BOOK TEN BACK ON THE ROAD JOURNEY OF AWARENESS

Book 10

BACK ON THE ROAD:

JOURNEY OF AWARENESS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1: MY SANCTUARY OF PEACE AND JOY

Wonderful Possibilities Are Awaiting Us; We Wait for it With Patience”; I Trust That God is Taking Care of This; God is the Source; It’s Time for Change; Moving Forward; “I Press on Toward the Goal”; Reconnected; A Problem Solved; He’s There for me; Naked Journey Connection; There is Much More

CHAPTER 2: THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Goodbye to Family; Dinner with Darrell; Only 36-Miles; A side trip; 

CHAPTER 3: A TAPESTRY OF AUTUMN

The Highway of Legends; Inn of the Spanish Peaks; Life Took a Different Path; A Trip on the Highway of Legends; Onward and Upward; A Reservoir Adds to the Tapestry; The Stone Wall; Another Tapestry: Raton to Taos; Cimarron State Park; The Elusive Rio Grande; The Burnt Tapestry; 

CHAPTER 4: I LOOK FOR THE OPEN DOOR

The Seafood Buffet; God is the Source; The Overall Picture; Meanwhile, Back to Rev. Dan; Create Another Workshop? Do What You Love; Winners and Losers; The Law of Attraction; Another Viewpoint; Start Where You are With What you Have; Fun is Serious Business; “You Should Write a Book”; There are Dealers; and There are Dealers; That’s It! Is This an Open Door?

CHAPTER 5: UP, UP AND AWAY!

Hot Air Balloon Festival Day; A Peek at the Balloons; But Now Face to Face; There, But for the Grace of God; The Breakfast Factory; Here’s an Open Door; Symbiosis; The Joy of God; A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words; Do it Anyway; On a Clear Day; A Farewell Completion

CHAPTER 6: THE JOURNEY OF 1,000 MILES 

Never say “Never”; An Ancient Civilization; Zia’s Diner; And Other Stuff; I am in God’s Care; Journey Back in Time; The Journey of Life; Attitude Adjustment; A Few of Our Favorite Things; The Real Me; My Right Place; The View From Above, Night; Daytime; Hello and Goodbye; 99-cent Breakfast; The River Goes Up and the Sun Goes Down; Early Morning Road Rage; Steak at the Flamingo; No Shuttle after 5:00 p.m.

CHAPTER 7: EXCITED ANTICIPATION

Another Hot Air Balloon Activity; The Hour is Now; Some Surprises; A Sunday Morning Spiritual Experience; Let’s Do It! Table Talk; Afterglow; Letting Go; I Press on; Transition: an Awakening; The Real Ralph; A Prosperity Paradigm Shift; Three Hours Later; This is Better, Joanie; More Light on the Subject; It’s a Matter of Choice; An Elevated Position; A Sidelight

CHAPTER 8: “GOD IS NOT A GOD OF CONFUSION”

Sharing the Inner Journey; On the Same Page; “Let Everything be Done Decently and in Order”; On a Windy Morning; “A Time for Everything”; A Sound Mind; God Only; But I Digress; “Then Face to Face”; Planting and Watering; A Unique Concept; Take Time to Pray; Spiritual Principles and Universal Laws; Taking it Further; It’s Only Fair

CHAPTER 9: “I HAVE LEARNED…TO BE CONTENT”

Deeper Revelations; A Peaceful Morning; But There is More; The Computer Ministry; “The Harvest is Plentiful”; Nothing can Hurt You; As God Guides You; Do What You Can; We’re Here, Now; Don’t look back; A Day at Riverside Resort; “Wherever We are, God is”

Chapter 10:…AND ALL IS WELL

Hobo Stew and Clowns; A Clown Wedding; The Clowns Parade-ability Competition; Snowflake draws a Butterfly and Does a Gotcha; T-bone and Bubbles; Another Dilemma; Do You not Know? “Have You Not Heard?” “Wings like Eagles”; “Hello, America”

CHAPTER 11: TIME TO MOVE ON

Get With the Program; Another Void; Joanie’s Upset; Stay in the Now; Familiar Places and Familiar Faces; Not a Familiar Place; Moving a Mass of Energy; The Barking Guard Dog; It Couldn’t Have Happened any Sooner; It’s Still Time to Move on; Do Something; Anything; Well, Sort of; The Ultimate

CHAPTER 12: PROSPERITY REALITY

What is it? A Surprise From our Mothers; A Change of Plans; Thank You God; Time with my Brother, Gary; Time with Brother Tom’s Family; Phyllis and Family; And They all Said “Good-bye”; Getting on with it; How Grand is Your Canyon? Blasting More Energy Mass;

Not a Happy Camper; The DMV Interlude; The Next Big Step; Business Cards and Bank Account

CHAPTER 13: COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES

Take Time to Smell the Wildflowers; Reflections and Credentials; With my Awareness of God; Fork in the Road; The Road not Taken; Freedom’s Commencement; Family Visits and News; Everything Takes Longer Than Expected; Everything Takes Longer Than Expected

CHAPTER 14: A CALIFORNIA TAPESTRY

Autumn or Winter? Fruits and Nuts; “Este Mi Tierra”; Only Signs of Life: Cattle and a Roadrunner; Sunset over the Reeds and Ocean; Self-Registration and All That Jazz; Wouldn’t You Know? There’s no Place for us; Chowder of the Millennium; Pismo Beach Priorities: Avila: a Best Kept Secret; Central Coast’s Main Attractions; Sunsets and Sunrises; What a Day for a Walk on the Beach! A Chance Encounter; or is it Destiny? An Evening Fire; An Exchange of Cards; End of a Cliff-Hanger; The Changing Terrain and Seasons; The Curtain is Drawn; A Postscript

CHAPTER 15: ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

Life Cycles; Entering a New Era; “What Are Your Plans?” The Daily Routine; Crazy-making; “Will the Real President-elect Please Stand?”

 Ready or Not! More Changes and Decisions; Energy Crisis; The True Spirit; “Over the Hills and Through the Woods”; It’s a Dog’s Life; A Walk to K-Mart; The Spirit of Christmas; ‘Tis the Season; Pushing on Through; Isn’t Modern Technology Wonderful?

CHAPTER 16: THE FIVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (A Different Christmas);

Wednesday: December 20th; Thursday: December 21st; Friday: December 22nd; Saturday: December 23; Sunday: December 24th (The Nativity Scene); The Real Thing; Clip Joint; So Much for Christmas Eve; Monday: December 25th (“I am the Gift”); A Christmas First; We Spice Up Christmas; Christmas is Over; Well, not Quite; Christmas Continues; Acknowledging the Good; Releasing and Letting Go

CHAPTER 17: CHANGES AND CONFIRMATION

Changes; Confirmation of the Two-by-Two Concept; Return to Money Makeovers; Time for a Break; Meet Young Adult Ralph; A Precursor of Things to Come; What Cannot be Seen; The Gooey-Mess; It Gets Worse! In Search of Dutch Cleanser; the Mystery of Me

CHAPTER 18: BACK TO BASICS

Commitments; What is the Message? Surrender; Out in the Universe; Trailer Rancho; What am I Feeling? The Castaways; “BREATHE, HONEY, BREATHE”; Not a Canon: Conditioning; More Changes and Decisions; Energy Crisis; The True Spirit; Acknowledging the Good; Releasing and Letting go

CHAPTER 19: LAST ROOTS

Through the Cycles; God Isn’t Through With me, Yet! Cleared; Do it Again; Let me Explain; Grab the Tail Feathers; Keep Within the Guidelines

CHAPTER 20: EPILOGUE

Stars on Ice; Act I; Intermission; Act II; It’s Over

THE END

Chapter 1

MY SANCTUARY OF PEACE AND JOY

Wonderful Possibilities Are Awaiting Us

The beginning of a new book contains within it wonderful possibilities, especially when it’s also the beginning of a new travel adventure. The blank page appears, and soon the fragment of words becomes a thread of golden opportunity to weave a tapestry of life. What will they say? 

How will the mystery of the unknown be woven into the comfort of a familiar robe that I can wrap around myself for warmth and solace, as the adventure becomes recognizable memories? And this same fabric of words can give comfort and joy to the readers, who choose to enshroud themselves with its magic.

Yes, a magical shroud that can take on form and meaning suitable to each reader who adds the hues of their imagination to create a rainbow of color and excitement. This, then becomes my challenge, as the writer, and yours, as the reader; to create a magical garment with that golden opportunity woven with words and imagination.

This adventure is begun, after an unusually hot summer in Colorado, where we shared our time parked in front of the homes of family and friends, whom we only see every six months. And the sojourn was terminated by an unexpected lengthy stay at the Apex Automotive, who also repairs RV’s; and this is where we took our ailing 1990 Holiday Rambler, suffering from the latest breakdowns resulting from 100,000 miles of traveling coast-to-coast and border-to-border. 

From the frustration and irritation of ongoing delays and additional repairs, evolved the framework for this book. Patience became the challenge, or should I say the golden opportunity for me to discover my sanctuary of peace and joy. And so, the ending of one book becomes the beginning of another, as we prepare to continue our inner and outer journey, given birth from the embryo of seemingly unwanted circumstances; embryo being “an organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form.”

  Our circumstances definitely fit the definition: spending over a week trapped between three other disabled RV’s and the front of the repair shop, not knowing the exact nature of the problem, nor when it would be solved, as we awaited parts and labor, plus resolution of funding (over $3,000.00), provided by Van’s mother (from his future inheritance).

At first, the time passed pleasantly, as we were hooked up to their electricity and I busily revised several book manuscripts in a comparatively quiet environment. But, after a week, our black water (sewage) was filling up and we had a wedding to attend. Besides the fact, we wanted to get on the road, over The Rocky Mountains, before the snows began, for our reservation at Blue Mesa Ranch RV Park; this being the beginning of our winter escape to Nevada, Arizona and California. 

Details of this nightmare are covered in the preceding book, Life Goes On, Off the Road and it was enough to live through it once, and write about it; weaving a somewhat discordant fabric. Therefore, only the positive results will be discussed here, and woven into the fabric of this new birth. This doesn’t mean I’ll only write about positive adventures, but that God gives us these experiential aides to teach us to be flexible and learn from our experiences. 

“We Wait for it With Patience”

So, what did we learn from our incubation period that I am terming “my sanctuary of peace and joy”?

Patience became the major factor. My Daily Reading says “patience conveys my love of God and my love of others.” And the bible says “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).

Patience evolves from acceptance, non-resistance and surrender. “Okay, God, I am here. This is what’s happening and there isn’t anything I can do about it, so I release all anxiety and frustration and I turn it over to you. It’s going the way it’s going.”

“I Trust That God is Taking Care of This 

And trust is high on the requirements. “I trust that You are bringing about the perfect results in this situation, according to Divine Order and Your perfect time.” For instance, we were able to attend the wedding, with the help of our son-in-law lending us his second car for the weekend. Thus we didn’t feel as trapped, either, though we were happy remaining at home, and didn’t go anyplace else.

The biggest trust factor, for me, is knowing that whoever is supposed to be taking care of things, knows what they are doing, and that includes God. Whenever I find reason to question this issue, I freak out. It’s spontaneous and happens so fast that I don’t even know what happened, until later, when I can look back and evaluate the situation. This is even more erratic, on my part, when I feel that it is now up to me to handle it, and I don’t know how. I panic. Oh, I go ahead and do what I think needs to be done, but I panic. And, as the result of my therapy and recovery program, I know that all this goes back to my early childhood, but my reactions happen, before I can offset them.

I asked Van what he learned from our incubation, and he said, “That things are getting done, even though it may not seem like it.” Of course, this goes back to trusting God’s time and God’s way, even as it is being fulfilled by the people involved.

God is the Source

As usual, one of the biggest issues of trust involves money. We are living this lifestyle on our Social Security Retirement checks, which barely cover our monthly expenses, carefully calculated in our monthly Spending Plan. So, the repairs totaling over $3,000.00 would mean that we must give up traveling, which I was willing to do. But, Van asked his mom’s advice, and she again offered to pay the expenses from Van’s future inheritance. She feels that this is a good lifestyle for us and she is willing to assist with the repair bills that are beyond our income.

I trust that God is the Source of our supply, and I accept Betty’s generosity as the means through which God provides for these repairs. Otherwise, it would be difficult for me to continue with this arrangement, because I feel that Van should be taking more responsibility for our finances. Yet, this is how it’s working out, so I must accept it.

In the meantime, I am using this time to revise and complete more book manuscripts, which I have featured on my Inner Freedom website, and this works out nicely, until I become anxious or impatient; then it’s difficult to remain in a creative mode. Although I anticipate this website being a channel for future income, I continue to trust that God is the Source of our income, as Van and I take time each day for our Prosperity Program affirmations and reading.

It’s Time for Change

I’ve learned to accept change as a necessary part of life, but I still get anxious when they come about from something other than my own choices, and circumstances over which I have no control or options, such as our enforced incubation period. I work at accepting the daily delays that cause us to remain in this situation, and I can even choose them, which alleviates some anxiety; but I tend to become restless. When I affirm the “wonderful possibilities within these circumstances and the changes,” I can reduce my anxiety and become more accepting or make the necessary adjustments in my attitude.

Adjustments in our travel plans have been required, also, as I’ve changed our itinerary and reservations. Originally, anticipating the golden aspen throughout The Rockies, swimming in the “World’s largest warm swimming pool” in Glenwood Springs and then staying at Blue Mesa Ranch RV Park, near Gunnison, on the west slope. However, the delays made it necessary to cancel, and we also faced the possibilities of snow in the mountains. Thus, our trip would by-pass the mountains and take a more direct route via the deserts.

My question, as always, becomes “Is this God’s plan, and if so, why?

Moving Forward 

Accompanying our travels is my Daily Reading, and also our Prosperity Program, which I will share, when appropriate. For instance, one affirmation seemed good for the beginning of a new adventure, “I accept each new opportunity to learn as I move toward my goals.” 

It also answered my above question relating to God’s Plan, when, again, we found ourselves delayed at the same repair shop, because the AC compressor needed replacing. The Daily Reading spoke of a child learning to walk, falling, and then eager for another chance. “Perhaps that is the best attitude to approach our “Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready” scenario; another chance to get it right, and another chance to get on the road.

As suggested, “I may or may not reach my goal today, but tomorrow holds promise and possibility,” as we try one more time to move forward; within and without, and we make a breakthrough in understanding the answer to “Why?”

I covered the explanation in Life Goes On Off the Road but I want to mention that Van and I were processing through our Money Matters issues, and apparently needed one more time to get it right. His mother had advanced the money from his inheritance funds, which fulfilled the bail-out pattern and paid the bill, but that did not resolve Van’s money disorder pattern. And I suspect that the saga will continue throughout this book, too, for it seems to be ongoing; as I often say, it’s cyclic and spherical, like a vortex, and we deal with it at deeper levels; each time moving forward. 

I’m sure that the Journey of Awareness that will evolve throughout these pages will involve our money issues, and I’m assuming that, as we’re building our prosperity consciousness, our finances will increase. 

For instance, with the change of our travel plans, I asked God to show me what we are to do, and immediately the idea came: stay awhile with Rev. Dan Mueller (our minister friend in Albuquerque) and ask to facilitate a workshop. It will be a new beginning toward fulfilling your goals.

Yes! What a good idea, and probably far more productive, toward reaching my goals, than swimming in the world’s largest outdoor pool. However, I do believe that it’s okay to have fun, while becoming prosperous; in fact, it’s advisable. Furthermore, I suspect that’s exactly what this book will be about: having fun and earning money, while developing a deeper sense of awareness of the spirit of God, which is at the core of our being. This inner reality is essential to my spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being; and truly I believe it’s the answer to “Why?” Not only for me, but for anyone who is guided to read this book. 

So, my goal is to live, learn, and write the answers as they are revealed on this Journey of Awareness. And to let the understanding, wisdom and power of God’s spirit within be reflected in what I think, say, and do from the Christ Presence.

“I Press on Toward the Goal”

The above bible verse (Philippians 3:14) is part of one that I often quote to myself when I know it’s time to move forward, because it begins, “This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind,” which reminds us that there comes a time when we must let go of the past, and everything that’s limiting or holding us back. Then it continues, “and straining forward to what lies ahead,” which definitely describes us, as we are ready to move on. And the best part of the quote reads, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” ; the primary goal, and then we are guided in the direction of God’s Divine Plan for us. And personally, I no longer attempt anything else, for the results would be futile in the overall picture. 

Therefore, when I checked my e-mail (at my daughter, Dottie’s), before leaving town, I was delighted to discover four messages that indicated we were heading in the right direction, according to God’s Divine Plan. In other words, they were from people in California (the direction we are heading), and each one gave us a message of support relating to my website. And they are people we will need to see in person, as part of my goal in fulfilling God’s Divine Plan. Of course, when it’s right with God, it’s right all the way.

Reconnected

The first message, from Joyce, informed me that her computer had been down, and that’s why I hadn’t heard from her. She wanted to know if I liked the short story she’d written and sent me. 

When I first heard from her, via e-mail, I was excited, because we’d drifted apart in recent years, and now we were reconnected. Yet, we have an agreement to work together with my website, or workshops, when the time is right. So, I wrote lengthy replies, only to have no response from her. Therefore, because of my conditioning that brings up the “not wanted tape” I figured she’d gotten mad about something. But, that wasn’t the case, at all, but simply another misconception on my part, and a reminder that everything is working along in God’s timing, and with God’s guidance.  

A Problem Solved

The second message, from Pat, solved a major problem for checking my e-mail: she mentioned that a mutual friend uses the library to check her e-mail; an idea that had not occurred to me. Yet, every town has a library, so now we would be able to move forward and still continue taking care of business. 

He’s There for me

Rev. Tony’s message responded to one I’d sent months earlier, as he apologized and explained that he’s still learning how to use the computer, and it takes time to respond. He okayed my linking with his church, adding, “I know you wouldn’t say anything inappropriate; I’d trust you with my life.” 

Wow! What a vote of confidence, and just the words I needed to boost my self- confidence, as I’m working myself up to again facilitate workshops. In fact, it’s Rev. Tony who provided the opportunity for me to resume teaching, as I was recuperating from my stress-out. In fact, he’s always been there for me, spiritually and as a friend, and here he was, again, at an important crossroads in my life. My Inner Guidance indicated that Rev. Tony would okay my presenting a workshop at the church, during our time in California. It would simply be up to me to let him know the necessary information and confirm a date. Thank You, God, and thank you, Rev. Tony.

Naked Journey Connection

Rick and Snow are planning to take to the road in April, 2001, and have already begun their website journal, Naked Journey, relating to their plans. I was guided to contact them, when I saw them listed on Marianne Williamson’s website links, before I began my own website. In fact, it was their Homestead website that inspired me to use that one for mine. 

I am honored that, of the over 2,000 visits they’ve received on their website, Rick faithfully responds to my e-mail, and we have become friends. In fact, when I mentioned that we will be near them around Christmas, he invited us to get together. I am thankful for their support and connection. You will be reading more about Rick and Snow throughout this book. 

There is Much More

That night, after reading the above e-mail messages, plus looking forward to our time with Rev. Dan, I was too excited to get to sleep, as God continued opening up my vision so that I could see the possibilities that opened before us. Surely the years of preparation were finally reaching a time of bearing fruit, and I would see the fulfillment of my dreams and goals. And I would see the truth of my constant affirmation: “My greatest productivity, accomplishments and rewards are yet to come.” Not that I haven’t enjoyed a bountiful life, but I know that there is much more. And God was giving me a vision of what is ahead.

 

Chapter 2

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

Goodbye to Family

As usual, it was hard to say goodbye to our family in the Denver area, so we went about the day making closure. First, while parked in front of their home, we finalized several business and personal matters with Dottie, and enjoyed a Razzle Welcome from Rascal, the family dog (an Australian shepherd) and petted the gingham cats, stretched out on the chairs. 

In the meantime, Dottie’s daughter, Arianna (my granddaughter) called, and we arranged to stop and see their new apartment, while Dottie went in her car (so they could do errands together). 

The sun was shining brightly and the fluffy clouds gathered over The Rockies, visible from Arianna’s balcony. It felt good seeing them happy in their comfortable apartment, with its two bedrooms and spacious loft; just what they wanted. But it was difficult knowing that we wouldn’t see Micayla for six-months, when she celebrates her first birthday, and realizing that we would miss out on those precious months of growing and changing. 

So, to delay the parting a little longer, we all met at a restaurant for lunch, and I could watch that cute baby reclining in her car seat across from me. But, it only takes so long to eat, and finally we had our last hugs, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Our first stop was to Flying J on I-70, where we dumped waste, loaded gas and propane, and then headed down a new route, Highway 83 to Parker and then Colorado Springs.

Dinner with Darrell

Whenever our travels take us through Colorado Springs, usually at the beginning or ending of the trip we stop to visit Darrell (Dal), who works at Furr’s restaurant, and we spend the night parked at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, where we stock up on supplies. 

This time was no exception, but the unusual quirk was that I’d been trying to contact Dal all summer, with no results, because he has no answering machine, nor does he have a computer; and his letters are often limited to one word, or as few as required to respond to any questions. I knew that I could stop at the restaurant, if all else failed, so we forged ahead, stopping at Wal-Mart for the night. 

This time my phone call was answered with Dal’s voice, and I knew that God’s timing was again at work. We arranged to meet, after work, the next day, and he offered to buy us dinner at Furr’s, with his discount; an offer I could not, and would not refuse, because it’s important to us to have this time together.

I’ve written about Dal in several books, but his complex life would make him a memorable main character; one that I could not make up. This time, I paid close attention to his stories, despite the fact that his soft voice is often drowned out by the noisy diners. But, I wanted to understand what had happened in his life to cause his actions that ended up in prison for the best years of his life. 

Dal is not a victim, either of circumstances or life. His mother adored him, and his father lavished money and gifts; Dal wanted for nothing; and he was surrounded by a loving family. And perhaps that was the problem: he was not equipped to deal with the sudden jolt of not having, when his dad’s money ended, with no explanation.  

So, Dal began stealing; usually burglarizing (when no one is there), but not robbing, at gunpoint, which is a much more serious crime with more severe punishment. However, twice he was surprised when someone was there, during his burglary, and he used a gun to get away. 

As surprising as this may sound, Dal began stealing at the age of six, but only spent a short time in jail, until his final arrest that sent him to prison and that was because they put him in a lineup with two Mexicans and two Blacks; he’s White.

“Everyone thought I was a good person,” he confided, “and they couldn’t and wouldn’t believe that I’d done anything wrong.” His voice lowered even more when he added, “My mother loved me so much, and she would do anything for me; she would even have done time for me, and I’m sure that my imprisonment caused her untimely death.

He wasn’t able to give any explanation to what caused his behavior, saying, “I think something was wrong with me from the beginning, because of the terrible thoughts I would have at times. And another family member is much the same way. It’s got to be an inherited thing, because I had everything that I ever wanted.”

Of course, there’s more to Dal’s story, but it’s his to tell, and I’ve encouraged him to write it, yet he says, “I just can’t bring myself to write anymore.” In fact, he’s becoming more reclusive, as he added, “I’m thinking about getting rid of my phone, because the government can now listen to anyone’s phone conversation. I just don’t like that invasion of privacy.”

Dal says that the reason he stole was for the money, and not for the thrill, as some reveal to be the reason for their criminal activity. But, nowadays, he is quite frugal and lives within his income, in a modest apartment, near his work, so he walks, rather than owning a car, and he makes good selections in his clothes at thrift stores, Goodwill, etc. 

His greatest topic of conversation, however, is his elation at finding a supplement that is restoring his health, and freeing him from pain and irritability. Perhaps he has found a missing ingredient that caused the chemical imbalance in his system all those years.

I questioned why he hadn’t been willing to try our product, which does all the same things his does, but he said it didn’t feel right for him. I certainly can relate to that, and I’m thankful that he’s found what works for him.

After dinner, we returned to Freedom, because it was very important for me to show Dal my Inner Freedom website, since he was such a vital part of my early prison ministry-by-mail. In fact, he was one of the original five Freedomers (my name for inmates seeking inner freedom). 

I quickly ran through some of the webpages, but he’s not into computers, and then it began raining, which reminded him that his jacket was still inside Furr’s, and it would soon close, so he must leave. We said our goodbyes, and this completion became the beginning of our trip.

Only 36-Miles 

By now, it was dark, but we were only planning to drive 36-miles, to Pueblo, the next town, and stay at another Wal-mart, so as not to wear out our welcome at any one place. The rain had stopped, but the storm had blown eastward and the frequent lightning lit up the sky, making a colorful panorama, as we drove south, through the night. 

Since the Weather Report had promised another day of 80+ temperatures, we contemplated driving on another hour to Trinidad, but I’m needing to learn not to push, and to take it easier, so we decided to save that part of the adventure for the next day and settle down for the night.

A Side Trip

I was still feeling frustrated about missing the glorious golden autumn aspen, and the thought of taking a side trip kept nagging at my mind, so I presented the idea to Van, “How about if we go up to La Veta and Cuchara and see the golden aspen, then up the box canyon and through the hills to Trinidad?

He agreed, so our venture began. As we drove the familiar route, I wondered why I had fallen so in love with this area, even hoping to buy the Inn of the Spanish Peaks resort. No doubt, it was because it reminded me of my childhood at Kah-nee-ta Hot Springs in Central Oregon. 

But, Van wasn’t interested in living there, and I finally realized that the cold, wind, and nearly 10,000 ft. altitude simply didn’t agree with me, so that ended my dream of having a spiritual resort in the mountains, where I could write and enjoy the peaceful environment.

 

Chapter 3

A TAPESTRY OF AUTUMN

The Highway of Legends

Red, orange, gold, russet patches upon the hillside, interwoven with nature’s harmonizing shades of green, and sometimes an entire hillside of glorious golden aspen quivering in the wind, with the sunshine reflecting their brilliance. This is the sixty-mile backdrop of scenery along The Highway of Legends from La Veta to Trinidad (Highway 12), as our last vestige of “Colorful Colorado,” aptly described in the state slogan.

Inn of the Spanish Peaks 

I’d felt so disappointed at not being able to cross The Rockies during this colorful season, and I delighted when my Inner Tour Guide suggested this route. For one thing, it would be another opportunity to reconnect with an area that had so strongly attracted me when I answered an ad for Inn of the Spanish Peaks, a resort at 10,000 ft. along this highway. In fact, I’d stayed here alone for several weeks when Van refused to go with me, due to lack of interest, the same reason I finally gave up the idea of buying the place for a spiritual resort, and a sanctuary for my writing.

I could see myself happily living out my life in the shadows of the high mountain, covered with aspen, and walking along the man-made pond reflecting the brilliant colors of every season. In this tranquility, a writer’s paradise, I wrote several inspired pieces, and I longed to remain here. 

Life Took a Different Path

But, life took me on a different path, and it’s probably just as well, because the last time we stayed there, the wind blew so hard that it forced the snow through the cracks around the French doors, forming a miniature snow bank inside the room. And when Van tried to put a tissue in the crack, to stop the whistling (of the wind), it blew clear across the room. The snow outside blew so hard, it went sideways, not even touching the ground, until it hit against the far end of the box canyon. 

I’m not a winter person, and when I learned that the wind and the cold are normal realities, along with my body’s non-acceptance of the altitude, I gave up that dream. Instead, we bought Freedom, our home on wheels, and we could spend time here, if we choose, and then move on. 

We hadn’t been here since we brought Dal, on a short round-trip from Colorado Springs, as part of our Trial Run, when we first bought Freedom; and that was in the springtime, so we’d never been here in the autumn to see the backdrop of golden aspen. 

 

A Trip on the Highway of Legends

Let’s take this 70-mile trip together, from the turnoff to La Veta, as I describe the beautiful scenery. We’ve left Highway 160 that brought us from I-25, and drove through the bustling town of Walsenburg, with its usual small town businesses, plus a Safeway, Carl’s Jr. (formerly Hardee’s), and the new Subway. 

Between Walsenburg and the turnoff we see, in the distance, the Sangre de Crista Mountains, which are usually snow-covered, but today they’re in a cloud-cap. To our left towers the two barren Spanish Peaks, which are also snow-covered in the winter. The modern Veterans Hospital and Youth Detention Center buildings are in the foreground. On the left we pass the lake at Lathrop State Park, surrounded by pine and juniper trees; and the Navajo Land Development, which we once toured, reminds us that we could have been living here. But, the intense summer heat and winter cold was a deterring factor, although the beauty of this area made a strong case for living amongst the trees and adobe hillsides.

Now, as we turn onto Highway 12, the mountains are still visible, but we are overlooking a wide valley of pastureland, with a meandering stream and some picturesque trees, which we follow into La Veta, a unique town that combines ranchers, farmers and mountaineers with organic herb farmers, artists and a sprinkling of the new thought culture. No wonder I was attracted to these energies. I love the quaint bakery that is only open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. till 1:30 p.m. 

In fact, I’d planned to stop there for dessert on this Saturday, but, as usual, we’ve missed the open hours. So, we will park on the side street, along the large, tree-shaded City Park, walk across the street, past the bakery and La Veta Inn, which is also closed, as is the new Cafe and Art Gallery; both open for dinner on the weekend.

The service station, on the corner, and The Covered Wagon (with a replica sitting atop the sign) Restaurant, across the main street, however, maintain normal business hours and are bustling with activity. 

However, our destination is Charlie’s, the general store, in the middle of the block, and we pass several art galleries and tourist-oriented shops, on the way. Our anticipation is rising, because we are looking forward to a 50-cent ice cream cone, featured at Charlie’s. And, sure enough, as we walk inside, we spot the old-fashioned ice cream fountain, with a sweet teenager waiting to serve us. The signs taped to the huge mirror list several choices, the usual, plus White House or Rocky Road. Van goes for the Rocky Road and I select the White House, with cherry and nuts. “The cherry is for President George Washington, and the nuts are for… well, whoever comes to mind.” My joke for the day, which brings a smile to another customer. 

While you choose your favorite ice cream, you can see the country store atmosphere with its well-stocked shelves, and in the back you can see the real meat market with a butcher to cut your selection of meat. And there’s a popcorn machine with bags already filled, for only 29-cents. I love this place! 

After buying The Signature, the local newspaper, for 25-cents, we walk outside and watch the folks at the Farmers Market, across the street, where roasted corn is also being offered, and a fellow is eating at a table, while his dog is begging for snacks. Van notices the sign on Charlie’s, “Established in 1937,” and the one on another building goes back to 1903, so we are standing in history, and many of the houses and buildings have been here since the fort, which I must admit, I haven’t seen; must be on a side road.

But, it’s time to move on, or we won’t make it over the mountain by sunset, and we need the sunlight to enjoy the fall colors that await. Actually, driving up the main street, we can see the shade trees are beginning to turn golden, and once out of town, as we begin to climb upward, the scrub oaks are brilliant, ranging from red, scarlet and russet, to shades of orange and gold forming the tapestry of patchwork designs along the hillside, with the intermittent evergreens and other trees that haven’t turned colors.

We are driving through a canyon, between these colorful hillsides, with trees, pastures and Cuchara Creek meandering along the road, and sometimes a home or barn adds to the scenery. But, one of the most unique features of this canyon is the Dakota Ridge, stone formations that look somewhat like a type of dinosaur back, and other times becomes a solid wall, or other formations with colorful fungus adding to the beauty. I never cease to enjoy the surprises along this drive; sometimes deer grazing along the road, or eagles soaring amongst the trees, and serene ponds sparkling in the sunshine. 

One of my favorite places to eat is The Silver Spoon, a fine dining restaurant in the little mountain town of Cuchara, along the stream, but I missed it this time, as I’m busy taking pictures of the golden aspen which now cover the hillsides, as we’re going higher and higher. In fact, when we pass the Cuchara Ski Resort, we are only 1/2 mile from the newly named Huerfano Resort (I liked the name Inn of the Spanish Peaks better), and already we can see the golden aspen covering the hillside behind the resort. Unfortunately, the evergreen trees have grown so tall that we can no longer see the pond, and we can barely see the corner of the logs on the remodeled lodge.

I’m trying to snap a picture, but Van can’t stop, as a car is close behind, so we keep climbing to the turnoff and parking area. We stop while deciding if Freedom is up to the steep climb up the box canyon. We’re already above 10,000 ft., and will be over 11,000 ft., before reaching the top.

We stop in a virtual wonderland of greenery and quivering golden aspen, with a stream gurgling by the parking lot. For me, we’ve now passed the highlight of the trip, and I’m willing to turn back, but we’ve really only just begun, and there’s so much more scenery ahead. 

Onward and Upward

The decision is made to continue onward and upward. Van focuses on negotiating the narrow, steep, winding road, while I’m trying to capture the masses of gold and green landscape, and I especially want a picture of the sunshine reflecting on the hills and valleys below, but the trees have grown so tall that it’s hard to find an open area, and we are unable to pull off and stop. Now, we can see the top of one Spanish Peak, towering above the lower mountains, and on the other side, we catch glimpses of the sun peeking out from behind the dark clouds above Sangre de Crista Mountains, even dropping some rain at one spot. 

Winding, winding, winding, and gasping at the beauty of every turn, the tapestry of autumn is becoming more magnificent with each mile. And finally we reach the top, where we can see below, between trees, where we have come, and then we can see a panoramic view ahead, over the trees, with mountains in the distance. Breathtaking! In fact, it’s difficult for Van to drive, so he pulls off on a parking area, and we simply enjoy the view.

A Reservoir Adds to the Tapestry

Finally, we move forward, toward the panoramic view, and then we drop between the hillsides, along another canyon, with more colorful patchwork, which eventually brings us to the reservoir, which completes the magnificent tapestry

Now, we drive around the colorful patchwork hillsides of scrub oak, the golden aspen, and the evergreens surrounding a sparkling deep blue lake. People are walking, taking pictures or fishing (either from the lakeside or from boats), or simply enjoying the beauty.

But we drive on, because we are only half way to Trinidad, and there is lots more driving and lots more to see. However, we are now gradually descending, so the scenery is similar to the ascent, except for another lake, hidden midst the trees, with a resort; and sometimes we spot private mountain cottages or homes amongst the trees.

The Stone Wall

Once at the bottom of the mountain, we come to the small town of Stonewall, named for another section of the Dakota Ridge; this one forming a massive stone wall, probably 100 ft. tall, at least, with the characteristic jagged top. This rocky phenomenon appears off and on, all the way through The Dakotas, and even further south. In fact, when we first lived in Freedom, we stayed for two months at the Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden, Co., which is part of this same natural wonder.

Several resorts and an RV park offer tourists a place to stay and enjoy the unusual energies of this place, and it’s an idea for future reference. But, for now, we continue driving through this picturesque wide valley. Although the aspen are gone and the scrub oak are not as thick and colorful, the winding North Fork River and the sprawling pastures with their grazing cattle, and the several little towns cause us to remark on the enjoyment of the drive, despite the end of the mountain scenery. 

An added attraction to this part of the side trip is the combination of sun setting behind us, reflecting gorgeous orange and black clouds, appropriate for Halloween month, which begins the next day. And the purple reflection on the distant mountains in front of us, near Trinidad, where we are heading, keeps us ohing and awing.  

A large abandoned coal mine adds a touch to the tapestry, and the town of Segundo reminds me that I’d been told that Ringo’s Grocery is the place to buy fresh meat. However, we don’t stop, as we’re supplied from our Wal-Mart shopping.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, our destination for the night, and this word picture of A Tapestry of Autumn, also offers a picturesque end to our scenic tour.

But first, we wend through the valley along the Trinidad Reservoir, with its recreation area, and then through the west part of Trinidad, a quaint, historic town with many old buildings and some new, nestled between the mountains; a nice place to live, if you don’t mind winter snow. In recent years, as Colorado has been discovered by more and more people, the town has grown with new homes and businesses, including the Wal-Mart, at the top of the hill over the Raton Pass, which divides Colorado and New Mexico. 

This Wal-Mart not only services the local shoppers, but it also draws from the town of Raton, at the bottom of the pass; and I’m sure they appreciate having a nearby Supercenter. It’s at least 100 miles north, along I-25, to Pueblo, where the residents of Walsenburg must travel to Wal-Mart; and it’s several hundred miles south to Las Vegas, NM to the next Supercenter. Every so often I feel like saying “Thank you,” for Wal-Mart, despite some critics of the corporation. Nevertheless, they have brought the world to the doorsteps of many isolated areas; and, with their welcome RVers policy, makes it possible for us to travel on our limited Social Security Retirement income, with the assurance of a safe, friendly place to park for the night, while also having convenient shopping.

When we arrive, the sun is about set, but we can still enjoy the last few minutes, as the jagged peaks of the distant mountains form a black outline in front of the orange clouds in our autumn tapestry. Within minutes it is dark and our tour of the Highway of Legends is over. But, tomorrow is another day.

Another Tapestry: Raton to Taos

With the vivid memories of The Highway of Legends, the Raton Pass seemed less spectacular, yet these hillsides caused Van to comment on the appropriateness of my term patchwork tapestry, as the brilliant red-oranges of the scrub oak formed their patterns midst the evergreens. Although the aspen were missing from this scenery, people were stopped and taking pictures, and I, too, snapped an especially vibrant mountainside.

I said to Van, “People coming north from Texas and New Mexico are impressed with this first glimpse of autumn color, and probably have no idea what beauty is hidden within The Rockies, because this route goes mostly through the valley. I’m so glad that we were guided to The Highway of Legends, but I’m sorry that it’s over. From here on, will be barren and boring, except for the area from Las Vegas to Santa Fe.”

Soon we passed the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign, and I felt tears welling up; I really didn’t want to leave, yet, I’d made up my mind to spending the winter in the warmer climate, so I cheered up as we approached the “Welcome to New Mexico: Land of Enchantment” sign, knowing that more blessings awaited. 

As we were driving through Raton, Van commented, “Highway 64 to Taos is the next exit.” as part of his ongoing travel commentary to keep me informed, as I’m often writing or looking at the map. 

His words struck a chord of possible adventure, and I said, “Should we take it?”

We knew that Taos is in the mountains, and we weren’t ready to give up the beauty of the autumn tapestry. Since we were already at the turnoff, he quickly pulled onto the highway that darted westward across the flat barren New Mexico horizon. 

“Allright, more adventure,” I shouted, as Van began singing, “Seeing Places Never Seen Before,” from Willie Nelson’s song, On the Road Again.

Cimarron State Park

We’ll take you along on this part of the autumn tapestry, too, so you can enjoy the changing terrain, in comparison to The Highway of Legends.

The first part of the highway is rangeland, without even any cattle in sight, on these vast ranches. In fact, for many miles, all we see is a huge black buzzard searching for lunch, and a big pond that provides water for the cattle, when they are in this section.

But, as we near the small farm town, Cimarron, we spot some cattle and horses grazing on the green grasses, irrigated by the Cimarron River that flows through this part of the valley. Since there’s no grocery store in town, I assume everyone has to drive into Raton or over the pass to the Wal-Mart in Trinidad. Not the life for me, but I’m glad someone is willing to raise the cattle and crops for the rest of us.

Other than a Mexican family scurrying across the highway, there’s no other activity in town; obviously shutdown for Sunday. 

Once out of town, we entered a canyon that promised Cimarron State Park, which we followed for many miles. The evergreens have returned on the hillsides, and the stream meanders along the highway, sharing the floor of the narrow canyon. As we gradually advance upward, we realize that we are still in The Rocky Mountains, as massive solid rock form the walls of the canyon. In fact, we stop and park at a wayside, to get out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the mountain.

Several cars and RV’s are also stopped, and people are walking along the creek or gazing upward at the canyon wall; some are taking pictures. You, too, can take advantage of the break to survey the scene, as I tell about chatting with a couple who are traveling in an RV almost identical to ours, only it’s a 1988, and much newer looking, with only 1/2 the mileage of our 100,00 miles. I asked if they keep it polished, and they explain that it’s his father’s, who is also traveling with them, and he hasn’t polished it. 

The conversation goes on, as they explain that they’re from San Diego, and they wanted to rent an RV for their vacation. George, the father, offered his, and they invited him along; a fact that had been working out quite nicely, as they traveled through Arizona, Utah and Colorado, taking in all the best sights. 

As we chatted, Van and George had found each other and were comparing notes on the RV’s performance and other technical matters. This is part of the fun and joy of RVing: the people you meet along the way. They, too, were headed to Taos, and wanted to see the scenery along the way, before dark.

I’d learned from another traveler, who lives in Eagle’s Nest, and was taking her visiting family sightseeing, that the road ahead (from Eagle Nest toward Taos) becomes narrow and winding, with sharp curves, so we, too, decided to move onward.

Notice the absence of the patchwork design, in this tapestry, as we no longer see the colorful scrub oak. However, the groves of aspen begin to appear on the hillsides, as we reach higher elevations, and when we come to the top, overlooking Eagle’s Nest, we can’t resist stopping for lunch, with this view: the small town sprawled along a large lake sparkling in the sunlight far below, and across the valley, the golden aspen form patches amongst the evergreens. Such a different tapestry from the Highway of Legends, yet breathtaking and enjoyable.

Hundreds of cars pass in both directions, while we eat lunch, and we wonder how far they have come; probably many have traveled from Denver and Colorado Springs, and others are returning to Taos or Santa Fe. We all have long distances of winding roads before us, so we move on down the mountain, through the valley, and into the Taos Canyon, mentioned earlier. 

Upward, upward, upward winding back and forth through the canyon; from one side to the other, with towering evergreens, sprinkled with patches of golden aspen. Breathtaking! And so is the altitude, as we finally reach another 10,000 ft., and then we start down the other side. 

By this time, the sameness of the scenery is becoming tiring, and we are anxious to reach Taos, where we can settle down for the night. We know that we are getting closer, because of the settlement of homes scattered in the canyon, and the realization comes to us that Taos, despite its ski resort, is built in a huge valley, though still in the mountains. 

You’ve probably noticed the change of architecture in New Mexico, and coming into Taos, the adobe haciendas are predominant, with their smooth reddish or beige walls, flat roofs and small windows.

Driving into this tourist town reminds us of Santa Fe: narrow streets, adobe businesses adjoining each other, and hundreds of people milling through the shops. But, I notice a sign that explains the great amount of traffic and activity; it’s the annual Taos Art and Crafts Festival. No wonder! Thank God we are arriving Sunday evening, and most of the tourists have left, but it’s still a madhouse, and we take the wrong turn, which thankfully gets us out of town, but not the direction to Wal-Mart. So, Van pulls into a service station and learns that we must go through town and to the other outskirts. At least we can see the bustling activity and get a full view of the shops along the main street, which, for us is enough. We are not that people oriented.

However, this festival reminded us that the last, and only time we were here, we also arrived in the middle of a festival, but in the springtime, and not with Freedom. That time we drove to the Indian Village and watched all the festivities, and also enjoyed the deep fried sopapillas, a tradition of some Indians. 

Now, all we want is to get off the road and settle down for the evening, which is easily done at the Taos Wal-Mart (not a Supercenter). And, much to our surprise, there are only two other RV’s here. Yeah!

The Elusive Rio Grande

Throughout our travels in Texas, we had spent time in search of the elusive Rio Grande River, because you know it’s there, but you can seldom see it from the highways. We finally managed to park in Brownsville and walk to a park, where we stared at the narrow, muddy river that separates the two countries; really a disappointment.

And we almost saw the mouth, where the Rio empties into the Gulf of Mexico, but we’d walked about a mile, along the beach, and the sun went down, causing the temperature to be too cool for Van, so we returned to Freedom, without seeing that phenomenon.

However, at Big Bend National Park, we walked a short distance, along a rustic trail at as the sunset reflected across the distant majestic barren mountains and discovered a wide, clear, rippling river that did its name (Great River) justice. 

Now, after leaving Taos, we’ll travel across a vast valley, separated by a barely visible chasm appearing (from our viewpoint) as a wide dark line. However, far below, the elusive Rio wends from its source, not too far north, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. 

We feel vulnerable and apprehensive, as the desert wind, from across the flat, unprotected desert, between the mountain ranges, whips Freedom with a mighty gust. 

I’m wondering how much further we’ll be subjected to this phase of the journey, when suddenly we drop down into the gorge, and there we see the magnificent Rio Grande, looking like a real river: wide, creamy colored, with rapids rippling over the rocks and even wide, serene pools, in the deeper places. And lining the river are golden aspen and other foliage; truly a beautiful scene added to our autumn tapestry. 

Van turns into the Rio Grande Gorge Visitors Center, on the left, and parks along the side, with a full view of this panoramic canyon scene. Across the river, an adobe house nestles in a green pasture, beneath the side of the canyon, which is spotted with evergreen trees and yellow blossoming sage. The top of the canyon is rimmed with rustic rock palisades.

Our senses are fully alive, as we drink in the sights, and smell the fragrance of pine trees and sagebrush, as we get out of Freedom and walk along the fence toward the Visitors Center. I comment to Van that this terrain reminds me of Kah-nee-ta Hot Springs, where I grew up: the Warm Springs River flowing through a valley surrounded by barren hills dotted with juniper trees and sagebrush; only we had the added color of red adobe hillsides, too; and, as a child,  I 

got to spend most of the summers there. Being here, now, reminded me how much I miss my childhood roots; but now I have the opportunity to travel and see many different scenes.

To our surprise, the Visitor Center closed at 2:00 p.m., but the reason for stopping remained visible, as we walk to another part of the fence where we can see even more of the river rippling through the canyon, highlighted by the golden foliage on each bank. I take several pictures of this postcard setting, and I’m happy that I now have a color scanner to duplicate them for my website, or send as Christmas cards.

Van and I marvel at the reality that this is the same elusive Rio Grande River that we searched to see in different parts of Texas; and these waters will eventually flow that course and empty into the Gulf of Mexico. What a phenomenon! In fact, I wonder how many people drink the water, and how many crops we eat are from the waters of The Rio Grande? 

It’s hard to leave this so we stay several hours while eating lunch and absorbing the revitalizing energies; but once we leave, we still follow the river for many miles through the canyon, and until it reaches a valley and changes course to the far side. However, we can still enjoy the colorful trees that are refreshed by the river’s waters, as we drive through the valley.

The Burnt Tapestry

Yes, red, russet and orange are autumn colors that appear often in our tapestry, and it’s true that orange and black are associated with Halloween, but I wish the terrible fire that ravaged Los Alamos had never happened to add this spectacle to our autumn tapestry. But it did happen, and we did see a small part of the devastation on distant mountainsides, when taking our side trip to this mysterious town, created by its secretive mystic and inaccessible location. 

Again, we’ll take you along on the excursion, so you can experience the trauma, as Freedom, too, overheats in this mountainous terrain. The problem is that we didn’t realize what we would be getting into; and I’m not sure if it would have made any difference, because we had such good results on our last two side trips that we had no reason to assume anything different this time.

In any event, we’d missed Highway 30, and elected to take Highway 502, the main route from Santa Fe. As usual, we turned onto the highway as commute traffic poured out of Los Alamos by the thousands. Van explained that at least 10,000 people work at these Government atomic research labs, and only a small portion can afford to live at the expensive residences in Los Alamos, therefore most of the workers commute. Fortunately, we are going the opposite direction. 

The excitement of adventure at seeing a new place carries us along the eighteen-mile highway, until the road narrows and we notice that we must climb along the side of the cliffs, on a precarious slant. We are committed to the trip, as there is no turning back, despite my having sworn never to take such a road, again, after a similar one in Colorado. 

But, here we are, so nothing to do but try to enjoy the rustic scenery: colorful rock formations, solid beige palisades (across the valley) and some colorful foliage, but mostly scrub pine and other evergreens. And the road we travel had been carved along a solid wall of some whitish substance, such as clay, but much harder.

When we approach a large, yellow school bus pulling another vehicle, at the side of the road, we wonder how we’ll get by, with so many cars coming toward us. Somehow, we squeeze through, and continue a short distance to the first pull-out, where Van lets the line of cars past.

Onward and upward, but nothing as wonderful as The Highway of Legends experience; this one is scary, and much too crowded. But, eventually we reach the top and start to breathe a sigh of relief when a metallic clanking sound comes from beneath Freedom.

“What’s that?” I cry out.

“I don’t know,” Van replies, as he slows down, looking for a place to pull off the road, adding, “but we’re heating up.” It’s too crowded, and we’re now driving through the main town, so we keep going, and Freedom makes another strange clanking sound.

“There’s a high school parking lot; pull into it.”

As Van negotiated Freedom very slowly into the crowded lot, we notice that the football team was practicing in the field, and a game was also in session in another field. The yells and shouts add to the already heavy energies of this town, which is now heavier with our own apprehensions.

Van gets out and looks in the front compartment, but doesn’t see anything out of place. Besides, most of the apparatus that might be clanking is under the doghouse (covering over the motor, etc.).

I’m trying to be supportive, but I simply can’t tolerate any more breakdowns and repairs, after our recent $4,000.00 investment, which is added to the $5,000.00 for a new motor at this time last year, and equal amounts for other repairs along the way. No, it’s just too much!

“This won’t work,” I complain. “We just can’t continue this lifestyle, if every enjoyment is going to be thwarted with another trauma and breakdown.”

Van says nothing, while allowing Freedom to cool, and I’m working a crossword puzzle to try to cool off. I suggest that he ask someone if there’s another way off of this mountain, and he heads outside. When he returns, he gives directions for a truck route, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s about this time that I notice the mountains, across a ravine from us, and realize that the trees have all been burned, with only black skeletons standing along the skyline, and some still remaining on the sides. This sobering reminder of the recent tragedy causes me to count our blessings, as I go outside to take a picture of the black memorial to disaster.

A short time later, the football players, in their black and yellow outfits, begin streaming across the parking lot and up some stairs to the crosswalk over the street and to the high school. Van decides that Freedom has cooled enough, and I suggest that he drive around the parking lot awhile, and see if anything clanks. In the midst of this confusion, more football players emerged from the field and across the overpass. And people watching the game stream out to their cars and leave the lot. It’s so hectic and horrible, so we wait for the congestion to subside, before attempting to leave.

Now, with less traffic and a safer road, the return trip is less hazardous, and there is no further clanking. Since it’s all downhill, Freedom doesn’t overheat, and we relax somewhat, still wondering what happened. 

You may have noticed the few trees that had burned along the road, but we didn’t see any of the residential area, and therefore none that had burned. I did remember that I had seen on The News, the night before, that some of the homeowners were beginning to rebuild their homes, and it felt good to have that input, as we left the heavy energies of this place. I might add that we didn’t see any of the secret laboratories, either, and probably wouldn’t be allowed within sight of them. 

In any event, I’d seen enough of Los Alamos for this time, and felt relieved to be returning to the main highway to Santa Fe. That is, until Van began fretting, and then pulled off along the side of the road, announcing that there had been several hills to climb and Freedom had warmed up, again.

This reminded me of other times in our travels when Freedom heated and eventually we learned that there were some serious problems, which we had fixed. Now, I wondered what next, especially when we repeated the cooling off for three or four times. It was already dark, and I had stressed out, as I prayed that we could make it to Santa Fe for the night, where we planned to park at Wal-Mart.

We’d been to Santa Fe and toured its picturesque streets, much like Taos, when visiting our friend, Judy, many years ago, and now I had no desire to see anything but Wal-Mart. And, of course, Judy, who came to visit us, briefly, after work; and to pick up the manuscript for one of my books. She had agreed to look it over, with the possibility of editing; but Judy is a busy career woman, and despite her background as an English teacher, this would be an iffy option for us both. Yet, I knew that I would need to find someone other than Dottie, because her time is committed to their business.

In any event, Santa Fe would be a turning point for this trip, and A Tapestry of Autumn had reached its conclusion. From here we would be crossing the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, and we would be concentrating on moving forward with my writing and website; and perhaps it would be time to again consider doing workshops; but that’s another chapter in this Journey of Awareness. 

Chapter 4

I LOOK FOR THE OPEN DOOR

The Seafood Buffet

Our friend, Rev. Dan, a Unity minister, had other commitments and did not meet us at the San Felipe Casino for the Tuesday Seafood Buffet. He had tried to call, but our signal was low, so when he didn’t arrive, Van and I continued our policy of having fun, as we heaped our plates from an array of seafood; everything from fried rainbow trout and cold baked salmon to shrimp and steamed crawfish. Crab legs were also available for an extra $2.95, but we had enough hassle peeling shrimp and opening crawfish tails for the tiny morsel of delicacies that tasted much like lobster.

In fact, once he mastered the technic, Little Ralph returned for three platefuls of crawfish, and we pretended we were back in Louisiana. And we laughed at the big Black Man, at another table, who was giving lessons in eating crawfish, along with a humorous dialogue.

Joanie has a need for eating, as nurturing, after an emotional upset, and she was still recovering from the morning at Wal-Mart in Santa Fe, when nothing seemed to be working out. First thing was taking in only one roll of film for 1-hour developing, and then discovering a second, which Van had been certain about all along. So, that meant waiting another hour before getting on the road. 

In the meantime, he’d been trying to get some letters mailed, the day before, so when the mailperson drove by, I grabbed the letters and headed out the door, leaving my glasses on the couch. When I returned, it had gotten warm, and I knelt on the couch to open the window, breaking the frames on my glasses. 

Van insisted that I buy another frame, which was no place on our priority list, and I was wondering why these things were happening. Especially since they came after he had called Apex Auto Care about Freedom overheating, only to learn that they had deposited the two post-dated checks, which would bounce, until we received the check from Van’s mom to cover the cost of repairs. In the meantime, with the automatic deposit of our Social Security check in two days, which we need for monthly living expenses, the funds would be withdrawn to cover the post-dated checks, leaving us penniless.

This triggered my money anxieties, no doubt smoldering in my subconscious memory bank from the trauma of my childhood during The Great Depression, which I often write about. Only now, after writing it out enough times, I am beginning to get the depth of the impact that traumatic era had on those who lived through it. In fact, anyone living through poverty conditions, or limited family income, are also traumatized and impacted. And today’s financial crisis had been more than too much; I was nearly immobilized. 

But the prospect of the previously planned meeting with Rev. Dan finally brought me out of my depression, and Joanie welcomed the nurturing of the Seafood Buffet. I was proud of her for recovering from the financial crisis so quickly, and also because she steadfastly refused to eat the tempting desserts, knowing that she would have to endure the repercussions later, during the night, when they would return to haunt her. Indeed, my inner child, Joanie, is growing up, and this Journey of Awareness is really about the merging of all levels of oneself, and the power of this union in bringing about the desired results, such as fulfillment of one’s dreams or goals.

The Overall Picture

All in all, in retrospect, I see that the above incidents were all part of the overall picture, as Van and I were going through another level of the cyclic and spherical process of transformation; this time bringing Joanie and Little Ralph through another phase in their growing up process relating to money. For instance, Van’s insistence that I buy new glass frames evolved from his former Silas Marner complex, which relates to the classic story of a miserly character who discovered an orphaned child and became a more loving and giving person in the process of raising her. 

Van, too, is going through this evolution, as I’ve encouraged him to become aware of, and love, his inner child, Little Ralph. The overall picture reminds us that this growing up process takes time for us to learn and grow, just as it does for any child. So, Van’s suggestion that I buy new glass frames was really a cause for rejoicing. 

But I had become so conditioned to doing without, in order to accommodate the poverty level lifestyle of living on our Social Security retirement check that it took me awhile to get on the same page. Once I did, and we were in alignment with our intentions, I walked into the Vision Center at Wal-Mart and found one pair of frames, on the sale table, that matched my glasses; and they were exactly what I wanted for an affordable price. Okay, God, I got it. Thank You.

By the time my second roll of film had been developed, and the frames replaced, it was time to move on. But we still hadn’t resolved the problem of the deposited checks. Beth, at Apex Auto Care had apologized, saying, “It wasn’t my fault; it was a mistake” and offered to pay any extra charges that we might incur. Still, it was a mess, and her unwillingness to accept responsibility only indicates that her inner child needs some attention. But, that’s not up to me, so the question is: “What is the lesson here?” 

We had already arranged to have our mail forwarded from our Mail Box Etc. service in Golden, and it would arrive the next day; but then it must be sent to the bank in California, before the funds were available to us. 

God is the Source

Okay, through our ongoing Prosperity Program, we have been learning that God is the Source of our supply, and our dependency is upon Him. In this instance, Van’s mom is the channel that God uses to provide for our needs, so perhaps this is a reminder of this Universal Truth. 

This is fine, as long as we realize that the lesson here, in the overall picture, is to remember that God is the Source. For Van, or perhaps I should say, Little Ralph, who has a pattern of relying on his mom to bail him out of his financial predicaments, this is an important issue. One that he has been working on throughout the months that we have been doing our Prosperity Program, because these money patterns, based on childhood issues, are difficult to change, and they keep us from the fulfillment of our goals.

Meanwhile, Back to Rev. Dan    

My Inner Guidance had told me not to wait for Dan, and that it was okay to go ahead and eat, which we had done, after fifteen-minutes. As the meal progressed, I said to Van, “If Dan doesn’t show up by the time we are through,” let’s stay parked here tonight.”

He agreed, because we enjoy parking at the casino’s; much like Wal-Mart, they are well-lit, safe (always a security guard making rounds), convenient and quiet.

However, shortly before we left, Dan arrived and explained that he had already eaten with a client who insisted on taking him to dinner. All was well, and I rode the twenty-miles with Dan, from the casino (located on an Indian reservation along I-25) to his home.

I had wanted to talk with Dan about the possibility of giving my Recognizing and Changing Money Patterns workshop at his church, as a new beginning for this phase of my life. But, as usual, we got into such a deep conversation about the subject of the fallacies of money issues, including the challenges of changing money patterns and building a true prosperity consciousness, that we were almost home, before I asked.

He explained that he would be leaving his interim position as minister of this church within a short time, and he didn’t feel it would be advisable to give this workshop here.

Create Another Workshop?

Whew! That was a surprise, especially since I’d felt the Inner Guidance to do this.  I thought “Maybe I’m supposed to begin creating another workshop, based on our travels.” Perhaps that’s why I’d been guided to buy the scanner, so I could make copies of the pictures I’d taken. 

I would continue praying and asking God’s guidance in this matter, but in the meantime, Van arrived in Freedom, and we discussed other matters, before settling down for the night.

The next day, after Dan had gone to the church, I checked my e-mail and responded. Isn’t it interesting that all of these messages were from people whom I’d met at the Unity church in Carlsbad, including a friendly greeting from the minister, Rev. Tony? I replied, asking him about doing a workshop there, when we arrived for the winter months, and questioning if a presentation about our travels would be a good idea. I’d also asked Lynne, a friend at another Unity church, what she thought about the idea, and she’d said, “Great,” and told me who to contact.

I awoke the following morning with some questions for myself: “Do I really want to do workshops and lectures? Or is it my ego? Or perhaps it’s only about the money? On the other hand, considering the lasting friendships I’d made at various Unity churches, it would be a good balance relating with real people, again, after so much time at the computer. 

These were good questions, and I would continue to search my inner self, and God, for the answers. 

Upon further questioning, I thought that perhaps I’ve completed the in-person workshops cycle of my life, and now I should focus on presenting them on-line, which makes a lot more sense for our present lifestyle of traveling, and considering that I already have two workshops ready for this person.

On the other hand, it would still be a good idea to create a presentation based on our travels, using the pictures and covering events and activities of interest, and also giving lessons that we’ve learned along the way; perhaps combining our inner child, and the experiences of changing money patterns, too, would be good. In any event, I would not do anything, until I felt the Inner Guidance, because whenever I try to force things to happen, they don’t work; but when I listen to God’s Guidance, the doors open easily.

