Tag Archives: adventure

A New Year, A New Venture

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I want to wish each of you a Happy New Year! Usually that’s said at midnight during parties and other celebrations, but I want to quietly tell you, now that the hoopla has died down and, for some, resolutions begin, that I hope 2013 is filled with true happiness. I hope that you will look at each day as a new beginning and give it your all, whether in work or in play (please don’t forget to play). My desire is for each of you to find peace and spread kindness wherever you are. There will inevitably be pain, hurt, failure, brokenness, and sadness, but through those times that threaten to rob you of your joy, I hope you will persevere and put your foot down (happily) and say, “I choose to be Joyful on Purpose!”

For the last few months I have been preparing to launch into the new year and pursue a different way of life than what I’ve known and, more importantly, what I’ve been comfortable with. Most of the changes I’ve experienced this last year were not at all what I planned and were often met with fear and resistance. But along the way I learned to give in more easily to what unfolds and embrace what used to cause me  panic & perspiration:  change. In doing so, I decided to make the most of the time I have been given and I want to spend the majority of that time giving to others.

I try to give through what I write here, sharing pieces of my heart and soul through words. The response has been touching, delightful, heartwarming, and life-changing. You have inspired me to continue to share and I hope Joyful on Purpose, the blog, will be around for years and years to come. Many of you have also asked me and encouraged me to turn my story into a book and it is progressing… slowly, but surely! Thank you for the gentle nudges; they keep me going.

Now I want to share by helping others who are going through the grieving process, no matter what the circumstances are. My way of grieving has been to purposely find the good, the happy, and the joyful in the midst of pain. My way of grieving is not the only way or perfect way and, for some, maybe not even the right way. But for others it might be just the thing to help them move through (not around) the pain they are feeling and come out on the other side seeing that joy has been there all along. So, if you’ll click below, I will officially introduce to you my newest joy…

My hope is that by helping others find their joy in grief, joy will be passed along, growing and blossoming into something beautiful.

A Whole New Year, A Whole New Venture = Joy

I Love New York

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The City

Two girls who hadn’t seen each other in two decades. Two and half days. Twenty and a half miles on foot. One big city checked off: explored and experienced. That was my trip to New York.

I was really struggling through a rough patch. One thing led to another and before I knew it, my friend Sherry and I had hatched a plan for a girls’ getaway. I flew to Raleigh to meet her and we spent a quiet evening downtown catching up on over twenty years and two lives that had gone in many directions since our days in middle school band! When we boarded the plane bound for New York the next day, she let me have the window seat because, unlike me, it wasn’t her first time to fly into the city. My smile was wide as my eyes darted left and right, waiting for the first glimpses of New York from the tiny windows of the aircraft. When we touched down at La Guardia we looked at each other and smiled even more, completely excited, but also anxious.

Our trip from the airport to the hotel was my first-ever ride in a taxi. It was nothing like the movies, which is probably good since I watch a lot of action movies where taxis are in high-speed chases and in danger of flipping over at any moment. Instead, it was just a pleasant ride through the city. Yes, the traffic was heavy, but it was actually less harrowing than driving through Miami during rush hour. We quickly settled into our hotel room and then changed shoes, checked our map, and headed out.

Rockefeller Plaza

With just one stop for dinner, we walked for 7 1/2 hours! Our goal was to get our bearings, figure out where the main attractions were, and take in as much as we could. Oh, how we did that! On our first walk we swung by Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Plaza, Broadway, Times Square, and so much more. We definitely looked like tourists. We looked up… a lot. We smiled, said excuse me, and apologized for bumping into people… a lot. We stayed on the sidewalks and dutifully obeyed the walk/don’t walk signs. We waited patiently for the little man to tell us when to cross the street and the big orange hand to tell us to stay put! We also made our pilgrimage to a mecca for readers: the New York Public Library. We stared in awe and wonder at the beautiful entrance and walked up the stone steps, past the lions guarding the way. We whispered, of course, as we walked the hallowed halls and peered into rooms where people were studying and writing and reading. We had talked about the Library before ever going on our whirlwind adventure and it did not disappoint. Two authors, two bookworms, two bibliophiles: completely happy!

Times Square

Our first stop on day two was the Empire State Building. As fans of the movie, Elf, we quoted Buddy as we made our way to the entrance and up to the top. The views were spectacular! I was atop the very place where King Kong roared as planes buzzed by, trying to shoot him down! There are moments in life when you realize how small you are, what a tiny piece of a colossal puzzle your life is. Standing at the top of the Empire State Building gives you that sense. As I gazed down at all the skyscrapers surrounding us and the microscopic people below, the itty bitty cabs and cars and buses making their way through the maze of streets, I was struck with that sense of wonder at how many lives are being lived all over the world and how many are intersecting each day, sometimes for the briefest of moments and other times, when we’re lucky, for a lifetime. I was amazed and grateful.

