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Daring Tales of A Determined Woman: What is Happiness?

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In my last post I talked about what it means to be a good person. Now, I want to give my thoughts on what it means to be happy.

For starters, I wish the world would stop thinking that you have to be smiling all the time to be enjoying life. I’m a person who is often in la-la land, lost in my own thoughts, dreaming up the story line to my next book, or planning my next big trip. I’m not thinking about the expression on my face that I’m sending out to the general public when I’m calculating how I’m going to take six trips a year on a teacher’s salary. Don’t expect me to have a supermodel pout when I’m deciding what real human being I’m going to disguise as a character in next year’s book release then kill them off. I can’t count the amount of times that people have come up to me and asked, “Hey, are you okay? You look really unhappy.” Oh good, my next literary victim!

Here are some valid questions:

What exactly is happiness?

Are people born happy or do they get that way over time?

Are there different types of happiness?

How do you get happy if you’re not?

I’m inclined to start with the third question, because the answer I have in mind will help with the other questions, too.

Are there different types of happiness? I think so, and my thought is that there are two kinds. One, is the deep seated type that is inside and can withstand just about anything you throw at it, and the other is the temporary kind that is brought on by an event, or another person, or something else on the outside. I find that this kind of happiness is  fleeting. The first kind is the one that’s really hard to achieve, and with all my heart I believe that there’s only one person who can make it happen: YOU! The second can be achieved from just about anything positive that happens, and is sometimes unexpected.

“He makes me so happy!” “She makes me smile.” We hear these things on a daily basis. And they have some basis in reality. One person can make another person happy very easily. Smiles aren’t that hard to come by, whether they’re genuine or not. But the same person or event can turn that smile to tears. That’s why we have to be careful about counting on others for our happiness. Because once that person, place, or thing is removed we run the risk of being devastated. If you have that first kind of happiness in place you may just be able to bounce back from life-altering events easier.

Which brings me back to the other questions.

What exactly is happiness? Webster’s defines it as “a state of well-being and contentment.” This is a perfect definition. Notice that we aren’t talking about “joy” or “elation.” That’s not what real happiness feels like. That’s the other, temporary kind. The big kahuna of happiness is a lot calmer than elation or joy. It’s a feeling of comfort in your own skin. That no matter how bad things get you can find a rainbow, however tiny. That even if you’re struggling you know it will come back. What it doesn’t mean is a permanent smile or bounce in your step. Frankly, I don’t trust people that smile too much. Is it just me?

To say that people are born happy might be a bit of a stretch. We may like to assume that if someone is born with the proverbial silver spoon in his or her mouth that they must be happy. However, I strongly believe that money does not equal happiness. I read an interesting article years back in which a study was done to try and prove how  much money someone had to have to be happy. The number was surprisingly low, in fact, below six figures, and there was some proof that an individual’s life doesn’t get that much better once the threshold is exceeded. The money factor aside, I believe that real happiness takes work, and it also takes maturity, so my thought is that people are not born happy, but may be more inclined toward happiness based on life experiences.

Finally, how do you get happy if you’re not? The over-simplified answer to this would be to say that you should do things you love as much as you can. That’s definitely part of it, but I believe the best and most important thing you can do is alter the way you THINK. If you spend all your time dwelling on things you cannot change, like the past, or thinking unpleasant thoughts about yourself and/or others, or comparing yourself to Kylie Jenner or The Rock, you’re in for a heck of a lot of unhappiness. Thinking realistically is a big part of lasting contentment, too, as is accepting that some people have what you want and you don’t. You have to be able to live with that, without jealousy or resentment. The green-eyed monster never made anyone happy. Never mind them. Live and let live. Find your own comfort zone and let them have theirs.

Here’s the good news: you can have both kinds of happiness! Imagine being in “a state of contentment” and having those times of temporary happiness, too. It’s the best you can ask for.

Aspire to it.

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Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: Being a Good Person

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My past few blogs have been about traveling and writing, but I’m not just here to blather about that. I want to write about life, too. One question that always comes up in my mind is this: What does it mean to be a good person? I think this is a valid subject to discuss, since so many folks make being an idiot an art form these days. Did you ever notice how many posts there are about animals on social media? Makes me wonder if human beings have turned to our furry friends for comfort because fellow humans are so darn hard to deal with, and getting harder.

