Posted on April 4, 2017
When I told US friends I was moving to The Dominican Republic, several said they’d vacationed there and loved it. Most, like many of my coworkers and school community, enjoyed seclusion at Punta Cana’s resorts where they received five-star treatment. I get it; I loved this stay at Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort last fall. Perfection…or at least one version of it. But like my friend from home, Sara, who said she had wanted to see the “real DR,” I also understand why many local friends love the Samana area for adventure and authenticity. I especially like Las Terrenas because of its “mom and pop” properties–private apartments and beach bars I remember from my childhood summers in Florida.
I love the laid back vibe of the province of Samana and will be forever grateful for the good times spent there with friends —horseback riding, swimming in a waterfall, drinking pina coladas on a small island off the main island, and whale watching in Samana Bay. I’ve seen couples enjoying different stages of life together there, too–newlyweds, retirees, and recently a pair from Canada who decided to pack up, move south, start a beach business, and live the dream.
I’ve always been fascinated with expats reinventing their lives in faraway places, like folks I met in Marrakesh like Aussie Alexandra featured on this blog who are doing just that. Likewise, Samana has enticed many from North America and Europe to move to the Caribbean.
Something pulls people here–even if just for a weekend. Anyone who travels regularly from Santo Domingo knows the thrill of coming around this curve, parking on the roadside lookout point, and thinking I’ve arrived. Paradise pops in Renoir-rich blue and green until sunset softens the sky with Monet-muted purples and pinks. This place definitely leaves an impression.
Riding through the province of Samana is also colorful. Mountain homes teeter on cliffs and balance above deep ditches while motorcycles and cars careen around curves.
Last January I loved the villa where my friends were married and vowed to stay in such a place near the hub of town on my next trip. I had instead chosen an all- inclusive in El Portillo because I’d snagged a Daily Deal on Booking.com. I looked forward to pondering possibilities for the new year and not having to decide where to eat or what to cook sounded relaxing.
I left Nashville on a redeye flight after the holidays, had a layover in Miami, then a three-hour bus ride from the Santo Domingo airport. Seventeen hours later, I was excited to finally drop my bag in the room and head for the fridge. I’d planned to grab a beer, order room service, and take a hot bath in the Jacuzzi, but the fridge was empty, room service was not included, and the bath jets were dead. When I went to the terrace to regroup before making the trek back to the front desk, the sliding glass door’s lock fell to the floor. Two days and multiple hikes to the front desk later, I was moved to a room where everything but the safe worked. It was fixed a day later. But on the very bright side–where I like to focus–the weather was perfect, and I loved dancing/exercising at the pool with fun instructors, great music, and guests from Europe. Hearing French, German, Italian, and Spanish on the beach was sweet as was eating every meal on the water, Brazilian steak night, the Crème brûlée, and the French man who sang while couples danced in the dark (see video at bottom).
Posted on March 17, 2017
Spring break may be in April this year in The Dominican Republic, but spring flings have been happening here for awhile. Every January-March humpback whales go rogue—migrating to Samana from Greenland and Iceland over 3000 miles away. Dr. Ken De Pree, author of Whales of Samana, likens their mating behavior in Dominican waters of Samana Bay, Silver and Navidad Banks to humans cruising singles bars. To attract the ladies, males croon tunes, form bromances to size up the competition, then brawl-it- out with up to nineteen rivals for the most fertile female. Breaching, tail slashing, body slamming each other– sometimes even drawing blood–there’s a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on. Pregnant moms then carry calves for eleven-twelve months, give birth, and nurse another eleven months until their babies are strong enough to make the journey back to the North Atlantic.
Whale watching ranked top of my DR Bucket List since moving here in 2016. Thanks to my friend, Sana, who booked Kim Beddall, an English- speaking Marine Mammal Specialist with Whale Samana, and her husband, Steve, who booked a car to get us there, we set sail last Sunday on Pura Mia, a 55- foot custom whale watching vessel. We loved returning to beautiful Samana Bay.
Since humpbacks are the most active species of whales anytime, knowing our boat would be a bit bigger than creatures that average 40-50 feet and weigh 30-40 tons (the record is 59 feet and 60 tons) was reassuring. Even so, the traffic of an estimated 1500 whales—400 that congregate at one time in rough waters in Samana Bay– made for some rocking and rolling on the waves. The tour company offers Dramamine, but most, like me, who had never been seasick didn’t take it. A rookie mistake. Thankfully pressure point bracelets, Sprite, and crackers helped as an hour in many of us were turning green.
