“If I have learned anything from life, it’s that sometimes, the darkest times can bring us to the brightest places. I’ve learned that the most toxic people can teach us the most important lessons; that our most painful struggles can grant us the most necessary growth; and that the most heartbreaking losses of friendship and love can make room for the most wonderful people.

I’ve learned that what seems like a curse in the moment can actually be a blessing, and that what seems like the end of the road is actually just the discovery that we are meant to travel down a different path.

I’ve learned that no matter how difficult things seem, there is always hope. And I’ve learned that no matter how powerless we feel or how horrible things seem, we can’t give up.

We have to keep going. Even when it’s scary, even when all of our strength seems gone, we have to keep picking ourselves back up and moving forward, because whatever we’re battling in the moment, it will pass, and we will make it through.

We’ve made it this far. We can make it through whatever comes next.”


Daniell Koepke



I attended my second group grief meeting last night down at the Organic Angel in Norfolk. It was a good meeting. For someone who often believed that solitude was the best medicine for the soul, I am discovering that small groups are actually providing me with the balm that I need to heal the wounds in my heart and soul. There is something about being with a small group of people who have a common “shared” experience that is both validating and comforting on a deep, soul level.


[and I’m noticing that I’ve already used the word “soul” like three times in just a few sentences]


And again, yesterday was one of those really emotionally draining days, to the point of inducing physical exhaustion. I left work early, thinking that I might even head down to the Organic Angel early and catch the gentle yoga class. I had to go home first to get a change of clothing but once I got home I kind of lost the last of my energy and decided to forego the yoga class. So I played a little guitar for a while and thought about how easy it would be to just stay in for the night and do nothing. I was feeling kind of hollow and depressed and tired.


However, once 5 o’clock rolled around I shook myself out of my lethargy and off I went and really, that is the story of this whole past weekend as well. I was actually kept rather busy by friends over the long weekend – dinner out on Saturday night, lunch, a movie, and dinner on Sunday night, and a cookout on Monday – but each time, on my way home from these activities, I would immediately change my mental track to – “I am alone, and Laureen is gone from my life forever and there is nothing I can do to change that”, and would immediately be transported back to that heavier place of loneliness and grief.


Now the one thing I have yet to mention in my journal – simply because I don’t think I really wrote anything of substance at all last week-end, is that I did make one decision. After weeks of trying to figure out what to do with myself this summer, since sitting at home all summer without a plan did not sound like a good idea, I have found my destination.


I had been checking out a myriad of alternative ideas for the past few weeks – everything from an intensive group grief counseling weekend (it sounded too intense), to week-long flute workshops in both Tennessee and Wisconsin, writing workshops in North Carolina, and even driving across the country to see long-time unmet friends. But nothing was feeling quite right. So I think it was last Friday afternoon that I did a Google search for “writing retreats New Mexico” and among the listings was this one –


Artist or Writer Retreat – Santa Fe – › USA › New Mexico › Lamy

Beautiful guesthouse in historic village of Lamy, New Mexico located 20 minutes SE of downtown Santa Fe. Lamy is the official train stop for Santa Fe and you …


Hmmm… it looked kind of interesting so I clicked on the link to see what it was about and was greeted with this :




Now I could definitely see myself in this room.  I subsequently retired to one of my new hang-outs, a nearby Chinese restaurant (I have yet to really begin cooking my own meals – the eating home alone thing just isn’t really happening yet) to further study this location / possibility.


The brief description of this “cottage” read as follows:


Lamy cottage description

Beautiful guesthouse in historic village of Lamy, New Mexico located 20 minutes SE of downtown Santa Fe. Lamy is the official train stop for Santa Fe and you have wonderful hiking, walking and biking trails just outside your door. The guesthouse is large and spacious with beautiful views with, WIFI Internet, Phone and Privacy. Perfect for one person, a couple, or small family. King and twin bed. No pets.

If you love the opera in the summer, skiing in winter, hot air ballooning in the fall or art museums, Santa Fe’s summer activities such as the Folk Art Market, Indian Market, and a place to stay where you can call your ‘home’ away from home, then this is the guesthouse for you. There is a friendly family dog on the property in the compound so if you do not like dogs at all, then you should consider other properties.

Weekend rental, a week or longer stays are all possible. 
Keywords: Guesthouse – Privacy


Next up was a review of some of the reviews that previous guests had left –


Nxai’s Place is located just a short drive down the road from Eldorado and across from the Lamy train station (fascinating for nuclear history buffs). It is wonderfully private. The only things you hear are the wind, the coyotes at night, and the passing trains (they are not loud). I think it is the perfect place for a romantic getaway or anniversary. The house itself is large and has all the comforts of home except a dishwasher. The bed and pillows were extra comfortable and there were extra towels and bedding if needed. The house is filled with books and has a nice DVD library. Jean is an amazing hostess. She is helpful and checks in on you, but also respects your privacy. I highly recommend staying at Nxai’s Place if you don’t want to be in town and seek to enjoy the lovely country lifestyle of Lamy and the surrounding area.