I hear it all the time: “She’s/He’s a good person.” Okay, but why? Because they give money to charity or the homeless? Because they do volunteer work? Because they take care of the disabled and/or elderly? Because they go to church? It’s easy to assume goodness persists in those who partake in the aforementioned activities. And maybe some of these individuals are good people because they do these things. But I’m of the opinion that what people do on the outside isn’t all that makes them good. I’m also of the opinion that we are not inherently good, but that we can go either way, depending on our upbringing and how we choose to conduct our lives. Being a good person, finally, has little to do with money. Some of the kindest people I’ve met in my entire life had absolutely nothing to their names.

Here’s a disclaimer on that last thought: I’m a very big fan of Bill Gates. Yes, I think he’s amazing, and the things he’s done for humanity are equal, if not greater, than the fortune he’s built for himself. Bill and other people like him (Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos,) are in the happy position of being billionaires even if they don’t do another thing for the rest of their lives. Therefore I feel like we really can’t call them greedy or self-centered. I’m not sure the Amazon guy has really found his footing as a humanitarian yet, so I wouldn’t put him in the same category of goodness as Gates, but he’s starting to emerge. Let’s see how he does.

Back to us regular folk, and the examples of presumed “goodness” that I give above. Are you good because you give to charity or the homeless? It depends on the thought behind it. Giving to charity is as easy as writing a check, or maybe pressing a button on a website. Anyone can do that. As for helping street people, let me share a little story that I’ll never forget. As a writer, I feel it’s my job to observe people. I’ve approached homeless individuals that appear willing and able to carry on a conversation. I met one such man, named Ron, on the street in Virginia Beach. I sat on the pavement and talked to him. Afterward I went back to my room, gathered up some food I had, and brought it back to him. While I was on the sidewalk with Ron, a guy came up and dropped a twenty in his lap. I asked him if I could talk to him for a minute, and I requested that he take the money and go buy Ron some food instead, as I knew he would probably spend it on something else. The guy looked at me and sneered, “I don’t have time for that!” and off he went. Was this fellow motivated by goodness…or guilt? Maybe a little of both. Either way, guilt is not a great emotion to lead with, or to prove your goodness by.

As for being a good person because someone takes care of the elderly or the disabled, as a teacher of special education I have had a lot of contact with service providers for people with special needs. I also have an elderly sister who is disabled. I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that the mere fact that someone chooses to become a teacher, or a nurse, or a caretaker does not mean they are good. There are a lot of stressed out bad eggs in all the above careers. They do it for the money. Or the summers off. Or the insurance. Next time you’re in a nursing home or school observe people a little closer. You’ll see what I mean.

I’ve performed volunteer work in countries like India, Cambodia, and Poland. You would think that if someone is going to travel thousands of miles to teach kids English in the middle of a malarious jungle that they would be pretty good people? Actually, not true. I’ve met spoiled rich brats who spent more time on their cell phones at midnight with their boyfriends back in Salt Lake City, or twentysomethings looking for the nearest whiskey bar. Seriously, a lot of the volunteers I met were just using the programs as a way to get around the world. What a disappointment.

Don’t even get me going on the church thing. Going to church does not make you a good person.

What does? Well, for starters, be nice to people. Whether you’re in your car, or walking in the mall, or dealing with a waitress that makes $3 an hour and counts on tips, be freaking NICE. It isn’t that hard. You don’t know what people are going through. You could make or break someone’s day just with your crappy, or your happy, attitude.

Be honest. There’s nothing worse than being lied to. Do you lie because it’s easier than telling the truth? Don’t. Honesty may hurt in the short run. Lies hurt in the long haul.

Take care of others while you take care of yourself. This one deserves its own post, which it will get in the future. Everyone should take care of themselves. But be sure to spread a little of that love outward.

Think before you speak or act. Who are you hurting to get your way? If you have to step on someone to get what you want, consider another way of doing it.

Learn how to apologize. In the age of “My bad,” learn or relearn “I’m sorry.” They have two different effects.

Accept differences. I spend my days listening to immature adults rank on others, and I’m not just talking about big issues like race, gender, and sexual preference. I’m referring to things like how someone dresses or what someone’s hair or skin or feet look like. In this case, sweat the small stuff. For everything you bash someone else for, you have a problem of your own to deal with. Why not focus on that? Why not turn the magnifying glass inward and fix the only person you have control over?

