Now a castaway on the island of adulthood, ever less sure of rescue, I’m hoping for a few precious moments to regain youthful bliss.

I believe in bliss. However, it has become foreign to me. In our youth something is taken away – our priceless individuality – that part of us which makes us unique and differentiates us from the others. We reluctantly accept maturity and responsibility. We "grow up," and sometimes lose ourselves in the process. Some people are never conscious of what they have lost, but the sense that there is something not quite right remains. We feel the sense of something that is missing.

A part of me asks, "Why are you leaving the comfort of home, friends and family to go out into the unknown alone? Aren’t you afraid?"

I respond, "I have accepted fear as a part of life - especially the fear of change. I will go ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back."

 Another part of me asks, "Why do you have to leave to find what you are looking for?"

I respond, "It isn't about finding oneself by leaving, it's about finding oneself by living. Let me tell you why we’re leaving. We’re leaving because we know something. What we know we can’t explain. It is something we feel. We’ve felt it our whole life. It’s like there’s something just not right with the world we are living in, that there is something we have lost and must find. We don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in our mind, driving us mad. It is this feeling that is calling out to us and will take us away. Do you know what I’m talking about?"

 Some of us do and some don’t.

Leaving is hard. It can be a big sacrifice. I think we always have to leave something behind to recapture our youthful bliss. Perhaps if we start listening to our inner voice, then decide what is really important, and what needs to be left behind we might regain the true treasure. I’ll try not to be afraid to "grow down" if I feel like I've grown up too much.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. I will not cease my search and exploration due to fear. However, I may, at the end of my search, arrive where I started and know the place for the first time. And that may not be so bad.

I’m hoping that my road experiences to come are too fantastic not to tell. In my search I’ll keep in mind that the road I may fear to travel could lead to the treasure that I seek.

Come to the edge!
We can't... we'll fall.
Come to the edge!
We can't... we're afraid.
Come to the edge!
They went...
she pushed them...
and they flew!

See ya... further down the road.

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Pugs and pumpkins.

Happy Halloween! How will you be spending this evening? I will be dodging answering the door (as Halloween masks scare the living daylights out of me) and then no doubt polishing off the leftover sweets.

I love this time of year. Dressing for colder weather is so much easier for me - I love wrapping up warm in lots of layers and dusting off my big coats to give them an outing once again. I love going for walks at this time of year too (although L&L aren't so keen).

The other day I popped on my big Winter coat, a pair of Ugg boots and harnessed the Pugs ready for a long, relaxing walk in the sunshine. This didn't quite go to plan as Lily and Lola's idea of a walk is to shuffle along slowly, sniff everything, go back and sniff the same thing again, and bark at cyclists, cars, buses, etc.

Anyway we did manage to have a good stroll around the neighbourhood, get some fresh air and avoid the swarm of people knocking door-to-door along our street which I spotted on our way out. Bonus!

Lily is obsessed with this plant - can anyone identify it? It's not poisenous I hope?! It sends Lily doolally, she loves it! 

I got home feeling a little chilly but luckily I had a big carton of pumpkin soup waiting for me in the fridge, which I enjoyed with a bit of bread and butter. I'm not sure I've ever had pumpkin soup before but it was very tasty. I'd love to have a go at making my own but I imagine it's a messy ordeal.

That's as far as I've gone with Halloween this year, eating pumpkin soup! How about you?

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As I pack my Freedom Express in preparation for our extended journey I’m reminded of the days I lived as a free spirit. I look back on my life and can still feel the absence of burden on my shoulders, the delight of fishing and hunting for my supper, the friendships of other like-minded people, the relentless energy felt daily, and the knowledge that I had my whole life ahead of me. I think of the past a lot. And I wonder where AnnaLee is hiding.

It is quite true what Philosophy says: that Life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived - forwards. However, I believe that the farther backward you look, the farther forward you are able to see. The sad thing is that you will only understand life once you've lived it, but you have to live it blindfolded.

Sometimes we grow in one dimension and not in another. Unevenly so to speak. We grow partially. We may be mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.

At times it seems that I am living my life backward and with the approach of old age my real youth will begin. My life has covered me with wrinkles... wrinkles that hardships and worries have put there and that I have had the greatest trouble keeping at bay and can never be removed. Along with the visible wrinkles are invisible scars. You can't escape the scars of history, or the needs and neuroses you've picked up along the way.

Living backwards is confusing at first. However, one's memory works both ways. It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards. A walk along with Alice through the looking glass has taught us that.

