that seniors are eating that much food,” I said.

As we ate our beef stroganoff, Dal said, “One time we ran out of stroganoff and I had to make some. It was better than the usual, and the same was true of spaghetti sauce; mine is better than theirs. I learned to cook from my grandmother.”

Dal had already told us stories about his good relationship with his grandma, and we even went to Cisco, the town in Texas where he had lived with her at various times. In those days, it was still the wild west, but when we were there it seemed like a quiet small town; it’s claim to fame being the hotel where Conrad Hilton got his start. The story is that he couldn’t get a room, so he bought the brick hotel, which is now a well-kept historical site.

As we finished our meal, Van began telling Dal about our business, and he fully got the concept, which is not easily understood the first time. However, Dal did not respond to the prospect of owning his own business; no doubt too confining. Soon he had to leave and we walked out to Freedom and then hugged once more for the road.

I wondered where we would cross paths again, as I contemplated his forthcoming change; and the possibility of our settling wherever Dottie and Steve would be going. Would I ever be seeing our friend, Dal, again, and collecting another hug? I sincerely hoped so.

Surely, with all the possible future changes, this was a crossroads, and a time to let go and let God, as we moved forward and onward. 

 

Chapter 12

THE WEDDING

 

The Family

God smiled on the bride and groom and blessed their wedding day with perfection: sunny warm skies, loving supportive family and friends, and a well-coordinated wedding in a perfect setting.

After two months of hectic preparation, everything magically fell into place: the family and members of the wedding party arrived between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m., the photographer appeared and began arranging for the formal photos, the cake and flowers were in place, and the Crystal Rose had become a purple and silver background for the mystical event of marriage; a union of two people as one.

The groom, Jason, and his groomsmen, had arrived from Rapid City, SD, and were staying with Earl (ex-husband of granddaughter, Christina, and father of Brandon, my great-grandson). Jason’s parents stayed at a Best Western motel, as did his older sister and her family, who came from Sioux Falls, S.D., and his older minister-sister, who flew in from Massachusetts.

Arianna remained at her parents, attended by Rachel, her maid-of-honor, who flew in from California, and also stayed at Dottie and Steve’s. We (the eldest and only grandparents in attendance) parked Freedom in front and participated in the last few days, as needed and appropriate, such as “House Cleaning Day” on Thursday, and Rehearsal Dinner on Friday, and, of course The Wedding on Saturday. Since we were not needed for the Rehearsal, we stayed home and got ready for the dinner.

The Rehearsal Dinner

The first gathering of both families and the wedding party took place at Pasta’s, an elegant Italian restaurant, where Dottie, Arianna, Airica and Josh had worked at various times (the latter two having quit several days prior to the event).

Now, we were all seated at a long table where the festivities and food began. Baskets of delicious garlic twist rolls were quickly devoured, before the plates of heated appetizers arrived: Italian sausage and peppers, oven friend ravioli, fried calamari and stuffed mushrooms. Needless to say, by the time the salads had been eaten, our appetites were gone; but we managed to devour most of the delicious entrees: Stuffed Shells Seafood Alfredo, Linguini Clam Alio Olio, Angel Hair Primavera, Lasagna, Chicken Cara Mia and Chicken Cacciatore (dessert had wisely been eliminated from this meal, in anticipation of the next day’s wedding cake).

Tear-spilling toasts were made to the bride and groom, and also to the families, as the two became one. Rachel suggested that every time anyone tapped their wine glass with a knife, the happy couple must stop eating and kiss; not that they minded, after being apart for three weeks. A special toast was made to the waitress, who did an outstanding job of handling our table.

And highlights of the event were recorded on camcorder by Steve; and Dottie captured the entrees for future generations to savor. This worked great, because she always cuts off heads.

The Early Morning Activities

Everyone was up early, and the parents drove the bride and her elegant, bouffant and beaded dress, while Airica and Josh took her car and Rachel rode with Marybeth, who got lost. But that was the only mishap of the day, and they arrived in plenty of time to dress and assist Arianna; long before the formal pictures were taken.