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where every single person could follow these simple niceties? I’m dreaming of it right now and smiling.

India

 

 

 

 

Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: Southern Utah is My Drug

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When I see this sign I get high, in more ways than one. No drugs are necessary. Southern Utah is my drug. It’s the place I dream about when I close my eyes and project myself to somewhere better in times of stress. It’s the place I return to every summer after teaching all year. It’s the place I’ll die not ever seeing enough of. It has new surprises for me every time I go.

For the sake of this post I’ll be talking strictly about the southern part of the state. The northern portion of Utah is pretty fantastic, too, but in my opinion does not match up to the south. So if you’re looking for a review of Salt Lake City this won’t be it.

Let me clear up a couple of misconceptions about my beloved landscape before I further laud its awesomeness.

One comment I hear over and over again is: “Utah? What’s there?” Umm, I beg your pardon? Look on a map. Five National Parks and several National Monuments and National Recreation Areas are below I-70. And speaking of I-70, parts of this interstate feature National Park worthy landscapes. Utah’s State Parks look like National Parks, too. Okay, so I’ve written National Parks several time. Have I made my point?

The other thing I hear people blurt all the time is, “But those Mormons!” First of all, in this day and age, any comment about race or religion needs to be withheld, and so does any discrimination. Come on, folks, it’s 2018. Is that the way we still think? I mean, do you say, “I’m not going to Italy because I might see the Pope?” Please! Secondly, I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed someone hanging off a sandstone arch in the middle of nowhere and waving a bible at me, demanding me to join their religion. Have I seen Mormons in my travels in Utah? Yes. Are they just like anyone else? Pretty much so. I’ve had some downright wonderful experiences with the people. Get over that whole bit of nonsense.

Now, to further narrow my focus.

Because a lot of people enter Southern Utah via I-15 out of Vegas the parks on the western side of the state get a lot more visitors than those on the east side. I’m talking Bryce Canyon and Zion in the west, and Canyonlands and Arches in the east. Now, don’t get me wrong: Zion and Bryce are great places. But the ones I keep returning to are the ones on the east side and the one “in the middle,” namely Capital Reef. In fact, if I was going to suggest one to visit I would suggest Canyonlands. It’s further away from humanity than Arches, but as I’ve pointed out in previous posts, often the further away you get from civilization the better the experience, and I’d count the sights in Southern Utah into this equation.

As for where to stay, I say Moab all the way. It may very well be my favorite town in the whole world.

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I’ve been going to Moab for more than twenty years, and as popular as it is, it hasn’t changed that much. Moab is one of those places that’s big enough to have everything you need, but not big enough to be annoying. And as adventurous as I am, I’m probably the most boring person in town. Last time I was there my neighbor was airing out his BASE jumping parachute in the hallway. Totally natural occurrence in old Moab.

From Moab, Arches National Park is a very short five miles. It’s also a small park. There’s said to be something like 2,000 sandstone arches in the park, and because of the size of the park it feels like there’s at least that many cars there on any given summer day. The old advice of getting there early is alive and well here. And, strapping on a backpack will give you a real advantage over most visitors to Arches. Do it! There are many short hikes that get you right underneath natural features that will make you gasp. For a longer hike, do Devil’s Garden. I rate this hike as difficult, but only because there are some tricky rocks that you have to throw yourself over, and one of them is about a mile and a half into the trail. Most people don’t make it past Landscape Arch. If you can, you’re in for a quiet and stunning walk.

Now let’s talk about Canyonlands. The most visited section is the Island in the Sky District, about thirty-five miles out of Moab. From here there are several small hikes that can’t be missed. If you’re only there for a day the must-dos are Mesa Arch and Grand View Point. Don’t bypass them, even if you’re a seasoned hiker and want to do longer hikes. You won’t have Mesa Arch to yourself, but you may have Grand View. (Photo at end of post is from the one-mile trail.) And speaking of those longer hikes, the Needles District has some of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever done. Much more remote than Island in the Sky, you’ll drive eighty miles from Moab to get there. I highly recommend the eleven miler to Druid Arch.

