Summer Road Trip: A Search for Something

I don’t know what I’m doing. But there’s no need to be alarmed. It’s hardly my first time finding myself following a desire void of an actual plan. Heck, I’ve been making it up as I go for the last nine months, ever since I came back from Germany, and now, I’m venturing on the longest leg of this adventure.

I left on the first day of summer to travel across the second largest country in the world, my homeland, Canada. I packed my car, mounted my mountain bike, and grabbed Little Man. I made a stop in Vermont for a few days, and now I’m sitting at my stepdad’s kitchen table in St-Georges.

The last time I was here was for my mom’s funeral. It was tough driving up to the house knowing she wasn’t here. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with my dad, stepmom, and my brothers and sisters these last few months, and this should have been the summer I got to spend time with my mom, but she’s gone. It hurts. I can’t change things so no point having regrets, but I wish we would’ve had this time together. We had a fractured relationship however, it was made cleared to me at her funeral, by all those who attended, just how much she loved me.

She worried a lot about me and had a hard time understanding my life. I see that worry and concern now in my dad and stepmom’s eyes—I wish I had answers for them. I wish I had answers for myself. All I know is that I started something—two writing projects, the Chapters of My Life Series and The Hijacked Holiday and I’m going to finish them. I also promised myself I would keep traveling, so I’m doing this drive across Canada. That’s about all I know.

Over the next few days, I’ll pour over maps, buy camping gear, and come up with some sort of plan for the weeks ahead. I’ve never done anything like this before which is motivation and reason enough to do it, but I sense there’s something more compelling driving me (pun intended) forward.

I feel the closest to God when I’m on the road traveling and in nature. We’ll be getting a lot of quality time together in the weeks to come so perhaps His will for my life will finally come into focus.

The Journey of this Book

I love the twist and turns of life, the journey is indeed what it’s all about! This book is one of most powerful thing to come into my life for so many incredible reasons, it’s opening up more about who and where I’ve been, and who I am today and where I’m heading.

Ava and Josh have arrived to the first village of their journey, Castelnau de Montmirail, and for the last few days, they’ve been sitting down to have lunch, while I wrestled to figure out what they would say to each other.  Their initial conversation on the way there hit some deep topics, so I figured it was best to lighten up the mood…except I just couldn’t switch gear.  Small talk just didn’t seem at all appropriate for intense, complex characters like Ava and Josh, as they are first getting to know each other.

Imagine how this plays out in my head, my two characters are sitting at an outdoor cafe in a dormant authentic medieval town with both of them carrying the wounds of imperfect childhoods, battle scars of fighting in multiple wars, and unexplainable feelings for each other. Just can’t see them chatting it up about the weather. I had to keep digging into the heavy burden they carry, and the things they share in common.

Ava  once more became a barrier for me. I created Ava with the Marine Corps experiences and background I wanted for myself but never had. Now that it was time for her to share some of those experiences with Josh, I hit a wall.  There is so much I didn’t get to do in the Marine Corps because I was a female and those opportunities didn’t exist for me.  It’s so different now, and Ava found herself in Iraq as a young Corporal/Sergeant, not as a Captain who had to beg and threaten resignation to go.  She was able to partake in the Lioness Program, and do things I only dreamt of doing.  But in order to more realistically write about that, it was time for me to read more into them.

I’m proud of what Women Marines (and women in other services) have achieved over the past decade in combat and elsewhere, but I haven’t been fully following it.  I’ve been too envious and jealous.  Every time I see a headline like the one of PFCs. Katie Gorz, Julia Carroll, Christina Fuentes Montenegro making it through the School of Infantry (SOI), I want to badly turn back the clock, and get my shot at breaking the barriers waiting to be shattered. I never got to be the Marine I imagined in my head, and joined the Marine Corps to be.  Ava gets to be that Marine. She’s once again messing with me, and revived these burning desires I thought I had finally put to bed.