Do What You Love

Someone wrote a book that said, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” I’ve always believed that, although it hasn’t proven true for me, as yet. I have no doubt that, in time, it will happen, and in the meantime, I am happy doing what I love. And I am always inspired by people who do what they love. Often the pursuit takes them into activities that the average person wouldn’t consider, yet, apparently someone has to do it, because there is a need, and it must be filled.

In fact, the longer I live and the further I search for answers in God’s scheme of things, the more inclined I am to believe that if it exists, God created it. And that God created everything out of the essence (energy) of Himself; therefore all is God, which He pronounced “Good.”

However, there are those self-righteous people who find it necessary to criticize, judge and condemn anything that is not in agreement with their personal beliefs. And, I must admit that I indulge in this thought process, too, although I am constantly recognizing and changing this characteristic. And, just to make sure that I have opportunity to recycle through this learning process, God gives me experiential aides, which go further than visual aides, because I get to participate in them.

The Law of Attraction

When Dan took us to West Side Gaming, a school for Black Jack dealers and other games of chance, and I met the owners, Cindy and Steve, who are members of Rev. Dan’s church, I had to laugh, because it’s definitely The Law of Attraction at work. 

Another Viewpoint

Gambling is not sinful, in Dan’s mind, because although he is a minister, he’s fascinated with the science of numbers (he’s a statistician), and that’s how he approaches Black Jack and Keno, for instance. And it also accounts for his fascination with the Stock Market; not that the money isn’t an essential requirement for the fulfillment of the process; the reward, or proof, so to speak, of having done his part. And the fascinating part of his interest is that he’s not addicted, because he sets a limit, and he stops. In the meantime, the wheels are spinning in his head, as he matches wits with the percentages. 

Start Where You are With What you Have

The above words are part of an affirmation in our Prosperity Program that came to mind as Cindy explained how they became owners of a Dealers School. At first, they were dealers in casinos, and even worked in Laughlin at Sam’s Town, Edgewater and finally The Hilton Flamingo. 

Their business began when they would teach dealers in their garage, using what they had at hand. Soon the casino owners hired them to train the casino security people, and they had so much business that the neighbors complained, because they had no place to park their cars. The complaints became so intense, they were forced into opening a business office, where they have a miniature casino set up for training purposes.

There are seven Black Jack tables, plus stools, a Crap table, and a Roulette table; all skillfully made by Cindy and Steve. Of course, there are professional chips and fresh decks of cards, and colorful pictures of Las Vegas casinos decorate the wall for atmosphere.

And, at some point during the evening, Cindy offers sodas and popcorn, which she pops in the Microwave.

Fun is Serious Business

Cindy and Steve are business people who make fun out of training dealers, at least for the players; friends who are invited to play with fake money, in order to give the dealers hands-on experience.

The school is a serious learning process for the students, who must memorize and perfect a multitude of rules, regulations and conduct established by the casino industry to curtail cheating; on the part of dealers and players.

While Steve trained a new student, a quiet, fortysomething gentleman with long hair, Cindy dealt for us. This, too, was serious fun, because Cindy continuously talked, while dealing, giving us instructions on the art of playing Black Jack, as well as proper player etiquette. Since I’m not a pro, like Dan and Van, this rapid-fire input was overwhelming, especially since she was also entertaining us with stories of famous cheaters whom she had encountered. 

“You Should Write a Book”

My ADD (attention deficit disorder) was screaming, but I loved every minute, and I said “You should write a book.”

“I’ve actually written one page,” she replied, and added, “But our computer is possessed  by an evil spirit,” and she launched into another entertaining story, without ever losing track of everything happening at the table. 

Believe me, when her book is finished, it will be a best-seller, judging by the wild stories she was telling, of professional cheaters, who make The Sting look like child’s play. For instance, one woman wired herself with a computer, which was hidden in her hip, and she could work the keys with her toes by a wire that went down her leg to her foot. The casino operators and dealers couldn’t figure out how she was consistently winning when betting high amounts, but they knew she was cheating. 

Cindy said, “They would never have learned her secret, but the electrical wire short-circuited and caught on fire inside her pantleg, causing her great pain, as it burned a hole the size of a half-dollar in her knee. Needless to say, she was hitting at the fire and trying to put it out, while the smoke and stench of burnt flesh filtered into the air.”

Phew! That’s a story you don’t hear every day, and I’m sure it will be featured in Cindy’s book.

Winners and Losers

As Cindy talked, she continued dealing, and we continued losing chips. I was feeling the pinch of my experiential aide, as I watched how I played Black Jacks. In the first place, we had unlimited funds available (fake money in all denominations), and yet, as Dan and Van piled up $25.00 chips, in addition to the $5.00, I only selected $200.00 worth of $5.00 chips. “What is this about?” I asked myself. But, I was in overwhelm, and settled for what I had. When I ran out, they reminded me that I could have more, so, I chose another $200.00 worth of $5.00 chips. What is wrong with this picture? And what about my prosperity consciousness? And how much did I bet each hand? $5.00! While Dan and Van were betting stacks of $25.00 and $5.00 chips. Of course, even with their skillful playing, they were losing nearly as fast as I did. But they restocked with even more chips. And they were winning quite consistently.

My technic is to start with one chip, and if I win, then I leave those two for the next bet. If I lose them, I return to my one chip. But, if I win several times, and have a stack of four chips, then I only play 1/2 of them. Seems like a good scheme, but doesn’t matter; it all disappeared fast enough. The important part was that we were having fun. After all, it wasn’t even real money.

There are Dealers; and There are Dealers

At some point, another student arrived, and she became our dealer, since we were the only players that night. This girl was fairly new, and more uneasy with dealing, though quite good with all the other facets involved, such as changing the chips amounts and a myriad other details. She was slower, and not as talkative, which helped my ADD. However, the cards kept sticking, so Cindy gave her new decks, and then she did good, but we our percentages remained about the same: losing more than winning. 

Finally, Dan said, “That’s it! Now I am going to win, and I will stop when I win $200.00. That act of intention and determination is an important metaphysical technic that works with anything. And sure enough, from then on, he consistently won, until he reached his goal.

In the meantime, after the designated time, just like in a real casino, a new dealer took over, and the first one practised and received instructions, along with the three or four other dealers who had arrived throughout the evening.

The second dealer, Brooke, was more animated and self-assured, and she related more with the players, using personal terms, such as Darlin’ or Honey, etc., and scolding when we made mistakes. She was somewhat cocky, in that she wanted to do everything quickly and right, without going through the learning process. But, that’s because she had just graduated from college and was burned-out from the academic process. She’d run out of money, and learned that she couldn’t get a job in her field, Astrophysics, without being enrolled in Graduate School. So, she was becoming a dealer in order to earn money to continue her education. It’s understandable that she wanted to get through the training and start earning.

Throughout the evening, the dealers would make audible reports to Cindy and Steve, as required when certain actions were taken such as exchanging money and chips, or if a card or chip fell on the floor, or if they turned away from the table; also when they used a black chip ($100.00) for the first time at the table; all part of the rules and regulations of dealing. And there is ever so much more that must be learned, such as making adding the cards and making change.

In other words, when they completed their training from this school, they were fully qualified and certificated, but if they auditioned at a casino, and didn’t meet the requirements, they must return and perfect their skills.

That’s It!

Dan had been coaching Van and I with some secrets of playing throughout the evening, including a comment, “If an inexperienced player sits down at a casino Black Jack table, the other players are apt to leave, because they can affect the turn of the cards, and cause everyone else to lose, too.” That did it for me. Being a recovering codependent,  knew that I would never play Black Jack at a casino, unless it was a machine, where I wouldn’t involve anyone else with my actions.

At 9:00, Dan said, “That’s it. I got it!” And he stopped playing, because he had won his $200.00. We were ready to quit too, and we all went home, having enjoyed an evening of fun and entertainment that didn’t cost us anything.

Is This an Open Door?

Van, much like Dan, enjoys the science of numbers, but he’s not a statistician, like Dan; the difference being that he simply uses numbers for calculations, whereas a statistician uses them as statistics of probability, which makes the activity more intellectual. With Van, the excitement is the calculated risk, and he becomes totally engrossed in the game, especially Baccarat, which is more challenging, as you have even odds: 0-0, for those who understand what that means. Hot Air Balloon Festival Day

The excitement of the Hot Air Balloon Festival warrants a new chapter, with its own title, and there’s another surprise to be added here, later.

In the meantime, let’s take you through our version of this world-famous event. We awoke at 7:00 a.m. and I turned on the TV to find it already in full swing. First, let me give a little preliminary comment. The Weather News had been saying that a cold front was coming in and the winds, along with cold, might cause the balloons to be grounded, so it wouldn’t be certain, until actual time for take-off.

So, when I awoke to overcast, windy weather, even after prayers, I was delighted to see a dozen or more balloons already aloft, as the anchor people chattered away with all kinds of input, interviews and distance shots. It was a great way to experience the flavor of the festival; even better than being there, as everyone was well-bundled for these 40+ temperatures. Yet, they were obviously having a great time and fully into the spirit of it all.

I loved the TV close-ups of the old lady’s shoe balloon, and the hundreds of the traditional colorful, exotic teardrop balloons. And the interviews with the owners and balloonists, and visitors added a special touch. But the helicopter shots of the balloons, as they landed, after a comparatively short trip, and the coverage of the ones that had been forced to land in the wrong places for whatever reason, added excitement and scenes that would not be available if there in person.  

A Peek at the Balloons

When we parked next to Dan’s house, the night before, after Van had taken Freedom to Flying J, I insisted that he pull forward enough so that I could see alongside the house, rather than being cooped-in with no view. This way, most of the RV was protected from the wind and weather, yet we could see sunsets and part of the Sandia Mountain, through the trees, in the distance.

I had no idea exactly where the hot air balloons were rising, but I couldn’t see them on the other three sides, so I peeked through the passenger’s window and to my surprise I could see a dozen balloons at varying heights. What a thrill! I was really part of the Hot Air Balloon Festival.

But Now Face to Face

Although we were feeling nicely informed and involved, I hated to tear myself away from the TV, after the first hour, but we’d made plans with Dan to meet with some friends for breakfast, so we left. 

Within a few minutes, we turned a corner and there was the full panorama: by now hundreds of balloons at the height of the spectacle, with Sandia Mountain shrouded in the heavy overcast skies and rays of light forcing their way between the top of the mountain and the clouds. I handed Van the camera and had him take a picture. But the longer we drove, the closer we got, and he took more shots. Before long, we were right next to the Hot Air Balloon Festival grounds, and we could see the full sight that is captured in pictures, videos and posters; and this year thousands, around the world, are watching this same view on-line simultaneously. What a thrill! Joanie was almost in tears of excitement, looking at the black and white spotted cow and pink pig and the upright green dragon, and hundreds of teardrop balloons with beautiful colorful designs. 

I could almost see the faces on the people, as Dan drove slowly toward the freeway, through the traffic, although traffic wasn’t bad at this time.

There, But for the Grace of God

I’m sure the thousands of RVers parked across the street from the field were thrilled with their proximity to the action, but we were thankful that God had guided us to visit Dan, and he was driving us right through the center of activity, without paying the nominal fee, or doing without the convenience of electrical hookup. They were definitely into dry-camping, but the ones taking pictures along the fence, or standing around in groups ohing and awing were perfectly happy with their good fortune, I’m sure. And we could feel the excitement in the air, as we drove on by and headed for the freeway.

Of course, the people who had taken buses to the field were probably even more thrilled with being part of the festivities, despite the crowds and cold. But, we were happy for this exposure to the Great Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The Breakfast Factory

We can always count on Dan to come up with an unusual place to eat, and this was no exception. Although he calls it The Breakfast Factory, it’s actually called The Frontier Restaurant and the popular spot is another madhouse of activity; perfect for this day. 

Inside is a ramp leading to a long counter with about ten cashiers underneath green lights that light up when they are available. Once you have made your selection from the huge menu posted above the cashiers, you step up and give your order, which is the reason for Dan’s appropriate “Breakfast Factory” name. The selections, which are available 24-hours, include traditional breakfasts and other meals too, plus many Mexican specialties, and include a choice of coffee or tea, at reasonable prices. 

We placed our orders for the traditional breakfast, since we hadn’t eaten bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns for a long time; and then we went to our table and waited until our number was called. Van returned for our food, while I got acquainted with some of the regulars at this Saturday Breakfast Group.

It felt good chatting with other like-minded folks and comparing notes between the several babies (ages six-months and one-year, and Micayla’s progress now and when we would be returning in six-months).

Dan introduced us as RV travelers, and I was kept busy answering questions about our RV travels, while Van silently ate his meal, as usual, being that he is still into his non-social behavior; and I now doubt if he has any intentions of changing it. Unfortunately, I realized how uncomfortable I felt in a group, and it reminded me of how non-social I have become, taking on his characteristics, through the years; and this must change.

One lady had just returned from Australia and had been to The Olympics, which reminded me of how much more there is to see and do in life. These were out and about people and it felt good being in their company and coming out of my reclusive shell.

Here’s an Open Door

On the return home, Dan stopped by the Buena Vista Active Adult Facility, and Van and I toured two of the models, based on Dan’s recommendation. It was only a year old and everything looked new and bright. Since this was not an assisted living facility, it smelled good, too. In fact, a lady was cooking vegetable soup and the tasty aroma permeated the halls. Yet, some of the elderly tenants were using walkers and we wondered if this would be the right place for us, forgetting that we are in our late sixties.

However, when Carla took us up the elevator and to the two-bedroom model, I fell in love with it; everything important to me: light, clean, safe, all the conveniences, big closets and enough room for my computer and files. In fact, I decided that we could get by with the one- bedroom, so Carla took us to see the model: even better, and much less expensive. 

This one overlooked the swimming pool, Jacuzzi and horseshoe courts, which she admitted no one uses. OOPS! These people are definitely not “out and about.” Yet, how much difference would that make? 

At least it was quiet and no loud music and noise. But, would I want to be so far from my family? And, if we’re thinking about this type facility, would there be one in the Denver area that I would like as much? And are we ready for this confined lifestyle? All questions to be answered.

And, as usual, Van didn’t like the idea. But then, he never does, because he wants to keep traveling. But with the constant breakdowns and repairs, I’m rapidly losing interest. It might be different if we had the money to finance this lifestyle, but we don’t. 

On the other hand, our expenses probably don’t add up to any more than we would spend for rent, electricity and phone. So, it becomes a matter of choice. At least we would be walking distance to stores, and they provide shuttles to the mall and casinos; also, the senior center is next door, where lunches are served for $1.50, and all kinds of options are available there. Again, are we ready for this lifestyle?

Symbiosis

In the meantime, God chose to reveal to me, through me, answers to some of my questions. My following Current Newsletter for Autumn 2,000 explains the change in my format and attitude:

My inner journey has taken me through a lot of soul searching, lately, as we’ve begun our outer travels, and I’ve come up with some exciting changes for my website format, which I want to share with you.

Have you heard of symbiosis? I used the word in relationship to trust, in the Faith series, but I needed to refresh my memory, so I availed myself of the opportunity to use my computer Dictionary, and I learned to use its “copy” feature, in order to remind myself of its meaning, and this leads into what I want to share with you:

  1. Biology. A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.
  2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. Greek symbiosis, companionship; from symbioun: to live together; from symbios: living together.

Then I looked up the word in the Thesaurus, and there’s a page of synonyms, which I won’t copy; but I’m glad to know they are there, for future reference.

All this is leading up to a decision I have made. Let me explain:

Between a writer and the reader, there’s a symbiotic relationship; in other words, a writer needs a reader “as a relationship of mutual dependence.” Maybe not all writers, because some write strictly for their own pleasure, healing or catharsis. But I need the fulfillment of having a reader for feedback, though not necessarily for criticism, despite the fact that it’s part of the process; and I’m learning not to be so thin-skinned. 

However, my greatest joy in writing, as in ministering, comes from the opportunity to be of service, to know that what I’ve said or done has made a difference in someone’s life, and has given me a purpose for being on the planet: taking up space and time.

Now, I’ve been through enough years of codependency recovery to know that there’s a fine-line between symbiosis and codependency. But, part of my soul searching has been to recognize and accept that certain aspects of myself are simply how I am, especially after years of trying to change those characteristics that are, no doubt, a result of my childhood, indeed lifetime, experiences. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to accept that part of myself and go with it. Let me explain.

Up until now, it has been frustrating to write my Travel Series, as I’m going through the experience, and want to share it, at the time; but then having to wait until the book is finished, and then edited, and sometime (several years later) it’s ready to publish. And even then it doesn’t get to the reader for one reason or another, such as “On the Road,” my first travel book. When we went to the copiers, we discovered that it would cost more to print than we could reasonably charge, which lead me to the donation policy. But, so far, after four-months, no one has requested a book, which reminds me that this process will take time; and it also forces me to look further within myself to discover why I’m creating barriers to moving forward, especially when Rick and Snow’s “Naked Journey’ website had over 2,000 hits in the same time period.

In the meantime, I’m feeling this underlying frustration, because I want someone to read what I’ve written, while it’s still hot, so to speak. You know, like waiting for the cookies to come out of the oven, while they are still hot, and you can smell their aroma permeating the air; that’s symbiosis.

Then there’s the matter of perfectionism; trying to do it right and perfect. If I wait for that to happen, no one will ever read my writing, except my editor, who happens to be my daughter, Dottie. But now she’s too busy with their networking business, to edit, so I’ve asked Judy, a friend and former English teacher, but she’s too busy, too, so guess what?

I’ve been guided to suggest that this is a perfect symbiotic opportunity for us; I will publish my chapters (on my website), as I’m writing them. This fulfills my need, and allows those of you with a critical nature, or aptitude toward editing, to make the corrections and e-mail the results to me, thus giving me the opportunity to develop a thicker skin to criticism.

Okay, so now to the Big One, Elizabeth (referring to TV’s sitcom, “Samson and Son,” Red Foxx’s constant threat of a heart attack, whenever something became too threatening or stressful.

You see, as I’ve explained in my books, Van and I have attended Debtors Anonymous, which deals with underearning and overspending. And one of the tools for recovery is the willingness to be paid for our services and products. On the other hand, my Prosperity Programs, constantly suggest that it’s in giving that we receive; not necessarily from the recipient, but from the universe: somewhere, sometime, and from someone. 

So, I feel that I am working with Universal Laws with this project. I am giving out of my desire (and in all honesty, perhaps my need) to share my writing, and I am trusting the universe to recompense my efforts. It may be through donations, or otherwise, but this is up to God, not me. And I trust that God will bring the readers, and they will enjoy and benefit from my writings.

The Joy of God

Once the above letter and the chapters of Journey of Awareness were in place, I felt a sense of exhilaration, as if I finally got it right. Not that I expected anything in particular to happen, but I knew that I was in agreement with my own integrity, and I was cooperating with God’s Divine Plan for me; God would take it from here.

In the meantime, the Hot Air Balloon Festival was in full swing, at least everything was in place, but the weather was not cooperating. Many events were cancelled, due to rain and low overcast, which put a damper on the pilots and vendors. But the thousands of tourists flocked to Albuquerque’s Old Town, and the local restaurants and tourists attractions, which were flourishing: record sales.

Chapter 5

UP, UP AND AWAY!

 

Hot Air Balloon Festival Day

The excitement of the Hot Air Balloon Festival warrants a new chapter, with its own title, and there’s another surprise to be added here, later.

In the meantime, let’s take you through our version of this world-famous event. We awoke at 7:00 a.m. and I turned on the TV to find it already in full swing. First, let me give a little preliminary comment. The Weather News had been saying that a cold front was coming in and the winds, along with cold, might cause the balloons to be grounded, so it wouldn’t be certain, until actual time for take-off.

So, when I awoke to overcast, windy weather, even after prayers, I was delighted to see a dozen or more balloons already aloft, as the anchor people chattered away with all kinds of input, interviews and distance shots. It was a great way to experience the flavor of the festival; even better than being there, as everyone was well-bundled for these 40+ temperatures. Yet, they were obviously having a great time and fully into the spirit of it all.

I loved the TV close-ups of the old lady’s shoe balloon, and the hundreds of the traditional colorful, exotic teardrop balloons. And the interviews with the owners and balloonists, and visitors added a special touch. But the helicopter shots of the balloons, as they landed, after a comparatively short trip, and the coverage of the ones that had been forced to land in the wrong places for whatever reason, added excitement and scenes that would not be available if there in person.  

A Peek at the Balloons

When we parked next to Dan’s house, the night before, after Van had taken Freedom to Flying J, I insisted that he pull forward enough so that I could see alongside the house, rather than being cooped-in with no view. This way, most of the RV was protected from the wind and weather, yet we could see sunsets and part of the Sandia Mountain, through the trees, in the distance.

I had no idea exactly where the hot air balloons were rising, but I couldn’t see them on the other three sides, so I peeked through the passenger’s window and to my surprise I could see a dozen balloons at varying heights. What a thrill! I was really part of the Hot Air Balloon Festival.

 

But Now Face to Face

Although we were feeling nicely informed and involved, I hated to tear myself away from the TV, after the first hour, but we’d made plans with Dan to meet with some friends for breakfast, so we left. 

Within a few minutes, we turned a corner and there was the full panorama: by now hundreds of balloons at the height of the spectacle, with Sandia Mountain shrouded in the heavy overcast skies and rays of light forcing their way between the top of the mountain and the clouds. I handed Van the camera and had him take a picture. But the longer we drove, the closer we got, and he took more shots. Before long, we were right next to the Hot Air Balloon Festival grounds, and we could see the full sight that is captured in pictures, videos and posters; and this year thousands, around the world, are watching this same view on-line simultaneously. What a thrill! Joanie was almost in tears of excitement, looking at the black and white spotted cow and pink pig and the upright green dragon, and hundreds of teardrop balloons with beautiful colorful designs. 

I could almost see the faces on the people, as Dan drove slowly toward the freeway, through the traffic, although traffic wasn’t bad at this time.

There, But for the Grace of God

I’m sure the thousands of RVers parked across the street from the field were thrilled with their proximity to the action, but we were thankful that God had guided us to visit Dan, and he was driving us right through the center of activity, without paying the nominal fee, or doing without the convenience of electrical hookup. They were definitely into dry-camping, but the ones taking pictures along the fence, or standing around in groups ohing and awing were perfectly happy with their good fortune, I’m sure. And we could feel the excitement in the air, as we drove on by and headed for the freeway.

Of course, the people who had taken buses to the field were probably even more thrilled with being part of the festivities, despite the crowds and cold. But, we were happy for this exposure to the Great Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The Breakfast Factory

We can always count on Dan to come up with an unusual place to eat, and this was no exception. Although he calls it The Breakfast Factory, it’s actually called The Frontier Restaurant and the popular spot is another madhouse of activity; perfect for this day. 

Inside is a ramp leading to a long counter with about ten cashiers underneath green lights that light up when they are available. Once you have made your selection from the huge menu posted above the cashiers, you step up and give your order, which is the reason for Dan’s appropriate “Breakfast Factory” name. The selections, which are available 24-hours, include traditional breakfasts and other meals too, plus many Mexican specialties, and include a choice of coffee or tea, at reasonable prices. 

We placed our orders for the traditional breakfast, since we hadn’t eaten bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns for a long time; and then we went to our table and waited until our number was called. Van returned for our food, while I got acquainted with some of the regulars at this Saturday Breakfast Group.

It felt good chatting with other like-minded folks and comparing notes between the several babies (ages six-months and one-year, and Micayla’s progress now and when we would be returning in six-months).

Dan introduced us as RV travelers, and I was kept busy answering questions about our RV travels, while Van silently ate his meal, as usual, being that he is still into his non-social behavior; and I now doubt if he has any intentions of changing it. Unfortunately, I realized how uncomfortable I felt in a group, and it reminded me of how non-social I have become, taking on his characteristics, through the years; and this must change.

One lady had just returned from Australia and had been to The Olympics, which reminded me of how much more there is to see and do in life. These were out and about people and it felt good being in their company and coming out of my reclusive shell.

Here’s an Open Door

On the return home, Dan stopped by the Buena Vista Active Adult Facility, and Van and I toured two of the models, based on Dan’s recommendation. It was only a year old and everything looked new and bright. Since this was not an assisted living facility, it smelled good, too. In fact, a lady was cooking vegetable soup and the tasty aroma permeated the halls. Yet, some of the elderly tenants were using walkers and we wondered if this would be the right place for us, forgetting that we are in our late sixties.

However, when Carla took us up the elevator and to the two-bedroom model, I fell in love with it; everything important to me: light, clean, safe, all the conveniences, big closets and enough room for my computer and files. In fact, I decided that we could get by with the one- bedroom, so Carla took us to see the model: even better, and much less expensive. 

This one overlooked the swimming pool, Jacuzzi and horseshoe courts, which she admitted no one uses. OOPS! These people are definitely not “out and about.” Yet, how much difference would that make? 

At least it was quiet and no loud music and noise. But, would I want to be so far from my family? And, if we’re thinking about this type facility, would there be one in the Denver area that I would like as much? And are we ready for this confined lifestyle? All questions to be answered.

And, as usual, Van didn’t like the idea. But then, he never does, because he wants to keep traveling. But with the constant breakdowns and repairs, I’m rapidly losing interest. It might be different if we had the money to finance this lifestyle, but we don’t. 

On the other hand, our expenses probably don’t add up to any more than we would spend for rent, electricity and phone. So, it becomes a matter of choice. At least we would be walking distance to stores, and they provide shuttles to the mall and casinos; also, the senior center is next door, where lunches are served for $1.50, and all kinds of options are available there. Again, are we ready for this lifestyle?

Symbiosis

In the meantime, God chose to reveal to me, through me, answers to some of my questions. My following Current Newsletter for Autumn 2,000 explains the change in my format and attitude:

My inner journey has taken me through a lot of soul searching, lately, as we’ve begun our outer travels, and I’ve come up with some exciting changes for my website format, which I want to share with you.

Have you heard of symbiosis? I used the word in relationship to trust, in the Faith series, but I needed to refresh my memory, so I availed myself of the opportunity to use my computer Dictionary, and I learned to use its “copy” feature, in order to remind myself of its meaning, and this leads into what I want to share with you:

  1. Biology. A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.
  2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. Greek symbiosis, companionship; from symbioun: to live together; from symbios: living together.

Then I looked up the word in the Thesaurus, and there’s a page of synonyms, which I won’t copy; but I’m glad to know they are there, for future reference.

All this is leading up to a decision I have made. Let me explain:

Between a writer and the reader, there’s a symbiotic relationship; in other words, a writer needs a reader “as a relationship of mutual dependence”; maybe not all writers, because some write strictly for their own pleasure, healing or catharsis. But I need the fulfillment of having a reader for feedback, though not necessarily for criticism, despite the fact that it’s part of the process; and I’m learning not to be so thin-skinned. 

However, my greatest joy in writing, as in ministering, comes from the opportunity to be of service, to know that what I’ve said or done has made a difference in someone’s life, and has given me a purpose for being on the planet: taking up space and time.

Now, I’ve been through enough years of codependency recovery to know that there’s a fine-line between symbiosis and codependency. But, part of my soul searching has been to recognize and accept that certain aspects of myself are simply how I am, especially after years of trying to change those characteristics that are, no doubt, a result of my childhood, indeed lifetime, experiences. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to accept that part of myself and go with it. Let me explain.

Up until now, it has been frustrating to write my Travel Series, as I’m going through the experience, and want to share it, at the time; but then having to wait until the book is finished, and then edited, and sometime (several years later) it’s ready to publish. And even then it doesn’t get to the reader for one reason or another, such as “On the Road,” my first travel book. When we went to the copiers, we discovered that it would cost more to print than we could reasonably charge, which lead me to the donation policy. But, so far, after four-months, no one has requested a book, which reminds me that this process will take time; and it also forces me to look further within myself to discover why I’m creating barriers to moving forward, especially when Rick and Snow’s “Naked Journey’ website had over 2,000 hits in the same time period.

In the meantime, I’m feeling this underlying frustration, because I want someone to read what I’ve written, while it’s still hot, so to speak. You know, like waiting for the cookies to come out of the oven, while they are still hot, and you can smell their aroma permeating the air; that’s symbiosis.

Then there’s the matter of perfectionism; trying to do it right and perfect. If I wait for that to happen, no one will ever read my writing, except my editor, who happens to be my daughter, Dottie. But now she’s too busy with their networking business, to edit, so I’ve asked Judy, a friend and former English teacher, but she’s too busy, too, so guess what?

I’ve been guided to suggest that this is a perfect symbiotic opportunity for us; I will publish my chapters (on my website), as I’m writing them. This fulfills my need, and allows those of you with a critical nature, or aptitude toward editing, to make the corrections and e-mail the results to me, thus giving me the opportunity to develop a thicker skin to criticism.

Okay, so now to the Big One, Elizabeth (referring to TV’s sitcom, “Samson and Son,” Red Foxx’s constant threat of a heart attack, whenever something became too threatening or stressful.

You see, as I’ve explained in my books, Van and I have attended Debtors Anonymous, which deals with underearning and overspending. And one of the tools for recovery is the willingness to be paid for our services and products. On the other hand, my Prosperity Programs, constantly suggest that it’s in giving that we receive; not necessarily from the recipient, but from the universe: somewhere, sometime, and from someone. 

So, I feel that I am working with Universal Laws with this project. I am giving out of my desire (and in all honesty, perhaps my need) to share my writing, and I am trusting the universe to recompense my efforts. It may be through donations, or otherwise, but this is up to God, not me. And I trust that God will bring the readers, and they will enjoy and benefit from my writings.

The Joy of God

Once the above letter and the chapters of Journey of Awareness were in place, I felt a sense of exhilaration, as if I finally got it right. Not that I expected anything in particular to happen, but I knew that I was in agreement with my own integrity, and I was cooperating with God’s Divine Plan for me; God would take it from here.

In the meantime, the Hot Air Balloon Festival was in full swing, at least everything was in place, but the weather was not cooperating. Many events were cancelled, due to rain and low overcast, which put a damper on the pilots and vendors. But the thousands of tourists flocked to Albuquerque’s Old Town, and the local restaurants and tourists attractions, which were flourishing: record sales.

One morning a few balloonists found a window of opportunity, and ascended into a dreary overcast sky, despite the absence of rain. To my amazement, when I looked out the window, I saw one, and then two, and three, and eventually about a dozen balloons glide through the sky, so close that I could clearly see the colorful designs, before they landed.

This experiential aide, reminding me of the omnipresence of God, became a spiritual experience for me, and this awareness caused me to feel the joy of oneness with God; making it an inner and outer reality. 

But this day was only a forerunner to Wednesday mornings Mass Ascension when over 400 balloons took to the sky. Again, I occasionally peeked through my aperture (along the side of Dan’s house), from Freedom’s front windows, and spotted some ghostly balloons through the haze, then returned to my sofa and watched the TV coverage. 

I said to Van, “Okay, today I want one to land right over there,” as I pointed to the side street across from Freedom.

He went about his morning routine, as I continued watching, until the TV stopped coverage. Then I began gathering my laundry and took it inside to wash at Dan’s, and settled down to listen to his music satellite station, while writing on my computer.

I felt compelled to look out the window, and stared directly into towering red and pink massive hearts, as a balloon headed toward the house. I ran outside, yelled to Van to hand me the camera, and began taking pictures, as it glided over the house and over Freedom.

Soon, the Chase Team arrived and yelled greetings to the riders, who were yelling and waving from their basket, barely missing the treetops. I hollered at Van to come watch, as I ran around Freedom, trying to get a shot with the balloon over it. But I couldn’t get the right angle, and I missed that once-in-a-lifetime picture. 

Nevertheless, I had some good ones, and we continued watching the balloon, as it began to descend, passing beyond the location I’d designated, but still only a few blocks away. We contemplated watching the breakdown procedure, but Van said it was further away than it looked, and the streets didn’t go through, either, so we opted not to make the effort; a decision I regretted. 

It would have been a great adventure, searching for that balloon, and I definitely let myself down by not making the effort to complete the adventure. However, it served as another experiential aide to remind me not to miss these golden opportunities that God brings into my life.

Nevertheless, when God brings a giant hot air balloon, with pink and red hearts, over my head, I can accept His gift of Love, and give joyous thanks, or I can allow myself to wallow in regret for the unfilled part; and there is always more that we “could have done.” 

I prefer to use the image of that balloon to remind me of the joy of God, and the memory of seeing the massive pink and red hearts through the window, and then overhead, and finally landing nearby. The sight will serve as an implant of His omnipresence that I can call forth whenever I need a boost of God’s joy, and a reminder that He is always within and around me, wherever I am.  

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

My purpose, while staying at Dan’s, was to have Van scan the pictures and place them in A Tapestry of Autumn, but it was proving difficult for him to grasp the process, and therefore taking longer than anticipated. However, the first day he got two in place, and again the second day. Finally, by the third day, he scanned in most of the pictures and insisted that I should arrange them in the chapter; a task I rejected, because it takes time from my creative projects, which I prefer and no one else can do; also jockeying the text around bothers my eyes, sometimes causing a headache and making me nauseous. 

However, I did start the project by arranging some text around the existing pictures, but it began to bother my eyes, so Van took over the task. And this time, Little Ralph cooperated, without his 3R’s: resistance, resentment and rebellion, and he arranged six pictures and text, compared to the two-a-day the previous two days. Of course, part of the progress is that he’s learned how to do it, and he wasn’t battling his perfectionism issues. They can put him into a funk quite easily, and now that his inner child is allowed to express his feelings, rather than acting out, we are able to move through these setbacks and move forward.

We also changed the pattern by working together to complete this day’s picture project; at least we not only had A Tapestry of Autumn done, but he took time, before going to bed, to publish it on-line. Whew! That’s exciting, and also scary.

Do It Anyway!

One of my comments is: “If a picture’s worth a thousand words, an experience needs no words.” And my experience of the day clarified the direction that Inner Freedom is going. 

I had asked Joyce Cole, our friend in California, if she would like to have a webpage to share her writings, which I’ve been encouraging for a number of years. Now, she had finished Knock Knock: Who’s There? a humorous short story, about the saga of she and Van going door-to-door, during their MLM interlude. 

I’d also suggested that I include (for the webpage) a chapter, Do it Anyway (from my book, Knocking on Doors, about Van’s money issues). As we’d talked, I remembered that the chapter focuses on her tenacity and humor, despite overwhelming circumstances, and it expresses her ongoing philosophy of life, “No excuses, do it anyway.” So, I suggested this would be an apt title for her webpage, because it exemplifies who Joyce is.

She said “Yes,” and I remembered that is a subtitle in the chapter, and it’s another important factor about Joyce; she knows herself well enough to know when to say “Yes,” and when to say “No.” And she also has learned to accept that other people’s “No” is not a rejection of her. 

So, I’d already begun my day by writing The Joy of God, and creating her webpage. I had no idea, until I got into the project, how exciting it would be to add this feature to my website; it seemed so right, and definitely the next step in God’s Divine Plan for us both. After all, Joyce had already said, “Yes” about working with me and my website, but we still didn’t know how it was all going to manifest. Now, another step had been revealed.

I selected a format for the page and then searched for a background. The first one, bills, filled the page with dollar bills (like some gift wrapping paper) and I knew that was it. Though I looked at the other options, nothing else would do.

I was on a roll, as I typed the title, Do it Anyway, onto the page, and then added the subtitle: “Joyce Cole’s Webpage.” I laughed, as the next words rolled out: “It’s About Money.” Yes, Joyce had gone through my workshop, Money Matters, and like us, she’d spent much of the recent years discovering and freeing herself from money patterns resulting from childhood issues. 

This seemed right, but I knew that it wasn’t the entirety of what her life was about, so I rejoiced when the rest of her subtitle hit the page: “And Other Things.” This sounded like Joyce’s “so what?” attitude about conventionality, especially in her writing, and it captured the essence of Joyce, while allowing her the freedom to write about whatever she wants.

Her webpage was going together like it was meant to be this way, but after I’d set up the format, designated the place for the titles of future pages for her writings, and placed the Do it Anyway, chapter, I decided that I’d better call and confirm with her about my money choices.

At first, she hesitated, but then she got it, and “She said, ‘Yes.’” But now, she had to deal with the reality and commitment of having her own webpage. It had taken us both this many years to get to this point, and from my own experience, I knew that she would need some time for it to evolve; like my website had been on-line four months, and I still get queasy when I take another forward step, but it’s easier all the time; and I am being God guided. Joyce, too, would be Guided, as she moves forward.

  Talking with Joyce on the cellular phone and creating her webpage had been exhilarating; and completing this much of A Tapestry of Autumn, with pictures and on-line had also added to my high energies when I fell into bed that night. But, instead of going to sleep, I became more energized, as God began revealing more and more of His Divine Plan for us.

I could finally see how Joyce and I could work together, as partners, especially now that she had learned to use the computer, and was willing to learn more. Before, it was too overwhelming, yet, typical of Joyce, she’s doing it anyway. And, despite her rebelliousness against writing right, she’s doing it anyway. And, perhaps unknown to her, these two factors have opened the way for us to move forward together with our partnership, as God guides, of course.

It’s so wonderful when we can let go and let God open the doors, but it takes patience, and Joyce and I both want it all to happen NOW! So, God has been teaching us patience, and it’s taken a long time. But, now the doors are beginning to open, and He’s revealing the possibilities for the future. Yes, on a clear day, I can see forever; especially when God opens my eyes. 

For instance, as much as I’m unwilling to accept the facts, my short term memory loss has been an ongoing problem in recent years. Thank God, and I mean that literally, I’m able to remember whatever is necessary for my writing, but other things slip through the cracks. On the other hand, Joyce, who is much younger, has a terrific memory and a sharp mind. This could alleviate a multitude of shortcomings, on my part.

In addition, Joyce’s enthusiasm and positive energies, along with her feedback and communications, support and encourage me. We definitely are members of our own personal mutual admiration society.

She likes to write, but isn’t so consumed with her own writing that she wouldn’t have time to assist with mine, without feeling intimidated or put-upon. And, she is willing to learn, despite her feelings of incompetence, with the computers and writing skills. In fact, as she’s pushed through her discomfort, God has opened more doors; she recently met a writer-publisher who edited her short story, and Joyce is now making the corrections on the computer, which belongs to her roommate (who taught her how to use it for e-mail and word processing). I let Joyce know how proud I am of her for pushing through her obstacles and objections and doing it anyway. You see, isn’t that a perfect title for her webpage; and eventually her own website?

So, with all this clarity, it’s no wonder that I awoke to a bright, sunny day, and I knew that the Special Shape Balloon Ascension would be happening.

I turned on the TV and there they were: a blue bear with an aviator’s outfit, a big yellow sun, a cartoon penguin, an Uncle Sam, a tennis shoe, and the shoe for The Old Lady who Lived in a Shoe, a very sad clown with a red nose and tiny hat, a Humpty Dumpty, a pink pig and purple elephant, a German pitcher, a lighthouse, a giant strawberry with arms and hands, a tall tree stump with birds sitting on the barren limbs. Most balloons were not advertisements, but some were quite obvious: the two Pepsi cans, a J and B bottle, the Wells Fargo stagecoach, a huge Bacardi glass with a strawberry on top, a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone, and a Uniroyal tire, among the many commercial entries. 

Of course, there were many more, but these were featured on TV, along with Joanie’s two favorite: A full-sized funny green dragon, with a long tail and an adorable face with a big smile, like he’s totally enjoying the flight. But, considering my love for rainbows, the Noah’s Ark takes the prize. It’s round, with a rainbow arc over the top and lots of cute animals standing along the side. 

Often they would show a distance shot with hundreds of balloons floating through the blue sky, with sunshine finally warming the pilots, passengers, and viewers; not to mention the vendors and other workers. 

Despite the split screen, shared with The Early Show, it was a grand coverage, and we could even see some of the balloons from Freedom, through our peek space, adding a touch of realism. However, this time the balloons drifted south, over Albuquerque, and we didn’t see any close-ups. 

Interestingly, in all the views I’ve seen of these balloons, I’ve never seen the one with the giant pink and red hearts that God sent over our heads and landed nearby. Was it real, or was it a special balloon that God created for us?

In any event, with the beautiful blue sky, fluffy clouds and brilliant sunshine, on this clear day, we could see forever. And, with God’s vision, I was being given a glimpse into the 

future, and it looks bright.

On a Clear Day

For me, Saturday culminated the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and others, too, began leaving in order to get back home by Monday.

The weather was glorious, with sunshine and blue skies, accented by a few fluffy white clouds, and hundreds of balloons. I began watching early and Van joined me, later; about the time the TV coverage was ending. I’d been watching Augie, the green dinosaur, awake from his slumbers, as they slowly filled him with hot air. First, his body expanded, and then he began stretching his arms, and finally his tail; and his happy smiling face looked gleeful, as he made his Saturday ascension. The cameras had been focusing on him throughout these stages, and by the time Van was looking, we could only see Augie’s back. However, I wanted Van to see his face, so I asked God about it, even as the closing credits were appearing. Quickly, I turned to another channel, just as they were panning a close-up of Augie’s face, and Joanie laughed out loud, while Little Ralph watched in amazement; first at my creating the full front view (with God’s help, of course), and second that it happened at the last minute, while he was looking at the screen.

We were still enthralled about the giant pink and red hearts balloon coming overhead and landing nearby, never to be seen in any TV coverage, and secretly wondering if it was a miracle just for us. Each day, others drifted by, in the distance, but none came that close. It was very special, and I choose to accept it as a gift of love from God.

 

A Farewell Completion

Saturday morning began the Farewell, but Sunday completed it as the final day of the Hot Air Balloon Festival 2000 arrived clear and dry, but a slight wind had been brewing, which took the balloons further south; and then, toward the end, it shifted and brought at least a dozen colorful teardrop balloons and the Bacardi glass on a southward jaunt, blown by the escalating winds, so I could lie on my bed, watch the TV coverage and human interest, and still see the real thing out my window. I love it!

Many of the Special Shape balloons had left on Saturday, but toward the end of Sunday’s Mass Farewell Ascension, I could see the giant form of Augie begin to stretch and lurch upward, eager to get into the air, but at the same time I noticed the trees blowing outside my window, I saw Augie give a huge sigh and fall back to the ground, apparently grounded, by the wind, from this last flight; too bad Augie, the dinosaur. See you next time.

I felt a tinge of sadness, as I flicked from channel to channel listening to the TV commentators winding down and saying goodbye, with the last shot of the balloons, while the credits rolled by. And then it was over. And a strange emptiness fell upon Albuquerque.

This time, as we rode with Dan to church, there weren’t any balloons to be seen in the bright blue sky; only a fading moon filling the gap in the heavens.

But, as we drove southward, along Coors Blvd. toward I-40, on the way to church, we passed some departing RVers, as they headed to southern Texas or Arizona, or wherever. And we could see the huge baskets in the back of pickups, as everyone moved on to their next adventure; or returned home. It was definitely over, and life would continue for all of us who had shared these moments in Albuquerque, during the month of October 2000.

And we, too, would soon be heading west to our next adventure, which will be continued.

 

Chapter 6

THE JOURNEY OF 1,000 MILES …

 

Never say “Never”

It’s said, “The Journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and it’s so true; without that first step, we would remain exactly where we are. And this chapter begins with a flashback to our last weekend in Rio Rancho, when we rode with Dan to Santa Fe, where he was to perform a wedding; and we were to spend the afternoon with our friend, Judy.

On the way north, I’d said to Dan, “We’ll never go to Los Alamos again; we’ve seen all we want to see there.” And I thought I meant it, but what I really meant was that we wouldn’t drive Freedom there, and never thinking that we could be returning with someone else. In fact, in an earlier chapter, I mentioned that we had seen Santa Fe, in the past, and didn’t feel the need to return. Again, I was referring to the impossibility of driving Freedom down those narrow, crowded streets.

But, here we were, with Dan, riding through those very same narrow, crowded streets on an especially busy day, due to the overflow crowds from the Balloon Festival, looking for something more to see and do, while in this area. And, I must admit, excitement grew, as I we passed the “Oldest House in the US” and the Lorretta Chapel, with the famous circular stairway with no nails, and I remembered touring these famous places.

When we dead-ended into the La Fonda Hotel, where Dan was to perform the wedding, and turned the corner, I got excited seeing the famous adobe buildings of downtown Santa Fe, with the special energies that attract so many tourists. And, as Dan made another turn, onto E. San Francisco street, in front of La Fonda, we saw the Catholic Church at the end of the street, and I told him about the time we stood on the corner and saw the King and Queen of Spain walk up the middle of this very street, with their entourage, and go into the church. It was a highlight of excitement in my life, and it all came back to mind. 

But that was then, and this was now, and I was quickly brought back to the present moment, when Dan tried to enter the hotel parking garage, only to learn that it was full. Not only that, but all the parking lots were full, too. However, when he saw an entrance into an unmarked lot, he pulled in and told the attendant, “I’m supposed to do a wedding at La Fonda, and I’m the minister. Can I park here?”

The harried attendant, distraught from trying to wend off frustrated would-be parkers, probably only heard the last part, as he repeated, “You’re the minister?”

Dan Replied, “Yes,” and was directed to go ahead and park. We both said, “Thank You, God.” And it wasn’t until we were walking toward the hotel that we noticed it was The Lorretto Hotel, not La Fonda; but it was only a block away and we were delighted to be safely parked this close to our destination.

Inside La Fonda, Dan went to the wedding and we waited for Judy, as she and Dan had arranged this rendezvous. I tried to absorb the entire local ambiance, midst the bustle of activity, while Van went outside to catch Judy, in case she hadn’t found a parking place and was circling the block. I remembered the delicious chicken crepes and apricot crepes we had eaten at the French Pastry Shoppe adjoining the hotel, and longed to again taste these delicacy’s, but Judy and Van rushed in, scooped me up, and headed out the door toward the city library, where she had parked, while legitimately checking out some books and videos. 

Our options for the day had included a flea market, which didn’t appeal to us that much, when Judy said, “I know, I’ll take you to Bandelier.”

As we drove and chatted, I recalled seeing a sign for that place, while on our way to Los Alamos, and I figured it was another small town, which was allright with me, because it is a pretty drive into the mountains, and we weren’t driving Freedom.

Soon we were driving along the same road we had taken to Los Alamos, and Judy stopped at the Dairy Queen so we could grab a snack and take with us, because we were on a time limit in order to meet with Dan at 6:00 o’clock. She’d already eaten, so ordered a strawberry shake to sup, while driving. 

But it was so thick that she couldn’t get it through the straw, so threw the straw on the floor in disgust. After taking off the lid and still not being able to get it into her mouth, she explained that as a result of having had radiation treatments, over 25-years earlier (at the time we met), her throat muscles had gradually weakened, making it difficult to chew and swallow. Furthermore, she explained, over the years the radiation had caused the uvula (the soft tissue that hangs from the back of the mouth) to grow against the side of her throat, causing a nasal condition, affecting her breathing, and also her ability to swallow. 

Thus, the frustration with her strawberry shake, so when she asked if I had a spoon in my purse, I was deeply engrossed in the search when we came to the fork-in-the-road that Van and I had taken to Los Alamos. Suddenly, Judy realized that she had taken this one, too, instead of the turn to Bandelier, and we were headed up that awful, steep hill. Oh No!

But, with quick thinking, Judy swerved onto the last place to turnoff, and we returned back down the hill we had already come up, and finally found a place to turn-around and return to the right road to Bandelier.

I hadn’t found a spoon, so still hassling with her unrelenting strawberry shake, she asked me to stir it, with my straw, I gladly assisted, and she still struggled with it, but finally it had melted enough for her to coax into her mouth. Whew!

Okay, so now we passed the back entrance to Los Alamos (the one we used, after overheating) and kept going upward through the wooded area. But, at least we weren’t dealing with Freedom overheating, and it was pleasant scenery. 

An Ancient Civilization

Suddenly we reached the top, and began a tremendous downhill slope into a deep canyon. It was somewhere along here that Judy revealed that we were not going to a town, but an historical monument featuring pueblos and cliff dwellings of an ancient civilization, which was discovered by a man named Bandelier. Oh, now I see why she’s bringing us here. Good thing I’d worn my walking shoes, in anticipation of walking through the flea market. But this would be so much better.

Once parked, we watched a short slide show about this canyon and the Anasazi culture which had once existed here. Like so many other discussions of the inhabitants of cliff dwellers and other cultures, no one knows what happened that they moved on. Yet, evidence of their advanced culture, such as farming and irrigating, pottery-making and weaving are found in the archeologist’s studies and excavations.

We were greeted, along the path, by a blackish squirrel with big ears and a bushy tail, who escorted along the trail, for a ways, without any fear at all. But, despite his cuteness, we were more drawn to the magnificence of the high rock walls along the canyon, and the beautiful green and gold tinged shade trees mixed with the pines and other evergreens. It was a veritable paradise, and it reminded me of my childhood, where I grew up on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, in similar terrain, at the bottom of a canyon that had a much bigger river running through it, and a wider valley. Yet, the energies were much the same and I felt right at home, as we strolled along the path.

I had no idea what we were going to see, I was enjoying the sunshine, blue skies, cooing turtle doves and fall scenery. But, soon we stood overlooking a huge, round kiva (once an underground gathering place), and we eventually started up some steep steps that lead to a sturdy ladder made of tree limbs. I climbed up and looked into one of the rooms, but I waited, until we came to a much larger ladder and room, as indicated by Judy’s having gone into it. So, I braved the climb, though feeling a bit winded from the upward climb that we’d already taken, and it was worth the effort to see and feel the vibes of this ancient civilization.

In front of the cliff dwellings were ruins of the pueblos, which were part of their homes. I thought about their simpler, gentler lifestyle and it reminded me, again, of my simpler lifestyle when we lived at Kah-nee-ta Hot Springs, and I began sharing some of the memories with Judy, who recalled similar adventures, living on a farm in northern California, such as riding an inner tube in the irrigation ditches, rather than the river I’d rafted on innertubes and air mattresses. And Judy had shared her life, as one of twelve brothers and sisters, whereas I was raised alone. But, I’ve written so much about my childhood, so we’ll remain in the present moment, as we climbed upward and upward to the long house, as it’s called, where I ventured up the ladder and into the largest room.

By this time, it was getting time to begin the downward journey, beneath the shade trees and across the little stream, and along the path to the Visitor’s Center and Judy’s car; a much longer distance than we realized that we’d walked on our slower trek through the dwellings.

It had been a magical journey back through time, and it felt almost painful to return to the present, but we had an appointment with Dan, and we must be on our way.

Zia’s Diner

I love the time I spend with Judy, and she always takes us to special Santa Fe eateries. In fact, I’d been trying to remind her of one of my favorites, but couldn’t remember the name or location, so, after meeting with Dan, when she drove us all to Zia’s Diner, I was delighted that it was the one.

I also like to share these places, in my stories, so that others can find them in their travels. The special this night was a full rack of ribs, which Van and I shared, and still took home a box-full. I’d saved room for their blueberry shortcake (on biscuits) with whip cream, which was delicious, and also took some home for breakfast, after eating an ample amount; same with Van’s peach crisp, which he planned to eat for breakfast.  

It had been such a delightful day, and I hated to see it end, as we returned to Dan’s car, and then drove through downtown Santa Fe and back to I-25 and Rio Rancho. Driving through the darkness, and looking at the moon and stars, I thought about the people of that ancient civilization who lived in Bandelier, and I reflected on the journey of evolvement between their lifetime and now, realizing that it, too, began with a single step and forward movement that brought mankind from then to now.

“And Other Stuff”

A similar evolution had been taking place in my own life, from the first idea of creating a website to its present condition, and I could feel more and more ideas surging through my mind. Yet, each one begins with a single step. For instance, it was necessary for me to start someplace with Joyce’s website, and once I did, the universe supported the forward movement. For instance, I had titled it, Do It Anyway, and subtitled it, “Joyce Cole’s Website: It’s About Money; and Other Things, which I discussed with her. 

At the time, she said, “Okay,” but then I received an e-mail from her requesting that I change the subtitle to It’s About Money: and Other Stuff. The minute I saw it, I knew that was right, and I stayed up later than usual to get it changed, because I wanted to get the right energies associated with it, from the beginning.

The next day, while at church, I wandered into the bookstore and browsed, not knowing what I was looking for. And then I spotted a book with paper money on the cover and the title, Money Stuff. My guidance said to buy the book, and, as usual, I did.

I could hardly wait to get into its energies, and I began reading that afternoon. The contents confirmed what Van and I had been studying in our Prosperity Program, because it’s all Universal Truth. And I also felt confirmation for Joyce’s website format, plus her unconventional style, which this author, Larry Winget, also utilized. I was on a high and looking forward to whatever God brought to my attention, in His Divine Plan for us.

But, this wasn’t the only confirmation; Dan’s two-part sermon had been titled: “Soul Stuff”; coincidence, or confirmation? I could hardly wait to talk about all this with Joyce, and I felt strongly compelled to move forward to California. In spite of the convenience of e-mail, we needed to be able to discuss these things in person, as well as to take the necessary action.

Knowing that our cellular phone signal would be interrupted while we crossed the desert in New Mexico and Arizona, I called her from the Flying J Truck Stop, as we left town. The news was good and bad; her roommate, Bobbie, had an offer she couldn’t refuse: live-in for an elderly lady, with many financial perks. But, this meant Joyce would no longer have access to Bobbie’s computer. Of course, we would be traveling, without access to a phone hookup for our computer, so we wouldn’t have e-mail contact, either. 

The good news, as far as I’m concerned, was the availability of her extra room, so I seriously considered staying there, while Van traveled to see his mother. Perhaps this was a door that God was opening so that Joyce and I could work together with the website. In any event, time would tell, and we were now on our way West.

I am in God’s Care

Amazing! As we began our journey West, the Daily Reading affirmed “Safe Travel,” reminding us that wherever we travel, or whatever form of transportation, we are safe and secure in God’s care and keeping, reminding us that Faith will support us through the most serious crisis, and it is the firm foundation that will never fail.

Buoyed with this encouragement, and having Freedom fortified with the latest repairs, a new fan clutch to offset the overheating, we began our westward trek. I’m not very enthusiastic about the desert trip, because it never changes, no matter what season; the colors are drab and the landscape is flat. But, for some reason, this time I was more aware of more intense red-orange colors in the hills and rock formations, which also seemed more interesting than usual. Had they changed, or had my outlook improved? Van claimed they’d painted them, and I seriously considered his explanation, as we drove through these colorful areas.

In addition to the prettier colors, on the way to Gallup, we also noticed that the highway, which is always undergoing construction, was actually unencumbered and we enjoyed a smooth ride; at least through New Mexico.

Another surprise awaited us in Gallup, which is a town we usually rush through, because there isn’t much there that interests us. But, this time we’d chosen the new Wal-Mart Supercenter as our first night’s stop, and we were surprised to also see a full-grown mall. Because I’d checked my Wal-Mart Road Atlas, and learned that this was their last Supercenter before Laughlin, we did our stock-up shopping. 

Looking into our basket, it was easy to see who did the shopping: Joanie and Little Ralph had loaded it with goodies, including sweet potato pie and breakfast pastries. But, fortunately, we also resupplied our fresh fruits and vegetables and other staples. And God was taking care of us when He had Van select a package of rolls, which I later used for delicious BBQ pork sandwiches (from the Zia Diner leftovers); and he had also found packaged coleslaw, which I served with them. 

But this meal wasn’t until the next day, at Wal-Mart in Winslow, Arizona, which doesn’t have a Supercenter. And, we’d stopped early, because the skies were looking black and threatening, so we opted for an extended overnight stay, which gave me time to prepare the special meal. This worked out good, because I’d told Van that this time I wanted to enjoy living along the way; not rush to get to some destination, even though we had no time factor. 

That night we were enjoying a gorgeous orange sunset, and I had just thanked God for the unobstructed view, when a small camper pulled right up in front of us, blocking part of the scene. I grumbled profusely, but when I asked God why they’d parked there, when there was a big, empty parking lot, He said, “So that a bigger RV wouldn’t take up all of your view.” I decided to let that be okay, and gave thanks for the remaining sunset.

Journey Back in Time

Later, we watched a TV movie with Mark Harmon, where he went back in time and fell in love with a newspaper editor. It’s similar to Somewhere in Time, one of my favorite movies, in which Christopher Reeves time traveled back to another era. Both movies took a stretch of the imagination, but I don’t doubt the possibility of time travel. And I’m convinced that even those journeys begin with a single step.

The Journey of Life

But, I think the “Journey” that begins with the first step, recognition of Oneness with God, is really the Journey of Life, and I was reminded of this with the monthly Prayer Service, which I’d gotten at Dan’s church. I’d been reading it, along the way, and I liked the reminder that God is my friend and companion on this Sacred Journey of Life, and that He is my courage, strength, and sustainer that gives me peace, as His presence envelops me.

Across the Arizona desert and through the mountains around Flagstaff, we gave thanks for the sunny weather, safe trip, and no problems with Freedom. In fact, after a refuel and dump stop at Flying J in Kingman, we decided to brave the short-cut, over the mountains, to Bullhead City, and across the river to Laughlin.

I remembered that I no longer wanted to go up those mountains in Freedom, but I’d forgotten how terrible it is going down the 22-miles of incredibly steep, single-lane traffic, which Van takes in low gear, driving about 10-miles per hour. Of course, the traffic backs up and the impatient drivers can’t wait for Van to pull off, which he does whenever there is a place. Most people zip right on by, but a few shake their heads, as if we shouldn’t be on the road, and a few more tap the horn to let us know they appreciate our getting out of their way. I usually get more frustrated, but this time I simply accepted the situation and released the drivers to handle it however they chose, as there’s nothing else we can do about it. 

Attitude Adjustment

Actually, if I could use the same attitude on my Journey of Life, I’d be much better adjusted, and I am doing much better. But, I had another test when we arrived at our favorite casino parking lot, above the River Palms, and discovered that it was being used for their employee’s parking. We were both disappointed, but Van noticed RV’s parked on the higher lot, so he drove there, only to discover that it was very crowded (everyone had found the same problem, below, and parked in this one). Nevertheless, we selected the best of the few remaining second row spaces, and I gave thanks that I could see a glimpse of the river and the mountains.

But, for some reason I was feeling intimidated by the neighboring RVers and their over-sized fifth-wheeler. The people were sitting under their overhang for shade, and kept glancing toward us, as they loudly chatted. I don’t know why they affected me so adversely, but I feared they’d be there all winter, so I might as well adjust. I tried to calm down, despite their loud talking with other neighbors, as I prayed and affirmed my Oneness with God, acknowledging Him as my friend and companion, Who is within these neighbors, too. 

Eventually they left for the evening and we enjoyed the purple reflection of the sunset along the mountains and a quiet evening of TV. Thank You, God.

But, the next morning they were up around 6:00 A.M. making noise, as they left for breakfast; then when they returned they talked loudly with a gathering of neighbors, beside our RV, rather than theirs. It might be a long winter, I had decided, and then I noticed that they had gone inside and were shutting their windows. Could it possibly mean that they were leaving?

Sure enough, within a short time, the man spoke to Van, who was standing by our open door eating his breakfast (he gets tired of sitting). It seemed that he wanted to leave, but he wasn’t sure how he would get his big rig out of the tight space, since another big RV had pulled in front of theirs. Van offered to move ours back, if necessary. The man and his wife chatted awhile, saying that they’re from Bend, Oregon, and it had gotten very cold there, before they left.

