On a quest to learn more about myself, I decided one day in early November to just chuck it all, to throw myself into something new, to stretch myself to see if there wasn’t something more inside me that I had not yet been made aware of and to get out there and explore my world.

Well, for the day anyway. Bill was golfing with his brother and would be gone for a few hours. I love him to the moon and back but like any sane, normal person I need and cherish my alone time, my down time, my ME time.

I ate a quick breakfast of toast and peanut butter and washed it down with my favorite juice: pineapple-orange. After making sure my cell phone and camera batteries were both charged and not an inkling of where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I jumped into the F-150. We purchased it more than ten years ago but drive it only occasionally, using it primarily for hauling things or whenever – like now, with Bill out of town – we need a second vehicle. Still, it has over 100,000 miles but runs like a champ. It has a sporty look to it (the letters STX, whatever that means, are painted on the rear side panels) and at first I was a little embarrassed by the loud, throaty rumble of the muffler. I wanted Bill to replace it with something quieter but after I drove it the first time, I kind of liked the rush of power and energy – and oomph!- that I felt behind the wheel, so I told my husband “Let’s keep it the way it is”.

Pulling out of the driveway, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I toyed with visiting a gift shop not far from here that is set up in a grand old barn, filled with antiques and decorative items of interest. It’s a beautiful place and has some lovely things but I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I just knew that I wanted to get out of the house, drive along some quiet, gravel road and perhaps stumble across something interesting, something unique, something funky, something beautiful. And to snap a few photos which is always my ultimate goal.

I headed south out of town and after a mile or two turned right onto the first virgin gravel road, that is, one I’d not been on before. The sky was overcast and it was only a little chilly. There was no breeze. It was calm and still. Fortunately, I encountered no traffic on my lonely stretch of gravel as I drove a few hundred yards, stopped and took a few photos, drove a few hundred yards further, stopped and snapped a few more. Sometimes I merely stopped, taking in the beauty of the not yet harvested corn fields or the sound of a small stream or to watch in wonder as a pheasant poked his way through the downed stalks, no doubt pecking for nuggets of corn on the ground.

I didn’t shoot any real good photographs that day – it would have been nice if the sun had been more cooperative and there was some blue sky and wispy clouds to frame and complement the shots I did take – but the peace and solitude of this brief excursion was memorable, and enjoyable, nonetheless.

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Unlike both my mother and my mother-in-law, I hope to remain physically active into my 70s and I don’t just mean mall walking or potting a few container plants come spring and fall. I want to hike the Rocky Mountains and shoot my .22 and ride my bike and golf and maybe even discover a new passion or two as the years go by.

Like both my mother and my mother-in-law, I hope to have perfected a variety of recipes – dinner entrees and baked goods that I can whip up without having to refer, again and AGAIN, to what’s written in my flour-smudged cookbooks or scribbled onto recipe cards.

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Unlike my mother-in-law, I hope to continue to travel and seek new adventures, always finding joy in the facets of our everyday lives, appreciating and seeking to commune with nature and exploring the world all around me – both close to home as well as across the globe.

Unlike my mother, I hope to still have my husband at my side, healthy and well, alive and kickin’, until death comes knocking on the door for both of us at once. I’ve seen how difficult it has been for her to carry on without Dad and while she’s managing just fine now, it has been a horrible struggle for her and I hope not to go there.

Like my mother-in-law, I hope to continue enjoy playing cards with family and friends. A few years ago we held a Game Night at our house and it was so much fun that I’m wondering even as I write this why it is that we haven’t organized something like this again since then. Note to Self: Arrange for a little soirée once we’re past the rush and tumble of the holidays!

Like my mother, I hope to continue to enjoy holiday decorating and landscaping and color and fabric and fun clothes and jewelry. On second thought, I am certain that I will!

Like my mother, I know that I’ll continue to pursue my love of reading.

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Like my mother-in-law, I know that I’ll continue to love her son with all of my heart, soul and being.

