My Cat, Zeus, the Road Warrior

Zeus, the tree climber

Like Steinbeck with his dog, Charley, Jim and I were fortunate to have Zeus, a traveling cat – not just a cat who tolerated traveling, but who seemed to even love it, more than I did at times.

In California, I never took my cats with me on vacations, or even on road trips.  I always called up a friend, and later a pet sitter to keep an eye on my cats while I was away.  I didn’t think of bringing them with me because I usually stayed in hotels or resorts that didn’t allow pets.  I didn’t realize how many people traveled in RVs so that they could bring along their pets on summer vacations and week-end getaways.

When Jim and I finally sold out home in California in June 2014, we decided to drive back to Massachusetts, and take Zeus on his first major road trip.  We had taken him away for a long week-end once, and he seemed to do well.  But driving cross-country was the big test.  Zeus did better than I could have ever imagined.

Since December, 2014, we’ve been traveling full-time around the country with Zeus. Most of the time, he quietly sits on my lap, or on the back seat in the truck, only getting antsy when he needs to eat or take a bathroom break.  I even get out his leash, and walk him at rest areas if he wants to go outside.  At most campsites, Zeus can’t wait to get out and sniff around just like all the dogs we see at the campgrounds.

Eventually, we have seen other cats.  But most of the time, they stay in their RVs, and sleep in the big windows of their Class A Mobile homes, or peek out of windows in the Airstreams.  Zeus also has claimed his favorite spots in our RV – sitting atop his scratching post next to the dining room table, or on the back of the recliners, and even in the cubbyholes of the RV.  He likes to try new spots so that he can have different views of the outdoors.  Of course, the outdoors is his favorite spot.

Zeus on his perch at Holiday Hills

At first, Zeus didn’t mind moving around every week, or two.  But by the end of our first grand circle of the country, he started to grow tired of the constant moving.  I could usually tell by when he’s sleeping on the bed, and opens one eye in the morning, and gives me a look on moving day:  “Like you gotta be kidding!  We’re moving again.  Didn’t we just get here?”

Now, we’ve been staying in more places longer which gives him a chance to really get to know the campground even if the neighbors and their pets keep changing.  At each campground where he’s stayed longer, Zeus has created his walking routine which varies slightly, but most of the time, he checks out the same spots, usually ending up on the picnic table, waiting for a brushing.  I guess cats are also creatures of habit.  Right now, as I write about Zeus, he’s waiting for his nightly walk.  Morning and night, and sometimes mid-day, he ventures out, ready to see the new arrivals at the campground, and to check out the local birds.

Zeus’ presence on this journey around the country has been a calming influence at times, and comforting when I’ve been moving around so much.  His constant loving attention has been reassuring especially when I left behind many of those creature comforts that make up a home.  Living more simply was one thing, but living without Zeus was never an option.  He’s made the trip more entertaining even with his challenging moments.   Zeus began this trip at age 14, and is still going strong at 16.   I’m hopeful that Zeus will be with us into his 20’s.   Traveling wouldn’t be the same without him.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

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Saltwater in my Blood

Jack Conway - Two

(The view of the Weweantic River in Wareham, Massachusetts.)

As I traveled towards the middle of the country, I followed the highway in my Rand McNally Road Atlas, loving the big picture view of my trip.  When I opened the page to the map of the whole country, the town of Junction City, Kansas was literally in the fold of the map.  I traveled there to check out an RV that was on my husband’s wish list.   

Entering Kansas, Jim and I drove on a meandering road that went up and down over small hills with cornfields unraveling off into the distance.  We were visiting Horizon, a specialty RV manufacturer that only made custom mobile homes.  The company was near Junction City, Kansas.  After our tour of the plant and checking out a couple of used mobile homes, we went out to dinner in town.  It was a college town so there were several restaurants and bars, more than I would have expected.  But the whole time I was there, smack in the middle of the country, I had a claustrophobic feeling that the ocean was too far away.  I haven’t always lived near the ocean, but in the Gold country of California, I could get to the San Francisco Bay in a couple of hours. 

Staying in the middle of the country made me realize that I really needed to be closer to the ocean.  When you’ve grown up in a place like Cape Cod, it’s challenging to live without all those bays and beaches that line the New England coast.  Away from the ocean, I always did feel like a fish out of water which makes sense with a name like Fisher. 

My Father, Donald Fisher, grew up literally on the water with the high tide washing up under his house in Spile City in Onset, Massachusetts.  This ramshackle collection of homes was named for the piers that they perched on alongside Broad Cove, leading to Dummy Bridge.  Another curious name which described the dummy cars that once ran along that bridge.   

The seacoast village of Onset was part of Wareham which is considered the Gateway to Cape Cod.  Later, I found an old magazine called, The Compass which wrote about a stone marker that had been placed in 1739 on the border of West Wareham and Rochester, MA.  This stone rock engraved with the words, Cape Cod, marked the true beginning of Cape Cod where the soil turned sandy, and the scrub pine trees popped up, replacing the taller pines. Of course, this marker came along long before the Cape Cod Canal which was a man-made division for the Cape, and obviously not the original beginning of Cape Cod.   I wish I had found this magazine earlier when I was in college, and one of those “summer people” on Cape Cod told me that Wareham wasn’t part of Cape Cod.  Now, I could share this bit of history with her.   

