Random babble

graduation day

Before I left on this trip, I had it in my head that today would be the day I’d head back east no matter if I had found a new home on the west coast or not. I have two sets of incredible friends getting married in VA, one this Saturday the 18th, the others on October 2nd. Funny enough, both sets got engaged here in Napa. I thought even if I had decided to be a west coast girl for a while, I’d at least be going back to participate in their big days, get the few small boxes of things I own, collect my mail and say bye to the east while waving as I drove back here west to crank out some work, make a new story for the next phase of life and pay off some debt.

Contrary to what I’m sure a lot of you would assume, in the past I have been an over planning, worrying, busy my mind and time just to busy it, wound up for no reason girl. I’m supposed to be the chill, traveling totally let things roll off my back girl though, right? Right, but not so much. In my past regular American days I have been worlds away from that. The chill, let things roll off my back and happy in a silent moment girl has only happened before when I’ve been on the road. It happens when I’m traveling, writing, taking photos, talking to strangers and hearing about their lives, when I’m running, and when I’m feasting with friends and family.

I have forced myself to trust the process of this trip and this summer, not worry, roll with opportunity with NO plan. I just wanted to think about what was best for me. We all know we can’t be much of anything to someone else until we’re something to ourselves. (I’ve tried! It doesn’t work!) I wholeheartedly felt before leaving NC/VA that this trip to my 50th state, the 16/16 anniversary of Maria and Brandy’s death and time isolating myself from my regular phone, email, worrying and scheduled daily practices would give me a perspective that I have fought so hard to find for years, but never knew how to get out of my own way to see before. Boy has it ever. I didn’t think my last weekend of this trip would wrap up to be the magnitude of grand finale “place” and perspective it has, but I’m sure happy it did!

Now it’s looking more like I will miss both weddings 🙁

This is upsetting to me as I will miss a monumental day for my friends, but I know they will understand. I also know every last detail of my minutes in the past near 9 weeks have happened exactly like they were supposed to (even the bad and tough ones.) If that means I miss an event, someone’s birthday, live on a coast or in a place I never thought I would, or end up with a job, person, thing happening that I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years, I don’t question it. I know the only reason why I can sit here in silence, on the top of a mountain, alone in California today and say I feel happy and content, is because I’m PROUD of myself. I am proud not because I am a hero, or am saving the world, but because I am finally listening to my intuition, taking care of myself, and not settling for something I don’t want to do. I’m doing what I want and poof- suddenly things, people, moments are falling in my lap. Well, not really, I wish it were that easy. Things are “falling” in my lap because I’m taking care of me, following my heart, and doing what I love. I’m pairing those things with busting my butt, being the best human I possibly can, and adding in every ounce of 32 years of my personal and professional experience to make a magical recipe.

The happiest and most successful people I’ve continued to meet, are healthier, have loving and full relationships more, and make millions because they are conscious and confident enough to do what they love, being generous and kind to their neighbors and busting their asses. It’s such a simple formula. Why haven’t more of us practiced this simple formula before?This is the like the holy grail of recipes and summer 2010 has handed me the index card with all the ingredients to make the perfect batch. (Ok, that sounded cheesy, but you get what I mean.)

I owe credit cards a bunch of money, a bank for a car loan and a few friends and family some from personal loans I took in 2009 when my life fell into a pile of poo. I had lost all confidence and understanding on how to get out of the poo for a while. I HATE debt. I LOATHE debt. Especially bad debt (like credit cards.) What I absolutely DESPISE the most though is having personal debt to friends and family. The bank is one thing, but friends and family are another. Knowing that I had some personal family and friend debt before even embarking on this trip, not to mention I didn’t even HAVE the money to go on this trip has been on my mind every single day I’ve been gone. I know based on a few comments from readers whom I don’t know, there might be an opinion that I’m the worlds biggest shmuck for taking a “vacation” all summer and feasting on food, sights, wine, events, and places. Have I feasted in every way? Yes. Have I enjoyed every ounce in every state and place with every person I’ve been with or where I’ve been alone? Yes. Have I felt guilt everyday because of the few personal loans I have outstanding? Yes. Have I ever questioned myself, my integrity, the reasons for this trip, or where I was going or why I needed it? NO. I was at a place in my life in May this year that was a culmination of years of nothing ever being good enough for me. I had been abusing myself by not ever cutting myself a break. I was hating for myself deeply and severely for not living the life I wanted and doing what I knew I wanted to do. I had never allowed myself the time, respect, or patience to figure out how to live what I wanted. I had no idea who I really was.

