See Ya Later


uhaul2

 

Last week, I piled everything I own on a truck, hooked my car up for the tow, and drove from Chicago to Arizona. To say this was challenging would be putting it mildly. However, the real challenge was leaving behind my kids, who I hope will eventually join me permanently. My 22 year old son is already out living on his own, but my 18 year old daughter will be staying behind her first year to attend her freshman year of college in IL. She is planning to move to AZ next year to attend school here. But for now, this is the hardest thing I have ever done. I did not realize how much I would miss her. I kept saying to her, “Meg, it’s okay. It will just be like you are leaving me to go to college a little early.” The truth is… I was the one leaving her.

I was in my 30’s, married with children, when my parents decided to pack up and move to Nevada. I was devastated, and thought they were being selfish. But as time went on, I understood that it was something they had desperately wanted to do, maybe even needed to do. They spent the last years of their lives enjoying life in the mountains.

So as Megan and I packed up all of our things, we had different boxes for her. Some were labeled “Arizona”, for when she comes to visit, and others were labeled “college”. We sat on the floor of her room packing those boxes, and I believe that is when the reality of it all set in. I always worried that I would have such a rough time when my baby left for college, but here I was doing the leaving first.

Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, for both of us. But it isn’t goodbye… just see ya later! As I drove away, with tears in my eyes, hauling everything I own in that 20 foot truck, I realized what I carried on that truck was just STUFF. What I really have is love… love for my children, love for the friends I left behind, and love of the life we have all built together. None of that goes away… life changes, relationships change… but they don’t end. Meg comes out to visit this weekend, and I cannot wait to see her! When she leaves to go back and prepare for her first year of college, it won’t be goodbye. We will just say, “See ya later”.

~ Patti Crowley

uhaul

Coming Out of the Fog

fog

 

St. Roberts, Missouri was the first stop along my 27 hour journey from Illinois to Arizona.  I did not intend to stop, since I was determined to drive later into that first night. However, when I was driving along the winding, hilly road at around 11pm, I found myself driving in and out of a thick fog. I would get up to the top of a hill, become blinded by the fog, only to drop down into a clearing. This up and down, in and out, went on for several miles, until I finally decided it was time to play it safe and find a place to sleep for the night.

I woke early, refreshed, and ready to start back out on my journey. Driving long distances gives one plenty of time to think and reflect. I thought about that fog, and how I had felt such anxiety while in the midst of it, only to come out on the other end into a place of clarity. As the fog was in my rear view mirror, I had felt such a sense of relief and peace at having come out of it.

Such has been my life. How many times have I felt the anxiety of the unknown, the fear of what I cannot see in front of me? Eventually, after each fog in my life cleared, I would have that same sense of peace at having made it through. The fog never lasts forever. Yet each time I have found myself coming out of one, I feel that I have grown stronger for the experience, with lessons learned along the way. The knowledge that this too shall pass never seems to be enough when you are in the middle of a fog, vision impaired. However, once you come out of the other side, there is a sense of strength and accomplishment. So for now, I am happy to be in a place of clarity… at least until the next fog arrives. But then, this too shall pass!

~ Patti Crowley

 

Racing the Sun

racing the sun

This photo was taken on my 1770 mile drive from Chicago to Arizona last week.  Okay, so I should not have been taking a photo while driving a 20ft U-Haul truck towing my car behind at about 70 mph… but I just HAD TO!  You see, I was cruising along on the adventure of a lifetime, and it occurred to me that I was racing with the sun.  Seemingly, the sun was taking an awful long time to set. I watched it reach the horizon, attempting to settle in for it’s peaceful slumber beyond the landscape, but it just would not go down. Each mile I traveled, it was still there, just out of reach.

This thought astounded me. The sky continually changed between beautiful hues of orange and red, to deep purple. I felt as though it was taunting me, begging me to hurry up. It reminded me of being a child and playing “You’re It”. The faster I drove, the further away that horizon seemed.

All of this made me think of my life, and how many times I have chased dreams, always feeling as though they were just out of reach. But, do you know what? I eventually arrived at my destination. I made the 27 hour drive in less than two days. That is less than 48 hours! I can honestly say that I did not feel fatigued or frustrated at any single moment on the journey. My spirit was simply jumping up and down inside of me with this immense joy and anticipation. The mountains had called to me, and when I crossed over into Arizona, driving through the inexplicable beauty of Flagstaff, chasing the western sun, I said aloud to the heavens, “Mom, I’m home!”

