It takes practice and it takes patience, but flexibility is one key to a less stressful life.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit yet another Texas state park (actually 4 state parks in 2 days, but that’s another post). This is not about the park we tried to visit, but rather a plan that went sad.

Yes, I said sad.

We drove almost 2 hours to the Stephen F. Austin State Park only to be informed upon check in that we could only walk about 1.5 miles (round trip in 3 different sections amounting to no more than .8 miles each) worth of the trails. While this is not traumatic on the surface, it did throw a wrench into our plans for the day.

I was prepped for a 6 mile hike: water, lunch, snacks, more water, and the ever important New Hiking Shoes. I was ready to visit nature, watch pileated woodpeckers, cache, and picnic in the cool spring wind.

What I found instead, was fodder for 2 posts. This one and another one regarding the state parks we would visit that day. Because my friend and I are pretty laid back, we will admit openly we were frustrated and disappointed in our plans going awry, but we did make the most of a sad situation.

I call it sad because time and again in Austin State Park we saw signs that the trail was closed. We nicknamed the sign, Sad Sign:

Sad Sign

Sad Sign courtesy of Regina Herry

Along the way, bombarded by gnats and flying insects who had absolutely no respect for the OFF bath I took, we stopped to watch the little ants that could moving leaves 4 times bigger than them, a baby turtle who was trying to cross the trail, and only 1 (yes 1) pileated Woodpecker. I would include a picture, but alas, we could not get him on camera. So here’s Yertle Jr. the Turtle:

Yertle Jr photo by Regina Herry

Yertle Jr photo by Regina Herry

After the extremely short visit to Austin State Park, we headed back towards Austin and stopped at Buescher State Park, followed by Bastrop State park. There’s a road between the two connecting them. Rumor has it I may actually be biking that winding roller coaster of a road in a couple weeks.

Buescher only had 1 trail opened due to the fires last year. It was hard to see all the burned trees, but as we traveled from one burned park to another, there was new growth coming in. Mother Earth is doing her darndest to fix herself. It was sad, but beautiful to see.

Bastrop had all trails opened with a warning to watch out for fallen trees. Unfortunately, time was not on our side and we only got to walk about a mile in this park (just long enough for me to find the cache I needed) before we had to head back to Austin.

We could have given up after park one, heck, we could have thrown in the towel when she highlighted what little we could hike, but we didn’t. Because of our flexibility we can brag about visiting 3 state parks in one day, the fact that somehow between the 3 parks we managed to walk 5.5 miles, we saw the most awesome animals, the death and rebirth of parks after floods and fires, and best yet…we laughed and had a great time.

Spending time outdoors with friends is the best thing on the planet.

For me, I got to go hiking with another group of friends the next day (hence, 4 state parks in 2 days) in Pedernales Falls (which I wrote about previously). It was a longer hike than anticipated, 8 miles total, but having fun, and spotting some rare things in the park, and visiting springs made for a very enjoyable weekend. I love the falls and the rain a few days before made this a spectacular spot. The rushing clear water was soothing and the sun made me feel better on all levels.

When all else fails, go with the flow and enjoy the moment.


Accidental 6 Mile Hike

I’ve been working to move in the best direction for me. It’s been full of ups and downs and yesterday threatened to be a down which is how I ended up accidentally hiking 6 miles.

I have tried several things, but now that spring is here I find it easier to do one great thing: Get outside and move.

It’s so easy to sit there and end up rambling through your head. Head rambling is never good — inevitably it is always negative. So I decided my legs needed a biking break and the cool windy day provided me with a great excuse to do something other than biking.

In no short order I found myself at one of my favorite spots in the area: Purgatory.

I was just trying to redirect my focus from the dark side, I didn’t want anything too stressful or overwhelming. So I set off with no water, just a sweatshirt, hiking shoes (thankfully my new ones are coming in this week), and a phone (how else does one cache on the fly?) The normal route was closed due to clean up in the area from the floods last year so I was left with only one ingress by the dam.

Some trails are closed from March to May to protect the rare Golden Cheek Warbler.