We were serenaded by a male’s song by way of a recording played on the ship. Only males sing and can hear each other twenty miles away. Jacques Costeau called them the “Carusos of the Deep.” Prior to 1952 when the first scientist captured their song on tape, sailors and whalers were spooked by haunting sounds from beneath their ships. Though that mystery was solved, there are still many unknowns about humpbacks and what lies beneath.
Sources: Whales of Samana by author Ken De Pree, PhD, who has studied humpbacks near Samana since 1987, and contributors Osvaldo Vasquez, a leader among Dominican scientists in the study of humpbacks and Kim Beddell, founder of whale watching in Samana Bay in 1984-85. Also special thanks to Kim Beddell for amazing information given at sea.
Posted on January 23, 2017
A wedding. Two unique people become one. A mystery and a marvel. Until recently I’d never attended a January wedding, but starting a new year with a couple committing to share the rest of their lives felt right.
And kind of Disney. Weddings renew hope, reminding us that there is happy-ever-after, not only for the couples, but also for the communities their love creates. Flocked around the lovebirds on an island in the Caribbean were family and friends who’d flown from around the globe to witness, to be…love.
The Magic Kingdom may own ships on which families ride off into the sunset, but they still market their “It’s a Small World” ride as the “Happiest Cruise that Ever Sailed.” I went to Disney World as a kid just after it opened, and, shocker, it was my favourite attraction. Three-hundred papier-mâché dolls traditionally dressed dancing and singing in their native languages a simple song of world peace made my soul sing.
Looking at the guests gathered, I remembered again that it IS a small world. Marcus, the priest who married them and the groom’s lifelong friend, called us The United Nations. They’d gone to high school together when Moises moved from the Dominican Republic to the US, and it turns out Marcus now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, the state in which I was born. In fact, when I met his fiancé at the wedding (they got engaged three days after the wedding at this waterfall) I learned she is from Madisonville, Kentucky –35 miles from Hopkinsville where I grew up.
Maria, the bride, is my coworker. Some of her family and friends flew in from Russia for the celebration. A couple of years ago I’d assisted a coworker, also Russian, in taking student delegates from The American School of Marrakesh to St. Petersburg to the Model United Nations Conference. (I love that in Model UN each student draws a country—not his or her own—to research and represent on global issues. The task is to collaborate with delegates from other countries to find solutions that benefit all.) Of all the European cities I’ve fallen in love with, St. Petersburg is probably the most beautiful–canals like Venice and Amsterdam lined with art, parks, and more palaces than Paris.
Posted on December 11, 2016
Like I said, Santo Domingo takes salsa seriously from Sunday night dancing-in-the-street in the Old Town to Saturday night shaking-in-the-courtyard in the New City. According to health experts and dance studios, such as Arthur Murray, salsa and merengue burn an average of 400 calories per hour. Good to know for those who love the pulled pork sandwiches vendors sell at Las Ruinas and the best ribs I’ve ever had at my favourite restaurant in The Colonial Zone just down the street.
Since the days my cousins and I gathered after church at my grandparents’ house for dinner (SouthernSpeak for lunch), I’ve loved a big Sunday meal. Though I don’t recommended eating the huge portions at Pat’s Palo just before trying to shake it like Shakira, I highly recommend this spot for Sundays and any day of the week. An institution with locals, indoors is cave-cool and outdoors the patio overlooks The Alcázar de Colón, Diego Columbus’ home. There’s also a great playlist, live music, and PIRATES for waiters (who doesn’t love Jack Sparrow and other pirates of the Caribbean???) Though I support Piantini, my local ‘hood, this is one of the two must-eat places in Santo Domingo (the other being Adrian Tropical). Here you get fabulous food, a fun atmosphere, and a front row seat to the authentic Santo Domingo old and new.
Posted on October 30, 2016
After a Domincan breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, beans and rice, papaya, mofongo we were back on the van following the blue bus above deep into the jungle. It is estimated the Dominican Republic has 1.5 billion USD in marble, most of it mined in the Samana province. When we explored Mina de Marmol I again wished my dad was with me. He’d worked in a rock quarry for years in Kentucky.