~ Patti Crowley

 

Your Past is Simply a Story You Tell Yourself

your past is just a story

I personally know so many people that have spent years in therapy trying to sort out their past in a valiant attempt to discover how it has molded them into the person they are today. Many look to find some person, place, or situation in which to place blame for their shortcomings as if the discovery will somehow repair their faults or bring peace where it did not previously exist. However, I firmly believe that our past is just a story we tell ourselves, and like the saying above, it has absolutely NO power over you!

Have you ever seen one of those “tests” where they observe a group of people witnessing the same event at the same time?  When each observer is asked to describe what he or she saw, their experience or interpretation is quite different from those of the other observers? Have you ever had a disagreement with someone, and then afterward, you twist the details in your mind and make it out to be something so big and disastrous, while the other person feels calm and settled, having put the “simple” disagreement completely behind them? By the way, in this particular scenario, the person who is twisting the situation is typically a woman and the other is typically a man… but I digress!

Looking at our own past is quite the same as the two previous scenarios. We tend to think of events from our past through our own distorted lens. We can make mountains out of molehills, so to speak. Maybe we find that it is easier to place blame on our childhood, or on that one miserably failed relationship. Maybe it is easier to believe that the reason we are not successful, for whatever that term means to each of us, is due to circumstances or the unfair hand we feel we have been dealt.

So maybe it is time we stop creating our own fictional story about what our past means to us. Our past is simply how we choose to view it! The key word in that statement is CHOOSE. Therefore, we can choose to either change the way we think about our past, or choose to accept that our past is simply our past, and move on!

We can waste precious time and energy dwelling on a past that is really only a simple story we have created with our own warped minds, and yes, we are all warped in some small way. So I say, stop looking back… it only serves to leave you with a wicked neck ache!

Be in today, focus on the now, and live!

~ Patti Crowley

 

 

 

The World is No Substitute

Take Peace in the Lord-betty's photo
The world is no substitute
It comes from Spirit.

…………Wisdom……

– Betty S.

This haiku was written by a good friend of mine just this morning.  Sometimes I have to stop and marvel at the timing of things that I see, read, and experience. Just yesterday I was having a pretty deep philosophical discussion with a wonderful new friend. I was trying to express what I have been feeling during this week I am here in Arizona as I look out at the mountains, and watch the sunsets each day. Here is what I have discovered.

It isn’t so much the beauty of my surroundings, the fresh air I breathe in each day, or the clear blue skies themselves that bring me a peace I have never known.  Instead, this beauty causes me to feel deep within some sense of KNOWING. Now here is where it gets difficult to explain, but I will make the attempt. When I see something beautiful like the McDowell mountain range which I drove alongside yesterday, I was nearly brought to tears at the beauty. But it was the feeling inside when looking outward that made me pause. Maybe it is because I felt like a child again, seeing Mickey Mouse at Disney World. That feeling of wonder and excitement that we rarely experience as adults. Or maybe it was just a recognition of WHO I am deep down.

I know that for me, I have spent a lifetime wondering how people view me from the outside. I never saw myself for who I am.  As strange as it may sound, looking outward at all of this beauty somehow made me look at myself in a different light. There is a feeling that the real me is emerging. My heart is open, along with my senses which are so receptive now, for possibly the first time since I was a child.

So in the words of my dear friend, Betty, I see that “the world is no substitute”. God, as I know Him, is not found in the mountains, or in the sunsets, or in the clear blue skies. Instead, He is found in the “Spirit”… my Spirit within. Magnificent!

~ Patti Crowley

A New View of My World

Inspiration pours in from every conceivable direction.  Moments like this validate my decision to look westward as a final destinationview from hotel balcony for living my life. Moments like this make me realize how truly small I am, and the realization sets in that there is no doubt of the presence of a power much greater than myself who created all of this beauty. No human hands could have ever created such magnificence, and for that I am humbled beyond words.

