“The Soul cannot be held back by any imaginary boundary drawn against it; not by mountain ranges, not by rivers, nor by human scorn. The Soul, goes everywhere, like an old woman in her right mind, going anywhere she wishes, saying whatever she wants, bending to mend whatever is within her reach. Wherever she goes, the Soul brings new life.” — Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

While visiting my Tuscon family for Thanksgiving, I simply could not return home without visiting my favorite town in Arizona. Bisbee is about 90 miles from Tuscon, and I was rushed for time as usual, but it was well worth the effort to fit the field trip in.

I have fantasies of moving to Bisbee after I retire. But then, I have many retirement fantasies. The question is, do I ever get to retire? Best not to think about that…

Perhaps I have romanticized this area, as tourists often do when they find a place they love. There’s a reason the saying exists that, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Art, like what I photographed painted on the walls in Bisbee, is what draws me to this place. There are many literary, performing and visual artists in Bisbee. But it’s not just the creatively-artsy, somewhat hippyish feeling of the place that leads me to believe it would be a good home for someone like me. It’s the hilly streets, unique houses, and the small, compactness of a place set in the middle of a vast open desert and mountain region that feels right.

There are many unique towns like Bisbee around the world. I see them depicted on several blogs I read. In many ways, Duluth, which is more local to where I live, fits the bill. But if I really want to make it as a writer, shouldn’t I drink in all the culture in a busy city like New York or even Minneapolis?

I have regrets about choosing to live in an in-between place, with neither the diversity and opportunities of the city, nor the acres of woods, fields and wildlife of a rural area. In the best of situations, I’d be able to live for part of the year in each environment. Instead, I live in neither.  But after I retire…

It’s a mistake to put things off for that dream moment when you aren’t tied to a job and ‘have time’. Time itself is often not what holds a person back. Fear and lack of focus do that.

I’m working with a friend to define my dream life — not the dream that I usually come up with, the one that is practical, that I believe I can reasonably accomplish, the dream that won’t endanger me financially and set my hopes too high. No, not that kind of dream.

We so often set our own limitations, building up mountains that tire us out before we even start the climb. Wherever I live, wherever I go, I want to be the woman in Estés quote. I want to feel free to go where I want, say what is on my mind, and take the time to mend what I can in this world.

This post also appears on Vision and Verb where a collaborative group of like-minded women from all over the world share their passion for photography and the written word.

My thoughts are like geese, rising up to form a solid V, while one or two stray off honking madly for the others to follow.

Ideas come to me hot and heavy, flamed with enthusiasm and hot air. Like paper, they quickly turn to nothing but ash, blowing aimlessly upward. Over and over I start, race, quit, re-start, limp along, get a blister, need a nap and wake up not remembering who I am or what I was doing.

I sit here wondering how to change the pattern, how to grab onto a spark and turn it into something real. If only I had a solid chunk of oak to feed the fire, so I could sit in the warmth of glowing coals.

I was standing by a cornfield, waiting to see if I could get a good shot of the geese coming and going from one of their favorite hangouts. Suddenly, the thrashing sound of wings and honks startled me and the sky filled with fleeing feathers.

I looked around, wondering if there was something I should flee from also, when I saw the cause of panic — a man walking through the field with two loose dogs, who were quite enjoying the ruckus they had raised.

The same dogs sporadically run through my brain. Their names are Self-doubt and Start-tomorrow. They are bad dogs, in need of intense obedience training.

The solution, I suppose, is discipline, but I hate that word. Stick-to-it-ness is more palatable.  Or perseverance. Yes, that’s it — perseverance.

This post also appears on Vision and Verb where a collaborative group of like-minded women from all over the world share their passion for photography and the written word.

Here are a few Brew Babe moments from our weekend walks:

Squirrel sighting
A bit of fall color
A quiet moment

An even quieter (and rare) moment with Shy and Latte

I finally managed to fit in a 2012 camping trip last weekend. We decided to go somewhere we hadn’t been before — Itasca State Park.

The problem, I discovered, with going somewhere new is you don’t know all the ins and outs of the area. The first out came when we went to our reserved, cart-in campsite.  Past experience led us to believe that carting in would take us to a site far off in the woods, out of view of other campers.

But at Itasca, a cart-in site means that you park in a lot and walk 20 feet to your campsite, which is located in a camping metropolis, with no foliage to block out the other campers. 

I don’t understand camping when you are piled on top of each other like that. You might as well stay at a hotel. And I’m sure my fellow campers loved it when I started yelling in my sleep because of a bad dream.

Anyway, I took many deep, cleansing breaths and tried to see the positive. It wasn’t difficult really, once we hit the trails and took the time to simply gaze.

But even the trails were more tourist-trappy than what I’m used to. Fortunately, we found a few out of the way paths. We saw many signs of beaver but no actual beavers.
But we did see swans.

Some even with swan babies.

In day-to-day life, I’m always looking for signs when facing choices and looking for direction. Like this sign — Java and Latte (the Brew Babes) thought someone must have posted it just for them.

My most recent dilemma has centered on how best to progress as a writer. I’ve had my eye on three published authors who teach classes and will coach writers and edit their work. 

I’ve read each of their books, looking for the person who I think will best understand my work and what I want to accomplish, and who’s personality seems like the best fit with mine. 
I’ve compared their class and coaching offerings. I’ve thought about this a lot and finally chose the one who’s class I most wanted to take.  The plan was to take the class, get a body of work going, come out with a better understanding of the heart of the story, then hire the instructor to help me complete the book.
That was my well-laid plan, but when I went online to register, I discovered the class is full. And my heart sank. Now what?
Maybe I’m just not meant to write a book. Every step I take to move forward and get some help, a roadblock appears. Maybe the universe is telling me a big, fat “No!”
I want a door to open! A path to open up! For all the planets to line up perfectly and things to fall into a lovely pattern that says, “Come Maery! This way!”
Yes, that’s what I look for when it comes to my dreams, passions, and day-to-day life decisions and work.
But when I hike, I want wild entanglement. I want overgrowth and mystery. I want the possibility of being lost and discovering something new. I want hilly challenges, even though my knees are undependable and painful. 
I breathe in deeply, trying to absorb that smell of piney, leafy, dirty decomposition, knowing that it brings about rich soil and new life. I want to be able to recall the depth of that scent memory during the long months of winter. I want to hold that feeling of rich life inside me.
So as I face a few disappointments and a few possibilities. I’ll think about what I do and what I enjoy when I’m hiking. An overgrown path can be a good thing. It slows you down enough to notice the things that you might otherwise simply hurry past, not recognizing the hidden treasures.
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