10. Romance and roller coasters…thrill or churro?

We’ve all heard Rascal Flatt’s cover of the Tom Cochrane song,  Life is a Highway.  The song compares life to a road that we travel along.  When we share this road with someone special, life’s burdens and detours become manageable, motivating us to travel this road for as long as possible…or at least “all night long.”


If life is a highway, then romance is a roller coaster.  Whether it’s our first ride or fiftieth, we approach the line, ticket in hand, with the same excitement, apprehension, and fear each time.  As the ride operator pulls down our harness and checks that we are safely locked in place, doubt and fear flood the mind.

“Why am I doing this?  What if my harness fails and I wind up plunging to my death on the first inverted loop?  Maybe I should just call to the attendant to set me free and go get a churro instead.”

But then the thumbs up signal is given, and the car takes off before you have a chance to chicken out and run to the safety of the churro stand. Most coasters begin with a long and terrifying climb up a traditional ‘lift hill.’ This hill creates the potential energy that then turns to the kinetic energy necessary for the flips, turns, and exhilarating speed the car will experience.

During that climb, you say one last prayer as you approach the top, willing your harness and every nut and bolt holding your car on the tracks, to remain in place.  The view from above is breathtaking.   And in that last moment, suspended at the top, your heart beating out of your chest, you surrender to it and prepare for the ride of your life.


Like any high thrill coaster, online dating is not for the faint of heart. Most online profiles speak of loving the outdoors, fitness, music, and the beach. They boldly declare their mission of finding their best friend, partner in crime, or one true soul-mate…even though many are just looking for a “good times” friend, partner in the “sheets,” or one night “bed” mate. While some are upfront about their intentions, others falsely advertise who they are and what they are seeking.


In my profile, I mention that I am a roller coaster enthusiast, sharing that I love the thrill of all the emotions one feels as the car leaves the safety of the loading area and then screaming my head off as I enjoy every dip, twist, and loop.

Soon after writing my profile, I made the connection between romance and roller coaster rides while speaking to someone I had met on online.  After a few days of messages back and forth through the site, we had exchanged cell phone numbers and began texting.  The texting soon led to a phone conversation, which then led to a date.


In a week of texting and speaking over the phone, I had learned quite a lot about this man…his divorce, child, job, likes, dislikes.  Our conversation was easy, playful, and full of laughter. We already shared some private jokes that made our connection seem comfortable and genuine.  Each message or call was like the climb up the lift hill, building on possibilities for something more.

There are no set rules for online dating.  Some say don’t waste your time texting and talking but rather meet and see if the sparks fly as soon as possible.  Others feel the opposite, that ample communication should take place before a meeting is arranged.  I found myself somewhere in the middle and after some texts and a phone conversation that went really well, was ready to see what happened when our car “reached the top of the lift hill.”

Before entering the restaurant the afternoon of our meeting, I found myself very nervous.  I had high hopes for a great in-person connection since we had already hit it off so well over the phone.  In the moment outside the door I felt that fight or flight response…walk through the door or make a run for the safety of my car.  I had to make a decision…what was it going to be?  Thrill or churro?

Luckily, I chose thrill.  I took a deep breath and walked right up to my date already waiting for me with a glass of wine at the bar.  We greeted each other with a warm hug and quick peck on the cheek or was it the lips? I was too nervous to take aim properly.

The rest of the date went as well as our messages and calls.  We had made it past the lift hill and were zooming along the track of real in-person dating.  While it’s still early, I am excited to see where it leads.  So for now, I’m just holding on tight, laughing and enjoying every dip, twist, and loop that may come my way.  More importantly, I am just really proud of myself for being brave enough to stick around for that thumbs up signal!

Peace and love ☺♥

8. Tattoos and travel…finding my “something”

When I was 25, I traveled to Colorado with some friends to see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Boulder, and other amazing sights.  The ten-year anniversary of my mother’s death had just passed and although I was happily living in Boston, surrounded by great friends, something was off. I was at a place in my life where I was searching for something.  I didn’t really know what that ‘something’ was but I was pretty sure I would find it in Colorado.

Before leaving, I not only decided on the places I needed to see on my trip, I also decided on the things I must accomplish. The first thing that I needed to do was find a very special place with a babbling brook where I could sit on a rock and listen to the sounds I was sure would help me find the “something” I was looking for.


                                                 Me and my babbling brook, Colorado 1997

The second thing I was determined to do while there, was to finally get the tattoo (my first) of a “tribal seagull,” inspired by the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Before my trip, my good friend, Leah gifted me a special journal with an inspirational dedication page that featured the sketch she had drawn of my tattoo. It was before the time of Google, so I flew west, not knowing where I was going to get this meaningful ink.  However, I did know that like my babbling brook, I would find it and it would bring me closer to the “something” I needed to discover.

After many days witnessing the beauty of Colorado, I finally found my babbling brook. One of my traveling companions snapped the shot you see above and then left me to sit, think, and listen to the sounds I so needed to hear.  When they picked me up later that day, my friend, Eric was carrying a local paper with an ad for a tattoo parlor called Bolder Ink in Boulder, which was the next town we would be visiting.


The following day, journal in hand, the cutest tattoo artist you ever saw tattooed my tribal seagull on my right hip.  Placement of a tattoo is very personal.  For me, the most important thing was that I would be able to see my tattoo, since it was for me and no one else.  Once it was finished, I looked down and smiled.  It was as if my feathered friend had always been there.  Both this bird and my visit to the babbling brook brought me peace and gave me the “something” that I needed…something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  I returned to Boston refreshed, energized, and content.

Just this past April, I celebrated my 45th birthday by taking a trip to visit friends in London and Paris and by getting my second tattoo.  After a difficult stretch of years that included the loss of my sister and my divorce, I had to again begin the search for the “something” I needed to bring me back to life again.


The twelve days spent abroad were incredible.  The places I visited and people I met, were like the soothing sights and sounds of the babbling brook I had found in Colorado twenty years before.

Those who love to travel will understand when I share David Mitchell’s quote, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” There is so much beauty in our lives, yet sometimes one must travel far enough away from it to really appreciate it.  Somehow, visiting new places and meeting new people is just the refocusing tool needed to return to your own life with the “something” you need to be happy.

After returning from my trip, I knew exactly what tattoo I needed to get–a lotus flower. It was the perfect symbol to remind me of all the beauty in the world that persists no matter how difficult life may get.


I will always love to travel and dream of going many more places in this great big world.  But for the times when I cannot get away, I will just look down at my wrist with that perfectly beautiful lotus flower and know that the “something” I need is right there within me.


                  My lotus flower tattoo and an important message I need to remind myself often

Peace and love ☺♥