the kind lady I met near Winslow, Arizona, who helped me find a home for my bike, sent me a few photos that she took that day.
This photo gives a pretty good view of her cool van.
Here I am saying a grateful goodbye to my cross, my horse, my wheels for the past three months… I hope she finds a good home.
The photos clearly show how thin I have become, which I am not happy about, but which I am accepting as I do my best to eat more!
Acceptance is necessary for serenity in all my affairs, including the state of the environment, endangered species, poor people and other powerless commodities. There is a quote from Alcoholics Anonymous that brings me a lot of peace each time I hear or read it:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” (p. 417, 4th edition)
My attitudes are changing as I continue on this journey, as you know if you have been following my process. This is a big country, and an even bigger world. (It’s also a small world, depending on your perspective.) Either way, my attitudes can be on the positive side, focusing on the good and the beauty that exists, or they can be on the negative side, finding fault and critiquing everything and everyone. The latter way serves neither me nor the world, of course. The former way brings peace, serenity and contentment. I choose peace.
I met a kind woman on the train between Ohio and Virginia yesterday. After learning something about me and relying on her intuition she had this to say to me: “You need to put the Lord first, and then yourself second. Make Him your #1 and let Him show you the way to self-love and self-forgiveness. It’s time to move on and live in the present moment. Let go of regrets, remorse and any negative reflections. Forgive and love yourself as Jesus surely does.” Wise words from a woman of strong faith.
There were quite a few Amish people riding the train and I was most intrigued by these seemingly austere people. The men have Abraham Lincoln style beards, letting them grow longer as they age. Their hair is cut straight across the forehead and around the back, as if their wives use an upside down bowl to guide their shears. The men wear dark slacks, a collared shirt and suspenders, while the women wear a plain, tailored, long dress of one solid color, with sneakers. They also wear their hair tucked up inside a white bonnet and no makeup whatsoever, nor do they color their hair. They tend to grow round and bespectacled with age.
At first I was afraid to approach them because they seemed to keep to themselves, but I was eager to find out about their lifestyle choices so I did ask a married couple sitting at a cafe table if I could join them. They graciously agreed. They told me, in an unusual accent, that they had nine children (they hardly looked old enough) with the oldest four already on their own. One of these oldest ones had left the community, but the others were continuing the Amish way of life, which is farming and other related trades.
The couple owns forty acres in northeast Missouri where they raise goats. They are currently milking sixty goats by hand, as they use no electricity whatsoever. While they were away their children did all the work of the farm, as they had been brought up since childhood working side by side with their parents. Amish children go to school only through the eighth grade. They then work for the family full time until they turn 21, or get married. At that point the parents help them buy some land of their own and they begin working for themselves.
The goat’s milk gets sold to cheese makers in California; they drink some of the milk but keep a cow to milk for cheese making. Raising cows for milk is no longer profitable on a small scale.
They drive no cars, but use horses and buggies, and trains rather than airplanes for long distance travel. They are Christians and go to one or another’s home for religious services on Sundays. When I asked if outsiders ever join their community they said yes, they do, but that it rarely works out. The newcomer usually ends up leaving and going back to the “English” way of life. This couple told me they speak a German dialect among themselves and learn English in school. Their accent, however, was not a German accent, in my opinion. Another Amish man told me later that what they speak is a Dutch dialect, not German. That made more sense to my ear.
It is quite amazing that the Amish are able to persevere in this way of life. The people that I met seemed quite happy and content.
Traveling by train is relatively fast–in the last four or five days I’ve traveled through New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois. Indiana. Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and now Florida. I’ve seen a lot of country but don’t have any photos to show for it, save this one that was taken in New Mexico or Colorado.
The glare from the windows is unfortunate.
I spent one night at an International Hostel in Chicago, which is right downtown near the Harold Washington Library Center,
Printer’s Row and Grant Park.
Chicago is built on a river (or is it a canal?)
and Lake Michigan, but I didn’t get to see the lake. I spent my limited time getting provisions at Whole Foods Market for the train ride ahead, and eating in two different restaurants. (Native Foods and Flacos Tacos–Mexican Restaurants are a life saver for me in these United States. I can get a decent gluten free vegan meal, or a fantastic beef or seafood soup for a good price.)
I have been saying the Serenity Prayer for thirty years, but it has never been more meaningful for me than it is now.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (other people and things) the courage to change the things I can (myself) and the wisdom to know the difference.
I will soon arrive at my destination in Florida–Hollywood. From there I’ll take a bus or a cab to Alicia’s apartment, my ex-husband Juan’s aunt. She and I have always enjoyed each other’s company. I hope to see Juan’s mother and cousin Ivette tomorrow–tomorrow is the grand opening of Ivette’s second nail salon. A celebration! Good timing, I trust, once again.