Have Heart, Will Travel

4 Lessons from 14 years of Reflection

Nancy Powell2 Comments
The Sphere from the World Trade Center and the flame at Battery Park.

The Sphere from the World Trade Center and the flame at Battery Park.

Of course anyone much over the age of 20 remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.  

I am no exception and have written about that day, our experience and the immediate aftermath of Mark's and my experience before.  Working in downtown DC, a few blocks from the White House, Mark working for the State Department and our apartment overlooking the Pentagon (where many dear friends worked) made the experience intense, surreal, and extremely personal.

But I don't want to write about that day today.

I do believe that I learned things from that day.  You could even say our current Grand Adventure is, in small part, a culmination of living out some of the lessons learned from that episode of our lives.  It just so happens that our travels have led us to be here in New Jersey, very close to Ground Zero, on this anniversary of 9/11 and I'm a bit reflective.

Today iwant to share what I believe after 14 years of reflection on that day.

These are not deep thoughts that you have never had yourself.  Just a collection of a few good "Rules of Thumb" for Life.

1. Those words you just spoke to your loved one could be your very last, so make them kind.

Kindness is too undervalued in our society today. Even in our own homes.  None of us want to lose a loved one knowing that the last words we spoke to them were thoughtless, cruel or critical.  Even worse if we leave loved ones behind with the last words we spoke to them being ones that would bring them sadness.

Kindness is free and accessible to everyone. There is no excuse not to be kind.

2. The greatest way you can show love really is to lay down your life for another.

Jesus said it 2000 years before many people lived it out that day.  There were so many first responders running the opposite direction of the crowd.  Policemen, firemen, other officials...doing what they knew was right even in the face of fatal danger.  But there were also civilian citizens, airplane passengers, co-workers, all sorts of "normal" people who took actions that either did cost them their lives or that very well could have.  These people exhibited incredible bravery, yes, but I say they demonstrated LOVE.

3. There are many ways to have courage and humanity needs more of it.

I really love word origins and love that the word courage comes from the same Latin word cor or heart.  Courage isn't exactly the same thing as bravery, nor does it mean being fearless.  Rather it means:

"The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution"

So many people have had to show courage in the aftermath of 9/11. Beyond those who showed courage that day, we had mothers who had to face raising their children without a husband, parents who had to find a way to go on after suffering the horrible, unthinkable loss of a child, a country who has had to lose way too many soldiers; businessmen and women who had to have courage to take risks and rebuild businesses and start new ones.  Individuals and communities had to find courage from deep within after suffering all kind of personal, communal, economic and emotional losses.

People had to be resolute.

To be resolute in the face of 'danger, fear, or vicissitudes' takes hope, another one of my favorite words and concepts. Hope is a confidence of something happening in the future.  Hope is a confidence you can have that God knows what you need and has a future planned for your benefit.  

I'll be honest...sometimes I just want to fast forward the world to the part where we all get a blessed future from God.  I don't understand why we have to exhibit so much courage, sometimes.  But God is patient and the wonderful future for many of us is in the life to come.  I have hope.

In the meantime, to all of us who have to exhibit daily courage to get through life with illness, loss, hurtful memories and more, hang in there and know that the world needs our courage.

4.  Don't put off doing what's important to you--the future may not go the way you planned.

This is the obvious lesson from 9/11, right?  The future may not go the way we envision.  None of us are guaranteed one minute more.  If we live a long life, will we have health? Will we have our friends and family? Will we have the job we love? Will we be able to work at all? 

Thinking along these lines enabled us to know which values were most important to us as a family.  Deciding to live according to your values can bring small or large changes. Or both.  You do not have to do anything drastic, it's more about living intentionally to ensure your days are spent in a way you won't regret.

9/11 was an immense tragedy.  I believe that one of many ways we can honor those who lost their lives that day is by living ours with gratitude and fullness, and accepting each day as a gift.

Life Class in Session: Lessons from the Student

Boston, Life lessonsNancy Powell4 Comments

We have made our way to Boston, and it's the first time in a couple years that Petunia has found herself in such a large, bustling metropolis.

While we were all taking in the sights and learning a lot about our nation's early history, Petunia turned the tables and taught us a lesson, too.

At the fountain in Boston Common.

At the fountain in Boston Common.

As we were making our way down one city block, she slowed down and looked up at us.  "I want to go see if that man needs food. The one huddled up in the corner."

Mark and I looked at each other. We did have a destination and something of a schedule. Should we backtrack to go see if this man on the street is hungry?  Even though Boston, New York, and Washington, DC are all on our itinerary and we'll run into more and more people on the street?

The answer was absolutely yes.  Petunia's sweet heart felt compassion for someone that she thought needed help and we wanted to honor and nourish that reaction instead of ignore it. We were about half a city block past him by this point and there was a small cafe on the corner. We knew we could get some food easily if he was hungry, so now all we had to do was find out.

I walked Petunia up to him so she could ask.  We almost thought he had fallen asleep, as his eyes were closed when we approached.  We stood there just a moment and he suddenly opened his eyes. I said, Hello, and then Petunia asked him, "Would you like some soup?"