Finally, the neighbor got in his pickup and hooked up to the rig; then he asked the smaller RV if he could move forward, and another neighbor pulled his van out of the way. With some juggling, they drove off, leaving the space vacant, and I again felt like I could breathe. Thank You, God.

Before they left, I’d stepped outside to mention that there was a loud noise, under their RV, and he explained that it’s his electric brakes, and away they went to bring joy to their next neighbors. 

While I was discussing the brakes with the driver of the van, another man came up and asked if that empty place was available. He grumbled that he had come through a terrible storm getting here, and his windshield wipers weren’t working, causing him to wait at a Rest Stop. And then he arrived here and found the lower parking lot closed to RVers. He was not a happy camper. But, despite his grumbling, when he pulled into the space next to us, I still felt better vibes. 

This was a strange experience, and I couldn’t understand why I’d had such a negative reaction; nevertheless, God had taken care of us, and we could now settle down and enjoy our Laughlin Adventure in the Journey of Life. 

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Joanie and Little Ralph come to life in Laughlin, and it would not do to deny them their fun, so it’s best to get them handled first thing, or we have to deal with pouty kids, and nothing productive can be accomplished. So, we spent Saturday getting re-acquainted with the shuttle schedules, which had changed, with much less service. But, we lucked-out when I’d barely gotten my purse items transferred to my fanny pack and the Palm River shuttle drove by our RV. I ran out and asked him to wait while Van locked the door. 

Allright, so the first step of our Laughlin journey had begun. The new shuttle route stopped at the employee’s parking lot, for more passengers, and then zipped down the hill to their casino where we discovered a display of classic cars. That’s when I realized that I’d forgotten my hat, as the sun beat upon my face, while talking with the proud owner of a cream-colored Cord, who bragged about having driven Englebert Humperdinck in this car. Otherwise, he’s driven his car in many parades, such as the big Hollywood Christmas Parade.

All this came about because Van and I were trying to remember the name of a certain car, and I’d figured a sports car owner would know; but he didn’t. Now, as I’m writing, I recall that it was the DeLorean, with the doors that open upward, and my nephew, Peter, owned and rebuilt one. 

We’d been told that the next shuttle to The Mall would leave in two hours, so we decided to walk to the Ramada where Joanie and Little Ralph planned to enjoy a 2-for-one frozen yogurt. But first, I wanted to check out the buffet breakfast price. Imagine! It had gone from $1.79 (when we first came here) to $3.99. Times are definitely not improving for the retired RVers in Laughlin, and they will be moving on, as they find less expensive places to winter. 

But, for now, we are here, and we intended to enjoy our favorite things. Because of the heat, we walked through Golden Nugget’s cooling jungle, and took the escalator to the Riverwalk, where we could watch the sports boats and river taxi’s zipping across the sparkling 

water. 

I wanted to conserve my energy, this first day, and also avoid getting a blister, so we by- passed walking through the Colorado Belle, and went directly to the Ramada. First we stopped at the Slots Center and got the coupons required for the yogurt deal, and then we selected the mixed chocolate and vanilla in waffle cones and went outside to sit and watch the Golf Tournament from a shaded spot. We finished just in time to clamor onto the shuttle to The Mall. 

From here, we crossed the street and walked a few blocks to the Riverside Casino, where we collected the coupons for our 99-cent all-beef hot dogs. This is probably our most favorite favorite thing, because we get to add our choice of sauerkraut, onions, sweet relish, mustard or ketchup; and in addition, we get our choice of free beverage, such as beer or soda. We opt for soda, then sit on a high stool by a high table overlooking the Colorado River, watching the river traffic: boat taxis, river boats or jet skiers; when suddenly Van brings to my attention that it’s beginning to rain: huge drops that are splashing into the water. I’m noticing that they are bouncing off the cement, and I realize that it’s now hailing.

This is unusual weather for “Passover Valley,” as the shuttle driver described this usually rain-free area. So, we watched the changing panorama on the distant hills, which we had crossed the day before, and finished our hot dog. By the time we wandered through the casino and took the escalator to the River Walk, the rain had stopped and the weather had become sultry, much like The South; another strange phenomenon for this area. 

Since Joanie was wearing thong shoes, she hopped across the puddles, as oncoming pedestrians forced her from the high ground side of the walkway. Even at that, her socks, which she wore to avoid blisters, got soaked and she wondered if her feet would blister, anyway; but they didn’t.

The conclusion of this day’s jaunt took us through the Flamingo Hilton, out the side door and across the street to The Mall, where we caught the last River Palms shuttle for the day. We were thankful that he left us off at our RV door, because it started raining again, and continued intermittently throughout the evening.

The next day, Sunday, Van spent watching The President’s Cup Golf Tournament, while I prepared my business card for printing out; some other day, when he wasn’t involved in sports. But, we weren’t through with our Laughlin fun. I’d suggested that we walk to the employee’s parking lot where we flagged down the shuttle and rode to the River Palms. We waited awhile and caught the 3:00 p.m. shuttle to The Mall, walked across to the Edgewater Casino just in time to miss the light sprinkles, on our way to The Colorado Belle, where we waited until the 4:00 p.m. opening of the Boiler Room’s food service, and then indulged in another Favorite Thing: BBQ chicken and smoked Gouda cheese pizza. If you’re into beer, this is the place, because they brew their own in the Micro-brewery and offer a selection of samples; however we passed on these.

Instead, Van passed the time watching a football game on TV, and I perused the Entertainer, a weekly magazine of the local activities, such as Oktoberfest at Harrah’s. While we ate our pizza, we agreed that this is the best. Of course, we also watched the river activities, as we were sitting by the window; however, the weather had chased away most of the river sports, although the taxis and a riverboat still navigated their regular course. 

Van asked if we were in a hurry, because we were pushing the time for the last shuttle to River Palms, but I wasn’t willing to rush through this delicious pizza and enjoyable atmosphere, so we agreed that we would walk back to River Palms and catch the shuttle up the hill to our front door. Can life get any better than this?

Sure! In fact, we’d collected the Colorado Belle’s coupon book and stopped for a 99-cent shrimp cocktail, which I planned to add to my coleslaw salad for the next day. Of course, I’d thought of it as a hot weather meal, but when we awoke Monday morning, it was raining; and it continued raining all day. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our shrimp coleslaw, and took advantage of the inclement weather to sleep-in on this lazy day; a luxury that I don’t usually allow myself, because I always have so many writing projects. But, it’s good, sometimes, to slow down, relax, sleep-in, have a long meditation, sort things out, and read a good book, such as Money Stuff.  

The Real Me

The above “Favorite Things” were possible because Van also slept in, which allowed me the space to savor my own energies, which is seldom possible in the RV lifestyle. For instance, I’d long ago given up listening to my favorite music, other than Lawrence Welk on Saturday night, because he doesn’t share my interests. And the days when he watches sports on TV, I can’t even think clearly to write, so I work crossword puzzles, or something that doesn’t require quieter energies.

I don’t know how other couples survive RVing, but it seems to me that someone has to give in to the other’s preferences, unless you share the same interests. Many RVers enjoy partying, either in their own place, with an acquaintance, or at a local bar. Here, in Laughlin, for instance, one or both, enjoy gambling, which they can do together; or if not, the other is free to savor the space alone.

I am fortunate that Van gives me the quiet space to write, but that’s because he doesn’t usually have much to say, which I’ve come to accept as a blessing. On the other hand, I find it interesting that when Little Ralph is wanting attention, just like any child, that’s when he decides to chat. 

And, even when Van agrees to help me with computer stuff, it’s mid-afternoon before he completes his daily routine: grooming, eating, Prosperity Program and paperwork. This doesn’t leave much time, because soon it’s time for another meal, so that’s why I do most of my writing during his morning routine. And, if Little Ralph’s not in a mood to do my projects, then I might as well not even start, because we will, inevitably, end up in an argument. I just needed to get these words expressed, because if other RVers are reading them, and feeling the same way, it may be supportive to know that someone else is going through the same thing.

But, as I said earlier, today I decided to take some “me time,” and I delighted in the subject of my Daily Reading: The Real Me, which reminded me that my spiritual identity is who I really am, as it affirms, “I am dedicated to expressing the qualities of my sacred identity.”

I like that term, my sacred identity, which states that there is so much more to me than what can be seen and heard. And it’s comforting to remember that identity is ageless and eternal, and its sacred qualities, which are one with God, are within me. 

So, when I feel disoriented and out of sorts, it’s good for me to remember who I am, and that I am in my right place, at the right time, doing the right thing; at least for now.

My Right Place

Although I’d made up my mind to accept the fact that we weren’t able to park in the front row, I longed for the joy of overlooking the river, not just a glimpse between RV’s, and depending on the size of the one that pulled in front of us. Fortunately, a mini Class C had allowed for more view, but when she left, I feared a bigger rig would move in. In fact, despite Van’s contention that we were too big for the spot, I noticed that a large one had moved in and was enjoying the view that I coveted. And several spaces south, an even larger one had grabbed a vacated spot. 

Nevertheless, he was adamant about it not being okay for us to be there, so I accepted his decision, and we left to see the Tuesday ($3.00) movie, Space Cowboys, taking the River Palms to The Mall, where they have six theaters, a multitude of discount stores and a Fast Foods pavilion.

We’d decided not to eat anything, other than popcorn, this time, so the Rice Garden’s Orange Sesame Chicken would have to wait, in order to spread out our finances and fun. But, when Joanie smelled the delicious aromas, she couldn’t wait, especially since we had almost an hour before the movie began. So, Joanie and Little Ralph shared an order, and savored every bite, reminding themselves that the total was less than $4.00, so even with popcorn, at the movie, our daily expense was under $15.00, less than most theaters.

I had no idea what this movie was about, only some old-timers going into space. However, when the “old-timers” are Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Donald Southerland and Tommy Lee Jones, who cares? Despite my abhorrence of violent movies, how bad can it be with that theme?

Not until after the movie did I realize how much the theme fit in with this chapter: The Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins with One Step. Here was a former Air Force X-2 test team from the sixties, who missed out on the challenge of NASA, because of inability to conform and accept authority. Now, they are given a second chance, when a space communication satellite is malfunctioning, and they, as a team, have the technical knowledge to fix it. The plot evolves from the fact that the satellite was operating on an obsolete program that one of them had written in the sixties, and he was the only person with the expertise. 

As part of his agreement to train with NASA, he insists that his former team be allowed to accompany him through the training and the mission in order fulfill their dream to go into space. This is a simplification of the story, but it will get us to my point, which is that even when taking a journey into outer space, it is still necessary to take that first step; and the subsequent steps to fulfill the mission, or the dream. And this applies to all of us; not just old-timer Space Cowboys.

The movie offered laughs and excitement and danger, as we watched four top actors evolve from their over-the-hill syndrome of everyday life, into the polished team players of a modern NASA operation. And the competition between the young astronauts and the old-timers added a touch of realism, as it reminded me that the younger generations do not respect the senior citizens, but consider us to be obsolete and useless. So, hooray for a movie that shows we still have The Right Stuff.

We especially enjoyed the inside pictures at Cape Kennedy, because we had been there and toured the facility. And furthermore, my nephew, Peter Freeland, is in the NASA training program to become an astronaut, so seeing these men performing the maneuvers in space, such as Pete will be doing, took my breath away, even if it was done on a movie set. The realism was breathtaking, and definitely entertaining, not to forget thought-provoking, as the movie gave me the necessary boost to go for my dreams.

So, when we returned home and the front row space was still empty, I wondered just how much of a celestial two-by-four I needed to claim my good. 

While I fixed dinner, I became angry, because Van had been putting the kabosh on this forward movement all along, and I made up my mind that I would not allow him to become the excuse for me not moving forward toward fulfilling my dreams. Therefore, the few yards needed to get there became symbolic. No, this apathy would not be accepted.

I walked outside and looked the situation over, then returned and said, “There’s no reason for us not to move into that space.”

Van interrupted his meal, and said, “Do you want to move now?”

Fearful that someone else might not hesitate to take the place, and remembering another time when I allowed our view to become obstructed by an oversize rig, I said, “Yes.”

He replied, “Okay, then please guide me into the space.”

So, the forward movement began: secure the RV, release the levelers, and roll forward, as I waved Van into the space. 

Amazingly, the man in the adjoining RV came outside and began a friendly chat, while I signaled Van to stop. Considering that one of my concerns had been a fear of rejection or criticism from the neighbors, his friendliness served as a sign that God had given us another experiential aide on this Journey of Awareness.

In fact, I knew that this “One small step for mankind,” had taken us from apathy to momentum, especially when my energy shift began to cause strange body sensations, a phenomenon that I’d been experiencing whenever these paradigm shifts occurred. Sure enough, another high energy, sleepless night heralded this transition, as I looked out the window at the panoramic night scene.  

The View From Above

Night

I don’t know which view I like the best: night or day, but I do know that a large part of my enjoyment of staying in Laughlin is being able to see it. So, it’s my pleasure to again present another word picture of this scene that I have described in other books. Yet, with each viewing, I seem to see it more clearly, and therefore I am able to express it with more details; not only the outer scene, but the inner view, too.

The tranquil night scene of the lights reflecting on the black rippling river is juxtaposed by the 25-story fully lit River Palms Casino, with its front side bedecked in a full-length mural depicting a blue sky with a giant golden sun reflecting on golden clouds and rippling aqua water. At the top, the words River Palms, written in huge, electrified letters are accentuated with two orange and red palm trees. 

Yet, this gaudy distraction does not affect the tranquility of the black outlined high desert and jagged mountains silently stretching from the real river to the real sky, with two clusters of housing developments twinkling lights adding to the starlit night.

The green lawn and transplanted palms, neither indigenous to this desert oasis, are clearly visible in the flood lights that welcome guests at any time day or night, and the cars and busses add to the 24-hour activity. In fact, directly below us, the tour busses keep vigil, while the tourists sleep, or play, inside the casino. And on top of the three-story parking garage are cars and smaller RV’s, clearly visible under the protective floodlights, and to the left, are parked a dozen or so large RV‘s, belonging to owners who aren’t interested in the hassle on top of the hillside; they have ample room and an equally desirable view, with the floodlights, too; but comes the daytime, they are subjected to the loud noise of construction work on the adjoining property, which will soon become a strip mall. And the towers of Harrah’s Casino-Hotel blocks any further view in that direction.

But, the view is far from over. To the north, the lights on the Golden Nugget garage, and the Pioneer’s red neon trim begin the colorful light show, followed by the wildly lit Colorado Belle, a replica of a river boat, with a flashing red paddle wheel and a well-lit smoke stack. And then the more sedate Edgewater towers, next to the Flamingo Hilton, with its flashing pink light beams. And barely visible, because of the hillside, is the Riverside, owned by entrepreneur Don Laughlin, who started it all with his dream of a resort town along the Colorado River. 

Daytime

And now, his airport runway, big enough to accommodate jets, stretches from one end of the desert to another, and the planes come and go day and night, then taxi to the airport at the far end, across from the Riverside. From there, the passengers and pilots, along with the residents of Arizona, cross the bridge, also built by Don Laughlin’s money, and now maintained by the state.

I nearly forgot to mention Bullhead City, directly across the river from us, along the bank, but somehow not interfering with the peaceful scene. Yet, what we see is only the old city; the new city extends further south, along the river, and eventually joins with Fort Mojave. Both towns offer a full-spectrum of businesses, from a new Wal-Mart Supercenter to Safeway and other shopping centers, including a mall, and the usual services, shops and restaurants. 

In other words, these towns have it all; but much closer to us, and up the hill from here, the town of Laughlin continues to balloon, with its shops, stores, library and other facilities necessary to a bedroom community of condos and town homes; all equipped with air conditioning to offset the terrible summer heat, which climbs to over 100 nearly every day. Needless to say, the heat keeps the RVers from staying year-round, though some hearty souls actually do live here, such as one who lived free of cost, near where we are parked, for eleven years, until someone sabotaged him and caused him to be evicted. I heard this story second-hand, so I don’t have any further details. But, it only proves that all is not always serene, even in Paradise.

As I write, I look beyond the river, the town, the runway and highways to the beige, tan or brown desert (depending on the sun and weather) and hills to the jagged barren mountains that reflect the pinks and purples from the western sunset, or much brighter shades of orange and gold from the morning sunrise, which I seldom see; but when I do, it’s spectacular. So, without spending our precious Social Security income, we can sit here and enjoy the panoramic colorful view night or day.

Hello and Goodbye

Between working on our business cards and fixing meals, I had managed conversations with our neighbors, before they moved on, and I learned about a system for getting on-line via our cellular phone, but I wanted it explained to Van (the technical expert), so we caught them, as they were preparing to leave one morning, and they gave us the phone numbers to order the equipment and we exchanged business cards. Theirs has a full color picture of their RV, and my (the not-finished sample) two-sided creation featured Inner Freedom Ministry, with the butterfly logo, on one side, and Inner Freedom Journey, on the other side, with the two of us in front of our RV (upside down). As I said, it was the sample, but all I had; the next ones will be right, and the butterfly will be yellow.

Within a 1/2 hour from their departure, as I updated my website with the new name, Inner Freedom Journey, for the link to the Travel Series, another large RV pulled in next to us. Glancing out the front window, I repeated, “Thank You, God,” for saving this space and getting us into it, before someone else took advantage of the panoramic view.

99-cent Breakfast 

We’d been hearing about the 99-cent breakfast at River Palms, and had gotten our Players Card, which would qualify us. This morning we made our usual walk to the shuttle and caught it just in time (it doesn’t come up to the RV parking on a regular basis). Then we stood in line (not too long at 11:00 a.m.) and finally got served the Deuces Wild Special: 2 eggs any style, 2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 toast and hash browns. There are two other options: French toast or dollar pancakes instead of toast. Now, here’s the catch: coffee is 95-cents, but we’re not coffee drinkers; and if we had chosen, we could have spent that amount on the penny or nickel slots, which our neighbors told us about. We walked to the machines, and watched a few minutes, choosing not to invest in this entertainment today. Instead, we opted to return home and work on the business cards.     

The River Goes Up and the Sun Goes Down

The above statement is not intended to be profound, and with the crazy weather, it might be more appropriate, if worded differently: when the sun goes down, the river goes up. In fact, that’s what happened in the obscure Arizona town of Wenden, near Salome. It rained so hard that the water overflowed the arroyo’s (washes) and the town became flooded, literally destroying many of the few homes, especially the mobiles, some which were shown on TV lying sideways. It’s a fairly poor town and recovery is difficult, but the Red Cross and other agencies are helping. 

One of the main concerns is for the migrant workers, many whom lived in the fields. No one knows how many were drowned by the gushing waters, because no one knew who they were, or where they went, if they survived. Seeing the aerial views of the massive newly formed lake over the fields and desert, it’s easy to understand why it’s such a mystery. Unfortunately, one body had been found, as the result of the search, and it is feared that more are buried under the silt and water. We are kept informed of these events via our Arizona TV, based in Phoenix.

But that’s not what the above title refers to; it’s about the fact that Lake Mohave had been drained in order to rebuild the boat ramps, allowing the water to flow through the dam, causing a much fuller river. However, this morning when we awoke, it was almost empty and, needless to say, there was no river traffic; no doubt a problem for the river taxis and river boats.  

In addition, the morning provided an ethereal scene, as the dark cloud formations somewhat parted, allowing the sun rays to pour forth upon the mountains; however, the sun was not visible, only promising that the overcast day would soon clear. We marveled at the beauty, even on such a dreary day, as clouds, further south, became light and fluffy along the horizon, brightened by the unseen sunshine, and overshadowed by the dark rain clouds.

As we went about our morning routine, a short time had passed, and when I again looked out the window, it seemed as if the river was rising, which Van confirmed. And the sun had disappeared behind the heavy clouds. From our vantage point, it’s a never-ending panorama of change and activity.

Early Morning Road Rage

For instance, earlier this morning I noticed an orange and yellow semi-truck pull forward on the highway and begin to back into the delivery entrance of the River Palms Casino, across the street. I’d seen another truck do this without any problems, because there was no traffic at the time. But now, I had to laugh, because a car that had been speeding down the lengthy hill, obviously with a clear view of the truck, suddenly screeched to a halt and aimed toward the driveway behind the vehicle, as the car’s driver began frantically honking, and no doubt, cursing the truck driver, who had stopped moving, because he had no idea where the car would end up. This, of course, further delayed progress, until the trucker determined that it was safe to continue backing. Before he had cleared the northbound lanes, the other driver vehemently swerved into the southbound lanes and drove around the offending truck. All of this took less than five-minutes, but the mental, emotional and physical damage to both drivers could eventually become deadly, as this early morning example of road rage played out before my eyes.

I realize that this report is comparatively uneventful, but it’s said to write about what goes on in our daily lives, and there are others who will benefit from what we have written. So, who will benefit from the above saga? Perhaps someone who has been involved in a similar incident, and therefore will see it as humorous, or irritating, depending on their experience of the event; that of the truck driver, or that of the rager. And, maybe, someone will see the futility of venting their anger in a possible deadly encounter, such as another car could have been coming head-on. In any event, that’s the excitement from our viewpoint. 

Steak at the Flamingo

But, this day we had more adventure in mind, a $1.99 steak dinner at the Flamingo Hilton. We took the shuttle and then walked to the Riverside (the original post office for Laughlin) to collect our mail at General Delivery. Dottie had forwarded our business products, and we were happy to receive them, even though Van had to carry them the rest of the day. I’d made a deal with him: I carried the much lighter package to be mailed, and he would carry the box. Not exactly fair, but he agreed, and I did offer to relieve him of the burden, later, but he declined. 

I like to write about the promotional deals in Laughlin, so anyone who reads these books will know what’s available, such as this special $1.99 T-bone steak dinner (served between 110:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.). Needless to say, nearly everyone in The Flamingo Diner ordered the special, and it was delicious, along with the pasta, cut corn and dinner roll.

As much as I enjoy the 99-cent hot dog or breakfast, and the yogurts, it’s nice to sit down to a real meal every so often; and one as good as this was a real treat. I even cut mine into smaller pieces, so it would last longer, while Van, as usual, chewed his food 30 times, which lasts much longer than mine.

The 50’s decor of The Flamingo Diner took us back in time, and as we ate, I began sharing with Van memories of my childhood, such as my abhorrence of baby dolls, or anything that reminded me of a baby. As a child, I wasn’t aware of the reason, but during my inner child recovery era, I recalled that it was because I’d been dethroned as an only child by the arrival of my baby brother, which also heralded the breakdown of Mom’s health and the end of our family life together.

However, I recalled that I had wanted a wetting doll, so I could feed it water that would cause it to wet its diaper, which I’d lost early on. But, the doll was too slow in arriving (probably had to wait until Christmas), so I made a whole in the mouth of my rubber doll. Did I ever have a wetting doll; all over everything.

The early model bicycle brought to mind the story of mine, which I seldom got to ride, because of a punishment meted out soon after I got it; I don’t remember what I’d done, because I was always in trouble for the normal childhood antics. My greatest regret was when Mom Freeland got angry and threw away my precious paper dolls, when I was about twelve, and that was pretty much the end of my childhood.

Van talked about his first and only bicycle that he bought from his Uncle Gene for $10.00, which he paid for at $1.00 a month, earned from delivering newspapers. He couldn’t remember what happened to his bike, but he knew that it disappeared soon after he got his first car.

Sometimes it’s good to recall the old days, if for no more than to stretch the memory muscles, but that was then and this is now, so we sauntered through the Flamingo Casino, looking for the barrel to deposit the free coupons (given at the diner) for the drawing of a new car. Wouldn’t that be special: a shiny metallic charcoal PT Cruiser for the $1.99 price of a steak dinner? 

No Shuttle after 5:00 p.m.

We dropped our two coupons in the barrel and watched as some people submitted a handful, with the hope that more is better. However, it’s often the person who put in one coupon, so we waited around for an hour, until the 4:00 p.m. drawing. Walking to the front of the casino, and seeing that gorgeous car, I must admit that my imagination stretched, as I saw ourselves cruising around town, rather than taking shuttles and walking.

But, when they called a name from Wyoming, I knew that we would, again, walk across the street to The Mall and wait for our shuttle, while a lady in Wyoming would streak across the windy plains in her cruiser. Should we return for the 7:00 p.m. drawing? Nah! There’s no shuttle after 5:00 p.m. 

 

Chapter 7

EXCITED ANTICIPATION

Another Hot Air Balloon Activity

I awoke bright and early, in excited anticipation of the publicized Hot Air Balloon Ascension at Laughlin. It would be thrilling to see them floating above this desert scene, and the weather seemed perfect, unlike the day before when rain canceled their takeoff.

Today, the sun forced its rays through the clouds, creating a golden sunrise over the sleeping canyon, as I bent low and peered over the neighboring RV, searching the skies for the silent phantoms. None appeared, but my excitement heightened, as I settled down and waited. In the meantime, the clouds were shifting into different formations, and the sunrise became more intense; not the oranges and golds, but the brilliant sunshine mixed with the grays and blacks of these morning clouds.

My excitement was growing, as I visualized the enchanting colors of the teardrop balloons, and maybe some special ones, too. While I waited, for some reason my mind flashed on the bible parable of the ten virgins who went to meet the bridegroom. There is more to the story, about being foolish or wise in preparation for such an occasion, concluding, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Matt. 25:13).”  

So, I kept watching. Again, I stooped down and looked upward, over the RV and up river, but all I could see was the fading lights on the casinos in the daylight, and the shifting clouds to the west that were visible above the high embankment behind the RV’s. By now it was 7:30, and they would have had time to become visible; where are they? 

My patience was waning, as I scanned the sky, and then dropped my gaze to the river lazily making its way through the valley. I studied the current, and became aware of more details of the serene morning scene; very few vehicles on the roads, but more RV’s on the lower parking lot, as the snowbirds arrive from the north. Otherwise, the quiet beauty of the desert remained unaffected by the still slumbering weekenders, unaware that they were missing the approaching balloon ascension.

Again, the waiting reminded me that God comes in mysterious ways, and when we least expect Him; and even in ways we least expect. For instance, I’d gotten up early in excited anticipation of seeing the hot air balloons, but as I noticed the beauty in the morning scene, I realized that I am in the presence of God, right here and now, with or without the addition of the balloons. 

I thought of the symbology of the ten virgins, who represent aspirants to spiritual wisdom  (awareness of God). The five wise virgins had attained sufficient spiritual understanding, and were prepared for greater illumination. The foolish ones had not gained the necessary knowledge, so they missed the joy and power that comes with recognition of oneness (the union or marriage); awareness of the Christ presence within.  

I’d given up on seeing the balloons and began writing, but several times I thought I heard them overhead, looked outside and was disappointed. But, the last time I heard the sound, I looked toward the rear of our RV, and there was a colorful hot air balloon coming from the south, not the direction I’d expected; and within a few minutes, a red, white and blue one zipped through the air and landed someplace behind the hill. Hooray! 

I couldn’t miss the message God was giving with this scenario: I’d been up and ready and looking, but obviously in the wrong direction, or the wrong time; or they simply weren’t within my viewing periphery. Perhaps it would have been wise for me to have gotten dressed and gone outside, where I would have a fuller view, in order to see the mass ascension; or maybe they would have been out of my vision from this location. 

Nevertheless, I was happy to have seen the two hot air balloons, and I thanked God for the experiential aide of the day, remembering that it pays to always keep in an attitude of excited anticipation, because we never know the “hour of the day” when He will make Himself known. 

The Hour is Now

In the past, when staying in Laughlin, we’d seen several top entertainers, such as Debbie Reynolds and Roger Whittaker, and many other special shows and entertainment. And, through the years, in other locations, we’d seen Liberace, Shirley MacLaine, Andy Williams, The Lennon Sisters, Frank Sinatra, and Carol Channing, to name a few. But now, there weren’t many left from our generation, who played our music, and the one entertainer who has a reputation of “putting on a good show,” is Wayne Newton. 

Imagine my excitement when I learned that he would be here, in Laughlin, this weekend. Now, we would have the opportunity to see Mr. Las Vegas, The Legend, for a fraction of the usual cost, and easily accessible, as he would appear at Harrah’s, which I can see, as I write.

Even when “the mountain came to Mohammed,” so to speak, I’d been justifying, in my mind, the affordability of spending the $50.00 from our tight budget. So, this had become another major money issue, which I had to overcome, and I’d delayed making the reservations. In fact, although I’d mentioned to Van that Wayne Newton would be performing, I hadn’t been explicit in my intentions of attending the show in the outdoor amphitheater.

Finally, on Saturday, I explained that this might be our last opportunity to see him, and I really wanted to go, so we could shorten our stay at Riverside RV Park and afford the tickets. 

He agreed, and I made the phone call for reservations. I’d decided that Sunday would be better for us, as tickets were $5.00 less apiece, and it wouldn’t be as crowded. Wrong! It was sold out, but there were tickets left for Saturday, so I took them. 

Okay, I’m beginning to get the message. God was giving me another experiential aide. This one, again, referring to a bible quote about the hour: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven.” And referring to this same event, “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24: 36, 42).

I realize that Wayne Newton is not The Messiah, but God was using him as an example for me to share about being ready when the time does come for the arrival of Christ, the Presence of God.

In order to see Wayne Newton, we had only a few hours, until we must begin our trek to Harrah’s. Although it’s close, it’s straight down the hill — 85 steps — according to one shuttle driver. Not too bad going down, but tough on muscles coming up. So, we decided to walk.

We’d bundled up for the nighttime performance and the warm jackets felt good, as we walked in the slight wind. The rains had managed to stop, but we questioned how chilly the wind would become. 

Some Surprises

But, once inside the casino, the jackets were overkill as we caught up into the high energies of the younger weekend crowd. We’d planned to participate in the Oktoberfest celebration, so enjoyed the oompah music of the Dummpkopf’s, while getting our tickets. I was surprised when the gaily costumed trombonist slid his trombone, with a red boxing glove on the end, toward me; a gimmick that he used on both men and women. Some laughed, but most were annoyed, or ignored his playfulness. Several couples pranced to a German polka, as others tapped to the lively music. 

On our agenda, for the evening, was dinner featuring German food, but we were in for some surprises. First, our favorite coffee shop no longer existed; it simply wasn’t there. What a reality shift! Instead, an expensive steak and seafood restaurant had taken its place. And the former Mexican restaurant had been replaced with the Monterey Cafe, where the line was so long, it backed up into the casino area. Rather than be disappointed, I asked the cashier about the German fare, and she informed me they didn’t have any, but the buffet had added some to their menu.

We already knew we didn’t want to spend an additional $20.00, so we headed to the little snack bar for a sandwich. Guess what? It wasn’t there, either. A sign referred us to Cafe Cappuccino, which put us back to square one. However, we got excited when we noticed that a hot dog cart, which stood nearby, served Polish sausages. But it was not in service. As we passed the buffet, the line reached down the hall, and would take hours. No!

Ooops! now what? The hysteria of the disgruntled diners was contagious, so we retraced our steps to the Cafe Cappuccino Sandwich Shoppe, but then decided to head for the McDonald’s franchise down the other hall. Whew! The line wasn’t very long, and we happily waited for our hamburger. Another valuable lesson had been learned: don’t plan to eat here on a concert night.

I chatted with the lady in front, and learned that her young son wanted to be an entertainer, and she was bringing him to see Wayne Newton, one of the best. I was impressed with this modern mother, and we saw them, later, heading for the front row of the amphitheater; unlike our seats, which were four rows from the back. Yet, the view was okay, despite the uncomfortable aluminum benches.

We’d arrived about an hour early, but the time passed quickly while chatting with our neighbors. And we were thankful that we had worn our heavy jackets, as the wind fluctuated between comfortable and chilly. 

In fact, we laughed when Wayne ad-libbed, as he sang about a long, long, long, windy, chilly night; a clue that the performers have to suffer through the inclimate weather, too. I wondered about the advisability of these outdoor concerts, especially for us senior citizens, who comprised most of the audience. But the marketing people probably assumed it would be good in October; it wasn’t. And Wayne still had Sunday night, followed by David Cassidy’s appearance the next weekend, and some other concert still later in November. The promoters probably hadn’t consulted the Farmer’s Almanac, so weren’t aware of the predicted “early, hard winter.” However, tonight wasn’t too bad, as the flags flew gently in the breeze, and we were huddled and bundled.   

As reported, Wayne does a good show, and he has an excellent band and backup singers. He has even worked some funny comedy routines into his act, along with his own humorous comments throughout the program, especially when he gets on a roll about being a Native American, or making jokes about the Clinton fiasco. I wonder what comics will use for material when Clinton is no longer in office.

I must admit that Wayne is a generation after me, and I didn’t relate to most of his updated material. But his guitar, violin, banjo and piano expertise more than make up the difference. 

The bass singer, announcer and imitator, Brent Brett, adds young life and variety to the show, with his Tom Jones and Willy Nelson impersonations, and his bantering with Wayne.  

Even though slightly windblown, we enjoyed two hours of professional entertainment, highlighted by the Grand Finale, a tribute to veterans of all wars. First, Wayne asked all vets to stand, and a good percentage of the audience stood, including Van, a former Navy Frogman (now called Seals). To me, although the men seemed proud of their military service, it was sad that they all had gone through the military conditioning and trauma that had transformed their lives. Yet, once they were discharged, most of them had adjusted to civilian life, and looked at their military experience as a necessity that they had endured and survived; and some feel they are better for it, while others resent war’s impact and disruption of their lives. 

In any event, it’s good that Wayne, and others, are paying tribute to the men and women who served their country in military service.

The evening concluded with Wayne singing a medley of Civil War songs, including Dixie, and Battle Hymn of the Republic.

We took Harrah’s shuttle to their RV parking on the hill (by the convenience store), and walked home, remembering another special evening in our lives. 

A Sunday Morning Spiritual Experience

This time I wanted to do it right, so I got up at 7:00 a.m. and walked to the road behind the RV parking, toward the top of the hill, assuming that I would have a clear view of the  balloon ascension, and knowing that it would be a Sunday morning spiritual experience. I could see them, now, in my imagination, and again became excited in anticipation, especially since I’d made the extra effort of preparation.

Fortunately, we’d set our clocks back, so the sun was warmer than usual at this hour, and I felt exhilarated being out on my own in search of an adventure. One RVer was walking his dog; otherwise it was a quiet, peaceful morning, with nothing to look at but the sandy hill. As I trudged upward, I looked forward to writing a first-hand description, after seeing the full ascension of balloons from my vantage point, and I began searching the sky for the first one.

Up ahead I noticed a woman walking back from the top of the hill, and we greeted each other, as we met. She announced that she could see no hot air balloons, only a few vehicles in the middle of the field.

We chatted awhile and I learned that they were staying in their RV, until December, or whenever they had to turn on their furnace in the daytime; then they would go to Yuma. It felt good sharing some feminine camaraderie, and soon we were talking about my need for an e-mail hookup. My, how female conversations have changed! She hauled her pocket e-mailer out of her pocket, and said that she was on her way to the nearby service station-convenience store to check if she had messages, explaining how easily it works. I shared about the on-line service I’d learned from Helaine, and we were deep into the modern version of girl-talk.

Finally, we parted and I reached the top of the hill to see for myself. Just as she said, only a few vehicles in the field and several were leaving. I snapped a picture, while pondering the question: does that mean they already did their thing, on the standard time? Or does it mean they were delayed and would start later? Or, for some reason, did they think it was too windy?

In fact, I wondered exactly what lesson God had gotten me up to experience for my Sunday morning spiritual venture. Perhaps it was the joy of the morning, and meeting with Effie; and knowing that I had done my part to complete the search for hot air balloons. 

Looking beyond the desert, to the west, at the sunshine and fluffy clouds over the distant mountains, and feeling the warmth of the sunshine and cloak of blue sky, I decided that simply being in this moment, in this place definitely qualified as a spiritual experience.

When Van awoke, as I was busily writing, he asked about the computer clock, and I explained that when it turned on, a notice appeared telling me that it had automatically changed to Daylight Time. He was quite impressed, referring to the transaction as being one of communication.

I said, “With my limited technical knowledge, I’d call it a miracle.” So, okay, a Sunday morning miracle seems like a good conclusion to this subject.

As I wrote the above words, I heard this little message in my head: “The lesson for today is a reminder to experience and enjoy the present moment, rather than living in Excited Anticipation of the next adventure. It is okay to look forward, but remember to remain in the now.”

Let’s Do It!

I’m glad it’s okay to be excited, in anticipation of something, because I’d been looking forward to the new BBQ dinner at the Ramada, ever since reading about it in The Entertainer, and passing the sign out front. However, it’s usually available only on Saturday, but I discovered that this weekend it would also be served on Sunday. I could practically taste the advertised Santa Maria BBQ, as we progressed through the day: I finished my daily writing, and while Van worked on the website, I happily watched ice skating, one of my favorite things.

The weather had been sunny all day, but the wind had come up, and then the dark clouds came in, and it was getting colder. I think it was one of these things that Joanie wanted to do so much that she figured she wouldn’t get to do it, so she tried to sabotage it. I’m getting better at recognizing these patterns and offsetting the devastation, but this time it took awhile.

First, I said, “The more I look at those dark clouds; I’m having second thoughts about that outdoor BBQ, and walking back and forth.”

Van, as usual noncommittal, said, “Oh, okay.”

Then I started thinking how good that food would taste, compared to my TV dinners, and Joanie began pouting: her lip went out in disappointment, and Little Ralph looked over and began laughing.

“Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad,” she said, adding, “If it were just me, I’d do it, but you don’t like getting chilled.

“Well, let’s do it,” Little Ralph said.

We quickly got into our warm jackets and headed to the employee’s parking lot for the shuttle, noticing that it wasn’t really that cold; in fact, it was almost balmy. And the invigorating walk from River Palms to Ramada stimulated our appetites.

A virtual reality shift had taken place in front of the casino; the railroad tracks area had been transformed into a dining area: about 20 or 30 tables with white cloth tablecloths and red and white checked napkins, and a miniature bale of hay and a cowboy hat on each one. People were quietly dining, as we found the cashier and paid the $5.99 each. 

From there we walked along a buffet setup, where we were handed a small paper plate with tossed salad by the first server, and the next one added fruit and whipped cream salad. Then we had an option of BBQ chicken and/or London broil, baked beans, Spanish rice and a garlic bun. I said “Yes,” to everything, and rushed to a table, while Van got the iced tea.

We greeted the senior couple sharing the table, and began eating the delicious, ample servings. We learned that they were spending the winter in The Mirage RV Park, across the river in Bullhead City, which rents for only $340.00 a month, with full hookups. This was good information for future reference, and typical of the word-of-mouth networking amongst RVers.

Soon after they finished and left, I commented to Van, “I like this setup, because it’s like a party, but you don’t have to socialize.” Then I said, “See, I’m getting more like you every day, and I don’t like being non-social.”

Table Talk

Within minutes, another couple (fortysomething) sat down and we began getting acquainted. They’d flown to Las Vegas from Detroit, Mi., rented a car and drove down here, because they like the quieter atmosphere, even though they’re celebrating their 24th anniversary.

Donna and Jeff were friendly, and as we chatted we heard an inspiring story. They had worked for the automotive industry, but Jeff wanted to be self-employed, so he got the idea of buying repossessed houses, remodeling them and renting them out, rather than reselling them for the quick cash. They said it was scary, at first, but they took the chance and bought more, until they were both able to quit their jobs and work together full-time buying and remodeling the homes, and then managing them as rentals. 

As a result, they were able to upgrade their own lifestyle, and now live in a lovely home by a lake, with all of the amenities, such as traveling.

Keep in mind they began their financial venture in the depressed area of Detroit, where homes could be bought for several thousand dollars.

Donna and Jeff explained that, in the past, the renters had a tendency to not pay their rent, or they would trash their homes, and then move on. So, after awhile, as they continued to accumulate more rental homes, the management and upkeep hassles, in these low-income developments, became an undesirable burden.

As they continued to learn more about this enterprise, they became aware of a government program where the renters pay the government, and the income is reimbursed to the landlords. Of course, in order to qualify, there are high standards required for the homes, but, on the other hand, the rentals are inspected annually and the renters must maintain their property. 

The incentive is that the renters start taking responsibility for their lives by becoming employed and maintaining their jobs so they can keep their homes, and they develop a sense of pride in their homes, which must be kept up, according to the requirements, if they wish the privilege of living here.

Throughout their experience, Donna and Jeff discovered that many of these renters did not know how to maintain a home, because they’d never been taught. In fact, some of them did not even know about a shower; what it looked like, let alone how to use it. So, Donna began a teaching program, where she presented seminars on the basics of how to live in and maintain a home; a unique concept to a surprising number of Americans.

In time, she was asked to present her seminars to larger groups, as their program became known. And, as they shared with us this information, they began talking about the positive changes in Detroit, a city that once had been financially depressed. 

Now, with the intercity programs and especially the efforts of their present mayor, the city has come back to life, and businesses and organizations are returning there. For instance, the abandoned industrial area, along the wharf, has been renovated and many more projects have upgraded the city. In fact, the bad news is that there are no longer low-cost homes available for them to buy and remodel, because of the increased property value, and the rent doesn’t cover these increases, such as taxes. 

We were aghast, when told that as their sports teams are returning and other improvements are made, Detroit is, again, taking its place as a high-ranking city, and I wondered why we never hear this kind of positive news, midst the negative daily reports.

I was especially impressed with Donna and Jeff’s story of how they treat their renters with respect, often doing extras, as needed, or when brought to their attention by the renters; and when they remodel or repair the homes, they use material and workmanship so it’s a quality job and it will last, such as removing wood paneled windows and replacing them with thermal panes.

As we talked, they mentioned the TV advertiser who promotes his method of buying and selling homes to become a millionaire. 

I said, “You’re actually doing it, and you’re contributing toward the overall improvement of the Detroit economy. It’s like the idea ‘each one teach one,’ and if each person does something, it snowballs and becomes a quantum leap.”

They agreed, adding that they had even invested in studying his program, but discovered that they were doing a better job, as far as their lifestyle, such as renting the houses, rather than selling them. And in fact, some of his information was inappropriate. So, they just keep doing what they’re doing. And now they own over a hundred homes, and they have encouraged others, including his sister, to invest in home buying and renting, and she, too, is prospering from it.

Of course, as I pointed out, not everyone has the combination of factors to make this work, nor are they qualified, such as Van and I. However, I must say that when I was young, Mom Freeland bought and sold homes, and I helped her remodel, such as wallpapering and painting. Therefore, I’m well aware of the prosperity available in real estate, but I’m not at a place in my life that I want to indulge in these activities.

However, the more Donna and Jeff talked, the more inspiring their story, and I wanted to share it with others, so I handed them my business card and asked them to check out my website, explaining that I would like to feature them on the Money Matter webpage, suggesting that I would write about them, but encouraging them to write their own story. 

They promised to visit the website and send me an e-mail with their address, so we could keep in touch.  

Afterglow

As Van and I walked back to River Palms, in the pleasant evening air, I said, “Just think what we would have missed, had we not gotten off our duffs and made the effort to get to the BBQ?”

Carrying his leftover desert, grilled pineapple in raisin sauce (a Santa Maria recipe), Van agreed.

I added, “I’m kind of sorry that I didn’t do like some of the diners, and save the BBQ beef and bun for another meal, but it all tasted so good, I just couldn’t stop eating.”

Van agreed.

When we got out of the shuttle and started to our door, the neighbors to our right were returning from a short walk, on this balmy night, and we stopped to get acquainted and visit awhile. He said that they’re moving out on Thursday, and going further south into Arizona, where he hopes to buy a better used RV. It had been an enjoyable evening, and it felt good to meet our neighbors, while hearing the distant music of Wayne Newton’s concert wafting up from Harrah’s. We were glad that we had gone Saturday night, so we could have the added pleasure of this night’s BBQ at Ramada. It’s okay to have lots of fun.

Letting Go

The day soon came when we would leave our idyllic surroundings and move to the Riverside RV Park for two days. This would give us the opportunity to dump, fill our water tanks, and enjoy the benefits of full hook-ups, including cable TV. In addition, Van could shower in their facilities, and we could do our laundry. The casino shuttle comes by every fifteen minutes, so we have easy access to the 99-cent hot dogs and the post office. Also, we would be able to check my e-mail and update my website; all this for only $17.00 a night.

I usually cherish my time there, but Joanie was unhappy at leaving our freebie perch overlooking the Colorado River and the sunsets and sunrises over the mountain. I tried to convince her that we would have all this from our favorite space at the RV Park, but she was sad. I knew something was wrong, because the night before our departure, I’d felt a migraine headache brewing. So, in the morning I tuned into Joanie and learned that the prospect of leaving here was causing her to relive her childhood abandonment syndrome; the irreconcilable grief of the dissolution of her natural family when Mom had her nervous breakdown, after the birth of my brother, and was sent away to a mental institution. I was adopted by my paternal grandparents, Gary went to an orphanage and eventually Dad divorced Mom. Life was never the same, and this change triggered those memories for my inner child.

I’ve learned that writing about these feelings is therapeutic, once I recognize what is happening; therefore this drama appears throughout my books. And each time I process through the trauma, I move to a new level of healing and inner freedom.

So, this time I let Joanie feel her feelings and relate them to me. Then I reassured her that I understood, and that I would explain to Van, so we could save our space and return here, if that would make her happy.

I Press On

But, I also reminded Joanie that there are times in life when we must let go and move forward; let go of the lesser for the greater, such as now, when we would have all of the benefits at the RV Park. I explained that she would need to push through her discomfort, to be strong and courageous, as she moves forward in this growing up process.

This latest revelation from Joanie brought to my attention that her unwillingness to let go of the familiar and comfortable could be a contributing factor in my negative money patterns; a sabotage that could prevent me from moving forward, out of my comfort zone. 

Apparently God was using this experiential aide to show me this deeply buried aspect of myself, and I felt extremely uncomfortable, while going through this latest transition. Again, the bible words repeated in my mind: “Forgetting what lies behind, I press on ….”

“I press on to my greater good” seemed to be the theme of this lesson, as we went through our preparations to move onward. Yet, I knew that Joanie was dreading the uncertainty of change, because we would be staying at the free Riverside parking lot, after our paid two days, in order to offset the money we had spent on the Wayne Newton concert, and we would no longer have the benefits of the RV Park, nor the front row view of the river; we’d just be surrounded by parked RV’s. 

We had originally planned to stay at the RV park for a week, and I wondered if I were getting too involved in the “More-Less” game, which can be as addictive as gambling, spending, or any other obsessive-compulsive behavior. This addiction arises from the poverty consciousness of not-having (lack), and is perpetuated by the advertisers who encourage us to use coupons and shop where we can save money. So, it becomes another lure to keep us in bondage to an addictive lifestyle, which is prevalent in Laughlin and Las Vegas.

As much as I enjoy the game of more-less, I must examine the price I’m paying to continue playing. I already know all this, but I’ve allowed our financial circumstances to support the fun and challenge of seeing how much we can do or have for less by using the coupons and taking advantage of the special promotional deals designed (by the marketers) to keep us in their establishments.

Again, I’ve known all this, so the question now is whether or not I choose to continue to play, or if it’s time to move out of the trap, which is true of any addiction or pattern. Am I willing to go through the withdrawal process, or do I play longer? Stay tuned.

Transition: an Awakening

The morning’s transition process began, as I walked to Effie’s and asked if they would like our front row space. They were delighted, and we planned for them to move right in when we left, so no one else would take the prize site. Then I went up on the hilltop and took an overview picture, including the RV’s and Freedom. On the return, I got into a long chat with some other neighbors, and we were joined by Effie and Johnny (her husband). It felt really good being part of this group, as we exchanged RV travel information. 

But, soon we would all part and go in different directions, although Effie and Johnny would stay here until December, enjoying the special view. I gave her one of my newly printed business cards and asked her to keep in touch. 

In the meantime, Van had been going through his morning routine, and soon after I returned, he finally announced that we were ready to go. By now, Joanie, too, was ready and excited to move on, as she ran over to alert Effie and Johnny. We said our good-byes and I waved Van out of the prized space and got on board. In the rear view mirror I could see Johnny pulling into their new winter quarters, while Van maneuvered along the narrow driveway between the closely parked RV’s.

Actually, I began to breathe more freely, once we hit the main highway and I could see a larger overall picture. It’s amazing how tightly we get wound into our tiny aperture of life, even if it is a beautiful view overlooking the Colorado River. It’s important to remember that there is always more to life.

  Van drove up the hill to the residential and business section of Laughlin, so we could replenish my drinking water at the Western Family Market. But once inside we added to our purchases, and I was aware that we were both going through an awakening; like coming back to life. Or maybe even undergoing another paradigm shift, as our prosperity consciousness seemed to be expanding. We actually allowed ourselves to indulge in buying more goodies than planned, and I remembered that I wanted a Las Vegas edition TV Guide, because we would be on Cable, which comes from there and a TV Guide is a necessity. And that reminded me of the high priority of buying a birthday card for Marquam, my son, so I could add the family pictures that Van had copied for him. I’d had to cut back on my gift buying, but I knew he would enjoy the pictures, so I felt good, as I selected a loving card and was thankful that my mind had opened up to these additional expenditures.

We’d also decided to expand our outlook by stopping at the library to learn more about the computer access. This, too, was an awakening, as we toured the modern, full-spectrum facility with five computers (all in use) in a separate room. Although they didn’t have a separate outlet for our laptop, we definitely could check e-mail on their computers, and we could have anything printed out (20-cents a page). However, we would be handling our on-line activities at the RV Park this time.

While at the library, we stopped to look at their selection of new videos and learned, from the helpful librarian, that they have 800 others; and, of course, their stock of books seemed unlimited. Indeed, our library visit had opened up greater vistas of possibilities.

Our paradigm shift was in progress, as we drove back to Casino Road and turned into the Riverside free parking lot where we’d planned to pick up our forwarded mail. In our new reality, we decided to indulge in a 99-cent hot dog; not because they were cheap, but because our inner kids like the all-beef treats, especially when we pile on sauerkraut and other goodies, and then sit on the high stool overlooking the river.

The Real Ralph?

Van and I got into a discussion about an incident that happened, after we returned to Freedom, from the library. A sports convertible had pulled in front of us and the driver got out and knocked on our door. When Van opened it, the man said that our levelers were hanging forward, and he obviously knew that wasn’t right.

Van came across very stoic, as he said, “Yes, I know.” He may have added “Thank you,” but his demeanor was so cold that it took the man aback, so he left.

Later, Van realized that he wasn’t very friendly, and he talked about trying to improve his attitude when relating with people.

Now, as we ate, we continued the discussion, and I mentioned that his mother and dad were both stoic in their conversations and behavior. And I reminded him that he didn’t use to be that way, so I wondered which was the real Ralph: friendly, easy-going or cold and unfeeling. I suggested that maybe the other was simply a people-pleasing, perfectionistic facade, and as his inner child healed and felt safe in expressing himself, he had evolved into a more realistic version of himself. However, I added that I thought his present behavior seemed less like the real Ralph that I had known and loved. To myself, I lamented that I missed that familiar person who had handled everything so wisely and well, not only for us, but for the entire family; and this stranger with whom I now live is an impostor. But, the question is: who is the real Ralph?

A Prosperity Paradigm Shift

I didn’t want to change the fun mood of the day, so I dropped the subject, and we went downstairs to retrieve our mail from the Post Office and then returned to Freedom.

Before heading to the RV Park, I opened the mail and discovered two prosperity gifts. The first was a tithe check from Joyce, for my spiritual support to her; a blessing of the highest magnitude from her, which deeply touched my heart; and the timing was right, because the check was like a “Yes” from God (through Joyce) that indeed, we had made a prosperity consciousness transition, and confirmation that upgrading our lives would be compensated.

The second letter, from Riverside RV Park, offered a bounty of freebies, if we would check-in anytime, after Nov. 1, until Thanksgiving. We were already planning to stay two nights and dine at their Prime Rib Room and also attend the movies, so these coupons would more than compensate for the reduced cost of the three nights. Hooray! Thank You, God!

On the way to register at the RV Park, I realized that if we hadn’t followed God’s guidance and timing on having our mail forwarded and then picking it up first, we would have missed this great opportunity. 

I also realized that the freebies are okay when they come as a result of a prosperity consciousness and not from lack, need, or not having. And the very fine line between the two is a major difference between those who have and those who have not. I knew that whatever paradigm shift Van and I had taken, we were now in a new reality. And it would only get better.

Three Hours Later

I presented the letter to the registration clerk, and between us we managed to work out our fee for the next ten days: We would pay the regular $17.00 the first night (Oct. 31), and then begin our special rate for the next two days, while our Promotional Rate was in effect. And then, we would begin our weekly rate ($102.00), which would take us to Nov. 10th. Thank You, God. As usual, when I let go and let God, it all works out, and I needn’t have wasted all that time and energy worrying about it.

With our living accommodations handled, we stepped over to the e-mail counter. A sign said “Limit 10 minutes.” I knew we would need longer, because we wanted to update my website, since I had been doing some changes. The clerk said it was okay, but that one man had been there six-hours, so they put up the sign. I assured her that we wouldn’t be long, and Van began the process.

First, he got my e-mail, which I could read later. Then he attempted to update my website, but Homestead had installed a site-builder program, so when Van hooked up, it became initiated. Now we were committed to the process and whatever time it required. As time passed, I became uncomfortable and communicated to the clerk what had happened. She was cool about it, so I sat down and started reading some promotional magazines, while Van kept track of the updating. An hour passed; and then another. At some point the carrier (Juno) decided to disconnect, and Van had to start the process all over again, including the update of 61 webpages, one-at-a-time. 

At least I had lots of time to enjoy the Halloween decorations: lots of cobwebs, spiders, pumpkins, and several of the gals in costumes, and a bowl of candy, from which I helped myself to a chewy one, and gave one to Van. 

I couldn’t believe it. When we came in, it was mid-afternoon; now the sun was setting, and we weren’t through, yet. When we came in, we were the only registrants, but throughout the afternoon, the lines had come and gone, as RVers registered and went to their sites. No doubt they had already won or lost, or gotten on with their lives; but we were still in the office.

This is Better, Joanie

Finally, around five o’ clock, it was done, and we gathered our gear and got out of there. Van drove us to our favorite site on the top of the hill, with a view of the north end of the valley: Riverside Casino and Resort towers beyond the RV Park, in the foreground, with their parking lot on both sides. From this level the river was hidden by trees, but we could still see part of the desert and runway and jagged mountains, although the sun had already set. And we could see the lights of the casinos, this time to the south. 

While Van hooked up the electricity and cable, I looked around, and then reassured my inner child, “See this is much better, Joanie, we have it all here.”

She agreed, even though we’d decided to stay-in this first night, and I again had a happy camper within my inner self. Whew!

We had been told that this Level 5 was not open, because they were working on the sewage lines, but I talked her into letting us come up here, and we noticed a lot of RV’s. It was nice, because they weren’t too close, but nearby, so we weren’t isolated, especially on Halloween, and the shuttle came by every fifteen-minutes, so everything was in place; that is, until Van tried to connect the water. It didn’t work. OOOPS!

“Okay, so we’ll get by tonight, and tomorrow, if they don’t fix it, we’ll pull into another space, fill up the water tank and dump, then return here,” Van said. I wasn’t about to give up my favorite space, right by the steps to the laundry and showers, and on our way to the casino when we choose to walk.

Van was happy to settle down, after the computer ordeal; in fact, so was I. But first I wanted to use the leftover pineapple dessert and I was happy to have electricity to use my microwave, while I heated the frozen teriyaki chicken and rice that I’d bought in Gallup. I added some peanuts, which I’d just gotten, and created a delicious oriental meal.

In the meantime, Van had gotten the cable TV hooked and operating on Las Vegas stations, so we settled down for an enjoyable, hassle-free evening with an abundance of electricity and cable; and the next day we would complete the water and dump projects. 

Joanie was looking forward to the Prime rib Dinner the next evening, as she contentedly looked through her new magazines that had arrived in the mail; and later she happily reconnected with friends, as she read her e-mail. Yep, this will work just fine! 

More Light on the Subject

In the clear light of morning, looking out the window, to the north, I realized that I’d forgotten about the view of the Laughlin Bridge and desert and hills, which turn purple in the reflected sunset. And, from here we can also see the sky and the hills behind us, which is so much more open, and gives a panoramic view of the sunset. And, without the noise of the construction work, it is much quieter and more peaceful; with much better energies.

Thinking about the difference between the two places, I realized that the people who stay in the free parking fit into several categories: have and have nots. The have nots obviously are there, because they don’t have the money to stay elsewhere. And haves are there because they don’t want to spend their money on parking. In both cases the energies of lack, or poverty consciousness, are prevalent. And, it comes from a desire to get something for nothing, or not take financial responsibility for oneself. In some cases the people have developed a pattern of taking advantage of others, as a power play or form of control.

Another category of people are the ones who are addicted to gambling, and their energies, like any addicts, can be disquieting. My problem is that I am extremely sensitive to energies, like electrical shock-waves going through my body, so I prefer to be in the more positive ones, and it’s to my advantage to select places and people who create an environment conducive to harmonious energies, or at least have more space between us and them.

For some reason, it was difficult for me to focus on my various writing projects, when at the freebie parking, but here my creative juices are flowing, and I thank You, God.

It’s a Matter of Choice

On the same subject of types of people relating to prosperity vs. poverty consciousness: There are some people who simply enjoy that particular parking lot; they have made friends and continue to return year-after-year. They are normal, well-adjusted people and stay there by choice, not because they have any particular issues that need to be resolved.

This of course, is true of any lifestyle; it’s a matter of choice, for whatever reasons. For instance, Van and I decided that since we are staying in this RV Park, we might stay another week, and not go to Las Vegas. Instead, we would go directly south to San Diego’s North County, making several stops along the way. After all, the only reason we were going to Las Vegas was to shop at Trader Joe’s and Costco’s, but we had a supply of the items we need from there, and we could re-supply when we got to their stores in North County. 

Furthermore, in our new enlightenment, we would then stay at several of our favorite parks, along the beach, until Christmas and the holidays, and then we would head north to spend a month near his Mom’s, since she wouldn’t be coming to Laughlin this year. And we could wend our way back to Colorado for Easter and the April birthdays and Airica’s graduation in May. These plans could be changed, along the way, but it was clearly a matter of choice; not patterns, addictions or childhood issues that would be controlling our lives.

An Elevated Position

For now, living in the Present Moment continues to be foremost, as we enjoy our new elevated position in life: Riverside Resort and RV Park and using our promotional goodies. I’d been looking forward to the Prime Rib Room for months, and now was the day. Fortunately, my Inner Voice guided me to check my free coupon ahead of time, and I discovered that reservations were required; a change of policy from standing in line. 

When we arrived, others were being turned away for lack of space, and I thanked God for taking care of the most menial parts of our lives, such as reservations for dinner. And I acknowledged myself for listening when He speaks via the “still small voice” within. I knew that we had “elevated our position” when we were seated at a lovely booth overlooking the river and a waiter immediately arrived to explain the procedure: Go the salad bar, and when you’re through, return to the potato bar (which also features veggies). That signals the carver to take your prime rib order.”

Sure enough, the carver arrived, giving us choices of doneness, mushrooms and horseradish (creamy milder or knock your hat off strong). As we dined, we were faintly aware of background music playing Some Enchanted Evening and Night and Day throughout dinner, adding to the ambiance of this delightful evening, truly worth the usual $8.99 each. We showed our appreciation and upgraded prosperity consciousness by leaving an ample gratuity.

