Sunrise Along the Appalachian Trail

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Hello There!

I'm not sure how you have happened upon my blog but I’m glad you did. I began blogging several years ago, although initially it was a private journal I kept just for myself. In time, however, I began to share my blog publicly, and now I have quite a few folks who check in with regularity. Perhaps you’ll become one of them!

So who am I? Well I have to tell you, I still haven’t quite figured that out. But I keep working on it. I just passed the half-century mark, and I'm hoping that I'll figure out just who I am someday soon. Maybe by the time I'm sixty?

I’ve had incredible life experiences at both ends of the spectrum, and I share a lot here--maybe too much sometimes. But I’m having a good time, so what the heck. And the focus of my blog for the coming months will be recording the details of the trip of a lifetime (for me anywy): a thru-hike of the 2,187-mile Appalachian Trail. Check in and if my adventures intrigue you, stick around.

I hope you enjoy! I give you my regards and wish you…

Happy Trails!

Fun in New Orleans

My best friend

Mom and Tami During our Alaskan Cruise

Flycatcher (Tessa), a good hiking buddy and real trooper.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Capital 10K This Weekend. WHO'S IN?????

Hello, Friends! 

The Capital 10K is just around the corner (here’s a link: so it’s time to make a definite plan.  

I will be hosting a carb-loading / tutu making party on Saturday, April 5th. If you’d like to join us in running or walking the Capital 10K (it’s not too late to register), be sure and pick up your packet at the race site on Saturday (no package pick-up on day of race), then head my way around 5:00. This will give us plenty of time to make tutus (my gift to you: I will provide all materials and instruction) followed by dinner. If you don’t want to make tutus (you curmudgeon) just come for the dinner and social part at 6:00-ish. I will have various starches such as pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, and a selection of sauces (vegetarian marinara, beef / venison spaghetti sauce, and a creamy chicken sauce). I ask that you provide some sort of salad or dessert. BYOB if you want to have spirits. You may bring your cheerleader if you wish.

Please note that gals and fellas alike are encouraged to make tutus! There’s a trend sweeping the nation: running in tutus! Let’s show our playful, ‘Keep Austin Weird’ spirit! Be brave, be silly, be playful, darlings! In addition to your tutus (which I will provide), you should try to bring a pair of funky socks to complete the look. Crazy hats, hair accessories, wild sunglasses, etc., will enhance your ensemble even more! 

Some of my long-distance guests will be spending the night before the race, so if you’d like to do so too let me know. I have ample room. 

After the race, I propose that my racers join me and mine and Jack Allen Restaurant in Oak Hill, I’ve made reservations for twelve at 1:00 and if I need to adjust that I will. They have a FABULOUS brunch buffet and you deserve a fabulous brunch buffet after all of your hard work! And yes, come in your race clothes! You want to show off that Cap 10K t-shirt and tutu! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10K Health & Fitness Expo

Palmer Events Center, Hall 2

12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (you don’t need to attend this but they have some great vendors)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10K Health & Fitness Expo

Palmer Events Center, Hall 2

9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (It won’t take you long to get your stuff---the earlier the better so you can be sure to have plenty of time to make it to my house. I’m going first thing in the morning and I can bring anyone who wants to join me. The same vendors should be there as from Friday, I believe.) 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10,000 Race

7:30 a.m. Wheelchair Athlete Start

8:00 a.m. Race Start

8:45 a.m. Start Line Closes

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (noon) Finish Line Festival

9:30 a.m. Awards Presentation

11:00 a.m. Race Course Closes

12:00 p.m. Finish Line Festival concludes

From the official Capital 10K website:

“Statesman Capitol 10K names SafePlace 2014 beneficiary


November 6, 2013

The Statesman Capitol 10,000 has selected SafePlace as the beneficiary of its 2014 race. SafePlace is an agency ending domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change in Austin and Travis County. Funds raised will support SafePlace’s innovative Children’s Services program, designed to address the specific needs of youth who have witnessed or experienced violence.
“The Statesman is proud to support SafePlace and their work to raise awareness about domestic abuse and the services they provide to survivors,” said John Conley, Statesman Capitol 10,000 race director.
The Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10K race in Texas and one of the top 10 in the nation. The Statesman Capitol 10,000 began in 1978 with 3,400 participants. In 2013, the race had 18,382 registered participants. In its 37th year, the Cap10K will take place on April 6, 2014 in downtown Austin. Registration for the 2014 Statesman Cap 10K begins October 8, 2013 online at
H-E-B will return for a fifth year as presenting sponsor for the 2014 race.”