From there we headed to Boca Del Diablo, the Mouth of the Devil, a blowhole where the sea churns beneath and sounds like a dragon breathing until it spews water up and out the cliff’s surface above. I was so excited to get this on video that when I heard the ocean churning I took off too fast across an overgrown path and tripped on the jagged stones under the vegetation. Semi-dehydrated, when I was pulled to my feet and looked down upon a 2- inch strip of skin hanging like crepe paper from bloody gashes in my knee I almost fainted. Thankfully Steve and Sana took my camera and got the shots of the cliff below.
Though only my traveling companions spoke English, a kind lady on our van from Ecuador gave me some antibiotic cream and our guide brought a bottle of water from the cooler. Afraid I would vomit or faint, I poured the water over my head and felt better.
In the van as we headed to the beach, I thought about my first instinct after the shock of being bit by the devil’s mouth.
Blindsided by going down, I turned on myself: What are you thinking going on an adventure like this at your age? Living outside the US? This is all a bad idea.
As my friend, Kim, and I have discussed often, when blindsided we feel shocked and vulnerable as I did in an earthquake in Costa Rica or a van wreck in Morocco. The impact of being taken down unexpectedly shakes lose accumulated hurts and hard times bringing us to our knees literally.
Challenges with this move had been churning in me for awhile and, released by my fall, they blew inside my head. Once I could be as kind to myself as others were to me, I was back on track and headed to the next beach. The next day I’d get a stronger antibiotic
but at our next stop beauty would make me forget the pain and I’d plunge into the cleanest, most beautiful waters I’d ever seen. The salt began healing my body at the gorgeous Las Galeras and I was again so grateful for the chance to see all I’ve seen on this island. Here we played in the water and had delicious fish for lunch.
Posted on October 23, 2016
The Colonial Zone is the most magical part of Santo Domingo. Last weekend I had 3 wishes, so I asked the area to grant them:
#1 Take me back to Europe.
#2 Give me rest.
#3 Help me remember again why I moved to the DR.
Like a genie, it did.
A huge perk of living two years in Morocco was taking advantage of cheap flights to Europe. Oh how I miss the $60-80 roundtrip tickets to Neighbor Spain. But last weekend I went there again via a staycation in Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial.
Never underestimate seeing your city as a tourist. While home last summer, I felt again the excitement found under the Batman building along the banks of the Cumberland River while staying in the center of Nashvegas.
Likewise, last weekend I needed escape. A new perspective. Peace. Weeks go by working in my Piantini neighborhood—a maze of mega malls and stifling traffic– when I never see a wave, monument, or sunset. But then I remembered. Just an Uber ride away from my apartment where car horns and jackhammers deafen and high rise apartments smother is the Colonial Zone with its wide open spaces- -grand plazas surrounded by cathedrals, museums, and waterfront views.
Posted on October 2, 2016
Long before Pinterest prodded us to create virtual vision boards, Instagram insisted we share in-the-moment bliss, and Facebook fostered travel posts of happy places far, far away, I cut out and saved a magazine photo of a couple walking in the surf of the Caribbean Sea. I was single again, sad, but looked forward to a day I’d be that girl, her cocktail dress blowing in the breeze, as she laughed and leaned into her guy’s shoulder, one arm wrapped around his, the other hand holding a champagne flute. I longed to share such a celebratory moment in paradise… one day (sigh)… with The One who was meant to be—whoever, wherever he was.
Though I still wait in hope to meet him, I have learned to cherish the many people with whom THE One, God, has blessed my life. And over the last twenty years, I stopped waiting to be in a romantic relationship to see the world or show it to my children. Money I have spent on traveling with my family, friends, and students strengthened relationships, made priceless memories, and taught us all something. Likewise, I’ve learned to appreciate solo travel which has given me confidence, courage, and peace I never thought possible. A mentor told me years ago that giving ourselves what we need models self-care to our children and is healthier than waiting for someone else to fulfill us. Travel rejuvenates and like a class taken to improve mind, body, or spirit, it’s an investment in personal growth which positively impacts us and those around us. Yet, though I’d traveled from Moscow to Morocco to Malibu and now live in the Caribbean in Santo Domingo, something inside kept saving the fantasy island resort experience for a hoped-for honeymoon. Until recently…
I gave myself permission. I let myself go…solo…to Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort.