This morning, I sit on my balcony and look at out the majestic mountains, knowing deep within that I am exactly where I was intended to be. My daughter lies asleep in our resort room, exhausted from two days of house hunting & sightseeing. The 18 year old girl who very rarely ever picks up a book, choosing instead to watch hours of mindless tv at home, actually read an inspiring book cover to cover in two days from this very balcony. If that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what is, and if you knew my daughter as do I, you would understand the significance of that!

Today, as I sit here drinking coffee on this balcony overlooking God’s creation at its finest, I feel inspired to begin anew. All of the dreams I have talked about, written about, and thought incessantly about are slowly becoming a reality. There were times at which I thought this was another one of my grand plans that I would most certainly never make a reality.  With still a few hurdles to overcome, I feel confident that another chapter of my life is being written at this very moment. I will not put the pen down, I will not allow myself to be distracted by those little doubts and fears that find their way in, and I will continue to put one foot in front of the other. I am finding that the only way to fulfill your dreams is to simply take one little step in the right direction, do the next right thing, and do everything in your power to not look back over your shoulder.  The moment is now!

~ Patti Crowley

There For The Taking

Looking out of her window on a gloomy spring morningwindow
She can’t help but wonder
Is it out there, waiting ever so patiently for her?

Will she bring with her that childhood anticipation,
That mischievous smile, that trusting soul?
Does she realize that true happiness is already within,
And not outside in any majestic place or in another soul?

Will she realize the hopeful dreams of her youth,
Making proper use of her gifts and talent?
Or will she shrink back into that safe place of obscurity?

Will the extraordinary beauty of her new environment
Allow her the space and inspiration for which she has longed?

I believe she knows with every ounce of her being,
That it is there for the taking,
If she simply trusts,
And reaches deep within.

~ Patti Crowley

History Starts Now…

What kind of world do you wanthistory starts now
Think Anything
Let’s start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now…

– Five for Fighting

The lyrics above are from a song entitled, World.  I heard it while listening to my Pandora app in the car and it nearly made me pull over.  I remembered something that happened when my now-18 year old daughter was in three year old preschool.  One day when I was picking her up, her teacher pulled me aside and told me that Megan had handed in her artwork and proudly exclaimed, “Here is my masterpiece!”  We laughed at how funny that word sounded coming from a three year old.  But I digress….

The song brought that adorable memory back, and made me smile.  However, there is so much more significance for me to the lyrics from the song.  It made me think of how so few of us live in the moment. Many of us wake up each morning dreading the day ahead, worried about the future, and feeling regret from the past.

What if we looked at this moment as the start of our lives?  We have the ability to live for right now.  So why not make a decision to stop whatever it is we are doing at this moment, and think about what kind of world we want?  We can “think anything”, “start at the start”, and “build a masterpiece”.  We can do anything we want with our lives (within reason I suppose!), live anywhere we choose to live, and be whoever it is we want to be.

So, be careful what you wish for…  Your History Starts Now!

~ Patti Crowley

Wrapped Up in Me

In less than a week, I will be in Arizona looking for a new place to call home. Majestic  mountains, a quiet valley, a lone Cactus in bloom, ample sunshine, and 100+ degree heat… Crazy? I think  not. Am I the  conductor of my own orchestra, or is there something drawing me in, cajoling me forward? Regardless, the time has come.

The details seem endless.  The planning, overwhelming.  So my thoughts are constantly racing with things I have to do, ways to make this move a reality, and questions for which I want answers.  Yet there is the friend, reaching out, in need of my help.  Have I been so wrapped up in me that I am unable to provide a shoulder, offer guidance, or simply be present?  A daughter, preparing for graduation, anxious to enter her college experience, filled with anticipation, rattled nerves, but also big dreams.  Have I been too wrapped up in me that I have briefly relinquished my duty as mom, unable to offer assurance, listen to her reservations, her thoughts, her dreams?

So, I will pause for awhile today. Pause, not stop, and simply be in today.  All of the things I have yet to do, all of the dreams I have for myself, will still be there and do not have to be put on the shelf to collect dust.  I simply need to be present in today.  Allow myself to be open to others, to listen, to guide if necessary.

At this time, next week, I will be in the mountains, breathing in the clean air and taking in the beauty.  But for today, I will be here, not wrapped up in me, but looking outward.

– Patti Crowley