I would SO love it if you would join me! You don't need to be a runner. If you are in reasonably good health, you can walk 6 miles. Come for the exercise, come for the fun, come for the energy of the crowds, come for the music, come because it's AUSTIN and it's weird and this is one of the top 10 10K's in the country! Be weird, be fit, be happy!

Please contact me at for details, to RSVP, to wish me luck, whatever!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

We love you Aiden...forever

Four years ago today one of the world's most precious little boys left us. Though he is no longer with us physically, he left a lot of wonderful memories behind, and we will always love and cherish them. He was truly a gift.

Thank you for being with us for a while, little one. You were one of the very best things that ever happened to us, and we love you.

Rhiannon and Tony, my heart is with you as always, but today in particular.

Sleep sweet, little Aiden. Nana loves you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Checkin' In...

I've been a busy girl lately, and haven't taken the time to post an update. I'm busy, yes, but not adventuring or anything like that, so I feel like my activities would bore most of you. I'll just give you a brief synopsis so as not to bore you. 

I'm taking a wheel-throwing class at Clayways as well as a hand-building class. I made this for Ethan a couple of weeks ago. It's finally fully dry and ready to fire. I'm going to make another one, better this time.

After it's fired I will glaze it using earth-tones, then use the top row of holes to lace it to a tree near his burial site, and the bottom row of holes to attach wind-chimes, colorful glass, whatever feels right.

It's nothing special, but it's a gift of love from me to my son. I'll post another picture when it's finished. 
Ethan's gravestone is finally completed but not yet installed. This long, drawn-out process is very painful. Pat and I went to ensure the marker was to our satisfaction and it hurt so badly that I spent the rest of the day in my bed. But I made myself get moving again the next day. One day of emotional paralysis is okay, but no more..

We had a great Valentine's Day. Pat and I set up a scavenger hunt for the kids around Austin. We sent them pictures on their cell phones to places around Austin that they had to go to in order to reach their ultimate treasure. Here are a couple of examples. Any guesses from my Austin friends?


It was fun, and I think the kids had a good time. The boys got sort of burned out toward the end, but for the most part it was great for all of us. We were always one step ahead of them, waiting with goofy little surprises (chocolate-covered bacon, anyone?) for them at each place.  

I'm playing tennis again, feeling pretty good after my recent surgery. Trying to do a bit of jogging too. I want to do a half-marathon in Nashville in April. (Jessica, are you training?????) Even if I walk most of it I don't care. I just want to do it.  

I had a 4-minute adventure recently. I did this 26 years ago too, and I'd forgotten just how much fun it is:

I'm hooked. I've decided to become certified. Pat's not thrilled with this decision, but he understands my heart and he's supporting me. 

I'm going to head back to tae kwon do and work toward my second-degree black belt. I've forgotten so much that I need to work with some of my TKD friends to refresh my memory. I will not walk in to the do jang and disgrace the black belt by not being able to perform the forms. I've been away for four years. Shortly after I got my black belt, Aiden died and my world began to crumble. I never went back. But I'm ready to now. A dear friend, with whom I tested for my black belt, contacted me and we had coffee today. He challenged me to come back, and he didn't know that I've been thinking of doing so for a couple of months anyway, so I sort of took it as a sign that maybe the time is right. Thank you, Tom! My black-belt buddy!!! 

We had the joy of celebrating Jeremy's 21st birthday this past weekend. His birthday is actually next weekend, but Pat and I will be heading out of town in a couple of days so we celebrated early. My kids have informed me that they will never be too old for Happy Birthday pancakes, so that's how we began our day:


I love this boy so much! You know what he asked for for his birthday? A battery and some ponytail bands. That's it. He is so NOT a materialistic young man. He's wonderful and I adore him. But though he's 21 I still want to call him my boy!!!!!
I went to get my hair trimmed today, but there was a bit of a wait so I picked up a hairstyles magazine. As I sat there leafing through the hairstyles I decided that I needed something new. I've been a redhead for several months now; it was time for a change. There were a couple of options I really liked:

I felt that the above would really make a statement; plus it would go GREAT with my gun and motorcycle. A few pages later I found this one:

Not nearly the statement hairstyle as the previous one, though. Decisions, decisions...

