Supporting My Friend Carleigh

Some of you may know that I have this amazing friend from way back in the day – when we were just teenagers at ‘Coyote Tracks’ the nickname of the organization called Children of Earth Foundation (Cotef) which at that time was based in New Jersey. It is the youth nonprofit that was created by Tom Brown’s Tracker and Wilderness Survival School. Carleigh Fairchild and I became friends during the summer programs and while it was years later that our friendship realized its full potential, we are great friends for life.

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Carleigh & Joannie in a Hawaii Waterfall

Carleigh has done quite a few cool things with her time thus far on our Planet. Starting with Coyote Tracks as a kid. She has hiked a large portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Took classes with Earthwalk Northwest in Washington state. And more recently enrolled in the WildernessFusion program where we are in the same class (which has been a freaking blast) together. Being the two crazy Alaskans who fly the furthest for these classes 4 times a year is a bonding moment in itself!

Last year Carleigh was one of 10 people picked to go out into the wilderness to survive for up to a year all the while filming their experiences for History Channel’s ‘Alone’. Season 3 takes place in Patagonia and they were dropped a couple of weeks before winter set in. I recommend checking it out – even with the over the top reality tv show feel it has. Most of the people on it are real and have a passion for being in the wilderness. The winner gets $500,000 and some serious bragging rights. Season 3 just finished airing and Carleigh was so close to winning! Two people were left when she was sadly pulled by the show because of her low body mass. There is a lot of speculation going around that it could have been rigged and wasn’t fair. I do agree that the runner-up really should get a little extra money for their efforts and perhaps more when it’s practically a tie. I don’t claim an opinion about the show being rigged or not, but I do know that History Channel left themselves open to a lot of backlash by how they portrayed the final weigh ins and pulling Carleigh out. Showing one person’s BMI but withholding the other is not okay, especially when its the female contestant being scrutinized by the all-male medic team while there is a plethora of gender and women’s rights issues all over the News. Leaving themselves open to so many potential avenues of attack just doesn’t fit. I am confused History Channel. Many of the viewers are confused and downright pissed. While I believe that Carleigh has more than earned monetary compensation (outside of the small stipend every contestant was given) for her time out in the woods, 86 days to be exact. She was expected to film 40 hours a week AND survive alone off the land indefinitely. I have absolutely no ill will towards Mr. Fowler who did walk away with the win. I only wish him and his family the best.

An incredible amount of people have been touched by Carleigh’s presence on Alone and inspired by her state of being. As her totally biased friend – I whole heartedly agree, Carleigh is freaking awesome. During the finale, such an outpouring of comments and posts were made for Carleigh that Shaun (my partner and also friend to Carleigh) got a wild hair that night and started a Gofundme for Carleigh to celebrate what she achieved. Shaun gets the credit as this was entirely his idea. The Gofundme is just a way for people to reach out, if that is what they feel called to do, and support Carleigh. The Gofundme is taking off much quicker than we initially expected and overall is well received. Being the internet, there is of course those who react to the idea that money is being given away – which I personally find fascinating. I always wonder what makes a person think their opinion matters when it isn’t their cause or their money involved.

Link to the Gofundme:  Celebrating Carleigh

I am sharing this with all the people I can – as many of you also know Carleigh. But for anyone who received this link and doesn’t feel called to give money its OK. If you feel called to just share it – that is great! No expectation here just because I wrote about it on my blog. I’m simply supporting one of my best friends and bringing awareness of what she has accomplished.

~Joannie

What I haven’t Said

I haven’t written much for the blog in the past few months for a few reasons. The easy answer is of course ‘busy’. Busy with life, work, travel, people, taking pictures, classes, etc. And while that is of course a factor – it is not the entire story.

I also have been feeling a little out of touch with sharing on the blog lately. Most of my posts in recent times are about cool places I go, people I visit or just basic updates. Somewhere along the way I ‘stopped’ sharing some of the less than ‘love and light’ details of my life. I suspect because I am so damn sick of hearing about how ‘I just want you to be happy Joannie’ and ‘well it seems like you’re doing okay’. As if one cannot experience happiness and still be SAD at other times. As if one must always be “okay”. The easy answer to this is of course don’t share those parts. The constant sleep issues, the less than savory self images I have of myself, struggles with what I should focus on, family stuff, money, work, friends/boyfriends stuff, the list goes on. I can only ‘focus’ so much on just the positive. My desire for balance demands that my writing include ALL aspects of life, not just the pretty, fun, and good-looking ones. I’m sure some people will react to some of the things I’ll probably write, yet all the good and bad parts of my life will still be there – reactions from others or not.