The ONLY and I mean ONLY reason I have learned to love and respect myself, feel confident in my abilities, and trust myself is because I have taken the TIME for myself this summer. Isn’t nuts to think that something like a road trip and 2 months away from any and all regularly scheduled programs could change a life forever?

Well, it has for me.

How do I pay back everyone and pay “it” forward? I find a way to help others allow themselves to take time. Time away from their own regularly scheduled programs when they come to a time like I did back in May. A lot of people out there are not as fortunate as I am with an enormous number of family and friends who love and support them. There is no way I’d be here typing this, alive and well right here right now if I hadn’t had that love and support from so many for the past couple years to get to the place I’m at now. That is the truth more than I could emphasize it and that scares the shit out of me. It also tells me very clearly what I am meant to do and what I’ll be great at. If I wasn’t conscious of this, all that love and support you all have given me and all those parts of my ass I have busted, would be all for nothing.

So to DP and Laura and Brian and Nicole; there’s a good chance I will be missing your weddings. I’m sorry for that. To my few friends and family whom I owe some cash; I am sorry for the delay in payment, but I know you understand and thank you for your patience. All who have been so generous and giving to me this summer and always, I will pay you back too and it will be ten-fold. That is a promise. I want to and will make up for every dollar, meal, conversation, joke, letter, call, hug, kiss, and laugh you all have ever spent or shared with me. Perhaps some of those things won’t come directly back to you, but they will indeed be pollinated anywhere I go for the rest of my life and that is for sure. I often think of this all/any monies spent as my college loans. I never went to college. Alaska or Bust has been my 4 year university this summer in 2 months. I’ve concentrated solely on educating myself, practicing independence, experiencing new things and passing tests. I’ve been positioning myself for the best life possible, that’s why kids go to college anyway isn’t it?

I feel like I just graduated. YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now it’s time to pay off some school loans. Who wants to give a fresh college grad a job? I might just be your best, toughest, full of promise and hope new hire yet. I’m that rookie with the endless smile on her face who’s hungry to crush it. I’m thinking this is all you might need to see for a resume..

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disappearing again di?

Nah, I’m not trying to peace out or quit blogging here. Just ending my big trip from this summer in a quiet and reflective way. You’ll never guess what I found. I’ll accompany this big news with a giant HOLY SH*T. I’ve figured out what I want to do for work. (Well, one big thing anyway.)

I’ve only struggled, wondered, freaked, questioned, doubted, scratched my head and thought for you know, about a million hours during the past say 12 years. I’ve been fighting to figure out where my place is, what I’d become, where I best fit, why I didn’t want to do just one job or be just one person. I haven’t figured out all the secrets or anywhere near all the answers. What I have done is take time and space at 32 years old, just for me, in a way far from anything I’ve ever done. I stopped doing things because of other people and stopped telling everyone what I’m doing at every minute. I’ve not even called some of my best friends back in 8 weeks. I haven’t talked to family members more than twice in this 8 weeks. Typically I’d be calling or texting them everyday. Sometimes more than once.

It’s hard for any of us to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, until we step out of it. WAY out of it. Yes I chose to be in Alaska for the anniversary of my friends death and to reach a goal of my 50th state. I am proud of that. It’s something no one will ever be able to take from me. What I didn’t realize, was the bonus gift I got from this trip was understanding myself more. It literally took me removing myself so far physically from where I was I couldn’t have driven farther if I tried. (Wilmington, NC to Alaska.) I’ve learned in this time that its not bad to take care of myself. Its not selfish either. After all, how could I ever be a good friend, worker, sister, neighbor, etc. if I don’t take care of myself or know enough about who I am. It’s not an easy task to completely leave your old self behind, abandon some habits and allow yourself to really understand the next time and phase of what you might be, but boy does it feel good after you do it.

