Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bye Bye New England!

We've done it, we've left New England. That was not easy (nor cheap). 20 years in Massachusetts. 20 years of being married, 20 years of raising a family. 20 years of meaningful work. Feelings are running deep and peace sets in on this now quiet Halloween night at Carla's farm in Northern PA. How lovely to be greeted with such warmth and excitement, to have the best trick or treat experience ever in the nearby town, to see Keith happy, to have changed our lives to this new life of travel. Is it really happening? Its hard to fully take in. But walking the land in the morning, meeting the goats, ducks and chickens and hula hooping with Raven, our amazing 12 year old friend, will help it sink in. I laughed as we rolled down the highway today, just simply laughed at the fact that we are now free from the confines of a lifestyle that was no longer serving our higher purpose. We did it, we let go, and we're journeying now. So please, stay tuned for many, many tales of our travels. For starters, see the ones leading up to now.

Love,

Mary

Hallowe'en in Honesdale, PA

This afternoon we landed ourselves in Lake Ariel, PA to pay a visit to our homesteading friends Carla, Barry and Raven, who raise goats, chickens, ducks, honey, organic vegetables and berries, living off of their fertile 72 acres of Pennsylvanian land.

Trick-or-treating in Honesdale, PA was an unmatched experience of community and enthusiasm. Dozens of homes were festively decorated, with the occupants themselves dressed in costume, waiting on their front porches for trick-or-treaters to arrive. Since all of use were dressed in costume---both adults and children---we were all treated to friendly hospitality (and many treats) as we roamed from house to house throughout this quaint little town.

Being here in the hills of Pennsylvania makes the fact "hit home" that we have truly left New England. Driving west on Route 84 in our rig was an experience of realization that we have really done it, we're on the road and on our way. It's the road to nowhere, and nowhere feels just fine.

---Keith

video

The Woodward Family in Bozrah, CT

Paul, Joanne and Paul, Sr.

Friday, October 30, 2009

We're Finally on the Road!

Well folks, we did it! We spent our final night in Western MA, packed up our things, dropped off our car for a friend to sell for us, and made tracks to Bozrah, Connecticut. We are ensconced in the lovely home of Paul and Joanne Woodward, the parents of our dear old friend Woody, and are thoroughly enjoying a relaxing evening of take-out Chinese, herbal tea with honey, good company, and a touch of medium dry sherry for my lungs as I recover from a cold and cough.

The rig---"Scottie La Blanca"---is now our only vehicle and our only home, and we are amazed that this day has finally arrived!

---Keith

This new life on the road and our new and lighter lifestyle will be sinking in more once we are no longer in our beloved New England. I am glad and grateful that it has been an amazing time of special last visits, loving farewells, some tearful embraces, and astonishing serendipitous meetings with people that the Universe/Spirit/God meant for us to see again. That confirms for me how I can be "in the zone" and experience the oneness and connection that feeds our spirits. I have asked for this spiritual support for the trip and have been blessed with receiving it well before the journey began.

We promise to share some pics and videos of some of our final days and moments in Western MA but will first need to decompress from the flurry of goodbyes and logistical preparations and learn how to post from my new flip video camera. I am good and tired, and look forward to a good night's sleep with dreams to transport me where they will. Many blessings, dear ones, and sweet dreams to you---or good morning, glories if you're reading this by the light of day!

~Mary

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Eve of Adventure

Tonight is our final night in Western Massachusetts---at least in this current iteration---and we find ourselves ensconced in the home of one David S., our friend of many years. A simple autumnal supper, music and friendship---what more could one require?

Just the other evening, our friend Dagen hosted a small but memorable potluck dinner, and we received a powerful tarot reading which provided us with great insight into our current situation and its potentialities.

Tomorrow, we bid adieu to these hills and the river valley which we have called home for seventeen years, and with the blessings and support of so many, we begin a peripatetic adventure that will no doubt bring many surprises and wonders along the way.

Please come along for the ride whenever you like, and let us know you're out there once in a while. Silent readers are welcome, but comments and inquiries can be a boon to the spirit.

See you on the road!

---Keith

Friday, October 23, 2009

Accepting the Certainty of Impermanence

For me, the ongoing series of goodbyes and fare-thee-well's as we prepare for departure is manifesting a deep well of tears that continues to flow. There are so many people who want to say goodbye, and fitting them all in is not easy.