My Mother, Doris Fisher, also came from Cape Cod, having grown up in West Wareham and Rochester as a young girl.  Her childhood home literally sat on the border of the two towns, where you could cross the street and be in Rochester, or cross back, and be in West Wareham.  Even though she had grown up that close to the ocean, she hadn’t spent a lot of time at the beach.  Her parents both had to work to make a living, and my Mom was left in charge of her siblings to make sure they did housework as well as homework.  Her childhood wasn’t a carefree time at the beach like my Dad who called his childhood in Onset like “living in one big playground.”  His life wasn’t idyllic either, having lost his Mom when he was not even two, and losing his own Dad in a sense since he wasn’t around a lot.  Lucky for my Dad, his grandparents raised him well even if they did give him a great deal of freedom as a boy.   

My Father, shared that love of the outdoors and the ocean with his three daughters.  And truth be told, I do believe I inherited saltwater in my blood.

That’s why, my dream is to spend the summer and fall on Cape Cod.  Living near the ocean once again would be like heaven for me. 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

 

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Traveling with Steinbeck

Walking Zeus in Fort Pierce, FL

In the midst of my journey around the country, I discovered John Steinbeck’s book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America about his own trip with his faithful dog around the United States.  Like Steinbeck, I also have companions on my journey, my husband, Jim, and my only cat, Zeus.

In his late 50’s, Steinbeck decided he wanted to take a trip around the country to see the America up close that he wrote about so often in his novels.  He felt like he was out of touch with the country, and wanted to explore the different regions, climates, terrains, and re-connect with the people.  In order to not have people recognize him by his name, Steinbeck decided to not stay in motels, but to travel the back roads in a camper.  So he had a custom camper built on the back of a brand-new truck – his own personal turtle shell.    He outfitted it with all the basics and more – a double bed, a four burner stove, a heater, refrigerator, a chemical toilet, and lots of storage.  The storage cabinets overflowed with all the items he thought he might need including tools, emergency food, writing supplies, reference books, all those books that he meant to read, and on and on.  Like most people who travel this way, he overloaded the camper, taxing his truck.

What I found most interesting was when he began his journey.  Steinbeck writes that he planned to take this trip right after Labor Day in September.  He thought it would be a quieter time to travel with all the children back in school and their parents back to work.  But that year, his trip was delayed due to a hurricane.  Staying in what he called “his little fishing place” on Long Island, New York, Steinbeck ended up experiencing the brunt of this hurricane.  Almost losing his favorite sailboat named after his current wife, Fayre Eleyne.  Luckily, Steinbeck and his family along with the sailboat survived the storm, and he decided to still head out on the trip in late September.  The hurricane happened to be named Donna, and took place the month of September that I was born in 1960.

Steinbeck wrote about driving north from New York to Massachusetts, visiting one of his sons at a prep school.  He may even have driven close to the Cape Cod hospital where my family celebrated my arrival.  I found the coincidence intriguing.  There Steinbeck was, heading out on his journey around the country.  And I was just beginning my journey on the earth, named Donna.  Not for the hurricane, but named after my Dad, Donald Herbert Fisher.

And now, here I am, writing about my trip around the country, taking the reverse route of Steinbeck’s trip.  He traveled north, taking the northern route across the United States, and circling back through the south, and arriving home in New York City.   I left Cape Cod in December of 2014 heading south, and making a big circle around the country, and returning to Cape Cod in September, 2015 before heading out again on the road in November, 2015.  Steinbeck left in late September 1960, but his trip was barely three months, returning just before the Christmas holiday.   He didn’t spend as much time in each area of the country, but he did seek out his favorite spots.  His goal was also to spend more time talking to people along the way.   While I was more interested in catching up with family and friends along the route while visiting the national parks, and savoring more of the natural beauty of the country.

We had different goals for our circular route of America.  But I still find it amazing that I made this trip in my 50’s as well.  Steinbeck felt a need to do this journey on his own – perhaps to prove to himself that he wasn’t too old for solo adventures.

I have traveled with my husband, Jim, and our devoted cat, Zeus who was as great a traveling companion as Steinbeck’s dog, Charley.  Maybe even more so because Zeus left his home in California more than two years ago.  Since then, he has endured over 18,000 miles of riding in the truck (while we traveled over 30,000 miles), and has lived through various climates all around the country.  Zeus survived a close call with a tornado, a hail storm, numerous rain storms, a brief snow squall and lots of sunshine on the road.  He may not have been the ambassador dog like Charley, greeting people on the road.  But Zeus does attract a lot of attention, walking on his leash as he explores river banks, woodland paths, and sandy beaches.  It seems many people haven’t seen a cat walk on a leash with such ease and grace as Zeus.

Now with the arrival of summer, I notice more families at the campgrounds, showing up with their campers piled high with their toys of boats, bikes, fishing poles, inner tubes and on and on.  They set up their campsite, and kick back and enjoy their summer vacation.  For me, it’s a different experience.  I’m not on vacation from a 9 – 5 job.  This is my life – living full-time in an RV, and traveling around.  This is my home where I write, watch television, surf the internet, cook meals, walk the cat and still take time to enjoy the camping lifestyle.

This summer has been different with Jim working as the Camp Host for the Holiday Hills RV Park in Utah.  We are staying in one campground with some responsibilities – the main one being to stay put in one place, and be on call the days that Jim is working.  Being a responsible person, Jim still maintains the work ethics of his corporate career.  He may begin work a little later, but then he’s available some nights until 10 pm, putting in 12 hour days.  I have to remind him to take breaks throughout the day, and that he doesn’t need to work so hard.  It’s funny how some habits are hard to break.  By Labor Day, I think we’ll both be ready to head out on the open highway again which is right outside our door.  We’ll be back to exploring and living the full-time RV life.

