Red Dog Made Me Do It.

Just A Realtor, her Red Dog & their epic adventures!

   I have decided to dedicate every Tuesday to focusing on my mental & emotional health. To refrain from throwing myself into physical fitness, nutrition, workouts & pushing the limits of my physical capabilities. That is all well & good but I have come to realize that obesity is just a side effect of ill emotional health.  So unless I treat the cause of the obesity the side effect will always be there. You can’t expect your car to run well when you throw every junk part & fluid you find into her & then wonder why she never runs well.  You’ve got to pay attention to the quality of parts you are putting into her & address why you never have the money or energy it takes to let her live her best life!  YOU ARE A CADILLAC DAMNIT. NOW TREAT YOURSELF LIKE ONE!  

 

   I started my day by cleaning up my filthy apartment. A clean house always makes me feel good and after 3 weeks of gyming 5 days a week & working full time my apartment looked like an unattended doggy daycare. Small animals could have been living here who were not my own & I would not have known.  Well that is not the case now!  Right now you could eat off my floors. Well if you wanted to die of the gomboo but they are better than they were! lol

 

   Then I listened to a little of my new fav audio book (Girl Wash Your Face) I listened to my Favs playlist & I walked Charlie. As I did these things I thought about a gazillion things but I kept coming back to the same thought. Last weekend I took my kids to see Instant Family. (Great movie. 10 thumbs up, well 9 because Alexz never gives anything 2 thumbs) It was a movie about the Foster Care system & how much our country needs more loving families to offer these parentless children homes. It was very touching.

 

   While the movie was about abandoned children finding new homes & how they will often act out, push the foster parents away no matter how loving they are, wreak havoc, make horrible life choices & do everything under the sun to test their new parents will,  it hit home for me in an entirely different context.  The defiant teenager reminded me of myself. She was intelligent & very well spoken when she wanted to be but push her buttons or let her feel an emotion she doesn’t know how to process & watch the endless level of bad life choices unravel. She was self aware & knew that those around her often felt pity for her & she wanted no part in it. She was dead set on being independent, not needing anyone, doing her own thing & showing the world how tough she was when in the end she just needed one person to not give up on her. In this case it was her foster father played by the immensely talented Mark Wahlberg. 

 

   It made me think of my own issues of abandonment having both parents choose their partners happiness over raising their children once they felt we were grown enough to take care of ourselves.  When my sister & I were old enough to drive we were pretty much on our own. I then went on to marry a husband who when things got hard he just checked out of reality & into video games leaving me to manage our five children & finances alone for two decades.   I never felt safe to share my feelings because it might be more than he could handle & he might leave me or even worse kill himself & leave us all. I had to keep my glass full all the time because his glass had a hole in it & needed constant filling. (depression is an ugly thing. The only thing harder to treat than your own depression is someone elses)

 

   Years later my two closest relatives walked out of my life during the hardest time in my life. One because she did not like something my husband said & one for reasons still unbeknownst to me. Then a short time later my partner of three years walked out on me as I was losing my home in a landslide & informed me in a phone call that he had moved 2 states away & things were over.  Most recently my best friend of 12 years just announced via text message our time as friends was through because I cancelled a road trip we had planned.

 

   Well as much as I would love to say all these people just suck & are missing out on the amazing person that is me ::cough cough:: honestly through deductive reasoning it is clear that either a large quantity of people in my life suck or I am simply unlovable. That’s the conclusion one comes to when enough people abandon you.  Now don’t get me wrong I have many amazing people in my life. I have been blessed with more loving friends than any woman deserves. I have just come to the conclusion that when someone gets to know me, like really know me, they go away.

 

   Like many others for years I filled the void of parental closeness, marital intimacy & peer acceptance with food & bad life choices. I didn’t realize it at the time but as I think back to some of the things I have done in my life it’s like watching a horror movie when you see the dumb blonde running up the stairs instead of out the front door as the killer is chasing her. As I think of all the horrendous food choices, 37 moves, 54 jobs, the gain, loss & gain of 131 pounds I just want to intervene & shake myself and scream pull it together woman!  You are not going to become more lovable by being a fat, unhealthy, idiot!  It’s like I was just accepted the role of the unlovable character in a movie & I had to get into character by looking & acting the part. After all if I was so wonderful then why did everyone who is supposed to be by my side no matter what walk away?

 

   Writing this is hard.  Realizing I felt this way or thought this way is hard. Admitting I still feel this way is even more difficult, almost as difficult as taking ownership for many of the reasons those people left. I am a hard person to love. I am moody. I am fiercely independent & you want to see an ugly side of me try & tell me I can’t do something or hurt my feelings & see what happens.  When I love you the warmth I will bring to your life can be felt by everyone around you but hurt me & the shadow I cast can be one of the coldest places you can ever imagine. That makes a great partner, child, parent, friend right?  

 

   I was the girl in school who could wear whatever she wanted & no one really teased her (well to my face) as much as I would love to say it was because my confidence just exuded out of me it was likely because of my sharp tongue. I am that one person you don’t tease because I can & will have a comeback so awful you will regret ever engaging with me. I am the one who always has the perfect thing to say at the perfect time both good and bad.  When I say the right thing & I light someone up it fills me with more joy than I can convey but the weight I carry to this day for horrendous things I have said to loved ones or even schoolmates 30 years ago weighs heavily on my soul. Words are lifes Sharpie. You can paint over them but they are always there. 

 

   I am no longer the girl that has all the right comebacks or the outspoken one at work who makes everyone laugh. I have learned to be quiet & reserved. I have learned that not everything I think needs to be said. (anyone on my FB may beg to differ but trust me 1/100th of what I think lands on my social media) I have learned it is more important to listen than to speak ESPECIALLY WHEN ANGRY!  

 

   Life is hard right now.  I have had hard times but lately every aspect of my life seems to be hard.  I am struggling with not seeing my kids while working nights, my health, my emotional well being, my finances, my family, my career, depression, grief from the loss of the man I thought was going to be that one who didn’t give up and through it all I am trying to build something new & it’s hard.

 

    Right now I feel like the girl in Instant Family when she has been let down once again & she just starts running. She runs & runs & runs and just ends up hiding in a corner crying. Finally giving in to all of her pain, screaming to be left alone while she really needs someone more than ever. I feel this has been me for a few years.

 

   My last boyfriend chased me like I had never been chased before & made me feel loved in a way I  never had before. It was a high I cannot describe.  There is nothing I would not have done for that man.  But a few months in he hurt me.  A hurt like I have never experienced & had no idea how to cope with. So for the next three years I did anything & everything to push the limits of his love. I didn’t realize it at the time but I did everything I could think of to push him away, to hurt him, to get him to give up.

 

   What he did to me was despicable but what I did in return was childish, vengeful & ridiculous. Then right as  my world was falling apart & I was losing my home to a landslide he was one of the only people who stood up & offered me a place to live. That moment I realized he was in it for the long haul.  He wasn’t going anywhere & despite how much he hurt me he loved me very much. A few weeks later he moved away & let me know in a very short phone call that it was over & that the only reason we would be remaining in contact was to settle up on some money he had lent me. 

 

   For months I threw a pity party, I blamed him, told myself he would eventually regret losing me, I ate my feelings, made bad life choices & tried to convince myself it was his loss.  Sadly what I have come to realize is there is not much for him to miss. I was terrible. I was so busy trying to get him to prove that he loved me that not for one minute in three years had I tried to be what he needed or fill his soul with love and attention. We all need to feel loved. Not just those of us who struggle with abandonment issues. Since coming to this realization I have tried to apologize to him but words cannot express my feelings at this time. All I can do is take accountability for my disgusting behavior & try not to do it to someone else. I also need to be careful to not take all the blame since we were pretty awful to each other but I have learned something about myself. I am ugly when I get hurt. I need to work on that.

 

   So I guess to sum up this rambling I relate to a foster kid.  A human who was tossed around during her formative years & who’s strong personality & sharp tongue is both a blessing & a curse. While I know I am worthy of love I also understand that I am hard to love.  It is going to take someone who doesn’t give up.  It is going to take someone who loves me when I am obnoxiously hyper & funny & the life of the party & who loves me harder when I am sobbing on the floor of the shower because her mom might die & her doctor won’t let her even get tested as a possible organ donor & she feels out of control.  It is going to take someone who listens to my crazy plans and gets excited for me but has the ability to reel me back into reality with a few well chosen words that help me set realistic goals.  It is going to take a patient person who can hold me when I feel like my world is crashing in on me but let me jump in my truck the next day & drive 2000 miles alone just because I can. 

 

   It is going to take someone who is ready for a woman who will try his patience, test his devotion, make him question his sanity & make him ask himself both why he loves me one minute & how he lived without me the next. It is going to take a man who has been given up on by many important people in his life & knows the feeling.  A man who is equally as difficult as I am, who will challenge my patience, piss me off, drive me crazy, excite me intimately in ways no one has & who will take me to the brink of sanity & be the only person who can bring me back.  Someone who no longer cares how lovable he is to everyone else he only cares to know that I will always love him & vice versa. A man who never gives up!  Because while I am not perfect & come with a lot of flaws one thing I can promise anyone in my life is if you ever need me no matter what has happened be tween us, what you have done, what has been said I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON YOU!