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Expect to climb a lot of rocks, as well as a tricky ladder. But you’ll feel like a National Geographic explorer. Probably my favorite hike EVER, and that’s saying something!

Half the fun of Capitol Reef National Park is getting there from Moab. My favorite highway on the planet is SR95 between Blanding and Hanksville, a 100-mile thrill ride with enough views to make your neck sore. Here’s a place where you can just pull over to the side of the road, hike without a trail for a half hour, and find something amazing that others are just speeding by. Plan a whole day just to drive it one way. Beyond Hanksville and onward to Capital Reef is pretty special, too. As for Capital Reef itself, I feel like it’s a much-overlooked park that’s equally as spectacular as its better known cousins on both sides. Hike Cassidy Arch, Chimney Rock, and Cohab Canyon, all under five miles and big on memories.

Whew! How quickly and easily I wrote this is a true testament to the greatness of my beloved Southern Utah. And I’ve only scratched the surface!

Book your flight to Salt Lake City NOW.

You’re Welcome.

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Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: The Shameless Plug

I’m a little later than usual this week! I was working on my author newsletter, so this had to wait.

Anyway…

Thanks so much for following my blog. I’m excited to see new names on my list. Blogging is so much fun, and gives me a chance to write about my travels and hiking adventures, which are sometimes one and the same. I’ve noticed that readers are responding most to my posts about those subjects. Someday in the not so distant future I’m going to put my travel writing into book form. But for now…

Here’s my shameless plug: my other love is my fiction writing career, and I’m going to talk about that. Yes, in between my explorations of the world near and far I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, and I’m not reading Celebrity Net Worth. Oh wait, did I just say that? I lied! I love Celebrity Net Worth! (I don’t work for this company and know no one who does, just giving my favorite website a shameless plug, too!) But that’s not my reason for turning on the computer. I’ve been writing books since I was ten years old. After many years of chasing editors, agents, and publishers who wanted me to write what they wanted, I finally decided to self-publish and write what I want. I set out to write romance, but ended up with a book that was much more women’s fiction instead. It’s called “Gunning for Groupie Gold,” and it turned out to be my second book published, though the first written.

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Great cover, don’t  you agree?

My Girls of Glam Rock Series follows the backstage antics of three twenty-something groupies looking for hot rock star love. They’re set in the 1980s, the so-called Decade of Decadence. Expect the unexpected from second generation groupie Dandelion Dagger, lost waif Highway Child, and Southern girl runaway Carolina Clampett, (no relation Elle May!) And don’t forget about big hair and crazy fashions!

The second book I wrote, “Live Vicariously Through Me,” was written at the same time as “Gunning,” and was the third book published.

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This is easily my favorite book about my favorite characters, Nikk Saffire and Em’rald, glam metal rockers on top of the world. A harrowing love story that begins in a homeless shelter when Nikk and Em’rald were known as Niko and Emily, their lives eventually cross paths with the groupies of “Gunning.”

Once these books were done I got the hankering to tell the tale of how the three groupie girls from “Gunning” got to be who they are, and “Girls Gone Groupie” eventually became my first book published, but the third book written. Go figure!

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Now, about my other series…

About a decade ago I started writing for the now defunct “true” magazines, that included True Story and True Confessions.  I had an astounding  submission to acceptance rate with them. In fact, they basically bought everything I wrote. My writing friends eventually talked me into putting similar stories into book form, and that’s how my second series, Women Like Us, came to be. While the Girls of Glam Rock are rubbing elbows with celebs, my characters in the Women Like Us Series are everyday women, hence the series name. The first book, “Transformations,” contains three true-to-life stories about women determined to make their lives better, while the second book, “Tangled Webs,” has two stories:

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I’m currently hard at work editing the fourth Girls of Glam Rock book, “Shine On, You Crazy Saffire,” and writing the third Women Like Us book “Two Sides to Every Story.”

My five published books are available here, both in digital and print on demand, with full descriptions for your reading pleasure!

As mentioned earlier, I also send a monthly author newsletter. You can sign up here.

Thanks for your interest in my blog and in my writing.

Next post I’ll be back to blabbing about my travel and hiking life, and will be about Southern Utah, also known as my favorite place on earth. Stay tuned!

