Overcoming Obstacles: Hurricane Detour to the mountains

Hurricane Dorian Detour Post2:

My solo 2 night beach trip plans got canceled due to the evacuation of the resort at Myrtle Beach in preparation for the possibilities of Hurricane Dorian.

Next best thing to being at a beach front resort?

Top of a mountain with a waterfall view.

I invited my energetic 10 year old to attend. I need a partner to motivated me to continue on when I am tired and my legs hurt. I have been wanting to have more hiking adventures with my child. Jason got excited when I decided on South Mountains State Park hiking the High Shoals Falls trail. We hiked there before and loved the platform along the top of the waterfall.

I decided that even though I would not be at the beach Tuesday- Thursday, I was still on vacation for three days. Because I stayed out late Monday night writing, I decided to wake up Tuesday when I was rested and get ready first thing when I wake up to head out but with no time agenda.

We left at 10:30am after I prepared snack, water, lunch for eating on top of the mountain, and other necessary supplies, including 2 Journals for me and Jason.

Jason was eager with a degree of anxiety, as is usual before a trip. We arrived at the park office and Jason looked to see if they were still selling the same T-shirt Harrison bought last time, worn for this repeat trip. I perused the items for sale.

“Come on mom, let’s go.”

“I am on vacation. I want to take my time.”

Maps in hand we head back to the car to drive to the parking area for the hike.

I turned the key and nothing happened, repeated and no sound, just lights.

I contained my inner panic. Was I going to have to call my husband to drive the 90 minute drive to rescue us? We don’t have cell coverage up here!

I took a deep breath, waited a minute, turned the key and…

We drove to the parking area to begin the hike. In the back of my mind was the concern that I might not be able to start the car after the hike. I choose to trust and move on.

“We need a picture before we start our hike” I insisted after Jason replied no to the question about taking a before shot.

This is the first time I have remembered to bring our hiking sticks! I was excited to know I wouldn’t have to dig around for a long enough stick to help me over the rough terrain. Jason also had a hiking stick which aided me to have 2 sticks at times.

“It is a mile to the falls” the park staff told us as she showed us where to go on the map.

Really? I remember the last hike feeling like more than a mile.

I doubted we were headed in the right direction initially, discussing it with Jason who insisted that we were headed the right way.

Jason deals with anxiety and irrational fears and today that involved fears of snakes and then there was the discomfort of the backpack that was getting to small. I knew being uncomfortable, thirsty and hungry only increases anxiety. I took the time to fix the back pack, not realzing the hip strap latch was broken but tied it to sit the pack like Harrison had showed me some time ago. Strap on hips to take the weight and shoulder straps adjusted to comfortable position.

I calmly continued despite protests that it wouldn’t work. We walked along talking and Jason began to relax more, drawing in the dirt with the hiking stick, “J” and so I made a “G”.

The end of the trail has a moderately steep incline with rocks and then a series of steps. I didn’t get any pictures of that because I was busy telling Jason I needed to stop and catch my breath and drink some water. I remembered to use the pursed lip breathing technique I teach my geriatric patients, deep breath in through your nose, “Smell the flowers and then blow out the candles.”

As we hiked along, I realized we were both overcoming things on this trek up the mountain. Depression had keep me from exercising and having the energy to plan a day trip for hiking. I had the desire to hike more and with my child, we had even talked about it many times. This last minute change in my plans was the perfect time for me to seize the opportunity to spend time hiking with my youngest child. I often feel my youngest does not get the quality time and enrichment opportunities that I was able to give my older two in our early years of homeschooling. Jason fights fears and anxiety that can be as crippling as two broken legs. Much time and energy has been spent on helping both of my children who have OCD, AKA, serious anxiety disorder. Time and energy for my children and for my husband and I.

There was a time when Jason loved hiking and even had me create a club called “Bear and Duck” for hiking and swimming.

Before the hike Jason told me, “I don’t like hiking. I am not an outside kid,”

Saddened at this declaration, I knew this was coming more from fears, obsessive thoughts then the true nature of my child.

A rational fear might look like this,”I Don’t like spiders. There is a spider on me! Get it off!” Spider off, child moves on, maybe mumbling about spiders.

And irrational fear looks more like this, “It’s a spider!” “I killed it”. “I feel bad that I killed it.” (Insert obsessive thoughts about not wanting to kill anything and feeling bad, and possibly getting stuck on this for hours, or longer). “Oh, no the spider touched me.” (Insert thoughts of being contaminated by the spider which could lead to compulsive washing, and could have ended our fun and our hike.)

