Tag Archives: journey



  1. Important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. “Dim,” “Deep,” or “Mysterious”
  2. Awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.

In 1996, Jon Krakauer, the author of Into Thin Air, published an amazing, thoughtful book entitled Into the Wild.  This book tells the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless who, after graduating from college, spurned his former affluent life and the bright, comfortable future ahead of him.  Motivated by books he read by Jack London and John Muir, McCandless dedicated himself to a personal vision quest that began in the western and southwestern regions of America.  Changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, McCandless gave his savings of  $25,000 to charity, abandoned all his possessions, left his car in the Mojave Desert, and burned all of his cash to ensure that nothing would hold him back from his journey.  Looking for his own personal paradise on this earth, McCandless even threw away all of his maps and traveled only by his intuition.  In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked into Alaska and walked into the vast cold wilderness north of Mount McKinley.  For a while, McCandless found shelter in an abandoned old school bus.  Four months later, however, his body was found by a moose hunter.

No one knows what ultimately motivated McCandless’s careless journey.  Questions still remain about a young man’s need to walk away from a rich and promising future to live homeless and starving  in the barren wildness of Alaska.  Some people claim that McCandless had a death wish and a need for self-destruction.    Others just dismiss McCandless’s actions as foolish and innocently reckless.

Well, I guess I am foolish and reckless too….

I don’t claim to know what was in McCandless’s head or why he choose his particular lifestyle, but there is a core element inside of me that feels so connected to his story.  In response to Krakauer’s consistent questions in the book about McCandless’s journey, I think I understand.

There are so many of us on this earth who don’t always feel that we belong in a world that overwhelms us with violent, materialistic, opportunistic situations.  Some of us who struggle to cope, do not medicate ourselves from the stress with alcohol, food, cigarettes, sex, gambling, or prescription drugs, but we do experience a deep and compelling lust all the same.  Wanderlust and the need to move, to travel, to create a universe of our own existence is a hunger that is rarely satisfied.

Restless, never able to settle down, I constantly look for opportunities to escape my existence.  I have no intention of doing this through self-harm.  I just have a relentless need to be lost.  When I travel, I rarely call or text anyone.  I love driving alone down deserted highways  without a single person knowing where I am in that exact moment.  I enjoy the solitude, the drifting away from my reality.  This has been my lifestyle for the last thirty years.

In July, 2016, I finally had the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream.  I spent time this summer exploring Alaska.  This was an amazing turning point for me.  I had made a vow to myself that I would drive through every state in America.  Alaska was the last state I needed to visit in order to satisfy this goal.  However, I refused to celebrate this accomplishment.  I didn’t post notices about it on Facebook.  I didn’t write blogs about my experience.  I just didn’t feel the need.

While I was in Alaska, I felt inspired to go completely off the grid.  I wanted desperately to be lost.  I wanted to cut off all communication to my former life.  I didn’t call or text anyone.  I only posted a few pictures on Facebook when I felt overwhelmed by the incredible scenery of glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, and animals.  But I only posted about 20 of the 350 photos I took.  I haven’t posted any more pictures or information about Alaska since I returned to Kansas.  There is a deep part of me that just needs to keep it quiet and hidden.  To experience so much of God’s amazing wilderness was so profound and awe-inspiring there was no way of putting it into words.  Even the beautiful pictures I have seem bleak when compared to the Alaskan landscape itself.  To this day, two months later, I have no desire to tell people about all of the amazing things that happened to me in Alaska.


I think constantly of running away again to the “last frontier.”  I want to hide in her vast beauty and get lost in her majestic environment.  I want to run with her wilderness and dissolve into her endless splendor.

My life’s purpose was  redefined in Alaska.  I came into contact with who God intended me to be.  I was never meant to have the things of an ordinary life.  I was not meant to have a great job, or a wonderful marriage, or an incredible home.  My only life’s purpose is to grow closer to God.  To know him by his world, by the beauty that surrounds me.  I don’t have to be anything…in Alaska, I can just be…

I don’t care about success, or a home, or money.  Just knowing in my heart and soul that I can move and explore and witness God’s glory is enough for me in this lifetime.

