She Rides Shotgun

Jernee, riding shotgun, post a Groomer’s visit on Saturday, July 10, 2021. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Not to beat an already dead horse regarding Coronavirus COVID-19, but it appears, normalcy is trying to sashay its way back into our lives—at least, this is taking place in many cities and states in the United States of America. New variants, notwithstanding, people are venturing out more. They are making plans to seal deals on various flight tickets and jet-set their way into post-COVID happiness. I won’t lie to you; I feel a deep stirring in my body to regain my shoddy confidence and get back to traveling. However, the kind that involves flying is not yet on my list.

I am interested in loading up my car with various selected items, encouraging playlists, a full stomach, my partner-in-crime; my dog, Jernee, and whisk away to the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina for a few days or a week. The beauty of nature and its luring embrace is calling me. I much prefer a scenic drive to my places of interest as opposed to the “friendly skies.” If I can get there in about one to six hours, I will make the drive to that destination. And with a buddy who sleeps most of the drive to that place and hasn’t the verbiage to “backseat” or “passenger seat drive” to accompany me, it is usually something to which I truly look forward.

According to Julie Hall, APR:

More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

With those estimated numbers, many Americans have moved from isolation and are back to what they find to be most appealing—the freedom of living. I have been toying with the idea of rising from the deep and heading toward the surface just as many others, but a familiar fear still hovers over me. My plan: to go about things slowly regarding this transition but eventually catapult myself back into a familiar world; a pre-COVID-19-like world . . . baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Jernee, my four-legged companion, is easy to please. As long as I accompany her, she will travel to the edge of the world if it means she can still have her daily walks and favorite treats. I mean, with those additions to an already spoiled life, why not? Having her beside me as I tackle the come-hither calls of an adventurous world, awaiting my attendance and participation, is welcome. I don’t think I could get the look of sheer contentment from anyone else in my car as I sing loudly to my favorite songs. No one else would be willing, I’m sure, to appreciate my sometimes alto, sometimes tenor, singing voice. But Jernee?! Jernee glances up toward me as if this voice of mine was made for her and for her only.

Another point from Julie Hall’s article, explains:

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

Traveling was on an upswing as we headed into the Fourth of July weekend. The travel bug had bitten me at that point, but I did not take the plunge. I still played it safe here at home with my favorite cuddler—oh, but I dreamed about blazing a few trails. The next holiday on the calendar for which many intend to travel is Labor Day. With September just around the corner, I long for a hike or two or three in the fresh mountain air but first . . . I have to get there. If I were a guessing person, which on most occasions, I am, I’m willing to bet Jernee is ready for a bit of adventurous action too.

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could actually interview her regarding this topic—regarding any topic? The mind of a dog has to be an exceptional place. I create an internal dialogue between myself and Jernee sometimes. I am not ashamed of this; it’s entertaining. So, on those semi-long driving trips we used to take, that internal dialogue could look a little like this:

Jernee: “Mommy, are we there yet?”

Me: “No, sweetness, not quite.”

Jernee: “How much longer?”

Me: “According to Google Maps, 1 hour and 23 minutes.”

Jernee: “That precise, huh?”

Me: “Well, what were you expecting? A guess?”

Jernee: “Not really. I thought you were going to just reach on over here and hand me another treat.”

Me: “Touche’, sweetness. Touche’.”

I tell myself the trips I’m meant to take with my favorite road dog are waiting patiently in the near future. All I have to do is to succumb to their welcoming arms once again. Regardless of when those road trips will take place, there is one thing of which I am certain, my traveling buddy will ride shotgun. It’s the perfect place for a traveling woman’s best friend.

Two Things

Today, I had an appointment to get my nose re-pierced and to get my sixth tattoo. I loved every minute of each appointment. There was minimal pain (I have a high pain threshold) and I got a chance to have some great conversations with both artists. My piercing tech was Leigh and my tattoo artist was Nick. Both are at the infamous, Art Attack, here in Winston-Salem, NC. I’ve gotten a leg tattoo from this spot 3 years ago; the owner Mark, did it.

The facility is clean. The environment is a welcoming one. The service is quick and your ideas come to life in their hands. They take care of the art you have in mind before they modify your body for the rest of its life. Below is the latest addition; a lotus tattoo. Why a lotus, you ask? Because I always feel like my best self when I come out of the muck. And the nose re-piercing needs no explanation–it’s self-explanatory. It was time that I get it redone. I missed it. I’m just giving you guys a bit of silly with my satisfied smirk.

Lotus Tattoo Photo #1. Photo Credit: Nick at Art Attack
Lotus Tattoo Photo #2. Photo Credit: Nick at Art Attack
Selfie . . . In the car, headed back home. Silly Tre w/ her re-pierced nose.