Luckily, we had both done much work on handling OCD and I reminded Jason that it was a tiny spider and not poisonous. Yet, keep in mind, you can not rationalize obsessive thoughts away. Believe me, my husband and I have tried many times, unsuccessfully and often resulting in increased anxiety! The key here was that Jason was able to say, “It was so small, maybe it was a crab.” It did look like a tiny ghost crab we have seen at the beach.

I guess in the irrational thinking is the idea that spiders contaminate but crabs don’t? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. What matters is we were able to move on.

We enjoyed our goat cheese, blueberries, cut veggies, chocolate, and “corn and dye free” salt water taffy, my stash of food items to bring to the beach.

“OK, mom, lets head down.” Jason remarked after we had eaten.

“I plan to stay for a while. Remember, we are going to listen to the sounds of the water falls, enjoy our time up here and I need to rest before I hike back down.”

“Let’s close our eyes and pretend we are at the beach” the sound of the waterfall providing the setting.

“I am in a rainforest” I said opening my eyes to see Jason still had eyes closed.

“I am at Khalarhi.” Jason stated simply and we both silently remembered the fun we had at the Unschooling Water Park Gathering last May.

Another component to overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is sitting with the fear so your brain can learn that nothing terrible happens and sit through the anxiety level until it comes down.

“What about the pictures you wanted to take?” I asked my creative photographer.

“Jump up in the air, mom, so I can photoshop you into the picture of the water falls to look like you are jumping over the rail.”

I resisted my initial thoughts of being 49 years old with achey joint issues and decided to join in on the fun. The pictures of me jumping up in the air are on Jason’s phone so I don’t have access to them. No, really, I don’t.

We had this area mostly to ourselves with some people coming and going in the 90 minutes we spent there. We laughed as we took pictures, seeing our goofy poses. Jason taught me how to take a burst of photos, something I had done before without knowing exactly how I did it. We scrolled through the succession of pictures, Jason selecting the best ones.

We enjoyed an easy hike down using our sticks to help the descend, making it back in 30 minutes including a quick stop to get our feet wet because I insisted, “My beach trip must include getting my feet wet.”

I will close with the fitting lyrics from Imagine Dragons along with the image of my imaginative dragon…

You’ll never know what went well
Then again it just depends on
How long of time is left for you

I’ve had the highest mountains
I’ve had the deepest rivers
You can have it all but not til you move it

Now take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ey
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ey
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world

I’ve tried to cut these corners
Try to take the easy way out
I kept on falling short of something

I coulda gave up then but
Then again I couldn’t have ’cause
I’ve traveled all this way for something

Now take it in but don’t look down

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ey
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ey
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ey
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ey
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now

‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ey
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ey
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world

Things I have learned on vacation…

Things I have learned on vacation…

Hoping everyone want to do the same things at the same time sets us up for disappointment


  • engage everyone in a conversation about what they would like to do and how important it is for them to do so with others.
  • Be an example of letting others know what you plan to do and inviting them to join.
  • Have a conversation about how we must each choose what we want to do and that others may not want to join in and we can not change other people
  • Repeat this message every day to yourself and to everyone

Allowing our children to be who they are is a booster of self confidence and stopping them from being who they are, sends the message that they are not ok

  • If your 17 year old just wants to stay in the room, don’t fight it
  • If your 10 year old wants everyone to do the activity together, help them to let others know this and listen to what they have to say
  • If your child wants to push the elevator doors open, allow this, it hurts no one
  • If your child talks loud in the elevator, let them
  • If your child wants to pile up rafts in the lazy river, join in the fun

I can build a sandman structure and a sand angel all by myself and have a sense of accomplishment

Joining in my child’s sand building adventure and following their lead/ instructions is a lot more fun for all than telling them what to do/how to build

Listening to my child describe their building plans on the beach is more important then giving them suggestions on how to build a sandcastle

Listening to my child’s requests for what they want to do and doing what they want is a very powerful tool in engaging cooperation, building confidence and connection. It is something that may not seam obvious at the time until we shut them down by telling them “lets do it this way” or worse, ignore their requests.

Not everyone loves the ocean and the sand as much as I do.

My children’s interests in the beach may change as they get older and I need to allow them to be who they are.

Determining what is a change in their interest and what is an irrational fear that strengths the power of OCD is the MOST difficult thing to do!

Sugar causes meltdowns and flare up of any condition your child might have

Sugar in moderation and along with protein can be a good compromise

For children with anxiety, change in environment, even being at the beach with beautiful weather, is stressful and can cause an OCD flare up. (You think I would have remembered that one by now after going through this with child number 2)

For children with anxiety, disruption in plans and a disruption in their expectation of how things will go, can cause a flare up of anxiety/ a flare up of OCD that brings a scratching halt to fun

Accepting where we are in our journey and accepting the circumstances we are in, is far more powerful than trying to change it or wishing it wasn’t so

Reminiscing with your child on how much fun they had the last time at the beach or when they were younger, does not help them to have fun this time

Showing my children memories from our beach trip 9 years ago does not help them have more fun today.