I don’t know Christopher McCandless’s motivation for his journey.

I didn’t travel from this life as far as Christopher did.

But there are times I really wish I had followed him.




Finding Meaning in Las Vegas


Even though I’ve enjoyed traveling around the world, I have been thinking lately that it is time for me to settle down. I need to get married, have a family, own a home and, perhaps, a dog. I’ve never been married and, honestly, I don’t have a lot of faith that it’s a possibility for me. I’m not good at flirting. I am awkward and shy. I’ve always been an outsider. I don’t do well with social games. I always tend to lose.

But last weekend, I was determined to change all of that. I was taking a few days off to go to Las Vegas. I just knew that this was going to be a great weekend for me. I had fantasies that I was going to meet someone very special. I tend to attract more people when I go out of town than when I’m at home. That’s easy to understand though. When I’m in my home city, I run around in sweats, with no make-up and my hair is unkempt. It’s different when I go out of town. I tend to make an effort to make myself more attractive.

So last Saturday, while I was in Vegas, I woke up early and took my time fixing my hair and make-up. I put on a long skirt that makes me look taller. My 5’5” frame looked slimmed and stretched to at least 5’7. I felt great and attractive as I walked down the Vegas strip. I’ll admit I did a few tosses of my long curled copper red hair as I smiled beguilingly at the people walking around me. I even caught myself glancing every now and then at my reflection in the windows of the shops and restaurants as I passed by. I laughed and took pictures and just felt happy and attractive… until I reached one of the overhead pedestrian walkways that crossed over South Las Vegas Boulevard.

I decided not to take the escalator or elevator. I felt strong and healthy so I went bounding up the twelve concrete steps. I was near the top of the stairs when suddenly the front tip of the sandal on my right foot caught on the edge of the top step and I felt myself pitching forward.

I put out my hands but wasn’t able to stop myself. I fell forward onto my face but that wasn’t the end of this escapade. By the time it registered in my brain that I was always falling, I was already rolling down the steps. Within seconds, I found myself sprawled in a tangle of limbs and long full skirt on the corner of Aria and South Las Vegas Boulevard. I laid there for a moment burning with embarrassment in front of all of the people. Yet, I felt strangely alone. No one helped me up. No one asked me if I was okay. Then I opened my eyes to find a group of men standing on the corner pointing at me and laughing hysterically.

I looked down at the palms of my hands that were scrapped raw. My left foot felt twisted and bruised. My biggest concern though was my camera. The little bottom door of the camera laid open and the batteries were falling out. Amid the sounds of loud laughter and chattering voices, I pulled myself up from the ground and snapped my camera back together. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I began to walk back up the steps, moving slowly but with my head held high. I reached the top and continued my journey down the strip still feeling my body tingling with embarrassment. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been strutting. I shouldn’t have been feeling so proud and pleased with myself. I should have known I was going to crash for being so…

“Hey, hey, Red,” I suddenly heard a voice call. “Hey, Red!” I looked away from my thoughts now and noticed a homeless man standing directly in front of me. He was wearing torn denim shorts and a stained brown plaid button door shirt that was hanging open to display his thin bony chest. His long hair was clumped together with dirt and his long goatee was braided to a point at his chin. “Oh, God,” I groaned inwardly as my body still ached from the fall, “what now?”
“This is for you, Red,” the man said as he suddenly turned and jumped onto a short concrete pillar. He sat on the pillar as the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel suddenly burst into action. Large streams of water suddenly sprayed up and danced in time to the music from Phantom of the Opera.