The best surprise in my experience this summer has been those moments of; Wow! THAT’S why I had that nutty job all those years back, or Oh! I guess it makes sense now why I ended up moving there, trying that, dating such and such a person or having the desire to such and such a thing. As if we walk around today, scratching our heads doing our best to try and understand why certain things are happening, then we’re gifted by waking up the next days in our lives seeing that it all makes sense and was for something.

I know what I want to do now. I understand better than ever what makes me jump out of bed for a job. Now figuring out how to work it.

I hope you all take what time you can to simply, stop, shut your eyes and think about how the experiences and education you’ve collected can work with what your heart and soul are screaming to you everyday. When those things combine it’s like magic. I’m feeling like I’ve found some magic.

Here’s to disappearing for good reason..

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omigosh

I just got my first direct comment from a stranger who watched my 16/16 video at YouTube that read:

“I love this video. Thanks for posting.”

Ok, now I know this might not seem like a big deal as I’ve made connections with lots of new people on the road and have had numerous communications with you all through here, Facebook, Twitter, etc. but this particular comment from just now is huge to me. Kind of like after blood sweat and tears the diner owner gets the doors of his dream shop open, on day 1 sells out of bacon and eggs and he tapes the first dollar bill he earns proudly to the wall near the cash register.

I sat all morning this morning in my regular look at my always scraping bank account and enormous debt. Where do I move/go from here, how can I reach more people with Blue Lollipop Road, how can I extend my hand to others as they have to me and what?! -did that guy at the auto shop told me I need 2 new tires for the back of my car? Then moments of normal frustration come knocking in my head; This is nuts Diane, will you just go get a job and who cares what it is. You just need $. You must be dreaming to think you can somehow afford to continue on this journey, encouraging others to find their “roads” and doing what you believe in.

Then I feel peeved at myself for not doing more, faster, better, smarter- so I go for a run.

(I swear since I really started to run at 17 years old it has totally saved my life.) So out I went to think think think and pound the pavement. Sometimes I think so hard and lose myself so much I fall flat on my face, or knees or shoulder. Literally. I have 2 big ol’ scars from June on my right knee from on of those overly thoughtful runs. The more often that not “What am I doing/What’s the best thing to do?” run ended with me feeling a little less stressed. I open my computer and there’s that one little line, from someone out there who I will probably never meet, appreciating a few minutes of video, I drove thousands of miles to make because my heart and soul believed in what I was doing.

I feel a bit stressed everyday, I always have, I question myself all too much, I have piles of debt I need to pay and I need to find a home. These things and more are what can freeze any of us in fear, frustration and resentment. These things often keep a lot of us in that frozen state forever. They can also overshadow the most important things like the generosity of strangers, thankfulness for health, friends and family and hope for all things possible. Even though I almost want to shake my fist in the air, look ahead as if a person was standing there so I can scream damn you! Just when I start thinking about throwing in my towel and join the rest of the crowd (it seems like it’d be a lot easier sometimes.) you send a little birdie with a message to say keep on truckin’ girl- you’re on the right track. Argh!

Todays appreciation from someone I don’t know helps to solidify all I have worked so hard to do and why I’m doing it. It tells me I have to keep going.

Thanks Monolith. I don’t want to give this all up. I want to continue this path that feels right, screams to me everyday and find out where it’s going. Everything in my body tells me it’s leading to something remarkable. Your one liner just fueled me up for more trucking so up the hills I go!.

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practice this

…and things will start to come together/make sense/get really good/lead you on the path you’re supposed to be on:

1.) Concentrate on what you’re good at, not what you suck at.
2.) OWN who you are. Like as in- OWN it. Don’t forget- you can run, but you can’t hide. Mirrors are all over the place.
3.) Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you’re stupid, crazy, immature, foolish, “running away” for following what feels right to you. Just thank them for their opinion and tell them you’ll be off living your life thankyouverymuch.
4.) When someone asks you completely assinine questions like; “Well, I mean, what would you do if your car broke down? What happens if you blow a tire? Aren’t you worried about frogs falling out of the sky?” Just say something equally assinine back like; “Well, I figured I’d strip my clothes off, spin around in the street and scream until they put me in the nuthouse.” (Looking dead serious. It will totally shut them up. Promise.)
5.) Use the 10% planning and 90% doing equation. No one likes a shit-talker, they are annoying. (I have been that annoying shit-talker! BLECH!) Stop talking a cool game and friggin’ do it already. We live in America people. Yes, that means freedom.
6.) Find people/companies/whatever who are doing what you want to do/think is cool and ask them to hang out with you. Ask them some questions and listen to them. The AHA! moments are amazing and really happen.