He told us that he had just gotten some food and had eaten plenty, so that he was fine but thanked us kindly.

As we were all walking away, Petunia told us she felt better that we had asked and now that she could know he wasn't hungry. There was a real joy in her face just from having gotten to make the offer.

Me and my girl in front of the State House.

Me and my girl in front of the State House.

Although we saw many buildings, learned many dates, and heard interesting historical facts as we strove to teach Petunia the history of Boston, I believe she taught the best lesson of the day.  Have eyes that see everyone, and offer to help others when you can.

She wasn't overwhelmed at the thought of thousands of homeless people. She just saw one man who might have been hungry and offered what she could do for one person.

Yes, school was in session with this cutie pie of a teacher!

Yes, school was in session with this cutie pie of a teacher!

I love my sweet girl and hope her heart always stays tender.

I love my sweet girl and hope her heart always stays tender.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

One if by Carriage, Two if by Sea

Life lessons, Maine, National Parks, RV destinationsNancy Powell4 Comments

We continued our exploration of Acadia National Park on Day 30 of our Grand Adventure.  We decided to check out a small portion of the island's Carriage Roads, which were planned and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940.

There are 57 miles of carriage roads in the park for the use of hikers, bikers, horse riders or even horse-drawn carriages. Motor vehicles are not allowed. This feature is just one aspect that shows the foresight and generosity that went into planning Acadia, making it one of the great national parks of the country.

There are also many beautiful bridges among the roads. We spent some time at this one.

There are also many beautiful bridges among the roads. We spent some time at this one.

Even with so, so many visitors to Bar Harbor and the park in August, there was peace during our walk along one of the carriage roads to Eagle Lake.

Even with so, so many visitors to Bar Harbor and the park in August, there was peace during our walk along one of the carriage roads to Eagle Lake.

Underneath the bridge we explored was a rocky stream.

Underneath the bridge we explored was a rocky stream.

Petunia found it a very enticing place to explore.

Petunia found it a very enticing place to explore.

After Petunia made her way to all the rocks she could easily reach, she paused to determine each time if she could make the jump to the next one, which was a little further than comfortable, while also wet and slippery.  I remember willing myself to be quiet and watch, neither encouraging her to go for it nor discouraging her from the risk.  I had the feeling even then that this was a parenting lesson with training wheels...a foreshadowing of many such, ever more consequential, moments to come.

We were blessed enough to still have Petunia's grandparents with us and they treated us to a wonderful cruise out of the harbor that afternoon. We saw animals, natural beauty, summer "cottages" of the uber wealthy, a lighthouse and all type of marine vessel!

The biggest treat was to come toward the end, however.

We set sail for our tour. We were threatened if anyone dared hum the tune to Gilligan's Island. ha!

We set sail for our tour. We were threatened if anyone dared hum the tune to Gilligan's Island. ha!

Well, isn't that something?

Well, isn't that something?

Egg Rock Lighthouse, with all sorts of sea birds and seals on the rocks around it.

Egg Rock Lighthouse, with all sorts of sea birds and seals on the rocks around it.

Look at the little guy in the bottom left corner. Is he posing for the camera?

Look at the little guy in the bottom left corner. Is he posing for the camera?

By this time, Petunia had been going around town for a couple days in her officers navy hat that was a gift from her grandfather. We were told that the female captain of the ship might welcome a little help, and sure enough...Petunia got to pilot the ship through Frenchman Bay.  She was honest-to-goodness steering the ship under the direction of the captain, following commands and in control of the wheel under the captain's watchful eye. What an opportunity!

Love our little sailor girl!

Love our little sailor girl!

What a brave mariner!

What a brave mariner!

Listening to some tricks of the trade!

Listening to some tricks of the trade!

Well done, officer!

Well done, officer!

When we got back to land, it was close enough to low tide that we could walk out on the bar again.  This time, though, Petunia spent some time trying to skip rocks and needed a little help.

So she got her next lesson of the day...this time a lesson on rock skipping from Gramps Fuzz!

So she got her next lesson of the day...this time a lesson on rock skipping from Gramps Fuzz!

Showing off the great skipping rock she found to put her new found knowledge to the test.

Showing off the great skipping rock she found to put her new found knowledge to the test.

There it goes!

There it goes!

Happy with her results!

Happy with her results!

We decided to end the full and wonderful day with a ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain for the sunset view.

What a way to end a fabulous day!

What a way to end a fabulous day!

An apology to my laundry room

Life lessonsNancy PowellComment

Dear Laundry Room,

I owe you a BIG apology, and I hope you can forgive me.

What did you ever do to me except sit there, big and inviting in my home? Sure, occasionally you hid socks and small pieces of clothing from me under your appliances, but even that cannot really be blamed on you.

No, you were good and faithful...always there, ready to be at service.  But me?  I abused you some days and neglected you even more.

The piles, the overflow, the days on end you never even got so much as a nod from my direction...  I am sorry.  You see, I'm not trying to excuse my behavior, it's just that we had SO MANY clothes, towels, and linens that we (and yes, it hurts me to say this now) didn't need you very much. We just didn't.