Chasing the past, I stumbled into the future. I have come to realize that when I am anxious about leaving on a journey it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed because I am going nowhere it is because I am living in the past. Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in-between these two extremes... is peace.

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Packing the coach for extended travel is so different than when I was just going to the beach for a week.  I can't believe how much stuff I have loaded into the basement. 

Today I loaded up all the canned goods and found room for everything inside the coach.  I still have two empty storage compartments on the outside on the driver's side that are empty.   Don't know what I should put in them to even out my load.  I'll bet I'm over my weight limit.  I plugged in the refrigerator so tomorrow I can load the meat and dairy.  Then Tuesday morning we leave for Texas.  My neighbors are coming over tomorrow for a wine and cheese Bon Voyage party.  Monday will be for chilling out and taking care of last minute details.

The folding bike fits nicely.

That little black kitty has recently adopted my house as her own.  She is still pretty wild and won't let me pet her but I feed her daily and she comes when called.  My neighbors will feed her while I'm gone.  They think she is cute and try to catch her but she is too slick for them.  I think she may even be adopted by the time I get back. 

I bathed Xi Shi and bought her a new blue dress.  So she is ready to go.  Every time I take a load into the coach she follows me and sits in her seat as if to say, "Let's go."

The cats know something is up and have taken to sitting at the top of the stairs while I'm going in and out of the house with supplies.  They always know when I'm about to leave for a trip and run and hide under the bed.  They don't like to be caught and carried into the coach but once inside they're fine.

So I've had my doctor's appointment, my dentist appointment, my meds refilled, serviced the coach, bought supplies for a month, and secured the house for the winter.  I'm almost ready to go.  

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Giveaway winners.

Thanks to everybody who entered my giveaway. I will be running something similar very soon so keep your eyes peeled.

A BIG congrats goes to Titiyo for being the first name picked at random, and also to Please may I? and fashion written with a lipstick who win the runner-up prizes. Please email me with your choices. Thanks girls!


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My boyfriend is a World Record holder!

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen my tweets about Jonathan last weekend. Along with some other people from his badminton club he took part in a World Record attempt which involved playing badminton for 29 hours with only a 5 minute break every hour. Phewph! It makes me tired just thinking about it and it certainly made me tired watching. He did so well and they broke the record of 28 hours by playing for 29 hours and 6 seconds.

I had a lovely relaxing weekend which I felt slightly guilty about, so I prepared a few things to welcome Jonathan home including some homemade rocky road and my ever-so-artistic and professional sign. It's the thought that counts right? (The penguin was just my attempt at showing off my new found love for cross stitching which had kept me up till 2am while he was away!)

After I had driven a rather weary and sweaty Jonathan home, he slept for a billion hours, we celebrated with a huge Dominos takeaway and relaxed watching some tv.

Well done Jonathan, I'm so proud!

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Double Decker rocky road.

While Jonathan was away over the weekend playing badminton for 29 hours in a bid to break a Guiness World Record I kept myself busy doing a bit of shopping, crafts and baking. I say baking, no actual baking was required for this yumminess. I wanted to make something quick and easy, but something Jonathan would like as a "well bloody done!" for doing something so brilliant. As Double Deckers are one of his favourite chocolate bars I decided to give Double Decker rocky road a whirl, throw in a few different ingredients and see what happened!

I used a pretty standard recipe from the t'internet for the base using plain chocolate, Golden Syrup, unsalted butter, and caster sugar. I think I would use milk chocolate in future though.

I chopped up a couple of Double Deckers, broke marshmallows and plain digestive biscuits into chunky pieces and added them to my cooled melted chocolate mix. A good stir later and the mixture was popped into a container on a sheet of baking paper, and left in the fridge overnight to set.

Voila! Once I had cut them up and added a sprinkle of icing sugar they were ready to eat. Jonathan loved his rocky road surprise plus they tasted pretty great if I do say so myself (they would be even better with milk chocolate though I think). 

I didn't make a huge batch of these but I did cut them into bite size pieces to last us a little bit longer. They lasted a few days (it's too tempting to have 2 or 3 bitesize pieces in one go that's the problem!) and the last few were the tastiest.