And yet, I can sense a new beginning on the distant horizon.  We’ve met some people who have been living the full time RV life for years, but they also seem to have favorite places that they return to as well as visiting family and friends around the country.  I imagine the new beginning will come into focus when our time at the campground nears its end.  It always seems to involve going through at least one ending before the new beginning shows its face.   And so the journey continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Time to Reflect

RV Desk in Coalville, Utah

From the window of my Bighorn RV, I can see cars, tractor trailers, and other mobile homes flashing by on Highway 80, heading East and West across this great expanse of a country.  I’ve driven parts of that highway from California, and all the way to the east coast.  I know the small towns that sit alongside that freeway. I am in one of those small towns now, just for the summer – Holiday Hills, a truck stop RV park where people camp for one night on their way to one of the national parks; or spend the week-end, escaping their lives in the city for a quiet respite by the river.

Now, I sit, gazing out at all those vehicles passing by.   These past two years, I’ve been on so many highways that sometimes I still sway back and forth like a person who gets off a ship after a long sea journey.  For now, I am staying put in the Holiday Hills in Utah for the summer, with only short drives on 80.  As much as I relish the time being in one place, I also like knowing that the highway is right outside my door.  If I miss life on the road, I can jump in my car, and head east for Wyoming, or west for the bigger cities of Park City and Salt Lake City.  I could also drive right back to my old hometown of Grass Valley, California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

If anyone had told me that after all these months I would still be traveling around the country, I would have thought they were crazy.  And yet, here I am two years after selling my California dream home, living in an RV which has become my only home with my husband, Jim, and our traveling cat, Zeus.

I still miss my California home – a sprawling contemporary house with loads of windows, and a redwood deck all across the back of the house.  The cathedral ceilings in the house, and the view of the foothills in the distance, fed my desire for lofty places.  In that home, I wrote two books, and had a home-based counseling practice for seven years.

What I miss most is my dream office that Jim helped me to create in that home.  After walking through the mahogany front door, French doors opened to the left into my office.  My oak desk faced a wall with book shelves all around me.  A cozy gas fireplace warmed the space on chilly winter days.   A table for two sat by the arched window for intimate astrology and tarot card readings while a plush recliner invited clients to reflect on their current lives or take past life journeys.

In my current Bighorn RV, I’ve re-created a sacred space for my work.  I have a walnut-stained wooden desk perched in front of double windows with a corner window by my side.  The view outside my window is a changing landscape even when I am stationary. There are mobile homes coming and going, and trucks sliding up to the gas pumps, or parking for a longer break at the Best Western next door.  On my desk, I have some of my favorite objects – a crystal, faceted heart that a friend gave me when I published my book on the Type Four, the Romantic along with a simple framed quote from another friend encircled with purple Irises, reminding me of the value of friendship and my love for those stately purple flowers.  A gold-framed photograph captures the underwater beauty of a nude woman floating in a sea of purple with a swirl of gold embracing her.  The picture is entitled, “Lost Equilibrium” – an apt description of my time on the road.

Being an astrologer and a Libra, I am well aware of my need for a sense of balance in my life. In the past, I treasured my daily routine, and the peaceful harmony that I created in my home sanctuary.   Since beginning this journey around the country, I have found my equilibrium tested in so many ways.

My daily life has become more like an improvisational jazz piece zigzagging in all directions.  As I try to keep some of my comforting routines of meditation, reading inspirational books, journaling and daily exercise; I find myself, having to relinquish one or all of these grounding habits of mine.  Depending on the day, whether it was a travel day, or one of those one night stops, I might only be able to fit in one or two daily rituals. In this life on the road, I have cut down to the barebones of what is really important as far as rituals, and also in material possessions.

A gifted writer and spiritual teacher, Meghan Don wrote recently in her newsletter about her own experience with the ownership of the material in this life.

Meghan Don wrote, “Over the last couple of weeks I have been shown that nothing I own is mine, nothing at all. They are all as divine gifts coming and going as are needed. There is no need for grasping onto, nor fearing their replacement if they are let go. Even with all my traveling and having so few material possessions I have noticed a very subtle attachment to a small portion of my life – maintaining an independence apart from my divine nature – and ultimately keeping it in another compartment that “I” manage!

I have always known the flow of the divine energy in my life, and that everything came from this divine flow, but somehow there was still this little part that had claimed ownership of certain things given.”

I can relate to what Meghan is writing about, having given up so many material possessions when I left California, and again in Massachusetts.  At first, I felt the loss of all those objects especially all of my books, and then I began to realize that I had read all of those books.  I had experienced the wisdom of all those books, and that I really only needed a chosen few to take with me on the road.  The rest of the books, I sold, donated or gifted to others.  The material will always come and go.  The material is only energy that flows in and out of our lives.  If we’re not attached to those things, we do get to experience them as gifts when they do show up when they are needed.

I love how Meghan ended her newsletter with the thought, “We are all wealthy in so many ways, and perhaps most of all when we remember that we too ‘belong’ to the divine. May we bask in this knowledge and allow all gifts of every spiritual and material nature to come our way, resisting all urges to make them ‘mine.’”   Thanks Meghan for sharing those thoughts.

When her new book, The New Divine Feminine: Spiritual Evolution for A Woman’s Soul comes out in August, I will enjoy reading it, and then passing along the wisdom to others.  (If you’d like to pre-order a copy, go to Amazon.com.)

May you savor the many gifts that come your way this Summer.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Small Town and Big City Lifestyles in Utah

Holiday Hills in Coalville, Utah

When I drove away from my home in Grass Valley, California in June, 2014, I never envisioned that I would be living the life of a gypsy.  For 10 years, I had lived in Grass Valley, and letting go of that home was only the beginning of a series of letting go’s that led me to my Bighorn RV and my tiny home lifestyle on the road.