 

   The more I workout & take better care of myself both physically & emotionally the more worthy of love I feel. The less I feel the need to eat my emotions & the more I want to work through them.  So right now I am miserable emotionally & that’s okay.  Life is hard sometimes & shit can really suck but they are getting better everyday & I can see the top of the hill & I know the view is going to be amazing.  I know that it is okay to sometimes feel unlovable, hopeless, helpless & to give in to those emotions. What is not okay is using those emotions as an excuse to abuse my body, to take advantage of someone, say things that hurt others, make stupid life choices, drink too much, eat shitty, be lazy & just overall be a shitty person.

 

   While I work to improve my health, my physical appearance & well being I also want to polish all the shiny parts of me. My generosity, my ability to lift others up & inspire them, work hard, make people laugh, shine light in the darkest places. I also want to shave down my pointy edges. My sharp tongue, my narcissistic tendencies, my speak first think later mentality, my need to always have the last word & my inability to compromise when I feel I am right.

 

   Losing weight & feeling great is all well and good but I can’t imagine how great it would be to look great & feel worthy of love all at the same time.  It is going to take a lot of work but the more I do hard things the more proud of myself I am & the more proud I am of myself the less shit I take from others. The more I stop accepting less than what I deserve because of my inner feelings of inferiority the more I realize while imperfect, abandoned & a little broken I am worthy of others love & the love of one special someone who will NEVER GIVE UP!

 

 

   This day has been coming for far longer than I want to admit. The day that despite 26 years of love, 6 children, 31 homes, loving you since I was 14 years old. Despite it all, I admit it may be over.
   Not because we don’t love each other to the ends of the earth. Not because we don’t love each other in ways few will ever understand & certainly not from lack of trying but because I want to live.
   Today I admit to myself that I cannot love you enough to make you happy. Your demons leave no room for me. I cannot be happy with the fraction of you that is left after everything you have in your head. I can never be happy enough for both of us. My positivity will never cure your depression. I will never be able to get you to see the man I see in you & it’s killing me. Literally! 
  The guilt you carry every time you look at me & feel like you’re not enough & the pain I feel every time I look at you & see a darkness within you I will never be able to bring light to. It’s too much!
  Today I realize we can raise our beautiful children & be family without being together. We can love each other immensely without sharing a home. We can be close without trying to fill each other’s needs that we are not capable of filling. 

  
  Today I admit I cannot shave any more of myself off to be small enough to fit in the tiny space you have for me. Today I admit I will always love you but we can love others.
Today I realize my heart hurts, it aches to be what you need, to mend you, to light your darkness, to love you back to life but today I offer you the choice to divorce without guilt. To know that divorce doesn’t always mean giving up. It can also mean being brave enough to realize that sometimes things don’t go as planned and that’s okay. That love does not always mean marriage. 
   Today I admit the thought of not kissing you when your sad seems impossible. The thought of not holding you when the world is too much breaks me. The thought of not being your person leaves me feeling like I’m walking away from my purpose for living. 
Yet today I realize that sharing space with someone who can’t let me in, who holds me at arms length, forgets me for days at a time & lives in a hell I can’t reach is not living at all. 
I have loved you with everything in me for as long as I can remember. I don’t even know who I am without being your Misty but I fear it’s time I find out. 
   It’s time I see what it is like to step into the light without being sorry for being happy because you can’t be. It’s time to get flowers, travel the world w someone who wants see it as much as I do, someone who I can make smile without wondering when they are going to break again. It’s time to try & let someone love me & try to allow myself to be seen & heard. I’ve been invisible in my home for too long. 
   It’s time for me to remove the chaos I bring to your life & leave you more time & energy to focus on your well-being, our children & your career. Its time you have your own voice. It’s time I let you realize you are enough & you are a beautiful person no matter what we are as a couple. 
   From fourteen to fourty we have always been one. Us against the world. We’ve lost a child, we’ve lost jobs, cars, homes & almost each other but today I want you to know WE WILL NEVER BE LOST. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE AN US! 
   An us who will love each other forever. An us who will raise our children together. An us who are there for each other in every way we can be. An us who help each other rise & be our very best. An us who see each other & know each other in ways no one ever will. 
   You will always be my fish & I will always be your bird but today I admit that I may have to clip the line before I drowned. I wish with everything in me that I could be what you need but I can’t breathe. I love you but I want to live.

   I don’t know what the future holds but today instead of trying to fill your glass I am going to fill my own.

   Today, I choose me.

new

As I am sitting here exhausted from the gym, on day 6 of the Keto Diet, day 4 of a headache, googling Keto recipes, I am just realizing I literally decided I hated a woman at the gas station today. Like really hated her. I don’t hate anyone ever but because she was sitting in her car eating Cheeto’s without a care in the world. I HATED HER! And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more ornery I came across an old photo of me & I got ANGRY!

 

   As I looked at this picture from a little over 3 years ago I am flooded with emotions. I am reminded of just one more time that I let myself down. I took this photo as I was getting up at 4am every morning with my good friend Marnee & working out. (like body prints of sweat on the floor kind of working out) We were going to the gym 4 nights a week & watching what we ate. This picture shows the pride I felt. Those jeans were 2 sizes smaller than when we began & despite hurting everywhere all the time I was happier than I had been in a long time even in the midst of a very ugly separation. Yet because of things going on in my personal life I gave up on myself. Marnee kept going & she looks amazing! She inspires me everyday & I am so fucking proud of her. A lifetime of obesity is a really hard monkey to pry off your back & she is conquering it everyday despite her own trials, young kids, injuries, illness, full time job & a million other reasons she could have used as excuses to give up. I am ANGRY that I did not stand by her side as I promised. I am angry that I let us both down.

 

   Anger is not an emotion I am too familiar with. I was raised by a man who constantly instilled in us that you get more bees with honey than vinegar & it’s always best to be the bigger person & to always be kind. A man who would give you the shirt off his back even if he had never met you before in his life. A man who met me when I was four years old & instantly became the father he did not have to be. In fact I believe he is the nicest person I know. I can only remember a handful of times that my father was anything less than animatedly happy.

 

   So I have lived my life accordingly. When the emotions of anger or sadness come along I have learned to sweep them under the rug with a smile, be the bigger person, meet everything with humor & do everything humanly possible to rid myself of those feelings as quickly as possible. Most of the time it is by treating a friend to lunch at Olive Garden, baking dozens of brownies & anonymously delivering them to friends & strangers while of course enjoying a few (dozen) myself or polishing off an entire bag of Doritos while watching my favorite movie Calendar Girls. See a pattern?

 

   I am going to rewind a minute here. I recently started a new SLE (Systemic Lupus) medication. It is the first medication I have tried during this several years long battle with this baffling disease. The side effects have been horrendous. Far worse than any symptoms of the actual illness itself. After suffering severe stomach pain, crying at the drop of a hat (I am not one to ever cry much & I recently cried because a friend did not respond to a text message quick enough & once because the hot water heater ran out before the tub was full) I was losing my hair, everything tasted like metal & just since I had started this new medication I had gained 24 pounds & I was miserable.

As I looked in the mirror at my bloated, wearied body & the dark circles under my eyes not recognizing myself from just one month earlier, it hit me. I was treating the side effects of my disease with a medication that was just causing more side effects. I was not treating the cause of the disease itself. At that moment I threw those very expensive pills in the garbage. The pills I spent my car payment money on. It was not an easy choice.

 

   I had recently decided to try & lose weight but I was fearful to start because I always failed but as I heard that pill bottle clang against the bottom of the trash can it hit me. Why do I keep trying to treat my obesity with diet & exercise alone? Obesity is a side effect of poor life choices. What is the root cause of those poor life choices? Like many who battle weight issues I have tried dieting & exercise far more times than I care to admit but the weight always found its way back & most of the time it brought friends. I realized in that moment, just as I should not be treating the side effects of my lupus I should be finding the cause. The same went for my obesity. I think this was my AhHah moment.

 

   So what is causing me to be heavy? What made me intentionally put weight back on after losing 130 lbs with a gastric bypass surgery. What causes me, a 5’9, loud, proud, confident woman to feel like I am going to throw up every time I walk into a gym? What makes me check my self confidence at the door, feel 2 inches tall & insignificant the moment I see those machines or smell the sweat of all those around me who are succeeding at something I have never been able to master. That’s it right there. “Never able to master!” I never take no for an answer. I have thrived at anything I ever put my mind to & I do mean anything! Why is this such a challenge?

 

   On my first day in a new school in 8th grade I saw Cliff Richardson with all his Metallica shirt & mullet glory eating shock tarts by the vending machine & I knew from that moment I would marry him. It was a surprising realization since up to that point I had never liked a boy. (well & I was just 14) Boys were always just buddies I played football, climbed trees, caught frogs & ran around with until I grew boobs & they all started acting funny. But there he was. My future husband. The first human who had ever made me forget my name & who I was too afraid to talk to. I had never been afraid of anything!

