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So it’s only been, oh, my gosh, one year, a whole year, since I last updated this blog. Betrayal, divorce, death, nearly losing my home … let’s see what else has happened? …. Oh, did I mention that life could never be better?

If you’ve ever been in a crisis mode—death of a loved one, death of a pet, victim of a crime, etc., etc., you know that in a flash life can become like living in a science fiction movie segment—that you can’t, no matter how you’d like to, escape from. That’s how the season was for me last fall. Yes, me, who for years presented PowerPoint presentations that encompassed feel good types of autumn day trip adventures to a variety of audiences in the region. What I once had preached –don’t miss the colors, smells, sounds of fall—I did not practice a year ago at this time.

Fortunately, years prior, I had learned to not allow situations to define me; to steal my true substance and being. I hoped that in the end, eventually, regardless of the outcome the “real me” (full of laughter, hope and faith) would prevail. But, meanwhile, I had to deal with a host of feelings that I could not flip a switch and shut off. Each catastrophe added, what seemed sometimes insurmountable, speed bumps into my life steps. One thing that helped me over these humps was that I kept telling myself that I would never have to go through this kind of turmoil again (hopefully) and next year (hopefully) would arrive, and I could enjoy the season.

Sure enough, this year I am out of the sci-fi mode and back into some semblance of reality. No, things aren’t “normal.” They never will be; only different. I am a newly divorced, single mom who may not be the same person she was a short year ago year, but I still wake up with the feeling of promise every morning – even more so …. My days are again full of laughter –the rip-roaring variety sometimes and faith. The nice thing about getting through the tough stuff is looking back, reflecting, and being reminded that today is a gift, a reprieve – for however long until the next calamity comes down the pike—and realizing that life, despite all its “luxury problems” is, oh, so worth the effort.

Last year, I threw myself a pity party by singing that old tune, “How can God do this TO ME?” This year, yes, what a difference a year makes, I can see God’s hand in it all. For instance, the family members and friends who have stuck by me, loved me unconditionally and completely.

It is as if I experience the glowing and fiery colors in the maples for the first time. In essence, at this segment of my newly defined life, this fall is a first for me; an adventure and I can’t wait to turn to the next colorful page.

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Patchwork quilt

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I started officially day tripping in 1998 when I began writing a weekly day-trip column for a daily newspaper. In retrospect, I realize that each experience is a metaphor for a snippet of fabric composing an entire patchwork quilt that I cuddle myself in and rejigger, especially when I’m feeling a bit down, drained or overpowered by the big, bad world at large.

A peek inside Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, Maine

You see the people I met—from quadriplegics to tireless volunteers and everyone in between—have warmed my heart with stories that inspire me when my hope-on-tap meter begins to plummet. The places from shad museums to arboretums have tickled my imagination and left such an impression on me that I walk through life with a softer heel; face forward and aglow…a far cry from the decade or so that I spent eyes down with a frown. And the things…wow, those things. I don’t mean things that you accumulate. I mean things that mean some “thing.” Avery’s soda, for instance; it’s a shame I had to wait until I was well over forty to slug down a bottle of Dog Drool Soda.

Avery's, the Best darn place for soda anywhere in the world, New Britain, CT

Oh the bus trips I’ve taken, the tours I’ve done, canoe rides and hikes…the aerial rides…so much fun…best of all, in the end, I have stories galore, a patchwork quilt, in the spirit of Charlie Brown’s best friend, Linus, that will accompany me through all the rest of the days of my life. I may not have the most toys, but I do believe—as any frequent day-tripper will verify— I have the most joys.

One of my bus tours in Connecticut

One of "my" buses on tour in Connecticut

Sometimes you don't have to get out of the car to enjoy a day trip!

I had a friend tell me the other week that she had an overworked, overscheduled week that amounted to one long bad mood.  On Friday after work, she said she went to the beach bypassing the crowds and, instead, laid her body in the sun fully clothed on top of an empty picnic table.  Not that I’m advocating this sort of behavior since picnic tables are meant for sitting not laying on, but I do think it illustrates the point of getting a change of scenery without necessarily stepping totally inside the scene.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you don’t want to be a part of the world; in other words, instead of going fully into the community sandbox, you want to sit on the edge.  This limbo position I believe serves its purpose.  Once, while I was conducting a program at the Norma Pfreim Breast Care Center, a woman shared an inspiring story.  After she had lost her husband at a very young age to cancer, she found herself isolated and grieving alone for weeks on end.  One day she decided to go out—but not all the way out.  Lo and behold, she went on a day trip.  She drove herself to an outdoor summer festival.  Mind you, she did not leave her car.  She sat in her front seat as an observant.  Kids laughed.  Adults noshed on pizza and ice cream.  Ferris wheels whirled.  The scene gave the woman hope in that it served as a symbolic transition that one day she too would join life again.

So, on those days that you feel you don’t want to be a part of things, remember you don’t always have to get into the sandbox to have a good time and refresh, rejuvenate and rejigger.*

*  “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010.

Consummate Author! Consummate Journalist! Consummate Motivator!

Through simple secrets to a happier life like day-trip adventures and a gratitude journal by the bedside, I have not only been able to overcome many obstacles in my life, but erase negative and useless thinking…and, yes, learn to relax, rejuvenate, rejigger. *

Rejigger *

* “Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online,” In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less; NYT, January 2, 2010.

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Day Trip Travel — Experiences Over Things

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