i have always loved traveling. as a small child i was stoked anytime we were headed to my grandparents’ home or the beach. i was enamored with my first plane ride (until those horrible 70’s films about crashes, but i digress). we took a road trip out west when i was 8 to visit my aunties & see the sights. we cruised disneyland & stopped at all the random roadside attractions. although motion sickness is a factor, it was still an adventure. i never stood still…always moving forward. (i will come back to that). traveling always meant adventure & brought me great happiness. it does to this day.
it’s no secret i adore what i do for a living. i am passionate about helping others, rearranging stuff & somehow figured out how to get paid while doing so. entrepreneur by definition is someone who takes on greater financial risk than normal. i have always had great faith that PRoj&ct GiRL consulting was not only an excellent idea, but a much needed service. i have had support with my daughter from my parents, but have worked tirelessly to change all of this & make my company a success.
the book of daniel in the bible tells the story of his great faith in god through even the greatest of struggles. um hello, a den full of lions...that's a lot of faith. this was the lesson at a recent church gathering prompting much internal discussion.
my life has never been about the money. perhaps it should then some of my circumstances might be different. when the work dries up which it had completely, things get tight. i was officially broke. this means when the work goes away & the bills are still coming in, i must manage two issues: how to keep the anxiety & sadness in check, all while making more money. i have tried, oh have i tried. only those closest to me know exactly how i spend my days & how many times/ways i have tried to create more work, often while looking for “steady” employment. yes i realize i owe no one an explanation.
it’s my dilemma & i alone must solve it. so what do you do when you don’t know what to do? me, myself & i… we usually get in the car & drive. i love nothing more than grabbing #homerthewondermutt, rolling down the windows, blasting my choice of tunes, & hitting the road. my serotonin levels go through the roof due to my unbridled joy. so i consider it therapy. i am quiet transparent about my struggle with depression, along with my time spent in treatment learning to manage it. if you are not familiar with my story, you can learn more here. today, september 25, marks one year since i walked out the doors of milestones at onsite residential trauma treatment center. over the course of a year i have learned a lot about others, but more importantly i have learned much about me & this adventure brought a lot of it out into the light.
i believe road tripping has always been my answer since i was legally allowed to drive. i come by it honestly: either my maternal grandmother mamie, was often on the road driving between alabama & nashville to visit us or charlie monk was always asking us, the neighbors (or anyone actually) “want to go for road trip this afternoon? maybe get a blizzard?” therefore it is not shocking my reflex to finding "an answer" is simply to drive.
my three step process…
step one: make a decision.
for instance…just go. it can be spontaneous or you can actually set a date & time for departure. in the case of me & homerthewondermutt, we chose the later for our “excellent adventure." it isn’t really a secret, but work had slowed for me a bit & i needed to solve this problem. stat!
back to the phrase “keep moving forward,” i have used it for years for various friends, but it became especially important to me a year ago. every day i try to move forward. i do not always go in the direction or do it the way others would have me, but i keep trying for me. lord knows i keep trying.
step two: decide my destination.
los angeles was it. mck & i lived there for 3.5 years, over a decade ago, so it made sense to go back for a visit. a plethora of friends, plus my aunt & uncle were thrilled for our arrival, therefore we had the choicest of accommodations. this made budgeting easier & i am the luckiest of girls with the best of friends. i only paid for 2 nights in a hotel room the entire course of a three week trip. love it!
step three: which route?
i have traveled to & from cali via i-40 through oklahoma city and i-20 from birmingham through dallas. desiring a new perspective, i contacted a friend who lives in wyoming. he had been encouraging a visit & he had some work for me. i need work. so taking the northern route it is!! once this decision was made, the rest simply fell into place.
i sent a text to a former client in denver, whose family i packed up & moved from nashville last july. it took her all of three minutes to call me after receiving the text, exclaiming how much she needed PG. she mentioned it had even been discussed to fly me out to work. “how soon can you get here? i have an event & still haven’t fully unpacked from the move.” she was overjoyed to know i would be there in time & to be so appreciated tells me what i do matters.
now, PG could not simply take off on the road without proper planning & supplies (seriously have you met me? if not then read on.) first “eloise the explorer” was checked for proper maintenance & given the all clear. next, our route was carefully mapped & printed out section by section for each day of the journey. sometimes there was even more than one option printed depending on who might respond with “hey come stay with us!”
