Road Trips with Ronnie

Good morning, Dear Reader! I’m back from my little jaunt, and I’m happy to be home. That said, I believe these little trips are good for my soul. There are just some things that can’t be processed without the help of a back country road, a little whiskey, and gas station beef jerky. I managed to drive 1,426 miles over six days – two of which I spent working in an office. I would have liked to have more time in Minnesota. It was stunning. Iowa was…peaceful…and hot…but I can say this about the upper Midwest: People sure are friendly. And not in the snarky “Bless her heart” Southern way that I’m so used to.

Along the way, I knocked another Missouri covered bridge off my bucket list, stopping to see the Locust Creek Covered Bridge on my way home. And let us not forget: I witnessed every covered bridge in Madison County, Iowa, and even traveled down Francesca Lane. I’m amazed by the craftsmanship of these bridges and disheartened by the graffiti. People are assholes.

I returned in good spirits, although I found myself a bit sad. I read a quote yesterday that really resonated with me:

“Ironically, when we start to get better, we also often get sad. Because we start to realize just how much we missed out on, how badly certain people failed us, and what the younger version of us actually deserved. Healing involves healthy grieving. No way around it.” – Unbreakable & Uplifting

Ain’t that the truth.

I wasted many years making other people happy at the risk of my own wholeness, and this year was the year that all stopped. How do I do it? Well, a lot of therapy and a little IDGAF. Want some tips? Okay, then.

Grab a drink. Settle in.

Let’s talk about how to practice a little self-care with my five favorite things I do to take care of myself:

1) Stay in touch with those who like you despite your flaws. I typically will plan my trips around a quick little visit with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. That way, I can balance the solitude with the excitement of catching up. Last March, I visited my friend, Bonnie, in Massachusetts, getting hooked on Outlander, laughing over shots of Irish Whiskey, and freaking out a little after our tarot readings. This time, I was up north in Minnesota to visit Candi and Dave. I even met a guy I’ve worked with for nearly three years that I’ve never seen in person. September brings California, and maybe I’ll touch base with my cousin while I’m there. As I age, I realize just how much of a vital role some of these people play in my life.

2) Embark on new experiences that stretch your comfort level. Hot, sticky, and buggy is the only way I can describe the last week. I slept in my car for two nights in the middle of nowhere without electricity or ‘bathroom’ facilities. I had to plan out potty breaks and research where to wash my stinky body. Sometimes, I felt my anxiety rise a bit due to the unknown. I pushed through it and, each time came out of the experience with a better sense of ‘self’. Whether a solo trip or learning to cook, every new venture provides an opportunity to learn about yourself and others. I am still amazed at people’s generosity (strangers, even). This trip restored my faith in humanity for sure.

3) Sad songs or songs that envoke the past have no business on your road trip playlist. So, with that in mind, I binged Southern Fried True Crime podcasts. (I know. Weirdo.) But I also did listen to a heck of a lot of Pink and Eminem. My Good Vibes 2022 playlist is public. Take a listen any time you want.

4) Simplicity is always best. As I’ve preached for nearly twelve years, less is more, especially when traveling. Less clothing. Less food. Less coffee. Less alcohol. Less contact with the general public. Less self-judgment and less fear. Living your best life really starts with clearing out the clutter. My car looked like a New York City apartment – small and full of crap – and I didn’t need half the stuff I packed “just in case”. It made me stop and realize I still have so much I continue to hang on to “just in case”.

5) Epic is overrated. I’ve often said this, and I’ll repeat it today: There is something to say about living a mediocre life. And I don’t mean mediocre as in ‘less than’. I’m saying that not every experience must be epic to be memorable. I once took a road trip to Hannibal, Missouri. It wasn’t epic in the least bit, but it was memorable. And it changed the course of my life. After all, any day that ends with a cold beer and a cheeseburger with the prospect of getting kissed can’t be all bad, right? Right. Unfortunately, I’m stuck between “I need to save money” and “You only live once”. After California, I’m taking a bit of a break. Next year will bring a road trip through Yellowstone or Michigan’s U.P. And, 2024 will bring Norway, baby, and the Northern Lights.