So…what am I going to “do” now that Alaska is “done?” (Everyone has asked me this.) Oh I cannot wait to share. (Thanks to Sean at One Week Job I have a perfect fitting mission! WAHOO!!!:)

When you take a step towards life the universe supports you. I swear on my life to you this is true. I have just lived this. I am living this. If you are like I was, 13 years worth of freaking out (what’s wrong with me, why can’t I figure out what I want to do, who I want to be, etc.) I am promising you, shut out all the fear in your life and listen to what your heart says, use the skills you’ve acquired, organize yourself, put in 110% effort, and run to what you want. You will get there. If for some unheard of reason it doesn’t work- I will personally sling pancakes at IHop to support you.

Life is so simple. We all complicate it. This trip has finally proved that to me. So as far as what I’m going to “do” after Alaska?

Exactly what I’m doing. And support other people to do exactly what they want to do as well. Now that’s a good life if you ask me..

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open up and say… ahh!

Had to throw in some Poison here that popped in my mind for a title!

I’m sitting by a window at a little wooden table with fresh flowers on it in a bustling cafe’ in a small Alaska town. I’m cozied up wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and scarf and rain is drizzling outside. The smell of espresso being ground (yum) and cinnamon fill the air (yum.) From my seat I can see what seems to be a thousand fishing boats.

As I was just bopping around different pages on my laptop trying to get some writing done, emails caught up etc., I found myself stopping to take a big breath, and just sitting back in the chair for a minute to say ahh….

I suppose that even in my solo hikes, miles of driving and plenty of relaxed, writing coffee shop time prior to this, I’ve still been wound up a whole lot more than I realized. I had this goal to make it here, these thoughts of what It’d be like. It was hugely important to me to be able to properly honor two people that mean so much to me on this certain day, and now that day has passed. I guess this is bit of a calm after the storm kind of feeling. Like some kind of satisfying relief or something. That smile and euphoric feeling that we get on Thanksgiving day on the couch after the feast when our face has a smile and we’re dozing off into a nap…

This trip could have not been more perfect. I’m glad I didn’t and haven’t actually planned a single thing besides taking some special time on 8/18. If I had specifically planned this all out, I know I wouldn’t be sitting here anywhere near as happy as I am. The harsh reality now is that my time in Alaska has only a short bit left, I have no place to live after my travels and no job because I chose to give that all up to be here. Bank accounts are scraping bottom, and the majority of things I own are in my car. My reality is though, that the previously stated doesn’t stress me out. Since I decided to take the first step on this journey and let control go more than I ever have before, things have just worked out.”When you take a step toward life, the universe will support you” is what someone wrote to me in an email a few months ago. This has proven to be so very true. I’m not completely sure what’s next for me as far as what city I will live in or how exactly I will make a living. I have some irons in the fire, and I keep the door open for other opportunities that may come. It’s tremendously exciting for me to think about the next phase of life. There have been plenty of times I haven’t woken up excited for months. (Yuck. Pure torture.) I know as long as I keep waking up somewhat excited about my day and try my best, I’ll always be exactly where I need to be. This trip has offered me a comfort and confidence to thoroughly believe that.

Here’s to that moment after you reach that seemingly much too far off goal, that you sit back, open up and say ahh! Then; What’s next world? Bring it- I’m ready for more!.

