The Door Is Unlocked…Do we dare?

I felt trapped… trapped with my family and friends in a dark, dank dungeon of some old medieval castle. There was wailing, tempers flaring, and people pushing other people as we all talked fearfully about what the future might hold. Fights broke out among us as one cast blame upon the other for our predicament. Exhausted from being in the middle of the ongoing drama, I decided to explore the cell… looking carefully at each of the bars, the stone walls beyond, the dim light that cast a yellow pall on all of our faces. I pushed gently against the cell door, and gasped… IT WASN’T LOCKED! Was it possible? Had the door been unlocked the entire time?

“We can get out! We can leave! Everyone, this door isn’t locked!” I shouted. Nobody seemed to be listening. “Please, we don’t have to be here, THE DOOR ISN’T LOCKED!” I pushed the door open to show them. “It’s a trick” they replied. “You can’t get far, it’s too dangerous to try” others answered. Time passed and nothing changed. As my beloveds continued to cry, fight, despair, sleep, have an occasional laugh, and talk endlessly about our problems, I kept looking at that door. There was a way out. For years I stood at the door of the cell, trying to convince the others, beg them, show them that we could leave. Then one day, with a heavy heart and extra dose of courage, I said “I have to go”. I was leaving with or without them, and I would leave the door open if anyone wanted to follow. 

I pushed the door to the cell open wide and stepped out into an opening that led to a long, dark hallway. There were 2 guards standing against the wall at the far end of the hallway and I thought “this will surely be when I die”. With my heart in my throat, I started walking down the hallway toward the guards. It was the only way out. They were talking, and as I drew closer they looked up briefly, acknowledged me with a nod, and then continued to talk. I walked past them in amazement. They didn’t stop me. They barely even noticed that I had walked by. Why had they been there if not to stop me from leaving? I worked my way up a long circular stone stairway in the damp, cold castle. As I got to the top, two massive guards holding weapons were positioned on either side of the stair. “My beloveds were right” I thought, as I felt my face go numb and breathing stop for a moment. “This was all a cruel trick. I was allowed to come this far, to envision, yes, almost taste my freedom, just to be captured and sent back.” But something strange was happening from within. I was feeling less afraid, and in place of my fear a still small voice from within said “Keep going”. It no longer mattered what they might say or do to me now…I was going to be free. As I approached the second set of guards, they nodded, smiled, said nothing, and let me pass. I just had to keep walking. In the distance stood 2 giant wooden doors. The ray of light peeking through the crack between the doors told me that I had reached the entrance. Do I dare? Do I push these heavy doors open and face whatever lies beyond? Yes. I had to know.

I pushed the doors open with all of my might, and there it was. Before me was a huge, open field of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, beaming with color in the sunlight. Above me, billowy white clouds floated effortlessly in a crystalline blue sky, and in the distance giant trees swayed and danced together with their leaves shimmering like tiny diamonds in the breeze. I could breathe. Really breathe for the first time in my life. It was exquisite. I was free. 

I could have left at any time. The door was never locked, and the guards never meant to harm me. It was my own fear, my imagination, the unspoken rules that we were living by, and my not wanting to leave anyone behind in their suffering that kept me in my own personal prison for so many years. 

No, I was never really physically imprisoned with my family and friends, thank God. But mentally, psychologically, and emotionally I was imprisoned with false beliefs, unhealthy family agreements, hard wiring from my childhood, doubts about the possibilities, and decisions I had made long ago that held me back from exploring my full potential. It felt as if I was being held in jail. 

This is the new journey I am embarking on. I am finally ready, still with my heart in my throat at times and legs trembling, to walk past the inner guards of my life and find out what is out there, what is possible, what beauty lies ahead with my hand in God’s hand and my eyes toward the future. I have to find out. Hold my hand, if you want to, and together we’ll begin our adventure and journey toward freedom. I love you!

