The Adventure Continues…

Navigating The Curves of Life

by | Dec 18, 2019

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

It was nineteen degrees outside when I started writing this installment at 5:07 am. It was nineteen degrees when I let Willie James outside to evacuate his bladder and bowels. Using the words pee and poop sounds more like how I talk, but in this brain dump, formality is evidently going to happen.

When I think of the Chihuahua Desert, I think of hot winter days followed by chilly nights. Nope, that’s not what I’ve been experiencing in New Mexico this fine December. For years when I’d be hauling one more load of firewood through the ice ’n snow, lighting the wood stove in my frigid home and snow blowing the driveway with the Kabota back in Michigan, I’d dream of spending my winters in the heat of the desert in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Well, here I am in a camper (a roomy one, too) chilled and listening to the higher pitched rumblings of two space heaters at (now) 5:17 am in central New Mexico. Yup. Life is an amazing adventure.

The land is barren, sandy and has less vegetation than this Michigander is accustomed. The mountains that surround the horizon in all directions are breathtaking. I used to find my solace by walking along the shores of Lake Michigan and wandering around in the woods. Now, I’m awestruck observing the mountains and how the sunlight adjusts the colors and tones of its landscape.

A week ago I learned that a dear friend was nearing the end of her life. That news crippled me. Add in that I am missing my youngest son, his wife, and three grandsons more than words could express; the consumption of grief swallowed me whole as we move across the calendar to another holiday season without my oldest son. Yeah, I was a sad, goopy, wet mess. And then…

And then, somewhere in the middle of a discovery call with a new virtual assistant client, she said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I still kick myself for not writing down her words. That one sentence matched perfectly to what I had written in a journal a day prior. Of course I cannot remember word-for-word what she said, but it moved me into the understanding – Do I want to continue shuffling through life within the pain of yesterday’s heartbreaks, or do I want to move in the flow of loving life and experiencing joy in all its potential?

Sunday was the first “free day” in which I had no obligations or have any random things crop up that I had to attend to. Willie James and I took a drive down I-25 to the Hillsboro exit and headed in the direction of the Gila Mountains. I fell in love with this mountain range last year and was eager to revisit the winding road that leads to and beyond the Emory Pass.

Willie James slept in his cat bed (don’t laugh, it’s the perfect size for him) on the passenger seat until I reached the sharp corners. The breaking, acceleration and jostling of the ten mile an hour and fifteen mile an hour corners caused him a bit of concern. He climbed up and sat on the center console and leaned his head on my right arm. When I’d take my eyes off the road for the two second and look at him, his big brown eyes said, “Where are we going?” and, “When are we going home?”

Once we stopped at the vista point (overlook) at Emory Pass, he was eager to get out of the truck. What I haven’t mentioned yet was the wind. A sweeping area of New Mexico was experiencing unseasonal high winds and they steadily blew nonstop on Sunday. Inside the sturdy truck, the winds had no affect. That was a different story when I opened the door and climbed out! I don’t know how to explain it, but it was wild to witness. The wind never let up, but the moment I leaned down to allow Willie James to slide out of my hands, a gust of wind grabbed him and for half a second he was, well, I guess you could say, flying. There was a second or two when his feet did not touch the ground! I shit you not!

Keeping the retractable leash at a short length to prevent a six pound Chiweenie kite-like event, we walked to the two observation points to soak in the views. It was difficult for me to stand up against the high winds. Willie James, being closer to the ground, wanted to explore all the scents of the dogs and animals that had previously wandered the parameter of the parking lot. Me, I wanted back in the truck! We continued our journey on NM-152 in the direction of Silver City. On the backside of the first mountain pass, it was time to return back to our home south of Caballo. Willie James curled up on his bed; he knew what to expect on the road, and knew I wouldn’t be letting him out when I stopped to take more photographs.

Yesterday morning I drove the loops of the campground I’ll be calling my place of residence for a bit to find the perfect site that when I looked out the back window I’d be able to see the lake. Let me just state for the record, the view from this vantage is amazing. I completed a task for a client and decided to tend to some domestic chores.