Getting lost in how much fun we had 5 years ago or 9 years ago, takes me out of the present moment and sets myself up for disappointment

The sunrise and sunset at the ocean is one of the most beautiful sights and can not be fully captured with a camera

Talking a walk on the beach without headphones, helps me go within and allows for connection with other people

Random short conversations with strangers can be inspiring, bring joy and help me feel more connected to myself and to my life

Walks on the beach with my favorite music is the BEST form of exercise ever!!!

Dancing on the beach and singing (or lip syncing) along to the music heard through my ear buds is energizing, and so much fun! It’s better than dancing at a nightclub.

Getting up early to have time to myself, to write, watch the sunrise, walk out the beach, sit in the silence, is the best way to start my day

Five nights at the beach is the right number of days/ nights

When at the beach for 5 nights, I don’t have to try to cram all the fun in as quickly as I can… and it took me until day 3 or 4 to realize that

Going on vacation is an art that must be learned from experience and approached with patience and calm or it can turn into a nightmare

Looking forward to going home after an enjoyable vacation is a really good feeling.

Morning walk on the beach, alone

Day 2: Refresh, renew, recharge and rejuvenate; take 2

September 25,2019

I went to sleep after reading Hands Free Life, 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better & Loving More. I purchased this book several years ago and have only read a handful of pages.

Talk about a night time wake up call!

The first chapter or habit, is called, “Fill the Spaces”. And at the end of the section is a daily declaration. The last words I read before falling asleep (this is the second half only)

There will be obstacles and challenges that interfere in carrying out these moments of connection, but I will not let the distractions of my life stop me from investing in what matters most- at least not today.

I took this message and carried it with me on my day. Having 3 days at the beach alone was exactly what I needed to reconnect with myself in order to reconnect with my kids, and my husband too!

I am home from the beach now and am so glad I made videos while I was there. Watching my short videos helps bring me back to the beach where I had so many ideas for writing, more than I could possibly have written about even if I had spent every moment writing. Writing in the moment is powerful and easier for me to discover the deeper message that I may not even see until I have written a post.

Living life one day at a time

I discovered many things while I was at the beach. I rediscover who I am.

I came home excited and energized to reconnect with my kids.

I am home and now fully invested in taking time in the early morning to write.

I have been home a week and have taken time for myself each morning, now that I wake before my kids. My goal now is to focus, and write first before I do all the other things that are calling out to me:

  • Dirty laundry piled high
  • Kitchen mess that needs cleaning
  • Checking messages and replies on social media and email
  • Creating a to do list
  • Papers and books piled high on my kitchen “desk” that is no longer a desk but a storage area
    Talking to my husband about everything that is running through my mind so I don’t forget to tell him
    Picking up things left on the floor, the kitchen table…
    Finding the referral the dentist gave me 6 months ago for going to oral surgeon so my 17 1/2 year old can have her wisdom teeth removed while it is still covered by insurance

Deep breath

Though my retreat alone, I have been renewed with a new sense of who I am.

I am feeling refreshed and can move away from burnout

I am recharged and ready for life

I am rejuvenated to dive into regular blog writing, beginning the book that has been growing within me, diving full force into our family coaching business, and eager to spend more time with my children in a more meaningful way.

I turn 50 soon an with age brings wisdom, and it also brings:




    Sending Big Waves into Motion, releasing secrets

    Relax, renew, rejuvenate and recharge, take 2.

    I am at the beach all by myself. I have never done this before. I’ve been here for 6 hours and I am finally sitting down to write. It has taken me this long to settle in, move from the shock and excitement of actually being here, all by myself. And finally, focusing on here and now.

    I texted and made videos and took pictures and FaceTimed my youngest, while exploring my room at the top of the resort building, while walking in the beach and pier. I felt kind of lonely when I got here. I always come to the beach with my kids or at least my husband. One time the two of us went, well, before kids, I guess we went several times. Who can remember 22 years ago before kids?

    I have everything I need for my adventure, inspiring books, music, healthy and yummy food, drinks, did you know you can get wine in a can?

    As I packed my bag to head to the beach to write, I realized that I forgot my Bluetooth key board that I use with my iPad. My iPad, has been my computer for a while now… years, I guess. Something else that I can’t quite remember.