At 38, with an already aching body, I have no illusions that I could grab a pack, rifle, and full combat load, and do any of the things I could have done 15 years ago, but I’m still stronger, faster, and more motivated than most women, and many men my age, and I can lead the way, in many ways. I have to accept the role I can now play.  A supportive, encouraging and exemplary role.

My renewed love for the Marine Corps that was kindled the last two years, is on fire now, and I know I have to become more active in seeking out opportunities to make a difference, and I have to do whatever it takes to make getting Command a reality.

I downloaded Band of Sisters:  American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt and Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on my kindle. I must fully immerse myself in the incredible achievements of women in combat across the different services so I can make Ava as realistic as possible. It’s hard to read, I keep having to swallow my jealousy, but absolutely worthwhile.

The times keep changing for women, especially in the military, and instead of wishing things had been different for me, I’m going to use this book to make a statement and share my beliefs.

My stepmom remembers being at event many years ago where I made a speech and spoke out about how it was crap females weren’t allowed in combat, I don’t remember this – but it definitely sounds like me!

You’ve Got Mail: God at Work

Over the last 24 hours, the veil has been lifted on another portion of the vast tapestry of men God has been weaving together in my life for the last 5+ years to undo the hurt, pain, and damage that had been done.  To heal the wounds, establish a sense of safety, an ability to open up, and restore trust.

Almost 6 years ago, I was left totally wounded when my fiancee walked out the door and out of the complicated relationship we had found ourselves in.  I was broken.  I was broken when we started the relationship because quite frankly, when it came to having the ability to have a relationship, I was not whole enough to be in one.  As is the case with Ava, the main female character of The Hijacked Holiday.  She’s a former version on myself…and bringing her to life these last couple of weeks, awakened things that I simply hadn’t thought about for years. She really began to mess with me.

Airport Guy was also not adding up.  I knew God had placed him in my path, and while he was turning out to be super helpful, I was growing frustrated, and uncomfortable with him because of how little I knew about him.  I needed to know what kind of guy God had placed in my life to provide all this hard truth he was giving me.  AG also pointed out the time had come for me to really divorce myself from Ava.  He didn’t realize how much she was messing with me, but he saw that I was getting in the way of fully expressing who Ava was.

Truth is, I was protecting Ava’s flaws, the same way I used to protect those very flaws in me, instead of seeing how I’m not her anymore.  Ava won’t have to stay that way either.

AG came forth with more of his backstory, once I directly asked for it, which explained why he was helping me, and why I was the ideal candidate to help him with his story.  He hadn’t gotten personal with me, because he wasn’t looking for that.  He is happily married, and his wife, his friends, or his family could all help him with the book, but they are too familiar with the characters in the book to be of any substantiate help, without impacting the story.

I was so happy and relieved to finally have some information on him.  It helped to put so many things into perspective.

But back to God’ work.  Like I said, over the last 5 years, there have been some significant male friends (and role models) that have come in and out of my life to break down, undo, and improve the things I believed about men. I have named them all in my journal and the role they played, but I won’t do it here or ever, without either letting them know first, and/or changing their identity for the sake of their privacy.  But they have been part of God’s plan…and Josh, my male character is in many ways bits and pieces of those men/friends.  Josh will do for Ava, what they did for me.

Now that AG and I have cleared the air, we are forging on with helping each other, may be I’ll even discover he has a great sense of humor, and we can have fun working together. If I’m going to keep eating humble pie from him, I needed to know he was in fact a great guy, with a full life, surrounded by amazing people.

But AG is more than help for me on this project to make it better – I have past experiences with men partnering up with me for the wrong reasons and my getting really hurt by it.

I believe God placed him in my path to show me, there are stand-up guys who can have a personable professional partnership with me, that is based on mutual respect and exchange of knowledge, gifts, and skills to help each other out.

Of course God would gift wrap him in a nice looking package, He’s God, He knows how to get my attention!

If you haven’t turned your life over to God, you simply can’t understand how closely He will work in your life.  How He will answer your prayers, slowly at times, according to His timing and His ways, but He can, and will restore what you have lost, heal your suffering and renew everything about you. It will not likely be according to the way you want it, but in the end, much better!