Pat and I are headed to New York in a couple of days. We're going to watch a singles' tennis match between the top two players in the world: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic; and a doubles match between the Brian Brothers and the McEnroe brothers. Should be some amazing tennis to watch!!!! We are both looking forward to it but Pat made me promise: NO SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THIS TRIP! This trip is to be just for us, but I'll let you know how it went when we get home. In fact, I'm signing off until early April.

I've seen two pictures of my absolutely gorgeous granddaughter and I am very, very grateful. I am unable to share them with you at this time, however, but I wish I could show you just how heartbreakingly beautiful she is. Just like her daddy and her mama. With that DNA combo Lyla truly won the genetic lottery. How I hope with all of my heart that I may one day be a part of her life. hair.  What do you think? (Hopefully you realize that I would NEVER do something like the other to my hair...but this one's fun. I like it.)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy "Birthday," Lyla!

My granddaughter, Lyla Grace, is two months old today. I hope to someday be able to see her, hold her, fawn over her, spoil her (as well as her big sister). Unfortunately, I am not able to do so at this time, but I try to hold on to hope that one day her Mama will change her mind. In the meantime, I have to practice one of the most important skills I learned at Brookhaven: radical acceptance. Oftentimes in our lives, we cannot change what is, so we have to find a way to accept it and make peace with it. I must make peace with the loss of my son, my grandson, and my granddaughter too. There is nothing I can do about it so I must try not to torture myself about the "if only's." But an occasional picture would sure be nice. I don't get even that. But I'm trying to accept it, though it breaks my heart.

At any rate, happy two months "birthday," little one. I really hope to meet you some day. I have presents for you, but it's time for me to find another little girl to give them to. But I really thought that you'd look precious in these. They have a certain sassiness that I'm sure you have too, because some of my blood flows in those little veins! I've had them for about six months. They're sized for newborns.

I hope a day comes when I get to spoil you, as every grandma should with her grandchildren.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Love You, Ethan...


You left us eight months ago today, yet for me the pain of losing you is as raw as though it were yesterday. At first I was numb. It didn’t feel real. I wanted to deny it and proceed with my life as if it didn’t happen. I even considered taking rowing classes in North Carolina. I moved robotically and smiled when I was expected to, pretending in my heart that you were still here. But I slowly withdrew from the world, even my own family, and I kept to myself in my room, coming down to eat only when everyone was asleep. I even kept your daddy at bay; he moved downstairs so I could be alone. And then I had a breakdown. I didn’t want to live any more, and I wanted to follow you. But I didn’t, because I knew the pain you left in your wake, and I didn’t want to repeat that for those I love. So I reached out and sought help. How I wish you had done so, too.

Today, again, I want to follow you, too, but I won’t. I won’t because it is wrong---but darling, I understand why you did what you did, and I forgive you. I want so badly to follow you…but I won’t. I must move forward. I must. I have to show, for you and me and the rest of the world, that no matter how much it hurts, we must trust that better days are ahead. It’s called “hope,” and without it there is nothing.
Ethan, I miss you so damned much. I always thought that you would come home to us. I never dreamed it would be in a box. I love you more than words can convey. I always have. You were a tough child to raise, but you always had my heart, whether you knew it or not. You were impossibly bright, funny, charming, and handsome, and I know you had a huge gift to offer the world; but your fragilities (which you never showed but which I, as your mama, saw all too readily) got the better of you. I am ever so sorry. I have been where you were and I am there as I write this, but I won’t follow you just yet…because of the love I bear those who would be left behind. But darling, I want more than anything to hold you in my arms and stroke your head and promise you that if only you can hang on, there are better days ahead. If only…
My beautiful son, I miss you so much that I feel my wound will be my demise.  But not by my own hand. Not by my own hand, I promise. But oh, Ethan, I want to hold you so much! My boy, my baby, my poor sweet love…my heart aches for you.
Where are you darling? Are you at all? Do you feel the love I send you every day? Do you know, at long last, that you are precious? Why did you not know? I’m sorry for any way that I let you down, love. I always, always loved you, admired you, and respected you. I tried to show you and tell you of my love every day. You had so much to offer the world. I thought that for sure you would come around and find your way back to us. I didn’t push because I knew it would make you retreat, but I always thought I would hold my beautiful baby once again. Oh Ethan.
I proofread your tombstone yesterday, Ethan. It finally came in. It’s beautiful, but it’s really not good enough for you. Nothing is good enough for my baby. I decided to buy the plot next to you for me and Dad to have our urns placed. I know that what is buried are only your earthly remains, but I don’t want you to rest alone. I will be with you. I always thought I would have my own remains scattered to the winds, but I want to rest with you.
Darling, I still remember your first laugh. I remember how you tried to suck both of your thumbs at once. I remember what an amazingly bright boy you were, walking and talking at 10 months. I remember the day you learned the word, “dangerous,” and how you repeated it over and over just because you could. Barely walking, in Sears’s tool department, saying “dangerous, dangerous, dangerous…”
Ethan I want to hold you. I want to love you. I want you to know that there is hope for tomorrow. I lay my body on the ground at your grave just to embrace you. You will never, ever know just how deeply you were loved. 