What would you add to your rocky road mix? I am tempted to make another batch!
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You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done.  It is what you haven't done that will torment you.  The message, therefore, is clear.  Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment.  Seize every second of your life and savor it.  Value your present moments.  Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you've lost them forever.
~~ Wayne Dyer

It's never too late to have a happy childhood.
~~ Wayne Dyer

With half of all marriages ending in divorce maybe we need to look at it in a new way.  Here's my way.  Marriage is like a deck of cards.  In the beginning all you need is two hearts and a diamond.  By the end you wish you had a club and a spade.  And it usually ends up with the two of you not playing with a full deck.

With marriage... you've got to have a sense of humor.  Marriage is hard.  I don't know how people do it.

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Rustic Carvings Etsy store (part 2!)

You may remember this blog post where I shared an Etsy store with you called Rustic Carvings. If handmade, eco-friendly products are your cup of tea, or someone you know would like such a thoughtful gift this Christmas, you can't go wrong with an item from this store.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post and everything has been purchased with my own money, but I just think the shop is so awesome it's worth shouting typing about.

What do they say?

Welcome to Rustic Carvings! If you like the imperfection of the world around you, aren’t troubled by the flaws and knots in wood because you see them as giving a piece character and definition, and are interested in unique, personalized gifts, then you’ve come to the right place.

All of my designs are made out of reclaimed or FSC regulated wood. What is reclaimed wood, you say? It’s taking wood that has previously been used, or were scraps from another project, and “recycling” them into something desirable. I call it artwork.

Functional artwork. Rustic. Eco-friendly. Handmade. Character. Reclaimed wood. That’s what you’ll find here.

I originally picked up 4 personalised coasters - one for me, one for Jonathan, and one each for the Pugs (not that they have the need for a resting place for a hot beverage that often) in the style of scrabble letters. Poor old Lily and Lola - they're only worth one point!

Anywhoo, I really wanted a tray to keep our coasters neat and tidy when not in use so I made another order (along with a few Christmas presents which I can't show you for obvious reasons!) and as usual I received brilliant customer service. I was kept up to date on the progress of my order from start to finish, and my rather large order was completed, shipped and received before I knew it!

Thanks again Rustic Carvings, I will certainly be back in the future. Next up I'm thinking some large tiles for a wall decoration?

Happy shopping!
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The beach is my Power Place. The place I go to find peace and tranquility. A place that rejuvenates me. Thankfully, I have lived most of my life along the Gulf Coast.

I believe everyone has a Power Place... a place where we belong on the planet. A place where we feel our strongest physically and mentally. For me, it’s always been the coast.

When I am at the beach looking out to the ocean, I feel at least 20 years younger. I am more at peace with the world than I am at any other location. I am most joyous at the beach. Out there along The Edge of the country is a magical place for all of us to enjoy.

Maybe it’s the salt air, the sound of the waves breaking, the seagulls singing their song, the wind in my hair, the warm sun on my back, the cool water as it washes over my feet, the feel of sand between my toes, or the vastness and power of the ocean. I think it’s all of these and more. Nothing on this planet is as curative as the coast. And it’s free. When you’re on "beach time," everything is go with the flow. No schedules. No rushing. No stress.

It’s essential to my happiness and peace of mind to have access to a coastal environment. The oceans are beautiful and peaceful, strong and majestic, alluring and rejuvenating. Dolphins smile. Pelicans dive. Crabs crawl sideways—how great is that?

Give me a pair of flip flops, my folding chair, my little Shih Tzu by my side, my latest Coastal Living Magazine, fresh seafood for supper, my RV parked nearby with my 2 cats, and happiness rides the sweet breezes. After a while I walk away with a sun-kissed glow on my cheeks and off to have a toast to the shore. Cocktail hour is waiting.

A love letter to the Gulf Coast and Grand Isle, Louisiana:
You’ve seen so much of my life over these many years. You welcomed my mom and dad and me when we visited you when I was a child and especially on my 10th birthday. You taught me how to float when I was 13 and almost drowned when I fell in a deep hole. You gave me a crunchy potato salad but the sand was the best part of our picnic when I was 15. You nourished me and my friends with a wonderful place to play during our teens. You saw my little boy’s first encounter with the sandy beach when he was two. You watched as I drove my VW van loaded with girlfriends into soft sand and got stuck when I was 25. You were the reason I went to work at the State Park so I could be closer to you when I was 30. You gave me many summers to remember throughout my adult life. I even bought a house near you and for a few years I lived with you while in my 50s. We both experienced hurricanes while we were together but we survived. Although I can no longer live with you, I continue to visit you often in my motorhome.