A Sidelight

As a sidelight to the day’s events, I must share another little story. Earlier in the day, when the workmen came to handle our water hookup, they announced that a package was waiting for us in Shipping and Receiving. We couldn’t figure out how or why this happened, but on the way to dinner, we stopped to claim it, incredulous that items ordered the day before were already here; another example of things going right. 

Upon examination of the package, we noticed that it had been shipped from Phoenix, which would explain the quick delivery, and the clerk explained that we hadn’t requested that “RV Park” be written on the package, thus its arriving at Shipping and Receiving, until we could be tracked down. Rather than taking the time to send it to the RV Park, the clerk simply had the message delivered to us, which would speed up our receiving the package. Thank You, God.

Another sidelight, of interest to Little Ralph, took place in the afternoon when six military helicopters flew over and landed in front of us at the airport, and remained there; no doubt as part of a Veteran’s Day event for later in the week. 

This reminded us of the many acknowledgements to our military forces that are offered in Laughlin, such as the Veterans’ Memorial Center, along the river. And several years ago, when we were staying here, the Traveling Vietnam Memorial came to town for a week or so. It was such a great opportunity to experience the reality of all those lives who died; and even more emotional to see the people who visited it, as they each paid tribute in their own way. 

The Ramada Express has a full program based on the veterans, including a museum and military musical and weekly speakers. This goes over good with the many retired folks who spend time here in the winter, or come in by tour bus, or simply drive here. 

And, of course, I mentioned that Wayne Newton paid a musical tribute to the service men. So, no doubt something is planned that will include the helicopters, and I will report on these events later.

With these revelations, I delighted in my day’s Daily Reading: “You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you” (Psalm 118:28).

Chapter 8

“GOD IS NOT A GOD OF CONFUSION”

 

Sharing the Inner Journey

This chapter title evolved from God giving me answers to long-standing questions, and I will share the results with you, as I travel this inner journey, just as I share our outer travels. There is nothing like clarity from God to put one’s mind at ease, and, as always, the answers are within the bible. It’s simply a matter of being guided to them at the right time, and then being given understanding; in other words, having our eyes opened to see clearly what was there all along.

For instance, I can read a manual relating to the computer, but I don’t understand it. On the other hand, Van reads and understands. Yet, when he reads the bible or spiritual things, he often does not discern their meaning, and it’s up to me to clarify. But, when God opens our eyes, there is no doubt or confusion.

On the Same Page

In order for us to be on the same page, and for my own clarity, it’s necessary to update recent activities between Joyce and me, as relates to the website.

We’ve known for many years that we would be working together, in some way, though we thought it would be multi-level marketing or networking, especially with the time, effort and money we’ve put into several projects. But they never got off the ground and we were not able to make them prosper, even though we know that God is the Source of our supply. Everything we did seemed to work quite well, but the businesses didn’t build or prosper.

At times I would get a glimpse of realizations that it wasn’t supposed to; this was simply training and preparation for something else. But, until recently, I wasn’t clear what that something else would be, or how it would manifest. In fact, Joyce and I were out of touch with each other for a number of years; even at odds with each other, during much of that time, as each went our separate ways. And time passed. 

Van and I traveled and I wrote about our inner and outer adventures, while learning to survive on our menial Social Security Retirement Income. And Joyce continued with her care-providing for elderly and handicapped, earning a substantial income, but never seeming to get ahead. In her frustration and boredom, she began gambling, and delighted in some big wins, but still never getting ahead; and finally realizing that gambling was not the answer for her.

Throughout this time, when I would get a spurt of insight or inspiration about Inner Freedom website, I’d ask if she’d like to be involved, and she would always say “Yes.” Yet, neither of us knew how her involvement would evolve. 

And then when the prospect of book orders came forth, I panicked, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to travel, write, and handle the shipping, let alone manage the business aspects. That’s when I got the idea of having Joyce take care of it, and again, she said, “Yes,” but we still didn’t know how it would all happen, especially since she didn’t have a computer, didn’t understand anything about them, and wasn’t too sure she wanted to learn. But I kept writing and working on the website.

In the meantime, Joyce hauled out a short story she’d started, but, like when she’d once taken a college writing class, and quit, she realized that she wasn’t willing to conform or comply with the required rules of writing, nor was she willing to play the game involved with getting published.

But, I encouraged her to do it anyway, even write bad, but get it done; for her own enjoyment, if nothing else. I assured her that one can always find someone to edit, once it’s on paper, but they can’t take the ideas and words out of her mind.

As a surprise, she had sent me an e-mail to say that she had seen my website. However, I had gotten confused and thought it was someone else (to whom I’d given my website address), because she was using her roommate, Bobbie’s, e-mail name and address. In fact, not knowing that it was Joyce, I was excited to think that I had my first visitor, and I responded with a message that was totally confusing to Joyce. 

In another e-mail, she explained that she had a roommate, Bobbie, who had a computer that she could use. And Bobbie was willing to teach Joyce how to use it, and she was willing to learn. But, for some reason, the confusion continued over the summer, until Joyce sent her short story. Finally, the light dawned, and we got on the same page.

I was delighted with this turn of events and joyfully read Joyce’s short story, laughing at her unique wit and humor that reflected her cynical outlook, which is offset by her positive thinking; much like the political humorist, Mark Russell (the one who satires his viewpoint on the piano). 

However, she didn’t receive my enthusiastic response, because Bobbie’s computer had died and had to be repaired. As a result, she lost all of her files and e-mail. I kept sending messages, but not getting any response, and concluded that Joyce must be angry about something. Of course, she wondered what I thought about her short story, and couldn’t understand why she hadn’t heard from me.

This confusing process went on and on, until I finally got the brilliant idea of calling her. Even then, we didn’t make contact, because she was working whenever I called. What a dilemma!

I concluded that it was a matter of timing, and I continued working with my website, while I still had the phone hookups, either at Van’s cousin or aunts, or at my daughter, Dottie’s; and the summer came and went.

At one point we made contact, but another time, Bobbie changed e-mail carriers and there was more confusion.

“Let Everything be Done Decently and in Order”

But there is no doubt that God’s Divine Plan was intact, because He put Joyce in contact with a woman whose mother had been a published author. Now, the woman published her mother’s book and wrote and published her own material; and she agreed to edit Joyce’s short story, plus give her some pointers. Hooray!

Yet, Joyce’s inner child continued to sabotage the process; or something was blocking the progress, because she had lost the file from the computer, not once, but several times, and asked if I had a copy to e-mail her. Fortunately, I save everything, so I sent it back.

In the meantime, Joyce came up with an idea for a story about forgiveness, and I encouraged her to write it. But, she also wanted to update and complete a piece about starting over. Again, she couldn’t seem to get it filed and she lost it from her files several times. Finally, she said, “This is the last time I’m starting over,” which I thought was hysterically funny, after all of her new starts. But, of course, she did keep at it, because Joyce’s strong-point is tenacity; that’s why I wrote a chapter about her (in one of my books) titled, Do It Anyway, in which she explains about her unwillingness to give in to excuses for not doing whatever needs to be done.

In the midst of all this, the idea came to me to create a webpage, titled Do It Anyway (in my website) for Joyce. I asked her approval, and as usual, she said, “Yes”! This process has been shared in another chapter, so suffice to say here that the subtitle, It’s About Money; and Other Stuff gives her ample leeway to write about whatever she feels inspired to say.

Joyce was excited and delighted about having her own webpage, but she wasn’t able to access it, for some reason. At first they thought something else was wrong with the computer, and a technician was consulted, but it was okay. Finally, between our travels and her working, we managed to reconnect, and we discovered that she had the wrong website address. 

We both wondered if more sabotage was going on; actually we knew it was, so it was a matter of Joyce processing through the confusion and resistance. And, in all honesty, I had my own share of setbacks, such as the three-hour episode at Laughlin (described earlier) of trying to get my website updated.

But once it was done, I asked Joyce to check the website and see if it was working okay. That’s when she first discovered that she had the wrong address, but once it was corrected, she had easy access and was able to see her own webpage for the first time. She loved it!

“A Time for Everything”

However, she discovered that some of my pages were overlapping, and one picture was on top of another. This, of course, would be a job for Van, whenever he could get Little Ralph settled down from his playtime mode, and they could resume the computer activities. 

This would require Adult Ralph and Little Ralph to get on the same page and on purpose. A matter that I’d been working on ever since arriving in Laughlin, because Little Ralph clearly wanted to play; not work on the computer. 

I’d become painfully aware of his regression to childhood, when trying to discuss our future itinerary, and he pulled his Diversionary Tactic, by becoming totally preoccupied with some project of his own, while supposedly listening to me. 

I blew sky high, as usual, when Little Ralph goes on a rampage, because I want a relationship with Adult Ralph, not a child. It’s okay for us to have fun together, but there’s a time for everything, as the bible says in Ecclesiastics. And he needs to learn, as does every child, when to play and when to work; and apparently it was my job to teach him. I’d hoped my child-raising days were over years ago, but then I had to raise my own inner child, which was no easy task; and for the last several years I’d been enduring Little Ralph’s growing-up process. 

I hadn’t enjoyed the trials of parenting, because my own natural parents had not been responsible role-models; and, although my adopted parents (my paternal grandfather and his second wife) had given me financial security and stability, their love-ability had been lacking. Nevertheless, I was cast in this lot, of raising our inner kids, so I must assume that it’s part of God’s Divine Plan (for now). Several hours later, after I loudly verbalized my reactions to his behavior (having overlooked it for the past week), he hopefully had a clearer understanding of the situation: There is a time to play and there is a time to do what needs to be done; discerning this balance is part of growing up.

It’s not as if our inner kids hadn’t been having their share of fun, but, like all kids, they have to be taught to take responsibility for their part in life, and unfortunately, many parents are neglecting this part of parenting, because they are still functioning as kids themselves; a look at most of the TV sitcoms makes this quite obvious: who is the parent and who is the child?

One Windy Morning

When I awoke one windy morning, Freedom was rocking and rolling and I recalled that we had spent a few months here, under these conditions, and I didn’t like it then, either. But, ever since surviving the tornado in Mississippi, I could “do it anyway,” as Joyce would say, trusting that God was taking care of us, and I no longer felt the fear and anxiety.

I’d been talking with Joyce about my concern over an annoying tendency toward short term memory loss, and she’d been reminding me that I don’t need to accept that indictment. Joyce’s awareness and understanding of these spiritual laws are part of her qualifications for us to work together, and, despite the fact that I know God is taking care of me, I also know that He brings into our lives those people who can do what needs to be done. Yet, I still needed to be doing my part, too, and I had recited for Joyce a ditty that I’d learned at Unity. The parody is sung to the tune of My Bonnie: “I have such a wonderful memory. I have such a wonderful mind. I have such a wonderful memory, I have such a wonderful mind. Praise God! Praise God, I have such a wonderful memory. Praise God, Praise God, I have such a wonderful mind.” For those who may remember, this inspiration was part of Dr. George Dale’s exercise class.

A Sound Mind

I had gone to sleep asking God for clarity about the questions I mentioned earlier, and I awoke repeating a bible quote, but it was confusing, because I was mixing up two versions. So I looked in my Concordance, under “mind.” Several passages were offered, but they weren’t the right one. 

However, they got me back into my heavily underlined bible reading, and it felt good. Finally, I found the right passage, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). In most cases I prefer my Revised Standard version, but this translation, didn’t seem quite right. So I searched for a King James version, and found it in The Runners Bible: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 

It was the part about the sound mind that I especially liked to affirm, but with the force of the strong winds, I liked to deny the “fear” and remind myself “There is only one presence and one power, active in the universe and in my life, God the good, omnipotent,” which Unity calls the Foundation Principle of Truth.

 

God Only

As I searched through The Runners Bible, I came across the biblical basis of that statement: “There is no power but of God: the powers that be are of God” ( Romans 13:1). And a second verse came to my attention: “I am the lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me: I girded thee, though thou hast not seen me” (Isa.45:5), followed by: “Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it” (Eccl. 3:14).

These passages reminded me of a profound Truth that caused the alienation of another friend, and that is that if there is only God, then whatever exists was created by Him. If there is evil, or a devil, then God, in His infinite wisdom, knew what would occur, and He created it and called it “Good.” In fact, for those who prefer the New Testament, there is John 1:3 “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”

But there are those who consider my above words blasphemous, even though they are based on the bible quotes. I’d regretted that my friend could not accept that I don’t believe in an entity identified as the Devil, but my beliefs are based on scripture and I stand firm in their Truth, even though there are bible verses to support any belief. “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.”

But I Digress

I may lose more readers, with those words, but God gave them to me to write, this morning, and I follow His commands, as I continue writing the words that come through me. Were it not for God writing them, I would have been lost, already, in the maze of ideas that poured onto me, and are now being written, for “I, of myself, can do nothing; it is not I, but the Father within, who doeth the works.” In other words, with my predisposition to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), I would not be able to maintain the clarity and continuity that is being written. Thank You, God, “I have the same mind in me that is in Christ Jesus” (1Cor.2:16).

The last verse is one, of many, given by Paul, and I re-found them, as I was being guided to his discourse to his congregation in Corinth, who were in contention as to whether they were followers of Apollos (a later disciple) or Paul. He brought to their attention that there are those on different levels of understanding, and each must be reached, according to their ability to understand. Emphasizing his point, he further said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Then Paul adds, “He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are fellow workers for God; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Explaining that he, Paul, had laid the foundation and Apollos built upon it, he concluded that the one foundation is Jesus Christ.

As God opened my understanding, the above words became part of the answer to the questions I’d been asking, added to the words that popped from the page in Second Timothy, “And what you have heard, from me before many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

“Then Face to Face”

Much of Paul’s teachings relate to the subject of understanding, including the above verse, which begins, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face,” and continues, “Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.”

The meaning, given to me, of the bible verses relating to planting and watering, and also the one about teaching, answers the questions about how Joyce and I are to function in the Inner Freedom Program. Writing it here will give me a permanent record, and one that I can share with Joyce.

Planting and Watering

Like Paul, I have laid a foundation (with God’s guidance), of my ministry and writing, which equates to “planting the seeds.” Now, Joyce will water, but it’s God who gives the growth. And it’s God who builds the ministry, the website, or whatever. As the bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). In other words, it’s not about my ego needing to take all the credit, or receive all the recompense, because I didn’t do it; and it’s for sure that I have no idea, of myself, where to go from here; but with God’s guidance, it will be done.

The verse about teaching continues, “For the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” And this is my understanding: that we will build on the premise: “Each one teach one.” Joyce has been with us throughout the Money Matters workshops and the evolving process, and she will teach and counsel others. 

When I talked to her about this, she said, “But I’m not a counselor; I don’t have a degree.” Sounds like Moses and Aaron, doesn’t it?

I reassured her, “You have been through the Money Matters Workshop, in fact you were part of its creation, and you have been experiencing The Graduate Course, consisting of On the Job Training. So, now it’s time for you to receive your certificate, which will qualify you to teach and counsel. We are well on our way, and it’s just a matter of God’s timing and guidance.”

She replied, “Oh, okay.” As usual, Joyce said “Yes.” She reminds me of the story of Napoleon Hill, a great motivational writer and speaker. It’s said that when he appeared before a newspaper editor and was given an opportunity to work for him, in a unique program, the editor pulled out his watch and gave Napoleon Hill one-minute to make his decision. The “Yes” was given in a matter of seconds, and began a fabulous career for Mr. Hill.

A Unique Concept

I keep hearing the inner words that this program will be presented on a Membership format, which entitles each one to the workshop and each of the three books in that series. There will be an initial sign-up cost, and then upon completion, a ten-percent donation, based on their increased income resulting from the program and from presenting the workshop. Joyce will be the first counselor, and each one, upon completion and receiving their certificate, will become Certified Counselors. Again, they commit ten-percent of this income to Inner Freedom Ministry, which, in time, will become non-profit. Each subsequent graduate and counselor will also commit ten-percent to Inner Freedom Ministry.

As my understanding became clearer, I saw that Joyce’s financial opportunity will be built upon the Money Matters program, and her recompense will be accordingly. There will be others who will be involved in other parts of the website, such as the Inner Freedom Journey, featuring my Travel Series books. And the Inner Freedom website, involving the Freedomers; perhaps one, or more, of them will decide to make a commitment. Like Paul and Apollos, I’ve been working with several of them to take on this capacity. But, it is God’s Divine Plan, so we will see how it unfolds.  

“Take Time to Pray

Later in the day, I read this chapter to Van, and then we discussed these ideas. I delighted in the fact that Van was his wonderful, clear-thinking self. We were, not only on the same page, but in mutual understanding and synchronization. In fact, as I tried to take the format of the membership program further, I became overwhelmed (because I was coming from an intellectual approach, rather than the Spirit guiding me), but he understood the concept and supported it with sound suggestions. 

Could it be that my longtime dream, of Van and I working as partners, was coming true? I asked if he would be willing to function as Financial Manager for the program, and he agreed. Surely a miracle was in progress, because it was nothing that he or I did, but as God guided. I know this is true, because the next morning I got up, hoping to continue where I had left off, with my writing, and my mind was a complete blank. I couldn’t write a word. Then I thought I would write to Joyce about some of the matters we had discussed, but, again, nothing was there. What a setback!

So, I picked up my Daily Reading, and laughed, as it again hit the nail on the head: “I prepare for each day by beginning each day with prayer.” Okay, so it’s a celestial two-by-four to remind me not to race ahead on my own, but take time to pray. 

I had taken a short time to sort things out and concluded with an affirmation, but obviously I wasn’t properly prepared, or prayed-up, and I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do. In retrospect, I do recall that I was, again, questioning, as to whether or not my previous days writing and experience had been God-guided, or was it simply the “works of the devil” that I don’t believe in, that is said to misguide us into thinking it is God; or perhaps it’s my own ego.  

The difference between the preceding day, and now, was actually painful in contrast, and it reminded me that I never want to do anything on my own, but always move forward as God guides; and if He doesn’t guide, then I won’t do anything.

I knew that He was not only guiding me to read the Daily Reading, but He was answering my question about whether it was His guidance yesterday. Today’s message spoke about beginning a new challenge or opportunity, and having faith that God is leading me toward the right outcome. Yes!

And it spoke of beginning a new relationship and doing my part, but knowing that God is there helping me with the relationship. 

When I read it aloud to Van, and quoted the accompanying bible verse, he asked, “What does that have to do with the rest of it?”

I couldn’t believe my ears; he was actually taking an interest and responding with a pertinent question. We are at a new beginning, no doubt of something wonderful. 

I agreed, the verse didn’t seem relevant, but as I thought about it, I realized that indeed, at any new beginning, there is a void, and even darkness, before the dawning of the Light (God). And perhaps I was experiencing the void, before moving forward. It’s for sure, I was supposed to write this part, before moving on with the next subject, and there was no doubt in my mind, because I knew that it’s not something I could have written.

Spiritual Principles and Universal Laws

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” known as the Golden Rule, is one of the spiritual principles that is being applied in the Membership Program, for it will allow everyone the opportunity to prosper, if they follow them. And, of course, the teachings that we must focus on God and trust Him as the Source of our supply, is another unwavering spiritual principle.

We all know the Ten Commandments, but Jesus gave us a new commandment: “Love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John13:34).

More often referred to as The Great Commandment, is this version: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt.22:37), which Jesus called “The great and first commandment,” adding, “And a second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He then said, “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” For another version see Mark 12:29, which adds to love God “with all of your strength,” and quoting Jesus, “There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Therefore, though I could expound at great length on the subject of the spiritual principles and universal laws, I’m sure you understand, and you can search the bible for your own experience.

Taking it Further

Perhaps the biggest factor involved, for me, and maybe Joyce, too, is the trust factor; trusting ourselves, each other, and most of all trusting God, as we move forward.

The first step, which I discussed with Van, is setting up the website so that Joyce would have access in order to work on her own webpage. We concluded that it would be best to wait until we were there, so Van could help her in person.

But, beyond that, would be the need to create a separate website for Inner Freedom Finances, because of the activities that would be required. For instance, with the Membership Program would be included Money Matters Workshop and the three books, which would need to be transmitted on-line, until we had enough money to publish the hard-copy books.

With all this in mind, I attempted to take the format further, asking Van, “So would Joyce become an equal partner, at 50-50?”

He replied, “You would receive 10 percent royalties from her efforts, and she would keep 90 percent.”

“Whoa! Wait a minute,” I objected. “Then she would own the program. We’ve put in many years of time and money; it wouldn’t be fair — to us, or her — for her to receive 90 percent. And, don’t forget that we learned in Debtors Anonymous that a characteristic of underearners is not being paid for our products and services, and as the bible says, “The laborer deserves his wages,” (Luke 10:7) so we must be careful not to succumb to those negative patterns, because it would defeat the purpose of what we are attempting to teach; and we must do so by example.”

Thinking about it a few minutes, and wanting to be fair, I added, “I don’t think Joyce would be comfortable with that arrangement, either, because she knows all about these universal laws and she doesn’t want to perpetuate any negative patterns — hers or ours.” 

Van patiently explained that she wouldn’t own the program, but that we would be receiving a royalty from her, otherwise, we would need to pay her a salary.

“No, that doesn’t sound right,” I objected, as I went into confusion and soon realized that I was no longer receiving God’s guidance, but I was trying to figure it out from an intellectual level, so I said, “Let’s drop this part of it, for now, and see how God guides us.”

I added, “Now, I want to keep this simple, and I don’t want to try to re-invent the wheel, like coming up with another version of MLM or networking, so let’s see how this format would work for the members. For instance, if you were a member, you’d pay your membership and receive your three books and workshop on-line. Once you have completed your workshop, you receive your certificate and you are now eligible to facilitate workshops and counsel those who are in your program. You get to keep 90 percent of your money, from this, and give 10 percent royalties to Inner Freedom Finances, which is in keeping with the universal laws (based on the concept of tithing).”

I stopped and took a deep breath, realizing that these money discussions were becoming overwhelming, but I tried to hang in with it, as I moved on to the next step, “Okay, so you have access to the Money Matters Workshop, which you can facilitate in person, keeping 90 percent and sending 10 percent royalties to Inner Freedom Finances. 

“And from your workshops, Susan decides to sign up for the Inner Freedom Finances program. She sends us $100.00, which entitles her to the three books and the workshop (all on-line), and the certificate, which she can now use to facilitate her own Money Matters Workshops. 

With her sign up, you are now entitled to 20 percent discount off one of my books, and for each member you refer to Inner Freedom Finances, you get another 20 percent discount, in addition to the 90 percent you are receiving for every person who takes your workshop and whom you counsel.”

Van had been giving input, as well as pointing out flaws in the format, as we discussed the program, and my head had gone into a spin and I couldn’t think, so I decided to fix something to eat, as I now needed inner nurturing. 

After lunch, I wasn’t able to concentrate on Inner Freedom Finances, nor was I receiving any guidance, so I tried to set things in motion for Van to do some computer work, as I said, “Joyce wants to work on her webpage, so would you please look up how we set it up for her to do that.”

He already knew the answers for everything that needed to be done, so I said, “Then I’ll need to explain this to Joyce on e-mail, would you please help me write the message?”

By the time he’d finished his explanation, I decided that we’d be better off waiting until we were there in person. But there was still more time to get something done, so I decided to create the certificate, so I could e-mail it to her, but my head was feeling so much pressure that I couldn’t do that, either, and I grumbled, “Forget it. I’ll just watch TV and vegetate.”

It’s Only Fair

After writing the above, I felt pretty good that my thinking had clear that much, but 

again, I came to a standstill, so I decided to stop and go have some fun.

When my head had cleared, I again talked with Van about the financial arrangement with Joyce, explaining, “If we have done everything to this point, then what would be Joyce’s contribution to justify, say a 50 percent partnership?”

He looked like “Why are we even discussing this?” He replied, “She would be doing the general administration, shipping and receiving, and of course, the counseling, and computer projects, such as data entry and communications.”

That made sense, and I added, “Of course, the greatest contribution is the support, like in any relationship, where each does their part and supports the other.”

“Right!” Van still looked perplexed, and asked, “So what else would you think she would do?’

“It’s okay with me,” I replied, adding, “it’s just a matter of her getting it that she has something to offer.” While writing these words, I reflected a few minutes and then thought about all that we had been through together, including the MLM fiasco; for better or worse, she had been with us through it all, therefore she’d definitely done her share of preparation, and another important part of her contribution are the years of metaphysical background, which definitely puts her on the same page. And, of course, she went through the inner child recovery program and the Twelve Step program. I really don’t know anyone who is more qualified, or whom I’d rather share whatever blessings come our way.

My head cleared, as I thought, “Yep, Joyce is the one, and 50 percent of profits is the partnership split. We will take the ups and downs, along with the blessings and curses; therefore an equal split is fair and the right way to go.

I had a feeling that Joyce, too, had processed through her inner journey and that her confusion, too, had cleared, as she reached the place of readiness to accept equal partnership.

Chapter 9

“I HAVE LEARNED…TO BE CONTENT”

 

Deeper Revelations

Paul, after his blindness and then conversion in Damascus, was sent back to the desert for thirteen years, without being called by God; and during that seemingly void time, he worked his trade, as a tentmaker. In other words, he was doing what he could; he took the next steps, just as the Israelites did, when they encountered The Void, and as we must do also.

But this was not an unproductive time for Paul, because his inner learning and preparation was taking place, which happens during our sojourn in The Void. This valuable time must be recognized as an important step on our inner journey, so that we will be prepared when the time for action comes to us. 

Thank God for Jesus and Paul, our Wayshowers on this inner journey, who took every step of the journey and showed us the way. So, whenever we come to a dead end or detour, we can find our way by studying their examples.

Fortunately, God has been guiding me, throughout this journey, as I shared in the last chapter, and now, like with Paul, during our desert sojourn, He continues to guide me, with deeper revelations. 

A Peaceful Morning

The wind had stopped, by this Sunday morning, and a feeling of peace prevailed, as I awoke with another bible verse going through my mind: “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

I’d read the verse on the windy morning, during the last chapter, but I wanted to refresh my mind, because it felt like a new chapter title. Although, for the sake of expediency, I’ll share the rest of this passage now, that’s not the way it happened, which I’ll explain later.

Paul continued, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Having read his story, in fact studying it, under a bible historian who felt himself to be the reincarnation of Paul, I was well-versed in his struggles and accomplishments, as if I’d gone through them myself.

And, as I now re-read the words, I realized that, indeed, I had been through my ups and downs; I had experienced the times of plenty and the times of want, and although I have never hungered from lack of food, I have craved to return to abundance, as promised by Jesus, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

The truth is that, living here, in Riverside RV Park, I am experiencing the abundant life, and I am doing it within the confines of our Social Security Income, yet I also know that it is God who is the Source and who is supplying our blessings. Thank You, God.

But There is More  

And I also know that the lessons I have been learning, during the years of drought, have been preparing me for the fulfillment of God’s Divine Plan, because I have had glimpses of my part, and it is about to happen.

The last chapter opened up more of the revelation, and this morning’s bible readings gave me even more insight, which came when I picked up my open bible and noticed the heading at the top of the page: “Mission of the Seventy.” 

At the time, I was in hot pursuit of the verse about being content, but I’ve learned to listen and follow, when God speaks through the still small voice, and it was loudly claiming my attention, so I stopped and read.

I’m familiar with the Assignment of the Seventy, and I also know that the number is symbolic of however many were involved; it could have been hundreds, or even thousands. But that’s not the point; the point is that these new disciples were sent out “two by two into every town and place where he himself was about to come” (Luke 10:1). 

Joyce and I would be the first two, and we would be guided into our next steps, which might not be exactly like I was perceiving the format, in my previously limited understanding. No wonder I couldn’t force myself to write any further, in the last chapter; I wasn’t there, yet. I didn’t have the full picture, and I wasn’t seeing “face to face,” I was still looking “in a mirror dimly.”

It says, later, in the same chapter: “Blessed are your eyes which see what you see,” and suggesting that kings and prophets desire these inner revelations, but that “they did not see it, or “to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

The Computer Ministry

Yes, I understand that Jesus’s next words were to the seventy, but I also know that the bible speaks to us, today, when our eyes and ears are opened, and God was revealing to me that the words of Luke, chapter 10, were my commission to be fulfilled via my Inner Freedom website.

It all makes sense: “carry no purse, no bag, no sandals and salute no one” and “do not go from house to house.” Well, of course, because, with a computer ministry, you stay within your own house, you don’t need purse, bags or sandals; all you need is your computer and electrical and phone hookup. The symbology of the entire chapter was made clear to me, and I knew that my time was about here, as promised, later in the chapter: “The kingdom of God is at hand,” according to The King James version.

“The Harvest is Plentiful”

My doubt and questioning was put to rest, as I read, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way!” 

It is part of this passage that reminds us that a laborer is worth his wages. And it also says that if someone doesn’t accept what I’m saying, to move on, concluding, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 

The narrative then continues by saying that the seventy returned with joy, because their mission had been successful, which reminds me that it is not I, but God’s Divine Plan, and if it is His will, it will be successful.

“Nothing Can Hurt You”

The next words of Jesus are powerful: “I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions (symbolic terms referring to sense consciousness), and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing can hurt you.” And then Jesus cautions our ego not to take credit, but rather, “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

I find the above words comforting, and also they are empowering, because, until now, I have felt hesitant to move forward, but it’s as if my name has been called, and it is time; and I can do what is before me to do.

The narrative comments: “In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to the babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will,’” meaning that the intellect doesn’t perceive these truths, but the spiritually awakened and receptive eyes and ears are given understanding.

I find it interesting that so much of this bible chapter refers to the will, whereas the chapter that I’m writing is about Paul, and he symbolically represents will, which I will discuss, later.

But, for now, the words of Jesus continue, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” And this is the part where he speaks about the eyes and ears, as mentioned above.

The chapter takes a different turn, here, as it reports that a lawyer “put him to the test” by asking how to attain eternal life, and Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? How do you read?”

The lawyer recited The Great Commandment, about loving your neighbor, and Jesus replied, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

The lawyer couldn’t be satisfied with that response, so he challenged, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, and then asked the lawyer which of the three proved to be a neighbor to the victim of robbers.

When the lawyer named the Good Samaritan, Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

What does this have to do with my ministry? It gives an illustration of how to respond and deal with the critics; the ones who disapprove, discredit and demean, and attempt to “put to the test,” as even was done to Jesus.

Believe me, I’ve always been sensitive to criticism and rejection, but now I feel empowered to move above and beyond the slings and arrows of those who take it upon themselves to reject the words that have been given to me from God, because they feel that their beliefs are the only right ones.

No! They are all right, because we are all on The Path, and contrary to some biased teachings and beliefs, there are many approaches to the realization of oneness with God, which is the only true purpose of the Spiritual Path.

As I said earlier, Paul represents personal will, but after his conversion, along with his name change from Saul, this will is changed and he also represents the word of Truth, because in our spiritual journey the personal will must be transformed into the obedient servant of the Christ, as we become willing vehicles for the word to be outwardly expressed through us.

The personal will is not necessarily the spiritual will, which is demonstrated by Paul’s persecution of the Christians (in his ignorance of the spiritual law, before his conversion), and his personal will, which manifests as obstinacy, is also illustrated by his insistence on going to Jerusalem when he had been told by Spirit not to go there. Nevertheless, his imprisonment served a good purpose of getting him back on track, away from his ego and personal will, and listening to and following his spiritual guidance. 

Whew! That’s a big lesson, and one we all want to learn in order to avoid the unnecessary suffering of imprisonment, which resulted from his failure to comply with his spiritual guidance; a sin (defined as unnecessary suffering resulting from wrong thinking) that could have been avoided.

As God Guides

Before continuing with this chapter, it’s important to clarify this concept of being content in whatever situation one finds oneself. There is a fine line between contentment and passivity; a tendency to do nothing to better one’s circumstances. Many people justify their do-nothingness by saying, “It’s God’s will,” when it is simply their unwillingness to make the effort to get off their duff.

There is a time for staying put, and there is a time for action, but in either event, we have our part, which is doing whatever needs to be done by us, at the time, as God guides. This is true, as I said earlier, when we find ourselves in The Void, a stage of transition when nothing seems to be happening no matter what we do.

So, contentment, like acceptance, nonresistance and surrender is not an excuse for not taking responsibility for one’s life and circumstances. Like Paul, when he found himself in prison, as a result of his own behavior, we accept the situation, remain content within ourselves and do what we can.

Do What You Can

I’ve corresponded with many prisoners, as part of my prison ministry, and I’ve been inspired by the acceptance and action taken by the ones who allowed time to serve them, while they served time. 

Some took college courses, and I know one who even received his degree, before finally being released from prison. But he had attained inner freedom long before he experienced outer freedom. And, once freed, he returned to the place of his incarceration to teach other inmates a new way of life. Many inmates use their time to learn and put their abilities to a positive use.

Another Freedomer (my name for inmates seeking inner freedom) taught himself how to read and write, and he became very wise and knowledgeable, during his lifetime in prison; brought onto himself when only seventeen, because he killed a man who made sexual advances. Although, like Paul, his actions may have seemed justified, the imprisonment could have been avoided by his having taken other action. Nevertheless, his destiny seems to have been a lifetime in prison, and he has been a Good Samaritan to many inmates, and he’s inspired outsiders, too, such as myself. I met this inmate (among others), and wrote about him in Seeing Places Never Seen Before. In fact, I’ve written about all of these Freedomers in my various books.

Many inmates become Christians, or pursue other spiritual paths, and their lives are transformed, such as one Death Row inmate, whose terribly abusive childhood brought about behavior that sent him to prison. Yet, his inner spiritual transformation, and outer legal actions, eventually brought him the freedom from his death sentence, and he is happy to be living in general population; an example of being content in his circumstances. His story, too, is shared in my writings, and on my website.

One of the more challenging stories is a former Black Panther activist, whose years in prison have transformed him into a pacifist, and his writings have inspired me to attempt to convince him to write about his transformation, with the possibility of his influencing far more people, now, than he could have done in his activist role. At this writing, he prefers to remain content with the status quo, but he is open to listening to and following God’s guidance, so you may, one day read his inspiring book, when he writes it.

There are many, many stories of Freedomers, and I encourage you to read their stories in my books, and on my website, and elsewhere, such as Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul, one of the many in that series; this one co-authored by Tom Lagana, along with Jack Canfield. Another book, Love Can Open Prison Doors, tells the story of an inmate who was literally dying, and a vision of Jesus restored and transformed his life. There are many similar stories.

We’re Here, Now

Of course, this doesn’t mean the prisoners would prefer incarceration, but they are learning to make the best of their situation. And the same is true for me. Sitting above the Riverside Resort is great, but I’m not sure I’d want to stay here the rest of our lives, especially in the heat of summer. But, we’re here now, and we’re having a good time, and we’re getting things done, too, such as my writing and the website updates; and Van is catching up on some of his projects.

All of this takes time, and so does doing our laundry and cleaning house; and, of course, Van gets to use the real showers, which he does on a daily basis. All of this must be done while we have use of the facilities, which are part of amenities in a full hookup RV park.

But this location also offers the distractions of fun and food, which takes more of our time. For instance, each day we include either a movie or walk along the Riverwalk to the other casinos; or we indulge in a favorite food place.

We’ve seen two movies, one freebie with coupon, and indulged in the hot dogs, yogurt, or shrimp cocktails (used in my home cooking). And the 25% discounted New Mexican dinner at Ramada Express, though more expensive than we usually spend, was delicious and cost-effective, because we shared the Mexican delicacies. 

One morning we hied ourselves early for a free breakfast buffet, and then went bowling, with another free coupon.

Again, this is great fun, but life goes on, and we knew that soon we would be moving on.

Don’t Look Back

Another lesson about being content, was also brought to my attention, along with the other chapter 10 passages; it’s about not looking back, which is expressed in the part about shaking the dust from your feet (also mentioned in Luke 9:5). And chapter 9 also quotes Jesus as saying, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” He reinforces his thesis with His closing remark for that chapter: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In other words, forget the past and the things of the past and focus your attention on God and the things of God. Otherwise, we would be constantly looking back, on past memories, which would distract us from being content where we are now.

A Day at Riverside Resort

We started the sunshine day by walking down the four sets of stairs, from our high perch, to the elevator tower that takes us to the walkway over Casino Drive to our host, Riverside Casino, with its two towers, including the one with the penthouse where Don Laughlin lives. 

On some days we have seen Don, and Van even spoke with the white haired gentleman several times, adding to the excitement of our lifestyle. But this morning, walking along the corridor, we passed a clown, in full costume. Someone said to him, “Halloween is over,” as he ducked into one of the meeting rooms. 

I knew that a Clown Convention was due this week, but I didn’t know it had already started, until we sat in the buffet enjoying our free breakfast. Van asked the waitress about large ID tags worn by some of the diners, and she said that they’re part of the Clown Convention.

I was glad that she also mentioned the Hobo Stew Dinner, which would be on Wednesday, in the parking lot, because I thought it was on the weekend, and I wanted to go, and I would have been disappointed to miss it. There’s always something happening in Laughlin.

Usually we plan one fun thing each day, but this time, after breakfast, we were going to see the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance. However, we had some extra time, so while Van finished his breakfast, I went up the escalator to the Classic Car Display, one of Don Laughlin’s pet projects, which we had already strolled through, listening to the great music of our era. 

But this time, I wanted to talk with Kathy, who works at the booth offering free time at the Coast to Coast RV Park, across the river. We’d already done that, too, but didn’t sign up for their program. On that visit, Kathy and I had been pitching each other, as I’d hoped to sign her up with our business, when I learned that she has a background in herbs and natural healing. 

But, I suspected that she really wasn’t interested, so now I just wanted to make closure and say “Hi.” 

The visit reminded me why I’m not willing to continue making the effort to build this business. I’d spent a lot of time with Kathy, and I knew that she could earn a lot more money than she’s getting now, besides benefiting from our good products. But, like most people I’ve talked with about our networking business, what could and should have worked, didn’t.

On the other hand, when I talked with Dottie, later in the day, she was excited about a new prospect coming into the business, who would have the enthusiasm and tenacity equal to Steve’s, and this would take them to the next income and pin level. I was happy for them, and I wished that we could have made it work, but so far it didn’t happen, so now, like Jesus, we must shake the dust from our feet and move on.

I realized that much of the reason for the business not working is because of Van’s lackluster attitude, so it was time to cut our losses and concentrate on the website, trusting God that our efforts with the business were not wasted, because they were preparation for the next phase of our lives.

With this in mind, I rejoiced, while watching The Legend of Bagger Vance, and I knew the timing was right to see this movie about a down and out former golf champion, who makes an unwilling comeback; not by his own desire, but part of a scheme to bring Savannah, Georgia out of The Great Depression aftermath. The idea was concocted by the daughter of a man who built a fabulous golf course and then went broke and shot himself. To save the golf course, she instigated a golf tournament between two top golfers and the former local champ; no small challenge on her part.

But, it all happened, and the best part of the movie is that of Bagger Vance (played by Will Smith), a caddie sent by God (no doubt), who encouraged and badgered our golf hero, Randolph Junuh (played by Matt Damon), into getting off his duff and doing what he was perfectly capable of doing: winning the golf tournament. 

I hoped that Van was getting it, about not giving into adversity, but rising above the past defeats and moving forward. In fact, I asked him, later, if he simply observed the movie, or did he see how this story applied to him.

He said, “Some of it,” and I decided to leave it at that; trusting God to bring home any messages that might help bring Van further out of his lethargy, so that he could have some incentive for each day, other than doing what I ask him to do, or what I plan. Not that there isn’t a certain amount of benefit from him being a yes-man, but he needs a life. 

On the other hand, his attitude is: “this is my life.” And, I’m finally accepting the fact that perhaps this is how God has it planned.

“Wherever We are, God is” 

When we left the theater, it had become very windy, though the sun was still shining, so we walked back up the stairs, rather than waiting for the shuttle, as we enjoy the exercise.

That evening, the weather news said the wind would continue, even getting worse. Oh my gosh, did it ever! All night long we violently rocked and rolled, reminding me of the tornado ordeal we’d survived in Mississippi. But, we had survived, so I prayed my way through this one, too, and I was happy that I’d slept through most of it.

However, in the middle of the night, I awoke, and again became fearful, because the wind brings childhood memories of having been left alone in a terrible storm. So, now I kept reciting the Prayer for Protection:

The light of God surrounds me:

The love of God unfolds me:

The power of God protects me:

The presence of God watches over me.

Wherever I am, God is.

Looking out the window at the bending trees, and all of the RV’s parked around us, as usual, I included them, and everyone, in the prayer: “Wherever we are, God is.” And I was able to return to sleep. 

“Happy New President’s Day!”

Tuesday morning Van awoke saying, “Happy New President’s Day,” and I wondered if these terrible winds in The West, and the heavy snows in other parts of the country, along with the other unusual weather was an expression of the intense energies of Election Day. It’s true that the weather does reflect the consciousness of the universe, and we were definitely in turbulent times, as we chose the fate of the nation. 

As one woman mumbled, “No, I’m not voting. It’s a matter of which is the lesser of two evils”; my thoughts, exactly. I’m so disenchanted with our electoral system, anyway, when bottom-line, if it’s a close vote, the result is determined by the electoral votes, which doesn’t reflect the choice of the voters, but the majority of electoral votes, depending on the states with the most votes. 

And it doesn’t seem right that only the men with enough money to pay for the expense of a campaign are eligible to run for office. Why couldn’t any person who is most qualified become our president? And why couldn’t the policies that would be best for the people be instigated; not whatever the politicians deem their campaign issues?

Oh well, it’s going to turn out however it happens, and we will all have to live with the results. So, I’m going to spend the day doing laundry; getting ready for a fresh start, while the weather purges the country’s energies. 

And this will be an opportunity to apply the philosophy of Paul, because there will no longer be much that we can do about it, so “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”

 

Chapter 10

…AND ALL IS WELL

 

Hobo Stew and Clowns

When I recite The Prayer of Protection, I add, “And all is well,” which is my prayer for the election of the new president of the United States, even as we now await the outcome, two days after elections. In fact, it is always my prayer for everything: All is well.

While awaiting the election results, life goes on, and we happily attended the Hobo Stew Dinner in the parking lot of the Riverside Resort. I forgot my camera, so I now have the opportunity to paint a word-picture, as I take you with us for an enchanted evening.

The line passes quickly, barely giving us time to acclimate to the transformed parking lot: musicians blasting out jaunty music from a platform, a giant hobo balloon wafting in the light breeze, two firetrucks on hand, and clowns, clowns, clowns milling amongst the crowd.

I feel disoriented, as we wander into this strange world, but we wend our way to the first table, of about a dozen, under a long canopy, and we are handed a bowl of steaming beef stew, from a heated caldron, with the choice of a roll. As we move along to the next table, another bowl is available, and we begin to understand that each offering is from a chef of the various casino dining rooms; a sign at each table proclaims its casino. 

They’re all basic stew: beef, vegetables and gravy, but each varies, according to the recipe of the individual chef. And each table offers cornbread, biscuits, or rolls.

Okay, we’ve got the picture, but our hands are already full, so we wander amongst the clowns, to a place at the long, narrow tables (like they use at the live shows). 

It’s hard to focus, because we’re busy looking at the large feet, funny faces and colorful costumes and wigs. There are sweet faces, smiling faces and sad faces; some with lots of makeup and others with very little, maybe only a round red nose and eye makeup; maybe they are novices. Some are walking funny and others are moving slow, while some are hopping or dancing. Some costumes are simple, like patches sewn on an old suit, others are full of flounces and ruffles, while others are sparkling with silver or gold jackets; one even had flashing red lights around his head. But, no matter what they’re wearing, they all bring a smile to our faces.

Finally, we reach a vacant chair and sit down. Ummm, the first stew is delicious, and I must admit, even after tasting many more (before getting too full), it was the best; made by the Pioneer Casino chef.

Well, there is another outstanding dish, and we discover it later, after we are joined by three young women who work with the Las Vegas Heart Association, having come down to support their co-workers, The American Heart Association of the Colorado River, which sponsors this fund-raiser. The more serious of the three women reminds me of Candace Bergen, and she becomes more relaxed, as the happy mood of this gathering penetrates her professional persona. And she’s the one who tells us about the New Mexico “stew” at the Ramada table. Another gal asked for the recipe, and learned that it’s chicken, cream, chives, spices, tortilla and cheese; of course he didn’t give her the amounts, as it is a prize-winning recipe.

She also chats with us about our travels, while a third gal quietly eats her stew, and later chats with a young couple (friends of the girls), who arrive late with their two-month-old baby son. 

A Clown Wedding

We are enjoying the camaraderie, but someone says that a real clown wedding is taking place, so I join the crowd gathered in front of the stage to see a once-in-a-lifetime sight: A very large, gaudily dressed, veiled blushing bride and her equally gaudily attired groom, with a tophat. And the best man sports a white jacket with bars (something like a doorman would wear), a royal blue wig and a crown. There are more in the wedding party, but it’s dark and I’m too far away to see them clearly.

However, soon the clowns all form an aisle, which the happy bride and groom walk through (like a military wedding), ending in front of me, and then they dance; no small task, with their flouncy costumes.

By now, it’s dark and the place is packed and full of activity: clowns painting faces of anyone interested, and a portable bouncing concession for the kids, and a clown riding a unicycle; another one juggling flaming batons; and all this with the live music of Larry Rickard and the Bad Breed Band wafting through the evening. What a happy occasion!

And don’t forget to get a piece of wedding cake for dessert; it’s delicious! But only too soon our dinner companions announce that they must make the two-hour return trip to Las Vegas, and we all say our good-byes. By this time Van has finished eating and we wander amidst the fading crowd, as the event draws to an early close at 7:00 p.m., and we are thankful, because the wind is coming up and it is getting cool.

The Clowns Parade-ability Competition

My only regret was forgetting to take my camera to capture the event, but God gave me a second chance, when someone told me about the Clown Parade the next day. So Van and I got up and on our way early for the free event. Two long rows of chairs facing each other and allowing a wide walkway down the center provided the arena for the clowns to strut their stuff and work the crowd: three school busses filled with youngsters on one side and adult kids, such as ourselves, who were lucky enough to hear about the parade, sitting on the other side.

The idea is that each competing clown walks down our side and back along the kids’ side; the first group working the crowd (performing their routine) and the second group restricted to visual performance, simply walking along in their special costumes, such as riding a stuffed horse, or carrying a “Jiffy Dishwasher,” which when opened shows a stuffed dog, Jiffy, licking the dishes.

Several clowns’ routine revolved around their searching for a missing stuffed dog (hanging on their back), including Butterscotch, whose clown owner tossed butterscotch candies; or be-speckled, white-haired Mrs. Santa Claus, in a red velvet long dress searching for her lost husband.

There were so many, each with a unique costume and gimmick, but one of our favorites was the Chicken Farmers: a family of countrified folks pulling a platform of chickens dressed in coveralls — the chicken farmers — get it? Van had to explain it to me.

A gaudily dressed Miss Muffet ran ahead screaming in fear of a big black spider; and another lady clown introduced her “imported alligator,” which she carried, explaining that it’s imported from Oregon. 

On and on they came, each doing their best, as they competed for the award of best clown. Unfortunately, we didn’t find out who won, but they each deserved an award, in our opinion. From the first one, a clown with his misbehaving robot skunk, who added a lot of entertainment, but he finally gave up, because the skunk’s batteries weren’t strong enough to make it over the pavement. And “Doc” obviously loved working the crowd, especially the kids, with an endless patter. The last time I saw him, he was following an extremely tall clown into the casino, muttering, “I want to see him get into the elevator.” 

We followed, too, as the group was about over, but they disappeared before I could learn the secret of getting the tall body into the elevator. However, I did watch him bend over in order to get through the door.

Before it all ended, we followed the kids to the table offering cookies and milk, where I chomped the best chocolate cookie I’ve ever eaten, and Van savored an M and M cookie.

Snowflake draws a Butterfly and Does a Gotcha

At one point, the same fellow who tried to get me to have a face painting the night before, grabbed my arm, and another lady on the other side, and took us over to the paint table, where I got a butterfly on my face by “Snowflake,” a makeup clown. My inner child said, “Now I’ll never be able to wash my face again.”

And Snowflake replied, “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t come off anyway,” for a gotcha that I said I didn’t want to forget, telling her that it would be in my latest chapter, as I gave her my business card and invited her to see her name on my website. She gave me her flyer and promised to visit my website.

I also exchanged business cards with Happy the Clown, who wasn’t in costume, but promised to visit my website, too. She’d said that her dream is to travel in an RV and do her clown gigs, so, of course, I’d given her my card and website address, explaining that I’ve written about our RV travels.

It was so much fun, but soon the school busses loaded up and went on their way, as we all waved at the happy kids, filled with cookies and milk, holding their balloons. 

This was the last day of the 15th Annual Western Region Clown Convention, and they were starting to leave the Parade Grounds to take advantage of some of the other activities in Laughlin, or to head home. 

T-bone and Bubbles

But we didn’t feel ready to head home, so we walked along the Riverwalk to the Flamingo Diner and indulged in another $1.99 T-bone steak dinner, where the Chicken Farmer owners, still in costume, were also eating. 

After we’d eaten, when walking in front of the Flamingo Diner, we passed a couple looking at the posted menu, and I felt compelled to say, “They have a wonderful T-bone steak dinner for $1.99. 

The lady said, “Oh good, that’s what we’re looking for.” 

Since she had on a Clown T-shirt and a badge proclaiming her name as “Bubbles,” we began chatting when she said, “They’ve kept us so busy with the convention that we didn’t have time for anything else.”

She explained about the classes and skit competition, as well as the parade, and, since she wasn’t in costume, I asked who she was at the parade.

She said, “I gave out the freebies.”

I exclaimed, “Oh, you dropped one, and I picked it up.” Then I asked, “Is it stressful doing the competition?”

She replied, “It’s very stressful, and I couldn’t even eat yesterday.”

Such a shame that something that’s supposed to be about fun would be so stressful. And I remembered why I gave up facilitating workshops and seminars, and I’m now looking forward to the more relaxed format of being on-line, without the stress factor. I gave her my business card and she said she would let me know who won the clown competition. This contact would give us a completion on the Clown Convention.

I realized that they needed to eat lunch, so said our good-byes and looked forward to hearing from my new clown friends; several from California and this couple from Warren, Michigan. What fun to be able to experience this special event, and then have a follow-up contact via my website.

Another Dilemma

During our meal, Van and I discussed our plans. I’d communicated that, again, I found myself reticent to make the change. The comfort and convenience of the Riverside RV Park had become pleasantly addictive, and I hated to give up the luxury lifestyle.

Van suggested that we go ahead and stay another week, which I found tempting, but I knew that our finances were perilous, and we would need to economize now, so we could have money for parking in California.

We discussed the pros and cons, conceding that we could still enjoy a few more days in Laughlin, if we parked free at the Riverside parking lot. We’d give up our hookups and cable TV, but we could enjoy another 99-cent hot dog and our 2-for 1 yogurt, and the good view; only at ground level. 

As we talked, I realized that we’d done everything we’d planned, and I was ready to move on. That was a good feeling: not a victim, but victorious; not forced into something against my will, but choosing the logical result based on good judgment. And not selling out long term goals for short term gains by our inner kids, or any addictive pressures.

Do You not Know?

As I’ve said, Laughlin, like Las Vegas, is designed to trigger and perpetuate addictions, and I could see that, with all this eating going on, my eating disorder was activated. Fortunately, I’m not anorexic or bulimic, nor do I binge. I simply enjoying eating and I enjoy the taste and smell of food; it’s nurturing for me. 

But, because of previous programming, my subconscious starts running tapes about the effect of food on my body, and sure enough, I begin having symptoms, such as heartburn reflux or migraine symptoms, which I relate to too much sugar, chocolate, fats, or salt; or any combination. 

And then I start talking to myself about the psychological aspects, reminding myself of the time I stood in front of a pie shop and got a migraine just thinking about eating the pie. No! I’m not going to play that game.

This morning, after attributing yesterday’s mild migraine to cookies and steak, I gave myself a good talking to, based on one of my favorite bible verses: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” ((1Cor. 6:19). And a similar verse adds: “God’s spirit dwells in you.”  

From this point, I focus on the atoms and cells of my body and affirm and acknowledge God’s essence and presence in each one. If I take the time, I can literally feel my body begin to glow with God’s energies, and I know what Paul is talking about when he refers to the “Mystery hid for ages, Christ in you, your hope of glory” (Col.1:26,27).

On the other hand, the verse about our body being the temple of God, we are reminded not to destroy this temple, which can refer to not overindulging in anything that is harmful or destructive, such as alcohol, food, drugs, cigarettes, or even medications with their harmful side-effects.

We can actually heal our minds and bodies through proper thinking, in addition to herbs and natural foods, without the need for overdosing ourselves with all these medications, which are a by-product of the ignorance and greed of doctors and the FDA, who have never been taught the alternative healing virtues of these remedies that are available to us.

For instance, garlic and golden seal are nature’s antibiotics, and most people know that cranberry juice is a natural diuretic. But they don’t know the benefits of every fruit, vegetable, herb, and even some weeds.

When my inner child is not on an eating jag, I make a point of buying and serving many of these nutritious and healthful foods, which I learned about in the days when I worked in, and then owned a health food store. 

I admit that people go overboard with their fanaticism on this, like anything else, and balance is the key to a healthy body.

Now, I offset my food indulgences with the Isotonix products that remove the toxins from our bodies, so the damage from food, water and the environment is minimized. And when my headache, which can just as easily occur from the wind and barometric changes, occurs, I have natural remedies for that, too. And, I must admit, I do find it necessary, at times, to take a Tylenol to shrink the swollen blood vessels that cause the head pressures; but only as a last result.

In other words, I really do try to take care of my body, as the temple of God, knowing that it then takes care of me. And I also attempt to keep my thinking and attitude in balance. But, as Paul also said, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:19-20).

Many people use Paul’s weakness as an excuse for their own, and these passages become an argument for the belief in sin, which Paul blames for his actions. However, in truth, it is the adversary, or adverse consciousness, in conjunction with our ego and will, which allows our addictions, patterns and even our inner child to control our actions and behavior, rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves.

 

“Have You Not Heard?”

While searching the bible for the passage relating to the body, I was hearing them in conjunction with “Have you not heard?” Finally, I found them: “Have you not known? Have you not heard” has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:21-22); and verse 27 repeats the opening words, concluding “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”

I love it when I hear these verses in my mind, as part of the lesson that God desires to teach through me, and then the words flow onto the page, and I have the opportunity to learn, right along with the reader.

For instance, this lesson is about God’s Sovereignty, and as I began to write, I had no idea what would be said. But then, in a flash, I knew: it was given at this time to coincide with the presidential election fiasco. The transference of power, so to speak, was put on hold, giving everyone time to get back to basics and rediscover priorities: God first, then family, then nation. And yet, man’s greed and craving for power has become even more evident, as we wait for the wheels of justice to move ever so slowly, as we again learn: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Will we, as a nation, get the message? Instead, it looks like there are those rabble-rousers who want to take advantage of the situation for their 15-minutes of fame. And yet, maybe it’s time for change. As has been said, perhaps we have outgrown some of the antiquated methods of our political system. Time will tell.

In the meantime, life goes on, and we moved from our perch to the parking lot, without missing a beat in our ongoing fun, knowing that these were our last few days in Laughlin. So, the inner kids chose to have a 99-cent hot-dog and go to a movie. Guess what one?

Another experiential aide: “Remember the Titans.” And what is it about? Change; violent change during the sixties when integration was enforced upon The South. I never understood so clearly the impact this action had upon everyone, including the football teams, in this story, the Titans, when the team became integrated, causing intense changes for an entire community, ultimately bringing positive results. I’m not a football fan, but this movie, based on a true story, is about history and a lot more.

“Wings like Eagles”

The interesting part that relates to this story is that my bible reading, of Isaiah 40, had brought to my attention the wonderful passage: 

“He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might, he increases strength.”

I like this part:

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.”

It concludes:

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with 

wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

And what bible verse do you suppose was quoted in this movie? Right! Well, not the entire passage, but enough to bring a smile to my face, and to remind me that all of man’s power is nothing compared to the power of God.

I needed some of that God-power when we finished our fun day by using our free bowling coupons. The last time we were here, I beat Van, but this time he won, and I was happy for him. Actually, I’d ached for days, after that previous win, so this time I took it easy on my body and enjoyed the game.

Our Day at Riverside ended with a bowl of clam chowder at the Sidewalk Deli, as we watched the handsome Marines, in dress blues, and beautiful ladies in their gowns (from a military wedding), wandering through the casino. There’s always something happening at the Riverside Resort Casino, and just sitting in the cafe can be an exciting experience. Yesterday clowns and today a military wedding party, with a beautiful blond bride and her handsome marine husband. 

And, of course, there are always the slots, with their noisy ditties. But, we soon wandered out to our RV to enjoy an evening of TV, with the added entertainment of an undecided presidential election and the explanation of the Electoral College. I still didn’t understand, so all I could do is await the results and trust that God is in charge and all is well.  

“Hello, America”

After a day of final edits on one of my manuscripts, I decided to celebrate another completed book, A Codependent’s Downward Spiral: and Recovery, the third book for my new website: Inner Freedom Finances.

Based on the fact that we’d recently updated our Spending Plan, we were being more cautious in our selection of activities, so we started with the good intentions of having an ice cream cone, but a Subway TV commercial had reminded me that it was time to eat, so we split a turkey sandwich and ice cream cone. But, when we were done, I wasn’t ready to end our last day in Laughlin, so we went to the movie, Bedazzled, which was entertaining and even had some inspirational messages. 

We had now filled our bonus book, for having attended 10 movies, and were entitled to a free movie. Unfortunately, there were none that we wanted to see, so we decided to save it for the next trip, as a nest egg to look forward to.

It was still early, but we began our homeward trek, through the bowling alley, and past the Western Bar and Dance Hall, when we noticed that tonight was Karaoke Night, and it was about to begin.

We weren’t planning to stay very long, so we passed on the drinks and acclimated ourselves to this fun environment where we had spent some time, in the past, watching Line Dancing, while enjoying an inexpensive meal (which they no longer serve). The decor carries out the theme, with a giant Stetson cowboy hat above the bar, and cattle horns strategically placed on the wall; enhanced by western scene silhouettes above the stage and around the lampshades.

The first part of the evening had passed pleasantly, with the usual amateur entertainment, including a Willie Nelson impersonator, who was really good. One couple, with the man sporting his customized black cowboy hat, entertained themselves and the audience with some lively country-style dancing. And sometimes they were joined by others, if the music was right. 

We were having such an enjoyable time that it was 10:30, when I looked at my watch, and Van said, “It’s past our bedtime,” but he didn’t look tired, and I wasn’t ready to go. Some marines (from another military wedding) had appeared, with their dates, and were signing up for the Karaoke, so I wanted to stay for their entertainment. 

Soon their group, of about a dozen, came to support the singers, and the party came to life, with their high energies. 

When Neighbor Tom, the Willie Nelson impersonator, returned to the stage, he acknowledged the presence of the marines, wished them a Happy Veteran’s Day, and thanked them for their job. He then added that he had served in Vietnam, mentioning his company, and dedicating his song to them. He’d already sang three of Willie’s songs, including On the Road Again, so this time he gave a good version of Neil Diamond’s Hello, America, receiving a loud round of applause from the audience.