 

   I started writing Misty Richardson on my shoes, my trapper keeper (I just aged myself) & on anything that was stationary throughout my room. Finally after months of agony I got up the guts to call him & after a 7 year courtship sure enough I became his wife. I am now even the proud mother to six of his beautiful children. Another thing I always wanted! We enjoyed 23 adventurous years of companionship & he is my best friend.

This is just the beginning. I started at AOL shortly out of high school & while they were setting the goal for sales agents of 10 sign ups a day I set the personal goal of 40 to 50 & smashed it every day! I even became 4th in sales world wide for them. The largest internet service provider in the country & all within a year. After that I went on to own my own cleaning company which helped me keep our little family in nice homes while my children were little despite my husband making $9.00 an hour at the time.

 

   While I was pregnant with my 4th child I realized we needed to make more money & I needed the freedom to be available for my kids so I googled the best career choices for moms. I found a few pages about real estate & it peaked my interest. After all I loved seeing homes, in fact I had a local agent/friend who I frequently harassed to show me inside neat homes that came on the market (something I now realize was a lot to ask & that man must have had the patience of a saint) So that night I decided I would become a Real Estate Agent & by the time my daughter was 2 months old I was passing the real estate exam with 100%.

 

   I’ve went on to build a large clientele, make a six figure income, buy a house that made my children cry & within a year turned it into the most beautiful home one could ask for, with brick kitchen floors, butcherblock countertops, clawfoot bathtub, farmhouse sink & the whole works. Not to mention a beautiful view of the entire city. That last ones the killer. Within a year of finishing our home I lost it to a freak landslide with no insurance coverage & no legal recourse. You can’t sue mother nature.

 

   Up to that point most anything I put my mind to I conquered. I have thrown an air mattress in the back of my truck & traveled for weeks on end with no destination in mind. I have moved 34 times & decorated countless homes & despite having pink hair & tattoos I successfully landed a staging & design job for a very high end client who builds million dollar second homes in the most expensive county of the state & have built a large diverse clientele. My weight nor my appearance have not seemed to hinder my success at all. I think it is because of this that I have victoriously made it through 40 years of life convincing myself that it is okay to be obese & that it wasn’t hurting me at all. I have always told myself that my size was just part of who I am.

 

   Well it is amazing what happens when life knocks you down a few pegs.

   It is easy to think well of ourselves while we have a companion, we are in good health, with beautiful children, living in a nice house, enjoying a comfortable income, owning a few cars, seeing new places. We don’t worry about self reflection when we seem to be doing everything right. This is why there are cliche’s like “the struggle makes you stronger” & “storms make trees take deeper roots”. I have learned that these are very true.

 

   I once made a facebook post about how it is amazing the difference a year can make. It talked about going from living in an unfinished rental home, going through a very ugly separation, dealing with a new Lupus diagnosis & struggling financially to living in a beautiful high rise apartment, making lots of money, designing my dream home from the framework out & enjoying pretty good health. I could easily show the opposite side of that coin now.

In the last year my life has resembled that of an old country song. I lost my house, I lost my partner, I lost my health, I lost money (oh god how I lost money) & I think to myself wow what a difference a year can make.

 

   I think it has taken a year to sink in that my house is actually gone. While losing my home I also lost my partner of 3.5 years. He informed me via a phone call that he had moved to Colorado to live with his son & it was over. Our relationship was one of those immediate “uh oh I’m in trouble” from the moment we laid eyes on each other. He chased me & said all the right things & for a girl just out of a 23 year marriage to a man who lived in video games 90% of the time this was a new experience all together.

 

   Anyways I’ve really digressed here. So fast forward a year from the landslide. Here I am on the treadmill at the local gym. Somewhere I never thought I would ever be & overwhelmed with 2 emotions I have successfully avoided most my life. Anger & sadness. Like the don’t feel like you can go on kind of sadness. Somewhere over the last year I went from a charismatic, obnoxiously optimistic morning person who always had some happy cliche to share with those who were struggling & who met everything with positivity. To a woman who is annoyed by people like that. Just 3 times this week I have had to promise myself to hang on 24 more hours. Three nights this week there was not one ounce of me who wanted to wake up the next day.

 

   As I ran on that god forsaken torture device I thought to myself. How did I get here? What the hell happened? The more I thought about it the more angry I became. I was angry at the skinny girl running in front of me with the perfect hourglass figure. (even on my best day I am a 2×4 with boobs), I was angry at the fact that I was going home to my ridiculously overpriced 2 bedroom apartment instead of my 5 bedroom home I designed from floor to ceiling. I was angry that I recently had to take a night job to get health insurance for my kids but at the cost of seeing them & my wage was 1/5 of my monthly bills. I was mad at myself for the debt I had incurred & the notice I just received that my credit had just dropped 19 points because of the high percentage of credit usage & the anger just kept building from there.

 

   Before I knew it I was angry that my partner of 23 years was not better to me. Angry that my partner of 3.5 years gave up on me. Angry at my mom for getting sick again, angry at God for my daughter dying, angry at my sister someone I considered to be my best friend for 30+ years for secretly being my worst critic, angry at myself that despite knowing how awful it is to battle obesity I still raised my kids on macaroni & cheese & little Caesars pizza, causing them to wage the same war with obesity I was fighting. Then I started getting angry at stupid things. Like the fact I couldn’t eat fruit. How stupid is it to deprive myself of something that was put on this earth to eat! If I want fruit I should be able to eat fruit! And there it was….

 

   Me starting to manufacture my excuse to get off this crazy diet, off that torturous treadmill & justify my eating & my lifestyle. Sure it would start with a banana or some wheat toast but within a day or two it would be a giant bowl of pasta or a bag of chips. Making excuses to quit was something I had done dozens of times before. Why was this time different? Why did I recognize what I was doing this time but not others?

 

   Well before I started this crazy Keto thing I did not do it on a whim like I usually do when it comes to almost anything. (Impulsiveness is one of my super powers) Before I decided to announce another DAY ONE I did something I had never done before. I thought it through. Something I NEVER do. I have painted myself into a corner more times than I can count. I once even took my last $100 & drove to Washington to see a friend with no idea how I was going to make it home. My few day trip turned into weeks as I had to earn the money to make my return & while I would love to say I learned my lesson, I did not. I can honestly say I have lived my life with not one ounce of forethought. If an idea pops in my head, it is as good as done. I learn the cons of my decisions through living them out. The situations this has landed me in could provide hours of comic relief if I were to do a standup routine. Instead I have just let it all unfold on my Social Media for my friends to shake their heads at.

 

   There was no impulsiveness this time though. This time I dissected the cause of my eating. I cried to my therapist, I read several books & took notes. (I never took notes even during 4 years of college) I asked myself why it is that I turned to food every time I had an emotion & I got raw and honest with myself.

 

   I took the dreaded before photos. Took my measurements like I had done dozens of times before. But this time was different. This time I actually hated the before photos. Every time I’ve seen before & after pictures of people who successfully lost weight, the before picture was always taken in some dark bedroom or bathroom that was messy most the time. There they stood looking sad, defeated & absolutely miserable with their bellys hanging out & a look of absolute misery on their face. I never related to those people. No matter how big I have been (up to 308) I have never felt miserable in my body or unattractive. For years this has been my reason for giving up. I didn’t mind being heavy & if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Right? Well this time was different. This time it was definitely broke!

   As I have laid in bed flare after flare questioning my life expectancy & getting weaker & weaker I can say I don’t love my body at all. It is failing me. I am miserable & I cannot remember the last time I felt pretty. This is a new experience for me. All this sadness & anger is so miserable. I’ve tried everything I can think of to relieve myself of these feelings but they are still there. Not even cheesecake relieves these feelings. Not for even 5 minutes & this time the before photos made me cry. (I blame the medicine for the tears though) haha

 

   As I talked to my therapist I learned a lot just by what I heard myself say. She barely had to respond at all as she could tell by the look on my face that a lightbulb had just turned on. It’s not that I have never experienced sadness or anger. I went to my 33 week ultrasound expecting to set a delivery date only to hear the words “there is no heartbeat” followed by 17 hours of labor with a baby girl that I knew I was never bringing home. I know sadness. But what I didn’t know was how to be okay with being uncomfortable without doing everything in my power to take the quickest road to fix it or how to allow myself to feel sad or to get angry for any length of time.

 

   For years to avoid anger I would just apologize to everyone for everything even if I felt I had done nothing wrong. Peace was always better than war at any cost. But what I did not realize was that I was creating a war within myself. Early on in therapy I heard her tell me something that just stuck. You can’t walk through life holding the door open for everyone & then getting upset when they keep walking through. In other words while you might mean well it is human nature to keep score and if you keep putting in more than you are getting back you will eventually build up a lot of resentment, but it is no ones fault but your own because no one asked you to hold the door in the first place.