I mean sure, I would have liked for a Josh to enter my life, and work through all my issues with me, but it didn’t turn out that way, it was a slow process because that’s what was best and it truly glorifies Him. I have been able to celebrate each man who changed something about me, be grateful for him entering my life, and acknowledge God for sending Him. I have witnessed how systematically God has been working, how carefully He went about carrying out His plan, and above all, how much He loves me to make it all fit together perfectly.

He’s continuing to work out my kinks, confirmed I need to continue on this project, and did I mention, He LOVES me.

There’s a hanging chad, which happens to be the lynch pin to falling down to my knees in the first place in this weaving God has been doing.  Not related to AG, but possibly related to either the future of my love life or the future of my professional career.  Either way, I’m excited and curious to find out what God has planned for him.  Not even going to try to figure it out.  I absolutely adore the way God surprises me with His plans!

Turning 38

I sit at breakfast in a hotel in Brussels looking out the window into a park. It’s overcast, windy and chilly out…a clear sign summer has past. I’m supposed to be on a bus to Luxembourg, but after a morning in a tour bus yesterday, where I fell asleep…I decided to skip today’s trip. I shouldn’t have come to Brussels. I did so out of an imaginary obligation to check it off my list. And quite frankly, this city deserves better than that. Instead, I should have gone back to the mountains or to the beach…a place where I could have begun to get rejuvenated…I feel drained and tired.

As I keep creeping my way closer to 40, I would prefer to turn a year older at a time when I feel full of zest and energy…that way, I can say I don’t feel my age, and mean it. Unfortunately, right now, I’m feeling the additional year.

It hasn’t quite been the kind of summer to remember I’d originally imagined. I’d planned for a summer full of adventures and outdoor escapades. A summer that was supposed to leave me with rosy cheeks, windblown hair, sun bathed skin, and a toned physique from all the biking, hiking, swimming and all sorts of other activities. It was a summer designed to leave me feeling alive! I had some those experiences (which I still need to write about), but work and life got in the way to my perfectly fantasized summer to commemorate the last of my time in Germany/Europe.

In late June, I found out my mom had brain cancer. It’s not something I want to write about just yet, but this event did lead to an unexpected trip to Canada to celebrate her 70th birthday. I don’t think she’ll make it another year, so I’m glad I was able to be there with her, my two brothers and their families and my stepdad, who is taking incredible care of her, to celebrate the occasion.

While in Canada, I received a call that crushed my heart to pieces. One of my Marines committed suicide. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to hear such horrible news and return back to such a dreadful new reality. The last couple of weeks were spent making sure his affairs were taken care of, caring for the other Marines, and planning his Remembrance Service. He will never be forgotten and I hope and pray I never lose anyone else to suicide ever again. A stark thing for me to say…as I have struggled for years with my own intents, until I let God into my life, which is something I’ll be writing about this upcoming year.

Meanwhile, the clock has been ticking, and my remaining days in Germany are dwindling down. This brings more heart breaks and saddens me greatly; Germany and Europe have been very good to me and for me. There’s however little time for grieving, as I have much to do in order to be ready to return to the States. It was inevitable for the toll of all the stress and emotions of the last few weeks to catch up to me and leave me feeling the way I do. I often forget I’m only human.

In the midst of all of this, I’ve also needed to spend some time thinking about my future and what my plans are for…if not the rest of my life, at least the next year.

The Next Year

Because I’m either crazy, selfish, or careless – all three, or none of those, my plan for the next year is to take the year off and focus mostly – entirely on writing. I have two stories I want to tell and hopefully complete, if not both, definitely at least one of them. One is nonfiction, based on my walk of faith, and the other is fiction, a Christian based romance novel. Neither of those books will write themselves without making writing them a priority.

