Travel was one of my first loves. I remember telling my mom at a young age that I wanted to visit all the states, each continent and as many countries as possible before I die. The desire to see the world likely comes from the frequent moves my family made in my youth. So much so that folks often ask if my parents were were military. They weren’t. They were simply okay trying something new for a better life. After making life moves with family, school trips with classmates seemed to be a good next step. Which led to vacations with friends throughout my twenties. My thirties was dedicated to exploring myself and solo trips became my therapy… until the therapeutic benefits disappeared. After a while, asking strangers to take horrible snapshots of me in front of historic landmarks lost its charm. I was tired of group travel with various personalities because the first couple of days were usually spent trying to get to know each other, while the last few days were spent putting distance between self and everyone else so we could all enjoy our own personalized experiences.
When solo travel fell out of favor with me, the only pleasure trip I could talk myself into for a five year period was a self-planned hop-on/hop-off train tour along the French and Italian Riveras to celebrate my 40th birthday. Absolutely no complaints about that trip. As the mother of all vacays, it was also the first time I consciously road shotgun with God. The whole trip was about embracing my solo status and a reminder to celebrate myself even in the absence of others.
Over the last two years, my life has been all about transition and transformation, which are happening at multiple layers currently. The biggest layer is moving from New York City to a suburb of Tucson, Arizona. Throughout the last year, I’ve traveled between the two cities preparing to end my life in one and begin anew in the other.
Because August is my birthday month, I view it as my primary new year and a symbol of renewal. For that reason it was important to spend August in the new place. It proved to be a much needed gift of time and space to myself. Before returning to New York City to sell my apartment in the autumn, I decided to take a road trip. The idea started off small-ish. A quick – perhaps overnight – trip to the Grand Canyon. Five hours each way split over two days seemed almost leisurely to me. It turned into a six day excursion I now call my Grand Tour of Arizona. Road trips and national parks are going to be a huge part of my future. 😌
At the beginning of my trip, words began settling in me. These words were a medition throughout my travel.
I felt a need to declutter my mind, my heart, my soul. A need to be more purposeful about decluttering my life. I didn’t think about fasting until I was on the road. At that point I was already tiring fast so not eating was out of the question. As I reflect back, the week before I began my road trip, I did indeed fast from life. I shut down. I refused to check email or follow up with the major stressors in my life. I decompressed. I vegged on tv. I did some gardening, some cleaning. Generally, I allowed myself to simply and quietly occupy my space.
That was a beautiful gift.
The Grand Canyon has become a symbol of perseverance and focus in my life. When I lived in Arizona as a child, we never visited the Canyon. For my relocation, I wanted to be a tourist early on, to see the wonder of my new home state before I fall into new routines.
I am so grateful for the time and opportunity to see some of the amazingly beautiful National Parks and monuments throughout Northern Arizona and the stunning landscape variations from the south to the north of the state. (Many photos will be shared on my Images + Life photo blog under the tag “Exploring Arizona.”) My Grand Tour of Arizona consisted of stops at Sunset Crater Volcano, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Navajo National Monument, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and the dam that created it, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I camped in my car for the first two nights, found a bed and breakfast on the third night, then splurged on hotel rooms. Nearly three days were spent on Navajo Nation Land. My first camp fire was started at Grand Canyon Desert View camp site. I LOVED that spot! My fire burned for less than five minutes total, despite lighting it up about twenty times. Most amazing and unexpected was the boat ride I took on the lake in the middle of the desert! Who knew? There was so much natural beauty over such a vast amount of land, I grew tired trying to chase it all.
Within the first day or so, I knew this would become a regular, most likely annual, trip for me. Acknowledging that allowed me to relax a bit. There was no need to try to see everything or do more than my body was prepared to do. I made the trip all about photography. Capturing sunrises, sunsets and dark skies were my primary goals each day. The secondary photo goal was to capture some decent self-portraits. Note to self: hair and make-up should be part of the routine when attempting self-portraits on vacay. 🤭
This year has been exhilarating in many ways. I’ve purposefully taken action to change my life into something that represents my heart, spirit, vision and purpose. It’s taken a lot of energy and focus, so much so, I keep thinking I’m failing when I allow too many distractions or eagerly change or adjust plans as things come up. However, when I look around after detours, I see that I have not been pushed off-course. I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m developing and moving at a pace that has been calibrated for me. After all, I am not behind the wheel of my life. I’m riding shotgun. It may appear that I’m in control, but I’m not. It may seem like I can screw all this hard work up, but I can’t. I’ve already surrendered to the one who controls the universe. Any moment of uncertainty or chaos in my life is not going to disrupt the plans He already has in motion for me. Believing that, knowing it, and remembering it brings comfort and peace in a solitude full of communion with my Heavenly Father. My life, my pilgrimage, my journey is unfolding before me. With each step, I discover more and more good things that have been deposited in me for my good.
Be blessed as you go.
Working on my selfie game!