 

   That resonated with me almost as much as something I recently read in my new favorite book “Girl Wash Your Face” (YOU MUST GET THIS BOOK) I love it when an author can express a thought with humor & analogies that just hit home. In her book Rachel eloquently points out that we all have a relationship with ourselves. If we constantly break promises to ourselves we stop relying on, or trusting ourself. Just like that flaky friend who you know never follows through on anything, you learn to just accept that nothing you say should be taken seriously & you assume your own failure before you even begin.

 

   So as I realized these things I thought to myself how do I rid myself of years of resentment from holding the door open? How to I rebuild a relationship of trust & reliability with myself. I can’t change what’s been done? I can’t go back & slam the door or follow through on old promises. As I tried to figure this out in my head the silliest analogy came to mind.

 

   I have an 80 pound golden retriever named Charlie. He is the center of my universe most days. He has seen me through the darkest of times & no matter how moody, how busy, how goofy or how forgetful I am. He loves me anyways. Well while he is the greatest companion anyone could ask for now, it wasn’t always like that. As a puppy he pooped his weight daily anywhere he pleased. He chewed up anything & everything. He became known as the $10,000.00 dog because he chewed up so much expensive electronics, shoes & furniture. Those two years seemed like they would never end. Yet now that he is a little over three years old, I never think of those days. I am not angry, I hold no resentment I am just grateful for my trusty furry companion. He is the greatest dog Ive have ever had.

 

   Well running on this theory I thought maybe it will work the same way with myself & others. Maybe if I stop holding the door open for others all the time I will stop resenting that they aren’t holding it open for me. More importantly maybe if I stop failing to follow through on promises to myself I will start to trust myself & learn that I can rely on myself to follow through on my commitments & if I do it long enough maybe any anger I have towards myself will eventually be replaced with love & pride as it has with Charlie. 

 

  Armed with this newfound way of thinking I methodically researched different weight loss plans & long-term healthy lifestyles, I read several books, talked to a dozen trainers & life coaches & started observing over 100 people on social media who have successfully lost over 100 pounds & that is how I got back on the weight loss wagon but this time it is so much different. This time it’s not just about the number on the scale. This time I am compelled to keep a promise to myself, to love myself & my body again & to rebuild the relationship I have with myself. To stop holding doors open & most importantly to accept that anger & sadness are just a part of the journey. It is okay to be uncomfortable. I now understand that I turned to food for temporary immediate relief from emotions I did not want to feel. Today I am okay with my sadness. I am getting to know my anger & I am looking forward to the day I have worked through these feelings through the darkest times of my life & came out the other side with so much more knowledge & understanding of why I do things & how important it is to embrace the journey. Even on your worst days. ESPECIALLY on those worst days!

 

   As of right now I am okay with being uncomfortable. I am excited to allow this discomfort to catapult me to new places & bigger achievements than I ever thought possible. I can see now that it has been during the hardest parts of my life that I pushed myself the farthest. Without all this misery I would not be in the gym, I would not be off of Doritos or Haribo Frogs or Mountain Dew for 6 days (a small feat for some but a mountain for me) I would not be sitting here writing this blog & believing with every fiber of my being that within a year I will be writing about how I successfully shed the term obesity as a description of myself & I will be writing about how I shed the anger & sadness as well. Because after all what a difference a year can make. Right!

 

   So today I make a promise to never feel this way again. To never look at a picture of myself & believe with every fiber of my being that I am unlovable or that dying would be so much easier than living. I promise to be patient with myself & not allow a bad day to become an excuse for a bad month. I will allow the sick feeling I got when I saw my before photos & the number on the scale last Monday to be the motivation I need to never go back to that place. I will surround myself with inspiring people like my friends Marnee, Val & Penny & supportive friends like my Golden Girls Midgey, Meggie & Michelle & I will keep going with the hope that one day I can be an inspiration to someone to keep going.

Most importantly I want to set a better example for my children so they don’t suffer the same agonizing curse of growing up obese. I only have a couple years left to have any guidance over what they put in their mouths & how active they are but I also want to show them that they can love themselves at any size so it is important that I love myself through this journey!

 

   So there you have it. This happy go lucky, optimistic, lil ray of sunshine is ANGRY & SAD & you know what? It’s okay! I am going to sit in my little bowl of anger & sadness & remember every miserable moment as I slowly climb my way out of the hole I have dug for myself. I am going to use this anger as a reason to keep pushing forward. I am going to stop avoiding the the things that make me angry & I am going to drag them out in the open. Write about them, bitch about them, fix them & move on. I have drawn so much strength & inspiration through the courage of others who have shared their most vulnerable thoughts. I hope my words can be of comfort to someone & if not at least screaming these epiphanies out into the world allow me to release them & move on.

 

   As for my recent post that read “It is amazing the difference a year makes” I am really excited to see where I am next Halloween. As my step mom would say, “It is not about what happens to us it is how we react that matters” & my grandma Brown would say “This too shall pass” & they are right. The more I look around the more I see that peoples most greatest achievements usually stem from a time of crisis. No one is more motivated than someone who is fighting for their life. Here’s to 24 more hours.

As I unpacked the truck from my pupless adventures, Charlie started sniffing around. The look of disapproval increased with every load I brought in. By the time the truck was empty you could cut the resentment & guilt between us with a knife. I knew there was only one way to redeem myself

A truck ride, a swim & peanut butter sandwiches…All is forgiven.