Family friends, Steve (who would be taking informal photos) and Cindy, kindly drove out of their way to pick up Grandmother Joyanna and Van; both appropriately dressed: a blue-green velour pantsuit for grandma, and a black suit and white shirt for Van (who is not a suit man, especially in retirement).

The drive into the foothills of The Rockies is a tourist delight as we drive up I-70, and wind into the mountains, past the turnoff to Mother Cabrini’s Shrine, and expensive homes hidden in the trees, and even past a herd of deer grazing in the fields, as we turnoff to Buffalo Bill’s Grave. But, we stop short of that historic site, and pull into the Crystal Rose, sprawled along the mountainside with a panoramic view of Denver and, far off in the horizon, the famous DIA (Denver International Airport), clearly visible despite the slight inversion, due to the unseasonably dry weather, no wind, nor clouds in the sky. Magnificent!

From this point, everything was professionally handled by David, the Director at Crystal Rose, who had thoughtfully provided coffee to wake everyone up. Dottie and Steve had stopped and bought Einstein Bagels and cream cheese, to stave off starvation for those who didn’t eat breakfast.

One-by-one, the rest of the Wedding Party arrived, and then miraculously transformed into their roles, as they donned their regalia: the bride wore white, and so did the groom and groomsmen (white tuxedos and shoes with black, silver and purple vests, and matching bow ties); the maid-of-honor had thought her eggplant-colored dress, which would match the bridesmaid’s purple dresses, was too matronly, so she bought a sleek, shimmery silver gown with spaghetti straps, which was actually far more appropriate and coordinated nicely with the bridesmaids gowns, including the shimmering chiffon silver stoles.

The photographer spent about an hour taking outdoor formal pictures, after the behind scenes shots of Arianna in the dressing room. Van and Grandmother Joyanna were included in one set of pictures, but otherwise enjoyed watching the activities and mingling with the early arriving family members and guests.

At some point, David announced to the photographer, “You need to complete your pictures now, as the guests are arriving.” Arianna retired to the dressing room, with her entourage, including Airica (Arianna’s teenage sister), and was not seen again, until the ceremony began. However, Grandmother Joyanna took a minute to visit her in a moment alone, and gave her a hug and blessings.

Let the Ceremony Begin

The guests were seated, and Josh, Airica’s boyfriend, ushered the members of the family to their seats. Suddenly it was time. We all sat down in hushed silence, the photographers were in place, and the processional began. At all weddings, the men are handsome and the women are beautiful; this was no exception, especially with the young men in their white tuxedos, and the young ladies in their purple or silver gowns, carrying their coordinated bouquets; and the bride in her white bouffant gown. The dark-haired, green-eyed groom accompanied his minister-sister to the front, followed by the best man and maid-of-honor in her silvery gown. He left her in position, and took his place. Then the groomsmen accompanied the  bridesmaids, doing the same, so that all the ladies were on the left; and all the men on the right.

They even had a flower girl: Jason’s niece, five-year-old Kaleigh (his sister, Stephanie’s adorable daughter). Dressed in a miniature white wedding dress, with sparkling shoes, the  cherubic faced child performed her duties to perfection, and silently stayed in place throughout the lengthy ceremony, although occasionally wandering between bridesmaids, and finally sitting on the step of the raised podium; but still being quiet and well-behaved. Her Aunt Tracy even had her hold the Bible for one part of the ceremony.

Steve, too, looked handsome in his new suit, as he held his oldest daughter’s arm and

the Wedding March began. Arianna, typical of all brides, glowed with that special radiance, with her long, blond hair partially covered by her veil and floral-wreath crown of purple and silver roses that matched her bridal bouquet. Her beaded, bouffant gown fit like a dream, and her train flowed behind, until she took her place beside her soon-to-be husband, and turned so that the train swirled around her. We were disappointed that we could only see her profile, while being able to clearly see Jason’s face; the same being true for his family seeing his profile and looking into her face.

We had plenty of time to absorb the scene, because the minister, Tracy, took full advantage of the opportunity to say whatever her heart chose to her brother. Somewhat weepy, she fought to hold back tears, as she blurted, “At this wedding it’s okay for the minister to cry.” Later, she explained, to anyone who didn’t know, that Jason is her brother.