Though Punta Cana is known for love connections– the 2014 season of The Bachelorette was filmed here– and this 5-star mega-complex in The Dominican Republic is popular for weddings, family vacations,
Choosing an all-inclusive resort is the best way to rest before and during your stay since everything–where to eat, drink, swim, sunbathe, shop, be entertained, be active, and find transport–is provided. While I enjoy researching and plotting my own travel adventures from restaurants to excursions, planning takes energy and time. For those worn out from home/work responsibilities and constantly making grown up decisions, going with the flow of resorts that offer everything from a bowling alley to a soccer field
to a casino
to live entertainment can be freeing. For those flying into the Punta Cana airport, transfer service to the resort can be arranged as can car rental. Currency exchange is available and stores carry items you may have forgotten, like sunscreen. Upon arrival at reception, get a map to see the lay of the land, and if not interested in the buffet, make reservations for some restaurants which require them and any special services–such as spa or tee times (though you can call from your room to set these up later). I traveled less than three hours from Santo Domingo but was tired and upon checkin rested awhile, then showered before dinner.
Before dinner at the seafood restaurant where I had lobster on the terrace (the Sante Fe Steak House also has seaside dining), I walked barefoot on sugar sand inhaling the sea air. I breathed…exhaled… under a full harvest moon. What would I reap on this trip? As always, I felt warm knowing those I loved to the moon and back were looking up, too. I thought of Van Morrison, Emily Dickinson, and the Creator of the most gorgeous clouds I’d ever seen. Truly, it was a soothing, surreal, “marvellous night for a moon dance,” a time to “dwell in possibility…the spreading wide (of) my narrow Hands To gather Paradise.”
An all-inclusive (see under “Other Important Services”) vacation is NOT where we count calories. Healthy choices are always available, but dieting? No way. And since we first eat with our eyes… the ambience of open air tables set amidst lagoons, lakes, and gardens makes every meal a feast.
I slept later than usual thanks to the blackout curtains, had coffee on my patio where I was visited by a Moorhen, nicknamed the Chicken-foot Coot because its feet aren’t webbed and it steps high like a hen. Rested, I was ready to step out, too, so I headed to the nearest restaurant just around the corner for something I rarely get–a Southern-sized breakfast. The night before PGA golfers (The Dominican Republic is known for the best golfing in the Caribbean) gathered in the foyer bar –champagne, cocktails, beer and bachata music flowing. Now hushed except for the tin, hollow sound of clubs hitting golf balls, the course and sky met as a blue-and-green canvas for a new day.
From Dominican fare to all-you-can-eat buffets to a Buffett-worthy Cheeseburger in Paradise, culinary and beverage choices abound. My finest meal was at the French restaurant recommended by the concierge upon my arrival. I had to book for my second night because it was booked the night I arrived.
Remember when you were little and you weren’t afraid to explore, concerned about “getting it right” or impressing others? An all-inclusive where you don’t know a soul allows you to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Of course, do what you love. For me, this was dancing bachata on the beach (Romeo Santos had recently done a concert in Punta Cana). Golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer, walking, swimming –do what makes you happy– but leave room to discover a new passion.
Count ships, not sheep, under rustling palm leaves shading you from the sun. And if you can’t sleep, as my mother used to say, rest your eyes and your mind.
In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:
“Il bel far niente means ‘the beauty of doing nothing’… [it] has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life’s achievement. ”
Last spring break I’d planned to practice this skill on The Amalfi Coast. Of course, I planned to write and photograph Positano, but that isn’t work to me. Circumstances prevented that trip, but I’m trying to learn the same lesson in the DR. This weekend was a wonderful teacher.
Recall happy times in the past with thanksgiving. If I’ve learned one thing from many Dominicans it is to laugh and sing more.
Too often we’re too tired to remember what day it is, much less yesterday or yesteryear. As has happened a lot over the last two years of living abroad memories of family flood me. In Punta Cana I remembered other beach vacations with women who have strongly influenced my life. The summer in Hawaii with my mom, sister, cousin, and aunt. Another summer in Florida with Mom and her mother, Mama Sargeant–single women for many years like me. I toasted to them with a Pina Colada, the drink my grandmother enjoyed when she became ill and mom moved in with her until she passed. I thought of a month earlier when my daughter, Taylor, and I enjoyed another DR beach together.
As gentle waves lap the shore the clear, calm waters of the Caribbean invite reflection. Remembering happy times, even hard times, reminds us of all we’ve overcome to get to this place which strengthens us to face, even greet what lies ahead.
Scan the horizon knowing that good is coming. In studying Spanish I realized this week the roots for esperanza, hope, and esperar, to wait or to expect, are the same. Faith says to wait, to expect with hope.