#RedDogRedemption

    It feels weird starting a blog about adventures with Red Dog, yet writing about an adventure I went on without him but oh well. You’ve got to start somewhere. 🐶 
   I pride myself on being a heart on my sleeve, raw, honest & real person others can relate to. I hope my words can bring laughter & insight to someone but mostly I type down these memories for preservation.  📖 
   I have a horrible memory & I want to treasure these memories & look back on these lessons in case I ever start to forget what I learn on my journeys. 📝 
   So here it is. The ramblings of things I learned on my 9 day solo roadtrip July 14-21, 2018. 🚘 
   I take what I call a Solo Sanity tour for 8-10 days every summer to just get away & reflect.  After losing my house in a landslide this year, a 3 & 1/2 year relationship abruptly coming to an end & living in a vintage camper for 3 months, I had a lot to think about. 🤔
   Several days of solo travel is probably one of the best things you can do to reset the soul. Especially after any kind of traumatic event. The combined loss of my home & my life partner had worn my heart right out. I survived but as I sat down in my apartment after unpacking the last box I still felt unpacked. Something was missing. 🤷🏼‍♀️
   I think I expected some kind of sense of relief. After all I had just got back into the apartment complex I wanted after living out of a camper with 3 kids, an 80 lb dog & 2 cats & I was now grateful for every little thing. (like regular toilet paper & a real bath tub) 🛀🏼 
    Business was good & I had recently overcame a pretty severe Lupus flare. But something was off. It was that day I decided despite it being peak season, I needed adventure. The kids aunt was in from North Dakota with the cousins. Their grandma had asked if she could take them to Bear Lake for the week. There was my window. 😁
   I had just closed a few pending transactions & my new listing that had just gone under contract wasn’t set to close for 30 days. By the grace of Elvis my buyers were all patient & wonderful. After a few weeks of home shopping they were tired & willing to take a short break while I ran away. (I really do have the best bosses!) ♥️
   For 10 years I had traveled Hwy 101 up the Oregon & Washington coast. As beautiful as it was my heart longed for something new & unseen but I didn’t want to spend the entire time in the car getting to my destination so I decided on Montana & Northern Idaho. Two beautiful places I had not seen aside from a night in Coeur d’Alene years ago on my way home from Seattle. 🚗 
   They did not disappoint! 😍
Day One: I had no idea where I was going to land but I had a 20 item Bucketlist in hand & there was plenty to see. I drove thru Idaho Falls, Harriman state park, West Yellow Stone, Henrys Lake, Big Sky & so many beautiful little towns. I knocked waterfalls & visit avstate park off the bucketlist & took some incredible pictures. 📷 
   I spent the day thinking about everything I had lost. How much I missed my house. How much I missed the man who had walked out on me & the life I thought we were going to have together. ⛺️ 
   I cried a bit which I don’t do often but it was long coming & much needed. I thought I might shed some tears  on this trip but this day was pretty much the only day I allowed myself to worry about the what if’s and coulda woulda shouldas. Besides crying often spurs a flare & I had shit to do. 😥
   Despite seeing some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been I was quite overwhelmed & incredibly sad. As I pulled into Yellowstone my heart was heavy & I remember thinking yeah this is alright I guess. I don’t see what the big fuss is all about.  😱
   Now as I look back on the pictures I can’t believe I was not in total awe. Just proof that our attitude really makes all the difference. 💯 
   It was dark as I pulled into Bozeman where I asked for a table for one at Montana’s Ale House. I was quickly greeted by Taylor. An incredibly handsome & happy 29 year old ski 🎿 instructor who introduced himself, took a seat at my table, proceeded to tell me all there was to know about the Bozeman area. 🧗🏼‍♂️
  He completely turned my frown upside down. His positive energy was contagious & before I knew it we had been laughing for hours. For a few hours I forgot about everything I had been through, everything I was crying about earlier that day & I was happy.  🙂
   He paid the check & that was that. 💵 
Lesson: Attitude really is everything & energy is truly contagious. We really need to be cautious of who we surround ourselves with. Our life really is only as good as we choose to remember it.
   If we focus on where we’ve been & what we have been through we may miss the beauty that is right in front of us! (I sure did)
   I think we must surround ourselves with happy, positive people as often as possible. It is good for the soul. I think we should try to be that person to others as often as possible.
   Oh and check out Bozeman if you ever get a chance. The scenery is amazing & that Ale house is pretty bad ass too. THANK YOU TAYLOR.
Day Two: As I woke up I immediately realized I felt a sense of relief. The tears from yesterday washed my soul clean & I was ready to experience everything & anything. My soul was warm & so was my truck. I had no idea where I was headed but I still had a bucketlist & a fresh tank of gas. ⛽️
   As I left Bozeman things quickly got ugly. Scenic wise I mean. I gradually left big trees & beautiful neighborhoods & slowly moved towards sagebrush &  passed exit after exit of no amenities & flat dry land. 😐
   I wanted to check hot springs off my bucket list in Hot Springs Montana but as I took the exit it was 88 degrees & it felt like 102. The roads were unpaved & something just said keep going. 🚙
   Butte & Hot Springs Montana are not much to see. I must admit I didn’t really look around & a lot of places in Utah aren’t that great from the freeway so I could be way off base but I chose to keep moving. NO REGRETS! ✌🏻
   I pulled into Missoula & accidentally pulled right into the parking lot for the local Farmers Market. It was Saturday & I was missing my own local Farmers Market so I parked & took a stroll. 🚶‍♀️
   There were blocks of fresh produce, delicious local food, unique local artists, great music, eclectic crafts & everything your heart could desire. Except dogs. I was a bit disappointed that they did not allow dogs but the people were pretty cool. 😎
   Honestly the scenery was half that of Yellowstone & Big Sky but my heart was happy & everything just seemed more beautiful. 🌳
   I had breakfast at the most amazing (and busy) cafe oddly named Catalyst. It was tiny & filled wall to wall with patrons eating elbow to elbow. I almost left but after 45 mins I was seated at a tiny table on the 2nd floor that overlooked the whole restaurant. 👀
    I was quickly served a mocha ☕️with a heart in it like those fancy ones you see on InstaGram. A short time later I was brought a giant plate of the most delicious breakfast I have ever had. 🍳
   If you are ever in Missoula you MUST visit the Catalyst Cafe & order something called The Heap! Your tastebuds have not lived until you have tried it! 😋
   After breakfast I wandered downtown. I visited a local shop where the owner made everything out of re-purposed things. He made wallets & purses out of old banners, earrings out of bottle caps, trivets out of melted bottles & so much more. I wish I would have got his business card but it was really quite cool. 👨🏼‍🎨
   I was out on the hunt for my annual handbag. (I buy a new handbag each year on my annual road trips as a daily reminder of my adventures) I thought I was sure to find something along Missoula’s many boutiques but I found a lot of them to be really pricey second hand stores. Money
   They were all full of patrons though so I must just be a cheapskate. 🤪
   I visited with a few locals who all insisted I stay in town to check out Missoula’s noteworthy night life. They prided themselves on their 30 locals bars all within a 5 block radius. Several with live bands and tons of happy, spirited college kids who keep the energy high. 🍻 
   So I stuck around and parked in front of the Missoula Bar & started what would become a very memorable night. (from what I can remember) 😵
   I wandered into a bar across the street where I met Chad. A recently separated thirty something with a smile for days, a sense of humor that is unmatched, the confidence of a God & a freakishly large tattoo of a squirrel on his thigh. 🐿
   He insisted we check out the drag show across the street. WHAT? A drag show in Missoula? When I think of Montana the last thing I think of are Drag Queens but off we went. 👑 
   As we entered this little dive bar we were quickly greeted by a large room of loud, proud & beautiful queens. Some men dressed as women, some women dressed as men & even some women dressed as men dressed as women. (I know it took me a minute too) 🤔
   I got to meet Chad’s friend Annie who was a woman dressed to look like a man dressed as a woman. SHE NAILED IT! 🔨 
   We had so much fun. The music was great, Queens had driven from all over the state to participate & it was a full house. We drank a lot & we laughed even more. Then we wandered bar after bar drinking & laughing. 🍺 
    At the end of the night we ended up at a taco cart that all the locals swear by. I don’t know if I was just really drunk or if those were the best damn taco’s I’ve ever had! 🌮 🌮 
   I have not had that much fun in years! As the night winded down I realized I was way too drunk to drive & everything for miles was booked due to the Missoula Marathon coming through town. So I climbed in the backseat & passed out in my truck that was parked there in the middle of main street. 💤 
    Looking back on it that was not my greatest life choice but some of the funnest things we do in life aren’t. 🤙🏻
   I urge you to go check out the night life in Missoula & if you get to have Chad & Annie as your local hosts you are pretty damn lucky! 🍀 THANK YOU CHAD.
Lesson: Not everything is what we think it will be. Sometimes we might miss out on a lot of fun or great life experiences if we allow ourself to assume too much. I never thought I could spend a platonic night at a drag show in Missoula Montana with a man who has a squirrel tattoo the size of a small child & have so much fun. 👥
   I assumed the people of Montana & participants of drag shows to be totally different than what they were! Also I never realized how good food from a truck could really be. 🥘 