Darling, I’m so sorry. I did my best but it wasn’t enough. I love you so very much, my beautiful boy. I love you. I love you.
Forever my darling,
Love Mama

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Each day I grow a little stronger, a little more resolute, a little more accepting. It's hard, every single day, but I am determined. To tell you the truth, I do feel I have aged tremendously in the past several years and I feel certain that the trials I have faced have caused me genuine physical damage. I don't expect to live to a ripe old age anymore. I'm fighting hard, however, to regain the self I've lost in the past several years. I've returned to my beloved Clayways to resume my clay work, and I have expanded into other mediums. I'm teaching myself to paint in watercolors and acrylics, but I'm looking for a formal class. I also want to learn to paint with oils, but I DEFINITELY need a class for that. I am slowly returning to tennis. I am strengthening existing friendships where appropriate, pruning back friendships where appropriate, and reconnecting with dear old friends whom I haven't seen in years. All in all, it's good.

Ethan is with me every day. He is my first thought upon waking and my last thought in the evening, and I am constantly wishing him peace. I do so hope he has found the peace he sought. And I am looking for a peace of my own, and I believe I am getting closer every day. I am moving forward to the best of my ability for him, for Aiden, and for all of those I love. One day I will be doing so for me as well.

Up until my surgery, I was working out regularly. I'll soon return to that. I am determined to do a half marathon this year with my friend Jessica, even if I have to walk parts of it. Whether I walk it or jog it (I won't RUN it, for sure) or some combination thereof (most likely), I just want to do it. And in December, hopefully a full marathon too. I am at a weight that I am comfortable with (though the loss of a couple more pounds would still be nice), and I want to do everything I can to maintain it, but also to get toned and fit.

I am going to set up an appointment with an advisor at UT to discuss the possibility of returning to school. I'm working on the 30-year plan. I know I didn't put it on my bucket-list, but I have always wanted to have a college degree. I think it's time to do something about it. Rhiannon, Jeremy and Pat are all Aggies (or, in Rhiannon's case, an Aggie-to-be); Ethan was a Longhorn and I, too, feel the need to represent Austin's own UT! I was a student there 24 years ago. I'd like to return. Rhiannon, Jeremy and Pat's blood may run maroon, but Ethan's and mine are burnt orange all the way. We need a UT graduate in this family. I think I'm going to do it for Ethan and me. Toby is still on the fence about what he wants to do post-graduation. He'll be taking a gap year to figure things out.

I'm thinking seriously of becoming a certified skydiver, but Pat is against this. I'm also considering returning to tae kwon do to earn my second degree black belt. I refuse to grow old quietly!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Just Stuff...

I guess I'm not the only one who tends to wait until all her ducks are in a row before taking action. I'm trying to change that in myself, however, because "if you wait for the perfect moment, the perfect moment will pass you by." My life will never be perfect, and neither will yours, but every day you wait is another day wasted. Life is now, not tomorrow when things are "better." You may not have tomorrow. I may not have tomorrow. I want to live as though today is my last. Yes, I've spewed a bunch of clich├ęs in a row, but they are (forgive yet another) words to live by. Enough of that for now. 

I had a great time with my friends during yesterday's Superbowl party. It was the first time I'd entertained since Ethan died. And of course I cried during the National Anthem, but of course I often cried during the National Anthem anyway, even before Ethan left us, simply because I am so grateful to live in America---I'm a very proud American.  

