A Weekend in the Rockies

Last Saturday, my sons, a friend of my oldest son, and I drove to Estes Park for the day, stayed the night, and returned Sunday afternoon.

One has to reserve a slot in the allotted times available to enter Rocky Mountain National Park for the morning and afternoon hours. This was a new protocol for the park since 2020. Before that, you just entered at one of their entrances by paying for a day pass or week pass. I assume this change was done post-covid/2020 when in 2021, everyone seemed to have flocked to the national parks to enjoy nature and breathe in the fresh air.

Well, I didn’t think to reserve our slot before arriving to Estes Park, so we couldn’t get into the park Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, the hotel clerk where we were booked for the night told me that you can get in free after 6 p.m. At first, when we got there around 1 p.m., I didn’t understand going out that late in the day/into the evening to visit the park. We certainly weren’t going to do the hiking we’d come to do at that slotted time.

So, I googled hiking trails available in Estes Park. There were plenty listed, and we found one to go to that turned out to be free! My son, Christopher, and I went on the shorter hiking trail to the left, while my son, Nicholas, and his friend took the longer, tougher route.

Since I hadn’t hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park since the summer of 2019, and since I’ve been on blood pressure medication since January 2020, I decided to take the easier path and see how I would do.

Well, I did have to acclimate a bit. My heart was beating like a beat box–too fast–and I was a bit lightheaded and out of breath at the beginning of the walk. It took until midway on the path and constant sips of my bottled water to acclimate, the dizziness to be gone, and my heartbeat to be more regular.

In any case, my son and I had a great adventure on the trail. Took lots of pictures, and embraced the nature around us. Here are some of our pictures. The last few with the precious baby chipmunks and Gem Lake are taken by my son, Nicholas, on their trail.

Inviting hiking trail we embarked on!
Longs Peak hidden by the clouds
Cool passageway!
My son actually petted these little critters!
Gem Lake

After our hiking adventures, we waited until 6 p.m. and entered Rocky Mountain National Park for free. The good thing about being there in the evening around that time is that we were likely to see some animals because they usually come out around dawn and dusk to eat.

The first animal we saw was a moose! But he was too far off to get a good picture of him. It was the first moose I’d seen outside the zoo!

The moose!
Elk pretty close up!
Deer
Some flowers we saw on LRT and RMNP

Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are where I go for my little bit of peace in this world. We had a blessed and beautiful short trip. We will go back soon!

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Freedom, Liberation, Self-Respect, & Self-Care

If I were to give advice to my young self, I’d tell her to not rush into a relationship, not put all her hopes and future in a man and what he can do for her. But rather, she is already good enough and whole on her own.

A man doesn’t make her whole. God does.

She’s worth as much as any other human being. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s got a lot going for her.

Why not celebrate herself?

Her individuality?

Her being in the likeness and image of God.

The truth is, my young self wasn’t aware of all that God was. All that He created through my parents’ conceiving. That He loved me more than I ever knew and still do not fully know. I didn’t grow up being taught about the Trinity, Christ’s teachings, the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, even though I was baptized when I was a baby.

Today, I look back on me in my late teens and 20s, and even in my 30s, and it feels like another life. And a lifetime ago.

But if I dig a bit deeper, that woman is still me. The shining light inside my heart and soul is still me. The essence of Dorothy is still Dorothy. And that’s not a bad thing.

While I was going through my divorce over the last year, there was a moment when I approached my jewelry box and spotted a pendant. It’s a gold D with a tiny diamond nestled in the curve of the letter.

It was remarkable that I still had that pendant, considering I wore it when I was as young as seventeen and into my early twenties.

However, when I came back to the church in which I was baptized, I replaced that pendant with a cross, and I’ve worn a cross ever since.

But on that day in the fall of 2020, I slipped that pendant on the same chain as my gold cross and haven’t removed it since. The satisfaction and joy that came over me hasn’t been forgotten. A great moment, even if it seems insignificant to maybe the average person.

It was a type of reclaiming the Dorothy that had been veiled, been suppressed, been nearly snuffed out.

The Dorothy who’d been psychologically, verbally, and spiritually abused for 23 years without any clue she’d been.

The realization came to me via my therapist that I’d started seeing back in August 2020, when I’d separated from my husband because I couldn’t deal with his relentless berating of my sons and me for nearly a year.

It seems he’d escalated in those last months before I’d finally said I’d had enough and was done. I couldn’t do that any longer.

I had shared a string of text messages from January to June 2020 with my therapist. When I reread all that was said, I realized how horrible he’d been to my sons and me. I recognized that on my own, at that point.

However, I also noticed how God was with me throughout all those years. He’d truly helped me through so much.

So I noted this to my therapist. That I noticed the Holy Spirit must have been with me because I’d remained calm throughout those exchanges, trying to assuage him and keep the peace.