The homeless man didn’t miss a single movement or beat as he waved his hands around in time to the music. I was suddenly captivated by this man, drawn helplessly into his fantasy. As I watched his movements, I truly believed he was conducting a massive water orchestra. Every few seconds, the man turned around and smiled at me as I stood on the sidewalk. At the end of the performance, he jumped down off the pillar and bowed elegantly to me before taking his place again on the sidewalk with the rest of the people who were begging for handouts. I smiled then as I walked down the strip to the Mirage Hotel.

Once inside the Secret Garden, I stood before the cage of the white tigers. Two of the tigers were perched up on a low tree branch as they lazily passed away the sunny afternoon. One of the tigers was staring directly at me. I was so mesmerized by this creature, I couldn’t turn away. I felt so connected to this amazing animal as we continued to make direct contact. The whole universe existed within his round dark eyes. “It’s the hair,” I suddenly heard a voice say. I turned around to look at the trainer who was standing next to me. The young man smiled at me and said, “The tiger is fascinated with your red hair.” I smiled then and felt a light blush tinge my cheeks as I slowly pulled myself away from the front of the cage.

I walked over to the dolphin habitat then. While most people were crowded around the large tank where several trainers were working with three dolphins, I stood next to the second smaller tank, playing with two young dolphins. I watched in awe as the animals jumped out of the water and spun in the air. Several times, the dolphins pushed their gray shiny bodies up on the dock directly in front of me. “See,” a trainer whispered from behind me, “they like you. They’re showing off for you.”

I was actually deeply happy then. I smiled with my heart because now I truly understood the purpose of this day. Maybe I was never meant to get married and settle down. Maybe I was never meant to have a husband and family. Maybe the dog and the house were out of my reach. My life consists instead of jumping dolphins, mesmerizing white tigers, and a homeless man who conducts water symphonies for me. My life is pure and joyful. I am truly blessed.

A Surprising Encounter

One early morning, perhaps around seven o’clock, I was sitting in a booth in a local diner relaxing over a cup of coffee and a good book. This is my usual morning routine. I set my alarm to wake up early every day so I can enjoy this ritual even before I have to go to work. This day happened to be a Saturday, a day off, so I could linger and enjoy the morning for as long as I pleased. I was enjoying my book so much, I really wasn’t paying attention to the other diner patrons. This is rather unusual for me. I am a notorious people watcher. I read a few pages, watch the people, read a few more pages, watch a few more people… I found it so difficult to ignore all of the kind, loving, silly things people do. I don’t always get into long conversation with people. Even though, I try to be pleasant, my basic shyness stops me from actually speaking to anyone, other than the basic social graces of “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank you.” This morning, I sipped my coffee and kept my eyes moving across the pages, absorbing every word.

“That must be a good book,” I suddenly heard a gruff voice say.

Startled, I looked up at the man sitting at the table next to mine. He was an elderly Hispanic man, quite large, with soft beautiful brown eyes, and a sweet round face.

“It is,” I answered as I peered at him over the top of the book. “I’m really enjoying it.” I turned my eyes back down to the page.

“What’s it about?” he asked then.

“It’s called Kisses from Katie,” I told him. “It’s an amazing true story. It’s about this 18-year-old American girl who moves to Uganda. She went there to bring clean water, food, and hope to the people. She started schools and hospitals. She also adopted thirteen of the young girls she had taken into her school. She is creating a great home for them.” I was surprised that I had said so much to this stranger, but I loved this book. It was so inspiring and touched my heart in so many amazing ways. I wondered as I read this book, if I would ever have the courage, dedication, and faith that Katie demonstrated.

The man continued to ask me questions and I gave the best answers I could. He spoke in a thick, coarse accent and stumbled over a few words. We had to repeat our questions and answers to each other a few times, but we both seemed to enjoy this experience. Next thing I knew, I was actually sitting next to this man at his table, showing him the pictures in the book of Katie in Uganda with her adopted children. Together, we looked at the pictures of Katie taking care of the children in the hospital and teaching in the school.

Suddenly the man said, “She is an amazing girl.”