This coming June, I will have lived in my Bighorn RV on the road for 1 ½ years which doesn’t sound long especially when I remember all the places I’ve visited, and the experiences I’ve had.  All those memories could easily have taken place in just one lifetime.

I wouldn’t say that I am an expert at living on the road, but I have experienced enough to write a travel memoir.  That is going to be my summer project while my husband, Jim has his first job on the road as a Camp Host for the Holiday Hills RV Park in Coalville, Utah.  It’s a small campground, only 40 campsites alongside the Weber River which feeds into nearby Echo Lake.  The campground is surrounded by green hills where cattle and horses roam within the sight of the cross-country Highway 80.

Since arriving here the end of April, I am struck by the contrast of the surrounding communities.  The town of Coalville is tiny compared to the larger surrounding cities of Salt Lake City and Park City.  The downtown of Coalville consists of one Main Street with storefronts, and homes from the turn of the century.  I walked into the Summit Furniture and Mercantile Company, the local general store which was built in 1908, and still run by the same family.  The hardwood floorboards creaked under my feet as I marveled at all the items for sale from groceries to Levi jeans; from Mother’s Day cards to cowboy hats.  The store included a small butcher shop as well as a selection of hardware items.  It truly was a general store.   In town, there are only a couple of family restaurants, and the only chain restaurant that I’ve noticed is Subway.

After my trip to downtown Coalville, I decided to go explore the nearest big city of Park City, Utah where the Winter Olympics in 2002 took place.  Under the looming snow-covered mountains, I entered a whole other world.  Talk about culture shock.  Driving over from my campground, I stepped into a world that reminded me of the San Francisco Bay area.  In one sprawling plaza, there were all the shops, and restaurants that I remember living with in the Bay area.

I stopped at one Starbucks to get a coffee, and experienced the afternoon coffee rush hour.  There were students, mothers with young children, and working people all lined up.  I commented to one young mother about the long line, and she told me that it was always like this in the afternoon – the time in between school being let out, and before all the after-school activities had begun.  She then proceeded to ask her two young children what they wanted for their afternoon snack.  They both got chocolate milks, and then a banana muffin, and a chocolate croissant.  Along with her personal coffee order, I think I heard the Starbucks barista tell her the order total was $20 something.  The young mother then began socializing with all the other mothers who were also waiting in line for their re-fueling for the second half of their day.

After my quiet life in Coalville, I felt like I already had a caffeine buzz even before I sipped my iced mocha.  I was in awe of all the activity, and felt like I had been thrust back into one of my past lives, living in the Bay area.  Then I headed to Whole Foods, not a store that I’ve seen too often on my trip around the country.  Again, I was overwhelmed by all the activity, and by the abundance of healthy choices.  Luckily, I had a shopping list, but I still ended up piling some extra goodies into my shopping cart.  Most people have joked about Whole Foods, and how it takes your whole paycheck to shop there.  I knew I wouldn’t be coming here too often for my groceries, but for only special treats, and healthy alternatives not found anywhere else.

After noticing more stores that reminded me of my days living in California, I headed back to my small town life in Coalville.  Still reeling from the culture shock, I couldn’t believe that Park City was only 25 minutes away from my campground.  Even though the two towns are that close, they are like night and day.

The experience made me wonder how differently groups of people can live who are only a few exits apart on the highway.  And yet, one lifestyle seems to be more affluent, and focused on material consumption; and the other lifestyle, more centered on maintaining a small town atmosphere with friendliness and a slower pace of life.

I am not judging either lifestyle because I have lived in both kinds of places.  I know the incredible benefits that I gained from living in the San Francisco Bay area, and also know the amazing riches that I unearthed, living in the Gold country of California.  Both places were incredible learning experiences for me, and both shaped and molded who I am today.

I just love the diversity of experiences in this great country of the United States, and continue to marvel at all that I’ve seen on my trip around the country.  And so the journey continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Manifesting Tool for Spring

Purple Vineyard

The Eclipse energy this Spring is really amplifying this time period for new beginnings. The Solar Eclipse (New Moon) takes place on March 8, 2016 and the Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon) on March 23, 2016, but you can already feel the energy moving in. The Spring is always the ideal time to plant new seeds which includes your goals for the coming year. The Winter has been a time for reviewing the previous year, and reflecting on what you would like to create next. Now as Spring approaches, it’s time to write down those goals and dreams for the year.

Barbara Hand Clow, a fellow astrologer, created a great method for manifestation. On or near the first day of Spring, she takes her list of dreams that she wants to create for the coming year, and follows the steps below. This year, Spring begins on March 19th/20th as the Sun moves into the sign of Aries, the first sign on the zodiac wheel. These are the best days to release your intentions. If you’re not able to take the time on March 19-20, another good time is the New Moon in Aries on April 7, 2016.

First, take time to be still, and in your quiet contemplation, make a list of three to nine items that you would like to manifest, and state clear timelines and circumstances around these dreams. Be as clear as you can be, and select items that are in your best interest, and that don’t manipulate others such as your desire for a certain person. It is better to describe the partner that you are seeking without asking for a specific person.

Once you have the list, follow the technique below for each item on your list:

1. Place the image of what you want to create in your mind, and be as clear as you can with the time, the conditions, and the changes that would come from having this dream come true. Next, ask yourself the question, “If I could have this dream, would I want it?” Sometimes, you discover that it’s not something that you really desire anymore. In this process, you can clear your mind of what you don’t want, and begin to get clearer about what you really do want in your life right now.