It was especially heart-wrenching when the camera zoomed to soldiers in uniform. I miss my Marine. And I had to look away during some of those tear-jerker commercials. Other than that it went GREAT for all of us here at Casa Vanderwilt; not so great for the Broncos (and they were the team I was rooting for, as I was born in Colorado.) I am so very grateful for the friends in my life. I really am a fortunate woman in many, many ways.  

I have to laugh at myself, because at last night's party one of my guests was surprised to learn that I didn't realize that my readers could read my blacked-out Bucket List items if they knew how. (Don't even try; I've fixed it.) He thought I knew that my secrets were visible if you really wanted to see them. Ugh. Well sorry about that, folks...yes I have a naughty side but hey, I am who I am. I just hope that there are very few people who know how to do that. But I'll laugh at myself and move on and wonder how many other people have similar goals. (Some of you are going, "Damn, now I really wonder..." You missed your chance, and I'll not make that mistake again!) 

I think I may be turning into somewhat of an ostrich in that I am putting my head in the sand when I don't want to see or hear something, but if I don't have to then I feel it is perfectly acceptable. For instance, I began reading a book, Seven Years a Slave, and it hurt my heart too much so I put it down. I won't watch sad movies anymore because I don't need anything else to make me sad. I've had enough sorrow for now. I can't read about Syria, or Uganda, or any of the countries whose people are suffering. I can't hear about cancer, tragic accidents, child abuse, or any of the myriad other ugly realities that are present in our world because it's all I can do to deal with the ugly realities of my own world. Sometimes I feel guilty for this, like I'm not performing my civic duties or being a compassionate bystander or whatever, but I just can't. Not now, not yet. And I am cutting myself some slack for it, because I know I am fragile and it's okay to take care of me right now. So my own little world consists of trusted friends, a bit of tennis, a bit of art, a lunch out now and then, and lots of positivity. I'm surrounding myself with it. Living clean, living well.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Let Go of Your Banana

I found a sheet of paper with the following parable (I don't think "parable is the best choice in this situation but I'm not sure what is. Word mavens, help?) written on it. I'd saved it because I thought it valuable. Now, in trying to organize all of these loose papers I have floating about MY ENTIRE WORLD, I created a folder on my desktop called, "Words of Wisdom," where I filed the brief essay below. I thought that if I found value in it, some of you might, too.

Let Go of Your Banana

In India there are a lot of monkeys. When the locals want to catch one, they anchor a bottle to the ground. The neck of the bottle is just large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit through. Then, they put a small banana in the bottle and sit back and wait.


Before long a monkey comes by, sees the banana, reaches his hand into the bottle, and grabs it. But then, the monkey discovers that he can’t get his hand out of the bottle while holding onto the banana. There is loud chattering and squealing as the person who set the trap walks up to the monkey and places a burlap sack over him. In the darkness, the monkey releases the banana and is captured.

The monkey could, of course, let go of the banana and run before getting caught. Some do. But most of the monkeys hang on to the banana until the sack goes over their head. Why? Because the banana has value to the monkey and the monkey is unwilling to let go of that value. So unwilling that he gives up his life for it. People do the same thing.

What does your banana represent? Are you ready to let go?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bucket List and Other Stuff

I took some time yesterday to catch up with a few of the women I lived with during my stay at Brookhaven. It was so nice to hear those lovely, familiar voices. I'll be trying to reach more of my comrades in the coming days, and I hope to make it a regular practice. This is the first time I've called any of them since I left, and in evaluating why it took me so long, I came to some pretty profound realizations about myself.

