Hard to believe but this is my 300th post for this blog site that I launched May 31, 2017. I started this after attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference where I pitched my memoir to literary agents. The prevailing wisdom was authors needed a platform to build a following of readers who would purchase those soon-to-be-published books. My first blog entry was “Saved by Sedona” which was the working title of my memoir, based on the feeling that my initial pilgrimage to Sedona, Arizona had the saving quality of spiritual renewal after a difficult journey through a desert.
Scrolling back through those three hundred posts, I see ways it’s like my private journal was made into a public chronicle. Initially, the posts often focused on taking a yearly solo journey that became a Spirit-led pilgrimage for me. Aspects of those trips that would be described in the memoir were shared in the blog posts to give readers a sampling of those experiences. Maybe if the trips were broken down into doable parts– readers would consider making a pilgrimage of their own designs.
By September of 2017, my solo journeys reached a pinnacle when I took my first trip to Europe and participated in a week-long retreat at The Abbey in Iona, Scotland– an international pilgrimage site. So many of the steps in the early journeys in the States had been preparing me for that larger scale trip to the UK. A pivotal moment on that trip was letting go of the anxiety that went with taking risks–stepping out there when you could be exposed as an imposter, when others’ could “call you out” for your mistakes– in my case, grammar, sentence structure etc– all the technical parts of writing.
This is how I described that moment in my Dec. 31, 2017 post Things You Leave Behind:
“All forty-one of us from the Abbey were invited to take a pilgrimage to all the important sites on the island. That portion of the beach was where St. Columba and his followers landed their boats in 563, bringing Christianity from Ireland to Scotland. The sand was covered with rocks, all rounded and smooth, the most I’d ever seen. We were asked to pick one, to symbolize something that was burdening us, and throw it into the sound in an act of leaving it behind. Without the weight of that rock, we could move forward to be all we were created to be.”
Looking back, that post documented a moment that was important in helping me to move forward and be free to express what came to me, rather than worrying so much about every possible error; maybe my readers would feel they could do the same.
Another pivotal post came July 21, 2019 when I announced my separation from my husband after years of marriage in 41st Anniversary: Not What I Expected/. That was a huge turning point in my life and in my posts. Afterwards, you all went with me through the stages of grief as I depended on God and my family and friends–readers are included in that group, to trudge through that time.
My older sister, Harriet arranged for me to be part of an authors’ event at the local YMCA. She was helping to keep alive my desire to promote my memoir that was published within a few weeks of my separation. I had a hard time preparing for the event, my enthusiasm weighted down by my ongoing sadness. This is what I shared in my post on Nov. 2,2019 Finding Light for a Dark Path:
“This morning when I was finally getting together my portions to read, my younger sister, Peggy sent me a text. She’d taken pictures from a book that we both have, Ruth Chou Simons’ gracelaced. Along with the photos of text from the chapter on Light, she said, “Was reading this and thought it might bring you what you need today.” She didn’t know I’d been struggling to prepare for the YMCA reading.
In the section of Simons’ work, “Just Enough Light” she says,
Just tell me how to avoid all pain and experience all the best, my heart cries if I’m honest. But as it turns out, we might ask for an unmistakably clear path only to receive light for just the next step.”
I could identify with that statement. I wanted God to light up the entire path, help me to move on down this road and get all of this change that’s causing pain, behind me. Instead, what I’d found this week was just enough light to get to the next step.
I’ve made it through this tough week. I’ve made it through a third of a year since our separation in June. I only have to have enough light to take one step at the time.
For now, that has to be enough.”
Now, I look back and remember that I made it through that event and kept putting one foot in front of the other on that dark path with just enough light. Time passed and eventually we got through the divorce process and it was time to move forward. I stepped into the world of online dating, a weird place for a baby boomer, a sixty-five year old woman starting all over. You all walked along beside me, some of you with similar experiences and others, entertained by the follies of such a quest.
In March of last year, I started posting about those experiences. The May 2, 2021 post Testing Toads: Online Dating described how I came to view that dating process and has forever linked me with toads! In fact, one of those toads, who is now just a friend, showed me his toad cufflinks and told me when he purchased them he thought of my blog posts!
Here’s the opening of “Testing Toads”:
“We’ve all heard that saying, “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you meet your handsome prince.” With the online dating world, you hear folks say you have to “go through a lot of toads” and some say, “you have to have a lot of bad dates until you get to the right one.” When I first entered the online dating world, I heard those things so much that one night, as I was in that pre-sleep twilight zone, I had a strong image come to me.
I was standing and facing a wall about twenty feet away. A conveyor belt came out of the top of the wall and moved downward and then passed me. About every foot along the belt there was a toad sitting there facing me. To my right was a stainless steel work table like you’d see in a pathology lab. My job was to pick up each toad, examine it on all sides, determine whether it was healthy, suitable, or if I wanted to keep it. If I felt anything positive about the toad, I was to put him on the table– which became a holding place while the toad was under consideration.
That image stuck with me and in my waking hours seemed to fit with my experience of online dating.”
I know some of the guys haven’t appreciated being compared to a toad; but I couldn’t help it. That was how I handled the laborious, anxiety-producing, irritating, exhilarating process of online dating.
As I look back over the 300 posts that have spanned almost 5 years, I see the path of my life and those who’ve joined me on this journey— sharing their stories with me; I am grateful.
Thank You for your support, for reading and commenting, for giving me encouragement that spreads out to others who are part of this chronicle.
Love and Blessings,