The Places I’ve Lived

What follows appears tedious and has a point, though silly. It is a list of all the places I have called home, some for short periods of time and some for considerably longer.
1. Trailer in Buchanan, MI on Red Bud Trail N (10 years)
2. Farmhouse in Buchanan, MI on Chamberlain Rd. (7 years)
3. Campground in Bloomfield, IN at Beechwood Lake Camp with Adventures in Missions. (2 summers)
4. Campground in Niles, MI at Michiana Christian Service Camp. (1 week at a time for years).
5. Modular home in Buchanan, MI on Chamberlain Rd. (2 years)
6. and 7. 2 different Dorm rooms in Johnson City, TN at Milligan College (1 year)
8. Dorm room in Kalamazoo, MI at Western Michigan University (1 year)
9. and 10. 2 different Studio apartments in Kalamazoo, MI in town (1 year)
11. Bedroom of a home in Portage, MI with the Bannisters (2 years)
12. Church in London, England at Manor Way (2 weeks)
13. Church in Bielsk Padloski, Poland (2 weeks)
14. Bedroom of a home in Bellarus, Russia (1 week)
15. One bedroom apartment in Kalamazoo, MI (1 year)
16. One bedroom apartment in Kingston, PA (3 years)
17. One bedroom apartment in Boca Raton, FL (1 year)
18. Townhouse condo in Coconut Creek, FL in the Township (3 years)
19. One bedroom apartment in Glendale, CA (9 months)
20. One bedroom apartment in Clearwater, FL (5 months)
21. 3/2 House in Lakeland, FL in Wellington Green (4 1/2 years)
22. 3/2 House in Lakeland, FL in Country Oaks (6 1/2 years so far- current location)
This is documentation for my children to prove that I am truly as insane as they believe that I am and proof positive that I understand and embrace moving when the need arises to do so. I have friends who never have moved, still live really close to their birth place, who do not even have any natural curiosity about the world outside their town or city. I have other friends who have moved more times than I. Regardless of how much travel you do, reading can suppliment travel in many good books but some form of reading or travel or speaking to travelers must take place to grasp the enormity and diversity of the world as well as the smallness of it all. Communication is extremely important and somewhat easy in other places for everyone has similar loves- family, food, sleep, pets, entertainment. Communication has differences everywhere you go in the states or abroad but always is read best through body language and eye contact or lack thereof. And when traveling and moving, it is a beautiful understanding you get quite quickly to simplify your life, belongings, clothes and take with you what you need to live not want to beautify. It is important to appreciate God’s world He made to worship Him the best way possible. It is difficult to praise the Creator when we see little of His creation, in my belief. The more we see and travel, the better we understand some degree of His greatness and also His richness, that He owns it all and so much more. These are beautiful things to ponder. I have traveled much also while living in these places, many road trips, many vacations, many beach days, many many hikes. It always points me back to quietness and simplicity and God’s amazing greatness and attention to detail and love for differences. But home should always be where you feel the most comfortable in the world with those you love. And never underestimate the power of a decent bathroom and kitchen!

The Value of Travel

Having travelled extensively in my lifetime before my youngest was born, I am at liberty to explain the value in travel. When you touch soil in other parts of the world, when you mingle with the people that know that land, when you swim in their waters and eat their food and experience their lifestyle, your mind expands, your empathy grows, your understanding of how things tie together grows, your knowledge increases, your imagination is stirred, your understanding of yourself in this place deepens, your appreciation for God who made all of it is enhanced and you appreciate the entire collective creation much more succinctly. When you travel, you see things from a different perspective. You sometimes see everything from a different perspective, and the more open minded you are when you do so, the greater the benefit. So many experiences in our lives depend upon our mindset when we take them in, but as a general rule, an open mind in a new place reeps benefits far greater than words can delineate. A mind expanded, a brain with new memories, new pictures, new synapses firing, new experiences- who can put a pricetag on these things? Whether it is a town never visited before three hours away or a country never visited before 13 hours away by flight, every change of scenery and people broadens your mind and your horizens. All travel is valuable. The most valuable is living among the natives of that place, really experiencing life their way. Then your way isn’t so fixed in the future, and flexibility is a very valuable ability in real life no matter where you are. Learning about diverse places and people and culture also deepend appreciation for God who made them, specifically His ability and desire to create diversity for balance and beauty. Travel does all of this faster and easier than even books and supplements books’ lessons. It is far more expensive not to travel because of how limiting that ends up being to your mindset and knowledge. When you do not travel, you must accept other people’s opinions about these places and people and they may have missed the truth and beauty entirely or misinterpretted them and thus misrepresented them to you. It is much better to be informed yourself by experience. Then you may be sure of the matter.

Mom’s Toes in the Sand

So, a vacation just happened to the beach. When you vacation with children, the youngest being 5, the rest of the family vacations really and this mom hopes for a few quiet moments to dig into the sand and plant herself there… for days. However, that usually doesn’t happen, so I satisfied myself as usual with making sure everyone else was having a good time and vacationing. So I thought about my ideal vacation. Get ready for something deep and profound. My ideal vacation is a day… at home… alone. I would take a few hours really, at least a half hour, 10 minutes even. And in this space of time without anyone wanting this, needing that, pulling me here, wanting to go there, talking, always talking, never ending the talking, etc. Because on vacations where everyone else is relaxing and I am working, when we leave I get back home not to relax but to unpack and clean up and put away and so on and get dinner because they forgot they ate an hour ago. So, whoever wishes me peace, this would come with some time off. That would revitalize me for a long time. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries the way they can do that best. We are all different. And I am happy to have had a great experience with my family but I’m exhausted. If you need me, I’ll be sleeping, exhausted from my “vacation”. lol  (We had a lot of fun, I must say that 🙂