    I have a lap top, buried in books and papers on my desk. It is old and I used to use it often, but decided I liked my iPad much better.

    I found myself responding to a post on a Facebook group, Unschooling Special Needs, earlier and it has inspired my writing today.

    There are so many things I can write about. Yet, the concerns shared in the post on the Unschooling Special Needs group are so close to my heart and the reason my husband and I now have a business together helping families with challenges, especially those with anxiety issues and challenging behavior with their children.

    I have Bipolar 2 Depression. My upswings, are hypomania, not full on mania (well, it can escalate to mania). Hypomania is great, highly focused, functioning and much energy! Yet, the downswing is like the riptide pulling you under the ocean water.

    Helping my children with their struggles is extra challenging for me because of my struggles. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for my husband.

    In three weeks I celebrate my 50th birthday. I am proud and excited to reach this milestone! Seriously, I am. With age, has common not only wisdom, but confidence, clarity, courage and healing.

    I always make time to write when I have come to the beach with my family. I have wonderful memories being here with my family. And I also have memories of stress, anxiety, OCD flare ups, and the feeling of disappointment that we couldn’t just have a “normal family vacation” without the anxieties.

    Here I am now, writing and also texting with my tech support son. I might have him help me locate a key pad. Typing on the iPad screen is slow.

    It’s getting dark and the sound of the ocean is mesmerizing me.

    When I was younger, I would never have gone somewhere like this by myself. The silence of being alone was challenging for me. I now cherish time to myself. I still love the sounds of people talking, and my music, Tom Petty and now Mary Lambert sing in my ear..which is even more beautiful with the sound of the ocean.

    They tell us from the time we’re young
    To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
    Inside ourselves
    I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else
    Well I’m over it

    I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)
    I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)

    Challenges to Change: we can miss the writing on the wall

    Inspiration happens in many ways.

    I often listen to music as I write and when a song captures my attention, it sparks something within me, and I begin writing, finding my own meaning in the words.

    Growin’ up you don’t see the writing on the wall
    Passin’ by, movin’ straight ahead you knew it all
    But maybe sometime if you feel the pain,
    You’ll find you’re all alone everything has changed

    In my journey of self discovery, I have been reconnecting with old friends.

    This time, I met up with someone I had known for years from when I began homeschooling. We first met about 14 years ago. We saw each other when our kids had shared interests and therefore we found ourselves at the same events. This is typically how I have met people and have made friends over the years of homeschooling my kids. We knew each other and became Facebook friends yet never spent time together as friends. Life circumstances connected us more, yet our connection remained virtual.

    You know how you meet someone and feel an instant connection?

    I knew I liked her from the time I first met her, yet our paths never led us to getting together with our kids.

    We got together and what I intended to be a casual meet up turned into a 4 hour conversation with us discovering we had so much in common, our lives had taken similar paths and we found ourselves sharing things we had never shared with anyone before.

    We both talked about becoming a mom and how it changed us.

    I always wanted to be a mom.

    I remember looking forward to the day when I would have my own daughter, and imagined what she would be like.

    I remember going to college with a new passion for this field of study I had chosen, yet I always envisioned that I would work for a few years until I had children.

    I found myself enjoying being an Occupational Therapist and happy with the field I had choose. When my husband decided he wanted to go into business for himself as he was tired of the corporate world, we talked about having children, and I recall telling my co-workers, it doesn’t matter who stays home with the child. Dad staying home with the child is just as good as mom.My co-workers with children disagreed.

    After 3 1/2 years of marriage and a year of my husband left his job to grow his own business, our first child was born.

    I didn’t have that instant connection with my child the way I have heard people describe. I loved him from the start and was so excited to be a mom, yet it took me time to develop the sense of a strong connection.

    At the end of my twelve week maternity leave I found myself saying,

    What have I done? I don’t want to leave my baby and go back to work!

    Life changes us

    We talked about how if someone had told us years ago that this is what our life would be like now, we would never have believed them.

    Play the game you know you can’t quit until it’s won
    Soldier of only you can do what must be done
    You know, in some ways you’re a lot like me
    You’re just a prisoner, and you’re tryin’ to break free

    I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
    I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher 
    Gonna be your man in motion
    All I need is a pair of wheels
    Take me where the future’s lying St. Elmo’s fire 

    Burning up don’t know just how far that I can go 
    Soon be home only just a few miles down the road
    And I can make it, I know I can
    You broke the boy in me, but you won’t break the man

    I also enjoy discovering why a song was written and the author’s meaning.