I tend to compartmentalize my life, which is precisely what my son Ethan used to do, and which I counseled him was not a good practice. Yet I do precisely the same thing. For instance, I have friends I see routinely at tennis, then other friends at Clayways pottery studio, others with whom I play bridge---and these three groups are my primary fun groups. I love those ladies, but with many of them I'm used to keeping things light and upbeat. I don't (or should I say, "didn't used to") share much about my personal life in those circles. Then there are the friends to whom I feel most close, and ironically, these are the friends that I talk with far more infrequently. I've come to realize that my pattern is to not call or visit unless everything in my life is going smoothly, because I don't want to bring anyone down, or show the chinks in my armor when they ask, "How are you?". I want everything to be hunky-dory, but that's not realistic. Nothing is ever "perfect," especially not, it seems, for me. (I do feel that there has been an inordinate amount of heartbreak in my life. I'm not being self-pitying, I am stating what I feel is a fact.) I don't want to talk to these lovely friends unless I can tell them honestly, "yes, everything is perfect in my life." But it's never been perfect and it's never going to be perfect, so I am working to let my guard down and reach out to my friends more, even if I'm having a rough time. Typically when I was feeling low I would isolate, but I am making a conscious effort not to do so. It is precisely when I'm feeling low that I most need a friend, and I have to take a leap of faith that my friends will still love me even if my emotions come to the surface. Ironic, isn't it, that I share EVERYTHING here on my blog, but not face-to-face? I suspect that is probably typical of a lot of writers. Easier to share anonymously---even though in truth this is anything but anonymous---than in a face-to-face encounter. But just realizing these things is helping me to be more genuine, more authentic. And so far, it seems that the more I expose myself to my friends, the deeper our friendships have become. What a shocker! Baby steps. I'm just in my early 50's, I'm figuring this stuff out as I go. (Better late than never, eh?)

Sometimes I have no choice but to share. For instance, on the court recently, one of my opponents' young son came up to the fence to talk with his mother about something for a bit. I didn't hear the exchange, but I read the body language (deep affection both ways), and I suddenly started to cry. Now, I've never even met the three ladies I was playing doubles with on this particular occasion (this was league tennis), and there I was, bawling on the court. I simply couldn't help myself; the grief came on unexpectedly like a tsunami and I was blindsided. But I was honest with them about why I was emotional, composed myself, and play continued. And rather than being put off by my emotional display, each of the three ladies asked for my phone number so they could call me again for more tennis. (I'd explained to them that I've been away from the game for nearly a year, between my Appalachian Trail attempt and my son's subsequent death, and I was looking for opportunities to build my game back up.) I just have to's okay to be my true self.

Enough of that. Here's a fun thing I'd like to share with you: I've made a bucket list. I've had a mental list going for many years, but I finally have written things down. I started it while at Brookhaven, and already it has been added to numerous times. My list will never stop growing. I think I'd need 10 lifetimes to do all the things I want to do, and of course the longer I live, the more I see things I'd like to experience, so I'll never be "done." But that's as it should be. It's called "hope," and I am so glad to have it, because I'd lost it on several occasions ("occasions" isn't really the right word, because I lost hope for entire chapters---years---of my life.) That's one of the things I hold to with all my heart: hope, for without hope, there is nothing.

Anyway, the bucket list (so far):

Bucket List
1. Speak about crib bumper pads to Austin City Council
2.     Speak about Depression, PTSD and suicide to military bases
3.     Hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail
4.     Take a bike ride on the Great Wall of China
5.     Learn to hand toss a pizza crust
6.     Build a sculptural outdoor pizza oven at the ranch
7.     Learn to identify cloud formations
8.     Run a half marathon
9.     Run a full marathon
10.  Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu
11. OMG!!!!! I didn't know that people could
still read this if they knew how (before I fixed it)!!!!
12.  Take a class in glass blowing
13.  Hike Hadrian’s Wall in England
14.  Take a college level geology class
15.  Do a stint of extended volunteer work in a third world country
16.  Paint a painting that I am genuinely proud of 
(I really like my leaf watercolor, completed 1-15-14)

