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I’ve Been Everywhere

10 Nov

To me, learning new things is the best part of travel. I usually plan a trip down to the most minute detail… but this time, for the first time, I left room for lots of other things to happen, and great things did!

71BB1856-40BA-467F-906F-29C0B90230C0I couldn’t find an RV “resort” in Jackson, MS, but there was a state park on the route and the price was good, or should I say, cheap? As we drove deep into the park along swampy ponds, we both got a little nervous. Things were getting closer, smaller, more jungle-like… were we going to be able to fit? As we slowly, slowly snaked our way in, we began to wonder why we even wanted to.

“If I hear banjos, we’re outta here,” my sweetie mumbled.

Having already unhooked the truck, we decided to see the Capital and the State Supreme Court buildings. Then we drove to the Fondren Neighborhood where parts of the movie “The Help” was filmed. Being sure to return before dark, I got to see my first alligator. The realization that there were alligators in that lake made me almost faint!  I couldn’t wait to leave in the morning.

A572B947-758C-4CEC-929E-5E85B9FE0150We headed to Florence, AL, hoping to have work done on our coach. Since there was a five-week wait at the Tiffin factory, that didn’t happen, but we did get to tour a Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was very close to our RV park (above) on the banks of the spectacular Tennessee River. We’ve always wanted to see one. I loved it, he didn’t like the small rooms. But the exterior, wow!

8764E0B5-7F97-4470-9C24-1C568BA02A96From there we went to Nashville, TN, and what a revelation! While Austin, where we live, is supposed to be the “coolest” city around, I disagree. Nashville is everything Austin could have grown-up to be, if we’d had leadership with that kind of vision. There are so many ways to get around Nashville that traffic isn’t the horrific experience we are used to at home… everything moved easily here. 218F7482-7209-4203-9E39-C5963F01AD3C

Staying at a spectacular park SE of town on Percy Priest Lake, we had our first taste of autumn, and the pleasant surprise of running into friends we’d made back in Natchez! We were excited to sit in their sleek Airstream and visit with them again. EC1206ED-32F3-4378-80CA-9B6DB404C9F2

We’d planned to visit with our dear friend Juliet, also a motorcycle rider. She came out to the lake to see our “casa,” one afternoon, and then we met her in East Nashville, where she lives, for a fabulous Sunday brunch at Marche. Having also eaten at Biscuit Love, I contend that we had our two best meals of the trip in Nashville!

From Nashville, we originally planned to go to Chattanooga… but headed to Memphis instead. Everyone told us to see The Ducks at The Peabody Hotel, which we thought was kind of corny… but we planned a whole day around it: lunch at a bbq joint, then explore the town, planning to be at the hotel by 4:00 to have a cocktail and see the ducks perform.

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Lunch was good, more so for the people-watching than the old rooster I’d been served. Afterwards, my sweetie suggested going to “the museum” across the street to see why tour buses were bringing people there. We saw a sign… The Lorraine Motel. It rang a bell, but it wasn’t until we got closer that I realized why:

We were facing the balcony where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had stood and shared his dream. Where he had died. I felt my heart break all over again, and I stood and wept.

B0B5FBF1-9692-4E50-B668-96106BCB49B1The next day, we ate at Beauty Shop Lunch, in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. An actual beauty salon with dryers, booths, and sinks that is now a chic cafe, how could I NOT go there? Priscilla Presley used to get her hair done here!

Getting to see the ducks at the beautiful old Peabody Hotel, the riverfront along the Mississippi, with its trolleys, and the MLK Memorial Park I’m so glad we visited Memphis. And to think, we had originally planned to skip it!

Our final stop was Little Rock, AR, and the RV park is right downtown, on the beautiful Arkansas River. It’s nestled between two pedestrian bridges, and blocks from their trolley system. The closest bridge leads to The Clinton Presidential Library. 2AFDC78F-3D8B-4B9F-B80C-C84A984093B0

The riverfront is beautiful. The city is small, elegant, and there seemed to be lots of cultural things to do other than just bars and music. However, the very best thing, in our opinion, is the fact that the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge lights up each night! We saw LED lights on it during our walk, but were disappointed when it never lit-up before we went to bed. 50221EEA-36C3-422A-B39A-19571DC1D900

One sleepless night, I peeked out of our living-room shade and to my amazement, there was a light-show on the bridge! Even though it was 2:30 a.m. I woke my better-half up… we were both as excited as kids at Christmas. What a great finale for a wonderful trip!