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my eat, pray, love

Warning gents; Girly post…

If it’s not painfully obvious already, I will tell you that I often have the attention span of a 2 year old. I’m not a big reader as in books. Not because I don’t love them or think that reading is one of the best things you can do to educate yourself, but because it usually takes me months to get through one. I read for 30 minutes, put the book down, come back in 2 weeks and reread because I forget what I have previously read. This was not the case when I read Eat, Pray, Love. I flew through the book like I did when The Babysitters Club series when I was 12, as if I couldn’t sleep until I read every page. After seeing the preview for the upcoming movie that’s been made about Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey around Italy, India, Indonesia I have to share a story. I Can’t wait to see the movie now…

I finished Eat, Pray, Love on December 5th, 2008 sitting in a red velvety chair facing the door at the Carytown Richmond Virginia Starbucks. (How’s that for details. Clearly finishing that last page burned that day in my mind for good.) Like so many other woman out there, I remember after I first started the book, I stopped reading after the first few pages, looked around as if I were on camera and thought; Um, did I write this book in my sleep or when I was drunk or something and someone else put their name on it?! The opening scene when Elizabeth is crying on her bathroom floor, trying to make sense of her life, how she got there, with the guy she was with and what the hell she was going to do next- that was me. (Flash forward to me finishing it a few days later in that Starbucks.) I closed the book and sat staring blindly straight ahead for about a half hour, got up and left trying to brush off the truth and reality of my misery at the time like so many of us do when the world is trying to give us signs to wake the hell up. I was too chicken shit to listen or act back then. I mean I had it “all.” Giant diamond, fit, smart, fiance’, amazing apartment and about to move to start a fresh new life. All great plans for the future, yadda yadda. I was absolutely miserable then, but why rock the boat and even if I wanted to, where the hell would I begin?

Exactly 25 days after that morning finishing Eat, Pray, Love in that Starbucks and me ignoring what my gut and the world was trying to tell me, my then fiance’ woke up in bed and straight dumped me. The world screamed at me “HA HA Diane! You can run but you can’t hide punk! We will always find you and make you pay attention whether you like it or not!”

Thank God, Buddha, the stars…

If you knew me then, you know I then shared all the moments that Elizabeth had written about. Talk about feeling like my world collapsed. After a few months of sheer absurdity, crying uncontrollably, not eating or sleeping and thinking my whole life was over, (I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now and laughing. Oh the times in life we can look back and be mortified at what a hot mess we were) something clicked and a big ol’ F*CK THIS came screaming out of me and I have never looked back. I am so thankful I was dumped. I mean so, so, so, wicked, totally, mongo thankful. The best lesson I got from those few months of pure hell, was that my hell wasn’t about missing some guy or getting dumped, it was because I had left NOTHING for me. Nothing. I had given up friends, volunteer groups, my soccer teams- all of it. I had let work slide and not kicked my own ass to continue being the independent bad ass girl I had been/always wanted to continue to be. I had given up myself and had no foundation, so when I was left alone I felt like I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. Talk about hell. There’s nothing I can imagine worse than being a go-get it gal and finding yourself feeling pathetic and powerless.

To think that this summer I can feel confident enough to quit my job, sell everything I own, drive across the country to Alaska with absolutely zero plan, knowing no one there, not knowing what I’ll do when I get there or after I leave, is pretty awesome considering a year and a half ago I had to call my Mother to ask her if I liked cream and sugar in my coffee I was so lost and sad. I have only $817.00 in my Blue Lollipop Road bank account, 3,000 miles left to just get to Alaska, no job, no home, and even though I have a few loose thoughts on what’s next, I still have absolutely no idea where I’ll end up or what’s in store for me. I am a worry wort even though I have always been pretty carefree too. I have good and bad days ongoing, but I have never felt less worried in my life. I have to credit that to doing lots of hard work and putting myself through hell to get here. Looking in the mirror, looking hard in the mirror is really hard. Being real seems like it should be easy, but it’s not. Blue Lollipop Road is my mirror. I write things here that I share with lots of people, and some things I write I’ve never talked to anyone about. I figure if I put it all out there, I will always have to stay on my toes from now on, I’ll be held accountable for things I say and do, and I will never get to the point of losing my foundation again. If putting out the “I’m going to’s” here doesn’t put enough healthy pressure on me to reach for my stars and keep my solid independent ground, I’m not sure what will.

When thinking of the Eat, Pray, Love preview I saw last night as I fell asleep, I thought to myself I wonder how many people are going to say to me something along the lines of; “Hey Di! have you seen that movie that’s coming out? It’s totally like your trip!” I guess it is and I hadn’t thought the book at all it until last night.