    In a search for the meaning for this song, I found this information on song facts

    David Foster and John Parr wrote this song specifically for the movie St. Elmo’s Fire, but the song itself is about a Canadian athlete named Rick Hansen, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a car crash when he was 15. On March 21, 1985 Hansen began his “Man In Motion” tour, traveling about 70 miles a day to raise money for spinal cord research. At first, Hansen had trouble getting media attention and donations, but when this song was released with the movie in June, it became his anthem, and as the song rose up the charts, interest in Hansen’s journey grew. By the time the “Man In Motion” tour was completed on May 22, 1987, Hansen had put over 40,000 Kilometers (24,856 miles) on his wheelchair in 34 countries on four continents, raising $26 million. He became a national hero in Canada, where he is closely associated with this song.

    How ironic

    My children’s anxiety disorders and my own undiagnosed Bipolar Depression, paralyzed our family.

    Now, my husband and I have created a business to help other people struggling in the ways that we did.

    I am passionate about educating people on mental illness and in particular Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    I have really enjoyed digging into this song because I found so much behind it.

    St. Elmo’s Fire describes a weather phenomenon involving a gap in electrical change.

    It is a phenomena that looks like dangerous fire, and is an electric charge, but in reality, it does not give you an electric shock the way lightening can.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is a condition in which the brain tells a person that they are in eminent danger, when in reality they are not.

    My life has had many challenges and twists and turns.

    The unexpected challenges and changes in my life have led me to where I am now.

    I now feel like I am being the person I was always meant to be.

    And I am so excited to move forward in my journey…

    I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky
    I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
    Gonna be your man in motion
    All I need is a pair of wheels
    Take me where the future’s lying St. Elmo’s fire

    I can climb the highest mountain, cross the widest sea
    I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burning in me, burning in me
    Just once in his life a man has his time
    And my time is now I’m comin’ alive

    Last Day of Vacation… Reflecting on our bumpy travels

    I am Sitting on the deck this morning after encouraging my youngest to enjoy the out doors before we head back home. We have much to do: making breakfast, packing up the food, searching for forgotten items, loading the car, in order to check out by 10am.

    It’s 7:20 am and I decided to stop and write before diving in to the necessary tasks.

    The air is warm with a cool breeze and birds chirp and coo. The noisy people next to us are not awake yet. We have spent two days camping in comfort. We have been gone a week and even my youngest has said,

    “I am looking forward to going home”.

    We have traveled north along major highways to arrive at my brother’s house in Pennsylvania. Mini golf, meals, an arcade visit, shopping, hanging out and gaming with cousins, and a graduation party filled our days. Recharged, I began to plan an adventure for the next leg of our trip.


    “No”, the unanimous reply.

    A visit to the Atlantic Ocean was my desire…

    No response

    My brother suggested hiking areas

    “I don’t want to hike”

    She was certain.

    “You know where you should go?”

    Harper’s Ferry

    My brother touted back to my seventeen year old’s reply to “overthrow the government” about John Brown, the abolitionist.

    “He started the abolitionist movement by gathering ammunition.”

    Google search time.

    “Three rivers come together and it has a small town you can walk around.”

    We later leaned it is the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers that bend to form a three point intersection that marks Harper’s Ferry, WVA.

    Easy to park and walk around the town, mountains and rivers and a three hour drive along our route to the resort, perfect!

    We departed at 8:30 am.

    Arrived in Harper’s Ferry about noon, drive shared with my teenage daughter.

    The detour to the visitor’s center was worth it. Educated writer from New York working the visitors center booth, took us on a map tour of the area with directions and marks to help us see the best views, have a healthy lunch, and enjoy Harper’s Ferry with free parking.

    It sounded perfect!

    It was going well until we walked the wrong direction from the free parking on a hot July afternoon. We decided it was worth it to pay for parking. After circling the down town area, we discovered the lot in town was full and the other $15 lot was too long of a walk for us on this hot summer day.

    We did enjoy a beautiful view of the rivers and mountains and got to check out the abandoned and rotting Hilltop Hotel, learning of its history of rebuilding after two fires and the new plans to rebuilt it in 2021.

    Lunch was amazing, an old stone house sitting along Washington Street with a rainbow peace sing flag hanging our front, setting the mood for a very enjoyable lunch at The Canal House Cafe .

    Our walking tour of Harper’s Ferry turned into circling the town a few times in our car and taking pictures while making a plan to come back in cooler weather outside of vacation season and during the week. A Sunday in late July is not our typical vacation time.

    Final stop of our journey: Shenandoah Crossing.

    First, a description of our car challenges. Our 2008 Honda Civic transported us on our journey because our 2004 Siena van has traveled 270,000 miles. We love our civic yet it is a sports model with a front bumper that sits lower than parking lot barriers.

