The Journey South – Part Two

{Continued from Previous Post}

In the summer of 2015, I decided to attend Art of The Carolinas in the Fall of that same year.  Art of The Carolinas is an expo hosted by Jerry’s Artarama in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I was so excited to go spend a few days to take some classes from Artists that I admired, and to see what was new and exciting in the art supply world.  I went through the catalog and filled my 5-day schedule from 8am until 8pm each day with every possible class I could take.  Keep in mind, these professional classes are NOT cheap but I wanted to focus on being a student and finding out what really moved my creative spirit and invest in my gifts and talents.

The hotel room was booked, the classes were paid for and the drive was mapped out.  But the Fall of 2015 was not to be the year I was to attend this expo.  My husband unexpectedly passed away the week before the trip. When I was able to call and cancel, I was informed that I could not get my money back.  In disbelief, I questioned the lack of compassion on the part of the event coordinator. Losing $1600, although an enormous amount of money, was very far down on my “worry” list but the fine print did say no refunds and I had no choice but to accept it.

Accept everything.

Trust me, I said and did a lot of things I am not proud of in those first few days and weeks after my loss.  I guess one gets a free pass during a time like that, because I lashed out at a lot of people who graciously took it from me. I cringe now when I think about it, because that is not my typical demeanor, but then again, I just wasn’t myself.


A few days later, I received an email from the coordinator offering me a credit for the following year. “Well that’s just great,” I thought. “Like I’m really going to feel like going a year from now.”  I thanked her and forgot all about it.

The rest of 2015 and most of 2016 was a fog of worry, stress, and fear. While I just can’t write about any of that just yet {if ever}, suffice it to say that art and travel were so far off my radar. Battles were fought, work had to be done, and the future had to be, well, let’s just say, ‘readjusted.’ I spent so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that I ceased being “me.”

God’s plan for me would unfold in HIS time, not mine.

In late October of 2016, I had a particularly challenging day.  One of those days where you think you just can’t take another step. That feeling of wanting to run away from my life as I knew it was ever-present.  Late that day, an email landed in my inbox reminding me of my credit to Art of The Carolinas.  I couldn’t believe it had almost been a year and I thought to myself,

“I’m not ready to go.”

But something made me pause and think for a moment.  Just for the heck of it, I went to the website and started looking at the classes.  The art was exploding off the page and something stirred deep inside and I thought, “I can do this.  I need to do this. I am allowed to do this.”

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”
― Bryce Courtenay

So one year and one week after my husband passed, I was heading North on Interstate 95 with my art supplies and suitcase in the trunk, a heart full of trepidation, and a tiny shred of hope.

You are probably wondering by now why I am heading NORTH when I said this was a story about traveling south to MEXICO.  Patience friends.  All roads lead somewhere.


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  1. Mary W

    Oh, this is like a treasure hunt – you are the treasure and you’re going to find yourself. LOVE this story and I’m hooked. I ran off and got married at 18 to my childhood sweetheart. We escaped city life and moved to the country to farm organically and live the simple life. It was great but we found we had to work to keep it up. So we both worked and I went to college. Wasn’t sure why I felt the need but at 46, I had just finished college, gotten my CPA and a great job and was finally making enough money to get his life insurance back. The day I filled out the papers and put it on the table to be mailed, I took some kids to a church event and when I came home – he had died on our couch of heart failure. Never sick, ever. But at 48, he died in his sleep quietly and peacefully. With the help of friends he had a beautiful funeral (that is a contradiction of words) and I took a couple days off work then had to dive back in as I didn’t have his paycheck, no insurance on his death, and still had all the bills to pay. Our 14 yo daughter and I were devastated and I walked the long dirt lane in front of our house each day just to get enough air inside to breath. I took comfort from his often repeated words-that through his faith he was ready to go if taken. We did manage, as I had just enough money to keep our home and with a second mortgage could pay our bills. It was tight but I always said thank you God, I have enough. My daughter had such a time but we are both very happy now, with a beautiful home, I have 5 wonderful grandkids, retired and happy to live with her family and feel useful helping with her kids as she travels. Life is beautiful and I craft like crazy. But, I’m hoping your story shows the same outcome from the terrible trials you have been through. I’ve never had more than I need, but have always had enough. I’ve had more than enough, I’ve got beautiful friends and family. I praise God.

    1. Lorraine Bell

      Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I only wish that we had been friends and neighbors at that time so I could have been there to hold your hand and support you in the exact way that you needed it. Our stories are more similar than you would think and your support for me has been something I have leaned on many times . . . just to read your beautiful words and encouragement and the cards that kept coming long after all the others stopped. I love you dear friend – you are a treasure sent to me from above! So glad we can be here for each other!

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