Another reason is that I have already been pushing myself to share a lot with classmates and few individuals outside of WildernessFusion in the last 6 months; in ways I am absolutely terrified of. In a sense, I am ‘sharing’ most aspects of my life – just not on the blog. As I have adjusted and learned to begin to have faith in my classmates and the few individuals I have started to open up to, I see how when one seeks to understand – one listens. And by not writing what is on my mind, what is in my heart, I do a disservice to those who want to understand. And for those who don’t, you can focus on the ‘good’ and get what you need out of my adventures and pictures. I truly love that so many people (close to me and the simply observers) get so much enjoyment from my sporadic sharing of travels, adventures, photos and occasional muses. This is by no means a ‘you should want to hear about the shadow stuff too’, but an acknowledgement of where I have stopped sharing.

I have mentioned in previous posts about my ‘Healing Classes’ with the group WildernessFusion. I’ve purposely glossed over them due to the nature of the work, the difficulty in sharing something so personal as well as foreign to most people, and to keep my classmate’s stories in confidence. Obviously I won’t be sharing the ‘details’, but I can write more about my experience and how the classes are shaping what I do now. For those interested I would normally say ‘check out the program’s website’, but I won’t, because it freaking sucks. If any WF people read this..should really update that thing!

Anyway, the ‘’Healing’ portion of the school is what I am in. A year-long program for each level (1 -7). The first four years cover the ‘basics’, after that you have to want to do this sort of thing for life (or just be crazy). I just started year 2. Year 1 was intense, but good. So far year 2 is like being boiled alive. The work itself – is personal work in how you approach people, the world, how the world and people affect you, and how to bring awareness to it all. After the awareness is there, then there is the ability to respond and finally, choice. It can sound rather ‘new agey’ but in my humble opinion, it is the sum of what is psychology (including the therapy portions), the human experience and truly living. The types of people who come to the classes and take the skills back to their ‘everyday lives’ is quite diverse. From roaming wanderers who play music (or train animals to include myself) with no college to degree, to teachers, pilots, doctors, engineers and software professionals. All of us have something in common, we deal with people, family, friends and want the ability to choose what we can do about tomorrow. Not just react. Many people have read or at least heard of the books ‘The Dance of Anger (or fear, grief, etc)’ by Dr. Harriet Lerner. When you truly have perspective on life, you see that it’s not ‘just that one’ family member or coworker you have these self-perpetuating cycles with. You have them most of all – with yourself. And the blind spots are BIG. The more that you think you already have a handle on..heh..the more you don’t. WF Healing classes are the intensive’s for people who want to have true choice (or be the change in the world) bad enough that you not only go ‘in’ your skeleton closet – you take your entire freaking class (bunch of strangers usually, who you wouldn’t have thought you could even be friends with in some cases) and the instructors (more freaking strangers) with you! You bring out the skeletons, you uncover ones you never knew about, and your classmates show you how you put them there..its like an undead dance party. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It is fucking hard work. It is terrifying. It brings up every embarrassing, shameful thing you want to never think about again. It rips open all the places you’ve sealed shut so you can put a dumb smile on your face. It breaks down all the ideas you made, been given or had instilled in your life. It also gives you bare bones truth about who you are and are not – wonderful and crazy. Beautiful and ugly. Selfish and selfless. Some people cannot hear about their bad, others their good. Either way, it’s a truth no one wants to hear. But it’s there. The classes have given me more skills than any book, therapist, job, program and so forth in both personal and professional places of my life. If that isn’t enough of reason, I don’t know what is! If you want to know more about them, feel free write to me or call me up.

As I realized how my patterns of interactions directly affected my relationships with Every. Single. Person. I know. I decided to work on that with a few individuals outside of WF classes. It is particularly more challenging with people who have no base understanding of the classes and self work that is going on. Most days I feel completely at loss of how to express myself to the people around me. I now can see some of the patterns and ‘images’ as we call them in WF that I react to. Something there is little to no choice around – but instead I react, deal with outcome of reaction, repeat. Now my biggest struggle is to simply not react. On any given day, I feel completely alone and misunderstood. I often feel isolated even though there are often people around me – only a handful of people can seem to really ‘see’ (read be in contact with) me and they are spread all over the continent. Most of this probably sounds like whining. Maybe it is. But it’s quite real, not a passing thought while stopped at a red light, but instead very much glaringly in my face. I have been told repeatedly (have also seen with the class ahead of mine) that year 2 in the program is one (or the one) of the hardest years in the program. I think I can speak for most of my classmates on this – we are all in our own hells. Those of us who have relationships – are just trying to not blow them up. Work. School. Everything feels like it’s about to push one over the edge. This is me almost every minute of every day. There are beautiful moments. Great conversations and even once in a while – a self-realization that doesn’t totally destroy you (most do). The rest – is just me fighting with my own shit – because I don’t want to be stuck this way forever. I want choice in the end. If the last two paragraphs make no sense – don’t worry about it.

