Sometimes the very things that scare us, help us to grow.
Yes, a new journey… not knowing where you are heading but trusting that the path ahead will take you there.
With Courage comes the need to know
where grace and love are bestowed.
To those that can and those that will…
Today, tomorrow and ever still…
We all have grace that resides within…
In knowing and sharing yet, having never been
Let freedom lead one to…
the place where grace and love are few…
Here, where you are free…
give it away to every spirit you see…
A gift… TO: You From: me.
Oh, the seriousness written about as of late, has this shy girl deciding that today would be the day to share a quest she has resisted writing for a little bit now. I completed the quest and set it aside some months ago, fearing how the experience would translate onto paper. But, in the end, it is the fear that motivates us to do things that take us far out of our comfort zone and if writing about it isn’t scary enough, I will offer it up to the world to sit in judgment and perhaps even recoil.
It was the day of my recent half marathon, November 16, 2014. I had finished with the race and had decided to head home. But in doing so, I was feeling hungry after running 13 miles and decided to stop and have a bite to eat before making the long 6 hour drive. Capitola would be the place to stop, rest my body, nourish myself and then begin my travels. What I didn’t expect was a quest of the provocative kind.
As I arrived in the tiny sea-side town of Capitola, CA, it was evident that those that lived here, lived “Ocean”. The beaches were packed with people playing volleyball, surfing, sun-bathing, bike riding and just soothing their souls with the healing waters of the sea and the sun’s rays. I came across Paradise Beach Grill restaurant with a cute outdoor seating area and as busy as they were, they had one open table on the patio with the view of the ocean… and it had my name on it! I was escorted to my seat and as I stepped out onto the patio my eyes were teased and tempted with the beach-style living. There across the water inlet were homes situated right on the oceanfront.
The sea breeze scent wafted right up to the tip of my nose as if to welcome me to Paradise! Ahhh…. The seagulls and their voices echoed over the water to let me know how happy they were that I came to visit. I was seated at my table and just sat for a moment not paying any attention to the menu that was handed to me. The sun still a couple of hours from setting and yet the shimmer off the ocean, on a day when even the thin wispy clouds spread across the sky like cob webs, rendered it no less magnificent. I had just completed a half marathon and although my mind should have been focused on a detailed dissection and critique of my performance, it mattered not. “This” was my reward…
And like a snap of a finger to pull me out of the seaside trance, the waiter, how he greeted me so… A smile so wide with a twinkle in his eye and an offer of a cold beverage to satiate this running girl’s thirst. “Yes”, I replied, “That would be ever so nice to have.” I opened the menu and the items all sounded worthy of a bite, but only one meal could be handled after a long run. My eyes, as if they were being steered from afar, honed in on the raw oysters… “Raw oysters?” I thought…. “Wait! Yes, raw oysters!” My friends had just recently suggested this as a quest. Indicating that they are an experience everyone should have. “Hmmm….. Raw oysters?”, I thought again… “Really?” I was hoping for a big juicy cheeseburger, and no, not of the turkey burger kind, no…. THE REAL THING! Alas, the waiter returned and I explained my dilemma. He took a seat and said, “O, Wow, an oyster virgin!” I couldn’t help but giggle…. “Yes, I suppose that to be the truth!”, I replied. He described that he had just had them himself not too long ago and insisted that I must try them. He said he would help with how they are meant to be eaten. It was the way he proposed that offering of information that had this shy girl’s attention. Yes, then one order of raw oysters… to start… and I ordered a salmon dish as the main course… as I realized I was fairly hungry and the oysters would have to be an appeteaser…
As I waited for my order, I sat back and enjoyed my beverage and thought about what this next quest would be like. I remember doing some research on raw oysters not too long ago as I had contemplated this quest… and the one thing that stuck out in this creative mind of mine, was the fact that they have been known to have an aphrodisiac effect. “ How”, I wondered? If this were to be true, people would be eating them incessantly… No, there must me more to this lure. Well, I decided to conduct in-depth research when the quest was done, perhaps in an attempt to keep my thoughts pure.
