Coming up with titles for these is often the hardest part for me, as the entries themselves are just stream-of-consciousness ramblings. I’m very comfortable just rambling onto the page, and I don’t put any high stakes on the output. This whole blog started as just a fun new format for my rambling group emails home that I used to send. So I’ve been essentially doing this since 2001 (3 weeks backpacking in Southern Africa, I would find an internet café every few days to basically send “proof of life” emails home to the family. But I typed much faster than my traveling pal, so I started basically journaling into my group email. Et voila. However, the title is often a minor stumbling block. It feels weightier than the rest of the writings, that it should have more care in its creation. But also, as I’m generally writing these mid-travel, I rarely come up with some clever and astonishingly apt heading. I just put something as a title and then retain a vague feeling of disappointment that I didn’t create a better title. Ah well.
My other main hardship with this blog project has been the final entry and/or writing up a summation AFTER I’ve returned home. Again, I find myself imbuing it with more weight and importance, that because I don’t have the excuse of “writing on the fly” then I should be crafting a National Book Award nominee, or at least a Pulitzer Prize. Kid’s Choice Award? (They don’t have a book category, do they?) Also, once I’m back home, the pressures and rhythms of real life resume, and carving out time to contemplate and share my memories proves harder. And maybe because writing the final entry feels so, well, FINAL. So those entries are often posted a few months after I’ve been back.
My personal life started to get really difficult spring/summer of 2018. Being the primary caregiver for two terminally ill family members was a rough longterm gig (but one I was grateful I was in a position to play). Doing that while also running a business just compounds the difficulties. And of course, disease progression comes in waves: there are good months and bad months, and we all continued to find joy and laughter and ways to keep living our lives, etc. And we all were already good about living in the moment and taking gratitude for small victories and finding new and interesting ways to celebrate and show our love. (Lessons learned and sharpened because of a misdiagnosis a few years earlier. When someone is told they only have a few months to live, that sharpens everything down to a laser focus. And then, when 18-20 months later, that person’s stated progressive condition is not progressing, that’s a huge blessing. Things happened in the preferred order, for sure. Being told a few months, then having that changed to a few years? Amazing. That’s honestly one of the reasons for my increased travel adventures. The stark reminder that none of us know how much time we have, and to say “Yes” more. While travel has always been a personal priority for me, the big international trips used to be once every two or three years (giving me more time to fill the proverbial coffers in between). But with that big blinking neon LIFE IS SHORT. NOTHING IS GUARANTEED sign, I re-evaluated my finances and started making some more budget choices at home, to allow for more frequent travel. And I’m so damn grateful. Honestly, since the Covid-19 shutdowns started in March 2020, I’ve really felt that this caretaking journey really prepared me so well, emotionally and mentally, to deal with pandemic. Those skills of Finding Your Own Fun, of celebrating small victories, of living in the present and in gratitude, of breaking down hard seemingly unending tasks and realities into smaller more manageable bite-sized tasks. It’s just about getting through this day, or this afternoon, or this round of chemo, or whatever. The Tracy of 2014 would’ve had a much harder time than the Tracy of 2020 had. I mean, if given the choice, I’d rather not have been enrolled in that multi-year Emotional Boot Camp. But it did really help me grow and reframe my life. That whole “don’t sweat the small stuff” thing was always hard for me. Not that I disagreed with it, but that I added import to ALL THE THINGS, so there were very few “small stuffs” to be ignored. But boy, going through this process helped me shunt so many more things into the “small stuff” category. That laser focus of dealing with an immediate crisis and essentially doing physical and emotional triage, I found clarity right quick.
All that is to say that I haven’t posted here in over a year. Partly delayed for all the reasons discussed (writing after the fact is hard for me in general, plus the caregiving and then loss of my parents). But also, there was a BIG “small stuff” issue I couldn’t get past. I skipped a trip/posted out of order! And I was a bit paralyzed trying to figure out how to correct this. Did I delete the Vegas birthday post, write the missing trip from September, and then repost it? Or do I post the September trip after the Vegas trip? That would be easiest, but also upsets me as it would be in the wrong order. But since my posts were already happening months delayed, did that even matter anymore? And so it became easier to just ignore it for awhile. And then it had been many many months, plus one of my main Audiences for this blog was my mom and dad, and well… I’m not sure who else reads this or cares much. Then we all have been dealing with Covid-19 shrinking and changing our lives. And so now it’s January 2021 (That year sounds so fake and so much like THE FUTURE!! Not a thing we’re living in now)
But since November 2020, I’ve begun thinking about this again, and decided I’d like to update things. Even if I’ve lost my primary assumed audience, because this wasn’t ever really about an audience outside the 20-30 family and friends who were on my group email updates back in the day. But it’s something that I used to think was fun, and am beginning to think is fun again. (Recognizing the timing for resuming a travel blog is trash, because Covid-19. But fingers crossed for a swift vaccine dispersal, and hopefully by end of summer, early August, wider travel can be resumed responsibly). Also, I’ve always set my requirements for this blog to cast a wide net of possibility. Any time I’ve spent an overnight somewhere else, it became a possible candidate for inclusion. So I’ve still got several trips from the past to write up first. (The Suncadia weekend Sept 2019, The insane My Chemical Romance weekend trip right before Christmas 2019, an overnight trip to Vancouver BC Feb 2020 for comedy and great food, and a family memorial trip to the ocean early 2020. Oh, plus two cabin getaways during Covid19). So that’s plenty of content to recount for y’all.
And now, to return to my title (initially I wanted to include some big ole words like Expurgation, or Tabula Rasa. Started watching “Anne with an E” in this new year, and Anne’s constant love and use of words had me inspired). But in addition to the accountings of the delays, missed trips, and the WRONG ORDER (still upsets me, obviously), I’m going to be making a change/addition too.
ANNOUNCEMENT: This doesn’t just have to be for travel stuff. It still will be, mostly. (Unless I make a different choice later). But here’s the thing: Facebook got rid of its Notes section. (I can hear many of you saying “what is Notes on Facebook,” and the youths out there judging “Only old people use FB”). The reason I cared/used the Notes section was to post my annual list of “FAVORITE BOOKS READ THIS YEAR.” I really enjoyed going through my list of books, and compiling my favorites and trying to explain why I loved each book. But now I can’t do that on FB anymore. And when casting around for a replacement, I remembered that I HAVE A FRIGGIN BLOG. And I can post whatever content I please (within the bounds of the law, I guess. But other than that, no rules!!). So I’ve decided I am going to post all my previous years favorite book links, to have them in one place, and then I can write up my favorite 2020 books here too.
Still deciding on format and how this will quite work. But since I’m already going to have trips happening out of order on the blog (dramatic sigh), does it matter if book posts are scattered throughout? Or should I do all the book posts together, and then go back to documenting previous travel adventures? Decisions decisions.
So, stay tuned for some travel updates and book news. And who knows what else. Remember to tell your loved ones that you love them. Remember to celebrate each day. Find ways to find joy and make fun where you can. Remember to feel your feelings, even when they’re unpleasant. Remember that you are important and you matter and we are all in this together (even though we’re being physically separated right now). Be well. Here’s to a 2021 where we work to make this world a better place. Love y’all. -Tracy