Reminiscing About Places I’ve Been

My son-in-law (a funny story, he is older than I am lol) and father of my only grandchild (also funny because she is 3 years younger than my daughter) is Polish, with dual citizenship. Long before I knew him, I had visited Poland, specifically Bielsk Padlowski, for two weeks and Belarus for one week. And I was thinking about the land and buildings but mostly the amazingly wonderful people. We sang our songs (I played the piano and keyboard there) and they sang and played songs they knew and it was wonderful! We were invited to a Polish wedding that lasted all day and into the night and I sang again by request and we ate great food, drank compote and partied with them. It was memorable, saying something with this poor memory I have lol. In Russia, I remember the older women and their wise but loving eyes, hardened by wear but bright and gleaming nonetheless. They had a love of life. I remember the sturdy children, making the most of every stick and mud puddle they could get into, smiling, strong and healthy. I remember the year before spending two weeks in London. Howe couldn’t visit Buckingham Palace because Queen Elizabeth was home there at the time. I remember the beautiful gardens and pride the people took in their tiny gardens in front of their flats (apartments) or tall, narrow townhouses. I remember paying to use the toilet and the worst toilet paper of my life. Funny the things you remember. But the garden in front of the palace, oh how beautiful! And then my mind goes to California and recording my songs in Mike’s studio. I remember the fantastic park in Glendale and hiking the trails. I remember my regular getaway in Yosemite and hiking the falls and staying at the bed and breakfast there. I remember Solvang. Wow. The mountains were beautiful and Burbank was lovely and Sunset Boulevard was trashy but the tiny studio and musicians there are top notch! I remember going to the Grand Canyon three times and how it took my breath away and looked different each time. I remember my exhaustion hiking to the bottom of the canyon and back up the same day on two of those visits. I do not recommend that lol. I remember skydiving in PA. No roller coaster has ever held the same thrill since. And to my eternal shame, I will always have on the DVD my screaming “This is better than sex!” Oy! I remember every other place I have traveled for a day, a weekend, or have lived, and it is very clear that I am who I am largely because of where I have been. Another obvious thing, God has always kept me safe and provided for me just what I needed just when I needed it. And my thoughts most often take me home to the little farm in Buchanan, MI where I grew up. It was the best place! It still is. My family is there and a huge chunk of my heart. The farm is gone but I remember every detail. I remember Grandma living up the hill to the right and Great Aunt Irene living on the hill to the left. I remember our dogs. I remember riding my bike to the ball field. I remember the smell of the lilac bushes outside the kitchen window. I remember fresh vegetables from the garden an dad’s grilling and homemade ice cream. Yummy! I temember.

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Home Sweet Home

Ah, the familiar is so sweet after being gone a week. It is comfortable, paid for, ready to welcome you, familiar, friendly. Every little thing doesn’t cost more money. I have always said I absolutely LOVE travelling the world and seeing God’s scope of creation, diversity some call it, but I always love to come home again. My true heart resides in heaven, my earthly heart resides in the fields of Buchanan, MI and here in FL. As I have traveled, I have left pieces of it behind, friends, family, memories, but they make this girl here richer, more. Thank you, God, for safety and relaxation!!!! And thank God I am home!!!

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.