    We have dealt with a loose underbelly, the plastic shield that connects to the underside of the bumper and must serve some purpose like keeping rocks from kicking up in the engine. Back in Pennsylvania, I pulled too close to the parking lot barrier when arriving at the Mini Golf with my kids and their cousins. That was the first time I was lying on a beach blanket under the front end of my car to reposition the loose plastic.

    I was proud of myself for handling this myself.

    Somewhere along the next leg of our trip, while my daughter was driving, we encouraged an awful sound coming from under the car. I purchased the only tape sold at the convince store, packaging tape, and made an effort to secure the loose underbelly.

    On our way to Virginia, driving on a country highway, we heard a horrific noise and knew we needed to pull off the road once again. I managed to find a place to pull over on the narrow country highway. The plastic had completely torn from the front under bumper. Before it was loos on the side. This was a much bigger problem. I have had many encounters with angels in my life and this time it was an older couple who pulled over to assist.

    “Do you know where you are?” The older gentleman as led me.

    He then looked under the car and then gave me directions to “town” to find a place to purchase some ties or something to fix the issue. He apologized for not having anything in his truck to help. I thanked him and after backing the car up to push the plastic back the best we could, we slowly headed to “town.”

    It was a good thing he came along, because the route we were traveling would not have brought us to a gas station for some time. The minor detour leading us to town, brought us to better highway for traveling with more options of places to stop.

    I found a gas station and all I was able to purchase was “duck tape”, an off brand of duct tape. On the ground again in the parking lot along the McDonalds side of the building, I sat on my towel and attempted making duct tape fabric rope. This tape tore to easy and after threading a piece through the holes and tiring it off with the end breaking, I resorted to applying the tape across the underbelly connecting to the bumper, the best that I could. People parking to enter the store, looked at me but no one offered to help.

    The kids should have gotten a picture of me on the ground under the car.

    We had 3 more hours of driving to reach Shenandoah Crossing. I drove cautiously, vigilant for any disturbance to the smooth road and slowing down for every bump.

    I believe it was about 7pm that we arrived at Shenandoah Crossing.


    We got our keys and drove to our “luxury yet”.

    My oldest child, who drove up to join us, brought zip ties and duct tape to further secure the loose plastic before we drove back to NC. HIs arrival about midnight was part of the original plan, fixing our “better car” was not.

    We had a wonderful time on our trip, despite our car challenges.

    We all learned how to make do in a pinch and the kindness of a stranger. My kids saw me handle a situation that I normally would have turned to my husband to fix. I remained calm during all of it and we even joked about the craziness of it all.

    I learned that I could handle a car challenge without my husband. I handled the challenge. I got us safely to our destinations. And I enjoyed all of our vacation, even the crazy parts.

    I look forward to my next adventure with my kids….

    …in a different car.

    Early morning walk

    “Mom, it’s a cat!”

    We stopped to pet the sweet barn calico as we walked alongside the horse barn. A hog meandered like an old dog, into the barn and we laughed at his s ruffled appearance.

    Seven-thirty in the morning and wide awake for over an hour, my ten year old needed an outlet for her energy. We also needed to allow her siblings to sleep.

    For the first time in the ten years since we purchased our time share points, we have ventured to a place other than the ocean. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley surrounded by the Virginia mountains lies this rustic resort.

    We arrived yesterday evening after an all day adventure from the Philadelphia area to Harpers Ferry. My nephew’s graduation party was Friday and so we stayed with. My brother in the Philly area. They left Saturday for a vacation in Maine before my nephew heads to California next month to attend film school. I took my two traveling companions, aged ten and seventeen grocery shopping for our trip to Virginia.

    I convinced my reluctant seventeen year old to awake at 7:30 am so we could get an early start for our three hour drive to Harper’s Ferry. With my brother’s help, I had brainstormed ideas of places to visit on our way to our Virginia resort. Inspired by all the travel pictures in my brother’s home, I decided we needed to add adventure to our trip. Check in at the resort is after 4pm, so why not?

    Harper’s Ferry is the home of civil war history amidst the Susquehanna and Potomac rivers with a mountainous view of three states, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.

    “Mom, look at my animated character.”

    My ten year old sits with me as I write, navigating the world of preteen internet venturers. I easily convinced her to do so outside on our deck covered in a canopy of trees. My youngest child is the only one who I have never taken camping. Many factors have prevented us from taking the camping venture despite my desire to give her that experience. Being here in our “luxury yurt” is a good start.


    I recently picked up the book, “Life Through the Lens of Unschooling”,by Pam Laricchia. I purchased this book from Pam at an amazing conference 3 years ago. My book mark was about 1/4 of the way into the book.