Central Park

We walked and walked again, covering miles of ground. We walked to Central Park and saw the Plaza Hotel, wandered over to Columbus Circle and met a friend for lunch at a diner. We took a tour of the Museum of Modern Art, impressed and also disturbed by artwork. Our feet took us down Fifth Avenue and back to Rockefeller Plaza where we took in the tree again in all its glory. We watched people skate and shop and saw Christmas lights sparkle and cameras flash like twinkling lights from all directions. Another friend met us at a wonderful wine bar and we caught up again on life and its twists and turns, laughing and sharing where our paths had taken the three of us since graduating all those years ago. Our last stop of the night was the Gershwin where we saw Wicked, the show I’d been waiting for years to see. It was fabulous and there was only a slight moment of regret that Brian and I had been unable to see it together when he bought tickets for us back in April in Denver. He was simply too sick to go by the time the date rolled around and I couldn’t bear to go without him. He would have loved it, but I know he was happily looking down on us and very excited that I’d taken what was, for me, a huge step and gone on a little adventure. Afterward we walked back to our hotel, reliving the evening and the day. Splendid. More than that, really, but splendid will have to do.

The Tree

Our final day in New York was our biggest one. We had to fit in as much as possible! We were determined to see every sight we could… our feet had no idea what we had in store for them. During our nearly 10 miles + two subway rides, we took in: half of Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, Top of the Rock, Washington Square, Gramercy Park, Grand Central Terminal, more of Times Square and the Theater District, and Broadway Comedy Club. A friend was performing there and the thought of someone pursuing a dream like that in a city like that is pretty inspiring. Washington Square was, I’ll admit, a happy accident… I cannot read a subway map very well! Our feet begged us to hail a cab on the way back to the hotel and we decided we should “just because.” As we drifted off to sleep, thoroughly enjoying the sounds of the city that never sleeps, we talked about how good the trip was for both of us, how scared we had been to do it on our own, and how much we had learned about ourselves and each other. I’ll never forget Sherry thanking me for going along and letting her enjoy the city through my eyes. Wow! For me, going to New York was huge. I didn’t have my safety net: someone to take care of me and all the details, and just let me tag along.

It turned out to be two single, clumsy, directionally-challenged, but adventurous girls taking an unforgettable whirlwind trip to NYC… and succeeding in having an amazing time. By the time we left, we still looked up… a lot. We still smiled… a lot. But we pushed our way through when we needed to and learned that sometimes it’s perfectly okay to walk before the man says you can and keep going when the big orange hand says not to. And you don’t have to wait on the sidewalk. You step out of where it’s comfortable and just go with the flow.

Stepping Out  = Joy

Promises to Keep

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…But I have promises to keep, 

And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.

(from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost)

On Saturday I went ziplining. All those who are Facebook friends have already been inundated with photos of the day 😉 ! Afterward, I told a friend how much I loved it and that I would like to travel via zipline. Standing at the top of the first line, knowing I was putting my life literally on the line with a piece of metal and rope, my heart was beating a little faster than normal. But as the guide let go and I started forward, the only feeling was exhilaration and happiness. My smile was huge. The view over the treetops was awesome and I got that familiar feeling that happens now and then: I’m such a tiny piece of a big and wonderful world. As each person in our group took to the line and zipped away, they became smaller and smaller, just little dots on the landscape.

Inside my pocket all day was my old phone full of pictures of Brian. I took it along so he could join me on one of my first adventures. I missed having him there because his enthusiasm would have been infectious and entertaining. We had talked about ziplining before; it’s a common excursion on cruises, so we figured we would end up on a line in a rainforest somewhere on a cruise stop. And we no doubt would have if time had been on our side. Instead, I find myself trying to keep the promise I made that I would do some of the things we planned together. I can check one off the list! He would have been proud of me for being spontaneous and deciding to book the trip as soon as it popped up as a possibility. He would have been proud that I put an invitation out there for others to join in. He would have been proud that I followed through and that I loved it.

There are other promises I still have to keep: writing, following my passion, scuba diving, visiting Europe (preferably on a shoestring with one backpack), living outside the United States for a while (Anyone have a place that needs watching for an extended period of time?), taking chances, and living life to the fullest. All of those things, quite honestly, are going to be challenging for me. Ziplining was getting my toes wet on the steps of the shallow end of the pool; the rest will be like a canon ball off the high dive. But each one will be worth it for what I will gain and also because…

Keeping Promises = Joy 

Fact or Figment?

