I am not afraid of the world

I am not afraid of the world, but I am afraid of people who are afraid of the world. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Are you afraid of the world? We live in a world consumed by fear. Fear of what might happen. Fear of people who spout opposing views. Fear of those who worship differently. Fear of worst possible outcomes, spelled out and dissected all over twenty-four hour news.

I saw this Liz Gilbert quote in a New York Times interview a couple of weeks ago, and it spoke to me. Fear keeps us from being curious. When we’re afraid, we don’t challenge systems or ask questions. We shun adventure in favor of safety and security and sameness. Maybe we let fear keep us from living lives we’re meant to lead.

On Tuesday, I board a plane for London, a place teeming with fears of terrorism. Two weeks into my Welsh writing residency, I’m flying to Amsterdam to visit friends for the weekend. Dang it, I can’t be in Europe for a month and not take advantage of a quick flight to a cool locale, even if it is a short train ride from continued tensions in Brussels. I’m heading to Ireland for book research before I fly home. I refuse to avoid trains and subways, taxis and ferries to experience things I want to see.

Jendi will schedule my Monday posts while I’m away. She’ll also man my Facebook page. Please talk to her. She’s looking forward to responding to your questions on my behalf. A couple of times a week, I’ll send her quick updates to share. If I’m lucky, I’ll find cellular service once in a while and share a picture or two.

Please don’t be strangers. Don’t forget me while I’m gone, because you’ll be on my mind the whole time. I’m creating new stories with you in mind, adventures I can’t wait for you to get lost in.

Because what is reading, really, if it isn’t an escape from the fearful, crazy, unpredictable world we inhabit?


This is part of a series of pictures about making memories. If you liked the story why not share it with your friends? Let’s meet on Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer pictures you will surely like my Instagram. I’ve collected inspirational things and more on Pinterest! Any comments? Write them below!


NOT our 2015 destination.

MTM and I devoured the news. Brussels, Belgium was on travel lockdown. The US Embassy warned Americans to stay indoors, to avoid crowds. US military travel was frozen. Troops with submachine guns roamed cobbled streets already spit-shined for the holiday.

We had two airline tickets for Brussels. Leaving the day before Thanksgiving. After twenty-four hours of deliberation and debate, we called our airline. No, not to cancel our trip. We wanted to review our options for both near-Brussels and alternative travel.

It’s easy to find the nearest bunker in this terrorist age. Parisian-style attacks can (and probably will) happen anywhere, anytime. MTM and I decided to pursue our annual “No Family Holidays With Family” Thanksgiving trip as normal, because if we didn’t, the terrorists win. We came up with five reasons to keep traveling. We hope our list will help you see the world while staying smart and safe.

  1. Book your tickets, and don’t worry about what *might* happen. Statistics still show you’re more likely to be injured or die within a few miles of home, right? So why miss experiences because of fear?
  2. If you’re patient, airlines can be very accommodating. Even though the US State Department still had not issued a Brussels travel alert, Delta vetted options and rebooked our flights without the usual change fees. The customer service representative even went to bat for us with her supervisors and won us a drastically reduced fare.
  3. Travel builds understanding. We’ve been in touch with both strangers and friends in Europe throughout this crisis. The Belgians are unflappable, resolute, and warm. We will definitely visit Belgium soon to help shop owners, restauranteurs, and hoteliers recover.
  4. Travel encourages flexibility. We’ve been planning our trip to Brussels since summer. Imagine what it’s like to hold a ticket to a different city, a place about which I know virtually NOTHING. And we still depart on Wednesday. With no time to research or plan, we’ll wing everything. Am I stressed? Nah. This trip will be a true adventure. How often does adventure come our way?
  5. We can be smart in the face of terror. For the first time in several years, readers won’t find me online during my trip. I’m not broadcasting our new destination on social media (and if you know it, please don’t mention it.) I won’t post photos, geolocate anything, or chronicle our whereabouts while we’re away. Terrorists can easily track those markers, and they’ve used them to target Americans overseas. We’re taking a genuine, unplugged vacation.

I. Can’t. Wait!

Do you have any travel plans? Please share your VERY GENERAL plans in a comment.

Have you ever gotten busy in a jacuzzi? Scored in a burbling whirlpool tub?

dupree house brenda and charles dixon

I may not have gotten lucky at Mamie’s Cottage, but I encountered Brenda and Charles Dixon’s jacuzzi tub at my 444-mile walk’s critical juncture. Seventy-five miles meat-grindered my feet. A couple of my toes were purple-verging-on-black. Joints screeched. Tendons wailed.

My body almost convinced
my mind it couldn’t go on.

Charles gave us a tour of Mamie’s Cottage, but I never left the bathroom. Once he showed me the jacuzzi tub, I let Dad and Alice learn about the rest of the place. Gas logs in the fireplace. A fridge stocked with provisions. Furniture that supported Dad’s weight. And of course, the inner workings of the television.

dupree house brenda and charles dixon

As soon as the door clicked shut, I opened the floodgates and plopped my abused limbs into hot water. I’m surprised I didn’t burn up the motor, alternating sore feet, cramped knees, stiff ankles and creaky hips in front of the jets.

Given the volume of
my moans and sighs,
Alice probably wondered
who was in there with me.

brenda and charles dixon

I’m glad I dragged myself to the Dupree House for breakfast, though. Brenda makes slurp-worthy fare, and Charles gives an entertaining tour of their plantation home just steps from the Natchez Trace. It’s fitting that Mamie’s Cottage sits alongside it.

It wasn’t always so.

Doctor Dupree, the original owner of Dupree House, decided to adopt a child and share his wealth with someone in need. His four children welcomed a sister, a girl named Mamie. When her adopted father died, she and her mother moved to a tiny cottage in town. Miss Mamie lived there until she died at age 90.

Her cottage was threatened with demolition in the 1990s, but Charles and Brenda rescued it. They paid to have it dismantled piece-by-piece and moved to the grounds of the Dupree House, uniting a daughter’s home with her father’s once again.

Sometimes, we make memories
by forging connections with the past.

Mamie’s Cottage is five miles from Raymond, Mississippi and twenty miles from Jackson. If you’re cycling, a short path leads from the Natchez Trace to the main gate. To take advantage of Brenda and Charles’s hospitality (and jacuzzi), click HERE to reserve through Natchez Trace Travel.

Have you ever found
the right place
at the right time?

h on the blog for website 2

The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you don’t want to miss!” What are you waiting for? Read Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace. Be inspired to Make a Memory of your very own.

Click to read a sample of Not Without My Father

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