The bottom line is: It’s okay to live a simple life, as I’ve stated for years. Your life could be mornings with coffee, watching the sunrise with nowhere to go. Or you could climb that mountain – not for the selfie but for the experience. Cook healthy food not to lose weight but to care for your body. Spend less time working and spend time with those you love before they are gone. Stop. Listen. Turn off distractions and the constant need for more. Ditch the comparisons and consumerism for a life that’s wild and free. Adventure awaits.

As always, here’s your song. And it really is YOUR song, Dear Reader. This blog – my creepy online diary – gives me something to look forward to. I love sharing my epiphanies and stories with you. I hope you are inspired, as well. Smooches all around, People. Muuuuaaaaahhhh. (For an awesome Ronnie Milsap playlist, click here)

PS…If you liked this post and thought others might, too, feel free to share on all the socials. Please and thank you.

Road trips, bridges, and love.

Good morning, Dear Reader. I’m closing out a big weekend of self-care like I haven’t had in a very long time. Friday night started with indulging in Season 3 of the Netflix hit, You. And Saturday, as I promised in my last post, I hit the road about 8 am Saturday in 16-degree temps to start completing one of my 2022 bucket list items: See all four of the covered bridges in Missouri. Today is Sunday, and I’m closing the weekend with a pedicure, a massage, and (fingers crossed) hugs from two of my favorite humans.

Thanks, “What The Forecast” app.

The road trip kicked off perfectly. After dropping $50 worth of petro into the subbie, I set out with my thermos of coffee with cream, road atlas, ice scraper, and a small cooler of snacks. This trip did not disappoint in many ways.

Sadly, not a Milk Dud in sight.

First, no one was out – except about a dozen of Missouri’s Highway Patrol Officers. The sky was clear, and although it was cold, the weather was great.

Secondly, Dollar General’s were not in short supply, and we all know how much I loves me sum DG. I hit two of them just for the sheer fun of it.

Lastly, breakfast was terrific. Road trip breakfast rules really need their own post, but suffice it to say, I was all set after a bit of ‘the Trucker’s skillet’ in Mountain Grove. My belly was full and I wasn’t planning on any more significant stops.

I headed east from my hometown and braved Hwy 60 E to Hwy 34 N. That was “fun”. Hwy 34 is the kind of road most definitely designed by a drunk toddler and is littered with tiny country homes proudly displaying the confederate flag. In addition, the inhabitants of these rural counties clearly have not received the memo (or TPS reports or whatever) stating that Trump lost the last election, as witnessed by the tremendous amount of Trump/Pence 2020 signs still present in just about every single yard. In other words, it was the kind of trip that made me a bit uneasy without a former law enforcement officer and his 9 mm Glock 19 as I drove around in my little liberal-hippie foreign car, if you know what I mean. Oh well. It wasn’t like I was planning to buy a home there. I was just off to see a bridge. And I did. And it was lovely. And I have three more to go.

Of course, you didn’t come here to read about my little road trip, but it is a nice little setup for today because, for the journey, I prepared a bunch of new playlists. And that windshield time and those tunes brought up so much emotion that I couldn’t help but form multiple blog posts in my brain as I listened to the likes of Ben Rector, Depeche Mode, Taylor Swift, and the Drive-By Truckers. Yes – my taste in music is a bit eclectic, but that’s what keeps y’all guessin’, now dudn’t it? (Take that accent, Shannon County.)

So what were you thinking about? you ask. Well, grab a drink. Settle in. I’m about to share.

The topic today is LOVE. More specifically…falling and being…in it.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

–Maya Angelou

Yes, I know. I know. I had sworn this topic (and feeling) off in August 2020. But it just keeps gnawing at me, and here’s a little secret: I’m a bit of a romantic (despite my hostility toward Valentine’s Day.) Plus, over three days, I’ve had three conversations with three different people who have, well, been a little square with me about my fear of falling in love again. I pondered the take-aways from each conversation and thought maybe we could rest here on the topic together today. Is that okay? (I hope you nodded your head ‘cuz I’m going there.) Ready? Got that drink? Here’s the advice I’ve received lately. I hope it helps you today, Dear Reader.