PG’s tool kit, drill & various proj&ct supplies were pulled together; appropriate clothes & shoes were packed, depending on weather & proj&ct specifics; the cooler was packed with non-perishable food items for me & homerthewondermutt to spend less money on the road & for “just in case.” lastly, the passport (as well as a copy of it – lest we not forget the uber debacle in london) were added just in case the road led us across a north american border. come on…when one is open to anything, one never knows.
the appropriate people were alerted regarding the travel. mckenna was fully on board & there were people to keep a watchful eye on the pgpad. mck & the closest of my friends were added to the “find a friend” app to be aware of my location at all times, for safety purposes. an itinerary was typed & emailed to all involved for an estimate on arrival & departure dates (with some room for flexibility depending on work). the pgpad was cleaned up, HVAC dial turned up, so off we went.
“life is short…let’s do this.”
i love my job. when i was a kid i would always rearrange my room & i loved to redecorate. i would get told often not to rearrange whilst my mother was away (of course i would ignore the mandate). i recently realized during a group therapy gathering that i have created a company where i do exactly what i love & get paid to do it. thus to have the chance to work with clients in other states, which i have been doing for years, is a bonus. i can now claim clients in tennessee, alabama, georgia, texas, california, indiana, missouri, colorado, wyoming & bermuda. yes, bermuda...it's called tele-commuting & next on the bucket list to visit.
the fact i had work along the road was trememdous because it not only paid for the trip, almost all the bills back at home & it also began to put PG back on the road to financial recovery. i did a lot of consulting, unpacking, organizing, painting & styling which are all part of the PRoj&ct GiRL consulting repertoire. so here i share with you photos of the process, which include finding the local recycling center, because those who know me know it's a priority. i adore my clients & the work they present. i do not pretend to make everything "photo ready" because i use a lot of what clients already own, rather than requiring them to run out & spend more money. i am there to help, not add to the chaos of MORE. i just adore a PRoj&ct with a beginning & and an end with visible results. oh joy of joys!
bright, shiny objects
there were a multitude of exceptional moments i experienced during my travels which i refer to as BSOs – “bright, shiny objects,” a term i use with my guy friends in reference to pretty women with whom they are distracted (squirrel!!). as for me it was anything i found fascinating including roadway signs, bridges, churches, windmills & mountains. so much along the way i cannot speak of them all, but i was reminded multiple times of god's hand in everything. there is so much beauty in the world. we all simply need to "look up." i now present you my BSO's:
small towns: in the middle of nowhere they simply “crop” up. i would be driving for long stretches & suddenly a church steeple would catch my eye. i find them fascinating & there might be no more than 25 to 50 homes with possibly one gas station. there was definitely no starbucks within 100 miles & then some.
living snow fences: these are lines of evergreen trees along the freeways, which evidently keep the snowdrifts from building up on the surface of the roads. there are other types of snow fences as well like rocks piled haphazardly & your general metal or wooden ones built at least 7 feet high. for those of us who rarely experience snow, you can understand why we find these intriguing (or perhaps it’s just me…easily amused).
sunrises & sunsets: there are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe my moments of zen with the brightest of stars during my adventure. there were days i was up earlier than normal or evenings when i was outside & in an excellent spot for the end of a perfect day. sunrise & sunsets happen every day, but i think we can easily overlook them. stop. look up. breathe it in. namaste.
father mike scully: in the middle of kansas i decided to listen to whatever pulled in on the radio. i heard a dude speaking in soft tones, but realized he preaching per se, rather was quoting pop song lyrics. father scully has a show in hays, kansas called “message at the top,” & i adored it. he takes the top 5 pop songs of the week & works them into a lesson plan for teachers to use in their sunday school lessons. it was exactly what this unabashed pop-loving, liberal needed on a gorgeous sunday morning. hallelujah!
clouds: i was obsessed with them. okay, i am always obsessed & take way too many photos of them. but come on, there is always something new to see in the clouds. especially when there is an fantastic sunset & the way the colors bounce off. for example, let’s take a perfectly blue sky day when they are seriously puffy, or even when they get all funky right before a storm. clouds are simply awesome.