Early in the ceremony, the maid-of-honor, Rachel, attempted to read a poem she had written to honor her best friend, but soon after starting, she stopped, unable to control her emotions. After several attempts, she broke into uncontrollable tears; then became still, composed herself and continued reading the words written in love, about love.

The theme throughout her message spoke of taking responsibility for his wife and baby (due in April). Arianna’s family, as well as Jason’s, silently said, “Amen,” hoping that he would finally grow-up and support his new family. The sister role took precedent, as she admonished both of them to bottom-line, “Treat each other right,” but not in those words.

Nevertheless, Arianna’s mother broke into loud sobbing, which, of course, triggered my emotions. And it didn’t take long before the congregation was wiping their eyes; even the men, including some former military men, whose emotions are supposed to be controlled. Wrong! Not at this wedding, as Tracy reminded the couple, who had already been living together, that their family and friends were supporting their commitments to each other, and to them making this marriage work.

“Ask for help, when needed,” she said, and sometime during the ceremony she gave them each a tiny pine cone and a pebble, suggesting that whenever they see a pine tree or a pebble, they remember the words, covenant, and vows of this sacred ceremony.

When there was absolutely nothing left to be said that needed to be said, she completed the traditional part of the ceremony with the covenant and vows, finalized by exchanging their rings and saying their “I do’s.”

Tracy stepped out of her minister role to join her sister, Stephanie, and brother-in-law, Craig (who also played the piano), in a lovely love song titled, “From This Moment.”

A touching moment of love, acceptance and understanding came when Reverend Tracy took a moment to bless the new family, including their unborn child.

I thought to myself, and later said to Arianna, “No matter what anyone says, there is a difference between living together and being married.” To myself, I added, “For Jason and Arianna, this sacred ceremony is the difference.”

The new Mr. and Mrs. were introduced to the guests, and The Recessional accompanied them up the aisle, followed by their wedding party, family, and guests.

Congratulations, hugs and well-wishing followed, and the guests mingled, while the bride and groom signed the Marriage Certificate, and posed for more pictures.

The Wedding Buffet and Cake

The traditions and legalities were formalized, and then it was time for the “Appetizer Buffet,” which consisted of the world’s best fresh shrimp, lobster claws, seafood egg rolls, Baron of beef, ham and cream cheese rolls, fruit or vegetable plate, deviled eggs, baked teriyaki chicken kabobs and hard rolls.

Everyone ate, until they were stuffed, and then the wedding cake was served: three layers separated by plastic columns, and sitting on top of a fountain bubbling purple water. On top of the carrot cake layer sat the white bells, doves and rings, rather than the traditional plastic bride and groom. The middle layer, blueberry cheesecake, was so rich that no one could eat an entire piece; and the bottom layer had a hidden Oreo cookie between layers of chocolate and white cake. Because not everyone showed up for the RSVP event, though they had been paid for at $30.00 each, there was abundant cake leftover, and later taken home.

Grandmother Joyanna sat across from her great-grandson, Brandon, and enjoyed watching the ten-year-old devour his fill of fresh shrimp and whatever else his heart desired. But soon he was off running and playing with other children, and I chatted with his dad, Earl.

Oh! How we Danced!

I didn’t expect to dance much, because of the faster musical preference of the younger crowd, but the disc jockey mixed slow and fast dances, so that even Grandmother Joyanna and Van could dance; and they even danced some fast numbers.

But it was especially fun watching Brandon twisting and turning like a pro, when asked to dance by his older cousin, Airica. I later learned that he likes to dance with Jenny, the daughter of his after-school baby-sitter, Sylvia, who was also in attendance, as she is a close friend of Arianna and Jason.

Of course, the baby-boomers, such as Dottie and Steve, were on the dance floor whenever they could tear themselves away from other activities and dance to their favorites. And the traditional dances were honored: Arianna danced with her dad. And Jason danced with his mom, Joan, and he also danced with his sisters. At my urging, Van even danced with Arianna, during the Money Dance, when the guys pay to dance with the bride, and the gals dance with the groom. However, I didn’t dance with Jason, much to his relief, no doubt. Too much of a generation gap.