Bitter Sweet Apples and Endings September 19, 2021

Such a beautiful and bittersweet day! We spent the last day of our glorious trip by doing something we love to do every year around this time. We are staying in our usual campground in Reinbeck and we went apple picking at Fixx Brothers fruit farm. It was truly like coming home again in the best possible way. Later we took the pups to a dog park by the Hudson River for them to play and swim, and now we are waiting for a special takeout dinner to take back and eat at our little home on wheels. Tomorrow we pack up and return home. We’ve been talking about favorite places, biggest lessons learned, funniest moments, plans for the future and more. My sweet friend April told me a while back that we’ve had a summer filled with many wonderful gifts, now let this be a year of unwrapping and savouring every one. Best advice ever I think. While I’m sad to see this end, I am looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead. This life is a miracle!






Unexpected Surprises September 19, 2021

As we packed up and prepared to say goodbye to Lake George yesterday, we happened upon a settlement of soldiers that were camping on the shores of the lake for the weekend. Actual tents, authentic cookware, hot uniforms and the ladies in long dresses on a 86° day. I went up to 2 of the soldiers and said “I hate to have to ask this, but which war are you fighting?” It was the French and Indian war and these guys were great. They explained that in a few years they would be fighting on different sides in the revolutionary war, and that their captains would leave them here when this war ended to fend for themselves rather than take them home again to possibly start a revolution back home. The guy on the left had a legitimate Scottish accent and the guy on the right was Irish and said he was told “either enlist or die”. Their guns were so heavy to lift, let alone carry, along with their tents and belongings, I decided to stop whining when I have to carry my water bottle along on a hike. They had a battle on the field that was really impressive, even though only 4 guys died out of many who were all shooting at each other. They did have to wait for the truck delivering the Porta Potties to clear the field before the battle could begin (Elijah said they were very impressive chamber pots), and some of the captains arrived in a golf cart. It was a wonderful surprise to travel back in time. The last photos are part 2 from our wonderful day swinging in the trees when we hiked with the pups, had a cookout at the camper, and then went to the drive-in theater to see a late night showing of “Jungle Cruise”. Do you get a sense that we are packing in as much as humanly possible in these last days of our road trip?





Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course September 18, 2021

A DAY SO SPECTACULAR that I have to share it in 2 parts!

Yesterday we did the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course which has a number of high altitude courses in the trees equipped with zip lines, rope swings, nets & more. It was AMAZING!!! None of us have ever done anything like that before, and we managed to make it through 5 courses together (#5 being much more difficult and advanced 💪) before the park had to close and our bodies had to rest. Ernie has always had a fear of heights, yet he became fearless as the day went on and the kids amazed me with their strength, focus, and willingness to try anything. There were plenty of laughs as well (like this first video of Ernie early in the course attempting to do his Tarzan yell while tackling the “Tarzan Swing” into a net suspended high in the trees. I loved everything about this adventure. The personal victories, the problem solving, the team work and support, the trees, our togetherness, and the flat out fun. We ended the day by taking the dogs for an off leash romp in the woods with a beautiful waterfall, a cookout around the campfire, and a late night movie at the drive in theater!!!!







Lake George September 16, 2021

The Good News is that my replacement phone arrived at our campground in time for me to get some photos of this glorious day at Lake George, and it was indeed, a glorious day!

The Bad News (at least for now) is that I cannot seem to retrieve the information on my damaged phone including important texts, my notes from our trip, personal data, my photos that had not been backed up and more. I will take it to Verizon when I get home and pray for a miracle. In the meantime, I am back up and running, and tomorrow morning we are doing something I have never done before that I am VERY EXCITED about. Here is a little hint: it has to do with some very tall trees (-;






Too much Mist for this Maiden September 14, 2021

BENEATH THIS RICE lies my cell phone that got a little too much Maid Of The Mist moisture yesterday 🥴 and my phone seems to have had enough of our grand adventure 😩

If the rice doesn’t revive it, I will have no phone, no messaging, and no more of my own photos till I get home, because Verizon says I need to order my new phone online and have it delivered and can’t just get one in the store up here. The good news is that you can still reach Ernie, Eli, and Tatiana, and the kids take amazing photos. Just wanted to let you know in case I seem particularly quiet in the next few days. Maybe I am meant to be particularly quiet for a while and simply take in these last few days of my most amazing summer ever. All things work together for good…







Maid of the Mist September 13, 2021

The Magnificent Power Of Water!