 

Daring Tales of A Determined Woman: Grand Canyon North and South

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If you’re a lover of National Parks like I’m a lover of National Parks, the debate about the rims of the Grand Canyon will rage on in your mind. You’ll hear kudos for and gripes about both. I was lucky enough to spend ample time hiking both rims (and a lot of stuff in between, but that’s another blog!) this summer, and will share my thoughts here. Spoiler alert: I don’t think I can pick a favorite! Both rims offered stunning views and fantastic weather when I needed it most.

I started at the North Rim, so I’ll talk about that “side” first. Here are a few quick statistics. According to the National Park Service only 10% of visitors go to the North Rim. The elevations, at over 8,000 feet, are higher than the South Rim, and the season is very short. Just think of it this way: you’ll need to hit the North Rim in the warmest part of the year.

Grand Canyon Lodge is the only place to stay within the park. Now, if you have a little fantasy in your head about having the North Rim all to yourself, scratch that. And if you want to stay at the Lodge and think you have all the time in the world to book a room there “because so few people go to the North Rim,” scratch that daydream, too. I started the process too late and couldn’t get a room for consecutive nights, so had to stay outside the park. It was a short drive, but it would have been nice to be right there.

Not only do rooms sell out fast around there, but so does food. And if you have a special diet, consider buying something before you get there and having a picnic lunch. As you can probably guess, the food is expensive, too. But hey, where else can you eat overpriced burgers while gazing out at the Eighth Wonder of the World?

For the middle of nowhere there was a healthy dose of guests and visitors in the vicinity of the Lodge. The paved trail to Bright Angel Point was busy, but I highly recommend it before moving on to quieter places, particularly if you aren’t a hiker. The short trail is big on views, just don’t expect to be the only person in your selfie, even if you engage in some rock climbing to “get away from the crowds.” Every rock I climbed there soon had a head popping up from below. But this half-miler is a great preview of what you’re in store for.

As is usually the case in the parks, the further a human has to go on foot, the less likely you’ll see a human on foot, at least in most circumstances. The Transept Trail runs from the Lodge to the North Rim campground. In between those two points you won’t see many people. You’ll see more on the North Kaibab Trail, which is the only trail that goes into the canyon from the North Rim. Some kind of bragging rights seem to be attached to hiking into the big hole in the ground. I stopped at the Supai Tunnel, (four miles down), which was as far as was recommended on the burning hot day I was there. Personally, I liked the upper trails better, though the Coconino Overlook and seeing “where the mountains meet the desert” were worth the cruel joke of having to go back up after going down, just the opposite of most hikes.

Recommended: do the very short Roosevelt Point and Cape Royal trails with the rest of the crowd. Get away from everyone on the overlooked and easy to miss Cliff Springs Trail. And, drum roll, please…

Best Kept Secret: Cape Final Trail, a four-mile out and back recommended to me by a ranger. In my opinion, this cannot be missed. Just don’t be discouraged by the pretty dull (not to mention flat and easy) first mile and a half through forest. Continue on to the end for an extremely pleasant surprise. Scroll back up to the top of this post for a preview of what you’ll see. It’s almost unfair that you have to work so little to get so much! Even better: you have a chance here to have the canyon all to yourself. Beat that.

Now, to the South Rim.  This rim is much more accessible than the North Rim, and it’s lower in elevation, and warmer. I entered from the east side at Desert View (Route 64.) This is easily the busiest part of the Grand Canyon. Driving this stretch of the park road from Desert View to Grand Canyon Village was slow going, but offered many wonderful view points. Warning: some of the parking lots look like they belong at a mall in Southern California, a testament to the popularity of the South Rim. If you’re looking for food and gifts shops, there are no shortages here.

By some stroke of luck I secured a room at the Bright Angel Lodge. I expected to hate the Village, but ended up very happy there. My cabin was cozy and convenient to the hiking trails, and I was just down the street from a shuttle stop to Hermit’s Rest, at the extreme western point on the park road. The only way to Hermit’s Rest is by the free park shuttle, which takes about forty minutes once you’re on. Though you may wait an hour to get a seat, the glory part is that most people get on and off this thing several times, going from viewpoint to viewpoint, cutting down on foot traffic in between photo ops. Put more simply, yes you can have the South Rim all to yourself if you’re willing to walk a few miles.

I chose to hike the Rim Trail, which is pretty self-explanatory. Heading east from Hermit’s Rest I was blissfully solo for the first three to four miles.