Here’s hoping each of you is having a great weekend so far. I am hoping to rest for the bulk of the remainder of it and breathe in the goodness it will provide. Peace and blessings, good people.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Photo by Eye for Ebony via Unsplash


Motivation
Getting Uncomfortable with Complacency

This year, I have taken a step outside myself, so to speak, to further look deeply within myself. The purpose has been to connect with and somehow tweak what I have or could be missing regarding my life. During many of my sessions with my therapist, we focus on how I can move from one way of doing things (the way I have always done things) to trying new ways, even if these ways frighten me. The one thing I have found to be at the center of holding me back is fear. I touch briefly on this in The Building Blocks of Me and Hello, Rejection.

When I comb through many of my missed opportunities, I allowed myself to dismiss them solely based on not knowing what the outcome was going to be. This is to say that I feared an unfavorable outcome. I counted many things in my memory bank and shook my head at just how easy it was for me to not see something through based on how I felt. In some instances, I felt a strong sense of not being able to move— my mind would not let me. Physically, I was planted in place on many occasions — unable to get myself going because I was afraid of not succeeding. I was incredibly afraid of failing.

Recent experience has taught me that in order to accomplish my goals, I must first take the necessary steps toward reaching them. If I am unable to take those steps, my goals will not be met. This brings me to motivation . . .

Motivation is 1a: the act or process of motivating. b: the condition of being motivated. 2: a motivating force, stimulus, or influence: INCENTIVE, DRIVE. — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Essentially, I would categorize myself as a decently motivated individual, however, this is so because I am disciplined. I find it easy to rise in the morning, do my daily work, come home and walk my dog, feed her, prepare myself for the next day’s tasks, and edit & write with any time I may have remaining before winding down to read shortly before going to bed. All of these things are embedded within the characteristics of me and have become ritualistic over time. These are not things in which I need the motivation to complete.

What I am finding hard to begin doing are the different things that shift me away from my comfort zone. I operate on a schedule that has been the same for at least fifteen years and veering off course makes my heart race. It causes me to tear up sometimes and refuse to take a chance because again, I do not know what the outcome will be. To pull a paraphrased remark from my therapist, You are prone to your most anxious moments when it challenges you to change. You have become complacent.


Photo by Kat Yukawa via Unsplash

So how does one move from being complacent to being open to making the changes necessary to get him or her wherever they wish to be? How does one know when those changes need to cease? This is not something that will happen overnight. Most of the things I have given myself free rein to tackle will take a few years or a decade, at best. But I am moving forward and in the right direction in order to see these things take place.

What is scary is the fact that I had blinders on, unaware that my complacency was and can continue to be dangerous with regards to my growth. Which brings me to list two definitions of the word complacent:

Complacent is 1: marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies: marked by complacency: SELF-SATISFIED. 3: UNCONCERNED. — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

As you can see above, the first definition is what I have endured — what I am enduring. The third actually prompted me to apply more thought to my ways and question myself: “Am I really not concerned with how I operate and how comfortable I have become with not changing to better suit me? Is my comfort zone so important that any shift from it, breaks me down?” I am saddened to say that yes, I have become complacent. However, I am not the only one.

Americans are becoming more complacent. People socialize with similar folks on Facebook and get food delivered through Uber while sitting at home streaming Netflix. Folks medicate themselves more, keep to themselves and move less often. This isn’t the same restless America whose grit helped transform a British colony into a major superpower. — Tyler Cowen, The Complacent Class, 2017.

I would say that I am among good company, but I am not. The focal point for me is to shift from my comfort zone to a more formidable one, allowing me the freedom to further pursue my goals. I know that this form of change starts with me. I have to be the one willing to lift my feet up and trek forward. There is no one else on which to depend for this to take place.

Every single day, I say something encouraging to myself — something that will alert me of my strengths and help me leap over a few weaknesses that have held me back. What do I look forward to in my immediate future?

  1. A shorter workweek — preferably from 40 hours to 36 hours per week. This will allow me more time for editing, writing, and submitting to literary magazines and journals both online and in print.

2. Pursuing a career that will not only provide an environment for my skill-set, but allow me room to advance and grow with the company without being made to feel like an underpaid, underappreciated, and unseen workhorse.

3. Create, enhance, and build a brand linked to writing, editing, and creative literary works. (A Cornered Gurl is the start.)

4. Move and settle in another part of North Carolina, preferably, Western, North Carolina. (Particularly, Arden, NC.)

When I step back and examine these four goals — visualizing them, I know I can do this. I have it within me to accomplish each one, however, I dread the potential death of each without even given them a chance to live. I am at an age now that is a constant reminder for me to “get it in gear” and do the work required to attain the aforementioned.

I am tired of the same old thing — the revolving door stops now. I am taking a stand against myself. This is my personal pact and it will be until I have accomplished what I intend to.

My motivation? Complacency will not be the death of me.


Originally published in The Startup via Medium. The link shared is a friend link which will allow anyone who clicks on it to read it for free via Medium as it is behind the paywall.