This roller coaster I call life is filled with surprises. Slow tantalizing climb to the peak before dropping into an abyss along with quick snap like curves and loop-de-loops to stand your hair on end. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride.
In looking back at 2013 I pull out lessons learned and think about making some changes. No, not “New Year’s resolutions” because that’s never worked for me. It’s just a good time to reflect on the past year and, hopefully, learn for the future. So what did I learn from this past year’s roller coaster ride called life?
2013 started out with a tantalizing climb for my second trip to South Africa, a country of such amazing diversity that has captured my heart. Landscapes and wildlife so different from my home country excite my senses and desire to learn. The people, different in cultures yet much the same as you and I, going about the every day routine centered around survival. There is so much to see and of course I want to see it all. But these two trips have taught me to slow down and not just see, but be.
Try something new
The zip line in South Africa took me to the top of the trees and slid me through the forest. Yes, I screamed a little bit, in joy. If you’ve never done this I highly recommend it. Had a little concerned because of my arthritic shoulders but was only a little sore. Maybe next time I should try bungee jumping, that would be new.
Started Foto Friday Fun the end of March. I do love sharing my photos and the stories that go with them. Looking at an image brings me back to that occasion complete with how I was feeling at the time. Photographic skills are improving and the memory is still working. Thanks for playing along with me.
For me, buying a new vehicle is like riding the roller coaster from hell with salespeople like carnies. A few years ago I decided to replace my old truck and bought the first pretty one I found with all the bells and whistles. Turned out to be a lemon that cost me a fortune. Got another new truck in April when I traded in the lemon. Do I feel guilty? Only a little. Will I be more careful in the future? Yes.
I completely changed my diet in April and threw away the nasty GMO food. Sort of like puking after the carnival ride. High fructose corn syrup is out of my life. If I can’t pronounce three things on the ingredients label I no longer buy the product. Instead I’m buying organic. Don’t really notice a difference in taste, except for the hamburger which is out of this world delicious. Also still working on sugar reduction which along with turmeric reduces the inflammation of my arthritis.
Don’t take anything for granted
Just because the carnival’s in town today, doesn’t mean it will be forever. Take advantage and enjoy what’s here, right now. As I realize, once again, how lucky I am to have a job that I truly love. Returning to the North Rim of Grand Canyon in the spring is a highlight of my life. I never tire of the landscape and views. I’ve learned to embrace the monsoon season for the life giving water brought to our desert-like environment. The canyon may always be here, but I may not. So I relish every moment.
The floor of life’s roller coaster dropped out from under me during the Yarnell Hill Fire then sent me on a seemingly endless loop. Starting the evening of Friday, June 28th with a lightning strike on the Weaver Mountains an unattended wildfire ultimately consumed 8,400 acres, over 100 homes and worst of all, the lives of 19 firefighters. I lost focus on anything other than the fire and my friends who were hastily evacuated at 5pm Sunday.
Being on the North Rim I felt frustrated by the limited information on the media, and I’m an info addict. Communications between friends living this were limited. I prayed everybody in town got out alive. I cried for the loss of the 19. What else was lost?
It felt like this roller coaster would never stop. Just over a week after the evacuation residents were allowed back in to the cindery remains of Yarnell. I drove the 360 miles to get there. I had to see it.
I am grateful for what I have. My wheelestate and everything I really need to live survived. Sure I lost a lot of stuff in a storage shed and have flashes of some of those things regularly. I acknowledge them and try to move on. Over 100 people, many of them friends, lost their homes and most of their possessions. Thank goodness no residents died, although some pets were lost. And even all this seems small compared to other parts of the world.
Let it go
Seems I spent most of the summer sick. I think this had a lot to do with the fire, or at least how I dealt with it. Not healthy at all. I held my feelings in and my feet swelled and liver enzymes skyrocketed. I stood tall, strong, and in denial. When I finally cried I could barely stop. Yet the release gave me back my health. So if the roller coaster ride is just too much and makes you sick, better to puke it all out than hold it in.
I mostly locked myself in to the same theme park instead of exploring other possibilities. Fortunately I got out a little in the spring and and hiked to some ancient rock art in Snake Gulch plus enjoyed amazing canyon views from Point Sublime not far from my North Rim summer home.
In August, during one of my many grocery trips to Flagstaff, I discovered Grand Falls. Plus I was fortunate enough to see water flowing there.
At least I didn’t have to ride the roller coaster alone. As I age, and loose people, I learn to truly appreciate the people around me.
Communities of people from near and far stepped forward to help those in need from Yarnell. Meals were provided for weeks after the fire. Strangers from Illinois are here volunteering their time and building a new home for an uninsured friend. Donated furniture and other household items are available, and stored if needed. The fire stricken community offers support to each other, physically and mentally. I feel closer to my neighbors than ever before. The flow of support also includes co-workers who covered the time I needed off. And all you readers who also provided moral support.
Gus and Kathie
In fact I totally appreciate that the internet, and blogging, has taken me on a wild ride and brought many wonderful people into my life. Fortunately I’ve even gotten to meet some of you. Last year I met two of the most dedicated birder bloggers. Chris and his partner first came to Yarnell followed by a visit to the North Rim to attend a condor release. Then Kathie and husband Gus took a quick North Rim detour during their vacation. Whether I’ve met you in real time or not, I want to thank you all for being part of my life. Please know you are appreciated.
Never a sure thing
I mentioned before how much I love my job as a Park Ranger. I’m only a seasonal, by choice. I have six months of the year to help visitors understand and appreciate not only the Grand Canyon but the system in America designed to protect natural landscapes, cultural history and historic landmarks. I work for the Federal Government, Department of the Interior, National Park Service. We protect and preserve special places for future generations from around the world. So who in the world would expect these places to be shut down?
Like somebody throwing the power switch and leaving those roller coaster riders teetering upon the edge of the abyss the US government shut down leaving many people dangling. Visitors to public lands were asked to leave and the gate closed behind them. Many people from around the world were disappointed when denied access to some of the best we in America have to offer.
OK, so I was affected and wondering if I’d still have a job. But it goes way beyond that when the government we try to believe has our best interests in mind lets us down. (No more political ranting from me.)
Travel and keep learning
Traveling is like a good roller coaster ride, not entirely knowing what lies ahead, filled with laughter and thrills, a few challenges along the way, and constantly changing views. So with 2013 behind me I leave for South Africa January 14th for three months of travel, exploration and learning. Sure hope you’re not tired of seeing photos of elephants (my favorite) and lions and such.
As time seems to move so fast I occasionally want to slow down, be open to try new things and maybe think before acting. As I continue to eat healthier and not take for granted the natural food options I can be grateful I have. All this plus letting it go and not allowing stress to attack my health/body. Enjoy and appreciate every person and place around me right now, and as I continue to explore, travel and learn. Because, there’s never a sure thing.
So with all these lessons learned, or at least acknowledged, I greet the new year with eyes and mind wide open. And as I eagerly jump back on the roller coaster of 2014 I will ride with hands raised laughing like a maniac and learn from every adventure life has in store for me.
Where is life’s roller coaster taking you this year?
Geogypsy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com