Finally, the marines turn came, and I asked Van, “Is professional singing part of their training program?” They each gave excellent performances, and I suspected that they might be in a choir, or perhaps they were band members, which we’d seen earlier carrying their instruments. In any event, the entertainment continued, and we hated to see the evening end when the DJ gave a fifteen-minute warning, before the midnight closing. 

As usual, our Tour Guide had provided us with an appropriate celebration, not only for completing my book, but in honor of Veteran’s Day and America; no matter how crazy it is, with its election system keeping us in a state of suspended animation, wondering who would be our next president. Still, we have to give thanks for living in a country that gives us the freedom to live a lifestyle where we can enjoy such an evening of free entertainment, and then return to our home on the free parking lot. Thank you, America. Thank You, God, and thank you, Riverside Resort.

Chapter 11

TIME TO MOVE ON

 

Get With the Program

I felt so complete with our Laughlin venture that I wanted to move on, Monday, despite it being the last day of the three-day Veterans Day holiday, which could mean that the highways would be packed with returning vacationers; not to mention disgruntled losers and hung-over boozers.

Little Ralph had been holding out for just one more day, and began to pout over the change of plans, which brought forth another “Grow up” dissertation from me. Once I’d delivered my “Get with the program,” message, he adjusted his thinking to moving on, and we got on the road before noon. 

With sadness, but determination to move forward, we pulled out of Riverside Resort where we had enjoyed the luxury of full hook-ups, movies, free meals, bowling and fun, such as the clowns and Hobo Stew Dinner, the marines in full dress uniform and their pretty ladies in formals, and the Karaoke Night. It had been a safe place that offered stability, and even a place to receive our mail; a bonus for this lifestyle. 

Little Ralph wanted to drive along Casino Drive for one last look at our favorite playground and the fun scenes: Chinese food, shopping and shuttles at The Mall, shrimp cocktail and pizza at Colorado Belle, outdoor BBQ and frozen yogurt at Ramada Express, 99-cent breakfast and free parking at River Palms, and Wayne Newton’s Concert at Harrah’s. And, of course, there had been the long river walks and free shuttle rides. Indeed, it had been a fun time, and we promised ourselves to return and do it all again.

But first we had some grown-up work to do in California, such as getting my website setup and available so Joyce can take care of business, while we travel and play. 

Another Void

The desolate desert seemed an apt barrier between everything up to this time, and whatever lies before us; a startling contrast to A Tapestry of Autumn in Colorado, or even the ambling Colorado River breaking up the starkness of the desert and mountains in Laughlin. Now, there was nothing; another Void, and an appropriate time to play a motivational tape to fill the void with positive input. 

The speaker talked about healthy self-esteem and feeling competent and worthy. And he also spoke to the needs of the inner child, such as belonging; a definite issue for me, and no doubt, for Little Ralph, too.

The time passed quickly, and we noticed that there was not much traffic, after all, on this holiday Monday; nor was there much wind. It was a perfect day for crossing the desert, and I thanked God for getting us on the road at the proper time, despite opposition from our inner kids.

Joanie’s Upset

I had no idea that Joanie was having problems, until we reached Barstow. It just shows how we are not in touch with our inner child, even when we think we are. 

We’d stopped at the new Flying J Truck Stop and Van took care of the necessities of travel: fuel, propane, dump, cleaning windows. I indulged in my usual occupation, during this process: checking out the inside, such as eating facilities, looking for a good parking place, and then working a crossword puzzle.

I’d been prepared to serve soup for dinner, but Little Ralph actually made a communication that he’d like a hamburger, so we drove down the street to Carl’s (for a 99-cent burger) and parked in their oversize-parking lot. Before we could get out, a big semi roared into the lot, and nearly hitting the front of us, he parked, totally cutting us off.

This was when I began to realize that something was bothering Joanie. She got so upset that she insisted Van drive us away from there; to another restaurant entirely. Whew! That was heavy.

I’d become irritable and anxious, and began trembling, symptoms alerting Van that I must need to eat; but we’d eaten several hours earlier. 

Wendy’s felt familiar and safe, but when we walked to the front door, Joanie became disoriented, because it was inside a service station convenience store, and we had never seen one like this; and with no name on the front, she became confused. 

Once inside, she tried to make good choices, but her need for nurturing took over, and she ordered a hamburger, baked potato, and Frosty, as if she were terribly hungry. But, after a few bites, she was full, and yet, not satisfied. Something was terribly wrong, and she was still trembling and anxious.

Since I’ve learned to listen to Joanie, I began to understand and tried to explain to Van.
“She’s in overload and she’s scared. Coming back to California, and especially with the focus of getting the website out there, she doesn’t think she can do it. And that’s bringing up memories, from childhood, of having to take care of her mommy, and not knowing how, and her mommy ‘going crazy,’ and Joanie feeling that it was all her fault, because she hadn’t done it right.”

Van chomped on his hamburger and listened, as I continued, “There’s more: she’s worried about Little Ralph taking charge and not allowing Adult Ralph to help with the computer work, and not being supportive.”

“Aren’t I being supportive?” Van asked.

“Yes, but I need your adult-self to help with the work that is ahead of us, and I’m afraid Little Ralph is going to try to run things and want to play all the time.”

He didn’t say anything, so I added, “I know the tape was saying we shouldn’t put down the inner child, and it isn’t that Little Ralph isn’t okay; it’s just that his part is to be creative, spontaneous, and have fun, which is fine, but I want a relationship with your adult when it comes to taking care of business.”

He didn’t say anything, and I, too, fell silent, as I gave up trying to explain the situation. I felt so emotionally beaten up and abandoned; like it was all up to me. That’s why Joanie reacted to the truck coming so close and then parking, like it was overpowering us. I felt stifled and thwarted and blocked; unable to move forward, or even to breathe, for that matter. It felt like I had to get out of there in order to survive.

These were deep and intense emotions that seemed too much for me to cope with; even as I write about them, I am experiencing physical and emotional reactions. And, at the time, I wanted to get back to Flying J, park and go to bed, as an escape from the remembered pain that I was experiencing, as if it were now.

However, I wasn’t given any relief from the intensity, because the noise from the truck generators was so powerful that it caused me to vibrate; something outside of myself that has control of my life, and there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s the traumatic emotion that remains with me, and is activated when too many similar conditions take place; such as now. 

We could have moved, but I wasn’t able to cope with trying to find another place, so I went to sleep, as an immediate solution. But, it didn’t last long, because another RV pulled in next to us and left their generator on all night, causing me to awake frequently with a dull headache. But, somehow I made it through the night. 

Stay in the Now

In the morning, I prayed about the situation, asking God to remove the negative energies associated with this experiential aide, because I realized that it was keeping me locked into the past, and causing anxiety about the future, which does not allow me to live in the present moment. Since the presence of God is within the present moment, it was important that those old, negative energies again be faced and removed.   

I talked to Joanie, and she said I don’t feel good about being in California, because it brings back so many sad, painful memories.”

I reminded her “None of those past experiences are happening now, and none of the fears about the future are taking place, so you must bring yourself back to the Now.” And I promised, “We will have some fun times in California, in addition to the computer work, like staying at the beach in Doheny State Park.” 

“In fact,” I told her, “the work that we will be doing is to assure us that we will be able to continue this lifestyle and continue having fun.”

She replied “I want Little Ralph to let Adult Ralph do his part, because I don’t want it to be all up to me, like when I was a little girl and my mommy got sick.” 

I reminded her, “He does seem to be doing much better, so let’s just trust that God is taking care of everything; and it’s not all up to you.” And I added, “God has been guiding us, so far, and there is no reason to assume that He won’t continue, so you just focus on being happy and doing your part, and we’ll trust God to take care of the rest, okay?”

She seemed relieved to be reminded of this, and I could feel the weight lifting. I was relieved that God had allowed this process to take place in the desert, where the negative energies could be left, and not taken with us into this new adventure and new experience in California. It’s time to move on, within and without.

Familiar Places and Familiar Faces

Once I get my mind set to it, I enjoy being back to familiar places and seeing familiar faces, such as in southern California.

First, Van must navigate the 4,000 ft. drop, from the desert, at the top of the San Bernardino Pass, to the bottom, at Rancho Cucamonga, which brings us within 60-miles of Los Angeles. The mountain descent is bad enough, even if there were no traffic, but the truck drivers and everyone else, decide to turn it into a speedway; the objective being to see how fast they can get to the bottom alive. This leaves Van and another RV in the slow lane, while the others zip by. Fortunately, today there was no wind, but many a trucker fnds himself off the highway when his rig catches a gust of wind. It’s a breath holding trip, one we’re familiar with, and when we reached the bottom, I congratulated Van on handling it so well.

Now, the challenge was to exit on Foothill Road and find the Trader Joe’s, my favorite food store, in Uplands. We were not familiar with this area, but I couldn’t wait till we got to the next one, so we went on an adventure, seeing new sights, as we tackled our first surface driving through heavy traffic. After getting lost, and finally remembering that I have a cellular phone, I called the store, and got wrong directions; but close enough to find the store, where we spent two hours in Trader Joe’s Territory. How I loved every familiar item, while stocking up on dry roasted, unsalted almonds, and our favorite cereals, bread, goodies and other foods; and even the new additions were tempting to try, such as orange iced cinnamon buns and Trail Mix cookies.

Having taken the long, slow route getting there, we discovered the I-10 freeway only one block away, which quickly and easily put us back onto I-15, heading south toward San Diego and by-passing LA. And, of course, nothing would do, but that we hit it during commute traffic, added to an accident that backed us up. Ah yes, familiar experiences; and we hadn’t been in heavy traffic since we left Denver. The advantage of making our way through the maze of interchanges, is that we know where we are going and how to get there, having taken this route many times.

And we also knew exactly where to exit for our Lake Elsinore Wal-Mart destination for the night, so we would be in close proximity to visit our friend, Jim, the next day.

Although these were familiar places, now quadrupled in population, we remembered the days when we would take a Sunday drive into the country, with Lake Elsinore or Glen Ivy Hot Springs, as our destination, and we would wonder why this area had never been developed. Now, we wonder when it will stop growing. No time soon, no doubt, as there is still lots of empty land for expansion.

However, our friend, Jim, told us that he is moving back to the coast, and we were sorry to see them giving up their lovely new home with a swimming pool and Jacuzzi. But his wife, Patty, is badly crippled with arthritis, and they need to be closer to their family. Actually, they would be much more easily accessible to us, when we visit this area. And perhaps Jim and Van could enjoy some quality visits, as they had developed a special friendship, when Jim, an accountant, handled our taxes. Now, he too, is retired and enjoying the good life, while also taking care of his wife.

In fact, Patty was in the hospital, at the time, and Jim needed to bring her home that day, so our lunch visit was shorter than usual. But it was good touching base with our friend, and we looked forward to more get-togethers during our time in southern California.

This day concluded with shopping at another favorite, Costco, where we also had pictures developed and ate a snack: Little Ralph enjoys their Polish hotdogs, while I prefer the chicken bake, and we shared the very berry sundae. In other words, we were still having fun, as we approached countdown for getting to business with Joyce.

We spent our last night on the road at another familiar place, Pechanga Casino, Joyce’s former playground, which is inland, about fifty-miles from the coast, but still within the range of our former southern California activities.

One facet of this trip deserves to be mentioned, and that’s the unseasonable inclement weather we’ve encountered, from the time we left Denver, and even here in southern California. For instance, the lows reached the thirties and the highs only made it to the sixties; an improvement over much of the country, but unusual for November. Nevertheless, it feels good to be at our current destination, and we look forward to spending several months in familiar places with familiar faces, including family and friends. 

Not a Familiar Place

The plan for our time with Joyce included staying at Guajome (pronounced Wah home e) Regional Park for the four days we would be working with her computer. Although we had never stayed there, I knew it was only a few miles from her home, and we confidently drove into the park, only to see a sign indicating that the ranger would be back at 1:00 p.m. But another sign said that the park was full for the weekend. So, we found a vacant spot and parked; then walked back to the ranger’s station, passing a camper who told us that early that day there had been helicopters, cop cars and cops, including a SWAT team, who were chasing a suspect accused of robbing a nearby apartment complex. Whew! 

While wondering if this were really where we wanted to stay, and deciding that it was, I spotted someone zipping around the park on a golf cart, and chased him down. It wasn’t the ranger, but a guy named Joe, who told us that the park would be transformed into a Renaissance Faire this weekend, and no spaces would be available. We were told that we could stay for the night, but the chaos of 3,000 participants would begin around 7:00 a.m.; and for this we would pay $14.00. I don’t think so. 

Reluctantly, we left the virtual Paradise setting, promising ourselves to return, and we drove to the Oceanside Harbor; another of our favorite places, which I’ve written about. But, each time is a new experience, and deserves to be shared.

Let me create a word picture of this setting, as we drive by the tourist shops and restaurants, such as the Baja Lobster, which brings us to a sandy small peninsula: the colorful boat harbor on one side and the Pacific Ocean and beach on the other, with a man-made breakwater (made of huge boulders) at the end of the land and overlooking the mouth of the harbor, a canal for the many fishing boats and recreation boats. On the other side of the canal are condos and a Jolly Rogers restaurant, next to an arm of the harbor lined with all sizes of boats and yachts. This scene is overlooked by the southern end of Camp Pendleton’s officer housing.

As we pull into the first space (of a totally empty parking lot), we chuckle at the stoic pelicans standing in place on pilings along the bait dock, awaiting the return of the fishing boats. Two resident seals are cavorting around the dock, while seagulls and pigeons fill in the picturesque scene, with the backdrop of the boats gently rocking in their slips; a peaceful and relaxing scene.

I had been geared for business, but now I gave myself permission to extend our fun time, so, after having a snack, we went for a walk along the beach, at sunset: an orange feathery flame seeming to flare out of a giant pot.

As we passed families, with their kids, strolling along the beach, I said to Van, “Just think, a few days ago we watched the sunset across the desert, and here we are walking along the beach, as it sinks into the Pacific Ocean. What a lifestyle!

The only thing any better is the night scene, with the lights reflecting across the rippling water, as the boats gently rock on the waves. How I would love to stay here indefinitely, but again, I must roust myself from this tranquility and focus on getting the website matters handled with Joyce, thus assuring us of the possibility that we can maintain this lifestyle.

Very early in the morning the scene again changes, as the fishing boats arrive at the dock to load bait, causing the pelicans and other birds to flap around in wild anticipation of a handout, while the seals dip and dive to gain the fishermen’s attention and favor. And this scene is repeated every morning

Moving a Mass of Energy

It was like pushing a snowball up hill, as Van took the steps to create the new website; the established energy mass, of the status quo, just didn’t want to change. In other words, nothing went smoothly or easily, despite the fact that I spent the day affirming “Divine Order.”

First, he approached the sitebuilder, Homestead, and was given the application form. But whatever names he inserted, the response came in big red letters: “Already Taken.” Even my name, as the member, was rejected. I just couldn’t imagine that there were four JFreelands, or that Money Makeovers, Joyce’s idea for the website, or our second and third choices, were all taken. But, no matter what we tried, it was rejected. I suspected that there was a glitch in the program, or that one, or all three, of us was still holding onto some negative energy patterns.

Despite Joyce’s effort to take the day off, she had to care-take her elderly lady client, because she’d developed pneumonia. Though she was only a few doors away, we spent hours, on the phone, coming up with different names, while Van attempted to figure out what was happening on her roommate, Bobbie’s computer. Basically, we were deadlocked.

Finally, later in the day, I decided to check my e-mail, on my laptop, and was astounded to find three “Congratulations on your new website” messages from Homestead. Oh my gosh, all three website names were accepted. Now we had a choice.

Joyce and I were attached to the upbeat, Money Makeovers, energies, and, after she returned, we were delighted to begin formatting the cover page for our new website, but again, things that should have gone smoothly, didn’t. In the meantime, Van got deeper into technical problems. By the end of the day we were tired and frustrated, and wondering what needed to be done to shift the energies, so we could move forward smoothly. 

That night, we each worked on changing our individual patterns, asking God to remove the negative energies and transform them into positive and productive energies for good. 

I realized that we were taking a gigantic step by combining energies to form this new partnership and website, but I also knew that God is the one presence and power, and if it’s His Divine Plan, then we would be able to complete the transition process, knowing that it is not done by us, or our egos, but it is God who builds the website, and all that we will be doing. He will continue to guide us, and He will bring the people who will be blessed and benefitted from our Money Makeovers program.  

It was obvious that this process would take a few days, and we rejoiced when Joyce got a message from her Board of Regency (for the housing complex) that we could stay parked for two nights. Hooray! 

The next day, we continued the process. I got up early, while Joyce was working for two hours, and completed the cover page and necessary changes for the transition. I even wrote out Explanation for the Membership Program, which had not been clear, in my mind, but now flowed forth in perfect sense. 

The transition process went great, and we were delighted to give birth to the MONEYMAKEOVER$ website, as the energy mass dissipated into positive and constructive energies for good.

It Couldn’t Have Happened any Sooner

As Joyce and I chatted throughout the day, I realized that I would not have been ready for this transition process any sooner; either emotionally or mentally. The necessary inner and outer preparation was needed, as usual, God’s timing is perfect.

Joyce, too, admitted that she had an attitude adjustment to make, such as overcoming her fear and resistance to using the computer, and develop a willingness to push through and “Do it Anyway,” which is her logo.

I also recognized that my childhood patterns about not being wanted and not fitting in had to be put to rest permanently in order for our new partnership to work smoothly. In fact, we had both come from backgrounds that brought us to maladjusted relationships, but we had moved on, and it definitely was time.

The Barking Guard Dog

As I write, around 6:30 a.m., it’s time to describe another word picture. I was awakened to the sound of barking, and at first I thought the resident seal was complaining. But, upon peering out the window, I discovered that the Bait Guard Dog was on duty.

A fishing boat is loading bait, in front of me, with the sky full of anxious seagulls, pelicans and what looks to be oversized white sandpipers; all swirling and diving toward the opened bait doors, both on the boat and the dock. The fishermen stand around in their warm jackets and yellow waterproof pants (like rain slickers), while a large pipe is transferring the live bait fish. 

The birds are hoping for breakfast, but the dog is running back and forth, along the dock, wildly barking at them, as they swirl and dive, keeping a safe distance. This is obviously a game that goes on every morning, which the bait-keeper and fishermen ignore; but is annoying to the overnighters, who hope to sleep-in.

Nevertheless, one can’t be upset at being awakened to such a scene, which is enhanced by the sun rising in the east, above the rolling boats, tied in their slips, as its rays reflect into the clouds, creating a pink and orange watercolor. The palm trees, waving from the effects of the Santa Ana Winds, add a nice touch, which soon will bring the temperature into the seventies.

OOPS! Several seagulls are in a confrontation outside my window, and the dog is now barking in a sympathetic frenzy over the melee.

At first I thought this was one of the world’s ugliest nondescript dogs, but I’ve concluded that it’s a mixed-breed of the gray Australian shepherd, with a black face and short pointed ears, and a nearly hairless, long tail. Of course, these dogs are easily trained to fulfill their job, whether tending sheep or chasing unwanted birds; and it’s definitely on-purpose, as it barks in cadence to its running back and forth along the dock. Apparently this dock is designed to house the live bait, which is inside of underwater containers that extend beneath the dock.

The longer I watch, the more I come to the conclusion that this turquoise boat, the Antoinette W., is refilling the bait container. Now, there’s an experiential aide of a misconception; things not being what they seem.

The same is true about this seeming to be a tranquil scene, however, the boat engines, barking dog, squawking birds and, now, the street cleaner, soon discredit that perception, as reality quickly sets in; and I must add the occasional whistle and roar of a nearby passing train. I wonder if there’s such a term as “active tranquility”; sounds like an oxymoron, a word I don’t often get to use, but this is the time.

And it’s also time for me to move from my writing mode into a webmaster hat, while I touch up the final changes for our new website, Money Makeovers. With this tranquil activity will come the conclusion to this chapter (with the dog’s barks ringing in my ears), as we prepare to move on to celebrating Thanksgiving with the family; and that’s another chapter.

It’s Still Time to Move on

I thought this would begin new energies, and thus a new chapter, but life doesn’t always go as I think it will; in fact, seldom does it go “My Way,” despite the fact that I often used to sing the song by that title and affirm its truth for myself.

And this morning was no exception, as I shifted to my new Money Makeovers website, intending to update the new links. But, Van informed me that previous changes had been updated on Joyce’s computer, but not mine, which still reflected the old name and other information. I began feeling overwhelmed, overloaded and unable to cope with the demands that were being made on me. I just couldn’t do it!

I’d been feeling the pressure of trying to make these new adjustments, in addition to being expected to come up with the next steps to take for marketing, and I simply didn’t know what to do. My subconscious was recalling my childhood, when I was told to take care of my mommy, when my dad went away to CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp; a job far beyond my capabilities, but taken seriously by me, at the time. Although that casual request was not intended for me to fulfill, it’s had lifetime repercussions that throw me into overwhelm and overload, under similar situations when I’m in over my head, such as with the website project.

At the time, I didn’t know why this obstacle became another bridge too far. I began going into a major collapse, ending up in bed crying into my pillow. The fact that Van continued with his morning routine, without a word of comfort or support, only made matters worse. I felt utterly hopeless, abandoned, trapped, unwanted, and no way out; the same feelings from early childhood when my mother and brother were institutionalized (she was put in a State Mental Hospital and Gary was placed in an orphanage) and I was sent to live with other family members. I thought I had all this handled. Why was it coming up now, and why had I been feeling the pressures in my head?

Suddenly I stopped crying, as I remembered the date, and sighed, “Oh no! It’s two days after Gary’s birthday, which was the beginning of the family dissolution.” Even though I hadn’t thought about it consciously, my inner child, within the realm of my subconscious, remembered and was reacting accordingly.

I’d been doing just fine, but too many similar happenings, concluding with Dottie’s announcement that they wouldn’t be coming for Thanksgiving, had triggered the subconscious memory mechanism, which says, “Oh, I’ve been in this situation before; I know how this goes. Unfortunately, the subconscious, including the inner child, cannot distinguish between then and now, and reacts as if it’s all happening now: the pain of abandonment and life, as I knew it, disrupted.

I quietly reminded these parts of myself that I am an adult, living in the year 2,000, and everything is fine; we are safe, happy and in our own home with Van, and we would soon be going to Joyce’s for another day of updating the website, and the next day we would be seeing Arlene and helping to prepare for Thanksgiving, when we would be with Gary and our stepbrother, Tom, and his family.

I’d been anxious about parking at Joyce’s, now that our two days were up, and suggested that we park for the day at nearby Wal-mart (although there’s a city ordinance against overnight parking), and she could meet us. But she assured me it would be okay, and to come on inside, although she would be on an errand. 

While Van was getting us parked, Joyce’s sour-faced neighbor lady stood out front with her arms crossed, and then marched over to Van’s window. He stopped and pleasantly greeted her, but she snarled, “I hope you aren’t planning to park here, again, and ruin our new pavement. There are already two holes from your levelers.”

Whew! Talk about the bible’s Job creating the thing he feared to come upon him; my not-wanted syndrome was in full gear, and I was in no mood to deal with the bitch, so I shouted to Van, “Forget it; just get the Hell out of here.” And he did.

Driving toward Wal-Mart, we passed Joyce, and she turned around and followed us. But, I was over the edge, as I shouted to Van. “I’m done with it. I can’t take anymore. I’m not going back there today.”

When he parked at Wal-mart, I got out and told Joyce what had happened, adding, “I can’t deal with anymore, and we won’t be coming over.” 

I guess I wanted some support and encouragement, although I doubt if anything would have helped. In any event, Joyce said, “Okay, well call me when you’re ready,” and went on her way.

Van continued with his disrupted morning routine and continued eating breakfast. Everything was overload for me, so I went into Wal-mart and sat down on a bench in the Layaway, watching the clerks get ready for their Big Sale, while I tried to regain my composure and come up with a new game plan.

Do Something; Anything

Finding himself in a Void, and not knowing what would happen next, Van had taken advantage of the opportunity to get change, in case we returned to Oceanside Harbor. I found a note taped to our door, when I returned, informing me that Van had gone across the street to the bank.

In the meantime, to fill The Void, I had decided that this would be a good day to take care of some of our needs, such as buying a new in-house battery for our generator (ours had not been holding the charge through the night, leaving us without auxiliary electricity). So Van returned and got that handled, while at Wal-mart.

Then we went to GMC, in Auto Row in Carlsbad, to get a new headlight, which had decided to stop working. I’d tried to get Van to call ahead, but since he had insisted on not calling, he learned that we must return to a San Marcos dealership. 

“No! That’s overload,” I said, adding, “Let’s get the gas at Costco and then settle down at Carlsbad State Park and Beach, and you can do that tomorrow, after leaving me off at Arlene’s.” 

Well, Sort of

I knew that I couldn’t take any more input, either in the form of energies or activity, and I felt that the familiar ocean site would be helpful.

We were still in the warming effects of the Santa Ana winds, but the sun was about to set, so it seemed a good time for a beach walk. Stopping at the top of the steps (down to the beach), I had Van take a picture of me, with the sun setting through the clouds. 

We noticed that the tide was coming in, but decided we could make it to the next set of steps, before getting stranded at the bottom of the cliffs. “Wrong”! Although the sunset got more beautiful, as it worked its way through the clouds, a fog caused an early darkness, and the tide was getting closer. Now, it was no longer peaceful, but added more anxiety, especially when we arrived at the second set of steps and found them closed for repairs.

Why doesn’t that surprise me, considering the way the day had gone. Nothing to do, but turn around and walk back, jumping up on the rocks to avoid the high tide. Fortunately, it wasn’t too far, and the sunset was getting more golds and oranges, which turned into flame red by the time we were climbing the steps. So, we stopped and Van took another picture, while a lady was jogging up and down the stairs. At one point, she stopped and offered to take our picture together. I was so distraught (from the day’s events), that I refused, but she insisted, and took a shot with a deep red background. I really appreciated her act of kindness; and it served as a turning point: acceptance, rather than rejection.

I knew that my head pressures were causing a lot of my problems, but I’d tried all of my supplements, to no avail, so finally took a Tylenol, which settled me down, but I was concerned about how I would be feeling at my stepmom’s, and I certainly didn’t want to be “having one of my spells,” as they used to say in the olden days. 

The Ultimate

A good night’s sleep helped, and in the morning I tried to have a meditation, but was guided to read a book that Joyce had leant me, written by Marie S. Watts, the grandmother of the lady publisher whom Joyce had recently met. These esoteric writings, mostly featured in her book, The Ultimate, were way ahead of their time, and most people are not, even yet, ready for their mystical teachings of Oneness verses duality. However, the teachings are not unfamiliar to me, as they are taught where I attend church, and by other esoteric writers, such as Joel Goldsmith, Emmet Fox, and even Deepak Chopra and Gary Zukov. They also have been revealed during my meditations, and I’ve written them accordingly. 

But, times such as these, I need the refueling to remind me of what I need to know as true: there is only God, the good, omnipotent. Yet, when my head pressures get so intense, or when a childhood pattern surfaces, none of these Truths seem to help, without the aid of a solidified affirmation, as someone once called an aspirin (or Tylenol). 

In any event, I, once again, put aside my demons and moved forward. This time, I knew I was ready for a new chapter.

 website, so we took time to discover that we had our own MONEY MAKEOVER$ e-mail address. I asked Bobbie if it would be okay for Joyce to use it, and she agreed. It only makes sense, because if Bobbie moves on, Joyce will need to buy her own computer, and this will avoid future disruption and confusion. Thank You, God.

This last day, I also needed to make the important changes in the various forms that I’d created for the program. But, most important, we would be putting Joyce’s name on our bank account, so that she could make the deposits, and other financial transactions related to the business.

 

Chapter 12

PROSPERITY REALITY

 

What is it?

We’d begun reading a new prosperity book shortly before meeting with Joyce and transferring our Money Matters website. It professes, You, Too, Can be Prosperous, and defines prosperity, “To have access to everything where and when it is needed.” I like that. The book suggests that Jesus had this kind of prosperity, and that we can, too.

It’s for sure that Van and I had been “Accentuating the Positive and Eliminating the Negative” for a long time and if this stuff really works, we should be seeing some kind of financial results.

And the outer manifestation is always an outpicturing of an inner state of consciousness. So, it seems important to mention that, like the Israelites, receiving manna from God, on a daily basis, our needs have been adequately provided for, with God as the Source; and they have come from channels, other than as a result of our own efforts, such as Van’s mom and my stepmother, Arlene. But, I still feel that the true proof of the success of my writing and ministerial efforts will be when they begin reaping a financial harvest.

Nevertheless, for this to happen, I must recognize and be thankful for the prosperity that has already blessed our lives, and for whatever channels God opens to prosper us.

Perhaps it’s important to describe the setting of our Thanksgiving family gathering, which takes place in Del Mar, California, a prestigious beach community. The energies here are prosperous, with the motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins living in his castle up on the hill, and a sheik and his harem living a block away; to mention a few neighbors.

And even parking on the street in our RV is a privilege that is subject to immediate ejection, should we not conform to all the requirements. Of course, the fact that my dad’s widow inherited a multi-million dollar apartment complex here helps, should we be questioned. But the most important qualification is my constant reassurance, to myself, that I belong here, and I have a right to be here; and this has been the family home for over forty-years.

Just because it overlooks one of the most fabulous ocean views, only a mile from Torrey Pines Golf Course, does not negate the fact that it’s our parent’s home, which dad acquired in a well-planned trade for property in Portland, Oregon. Dad was a good business person, but oftentimes he simply lucked-out with his investments of his mom’s financial legacy, such as the apartment complex, and also the additional two apartments, which he negotiated in a deal with some adjoining property, which he owned. We’re talking about state-of-the-art apartments: white, Mediterranean style, high-ceilings, luxury apartments, where Arlene now lives; and her sister, who manages the apartment complex, lives in the second one.

All this contributes toward my prosperity consciousness, because it’s part of my life, and whenever we are here, we are immersed in these energies, like walking along the hillside, above the beach, past the homes of the sheik and his harem, on our Thanksgiving morning walk. Then down the path, from the palisades, to the Torrey Pines beach, a view that is seen on many California Beach scenes, from La Jolla looking north. And then walking in the sand, past all the other walkers, joggers, bikers and surfers to Del Mar Beach, where we pass the picnickers, swimmers, walkers and waders enjoying their Thanksgiving day.

A Surprise From our Mothers

With this information, I’ll share the surprising news from my stepmother, Arlene, and from Van’s mom, Betty, which highlighted our Thanksgiving activities, with an ultimately impactful effect in our lives. It’s interesting that they both came, after we had the Money Makeovers website secured, with Joyce and me as partners, because the news definitely involves money, and attests to our changing prosperity consciousness.

Arlene’s announcement shouldn’t have come as a surprise, because she’s getting to a time in her life when the work and responsibility of maintaining this apartment complex is too much. But still, being told that it has been sold, and the deal would go into escrow within a week, was a shocker.

And typical of the caring person that she is, her main worry is about the upset for the tenants who will be affected by tripled increased rents (she and Dad never raised the rents to coincide with the appropriate amounts, which a new owner would do, as soon as possible). But, she is realizing that they have benefited for nearly twenty-years of low rents, so it’s time for them to make the adjustments in their lives; like one tenant said that she will probably return to her hometown in another state; and I’m sure they will all find blessings, with the changes, if they choose them.

And, of course, the kids (hers and Dads) will be blessed with the inheritance, which will be part of the Trust Fund divided amongst the seven of us, including me. Needless to say, this news relieves my mind, as far as our financial future is concerned. I knew that there would be something, but it’s never fully discussed, and I’ve felt that I’d already been blessed by the financial gifts that Arlene gave each of us, after Dad’s death. My share had made it possible to buy our motor home, which had given us the blessing of traveling around the country and writing of our adventures. And this lifestyle has been healing for Van’s and my inner kids, bringing us to a place of being able to move forward with our lives, as God guides.

A Change of Plans

The second surprising news came from Van’s mom, who announced that a vacancy had become available in her mobile home park (in northern California) and she would pay the rent for the space, for several months, so we could arrive whenever we wanted, after December 2nd.

This generous offer would give us the opportunity for staying put, with full hookups, for the winter; and Van and I could work on my websites; a solution to all of our problems, and an offer we couldn’t refuse. We would install a phone for on-line activity and continue to enjoy some of the luxuries we’d enjoyed at the Riverside RV Park.

We might not return here for Christmas, as previously planned, so perhaps that’s why God had brought us here for Thanksgiving, so we could be with my brother and the rest of the family; and my priorities, at this time, were to work on my website. It’s also important for Van and his mom to have time together.

Now, we would need to get together with Joyce to show her how to work with the website, and I wanted to see several other friends, while in the area. Then we would amble up the coast, staying at a few favorite places, and at our leisure, because Betty had said we could arrive whenever we want; the space would be paid and waiting for us.

Thank You, God.

Did we have anything to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? You bet. And both Van and I spent extra time, during our morning meditation, to thank God for all of our blessings.

And then, while on the walk, described earlier, we discussed the options and possibilities that these blessings from God, through our mothers, would make possible. Not that we would have any immediate increased income, but knowing that the money would someday be ours, put us into a new reality. And we could continue doing what we’re doing, without the pressure of future money worries.

Van explained that we could leave the money in the savings bank and live quite comfortably on the interest, which would pay for the maintenance of Freedom, or even give us the option of buying a newer RV, if we choose to continue this lifestyle. We could even upgrade, somewhat, such as staying at full hookup RV parks, and being able to enjoy some more of the extras along the way.

But, we both knew that, unless we’d made the inner changes of consciousness, the increased income wouldn’t make that much difference; like people who win the lottery and then blow the money very quickly. Surely, the time and effort that we’d already put into learning these money lessons and changing the patterns had created a new reality. It’s for sure that we were finding ourselves in a very desirable situation, and it would be even better, in the future, with the income from the website projects, and our inheritances.

You see, none of this was anything new; it’s just that we finally allowed its reality to enter our consciousness. For instance, I knew that Van would be receiving an inheritance from his mom, but I had no idea how much, and I was concerned that the money she’d advanced us would greatly deplete the amount. So, on our beach walk, I asked him how much it would be, and he said it would be near to the amount from my dad’s estate. Yay! That would work.

Yet, it would also mean that the price we’d be paying for these inheritances would be the loss of our mothers, and that is not something we want to think about.

We would much rather create a sizable income from our website efforts; and the prosperity consciousness, of knowing and accepting our net worth, would make that possibility a much closer reality. Thank You, God!

Time with my Brother, Gary

I mention my brother, Gary, often in my writings, and I have some good news to report, now, on his behalf. He, too, had a lot of negative repercussions from the dissolution of our family, because he was only three-weeks old, at the time. And he was placed in an orphanage, where he lived for about a year, with a devastating impact on his life. Talk about feelings of being not wanted!

But once Dad divorced Mom and married Ermith, Gary lived with them, and considered her to be his mother, renouncing such relationship with our natural mother; quite understand- able, I might add.

So, Gary has been a loner all his life, although he once married and had children. But that family, too, dissolved, and again, he felt victimized, because this is the pattern that had been established.

And the death of his ex-wife, from cancer, followed by the death of his only son, Rob, at the age of 19, left Gary even more devastated and alone; and also unable to relate with his daughter, Valena Sue, and his step-daughter, Millie.

Thus, his loner lifestyle perpetuated: living on a lookout, as a fire spotter, in the summers; and searching the isolated Outback of Australia, as a gold-prospector, in their summer months. When he wasn’t staying in the little room, which Dad had built for him, he was living in his tiny Chinook camper out on the desert.

Dad had been Gary’s lifeline, and when he died, Gary was even more abandoned, although he corresponded weekly with Arlene, who became his lifeline. And we all worried about what would become of Gary; and prayed for his well-being. Of course, he maintained his own prayer-line, as he attended Mass whenever possible; sometimes daily, lighting candles for special requests, as needed.

And then, the miracle came: he was offered a caretaker job, during the winters, for the forestry station where he worked, which came with a fully equipped little house for him, and all utilities paid. It’s a made-for-Gary situation, and he loves it. Despite the isolation of living at an otherwise unattended camp, in the mountains, he is in contact with passers-by who stop for assistance resulting from problems driving on the icy mountain roads; and also he has many phone calls, and access to using the phone for personal calls.

All this was conveyed, during his brief visit, over Thanksgiving. Rather than driving, he’d made the decision to fly in from Reno, and we all (Arlene, Van and I) met him at the airport. And then Van and I spent many hours watching his videos of Australia and his new home, taken on his new camcorder (a luxury he had allowed himself, into his otherwise previously Spartan lifestyle).

Time with Brother Tom’s Family

Gary and I both enjoy family gatherings, because of our early childhood experiences, and this year seemed to be a special time for us, as Arlene’s son, Tom, and his partner, Manny, along with Tom’s three daughters, Jennifer (who flew in from Cleveland, Ohio), Brianna (and her friend, Nicole) and Carolina were able to take time off to spend Thanksgiving and Friday with us. This was the first gathering with this group, and we were thrilled to be together.

The girls did their own thing, but also spent quality time with the adults. And the adults (except for Gary) played cards, when not busy with the dinner preparations.

I’ve mentioned, in other books, that Tom and Manny own the Two Umbrellas restaurant in Long Beach, and we usually take the two-hour drive there to visit and eat lunch (cooked by Tom). And I enjoy the special relationship with Tom, because he communicates and tells the truth about his life with Manny, which is otherwise not discussed, as part of the family secrets, and he has let me into his life, so I feel loved and accepted by him.

As I said, this Thanksgiving seemed to be a special time of deeper family bonding with Tom and his family, and it felt good.

Phyllis and Family

Arlene’s sister, Phyllis, lives in the next apartment, and their doors open onto each other, at the top of the steps. The sisters are very close and good company for each other, especially since their husbands have died.

Her family members live in the area, and they always stop by to chat awhile, although they have their gatherings separate from Arlene’s group. It’s just always been that way. But the younger generations enjoy each other and spend time together, and she always joins us to play cards. In other words, the two families are an extended family, and we have all been together through the years.

And They all Said “Good-bye”

Like the opening and closing of Jesus Christ Superstar, everyone arrived, the play was done, and they all left. So it was Friday, after Thanksgiving: Van drove Gary to the airport, while the remaining adults played cards; the young adults went to breakfast, and then returned, and the younger males went to Mexico for the weekend to surf. Later, after Van returned, the younger gals went to San Diego, before returning home. Later Tom and Manny would return to Long Beach, leaving Jennifer off at the train depot. And as the characters return to their homes, this play has ended.

Getting on with it

In the meantime, Van and I returned to Joyce’s to continue preparing her for handling the website project. She and I had briefly talked, on the phone, about my upset, and I explained that I had been in overload and couldn’t cope with any more input. I simply needed the break; and this is something I have to accept about myself. And hopefully she could accept it about me, too.

She said “I was disappointed. I would have thought that you could have shrugged off the incident with, ‘So what,’ and gone on with our computer project.”

This triggered my memory of one of Joyce’s patterns, and I reminded her, “You know, expectation is a setup for disappointment. Maybe you can just accept that people aren’t perfect, and allow them space for their human shortcomings.” And I added, “I understand your feelings, because I have them too; they are based on the fact that our parents didn’t fulfill their roles of nurturing and protecting us, and we keep looking out there for someone to take care of us. We just have to accept the fact that our parents never did, and they never will, and go on with life.”

She already knew what I was saying, and she agreed, “You’re right.”

I continued, “But there is hope, because the truth is that we must look to God to fulfill our needs, and then we won’t be disappointed.”

Of course, Joyce knew this, too, and agreed, “That’s right,” adding, “But sometimes I forget.”

The Thanksgiving break had been good for us, and Joyce happily shared that she had shown her new website to her family, and she also had found a website that used pictures, which she wanted to show us. And she had tried to move forward on her own, but had some questions.

I was thrilled, because that’s exactly what I had hoped she would do. Van answered her questions, as they spent time together on the computer. She understood his explanations and was excited and anxious to learn more; but not tonight, as she was in overload.

However, she showed us the website with the pictures, pointing out that they were all on one page, and could be enlarged by pressing a button; a great idea for simplifying our picture presentation. We also noticed the setup for ordering, simply by calling a phone number or e-mailing, and we discussed the feasibility of our idea: that checks be sent to Joyce and she would activate the webpages with the Money Makeovers Workshop, and the three books.

Now we could move forward. The next big step being to setup for marketing and filling orders. We would do this the next day.

In the meantime, I’d been working a jigsaw puzzle with Bobbie, and I thanked her for letting Joyce use her computer for our website.

The idea came to me to show our appreciation and say “Thank You,” to Bobbie by giving her the first Membership, as a gift; this would benefit all concerned: she would have the free workshop and books, and we would be able to see how the program all works. Hooray! I love it. Joyce agreed that it was a good idea, but cautioned that we didn’t want to slip into old patterns of giving away our products and services, which is a symptom of underearning.

I agreed, and we decided to pray about it overnight. I realized that it’s a fine line between underearning and fulfilling the Divine Decree of giving and receiving. Yet, it felt right, and I became excited about the idea.

Bobbie would find a Support Partner, to fulfill the Two by Two format, and we would be through the trauma of signing up the first person. This is so exciting! And you, Dear Reader, get to be part of this Journey of Awareness.

How Grand is Your Canyon?

Thankfully, as this process of dissolving the wall of energy mass proceeded, we could retreat to our Oceanside Harbor sanctuary to recover and regroup. Because of the rate structure — 8:00 p.m. till 4:00 a.m. (to accommodate the fishermen) — we arrived after dark. But when I awoke, from the sound of the barking dog, I would be able to watch the panorama, as the boats  silently pulled up to the bait dock, loaded, and went on their way.

Watching the sizes and shapes, from large yachts to foot-pedals and kayaks, I flashed back to a piece I once wrote, after visiting the Grand Canyon, about people’s capacity to take into their experience, according to their consciousness. Viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time can be an awesome, almost traumatic event; some cannot cope with the magnanimity of it, preferring to stand back and gradually ease up to the rim. Others want the full scope and even walk out onto the furthest point; while still others are satisfied to drive along in their car, catching glimpses here and there.

And I thought about a Prosperity Exercise suggested by Louise Hay, author and seminar leader, in which she asks us to imagine standing at the seashore, a source of abundance, which we can take for ourselves, according to the size of our container. She asks, “How big is your container?” I imagine a pipeline that would afford me unlimited supply; and that’s the extent of my prosperity consciousness. It’s always ready for the abundance that God provides.

In any event, I’ll take you on a word-picture of this harbor scene, as the boats pull up to the boat dock, greeted by the barking bait-guard-dog and the bait-man, with his long-handled net, which he dips into the pool of wriggling fish and dumps into their container — either a holding tank or a bucket.

This particular morning, the Antoinette W. was refilling the fish tanks, because the night before a large yacht had loaded up bait and depleted the supply. But, symbolizing infinite supply, even as they loaded, more was being provided. I like that analogy for my prosperity consciousness.

So, the parade passed by: a dad and his two young boys in a modest boat, a bearded old man in his dinghy, two guys in their canopied cabin cruiser, a guy and his gal preparing for a romantic getaway, and a family, in their trim green canopy cabin cruiser, in excited  anticipation, as they looked forward to their outing. As many variations of these groups pulled up for bait, other forms of water vehicles by-passed the bait dock: several sculls (like you see in Hawaii), with their rowing team pulling the oars together in harmony (some gals and some guys), and several individual kayaks, including two that stopped for bait. And, of course there were canoes, and speed jets, along with other speed boats. And some boats showed a flair for creativity, such as the colorful, Yellow Fin, a sleek yellow fishing boat, with two guys intent on making their day’s catch.

In the midst of all this, the large Electra, a charter fishing boat, came by and loaded their holding tank, as the excited guests, bundled against the cool morning air, watched from the decks. A sailboat cruising by, and the dog barking at the seagulls and pelicans, added their touch to the morning scene.

The parade continued all day, but we needed to leave and get on with our day at Joyce’s.

Blasting More Energy Mass

God always supports our efforts, and this forward movement was no exception. But, sometimes, the process is not comfortable, nor to our liking. This time it was Van’s turn for more growth opportunity.

But first, an update of past history. One of the mysteries of Van’s complex simplicity (another oxymoron) is his covert, but persistent, rebellion against complying, which manifests in subtle ways, such as not having renewed his driver’s license; nor replacing the headlight, which necessitates driving with high beams at night (both of which cause me high anxiety). I’ve concluded that its part of his obsessive-compulsive behavior, mixed with the lethal dose of passive-aggressive personality, which is evidenced in other family members, and seems to be inherited characteristics.

Most of them simply live out their lives doing whatever they do, and suffer the consequences; and also causing those around them to suffer too. But, at least Van is willing to make the changes, or I’d be outta here; which is a tendency of mine, anyway, for solving problems. If he weren’t such a wonderful person, in so many ways, I’d have given up years ago, but, as I said, he is trying to overcome these compulsions.

So, God helped him out with a heavy dose of experiential aides. First, when Van did his walk-around, before pulling out from our space, he discovered a $27.00 parking ticket. I thought it was from overstaying his time (not paying the additional $5.00 to cover the time after 4:00 a.m.), which he refused to pay, because an officer had once told him it was okay to run over a few hours. But upon examination, he discovered that it was for not parking properly in the space. Because another car was crowding us, on one side, and an RV was too close on the other, he had straddled the line.

This being Thanksgiving weekend, and the RV’s were packed into the choice front spaces, the Oceanside Harbor Police were being especially efficient in doling out tickets.

As I said, at first, thinking it was from the time overlap, I launched into a major dissertation about his thinking he’s the exception and not needing to comply, just like other family members; and on and on, including his expired driver’s license and non-functioning headlight.

When Van gets cornered, about something like this, his otherwise calm energies go rampant (passive-aggressive reaction to losing control). He doesn’t verbalize or act out his anger; he internalizes, and he’s like a dormant volcano. But, unfortunately for me, being sensitive to energies, it adds to the pressures in my body and is most uncomfortable. If I’m aware of these dynamics soon enough, I can protect myself by surrounding myself with White Light, but once it’s intact, my only recourse is to ask God to remove the negative energies. Oftentimes a Tylenol, to reduce the pressure is the only solution, after I’ve tried all my other remedies and supplements.

In any event, the process was going on when we arrived at Joyce’s. Van did okay, for awhile, but suddenly his covert rebellion took over (the work of the adversary, or adverse consciousness) and his diversionary tactic took him way off purpose and sabotaged the entire project; none of us could function. Though we tried to retrieve the remnants of sanity, it was useless and we finally gave up and went home to our harbor sanctuary and he went to bed. It was getting to be too much for him, and he would either have to push through it (the energy mass) or explode.

I welcomed the more peaceful energies, once he drifted off to sleep and calmed down. Sitting in the dark, I watched the lights reflecting on the water, and the flames dancing from a nearby campfire, as I enjoyed the quiet time.

But, so far, Van hadn’t moved through his process. It was in progress; the gooey mess stage of the caterpillar in the chrysalis, before becoming a butterfly. I’d decided to keep my mouth shut, for a change, and allow the process to unfold between Van and God.

Finally, Sunday morning, after he left me off at my Unity church, while waiting for me to return to Freedom, parked on the adjoining vacant lot, he made out a check to pay the ticket and put it in the provided envelope; a process within itself.

By the time we’d returned to the harbor (having paid the additional $5.00; another process), he didn’t get it mailed, so my codependency took over when I saw an officer walking through the parking area. I explained that there had been other vehicles overcrowding our space when we had parked, and he told me how to write an excuse and send with the ticket, instead of the check, and we would have a response in 21 days, as to whether or not we would have to pay.

I knew this was enabling Van, but now he had an option, and he could decide for himself, whether or not he was ready to accept responsibility for his covert actions. The ticket remained unmailed for another day and his energies continued to be heavy. He managed to make some more adjustments, while at Joyce’s, but I could feel his internalized anger, and I was, again, uncomfortable, until I remembered to “close my aura,” as Joyce suggested (I had explained what was happening to Van, and she completely understood the process, having been through her own many times).

Not a Happy Camper

Earlier, when she came to pick us up at Wal-Mart, I asked if she would follow us to Guajome Regional Park, only a few miles further, so we could park there for the next three days. Of course, the first thing the Ranger asked for was Van’s driver’s license, which is required to park there.

Somehow, with God’s help, he let us stay for the night, but insisted that Van go to the DMV the next day and get it handled, explaining that, in the state of California, without a driver’s license, your insurance isn’t in effect, among other repercussions.

Van tried to revert to his bail-out pattern, saying that he would get it at his mom’s, in northern California, but I said that I wouldn’t go with him, without a driver’s license. Whew! Now the control issue was in full swing, and he was not a happy camper. And Joyce’s offer for him to take her car didn’t help. It was up, and there was nothing he could, but do it. Furthermore, I refused to go with him; it was his process, and he needed to handle it alone.

I knew that we were playing with dynamite, and it could easily explode, were he not to handle it properly. In other words, the adversary does not take lightly these confrontations, and when its power is challenged, it can be deadly. Fortunately, Van is not a violent person, and yet it’s the passive-aggressive’s that suddenly erupt or explode, so I knew that prayer was needed to support him through this transition process. And I knew that he would make it. I kept centered in my awareness and affirmation of God, as the one presence and one power, and refused to give the adversary any power over me, or Van, as he processed through to his victory and freedom.

Once Van could make it through this process, he would be in another new level of his inner Journey of Awareness, and his prosperity consciousness, too, would be at a new level. We were at a cliff-hanger.

The DMV Interlude

I was thankful for Joyce’s support, as Van went through the DMV experience. At first, the plan was for him to drive Joyce’s car, by himself. But I realized that would not work, because he was unlicensed and therefore, illegal, so he shouldn’t be driving. It was time to put a stop to his non-compliance, and being the exception patterns.

So Joyce drove and I went along to keep her company, while he went in and stood in the long, long lines. Joyce explained that there is only one DMV for this entire area, and there are many thousands of people. We knew we would be there for at least an hour, after finding a parking place in the limited lot and off-street spaces. But, Joyce prayed our way into a perfect spot, under a tree, and we got out and chatted in the shade, on this warm Santa Ana winds day.

I went inside to check on Van’s progress, as he wound through the maze of waiting humanity. Heavy energies; get me out of here. I was glad that it was his process, and not mine, as I waved to him and indicated that we found a parking place in the lot.

We weren’t sure what the procedure would be: taking the test, or actually driving; but we knew that he would need to pay the fee for renewal, at least. So, the second time I went in, I was surprised to find him in a short line for the camera. He said he would be through, once they took his picture and got his thumb print.

Amazing! Once he joined us, he explained that he had been on a four-year extension, so when his renewal form had been mailed to his California address, and we had moved, it was returned to the DMV. Now, all he had to do was pay his $15.00 fee and get his picture taken. The worst of the ordeal was finding a parking place and standing in line! And, of course, the inner turmoil of being forced into doing something that he couldn’t control.

When he came outside, I took his picture in front of the DMV sign and gave him a big hug, saying that I was proud of him for getting it handled. Joyce, too, congratulated him, and I know that he felt supported and, no doubt, freer, once he’d moved the energy mass to get through this process.

  Joyce drove us back to the RV Park and Van showed his renewed license and got us reinstated for another two nights. Now we were, again, happy campers.

The Next Big Step

We returned to Joyce’s for another day at the computer to move more energy mass, while transferring the MONEY MAKEOVER$ WORKSHOP and my three books onto Bobbie’s computer.

As the above saga unfolded, God was guiding me through my part in preparing the MONEY MAKEOVER$ Program. Up till then, I had not been able to create the necessary forms, such as the Explanation, Application, and other necessary parts, especially since Bobbie would begin the sign-up process, and they needed to be ready.

As always, I know it’s not me doing it, because I panicked at the thought, but when the time was right (God’s Time), I sat down at the computer and the words flowed out on the paper; nothing like I would have done, but absolutely perfect. Thank You, God.

In the meantime, Joyce and I were preparing our consciousness for the Next Big Step: signing up our first member, and we were excited.

Bobbie, having access to the website on her computer, had begun looking at the MONEY MAKEOVER$ website and was also preparing for the process. Today was the day and everything was in place: Van had transferred the MONEY MAKEOVER$ WORKSHOP and the three textbooks and the Membership Application form to Bobbie’s computer (which Joyce also uses) and Joyce had learned the procedure for giving access to these, otherwise unavailable webpages, to Bobbie.

We knew there would be glitches, but that’s why we were doing the trial run, with Bobbie’s help.

In the past, I would have died a thousand deaths, while Bobbie went through the process, but this time I felt strangely calm, as Joyce took her through the computerized procedure. Of course, there were a lot of blocks and dead ends, as links weren’t in place and material didn’t make sense, but it was a good start. Van adds that it was an excellent start, especially with all of that amount of software in place.

The hardest part, for me, were Bobbie’s criticisms and her balking at the 10 percent royalty donation, a unique innovation, based on the Law of Tenfold Return. She’s not really into this spiritual concept of returning a tenth to the place where one receives blessings. She felt it was okay with a church, but once you paid for the membership, there was no reason to commit to giving ten-percent of one’s increased income to MONEY MAKEOVER$.

I realized that there would be no use explaining the dynamics of this Law of Giving and Receiving to anyone who didn’t understand, so, after Joyce and I discussed the matter, we decided to make that concept part of a future level, such as an advanced course, after one had become familiar with the prosperity aspect of this spiritual law.

For me, this was a major change, as far as my reaction to criticism, and I felt good that I had reached this place: to accept the positive aspects and do something about it, rather than taking it as personal rejection. And I realized that I would need to give lengthier explanations of these concepts, if I were to use them.

However, the idea of a future advanced course seemed exciting and logical, because it simplified the procedure and returned it to the original concept of learning how to recognize and change money patterns.

I also realized that I do tend to over-complicate things, and that’s often because, as a visionary, I see an overall picture, and I don’t always recognize the various steps and time element involved, when I receive these visions.

But, fortunately, God always sends someone to teach me these lessons, and then He gives me the next steps. For instance, in this case, it came to me that the advance course would consist of having the participant read books already written by other authors that would teach and explain these principles, just as Van and I had been doing Prosperity Programs for the past year, with the resulting positive experiences. In other words, developing a prosperity consciousness is an ongoing process, and must be taken in smaller steps, as one is able to grasp and apply the concepts.

The second realization I got, from Bobbie’s complaint, was that not everyone would appreciate my idea that, once they’d taken the workshop and read the textbooks, they could become facilitators and consultants, which would give them the opportunity to earn their own money from my program; keeping ninety-percent and donating 1/10th as royalties for the privilege of using my material and program. So, Joyce and I decided to shelve that, and include it as an opportunity available, after taking the advanced course.

So, all in all, the Next Step had been successful, because we realized that we weren’t ready to launch the program, as yet. But we aimed toward it starting, after the first of the year, thus giving us both time to make improvements and handle the necessary preparation.

As a sidelight, Joyce asked Bobbie if she would assist her in creating a resume, and Bobbie read hers to us. We were impressed by her credentials and experiences, as a counselor, and in public services. She had even won “Woman of the Year,” at one time, and had letters of recognition from President Reagan, for her works. In fact, earlier in the day, she had received (in the mail) her PH.D., which she had worked many years to earn. Needless to say, we were all further impressed and offered our congratulations for her accomplishment.

I asked what she wanted to do next, and she wasn’t sure, but said that it has to do with rage and anger management counseling; probably on-line.

The idea came to me that she might be interested and willing to work through my Inner Freedom website, counseling with prisoners and future offenders, or anyone who would be interested in changing those negative patterns. After all, that’s the purpose of my website and we could sure use her expertise and credibility. And, she wants to be affiliated with something, so maybe it would work; another cliff-hanger; and only God knows the answer.

Business Cards and Bank Account

The last day we would be working with Joyce, before leaving this area, was dedicated to having Van print up our MONEY MAKEOVER$ business cards, which I’d been designing, and getting completion on the computer transfers; from mine to Joyce’s. This is another evidence of God’s timing and order, because we’d been using Bobbie’s e-mail address. I kept feeling uncomfortable about that, feeling that we needed our own. I knew that homestead had provided one for Inner Freedom website, so we took time to discover that we had our own MONEY MAKEOVER$ e-mail address. I asked Bobbie if it would be okay for Joyce to use it, and she agreed. It only makes sense, because if Bobbie moves on, Joyce will need to buy her own computer, and this will avoid future disruption and confusion. Thank You, God.

This last day, I also needed to make the important changes in the various forms that I’d created for the program. But, most important, we would be putting Joyce’s name on our bank account, so that she could make the deposits, and other financial transactions related to the business.

Chapter 13

COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES

 

Take Time to Smell the Wildflowers

The wind swayed through the trees, as the fog lifted upon a new day. The Guajome Regional Park scene, unlike the Oceanside Harbor, looked upon colorful autumn trees in a suprisingly rural setting. All around us, nothing visible but tall, willowy shade trees in a profusion of greens, golds and a smattering of russet and red. Yet, within minutes the city was coming awake around us and beginning to bustle with activity.

Fortunately, this was our day off, so to speak, and we could take time to smell the wildflowers, which were blooming outside our rear window. Thankfully, I’d slept through the night and could leisurely collect my thoughts and reflect on the past week, plus look forward to our upcoming trip to northern California. 

We’d been totally in the Present Moment, while at Joyce’s, and it felt good to relax. Amazingly, once Van completed his Drivers License process, the energies shifted and I no longer felt the head pressures. Such a relief!  Obviously they are not exclusively caused by barometric changes, because today began foggy, and with the wind, it lifted and was replaced with sunshine, but no energy crisis within me.

Again, I suspect that it’s because Van has moved through his latest transition process, and the energies have settled down. 

On the other hand, it wasn’t just Van; we were all going through an intense period of transition, as the energy mass was being forced to break up and dissipate, as old patterns were being changed and new ones were forming; much like the fog was breaking up and lifting from the force of the wind’s steady impact. 

Reflections and Credentials

We were ready for a new beginning, and today I would present Joyce with the first MONEY MAKEOVER$ Certificate.

God knows, she had earned it, as she had been with us from the beginning; before there was a Money Matters (the original workshop), when Dottie had asked her about signing up with our first MLM business. We’d all worked our hearts out trying to make a success of that business, and I’ve recorded the story through my trilogy of books about our first Recognizing and Changing Money Patterns (the title of the first book in the trilogy) endeavors.

So, it makes sense that Joyce is now my partner in the website program, with her name added to our bank account in order to deposit all the checks.

After Van and I completed the MONEY MAKEOVER$ business cards, which we shared with her, we completed the Certificate, making a special one for her. I’d added the phrase, from the original format, that will be used in the advanced course, entitling her to facilitate workshops and consult with the participants.

Again, as she and I had reviewed her accomplishments, through the last ten years, I realized that she had been through more courses, workshops and seminars, and read more books than I had. She’d become a rebirther and assisted me through some inner child releasing processes. This was one program that I’d passed by. But, I had gone through est, a popular seminar in the seventies, and I’m still thankful for its positive influence in my life. And I’d also taken the Silva Mind Control course. Both programs had contributed toward my perceptive abilities, which allowed me to be more aware of where others are coming from.  

In her search for answers and fulfillment, Joyce even went to India, with her rebirthing sponsors, to their guru, Sai Baba. The extent of my world travels was Hawaii, to attend the 10th anniversary of that first MLM business. She had gone there, with Dottie and Steve, on another occasion. Oh yes, I’ve also been to Mexico and Canada, if that counts.