My mind began to swirl about, wondering if I would even like these oysters. There will be six in total… I had hoped I could stomach that many, if indeed I didn’t find them that tasty. Before those thoughts could circulate, my waiter arrived with a cute grin and a platter full of large raw oysters. He gently set the platter down and pulled up a chair. He asked if he could demonstrate and I said, “By all means.” He then grabbed the oyster fork and picked up the hard shell. He looked intently in my eyes and said, “This is the way you must enjoy these beauties. You take the fork and slide it under the fleshy part of the oyster. Make sure to separate the delicate flesh with the hardness of the shell. There will be a bit of salty moisture from the oyster, which is normal. Then, you must spice it up. Take a dash of tabasco or Sriracha and drip it slowly into the shell. Then and only then, will it be ready to reach your lips.” He picked the oyster up and brought the hard ribbed shell to his lips and set his head back and tilted the shell down and I could see the oyster slide ever so carefully from the shell and into his wanting and waiting mouth. He swallowed and said, “That was delish, now your turn…”
I sat a bit flustered at the sight I had just taken in. I had only hoped he couldn’t detect the rosy hue of my cheeks as my mind was a flurry with erotic thoughts. Heavy sigh….. I didn’t care what they tasted like at this point.. he could make liver look good enough to eat! He handed me the oyster fork and said, “Your turn.” I picked up the hard oyster shell and slid my fork under the oyster… it slid so easily, not even a little push needed. I set my fork down and looked up at the waiter… he gave me a nod as if to agree with my action. I then reached for the Sriracha sauce and poured carefully to bathe the oyster in a fiery red color… I set the bottle down, and gave one last look at the waiter and he said, “You’ve got this girl… just lift, tilt and swallow…” I couldn’t help but let out a soft sigh at those delightful instructions. I took my trembling right hand and reached ever so gingerly for the rigid shell. I looked around as if the entire dining area sat in watch… and I was indeed correct, many had eyes on me… I lifted the shell to my lips… I licked my lips as if to ready them for the delight to be had… My waiter said, “Tilt, slide and swallow…” Heavy sigh… and this oyster virgin did just that… I tilted my head with the shell at my lips opened my mouth ever so carefully… wanting to taste this delicacy of the sea and needing the nourishment… I hesitated not a moment as I was eager to take it into my watery mouth. I tilted the shell and in one long movement, I could feel that slippery sensation enter my warm mouth with purpose… the salt blended with the hot sauce in a perfect alchemy of flavors and delights… that teased my palate and tickled my tongue. I held it there in my mouth allowing all the flavors to blend and bend… and then I looked at the waiter and he gave me a sideways smile as if to take pleasure in this religious experience. He then nodded his head and I swallowed ever so purposefully… and licked my lips and smiled and sighed as a way to temper the adrenaline that ran through me during the fresh experience. If I could have released a “Yes!!” in delight, I would have… but in the presences of other patrons, I politely refrained.
And then realizing I could experience this four more times!!!! There was no doubt, this shy girl thought she was experiencing nirvana!
Alas, the oral pleasure came to an end and there the shells sat on the platter empty, stained in red and I left satiated but only partly… The waiter delighted in the fun, left and returned with the main course. Though, I must say, I wasn’t feeling hungry at that moment, but rather satisfied. I sat and drank my beverage for a time to digest, and had a seagull land right next to me as if to congratulate me on a job well done. He was shooed away by the waiter and I indulged in a couple bites of my salmon meal. At last, it was time… time to pay for the indulgence and begin my long trek home.
As I made my way out to the drive I stopped at the beach to take one last look…. Who would have thought that this shy girl could have gone off the main road to a seaside town and had the courage to order a dish not easy to eat, not common to partake in, having a sweet waiter to help fulfill her hidden desire to take in raw oysters and in the process finding a secret erotic pleasure in doing so. No, the research indicates that there is no evidence to suggest that oysters are an aphrodisiac. Yet, this shy girl has found that it isn’t in the oysters that this seductive and alluring component can be found… no, rather it is in the art of partaking in them, with the right company, the right mindset and that oh so sexy feeling that this oyster virgin was able to come out of her shell…
Feeling sensually satisfied and oh so lucky…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring…
“The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting animating and stirring into action.”
The sun shone through my office window and there I sat thinking and wondering where the day would take me… I was feeling the need to escape these four walls and find something of significance… something that could speak to me perhaps with not a word ever spoken.
I had been told of an old ghost town south of here by a couple of hours. Recently, I was finding myself a little fatigued of the words of the living. I decided to go out on an adventure to experience the silence of those long gone and hopefully not forgotten. It was a cold and windy day and so I made sure to dress accordingly. I grabbed my camera, my bag, mittens and asked Siri to lead the way.
As I made the 2 hour drive south, I was feeling a bit worn for lack of better a word. I had engaged in so much communication over the past week that my body and mind begged for a little rest and relaxation. So, I turned on some songs that settled my mind, put Cherie on cruise control and there we were making our way, literally, to the middle of nowhere.
Siri announced a turn toward Bodie National Park. A ghost town up in the desert mountains where an active mine had this town once bustling with business and life. Today, it sits as still as can be, as if the people simply up and left and disappeared. I was feeling curious and inquisitive about what I might find… a building maybe two… an old mine… perhaps a house or two… The thoughts and visions were circling my mind as if a soup were stirring over the stove. The sign said “Bodie 10 miles ahead”. Then after just a short couple miles, another sign read that the paved road ended.