2. Hold the dream in your mind, and do three visualizations of scenes that portray the creation happening in your life. For example, if you are seeking your dream home, envision what it looks like and feels like, and see yourself there in three different ways. Close your eyes, and picture it in your mind’s eye, and hold the image like on a movie screen, and strengthen it visually as much as you can, and then go onto the next scene, and follow the same process.

3. Once you have visualized all three scenes of your chosen dream, then you can choose to speak the words such as “So be it!” or “Manifest on all levels, now!” Follow the same technique with your other dreams, and then place the list in a special place, and allow the dreams to manifest. In a few months, you can look back at the list, and see how far your creations have come. Whenever, you feel stuck, you can get out the list and re-charge it again by following the same technique.

Barbara Hand Clow has practiced this technique for many years. Over the past five years, I have utilized this tool, and have seen many of my dreams manifest including my new lifestyle of living in an RV, traveling and working around the country. This month, I’ll be releasing my intentions in Florida where I am staying until mid-April. I have a few ideas percolating, and know that they will become clearer when I use this technique.

I invite you to give this manifesting tool a chance  You could be quite surprised at how quickly your dreams begin to come true. Blessings on your dreams for 2016-17.
By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road. ♥

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Living in the Four Corners of the U.S.A.

Bryce Canyon Apr 2015

Many Americans have the experience of just living in one region of this great country. Others grow up in one area, and later in life, discover another area through going to college, or through a move for their career. Some lucky people find a place that speaks to their soul.

Julia Cameron, the well-known author of The Artist’s Way books lived in two areas of this country. She had her New York City apartment and her second home for a long time was an adobe house in Taos, New Mexico. She spoke of her home in the Southwest as her heart home – the place that really spoke to her soul. Her New York life was the hub of her work especially where she connected with other creative artists on her musicals, but her home in the Southwest resonated with her spirit.

Once you do move away from the place of your birth, then you do have the opportunity to discover that place that speaks to your soul. For some, it will always be their hometown where they grew up. Having grown up on Cape Cod, I still have a special fondness for the beaches, and the small villages of my childhood. But I have also lived in amazing places in California in the city, and in the country.

Coming from New England, I know many people who haven’t lived further than a couple of hours away from their birth places. They grew up in states where they ended up going to college, finding jobs, and eventually settling down to raise their own families all in the same hometown, or within a few hours of their birth place. Most of my family has followed that path, and it has worked well for them. They have built a strong community of support for themselves including their work, hobbies, churches, and social networks.

At times, I have envied them, having moved away in my 30’s with my husband to live in California. I had to build new networks of friends and colleagues wherever I lived. In my seven years in the San Francisco Bay area, I found that community in my workplace at East West Bookshop, and then again at John F. Kennedy University, the graduate school where I received my counseling degree. When I moved further north to the Gold country of California, I created that community again with my counseling work, and the classes and groups that I participated in over the ten years that I lived there.

Now, I am creating another community, but it seems to be a whole different ballgame this time. For the past 16 months, I have been traveling around the country while living in my Bighorn RV, my version of a tiny home. I have spent a few days to a couple of weeks in all kinds of places around the country with the most time on Cape Cod. But now, I am starting to spend longer periods of time in different parts of the country.

This winter/early spring, I am living in Southern Florida for five months which is the longest time that I have spent in one place in my tiny home. It’s a different experience to have more time to explore an area, and to also set down some roots, however temporary they may be. It also dawned on me that this is the first time that I have lived in this region of the country.

For 30 something years, I lived in the Northeast; and for almost 17 years, I lived in Northern California which some maps consider as part of the Northwest (not something that many residents of Oregon and Washington might agree with.) And now, I am getting to have the opportunity to live in the Southeast.

For five months, I am able to immerse myself in the southern culture which I know is very different from where I grew up, and certainly quite a change from California. If I can remain open-minded, it’s the perfect opportunity to observe the southern lifestyle. Being a writer, it also gives me the chance to really get a feel for the area – the sights and sounds, the scents and tastes, and all the sensations of a new place. As I prepare to write a book about my traveling lifestyle, I am noticing even more of these southern experiences especially since I am only here until mid-April.

The exciting news is that in May, I will be experiencing another stretch of time in another region of this great country – the Southwest. In the middle of spring, Jim and I are going to take our caravan on a trip which now includes my car as well into the Southwest. We’re going to drive straight through the heart of this country, and arrive at our destination for the summer – Utah. Jim has taken on yet another role as a Camp Host for a campground near Park City, Utah. For the summer months, he’ll be greeting campers, and taking care of maintenance for the park while we live there for free. We’ll have the chance to go on some amazing hikes in the mountains around there, and visit some of our friends that live out west.

By the end of this year, I will have lived in the four corners of this country, from Northeast to Northwest, and now, Southeast to Southwest. And who knows what next winter will bring? For now, I am making the most of my time in Southern Florida: enjoying the beaches that stretch on for miles, the palm trees waving in the breeze, and the occasional alligator who shows up in my back yard. It’s all part of the Southeast experience. And so the journey of the tiny home continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road. ♥

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Living Large in a Tiny Home

 

tiny-home-on-wheels-with-retractable-porch

After living over 16 months in my Bighorn RV full-time, I just had the realization that I am living in a tiny home. For months, I have been watching these Tiny House shows on TV as I’ve traveled around the country. I have been fascinated by this growing trend of young couples, families, single professionals and retirees who want to live more simply. Some of them have sold large homes with the desire to have a smaller footprint on the planet. While for others, it’s their first home, and they want to have a home that’s affordable without the large mortgage, and that gives them the flexibility to move their house and travel with their house as well.