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How can this be? Well, here’s the secret: the paved Hermit Road Greenway Trail (for bikes) serves the same general area as the Rim Trail. Everyone (but yours truly!) was walking that. An easy mistake. But after starting on the Greenway I happened to look downward and saw the real Rim Trail (for hiking.) The trail cuts the side of the rim pretty closely in some places, so I don’t recommend if for someone with a fear of heights. I also don’t recommend it if you’re looking for someone to take your picture with the canyon in the background. Chances are excellent that your potential photographer is walking the Greenway. But if you want a little bit of adventure and unobstructed views while you take amazing selfies and do your best not to fall to your lonely (but beautiful) death, this is the trail for you.

The Rim Trail gets busier as you head east, and east of the Village it’s paved and overrun with humanity. All told, the Rim Trail is twelve miles in length, with the best miles being the first three from Hermit’s Rest.

If you’re one of those aforementioned people that must go into the canyon to have bragging rights, four trails of varying difficulty leave from the South Rim: Bright Angel, South Kaibab, Hermit, and Grandview. Check the NPS website for more information and trail conditions. Take weather reports very seriously. I watched a vicious storm from my cabin that shut down roads and trails and kept emergency personnel very busy. You do not want to be on a trail during one of these times!

If I had to choose between rims I couldn’t do it. I thought they were equally amazing, and I highly recommend spending ample time at both!

 

Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: Hike by Day, Write by Night

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If you haven’t already guessed from previous posts, traveling is a pretty important part of my life. Sharing that space is writing and spending time in the world’s biggest gym, the great outdoors. (Which, if you don’t mind me pointing out, is FREE for anyone to enjoy! You don’t need a membership, and you can use it as little or as much as you like!) Reading about how and why other people travel is interesting for me, too, and I’m often inspired by pictures from somewhere I’ve never been, or some activity that may or may not be on my to-do list. What’s important to travelers varies so much. I have friends that love to sample local cuisine, others that go around the world to see different kinds of animals. Whatever the reason you travel, it’s all valid to me. My personal motto is: Hike by Day, Write by Night. That goes for my life, too.

#travelislife is one of the hashtags I use fairly frequently on Instagram. Traveling not  only IS life, but it’s LIKE life in that you have to find what’s important to you and do it as much as you can in the ways that makes you happy. Like life, you’ll get a lot of advice about how you should do things a certain way because it’s they way someone else does it. For instance, some people I used to travel with would insist that I wasn’t really experiencing travel to the fullest because I’m not usually very interested in the local cuisine. Here’s a confession: I’m not a foodie. I could care less about fancy food. I grew up eating simple, basic stuff because my family couldn’t afford anything else. Furthermore, I’m on a special diet, and I’m kind of fussy about what I eat. Why would I eat something I don’t even like and end up sick a long way from home? On the other hand, none of those people would even consider opening a journal and putting a few words down about their travels, but I write several pages a day, which results in hundreds of pages of reflection a year. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. What I am saying is that everyone has different priorities and they’re all of value. Do what’s important to you!

Here’s another confession: I’ve never slept in a tent, and I don’t plan to anytime soon. Hiking friends have tried to convince me that I’m missing so much being a stubborn day hiker and refusing to carry my lodging on my back and sleep under the stars. First of all, I usually hike alone. Being in the middle of nowhere at night by myself doesn’t appeal to me. I do that in daylight hours, and even that is pushing it sometimes. Believe me, I’ve been alone in locations remote enough that I didn’t see another human all day. Add a grizzly bear or two, and the tent becomes even less attractive. As a matter of fact, forget the grizzly. Being in the middle of nowhere at night with most people isn’t going to work for me, either! Secondly, and this is the biggest reason, night time is my write time when I’m traveling. I love being tucked into a motel room void of all the responsibilities of home and just being able to write! Not so sure a laptop is going to feel that good on my back on a hiking trail all day long. This Hike by Day, Write by Night thing is a tried and true thing for me, honed over many years of traveling. Somehow I just can’t see myself hunched over my computer writing a book while being protected by a thin piece of fabric, and as Mother Nature dumps buckets of rain on me!