   I haven’t tested my liver that much in recent memory. It was good to see it is still a trooper. I can tell Chad & I are going to be friends for years to come. The story of our first night as friends is one for the books. Sometimes we meet people in the most unusual of ways & they become a permanent part of our flock. 🐑 
Sometimes our dumbest life choices are the funnest! YOLO 🤣
Day Three: I woke up at 5am to signs that said no parking after 6am. There was a 6000 person marathon coming through & I had to get out of there quick. (I have to say I have not been that hungover in years. I felt terrible)  My head was pounding, my body ached everywhere (I did just sleep in the back of my truck on top of firewood, a Styrofoam cooler, 2 suit cases & random bags of stuff) 😴
   I was so nauseated I was praying I would make it to the truck stop before ruining my trucks recent interior detail. 🤮
   Elvis shined down on me & I made it to the local TA truck stop. I must have looked  like death warmed over because as I asked the attendant if they had showers she not only rang me up but she walked me back to them and asked me if I needed a Gatorade or a Tylenol. I said “yes, all of the above” then I staggered into the shower room, locked the door, threw a towel on the floor, turned the water to scorching hot & just laid there for what felt like half the day. 🚿
   You know you have had too much to drink when you lay your body on the floor of a stall where truckers shower. Nothing against truckers but I have seen a few that lets just say I wouldn’t lay my body on. haha 🤢
   As I got dressed & came out, there was a Tylenol & a blue Gatorade laying on the bench outside the room. “There are angels among us”  I thought to myself. 😇
   I popped those puppies, chugged the whole Gatorade & drug my tired, sore ass to the truck. I reclined the drivers seat & laid there for an hour trying to get up the umph to get going. 🤕
   After a bit the Tylenol kicked in & I could slowly feel life force re-entering my body. I really didn’t know which way was up. All I knew was that there were more adventures in store. So I plugged Coeur d’Alene into the GPS & away I went. 🚗 💨 
   I must be honest there was not a lot of deep thinking going on throughout this day. I don’t even have much to say about anything between Missoula & Coeur d’Alene other than I found myself laughing out loud about the night before about a half dozen times, shaking my head & thinking how crazy life is. 🤡
    One minute your house is falling down a hill & you’re getting dumped & just a few short months later you find yourself laughing your ass off among total strangers at a drag show & feeling so grateful for the little things. (especially that Gatorade & Tylenol) 💊
   As I got into Coeur d’Alene I decided it was time to get serious about that bucketlist. After all I did not check much off the list the day before so if I was going to check off all 20 items I had to buckle down. 🔒 
   A local had suggested Beauty Beach campground so I drove down to check it out. I talked to the host & showed him my bucketlist. He was so nice & he suggested I go to their sister campground Bell Bay just around the lake. It was a beachfront campground right on the lake & it offered fishing & privacy. (he must have seen my swim naked goal) 🏊‍♂️ 
   So off I went. The GPS said 11 miles but 43 mins. I thought that was weird & assumed 11 miles I could do in 15 mins or so. I WAS WRONG! ❌
   That was the most treacherous, white knuckled drive I have ever taken in my life. Picture a 1.5 lane road with oncoming traffic on one side & a 200+ foot drop on the other & you are driving a full size 21 foot long megacab truck. 🚚
   As I turned one corner a red dodge truck was half in my lane. My life flashed before my eyes. I am pretty sure I blacked out for a minute but somehow our two huge trucks passed each other without touching. I had to pull over just to breathe. 💫
   There had been several slides in the area (me & landslides don’t get along) & the road was patched in places where the road leaned towards the ledge. It was crazy. 🙈
   I swear I felt 10 years older once I reached the campsite. 👵🏻  When they asked how many nights I was temped to say I was never leaving! I could not picture doing that drive again. I swear if my liver was not in recovery mode I would have taken a few shots the second I hit camp. Instead I just got everything ready to cook the fish I was about to catch. 🎣 
    I am big on manifesting so I truly felt that if I prepared for the fish it would come. I had a cast iron skillet, butter, lemon pepper, veggies & all the fixens. I grabbed my new shiny pole, my cup of worms & trecked off to the beach to catch my fish. It couldn’t be that hard right? 🐟 
   When I got to the dock there were boats wizzing by, kids swimming, parents yelling, teens splashing each other. Now I don’t know about fish but I sure wouldn’t be swimming around that mess. I started to doubt that I would catch anytging (never doubt) but I wormed my hook & cast my line anyways. 🐛
   As I sat there all I could think about was that poor worm. One minute he’s chillin in the dirt without a care in the world, the next minute hes in a styrofoam cup in a department store fridge, then he’s thrown in a cooler, ripped out of his cold cup of dirt, impaled onto a hook & thrown out to drowned. What a torturous life. 😭
   The more I thought about it the worse I felt. It was that moment I realized I was worlds worst fisherman. I packed up my lil tackle box & headed back to camp. ⛺️ 
   Once I got back & sat down I realized all I had was some veggies & some lemon pepper. I really suck at planning ahead. My eternal optimism gets me in situations like this all the time. The host came around & I asked her where the closest grocery store was & she told me it was just a few miles around the bend & assured me it was not as scary of a drive going that direction as it was coming in. 😬
   Ya know she looked like a nice enough lady but WHAT A LIAR! 🗣
   Omg twenty five more minutes of white knuckle, praying to Elvis, thinking of everything I had done in my life, wondering if there was a maker & if I was about to meet him/her. 🙏🏻 
    Right as I was was about to give up & turn around I entered Saint Maries Idaho. Population 14ish. (Queue banjo music) 
   The local grocery store was larger than I expected so maybe the population was a little more than that but it was a small ass town that is a 25 min scary ass drive coming from either direction. (Pretty though) 🤠
   I grabbed some smoked salmon, club crackers, cheese & more Gatorade. It was starting to get dark as I jumped in my truck & hauled ass. (well as much as you can on sharp hairpin turns on a road barely big enough for your truck) 😶
   It must not have been my time to die because somehow I made it back to camp. I lit a fire, cooked my dinner, laid under the stars & checked things off my bucketlist. ✍️ 
   I thought to myself how much I had changed in the last couple years. Just 3-4 short years ago I would never pee outside, I would have no idea how to start a fire, I would never drive such a dangerous canyon road alone & I sure as hell would not be trying to catch a fish. Why the change? 👱🏻‍♀️
   I had recently come out of a 3+ year relationship & as it unexpectedly ended & I thought about everything I realized what I missed the most were the things we did together. 🧗🏼‍♀️🧗🏼‍♂️
    I grew up in a Hilton/Radisson family. We had only camped a handful of times & it was in a camper with a kitchen & it was 30+ years ago. Before I met my ex I had never been fishing. 🐠 
   I enjoyed things like shoe shopping & hotel pools. I had been taking these solo road trips for a decade but I usually spent my nights in nice hotels or with friends, dining in nice restaurants & taking the occasional hike at some tourist attraction. One year I did sleep in the back of my van but I still insisted on indoor plumbing & sushi dinners. 🍣 
   This trip was different. 🚣🏼‍♀️
   I was trying to decide if I missed that man or if I really just missed the life he introduced me to. It was both. But one was gone & one was just beginning. 🚵🏻‍♀️
   That was quite the night of inner reflection & personal growth. I fell asleep under the stars thinking about everything that had happened in the last three years. What he did wrong, what I did wrong. I realized that I had to let go of the things I could not change. (You can not change a person or the past) I had to focus on the one thing I could change & that was myself. 👈🏻
   I also acknowledged that there was a lot of responsibility I had to take for that failed relationship too. I had to admit there were a lot of things I needed to improve upon to prevent myself from letting history repeat itself. I needed to be a better person & needed to grow as a person to be a better partner as well. 💕 
   I also finally realized that I truly loved the outdoors. This city girls soul was happy there in the back of that old truck in the middle of no where with no shelter. Just a fire burning, the sounds of the water & the smell of pine trees. 🌲 🌲 
Lesson: I once heard it said that holding onto anger is like drinking poison & expecting the other person to die. How true that is. I think peace comes when we let go of what others have done to us, or things we allowed that we shouldn’t have. We can’t fix it. We can’t change it. All we can do is learn from it & let it be a lesson that prevents us from making the same mistakes again. In the end it takes two to succeed & it takes two to fail. We must own our part. It’s the only part we can change. 💯 
   It is important to reflect on what you did wrong. What you need to change or do differently. Grow, learn & move on. I wouldn’t take it back. The memories made will be in my heart forever. Some of the funnest times of my life were with him. 👱🏼‍♂️
   I may never have known how much I loved the outdoors had I not met him. I can truly say my soul is so much happier in a sleeping bag under the stars than it ever was in a hotel bed. 🛏 
   Everyone enters our lives for a reason & some are only for a season. Be grateful for what they brought you & taught you & be at peace with what is. You never know what the future holds. 🔮 
Day Four: This was the most amazing morning. I woke up snuggled up in my sleeping bag naked as a jay bird. (I must have stripped in my sleep from the heat) The first thing I saw as I opened my eyes were 200 foot pine trees & birds chirping, perched on the branches just feet away from me. 🐦 