During a time when Arianna wasn’t dancing, but was talking with Steve, and I was looking out the large picture window, I noticed a group of hang-gliders in mid-air, and brought them to her attention. I kiddingly said, “Arianna, we arranged for this special attraction, at no small cost. I hope you enjoy it.”

She laughed and enjoyed the unplanned activity, which lasted a short time and then disappeared.

The dancing continued, until nearly 4:00 p.m. Then, it came time to leave, and like Cinderella’s Ball, it was suddenly over, as everyone grabbed their things, the cars were loaded, and we left the enchanted palace called Crystal Rose. And they lived happily ever after.

Back Down the Mountain

Rather than riding off into the sunset, like Cinderella and her Prince, Arianna and Jason rode together down the hill in his maroon Mercury Cougar.

We returned with Dottie and Steve, and again passed a herd of deer, as we wound down the mountainside.

Once on the freeway, Airica and the attendants raced past, on one side, in her car, and the bride and groom gleefully waved, as they passed mom and dad, on the other side. Rather a nice, touch, I thought, as Steve playfully honked behind them, and got glared at by a passing motorist.

Mom and Dad at Home BBQ

As if everyone hadn’t had enough to eat, we all congregated at Dottie and Steve’s for an evening BBQ, which had been prepared the day before. Now, all we had to do was throw together a salad and place everything on the table. In the meantime, Dottie had opened a can of cornbread mix and popped it into the oven.

So, like the rest of the wedding events, what seemed to magically appear, came together as a result of careful planning and preparations; but mostly by the grace of God. In other words, what could have gone wrong didn’t; and everyone enjoyed the final festivities.

I even got a chance to see Arianna’s Black Hills gold wedding band, selected and purchased by Jason. And I also saw the wedding band, with its tiny diamond chips, that she bought him.

After the meal and leftover wedding cake was eaten, Arianna and Jason sat on the couch and opened their remaining gifts and cards, as the camcorder recorded this last activity.

Then, again like Cinderella, the mundane replaced the magical, as the groomsmen helped Arianna and Jason load the gifts and her remaining belongings into a friends van enroute to their new home in Rapid City, S. D.

Then we all lined up along the sidewalk, as the new husband and wife walked through a shower of rice and well-wishing and got into their car, which secretly had been bedecked with tin cans and signs reading “Just Married; Help Us.”

Jason started up the engine and roared down the street, accompanied by honking horns and banging cans.

When we walked inside, Steve said, “Well, if anyone had a perfect beginning, and opportunity for their marriage to work, they have. And they are truly supported by both families. I know that I will do anything I can to support this marriage.”

His first fulfillment of this commitment came within the hour, after the newlyweds left for their honeymoon. He and Dottie spent an hour talking with Jason’s friend, Matt, who had signed up with the family networking business. With his signing up, Jason and Arianna were now activated and qualified to receive the weekly commission checks. And both of them were recommitted to building their business, without the undue influence of Mom and Dad

The Honeymoon

Jason’s parents also supported the couple with the usual financial requirements, including the honeymoon, although Arianna and Dottie had made the arrangements: the first night in a honeymoon suite at a bed and breakfast in nearby Georgetown, in the foothills of The Rockies, but further west than the wedding site.

The second and third nights would be at another honeymoon bed and breakfast in Glenwood Springs, in the heart of The Rockies, and near Aspen, Colorado, where the rich and famous live and play. And they also had extra money to enjoy some fun and play too. They chose not to swim at the World’s Largest Hot Mineral Pool in Glenwood Springs, but they drove the thirty-miles to shop and eat in Aspen.

In fact, they enjoyed the peace and quiet in Glenwood Springs so much that they stayed and extra night at the Ramada Inn.

