I spent day 123 of the Nowhere To Be Project at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail. I come here quite often and today it provided a lovely escape from the hubub of the Sunday Farmer’s Market. The botanical garden is the world’s highest at an impressive 8200 feet. Alpine plants from around the world are featured in this scenic and peaceful space.
The gardens were named in honor of First Lady Betty Ford who contributed her time and talents to their formation. She and her husband, President Gerald Ford (38), spent a great deal of time in Vail. When I was a little girl, it was not at all uncommon to see them surrounded by Secret Service in town and on the slopes. The garden opened in 1988 and has been delighting visitors ever since. There is no cost to enter although donations are appreciated and the park is open year round from dawn to dusk. Plan on spending an hour or two at the gardens, the adjacent museum/shoppe and the educational center. Be sure to pack a picnic to fully enjoy Ford Park just steps from the gardens.
Most travelers, myself included, spend a lot of their time searching for the perfect spot. It might be a locale, a resort, a restaurant, a chair on the beach, or even a parking spot. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and what seems just right for one may be the exact opposite for another. Take a second to consider what these might be for you:
❤️your perfect spot for watching the sun rise or set
❤️your perfect spot for being one with nature (sea, mountains, lakes, forests, plains…whatever lights your fancy)
❤️your perfect spot for feeling at peace
❤️your perfect spot for feeling inspired
❤️the place where you can truly be yourself
Okay, where is your spot? How did you find it? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet and if that’s the case, keep on searching!
On Day 109 of the Nowhere To Be Project I languished in the luxury of my perfect spot. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. I had coffee on the deck as I listened to the rushing of the nearby waterfall. I meandered through the village enjoying the farmer’s market packed with fresh local foods. I’ll doze off tonight to the cool mountain breeze flooding through my open window. My perfect spot is Vail, Colorado. It is my chosen hometown. Give it a visit if you’ve never been. You never know, it might just be your perfect spot too.
On Day 106 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself crammed in the middle seat of a 737. Clearly, karma sought to even things out a bit after the pleasantness of my flight ten days ago. Life in the middle seat bears a striking likeness to middle age with it’s annoying limitations. If the middle seat is midlife, the aisle most definitely represents youth with its freedom to escape on a whim. That would leave the window as an ode to old age, I think. The window gives sight and with that comes the wisdom we often associate with aging. I don’t care for the middle seat. I don’t especially like the window either. I absolutely adore the aisle though. Does that mean I’m young at heart? Or perhaps I’m just trying to hang on to the zeal of youth with all my might? The bottom line is that no matter which seat we find ourselves in, we must find a way to make it fit. If we can do that, we might just enjoy the ride.
On Day 100 of the Nowhere To Be Project I found myself on the verge of an emotional meltdown. I’ve been in my hometown for the past couple days to deal with some family stuff. I’m not one of those people who longs for the familiar comfort of their hometown. Quite the contrary actually. For me, my hometown is more comparable to a haunted graveyard than a welcoming respite. As a result, I came here very, very reluctantly after receiving some news that left me feeling compelled to leave my husband and dog midway through a RV road trip. In short, a sense of obligation led me back here again. Truth be told, I usually avoid being here at all costs because the ghosts of my dysfunctional childhood seem to lurk around every corner, both literally and figuratively. Every street holds a memory. The faces seem to stare with a sad and familiar knowing. This place nearly stole my spirit and that is why I left. I knew that happy people existed and I eventually found them. I also found my own happiness along the way and I protect it fiercely.
Many say that running away is never the answer. As a retired mental health professional, I can tell you that sometimes running is an effective survival mechanism. This is especially true if what you’re running from is incapable of change. Flight can provide sweet relief when you’ve exhausted every ounce of fight within you. My personal beasts only show their fangs in Central Florida so I generally stay away.
The good news about today is that I self-medicated with a joyful lunch with my happy, healthy, fang-free adult son. I followed this up with a trip to the mall (another perfectly acceptable coping mechanism, within reason of course:-). First, I devoured a scoop of Häagen Dazs dairy-free chocolate salted fudge truffle ice cream, each lick bringing a bit of calm and composure. Then I bought a luscious cruelty-free tarte lip gloss at Sephora in the cheeriest color I could find. Surely it will help me shine my way through the rest of my time here. Self-care comes in so many forms, doesn’t it? Maybe, just maybe, these small indulgences will keep the ghosts at bay until my impending escape.
I spent some time with nuns on Day 30 of the Nowhere To Be Project. I love nuns. I collect them actually. Not literally, but I do hoard a bit of nun-themed art. Also, Mother Teresa is my spirit animal. I think the reason why I am so invested in nuns is that they inspire me to be better because they dedicate their lives entirely to the service of others.
The nuns I interacted with today were young and vibrant, wearing very modern-looking habits. They were gracious, joyful, open and somehow peaceful. On a long-haul flight a few weeks ago I watched a film about the life of a young girl as she worked to become a nun. It was no easy task. It wasn’t necessarily difficult because of the vow of chastity, but because of the vows of silence and poverty. She went months without speaking. She lived without the comforts we take for granted. She did these things to prove that she was capable of relinquishing all personal motivations. Those who could not were released. Needless to say, very few candidates stayed the course. Those who did entered a life of willing and eager servitude.
What if we could all emulate the work of nuns for just an hour each day? How many good works could we accomplish in that small amount of time? Just imagine how the world might change for the good! I am proud to say that I have a full-blown case of nun envy.
Day 25 of the Nowhere To Be Project began with the thrill of seeing my tulips peep through the dusting of snow we received yesterday. It is such a thrill each spring to spot the early shoots. Year after year, they come back. They endure five to six months of frigid temperatures. They carry the weight of snow and ice despite being visibly fragile. Every year I doubt their reemergence. But, why?
Think of the strongest people you know. If we shared our lists, I bet they’d all have one characteristic in common: resilience. Resilient people take the blows and come back fiercer. They endure great adversity and strife with grace. They use pain to become better. I guess they are like tulips in that way. They get dumped on year after year and still choose to bloom. No matter what your beliefs are (or are not), you’ll likely encounter the theme of rebirth and renewal this weekend. Give yourself the gift of choosing to bloom no matter what.