I answered, “She was following Jesus. She claims He called her and she had pure faith to answer and believe.”
Suddenly, as the man stood up from the table, he looked me right in the eyes, and said, “Prepare. Soon, Jesus will be calling you.”

His words took me by surprise and I looked away for just a moment in confusion. When I glanced up again, the man was gone. Just suddenly gone. I had only turned away for the briefest of moments and he had disappeared. I glanced around the diner quickly but I didn’t know where he had gone. I hadn’t heard footsteps or the door squeak open and close. I didn’t see him leave or get to say a final good-bye. I had looked away for just a second…and he was gone. But his final words stayed with me.

Ever since that day, I have been praying for Jesus to call me. I’ve been looking for burning bushes and parted seas. But there has been nothing. No miraculous interventions or sudden miracles. I went on with my days. I continued to teach and guide my students in my classroom. I continued to buy groceries for the homeless family down the street. I continued to offer comfort to the people who were alone. I continued to enjoy nature and marvel at the beauty of a sunrise. I continued to pray and count my blessings every night.

One morning, as I sat in that same diner where I had the amazing encounter with a sweet stranger, I read my book, sipped my coffee, watched the people…and suddenly realized that Jesus had called me every day of my life.

Veterans’ Day 2013

My plane had landed at the Denver Airport thirty minutes late. As soon as I was able to disembark, I had to ran through the terminal corridors to gate 29 to catch my plane back to Palm Springs. Arriving fifteen minutes before boarding time, the gate is crowded except for one random empty chair at the end of the 6-chair handicapped row.

I refuse to take the seat. I squat down by a side wall as I glare angrily at a young twenty-something-year-old man who is lounging back in the last seat of the handicap chairs. He is wearing boots, jeans, and a black T-shirt. He is listening to music through headphones. He remains in the chair even when two elderly women, one on crutches, walk into the waiting area.

Finally, after several minutes, the Frontier Airlines counter clerk approaches the man. “Sir?! Sir, can you please move!? These women need the handicap seats!”

The man just looks up at the airline employee for a moment before placing both hands on the arms of the chair and pulling himself to his feet. A horrified expression covers the counter clerk’s face and the whole busy gate suddenly falls quiet as the man begins to move his body away from the chair. He walks across the room with his back in an unusual, extreme twist to the left that rotates his spine. The contortion pulls his left hip higher than his right and scrunches up the right side of his body. His body is almost bent double to his right side. With his right leg shorter than his left, he limps awkwardly and sways from side to side as he moves to stand in the center of the room, waiting to get on the plane.

I burn with shame as other people uncomfortably shuffle, turning their attention away from the young man as the counter clerk walks up to him to offer her apologies. He just nods his head and waves her away with a slight tense smile. The two elderly women slowly take the handicap seats and the noise level returns to normal. The moment eases, the tension relaxes, but those of us waiting by the gate have been changed. Lesson learned. You can never know how deeply another person has been hurt or how deep their suffering goes. Practice kindness….


1992 was a year of first for me. First time I got a passport, first time traveling on my own, first time going overseas, first time I was ever on an airplane. I was traveling from Kansas to London, England, where I would spend a year studying theater and film, my real passion at the time. My actual physical journey from start to finish was about twenty-three hours.

I wasn’t very happy at the beginning of the journey. My heart and soul were raging like the thunderstorm that crashed all us from the time my family left the house and arrived at the airport about an hour later. I did not think of the stormy weather as a bad omen. Instead, it was a prophecy of all the unusual adventures ahead of me. I was off on my very first expedition and couldn’t settle down. I remember trying to sit still with my family by the gate waiting for my flight, but I couldn’t stay motionless. I felt right at that moment that I just wanted to go back home, back to the safety of my family and all that was familiar. Even though this adventure was the fulfillment of a dream for me, I now felt like running back to the safety of my old common existence—days that were filled with going to school full time at the University of Kansas, working at the local movie theater, and modeling in the art department of the college. It was a recognizable, consistent life. I knew where I was supposed to be every moment and what was expected of me. Is this what stops people from being so adventurous? A need for the familiar? A need to feel safe? A need for a regular routine of life, not letting anything different interfere?