I will share quite openly here that today I said goodbye to my therapist of four years, a kind and compassionate woman who has seen me through death, grief, and major life transitions with a skilled mind and soft heart (not to mention a gentle way of challenging me when necessary!). Letting go of that emotional support is a big step, just one in a series of steps on the road to weighing anchor.

Driving around the Valley today, I visited several friends with whom the connection has been less consistent in recent years. While trying not to feel regretful over lost opportunities for deeper friendship, more tears were shed in coming to terms with the fact that we may never live in close proximity again, and one must simply accept things as they are, acknowledge the losses, and move on with a joyful and grateful heart.

Seventeen years is a long time to live in one place. There is a certain feeling that one can simply walk down the street and expect, more often than not, to see or run into someone familiar. In terms of friends with whom consistent contact has been lost, there is also a comfort in knowing that they're still nearby, that a serendipitous meeting may occasionally happen, and that one has time to get together "later". For us, "later" is now, and our imminent departure means that those friendships and acquaintances that we have taken for granted will soon be long-distance friendships in need of a different form of nurturing. And as for the familiar faces on the street, those will soon be a thing of the past as we become anonymous wayfarers on the road.

While some might see the tears as an unnecessary indulgence, I see them as a way to acknowledge the loss that leaving embodies, accept the certainty of impermanence, and bring us closer to our goal, as bittersweet as that goal may sometimes feel. And although returning to live in this lush and lovely river valley is not altogether out of the question, the chances of our returning for good are probably small. It's a big country out there, and my intuition tells me that some very special place is just waiting for us to plant our feet on its welcoming soil. Until then, we continue to say goodbye, and embrace impermanence as a simple fact of life.

---Keith




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saying "Adios" to My "Hispanic Mother"

Here is a copy of a blog post written for my other blog, Digital Doorway, and posted today.

Yesterday, I visited an elderly woman for whom I served as visiting nurse about a decade ago, and with whom I have maintained a sweet connection for years. We have kept in touch throughout the years, and although I no longer work in the city where she lives (about 45 minutes south), we talk periodically and I visit when I can. I had already explained to her that my wife and I have sold our house and are going traveling for the foreseeable future, and the need for a last visit was too strong to ignore or postpone until it was too late.

A Puerto Rican woman about the same age as my mother, she likes to joke that she is my "Hispanic Mother", and for all intents and purposes, it's true. Obese and disabled, she keeps more than a dozen birds in various cages in her small apartment, and several of them are regularly perched on her shoulder (or on top of her head), eating sunflower seeds right from her lips. Her apartment is filled with knick-knacks (some of which I am guilty of giving her, I must admit), and our visit was punctuated with screams and applause as "The Price is Right" played loudly on the TV.

Although maintaining long-term relationships with former patients can be tricky in terms of personal boundaries, this friendship has been consistently special and it has only been occasionally burdensome to maintain. Our connection is intimate and sweet, and there was just no way I could leave the area without a proper "adios".

After an hour visit, we realized that it was time to say goodbye, and we hugged and kissed each other on the cheek repeatedly. After our second hug, both of our faces were wet with tears, and she held both my hands in hers as she gave me her abundant blessings for a long life, a joyful and wonderful journey with my wife and my dog, and she thanked me from the bottom of her heart for my friendship over the years.

I left the stuffy apartment and emerged into the bright October day, stopping under a resplendent tree bedecked in autumnal yellow. My heart was filled with love, tears streaming down my face, and I gave thanks for the heartfelt and soulful connections that being a nurse has provided me over the years.

As we prepare to leave this area where we've lived for seventeen years, there will be more tearful goodbyes. My "Hispanic Mother" is one who evoked very deep and bittersweet tears, and I have no doubt there will be more to come as we draw nearer to our very imminent departure.

---Keith

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free At Last!

Well folks, since last Thursday we are both officially unemployed and unencumbered by jobs. As bittersweet as it feels to leave behind our wonderful colleagues, bosses and peers, the time has come for us to move on.

With only nine days until lift-off, every day feels precious, and the to-do lists and lists of people to see continue to ebb and flow. (And the cold nights and frosty mornings make us even more grateful that we are flying south for the winter!)

This blog will become spectacularly more active when we finally hit the road, so please stay tuned, check back regularly, and keep us in your thoughts as we inch towards our October 29th departure. We have had many sweet and sad goodbyes with local friends here in The Pioneer Valley, and I shed even more tears this evening as we said a final farewell to a dear friend who lives at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA.