Something that seems to be pretty much a basic trait of most women. It seems engrained in us to try and keep the family together.

But I’d not been living in reality.

I was living in a world of how I thought things should be. Not how they actually were.

Infidelity more than once, porn addiction, financial deception, verbal and psychological abuse toward my older son and me.

The feelings of guilt and fear anytime he’d come up into the bedroom when I was there. The sinking feeling of having to be a good, dutiful wife to keep the marriage together.

I thought that’s what God wanted from me.

And He was who I was doing all that I did, for.

I’d been a wife of a military man, taking care of our special needs younger son. A stay-at-home mom for 23 years. Struggling to take care of my two sons.

When my youngest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 13 months old, in order to take care of him, post brain surgery, having acquired a nose tube to eat (he lost his swallowing abilities after the first surgery), and driving him to his therapies twice a week for years, I could not monitor my ex-husband’s bad behavior (opening personal loans without my knowledge, whining he wanted more attention, dealing with his porn problems, and his sporadic infidelities).

I simply had to tune him and his issues out in order for me to cope, to function, to take care of my youngest son, who had the remnants of his brain tumor post surgery (due to that remnant being on his brainstem and couldn’t be removed without losing his life). He was my top priority throughout his childhood.

Unfortunately, my oldest son was unintentionally left feeling unimportant, unloved, and harassed constantly by his father.

But after a huge blow up between him and me on July 31, 2020, I woke from my dissociative state. Realized I didn’t have to live like this. It was okay to care about what I’d been through. About my own hurts and needs.

Since this time, I’ve gained a whole lot of clarity, strength, and see myself as worth much more than I’d thought.

My oldest son has a good therapist that is helping him through his traumas, as well.

Although I mourned the day my divorce was final. I mourned the woman who’d tried so hard to keep it all together. Fought within myself, the woman who didn’t want to be in that situation anymore and the one that said I must. Divorce is wrong. You’ve got to stay the course. Be a good wife.

Well, the woman who didn’t want to continually accept his mistakes, as he called them, won out.

I realized I felt like I’d been his prostitute in a way, via the fact I had no income of my own.

I was done with any intimacy.

I would protect myself from now on. And I have.

What is ironic is that in my early twenties, there were three behaviors that were an automatic NO GO for me:

Lying

Cheating

Disrespect

Yet, he violated every single one of those, on multiple occasions.

Yes, when I first married, I’d just come back to church and was learning my faith and working on a relationship with Christ, so I was working on forgiveness. And forgiveness is always a good thing.

But one doesn’t have to be treated in such a manner and stay in it to forgive.

Liberation and Independence bolstered me over the past year and a half. Learning who I am and being happy with it.

For the first time in my life, since the summer of 2021, I’ve realized I don’t need a man to be complete. I can do fine on my own and at this time, prefer it.

God is with me.

My family and friends.

I am hoping for a future with good health, family, friends, my writing, and my cats.

If a decent man comes onto my path toward Christ, I will consider what I am ready for or want to do at that time.

What is paramount is I’ll be okay no matter what.

God is good.

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Your Reading Audience May Be Growing When…

When I published (with the help of my awesome editor) my first book, Passage of Promise, in May of 2020, I’d expected that maybe a grand total of 20 people (at first, I thought 10) would hopefully buy my book. Certainly, some of my family members and close friends might buy my book, but I couldn’t be sure.

Within the first month, I’d surpassed 20 books sold. And in the next several months, over 100 copies of my novel had sold. To me, this was a huge success and, to be honest, a very pleasant surprise.

When my second novel, What She Didn’t Know, was published March of this year, I hoped those who enjoyed my first book would return for this one. Turns out, they did, and I had 45 pre-orders the month before the release of my book. The copies of this book doubled that of my first novel in the first couple of months.

But writing, revising, publishing, and marketing books are A LOT of hard work. It doesn’t come easily. However, I continue to write and put out my books because I had so much to write about over the last six years, and that’s always a good thing.

I wondered if my book would reach strangers.

Well, they had and have.

Word of mouth is a wonderful phenomenon. A real blessing.

Both my novels, Passage of Promise and What She Didn’t Know, are carried at a local county library, and have been checked out a multitude of times in the last several months to a year.

People I don’t know are checking out my books at the library, and it brings me such joy!

A few days ago, a reader on Goodreads, who I don’t know, had apparently read my book, Passage of Promise, and left a nice review. Wow!

So, this is how you know your reading audience is growing. Strangers have found my books interesting enough to buy and read and even leave a review.

Writers out there, have you had similar experiences?

I hope sharing my story will inspire other authors out there. Reach out to your local library and small bookstores in your area. They’re a great support system, and new people may discover your books as they have mine. They probably already have for your books!

These are some of the joys of being an author.

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