Another first…for the first time in my life now, I found myself craving those moments, those usual routines. My daily routine served as an anchor to a life and mind that were always drifting, always searching. What exactly was it that has kept me moving? Why is it that I had grown up so shy and quiet and yet I run from the regular routine, the “normal” life?

For awhile, I sat in the airport by the gate silently praying. Oh, God, what have I done? I thought of Mom wanting to run away from her wedding. She wanted to get away; I felt the need to return. But it was too late for me now to think about that. Too late to wonder about those impulses that push me to the next stage of my life. My plane would be taking off in less than an hour. I still couldn’t sit calmly. I again paced relentlessly back and forth, anxious to be on my way or turn back home. Either one, I just wanted to get going.

Mom appeared calm and relaxed though her legs swung and her fingernails tapped nervously on the armrest of the chair where she was sitting. She was trying not to relay the fact that she was on the verge of changing her mind about the situation, too. But before she could finally get up the nerve to tell me to come back home, my plane was beginning to board all of the passengers heading off for their own private adventures. I hugged my family good-bye quickly. I thought it would be best to get on the plane fast before I had time to reconsider what I was doing. I started on my way to the plane, head held high with fake pride and confidence. Yes, my body was getting on the plane bound for England. But my heart and soul were not really sure where I was going.

Though I admit I struggled with homesickness the first few weeks, I loved Hull, England, from the moment I arrived. I met many great people and loved the experience of exploring some place new and different.

New Adventures–Getting Lost

At that time my family embarked on road trips, there were no cell phones or GPS systems. We did not depend on technology to get us through. We were real pioneers, with nothing but maps and fellow adventurers traveling the highways. All we had to depend on were ourselves and the kindness of family, friends, neighbors, and travelling allies. That was the adventure. We lived dangerously…and we survived. We learned how to stand on our own two feet and find our direction. We may have found ourselves lost every now and then, but we always eventually made it back home.

I don’t think people want adventure any more. They just want to be at their destination fast and soon. Oh, what they have missed along the way is heartbreaking. Why not stop and view the world around us? Otherwise, what’s the point of going anywhere? Why ever leave home?

Mom and I continued to travel that way as we journeyed through America. Just a map and stopping when we got tired, never quite sure where we were going to end up. Wherever we stopped, that’s where we stopped. Talking about it now seems as foreign as the wild-west journeys by covered wagon. But people used to watch out for each other then and travelers could always rely on gas station attendants and friendly locals for free directions, bitter cups of coffee, and interesting conversations about little hometowns.

My brother, Ralph, always had the greatest advice. “Always get lost in a new town,” he suggested. “Whenever you’re lost, you have to force yourself to learn the city to get back. There’s no better way of learning about your surroundings.”

There was only one time in my life that I can ever remember ever getting horribly, desperately lost. I was five-years-old and thought of myself as a big girl. Everyday when I went to kindergarten, Grandma always dropped me off right at the front door. My classroom was just inside, first door on the left…however, over the last couple of weeks, I happened to notice that several of my classmates were coming into the classroom from the opposite direction. They were coming in through the backdoor, and for some reason, I thought that was really cool. So one day, I made up my mind that I did not want to go in to school though the “baby” front door and told my grandmother to drop me off at the back of the building. Grandma was very hesitant at first.

“Are you sure you know the way?” she must have asked me five times as she circled around to the back of the building. Of course…well, maybe…but what difference did it make…I was on the very first of many amazing journeys. Grandma stopped at the back of the building and…uh, oh, there were two doors about five feet apart.

“Are you sure you know which door to use?” Grandma started to worry again. “Let’s go back up front.”