I was a bit concerned as I found myself driving up a rutted, bumpy dirt road with a cliff to my right and views that were simply nothing short of breath-taking… I had to remind myself to focus on the road ahead.
A winding rough road it was and then at some 8,375ft I settled up over a ridge-top and there before these wondering eyes did appear a town! An actual ghost town! Not one building or one house…. the shell of an actual city that once graced this mountaintop. I stopped for a moment in absolute awe. I rubbed my eyes in an attempt to clarify the view, as if what I was witnessing couldn’t be so. When I opened my eyes there remained no difference. I placed Cherie in drive and we entered the park/city of Bodie. I parked the car and went backwards in time.
Before I had departed on my adventure I had made sure to hop on the Bodie Historic Park website to find out all the pertinent details. Here is a simple description of what I hoped to experience:
“Bodie State Historic Park is a genuine California gold-mining ghost town. Visitors can walk down the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. The town is named for Waterman S. Body (William Bodey), who had discovered small amounts of gold in hills north of Mono Lake. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed pay dirt, which led to purchase of the mine by the Standard Company in 1877. People flocked to Bodie and transformed it from a town of a few dozen to a boomtown.
Only a small part of the town survives, preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Designated as a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962, the remains of Bodie are being preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Today this once thriving mining camp is visited by tourists, howling winds and an occasional ghost.”
The moment I stepped out of the car a large gust of wind hit me, leaving me to catch my breath. Heavy sigh…. I grabbed my jacket, mittens and camera and off I went. As I began the walk into the city, I was mesmerized with feelings and thoughts of what this town once looked like… I could almost see the shadows of spirits that walked the dirt roads and visited the store, restaurant, church, school, mine and the many other establishments that still stood.
As I approached the church, I suddenly felt a sense of calm blanket me. The wind had stopped and the silence was deafening. And just then I heard an unmistakable creaking… I looked up and there above the building that stood across the church was a weather vane. Although I felt no breeze, it swung 90 degrees. I tilted my head to the right as if to try to justify this as the air was as calm as could be. I simply vocalized a “Hmmm…” and turned to walk toward the church. There the warped and heavily weathered wooden plank steps welcomed me to the entry to God’s house. The church was not open but a view could be seen through the doors. Lined on each side were pews that held the memories of those who sat and worshiped in their traditional ways. Old, does not describe the church. It was layered in desert dust. But time couldn’t hide the moments sanctified there… I could feel the excitement of baptisms, the joy of wedded bliss, and the sorrow of long goodbyes… I turned and walked away.
The next house over was open for viewing. As I approached, I tried to envision my thoughts if I were to live there… walking up to the home it was evident it was a tiny house, of course weathered but still standing. As I walked in, I stopped in awe… A deep breath at what I was witnessing… The house stood as if the owners simply walked away. The kitchen was small…bowls, cups, cooking utensils still in place. To the right was a room for the baby… a crib seen partially rusty, but still intact, and sat as a reminder of the spirits that once breathed life into this house. I stood and just thought about the difficulties that this mother and father faced in a mining town with a little one in tow. The fear of mine collapse, hot temperatures and disease… how many never survived… how many hoped for better times and yet, here in this tiny house, with but the bare necessities, this family did what they could. I stood as a cool breeze could be felt on my bare legs… I sighed with delight… here I stood in a moment of history with the spirits gone that lingered…. To them this is home…
I felt the need to stay a while visiting this tiny and humble house, and when the moment struck, I left and began to meander around the town. Building after building, I walked the dirt road and was left in complete amazement as history stood still. I could almost hear the horse and buggies as they passed by… The jovial sounds of laughter that escaped the saloon and pool hall… the children’s voices as I walked past the school… and then as if to thank me for the visit, that eerie familiar creaking of the weather vane summoned me back. Alas, the park was set to close as the sun had begun to set. I stood for just a moment looking back down the road at the buildings, the sky above and then I closed my eyes. There I stood as the wind blew by… I could still hear all the sounds of yesteryear… with the creaking weather vane to remind me this was all too real. Yes, I could feel the energy of the once bustling town… the joy, the pains, the sorrow, the fears… carried by the wind and spoken by the spirits as they bid this shy girl their long goodbye…
As I made my way down the mountain, I could see the sun begin to set over the mountain range ahead. The pull was magnetic in nature… to stop and walk among the sage brush… to feel the sun’s last rays penetrate this body after a day visiting a ghost town that held so many memories.