XO Donna

 

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Stuck in Paradise

29 Sep

I’ve felt stuck for almost two weeks now. In the 20 months since I’ve retired I have published a book. I’ve downsized and moved twice. And I’ve taken two month-long trips. Busy, busy, busy. Right now I need to be here in Austin, TX to help my son for a while, and this feeling has set in. It’s been a personality challenge my whole life: if I am not going somewhere, or doing something, (or making plans to go somewhere and do something) I feel stuck.

Another downside of that trait, is that when I don’t stay busy, I tend to stall out and have a hard time getting motivated again. Does this ever happen to you?

I was discussing this with my sweetie the other day, and he was flabbergasted. “How can you feel stuck? You have your writing. You’re busy with your son. You have a couple of projects you wanted to do. And, look around, it’s like a resort here… it’s got a nice walking path, there’s great roads to ride the bikes on, a gym, a beautiful pool, a hot tub, horse-shoes, and even a putting green.”

“But yet, I feel stuck, even in the middle Paradise. I realize this is a very nice problem to have in light of all the terrible things going on in the world at the moment.
“Don’t discount or dismiss your problems,” my therapist always told me, so I will follow her advice, stay with my feelings, and find a way to get through this.

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Here are some steps I know I can take to get UNSTUCK whenever I find myself feeling stymied:

DEFINE THE PROBLEM: get a timer and some paper. Across the top write “Problem.” Set a timer for 15, 20, or 30 minutes and just start writing everything that comes to mind about this problem, allowing anything that comes up. It often isn’t what I thought it was, after all.

DEVELOP A PLAN: Next, write “Actions” across the paper. 15, 20, or 30 minutes again, and I brainstorm all of the actions I can take. Let your imagination run wild. You never know what will appear when you are distracted by your ‘race against the clock.’

DO SOMETHING: Review this list for an actionable first step. If none jumps out, go for a walk. Movement usually begets movement. When I come back to the page, I pick a couple of ideas and put them in an order I am willing to do them. Putting a date next to them so I have either a deadline, or a timeline, works to keep me in motion.

Trust that this will benefit our growth… even if you don’t see how yet, and be grateful for the good that will surely follow. All because you took that first step!

XO Donna

How’s That Sound?

14 Sep

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One of the things I rarely talk about in my blogs is my health… because I think there are more interesting things to talk about: great food, the fascinating people I know and get to meet, and all of the wonderful places there are to see and learn about.

But, without good health, none of this would be possible for me. Or for any of us. Continue reading

This Old Thing

13 Jul

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We are now living in, and loving, our motor-home. The RV resort where we are staying greatly contibutes to our overall enjoyment of this experience with it’s beautifully maintained grounds, the view and privacy we have, and the ability to exercise daily. Continue reading

Almost “Go Time”

29 Jun

 

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There are only a few items left to be given away or picked up. The furniture we’ve chosen to keep; his China and glassware, and my art all go into a small climate controlled storage unit… in case we want a house again later.

We have an agreement that in 6 months we are going to take a day and revisit what’s in storage – especially seasonal clothes – and do more clearing. But, not now.

None of this letting-go has been as much of a challenge as turning-in my leased Mini Cooper tomorrow. This will leave me “without my own wheels” for the first time since I was 17. As a fiercely  independent woman, I’ve struggled with this… what does it mean for me, or about me, if it means anything at all? What do you think?

I have decided that, like so much in life, we GIVE meaning (for better or worse) to the events in our lives. It’s not like I’m stranded –  we’ve still got a truck and a motorcycle.
Being able to have this conversation more than once, and many others like it, are the reason I know we can make this move and enjoy it.