On most of these shows, the people are shown three different tiny homes, and have to decide which one they most would like to live in. At first, the homes were more wooden structures with porches, decks, and even window boxes, all on wheels. Now, the families, couples and singles are being shown different options such as a smaller home which is a more of a permanent structure on a cement slab, a mobile home such as the kind in the mobile home parks; and lastly, even house boats which can be moved around, or kept tied up at a pier.

When I saw all these different tiny home options, it hit me that I am living in a tiny home. My Bighorn RV is about 400 square feet, and is self-contained like a tiny house, and also very mobile with its own set of wheels, and easily moved by a good size truck. I also went through the downsizing process of selling a home which was almost 2,000 square feet including all those amenities that I had grown accustomed to over the years.

Now, that I am living in my version of a tiny house, I have discovered more of the benefits of living simply especially in an RV which can move with me wherever I may want to go. It’s also a lot more energy efficient because you can move to different areas to save on heating fuel in the winter, and then in the summer, move to save on the energy cost of running air conditioning. If that’s not possible with your job, you can also utilize solar panels as well to reduce your energy costs.

It’s been inspiring to see the trend of tiny homes across the country, and to see how these homes are showing up in all areas from cities to rural towns; and from on the road, to being part of more established communities. It gives me hope that more people are choosing a simpler lifestyle. I am imagining that more tiny home co-housing communities will be set up as another way to save money, living within a community. The possibilities are endless for the different ways that we can live with less.

Recently, I watched a very uplifting film called, “I AM” by Tom Shadyac, a Hollywood movie director who made a huge life change after a health crisis. The movie addressed the questions that Shadyac wanted to ask some of the most remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia, and faith: What’s wrong with our world? and What can we do to make it better? After speaking with all these people, he began to see some themes in their words – how they all spoke of humanity being inter-connected with all of life on the planet; and how empathy and compassion are really intrinsic qualities of humans; and how, it all comes down to Love. Shadyac commented, “My hope is that I AM is a window into Truth, a glimpse into the miracle, the mystery and magic of who we really are, and of the basic nature of the connection and unity of all things.”

In the movie, Shadyac also addressed the materialism and super-consumerism of the American culture. Most of the people he interviewed commented on this phenomena of seeking happiness through the accumulation of stuff, and how to change the focus from buying more stuff to living life to the fullest. By the end of the movie, Shadyac gave up his Hollywood lifestyle. He sold his 17,000 square foot estate with three homes, and downsized to a mobile home park in California. He gave up his private jet, and commuted by bike to work. In a short amount of time, Shadyac created a whole new way of living more simply.

After watching that movie, I wondered how many other people could give up those expensive lifestyles, which have kept them tied to jobs that they no longer enjoy. I wondered how many other people could downsize from a mini-mansion to a tiny home. The tiny home trend could help many people experience the American dream of owning their own home. Many people have lost their homes since 2008, but perhaps, it’s time to pursue a new lifestyle – one that is more focused on living life rather than making excessive amounts of money.

I’m not sure that I will always be living in an RV tiny home. But if I do have another home in my future, it will definitely be a smaller home, with a small carbon footprint to match. As the New Year begins, I invite more people to join me in a commitment to living more simply. It can be a big leap from a large home to a tiny home, but you can always start out first by letting go of stuff through donating, selling, or just giving it away to people who may need what you no longer need. As you lighten your load, you may be surprised at how freeing it is, and before you know it, you too, could be living more simply. Happy New Year to one and all.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road. ♥

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From Below Sea Level to 10,000 Feet – The Depths and Heights of My Cross-country Journey

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Alabama Hills with Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

In my travels around the country, I knew I was going to see many different landscapes and seascapes – from the desert to the mountains, from the cozy harbors of the Atlantic to the expansive beaches along the Pacific. But I really didn’t think of the depths and heights that I would be exploring in this great country. In this month of May, I have seen the lowest point on the North American continent, and also glimpsed the highest point in the contiguous 48 states. Who knew that they were only about 130 miles from each other?!

In the past month since leaving Utah, I have traveled through Nevada and into Southern and Central California. From the mountains and high desert of the Utah national parks, I have traversed into the lower terrain of this country into the arid desert. Never having lived in the desert, and only visiting it a few times, the desert was a new experience for me.

The desert in the spring was likely the most beautiful time to be there. The temperatures were certainly cooler, and the cacti were blooming with their strikingly simple flowers in bright fuchsia and golden yellow. Hiking through washes (riverbeds with no water in them) alongside reddish and golden boulders, I felt like I was in another world at times. Some of the desert landscapes resembled the face of the moon, and others looked like a tempting oasis with all the different vegetation.

At first, I enjoyed the desert hikes around Las Vegas, and then into Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, but then the temperatures began to rise. The days in the 90’s became more common, and the challenges of desert living became more evident. Staying in an RV park near Joshua Tree, I saw the number of people in the park begin to dwindle. The RV park, a winter retreat for many people from the northern states, had a fitness center, indoor pool and spa, and clubhouse. While I was there, they were almost completely empty. It was time to move north again.

After a week, I traveled north by the Mojave Desert, and onto Highway 395 which is also called the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, winding its way through some spectacular scenery with the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains on one side, and the Inyo National Forest on the other side. As I left the desert behind and began to see the mountains, I could feel the shift in my spirit. The mountains had become my other home when I lived in California all those years. I had driven this same route from the north, but never, all the way south.