I live in constant contradiction. While I feel a wild exhilaration to be alive in every moment and want each day more than the last, I also feel pain more acutely, grief more deeply and loneliness in every breath of every moment I am not around people who can give me the type of contact (a term that encompasses both physical touch and non physical company) I need. There is much more I plan to say, but I am already behind on what I need to be doing – and this is quite long.

More on this part of the Journey later ~ J

Back from Belize – an update

To say that I have been busy is, well… an understatement to say the least. I arrived back to the states from Belize a week ago today (Fri 21st). In many ways it feels like the Belize trip itself was much longer than a week, and that I am still ‘adjusting’ to being stateside. I surprised even myself with how quickly I adjusted to ‘not being in the states’. It was almost too easy. I no sooner hit American turf than I was already plotting another overseas trips this Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I love being back and with some of my people… but a part of me seems to be ceaselessly wanting to wander, never satisfied unless another adventure is on the horizon.

squinting in the Belize brightness

Squinting in the Belize brightness

Belize was amazing. The class with WildernessFusion was amazing. The People are simply beyond amazing (both many locals I met and my classmates). I can’t say I ever thought I would visit Belize; it’s not that I didn’t want to, it simply wasn’t on the top 10 list, or even top 20. But man did I have a great time. I’m ready to go back and explore all the things I didn’t get to see. We stayed at a wonderful eco-lodge called Cotton Tree Lodge: what a great way to rest between adventures, and for those who are a little less inclined to ‘just go’ on their own, a fun and safe way to see the sights and experience some of the local flavor. I’m not going to get into the details of the trip, class or even attempt pictures of everything yet – I have 980 to sort through first…! I’m not purposely being a tease, I just want to update and forewarn. I only have bad iPhone photos for this post!

After my serene trip to Belize, I arrived in DC late in the evening, Shaun picked me up from the airport and we headed to the hotel where Kathy & Dave Gardner were waiting along with my River!

River waiting for me at the hotel...

River waiting for me at the hotel…

Kathy & Dave were in town for some work related things, and to join in on the fun of the ‘Shamrock Festival’. We had no idea what to expect, but it looked fun! River got to come last-minute since her and I were missing each other terribly. Saturday we dropped River off (much to her chagrin) at a Petsmart to day-board – possibly overnight so she was safe and cared for while the 4 of us were at Shamrock Fest.

To say the festival was… interesting is probably not doing it justice. It was a little more party and a little less festival than I was hoping for. But we still had fun. The noise and crowds were a little over stimulating after Belize, but I managed well enough! The 4 of us wandered about, often splitting up and then finding each other. It was very cool to be share the crazy with Kathy and Dave and see them have fun regardless of the years that separate us.

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest!

They even had an EDM dance tent which is where Shaun and I spent most of our time after the draw of the bands wore off (and Shaun had enough to drink to tell the “tall people” to get in the back’ so he could see…)

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun headed back to Ocean City, MD on Sunday, while River and I stayed with Kathy and Dave that evening. The next day Dave, River and I toured around DC while Kathy took care of some work stuff. It was a lot of fun to walk around Monument Mall with Dave, talking about history of the various sites, the government system (which I will readily admit, I know very little about even though I’ve been told/read books about it). River earned many an ‘ohhh!’ and ‘look at the cute puppy!’ For the areas posted ‘no dogs’ I put her in my backpack (this is after all the best view point for her to see the various national parks I take her to).

She was also really into the squirrels…I made this image macro of the picture I took of her in the car right after yet another furry tailed-rat had dashed right in front of her (but due to her being leashed – no chase ensured). She wore this grin for quite a while!

River Meme

River Meme

For a late lunch/early dinner we met at McCormick’s which is just a damn tasty place to eat! After much-needed catching up, it was time for me to do last-minute car stuff with Dave’s help before hitting the road with River in the Black Dragon.