    I deal with bipolar depression and have been thinking about reading for months, but finally picked up a book.

    Depression is a funny thing, I often have the desire to do things, just not the motivation nor energy to do them. Or, I only think about doing them, when I don’t have the time.

    I’m still trying to figure if medication is helping me, yet, I know for sure, having fun a time, things I truly enjoy and having opportunities to look forward to, help me lift out of depression. My cycles tend to be very slow and long.

    This month, I took 3 days off from my job as an Occupational Therapist, to spend with my extended family. We gather about twice a year at my parents home. Previous years, I have worked part days and then enjoyed my family for the second half of the day, because work was unpredictable and I needed the hours.

    This year, I have had steady, even full time hours for the past few months. I returned to work after three fun days with my family and worked 7 days in a row. I found myself on the 7th day realizing that I did not get sick as I often have in the past, when working so many hours. Because I have regular hours now… Well, There is nothing regular about my hours, yet, there is a need for me to work nearly every day, so as a prn (as needed therapist), I have the opportunity to work as much as I want/ can.

    After my long stretch of work, I have had 3 days at home with my 10 year old.

    Reading, Pam’s book, as well as the nagging thoughts in the back of my head about how my youngest child is not getting my attention and the interactive opportunities the way my older two did at this age, I seized this opportunity.

    My husband, my co-parent, has always been very involved with our kids as we have juggled our work schedules around them for the past 21 years. He began this project with our youngest over The weekend, while I was at work.

    We brainstormed some ideas and then yesterday, J and I added to the frame she built with her dad. J wanted to learn to sew and I found miscellaneous craft supplies. We wrapped this curtain around the frame and before we secured it, the cats were diving in. Literally. I missed a phot opportunity of Shadow jumping into this hammock before it was fastened and quickly fell through to the floor.

    It felt so good to engage with my child in this project. We gave each other ideas on how to secure the material to the frame and used mistakes to our advantage. I felt alive again, enriched with the joy of homeschooling with my child. Learning through living life, exploring together, the way I had with my older two children.

    Anxiety, depression, heart attack, financial strain, and other challenges have consumed my time and energy over the past years, more years than I want to admit. I have had moments of exploration and joy. We have done different projects and explored a number of interests. Yet, I haven’t felt this engaged and energized doing something together with my child until now. I finally feel like I am back on my path.

    I felt recharged and excited going to bed last night, knowing we would again tackle this project today. I picked up Pam’s book again last night even though I was going to bed at midnight, and recharged myself with ideas and beliefs that have been within me but needed a jump start to rekindle.

    The plan was for J and I to begin first thing this morning on this project. I was writing this post, when J woke up and joined me in my bedroom along with our three cats. We soon dove into an exploration of mammals and researching if a spayed never pregnant female cat can nurse a kitten! Now, I have material for my next post…

    Life lessons and life learning

    “Mom, Nox looks skinny again.” My daughter announced to me May 1. Nox is the outside cat we have been feeding.

    ‘Mom, if I pay for the food, can I feed Nox.” Abby asked me this over 2 years ago

    And then 2 other tuxedo cats began showing up with Nox often. My kids named them Domino and Boom Boom. Sometimes we wouldn’t see them for a day and Nox would disappear for months at a time. One of those times she did that, just over 2 years ago, she showed up with Boom Boom who was obviously a kitten about 5-8 months old.

    We never knew where they disappeared to in that time and figured someone else was feeding them. Someone else manage to trap Domingo and Boom Boom and have them spayed/ neutered, we learned from the ears being clipped. Our local humane society clips ears of spayed/ neutered feral cats to let animal control know they have had rabies vaccines and are fixed and to let them be.

    Flash forward to this year. We noticed Nox’s belly growing once again. We know she has not been spayed. We witnessed her nurse the stray kittens who showed up in our yard. It wasn’t instant and we were pretty sure they were not her kittens, but over time, maybe a week or so, she began to nurse the tiny kittens.

    The next message I got from my daughter last Tuesday morning, was ,

    “I think I know why Nox looks skinny!”

    Abby had found the babies, three of them curled up under the ivy against the house.

    Nox stepped out of the ivy and looked to us as if to say, “help me.”

    We had a crew coming to dig up our yard to fix our septic system that very day.

    We knew we needed to move them before the digging and noise.

    We eventually decided to scoop them up into a box and entice Nox to follow us with food.

    I don’t know that we needed the food. She quickly followed us through the back yard to the “greenhouse” which is a storage area build onto the back of our hours. It is 5 steps down, walls and a ceiling, all cement and brick. This is where we have been feeding the three outside cats. This is where the other two kittens first lived when it was getting to cold to leave them outside at night, before we brought them inside.

