Monday, September 15, 2014

Hundreds and Hundreds of Trees

One of my favorite blogs, Off the Rails, really got me to thinking.  Dan writes about a person's special thing in life?  What fuels a passion and what keeps it fueled?  Why do some have it and why don't others?  Dan definitely has figured out his special thing. In fact, he has many special things that give substance and meaning to his life -- birds, gardening, photography, writing.  He appears to pursue them all with determination and focus and writes about his pursuits in interesting depth on his blog.  Read it.  You'll be glad you did.


Ed and I, as we set out in Thistle, don't want to just travel, we want to live our lives with focus, intention, and purpose.  We each want that special thing. The topic of the significance of life seems particularly pertinent to us retired folks as we've completed our other major tasks that gave us focus -- raising our families and having careers with paychecks.  When the children have moved on and the jobs  are gone, how do we remain vital both to others and to ourselves?  How do we avoid feeling idle and useless.  As Dan writes in Off the Rails, "Some friends seem to blossom in the second lap of their lives.  Others sink into depression."  How do some find that special thing that keeps them burning with enthusiasm?

I have a friend, Anne, who has deep meaning in her life despite events that would have overwhelmed others.    Anne stays totally and completely and enthusiastically focused on her work, on her life, on her special thing.  She has a passion that shines and inspires all those around her.   She doesn't waiver.   Anne is a weaver and although I do not weave, I follow Weavewright, because there's such optimism and such inspiration and because it is impossible not to love Anne and what she creates.  

My husband is another person with a passion.  He is a programmer, a philosopher, and a psychologist.  He sets goals and objectives and stays on track -- mostly.  He's a student of life and understands the dilemma of lost focus.  He is striving to address this issue in a way to help others find their special thing.  Mr. Ed, as I affectionally call him, is writing coaching software to assist people in getting to the core of who they are, who they want to be, at a cost they can afford.  His coaching site, Growth-Ring-Coaching, is focused on the question of a person's personal sense of value.  Growth-Ring-Coaching is designed for all ages but is especially useful for the retired who too often find themselves unemployed from life.

I am personally struggling with this question of my special thing.   Although I have planted hundreds and hundreds of trees, metaphorically I want to plant hundreds and hundreds more.     As we drive away in Thistle I leave much of what defines me behind.    Ed will bring his work on the road.  I will need to learn to pursue those wannabe passions that for years were shoved to the back shelf.   Part of my Thistle Adventure will be to turn those wannabes into passions-in-action.

My motivation is strong as I want to be an interesting and admired old lady rather than old lady cast aside.  In my mind that means I need to have passions, interests, and lots of new ideas.  I will need to study, practice and strive for creativity, involvement and talents beyond travel.  I have defined myself as a landscape designer, gardener, mom, home owner, and community volunteer for my entire adult life.   Now I need to recognize that was then, this is now, and find my new special thing.

Yessi, Fran & Brad and yes, I will always be a mom, but my kids are adults and certainly
 don't need me looking over their shoulders!

This topic is evolving as I write.  My question, "What fuels a passion and what keeps it fueled?" is a question of great depth.  It will demand a great deal of consideration.   I will have more to say about it, no doubt again and again, but this I know for sure:  I will pay close attention to the passions of my friends.   They'll teach me what it takes to be a "pit bull" in  tackling  their passions.   My head is now spinning with ideas.


"Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty -- they merely move it from their faces into their hearts.

~Martin Buxbaum


  1. Fran, I think one of the special things you will take on the road is the Thistle blog, because it will reflect the creativity and freshness of your mind as you consider what you find in your travels. This is where you will continue to be a leader and advocate of living meaningfully, in harmony with nature. You gave me my first exposure to this idea in an evening class at the high school two decades ago, and I suspect I am just one of many you influenced for the common good. No doubt you have more than one special gift to share, but to me the blog is going to be one of them in the months and years ahead.

  2. Thank you so much Dan. I forget, sometimes, that I have influenced others in my determination to live a simple and thoughtful life. I'm so glad we can share our blogs with one another. I enjoy and learn from yours each time you post. You will provide one of my most frequent and special contacts with Whidbey Island, and our dear friends, as Ed and I travel.