Our paths were similar, along our religious pursuits. She had completed the Science of Mind 1 Course, and I have made many trips to attend the Unity School of Christianity, in Missouri, becoming a licensed Unity teacher, in the process. In fact, we met at the Unity church in Carlsbad, where I recently attended church and visited with Rev. Tony.

It had felt good to return to my roots and the church where I had taught and attended classes and gone through much of my inner growth on this Journey of Awareness. Many of my friends were made in Unity churches, and this time I reconnected with several, and made a new friend, Carl Parks, who has taken A Course in Miracles into the prisons. In fact, though he’s now retired, he promised to send me some newsletters that I can publish on my Inner Freedom Ministry website.

Speaking of ministry, let me hasten to explain that, although I’ve spent most of my life studying and teaching the Unity concepts, I attained my ordination through another church, after studying with them for two years. I had, at one time, applied to become a Unity minister, and I even lived in Missouri a few months, in pursuit of that accomplishment. But I would have to wait another year, for the next session, so I worked at Silent Unity, their prayer ministry. But, the prospect of those cold winters in Missouri caused me to drive back across country to the comfort of California’s milder winters, where I am, again, as I write.

While Joyce was married for twenty-eight years to an alcoholic, and raised three daughters, my first marriage lasted seventeen years, and I raised two daughters and a son. Yet, we both became involved in the Twelve Step Program: she went through Alanon (for spouses of alcoholics)  and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families), and I went through their CoDa (Codependents Anonymous) and DA (Debtors Anonymous) program, in addition to ACA. 

Of course, our greatest courses in the School of Hard Knocks, came in our childhood. We both were exposed to Catholic Boarding Schools and the strictness of their beliefs. But our history, as far as our parents, is different, though nonetheless dysfunctional and crazy-making, which I won’t get into here.

We’re both dealing with the effects of these times: daughters who have become involved in drugs or other debilitating conditions, and are recovering, as best they can; and we attempt to support our grandchildren who are suffering from the results of multi-generational dysfunctionalism. Who isn’t these days?

But, we both are survivors, and we have made it through to the present time, and we are looking forward to the blessings of the future.

“With my Awareness on God”

With this in mind, I suggested that Joyce return to Freedom on our last day, before departure, so that I could present her with the completed Certificate.

It felt like a little ceremony would be appropriate, and as usual, God came through. This time with the Daily Reading

It began, “With my Awareness on God,” which refers me back to the title of this book, Journey of Awareness, and reminds me that’s what it’s all about: the inner journey of awareness of God.

It’s work, and it’s also fun, creating this website, and hopefully others will benefit from the words I’ve shared, along my journey. But, unless God guides them to us, and continues to guide our efforts, it really doesn’t matter. What’s important is our awareness of oneness with/as God; and remembering that each person is a creation of God, and one with/as God, too. So, He’s taking care of them; and it’s not all up to me; or Joyce. Our part is to enjoy the trip along the way, and have fun.

The Daily Reading reminds us of the bible reassurance that there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven, and with my awareness on God, I know that at the right time, God will guide me to release old habits or limiting thoughts, as I open my mind and heart to new and better ways.

An apt reading for Joyce’s ceremony, because to me, it indicates a new beginning, a Commencement, which is a term for the ceremonies and day of conferring degrees or diplomas.

Fork in the Road

After Joyce’s Commencement, which went quickly, as she had other things to do, Van and I decided to enjoy our surroundings by taking a walk. Within two minutes of our home, we found ourselves in a deep, secluded forest (California style: eucalyptus and other leafy shade trees), with a marsh on one side and a little stream on the other. 

I chatted about the recent ceremony, commenting, “With the advent of the computerized certificates that may be the last Certificate I ever hand out.” 

Van didn’t comment, and the quietness felt refreshing, after our intense week, as I thought about my statement. Yet, the still small voice within my head was telling me that there would be future ceremonies and presentations, and another vision of the future flashed before me. I could see gatherings, in various places, staged by the qualified facilitators, and my part being simply the presentation of Certificates.

I liked that idea, because, in recent years, I’d much preferred the quieter life of writing in my ivory tower (RV), wherever I might be. I’d already experienced the stress of pressure, during recent days, and even getting ready for Joyce’s simple Commencement ceremony caused my head pressures to return.

As we approached a fork in the path, I thought, “perhaps I’ve already taken the fork in the road for me; a quieter, simpler life, like walking along this shaded path, listening to the twittering birds and seeing the cattails, eucalyptus and palm trees, along with the many other trees, shrubs and foliage. 

We paused and watched a lone black duck in the swampy marsh, and I said to Van, “You know, I’ve never thought of myself as a pioneer type, yet, here I am pioneering a movement of sorts. I wonder if it will ever happen?” Then I added, “Only if God brings it about, because I have no intentions of making it happen.”

Van agreed, saying, “Sounds about right, My Love.”

When we returned to Freedom, I rushed through lunch and got back to my computer to write about our little walk, leaving Van to thoroughly chew his food, as he continued his meal. I paused long enough to say, “You know, I’m probably lucky that you don’t have much to say.”

He asked, Why?”

And I replied, “Because, if you were into conversations, you’d probably be upset because I wasn’t sitting there talking with you.”

He said, “You’re probably right,” and I lapsed into silence, as I recalled the various sights and sounds along the way, such as the little lake, surrounded on three sides by shrubs and trees, and the fourth side facing onto the freeway.

This subtitle came, while on our walk, and coming to a fork in the path, and I thought of the poem by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I must add that the above insert manifested by my taking advantage of my high tech computerized books, which I usually forget that I have. I simply highlighted his name, and the computer did the rest, and then I hit the “copy” button, and there it is. Thank God I took the path of learning how to use this computer.

In any event, we took the path that lead to the freeway, and who knows where from there. So, we turned around, though I hate returning on the same path, retraced our tracks, and took the other path, which brought us out into the open area and along the lake. Within a few minutes, along the open path, we were back in Freedom. I must admit, I liked the one less traveled better.

Freedom’s Commencement

This is also a new beginning or a commencement for Freedom, as we prepare to leave southern California and head north. But first, we must spend the night at Camping World for some repairs.

We took one last drive back to the coast for gas refueling at Costco; and stocked up on food for us, enjoying the familiar scenes of surfers, waves and sea. I love this area, and wondered why I would ever consider anyplace else as a place to settle down. In my mind, as we headed inland, I decided that we would eventually return here, no matter where other family members settled.

But for now, Camping World was our destination and we wanted to beat the commute traffic in order to get there, before the gates closed, so we could stay for the night and be on time for our 8:30 appointment at Beaudry RV Sales and Service. We would start there, with a new headlight, and work our way across the driveway to Camping World for a new hot water heater and shower faucet. The two facilities share the same lot and the same gate closure.

The only noteworthy event of the repair sessions was a comment by Larry, the technician, when he came in to ask my opinion of which faucet to replace our gold one. He’d already asked Van, who said to ask me, and I selected the white non-chrome one. Then Van appeared and as we discussed the selection, Larry said, “We may need to recount the votes.” This was funny, of course, because the historical presidential election debacle was still in progress. 

I must say, that through the years, Americans always respond with a sense of humor to the worst disasters and events, and this is no exception, despite those who are turning it into a vent for their own anger and frustration. Ultimately, the democratic system will provide us with the next president, which will also be another commencement.

But, in the meantime, we ended up dragging out our repair process, too, as we had to stay over another night: a grating sound in the rear-end caused Van concern that it could be a bearing. I’d been discussing the sound, but he hadn’t paid much attention, until he was standing there, as the driver moved Freedom into place for repairs.

“Why, may I ask, since we just had all four replaced in Colorado?” 

Family Visits and News 

That mystery remained to be solved the next day, but, in the meantime, we had a visitor: Cousin John and his friend, Arlene (not my stepmother) had driven about fifty-miles out of their way (not too bad for RVers) for a quick visit, before moving on to Oregon and Washington on business, and then back to southern California for the winter. We would probably make connections, again, but John had a connection for the computer and cellular that, if it worked, would make it possible to handle our e-mail; another cliff-hanger, which may get resolved about the same time as the next president.

John brought his dog, Clee, and we all exchanged a few greetings and hugs, before they returned to their RV, which was in an RV park. We also took time to look at a few new RV’s, as he was seriously considering a downsize, so they could stay in State Parks. Apparently they don’t take rigs over 35 ft., and his is 40 ft. 

We all fell in love with a 30 ft. Sea View, and for the first time, I considered the option of a replacement for Freedom, someday. After all, it’s getting extremely costly, and should have been done sooner, but John even agreed that it’s better than most others in the price range. And, as usual, John can get it for a better price than Steve, who did work for an RV sales, until recent sales decline caused a layoff (now he’s selling ADT alarms; only until their business can support them, and it’s very close). 

Although John could afford the new rig, he’s hesitant to make the change, when his is paid for and still under warranty. So we’ll stay tuned for that cliff-hanger. As to ours, it won’t happen, unless my inheritance comes in unexpectedly.

Not that it couldn’t, because I called Arlene, while we waited for repairs, and learned that the apartment complex was a done deal. She would hand over the keys that day, and she was truly relieved to be free of the burden and responsibility. But, of course, the money would be placed in the Trust Fund, other than what Arlene would have to live on; and we all hoped that she would have a lot of years to enjoy her freedom from the hard work of owning and managing those apartments.

It wouldn’t actually make much difference to the family, because we all visit Arlene at the apartment complex next door, and that arrangement would continue uninterrupted. For us, everything would remain the same.

Everything Takes Longer Than Expected

I’d hoped for an early start the next morning, since our appointment was first thing; but they discovered that the motor was out of alignment with the rear wheels, which often happens with motor homes; not that the previous work hadn’t been okay; it just happens, and it would take several hours to repair. Van had decided to have them do the oil change and lube, also, rather than stop up the road.

So, it was around two o’ clock when we finally got on the road, and I could relate to the ongoing delays with the presidential election process. Everything seems to take longer than we expect these days, and we are all in a state of limbo, although our lives move forward, such as another historic event taking place, across the border: the inauguration of Mexico’s new President Fox.

I find it interesting that he has talked with Gore and Bush about changing the border- crossing arrangement so that it won’t be necessary for so many immigrants to be killed in the dangerous process. Change is definitely in the air, during this historic time.

But, for us, the only concern was getting through the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, before commute traffic got too bad; as if that traffic is ever good. I’ve been through there in the middle of the night, thinking it would be better, only to have as much traffic as daytime. 

So, this time we decided to take I-15 to I-10 West, and then onto I-210, which would deliver us to I-5 north of Los Angeles; but not far enough to avoid the northbound traffic that had been slowed through the tedious city commute. We managed to avoid some of this by taking the Truck Route; and there was still the bedroom communities of Santa Clarita and Valencia, where Magic Mountain is located.

Something to Celebrate; Steak Dinner at 4,000 ft. 

Once through these obstacles, we began the ascent, over the infamous Grape Vine, just as it was getting dark, and the trucks were making their mad dash up the mountain. I was thankful that there was no danger of snow, even though it was already December 1st. But, I was shocked when our waitress, at the Flying J Truck Stop (in the middle of the Grape Vine) told us that it has snowed up here as early as October. She also said that she lives at 5,000 ft., another 1,000 ft. above us, and that she loves the winters. And to think that we had just left sea level. What a world!

Van and I decided that we wanted to celebrate: completing our repairs, the sale of the apartments and making it through Los Angeles. So we shared a T-bone steak and blueberry cobbler at Flying J’s The Cookery Restaurant. It wasn’t as good as the $1.99 in Laughlin, but we savored every bite and I was amazed that Van was relaxed and talkative, which almost never happens. We really had a good time together, as the staff was putting up their Christmas decorations, and it was one of those enchanted moments.

When I’d asked Van if he wanted dinner, or breakfast buffet, here, he’d said, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe both,” which almost knocked me off my feet. What is happening? I love it! So, the next morning I asked if he really meant it, and he said, “Sure.”

Wow! This is almost scary. But I hope it doesn’t end. I could relate to Arlene’s feelings of change with something as momentous as selling the apartments. 

While planning our route, I’d originally mentioned cutting over to Highway 101 and staying at Pismo Beach, a place we both love. But then taking our time along the coast, but when Van’s mom offered to pay for our space, I thought we’d better rush along and take advantage of the opportunity, especially since we had another $1,000.00 in repair bills. However, Van was disappointed and looking forward to Pismo Beach.

We’d never gone over the Coast Range to 101, so this would be a new adventure. 

Chapter 14

A CALIFORNIA TAPESTRY

 

Autumn or Winter?

In California it can be difficult to discern the seasons, but contrary to outsider’s opinions, we do have seasons. For instance, I picked up a beautiful deep red maple leaf that had fallen from a tree at Camping World, and many streets are lined with colorful autumn-leafed branches. On the other hand, Christmas decorations and lights already adorn most streets, and some houses boast theirs; not to mention Christmas music wafting across the intercoms. All this, while basking in mid-seventy temperatures.

And, of course, while traveling through the desert and their mountains, there is no clue, such as at our overnight Flying J stop: pretty, but barren or drab shades of gray and beige, with some evergreens scattered about.

But, once we made the decision to leave I-5 and head west along State Highway 166, the scenery began to change; so much that I want to take you along, as I did in Colorado, during A Tapestry of Autumn.

Fruits and Nuts

The barren flat desert soon gives way to plowed top-soil farms, and some horse ranches, much like New Mexico’s Highway 64, and we are in a peaceful rural setting, thankfully away from the zippy trucks and traffic of I-5. However, we are now on a narrow two-lane road, smoother than the freeway. 

Within minutes we are passing through orange groves laden with fruit. In some areas the groves, on both sides of the road, reach as far as eye can see, but some terrain is conducive to grapes, and the grape arbors (wire-fences with the autumn-colored vines neatly wound around them) stretch into the distance. And there are some nut orchards, but most are in northern California; giving way to the expression that this is the state of fruits and nuts.

It’s timely to mention that these orchards are fairly new, in this area, having been exiled from further south when the population boom demanded the land for dwellings and businesses. However, they take the risk of freezing, which seldom happened further south; a price we pay for surrendering our prime agriculture area.

“Este Mi Tierra”

As we continue, past the orchards, the farms are larger; several are even enclosed with white rail fences, and one proudly proclaims: “Este mi Tierra,” translating to “This is my land.” In the distance, of one area, we’re excited to see a large lake or reservoir, but we should know better; it’s actually the combination of sun reflecting on plastic ground cover through a fog that often hangs over this San Joaquin Valley farmland; one of our country’s breadbaskets.

In time, we complete the straight stretch of road and come into a small community (mostly farm workers), named Maricopa, boasting a mom and pop superstore and restaurant, and some other services and stores. Here we take the fork in the road that heads south, through the mountain passes of the Coast Range.

Only Signs of Life: Cattle and a Roadrunner

And, similar to Highway 64, this is where the scenic part begins, as we climb mountains and wend through valleys. Unlike the New Mexico tapestry, there are no tall evergreens, but rather, oaks, which are beginning to turn brown and drop their leaves; however, the orange, russet and red scrub oaks add their patchwork of color up and down the hillsides, from the canyon bottoms, with their promise of a creek, or stream, when the rains come. 

But, with signs warning “Flash Floods,” we are grateful for this dry, sunny day in a deep blue sky, almost equal to Colorado. The arid conditions can be a problem for the many cattle roaming over the hillsides and under the oak groves, which explains the frequent water tanks in strategic places. Another sign of the often torrential rains are the dry bed remains of waterfalls that can gush down the mountainsides in their trough-like gutters (like man-made rain gutters) that lead into the streams and fill the lakes; ultimately flowing into the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Other than cattle and occasional horses, we seldom see wildlife on our travels, so this is a rare treat when we spot a roadrunner balancing on a fence rail, but we pass too quickly to take a picture and have to remember his gray, black, white narrow stripes and impish topnotch.

Many miles are spent driving through a valley shared by an empty river-bed, at the bottom of a deep canyon, indicating that the intensity of the torrents, over the years, has eroded the soil and created its own reality. Again, the only signs of life are grazing cattle and a few unseasonable calves.

Sunset over the Reeds and Ocean

As we begin to wonder “Are we there yet?” we push over another portion of the Coast Range, now heading west, and soon we are between marshes: colorful stalks of reeds and leaves, in tones of beige and russet, stretch for miles, interspersed with glimpses of what little water there is left, reflecting the colors of the setting sun and reminding us of the Big Bend National Park in Texas. 

Now, we’re hoping to get past the last rolling hills so we can see the sunset over the ocean, but the best we can hope for is seeing it in the distance, because the city of Santa Maria is between us. Nevertheless, it’s a picturesque scene: golden sun setting on wisps of clouds, and then into the fog bank, with low rolling hills in the foreground and coastal evergreens silhouetted against the sunset, and a light evening fog adding a mystical touch.

We come to US Highway 101 and travel north a few miles, trying to adjust to the heavy weekend traffic, and then exit toward Oceana, wending our way between evergreens, as the last sunlight sinks into the distant ocean.

Again, I’m reminded of the fine-line distinction between California’s seasons, as we pass a business brightly bedecked in Christmas lights and decorations, and several residences, too, already displaying their seasonal finery. 

Self-Registration and All That Jazz

Thank goodness, the signs guide us to the Oceana State Park; it is dark as we pull into the front registration booth, only to find it closed. But, as usual, there are signs to guide us through the self-registration procedure. 

I hate this. First of all, we take an envelope, which Van must fill out and take back to the receptacle, once we find a place. Yeah, right! Saturday night in a State Park at the beach, and pitch black.

In addition, the hook-up sites are closed for renovation, so fewer are available in the non-hookup section. But, we slowly begin groping (figuratively speaking) our way through the dark, searching for signs to the various sections, trying to coordinate the list (of available sites, as of noon) — in my hand — with the numbers on the posts. 

Finally, we find a vacant spot and I get out, with my flashlight, to guide Van into the space. He can’t see well, in the dark, and he’s nervous, as he tries to drive around the post and miss any low-hanging branches. These episodes always end up with me yelling at him, because we aren’t coordinating our efforts. I demand that he get out and make sure we’re in place.

Van discovers an “Occupied” sign on the post, which I’d somehow missed. Now, we have to back out and find another place; no small matter. So, we decide to leave Freedom in the occupied place long enough to walk around the sections and find another one. 

Okay, by now it’s getting damp and cool, as we trudge, with our flashlight, peering at the few vacant number posts, and I’m feeling like a fool and worried about leaving Freedom in someone else’s space. You can be sure they will come, while we are out looking.

And they did! We’d gotten lost, so by the time we returned, they were pacing the driveway, in front of Freedom, waving their flashlights and shouting, rightfully concerned.

Van’s tromping across the sections, toward the raucous scene, shouting, “I’m lost, I’m lost,” which further added to the confusion, as the RVers wondered what madman was approaching them in the dark.

Somehow, Van explained that we hadn’t seen the sign, and we were looking for another place. Fortunately, the neighboring RVer had come out, with his flashlight, and guided us out of the precarious situation, while the newcomers sat in their vehicle waiting for the interlopers to leave.

By this time, I’m totally stressed, so I’m relieved to have someone else guide Van, who is also totally in panic, because he can’t see or understand the guy’s signals. 

I’m shouting, “Just take that place by the garbage dumpster, and get out of this mess.”

But Van misses that communication and is intent upon finding Space 55, which we’d spotted on our walk-around.

When we arrive, our former neighbor is waiting with his flashlight and guides Van into the space, although he’s worried that our rear hangs out further than it should. Nevertheless, Van thanks him for his help, just wanting to be left alone, at this point. And the helpful RVer leaves.

I’ve collapsed onto the bed, fully stressed-out from the episode, and Van fills out the registration form and takes it back to the booth; God only knows where it is in this darkened maze. But, at this point, I don’t care. I’m feeling dizzy and weird, so I’m happy to be left alone in my own space for a few minutes, while I try to regain my sanity. I hope you don’t mind if I invite you to leave, too, and I’ll pick you up, again, when we continue our adventures.

Wouldn’t You Know?

In retrospect, after a peaceful, quiet night’s sleep, I know exactly what happened. God was giving us another experiential aide. You see, about the time we were coming over the last rolling hills, toward the sunset, I’d said to Van, “This time, while at your mother’s we both need to adjust our attitudes and change our patterns so that our stay there goes smoothly.”

He agreed, and I wasn’t sure if he knew what I was talking about, so I continued, “It would help if you not project onto her, or me, your preconceived ideas of our reactions. Try to relax, let go, and let God, rather than anticipate our every action, word, and need, in order to offset any possible thing that could displease either of us.”

He was silent, and I added, “For one thing, the very thing that you fear is exactly what you create, by your thoughts about it, so it’s time to let go. Trust us and trust God. I’m sure that doing so will create an entire new experience for us all.”

It was about here that we reached Highway 101 and shifted our attention to finding the State Park, so the subject was left there.

But, not really. The lying embers of unresolved stuff had surfaced, during our “All that Jazz” episode, and wouldn’t you know that it had to happen the way it did for the intensity to slap the emotions into our faces. For instance, we could have returned to Freedom and gotten into another place, without incident, but no!

Our projections created exactly what happened, because I was worried that they would come while we were gone, which they did, of course. Then I got thrown into my pattern of feeling not wanted, not belonging and not fitting in. Even though I thought I had recently worked through this pattern, it was back, because the circumstances triggered it.

There’s no Place for us 

I was, again, feeling like there was no place for us and that threw me into feeling like everyone else belonged here, but we didn’t. It was really a traumatic experience, and one that I would prefer to avoid, in the future, either by arriving before dark, making reservations, or hopefully by changing my attitude.

Van, too, has this emotional pattern, but he’s not as aware of his feelings. In addition, his pattern is trying to please and make everything work out, without causing any upset. So, he, too, was thrown into the situation, so he could look at his patterns, which fall into place when he has his mother and me together. It, no doubt, reverts to childhood, when he tried to keep peace in the turbulent family when his mother brought home an unwanted baby to her family, after breaking up with his dad. 

These are deep-rooted emotions, and bringing them to the surface is painful. For instance, I’m not going to type anymore right now, as I’m again feeling dizzy and disoriented, as Van returns to the booth to register us for another day. Then we will walk on the beach and have a fun day. But first, we will talk about what I have just written, and see if we can free ourselves of another level of this dreadful pattern.

“Chowder of the Millennium”

Okay, Van and I had our talk and we’re ready for a walk on the beach; you are welcome to join us, if we can find our way out of here. Fortunately, Van scoped the scene, while walking to the front to re-register, and leads us to the path, right behind Freedom, beside the lagoon, which is the view out our rear window; the front looks into the tree branches, giving the impression of being in a treehouse.

We slowly walk along the wide sandy path, enjoying the warm winter sun, for about 1/10th mile, and then suddenly there it is: our first glimpse of the ocean, since Oceanside (in southern California). We’re at the southern end of a wide bay, and can barely see the far northern end, through the light haze. We can almost see the gazebo at the motel where we used to stay (BF: before Freedom) when we had money for such luxuries. 

But now we’re walking south, along the beach, looking for Pier St., where we plan to have a bowl of “Prize Winning Clam Chowder,” according to their advertisement when we were here several years ago. However, something warns me to check it out, before Joanie’s expectations lead to disappointment. So, I ask at the State Park booth, where they collect fees for driving on the beach.

“It closed two months ago,” the lady ranger tells me.

“Oh no,” I cry, feeling a great sense of loss, and explaining, “I was looking forward to a bowl of their prize-winning clam chowder.”

The ranger takes sympathy on my plight and says, “That place right over there on the corner, Stevie D’s, serves prize-winning clam chowder.” I perked up, and she added, “Or there’s another place on Grand Ave., which is walking distance.”

I brighten, saying, “All right, we’ll be back, after our walk.”

As we talk, two guys in a car, with a Pizza sign on top, stop at the booth and announce, “We’re delivering this pizza to a guy down on the beach.”

“Not without paying $4.00 to drive on the beach,” the ranger counters.

“Well, we’re just delivering the pizza; he’s right over there in the first vehicle.”

“Tell him you need $4.00,” she firmly states. 

The guys drive around the booth and leave; another cliff-hanger.

But, at least I’m not setting myself up for disappointment, as we continue our walk along the tire-flattened sand; caused by the many vehicles pulling trailers loaded with dune buggies, with their red flags jauntily flying atop the attached antennas. Other sand toys, including some horse trailers, make their way along the beach to the designated area (further south). Although the motorized vehicles are not allowed where we’re walking, the horses are exceptions, judging by the several sets of hoof prints.

Approaching a nearly empty lagoon, I reminisce with Van, “Remember the last time we were here; there were two young girls playing on a raft, and the lagoon was much fuller; in fact, it overflowed across the beach and many drivers had to decide whether or not to ford the water.”

Van nods, as we watch a shirtless, tanned senior citizen jogging by and toward the beachfront homes. I secretly envy the people living in them, but then maybe I wouldn’t want to stay here all the time, especially in the foggy season crowded with tourists and summer visitors.

We’re ready to turn back for clam chowder, before the sun gets any lower and chills the air. I take several pictures of the trailers loaded with dune buggies, and soon we arrive at Stevie D’s. She’s playing an electronic checker game, watched over by Love It, her fluffy little dog.

“She usually isn’t here,” Stevie explains, “but I’m having the house sprayed for termites, and we can’t go there.” And she adds, “It’s not fun staying in a motel with a parrot and two dogs, especially when the parrot’s loudest time is in the middle of the night.”

As we chat, she ladles her prize-winning clam chowder into Styrofoam containers, and we sit down to eat, while looking out the front window at the beach activities and chatting with Stevie, who scolds Love It for begging.

In the meantime, I just couldn’t resist getting closure on the place next door, and she answers my question by saying, “The Health Department closed them down for refusing to comply with the rules.” Adding, “I was so glad to see them leave, because she was trying to help rehabilitate drug users and using them to help at the restaurant. It was terrible.” 

There’s always a story to hear, if we just ask and then stop to listen. For instance, Stevie revealed that her dog was a gift from her husband to offset her grief over the auto accident of her daughter; and the little dog filled a big void in her life.

A teenager comes in for a soda and chuckles over the sign: “Hire Teenagers While They Still Know Everything.”

I tell her that I’m a writer and I’d be writing about that sign and Love It, on my website.

She says “I wanted to name her Lovey, but my husband refused to call a dog “Lovey,” so I named her Love It, but he calls her Sergeant Major.”

“That’s a good name for her,” I said, agreeing that she seemed to be quite in charge.

As we talk, Stevie asks for my website, and wouldn’t you know that I forgot my cards, so I write down the information and she promises to visit the website.

She speaks of enjoying her computer by talking with various relatives on chatrooms, and I tell her that we have a chatroom, but we don’t know how it works. Her sense of humor reminds me of Joyce and I tell her to stop by and visit “Do it Anyway,” which immediately grabs Stevie’s interest, as I say, “It’s about money and other stuff, which gives Joyce freedom to write about whatever she wants, and she likes to write her own way.”

“I like her already,” Stevie says with a warm smile. 

“In fact,” I say, “tell her you want to visit her at the chatroom. I think you guys would really hit it off.”

“I will,” she promises.

This had turned out to be a fun time, while enjoying a bowl of prize-winning clam chowder, chosen by the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce, over all the big hotels and other local entries. Indeed, it is delicious and satisfying, along with the good company of Stevie D and Love It.

Returning to Freedom, from the front entrance, Van leads us on a path, along the lagoon, as ducks quack and splash in their own personal pond, and eventually we arrive back at Freedom in time to settle down for a relaxing evening.

Pismo Beach Priorities

The next day we drive north through the beach towns of Oceana, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach, a high priority on my list of Places to Live; there’s much to see and do, such as the Pismo Beach Pier. But, we’ve stayed here, at the luxury Shore Cliff and Shell Beach Motels (featured in the Entertainment Coupon Books), and today we have other sights to see, despite the fact that one of the most beautiful coastal panoramic views is here.

However, we will take time to stop at the Old West Cinnamon Roll Factory for one of the best we’ve ever eaten: a big tasty bun piled with nuts and raisins, and covered with a gooey sauce; but not too sweet or sticky. As difficult as it is to postpone the pleasure of eating our roll, we’ll take it with us to eat at Avila Pier.

As I’ve said before, some people judge an area by its shopping or bars, but we remember the food. For instance, I’ve eaten some delectable coconut shrimp at the two motel-restaurants mentioned above, overlooking that view, and also at the Kon-Tiki Inn. Actually, anything you eat, with that view, has got to taste delicious. And we’ve also eaten at a delightful Mexican restaurant in town. And don’t forget the Pismo Beach Clams, which produce prize-winning clam chowder for all of those who compete at the annual event.

Avila: a Best Kept Secret

But today we’re passing the residential areas, with their prize-winning views, and driving through Avila Canyon, past the hot springs resort and RV Park (where I look forward to staying when we have more time) past the golf course, past the nuclear plant, and even past the fishing village of Avila, where we are, again, at the ocean. 

Actually, we are at Point San Luis, the north end of the panoramic view, which extends from Point Sal, north of Vandenberg Air Force Base, near the quaint town of Guadalupe. Like I said, you need to spend time here to see all the special sights. In fact, I even visited a Freedomer at Lompoc Prison, not far south of Vandenberg. But that’s another story for another time.

Now, we pass the boatyards, where boats are dry-docked for repairs. And we pass the famous Fat Cats Restaurant, a haunt offering 24-hour food and refuge for the fishermen. Finally, we park Freedom, overlooking the San Luis Bay, with fishing boats anchored at frequent intervals, both sides of the long pier, adding to the picturesque sight.

While enjoying every tasty morsel of our cinnamon roll, we immediately hear the “Bark Bark” of the resident seals, while the seagulls and pelicans swoop over the scene; or simply sit and wait for tidbits from the fishermen, or whatever comes their way. 

One of the favorite positionings for the pelicans is atop the cleaning shed, which sits at the beginning of the pier. Here, they doze, with their long beak tucked inside their wing, and one eye warily open for any tidbits. Today, there are no fishermen at the shed, so they wait and snooze, until we pass by, and I take their picture. 

So many scenes that it’s hard to stop snapping, but we’re anxious to find the source of the barking, and as we stroll along the pier, we soon spot about six-to-eight seals on a raft, not far from the pier, and we stop to watch their antics. The number, on the raft, depends on the pecking order, and who manages to maintain position, before being barked, intimidated, or shoved off.

I could watch these shiny, slippery furriers for hours, but there’s more to see, so we continue walking to the live fish stand and peer into the watery cubicles of all sized fish and some crabs. I suspect that these are for bait, as they are not very appetizing. But, of course, neither is the fishy smell emanating from the fish cannery, at the far end of the pier. This is where the fish boats unload their catch, which are cleaned, processed and iced for the delivery trucks that will soon arrive. 

Reaching the fishery, we walk past the tanks of oysters-in-shell and crabs (for eating) and through a window we watch the workers scrape and fillet the latest catch, to the background noise of the barking seals, and the choreography of the seagulls and pelicans. And to think this is all free; they should charge admission for this performance. 

But, the next door restaurant is the destination of most tourists, and we have eaten an outstanding fish dinner there, in the past. Although it’s a popular dinner house, it’s best in the daytime, because its windows overlook the ocean scene; not the seals on their raft, but the anchored fishing boats, and also the ones that seem to be coming and going all day; a never-ending panorama.

But, we must tear ourselves away, because this is only a stop on the way to today’s destination: San Simeon State Park, near Hearst Castle.

Central Coast’s Main Attractions

We decide to by-pass the tourist route to Morro Bay, instead taking Los Osos Parkway through lush farmland tucked in a valley, but we miss seeing the famous Madonna Inn, with its fascinating architecture and decor. Usually we stop to eat, but we’d missed breakfast, when I always order their buckwheat pancakes; although their Monte Cristo sandwich makes an outstanding lunch treat. But today we have our cinnamon roll.

Besides, we’ve been there and done that, so not today. In fact, we don’t even stop at the touristy Morro Bay, although I snap a picture of the Big Rock, as we pass by. It’s a humungous Big Oval Rock projecting from the bay in front of town, and definitely worth seeing; as if you could miss it. There is a lot to see in this town, and good places to eat, too, but we’re moving on.

In the past, Van and I have actually slept in our car at Morro Bay harbor. It was dark when we parked, and when we awoke and looked out the window, there was this monstrous apparition looming from the water, not far from our car. We’ve also parked at Morro Bay State park, which we already passed on our new route today.

The freeway takes us out of town, and as far as Cayacas, another beach town, and then it reverts to a two lane highway following along a beauteous stretch, where the ocean splashes against the projecting rock formations and beach. And then we leave the ocean for a few miles and travel through rolling hills and past the artsy little town of Harmony, with thirty residents and some interesting shops; at 175 ft. elevation, according to the sign.

One of our favorite places that we’ve considered living is Cambria, and we even looked into buying a place here, but it never happened. However, they do have a State Park where we could spend time, in the future. They also have lots of lovely homes, businesses and restaurants, so you would want to spend time, when coming to this area. The main town is built in a canyon and up and over the surrounding rolling hills, and it also spreads out to the beach, with gorgeous views between evergreens. 

A few miles north of Cambria, we pass San Simeon State Park, but I’m holding out for the one located in a grove of trees, by the beach, near Hearst Castle. And within a few minutes, I spot the monument to the newspaper tycoon, as it’s perched atop a barren coastal mountain. 

We have taken the various tours through Hearst Castle and viewed its fabulous swimming pools, statuary, rooms and shrubs. It’s the epitome of extravagance, for its day, and certainly worth touring; but not today for us. However, this is a good place to leave you off, so that you can tour the castle, if you choose, or stay in one of the many motels in San Simeon. We’ll meet you tomorrow to conclude this California Tapestry.

Sunsets and Sunrises

When we reach the State Park, we discover that it’s no longer available for overnight use, though it is a perfect location, and we agree to return another time to spend a day there. However, it’s getting late and we want to return to San Simeon State Park and get settled down. It would be nice to walk on the beach, but today is overcast and cool, so we decide to stay home and enjoy our lovely surroundings in a park that we have all to ourselves midst lots of low trees and shrubs and green grass and a good view of the sunset.

This sunset is totally deep pink, as it pushes through the heavy clouds over the ocean. Seeing it through the branches of a giant shade tree makes it even more spectacular, as it gradually deepens from pink to magenta and spreads across the entire sky; subdued by the heavy clouds. We watch, until it finally fades into darkness, and is interrupted by three other RVers arriving throughout the presentation.

As enthralling as the evening sunset had been, we were equally entertained by the morning sunrise that we happened to awaken in time to enjoy. I wish I had a paintbrush, but I’ll type a word picture.

Across the front, over the ocean (just beyond the highway) the fogbank had turned a brilliant solid pink, while to the right the clouds are a lighter fluffy pink; and to the left it’s a splashy peach watercolor effect.

I rush to the next windows to look out at the 360 degree dome-like panorama, and each scene is different: from the front toward the back, the peach turns into a golden-peachy splash of colors; but out the back window it’s a waffle-patterned deep pink that turns maroon, as I watch. And those shades blend into the fluffy pink clouds on the right side. And, of course, the myriad shades of green (some tinged with autumn golds) shrubs, grass and trees, on the ground, bask in the reflection of these colors, especially as the sun gets brighter, and the colors gradually fade.

What a Day for a Walk on the Beach!

(visit a link to Hearst Castle: www.hearstcastle.org)

I hope you’re enjoying your day at Hearst Castle, while Van and I go for a walk on the beach this beautiful day. 

First, we walk up the hill to the registration booth to pay for another day; we aren’t ready to leave, yet. As we come to an open area, apart from the shrubs, trees and blackberry bushes, Van points and says, “That’s where I saw the buck and doe last night when I came up to register.” Little Ralph had already told me about his exciting encounter, a highlight of our California Tapestry. He looks wistfully in that direction, recalling the moments when the deer looked up and they held each other’s gaze, without moving.

Now, we simply dropped the envelope in the container and returned back down the hill, across the park, under the freeway, and along a trail that we thought would take us to the beach. Instead, we’re faced with a backwater, between us and the rest of the beach. The only way is to follow the narrow trail that disappears along the hillside, with a questionable approach to the beach. 

We decide to follow it, anyway, and see where it goes, because all we can see is the rocky side of a cliff that goes right into the backwater. But, standing still and erect, on a rock at the edge of the backwater, is a Great Blue Heron, with its beak pointing upward, into the air. I hope it won’t move, as we stop to take a picture just in time, before it spreads its massive wings and takes flight. 

That sight was worth the trip, even if we have to go back, but fortunately, there’s a questionable makeshift trail along the face of the cliff and we carefully make our way above the backwater and to the sandy beach, as Van says, “I think we’d better find another route back.” I was inclined to agree. But then, I always like to take a different way back; never the same way twice, if I can help it.

However, that eventuality awaits us for later in the day. For now, we are faced with a picture postcard shoreline, as the waves roll upon the sand or splash against the rock formations projecting from the water or along the beach. The sunshine is attempting to push through the fogbank, left over from the sunrise, and blue sky is higher overhead; it’s a beautiful day.

I stop and sit on a log to take off my shoes and socks. The sand feels good squishing through my toes, and we lose track of time, as we wander along the sandy beach. At one point, we pause to study a buzzard sitting above the cliffs, on a rail fence. And then we become fascinated with a luxurious pinkish beach home, sitting midst pines and palm trees above the cliffs. What a magnificent view! But, it’s the end of the line for our walk, because the cliffs come down to the water’s edge, and we don’t feel like the adventure of climbing up and over the rocks to make our way further up the beach; better to turn around and walk in the other direction.

A Chance Encounter; or is it Destiny?

In the distance, we see a lady and her dog walking toward us, along the otherwise deserted beach. As we approach them, we exchange greetings, and the dog barks. I back off, because it’s obviously part Rottweiler and Lab, and I don’t want to antagonize it.

“Oh, that’s just her friendly greeting,” the lady says.

And I ask what kind of dog it is. It’s as I suspected, with a dash of Dalmatian; only the spots on its white chest look more like splashes. But it’s a friendly dog and I ask its name, as I begin stroking its head.

“Jessa,” the lady says, adding, “I thought it was an original name, but I’ve heard others with the same name.”

We begin chatting, as Van asks about the house.

“It’s the summer home for a family that only comes here once-in-awhile. She points above the cliffs, as she says, “That’s the only way in or out of the place.”

I can’t tell you what we talked about, but it was like friends meeting there, on the beach, as we shifted from time-to-time, while the sun broke free and burned away the fogbank, then shone brightly in the blue sky. I know that she spoke of having the first signs of Alzheimer’s, and that she had been a secretary 20-years for a law firm, which had been extremely stressful, and now she won’t even consider a computer. “I put in my time,” she says.

I had hoped that she had a computer and we could keep in touch, but it was a mute subject. Nevertheless, I learned that her name is Leona Louise Blake, a musical name, I thought. And, before we left, I gave her my business card, which I had felt guided to put into my pocket, and urged her to write, so that we could keep in touch. She promised.

I felt a kinship with Leona, and she said that she felt the same, adding that she seldom talks with people, because they have nothing in common. Yet, we met as strangers, and felt like lifelong friends. Somehow, I felt this was more than a chance meeting; but a moment in destiny to fulfill some Divine Appointment. I know that I felt my life enhanced by our meeting, and I could tell that she looked lighter from our time together. And Van, too, had entered into the conversation from time-to-time, and otherwise remained consciously part of the experience, occasionally shading his eyes against the warming sun, as he shifted into its rays. 

The worse for the meeting was Jessa, who battled the unrelenting sandflies, while lying patiently on the sand. But, Leona assured us that the dog was happy being there, and was used to the sandflies. She is definitely a patient dog, because we stood there talking for at least three- hours, as time seemed to stop and allow us this beach rendezvous.

Eventually, the tide began coming in, and we slowly walked together toward the park, chatting amiably about this and that: sometimes I would refer to our travels, or Leona would talk of her job, cleaning homes, which she says she enjoys, “because it gives me exercise.”

We passed a group of school children, with their teachers, playing Simon Says, along the beach, and Jessa got confused when they suddenly moved, so she barked and nipped at one of the boys, but otherwise we passed by uneventfully.

Then we came to the fork in the road where Leona would continue toward the beach where she’d parked, and we would search for the boardwalk that would take us back to the park. But, she decided to walk with us a bit further, as she’d never seen the boardwalk. However, after a short distance, she became concerned that she might not find her way back; and I could see that the confusion was part of what she referred to her as pre-Alzheimer’s symptoms. 

She looked at Jessa, and asked, “Why can’t you remember the way for us?” And then she hesitated, said good-bye, turned around and headed back to her familiar routine.

Earlier, I had mentioned to her about our OPC-3 product, which helps offset her symptoms, and she said she has something like it, but hasn’t been taking it. I suggested that she start using it again, and also take Gingko Biloba, which she said she has, also. With that said, the subject was dropped, and we went on to other things. Now, as she made her way, along the boardwalk, we all turned and waved, and then went our separate ways.

Leona had said that she hoped we would meet on the beach, again, the next day, but the weather had changed and it was raining, so we didn’t attempt to reconnect. It seemed enough that she had promised to write and I felt that we would keep in contact.

An Evening Fire

When we returned from the beach, we noticed huge piles of limbs, branches, pine cones and logs that had been left by the maintenance crew, after sawing down part of the dead tree. Nothing would do, for Joanie and Little Ralph, but come evening they gathered some smaller materials and pine cones, drug them back to our fire ring and Little Ralph built a roaring fire. This kept us busy for several hours, hauling back more loads of branches and pine cones, while the other one tended the fire.

Our objective had been to build a big enough fire to burn through the longer limb we had thrown into the ring, and it took longer than expected, so Little Ralph made many trips, in the dark, to gather more material. And, finally, he was able to break the limb into a shorter length, but we still needed to remain outside, until it broke again. 

We didn’t mind, because it was a warm, pleasant evening and the stars and moon were shining brightly. Besides, we were busy with our mutual project.

Throughout the evening, we had watched several newcomers: a large RV which parked by the dead tree, two youths in a camper, and a group of bikers, which camped in front of us by the restrooms and showers. And, later, a Class C camper with a cross painted on the side, which parked a few rows ahead of us.

About the time everyone had settled down, and the limb was ready to break and fit into the ring, the Class C with the cross moved and parked right next to us. Soon a lady got out and asked, “Do you mind if I park here?”

Nicky introduced herself and said that she was traveling alone, and we figured she liked the safety of being near someone else. She later commented that she’d tried to talk with the two youths, but they didn’t seem very friendly and she assumed that they didn’t speak the language, so she moved.

We chatted, sharing traveling stories, interjected with Nicky’s religious comments, until the limb had become dying embers, and finally we went inside for the night.

An Exchange of Cards

The next morning, while I was at my computer entering the memories of yesterday’s beach encounter, Van said, “Nicky left a card on the bench for you.”

I jumped up and opened the window, saying, “I have a flyer for you about Hearst Castle.” As she walked over to reach for it, I said, “Even if you don’t go there, at least you will know about it.” 

She took it, and thanked me, as we continued chatting about our travel plans. She was heading through Los Angeles so she could say that she’d been there, and then would stay in the Arizona desert for the winter on the BLM sites: $100.00 for the season, as I’d heard about before. 

I asked for her card, and while she went for it, I got mine and then handed to her through the window. I hadn’t mentioned my ministry, because we’re on different paths, and I didn’t want to get into a confrontation, but she said she has an e-mail at her daughter’s, in Canada, so it would be interesting to reconnect. I really like the lady, and she seemed like she might be more open-minded than most Christian ministers.

In any event, I wished her God’s blessings in her travels, and she returned to her vehicle and departed, about one-minute before it rained. I thought, “God really is watching over her. He even protected her from the rain,” and I knew that she would continue to be divinely guided and protected. Her email: gospelgram@home.com.Cal.Cnd.) She is affiliated with “His Laboring Few Biker Ministry of Jesus Christ. 1-800-205-6774. 1904 Futrelle Dr. High Point, NC. 27262.

Nicky also gave me a flyer from a young man who had been a cocaine addict and now he and his wife travel across the country with a cross, testifying for Jesus and how He saved him from the life of a cocaine addict. They are: Bob and Cori Hanus, Jr. (www.crosswalker.com or e-mail: bob@crosswalker.com). 

It seems important to share this information for anyone who is interested. These are not chance encounters, but moments in destiny, and perhaps someone’s life will be saved by contacting these people, or even learning that they care, and as Nicky’s camper proclaims, next to the cross, “Jesus Cares About You.”

End of a Cliff-Hanger

I know that you are waiting to know, as we were: Will we meet Leona and Jessa on the beach?

Rather than climb along the side of the cliff, to get to the beach, we waited until we left, and then parked near the Vista Point where Leona said that she parks. Seeing an Isuzu, which she mentioned driving, we rushed toward the beach and looked up and down, from the bluff, but couldn’t see the familiar figures whom we had met yesterday. 

Although it had become overcast and even sprinkled earlier, we decided to walk down the easy access: dirt steps worn into the side of the bluff. Still, we couldn’t see Nicky and Jessa, so we walked north, past the point, and surveyed the beach where we had been yesterday; but still no one in sight.

By now we were committed to our beach walk and finding them, so we walked south, past the surfers and rolling waves that splashed against the rocks (beyond the surfers). Several others were strolling on the sand, picking up pebbles or shells, but not our new friends.

Finally, time was passing, and we had a lot of miles ahead of us, so we returned to the makeshift steps just in time to see Jessa frolicking over a trail, along the bluffs, with Leona making her way ahead of the dog, who stopped and looked at us, in recognition, and then followed her mistress.

We rushed up the steps and along the trail, but they had already reached the beach below. Leona was still moving right along, but again, Jessa stopped and looked up at us. Somehow, Leona sensed that we were there, and she paused and turned around. Seeing us, still on the bluff, she waved a happy greeting and pointed to where the path wended its way to the beach.

But, by the time we got there, they had moved on north, so we followed quickly along. However, she seemed to be intent upon getting her walk, so they continued onward, and she turned to wave several times.

Okay, so we concluded that she must want the privacy of her own beach walk, and we slowed our pace, being already tired from our earlier walk, and watched them, as they disappeared behind some rocks and then reappeared, near the pink house, still heading north.

In the meantime, Van noticed that the kelp and seaweed had come in, during the tide, and the beach was covered with various sizes and types of amber or maroon vegetation that had become uprooted and deposited in a foreign setting, only to die, after it becomes quite smelly. But, for now, it wasn’t too bad, and Joanie entertained herself by stomping on the puffy pods and watching the water squish out. 

Eventually, after our friends had reached the end of the beach and were returning, Joanie worked her way through the maze of seaweed, while Little Ralph walked above the slimy mess, and we met them, giving Jessa a pat on the head and a cheery greeting to Leona. She smiled and welcomed us, saying she was glad we made it, and handed me a white shell “butterfly” that she had picked up on her walk. She also pulled out of her pocket several pieces of abalone shell, which she had gathered.

I was delighted with the butterfly, and told her that we were glad we had made connections. It felt good, as we chatted and walked back to the makeshift steps and to her Isuzu Trooper, which wasn’t the one we’d seen earlier. So much for mistaken assumptions; but it all turned out okay. And we invited them into our home, while I showed her a picture of our family dog, Rascal, and also one of Dottie and Micayla. 

This time I got her address, and again we promised to keep in touch, as we finally said our good-byes and she and Jessa returned to her faithful Trooper and drove into the distance.

The Changing Terrain and Seasons

Van took awhile getting organized for the trip, and then we began the last phase of our California Tapestry: along the beach and back through Cambria, past the street that turns off to Leona’s home, and a few miles further to the Junction to Paso Robles.

As I earlier described the westward trek, over the mountains, and the autumn colors, now I again invite you to join us on the eastward return to Highway 101, across the Coast Range; an entirely different terrain, as we have shifted from southern California to northern, in the short distance from Oceana/Pismo Beach to Cambria. This entire area is called The Central Coast, although it’s really the central part of the southern half of California; because San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento are in the center of this very long state.

Nevertheless, as we drive quickly upward, over barren rolling hills, we can see over them, to the giant rock protruding from Morro Bay, and the sun is reflecting through the clouds and glistening across the ocean; a spectacular view, as we wind upward and see it from various locations. 

Although there are no autumn trees, this is a glorious scene that could easily depict the Christmas pageant; all we need are sheep on the hillside and the magi, on their camels, making their way over the rolling hills toward the birth of the Christ child. Of course this holy experience can take place within us, at any time.

The Curtain is Drawn

This seems a good time for you, as a make-believe passenger, on this fantasy, to return to your own domain and allow us to journey forward alone, because it’s like someone has drawn the curtain on our Vacation Act, in this play, as it becomes dark and rainy.

And we are now entering a new act, called Reality, because the rain causes the need for the windshield wipers, which Van hasn’t had repaired, yet, and they become stuck on the outer rim of the window, rendering them useless. 

Van is perfectly willing to make his way over the mountain, in the rain, without them, but I am upset, because these repairs were a high priority and should have been handled long ago, or at least while we were having the recent repairs. So, I am nagging, especially when we see a parked Highway Patrol car up ahead, so Van pulls off to the side and gets out, in the rain, to loosen the blades. At least I had unearthed his rain jacket, which had not been needed for many months. This is a jolt to reality, especially the one reminding us that it rains in northern California.

At the beach, we hadn’t had a signal on the cellular phone, but at this altitude we must have reached a signal, because suddenly it rings and Dottie is checking in.

From here on, it’s so dark and rainy, with frequent stops to fix the blades, that it’s difficult to see any tapestry. And it’s about time to end this chapter, as it brings itself to a natural close. 

We return to Highway 101 and begin driving through towns, such as Paso Robles and King City, on our way to Salinas, where we decide to end the frustration of driving in the rain, and we park at Wal-Mart for the night.

But, first, along the highway, we begin to see Christmas lights (mostly the icicles) hanging on isolated homes, and then businesses. And a lovely tall decorated Christmas tree greets us from one of the towns. 

Even the lights of Soledad Prison, where Jerry Pitre resides, seem to evoke the Spirit of Christmas, especially when I tune into his gentle spirit of love. But, it also reminds me that I owe him a letter, and I have tons of work to do on my website, but first I must take time to create and send my Christmas greetings, and prepare the pictures and booklet that I plan to give as gifts. Such a jolt of reality!

But the final jolt comes, while we are stopped in King City for a hamburger at Carl’s Jr. Again, the phone rings. This time it’s Van’s Mom, “Where are you guys!?”

Van hadn’t been able to call, because of no signal, and she was expecting us sooner. I hand the phone to Van. She isn’t upset; the main reason she called is to arrange to give us our forwarded mail, which was sent to her address.  

Okay, I get it, it’s back to reality. But, I sure hope you have enjoyed our California Tapestry interlude. I know it’s really been a joy for Van and me; not to mention Joanie and Little Ralph. But now it’s back to reality.

 

A Postscript

For one thing, reality meant grocery shopping, while in Salinas, at Costco, Wal-Mart and a supermarket, plus waiting for the latest pictures to be developed so they could be added to this chapter, as I planned to give it as a Christmas present.

And reality also meant stopping in Gilroy at a Discount Outlet and finding the one gift I planned to give Dottie and her family, and then rushing to the post office and mailing it. And it was on these errands that I noticed the glorious autumn leaves — all shades of yellow and gold, orange and red — on the trees lining the streets — and I just had to mention them in this chapter a about A California Tapestry, because, where else would one see such vibrant autumn leaves in December? And, of course, the rains had stopped and the sun was shining warmly, as we walked around in our shirt sleeves.

And we saw even more colorful trees while driving around town to find a branch of our bank so that Van could deposit the check that Joyce had given him for his computer expertise; another activity dealing with reality.

One concluding act of reality was necessary, before parking and staying put, and that was filling the propane tanks in San Jose. Van knew exactly where to go, but when we got there, they were out of propane, however, the attendant directed us to another place, and Van handled the matter quite efficiently.

In fact, I noticed that, as Little Ralph neared his mother’s home, and Adult Ralph finally pulled into our space, his inner child and adult seemed to be more integrated, and he was dealing with the realities of life more responsibly and efficiently than he had in years. As I stop to think about it, I truly believe that his healing transition process is completed, and I rejoice in this miracle, as we look forward to Christmas 2000.

I’m adding these comments to this chapter, because I’m planning to focus on Christmas preparations and the true Spirit of Christmas, the awareness of the Christ Presence, before I resume my writing, during this Holy Season. 

 

Chapter 15 

ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

 

Life Cycles

Life is a continuous cycle of endings and beginnings. Before one thing can begin, another must end. In order to go there, we must leave here. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that life is in a constant state of flux, and change is inevitable. This moment in time must pass, before the next can commence. And on it goes.

Looking out my newly cleaned window, during my morning meditation, a giant jet plane lifted to the sky from the San Jose Airport. It occurred to me, in the midst of these deeper thoughts, that everyone on board had to leave where they had been in order to get where they are going. And watching a tall pine swaying in the breeze, I realized that each movement had to give up the one before; that’s progress. We cannot remain stagnant, if we hope to move forward. And we must be willing to give up one thing for another; this minute must yield to the next. And we must stop doing this in order to start doing something else.

I tend to want to hold onto things, but change is constant, and the more we can accept, and not resist this truth, the more smoothly goes our life. It’s the Law of Non-resistance, which inevitably leads to the ultimate lofty spiritual experience of surrender; an ending that precedes a beginning. 

Such is the true spirit of Christmas: the new birth, or being born again; letting go of the old to attain the new.

Entering a New Era

I’m not sure these thoughts are original, or profound, but they came to me, at this time, and I felt them worthy to share, as we enter into a new era.

Not only is the nation — and the world — entering into a new era, that of President-elect George W. Bush, but when we arrived at Van’s mom’s, Betty informed us that she must leave her comfortable lifestyle and find a new place to live, because the mobile park has been sold and will become expensive apartments; an ending that opens the way for a new beginning.

“What Are Your Plans?”

That was the first thing Betty asked us, based on the contention that she might be willing to relocate, if we were going to be someplace permanent and to her liking.

We explained that we had been asking ourselves the same question, as we traveled westward, and then north. Each place had its appeal, and we considered the pros and cons, but not having reached a conclusion.

“I won’t move to Denver,” she firmly announced, nor would she live in Albuquerque, despite the desirable Active Adult Community that we described.

However, she would consider southern California or Oregon; but mostly she leaned toward renting an apartment in this area, which was familiar and comfortable. Even though Betty has traveled the world, she does not enjoy change in her lifestyle. So, the fact that she must move is, in itself, an obstacle to be faced and overcome; and with her resolute and willful approach, she will do it.

As she clearly indicated, it will be with or without us. “I just want to know your plans, before I make mine,” she announced, adding, “And I don’t want you doing anything different on my account.”

Well, that’s a lot of leeway, which doesn’t give us anymore answers than we had before. All we know is that we are here, now. And we will move on, as God guides, and as doors open. But Betty doesn’t buy that philosophy; she sets her own sails and is captain of her own ship, so we will stay tuned for the results. 

Furthermore, despite our offers to return here to assist with her transition process, Betty informed us that she would make it just fine, and to go on about our lives. And she meant it, because the sale of the mobile park property includes the relocation program for the tenants, such as a reasonable reimbursement for moving each home, or assistance in finding them a suitable apartment. But we would definitely return here, from Colorado, when the move takes place.

The Daily Routine

While staying here, life takes on its daily routine around Betty’s. There is no doubt that Van honestly comes by his morning ritual. Hers is virtually cast in stone, which allows for us to visit, after six, every evening but Tuesday or Thursday, when she plays Bingo. I fit into this schedule, but remain home Saturday evening to watch Lawrence Welk; and other evenings, if special TV programs are irresistible. However, we watch several favorite programs with her, which works out fine.

For instance, Betty is an avid Republican, and she hates The Clintons. So she keeps on top of all political reporting, whether radio, newspaper or TV, and often sends (or gives) us clippings that are especially meaningful. 

Crazy-making

Along with the rest of the nation, Betty waited, and waited, and waited — while watching TV — for the latest ups and downs of the presidential election. We all began to wonder if there ever would be an ending, and a new beginning.

The insanity of it all triggered my “Come here, go Away” tape, a sensitivity relating to having been around the crazy- making behavior of a schizophrenic mother and other mentally ill family members. One minute they want you around, and the next they won’t have anything to do with you. 

Wouldn’t you know this was happening at this seasonal anniversary of my natural family’s dissolution, which resulted from my mother’s impactful first bout with mental illness, after the birth of my brother.

And, as if this wasn’t enough, I got word that one of my family members, who won’t allow me to mention her in my writings, decided to end a year-long “Time Out” from me, and was now ready to resume our relationship.

“Well, I’m not,” was my reply the first time I heard the indirect request, via Dottie, which asked that I call her. The crazy-making see-saw is too stressful to my over-sensitive psyche. 

“Will the Real President-elect Please Stand?”

   A decision was finally reached and it was natural that we watch the historical speeches — Gore’s Concession and Bush’s Acceptance — with Betty. 

I must admit that Gore made a memorable and historical speech that will no-doubt pave the way for his bid for presidency in 2004. But I personally couldn’t stand him, and I’d heard so many negatives about him, and even Tipper, that I felt a tremendous sense of relief when George W. Bush became the president-elect. 

My anxieties heightened when some news anchor had said that it could still shift back to Gore, if certain factors came about. Heaven Forbid! Enough already.

Ready or Not!

No matter what happens with the presidency, Christmas was rapidly upon us, and it was my intention to get into the true spirit and meaning of the Holy Season.

Again, we were not financially in a position to give gifts or spend much money, so our priorities quickly fell into place: a small check for our great-grandkids, and computer generated gifts for several others. Van prepared and printed out the return address labels for those who had requested them, and then he prepared and printed several family pictures with Micayla, taken when we were there in September.

He had to learn each new process, because we’d changed from large to small labels, and the pictures required new skills too. I needed Christmas return address labels in addition to the usual labels and newsletter. And this year I went hi-tech and sent my greetings via e-mail (to the addresses I had). I even sent several cute electronic cards.

So, all-in-all it was a 21st century Christmas; and it was very different. We’ve always been with families who celebrate the holidays in the traditional way, but Betty doesn’t. I wasn’t sure exactly how we would spend the day, suggesting to Van that we could walk around the corner to the Indian cuisine buffet, assuming they would be open, as they don’t celebrate this holiday.

More Changes and Decisions

Another unexpected announcement came from Van’s mom when she said that her doctor is retiring at the end of the month. This, of course makes it even easier for her to relocate, if that’s what she decides to do. I suggested to Van that we would probably want to continue traveling, so we shouldn’t commit ourselves to any one place, at this time. For instance, we planned to stay here another month, then return to southern California, on our way to Colorado to celebrate Micayla’s first birthday and Easter, in April, and Airica’s graduation in May. Then we would drive down to Texas for a Great Celebration with Linda and her sons, Adam and Michael. He happily agreed.

This took care of our plans, but we still had no idea what Van’s mother would decide. Like she said, she would do what she wanted and we needn’t change our plans.

Energy Crisis

I like to share local, as well as national, timely events in my books, as we’re going through them. And the power shortage in California is definitely appropriate for the subject of endings and beginnings.

I mean, what would happen if there’s simply no more power in Silicone Valley, for instance? 