I ate in NYC (and I’ve been to Italy and feasted there) I’ve “prayed” on the road thinking about just about everything (and I’ve been to India too) and while I haven’t been to Indonesia yet, a few of you know about my running joke of making out with a lumberjack named Ben when I get to Alaska, so?…

I’m laughing.

I’m loving my life, understanding more and more about who I am and what I want. I’m loving that I can write all this here and people will read it and appreciate it in whatever way works for them. I love every little moment I’ve had in my life. I love all the lessons I have learned. I love that I have finally started trusting the process and that I am exactly where I need to be. Best of of all I know that because of things that have been thrown at me and situations that I’ve been through, I’m less and less fearful of life’s obstacles every day. I’m thankful for women like Elizabeth Gilbert who fall apart, pick themselves up and write about it so we can read their stories and learn how to pick ourselves up too.

I have 14 hours in the car today. I better get going….

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1,779 miles down…

…3,000-3,600 to go.

Yeah, that many.

I ended up staying in the Midwest a bit longer than expected, to help my friends out with their kiddies and earn a few extra bucks. It feels good to help them out and maybe pay back one of the hundreds of things they’ve done for me. The few bucks don’t hurt either considering I’ll be out of loot on 2 weeks. From here I blast through Canada as fast as I can. This could take 4 days if I drive like an absolute madwoman or about a week if I manage to go at half super-psycho speed. The tires and oil are re-checked, I have piles of maps and books, and I’m looking forward to the look on the border patrol face when I say: “Hello sir! Just driving from the east coast on through to Alaska!”

I’ve learned that Verizon service is .69 a minute so there will be no chatty chat time in my next week or so via phone. $1,000 cell phone bills don’t exactly fit into my budget. Turns out my broadband card is a little more pricey over the border too which is a bummer. Unless I find a random internet cafe’/coffee shop when there aren’t even gas stations for hundreds of miles through some spots, I’ll be missing from here a bit. I’ll do my best to post what I can from 8/4-8/11. It’ll be a miracle if I get a shower during that time period so we shall see! (No, hotels don’t fit in the budget either. I like to be clean and all, but I once went 8 days without a shower when traveling and lived through it so I’ll be fine.)

There are 12 days until my birthday which I am so going to be in Alaska to ring in. 15 days until the anniversary. I’ve got a few thoughts on how I’ll spend that day, but undecided at the moment. I’ll be posting photos of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign here sooner than later. Please be patient if my posts are spotty or sporadic. (although a week without a shower and very little sleep and you probably won’t want to hear from me- I could get very cranky:) Thank you for following me this far. It’s been an amazing ride already and only going to get more interesting. If this ends up being nothing more than a conversation around a dinner table someday 40 years down the road with one of you telling the story:

“Remember that summer Diane was determined to make it to Alaska and she didn’t realize she hadn’t calculate that she’d have to have enough $ to actually get there and back to somewhere? She got stuck in that job gutting fish for a month after she had to hitch hike to make it there in the first place because her car caught on fire halfway through Canada after her tires all blew out? Remember that moose had run into her car too because she left chocolate on the front seat? Oh my gosh and that was after the border patrol had strip searched her because they thought she was nuts or a drug smuggler?!” (then lots and lots of laughter and teasing would follow…)

-It’d be Ok with me and all worth it. (Not to mention very funny.)

In doing some research I found that female life expectancy in the U.S according to different resources was between 78-82. I’ll take 80 for an average for now. That means I’m “expected” to live for 29,200. This is only if I am way lucky. As of today I’ve lived 11,668. That means I likely have 17,532 or less days left to try to learn all I can, make a positive mark on the planet, create good stories, and share as much love and laughter with my favorite people as possible. The days continue to fly too fast so I figure I’m just trying to be conscious of the clock.

The point of this is certainly not to suggests we should all race around like buffoons against time and never enjoy the simple moments we are in. It is however, to say that if there’s something/somewhere you’ve wanted to do, say, go, try that is always in the back of your head, it’s probably your own clock ticking and telling you to do it. The only thing in life that’s for sure is that the clock doesn’t stop for anything.

Here’s to respecting time and trusting the process..