Like both these women, who play dominant roles in my life to some degree or another, I am my own unique self. I know I have strengths and passions and characteristics they do not and never will possess. But just as well, I am sometimes lacking in areas in which they neither of them struggle, such as patience, calm or restraint.

We all have to strike out on our own, seeking pathways that best suit and fit who we are as individuals but in many ways, we can benefit and learn from those who have walked before us.

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Fresh faces, new spaces.

Throwing our all into brand new places.

It took everything we had and then some…

One foot in front of the other. It’s all that we knew to do.

Too many times we feared that we had erred in impossible proportions to anything we’d been called upon to do before this undertaking of ours. There was no light for us, only the darkness of the tunnel.

Now, at long last, we are able to bask in the glow of our perseverance and we delight in the here and now.

Continue on. Trust in yourself. And know that all things ultimately change. Revel in the good and strive for to deliver yourself from that which is not.

Love this post from my fun friend Mara!

Mara Eastern

I was looking to shoot pictures of autumn landscape for the entire autumn. It was never going to happen. The autumn weather started, but the darn leaves clung to their native trees like a cat lady clings to her cats and refused to sail to the ground picturesquely. Then the leaves finally turned into autumn colours, but I could only suspect rather than see because of the onset of permanent impenetrable mist. When the mist lifted weeks later, the leaves were gone. Bastards. Bemoaning my bad luck, cosmic irony, existential malaise and other smart-sounding annoyances, I went shooting outdoors one of these colourless overcast days anyway.

As a person who suffers from unbearable cold even at the height of summer, it was imperative that I wrap myself up properly for the expedition. I have a set of winter clothes put aside specially for the purpose of rolling on the ground…

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The view outside my eyeballs is no different than it was before Thursday, December 11, 2014. It’s the same overcast sky. The same brown, lifeless trees. The same Christmas décor looking strangely out of place with no snow on the ground. People come and go about their business, oblivious to what has changed for ME since that day. The traffic on Fleur Drive and University Avenue and I-35 still chugs along, its vehicle’s inhabitants on their way to jobs, homes, shopping malls and other obligations and passions of life.

Make no mistake though. Something HAS changed, at least in my own little world. The sights all around me are amazing, utterly amazing. It’s true that what has changed, for me, is more a consequence of my yearning for convenience, for want of a kinship with those who’ve never known (and therefore perhaps have always just taken it for granted) what it’s like to see without an apparatus of visual aid of any kind.

Having Lasik surgery – on eyes with 20/200 and 20/400 vision – was a decision made after much deliberation, caution, exuberance and a mix of both anticipation and apprehension. Twice during the procedure, fascinating in its own right, I was tempted to ask the nurse to hold my hand. The somber reality of what might, of what could go wrong was ever present but still I went through with it. My fears were, I’m certain, not unlike what anyone else who’s had the surgery has experienced. For some reason, that comforted me and made it easier to forge ahead.

Now, my eyes are healing from the process. I’m taking all the necessary precautions, putting the drops in at the prescribed intervals, wearing the plastic shields while I sleep, taking care to keep hard, airborne objects and elbows from striking or even a stray finger intent on rubbing or scratching too close for comfort. Family, friends and work colleagues will have to deal with seeing me without makeup for the next two weeks (a scary proposition, indeed!) They may have to also put up with the occasional, spontaneous tears such as what I’ve experienced since the surgery. I think I cried at least four or five times within 24 hours of the procedure. The beauty, the reality of being able to see, unaided, continues to amaze me.

It’s overwhelming to think – even now as I look up from my laptop – to look out at the Starbucks parking lot and realize that I am able to SEE all of this without glasses which I’ve worn since third grade, without contact lenses which I’ve worn for more than thirty years. My vision is as crisp and clear as it ever was. Indeed, on my follow up exam the morning after the procedure, I was told I’m now seeing 20/20. Incredible. How fortunate I am to be able to see – and this was true even before Lasik! – this magnificent, wonderful world I live in, the world all around me