    I laid there for a minute taking it all in. I got up, stretched, pulled out my skillet, fried up some eggs & made the best damn coffee I’ve ever drank. ☕️ 
    I sat on the tailgate of my truck for an hour just looking around, listening to the birds & watching the lake waves come in from an early bird boater already out for a joy ride. My heart was just so full it could burst. 💗
   In that moment I was just content with everything in my life. That sense that something was missing or I was not fully unpacked was gone. I guess my heart had some tears to shed & my mind had some thoughts & some realizations to process through. I just had to unplug long enough to get in touch with it all. 📵
   I didn’t know where I was going I just knew it was going to be amazing. I packed up camp & as I left I noticed how beautiful it was up there. I missed it coming in because I was on the ledge side of the road but being on the inside gave me enough sense of security to really take in everything there was to see. It was majestic. 🍁 
   Just then my gas light came on. (such is life right) As I came around a corner shockingly there was a tiny little service station. I pulled in, pulled the trigger on the pump & went in to check it out. It was the most quaint lil shop with local honey, jams & jellies. The attendant was sweet as could be & there were some locals in there visiting. Long lost friends who had not seen each other in years. It was fun to watch. 👨‍❤️‍👨
   As I came out & looked at the pump it was just shy of my life savings! (Note: Always check the price before you fill your tank) Suddenly that quaint lil service station became a legal extortionist. I was outta there! 😡
   As I drove around Coeur d’Alene it was beautiful but really commercialized. A few years ago this really would have been my seen. A Target, a Starbucks, lots of local shopping, but today it just was not what I was looking for so I headed north. What a beautiful drive. Around every corner was more & more beautiful scenery. It was amazing. 🌺 
   As I was driving I was thinking about a conversation I had had the day before with a life long friend. Probably one of the longest friendships I have had in my life. We had a difference of opinion & despite my several attempts to inform him that I was not the girl I was a few years ago he just kept trying to get me to be this overly attentive, talkative, obnoxious, submissive girl I once was. 🤐
   As he tried to tell me it was all or nothing (the old me would have carved myself out to fit in his little box to appease him & keep our friendship in tact)instead  I just stood my ground & said I am sorry I am just not her any more. There will be days you don’t hear from me, hell there may be weeks you don’t hear from me. I am going through a lot, we live 900 miles apart & I just don’t have the energy to entertain or answer to anyone right now. I don’t ask that of you please don’t ask that of me. 🤗
    He followed it up with well then that’s that. BAM!  If you can’t be what I need you to be so see ya later. There it was 26 years…Over. 👋🏻
   A few years ago I would have been devastated. But today I was at peace. I thought back to the night before as I laid in my truck & realized that some of the worst causes of misery in my past stemmed from me trying to fix things I  couldn’t change, trying to change others, trying to be something I wasn’t or trying to be someone I’m not just to appease others. 😰
   I was truly at peace with it all. It reminded me again that everyone comes into our lives for a reason & some for a season. Some seasons are longer than others. He will always be in my heart & we had some amazingly good times. The way we met as children is simply something straight out of a story book but not all stories have happily ever afters & that is okay. 👌🏻 
   I was astonished at my realization that I was sincerely okay with it all. I wrote a big long response to him & the further I drove the more I realized there was really nothing left to say. We had both grown into new people & we no longer fit each others needs. 👣
   We had tried for a few years to recapture the friendship we once had. I was trying to get him to embrace my changes & he was trying to get me to be what he needed & it just wasn’t working. I decided to just…let it be. 🦋
   Little did I know this would be an ongoing theme to my entire trip & now my motto. ♥️ 
   As I drove out of Coeur d’Alene I felt at peace with the loss of two very important people in my life. I looked around some little towns, took a shower at a truck stop in Post Falls & checked out Silverwood theme park but it was too hot & I just was not feeling it. I paid for parking, took a few photos & drove away. 🎡 
   Shortly after I left Athol I came upon a giant bridge that crossed a lake that looked like an ocean. You could hardly see the edge on one side & you couldn’t see the edge on the other. It was unlike anything I had ever seen that was not on a coastline.  🌊   
    Turns out it was Lake Pend Orielle. The deepest & largest lake in Idaho. I was in awe. After I crossed the bridge I found myself in the quaint little town of Sandpoint. The more I looked around the more in love I was. It was small enough that Uber wasn’t even a thing there yet. The trees were huge, there was water everywhere you looked & the people & drivers were so pleasant. 😍
   I had been asked to dinner by a darling match on Tinder named Jessie & I had just ripped my favorite dress that I had planned to wear. So I ran into the local mall (literally 3 stores), grabbed a dress & changed in my truck. Holy illegal in 7 states Batman! I had grabbed it off the juniors rack & it was covered in cherries & cute as could be as long as I didn’t bend over. 🙈
   I was so nervous. Tinder is not really my thing & I am used to meeting people organically. Most my Tinder experiences had oddly been more business dealings with people looking for homes or colleagues like lenders & insurance agents. This was strictly a hey we think each other is attractive lets meet. So Jessie gave me the address to meet & as I arrived I was not disappointed! 🤤
   We met at a local Thai restaurant, the conversation flowed easy, I couldn’t stop staring. It is so rare that I find people attractive that when I do I am pretty sure my brain falls straight out. I just watched in total infatuation. I’m such a dork! 🤓
   Afterward we walked around a bit, I caught up on some business calls & we both tried to find a local hotel for me for the evening but with no luck. Everything was booked. Eventually we grabbed some beer, pulled into an amazing little campground, lit a fire & sat in the back of the truck & talked for a while. ☺️☺️
    Then I was reminded that I still had to check swim naked off my bucketlist. So off to the beach we went which was just a stones throw away.  We had not even kissed & there we were 2 strangers stripping naked & jumping in a lake. A picture was taken to prove I accomplished this en-devour (which I will cherish forever) & right as I was freezing & ready to jump out, time stopped. ⏱
   Right there standing naked in Lake Pend Oreille I experienced a kiss like I had not had in years! My heart was racing & suddenly the water wasn’t cold any more. We stood there kissing & exploring each other. The stars were reflecting off the lake, my heart was beating out of my chest & in that moment my heart took a picture. ❤️ 📷 
   We eventually made our way back to the truck & we enjoyed each others company & each other’s foreign bodies for several more hours. Now I am not usually one for casual intimacy (in fact the only other time I experienced it turned out to be the worst 2 minutes of my life 🤣) but sometimes it just feels right & you stop worrying about how you will feel about it tomorrow or what anyone might think & you just enjoy every moment & oh my did I. As I fell asleep, I felt a soft kiss.  💋
THANK YOU JESSIE!
Lesson: If it is really hard. Let it go. If it feels right let it happen.  If you can tell that you are just not what someone needs or they are no longer feeding your soul don’t be afraid to let go. Take value in what was. Appreciate what you had. Love that person forever but let them go. Who knows if it is forever but if at that point in time it doesn’t fit do not shave your edges to fit your octagon self into a round hole. 🔪 It is exhausting with no reward for either of you. 
    If you meet someone & the chemistry is there do not worry about how long you have known each other, how far apart you live, what others might think, what you may think of yourself in the morning. Chemistry is rare. When you find it ENJOY EVERY MINUTE! Life is short & that spark doesn’t happen often. (for me anyways) 🔥 
Day Five: Again I woke up under the stars in the back of my truck & happier than I had been in a really long time. I’VE STILL GOT IT! I thought to myself. (Insert scene from Under the Tuscan sun where she is shaking the headboard & screaming to herself in sheer delight that she’s still got it!) 🎥 
    I did not expect that Jessie & I would speak again but I was quite surprised to get a text stating “I hope we can see each other again after work.” Someone pinch me! 😍
   I knew I loved the area & there were so many lakes & things to see. I definitely had a little pep in my step as I drove around the lake, met with the locals, shopped for souvenirs for the kids & traveled every nook & cranny of that darling little town.  I did not see a bad area anywhere. I failed to come across one rude person. The drivers were courteous & despite being a tiny town they had many dining & entertainment options because it was a popular tourist destination. 🗺
   There were paddleboarders, kayakers, boats, jet skis, a movie theater, restaurants galore but no big box stores, no traffic, no noise. The trees were everywhere & they were giant. The smell was so clean, the air was clear. It was just such a lovely place & a lovely day.  💐 
   After lunch I decided to see if I could find an AirBnB. It was so hot that camping was difficult & I needed a shower.  My mom & sister were on the hunt for a place. My sis sent me a link to the most quaint little cabin nestled at the base of a local ski resort. It had a jacuzzi, a queen sized bed, an outdoor fireplace & was a darling little find.  I booked it & texted Jessie the address. The owners were camping so I had the whole place to myself (they lived upstairs) I poured myself a drink & started reading my book. 📚 
 