Dinner at McCormick's!

Dinner at McCormick’s with my Alaska family!

As you can see from our color pallet and choice of patterns..we look rather family like here. Kathy LOVES teal (I do too, maybe just not quite as much as she) and Dave often sports a plaid shirt (they are undeniably comfortable and dashing), so me in plaid teal pretty much tied everyone together in this picture (clearly I should have been in the middle to get the optimum effect). I always have a great time with these guys, and for some reason they do with me as well ♥

River totally zonked

River totally zonked

The last few days River and I have been chilling in Ocean City MD at my family’s rental. Shaun hangs out with us after work and often feeds me and buys me coffee (coffee is the important detail here..). I am mostly just adjusting to not being on ‘Belize Time’ which is something that doesn’t exist in this country. Also the weather changes from hot and humid Belize jungle to blustery Northeasters on the coastline has been a couple of days of uncomfortable. A few days from now I head north to Maine to meet up with Tracy and then we head to Quebec, Canada to Linda’s place where Afsoon will meet us. Element Sisters reunited! The plan is that River goes with me every step of the way.

I head back towards DC with a few stops along the way in early April, and then back to Alaska by April 14th. River too. Once back in AK we stay put for a while as I have work to attended to, Dogs to train, money to be made if I think I want to go on another trip any time soon.

Dave took this great pic with his phone of River & I in DC right outside the Lincoln Memorial! It was a windy and chilly day – my leather cap is all I could find instead of my warm wool knit, so I kept my hair down to help keep me warm (which is why the rather dramatic style going on there..). But it made for a very photogenic picture with my black leather jacket and little black & tan dog – whose ‘tan’ markings are such a shade of red that they just about match my red hair 😉

River & I in DC

River & I in DC

~ Always on a Journey  – Joannie & River.

 

March & Schedule Update

Last day of February is here, I sit in Bangor Maine at Tracy & Carl’s house staving off the 5 degree chill by the wood stove. The last few weeks have gone by rather quickly, as I bounced from state to state along my travels. Early February found me at the DC airport 4pm in the afternoon after 14 hours of flying through the night and running around Anchorage doing last minutes things the day before. My Aunt Cathie and Family was out-of-town, so I picked up the Black Dragon and begun battling the DC 5:30 traffic towards Tennessee. It took a few hours to clear the city’s traffic in Northern VA, at which point I stopped for food and provisions. By 8pm I had been awake already for 32 hours and just wanted a bath. But Winter Storm Pax was crawling up from the southern states, threats of 5+ inches to feet of snow and I needed to not be on the highway once it started. I made it to Best Friend – Lorien’s dorm in Johnson City TN, around 2am. The roads were still clear and I could try to rest. I snoozed through the bustle of college kids and woke up to a world of white. I stayed 2 nights and just about 3 days catching up with Lorien and watching the city shut down from 8 inches of snow. I also got dinner with Jackie and Jeremy in Bristol to catch up. Friday I made the 3 hour trek to the Farm in Madisonville, passing overturned trucks, broken down cars and jack-knifed tractor-trailers. For the first 20-30 miles, I saw at least one every mile marker.

The Farm still had about 5 inches of snow, however was getting slushy. The kids were thrilled to see me. Jackie came down from College to see me. I spent the weekend hanging out, playing cards, sitting by the fire, and of course – snow play with the kids. Everyone packed into the van and off to the mountains we went. Sadly due to the feet of snow, not as much sledding happened as time was spent on getting the van’s chains to stay on, unstuck, pulled out..and other less thrilling activities. The kids were out of school Monday, Jesse and I took them to Citico Creek to fish. Upon the realization that fish weren’t biting, we went for a hike. Was a good day. Tuesday the kids were back in school, I had many things to take care of with Barbara and long chats to catch up. I was also officially sick.

I was on the road late Wednesday afternoon, stopped in Johnson city briefly to say goodbye to Lorien. Sadly Jeremy and Jackie were at wrestling practice and I already had a very late start to get to New Jersey that night. I ended up staying another night in Jersey with my good friend Amy and her husband, due to the stresses of traveling while sick. I actually went to a walk in clinic due a strange rash that had surfaced along with my cold. Turns out that I have horrible luck (those would be the exact words of the Doctor to describe my situation) . Once on the road again, my GPS acted strange around NYC, so I got to get rerouted in the city. Was exciting. The drive through Maine was beautiful and peaceful, till something shattered the little moon roof of my Subie. At that point I pulled over and laughed like a crazy person. It was a clear day, no cars in front of me, no bridges, nothing around but trees. Something just happen to shatter the glass… Carl is going with ‘Space Poo’, Tracy has picked ‘God tried to strike you down’ and I.. well this sorta my life. So I’m going with that. I finally arrived in Maine with my tapped up window to Tracy and Carl’s where Linda was as well, Saturday afternoon to a warm house full of animals and wonderful people. Last few days have been spent recuperating and healing. I have new glass for the Black Dragon, but due to costs it isn’t actually installed yet..More Duct tape!