We heard one announcer say that it costs Intel $1,000,000.00 dollars per minute for lost revenue when there is no electricity. Of course, that is the least of the problems. For instance, many people depend on electricity for life-support; and others depend on it for heat and cooking, which is also necessary for health and well-being. 

We are so dependent on electricity and the repercussions from having it withheld are so far-reaching that it’s incomprehensible. Therefore, the government is stepping in and forcing other states to provide the electricity at a reasonable cost, because the power companies are going bankrupt over the astronomical price-gauging, since de-regulating.

It’s all about politics and big bucks, but the possible results are frightening. Fortunately, for us, we are self-contained and can survive for a short period of time, without electricity; at least long enough to move to another state, but what about everyone else? 

For California, and ultimately the world, it would be the end of life as we know it. 

A sobering reality for bringing us quickly to the true meaning of Christmas, as we are asked to reduce the use of electricity, including Christmas lights. 

So far, most Californians are going about their lives, without disruptions, because the lights are still on, but some businesses, such as Intel, are curtailing their use of electricity, because they know and would experience the consequences.

The True Spirit

In the meantime, I wrestled with the request from my family member to reconnect. How would I fulfill her request? 

After I took time for a meditation of forgiveness and love, I felt that a card would be the best solution for all concerned, especially since she was in a state of anxiety, caused by the throes of moving; another ending and beginning in progress. 

It took me an entire day to work through this process, along with sending several other personal cards. Oh, the joys of Christmas. But, I felt good about my decision.

“Over the Hills and Through the Woods”

In addition to local and national events, I like to share appropriate reports on the activities of my family. 

This year would be one of the most unusual for our Colorado family, because they were braving the elements of an extremely early and hard winter to drive to Oregon to celebrate Christmas with Steve’s family and Dottie’s dad, brother, sister and others.

This trip could rival National Lampoon’s Christmas, as they forge across country through record snowfall, with Airica sharing the back seat with Rascal, the family dog; a picture that brings me into gales of laughter, as I write. It’s not funny, from their viewpoint. 

I cringed, while talking with Dottie, when I realized they would be crossing the terrible Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, after navigating The Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Utah. But she said they would go through Reno and Susanville to Lakeview and Klamath Falls.

I mentioned that the news had reported over a foot of snow in those areas, but then decided to shut up and let them create their own reality. They always come through these adventures with flying colors, so it’s best that I send positive thoughts, prayers and words.    

They were needed, because conditions were not going too well, since Steve’s job layoff and an unexpected need for new brakes.

I waited and prayed, as the day for departure came. Finally, in the evening, Dottie called, saying they’d only made it to Laramie, Wyoming (three-hours from home), and the roads were closed. They rented a motel room and stayed for the night.

Again, I waited and prayed, knowing that Interstate 80, through the plains of Wyoming, can be windy and treacherous when it snows. And, they still would have to pass through The Rockies, in Utah.

Finally, she called from Ogden, with a faltering cellular phone, explaining that the roads had been closed because of a semi hitting a car, an accident that they passed the next day. She also said they had been through white-out conditions between Cheyenne and Laramie, so were glad to stay put. The roads, now, were okay, and they would continue on through Idaho and Oregon.

Steve had said that traveling time is 24-hours, so I waited and prayed, until the next day, without hearing. I couldn’t stand it, so called around noon. 

Hooray! They were safely at his parents, having taken Interstate 84, over the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon, without incident.

It’s a Dog’s Life

I laughed, as Dottie spoke of several pit stops for Rascal, and buying him 39-cent hamburgers at McDonald’s. Also, they’d forgotten his collar and leash, so bought one at PetSmart, along the way. 

It’s about people and their dogs. Since their trip, I read in People Magazine about a doggie bus in Boston, where they sit in the seats and are chauffeured back and forth to the Dog Care Center every day, for $350.00 a month. “It’s a dog’s life” isn’t too bad.

By the way, the rest of the trip for the family was fine, and, of course, they’d been driving through Oregon rain the last part of the trip. What else is new?

A Walk to K-Mart

In the meantime, Van and I continued with our computer activities, and took a break by walking to nearby K-Mart in search of a gift for his mother. She’d requested no flowers, which usually solves our shopping for her, she later announced that rubber mats for her sinks would be a perfect gift; and she wanted yellow or beige only. No problem; we would walk to K-Mart, where they would, no doubt, have an unlimited supply, considering that it’s not high on Christmas Shopping Lists.

The walk to K-Mart is not as treacherous as the trip from Colorado to Oregon, but it’s scary, because there are so many busy streets, stop lights, and zippy traffic. However, we negotiated those hazards, crossed their full parking lot and went inside.

With my sensitivity to energies, Christmas shopping becomes a nightmare, and I remembered why I’d given it up, in recent years. It’s terribly stressful, and I feel as if I’m being attacked by a zillion dive-bombers. 

Silicon Valley’s high-energies are even more stressful, with its international mixture: a woman in a sari with her little kid, a man in a turban, and hundreds of Mexicans, Asians, Iranians, and myriad other nationalities and races; many who don’t even celebrate Christmas. In fact, it’s so difficult to understand the cashiers and clerks that I feel like the minority in this area. 

I’d been looking forward to our adventure, but before long, I felt like running from the energy din of the crowds, and once we discovered that the only color mats were blue, I bought a birthday present for Airica and we left. 

Again, the language barrier, as we treated our inner kids to hamburgers at Burger King. I wanted their 99-cent XL burger, without the spicy feature. The clerk couldn’t handle it, so spoke in Spanish to another, who repeated the request to the cooks. Somehow, I got my order and laughed as Van ate his spicy (he doesn’t want to be any trouble). It was filled with jalapenos. Whew, was I glad I missed that one.

Now, we had to cross the four-lanes of busy thoroughfare, thankfully with lights, and complete our excursion by buying a few groceries at the supermarket. Thank goodness everything was close, because carrying it became another challenge. We could use Betty’s car anytime we asked, but we wanted the exercise and the adventure. However, we’d had enough by the time we wended our way back across the busy streets and retreated into our sanctuary.

The Spirit of Christmas

Our home now displayed a little tree with an angel, on the dashboard, with a miniature stuffed Santa and snowman, along with the jaunty Millennium Bear in his red, white and blue top hat, and the yellow Mardi Gras Bear with its purple and green attire and cheery smile. There were even two presents from Dottie on their laps. And, three white angels hang from the knobs on the overhead cupboards. With all my Christmas greetings sent, and the few cards that had been forwarded and stuck to the window valances, I definitely was feeling the Spirit of Christmas, as I sat down at my computer to write a few personal e-mail greetings.

‘Tis the Season

But the season seems to trigger another spirit within me, or should I say that my seasonal demons began to surface. I was never aware of them, in my younger years, but they were there; just buried. Now, since I’d unearthed them in my recovery process, they no longer manifest in negative body reactions, but they like to make themselves known, nevertheless. Maybe they want a Christmas Blessing.

Writing to my longtime friends, I started feeling the fears of rejection and non- acceptance so strongly that I knew God was presenting another experiential aide so that I could recognize these negative energies and release them, thus moving to another higher level. As I went through the process, I could see how they kept me locked into limitations, and they definitely interfered with moving forward with opening the website to the world. 

Even though I now had three websites, I’d still managed not to get them out there, and we still hadn’t received any orders for books or membership in the Money Makeovers. So, God was now inviting me to push through the limitations and move forward. I was definitely ready to let go of those negative energies, yet knowing that I was unable to do it myself, I again asked God to free me of them.

Pushing on Through

I rejoiced as Van got http://www.InnerFreedomJourneyRVing transferred to its own website. And then we selected and scanned in pictures for the Journey of Awareness index page, listing all the chapters, with appropriate photos. And then we transferred each chapter to its own webpage.  It really looked good, and it felt great having the energies separated.

With this new level of order and clarity, my energy also shifted, and with the newfound lightness, I decided it was time to respond to an e-mail from Rick and Snow, of the Naked Journey; the couple who are planning to begin their RV travels in April, and who have been interested and supportive of my Travel Series and even my Inner Freedom Ministry with Freedomers.

I’d asked if they would be interested in being our webmasters, so to speak, and they had said they were interested and asked me to share my vision of how this would manifest.

As I now wrote the e-mail, I became excited at the possibility that we were actually ready to move forward, because these people obviously knew how to attract visitors to their website, having over 3,000 hits in eight months, and they hadn’t even begun their travels, as yet. They must be doing something right; and Rick had already given me some feedback and suggestions, after visiting my original website. 

I feared that they would be too busy with their own website and activities, but I trusted that God was guiding us, and this might be an answer to their prayers too. Only time, and God, would tell. I completed the e-mail and sent it.

Isn’t Modern Technology Wonderful?

All along, I’ve known that it isn’t only a matter of my negative consciousness that kept my ministry and book sales from moving forward; it was also a matter of God’s timing, and I always trusted that His Divine Plan was unfolding in perfect order and timing; except, of course, those times when I gave into doubt.

So, after I sent out my e-mail, to my friends and to Rick, I waited for the responses. And the next day they started coming in; all reassurances of love and acceptance and support.

I’d said to my longtime friend, Marilyn, who had sent me her e-mail address in her Christmas card, “Isn’t modern technology wonderful?” Here we were, in our sixties, having kept in touch through the years of child-raising, now exchanging updates about our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and our travels, and health challenges with a push of the button. I love it!

I also heard from Joyce, who explained that she hadn’t been doing anything with the Money Makeovers website, because she’d been working ten-hour days and getting her Christmas preparations handled, also. But, she added that in January she would be “hot on it.” Hooray!

And perhaps the best news of all came from Linda, the mother of Freedomers Adam and Michael. She announced that Adam would be released in 60-90 days, and would be coming home. She also said that I was the next person, after his grandmother, that he wanted to be informed of the good news. And then she thanked me for my part in their lives, and my positive influence on her sons. 

Tears came to my eyes, and, again, I said “Thank You, God,” as I felt grateful for being allowed to make a contribution to their lives. It’s what it’s all about. And I knew that I must explain this to Rick, in answer to his question, “What is your vision?” But for now, I awaited their reply to my latest e-mail.

Chapter 16

THE FIVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

(A Different Christmas)

My Inner Guidance tells me that Journey of Awareness is coming to its end, and I’m about to embark upon a new phase of my life that will have different energies, and therefore must become a new book. I have no idea what it’s all about, but I’m moving forward in trust and following the guidance.

I’m being told that the next five-days are taking us through the process (for Van and myself) of the Christ Mass, a celebration of the birth of the Christ, on a deeper level, and I am to record the process, on this Journey of Awareness.

Wednesday: December 20th:

After our shopping tour, mentioned above, we went to Betty’s and visited and watched TV. As fate would have it, this episode of West Wing dealt with a staff member who had been traumatized, as a result of being shot in an assassination attempt on the president. The person was not aware that he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS), but everyone else knew he was in trouble, because of his bizarre and uncharacteristic behavior. 

A trauma expert, for psychological disorders, had been hired to diagnose and treat the unwilling victim and the show took us through the process, until he relived the original trauma, which had been triggering his violent behavior, finalized by breaking a window with his fist. That’s when they got help, though he was in denial, insisting that he had cut his hand on a broken drinking glass.

The story comes to its conclusion when the staff member is told that he has PTS, and furthermore he had been indulging in dissociation; when one’s mind leaves the body to avoid enduring intense emotional or physical pain. It’s like living in a trance; you’re there, but you’re not there.

I’d been aware that Van had been going through this process, probably most of his life; at least as long as I’d known him. But, he’d been functioning normally (for him), until his job layoff, as a result of being downsized when the computer company he worked for merged with another. Even then, for awhile, he seemed okay, because he thought he could use his time to build the MLM business that we were involved in with Dottie and Steve.

But everything went downhill from there: Steve, who had been working the business full-time, returned to car sales and withdrew his energies from the business, and they eventually moved from California to Colorado, leaving us all traumatized in our Abandonment Syndrome. Van and Joyce (both non-social) tried to build the business on their own, but finally gave up when the MLM Company went through bankruptcy and a change of leadership.

From there, Van gradually transformed from a vibrant, productive man to an apparently helpless child, barely able to handle the simplest of duties, such as our finances; and he never went back to work, leaving us destitute.

His uncharacteristic behavior triggered my inner child’s memories of my mother changing from the person I depended on when her mental illness began, after the birth of my brother. As a child, I’d been told to “take care of my mommy, and I took the assignment seriously, yet unable to fulfill the task. Therefore, I carried the guilt and blame when she became ill. A process that took me years to recognize and heal, and it is still triggered, especially at this seasonal anniversary of that event.

Again, I faced the monumental task of having the responsibilities that I felt unequipped to handle: our financial dilemma and Van’s strange behavior. I certainly felt abandoned and fearful. 

It was a terrible time in our lives, and one I captured in a trilogy of books (offered in the Money Makeovers Series). The first tells our Money Story, the second tells Van’s story, and the third tells my story; all written in the hope that they might assist others going through the same process (For more information: innerfreedom.org. Click Money Patterns).

The truth is that we are still processing through the after-math of these events, originating in childhood and triggered with Van’s job downsize and layoff. And each subsequent similar event adds to the accumulation, as illustrated in the West Wing story. 

However, as we have endeavored to heal the inner child, we have unloaded much of the pile, until another series of events triggers the trauma. This is when God gives us an experiential aide to face and heal the next level, such as this TV movie coming at a time when we’re visiting Van’s mother.

Like the TV character, Van is consciously unaware of all this, other than when I discuss it with him, at which time he says, “I guess so. I don’t know.” So, I took it upon myself to bring to his attention the relevance of this story.

Of course, since his inner child is happy being with his mom, he’s not aware of the depths of emotional scars from his childhood. Nor does he realize that they are being reenacted on a daily basis. It’s because he’s used to the patterns and he knows how to cope with his mother’s behavior. But, again, I take it upon myself to bring to his attention the abnormality of their relationship. However, he really doesn’t care, because he’s feeling nurtured and loved; in the ways that they relate. For instance, she gives him money, and that is their love relationship; and it works for them. So I’ve learned to shut up and not try to fix what seems to be working, even though I know that it’s not the healthiest relationship.

Nevertheless, it’s frustrating, as his wife, to watch this grown man revert to his childish re-enactment with his mother, although I don’t think it’s too unusual; in fact, it may be normal. And perhaps that’s one reason that Christmas and return to family dynamics, is a combination of joy and tragedy. We would have to talk with John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming; Healing the Wounded Child, for a fuller explanation of these behaviors. 

But, I recall his reading his discussion about each of us playing our role in the family dynamics, and no matter how successful we may have become in the world, or our own family structure, when we return to the family gatherings, we unconsciously fall into those roles. Dottie reminded me of that phenomenon when talking about the upcoming gathering with their families.

Van is an only child, so he has only his own role in the family dynamics. I must admit that Van has remained faithful to me, while I went through my inner child healing process, so I’ll hang on, while he completes this phase of his healing process. And it is healing, because his overall psyche seems much healthier.

I’m not going to comment further on Van’s dissociation behavior, other than to say that I’m noticing that the more he heals, the more integrated he is with his mind, body and emotions. He’s here, in his body, more of the time. Although, at times he still disappears, or another dimension of himself, usually his inner child, takes over, leaving me frustrated and angry.

I can see why I’m supposed to be writing about this, on a deeper, clearer level, because it’s healing for me to express it and for Van when I read it to him. I can see the new birth dimension of this process.

Thursday: December 21st:

This is the day that I wrote the e-mails to my friends and to Rick and Snow, mentioned in the preceding chapter. And, as much as I wanted those inner demons to go away, I realized that they were still in place, even after asking God to remove and release them. And, although this Christmas seemed to be about Little Ralph and his mother, Joanie was having an opportunity to look at her own feelings

The current feelings had to do with authority figures, such as parents, and especially controlling mothers. Again, I realized that my pattern is to become subservient, and take on the attitude of not-as-important-as. When around Betty, for instance, it would not be appropriate to assert oneself, a reality that Little Ralph had learned early-on, and one that I had learned while being raised by Mom Freeland. And, of course, we both fall back into this role with Betty. It wouldn’t do, otherwise.

But, I was becoming aware of this behavior in my business relationships, too, and it was making me uncomfortable. I wondered if it were my projections, or if God had given me another experiential aide that I was ignoring. It’s like everyone else is doing things better than I am; they know more about it, and I am nobody.

When re-examining this phenomenon, I recalled that I had regained some of my self- confidence, until I was e-mailing Tom Lagana, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul, about being linked with his website. 

It seemed a natural, since my Inner Freedom Ministry related to and about prisoners, or Freedomers, as I call inmates seeking inner freedom. But, when I followed up his offer to link, by mentioning that he’d said he wanted to look at my website first, he responded by saying that he didn’t have time to look at everyone’s website, and to write up my own thing. 

I felt so taken aback that I went into my usual withdrawal, and never followed-up, nor did I fully deal with the situation on an inner level. Yet, God kept reminding me about the need to complete the process.

In my own mind, I felt my website wasn’t good enough; that it was too cluttered and needed to be focused on the ministry. So I waited until I got the three websites separated. Now that’s done, but I still hesitate to push through my discomfort and make another communication. But I didn’t do it. And I can hardly bring myself to look at the many newsletters from Tom Lagana. I seem to have a fog over my eyes and I can’t focus on his words or take them in. In other words, my Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) goes into full swing.  

But another incident brought to my attention this underlying attitude, and my unresolved issue. God is nudging me to write it out, so I can deal with it. I’d managed to check the latest newsletter and felt guided to visit another website that he had suggested. When I got there, the text seemed to be garbled and overlaid, a problem I’d had with some of my webpages. So, I wrote an e-mail to tell him about the problem, and he responded, thanking me and saying that no one else had mentioned it, but he would check it out.

This all felt good, until I became aware that the problem must have been my computer, for some reason. Now, I felt embarrassed and humiliated, as I wrote to explain and apologize. All along, God was bringing to my attention that this “not-as-important-as” pattern must be faced, healed and released.

The best I could do was revisit Straight from the Heart website, complete with an Introduction and pictures. Michael is a handsome young man, married and with two young boys. He’s also a Christian and a full-time writer, and the energies on his professional website are excellent. I highly recommend it to everyone. He writes about his relationship with his wife and sons, and about the importance for him to spend time with them. 

I felt even more intimidated and inferior, as God tightened the screws. But, I didn’t know what to do about it. Obviously we were getting to the Last Roots, as I call that underlying cause of “The Big One.” And I would simply have to play this one out, and report on it, as it unfolded.

Friday: December 22nd

Today was about finding the beige or yellow sink mats for Betty’s Christmas present, so once Van made it through his morning routine, we took her car and drove to Wal-Mart in Milpitas, about then miles of freeway driving. 

Because this is the beginning of the long Christmas weekend, many people had left work at noon and we were experiencing commute traffic. Some were leaving town along this route, but many had received their paychecks and were going shopping, and we found ourselves in the very mess we’d tried to avoid. 

Nevertheless, we arrived at Wal-Mart, which did not have the welcoming familiar vibes, but was saturated with the hysteria of last-minute shoppers, including us. We selected two types of sink-mats (both white) and went to Hometown Buffet for something to eat. Obviously I felt the need to eat, despite the fact we’d eaten shortly before leaving. But the short shopping experience had brought up more emotions that I couldn’t even identify, and I needed nurturing.

The dilemma became about looking elsewhere for the right color mats, or give up. Yeah, well we’re talking about trying to please Van’s mom, so nothing would do, we must look further. Fortunately, Van decided to make a deposit at his bank, and then we went into a Walgreen’s (much bigger than the one around the corner from us) and rejoiced to find two almond colored sink mats; the closest thing to beige.

In addition, we were next to a Boston Market, and I felt called upon to stock up on food to see us through the holiday weekend. The fact that I need food for nurturing, of course, had nothing to do with it. Wrong!

That night, I took one of the white sets of mats along to ask Betty if she liked them. Right off, she said, “No.” But, as I explained their features, she decided to take both sets, so I took it back to wrap. However, I didn’t know exactly when to give them to her, because when I asked what she wanted to do about Christmas, she said, “Nothing.”

As the evening unfolded, she hauled out a shopping bag full of presents, explaining that her friend had insisted on giving them, despite the fact that she requested no presents. It was fun watching her open these lavishly wrapped gifts, and I retrieved the paper and ribbons, since I hadn’t bought any.

Betty continued to complain, as she unwrapped her gifts, explaining that her friend is a compulsive shopper, as well as compulsive Bingo-addict.

Now that I think about it, it occurs that the reason for my not wanting to buy anything relates to the fact that we simply don’t have the money, and to spend anything at all, is like taking the first drink (for an alcoholic), once I start, I want to keep buying. I’d already bought calendars for my son and stepmother, while at an office supply store getting staples for his mom; and I was feeling the desire to show love by buying presents (a love association), but I knew I couldn’t, and I felt bad about it. 

However, I never had been a compulsive shopper, because I’d never been in a financial position to do so, and seeing these lovely wrappings and gifts added more fuel to my emotional fire. 

But Little Ralph and Joanie were enjoying the evening with Betty, even though it wasn’t the official gift opening day. Especially when she brought out some food goodies that had been given to her. We enjoyed fruits, nuts and fig newtons given by health-conscious folks; a welcome treat for my preferences.

While we were viewing a favorite TV program at home, I wrapped the sink mats and had Little Ralph give them to his mom, saying that we’d bring the rest over on Sunday night. He’d already given her the special card that he’d picked out, and she had enjoyed it. 

So Christmas was going the way it was going.

Saturday: December 23

The significance of this day, while I wrote this chapter and discussed it with Van, was a call from Dottie. She updated me on their pre-Christmas activities, as I kept in mind that whatever they did must be done before the event, as they would leave the day after Christmas and begin their homeward journey.

She shared about two trips to the airport meeting a plane with family members and I laughed when she related that Rascal got stuck staying with Molly, their friend’s dog, because she can’t handle being left alone. But they would take both dogs with them to visit friends in the country, where we had spent time parked when visiting with them, while attending business meetings together.

Dottie continued to update me on the various plans with family and friends, and I felt good being part of their Christmas. I appreciated that she said they would call from her dad’s and I could talk with the various family members, such as my children and grandchildren and even Brandon, my great-grandson, who would be there with his mother.

Our Christmas plans took a new turn when Van’s brother, Roy, called and invited us to join with his mother, Ruth, and stepfather, Ed, on Christmas afternoon. I had mentioned, in my newsletter that we would be here, and suggested that we could get together sometime. Having it happen on Christmas would be perfect, especially for Little Ralph. This would be the first holiday together in over twenty-years. In fact, Van had not seen them at all, until I instigated a get-together in recent years (mentioned in another book).

Van had balked at the get-togethers, for no reason, other than his innate non-social patterns, so I settled the matter this time by saying, “It’s the right thing to do.” he accepted it, and enjoyed the day watching The Broncos play football, and then he went to his mom’s, while I stayed home for my evening of Christmas TV.

Sunday: December 24th

The Nativity Scene

I awoke, this Christmas Eve morning, looking out the window at the tall evergreen trees, and thinking about the birth of Jesus that we were celebrating. Although I’m not accustomed to thinking in abstract symbols, to my surprise, it came to my attention that the nativity scene was being depicted: Three spreading branches from one trunk represented Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. Top branches of another tree definitely formed a star, and a third looked like the wings and head of an angel. As I became aware of the sacred scenario, I rose up on my elbow and sure enough, three trees stood together, their tops slightly bent, like the worshipping wise men. Could it be? I looked further, and there were more trees: the shepherds watching over their flock. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but there it was: the entire nativity scene, with birds soaring gently through the blue sky. Although there were no animals, the trailers and surrounding apartments were filled with people, and probably cats and dogs too. 

I felt the joy of this sacred celebration, and I felt enlivened and born anew, as the spirit of God revealed this Christmas story outside my window. 

The Real Thing

This spiritual experience reminded me that I wanted to take time to visit with the Dear Ones who had made their transitions to the other side. In the past, they have made their presence known to me, after their death, and especially at Christmas and Easter, when the energies are most conducive to this ethereal exchange. 

It may well be my imagination, but I’ve always learned things, from them, that I didn’t know, and I could feel their energies and hear their voices, so I accept the rendezvous as real; and they are a healing factor in my life, too.

For instance, my dad, Barney, came to me, after his transition, and apologized for many things, and said that he would help me with one of my books, about the family, that I was having trouble completing. First, he gave me the title, In Search of Dutch Cleanser, the Mystery of Me, which was a natural, because he was always telling me to write a mystery. And I kept telling him that I’m not a mystery writer. Yet, when I put the title (a term from my childhood) together with what I’d written, it was perfect; and as I write, he told me that I am to add more to it, and add to my website, to complete the Who is Joyanna? Webpage. Whew! This is heavy, or maybe I should say “It’s Light.” 

In any event, each of my loved ones anxiously awaited their turn, as I’ve been told that this is a special time for them, and it takes some effort, on their part, to make the connection, so they don’t want to miss their visit.

I hadn’t really connected with my mom, since her death in March, mostly because it seemed that she wasn’t quite ready or able to make the energy shift. So, she was the first in line to greet me this time, and we talked about past holidays when she would be having a seasonal episode, characteristic of her schizophrenia, except for the last one, when she was okay. However, I wasn’t with her then, so I welcomed this meeting. And I remembered another good one when I’d arranged for her to give Gary a word processor. He usually refused to see her, as he feels that she abandoned him, and he considers Ermith to be his mother, because she filled that role in his life. But, by some miracle, he agreed to join us, and Mom was ecstatic to see her son. What a memorable time! Now, she told me that she is with him, and other family members, and helping them from the other side. She mentioned several, including her grand-daughters and great-granddaughters, and I happily acknowledged that they were doing very well. I could feel her joy, as she told me that she is reunited with all of her family, including her parents, brothers and sisters, and everyone is at-one.

My dad and his dad and stepmother (the ones who adopted and raised me, and whom I call Mom and Dad Freeland) extended their love, as did my grandmothers and other grandfather, and more family members. And then special friends spent some time, including Madge, who asked me to publish her journal, I Listen to the Whispers, on my website. That was a surprise, but I agreed. It will be with Saying “Yes” to Love, at her request.

Finally, the Freedomers who have made their transition took their turns to visit. This included my special friend, Donnie Halbert, who is father of Adam and Michael Martin. He always thanks me for my part in his son’s lives, and we rejoiced that they will both be released from prison next year. He encouraged me to make the trip to celebrate their homecoming in Texas in late spring, and I agreed.

Donnie told me that our dream, as we called our plans to build a place where I could teach and facilitate my workshops, were being fulfilled via my websites, and he reassured me that he will always be with me and helping me, because he made that commitment to me, and he is one of my helpers, by his choice. Of course, he continues to be with his sons, too, and he realizes that they will need him even more in the months, after their release, in order to maintain a safe and sane lifestyle. 

He also told me that his idea of having twelve meditation rooms, in our building, would be completed on the website, and he said that he would guide me (or whoever does it) through how to do it (As I am writing, I’m being told that the Twelve Gifts of Christmas, which came to me on Christmas Day, is a forerunner to prove the validity of these words). Read more about Donnie, our dream, and our unique relationship in Not my Day to Die.

Needless to say, after my time in these loving, supportive energies, I was elated and had an enjoyable day! I completed transferring Journey of Awareness, my gift to everyone who visits my website, and while Van placed pictures into Chapter One, I watched a repeat of Perry Como’s Irish Christmas and enjoyed wonderful music; then another two hours of ice skating brought us to mid-afternoon.

Clip Joint

It was still early, and Van was still busy, so I walked to the strip mall, around the corner, and discovered that the Express Cuts was still open. I’d been confused whether to go there, or across the busy street to another one that advertised $8.00 haircuts. This sign said $8.99, but it was handy, so I waited my turn, wondering how it would work with these Asians, who barely spoke English. Then, as I went to my seat, I asked to confirm the price.

In broken English, the lady said, “It’s for kids only,” pointing to the sign on the door.

I explained that I’d seen the sign on the fence. She insisted, “Kids.” I decided to pay the $12.00 and get it done, so I showed her a picture of myself with a shorter haircut.

“Can’t see it,” she snarled. “Can’t do!”

I picked up my coat and said, “I guess this is not the time or place.” And I walked outside. But, the point is that I wanted to get my haircut, so I walked back inside and asked the other beautician if she could do it. She nodded, and I waited for her to finish the lengthy process of cutting a young girl’s long hair, for which she would charge $8.99.

Finally, it was my turn, and somehow, I managed to convey that I wanted the same style, only shorter. She actually did a good job, though the other gal did three or four in the same time.

I paid my $12.00 and left, thankful to have it done at this late date. I congratulated myself for asking the price, before starting, thus avoiding an upset, later. I’d made it through a potential pitfall, without damage, and I’d taken care of myself. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was a healthy transaction, and indicated that my inner child had not been victimized. The pattern had been transformed!

To compensate for the additional charge, I decided not to leave a tip. But, I later felt so bad about it, that I returned and gave her a tip, knowing that the only one I’d hurt, otherwise, was myself.

So Much for Christmas Eve

This Different Christmas continued, as I prepared our meal: a turkey (from Boston Market) and rice casserole, thus using the leftovers before Christmas. It could only get better from here!

I gave Betty the nicely wrapped (with her used paper) gift, which she set down, saying, “I know what it is, so I won’t open it.” Okay, so much for Christmas Eve. We ate some of her food goodies and watched The Practice. I was glad that I’d prepared for a Different Christmas, and I had no other expectations, therefore no disappointment. It went exactly as anticipated, and it was a good Christmas Eve, because Little Ralph spent it with his mother. I asked how many he’d spent with her, and he replied, “Not many.” He was happy. 

Monday: December 25th

“I am the Gift”

I awoke this Christmas morning feeling grateful for my many gifts: eyesight, hearing, health, prosperity, and the gift of writing. And I gave thanks for the blessings in my life: Van and all the good that he is and does, Betty providing this space for us and all the good that she is and does. And of course, I am thankful for my material blessings, such as our RV home and my computer and cellular phone, and all that makes life comfortable and enjoyable. Thank You, God.

And, as natural this season, I am thankful for my family and friends, and for all the people who give services that we usually take for granted, such as the waitresses/waiters, clerks and garbage men and mail-people, including the ones who forward and deliver our mail, wherever we are; and the beautician who cut my hair on Christmas eve. Thank You, God.

But my Christmas morning meditation brought to my attention gifts that are always part of me and continually replenish. Let me explain:

We have within us, twelve powers, which God brought to my attention, are actually gifts, just as Jesus is the reason for the season, and He is the ultimate gift. These other gifts are not as well known, but nevertheless they exist, and when we call upon them, they are activated and available for our use; like opening our presents. 

I have written an entire course on this subject, and there are many other books available, which I’ll mention at the end of this writing. But God gave them to me, again, this morning, in the form of brightly decorated gifts.

Faith came in a glorious iridescent midnight blue package wrapped in a deep blue and silver ribbon. The disciple, whose energies are within us, representing this gift, is Peter, the Great Fisherman. Thank You, God for the gift of Faith.

Will came wrapped in an elegant silver and gold package with matching ribbons. That’s because Understanding is a twin gift, packaged in identical, but reversed gold and silver paper and ribbon. With these twin gifts come Mathew, representing Will and Thomas, who questioned Jesus, representing Understanding.

Imagination brings with it the gifts of seeing, visualization, vision and creativity. It’s pearlized light blue package with fluffy white clouds is wrapped with a rainbow ribbon, to remind us that its visual aide is the blue sky and rainbow. Bartholomew (also called Nathaneal) is the disciple representing this gift.

Zeal is the gift that keeps me alive, alert, awake, joyous and enthusiastic, when I unwrap the fiery two-tone orange paper and flaming ribbon. These gifts do us no good if they are not opened and used. Appropriately designated to represent this gift is Simon the Zealot.

Power is easy to remember with its purple-power wrappings mottled with gold and silver, because it must be tempered with Will and Understanding to remind us that it’s about inner power and personal empowerment, not control over others. Philip represents this powerful gift.

Love, the most known of our inner gifts, came in a surprise package, as the image of the giant hot air balloon with huge deep pink hearts popped into mind; to remind me that Love is expanding and uplifting. The “disciple that God Loved,” John, represents this love-full gift.

Wisdom, dwells within us as Light, and its color is bright as sunshine, as its golden yellow wrapping radiates its rays upon us. I call upon this gift often, recognizing it as the Source of knowledge. James, the brother of John, represents this gift.

Order, my most frequent request is symbolized by dark green, or the shades of green seen from a plane in a harmonious patchwork. We can also call upon this gift for balance, harmony and Diving Timing. Today, it came gaily wrapped in Christmas green (also termed money green) with a matching iridescent ribbon. James, the Younger (named to avoid confusion with the other James), represents Order, and we can also ask him to remove confusion.

Strength can be called upon whenever we feel weak, tired, helpless or discouraged. The bible gives us many verses to assist with calling upon this gift. I like, “I am strong and of good courage,” for one. Andrew, the brother of Peter, represents Strength.

Renunciation or Elimination comes in ornate copper-toned wrappings with matching ribbon, and it reminds us not to hold onto things; either material or emotional garbage must be released and eliminated. “Forgetting what lies behind, I press on…” is the appropriate bible verse. Thaddaeus (also called Jude, but not to be confused with Judas) represents this essential gift that helps us to let go and let God.

Life reminds us that “I am the gift” not only applies to Jesus, but also to ourselves, for we, too, are created out of the essence of God (there is none else), and therefore we have within us these twelve gifts. But, we must unwrap the giant red package with its flowing ribbons, for within this package we find that we are the gift of Life. The bible asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of the living God?” 

Although Judas originally represented this gift, we merge together God, Jesus, the Christ presence and the Holy Spirit, along with all the disciples, our angels and helpers, plus all aspects of ourselves — inner child, conscious, subconscious, superconscious, ego, mind, body, emotions and spirit — to become one. “I am One,” is my affirmation for this final gift.

 

For my gift to you, to learn more about your own inner gifts, click your way to Transformation: a Twelve Power Process.

We Spice Up Christmas

Our “Different Christmas Day” began with dinner at Shilpa’s Indian Cuisine, across the street from the mobile park. The idea originally came to me when I thought we’d be walking, but now we had Betty’s car at our disposal, and this would be the first stop.

I’m not sure if the place was packed with people celebrating Christmas, or not celebrating, considering that Indians would not recognize this Christian holiday. Perhaps they simply had an extra day off from work, and chose to eat out. However, many women were dressed in saris and several men, too, wore similar finery. It was definitely a festive occasion. 

I might add that we were the only white diners, other than a young mixed-marriage family. And I was definitely the only person wearing a green suit and red blouse. But, it didn’t matter, and everyone was enjoying a buffet of spicy delicious colorful food. There were pots of saffron, mint, spinach and mustard chutney or curry and a covered container of red clay-baked chicken, and, of course, lamb stew. And heaping trays of pita-like breads and dolsa prepared in different ways, and the only mild items to soothe our flaming taste-buds and stomachs.

Deep-fried delicacies, such as chicken pakoras (chick-pea dumplings) or kurma or masala tantalized our taste-buds. Rice or beans formed the base of many dishes, although familiar potato salad and vegetable stew (both very spicy) were also offered. 

My plan was to take small amounts of everything and then return for larger portions of favorites. But, I’d gotten filled on the first servings, so topped it off with dessert: delicious mango ice cream, a milky rice, or a round brownish pastry in a sweet liquid; all tasty and pleasantly sweet, but not too much.

The amazing part of this extravaganza is that I did not feel stuffed and uncomfortable, but satisfied. And we topped the meal off with a spoonful of anise-mixture, at the check-out counter. No doubt it’s meant to be a delightful digestive aide, which it was, because we had no negative after-effects or indigestion; only memories of a delightful Christmas celebration in a charming atmosphere: two sets of (artificial) floral displays in the center of the room, fascinating regional (of India) pictures on the walls, and icicle lights hanging from the ceiling (perhaps more for decoration than Christmas trappings); and, of course, the festive and colorful attire of the diners. We also had the memory of a very enjoyable and different Christmas.

A Christmas First

We arrived at Roy’s house as he was putting out snacks and munchies, such as veggies and nuts, a perfect addition to our healthful dinner. The afternoon was informal and relaxed, as Roy showed his brother around his home that he had remodeled himself, being adept at carpentry. But his prize accomplishment is his unique Grill Wizard invention: a wooden handle with a detachable metal holder and scrubber (like a Chore Girl) for cleaning BBQ grills. Roy even took Van for a visit to his website, as they spent quality time getting re-acquainted. I spent the day chatting with Ruth and Ed, mostly about their recent move from their big house on the hill to a cottage in a senior complex. And Ruth spoke a lot about Little Ralph’s childhood, adding more pieces to his puzzle, since he doesn’t consciously remember much of it.

She mentioned that, at one time, he had slept on a cot in their dining room, and her mother had made him a mattress and cover, which Ruth still has. 

Of course, Van spent most of the time with Roy, who has many of the VanCamp characteristics, such as his engineer’s mind that likes to invent innovative things. And his garage stacked with boxes and various parts of his Grill Wizzard (handles, metal assembling plates and hooks) reminded me of when I first met Van, and he had piles of Buzzy boxes for his peanut butter-honey confection (discussed in Knocking on Doors). The similarities of the half-brothers was uncanny, and I felt that it was good for Van to reconnect with this part of his life.

Ruth and Ed asked if Van had made contact with his own son and daughter, which he hasn’t. I told them that it had taken me all these years just getting him reunited with this much of his family, and I’d hoped his kids would attempt to find him, since he doesn’t know where they are. Ruth reminded me of a fact that I already know: it’s easy enough to find someone these days, if you really want to. I didn’t discuss with them, but the timing doesn’t seem quite right; however, as Van’s inner child recovery is completing, he will soon be ready for this reconnection, and it will be another adventure.

We were sad to note that Ruth suffers from some memory loss, since her recent stroke, yet she is in remarkable health, as a result of her mental, emotional and nutritional disciplines. Ed, too, is glad that they have simplified their lives, relieving him of the myriad chores of maintaining the yard and big house on the hill, where we had once visited. 

As we left, Roy invited us to return, and Ruth and Ed asked us to visit when we travel to their area, near Sacramento, in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains.  

Christmas is Over

We concluded the day with Betty, as we chatted and watched TV. But, when we returned home, I called my son, Marquam. He’d spent the day with his dad and thrilled at having almost the entire family together, regretting that Arianna, Jason and Micayla hadn’t been with them. Nevertheless, he was happy that he’d spent Christmas with his dad and stepmother, two sisters, three nieces and grand-nephew, Brandon; a Christmas first. Although they had gathered when his nieces were youngsters, it was long before Brandon joined the family, and this was a first with them as adults.

Dottie had arranged with me to call them at 4:00 p.m., and they had waited, but I’d been so involved with Van’s family that I forgot, until she called an hour later, on their way home, wondering why I hadn’t called.

I don’t know why I forgot, and I don’t know why she didn’t call me from the house and remind me, but it didn’t happen, and I proceeded to beat myself up about forgetting to call my family on Christmas, but, before the day was over, I’d managed to talk with everyone except the three who have requested that I not mention them in my writings, including the one who had wanted to reconnect (discussed earlier).

However, when I asked God why He hadn’t guided me to make the call, since He keeps me posted on everything, He said that it wasn’t appropriate at that time and place, and under those circumstances, adding that there would be a better time for the reconnecting. I’d sent the cards, as guided, and I would know the next step.

The morning after Christmas, I called Dottie on the cellular phone, wondering if it was too early, or if they’d already begun the homeward trip and had no signal. However, my guidance was perfect, as they were in Boise, Idaho, with a strong AT&T signal. They’d left in the night, and had made it over the treacherous Blue Mountains, which Steve described as “a bit hairy.” 

I asked Dottie if she thought I should complete the phone call to the three gals, and she said “No.” Her advice seemed conclusive, and I decided to let it be, and await God’s guidance in the matter.

Well, Not Quite

Usually, there’s nothing as over as Christmas the next day, other than returning presents, of course. However, I still had our forwarded mail to look forward to, with all of our Christmas cards, and I also anticipated receiving e-mail that hadn’t made it through the phone line tie-ups on Christmas.

At least that’s what I thought, however, when I tried my e-mail, again I still got a busy signal; and the phone wouldn’t give a dial tone, so we began to think something was wrong, especially since the cellular phone was okay. Finally, Van figured out that a message was tying up the line, so he followed the instructions and cleared the line, although no message had been left. I concluded that it was from God, or some other ethereal entity.

And when I read my e-mail, I went into an altered state, because a message said that two tickets were waiting for me at the San Jose Arena to see Stars on Ice, January 14th. I almost fainted, because it’s the one show I wanted to see the most, and figured I’d never get to see.

The mystery of who sent them soon occupied my mind. However, it didn’t take long to realize that no one could have done it, but Van. Yet, it was totally uncharacteristic of him to do anything for Christmas, as he never gives gifts or cards; not even for birthdays. 

If he did this, it was the greatest miracle of the season, and I was in shock at the thought, but in an ecstasy of delight. I figured the Twelve Gifts were it for me, but now, not only did I have tickets to my heart’s desire, but the probability that Van had actually done whatever necessary to order them was even a greater thrill. 

Of course, he denied it and insisted it must have come from Santa, but I know him well enough to know he’d done it. The problem being that if he wouldn’t acknowledge that it was his gift to me, then I couldn’t say “Thank you.” But, I’m sure he got it that I was appreciative, and he’d really done something special. Believe me, this was the highlight of my life; at least one of them. 

Actually, it was a double gift, because to me, it was a culmination of all the effort we’d been going through to heal this wounded inner child that had been malfunctioning for so many years. This act, on his part, announced the birth of the Wonder Child, as John Bradshaw calls the healed inner child. Thank You, God. It is done! What a Christmas gift this turned out to be.

Christmas Continues

There are those who celebrate Christmas in July endeavoring to maintain the spirit all year. Others keep a tree, or some decorations to remind them of the true meaning of the celebration. The reason for the season, of course, is to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, but it’s also to attempt to become more Christ-like, which is an ongoing process, and certainly a valuable focus of our Journey of Awareness. 

Therefore, to think that the book is finished–which I had assumed–is an error, because this process is ongoing. For instance, the day our forwarded mail arrived, became another festive time, as we opened and read the love-full Christmas cards from family, friends and Freedomers. 

Their energies were so lovely that I taped them to the wooden window valance, with the intentions of basking in the joy they brought to me. I’m thankful for the people who send religious cards, such as the nativity scene or Madonna and child, or verses that remind us of the true spirit of the season; and I enjoy the fun cards, including a computer-made Hallmark card of a snowman; winter scenes, family gatherings, or animals are special too.

And this year’s hand created Santa by Jerry Pietre will become a permanent part of my holiday decorations. I’ve never seen one that is so lifelike, as it brings Jerry’s loving message to us. Of course, I love all of the cards, but I especially enjoy the Christmas Newsletters, because they update me on their activities and lives, especially those whom I only hear from once a year.

Acknowledging the Good

Almost every place I look, I see something that Betty has done or given us. I’m getting ready to put up the Norman Rockwell calendar that she gave us, and three bottles of lotion, plus her discarded wrapping paper that I used for an upcoming birthday gift. I noticed the pants I was now able to wear, since she had fixed them, and there’s the Ethel M pecan brittle, and the daily articles she cuts out for us to read. And I certainly must mention the money that she slips to Van, as tokens of her love, including thousands of dollars to pay for RV repairs.

The point of this discussion is that my Awareness Journey is reminding me to recognize and appreciate the good things that are being done for us. For instance, rather than saying that Betty doesn’t do Christmas, I’m acknowledging all the good contributions she makes to our lives. And I’m especially grateful for her paying for our space to stay here these two months, and how happy Van is to be with his mother nearly every day. It’s such a positive part of his inner child healing.

And, as he heals, I am thanking God for restoring and returning the wonderful husband that I once enjoyed. His wonderfulness is returning on a daily basis, as evidenced by the tickets for Stars on Ice and his willingness to scan and enter the many pictures for the chapters, and giving me instant assistance whenever I come up against a snag. 

I certainly must also acknowledge, as I have in the past, the myriad things he does to keep this lifestyle operational: emptying garbage, dumping, keeping track of maintenance and finances. For instance, he reminded me that we must go refuel propane and then he got us there and back, which is no easy matter negotiating the maneuvers to unpark and then park. And Van is a gentleman, at all times; plus his morning ritual is simply a matter of his personal hygiene routine and fixing and eating his nutritional regimen of fruits, nuts, granola and juice. 

I don’t know exactly what caused Van’s previous changes that seemed to traumatize and immobilize him, but I’m thankful for the return of Adult Ralph, and I even appreciate the contributions of Little Ralph, now that the two have merged and become one.

Releasing and Letting Go

Again, it’s a lesson in accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. And this brings me to more valuable lessons, as we move from the energies of Christmas to those of New Year’s. Although I’ve already written a chapter on Endings and Beginnings, this is definitely an ending, and I am ready to move forward. 

Chapter 17

CHANGES AND CONFIRMATION

Changes

I notice that I am now moving into a new subject, as we enter into a New Year, and it seems that is a cue to begin a new chapter, not that we are leaving behind the spirit of Christmas, but that we are taking it with us, as we move forward.

With a New Year, there are changes, and many people use this time to clean closets and cupboards, get rid of the unwanted and unneeded, and make room for the new. It is always a time to do as the bible says, “Forgetting what lies behind, and press on.”

In reading the Christmas notes and newsletters, I noticed one unusual fact this year: more changes and moves than ever before in one year; some were down-sizing; age required them to simplify. Others, forced to move due to rent increases, found suitable housing; and some simply wanted change and moved, or plan to move, across country.

When I read all of the changes, I felt grateful for our transient lifestyle, and that God continually guides us to the right place at the right time. For instance, the terrible weather conditions across the country reminded me that, in the past, we had been there at this time of year. Thank goodness we heeded the warnings that it would be an early and hard winter, so we “left Dodge”, as the saying goes. However, I realize that the possibility of an earthquake is constantly upon us, and this area has its share of winter rain, but I can handle the current complaint: it’s too dry, especially when we had to disrupt our lives, one sunny day, and drive across town for more propane.

Change, such as letting go, is part of moving forward. For instance our friend Joyce Cole e-mailed that she’d taken down the dried Christmas tree and was preparing to move forward with Money Makeovers by writing another short story. And another friend mentioned in her e-mail message that she was sorting through her paperwork, getting rid of the unnecessary and preparing the rest for income taxes, so she would know how much money she will have for the next year. She added that this is part of her preparation for taking a trip to Europe and also contributing toward her son’s upcoming marriage.

Dottie had been revealing to me, over the New Year’s weekend, that they had been moving their office from the cold, though insulated, garage into the room designated as den, in the house. She explained the time and effort involved to clean out the one room to accommodate their desks, files, and other essential items. It also involved some internal housecleaning, because the reason they had moved to the garage was so they could smoke while working. She had quit smoking, so it didn’t matter, but Steve had failed at his efforts to overcome the compulsive habit. Now, the question is: Did he quit smoking, change the “no smoking in house” rule, or would he go to the garage by himself? Whatever the answer, the change involved a major and outer transition.

These are excellent examples of releasing and letting go, making room for the new; or preparation, as I refer to one of the steps in Road Sign #1 in my course, Journey to Inner Freedom. As I say, “Preparation precedes Manifestation.” In other words, we must be ready for the good when it comes.

Confirmation of the Two-by-Two Concept

I am so excited to share this next information, because it is confirmation of the Two by Two format I shared about Money Makeovers. As you may have noticed, I haven’t mentioned this website since we left Joyce’s, nor has she done much about it; mainly because we have both been involved in the Christmas activities. But, I’m sure there are also inner processes taking place. 

I know that’s true for me, and I also felt there was something about God’s timing to be considered, and that it would be revealed to me at the right time.

Sure enough, along with the Christmas cards, came the Inner Journey Journal publication from Jim Rosemergy, and I knew it would be special, so I started reading it aloud to Van. Jim wrote “Old ways do not create a new world. Do a new thing,” he asserted, “if a new life is to begin and a new world to be conceived.” He continued, “Let a new consciousness be born in us.”

Of course, this means change, which is part of the message of a new year. And Jim reminds us that this Inner Journey requires aloneness, but he suggests that there is strength in knowing that others are walking the same path, and that spiritual growth is never for the one; it is for the many.

He suggests that silence is the experience of the presence of God, and he gives us several illustrations of silence: the essential pause between notes of music, or the hesitation of a droplet of water poised at the top of the falls, lingering for a moment before it plummets to the river below. He confirms that “the moment it lingers is stillness. And it is in this stillness that it becomes clear that we of ourselves can do nothing, and we wait until we sense the guidance of Spirit.”

This is such powerful spiritual Truth. I encourage you to pause and incorporate it into your being, in silence, to experience the presence of God.

Jim says that when we become aware of the presence of God, a doorway opens, and Spirit has an avenue through which to bless not only the individual, but the world. 

It is here, in his January Journal, that he talks about service and the two-by-two concept. I love the illustration when he suggests “It’s as if we are climbing a mountain whose summit is the presence of God. We come to a large abyss. There is a narrow rope bridge that extends to the other side of the crevasse. We want to go forward, but we cannot. And then we spy on the other side of the bridge a radiant individual. We have the sense that this person has been waiting for us. We expect the person to motion us forward, but instead the individual on the other side crosses over the abyss and takes us by the hand and leads us to the other side. We are told to remain and wait until another comes. Our helper smiles and departs for the trailhead that marks the path to the summit that is an awareness of God.

“We wait, and in waiting we understand. There are times when we cannot go forward until we serve another. It is part of the path to God consciousness. There is a place on the journey that only two can pass. One person could never cross the abyss. Two by two, we walk together.

Jim states: “Let this be our commitment for the year 2001: That we will experience the practice of two by two. At some time during the year, we will volunteer to serve another.”

My excitement abounded, for here was confirmation of the two-by-two concept that Jesus presented when he sent the disciples out “two-by-two.” 

As I was reading, Jim’s illustration reminded me of the movie, The Golden Child, in which Eddie Murphy must cross the abyss in order to fulfill his destiny. I forget the details, but I’ve often been referred to this confirmation of the abyss, as a visual aide.

I stopped in my reading and discussed this two-by-two concept with Van, so as not to let it pass by, and the words were pouring through me. It’s as if the voice of God (known as the still small voice) were giving me the revelation and understanding of what he and I have been going through these past years, as he was crossing the abyss. I guided, supported, pulled, cajoled, screamed, cried and otherwise assisted him; whatever it took to make it to the other side for him to the experience of the presence of God. This meant facing and releasing the negativities and limitations that held his inner child in the past. Now, he is free to move forward as his wonderful self.

It’s not as if I haven’t been through this process first. That’s how it works; and there were many others who helped me through the abyss, yet each was part of the two-by-two support system concept: as we are climbing up the ladder of success, we have one hand on the upward rung, and the other hand reaching back to help the person behind us. 

Later, I e-mailed Joyce and told her about it, and then I called and explained “That’s why I’m your support partner; so that you can duplicate the process with others who will perpetuate the two-by-two concept.

I also understood that we are still on the threshold of this Money Makeovers Program, because we are in the Preparation phase. Yes, we get impatient and want it to happen faster, but it’s all unfolding in God’s good time, and as we are ready to move forward.

Of course, our ultimate partner is God, and once we reach the place of awareness of His presence, we experience the joy of Oneness, which we share with others who are crossing the abyss.

Return to Money Makeovers

I was so excited, after writing the above that I wanted to copy it to the Money Makeovers website. I had already talked with Joyce about a webpage titled Money Comments where we could add our updates, so I began creating it, so I could add the Two-by-Two Concept.

I rejoiced as the ideas flowed, and soon the Menu Page was in place: “Money Comments:  Hers, Mine, Yours, Anybodys,” which would link with our individual pages. Joyce’s continues to reflect her incites about money and other stuff, while mine relates the money aspects of our inner and outer journey; compiling selections from my Travel Series. 

It was looking good, so I asked Joyce if it would be okay to copy her recent e-mails to me about money subjects. She said, “Yes.” By this time, I was into the Money Makeovers energies, so I fixed the links and made some other corrections.

Now, the problem was how to get it published and transferred to Joyce’s computer. In the meantime, she found someone to help with some changes she wanted to make on her webpage, and they would need to be published and transferred to mine. Van said it’s easy, so we made an appointment for him to talk her through her part, after we get ours published on-line.

Again, Joyce and I felt overloaded, so I suggested that we each learn to communicate when we’ve had enough, and then stop until we could absorb the new input.

Time for a Break

I decided it was time for Van and me to take a break, so we drove Betty’s car to Trader Joe’s to stock up. As usual, our timing was off; it was Saturday, which is bad enough, but this time it was packed with people buying supplies for their parties and celebrations. Booze, sodas and snacks piled the carts, along with the usual food items. Because of the Asians and Indians in Silicon Valley, this store caters to their specialty items featuring spicy rice and other frozen and packaged foods and snacks. For us, it was mostly dry roasted-unsalted almonds, cereal and soups, but Joanie got into the spirit of fun time, so loaded her own selection of snacks.

Van cringed, as he could see the bill adding up; but I notice that Little Ralph always eats the snacks with great fervor, so the soda pops, cheese puffs and other goodies remained in the cart. In fact, I grabbed a frozen Tiramisu, an Italian delicacy, for good measure.

Joanie seemed to be on a food roll, and she insisted that we return home, unload and walk to nearby Acapulco Mexican Restaurant and Cantina to use a coupon she’d been saving. We quickly crossed the empty DMV parking lot, passed the ducks frolicking in the canal between the restaurant and apartments, and savored another delicious international meal. Joanie chatted, while watching the ducks outside the window and listening to the festive Mexican music. As usual, Van managed to respond on cue, as he focused on eating. I could see that his silent, non-social mode was in full swing, and I was feeling abandoned. It’s amazing how he can be there in body, but he’s otherwise dissociated. Finally, I snarled that I would appreciate some attempt at conversation on his part, and he could choose the subject. He chose to discuss the enchilada, tamale and taco.

I was aware of something different going on with him, but it wasn’t until we’d taken the leftovers and Joanie’s pumpkin cheesecake (she was too full to eat, but wanted to try it) home and drove to the supermarket, that I realized what was going on.

Meet Young Adult Ralph

Although I had thought that I would now be blessed with the company of Adult Ralph, I was mistaken. He had shifted into the cocky Young Adult Ralph phase. Now, as much as I get tired of relating with Little Ralph, this phase is even worse. But, I was determined not to complain, because I realized that it’s the normal growth process when one begins to feel self-confidence and assuredness, so I bit my tongue and shut up. 

Let me give an example to relate how I knew he was in this new phase. We’d stopped at Orchard Supply for me to buy a ceramic pot for a succulent that I wanted to transplant. Ordinarily he gives no input, even when I ask, but this time he actually suggested a pot that he thought would be okay, and not tumble, in our traveling home. 

This was tough, because I didn’t want to squelch his selection, yet I knew that I couldn’t live with the design. However, I’d decided to go with it, anyway, to support his having made a decision. But, he finally decided it might be too large, and agreed that the one I had first chosen would be best. 

Whew! Now, the pot would remind me of this important event, when he had pushed through his passive-aggressive tendency not to make a decision, and participated in the choice. To me, this activity was nearly on a par with his ordering tickets on-line for Stars on Ice, which he still didn’t admit that he’d done.

I could see that his new level of participation would call for some changes on my part, too. Before, I had full reign in most decisions and selections, so it would take some effort, on my part, to either accept his input, like it or not; or negotiate. We were entering into a new phase of our relationship, and the changes would definitely mean adjustments. But I am willing to support Van’s transformation, and I look forward to seeing how it evolves in the New Year.  

This reminds me that his birthday will be coming forth in a week, and I wondered how his mother would celebrate his birthday. And I also realized that I must continue to make it a special event. I’d already told him that Acapulco was part of a week-long birthday celebration, and when we heard the servers singing “Happy Birthday,” I joked that they had made a mistake and gone to the wrong table; it was supposed to be for him. And later, when balloons went by, I commented that they were also meant for him, adding that throughout the week he could expect a giant fireworks display, 101 trumpets, and skydivers. Of course, he knew I was kidding, but it does let him know that I am acknowledging his birthday. Even though he likes to downplay its importance, there must be rejoicing over the fact that he was born and is alive.   

A Precursor of Things to Come

Well, just as I promised, while spending New Year’s Eve at Betty’s, we watched the TV celebration. Sure enough, skydivers and fireworks appeared, as promised. I simply told Van that all he had to do was claim them for his own celebration. After all, he was already with his mom, and that made him happy. And Joanie lit up when Betty brought out a big box of Pepperidge Farm dark chocolate dipped cookies. 

Okay, that’ll work to celebrate the New Year, while watching a Perry Mason movie, and then the Countdown from San Francisco’s Embarcadero, with lots and lots of fireworks. And we even got to see the lasers at Santa Cruz and the excitement of partying in Las Vegas. 

In the morning, I’d fixed a special Mexican breakfast from Acapulco leftovers, adding some cheese and guacamole, enhanced with tortilla chips. And, while Van watched football on TV, I served cheese, crackers, snacks and stuffed green olives, and topped it off with the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. All from Trader Joe’s, and as I mentioned, he devoured everything. 

So, Millennium Year #1 went out on a gala note, and Millennium Year #2 (depending on which year you choose to acknowledge) came in with us watching the Rose Bowl Parade for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, beginning at 8:00 a.m. 

Later in the day, I became absorbed with “On the Trail of Mark Twain With Peter Ustinov,” on PBS. I’m not sure what it has to do with New Year’s, but I felt privileged to spend the day seeing such unique places as Fiji, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, visiting with an 800-year-old spiritual leader (manifesting in an eleven-year-old boy), riding a train in the Himalayas, observing ritual bathing in the Ganges, and attending the wedding of a couple who had only met three times, prior to their arranged marriage. Three-hours in the company of Peter’s great wit and being privy to an inside peek at otherwise inaccessible conversations with the likes of Nelson Mandela, I decided to accept the old adage: However you spend the first day of the year sets the pace for the remainder time. Travel with the rich and famous is a good start.

Somehow, I managed to click between this PBS presentation and Brian Botano’s Holiday Skating Spectacular, between the Rose Bowl Football Game, which occupied Van’s afternoon. I had even prepared Health Nut Bagels and poached eggs for breakfast, and created a fabulous turkey-noodle soup, like the Vietnamese Phoa-Hoa Restaurant, around the corner, in keeping with my International Theme. I served the soup with coleslaw, and Italian Pugliese bread from Trader Joe’s; a crusty Artisan bread with all natural ingredients and a delicious flavor, which I overheard a lady recommend to her friend. She was right!

The New Year meal was completed with the delicious Italian Tiramisu dessert. So, if this first day was a forerunner to the rest of the year, indeed, it would be a good year.

 

What Cannot be Seen

“We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

This bible quote accompanies the Daily Reading for January 4, 2001, which speaks of Faith, the Gift for January (mentioned in The Five Days of Christmas), and questions whether or not we would be willing to make a career change or relocate, even if it meant greater financial and personal rewards.

It suggests that we can move past doubt to new opportunities when we have faith in God and are willing to let Him help us to learn and be more. It affirms, “I take a leap of faith” and follow the path along God’s Divine Plan, and “I learn more about myself and what I am capable of accomplishing.”

These words come as I am going through another giant energy mass to a new level of reality, and the website again provides this opportunity.