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lets get ready to rumbaaaaaaaallll!!!

Hello Madison Wisconsin!

Madison!

Even though I was excited about my arrival here and seeing old friends, I ended up sitting at their kitchen table last night looking at maps and mileage to Alaska again feeling like someone just kicked me in the gut and told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I still have 2,900 miles and 75 hours driving from here to get to Alaska. Holyfegginsh*t.

Being the last U.S state I will be in before hitting up Canada, The Wisconsin state motto of “Forward” is just what I needed to read this morning after staring blankly at my computer screen last night and the sleepless night that followed. Seeing/knowing and actually doing are oh so different. If I’ve never had this lesson before- oh am I getting one now. I can’t quit. I won’t quit, but I will run out of money either before I get there or as soon as I cross the state line. This is going to make for some crazy good stories. I’ve planned and thought and contacted, but as we all know in life- 90% of “plans” usually get thrown out the window. This last HUGE leg of my trip is likely going to come with me throwing an eff-bomb or 50, some tears, exhaustion, confusion, doubt, loneliness, frustration and all those other words and things that happen when we attempt to reach a goal. (But the wahoo! parts too of course.) I can’t lie, I’m freaking out a little. Ok maybe a lot- but I’ll be damned if my happy ass isn’t standing on the Frontier State line by my 32nd birthday.

Here’s to screw it, just do it and owning all the rewards and consequences along the way. (Am I some kinds of bad-ass? Probably not, but I’m going to try to be anyway.)

“Forward” it is..

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paying the strong mojo forward

A young woman named Crystal called me this morning. Crystal used to work for me 5 years ago. We’ve kept in touch over the years and seen each other a few times. She’s the sweetest, smartest, petite little hard-worker I could’ve ever had as an employee. She came from a very humble country upbringing and has made great things happen for herself. It’s been fun for me to watch her grow up (My, I sound like an old lady.) We hadn’t spoken on the phone in months so I was happily surprised by her voice on the phone; “Di! I just got out of a final job interview and I used you as a reference! It went great!” I asked her some details about the job and we chatted for a few minutes about other life stuff catching up. She then went back to talking about the interview:

“So the lady that interviewed me asked me who my favorite manager from all my jobs was and I told her you! Remember that time after you hired me, you sat me down after a couple weeks to talk? You told me that you thought I was a perfect fit and a hard worker, but that I needed to try to put myself out there more, have more confidence in myself and speak up/not be so shy. At the end of our talk I told you thank you and I will try. Then I tried and became awesome!” (The end line was delivered with Crystals adorable giggle. You’ve gotta love that closing line of “I became awesome!” Too cute…)

I didn’t tell Crystal that I don’t remember that conversation but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she wants to excitedly call me to share news of a new job. She knows that I will always care and be excited for her. The timing of the call from Crystal couldn’t be more perfect after my post about strong mojo and Traci yesterday. It’s a perfect example why if any of us are ever in the position to mentor young people, it’s a huge honor. If we take the gifts we’re given that help us to “become awesome” we then have the responsibility to pay them forward to the next generation. Traci helped me learn confidence, I passed it to Crystal, and now she’s going to be working with high school kids in Philly supporting them to do community service work. Someday 10 years down the road she will get a call from a young woman she cared enough about to pay attention to, and that person will excitedly tell her about a fabulous job they just got because she had the confidence to go for thanks to Crystal.

Full circle. I absolutely love it.

This day helps me to remember even the tiniest things don’t go unnoticed. Thanks Crystal. You just made my week. Keep being your awesome self and I can’t wait for the next phone call..