   Just as I started getting tired Jessie arrived with homemade tacos on a Paw Patrol plate. I just melted. We kissed & played & although it was wonderful it was definitely different than the night before. 🤨
   Have you ever spent time with someone but felt they were a million miles away? That’s my best description. We skinny dipped in the hot tub & visited for a while & parted ways. I wasn’t sure what to think. I could tell this was very new to both of us. 💘
   I went to bed reading my book & wondering what Jessie was thinking. I started in with the typical female over analyzing. Why was it different this time? Was it me? Did I say something? I thought about asking but then I texted my girlfriend who had been single longer & was more than coerienced in the world of woman meets man & she quickly put me in check. ALWAYS HAVE A FRIEND WHO WILL TELL YOU LIKE IT IS!  🗣
     In that moment it was clear that just like I had realized on this trip about many aspects of my life this was no different. Despite all I wanted to say it was best to just…let it be. 👈🏻

   This was definitely a great memory. I enjoyed a day of perfect health, in an amazing little town, on a beautiful day, in the cutest little cabin you could ask for. As my friend Megan would see it I was in my own little Hallmark movie. She is turning me into such a girl! 💄

Lesson: Enjoy things for what they are & don’t expect lightning to strike twice. I think it is true that we don’t know what little moments are big ones until they become memories. Treasure the memory & let it be. 🦋 
Day Six: I woke up as a woman on a mission. Locals had told me about more lakes up north. The sun was shining & I was feeling amazing. I decided to mark more things off my bucketlist & I introduced myself as Claire (item #10 go by a different name for a day) to the barista at Starbucks (the only franchise store of any kind) & to the cute little cashier at the vegan place where I ordered my next bucket list item. (Try a new food) 🥙
 Well I did & it was flavorless. How can a strawberry smoothie & veggie wrap be flavorless?  Do they not have vegan condiments?  It was terrible but the service & atmosphere was great! 🤢
   Anyways I finished my breakfast, picked up my 5 post cards (another bucketlist item) & went on to drive an hour & a half north (I didn’t realize till the road home that I had taken a 35 mile dirt road detour on the way up) but it was all beautiful everywhere you looked. 🌸 
    I was wishing my kids & Red Dog were with me. It was such a lovely day & once I got to Priest Lake I was sad they were not there to share in the beauty.  I took a million pictures, I swam & it felt like a baptism from baggage. Everything I had carried with me on this trip was shed in that lake. 📦 
   My anger over the landslide, my heartache over he who shall remain nameless & my guilt over all the mistakes I had made in my marriage & as a parent. 😭
   I stepped out as far as I could go & I just let my body fall into the water.  Right then & there I let it all go. As the water washed over me I felt a cleansing of my soul. A freeing of my heart & an overwhelming feeling of peace I have not felt in my adult life. ✌🏻 
   It wasn’t until that moment that I realized just how heavy I had been weighted down with guilt, sadness, anger, resentment & regret.  I felt 100 pounds lighter as I dried off & got into my truck. 🧜🏻‍♀️
    I stopped at the gift shop & grabbed a Priest Lake magnet. It now sits on my desk as a reminder of this day & how important it is to recognize when I am carrying a heavy load. 🙇🏼‍♀️
   As I drove back into town I asked the hostess if her lil cabin was available & she said yes. She even offered it to me for less than half of the night before. I could not resist. I was on cloud nine. ☁️ 
    Just as I was pulling into town I got a text from my Ex. “I miss you & Charlie. I wish I could be seeing these things with you” 😶
   SO MANY EMOTIONS! For a brief second I went numb. For a moment I thought to myself “damn straight you do you big jerk!” then I remembered that it took two of us to fail. I had to own my part. Of course I missed him. Of course I wanted him to be able to see all these beautiful places. I just didn’t feel as I once did. 😏
   I couldn’t believe it but that moment I realized I had changed. I no longer felt the need to fix things or fix him or change me. It was like someone had handed me back the key to my life. A key I had feared was lost forever.  I knew the romantic in me still held out hope that one day our paths would cross & we could try again but in this very moment all I felt was closure. 🚪 
    I wasn’t sure what to say. I texted back a brief message stating that I hoped one day he could take the time to check out the area & that it was beautiful & I wished him well.  Again he wrote “I miss you & Char!” This was such a test.  😳
   After all I had just washed away my past & felt renewed & here was my past staring at me in the face. I had so much I wanted to say. So many feelings I wanted to share. I started to type out a big long text & then I just stopped. I thought about how I had handled everything else on this trip & how it had just worked out.  So I chose to just…let it be. 🦋 No Regrets. 
   I still had some boxes to check on my bucketlist, one being bring something home that I will see everyday.  So I stopped at the local tattoo parlor, Bleeding Hearts tattoo & got tattooed by a beautiful artist named Erika. 👩🏻‍🎤
   I got permanent ink as a constant reminder of the lesson I had learned time & time again on this journey. A simple type font text on my wrist that read…
     let it be. 
I LOVE IT!
   I enjoyed a solo dinner at a lovely beachfront restaurant & went back to my cabin. I touched base with Jessie (who is a single parent of 4) & things were just not lining up for us for the evening so I simply climbed into bed & slept like a rock.
Lesson: Sometimes it only takes lake water to wash away our worries. I think it’s important that we always take time away from our life & time to be alone. Get away from the chaos, work, noise, kids, partners, hobbies. All of it. You may not realize how much weight you are carrying until the moment you set it all down & just when you think you have it all figured out life will test you!  Always no matter what the situation is, when all else fails
…let it be. 🦋 
Day Seven: I woke up early packed up & texted Jessie that I was leaving town but that I had really enjoyed our time & hoped our paths could cross with intention sometime again.  The response I got was something along the lines of hey this was just casual take care. P.S. Check out this local coffee shop on your way out its pretty cool. 😕
   So this is what casual no strings is I thought to myself. Well it was certainly fun & I hope to find that chemistry again someday. 👩🏼‍🔬
   I went to the suggested coffee shop & it was super busy but after a sip of their coffee I could taste what the fuss was all about. I sat down at a table & started researching local ghost towns that might be on the way out. 👻 
   Just then I felt a wet nose on the back of my leg. As I looked down there was the most adorable dog. A familiar dog. Who’s dog do you look like I asked her as I tried to figure out why she looked so familiar. Just then I heard a deep voice say “Her name is Maddie” 🐕 
   As I looked up there truer than life I shit you not was Theron Humphrey from #ThisCrazyIdea on IG. I have followed them for ages! ❤️ 💜 
   I totally fan girled for a moment. I had so much I wanted to say & ask but all that came out was YOU’RE LIVING MY LIFE! He laughed & asked me where I was headed & where I was from. I don’t remember saying much because I could tell I was totally red faced and hot. ☺️
    He was on his laptop likely writing about his adventures through the area.  He was even more handsome in person (I didn’t think that was even possible) I just smiled & said it was nice to meet you & hauled ass to my truck. 🏃🏼‍♀️ 💨 
     I have met famous people before but I literally had 100 questions for this man & knew he had better things to do.  I’m such a Dork! 🤦🏼‍♀️
   Any how I composed myself, fired up Gypsi (my 2008 dodge ram megacab with the personalized plates that fittingly read GYPSI) & off we went. I really had no plan for the day I just knew I had to be in Boise by 3:00pm the next day & my time in Sandpoint had come to an end. 😿
   I was 6.5 hours away from tomorrows destination with a bunch of things still left to mark off my bucketlist. ✅
    I couldn’t find a ghost town that didn’t take me at least 2 hours out of the way so I decided to just drive until I felt like it was time to stop. These are my favorite kind of days. 🔆
   The further south I drove the uglier things got. I totally felt like I was heading in the wrong direction & all I could think about is how I could live out my life more like Theron Humphrey. Just a truck, a dog & a lot of travel.  💖
    I have always been able to accomplish just about anything I put my mind to & I knew I wanted to add something more to my career in addition to real estate since I had decided to not finish my degree & I was no longer in school. ✏️
   My thoughts were consumed by the who, what, when, where & how I could make a life of travel & blogging a part of my real life.  After all my true love is writing, taking silly pictures of my animals & seeing new places. Now I just had to figure out how to get paid to do it. 💰🤔
   I stopped in Moscow. A stop my mom had suggested. I must have driven down the wrong street because this place looked like they had not had touch with the modern world in a few decades. It was like something right out of an Andy Griffith episode. 🧟‍♂️
   So I pressed on. Day dreaming more about my potential blogging venture. 🐶 ✈️ ✍️ 
  Right as I snapped out of lalaland I passed a sign that said Zimms hotspring.  Visit a hot spring was on my bucket list but how on earth was there a hot spring in the middle of no where? (and I mean go to the edge of the earth & hang a left) Well obviously I was meant to see this place or I would not have noticed the sign just in time. ⌛️
  I hung a right at the arrow & pulled up onto a large unassuming building with just a lonely little motorcycle in the parking lot.  I hesitantly went in thinking if I scream no one would hear me for miles. ⛏
  Like the token dumb blonde in every horror movie I walked around looking for people. Just as I started to think no one was there a very a-typical horror movie like guy walked up & introduced himself.  He gave me the 2 second tour & I took off out of there like a bat outta hell. My spidey senses were tingling but I got one more thing ticked off the bucketlist. 🗒
Whew! 
   I drove through a couple cute little towns, Riggins was full of rafters &  tourists. McCall was cute enough to settle in but they were booked. So I decided to just keep going till I hit Boise. I was regretting it about 20 miles out of Boise.  I was considering parking in a walmart parking lot & hopping in the back but my darling little sister saved the day again and booked me a room at the local Wyndham Hotel. 🏨
   After a brief sushi dinner where I met retired MMA fighter Rowdy Akers, (super nice guy) I crashed at 11:30pm & was dead to the world till 9:00am the next day. THANK YOU HILLARY! My sister is the best!  👯‍♀️
Lesson: If you are ever tempted to tell a casual partner that you enjoyed their time & would like to cross paths again. ABORT MISSION. I believe this to be perceived as something equivalent to a marriage proposal. 💍
    Just leave your ego in tact &…let it be.
  Also if you are ever tempted to wander into a vacant looking building in the middle of nowhere just to check a stupid thing off your bucket list just dont.  CHOOSE LIFE! 🧟‍♀️ 
Day Eight: I woke up tired. I was getting worn down & just about ready to head home but not without seeing my Lopez family. #19 on the bucketlist. Terri Lopez is one of my mothers nearest & dearest friends. She’s known my mom since I was a baby & her & I have always just got along like peas & carrots. She is a fellow Gypsi soul & I just love her to peices. 💞
   Her husband Ron is just a salt of the earth kinda guy, he’s always been fatherly to me.  Their sonRonnie & I grew up together. We are just 13 months apart. He’s such a good man.  I tease him that he hit the hot woman lotto with his beautiful wife Chandra, who I just adore. Then little  brother Mikey (who is 11 years younger than Ronnie) & I are are so much alike. We can’t sit still & we are always up to something.  I just love that kid! 💚
   It is an annual tradition to stay a night with the Lopez family on my way up or on my way down from my road trips. It is always a good time full of laughter, lots of love & many memories old & new. This time was no exception. ❣️
 
   After shopping at the Boise mall in my last ditch effort to find my handbag I arrived at the Lopez household. We recruited the boys & grandaughter Katie (the Lopez’s most recent addition) & we enjoyed a nice dinner at Good Wood Steakhouse. 🥩 
   We laughed about old times & we reconnected as if it had not been a year since the last time we’d seen each other.  I love friendships like this! It’s more like family. 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦
   We visited into the wee hours, I got to play with the dogs Coco, Lilly & my favorite lil Boadie & I crashed on the couch like you would at your parents house. My heart was full. 💓
Lesson: Some people are in our lives for a reason & some for a season. I think (after 40 years it is safe to say the Lopez family & I are in each others life for a reason) It is important to nurture the friendships that feed your soul. Take time out of your busy life or your bustling vacation & feed these friendships. In the end all that will really matter is the people we had in our lives & the memories we made. Make them both good ones! 💟
Day Nine: My heart was ready to be home. I woke up, enjoyed some of Ron’s freshly made coffee, gave everyone a hug, took a snapshot of all of us together & hauled ass home. I always forget what an ugly drive it is. After 5.5 hours in the truck I made it home safely & with no tickets. Bucketlist item #20. 🎉 🎈 🎊 
Lesson: No matter how beautiful the places & people you visit are there is truly no place like home. And whenever possible always take Red Dog! 🐶 
    Most importantly no matter how hectic your life is & what excuses you can come up with to not take time out for yourself just STOP what you’re doing, DROP everything, and ROLL out. 🚘
    You will thank yourself later & when you aren’t sure what to say or what to do & you find yourself starting to worry about things you can’t control. Remember there is always one thing that works….let it be. 🦋 
   After all things always find a way of working themselves out. If I am not living proof of this phenomenon I don’t know what is! 🤙🏻
                     Till next time… 💘 M!sty
bucketlist