Then when I was 63 you were poisoned on April 20, 2010. You’ve been wronged, sullied, disgraced, and beaten and I want to lie down on your sandy shore and put my arms out and touch your gasping surface to say. "I’m sorry, I’m sorry we did this, that we all did this to you."

I’ll love you always,

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Giveaway: from the Lily loves Lola shop!

I thought it would be a nice idea as my shop is still quite new (and to celebrate the launch of my items on Etsy) to do a small giveaway for the readers of Lily loves Lola. The giveaway will just run until the end of next week, so on Friday 28 October 2011 at midnight it will close and the winners will be chosen. I will pick one overall winner who can pick 3 friendship bracelets of their choice on any colour cotton, and then two other commenters will win 1 bracelet of their choice.

The contest is open internationally so feel free to enter no matter where you're from.

The rules are very simple. Subscribers of my blog can leave a comment below between now and Friday at midnight saying "please enter me" and that's about it!

For an extra couple of entries you can follow my Twitter and my Facebook page and leave seperate comments for each to let me know. But no pressure! If you just want to enter the once, no problemo.

Thanks and good luck!

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Happiness is:

- a new dress

- browsing Not On The High Street for things to fill our new home with

- rainbows in the distance on the way to work

- finding new music that you like, getting the album and loving the whole thing

- eating Krispy Kreme donuts in your pjs

- receiving mail from America

- sitting in traffic with your boyfriend but not really caring coz you're utterly happy and in love

- the weather turning cold enough to put the heating on, wrap up in umpteen layers and cuddle under a Slanket.

You? x
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Much better clarity when taken outdoors.

Playing fetch

Lovely moss

My favorite Oak belongs to the bank.  This is where Xi Shi makes her daily deposit. 

Going back home after our long walk through the fields.

Playing with an app

Candles and a cup of tea.

The back porch

Am I having fun yet?  You bet!

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Found a Speedy Oil Change place that is large enough to take motorhomes and it's only a few blocks from my house.  So I had the oil changed, a new inspection sticker which was due this month, and all fluids checked.  That cost was right at $80.00.

Went to the place where I purchased the new tires last year and asked if they would check my air pressure.  They said no problem and sure enough the back duals were low on air.  They informed me that the front tires need 65 pound of pressure and the back need 80psi.  However, the air stems on the outer tire are not easy to get to and I asked if they could modify the arrangement and they said they could but did not have the parts.  I need to get the parts elsewhere like Camping World and they will install for free.  Sounds great.  Then I will be able to check and inflate my own tires.  Then I went to fill up the gas tank. 

Now the coach is ready to roll and I still have 12 days left before departure.  Loading up on provisions will be the most time consuming chore.  I'm going to try and bring enough for several weeks and that includes my own drinking water as I don't drink out of the faucet.  My freezer can hold a good deal of food and I'll pack lots of can goods.  I think I can make it last for a few weeks before having to find a grocery store.  Not having a toad, I will have to unhook from shore every time I need groceries.  It's a good thing I still have some storage bins on the outside of the coach that are empty.

Played around with my new iPhone today and bought some songs.  The earphones are awesome.  I've taken some photos but not too impressed with the quality.  I'm used to my Nikon D80 with 10.3 megapixels so will just have to settle for less quality in my photos.  After all, it's just a phone... right?

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Paid off my motorhome today.  Mailed a certified check for the balance.  Should get the title in a week or two.  What a relief that is. 

Went to Best Buy to see if I could get someone to fix my cell phone.  It's so old and old fashioned and sometimes would not come on and when it did the screen was scrambled.  So I thought of getting another like it for free from AT&T.  I didn't like the choices I had so I asked to look at iPhones.  Big mistake.  I saw what I wanted right away.  It is a white iPhone 4. 

When I was informed that it was not time for me to get an upgrade and therefore I would have to pay for this phone - I had to think about it for a minute.  That's a lot of money and I don't use my phone much... etc.  Then I asked about the camera.  That is one thing I would use.  How many megapixels did you say?  Eight?  OK, I'll take it.  I opted for the cheapest package at $15 a month.  So for $434.00 I now have upgraded to the almost latest cell phone.  I'm happy. 

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Received the graphics I ordered and had fun decorating the coach.  I really hate those black strips of vinyl that came with the coach and took some off of the back storage compartment.  I don't want to make any drastic changes which might affect the resale value.  The graphics I added can easily be taken off.

I love those flowers.

Some of my favorite sayings.

Of course I had to have a beach scene.

Didn't know where to put the map but inside the door seems just right.


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