This moving on business is tiring, but as Michelle Shocked once said, "the secret to a long life is knowing when it's time to go."

---Keith

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Final Weekends in New England

As our time in New England comes to a close, we find ourselves traveling every weekend, visiting friends, saying goodbye, and retracing our steps through favorite haunts. 

Last weekend, we visited Brattleboro, Vermont to make our peace with the town where our dear friend Woody was murdered. Comic relief was provided by my old art-school friend Harry Bliss, a famous cartoonist for The New Yorker and Playboy who gave a hilarious talk at the Brattleboro Literary Festival. We also connected with friends who we originally met in the aftermath of Woody's death, and their support and love is so very appreciated. It was a bittersweet visit in some ways, but a full circle was drawn, and we left with satisfied and healed hearts, especially after a memorable and positive visit to the church where Woody died. 

This weekend, we are in bike-friendly and beautiful Portland, Maine, spending precious time with our wonderful friend, Annie, previously pictured in this post. Memorably resplendent and brilliant foliage was a highlight this afternoon, and photos from that walk are pending uploading and editing, so stay tuned. 

Next weekend, while Mary is at Rowe Camp and Conference Center at a writing workshop with none other than Marge Piercy, I will be in Montreal to visit a friend who I have not seen since 1988 (who I originally met in southern Portugal in 1985) and who just recently found me on Facebook.

These are rich times filled with glorious autumn colors, wonderful friendships, and bittersweet goodbyes. We're so thankful for this time, these opportunities to connect, and the open road that lies ahead.

---Keith

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

On the Bridge

How the heck are you?

For us, the complicated storms of downsizing and simplifying are, at long last, coming to a gentle close! Thank God! The house is sold, the rig is almost road ready, our day jobs are ending, our bodies are recovering, our minds are more at ease, and these glorious New England autumn afternoons are leading us closer by the moment to our imminent departure. Thank Goddess! The now fading phase of radically reducing our material possessions was pretty darn significant and taxing, to be sure--and not recommended for the faint of heart. But, how meaningful is all of that if we don't lighten our load from within as well? Now it is time to clear out from inside to make room for the burgeoning abundance that is just waiting to greet us.

As we walk on this bridge into a new lifestyle of less stuff and more freedom, we are easing into being more self-sufficient with our little home on wheels and will need to rely on our inner resources to generate what we need, welcoming plenty of serendipity and spiritual support for the road. Successful self-employment looms on the horizon as do many happy reunions, new friends, beautiful places and more time for the simple enjoyment of life. The time is perfect to lay down our burdens which, for me, pretty much just boil down to my old belief systems, wounds and attachments, is all. :0 All of that be damned, for I am walking this bridge under the rainbow that arches overhead, into the light of the new day and all the splendor, wonder and abundance that await us on the bright horizon! Hope to see you there!

Love,

Mary

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lily of the Valley, Mary's Dream

With an exhausting cold, I retired to bed early last evening---and slept like a rock. I'm just now waking from much needed rest and sleep only to hear Keith's sweet dream. We rarely do dream shares, so I am perfectly delighted, of course. This is the dream I then shared with Keith (open to anyone's interpretation):

I'm watching a wide rushing stream flow. I climb over a short brick wall to get out to where there is a patch of earth on the waterfall's edge. When I arrive there, I find that the land is not really land but a bunch of caught branches and brush. I grasp at the earth with my hands but it won't hold me! I quietly panic but think to call out for help. I don't know if i actually do call out but there I am, back on shore with my oldest friends, Baba and Aaron, calmly walking toward me. They had returned to tell me code for crossing the bridge and getting into the dark, round tunnel. Baba was pleased that she got the password with her first guess. "It's Lily of the Valley", she said with certainty. How grateful and relieved I was for this gift from my New York friends. The password they delivered hit home for this lily of the valley as we get closer to passing through the tunnel, sadly leaving our beloved Pioneer River Valley behind.

Having shared our dreams, Keith and I sweetly wept in each others' arms. (Aw, I know.) We'll spend the weekend saying goodbye to more friends, but this time in Vermont. Even though we've honored our long-held boycott of Brattleboro since our friend Woody was murdered there, we're going to make peace with the town. We will meditate in the room where Woody was shot, connect with his spirit and both say goodbye AND invite him to join us on our journey. (Kind of cool how you can do that with the dead but not the living!)

