Saturday, October 26, 2019

Live Wholeheartedly!

   I want to tell you about a friend I met during my travels. He is representative of so very many of us who cling to a secret dream which we keep hidden, coveting it like a forbidden lover, allowing it to tug at our heartstrings since our earliest memories.

My friend, whom I will call The Dreamer, revealed to me in an email his passion to travel. The Dreamer’s words resounded with me. His voice echoed that of the majority of folks  whom I’ve encountered over the years.

 “You impress the ever-lovin daylights out of me.  At some point in whatever life I have left I would love to do what you are doing…There’s something about staying in place and traveling out on occasion …but then there’s the hitting the road thing that you’re doing which is pretty amazing.”

Many have confessed to me the dreams they’ve nourished, but none as poignantly as my Dreamer friend.

 Traveling exposes the beauty of the universe and the goodness of people. Traveling inspires the spirit. Experiencing new perspectives allows us to connect with our world and humanity in a magical and delightful way.

Through the bit of life that I have left , I yearn to be a beacon of hope for others and a tantalizing example of the possibilities lying ahead. 

 Whatever your unique dream may be, no matter how unreachable it may seem, I hope my words and my experiences will light up your courage and inspire you to take the leap and …


Afraid you will fail?  Afraid someone will break your heart? Are you scared and sweating bullets? Are friends and family begging you to play it safe? Should you settle for less and travel their journey instead of your own?

In life there will always be risks and detours, but for me, I would rather die from the fear of reaching for my dream than die from a slow and imminent death forever  wondering, “What if?”  

 Oh the joy and the rapture you will experience ….

….  if my Dreamer friend, you  venture out of the parking lot!
Use your time and journey to their fullest!!  

Magic will happen!

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.


Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Safe travels!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Good Stories or Bad Stories. Hard To Tell.

Our lives are a series of stories, as well as stories within stories which are good or bad. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
After  a great time at the book signing at  Clayville Fall Festival in Pleasant Plains, Illinois 
and also  visiting my dear high school friends Kathy Jamerison and Sharon Stillwagon last week  in Springfield, Illinois, I had to say good bye and move on down the road. Good or bad, it’s hard to say.

My adventures in this crazy universe, whether planned or off the cuff, whether   positive or negative, make for a multitude of stories, which are good or bad. It’s hard to say.

I believe the universe takes charge and sets the best path for me, once I express my desires. (I think this is good.) So, I cruised  south on I-57 headed for  some quality writing  time in Shawnee National Forest and  to  tour The Garden of the Gods .

When I reached my Lake Glendale  campsite in the Shawnee National Forest I discovered a text from   my friends Sally “Edwards” Warnick and her husband, Michael, whom I had met last year as camp hosts at Giant City State Park  near Carbondale, Illinois. Their text messaged asked,  “Were you traveling south on I-57 two hours ago? ” 

Small world. (This is good.) So, the universe opened up a campsite for them here at Lake Glendale and we’ve spent the last several days catching up. As new homeowners in the area Sally and Michael  became my tour guides.

If you follow my blogs, you already know I look on the bright side and try to see only the goodness in world in which we live. This adventure became not just friends sharing nature’s beauty, it is also became a tale of discovering the beauty of human beings.  

As we drove through the pastoral farmland of Southern Illinois we discovered many small overlooked towns, whose values and community spirit are the glue which holds our country together. Like the courthouse in Golconda, Illinois  

How about Marion, Illinois? Be sure to stop by the Southern Illinois  Mercantile in Marion , Illinois. Check out their Facebook page.  The owners Tanya and Ellen are examples of small-town living.  Not only is the Mercantile a shop that you can spend hours exploring local made crafts and antiques and books by local authors  they have melt-in-your-mouth  homemade ice cream too. But more importantly, They are huge supporters and  volunteers for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois  They have raised so much interest and support they are sponsoring TWO   Honor flights next year.  Way to go Tanya and Ellen  and Marion. Illinois!!

The small village of Elizabethtown, known to the locals as E-town, charmed us into have lunch at the E-Town River Restaurant.  Michael indulged in fish which is  caught daily from the Ohio River while Sally and I preferred fully loaded with all the fixin' hamburgers.  After lunch we proceeded on with our tour.   (All is good.)

Cave In Rock Cave In Rock State Park states,  “Few natural formations are as awe-inspiring or intriguing as a cave. The deep, dark recesses immediately conjure up images of adventure and mystery.” And so true.

So many folks insisted that that I visit  The Garden of the Gods. "It is a “must see,” they said and it didn’t disappoint. The views of Southern Illinois were spectacular.

 Camel Rock at The Garden of the Gods.

After oohing and awing at the vistas and The Camel Rock formation, we began our short hike down the path back to the truck.