Now, I would finally discover where this amazing highway began in the desert. I had seen the signs for Death Valley National Park, and knew I had at least one more desert experience in my near future, but I had no idea what this park encompassed. Driving from the west may have led to a more diverse experience. As I traveled towards the park, I rode through hills that then turned into mountains. Driving a winding road through the mountains, I dropped lower and lower into the park, and finally the desert valley opened up before me. After the steep descent into Death Valley, there were windswept sand dunes, golden canyons and salt flats that shimmered like mirages. The temperatures also began to rise. Stopping at one of the visitor centers, they have a permanent, large thermometer outside the door, recording the latest temperature. A perfect picture spot. When I was there in mid-May, the temperature fluctuated from 90 – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I can only imagine what it’s like in July.

Of course, that wasn’t the temperature of the lowest place in the park. Driving further down into the park, you arrive at what is called – Badwater Basin, another salt flat with some puddles, but best known as being the lowest elevation on this continent. At 282 feet below sea level, I had reached a new low point, and didn’t realize how close it was to the highest point in this country.

Staying in Lone Pine, California right off of Highway 395, I was in the town closest to the highest point. After exploring the town and visiting their film history museum and the Alabama Hills where many westerns, easterns, and sci-fi movies have been filmed; I decided to venture up near the highest point in the contiguous forty-eight states – Mount Whitney, a snow-capped peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 14,495 feet.

On a clear morning, it appeared to be a perfect day to drive up near Mt. Whitney for a hike. Driving up a road just outside of town, I traveled higher and higher on switchbacks, lined with rocky cliffs, and purple lupine. That’s when the clouds began to drift across the surrounding peaks. What appeared to be a calm day in the valley turned into a snow squall in the mountains. Snowflakes drifted down onto the windshield of the truck. It looked like I’d have to postpone my mountain hike.

As I crested the peak, the elevation rose to over 10,000 feet and the temperature dropped to the 30s with Mount Whitney hidden by the clouds. It looked like I’d have to turn back, but not before, looking around this mountain top plateau. And who do I spot under some trees? Not the wildlife I expected to see, but some weary hikers, loaded with backpacks. A couple of minutes later, they are loaded in our truck for the ride back to town. It turned out that they were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and ran into the stormy weather so they needed to take a break to warm up and refuel.

With my own travel plans in mind, I had forgotten about the many people who venture out each year to tackle the challenge of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border – over 2,600 miles across the west coast. The hikers usually begin in the spring, and hike all summer, and sometimes into the fall. The trail begins in the desert which I had just left behind, and follows the mountain ranges beginning in central California, and then up through the Northwest. I had no idea that I was also following a similar route with my Bighorn RV. Hearing these three hikers’ tales was enlightening. It was also a good reminder for all the conveniences that I do live with, traveling in an RV with most of the comforts of home. Even with my love of hiking, I don’t think I could take on a challenge like them though I did enjoy hearing about their own adventures. The hikers called us their “PCT Angel” so hopefully, we can help more hikers along the way who need a break from the trail, or a ride back into the mountains.

And so the journey continued up Hwy. 395, arriving at Bridgeport, California – our last stop before heading for our former hometown of Grass Valley. Soon after our arrival in this small town at 4,500 feet, the weather got even colder as much-needed rain and snow came through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

With an on-going drought, any precipitation is a welcome sight. It may have delayed some of my hiking plans, but I managed to see some other sights including Bodie State Historic Park, an old gold rush town that had been preserved in “arrested decay” from when it was abandoned back in the 1940s. The town of Bodie was once a booming town from 1877 – 1881 when about 8,000 people resided there with over 2,000 buildings. Only about 5 percent of the town is left, but it is still a sight to see with some of the remaining homes, stores, dance halls, and even the town jail still standing. In its heyday, Bodie was known as a lawless town with over 60 saloons, dance halls, and brothels. A gunfight leading to a death happened about every other day. You can really feel the Wild West when you’re there, peering through the windows of the homes with their remaining furniture, and the stores with their merchandise on display. It is certainly a sight to see for anyone who wants to discover what gold mining towns used to look like.

Once the storms passed, I headed back into the mountains to do some amazing hikes. Some of the higher elevations still had snow like around Saddlebag Lake, not far from the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite. But one hike into Lundy Canyon was absolutely magical with cascading waterfalls, and trees brilliant with green buds of spring. Hiking through aspen trees, and by beaver damns, and alongside alpine lakes, I could feel the high energy of this outdoor paradise. Climbing rocky paths and crossing rivers, I traveled further into the canyon, spying ribbons of rivers flowing down the high cliffs into spontaneous waterfalls. This one trail made me fall in love with California mountains all over again.

As I head north later this week, I will be driving back to my former hometown of Grass Valley, California where I lived for 10 years. It will be a bittersweet time, seeing my old home, and meeting up with friends. My time there will be exactly a year from when I last lived there. I know it will be a special time for re-connecting with familiar faces and places before I head out on the road again.  And so the journey continues into the Northwest.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2015

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. ♥

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Blessings of the Bighorns

Zion National Park - March, 2015

As I sit writing this blog at the kitchen table of my RV, a gale is blowing outside my window. The trees are doing back bends as families of tumbleweeds fly by. I shouldn’t be surprised. This week, I am living at Willowwind RV Park in Hurricane, Utah.

When I picked this town for the next stop on my journey around the country, I thought the name was kind of interesting for an inland city in the Southwest. Growing up on Cape Cod, I have seen my share of hurricanes make their way up the eastern seaboard. But I was pretty confident that Utah hadn’t experienced a hurricane except maybe in the distant past when all these amazing rock formations were once part of an ancient sea.