What’s the point of all this jibber-jabber? I truly appreciate all the concern my friends and family have for my well being. Really, I do. That my buddies want me to enjoy to the fullest extent the things I love best really touches my heart. But in the end, I have to do what’s best for me, just like they do what’s best for them. People rarely see that their way isn’t the only way to experience something. Sometimes, their “help” even hurts, and they don’t realize it. There’s nothing worse than someone that cares about you telling you you’ve got it all wrong and they have it all right. Here’s the solution: nod, smile, and say, “Hey, thanks!” Then just keep doing what you’re doing.

Listen, happiness is hard enough to find. Trying to take everyone’s advice makes it all the harder to stay on track. Find what makes you happy, and stick to it. Like glue.

Want to read more about my adventures large and small? Follow my Facebook Author page and my Instagram page.

Daring Tales of a Determined Woman: On Being Alone

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In this day and age, being happy alone should be perfectly acceptable. Take it from someone who spends a lot of time solo: it’s not.

For starters, people seem to get the words “alone” and “lonely” mixed up. In my humble opinion, being by yourself is a choice you make. Being lonely usually isn’t. They aren’t at all alike. Sure, being by yourself can be lonely. So can being with others. To me, there’s no loneliness more awful than being with someone you care about and feeling like you’re by yourself. Been there, done that.

I choose to spend a good deal of my time in my own company. A sizeable part of that choice stems from the fact that I’m a writer, and anyone who claims to be able to write with people around 24/7 is full of something that I won’t mention. The other part of it is that I’ve spent enough time with individuals that I really didn’t want to be with to know who I’m willing to give my time to at this point. The list is pretty short, and since those people I want to hang around with only have so much of their lives to spare for me, well, you guessed it: the rest is spent by myself.

Here’s an interesting, but not surprising, discovery: I just put the word “alone” into Google Images in an attempt to find a picture to accompany this post. Most of what I got was negative. Silhouettes slumped over, begging for attention. Oh, forget it! I’ll use my own photograph! (That’s me in Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona this past summer. Amazing place. Would have loved to be in there without the other several hundred visitors. One of the many places I’ve been that I would have liked to have to myself!)

As mentioned in my last post about my recent trip to Australia,  I sometimes, but not always, travel alone. Does it get lonely? Sure. But it also buys me the ultimate freedom to do what I want to do. I more often than not feel that it’s other people I run into that have a bigger problem with seeing me alone than I have with being alone. It’s not my imagination that I’m frequently the recipient of sorrowful glances when I’m taking in some great place without the company of another. But I also know that there are many folks out there that can’t be alone. Over the years I’ve been familiar with a lot of people who would rather be with someone they don’t even like than suffer the stigma of being alone. Because aren’t you a loser if you aren’t surrounded by giggling masses? I’m happy to say that NO, you aren’t!

Just hang around Facebook for a while, and you’ll see lots of lonely posts. For a while there was this one going around that really irked me. It was of an old man in a restaurant, sitting at a table by himself. The implication was that he had just lost his wife and needed someone to talk to because he was so damn lonely. May I suggest that there is an alternate way of looking at a situation like this? Maybe the old guy wants to think about his wife and you’re bothering him by interrupting his thoughts. That’s the way I feel sometimes when someone insists that I “need company.” No really, I don’t! That’s just your guilty conscience making a false assumption. I know where to find companionship just fine if I need it. Maybe I need a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my back?

I guess you’ve probably guessed that I’m single. But I’m neither unwilling nor unable to be in a relationship. The problem is finding the right one. I’ve had enough wrong ones to know that it’s either right or it’s nothing. I don’t believe in sacrificing things I love to be with someone. Here’s an example: I’ve had men tell me that they don’t want me to travel anymore. My answer? “See you later. Going to Thailand.” My way of thinking is that there are things you can give up…and things you can’t. Traveling and writing are a part of me, and to push them aside to be with someone is like having an arm or a leg cut off. Would you give up a limb for your significant other? Then why are you letting someone talk you out of doing something that’s so important to you? Wouldn’t it just be better to find someone to share that love of something with? I haven’t done it yet. But do I know women who have it the way they want it? Sure do. Do I know more who don’t? Indeed. And I refuse to be one of them!

In conclusion, never assume that someone alone is suffering for attention. As I like to say, “The ability to be alone is a great gift, not an unfortunate curse.”IMG_2991