A New Life

Perhaps the most difficult part of this marriage, for Dottie and Steve, and probably Airica and the family dog, Rascal, is the newlyweds move to Rapid City, South Dakota, where they would begin their new life near to Jason’s family and friends, and job opportunities. It would be up to them, and they were truly capable. They just wanted the opportunity to do their own thing, without the shadow of Mom and Dad.

Indeed, the future holds nothing but promise for the new family, and I have a feeling that the highways will be burning between the two states, because Mom and Dad will be supporting them, as needed, wanted and called upon.

And Grandmother Joyanna and Van, too, will be adding their support when and as needed, wanted, and called upon.

God bless the newlyweds.

What do You Want?

In retrospect, I see Arianna’s wedding as a spiritual lesson illustrating that you get what you want. She wanted exactly what she got; and she got exactly what she wanted. Everything from the white bouffant wedding dress to the Black Hills gold ring selected by Jason, fulfilled her dream, and it’s what she wanted.

We are told that we need to have goals and dreams; and to know what we want. The reason is because God fulfills our dreams and wants, and the stronger the desire, the more guarantee that it will happen. For instance, you wouldn’t walk into Sears and say, “I want to buy something.”

The clerk would ask, “What do you want to buy?”

If you replied, “Oh, I don’t care, anything will be okay,” you might be disappointed with your purchase, if the clerk selected something for you that fulfilled her specifications, but not yours.

Arianna did not say, “Oh I’ll have whatever wedding you want for me.” She had definite desires, starting with her Wedding Registry at all stores, where she indicated her choice and preference in any gift possibility. So, when we went into a store to select her gift, we went to the Registry and chose one that she wanted.

And as the wedding plans unfolded, she knew exactly what she wanted when selecting colors, flowers, cake, location, and all other details. She got what she wanted.

Furthermore, she had no hidden agenda to sabotage her wedding with the need for disasters or mishaps. In other words, she was focused on success, not failure; and that’s what she got. And everyone in attendance supported her perfect wedding.

Turning it Over

On the other hand, when it came to her ring, she had no preference, other than, “I don’t care what it looks like, I just want Jason to pick it out and buy it for me. That’s all I’m asking of him for this wedding, other than his showing up.”

In this case, Arianna was applying another lesson, called turning it over. She trusted Jason to select a desirable ring, leaving the choice to him. And she had no vested energy in the results; only that there would be a ring that would fit her finger, and she made sure he knew the ring size.

Obviously there is a time for knowing what you want, down to the last detail; and there is a time for turning it over, to God, for instance. We can reach a level of consciousness where we trust God to provide for our every need and want; yet, deep within, our desires are in place. Either we have held onto our dreams for many years, or we have set goals, or we are clear on our purpose; and then we turn it over to God for the perfect results.

In Arianna’s example, she trusted Jason to select a desirable ring, and she was happy with the Black Hills two-tone-gold wedding band, which meant more to her than any elegant diamond ring that she might have chosen. No doubt, God guided him to the ring that would please his beloved. And that’s how turning it over works.

For most of us, reaching this level of consciousness requires deep trust, and surrender of the ego’s quest to be in control. However, the rewards of living at-one-with-God always give us our heart’s desires; only it may take longer than we expect, and it may not come about in just the way we think it should. Yet, it is always perfect, because God gave us the desires (meaning of God) in the first place, and therefore, He fulfills them according to His will and His timing.

The truth is that either approach works, for God always gives us what we want. However, in many instances, what we want, on the subconscious level, is not always what we think we want, on the conscious level. For instance we may have a subconscious, or inner child, need for attention or nurturing (which are forms of love substitutes), so we project this into the universe, and we get sick or have accidents, which give us the desired subconscious results, if not the fulfillment of our dreams on a conscious level.

This is why we feel that our prayers are not answered. Actually, they are, for God always gives us what we want, just as Dottie and Steve gave Arianna what she wanted for her wedding. And, for her, this fulfilled her desires, at the same time filling her needs for parental attention and nurturing.

The Wedding was a completion for Arianna, on both her conscious and subconscious level. And now, she can move forward into her new life with a firm foundation of love, as shown in the support and attendance of the families and friends, and the legacy of a perfect wedding, created by Arianna, and fulfilled by her parents, with God’s blessings.