the milky way: if you have never been outside of the your city’s lights to a space far beyond, then you are missing a squillion stars & most impressively the milky way. in high school i remember driving out to a church retreat late on a friday night because of the football game. jimmy thompson & i were out in the middle of nowheresville tennessee & suddenly i told jimmy to "stop & look up." there were no lights, just stars. i will never forget it. it was the same this summer, in the middle of nowheresville wyoming (okay alpine, near jackson hole), sitting by the bonfire, having a cigar & whiskey simply looking up. there was a discussion about wishing the world a kinder, more loving place. we were reminded it could happen when all you have to do is stop & "look up." we watched the milky way move across the midnight sky. it was mesmerizing & it will be the second time with the stars i will never forget.
seeing childhood friends: some fantastic people met up with me along the journey, whom i have known since i was teeny tiny. having the opportunity to stop & visit with them was priceless. i got updates on their lives & found out new information about their families & neighborhoods. you never know what you might learn from these unexpected moments. such a marvelous treat.
being back in los angeles: it was if i never left. mck & i lived there for 3.5 years over a decade ago. yes, my family & friends have aged slightly, but haven’t we all. not once did i feel like a visitor. okay so i had to use the gps from time to time to ensure i could find locations, but it replaced the “thomas guide” years ago. the sights, the sounds, the weather all were the same. damn i missed it & did not realize how much. thank you LA for taking me back in like a native.
the squad: these are the women, you know the mums with whom you begin your parenting career, generally during kindergarten. the ones who have children the same age as yours. it's the ladies (& gentlemen) who join the PFC (that’s PTA/PTO to most people) & spend endless, thankless hours volunteering. they are the girls & boys who help gather the donations, set up the auctions, get gorgeous in an hour & return to imbibe along with you into the wee hours of the morning relishing every moment. this is my squad & they live in los angeles, california. they love me just as i am, no judgement & will take me back always. it was as if after more than a decade away, not a second had passed & we were ready to do it all again. looking forward to new memories with them from a different perspective, but with the same amount of enthusiasm, respect & love.
dating guys on bumble: believe it or not i am still in contact with my first fiancé (yes there is more than one. that is blog post for another day). in fact, homerthewondermutt & i stayed with kurt while in los angeles. we were discussing our respective love lives, or lack there of & the dating app “bumble” came up. he challenged me to get on it to see what would happen. so i did & then he proceeded to get snarky with me regarding how much better i was fairing (all in good fun mind you.) i managed to meet a few nice men for lovely meals or cocktails & still in contact with a few. it was the same as my drive across the country, you never know who you might meet, like at a bar. it's simply another avenue for observing human behavior. just don't tell kurt, but he is still one of my favorite guys for a date.
feeling vulnerable: there were only two times during the trip when i felt vulnerable to the point my fight or flight levels began to rise. the first was in kansas on the drive west. homerthewondermutt needed to stretch his legs, but this particular truck stop was in between the freeways with very little grass. by the time we walked way out to the back forty, the 18 wheelers were blocking my view of “eloise the explorer.” even with parking her right up near the front doors of the store, she was lost from sight & there was a twinge of panic, as if she were a living thing. yes, i had my cell phone in hand, but it was the barrier of the truck which gave me pause. it passed quickly as we finished up & walked back. elosie was safe, so we hopped in & continued on our way.
the second far more distressing. it was at four thirty in the morning at the motel 6 in el paso, texas. this time i was grateful to have old homey with me, although he was the reason for the encounter. it was time to go out & the only spot for his relief was behind the motel. there a young female standing at the window of a gold chrysler sedan, wiping her nose as she spoke to a seated man. she moved towards the motel with a bag in hand. i encouraged my sweet puppy to complete his task so we could move along. returning to our room to collect our bags, the young woman dressed in 70’s fashion shorts & a spaghetti strap tank, raced back towards us. she could not have been any older than mckenna & she stared straight at me with the saddest of eyes. the man from the rear of the hotel yelled something at her as if he was upset she was coming back so soon. i felt incredibly sad for her & unsafe at the exact same time.