They say that the two happiest days of a boat-owner’s life are the day he buys a boat… and the day he sells it! That was how we felt about owning our house.

It’s taken us 24 months to be ready to move into a motor-home – which we will do on Tuesday, July 4th. This will be a memorable Independence Day for us. The movers come the next day to take our things to storage, as do the people from St. Vincent de Paul Society. Did you know that you can donate mattresses in good condition? Neither did we. They are  sanitized and then donated, or sold affordably.

We’ve bought ourselves a few house-warming presents; a spotted cowhide rug, an ottoman with storage inside, (necessary) and some very soft, very artsy pillows to replace my scratchy kilim pillows. And, of course, getting our bar properly set up for guests is of utmost importance. Sure, we could use plastic cups, but how sexy is that?

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I’ve found the perfect, sturdy, multi-purpose glasses that will serve wine, a salt-rimmed margarita, or a hearty Old Fashioned, fashionably.
Y’all are always welcome to come visit. There will be photos next time, and I hope you will be in one of them.

XO
Donna

Easy, like a Sunday morning…

1 Jun

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I’d been feeling stuck this week. Sad. Resistant. Frustrated. And had even gone so far as to question my long-held belief about wanting to live a gypsy life.

Continue reading

Wide Awake

18 May

Like a Dali painting, things are surreal around here… we’ve made plans to move in (gulp) six weeks. I tell the story of this decision here: bit.ly/2r9vlAz  at 1010ParkPlace in, “It Feels Like Freedom to Me.”

I think I have been handling everything well, I’m excited and even eager for the freedom this next phase will bring. But, I am not sleeping. I keep waking up around 3:30 a.m. Then my brain turns on… and that’s it, I’m wide awake!
I make bargains with “the obsessive part of me,” promising I will pay attention to it later if it lets me go back to sleep now. I try breathing and meditation. After an hour, I get up and go lie on the couch and read another Carl Hiaasen novel. At 6:00, when my sweetie gets up, I just get on with my day.

During the day I am doing the work that needs to be done. But at night my brain is going into overdrive, trying to manage the entire Universe. Serenity Prayer, my ass. My subconscious has it’s own ideas; “Help me change what I cannot accept. And control, well, basically… everything. Amen.”  Has this ever happened to you over a big change? How do you handle obsessing over things?

IMG_1438The other evening I had some alone-time, and I was going through a box of fabric that I couldn’t let go of during our last two moves.  In it is an Indian bedspread given to me years ago by a dear friend. He died of AIDS in ’96 or ’97… and I can’t bear to part with it. Being over-tired, and consequently too hyper-active to read, (we don’t outgrow this stuff) I decided to whip up a summer dress like the ones I’ve been seeing on Pinterest. Yep, I know how to sew. My Mom was great at it – she always made us matching dresses when we were children. Later, she made our skirts and blouses, some maxi-dresses, and even my favorite prom gown in 1968.  A simple, pale pink satin with a vee-neck and ruffle. I spent hours straightening my hair and thanks to Mom making that gown, I felt as chic as Cher. IMG_1434

I used to love sitting beside her sewing machine, talking and watching what she did. She chain-smoked and cursed the whole time, but she managed to made it look effortless. The sewing, I mean!

I really enjoyed how focused I became, how relaxed I felt for the first time in days. I was surprised that I remembered how to fill and thread the bobbin. I was surprised I  got my seams so straight without a guide. I wasn’t surprised by my cursing, or the fact that my math calculations were as bad as ever. While my dress turned out beautifully, it is a good TWO SIZES too large! Rather than looking lithe and of-the-moment in my Boho sundress, I look as if I borrowed a muumuu from Mama Cass!

IMG_1425This weekend, since it’s going to rain, I’m certain I will remember how to take a dress apart and fix my mistakes. I’m going to look lithe, dammit!  Tearing out all of those seams and re-cutting my pattern will make a great escape from packing.

As a waiter recently said to me when I pointed out that he had brought me the wrong order,  “Hey… you can’t win ’em all, right?” I guess not .

XO Donna