 

Chapter 13

IT MUST STILL BE NOVEMBER

Snowbound

The newlyweds, Arianna and Jason, returned from their honeymoon, completed last-minute details, such as spending a gift certificate at Foley’s Department Store, and then loaded their dog, who happily took his place with Mom and Dad in their chariot, and rode off into the sunset.

Unfortunately, the sunset turned into a blizzard in eastern Wyoming and they were snowbound, not too far onto the turnoff from I-25. Jason had called his parents to report their delay, and his mom called Dottie, with the update. We were all proud of Jason’s wise, responsible decision, to turn around and find a motel in Guernsey. We were especially pleased with his thoughtfulness, when Arianna called, later, from the Bunkhouse Motel, and told us how scared she had been, as they slid along the icy roads.

I could relate to her fear, because we had once gotten caught in a blizzard in the same area, only the motels were all filled, due to an earlier jack-knifed truck closing all highways at the crossroads of I-25 and I-90. The Econolodge clerk had made us a reservation at Holiday Inn, only 35-miles further, but along icy roads in a snowstorm. I prayed all the way, and with Van’s careful driving (before our motor home), we made it.

Now, with Arianna and Jason snowbound in Wyoming, and a snowstorm predicted for the Denver area, in a few days, we decided it was time to head South. However, before departure, we needed to have TC check our furnace, because the last two nights, after he replaced its motor, we were besieged with the smell of propane. I’d awakened with a headache both mornings, and opened the vent, but this would not work with the cold nights between here and Arizona.

Let’s Head South

We drove Freedom to TC’s driveway, and he surveyed the situation, scratched his head, and announced that he could see no reason for the odor; and, of course, when he turned on the furnace, he didn’t smell the propane. However, he concluded that, since the alarm didn’t go off, it must be flue gas, not raw propane. Nevertheless, it was still not an acceptable situation for us, and TC finally calked an area around the propane tank, hoping that would solve the problem.

However, that night, while at Aunt Betsy’s, on our way out of town, the odor returned, after the furnace had been on awhile. I again opened the vent, and this time turned on the fan. Not a desirable situation, considering the temperature was in the 30’s.

The next morning, Van and I discussed the problem and decided to move forward and have the furnace repairs done in Albuquerque, especially since TC was perplexed, as to the cause of the leakage. He had offered to take the furnace apart, but we had opted not to take the time; probably a bad choice. However, when I called Steve to report the situation, he told me that TC and his wife, Debbie had gone to Glenwood Springs for the weekend, so with the unknown factor of ordering parts and the labor involved, we might have gotten trapped in the snowstorm, without our home or furnace. So, all-in-all, heading south seemed the best option.

Reports From Oregon

Sometime during our absence from our phone, while with Aunt Betsy, I had a missed call from my cousin, Marilyn, in Oregon, so now that I had a strong signal, I called. 

She said, “I called the chaplain about telling your mom that Dad had died, and he said, ‘Oh, she’s doing fine. I think she already knows. Do you want to talk to her?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ and later on he called back with Valli on the phone. I couldn’t believe it, she was her usual happy self!”

We both were amazed that Mom wasn’t in her funk, especially since Gary’s birthday had been the day before, and that begins her usual downer time, which lasts through Christmas.

Marilyn said that Mom asked, “Did Russie die?” And she told her the truth. Then Mom began to cry, as she scolded, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

“Because you were in a bad spell, and I didn’t think it would be a good time,” Marilyn replied. Then asked, “Do you remember that I called to talk to you, and you refused to talk to me?”

“Yes, I was in one of my bad moods,” Mom admitted. She then explained that a lady who visits her husband, had said to her, “I’m so sorry to hear about Russ.” The lady had heard from Aunt Betty, who is a mutual friend.

For some reason, Mom wasn’t upset when Marilyn told her that her sister, Betty, had recently had a stroke. They had had a falling-out several years ago, when they were both at Marilyn’s Foster Care Home for Seniors, and that might account for Mom’s lack of reaction, despite the fact that she and Betty were the only ones left from their family of nine siblings.