My mind was full of pictures of days gone by and yet this day was coming to its finale. There I stood in the gold light as it illuminated the sage that graced me… I whispered to the heavens my appreciation for another day, another opportunity, another sunset… Perhaps it was more than most as many that once resided in Bodie may not have seen many days of happiness and exploration. They faced hard times, but made the best of their minimal existence. Something in my heart told me that there were still many… many that linger… many that hold on to their memories… perhaps not even knowing of the years that have passed… kept in a time saturated with memories that keep them there…
Feeling in awe, humbled, grateful and connected…. Wondering what tomorrow will bring…
How often do we convince ourselves that we aren’t worthy to have the things we desire….
To be the people we dream to be….
To be loved the way we deserve…
Sometimes it takes a road not traveled to be convinced that we are indeed worth that much and so much more…
Today, I believe… every reason to smile…
If you see it… follow it.
If you feel it… go after it.
If you know it… share it.
If you want it… get it.
If you have to say it… let the words flow!
If you long for it.. make it yours!
If you believe in it… don’t deny it!
If you love it… cherish it so!
Don’t hesitate… time, it goes by too quickly… tomorrow, may never come…
So if you dream it, believe it and make it yours!
“If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends.”
Reluctantly, I have taken a little break from the quests and my writing. There were many that knew I stepped back, but didn’t dare ask… for this, I appreciate your understanding and patience. Yes, the reason for my departure is quite human you see.
Days are always filled with work and life and the joys that come with them. Quests are journeys that take us to a place that teaches, and helps us gain a new perspective, of which I have chosen to share quite openly. Some of these quests are fun and light at heart. As of late, they have taken a more emotionally complex form. It seemed to have drained my spirit a bit. My senses were tired and challenged and my body begged for some rest. My mind needed to recalibrate. I had attempted to turn the tide, ever so slightly, and as if the wind had a different idea, my course led me astray. Left to wander in the open sea of life… I had much time to renew and rethink and redirect where it is that I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there. Realizing very quickly that despite what my plans were, this is what was meant to be.
As the weather cleared and the view came into focus, I was thankful to see the shore ahead. I was relieved to place these feet on solid ground and ready myself for a new adventure. What I didn’t anticipate were the thoughts that perhaps this is all for naught. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, these words would be whispers in the wind lost among the everyday sounds of life. Maybe my time and effort would have me looking back with regret?
Then one day I met a friend of mine for coffee. It had been quite a while since we spent time getting caught up on life’s events and there was a bit of trepidation, fearing she would be upset with me for having neglected our friendship so. We sat down and after a little small talk, she handed me a gift. I opened the bag, and there sat a little book. I picked it up and realized immediately what the content might include. I had not said much to her regarding the state of my current compass confusion and yet she reached over and gently took the book from my hands and opened it to one particular page and asked me to read the following words:
“Imagine a new stack of crisp white paper. It’s just waiting for you to start writing the pages of your story. No one else’s story will be like yours. So fill those pages however you wish, and sign your story with a flourish.”
–A Celebration of your Dreams.
An audible soft sigh was released and I was rendered speechless. It was as if my good friend just knew what I needed to hear. She proceeded to tell me that she values our friendship despite our recent challenges. She continued to tell me that she enjoys reading my stories and that I needed to continue to inspire others through my journey. I looked down and tried to catch my breath and fight back tears, as I felt as if I was hit by a tidal wave…. The thoughts in just seconds flooded my mind…. Inspire? Is it possible that through my words I could affect another’s life in such a way? Oh, some have said that to be so, but perhaps in my naiveté, I didn’t think it to be true, just a comment made from a place of courtesy. I took a moment and wiped the tears away, stood up to render a hug of appreciation from a place of love, and extended my sincere gratitude for her genuine thoughtfulness. We continued to laugh, chat and get caught up on life for 4 hours… good friends that neglected to spend time with each other and yet, the gift I received went beyond the hard cover and cost of the book… they were words that helped to calibrate my compass and help steer the ship. Priceless! Thank you my good friend… for being honest, caring and loving… I am better for knowing you!
It was then that I made a promise to myself to continue along this Quest.
I have learned so much on this journey. This shy girl has come a long way in finding herself, taking on challenges she never thought possible, facing her fears one at a time, and finding that she is not afraid to say what needs to be said, and find out how far she can take it… “This is not the time to stop now!” I thought. There is still so much to see, do and learn. There are stories to be shared, laughs to be had and love to be given.
So, it is with a renewed enthusiasm and contagious excitement that I return to the journey with refreshed senses ready to be overwhelmed, stimulated, aroused and joyous at the trail ahead. So much to do, so little time to do it… and there is no time like the present.
With true friends to gift and guide, having a new perspective, changes on the horizon, and unexpected adventures to humble, thrill and excite… Wondering what tomorrow will bring…