gathering our things quickly & keeping homer close, we got in the car & drove up to the front office. i had every intention of telling them about the situation, but the door was locked with simply a window to slide your card for check out. the only way the man inside would have heard me was for me to speak loudly & there was no way this was going to occur. shaking, i got back into eloise the explorer & rapidly drove away. it was still dark. i thought of every way i could have done something differently to change that scenario as i cried, but our safety was paramount. could i have pulled over & found a non-emergency number in el paso, probably. i should have. i didn’t. i prayed for that young girl & for the man with her. you always regret the things you don’t do…this will be one. it still upsets me today as i write. it’s called sex trafficking. she was being forced. we must work harder to end human trafficking in general. i suppose i could write forever on this topic, but will leave it here.
the lightening storm: it was way off in the distance, the random flashes of light in late afternoon. the sunset was gorgeous with the intense color playing off the crazy cloud formations. as i continued east, the light grew brighter & more often. i tried to catch some of it on my phone as we drove, but it wasn’t until the skies drew black that the lightening really decided to make a show of it. this went on for hours. i am always mesmerized by lightening (alright maybe not as a child), but have great respect for it. once again it was a reminder of how great god is & if i keep the faith he will lead me out of the storm. here is my best photo of what i captured.
homerthewondermutt is sensitive: let’s be clear. homer is definitely one of the most go with the flow kind of mutt’s because he puts up with me & my crap everyday. tell him it’s time to get in the car, he’s all about it. as long as he has water & the occasional meal, along with his blankie, he’s all set. i was a bit worried about his interaction with his host puppies, but he rocked this also. the one thing i did not calculate was his sensitivity to searing hot clay or pavement. we enjoyed the most temperate of weather during the first two weeks of our journey, it did not occur to me when he started walking around joshua tree national park, or in arizona clay what was wrong with him. he was limping. i thought perhaps he had sprained his leg while jumping in & out of the car. nope…he has sensitive paws. he was walking funny because he was trying to pick up his feet faster. by the time i realized this we were on the hot, black pavement at in & out burger. it was all i could do to get him on the grass & then back into the car. what a champ! he forgave me immediately with his first starbucks puppacino (he loved in & out burger as well). he is seriously spoiled.
surprising mckenna: oh how i tried to get to dallas & surprise her before their bus departed to ATT stadium. the morning i encountered the young woman & her pimp, i was departing at such an ungodly hour to speed across texas for my baby girl. there was constant communication with one of her besties regarding my arrival. we were so excited & the plan was working…until an hour outside of dallas i realized i had miscalculated my departure. i had been on mountain time, not central like texas. i telephone claire to say i had messed up & wouldn’t meet the bus in time. it was disappointing, but later face-timed mckenna & the gig was up. she was happy & irritated at the same moment. i promised to pick her up in the morning for brunch, which was delightful. one of those moments when you must go with the flow & it works itself out in the end. oh & of course the crimson tide beat usc, in case you were unaware. #rolltide!
until next time
i would like to thank all of our host families along the journey. there is no way this could have happened without you, obvi. i treasure our enduring friendships & cannot wait to see them flourish in years to come. i love you with all of my heart.
finally making our way back to nashville, it was with a mixed bag of emotions. there were clients awaiting my return to begin work, which help me to continue to look forward. there are also decisions to make regarding my future, as only an empty nester can relate. i was aware often times while being away from home, the re-entry is an adjustment. one year ago today i had to re-enter from my safe cocoon back into the "real world" which i allowed to wear me down. it took me a full year to look back & see how much progress i have made spiritually, emotionally, physically & professionally & then how much around me has stayed exactly the same.
as i sit here writing, like most sundays during cbs sunday morning, i am reminded by charles osgood's legacy how chasing a dream is about staying the course even with the hiccups. it's about being kind to others along the way, taking responsibility for your own mistakes, looking for the good in everyone's story & owning your story & talent. my bow-tie skills are not too shabby either.
so do i have all the answers today? no, no one does. all we can do is continue to “look up,” take it one day at a time, making the next one right decision & “keep showing up.” it’s no one’s life but my own. i am not perfect in my decisions, but i alone must live by them. for #homerthewondermutt & i this was one great big, wonderful adventure. i wish everyone would take a leap of faith & do something that scares them a little. it shows you are alive. i cannot wait until the next one.
happy anniversary to me!