A young girl, her hair braided and wearing a red-white- and blue bandana as a headband hiked up the path, toward us as I announced to Michael and Sally, “I would like to ride a camel someday.”  

The girl’s male companion whose headband matched hers, followed close behind. From their Harley attire I guessed they  were touring southern Illinois on their Harleys.
As she passed, she looked at me and announced, “I had an affair.” 

I swung around meeting her gaze. (That's bad, I thought.) Her male companion, too, had stopped, and was staring at her as if she had gone mad. Surely, she was joking.

“You did?" I asked. " And why are you telling me you had an affair?” I glanced at her husband or boyfriend who still stood,  his mouth agape, waiting  her answer.

Her eyes darted from me to him. She seemed as startled as everyone, but  then burst into laughter.   “Nooo!!  I said, ‘I did at a fair!’”  She waited, studying our faces. “I rode a camel … at  –  a – fair!”

Relief washed over the young man’s face and we all exploded with laughter. (This is good, I thought.) We talked a few moments and I reached in my back-jean pocket for my wallet to give them my business card.

My merriment switched to panic.
My wallet was gone!

(This is definitely bad.) Hoping it came out of my pocket in the truck, I hurried back to the parking lot. My mind insisted on jumping to the worst-case scenarios -- I could have lost it on the trail or at Cave In Rock or in the bathroom at the diner.  So many possibilities.  (This is bad.)We called the restaurant.

My wallet was there. (This was definitely  good.)

After I had used the bathroom in the restaurant, the right woman, at the right time  used the bathroom after me. She discovered my  wallet and had  turned it in.

Thanking all you folks at the E-Town River Restaurant in Elizabethtown,  Illinois

And thank you my good friends, Michael and Sally 'Edwards' Warnick for your wonderful hospitality.

 Life is good and people are good.

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.


Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Safe travels!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

An Hour? A Mile? What's The Difference?

I find a place like this when  I feel like a misfit. When I doubt who I am and where I am going, I
come here. Not specifically the Shawnee National Forest, but an environment  like this.
I seek out a safe place where there  is no judgement.

 This is the energy of just being.
 Can you feel it?  


Notice how the trees unite as a forest and the minnows swimming in the lake come together as schools, while the birds, with their swooping gracefulness, form flocks that shadow the sky. Each group exists, committed100% to just being what they are.


The bird does not expect the tree to fly and minnow has no desire to reach it fins up to the sky. Instead, because of just "being," the results of their unison have created a magical  union of beauty, shelter, song and sustenance for one another Did this happen in an hour or within a mile?

What do you see when you look out your window? 

  Unplug. Give yourself back to your beginnings, like the trees,  the waters,  and fowl have done.  
  Go back to a time when you were just striving to be a child, learning to walk, to explore and you enjoyed the wide world that surrounded you.  There were no words in your vocabulary like shouldn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t.  Lke this scene in all its glory, you were just a beautiful, one-of-a-kind being, curious and accepting of all that the world offered.

What good does it do, you ask?

 Sometimes it is good to remember where we have come from.  
We were once like the saplings in the forest, small and vulnerable, struggling to  become what they are meant to be.   If we slow down, we will notice that the saplings grow taller, wider and better. They strive to reach their purpose, stretching and swaying in the winds, just  as we must learn to do during our strife.

Through the harsh winter the forest donates its leaves to shelter the less hardy vegetation lying at its roots.  With total faith, the trees bare themselves, offering their abundance in a fanfare of rainbow colors, unaware of the lesser plants’ promise to return favor with the kindness of nourishment which the trees will need in spring. 

 The Mississippi River, at its’ widest it is eleven miles wide. Its waters flow over 2300 miles, through 31 states while hundreds of tributaries, including the Ohio and Missouri rivers contribute to the Mississippi’s mightiness.


Does this historic ever flowing entity with its millions of raindrops realize what its future involves? Does it  understand its potential?  I don’t think so. I believe the river has become supreme because of her unquestioning faith and belief in  its process as each raindrop, each tributary and river contributes to her being --- one hour , one mile and one state at a time. 


And yet I walked across this mighty body of water which rages so strongly at times, that its massive power wipes  out cities and towns in its wake.

How is that possible? 

  I went back to the river's beginnings at Lake Itasca, Minnesota.  Here she  is shallow and only twenty feet wide. We all have humble beginnings.

In my journey I want to strive to become like the forests and the mountains and  the Mighty Mississippi. I want to believe and trust that during  this one hour and this one mile  that all the people I encounter and the  places  which offer their  influence --- all a part of  a  beautiful, inspirational picture that is more wonderous than  I can imagine.

One hour? 
One mile? 

Use your time and journey to their fullest!!  

Magic will happen!

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.


Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Safe travels!