1) Might as well be all in. If I must cite my source, I have Amanda to thank for this one. Her point was: If you are all in, you can’t have one foot in and one foot out. If you are going to be in love, then love unabashedly! If you commit to being ALL IN, you might be surprised by how much the Universe responds to that. And by ‘you,’ I mean ‘me .’ But it might apply to you—[Shrug].

2) Stop thinking in terms of the ‘Worse case scenario.’ This one comes from a friend who has experience in the area of failed relationships, and yet remains positive. This dude isn’t a stranger to the ‘love gone wrong’ scene. He simply doesn’t dwell on it as I do. I don’t remember his exact words, per se, but I do remember he said, “You’re kinda jaded…” blah, blah, blah. I took a deep breath (as I tend to do when people call me on my shit….) but instead of getting defensive…I agreed with him. I also asked him to replace ‘jaded’ with ‘cautiously optimistic’ and promised to stop quoting Taylor Swift (“It’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames .”)

3) Red is bad. Green is good. Thank Miranda for this nugget. And we are talking about flags here with the red and green references. To be clear: flaws and imperfection are entirely different from red flags. But I’ve spent so much time in therapy making sure I know how to recognize red flags that I haven’t paid enough attention to the green flags right in front of me. What are green flags? In my recent experience, green flags = chairs that get pulled out, coats that get held when you are slipping them on, doors held open, texts to let you know he’s home safely, inclusion in decisions, out-of-the-blue calls to remind you that you are beautiful…I could go on. The world is enveloped in a mist of green these days. And it is so fucking refreshing.

4) Don’t be around anyone who makes you believe you are hard to love. In August, my therapist said this, and it’s just now sinking in. I was with someone for years who constantly asked me, “What is wrong with you?” (enunciating each word while dramatically rolling his eyes). The sad part is, I started to believe that there must be so many things wrong with me or he wouldn’t be asking me that all the time. Right? Wrong. If someone ever does this to you, please take my advice based on the hundreds of dollars I spent on therapy. Put on your shoes. Walk out. Call an Uber if you have to, but get the fuck out of there. It. Does. Not. Get. Better.

5) The key to long-lasting love is finding someone whose crazy matches your crazy. I used ‘crazy’ lightly here. I have a son on the autism spectrum, and I’ve become tolerant of particular quirks. This tolerance has proven to be a great trait in a mother and as a dating woman. So what if, when you pack an overnight bag, you pack everything in threes? Okay [Shrug]. You only like a specific type of bacon. Okay. You only buy black underwear. Okay. You have one side of the couch that is your favorite, and I can see you twitch a little when I sit there. Okay. It’s an oversized couch. I can sit in another spot. Trust me…you haven’t even scraped the surface for me on ‘weird quirks’. Again, after all the money spent in therapy, I would hope that I’ve learned the difference between quirky and fucking batshit crazy. Batshit crazy is leaving bullets on a washing machine while sending text messages about shots to the brain and placing recording devices around the home while secretly putting location tracking apps on cells phones. So, yeah, no. Check the locks three times, and wash your laundry daily. Your quirks aren’t crazy to me. In fact…your quirks don’t even phase me. I find them endearing.

So, bringing it back to love and the point of all of this. You can live your life afraid of falling back in love – all the while missing out on some great people & experiences- or you can be all in. Hey! Here’s a novel idea for you: You can be both afraid and open simultaneously. After all, to quote Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the movie Bounce, “It’s not brave if you aren’t scared“. So…jump in with both feet or get off the damn diving board. Ain’t nobody got time for your wishy-washy bullshit. (Again…by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’.)

I’m leaving you today with another Taylor Swift song. (Trust me, no one wants me out of the phase more than I). BUT I heard it today, and admittedly, it was the platform of today’s post. It’s one of those songs that spoke to me, and I remember thinking, “My God. That’s me in that song.” (“I’ve been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does is break…burn…and end…”) Except for me…it wasn’t a cafe on a Wednesday…more like a bar & grill on a Saturday…but you’ll catch the reference if you try hard enough.

Peace out, Dear Reader. I leave you with a few questions to ponder: Was ‘the one who got away’ actually a blessing in disguise? Are you ready for the past to be in the past? Are you prepared to step out of your comfort zone and be all in? Do tell. I really want you to know I’m rooting for you.

And remember, if you liked this blog and think others might, too, then share the love on social media. Please and thank you!