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our favorite coach

First part of this trip was east coast, big city, people I know and of staying in comfy apartments, houses, cottages. With that came “fancy” travel of showers everyday, “no- I am paying for dinner and drinks, this is my donation to your trip!”, time with people I love and good conversation filled with encouragement, advice, and brainstorming on possibilities of where to move after Alaska and how to reach my next goals in life. It’s been much needed, much fun, and exactly what I needed for a push for the next phase of my trip:

Back to my unsalted peanuts, apples and granola instead of steak, pasta and home-cooked meals. Showers will be sporadic, sleeping in the car, or not at all for a day or two is in my near future, along with lots of time with strangers instead of people I know, and only and sights of mountains, valleys and much fewer humans instead of the thousands and skyscrapers I’ve just been around. The no-mans land and less-populated space I’m going into will be the perfect place for me to ring in my 32nd birthday, reflect on the past 16 years of my life, and think of what I want the next 16 to be. This leads me to my story of Traci and why I went to NYC before leaving the east coast:

When I was in NYC, I met and spent time with my old soccer coach Traci who I hadn’t seen since my friends funerals in 1994. There was no real reason we had fallen out of touch, or not seen each other in all those years. Lives move in different directions and time flies. Sometimes when you go through a horrible tragedy with someone, you almost don’t know how to face it/them until years later either. That and it feels impossible to understand why terrible things happen, what it will mean to you, or what kind of impact it will have on your life until long after the instance. (At least this is my experience.) I found Traci last year and was ready to email her out of the blue. When she returned my email signing off 16 years later with; “Much love and strong mojo” I knew in an instant that 8/18/1994 had indeed changed her life forever as it did mine. Before every game so many years ago, our coach Traci, all my teammates and I would scream “STRONG MOJO!” in the circle before games started. It was our thing, our motto, how we all were together as powerful young women. Traci had taught us that strong mojo was team work, ambition, being who and what we wanted, enjoying our time together and appreciating life. It was about being proud, honest, confident and having integrity.

My day in NY with Traci was a flood of emotions. (For the both of us.) I’ve been open and free on talking about my deceased friends in hopes to share their spirit and continue their legacy. This is so important to me. As much as words and stories have and will continue to roll out of me, it’s still difficult to constantly revisit the way my heart snapped in half after getting that phone call at 3:56am and hearing the words “They are gone.” (Now I am officially crying in a busy coffee shop as I type this. Sheesh!) Spending time with Traci catching up on 16 years, meeting her amazing and adorable little family, learning about her life and sharing about mine, was exactly the therapy, time, and strong mojo I needed for this trip. 3 weeks from today as I take the death anniversary day to think about 16 years without our friends, Traci and the rest of the MAU soccer girls will be doing the same wherever they are. Every August 18th will be the same for all of us for the rest of our lives.

So to the stranger Steve Hampton that I don’t know who left comments accusing that I was a fraud and that I’m on some gluttonous partying trip, you have got to be kidding me. You claim to be a follower? Really? Have you read over 600 posts and 2 years of my work here? Did you just read the first part of this blog post? Have you read other hundreds of post inclusive of personal information about me, my family, and my life I have written in an attempt to learn about myself, try to be a better human and potentially inspire others to live their own truths and be proud of themselves with all good and bad parts and issues we all have? Could you consider that even though I am wide open and probably seem careless and free about so much of life, that it’s still difficult for me to constantly air the dirtiest of my laundry? Do you think I’d make up stories about my dead best friends to get cross-country wasted and get strangers to finance a cool fun road trip? I understand that putting my life on the world wide web opens all doors for judgement. That’s to be expected. I felt hurt and pissed off thinking about your comments initially. Those feelings faded fast after thinking of the Traci’s of the world who love and really know me. Because of the people who love me, I take your negative hateful comments not in a negative way but as a lesson. Sometimes people will judge, and not everyone will like me. That’s Ok. I know who I am, I like who I am, and enough people out there know what this trip is about and what Blue Lollipop Road stands for. That’s all I need. I’d encourage you to find your Traci, your Maria and Brandy, something or someone that means everything to you. Share those things with others in a positive way. Find things that make you happy. I promise it will make you feel so much better than being judgemental and jealous of me.

Dear Traci~

Thank you for our time in NY, and time all those years ago. Thank you for teaching me strong mojo. Your gifts have given me love, support and confidence all these years, I’m able to take negativity and criticism like comments from a reader here with a grain of salt. I keep believing in myself because of people like you. Thank you for loving all of us like you did and still do. We love you too. You will always be our favorite coach, our big sister, our mentor and our hero. I feel proud to be in the mix of all the young people you continue to positively influence. I look forward to seeing you soon and never want to wait 16 years again!

Much love and strong mojo always-
Diane 🙂.

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