Today, I leave for my Wilderness Fusion class in NY. Can’t wait to see what will pop out of the wood work for this. I’ll stay at friend and fellow classmate – Justin’s tonight. Class will be starting late due to having to move location to better deal with the frigid temps and..yes more snow. Should be a killer of a class spiritually. I may not survive it though! Monday once class ends, I make a dash for Maryland where I hope to arrive in a timely manner so I can actually spend time with Shaun, before driving to DC the on Tues. Turns out that I need to go back to Alaska for a few days for work (which with the extra bills, is really for the best at this point). If I get in early enough to Ocean City, MD I’ll actually eat dinner, see Shaun. If not, well I’ll stop by my Aunt Terry’s, pick up the gear that needs to go to Alaska, sleep for a few hours. And then battle the snowstorm to DC where hopefully I’ll still be flying out Tuesday afternoon..I mean what couldn’t go wrong with this schedule?

March 9th will find me back in DC (weather permitting) and I will have the rest of the original ‘Maryland stay’ I was planning on before heading out to Belize. Whew. That brings up to March 15th… Next month overview looks something like this:

Feb 28th – Drive from Maine to NY for class.

March 1-3 – Wilderness Fusion Class in NY.

Late March 3rd – Arrive in Ocean City MD.

March 4th – Drive to DC, fly out for AK in the afternoon.

March 5-9th – Anchorage.

March 9th-14th – Maryland.

March 15th – Fly to Belize from DC.

March 16th-21st – Class in Belize.

March 21st-23rd DC with Shaun, Kathy & Dave!

March 24th-April 2nd – Unsure/East Coast.

April 3rd – Drive to Maine to meet up with Tracy.

April 4th-6-7th – Canada with the Element Sisters!!!

Early April – I should probably be heading back to Alaska soon so I can continue to eat…

 

Journey On ~ J

December Fun

Arrghh! Once again I look up and time has gotten away from me. December 20th!? WHAT. November was a great month, Thanksgiving nice with Kathy, Dave & friends! I spent about 10 days in Maryland visiting with family & friends before flying out to Alaska for work and the Holiday.

Early December found me in Seattle for a lay over with Reuben. We had a great time seeing some of our old haunts and taking in Seattle’s sushi & coffee. Early the next morning I was supposed to be off to D.C to meet up with a classmate from WildernessFusion and to pickup my car, but I was delayed getting checked in and missed my flight. 8 hours later of sitting at the airport I was *finally* on my way. DC was shockingly warm compared to Alaska and even Seattle. My wonderful Aunt Cathie picked me up along with classmate B, and we stayed the night in Arlington, VA before heading out for NY state. The drive was an adventure itself, but we made it in one piece to another classmate’s house near the park where the class is held. Quite a few people from the class were already there staying the night as well, so much fun was had.

My class itself was an intense – but amazing – and also freaking cold (and damp) time. Wouldn’t have changed a thing. The last night of the class the snow turned to ‘freezing rain’ (my favorite…) and everything was covered in ice. Breakfast was late that morning. By midday, things had warmed up but the skies were not promising to play nice. A few of us met back at J’s house (classmate we stayed with before class) where B was staying till his flight the next morning. Being tired, it wasn’t hard for them to convince me to stay the night (I had planned on staying with Amy in NJ). By the next morning snow was everywhere and no one was leaving… I ended up being snowed in for 2 nights, during which we all had a blast of archery (with hand-made bows), snow tracking while wandering through the storm, venison steaks, even a bit of dog training, and great conversation. Best ‘stuck in NY’ yet!