17.  Write a book
18.  Hike the John Muir Trail in California
19.  Go skydiving (done and done again)
20.  Go to Sturgis
21.  Grow a bonsai tree from scratch
22.  Draw a picture of each of my children that I am genuinely pleased with
23.  Start a bee-hive
24.  Fly in a hot air balloon 
(done, done, done and done: I bought Pat and I a trip
as a wedding gift; next was Ethan and Rhiannon’s 10th birthday trip;
then one with Jeremy when he turned 10; then finally one with Toby when he turned 10.)
25.  Hike the Camino de Santiago Trail in Spain
26.  Hang one of my paintings in a public place
(I have one hanging in “The Green Room” of AA meeting place in Tennessee)
27.  Start a chicken coop
28.  Watch a mountain gorilla in its natural habitat
29.  Fly in a helicopter
30.  Take a belly dancing class
31.  Act in a community theater production
32.  Check out a Toastmaster Meeting
33.  Inspire someone
34.  Check out the Optimist Club
35.  Drive a demolition derby car
36.  Take an intensive kayaking course at Nantahala Outdoor Center
37.  Take an intensive canoeing course at Nantahala Outdoor Center
38.  Learn to sail
39.  Learn to parasail
40.  Bathe in a beautiful waterfall (I’ve had several occasions to do this)
41.  Ride as many rally roads I can on my motorcycle:
The Rattlesnake, The Devils Backbone, etc. Bring it!
42.  Ride Route 66 on my motorcycle
43.  Go to where the monarch butterflies migrate
44.  Wear a bikini despite my age, scars, and imperfections, and OWN IT!
45.  Be able to do 100 push-ups (man-style) in a single set
46.  Learn to ride clipless on a bike
47.  Do 5 pull-ups in a single set
48.  Take an extended (several weeks’ duration or more) rowing trip
49.  Give golf a go
50.  Bungee jump
51. This is another secret bucket-list item that I had blacked out. I seriously didn't know that, if you knew how, you could still read what I wrote. I am SOOOOOOOOO embarrassed!!!!! God, I hope not too many people saw this. I know I tell you a lot, but there are some things even I would like to keep quiet.
52.  Scuba in the Great Barrier Reef
53.  Go to Australia
54.  Hike in Vietnam
55.  Hike in New Zealand
56.  Take a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon
57.  Hike down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon
58.  Do a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon (maybe even in one day)
59.  Do a rim to rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon
60.  Learn to shoot a rifle
61.  Go hunting
62.  Learn to throw a #&*@ing Frisbee!
Damn it, I can never get them to go where I want them to!
63.  Learn to hoola-hoop
64.  Be able to jump rope for a full 30 minutes nonstop at a brisk pace
65. Earn a black belt in tae kwon do
(There are several that aren't on here yet. They're hand-written on a paper upstairs somewhere, so I'll update later.)

P. S. This post-script is being written days after I wrote this post. It was brought to my attention tonight during my Superbowl party that for those who knew how, my previously blacked-out posts were still readable! I am so embarrassed about this, especially # 51. What can I say? I'm a little naughty. I just hope there weren't many of you who read them. And I thought that when Anonymous said s/he liked #11 and #51, s/he was joking because s/he couldn't see it! Now I least a couple of people know some of my secrets now. Sigh. The only reason I kept them here but blacked them out was because I was going to use the post straight from my blog for further editing for a project I am working on; otherwise I'd have done what I now have, which is REMOVE THEM altogether. I know what they are (and now some of you do, too, dammit!!!). Please try to forget that I wrote those things. Ugh. (Smiling sheepishly. At least both are things I want to do with my husband!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

For The Love of Ethan...

(Yes I am spending an inordinate amount of time on my computer today, but I am severely limited in my mobility because of my surgery. So this is one way of being productive and doing something meaningful.)

I posted the following to Facebook and the Veterans' PTSD Project, and I mean every word. And I decided to post it here, just in case I can be of help. Yes, I know I am taking a terrible risk in publishing my phone number, but I am willing to take that chance for my fellow military members or anyone else who is hurting emotionally and is considering hurting themselves physically. I, too, have PTSD, and I have Major Depressive Disorder as well. I, too, have considered hurting myself. (Oh hell, I’ll be brutally honest: I have actively tried twice to end my life, and considered doing so countless other times, but I am not in that state of mind any longer, and I want to help others to heal as I have. You can do it. I can help.)

"My Marine son took his own life seven months ago, and I have been heartbroken ever since. I want to do anything and everything I can to help others with PTSD. I am working toward my goal of delivering a speech about the importance of letting someone know if you are struggling. Struggling alone does NOT make you strong. Asking for help does NOT mean you are weak. Humans are programmed to be part of a supportive society. Reach out if you need help!!!!! And if ever you want to talk to someone who understands, please call me. I am a veteran, and I too have PTSD but I have learned to manage it. I have Major Depressive Disorder, but I have learned to manage it. My number is 512-751-8264, and I'd like to be there for you. I understand! I will lend you a shoulder to cry on, a compassionate ear to listen to your story, a pair of arms for a comforting embrace. I could not help my boy, but if I can help you I am more than willing and happy to do so.”