Our day at Niagra Falls was both breathtaking and thrilling! We took the MAID OF THE MIST boat trip up close to the falls, and oh my goodness! The sound of the falls thundering down around us, the forceful spray that soaked our faces, and the rocking boat followed by a perfect rainbow took us all by surprise. We ended the day with s’mores by a campfire until Mother Nature decided to impress us once again with lightning, thunder, and a downpour that sent us running inside for cover. My mama’s words were ringing in my ears tonight. “Oh girls, just LOOK at the beautiful world God made for us!” I am looking mama, and I love what I see!







To the Best Travel Partners September 12, 2021

A Tribute To Skylar and Riley!

As our Epic Family Road Trip is winding down, on a rainy day at the campground, I want to take a moment to acknowledge our pups. They have been with us 24/7 for 3 months…riding thousands of miles through all kinds of terrain, sitting quietly under tables in outdoor dining establishments, staying on leash in every national park when they would rather be running wild, holding their tongues when they’d like to bark their heads off at other dogs, deer, bison and more, sitting patiently in the front seat guarding the camper when they weren’t allowed go in with us, and adapting and readapting to our ever changing routines. Dogs are amazing companions, friends, support systems, and therapists. I had my doubts about taking them on this kind of adventure, and worried about the challenges that might arise from bringing them with us, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you Skylar and Riley!





Lake Geneva September 10, 2021

Oh the wonder of love and forever friendships! What I thought was going to be a short stopover in Lake Geneva became 2 beautiful days of reconnection and surprises. I went back to Sybil Lane where my family had their cottage near the lake and discovered friends who still lived there and that we hadn’t seen in more than 20 years! Cheri and Fred Moloznik took us out on their boat, introduced us to dinner at the Boat House, and had wonderful memories to share about my grandmother and grandfather up at the lake. We spent last night visiting with Ernie’s brother Dan and his niece, Ashley Hunter, and her family in their extraordinary and beautiful new home they have been building themselves for 5 years. Between caring for my mama and Covid, we haven’t seen any of them for 6 years; and to be able to hug, laugh together, and reconnect was beautiful on every level. Love, Love, and more Love. My heart is overflowing tonight!





Birthday Celebrations with Wonderful People September 8, 2021

THANK YOU TO ALL MY BELOVEDS FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY LOVE AND BEAUTIFUL WISHES ALL DAY LONG! What a wonderful day! It was our last day in Madison and I got to see my friend (and gifted producer/writer/actor/visionary) Jan Levine Thal, had lunch with the family, then was surprised with a birthday concert by the amazing StarrGrass Band, Lucas, Lucy, and Laura who perform all around Madison and happen to be Ernie’s great nephew and nieces (thank you Seth and Amy Jacobus). Tonight, we are spending the night at a place that I spent every summer as a child, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. My grandparents had a cottage at the lake and I’d spend my summer months with my mama, grandparents, sister and sometimes brother, aunt and uncle. There are so many memories here, and our campground is close to the lake… seemed like the perfect place to finish out this birthday.

I decided this time last year that I was going to retire from doing anything I no longer wanted to do, and this birthday I’ve decided to give up numbers and limiting beliefs around aging. My mama would never tell us how old she was. She’d always say “the day I can’t out-do both of you girls, then you can ask me how old I am, but in the meantime, I don’t want any numbers or labels put on my life”. I love that. Thank you, Mama! Thank you, God! Thank you, everyone! Thank you, life! I love you all!