But I couldn’t back down now. I quickly kissed her check, jumped out of the car, and without any hesitation, I walked to one of the doors. I just picked one. I swung it open, stepped inside…and was suddenly completely lost! I had no idea where I was! Did I turn around? No. Did I step back out and try the other door? No. I just started walking…and walking…and walking as if I knew where I was heading. But I had no idea where I was or where I was going. I just tried to pretend like I belonged (which seems to have become a running theme in my life!). I just ran up and down the hallways for about half an hour. The more I ran, the more confused I became. I started to panic and felt warm tears beginning to wind their way down my cheeks. The hallways were empty but I passed rooms full of people. I was just so very shy and didn’t know who to ask or what to say. So I kept walking as if I had somewhere to go…and I did…I just had no clue how to get there.

Suddenly, I turned a corner and out of nowhere there stood before me a young girl. She must have been about ten-years-old and she was holding the hand of a very small child. I don’t know who they were or where they came from? The young girl looked at me and said, “Are you looking for the kindergarten classes?” I couldn’t speak a word. I just shook my head. “Go that way,” she said pointing down the hallway behind her. “Just go to the end of the hallway.”

I took off at a run, even too shy and upset to say “thank you.” I ran down the hallway and there it was…my classroom. I stopped running now. I wiped my tears and then casually strolled into the room, hung up my coat and took my seat, shaking my head and acting as if I had meant to be fashionably late. The teacher, Mrs. Gilbertson, stared at me for just a moment but when I refused to say anything or show any kind of reaction, she simply went on with the class. The next day, Grandma dropped me off at the front door of the school and I never complained again. My big girl adventure was over.

Childhood Dreams

I am getting to the age where I can look back on my childhood and long for simpler times.  Though most people, I grew up in a time when children didn’t have to be in car seats and riding in the back of open pickup trucks wasn’t illegal.  When I was growing up, parents threw their kids in the back of the car and just told them to hang on.  We all rode in pickup trucks over bumpy, potholed roads.  The fear of bouncing out was all part of the fun! 

It was also the time when, for lack of something better to do, families would take long meandering drives on lazy Sunday afternoons.  Every Sunday afternoon, after church and a lunch of Mom’s pot roast and potatoes, my family would pile into our old Chevy station wagon, lovingly known as Betsy, and hit the highway.  It wasn’t always the most comfortable of rides.  Eight people (my parents, 2 sisters, brother, both grandmas, and me) were stuffed into ole Betsy as we swerved around the highways of Kansas City.  My siblings and I would continually jostle for space, climb on and off of each other’s  lap, and fight over who would have to sit on the “hump”.  

The heat in the car, at times, could be unbearable.  Oh, that’s right…we had no air conditioning!  The windows would be rolled all the way down and the vents would be opened wide but that still didn’t stop the heavy sweating of eight people all packed in together in a small space. 

With no CD, cassette, or DVD player, without cell phones or iPads, my siblings and I would become endlessly restless and bored on these drives.  While my father continually yelled that he would turn the car around, my mother would try to calm her children down by singing.  She would begin with the melody and, once her children joined in, switch to the harmony vocal, which would threw the kids off and we would have to start all over again.  With church every day but Sunday, we sang the songs we knew the best, church hymns.  So, there we were…8 people in a station wagon, hot and sweaty, rolling down the highway, singing offkey versions of “Now Thank We All Our God” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth”. 

Where were we headed?  No place.  At that time, most businesses were closed on Sundays.  The best we could hope for was ice cream from the local Dairy Queen on the way back home if Dad was in a good mood. ….we didn’t always get ice cream!  But this was my life.  I grew up in a car.  I have lived out of a car.  I have done the majority of my traveling in a car. 

I love to be on the open road.  On nights when I have trouble sleeping, I imagine a ribbon of highway in my mind that I travel until I finally drift off to sleep.  I have traveled in so many ways, physically, emotionally, spiritually, conscious and unconscious.   I travel the endless highways of my life and I am ready to share my journey.