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On July 20th I was at Denver International Airport, minding my own business and sipping on a coffee while waiting on my group to be called to board a plane for San Francisco. I drained the last bit of coffee and walked to the nearby trashcan to throw it away and stand in the line that had formed, not in a hurry, but excited about my destination. I love watching people, so I was looking around, observing my fellow travelers, when I saw him. He was leaning against the rail of the walkway, looking down at his phone, wearing khaki shorts and a yellow shirt I had never seen before. He was unmistakable. Immediately my heart started pounding in my chest – the kind of pounding you are positive others can hear. I turned back around quickly and tried to process what had just happened. We didn’t make eye contact, so I assumed he hadn’t seen me. I turned back around and he was no longer there. Instead there was someone entirely different, easily 10 years older with a full head of gray hair and wearing nothing similar. I boarded my flight, filled with emotion.

I’ve shared my Brian sighting with a few people and most have not been surprised; they have just wondered if I thought it meant anything specific, if Brian was trying to send me a message. Of course, I have no idea. Was it even real, or was it just my imagination running wild? It felt incredibly real. I’ve seen people on occasion who resemble Brian and I’ve done a double-take, but I’ve not had the heart-pounding reaction that filled me with emotion. His outfit was not even familiar, and how could it have been? I gave away all his remaining clothes in the weeks following his death. I can’t explain the phone, because I had just cancelled his account and traded that in. Wait, this is Brian I’m talking about… it was the iPhone 5! All kidding aside, I admit it could have been just a figment of my imagination, but I don’t discount the supernatural. If I could explain everything in the universe I’d be sorely disappointed, probably jaded, and also a flippin’ genius!

No, I have no idea why I saw Brian or if it was meant as a sign or if he was trying to send me a message and I’ll never know for certain. But what I took away from it, after talking it over and analyzing it from different angles, is this: He had a new place to go and things to do and he’s comfortable with me doing the same thing. There was no feeling of “haunting,” nothing that seemed as though he was unhappy or angry or had unfinished business. It was Brian, casually moving through the day, on his way to somewhere new.

This status is still in my phone… the last status Brian had on his contact info. I like to think he is on that jet plane, headed off into the wild blue where adventure awaits.

A few weeks after I saw him, I wrote him a letter. I let him know that I’m doing okay, but that I miss him. I told him that his boys are doing just fine and that he was right not to worry about them. I shared that I wish he was still here to enjoy all the things he loved in life. I promised that I’d keep trying to reach my goals, be brave and attempt new things, and have no regrets. I thanked him for the four months we spent together in a strange combination of holding on and letting go.

He wanted to make it to this very day, but it just wasn’t in the cards. He cried over the realization that he wouldn’t see September 26th, 2012. Today would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. Marriages are messy. They are a mixture of good times and bad, heartbreaks and heartfelt love, twists and turns you never saw coming that bring smiles and tears. For better or worse, we made it 19 years and 8 months. That ain’t bad! The odds were most certainly not in our favor, getting married right out of high school and having two kids right off the bat. But we managed to hang on, sometimes by a thread and other times as though there was nothing easier. I have not seen Brain since and perhaps I never will. Fact or figment? I’ve chosen fact. I’m grateful for the day I saw him, the intense emotion of it and what I was able to take away from the brief moment.

A Sighting = Joy

Facing Fears and Letting the Rebel Win

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“Write a book!” they said. “Okay, I think I will!” I said. [insert sound of laughter] So, here the pages sit before me. 49,895 words that need to be edited and revised before the really serious writing begins.

I have been putting the project off for a while, not because I’m afraid to start or afraid to fail. Wait, that’s not true. That’s actually a whopper of a lie. I’m very afraid to start and exceedingly afraid of failing. But that’s not why I haven’t started. It’s because I’m about to relive 112 days that I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d experience. I’m about to put in all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and words that I wasn’t able to say at the time and also the new revelations I’ve had since May 28th.

There are probably some rules written somewhere on the proper way to write a book: how to organize, schedule, write, edit, revise, edit again, etc. There are no doubt things I should do and things I shouldn’t do. And I’m one of those who would follow all the rules…normally. I adore a good schedule! I love a list of dos and don’ts! But this week I’ve been encouraged and dared to stop being practical, to challenge the way I think things should be done and follow my own way. So I sat down and had a conversation with myself (Practical Jacque and Rebel Jacque have interesting talks… Practical Jacque wins a lot; Rebel Jacque pouts a lot) about how I need to approach my project, my new baby. It began with Practical Jacque saying, “You’ve already got a blog. You don’t need to write a book, and what if no one buys it? What if you don’t even finish it? It’s going to take a lot of time and energy that could be spent elsewhere.” It ended with Rebel Jacque saying, “Shut up and write…” So, here it goes!

Today, do something impractical. Break your own rules (but not any laws, please… wink, wink). Follow your own dreams. Take a chance in even a little way. Face your fear of starting something by starting something! Face your fear of failure by failing and then starting over again!

Starts, Stops, and Failures = Joy