GOLDEN CHEEKED WARBLER photo from City of San Marcos

GOLDEN CHEEKED WARBLER photo from City of San Marcos

It was a little rocky and eventually led up to the top. Nothing too significant and there were a couple of caches in that direction. At the top I took in the lay of the land: the top of the dam, the ravine one side and the red rooftops peaking out of the green trees on the other where Texas State University lay.

The day was a little cooler than it had been, but the breeze felt nice and the sun was out which is always a plus. I plugged in my ears and set Spotify to some upbeat music. Before too long I found myself clipping along to the first cache and letting my mind wander where it wanted.

Today I started out with the flaws in my current short story (come back April 1st to read all about it) and even more distressing — no ending. As I wandered in what I thought would be a circle (it was not) the story flushed out in my head. I was almost four miles into Purgatory when the details were solidified enough that I could put pen to paper; however, that was when I discovered (via handy mobile) that I had been walking in pretty much a semi circle. There was no way to really complete the other half.

I was no where near where I needed to be. In this case, my car. As I scrolled along the map to find paths in the trees I realized I was going to be walking more than I intended. I really was not big on just turning around, nor was I anxious to complete 8 miles since I had not brought water with me — not that that made a difference at this point.

Sucking it up, I found a slight diagonal overgrownish path that cut a couple mile off my return route. There were some muddy patches here and there — the only indication that it had rained recently.

It was during the grumbling return trip that I realized that I had forgotten about my funk. In fact, I was eager to get back home so I could finish my short story. Ideas percolating away threatening to drift off into the ether the longer I was away from my computer.

One consistent way to get out of a funk: DO something. Maybe it’s not always the same thing. Clean the house, go to the gym, walk (maybe not 6 miles), kayak, something — just move your body and the mind will follow.

The activity of doing allows you to focus on something external away from the potential negative internal dialog. It’s not a perfect cure, but it does allow one to become more fit and healthy which may just end up on the happy shiny path.

If nothing else, you can enjoy the smell of spring, the dapple or warmth on your arms from the sun, and a lightness in you step.

What do you do to bring yourself out from a funk?

Aftermath: 3 Steps to Recovery

I’ve spent the last week on the beach. It was a smooth flight from start to finish. Not easy to say when the trip involves flying.

This trip combined every major life changing events with the exceptions of death and birth, that was possible in one punch. It ranged from stressful to relief to laughter.  vb_sunrise

This next week is about putting things into perspective and completing clean up work before heading back to the daily grind. Through this journey I realized there are 3 steps in the aftermath of drama/trauma.

Accept Your Part

The first step is to accept your part in the situation. No matter the obstacle, mental, physical, or emotional, you have to recognize the issue. I mean completely recognize it. Not blaming others or life or God because that’s not only the easy way out, but also detracts from your involvement too. You must accept your part of the trauma. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you cannot grow, cannot move on unless you recognize all the parts of the issue; from the people involved to the circumstances contributing to it, which includes you. Once you lay out the pieces you can map a path to get through it and in some cases that means you need to stand up for yourself and/or those that you love.

Step Into the Fight

The second step to recovering from past drama/trauma is to get through it. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to the other side is to fight your way there. Whether it be for justice in the courts, physical therapy from injury or breaking free from negative people, the only way to move on is through it. It will not be easy, it will be painful, but it can be done. This is where you learn who your friends and family are. Those that stand next to you free of judgment are the ones you want to be in your life, now and in the future. You need to do what is in your best interest, there is nothing wrong with fighting for what you want. Fight if you must, not for the activity of fighting, but for becoming a better you.

Move On

This third step is not as easy as it sounds. When you fight for so long, when you try, and keep trying, to get past the pain and the illusions of the past, it’s easy to forget not only who you are, but who you wanted to be. You need to recognize when the fight is over, win or lose. You cannot carry on the fight forever. If you lose the fight then you need to accept it and let go. Carrying on a battle, no matter how righteous, is self defeating. Let go, step back, and find yourself. Who do you want to be? What did the fight cost you (take into account mental, emotional, physical, and financial costs)? After all that, ask yourself: Who Am I? No matter how short the fight was, no matter how little the cost was, you have changed. You are not the same person you were before. After you take stock, are you happy with the new you? Are you who you wanted to be at this point?

