I guess I start at the beginning. First of all, my current life is great! Who am I in June, 2011? My lifestyle as an independent woman in her 50’s is one of peace and contentment, happy and secure, knowing God’s purpose for my life. I have confidence to set goals and achieve many extraordinary dreams! I reside in one of the most beautiful, tropical islands in the world, Maui, Hawaii, and own a condo near the beach with awe-inspiring mountain views, both east and west, viewed from my windows every day.
I’m living my dream–focus on an inspirational and creative life by writing and taking photos of Hawaii scenes of paradise in various locations.
It wasn’t always that way. How did a divorced, single mother who lived paycheck to paycheck, from rural Medina County, Ohio in 2002 manage to end up in Maui one year later? How did I get here? I planned for a major change in my personal life. A five year fantasy/dream to move to Hawaii. In 2002, I was divorced for four years, starting over at 45, with a teenage son to raise, struggling to live within a meager budget every payday. While my heart’s desire was to devote my time and energy to writing poetry and novels and plot story lines and develop characters for my books, life kept getting in the way. Inside me was a secret commitment to leave Ohio in 2003 after my son became eighteen and graduated from high school. I would then be free to move on with my own life.
What made this hidden dream surprising is where I came from. Born and raised in northeast Ohio in a small town. Married my high school sweetheart at twenty, built a house in the country, Medina County, and raised a family of four children. Divorced after twenty-five years of marriage (off & on). I went to college at thirty and earned two Associate Degrees, in Accounting and Retail Management. By 2002, I worked as an Accounting Manager for a small company in a rural farming comunity in Seville, Ohio. My son and I lived in a rented cottage near Chippewa Lake, Ohio. I appeared to be surviving on the outside, but inside I was miserable. Suffering from the BIG 3Ds–Debt, Divorce and Depression.
In the spring of 2002, there was an “epiphany moment” experienced in my life. As noted in my personal journal–the root cause of my depression was due to lack of focus and finally admitted that writing was my heart and soul. I arrived at the honest determination that my writing ability was God’s gift and purpose for my life. It was indeed a major turning point in my life. I read and followed Julia Cameron’s books and tapes (The Artist’s Way). Their impact on my heart and soul was life-changing. My purpose aligned according to the biblical scripture of Habbakuk 2:2. My first priority was the process of writing every day.
In April, 2002 another turning point in my life began to shape my plans. What was I going to do this year for my birthday? I was turning 50 on July 4, 2002. It’s the pivotal year–that fiftieth birthday. Half my life is over. Looking ahead to a life where I would be totally alone and responsible for myself for the first time. Birth – 20 years, I was a child raised by parents and subject to their influence. 20 – 45 years, I married right out of my home and into my husband’s home for the next twenty-five years (off & on) and became a woman/wife/mother subject to my husband and involved each other’s lives even after the divorce. 45 – 50 years, single mother who is sole support and raising my son alone from a 12 to 18 year old. Next year, in June, 2003, he would graduate from high school and enlist in the Air Force to join the military. Then I faced being completely alone and in charge of my own life.
September 11, 2001 (less than one year prior). Reality became–if you don’t take a chance to pursue your lifelong dreams, to risk doing what you really desire to do with your life–it may never happen. It was a wake-up call for America. A time to reassess what is truly important and not waste time on meaningless activities. Life’s too short.
My lifelong dreams? Or as it’s known now—my ‘bucket list”. With a birthday on July 4th, I always imagined it would be a great idea to celebrate my birthday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I wanted this year, on my 5oth, to be special enough to remember the rest of my life. Since I could be in Philadelphia on July 4th, it would only be a few hours more to drive north to Albany, New York and visit the area my Dutch ancestors settled. I’ve always been curious about the Van Schaick branch of my maternal family tree that dates back to the 1600s. I have a book with a picture of the Van Schaick Mansion near Cohoes, New York. I’ve studied that photo for twenty years and always wondered–am I related?
So in the spring of 2002, I decided to check 2 items off my bucket list before I died. I planned a vacation for the first week of July, 2002. July 1-7, I would be a woman alone, traveling across Pennsylvania to realize a lifelong dream. Ohio to Philadelphia to New York and back home again. I faced a turning point in my personal life as a woman about to become fifty years old. Along the way, I would stop and visit several turning points in American History. I needed to prove outwardly that a middle-aged woman, traveling alone after 9-11 is still safe in America. And to prove to myself–I can change the future direction and purpose of my own life.
50 isn’t fatal–it’s fabulous!
So, why am I blogging about this “old news” nine years after the fact? Why have I waited until now to tell my story? In 2002, I fully intended to document my journey with historical research, photography and recorded impressions and observations on cassette tapes, as well as noting as much information as possible in my journal. I would write a memoir manuscript and publish my book. The Grand Plan stalled over the years. Life happened. The papers and maps and tapes and photos were boxed up and stored away–until now.
2011 is the tenth anniversary since the September 11th terrorist tragedies. A decade has passed already. I’m reliving my July 1-7, 2002 road trip to honor turning points in American History. And to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the ultimate sacrifice made by the passengers of United Flight 93 that crashed into a rural field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I’m bringing to remembrance the 150th anniversay of the beginning of the American Civil War (1861-1865), by honoring the soldiers who fought on both sides decisive battles at Gettyburg in 1863.
With another Fourth of July approaching, let it be known how important Independence Hall in Philadelphia became to the world when British Colonists/American men signed their lives on the line on a document known as The Declaration of Independence, so that freedom from tyranny would be available for all mankind.
Finally, I acknowledge once more, the path my quest took along the Hudson River. Northward to the Albany/Cohoes, New York area to stand in places where my Dutch forebears lived and died, so that I may live today in the greatest country in the world.
The turning points in American History at Shanksville, Gettysburg, Philadelphia and Van Schaick Island shaped our country to this day and time. I’m telling my story to bring it back to an active memory. What started out as a journey to celebrate my 50th birthday in the city that made my birthday a national holiday and the quest to seek proof of my Dutch ancestors’ link to the Van Schaick Island and mansion, became an American Pilgrimage.
I walked across hallowed grounds, in the steps of heroes long gone, but still able to powerfully affect me at a deep emotional level. I returned home a changed woman. Determined to change the direction of the rest of my life. Knowing I could live according to God’s purpose meant for me. It was never too late to plan an extraordinary dream and make it come true!
So, for those of you who care, or are merely curious, I will blog about my journey in 2002 that turned into a common theme of being at turning points in American History. In the end, it changed my life. The anticipation begins—