The Gooey-Mess

I should have known something was happening, because I felt as if I was in the gooey-mess stage, like the caterpillar becoming the butterfly. When does it stop being one and turn into the other? It’s got to be a gooey-mess. I know the feeling, because I was in it. 

As I mentioned earlier, I’d felt guided to return to Money Makeovers and add our Money Comments pages, which turned out great. Then I began changing the Book List and Ordering Information page. Of course, this deals with money, and confusion here provides another block to moving forward. It also keeps prospective customers away, which is a clue to the progress Joyce and I are making with our respective money disorders.

I’d set up a policy for my Inner Freedom website that my books were offered on a donation basis, and for Inner Freedom Journey they were published on the website for anyone to read, at least the ones that I had finished; but, what about Money Makeovers

Although I felt good about this policy, because it provided an opportunity for me to give to the universe, I secretly suspected that it smacked of underearning symptoms. If so, I knew that the policy for Money Makeovers must request payment for services and products, an important tool in Debtors Anonymous.

I became so confused, as to how to change the format on the Ordering Page that I called Joyce, saying “I’m in the gooey-mess.” She knew what I meant, because we’d been in this stage of transition many times through the years, and this is why Joyce is my perfect partner.

Fortunately, her thinking was clear and she said, “Just remove the confusing part.”

“Duh, why didn’t I think of that?” My problem was that I couldn’t even figure out which was the confusing part, which is how I knew that I was deep into the gooey-mess.

I worked on it, and then asked Van to fix something that I’d messed up in this relatively simple task, and I asked him to move several parts to another page and then publish the changes, along with the Money Comments pages that I’d already done; and then tell Joyce how to transfer them to her computer.

Guess what? The next time we checked the computer, none of it had been done, although Van thought he’d done it. And, when I looked at the page, it still wasn’t fixed. And when Joyce checked her webpage for the changes she’d made — adding prices and how to order — they weren’t there. What happened?

You guessed it! Something was up, and we had to push through the blocked energy mass again.

Several phone calls and walk-throughs, and both computers were updated. But, in the meantime, Bobbie had to take hers for more repairs. And, the next time I looked at my Book List and Ordering Information, it still wasn’t fixed; and it isn’t done, as we speak.

Why? Because we are still in the gooey-mess.

It Gets Worse!

In the meantime, Joyce was trying to take the Money Makeovers Workshop, and she was going to go through the process just as if she were a new member. But she couldn’t figure out how to do it; and we didn’t know either.

Finally, I felt guided to e-mail her the proper procedure, and my head cleared enough to list addresses of the unpublished websites which would be given to each new member: the workshop and my trilogy of books. This was no easy matter for me, because it’s technical, and I don’t do technical. However, with Van’s help, we figured out the necessary maze of slashes that would open the secret door.

Later in the day, an e-mail from Joyce: “It doesn’t work! What’s up?”

This triggered my “Take care of your mommy, Joanie,” tape. I’m being asked to do something I don’t know how to do, and what I do causes bad repercussions.” In the case of my mother, she went to the mental hospital and our family dissolved. For my inner child, since she gets confused and thinks “then is now” it again meant some kind of disaster, and I became upset.

However, in the website scenario, it simply meant that we’d done something wrong that could be fixed. No one was going crazy, except, perhaps me. My head began to throb and I began to eat. Oh! Oh! I’m in trouble.

In the meantime, Van finally put his mind into it, and after much research, and pushing through the gooey-mess, he discovered that I’d sent the wrong website addresses. The slashes were okay, but the other part wasn’t right. He fixed it, and I sent the new version, along with a complaint to Joyce that we don’t know what we’re doing, either, and to understand that we’re doing the best we can, when she notifies us that something doesn’t work.

Okay, I feel better, now that the gooey-mess story is written. And I must hasten to explain that I feel we’ve all pushed through the blocked energy mass to another new level. In other words, the gooey-mess is a natural part of transition and change, such as the caterpillar transforming into the butterfly.

In Search of Dutch Cleanser; the Mystery of Me

Although the Daily Reading references definitely apply to the above transition process, the bible quote relates to what happened later that night, after I’d gotten out of the gooey-mess, but not yet flying; like the new butterfly, just sitting on the leaf experiencing my new reality.

I asked Van to go alone to his mother’s, as I felt the guidance to get back to my Dutch Cleanser book. Dad had even told me (in my Christmas Eve morning meditation) that he would help me complete it, so I called it up from my files and revised, as I re-read, trying to refresh myself on what I’d written. 

It felt good being in my own energies, while reading this book about my relationship with my two sets of parents: my natural mother and dad, and also Mom and Dad Freeland. And it seemed to be another level of healing, because I had no residue of negative feelings, as I returned to those memories.

The exciting part came, later in the evening, when my inner guidance began telling me what I needed to do to finish the book, and I zipped through several of my Travel Series books to add the bits and pieces that would complete the story, such as events relating to my mother’s death and Memorial Service. Also, the story about my Christmas Eve morning visit with the family members, and my dad telling me to add the completed version of the book to Who is Joyanna.

I could hear and feel these unseen forces (helpers), especially my mother and dad, throughout the evening, as the words flew into place. And as the unfinished task completed, I felt lighter, like the butterfly finally taking flight. 

The next day, when Van helped me transfer the book into place and linked to Who is Joyanna? for all three websites, another clue in the “mystery of me” had been found. I felt ready to move on to new opportunities, however they presented themselves.

 

Chapter 18

BACK TO BASICS

 

Commitments

Lately, I’ve been mentioning the Twelve Gifts, and that Faith is the gift for January. As I said, I’ve written an entire coarse on this subject, and many excellent books have been written (see Book List under Transformation).

It’s amazing that God always gives me a new level of lessons and experiential aides to coincide with the month. For instance, the subjects for Faith are: Agreements, Commitments, Beliefs, and Trust, in addition to Faith. And I always write the lessons that are being presented throughout our inner and outer Journey. This month is no exception, and the experiences for the lessons have gotten off to an early and exciting start. Let me explain:

I’ve known that God would fulfill my prayers for someone who knows what they are doing to help take our website into the next steps, and I felt that Rick and Snow were the ones. I’d been guided to them when I first researched other people’s websites for ideas on how to do it. I found them linked from Marianne Williamson’s website, and it was from their Naked Journey website that I discovered Homestead, the site-builder that we are using.

We’ve been e-mailing for about nine-months, and during that time they have had over 3,000 visitors to their website. Rick has been very helpful with ideas, and most supportive, as we’ve been building our websites. 

When I asked them about taking on the project of improving our website and moving it out into the world, I waited and prayed for Divine Order and Guidance. I’ve also known that, if they said, “Yes,” it would be a major forward thrust: an ending and a beginning. Because it would mean coming out of hiding and being ready to meet the world. This is true, not only for me, but for Joyce. Were we ready?

The gooey-mess story answered that question, but when their answer came, I was numb and needed to wait overnight in order to meditate and hear God’s guidance. Of course, I’d been praying about it for months, and now I had the answer. Rick and Snow said “Yes.” What Next?

The next step was to forward their wonderful e-mail response to Joyce. It reads:

On Thu, 4 Jan 2001 12:59:34 -0800 “Rick and Snow” <nakedjourney@netzero.net> writes:

 Joyanna,

Happy New Year!!!

Snow and I wish you and Van all the best in the coming year.

In regards to your web site proposal. Here is what Snow and I have come up with.

We would Love the opportunity to help you with your site. Our only concern is maintaining it while on the road. Due to the lack of technology, access to the Internet on a wireless basis makes it difficult for us to even maintain our own site while traveling. So 

as far as helping you with weekly, monthly updates we are going to have to pass. BUT…..

we would like to propose to you an initial re-design of your site. 

 Our offer includes:

  1. Complete re-design of your web sites, combining them into one easy access, clean, sharp, grabbing site. Snow and I both have some exciting ideas about how to improve your site.
  2. Submitting your site to search engines. When Yahoo picked up our site we saw our hits jump from 20 a day to 60 a day. We also received correspondence from all over the world!! Plus other site promoting ideas.
  3. Promotion of your site on our links page with a favorable (of 

course) mention of you and your work in our Naked Journals.

  1. Set up a system where you can easily access your site for updates. We would coach you on how to maneuver through your site quickly, happily, and joyfully!!!

 

Please let us know what you think. You mentioned you had a budget put aside for your web site but I am unsure how much you are willing to offer or if this is something you are interested in. Think about it and drop us a e-mail

Looking forward to joining you on the road. We are about 88 days away!!

Love and Light,

Rick and Snow

Surrender

During my morning meditation, I asked for confirmation and the answer that came referred me to the application of the monthly subjects mentioned above: Agreement, Commitment, Belief, Trust and Faith. 

I was also reminded of another course I’ve written, Journey to Inner Freedom, about the Israelites exodus from Egypt to The Promised Land, which symbolizes the inner journey we are all taking from bondage to freedom. When we are ready to stop wandering through The Wilderness maze and cross the River Jordan into The Promised Land, we have reached a place of surrender; of giving up control and being in control. To symbolize this readiness, like the Israelites, we must step in Faith into the flooded river, and only then does God stop the water so that we cross on dry land, as the bible relates.

Now, as I asked myself “What do I have to give up?” I realized that I must give up being in control of my website, and be willing to let Rick and Snow make the necessary changes. Truly, I was standing at the edge of the River Jordan, and my response to their e-mail would be the first step, as I surrendered the results to God, and trusted Him to guide them with our website. After all, “Unless the Lord build the house (website), they labor in vain who build it.”

What is the Message?

I called Joyce for her input, and we agreed that it was a great opportunity. Van, too, felt that we should move forward. However, we all three agreed that we wanted to keep the three websites separate, so the energies wouldn’t conflict.

I’d been feeling the onset of a migraine-type headache, ever since receiving Rick’s e-mail, but once I started to write my response, it went away. However, as I attempted to e-mail the message, the headache returned, and when the “Retry” message continued to appear, I questioned whether it was trying to tell me something, and my headache resumed. 

Pain is said to be that our body, or some part of ourselves, is giving us a message. Perhaps it was simply saying that I’d just passed through a major energy mass, and my body was feeling the effects, because I felt good about this step into the River Jordan. Okay, so now the flood water can recede, and I’ll walk across on dry ground, right?

Out in the Universe

The truth is that my physical reaction reminded me of patterns that I wanted to think were healed; namely the fear of rejection. This forward movement meant that Rick and Snow would be fixing the website so that I no longer had an excuse for not putting us out in the universe. I could no longer rely on one of Joyce’s favorite sayings, “Get ready, get ready, get ready,” but never actually doing anything. Thus remaining safe from criticism and rejection.

Okay, so now I’ve told the truth. I can no longer hide. Let’s go for it. Guess what? The headache went away!

I finally asked Van to send the message, and it went through without a problem.

Now, I could handle the next major forward thrust. 

Trailer Rancho

Although my headache had disappeared, while writing about the Commitment with Rick and Snow, I noticed that it had returned, when the e-mail wouldn’t go through. Perhaps there was a reason that it shouldn’t be sent: had I said too much, or not enough, or something I shouldn’t have?

As if this concern wasn’t enough, I’d attempted to call back Christine, at Trailer Rancho (in Leucadia), to confirm our reservation for a site during February and March. I’d already learned that there was a vacancy, when I called to ask if they would take mobile units, because Betty said she would be willing to live there.

Van and I had concluded that it’s the one place we’d be willing to settle down, if Betty lived there. The answer from Christine was “No.” However, I had an agreement with God that when and if a vacancy came up, I’d know that was to be our next location. When I asked Christine if there were any coming up, she looked at her books and discovered a “no show,” and offered it to us, suggesting that we give her our credit card number to secure the site.

I asked Van, and he panicked. Even though we had discussed these plans, he wasn’t able to make the decision or the commitment, so Christine had said we could talk it over and call the next day.

Once we again talked about our plans, Van agreed that it was the best idea. But, the next day when I called, I got an answering machine. 

Okay, what’s going on? I’d been waiting for a week for our forwarded mail, building up anticipation every day, and then being disappointed when it didn’t arrive, until I’d developed low-level anxiety. Finally, I’d called Mail Box Etc. and learned that there had been a mix-up and they thought Van requested that it be sent a week later, so it had just been mailed that day. 

Now, the e-mail wouldn’t go through and I got an answering machine at Trailer Rancho. The delays were building up to stress, and the headache threatened a full-fledged migraine. Finally, the e-mail went through, but the headache intensified, so I took a Tylenol and went to bed. 

What am I Feeling?

I began recalling the previous day’s words of Gary Zukav (on Oprah) when he discussed the loss of power. He said that any painful emotion is causing you to lose power and they are there to tell you that something is wrong, so look inside and challenge the painful emotions, while feeling them. Ask “What am I feeling?” Then Stop and listen.

He said that opportunity comes disguised as adversity, and this is a time to ask “What am I afraid of?” Then listen to the answer.

I feared that I’d made a mistake; I should have given Christine the credit card number, at the time, and not allowed Van’s indecision to influence what I knew in my heart to do. After all, I’d been praying about it for months, if not years. Now, when my answer came, I felt panic and feared losing the site.

It’s the old adage about not accepting your good when it comes. And, in truth, I was feeling anxiety about the website going out there, as I mentioned earlier. Obviously, judging from the headache’s message, it was all building up. 

I knew there was much more involved, but as I was drifting in and out of consciousness, while going through this process, the phone rang. It was Christine! 

Once the transaction was completed and the site secured, I felt relieved, and my headache was clearing.

The Castaway

We’d planned on taking a break to go see movie, The Castaway, and with all these unresolved tensions, I looked forward to some fun. After all, we had pushed through a lot of energy mass and discomfort in recent days, so we needed a reward.

I should have known I wasn’t getting off the hook that easy, although I suspected that God was giving me another experiential aide. It usually happens when I am feeling compelled to go see a certain movie, and this was no exception, but I was so absorb in this gripping movie that I didn’t get the full impact, until the next day.

The story is similar to the classic, Robinson Crusoe, about the survival of a castaway on a deserted island. It begins when FedEx picks up a package from a house in the wide open spaces of Texas, which seems to have nothing to do with the next scene: Chuck Hanks in St. Petersburg, Russia, conducting a seminar for FedEx employees. 

However, don’t forget about the opening scene, although we don’t return there, until the end of the movie. Instead, we become involved in the love story between Chuck’s character and Kelley, played by Helen Hunt, who has a comparatively small, but powerful part. That’s because, once Chuck crashes and is on the island, it’s her picture (inside a gold watch she’d given him) that keeps him going through his four-years of isolation.

The only other character on the island is Wilson, a volley ball that had washed up on shore from the fatal plane crash that killed three other FedEx employees. It becomes a character and takes on a life of its own, becoming Chuck’s companion. This happens when Chuck draws a face, left in the blood from his injured hand, on the volley ball. Chuck talks to Wilson throughout the movie, and even takes him along when he leaves on the makeshift raft. 

You might not think a story with only one main character, and relative little violence and action, would be entertaining, but I was actually sorry when he left the island. And the story goes on from there; however, I won’t tell you anymore about it; not even the part that Texas plays in the movie.

“BREATHE, HONEY, BREATHE”

Instead, I’m going to relate the movie, with my own ongoing saga of survival, as it was revealed to and through me, during my morning meditation. 

I’d been asking God to explain what the headache was all about, and the answer came in the form of an analogy in the symbology of The Castaways. Of course, this story is about the basics of survival: food, water, shelter, beyond the obvious need to keep breathing. This important facet of life was brought to our attention when Chuck comes to, after the crash and discovers he’s still alive. He doesn’t yell or become ecstatic, he simply breathes, and breathes, and breathes.

I must interrupt myself to interject a visual aide I keep seeing on El Camino Real. It’s a huge outdoor sign with a black background and big words: “BREATHE HONEY, BREATHE.” I couldn’t figure out what it was advertising: perhaps the words had to do with not smoking. Finally, on one trip past the sign, I focused on the small words in the lower corner: DeBeers Diamonds. 

So much for the diversion, now back to the story. In the bible story, mentioned earlier, the Israelites were stopped at the River Jordan, although it was not a wide or deep river. They couldn’t move forward on their outer journey, because it symbolizes the inner journey that we all must take. And we become stopped, until we are ready to surrender control and being in control, as I also explained. But we also have to be willing to give up everything that is between us and God; all the false idols and whatever is more important to us than our relationship with God.

Chuck learned this lesson when he landed on the island, and the message was clearly depicted. He had lost everything else, and he had nothing left but life, and he was grateful for that, because he focused on finding food and water so that he could remain alive. The essentials were there, such as coconuts and fish, but the problem was how to crack open the coconuts and how to catch the fish. Back to basics! Much of his time on the island was about overcoming these problems. Amazingly, the solutions were provided and I’ll leave that part of the story for you to experience when you see the movie.

It’s this place of nothingness that we eventually must reach, in our ongoing journey: the unimportance of the majority of things that we give too much credence. Gradually, it all goes away, as it did for Chuck, and all that is left is what is important. This is the point we must reach in our surrendering; letting go of the non-essentials. And then we step out in faith and trust that God will take care of us

I think I was, again, at this point when I felt that I must reveal to Rick the amount of money that I had available, and then trust him with that information. My legacy from my dad was my last hold-out, and in many ways I cling to it for survival. It gives me some degree of control in my life, which is true for most people when it comes to money. 

Probably the most wrenching moment in the movie came when Wilson, who had become the only social aspect of Chuck’s life, drifted away from the raft and he was not able to retrieve his companion. He had now lost everything that was important to him, and he cried in hopeless abandon. Sometimes, when we aren’t willing to give up whatever we are still holding onto, it is taken from us. And guess what? We find that we can still survive, as long as we keep breathing.

Conditioning

This is a difficult piece for me to write, because it means revealing those last hold-outs of the ego; the ones it uses to maintain control. In my course, Journey to Inner Freedom, I refer to them as the Last Battles. They are the most subtle of the ego’s tools, because we aren’t usually aware of them; they have become so much part of us that we are like a fish in water and we don’t question it. It’s just there.

I call this conditioning. It’s like Wilson had become to Chuck, gradually becoming so real that he cried when it was taken from him. How many things in our lives are a matter of conditioning? Take some time to consider and answer this, if you really want inner freedom, and the outer benefits.

For instance, I have become so conditioned, from this confined lifestyle, and living with Van’s energies, that I wonder if I could ever adjust to another lifestyle, such as a large home, fancy car and all the trappings we’ve come to value. Perhaps, this has been God’s experiential aide, much like Chuck’s, to bring me to the place of recognizing the true values. Nevertheless, I see nothing wrong with any of them, as long as they are kept in perspective.

In the movie, Chuck loses even more, until he finally stands at the crossroads in Texas, and makes a decision that will restore everything. There, I told you, even though I promised that I wouldn’t. But, do you know any more than you did before? You’ll have to see the movie.

Not a Canon

In writing, when the author mentions someone or something, and then never gets back to complete it, it’s called a canon. So, I try to give closure to the subjects I bring up. For instance, I’ve mentioned the family member who asked me not to mention her name in my writings, and my dilemma as to whether or not to send a Christmas card and call on Christmas Day. I did send a card, but I didn’t call. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 

Here’s a follow-up report: when our forwarded mail finally got here, there was a lovely card from her. She wanted to make amends for past hurtful letters, and to resume our relationship, asking us to visit when we were in her area. 

I’d already gone through the forgiveness process, before writing my letter, so it was not a difficult decision to lovingly answer her letter, and to be thankful for the healing process involved. Yet, I reminded myself that the mental illness that causes her hurtful behavior could return. Nevertheless, for now, this love exchange felt good, and I mailed the letter, saying “Thank You, God.”

But, it wasn’t over yet. I’d been so anxious to mail the letter that I had Van drop it in the mail box, across from Acapulco, on Sunday. That night Betty informed us that postage had gone up one cent. Now, I worried if the letter would be returned; and if so, it would go to our mail box in Golden, Co. This meant having Bill, at Mailbox, Etc., add postage and resend it; probably taking another week to finally reach its destination. I found myself going into panic, and realized that this was part of the conditioning from my childhood. I reminded myself that the letter will be delivered in God’s perfect time, and not to worry; release it and let it go.

More Changes

Joanie had pork chops on her mind, and we decided to walk across the busy street to Denny’s. Although there are so many complaints about cellular phones in restaurants that I hate to be one who irritates fellow diners, I had left a message for Dottie to call, and I knew it would happen at Denny’s. It’s just the way things are.

Sure enough, they called, before we’d even ordered, so I went ahead and chatted, as I had some items to talk about. For instance, I wanted confirmation about their reason for moving the office inside. As Van said, it was getting too cold out there. But more than that, they wanted to upgrade their business approach, making it more professional, and they were willing to do whatever was required. The necessary actions to move their office inside lifted them to a new level of consciousness; it’s part of the change, mentioned earlier.

But, that wasn’t the biggest change they had to talk about. After I ordered my pork chops and called them back, they dropped the news: “We’re moving to Oregon”!

“Oh, my God”! I exclaimed, adding, “I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t know when. I just know that it’s the thing to do at this time in your lives.

“Yeah, Dad’s health isn’t too good, and Steve’s folks are getting up there in age, so we want to spend more time with them,” Dottie said, and explained, “we’ll move in June and stay until October. Neither of us can stand the incessant Oregon rain, so we’ll stay there for summer and autumn, and return to Colorado for winter.”

“You don’t mind the cold?”

“Are you kidding? It’s 68-degrees here, today.”

“That’s warmer than it is here, in California,” I conceded.

They continued, “Airica and Josh, who loves the rain, will move to Oregon permanently and rent their own place, while attending college; probably where most of her cousins will go. Arianna, Jason and Micayla will live in this house, and we’ll rent a smaller place for the months when we’re here. But, other than this, don’t ask questions, because we don’t have any more answers figured out.”  

I tried to absorb all the information and they were good about filling in with the answers they had, such as, “We’ll concentrate on building our business in the Portland area, and expand to Bend also, while continuing to support our Colorado downline.”

“Will you be able to live on the business income, now, or will Steve have to get another job?”

“We think it’ll work out, but we’ll really need to focus on building the business.”

This all made sense to me, as we continued chatting, until our dinner arrived, and they 

assured me, “We’ll let you know as soon as we know any more details. We’re working on our goals and getting ready for the transition.”

Van had no idea what was happening, so I filled him in on the news, as we concluded that it was their best plan for this time in their lives, agreeing that this change wouldn’t devastate our lives, as their move to Colorado did. 

However, I must admit that God knew what He was doing, as I said, “Now we know why God didn’t let us take a year’s lease on the duplex around the corner from them. We would have been stuck there, while they were in Oregon.”

Now we have wheels and the website, and we are much stronger emotionally, as a result of the years of healing and recovery. However, at that time, we were emotionally dependent on them, as well as needing their support in building the MLM business in which we were partners. 

But I had recently let them know that we had been doing our own goal planning, and our focus would be the website activities. They hadn’t commented, but evidently they understood and accepted our decision.

After we returned home from Denny’s, I called them again, and we continued discussing their news. And, I shared some of the exciting news relating to the website, such as Joyce’s forward movement and choices, as well as Rick and Snow’s agreement to take us out there. They were surprised and impressed that so much was happening. I suggested that Dottie read my latest “Journey of Awareness” chapters to learn all the details.

Indeed, this year was already full of surprises and changes, and we hadn’t even celebrated Van’s birthday, which comes on January 7, barely into the New Year.

Happy Birthday, Ralph

Van’s mom had offered to take us “out for ribs” to celebrate her son’s birthday, and I was delighted that she made this effort to get out, because I knew how much it meant to him. He happily drove us to the Peppermill Restaurant and assisted her to our seats. They each indulged in a full rack of baby back ribs, while I savored a more healthful chicken teriyaki stir-fry. 

Since Joanie has started the new year on her good behavior, when it comes to food, at least, she passed, as Little Ralph selected a tasty cherry crisp topped with ice cream for dessert. But the piece-de-resistance must have been the world’s largest brownie fudge sundae served in a giant margarita glass, heaped with fudge sauce, nuts, ice cream and whipped cream, and topped with a cherry that Betty ordered.

I’d never seen anything like it, and I watched in amazement as Betty downed nearly the entire thing, smacking her lips in delight. One thing about Van’s mom, she knows how to enjoy her goodies, despite her missing gall bladder. However, she does eliminate butter and other greasy foods, but ribs and brownie fudge sundae seem to pass her body’s approval. I’d have been sick all night, and I was happy that I’d used discretion in my choices for this meal.

No cakes, candles or servers singing “Happy Birthday,” however, for Van it was a completely satisfying celebration, topped off by watching TV with his mom when we got home. 

He also received a very special electronic birthday card from Dottie and Steve, and Joanie selected one for him, too. I also selected a perfect, but expensive card for “My Love,” which is our name for each other, at Walgreen’s and then let him read it there, thus economizing and recycling at the same time. 

I’ve become so conditioned to not spending money for gifts that I didn’t buy him one. Instead, I fixed bagels and poached eggs for his birthday breakfast, and I tried to go through an entire day without criticizing him; that is until I checked his personal e-mail, in case his sister had sent him a greeting, and found out that he hadn’t been there since September.

There were about 1/2-dozen responses to a solicitation he’d sent out, offering free samples of one of our products. They were interested and wanted one. This was yet another example of Van’s pattern relating to incompletions. He starts projects and never finishes them, which is symptomatic of codependency and underearning. Darn! After all this time, it hadn’t changed.

I suggested that this is a matter of choice, and he might want to look at what he’d started and didn’t finish, and why? But, other than that, I really did attempt to make this a pleasant day for him, and he thanked me for a happy birthday celebration. I felt that I’d done okay with my critical-free gift, as it was only 1/2-hour till midnight.

Simplicity

Betty had given me a copy of “SV,” magazine supplement to the Sunday newspaper, and I took time to read it. Much to my surprise, the front cover headline read “Back to Basics.” And I found the articles apropos to this chapter. Once again, God has given me experiential aides for the lessons He wants me to learn and to convey; lessons that have been coming through Jim Rosemergy’s writings, as I’ve already mentioned.

The first article, “Simplify, Simplify,” spoke of a growing movement in fast-paced, hedonistic Silicone Valley to return to basics by simplifying their lifestyle. Some folks have moved to the mountains and commute. Others have eliminated electricity in their homes and lifestyle, such as riding a bicycle to work. 

There was no mention of RVing, but that’s because most of these people still maintain their jobs. One man, for instance, actually has a job that advances technology, while living a simple life in the mountains, with his goats and sheep. Unfortunately, a mountain lion had devoured two goats and he was having second thoughts about the merits of the country. However, I didn’t have the impression that he planned to change.

I’ve Been Rich; I’ve Been Poor

I’ve often felt the inner guidance’s explanation that the reason we had been reduced to financial rock bottom was to embrace this back to basics concept, although I am a reluctant convert. I still enjoy the comforts and conveniences of life.

In fact, I can relate to a poster that I once had (it’s in storage), which showed a lavish columned southern antebellum mansion, at the end of a row of oak trees, with the caption: “I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor; rich is better.” Yes!

The truth is that Van and I have walked along that very entranceway and toured the rooms of Royal Oaks, where that famous picture was taken; and I’ve filmed those grounds with my own camcorder (which I’ve since given to Arianna to film Micayla’s growing-up stages). I’ve concluded that the people who lived in those antebellum mansions were wealthy, but I’d rather have this lifestyle, with our automatic heat and air-conditioning; and the comfort and convenience of our modern RV. So, in truth, I am still enjoying “rich.” It’s a matter of perception. After all, within a week I’ll be attending “Stars on Ice,” which exemplifies the epitome of “having it all.” And, the best part is the journey along the way that brought Van to the place of ordering those tickets, even if it was under the guise of Santa Claus. He still did it.

“People Take Time to Enjoy Life”

The above quote is from a statement made by Frances Mayes, an author who spends her time between the Tuscan countryside in Italy, and her quiet home in San Francisco. She writes about her simple life in books such as, Under the Tuscan Sun, which relates the quiet lifestyle of 

Tuscany, with her husband, Eduardo, as she calls him.

Michelle Quinn, who wrote the article, admits to difficulty accepting the challenge of reading about someone else’s good life, but she said that listening to the tape (of the book) did instill a certain appreciation of the author’s lifestyle. However, Michelle said that she would rather read about her inner journey, so to speak. 

This struck a chord in me, because my books definitely add the personal saga, in addition to the travels. So, maybe, just maybe, there are people who would enjoy reading my travel books. At least, both articles seemed divinely guided for me to read as encouragement and confirmation that I am on the right track, and my job is to keep writing, and to keep it simple.

 

CHAPTER 19: LAST ROOTS

Through the Cycles

I’ve already referred to The Big One, Elizabeth, as part of the Final Battles on our Inner Freedom Journey. And I’ve also talked about the stages of the Journey being cyclic and spherical, like a vortex. In other words, we process through the entire Exodus from the bondage of Egypt to The Promised Land on one level, and then we go through it again, on a higher level, until all of our energies have reached the destination and we’re enjoying more freedom and less bondage.

I would prefer living fully in The Promised Land, at all times, meaning that my life would be free of stress, pain and financial worries, and my life would be continuously harmonious. However, the reality flashed across my mind that may not be realistic in this lifetime. I must recognize that where I am, in my present circumstances, is The Promised Land. And at all times, we are living in all stages of the Journey, only on different levels. Sometimes one stage is more predominant than others, as we are, again, cycling through it on our way to the next level.

At the beginning of this new year, with all of these exciting changes taking place, again I find myself in the Final Battle, or the Last Roots, as I call those deeply hidden, buried issues that we thought were handled. But, they resurface, like a dandelion root that we’d pulled up, again pushing up through the lawn.

I’ve concluded that these Last Roots are the result of conditioning. For instance, the issue with my relative that I’ve been sharing are an ongoing pattern of criticism, rejection and victimization than began in my infancy and childhood; first by my natural parents and continued by my adopted mother.

This pattern is especially powerful and entrenched, so much so that it is like a fish in water: it’s just the way life is, why would you question? And for a writer, criticism and rejection

 manifest in the unending edits and zillion returned queries. It’s like we expect criticism and rejection, thus projecting this self-proclaimed prophecy and yet being disappointed, though not surprised when it happens.

Yesterday, I tried to put the phenomenon into words when talking with Van, “It’s like I can’t ever get anything good enough, because someone will always criticize and say ‘It should be better or different,’ and I accept that verdict, because it’s the way it is.”

Van, also being a victim of the perfectionism syndrome, said, “Oh yes,” which is the extent of his comments.

I continued, “For instance, I would never think I could get the website right; I’d just keep trying to improve it, on my own, not knowing what I’m doing, but assuming it’s not good enough, thus not ready for people to see, and most certainly not acceptable for anyone to want to order my books, or subscribe to membership in Money Makeovers. It’s a vicious unending cycle that I will unconsciously continue to perpetuate. So, I’m hoping that by talking about it, I am beginning to expose the culprit, namely my ego, and be free of this treadmill.”

Another lengthy response, “Yep!”

I pushed even further with my inner confessional, “I always think that I need someone else to fix it and make it right, like Dottie doing my edits. But, she’s no longer doing them, and I feel insecure, without the ongoing red splashes of criticism across my pages. However, now, with Rick and Snow making their changes, I again feel comfortable, because someone is saying, ‘What you’ve done isn’t okay, but we’ll fix it.’ Not that I don’t appreciate what they are going to do, because it does need to be more professional. But, the buck must stop here. I must let it be, and allow my website and writings to be exposed and subject to more criticism; this time by the public.”

“Yes, but it will also receive praise and acceptance,” Van added. Now, you see, when he does say something, it is worth listening to, and his words reminded me of why I fell in love with him. He’d said similar words the first time I met him. “You can avoid a relationship for fear of the negatives, but you would miss all of the blessings.” He is, indeed, a wise man.

My ears began to snap and pop, and my head seemed to clear, after I confessed the truth about myself, and I knew it was probably more like the tip of the iceberg, than the last roots, but the energies were beginning to shift and I knew that I was very nearly through with the blocks and limitations. The question I ask myself: Am I ready for success? Am I ready for the blessings and accolades, along with the criticism and rejection?

We’ll soon find out, because I received an e-mail from Snow this time, as she will be doing much of the work on my website. The $500.00 financial figure was more than reasonable, and we were in agreement on all facets of this exciting venture, so it’s All Systems Go!

Yet, I knew that there could be more issues for me to deal with, as I push through to success, such as our first customer and the responsibilities involved with moving forward. I also knew that I would need to continue writing them, as part of this inner Journey of Awareness, so this book obviously isn’t over, yet. However, I’ve been given the title of my next book; it’s an expansion of the above subtitle: Out in the Universe. Oh yes, this will be a story to tell, I’m sure, and it will begin with my response to Snow’s request, “What is your vision for each of these three websites?

God Isn’t Through With me, Yet!

But, I didn’t get to writing my answer right away. Instead, I responded to the rest of her letter. Our interchange follows:

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

Hi Snow,

I’m trying to recover from the shock of wiping out the entire letter I wrote to you. I don’t even know how I did it. Van said I must have somehow hit the Ctrl L keys. But more than that, I wonder whether it was God giving me another lesson about control, and that I don’t have any, or the ego trying to show me that it has control. Or, maybe it just happened. Anyway, you can be sure this will go into my current chapter, which deals with just such matters. God never allows me to run out of input and experiential aides. 

Anyway, I’ll try again. This time, I’m doing it on the word processor, so I can file, as I go, and have more control. Ha! Like I’ve never lost an entire chapter, or book for that matter; painful, but true. Thus learning the lesson to file, as I go.

I’m going to continue with my format of heading your comments and mine, so I can respond to you easier. The last thing I’d written to you was an explanation of my having some degree of short term memory loss, and that we would need to communicate about this, if I forget something, and asking you to be patient, should it happen. It’s also the reason that I respond in this way. I find the condition frustrating, considering my spiritual healing, and also the nutritional supplements, especially our OPC-3, which has kept it from being much worse, I’m sure. Anyway, I can live with it.

I’m so thrilled that we are all working together. I’d prayed for someone with compatible energies, and understanding of the subject matter, which is so important. I know there are webmasters, as I think the term is called, out there, but not many with all of the expertise that you two have. I feel very safe and secure with you, and I have no qualms about turning my website over to your care, because I know that you are God guided too, and you will enhance His intentions and Divine Plan for the websites. As I always say, “I, of myself, can do nothing; it is the Father within who doeth the works.” And this truth gets proven to me on a daily basis. So, if it’s God’s will, it will be done through you.

 

Snow:

On Mon, 8 Jan 2001 10:26:31 -0800 “Rick and Snow” <nakedjourney@netzero.net> writes:

Hi Joyanna,

This is Snow speaking.  Usually Rick is the author of our emails, but I wanted to take some time and respond to your message since I would be the one primarily working on your sites.

Joyanna:

  So good to meet you Snow. I feel as if we’ve always known each other. It’s a blessing and privilege to be working together.

 

Snow:

Some ideas:

We think it is fine to have three separate web sites.  We just need for you to identify them to us separately, and what your mission is with each one. Please list the web address, the title of site, and main theme and mission of the site (be as specific and clear with yourself as possible).  

This will help us to better understand what you are wanting to accomplish with each site, and therefore, we can offer suggestions based on this knowledge. (ie If we know that your main goal with Money Makeovers is to recruit membership — then we will advise you accordingly.  If it is to promote books or workshops, or sell books, etc., then our suggestions would be different. Also, suggested “looks” for sites would be different depending on what your mission is. (More professional for a business site, and more grassroots for an inspirational and homepage-type of site.)

 

Joyanna:

I’ll do this as a separate attachment. It’ll take some time, and I want to talk with Joyce about it, too, and she works during the day.

 

Snow: 

 We don’t want to destroy what you have already created, but rather enhance

 it and organize it in an eye-catching, easy to follow, organized and consistent set-up. We love your information, but we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed with information- overload coming at us all at the same time. These are your creations, and we don’t want to make them ours.

 

Joyanna:

I already know this, but I’ve found that I need to express the deep hidden things of my ego and inner child. Otherwise, they come up and bite me, in the form of health challenges, or other discomforts. I hope it’s okay with you that I am this open. As I said, if we can communicate honestly, it will help our working relationship. 

I must admit that I am sensitive to criticism, so we’ll just have to move on through this issue. I’m doing my part, or rather, God is doing it for/through me, by having it come up into my face, lately. So, I’m writing about it in Chapter 18; maybe Chapter 19, too. I keep thinking this book is finished, but more keeps coming up. 

 

Snow:

  Rather, we would love to assist you in presenting your message to your readers in the most user-friendly way. Many people get intimidated when they are surfing the Net. We would basically take what you have already created (book covers and all) and re-format and reorganize it for you. We would also offer up as many creative enhancement ideas as you are eager to hear. (ie graphics, photos, artwork, interactive tools, audio, etc.)

 

Joyanna:

I totally agree with your thinking on this, and everything you’ve said. We need to make the websites as simple and pleasurable as possible. 

And, I could probably use improvement on the graphics of book-covers, too, but we don’t have time for all that, now. And if you find you can do it, on the road, you can charge me accordingly.

Van scans more pictures and places them, as he has time in his busy schedule. Ha! We have hundreds that accompany the various books, so we’ll just keep adding them, and learn from you how to place them, once you’ve done what you’ll do. 

It will take my lifetime to get all of my stuff on the websites, as ideas keep coming, such as revising the past monthly publications, with all of the Freedomers (and others) artwork, graphics, poems, letters and articles. But that’s not for now. I only wish you would be available to help with them. Who knows, maybe the computer communications on the road will be better by then. 

About the overload, I understand this all too well, as I am inclined toward ADD (as you probably know, it’s attention-deficit-disorder), and I can’t take too much coming at me, either, as I can’t process it in my thinking. On the other hand, the input from within comes in big amounts, and I sometimes miss some of it, that’s why I try to get it written down, so I won’t forget. I seem to be a visionary, and some things aren’t supposed to be happening now, but down the line; only “they” forget to let me know when.

 

Snow:

As far as pricing goes — like you, we have done a lot of meditating and praying on this matter. Consulting, marketing and design work on three websites…the number that keeps coming up for us is $500. We only have three months to accomplish this (before we hit the road), so time is of the essence. We would work diligently for the next three months on your 

sites, so that would be about $165 per month, or about $5.50 per day. If this number works for you, we would suggest that we schedule some quality time to meet about this once you are back in the area and come up with some ideas.

 

Joyanna:

Your rates are more than reasonable, and I feel guilty not paying you what your time, effort and expertise are worth. However, for now, we must accept these rates, and hope that we will be able to pay more, as we go along; once money comes in, and I know that my savings will be enough for any other expenses, such as printing the books.

 

Snow:

We have a lot of ideas, but it is important to us to fully understand what it is you want to accomplish with your web sites so that we can help you get there.  We would also love to meet with you and Joyce at a separate meeting so that we can deal specifically with the Money site and what your goals are there, and we can answer her questions.

 

Joyanna:

We’ll plan to stop by for as long as necessary, on our way South, and I’ll let you know the dates, so we can set up a time. Also, is there a place we can park? 

I know Joyce will want to meet with you, and I’ll have her e-mail you, so you can get acquainted. She has so many questions. I’m going to forward her recent e-mail, so you’ll see where she’s coming from in all this. You’ll see why God guided me to have her as my partner, even though she doesn’t know as much as we do, right now. But she is willing, and she is learning, and she is a good friend and support.

 

Snow:

Should you decide to proceed, all we would need is your homestead account info (member name and password) to work off-line on your sites. We would like to get started on this as soon as possible. We would create new pages instead of making permanent changes on your current pages. Once we come up with the main re-design, we could get together and “view” the changes off-line before agreeing to publish them to the worldwide web.

 

Joyanna: 

I already sent this to you, so you may be started, already. I like this idea of you creating new pages. I hope it isn’t too difficult, but I’ll let you take care of those technical details. As you may have guessed, I have very little know-how in those matters. Van takes care of them, thank God.

When I try to understand how it will all come together, I go into overload, so I’ll simply trust you, and God, to handle it. 

 

Snow:

I read your passage about the difficulty in surrendering control, and I realize how difficult this can be. What I have found out to be the truth for me is that only when I am willing to surrender in complete faith and trust my inner knowing, that is when I allow Spirit to flow through me. In reality, I believe that “control” is an illusion. Mother Nature shares this  message with us every time there is an earthquake, fire, drought, severe snowstorm, flooding, etc.  

 

Joyanna:

I’ve been learning these lessons about control vs. surrender, and they continue, on deeper levels, since our spiritual path seems to be cyclic and spherical, and we come up against the same lessons on a deeper level. God seems to give them to me, so that I can share them with others, who are on the path.

As I said in my chapter and write quite often, when we get ready to step into the flooded River Jordan, to get out of The Wilderness Maze, we must surrender, before God stops the flood of negativity (our own personal negative consciousness) that keeps us blocked. Once we surrender control, and being in control, we can walk across on dry land, as the bible tells us.

I know all this, but living it is sometimes more difficult, especially when we are dealing with the control issue.

 

Snow:

My wonderful and wise brother, Rich Eagleheart, once said that “Our Earth Mother offers us reminders that change is the only constant; our constant opportunity for growth.”

 

Joyanna:

He sounds very wise. I grew up on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, as my adopted parents owned Kah-Nee-Ta Hot Springs; a virtual paradise, which I wrote about in Pilgrimage to Kah-Nee-Ta. By the way, if you are interested in reading any of my books or courses, I’ll give you the website/webpage address for them, if they are entered. If not, I’ll enter it. Oh, I guess you already have access, but they aren’t all entered on the website, yet, so let me know. That’s another thing I’m not sure how to handle, but we can talk about it later.

I’m a Gemini, and one part of me hates change, while the other is extremely flexible, which is necessary for this lifestyle. Yet, the other part constantly wants to settle down. The two-sides of Gemini, I guess.

 

Snow:

 I believe, as Spirit Workers, we need to support one another in getting the positive messages out there.  We seem to be bombarded with negative messages coming at us constantly. I acknowledge your dedication and loving Spirit. Keep it up!!!! 🙂 I look forward to your response. Please know that whatever you decide will not change how much Rick and I admire you and Van for what you are doing, and how much we look forward to meeting you out on the road.

 Peace,

 Snow

 

Joyanna:

Thank you. I consider you both true friends, and I am so thankful that I was guided to Marianne’s website, and found you. Your website is where I got the idea of using Homestead, for which I am also thankful. I don’t feel quite so all alone, now. I know that God is always with me, but I sometimes need “God with skin on.”

Yes, there is such a need, and I feel that getting the message out there is part of our Divine Assignment.

I’m still wondering where you are headed first, or do you know?

Our long-term plans just got somewhat changed, as my daughter, Dottie and her family are moving back to Oregon, which I knew was going to happen. HA! I just wondered what was taking them so long. They’ll live there from June to October, and then return to Colorado for the winter and spring. So, we’ll still go there this April for Micayla’s first birthday and Airica’s graduation in May. Then to Texas, as the two brothers, Michael and Adam Martin are due out, and will be with their mom, Linda, south of San Antonio. We want to go there to participate in their homecoming celebration. Then, we’ll head toward the Pacific Northwest for summer and autumn. Not sure, after that and those plans are subject to change, as guided.

 

There are several things I want to pass along to you:

International Prison Ministry has an offer to accept links, in exchange for adding their banner to our website. We tried to do this on the Inner Freedom Support Connection “Networking” (not the one on the menu page). But, we didn’t know how to do it. I feel bad that we haven’t fulfilled our agreement with them, although I can’t even figure out how to get to the part of their webpage that has our listing. It’s totally confusing. Can you please find it, see if you can find our message, and also fix the link, which you will see just sitting there on our Networking Page. No hurry, if it’s not a high priority. On the other hand, I would like to fulfill my part, if it’s no biggie. I’ll add their website address on a separate e-mail.

Also, Inner Journey has agreed for us to put a message on their Bulletin Board. Any ideas? I’ll forward you the e-mail from Jim Rosemergy, who is a long-time acquaintance and Vice-president of Unity School of Christianity. When he was in the field, he visited my #1 con, Al Vaillancourt, and later wrote about him in an article in Unity Magazine. Neat, huh?

I have a link from Unity Christ Church in Carlsbad, although I don’t know if anything has happened, as a result. Rev. Tony is a friend, too, and willing to support us any way needed, so that’s an opening.

Tom Lagana and his Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul is very active with prison ministry, and can open many doors, once we link with him. I haven’t quite figured out how to do it, either. I’ll forward his latest newsletter to you, if I haven’t already. I just sent some out the other day. He is mostly absorbed in his own promotions, but open to linking, etc.

I was guided to read two interesting articles in SV, a Silicon Valley supplement to the San Jose Mercury News. This issue was about Simplify Simplify. One article, by Mark Emmons about the Simplicity Movement in SV, came to my mind that this could be a good connection to promote the idea of RVing lifestyle and my books, website, etc. The other article was about Frances Mayes, an author who lives in Tuscany, Italy, and San Francisco. She writes about the simple life she and her husband have. The reporter, Michelle Quinn, did a good job, though admitting that she prefers to read about the deeper aspects of life, such as the lady’s divorce, etc. I’m thinking the reporter would be a good contact about my RVing stuff, too. Any Ideas? It seems like it may be too soon, and should wait until the websites are in better shape. What do you think?

Michelle Quinn: mquinne@sjmercury.com

Mark Emmons: memmons@symercury.com

I don’t know if they have websites, other than the San Jose Mercury News. Surfing the web drives me nuts.

There are some others, but I’ll get these to you, for now. Thanks a million. There may be additional charge for these extra requests, so let me know. I’m willing to pay my way, as long as the money holds out.

Oh yes, we would like Bulletin Boards on our websites, too. And we don’t know how to use our Chatroom. Joyce is more interested in that, and will use it. She and I can use it too, once we get past our hang-ups about the technical stuff.

I think I’d better stop. You are probably long ago in overload. But, I trust that you can sort it all out.

Oh, I’ll do the part about my vision for each website on a separate attachment. It’ll take some time to get that sorted out and written.

Love and Blessings,

Joyanna

PS: Adam and Michael Martin are willing to support and promote my websites, etc,, when they are out. Having been con artists, they are very good at this, and they are now going straight, after spending much of their young lives (in their 30’s) in prison. Must be another way, they figured. Ha! So, once they get out and squared away, and onto the computer stuff (both are very adept) they will help with the promotional aspects, although I sure wish you guys could handle it, but I know that you have your own lives to live and adventures to fulfill.

Cleared!

The above version was not my original. Here is what happened: I’d written all but my signature, when I accidentally pressed something and wiped out my entire response. I don’t know what I did, and Van spent considerable time trying to retrieve it, but it was gone. 

I was devastated! For one thing, it had taken several hours to write and I didn’t know if I could rewrite it. It’s for sure I didn’t want to, as I still had to write the response about my vision for the three websites, which would require time, and certainly more focus and self-awareness. Not something I particularly wanted to investigate, at this time, but I knew it was a vital inner exercise.

So, why did the entire message get wiped out? Was it some part of myself not ready to move forward to success? Was it my ego showing me that it still had control? Or, was it God bringing to my attention that I have no control? Perhaps all of the above, since God is all.

 

Do it Again

Nothing to do but rewrite, taking the rest of the afternoon. Of course, I must admit that God had urged me to write this on the word processor, rather than directly as an e-mail, but I ignored the guidance, and paid a dear price: my time. However, the second version was much clearer, and proved to me that God gave me the words in the first place, and He could easily repeat them. And the experience also served to remind me that when the worst happens, it’s not all that bad.

Later, when talking with Joyce about conditioning, she’d mentioned that the way she deals with it is to allow herself to picture the worst scenario, such as being fearful when roller skating. She pictured herself falling and carried off on a stretcher. In other words, take it to the full extreme, picture the very worst that could happen, until it’s ridiculous, and then move through it.

That reminded me that Oprah had discussed this very issue on her TV show, which Joyce had also watched. Oprah had reiterated that Dr. Phil, her guest for the day, had assisted her through the trauma of her trial in Texas with the cattle industry. From the beginning, he had told her to ask herself, “What If?” His premise being to answer that question, so you can find out what the worst scenario would be, and make a decision as to what you want to do about it. The point is to completely answer “What if?” and free yourself of fret and worry. In other words, put some light on it and face the consequences. This gives you options, rather than stressing out.

I’d faced the worst: losing my letter, and remedied the problem by rewriting it. No problem, just move on. Now, I have the finished version to include here.

Grab the Tail Feathers

I awoke with an experiential aide in progress, as I entered into my meditation. It was a continuation of an insight that had passed quickly by, while responding to Snow’s first message. She had introduced herself by explaining that Rick had been authoring the previous letters, but she would be doing most of the website work and she wanted to make this connection.

Their energies are so well aligned that I wouldn’t have known the difference; definitely soulmates-at-one. Unlike Van and I who are opposites in many ways; yet alike in many of our patterns and issues, such as the one that resurfaced during my meditation.

I’d tried to grab it by the tail feathers, while writing my letter to Snow, but it had escaped. That’s because the ego doesn’t want to give up these deep hidden Last Roots, for fear of losing control. So, writing about them sheds the light of Truth, thus taking away their power. 

Snow had been writing about needing to simplify my website and not overload the reader with information. And I agreed, explaining that I get easily overloaded, due to ADD (attention-deficit-disorder). However, I added that I seem to have the gift of being a visionary, and that information comes to me in bunches, and that’s how I write it, so that I won’t forget. But it’s difficult for me to separate what is immediate from what is long-term.

For instance, during this morning meditation, another load of information was dumped on me, and I felt totally inundated, because not only did I receive input for this chapter, but for the next book, too. Trying to sort it out often becomes tedious, if not overwhelming.

With this in mind, it can be understandable that I’m always looking for someone else to take away some of the load, and I found myself dumping more tasks on Snow than she’d agreed to do. That’s the tail feathers I tried to grab.

Let me Explain

I probably wouldn’t understand the depths or origins of this phenomenon were it not for John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming: Healing the Wounded Inner Child. He explained that when, as children, we are given too much responsibility too soon, rather than being allowed the natural freedom of childhood, we feel anger and outrage, without knowing why. Mr. Bradshaw explains that it’s because we have been robbed of the innocence of childhood, when we are supposed to be protected and nurtured by our parents, and our only responsibility is to have fun, learn and grow up through the normal developmental stages.

My being told “Take care of Mommy” added an unnatural burden, which produced the pattern of overload, and I suspect it was the basis of ADD, though that’s not substantiated by a professional psychiatrist, as far as I know. It certainly does make sense to me.

Additional responsibilities, pressures and stress, caused by my alcoholic adopted mother, heaped more fuel to the fire of overload and the pattern was in full swing by the time I became a preteen, and worsened from there. I’ve written this story in my book, In Search of Dutch Cleanser: the Mystery of me, although I hadn’t read John Bradshaw, when I wrote it. His book filled in many pieces to the puzzle of the Mystery of Me, and I am eternally grateful. That’s why I’m passing this information along to others, in hopes it may fill in some missing pieces.

Keep Within the Guidelines

With all this in mind, it can be understood why my inner child has always sought to find a partner or helpmate to relieve some of the burden. However, that is not the responsibility of Rick and Snow, so I must keep within the guidelines of their Agreement. It’s just that their areas of expertise fill in so many of my deficits, such as graphics, artwork and technical savvy, in addition to knowledge on marketing and promoting. But, they are willing to show us how, and that is such a blessing. Thank You, God. Thank you, Rick and Snow.

20: EPILOGUE

 

Stars on Ice

Our attendance at Stars on Ice serves as a conclusion to this book, and also as a turning point in our lives, because of the events leading up to the ice show, the event itself, and afterwards. 

I mentioned earlier my excitement that “Santa” had the idea of ordering the tickets on-line and then did it. To me, this indicated that Little Ralph and Adult Ralph had merged and were working together in alignment. In other words, the long, long healing process for Little Ralph had concluded and his recovery was accomplished. 

This, in itself, was a precious gift and gave me cause to celebrate. And it only gets better, as the eventful day arrives. First, Van called the arena and got directions for parking and collecting the tickets at Will Call. He also asked how long in advance we needed to arrive. In other words, he took charge and handled it.

Oh, how I had longed for him to resume this husbandly responsibility. Yes, I had handled everything ever since he’d abdicated his role, but I’d felt so abandoned.

Now, on this sunny Sunday afternoon of the matinee, the only performance in San Jose, we drove right to the parking lot. Van had already gotten out the $13.00 for parking and handed the money to the attendant. Again, he took charge and handled it, and my heart thrilled, as if I was the fair maiden and he the handsome knight who slew the dragon. 

He efficiently got us across the street, around the building and to the Will Call window, while I chatted with the attendant. Then he moved to another window and the attendant said, “He’s getting an upgraded ticket,” while Van handled the entire transaction by himself.

This may not seem like a big deal, but believe me, it was momentous! For so many years I’d had to handle everything and longed for him to be a helpmate, especially when I didn’t know what I was doing. My inner child always felt like the little girl being asked to take care of her mommy and not knowing what to do, yet thinking it was all up to her. And feeling totally guilty and blamed for mommy getting sick and going to the hospital and never coming back and the family dissolving. Now, all that was over! 

I had been going through my own recovery, and now the outer effects were manifesting in the form of Van’s recovery; as within so without. And it only gets better.

Van escorted me to the entrance and up the stairs, pausing at the program vendor, as he remembered that I’d said I wanted a program. I almost choked when I saw the $15.00 sign, and I had to overcome my codependency pattern of trying to please by saying, “Oh, that’s okay, we don’t need to buy one.” Instead, when he handed me the oversized silver covered program, with a full picture of Scott Hamilton, I praised him and said, “Thank You.” 

I clutched the precious memento to my heart, while Van located the proper section, asked which door would be the closest, and guided me to our aisle seats with a good view. Whew! As we sat down, he pointed to the highest level, above the main sections, and said, “Our original seats were up there.”

“These are really great,” I said, determined not to complain about anything. In fact, as often happens when Joanie is deeply touched, I had tears in my eyes as I looked around the arena, sank into my comfortable seat and said, “We’re actually here.”

I could tell that Little Ralph was excited too, as he looked around the arena, taking in every detail, and obviously feeling good about himself and his accomplishment. I made sure that I appreciated it, too. Even when he said, “We can move to lower seats, if they aren’t taken.”

He confided, “These are the higher price seats,” and then he pointed to another option that he had turned down, adding, “I could have gotten those, but I paid the difference for these.”

I wanted him to know that he’d done good so I accepted the seats that we had: close to the performers entrance where we could see them coming and going; and yet on the side where they center their performance. “It’s perfect,” I said, adding, “It’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me.”

“Oh, not the nicest,” he countered.

“What was any nicer than this?”

He didn’t respond, and not wanting to undermine any previous good deeds, I amended, “Well, going to Tommy Tunes in Las Vegas was very special, too, but this is the first one when you bought the tickets and handled everything.” 

He still didn’t comment, and remembering another time he had done it all by himself, I recalled, “Of course, there was the time you took Dottie and Steve with us to see “Singing in the Rain,” at Lawrence Welk’s Theater in Escondido and I loved it.” Then I added, “But this means the most to me, right now.” 

He had been taking in all the sights and sounds, making comments about the private booths above the crowd, and now continued his surveillance, while I became absorbed with my program

I brought his attention to the various championship stars: Scott Hamilton, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning, Steven Cousins, Ilia Kulich, Yuka Sato and Denis Petrov. And there were the pairs champions: Jenni Meno and Todd Sand; Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur; in other words, my favorite ice skating performers.  

Soon the arena nearly filled, despite the fact that the Oakland Raiders were having play-offs for the Super Bowl about fifty-miles across the bay. Even the section where our original seats were located was packed.

Act I

  Finally, the lights dimmed and the opening comments were made, about no flash cameras, laser beams or throwing flowers. The music began and the entire cast skated into place to the lively tune, Let’s Get it on.

The crowd loudly applauded the Introduction of each star, getting louder with each one, and then reaching a crescendo for Scott Hamilton, producer of Stars on Ice. Of course, everyone knows this is his last season and the last chance for us to express our appreciation and admiration of the many years of entertainment he’s given us. Also, the audience wanted to express acknowledgment for his having faced and overcome cancer, and then forming a cancer research and education center in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic Tausig Cancer Center. You can find out more about this at www.scottcares.com.

The performance was one of those silver box events that is so completely experienced one can barely recall what happened, yet it lives within every cell of my being. Not a day will go by that I won’t recall the importance of this experience in my life.

Scott Hamilton’s exquisite style topped by his famous back flip repeats in my mind as does the beauty and grace of Kristi Yamaguchi, along with the youth and vibrancy of Tara Lipinski. Kurt Browning, too, adds his own unique style, certainly worthy of becoming the main attraction, after Scott’s well deserved retirement. However, I don’t know if that will happen. Check out starsonice.com for updated information on these details.

The contemporary music, although mostly unfamiliar to me, nicely accompanied the outstanding choreography, making a harmonious blend, enhanced by the exquisite costumes, beautiful women and handsome men; all this subtly complemented by the computerized light show.

And, of course, the audience is a major part of every performance, as the stars face each direction with their bows, causing an upsurge of applause and hurrahs all the way to the top level, high above the lights, where we could have been sitting. Instead, I could easily see all movements and activities, and with the occasional help of my binoculars, I could see their features and expressions.

Intermission

With all this going on, the time went far too fast, and soon it was intermission. I waited awhile and then headed toward the restroom, but quickly changed my mind. The main concourse was jammed, and the lines at all facilities, including restrooms, snacks, programs and souvenirs were unbelievable. I returned to my seat and chatted with Van, as he reported his observations.

Soon the audience began returning to their seats, with the same phenomenon that we had noticed before the performance: it’s always the people in the center seats who come in last. Figure that one out. It goes along with my observation that people seem to need to eat, while attending these events, even if they’ve just gotten up from the table. 

I’d managed to get a neighbor to take our picture, during intermission, but the viewer will need to use their imagination to see the performers.

Act II

So much for intermission, the stars returned for Act II, which seemed to get even better with a crazy and wild number performed to Terminator music and accompanied by skating chairs. You’ll have to see it to believe it.

More solos, couples and specialty numbers zipped by us, including a rendition of the oldie, Don’t Fence me in, as only Kurt Browning can do it. But the show got wilder from there, as the cast and skating chairs rumbled through Sin Wagon by the Dixie Chicks, which was only topped by Scott’s final number. My Way, gave us some surprises to this rendition by Glenn Roven, enhanced by the lighting effects. You’ve never seen or heard this song, until you see this version. Frank Sinatra would roll over in his grave, although the originator, Paul Anka, would probably laugh uproariously. 

I’m not ignoring the other performers, because each number was perfection and I highly urge you to catch this show, as it will be in many cities throughout the country. Check the above website for their schedule. 

A magical conclusion began with If It’s Magic, wonderfully skated by Ilia, and enhanced by the entire cast as they worked their way to the final number and took their bows; then skated away, leaving only a fond memory of a magical evening.

It’s Over

Oh, I didn’t want it to end, or I wished it would magically start all over again. But it didn’t. It was over.

But the good stuff with Van was just beginning. We had the rest of our lives, and another book to tell of our adventures as we go Out into the Universe. 

However, this evening continued, as Van deftly escorted us through the melee of people surging out of the arena to the parking lot and then he easily negotiated the crowds of cars from downtown San Jose. 

I’d been thinking that it would be nice to stop at Wendy’s for a snack, and I almost fainted with delight when Van said, “How about stopping at Wendy’s?”

“YES”!