My particular battle has include a little of everything, but I have finally reached a point where I can say I recognize and accept my part in the drama/trauma, that this last week was the end of the fight, now I can step back and let go. I am taking a couple weeks off from life to figure out how to move on and do clean up work.

I took time to remind myself who I was before the drama by reconnecting with old friends, talking about the before, during, and aftermath. I took time to enjoy the sand and sunrises, and waves. I thought about everything and nothing. Most importantly, I slept. Good long deep sleeps that I have not had in a long time.

Some of my moving on was started a few months ago. I started planting seeds for the person I was meant to be before all this drama/trauma started. Some of my plants are starting to bloom. Now I am going to create some structure and nurture the seeds that have not come to light — yet.


Friendship — it’s a very simple word that has so many different meanings it’s hard to tell which one is best. I have several friends who have been in and out of my life, some who have known me for more years that I can count, and others who have slipped away unnoticed.

Over the last 5 years, I have had some very special friends. Despite my awkwardness at times of asking for help, they have been there without question.

In the last week I have had 4 friends, in 3 different states, stand up for me. It wasn’t something they expected, or for that matter, I expected. Past drama reared it’s ugly head — yes drama is ugly. I knew it was coming, they did not, but I did not expect it at the moment it appeared.

I spent a handful of hours with one of my far distant friends, who graciously listened to me and then listened some more. She was supportive and patient as I repeated the issues again and again. She let me vent, she told me to calm down, and for a few hours that worked.

I called another friend. We hadn’t spoken in some time. It was a long call, half of it to catch up and the other half to listen to my drama. She was very familiar with my on and off drama, but like friend one, she let me vent. She was quiet and listened, she offered her opinion when I took a breath and, as long standing friendships are, she listened — without judgment, without angst, and without impatience.

My third friend walked into the storm without knowing it. She made the mistake of asking about the upcoming drama without realizing the storm had blown in early. She got an earful, not as much as the first two friends, but still more than she expected.

Number four did not get an earful, she did not get a lot of details, but she knew drama was there, she knew that I needed a distraction. She threw out a life preserver and for one of the rare times in my life, I grabbed on to it.

I hate leaning on people, I hate asking for help; both smack of weakness and insecurity. I could easily list all the reasons why, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that past baggage has been delivered by the airport personnel (of all the luggage they cannot lose!)

In the last few years I have painfully, awkwardly, embarrassingly asked for and received help from several friends. These 4 (2 long time friends, 2 very very new friends) have listened to me, have supported me, have provided distractions for me.

These 4 currently have been most present in my life, but are not the only ones that came to my rescue.

A few short years ago when drama started there were a good half dozen people who rescued me. I should have listened better, I should have realized that my intuition was cloudy and unreliable, but I didn’t. My faulty intuition aside,the drama would have come no matter what, but maybe my stress level would have been less.

6 friends on the spur of the moment rode to my rescue, secured me, and even through exhaustion, made me feel loved and safe.

Now, as drama comes back into my life, I have reaching out for help again; this time it is easier. I don’t feel I am the one bringing the unknown into their life. I am comfortable asking for their support. I have grown and learned that the friends I thought weren’t real are. As Sally Field once said, “You like me, you really like me.”

It took a long time for me to leave the darkness and come to terms that I was not the one in the dark, that I had friends, that I was loved for who I am. That is a huge wall to scale, but past determination came back and I scaled that wall — with some help from friends.

I am eternally grateful for my friends, near and far. I’m quite sure without these friends (and half a dozen others) I would not be here today or I would be at the bottom of the wall looking up instead of at the top looking down the other side.

My friends have shown me what friendship is, they have shown me that I can be happy and when times get rough, they will be there. I will not be alone, I am not an island.

Even in the depth of pain, of confusion, or loneliness, there are people who care.

I am grateful that my friends are there, that even in the darkest days, most awkward and embarrassing days, I could call any of them — I can talk to them, and no matter what.

When the clouds clear and the drama comes to an end, we are going to celebrate. I owe them — all of them — more than words can say, more than I can show. So this post is going to have to do everything I cannot find the words for — that I cannot show:

Thank you for being there for me, thank you for listening to me, thank you for loving me.

Thank you for showing me what Friendship is.