My partner and I drove 1,400 hundred miles from Austin TX before we got to Lamy. The drive was definitely worthwhile! This is a beautiful house surrounded by Aspens (trees) that swing their leaves producing the most soothing sounds to sleep, read, cook, write, or just sit around to. The decoration is exquisite, and it will proof difficult for anyone sensitive to aesthetics and space to leave the house at all! The location is convenient to anyone traveling around NM, even those that want to be close to Santa Fe will be happy. We had our own piece of the desert while only half an hour (of gorgeous driving) from museums, plazas, sanctuaries and shops. Jean is a wonderful host and fascinating human being. We also enjoyed the wonderful presence of her granddaughter Mina, her parents Mark and Ahdina, and Bella, their beautiful dog. Despite them living a few steps from the house we never felt lack of privacy or need for more space and we truly appreciated their efforts to makes us feel at home. We are already dreaming of our next trip to Lamy, planning another retreat in this beautiful house!


Indeed, every reviewer gave the cottage, and the host, five stars. There was something about this place that started to “feel right” to me. I checked out the availability calendar and saw that a good portion of August was still open. Since the rate was reasonable I decided that if I was going to do this kind of a trip, two weeks felt like the right amount of time to settle in for a bit. On a whim, I sent off an email to the owner, via the website’s email service, and continued on with my meal.


Ten minutes later, the owner of the cottage called me. I guess that’s when you know the Universe is working with you.


I smiled even as I answered the phone. A brief conversation with the owner, Jean, essentially sealed the deal. I told her I’d take two weeks in August, which it had occurred to me, might actually coincide with the annual week-long Indian Market in Santa Fe. I asked Jean about that but she wasn’t sure. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that this is indeed the case – during the second week that I will be down in New Mexico, the Indian Market will be in Santa Fe.


In talking about all of this last night with my grief group, I admitted that this is all outside of my comfort zone and I am definitely feeling nervous about it. They all agreed that they have similar anxieties around traveling and all of them have travel offers on the table. I told them that, in the end, I was at least partly inspired to overcome my travel anxieties thanks to my niece, my massage therapist and my friend’s wife. My niece, for her courage in traveling to Ireland all by herself to work in two different bed & breakfast places and to see a bit of Ireland, my massage therapist for telling me about her upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic as part of a medical group that will provide medical care to the people of DR, and my friend’s wife, for sharing her story of a business trip to India that involved a 19-hour non-stop flight, and travel throughout various parts of India. I figured, if they can do it, I can do it too.  And let’s face it – it’s not like I will be “roughing it” too badly in a small town right outside of Santa Fe.


So, tying this all back into the intro quote – despite the depth of my grief and ongoing feelings of loss and loneliness, I am persevering to pull myself up and create some semblance of a new life for myself. Already, in these past few months I am meeting new people, and have been surprised by the commonalities of our experiences. I feel as though I am following my intuition but I also suspect, although I cannot really feel her presence per se, that Laureen is somehow guiding me along too. So while on the one hand I would say that this is absolutely one of the darkest, saddest, and hardest periods of my life, there is also some small glimmer of new things beginning to grow in my life. The sad and, yes, angry part of me doesn’t want to let go, yet, of the hurt and pain and sorrow and self-pity, but my higher self seems intent on pushing me forward despite myself. And I at least seem to have enough sense to listen. And it would seem that my companions in this journey, as individual as the experience is to each of us, are marching forward on the same path towards healing and moving on with our lives and sharing the gifts that we each have to share. I feel like maybe I was a missing piece in their lives – helping them to see and express something that maybe they couldn’t before – and I certainly feel the same way about them – that they are helping me to grow in a way I didn’t think I would be able to, in the absence of my beautiful Laureen.





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3 Responses to JOURNEYS

  1. Walks with Wolves says:

    Oh my goodness, that place sounds like heaven on earth! And double awesome on the fact that you’ll be there during the big Indian Market. I’m positively envious of that! *laughs*

    I had that same nervousness when it came time for me to do my Vision Quest (driving to New Mexico solo and doing the whole thing solo) AND for my Crazy Ass Road Trip to Wolf Park back in 2007 (again, solo). But man, both were so, so worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. So take that deep breath and leap. The trip will definitely make it worth it!

    • nowandzenn says:

      Thanks Walks! I do remember your wolf trip (and have some photos to prove it). And didn’t realize you did your vision quest on your own. Me too! I am indeed going to be taking that deep breath and leaping….

      • Walks with Wolves says:

        Sorry, I should have read that sentence all the way through after I wrote it. I didn’t do the Vision Quest 100% solo. I had a Medicine Man, and there were others there, doing their Vision Quests too. But while I was out on the Mountain, I was completely alone. 🙂

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