Now, I am thinking they knew what they were doing when they chose this name because the winds on this mid-April afternoon are gusting close to some of the hurricanes that I have lived through. I don’t believe that it’s an accident that I ended up arriving in this town on April 11th, the day that would have been my Dad’s 87th birthday.

My Dad and I shared a special connection with hurricanes. As a child, he lived through the 1938 hurricane before they named them for women, and then both sexes. They now call it the Great Hurricane of 1938. In 1938, my Dad was living in the small, seacoast town of Onset on Cape Cod. His home was literally on the water, where the high tides washed underneath his front porch. When that 1938 hurricane arrived with no warning from any news agency at the time because they never thought it would sweep all the way up the coast to New England; it was a balmy, September afternoon which slowly became stormier and stormier.

At the time, my Dad lived with his grandparents, and eventually they all had to leave their home by the sea. His grandparents left in a rowboat with their grandson, Sonny at the helm, steering them to higher ground. My Dad was rescued from a fence where his cousin and he had taken refuge from the swirling seas. I can remember him telling me how a fine dressed man in a fancy car stopped, and waded through the rising waters to pull them off that fence. I think that man might have been an angel because my Dad’s home was washed away that day by the hurricane.

Over the years, my Dad lived through many hurricanes; and I was born the same month as Hurricane Donna, initiating my heritage tied to hurricanes. Even though some believe I was named for the hurricane, the truth is that I was named for my Dad – Donald Herbert Fisher. Even though my Dad lived his entire life in Onset, Massachusetts, he was a born explorer. He loved the outdoors, and took my family on many adventures around New England, and beyond. He inspired all three of his daughters to travel, and see the world.

I believe it was his love of travel that partly led to my being on this journey around the country. When my husband, Jim, brought up the idea, I could envision going on such a journey. At the time, I just had no idea of how much I would be letting go of before the journey began. Last June, when I drove away from my California home, it was only the beginning of the letting go, and the preparation to living a life on the road.

Now, after almost four months of traveling, I am close to crossing back into California. In March, I moved into the Southwest, and have been following the Grand Circle of scenic parks here. I haven’t seen all of them, but just last week, I completed the Mighty Five of Utah, the words they use to describe the five national parks in Southern Utah which are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. I began with Zion, and I am now ending my time in Utah at the other side of Zion, near Hurricane, Utah.

All five parks have special qualities that are hard to capture in words and pictures. It’s the immensity of the parks, and the abundance of rock formations that capture the imagination. Just when you’ve seen all the rocks you can take in, you’ll glimpse another rock, seeming to grow from the desert in a magnificent coat of colors. One of the explorers who mapped this territory called them a “Wilderness of Rocks.”

On my last day of exploring the Mighty Five, I went to Capitol Reef, a park that I didn’t know a lot about. It’s a remote park, and not as popular in the guidebooks as Arches or Zion, but since I was here, I wanted to see all that Utah had to offer. After an almost two hour drive, I arrived at the quiet entrance of Capitol Reef. The fee of $5.00 even seemed ridiculous since most movies cost more than that these days.

After getting the map of the park, I headed out for a drive to see the scenic viewpoints. They included more amazing displays of rock cliffs that seemed to stretch for miles off into the horizon. The quieter roads, and short hikes at the viewpoints were a welcome change from the crowds at Arches. You could have a scenic viewpoint all to yourself.

After a few scenic vistas, I stopped at one of the old farmhouses in the national park which had once been part of a town called Fruita. The small farming community had been established by Mormons, and they had lived an almost utopian way of life here for many years, sustained by an orchard of fruit and nut trees. At the farmhouse, the national park even sold homemade pies which completely won me over to this park.

There was still one more scenic drive to take so off I went to an area called Capitol Gorge. It turns out that I was literally traveling through a wash which is like an empty riverbed except when it flashfloods. At the end of the drive, you could then take a hike into this gorge with towering rock walls, inscribed with some petroglyphs from Native Americans, and even the signatures of some of the early pioneers with dates back to the 1800’s. The hike in itself was quite memorable, and reading some of the early graffiti was entertaining, but my favorite moment in the park was yet to come.

As I headed back out of the gorge, and back into the wash, the sun was getting lower in the sky. At just about quarter to six, I came upon a couple of cars stopped alongside the road. The people were out, all gazing in one direction, and that’s when I saw them.

I had been asking for a couple of weeks to see one of these mighty animals in their natural setting. It seemed that they were quite shy, and also not as plentiful as the park would have liked. They had been hunted to almost extinction at one time, and had been introduced back into the park in the 1990’s.

As I stepped out of my car, there was the elusive Bighorn sheep, eating the grass near the road. There were three males at different stages of life, all adorned with those amazing horns. As we all stared at these incredible creatures, they stared back at us not that impressed that they had an audience. They didn’t seem threatened by us as long as we all kept our distance. But when a couple more cars came along the road, they began to sense too many people, and headed for the rocky cliffs. With a graceful run, they made their way up the cliff with ease. In a matter of minutes, all you could see was the white of their haunches. And now, I knew why I hadn’t been able to see them before. They all blended into their rocky hide-out.

Now that I am left with the memories of that moment, I feel like I was blessed by the three Bighorns. They blessed my own Bighorn RV, and my own journey around the country. I had been calling the Bighorn, the mascot of my journey, and now, I am grateful to have seen them in the wild. I also have a feeling that my Dad, the Aries ram, had something to do with that special sighting of the Bighorn. And so the journey continues. Onto the Wild West of Nevada and California.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2015

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. ♥

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