After Marilyn hung up, I wondered why, after all these years that Mom snapped out of her seasonal funk and I didn’t find an answer, other than the possibility that the pattern had finally changed; this year it happened in October.

It Must be November, Because it’s Thanksgiving

Personally, I was delighted that the seasonal pattern had changed for Mom, and I was making it through quite well, too, although I had threatened Van with divorce, without realizing it was Gary’s birthday, and I was unconsciously carrying out the Abandonment Syndrome. This time, I managed to reverse the compulsion to blow-up my marriage, and life went on.

Actually, with Arianna moving to South Dakota, and Dottie and Steve planning to meet them at Jason’s parents for Thanksgiving, I had enough abandonment going on. Even Aunt Betsy had other plans, and her brother, Uncle Gene, was still in the hospital, and not doing too well, so November was on schedule.

While getting a strong cellular phone signal, I also called our friend, Dan, in Albuquerque, to tell him our plans to visit him in a few days. I explained our plight with needing the furnace repaired and the possibility of being homeless, so he invited us to stay there. In fact, he invited us to join his group for Thanksgiving at a restaurant, and we agreed.

This trip wasn’t “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House,” to celebrate the holiday, but we did put on a few miles, like around 500, and with our late start, we managed to make it over the Raton Pass, in case of a sudden snow storm, and we stayed at Hooter Brown’s Truck Stop in Raton.

We opted not to use the furnace, so snuggled into our electric blankets to survive the low 30 degree temps. Then Van got up early and drove us down the road to warm us up with the engine heater, and hoping the sun would provide solar heat through the windows. At least, it wasn’t snowing, and we were able to make it to Dan’s, before the predicted Monday snowstorm.

However, checking in with Dottie and Steve, we learned that they were in six-inches of snow. Thank you, God, our timing was good; and it didn’t snow while we were in Albuquerque.

 Also further good news came from an RV repair shop that announced our flue gas odor came from a set screw that hadn’t been replaced, causing the furnace to slide forward and separate from the connection, thus allowing the fumes to escape into the vent. Once that problem was solved, the odor stopped. Thank You, God.

A Lot to be Thankful for

We enjoyed our few days with our friend, Dan, including several bountiful buffets, as he doesn’t cook; so we eat out. His daughter, Pam, drove from Denver on Wednesday, arriving in time for a buffet, and she assured us the roads had been clear all the way.

I’d also been aware of this good news from Dottie, as they were heading north to Wyoming to spend the holiday with Arianna and Jason at his parent’s country home in the Black Hills. We’d visited Tom and Joan there, when they were moving into their new home, so we could picture them all in that winter setting, while being glad that we were heading south to warmer weather.

Thanksgiving Day was quite simple for us. All we had to do was get ready, load into Dan’s Black Buick Chariot, and then line up at the bountiful buffet provided at the Best Western’s Inn at Rio Rancho, an elegant banquet facility. Pleasant conversation with Dan’s group added to the low-key celebration; and then it was over.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t call my kids, and they didn’t call me, either. But, I felt thankful they were all okay and doing their own thing. I did, however, connect with my stepmother, Arlene, in California, and learned that she was preparing her usual delicious meal, and I felt happy to know that we would be sitting at her table for Christmas dinner within a few short weeks, and then we would celebrate the New Year and usher in the New Millennium, with the year 2000.

So, driving across the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, I thought about all that we had to be thankful for, as we headed to warmer climate.

It seemed a fitting time to conclude this book, with our business beginning to flourish, and the holiday season approaching. Now, we would take time out for fun in Laughlin, as we prepare for this Holy Season.

And I am thankful for the events of this year, and the time with family and friends, and making new friends through our business.  I am thankful that we were able to participate in the wedding of Arianna and Jason, and that they are beginning their new life in South Dakota, with anticipation of their baby next spring.

I am thankful that Van is returning to his wonderful self, and that he is willing and able to manage our business, which is growing, with God’s blessings. And I give thanks that God has a perfect plan for my life, and that He continues to guide me toward fulfillment of my purpose. In the meantime, I keep writing.