We must live in the moment. I agree we can take so many photos trying to capture special times that they truly escape us. Too much staging can kill just being, breathing the experience. And yes, people may laugh at your selfies, but deep down most of us want to remember times we recognize as special pieces of eternity. Even if you don’t typically like to have your photo taken, you will want to remember that you were once in a beautiful place and felt more beautiful for it. I promise. Just as a mom says if the house were on fire and all people and pets were out safely she’d grab baby photos first, one day you’ll want to see yourself in a Caribbean paradise where you grew, changed–even use the photos as your screen saver–so you don’t forget how important it was–it is–to get away and enjoy gifts of beauty and adventure you’ve been given.
While in Punta Cana I read an article in More magazine called, When Looks Fade: An Exercise in Perspective by Christine Lennon who interviewed “The Professionally Beautiful,” asking them how to age with grace. Molly Sims, author of The Everyday Supermodel said:
“It’s funny how I used to look at a picture when it was taken and think, Ugh, I look awful. You look at that same picture five years later, and you think, Dang. I looked pretty good.”
A friend in her 40s recently had professional photos taken to remember this time in her life. My mom did the same in her mid-30s. I get it. Even if you shy from the camera, the best souvenirs of any vacation are photos which capture living -in- the- now forever. At a Caribbean resort photo opps are everywhere and you’ll see many taking advantage of it. Don’t be shy. Help a solo traveling sister out. Ask if she’d like you to take her picture and ask her to take yours. Hotel staff will kindly oblige as well.
Whatever your age or style–girly girl, Bohemian Babe, or mermaid, wear something–maybe a new frock found in shops on the complex– that makes you smile. Though I brought a tropical dress with me–a TJMAXX special–I was thrilled to see new styles of two brands I fell in love with in Spain (Mele Beach in Tarife and Desigual in Vigo) sold at the Barcelo Punta Cana complex.
Peace. Going solo to a Caribbean resort will convince you of what research shows. Though too few people take enough time off, those who do vacation return rejuvenated and more productive. No matter the age. For some of us, the prime time to go solo seems to be when we are trying to survive, even thrive after the nest empties. We are “tweeners”and if we can’t take a gap year, a gap week works, too. Soon–assuming we stay in good health–we may be needed to care for parents and grandchildren. Doing all we can to stay fit–physically, mentally, spiritually–is vital for the ones we love.
We are as young as we feel. I loved seeing women my mom’s age doing Zumba in their bathing suits on the beach. And about those photos and the freedom on your face they will reflect…
Christie Brinkley, 62 year-old author of Timeless Beauty and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model said, “Aging needs a huge rebranding campaign. People still think of 60 and picture a granny with a shawl and bun. We need to stop lying about our ages. Go ahead and say your number; then you’ll reshape other people’s images of that number.”
Likewise, when people ask in disbelief, You traveled to the Caribbean alone? say, Yes and smile. They may need to be freed, too.
Special thanks to Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort for an amazing experience. As always, the opinions here are my own.
Posted on September 11, 2016
Yesterday I went spelunking.
I was excited when my friends, Sana and Steve, invited me to join. Though newlyweds, their kindness and inclusiveness from the day we met blessed Taylor and me. Trusting them as history teachers and adventurers, I did no research but quickly scanned a few photos online and took off. As I’d been thrilled by Venice last January, I wanted Santo Domingo to share some of its secrets as well. I wanted to be surprised. I needed to feel wonder. For awhile I hadn’t had the energy or desire to explore, but last week I’d begin feeling like myself again.
Located just outside the city, Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes) costs a mere 100 Pesos/$2 and is open until 5:30 (though ticket sales end around 4:15).
As I journeyed into the dark bowels of the limestone labyrinth leading to underground lagoons, thoughts of spiders made me flinch at water drops from stalactites above. What other creatures might swim and slither within?
The three underground eyes are Lago de Azufre (Lake of Sulfer) discovered in 1916 , La Nevera (Known as “The Fridge” for its icy cold water) and El Lago de las Damas (“The Lake of the Ladies”) where Taino women–first inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the DR) — bathed their children.
The second lake was darker than I’d hoped, and Steve and I joked it was the stuff of the Sci-Fi Channel. I remembered a movie about a mutant shark grabbing a victim gazing into an underground river, so though I wanted to take the boat into even darker depths, I was nervous. Normally I’d take photos with flash, but as we crossed the water I was afraid of arousing bats hidden in holes overhead. My trypophobia was kicking in and I remembered, Katherine, my role model for adventure in The English Patient, had survived desert storms and a war but died in a cave.