    One week has passed and my daughter started a Good Fund Me campaign to help cover expenses and we have found homes for all three kittens when they are old enough to wean.

    My oldest wanted to see all 3 kittens find one home, “You can’t separate them.”

    I felt so proud when he said this. My 21 year old son who lives on his own with his fiancé wanted the kittens to stay together.

    My 10 year old coos over the cuteness of these tiny newborn kittens and loves all our animals, yet sometimes, Fort Knight wins out over cute animals. If I ask, this child will jump to help.

    And my 17 year old animal lover. She takes these things on with a passion that feels close to my heart. She reminds me of who I am capable of being, of my inner child.

    This is our life.

    This is learning through living.

    New Year: Jan 7: If not now, then when?

    I enjoy inspirational messages.

    Sometimes these messages arrive at the perfect time and it feels like the universe is speaking directly to me.

    I receive a daily message from Neale Donald Walsh as well as a weekly question from Paul Clark. (Learn more about weekly question here).

    Today the two messages coincided with such relevance to my life right now and for all families looking to live more consciously, connected and respectfully with their children.

    Today, as I began to write this post, the stars aligned perfectly with the universe speaking to me loud and clear as Kenny Loggins, “Conviction of the Heart” played.

    If not now, then when?”   

    On this day of your life

    Gina, I believe God wants you to know …

    … that as you start the first full work week of the New

    The point of your activities throughout the day is not to

    make a living, but to make a life; not to ‘work’ but to

    create joy. If you are doing what you are doing merely

    to ‘pay the bills,’ you will have missed the major reason

    for All Of Life.


    The purpose of life is to know and express Who You

    Are. If you do other than that during the days and times

    of your life, you will have not used those days and times

    in a way that profits your soul. It is soul profit we are

    after here, not body profit.


    This first week of the New Year is a good time to

    contemplate that, yes?


    If not me, than who?

    Are we making a life or just a living?

    I know I am working to pay the bills and I have enjoyed my work as an Occupational Therapist for the past 26 years, yet, my inner passion calls for more.

    Life can be cyclical.

    I found Occupational Therapy in a catalogue of careers in my high school guidance counselor’s office in 1986. I read the description and discovered a field I never knew existed an that fit with my interests of psychology, special needs and teaching.

    In college, I envisioned my OT career would be working with socially and emotionally disturbed children. I had a summer job at Allentown State Hospital with the inpatient children’s program through the Occupational Therapy department and felt impassioned to help children with social and emotional issues.

    In 1992, I completed my required internships, two 12 week “fieldworks” as required to complete my degree and before I could sit for the board exam. The second fieldwork was a Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, PA. I discovered adult rehab and in particular brain injury rehab and followed that interest. It was magical, all I loved about psychology and the brain combined and amazing progress seen working in acute physical rehab. The patients began in a coma and left walking and talking!

    Flash forward, 26 years later, I have realized my intention to work with socially and emotionally challenge children did come to fruition, in raising my own children. I take that comment seriously and with true intention.

    Now, in my blogs, I am using my skills as an Occupational Therapist is a new way, Writing about my experiences with mental health issues in myself and my family and reaching out to help others. And this includes my work in growing a new business with my husband, Don with Focused Healthy Families and Collaborative, Conscious and Respectful Parenting.

    What are your dreams?

    In order to help and support our children, we need to be an example of following our own interests and passions and living the life we choose and not the one we feel “we have to do, to pay the bills”

    I will leave you with those thoughts and the words of Kenny Loggins…

    Where are the dreams that we once had?
    This is the time to bring them back.
    What were the promises caught on the tips of our tongues?
    Do we forget or forgive?
    There’s a whole other life waiting to be lived when…
    One day we’re brave enough
    To talk with Conviction of the Heart.
    And down your streets I’ve walked alone,
    As if my feet were not my own
    Such is the path I chose, doors I have opened and closed
    I’m tired of living this life,
    Fooling myself, believing we’re right, when…
    I’ve never given love
    With any Conviction of the Heart
    One with the earth, with the sky
    One with everything in life
    I believe we’ll survive
    If we only try…
    How long must we wait to change
    This world bound in chains that we live in
    To know what it is to forgive,
    And be forgiven?
    It’s been too many years of taking now.
    Isn’t it time to stop somehow?
    Air that’s too angry to breathe, water our children can’t drink
    You’ve heard it hundreds of times
    You say your aware, believe, and you care, but…
    Do you care enough
    To talk with Conviction of the Heart?