I’m once more venturing out without much of a plan or safety net. It would be a lie to say it didn’t end well last time I took this kind of leap. Sure, as far as the world could see – it didn’t end well. I lost everything and found no success, but the events of my last go at following my heart into my entrepreneurial endeavors ended with me on my knees giving my life to Christ, which was the best thing to ever happen in my life.

In my fantasy world, 3-5 years from now, I’m Battalion Commander of 6th Communication Battalion, on the New York Bestsellers list, and pending a movie deal for one of my books. It’s what I’ve been day dreaming about lately. I’m not holding too tightly to this dream…it’s at God’s feet in case he wants to sweep it away for something else He has planned for me.

I understand the odds are stacked against me. I know I probably have even slimmer odds of making it as a writer, then I did making it as an entrepreneur, and I’ve been there, I know the tough, hard, difficult, and sucky road that likely awaits me – but I also know there are no other roads I want to take a this point in my life. I want a “career” path, a career title, besides being a Marine, which is supposed to be a part time gig. I have to give it all I’ve got, and find out if being a writer is something God has planned for me.

There’s nothing easy about writing, I know this. I’ve sat in front of a blank screen with the cursor blinking at me. I know while these stories seem to be battling me to get out right now, once I’m ready to write them…a vast deserted quiet will likely befall the voice currently narrating the stories. Even if all goes silent, I will do what writers do, I will write.

Traveling to New Distant Lands

Initially, I’m moving back in with my parents for a few months. Putting it out there, going to be 38 and moving in to an apartment in my parent’s house. I haven’t spent any significant time with my family for 20 years, so it will be good for me to spend three months with them – to get to know them better, and for them to get to know me better. Depending on the situation with my mom, I’ll likely spend some time in Canada as well.

In January of 2016, the plan is to head to Guatemala for a few months and write there. Escape the Massachusetts winter and explore Central America. This is a loose plan I’ll solidify while I’m in MA, and I actually have time to look more into my options. I’ll also need to take a trip down to New Orleans to get my things left in storage there over the last two years.

All and all next year, if it goes as desired, I’ll make it to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Ecuador.  Writing about it all is part of the deal!

Along with the traveling, I want to keep hiking, biking and having outdoor adventures. I don’t want to return to the life I had before coming to Germany.

Spiritual Growth

I’ve fallen behind on the Bible in a year program I started, but I’m still at it and determined to become more familiar with the Word of God. It just might take me a bit more than a year. My faith and knowledge of God has increased every year since turning my life over to Him. I want to keep this very good thing going. Since my writing will be focused on Him and what He has so far done in my life that ought to help to keep Him the center of my life. I want to more easily be able to share my testimony, and openly speak about Him to the people in my life, and new people I encounter. It doesn’t stop me from sharing, but I don’t like the way I talk about it now.

I’ve been praying to be more opened, to more easily share who I am with others, and let people into my life. I’ve also prayed to be more giving and generous.

Love and Relationship

I’ve been single for over five years and haven’t even been dating. I thought I would find love in Europe, which I did, with Germany, but not a man. My future is filled with unknowns and with me not staying put anywhere for any significant amount of time, so it’s not looking good this year either. Also, at this point, I don’t even know anymore what kind of man would win my heart.

I’m still so determined to find my place in the professional world. I don’t feel whole and that’s not a gap for a man to fill. It’s a gap for my purpose on earth to fill. This whole department is without a doubt all in God’s hands.

At some point, He will bringing it all together. May be this year and may be not. I’ll definitely keep leaning on Him for strength and help to continue the mighty fight against the fleshly demons that are hard at work attacking me often.

Being 38   

I expect it to be an amazing year. It won’t be without challenges and hardship, but those will only lead to new discoveries and blessings. I’ll keep living a life that’s God led, God filled and God driven. It’s the only way I know not to go wrong. Tomorrow He could change every single written word and intentions I have for my 38th year on earth – and if so, I will shift to where He tells me to go.

I appreciate all the love, support and encouragement of my family, friends and readers. There’s much content coming your way in the upcoming year! Thank you for sticking by me!