Snow on the Lake in NY

Snow on the Lake in NY

Once the roads cleared I made it back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Took some time to myself, hung out with Shaun and basically let my brain stop for a day or two (class was very intense, it needed a break). Food, movies, the rest of the Walking Dead episodes that I hadn’t seen yet; I enjoyed being lazy and Shaun was happy to partake. Then the dreaded Christmas shopping began. Everyone to whom I have sent gifts (or will, since I’m always late with this sort of thing) I love dearly, and even like giving them things. But I HATE HOLIDAY SHOPPING. People are crazy. The music is horrid. The lines ridiculous. And the children… Don’t even get me started on the freaking brats in the store. Crying. Wailing. WHINING. Ugh. And I’m not even done…

This weekend I am going to get to see the semi-famous Baltimore Aquarium and go dancing with Shaun. I just hope I don’t kill anyway who is out shopping with their kids…

I then fly out to Seattle to stay with Reuben, where Linda (Element Sister from Tracker) will meet me and we will be adventuring around the West Coast (literally) for the Holiday. The plan is to see the Redwoods in CA, drive along the Oregon coast, hit up the Olympic Peninsula in WA and see a show in Vancouver, BC, Canada. While in Seattle, I will also get to see my Aunt Michele and Uncle Dave!

On the 31st I will be back in Alaska to kick off the New Year with Kathy, Dave and of course – River. I’ve plenty of work to keep me busy for most of January in Anchorage.

Hope your Holidays are fun!

~ Joannie

Fall Adventures in the Mix & Joannie’s Birthday

Autumn is near, the Equinox today and the winds of change are ever upon us. Fall used to be my favorite time of the year. Slowly I am getting some of my passion for it back. I still struggle with the memories of happier times and the last birthday that Mom was here for – I wrote about it in 2011 Here: https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/my-belated-birthday/

For the second time this year, I will be at Tracker School in the company of my Element Sisters – Tracy, Linda & Afsoon – for a difficult time period. I feel there is significance in this timing. The other class took place this past March on the anniversary of Mom’s death.

My very first class with my ‘Element Sisters’ – where it all began – a year ago  I wrote about Here: https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/philosophy-vision-quest-life-changing-times-at-tracker-school-august-2012/

What I’m up to:

I had a great weekend (Sept 7th -9th) in New York camping on the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation – a large and beautiful park where my Wilderness Fusion classes take place.

Words do not come readily to describe my weekend with Wilderness Fusion, other than it was extremely challenging and I found much-needed cognizance of my self.

The following two weeks after Wilderness Fusion, I spent in Maryland – predominately Ocean City, visiting with family and friends. I enjoyed the Ocean, visiting Assateague Island and taking a bit of down time in between appointments online, errands and planning my next adventures.

Most will know that for the end of September (Sept 22nd – Oct 1st) I will be at Tracker School integrating myself deeply (and probably getting my ass kicked) into Philosophy 2 & 3 with my wonderful Element Sisters and many other friends and class mates!

What is next?

I’ve had a few ‘possible’ trips in the mix, Hawaii being one of them. In addition to Hawaii though, I’ve had an even grander adventure possibility that I have been working on for the last couple of months that I am now officially doing (I will get to Hawaii one of these days..). A much desired destination of New Zealand! Yes, NEW ZEALAND!!! Australia is a possibility if the plane tickets are cheap enough – but New Zealand is for sure!

Details to come, for now I am going with my good friend Carleigh in December to backpack both Islands till the end of January, which brings me to the reason for this quick and rather lacking post of mine: I am asking all family and friends who planned on sending me a card or a small gift (Starbucks card, etc.) for my birthday next week, to instead please add whatever amount (hey I’m not picky – take that 5 bucks that you would have given me for a nice coffee) to my Travel Fund. I need some gear (frame backpack that will work for my rather messed up back.. etc) and of course the plane tickets aren’t cheap. I’m going to just go ahead and add here that Christmas gifts can be funneled in the same direction since I will actually be in New Zealand over Christmas.

Normally when people ask me ‘what do you want for your Birthday’ (Christmas too) I say ‘Nothing’ – or a bookstore gift card at the most. Holidays are pretty bittersweet for me and with my piss poor attitude about them in the last few years most people get me nothing nowadays (Except Lorien, because she doesn’t give a shit that I told her she cannot get me anything anymore). As I have changed in the last year, I’ve realized that while it doesn’t matter much if I still get nothing since this is my normal expectation, if people would like to ‘gift’ me – I can accept it and point them in the direction of what would be meaningful/useful for myself. So here I am, trying on a new hat (Yep that is a nod to you Barbara Myerson).

I hope your Autumn is filled with exciting prospects as mine has been thus far. I hope to write more about my adventures and maybe even edit some of this blog of mine… For now, I hit the road to New Jersey in 5 hours!

Open Roads ~ J