The Best of Travel

The very best travelling I have done, and my travelling has been extensive, was unplanned and with someone I loved. When travel is too scripted, it loses much of its serenity, much of its power, some of its teachability and all of its passion. You may want to get your bang for your buck and see everything there is to see but the trick is to save so e for a return journey. It gives you hope for future travel and allows your head and soul to relax and nestle into a place. So etimes the off road adventures are uch more fun than the planned tourist things. They are more interesting also and more involved to draw you in. It is the difference between the sculpted gorgeous but very touristy Watkins Glen (NY) versus the rugged and hikeable and more raw not as touristy Ricketts Glen (PA). Both are gorgeous but Ricketts to me was an adventure and thus more memorable and enjoyable. Sometimes exploring a place and seeing and talking to natives of that place in a local coffee shop teaches you much more than a brochure’s polished verbosa with a couple pics. So the absolute best of travel, the good stuff, is adventurous exploration where you take your time and really try to learn a place, a people, what makes them tick, their slang/language, their beauty. Take some time. Devote some energy into doing nothing. And if you cannot help but plan your day to the minute, you poor soul, then schedule free/miscellaneous time into your day for what comes. It is often the very best of all travel. Fun can happen there. And if you can stay at a bed and breakfast or campground, somewhere other people are, that is all the better. More people to meet, more to learn.

On Running Away

When I was single and child-free, travel was my big escape. Once my cousin and I went on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. Often, I went alone the all of 30 minutes to Lake Michigan’s Tower Hill beach and wandered about. Once, I moved to Glendale, California with only one friend there, what fit into 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons and started over. Often, I found hiking paths, mostly alone but once in a while with a good friend. Always it was to run away. Life overwhelmed me, I needed to be alone in nature or with a piano. A piano in nature would be ideal. 🙂 But once children came, I had to stay. Their well being trumps my desire to run. Yes, when overwhelmed, I still want to get away and be alone or with one good friend. That remains. Yes, I still want to be alone in nature or with a piano and would love a piano in nayure to this day, but my responsibility to raise these children trumps that. I just can not run anymore. I have very little alone time. Most people think that is a good thing but for me, being alone clears my moveractive brain and forcs my focus back to God and restores my mind, body and soul, which is quite off balance of late. So, I am working now on how to restore and revitalize my balance without my trusty escape run. It is forcing me to workout new brain cells that seem sluggish right now, but I am certain I will figure it out. In the meanwhile, I stay and do my work and force little goals to focus on. And when the kids are out of the house, I may yet hit the road with a roadtrip or fly to Hawaii a bit to visit good friends there. Who knows. But perseverance pays off in the long run and God does not give you a vision of beauty without allowing you that for hope at the right time. And I know a lot of people who ran away in the midst of everything, ran into a bottle, into drugs, into porn, into a new life or state or country. Many people I know and patients have told me stories and the common theme is regret. They regret their weakness in those moments that started them down a path of daily or even hourly running from crazy or stresses. These people lived years of regret when they realized they lost their kids while running from spouses. Life is a very fragile flower. It is easily shaken apart. It is easily missed. And I would rather run sometimes but I must and will stay because my children are my responsibility and need a mother present to teach them how to be grown ups later. Good ones. So children first and run later. And those worth running with will still be worth running with if worth anything at all.

Moving People

People move a lot. So many reasons for this. Some go where the job is, so go for climate, some to chase other people who already moved, some for change, some running away, many reasons. You learn (when you have lived quite a few years) that change is I evitable and that you live in this moment as big as you can. Take it all in, take pictures, remember because you do not know how long you will have this person in your life. I used to walk with a friend every morning I walked but now I don’t have that privilege anymore. I miss it. I had friends who hugged that I no longer can hug. I miss that. I know many friends who have enlarged their families since I left that I will never know, and I miss separation from their lives. As many times as I moved for school, I always made beautiful friends that I had to leave behind. I miss them. When you move, you always leave some or a lot of your heart behind. Of course, there is a flip side to this. Wherever you go, there are more people. I have searched for places without anyone, but you wouldn’t want to live there. So, opportunity exists to make new friends, enlarge your heart where you are, repair it. And there is one Friend you take everywhere you go. God never leaves your side. He never decides He is done with you. He never decides one day to stop holding you or showing you His world. He is the one constant in this moving world. We move, others move, God is already there. Love that about Him. If you need arms to hold, He will somehow get some to you or He will just hold your heart. It is beautiful. Each day with a friend is a treasure. Guard it, make it count. And never forget your constant Person in life.

Hiking Magic

There is nothing in the world that brings you back to right thinking than a wonderful hike away from society. It brings God back into His rightful place as Maker of all of this. It clears your mind of nonsense and distraction. It exercises your body while refreshing your mind. It is real in a world of uncertainty. It make the important evident a d the unimportant all but disappear. Hiking is like magic! And it is completely tech free! (Except the phone I was using as my camera, of course.) And if you hike long enough, like we did today, you will be suddenly struck that the priorities of life at home may be paying the bills, food, getting along well with others, love, but in reality and in nature, never take drinking water for granted. That is really really important! 🙂 Also to note, being in a beautiful area of hiking, you walk around feeling so special, that God made all this knowing that you would be walking through it enjoying it at that precise time. So cool! And breathing is better, even after climbs up and down and lots of exertion with an adorable little 5 year old to help. You don’t breathe in fumes and air conditioning, you breathe actual fresh air. And so far, that is the only way to get it. Fresh air as yet has not been bottled and sold at the store, although I am certain I just gave someone an entrepreneurial idea. You are welcome. So, commercial over, go get a hike in with someone you love or just yourself you love and enjoy life just a little more! 🙂