But, Laundry Room, I am reformed!  We've lived several weeks in an RV and I now see what I was taking for granted.  The times we've been in a home and can wash clothes whenever we want, without carrying loads across a campground or to a laundromat and without guessing how many quarters we will need has been glorious!  

Furthermore, we got rid of LOTS AND LOTS of our stuff, and you will be needed more often.  You'll make friends with your new, regular customers.  "Oh, hi, Texas t-shirt! Here again already?"

Laundry Room, I promise we'll be better friends starting next August.  I knew I would learn a lot on this journey, and I guess this is one of those lessons.

Sincerely,

Nancy, a new laundry enthusiast

Day 29: Walking the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park

RV destinations, Maine, National ParksNancy PowellComment

Most of Acadia National Park is located on Mt. Desert Island. There is so much to do in the park and on the island, including in the main town, Bar Harbor, that even if you're there a week, you can barely scratch the surface on all there is to do.  We know this because we were there for a week that seemed so fun and full of activity, and yet we left with both happy memories and a list of "what we want to do next time."

Our first day there we walked out on the bar near low tide. On our second day there, we were joined by Petunia's grandparents, who left their idyllic camp to come spend a few days with us near Bar Harbor.  The main activity of the day was walking the breathtaking-at-every-turn Ocean Path.

The Ocean Path is an easy walk along a 2 mile stretch of shoreline that delivers above and beyond what it asks of the hiker.  In fact, you can opt to stay on a flat or very gradually sloping path the whole time, if you choose; although there are many options for short detours that provide for a little more exertion and even more stunning sightseeing angles.

Scenes of this path are so varied, too!  You start at a sand beach, go by Thunder Hole, of course see sweeping views of the water with all kinds of boats, take a short walk through a forest, and end up on a cliff!  How is that for a little variety?

What a magical hike we got to enjoy in perfect weather!

The Ocean Path starts above the sand beach in the background. We had walked a while, obviously, to be able to turn around and get this shot.

The Ocean Path starts above the sand beach in the background. We had walked a while, obviously, to be able to turn around and get this shot.

What does Mark see through his lens?

What does Mark see through his lens?

This cute fella taking a nap in the sun on the rocks below!

This cute fella taking a nap in the sun on the rocks below!

Petunia and her Nana love sharing adventures together!

Petunia and her Nana love sharing adventures together!

Some "bunny" was here with her crew watching Thunder Hole in awe! We got some good waves that day. Thunder Hole is active because of a small cave below sea level. When the waves come in and the air pushes them out *technical talk* anyway...sometimes there is a big, loud sound like thunder. It's fun! We even got sprayed a couple times.

Some "bunny" was here with her crew watching Thunder Hole in awe! We got some good waves that day. Thunder Hole is active because of a small cave below sea level. When the waves come in and the air pushes them out *technical talk* anyway...sometimes there is a big, loud sound like thunder. It's fun! We even got sprayed a couple times.

These are the views from the path out to the deep blue sea.

These are the views from the path out to the deep blue sea.

Mark turned his camera over to Petunia and climbed a few rocks.

Mark turned his camera over to Petunia and climbed a few rocks.

As you can see here, most of the path is flat and easy.

As you can see here, most of the path is flat and easy.

Until you decide to go down to Boulder Beach, anyway.

Until you decide to go down to Boulder Beach, anyway.

Cairns are used as trail markers along several of the hikes in the park and so they have popped up even along the beach and other places in the park. There were several standing on Boulder Beach when we down to it, and Petunia built a small one herself.

Cairns are used as trail markers along several of the hikes in the park and so they have popped up even along the beach and other places in the park. There were several standing on Boulder Beach when we down to it, and Petunia built a small one herself.

And then you walk through the forest! What magical light!

And then you walk through the forest! What magical light!

And our final destination was the tip of those cliffs! We went right out and I sat close enough to see over so I could look for rock climbers who sometimes scale the cliff.

And our final destination was the tip of those cliffs! We went right out and I sat close enough to see over so I could look for rock climbers who sometimes scale the cliff.

Here is the rewarding view from atop Otter Cliff!

Here is the rewarding view from atop Otter Cliff!

With all that beauty, these are my favorite...

With all that beauty, these are my favorite...

...views of the day!

...views of the day!

To get a perspective of how big the island is, take a look at this map.  If you're looking at the map as a clock, then just a little "past 3:00" you will see Sand Beach and can follow it to Otter Cliff. All that scenery and adventure took place in that small percentage of the island.  We had a wonderful walk and worked up an appetite for our delicious seafood dinner in Seal Harbor, where Martha Stewart has her summer home. We ate at the Lighthouse and our butter was served in real half shells. Now that's my kind of whimsy!

To get a perspective of how big the island is, take a look at this map.  If you're looking at the map as a clock, then just a little "past 3:00" you will see Sand Beach and can follow it to Otter Cliff. All that scenery and adventure took place in that small percentage of the island.

We had a wonderful walk and worked up an appetite for our delicious seafood dinner in Seal Harbor, where Martha Stewart has her summer home. We ate at the Lighthouse and our butter was served in real half shells. Now that's my kind of whimsy!