It's perfect that the skies are gray, with us in their broad embrace. They will release their rains, reflecting the sadness we feel inside, feeding the trees who will then turn ever more colorful. One of my favorite things is to behold the brilliant colors under the great canopy of gray skies and the time for this is now, right now...

Meanwhile, may inner peace fill your heart and may beauty illuminate your day.

~Mary

Moon River: A Dream of Departure

This morning, I awoke from a sweet but slightly sad travel dream.

I am in the dining room of a house, and my friend Paul and his girlfriend Sarah are in the kitchen, laughing. (It's fitting that it's them since they uprooted and moved across the country last year, themselves.)

In the dining room, I am packing up mementos and objects into a box, and leaving some of them nicely arranged on the shelves of the room. As I'm packing, a version of the song "Moon River" (as recorded by the Innocence Mission, one of our favorite bands) is playing, and I am singing along, as are Paul and Sarah. As I sing, tears are streaming down my face.

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

---Keith

Less Than Four Weeks and Counting!

It hardly seems possible, but in less than four weeks, we will be officially on the road! Just yesterday, Mary and I realized that we each have only seven actual work days left on our calendars, and by the time we say goodbye to our jobs, it will already be October 15th!

Yesterday, on Friday afternoon, we had four new tires put on the drive axle of the rig. Being 12,000 pounds, our vehicle has three axles and eight wheels and tires. Up front, we have two newish tires, and on the rear axle (which does nothing more than bear weight and add additional stability), all is well. So, in the interest of safety and road-worthiness, we now have four excellent all-season radials on our second axle, lending us even more stability, less chance of problems on the road, and a real sense of security underfoot.

Even more exciting, today we purchased a National Geographic Road Atlas of the United States, a great resource with excellent maps, profiles of national and state parks, and many features that any map-lover can appreciate.


So, when I begin to get excited by maps, I know that a trip is imminent. Looking at these maps of the US, I begin to imagine all of the places we'll see, the people that we'll meet and the experiences that we'll have, and I can begin to taste the freedom that is just around the corner.

---Keith

Friday, October 2, 2009

Communities Abound!

A big part of what we want to do on this trip is to visit intentional communities around the country. So far, we have contacted several and have received a warm welcome to a slowly growing handful.

Some communities receive hundreds of visitors per year, and we understand how rules and visitor protocols are very important. Traveling with a dog is somewhat of a challenge, and there are a number of communities that simply do not allow animals of any kind to visit, so we may have to camp off-site and visit one at a time. No matter, some of these places are just too good to pass up, and we will do everything in our power to be excellent, thoughtful guests who take little and give much.

So far, we are definitely visiting Woodburn Hill Farm, the community where we originally lived together and were married; The Farm in Tennessee; Earthaven near Asheville, North Carolina; and there are stirrings of potential visits at Twin Oaks, Acorn Community, and several others in Virginia. Unfortunately, we will not be able to visit Patch Adams' Gesundheit Institute this time around, but maybe another time when the stars are aligned.

At any rate, our search for community has begun, and we know that we will make many new friends and friendly acquaintances along the way. Will we eventually end up living in community in the way we are beginning to imagine? Time will only tell, and you, dear Readers, will certainly be the first to know.

---Keith

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Soon Come....

Well, the days are growing colder---it'll be in the 30's tonight, apparently---and we are inching our way towards our projected departure date of October 28th.

Today, our mobile RV technician made a "house-call" (so to speak) and installed a new water pump. The pump, which is in a cabinet just under the bed, pumps water on demand from our fresh-water tank to whatever faucet we are using. If we're hooked up to "city water" (receiving water right from a hose attached to a house or a campground hookup), the pump is not needed. But if we are in a situation wherein we are utilizing our own on-board fresh water supply (like where we're parked right now), then this pump is essential. We plan to stay in campgrounds as little as possible, so having an efficient water pump that won't break down is crucial.

After the pump was installed, he and I climbed up on the roof and identified several areas that needed a little reinforcement. With the help of special caulking, some questionable areas were treated, and now our roof is tightly sealed against the elements. A big sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, tomorrow we will have two tires replaced, the tires rotated, and we'll also take a pause to dump out the ol' waste tanks at the local sewage treatment plant. Another sigh or relief.

With only 2 weeks of work left for both of us, time is of the essence and we are taking advantage of every day to get something done towards our pending departure.

"Soon come", as they say in Jamaica. Soon come.

---Keith