On the other side, I crept off the boat, peering down into the dark at the slippery rock beneath my feet. Determined not to sink into the river we’d just crossed, I carefully groped my way around a corner of the cavern. Then, as in every miraculous moment of my life, I looked up and all changed.
My eyes filled with light. I hadn’t read that here was hidden the fourth lake–discovered after the park was named for the other three. But unlike the others, this lake opened fully to the sun. To the sky. To the heavens.
My eyes filled with wonder and recognition as another heart’s desire was fulfilled. As I’d dreamt as a girl of exotic Arabian gardens, then saw them come to life in Morocco, I stepped into another secret place I cherished as a child. I’d watched Tarzan movies my whole life–loving most the black and white Sunday morning Johnny Weissmuller films. But here in living technicolor, realtime, were vines hanging like party streamers beckoning Jane to swing. Turns out, this lake was a location for Tarzan films and Jurassic Park. Memories of dying Katherine vanished. Instead I was strong Kate on Lost and smiled remembering my kids’ groans as I’d drag them around Radnor Lake and tell them to pretend we were on the tv series island scouting for treasure. This island, too– just outside my new city– was mysterious, unearthly, ancient. And alive.
We boarded the boat, left that piece of paradise, and climbed up, then down to the third eye–the most most gorgeous blue water dappled with sunlight. On a walk around the perimeter of the park, I marvelled at this tree and its green bean pods fit for a giant.
The fourth lake, Zaramaguyones, was beautiful from above. But somehow, discovering it on the other side of a darkness and fear made it much more breathtaking.
For all my déjà vu movie moments, the expedition reminded me most of a cave of my childhood and its metaphor guiding my second-ever blogpost written so many years ago. It calls me back to my main mission for writing.
When I was a little girl in Kentucky, the Mother of All Field Trips was going to Mammoth Cave. While I was told not to fear the Natural Wonder, I wasn’t all that excited about going deep into the black unknown, feeling my way down damp, winding paths… The tour guide seemed so calm. She had a light to guide us but no map. She had obviously been in that cave before—many times–and was so familiar with it she could have led us through that vast cavern even if the batteries in her flashlight died.
The only good I can make of getting older is that I’ve lived long enough to have gone into some terrible darkness but emerged again into the light…
Though I have survived great losses, I rarely emerged from the black by way of a blowtorch or floodlight. God usually just gave me a candle—one that flickered—and He whispered He wouldn’t let go of my hand even if the flame went out. I still grope but know He’s there. Even if I can’t feel his fingers interlocked with mine. Even if I can’t feel his hand at all and seem to wander in the dark for days…or weeks….or years. I write to share my cave experiences—those I’ve emerged from blinking in the light as well as those I’m still mining through—looking for something of value as I wait and work and wait for release.
The last few weeks I’m often felt confused. Disoriented. Exhausted. I’ve had health issues and struggled at times to embrace all the changes that have flooded my life this year. Selling the home we loved, then transitioning from Marrakesh to Nashville to here has been fraught with questions about where I’ll ultimately put down roots again. Taylor moved back to Nashville and I couldn’t be happier for her as she goes after the life she wants there. As Paulo Coelho said, “Love never keeps a person from pursuing his or her destiny.” We agreed if living abroad wasn’t right for her–as it isn’t for many people–she could be proud of herself for taking this opportunity and return with no regrets. Though I’d hoped we’d have more time together, I’m so thankful for what we shared while she was here. Letting go again is so hard as all parents know no matter how many times the nest empties, but she and Cole are both in really good places and that soothes my soul. In a week he flies to Washington, DC to start his new job in Knoxville–something he’s waited a long time for. I love and miss them both madly.
So in this silent apartment I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with old friends– like Elizabeth Gilbert –who comforted me with these lines from Eat, Pray, Love:
In the end, I’ve come to believe in something I call ‘The Physics of the Quest.’ A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.
As for this new relationship with the DR, I cling to the Message version of Matthew 6:22-23: “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.” I’ve experienced beauty, adventure, and relationship here. And caves. Big ones. Beyond my two human eyes is a third one of faith–the door to all things bright and beautiful. I remain thankful for the One who holds, now and always, my family, future, hand, and heart.
Posted on August 14, 2016