While leaning against a coin operated washing machine facing the three dryers tumbling my laundry, I learned of my dear friend’s passing on (where else) Facebook. I could hear her tell me, “Cindy. Really? Is this how you want to live your life? In tears? It’s okay to feel them, just don’t live there. Do whatever it takes to have fun. I never sat around waiting for fun. I made it fun!” And Mariah did. She was the life of the party. There was always a smile on her face and a giggle to share. She was one of the best euchre partners (we’d kick ass; and if we didn’t, we laughed and drank even more). One heck of a fisher reeling in the big catches onto the charter boats off the shores of Frankfort. She had a strong sense of self as a woman and business owner. Mariah was one of three people that came to my house when my ex-husband died five years after our divorce to support our two sons and myself. When Jeremiah died, she was one of the first people to come to my house to support Mason and I again. Her presence will be greatly missed.

I made a promise to myself after I spoke to my new client that I would do everything in my power to enjoy this Christmas. You know, experience (once again) the child-like magic of the holidays. Yes, the holidays bring up a lot of heart-warming memories… and the reminders of those no longer with us in the physical form. I have the choice to wallow in my grief, or I can get on with life and focus on experiencing all the joyous manifestations that I can dream up. I know it’s possible. Hell, I’m living the lifestyle I thought was out of my reach!

Everything is possible. Life is an amazing adventure; it was never intended to be lived in gray-scale.

May the spirt of this holiday season – whichever you celebrate – fill your heart with joy, love, peace and comfort. Many blessings to you and yours.

Captured moments along the way…

Explore the adventures that got me here…

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About The Author

CK Kochis

I am a writer; it's what I do. My mission in life is to guide women exhausted from nurturing others and the stagnation of daily routines to ignite self-love through the power of their words. I am utilizing my Integrative Nutrition Health Coach education as the foundation of to create a platform for coaches and leaders to share pearls of wisdom and professional insights. I wrote, designed and published “Get A Compass Not A Clock” and “UnLeash Your Story: A Journal Writer's Guidebook”. My virtual assistant clients keep me creatively busy, while my grandsons teach me about the importance of play.


  1. rachel

    Your words make me laugh and cry at the same time, they move me and shake me. I love going along on your adventures of the heart as well as on your adventures on the road. So glad to hear of your decision to have fun through it all.

    • C.K. Kochis

      Oh Rachel, I don’t think you could have written a sweeter compliment. I love that you’ve been riding along on this journey with me. I don’t think I could have made it without you! Many blessings to you, my sweet dear friend.

  2. Jenny Mannion

    I really love your writing! You take me on a journey every time.. I am very sorry for your loss(es) and and am sending you much love. I adore Willie James in your posts and really feel like I can picture your adventures.. the sign of an amazing writer. If only I could reach through the screen and hug you, and sit with a warm cup of tea and talk about this crazy thing we call life! Thank you for sharing.

    • C.K. Kochis

      Melt my heart, Jenny! Thank you for the amazing compliments. I appreciate them dearly.

      Thank you for all the love and support. It would be nice to enjoy a mug of tea and chat with you. Someday.

  3. Barb paRcells

    We must be on the same wavelength again. My post this week was about missing my parents at Christmas. Seize the day, my friend!

    • C.K. Kochis

      Of course we’re on the same wavelength, Barb! We’re sisters from other mothers. I’m looking forward to reading your post. I love your writing style and the way you capture my attention with your storytelling.

      Happy holidays, my sweet sister.

  4. SUzie Cheel

    Oh New Mexico I just loved being there and it was a January and it snowed on my first visit . Just loving your journey and makes me know that I am going to love travelling again xx

    • C.K. Kochis

      While ‘residing’ at the first campground in New Mexico, I woke up to several inches of snow on the ground. It was wild to see snow covered cactus! I was grateful it melted by ten o’clock in the morning.

      You have an adventurous spirit, Suzie. I think it would be impossible for you NOT to enjoy traveling! Have fun and enjoy every morsel of the adventure.

  5. Vatsala Shukla

    Sorry to read about the loss of your friend, Cindy. One of my CA student days friends died of a heart attack in June and shocked the entire set of us friends who’ve kept in touch but not quite enough as it seems. We’re being more there for each other. Life is too short.

    Sometimes it takes an event like yours or mine to shock us back into living in the present and thinking of the future.

    On a furry parent note – my dachshunds had delicate necks as puppies and one of them wore a cat collar with a bell. We were in the midst of the Gulf War and supplies were short. Goldie got a real dog collar once the war was over and I was able to travel to Abu Dhabi to get her and her brother some real dog collars. In those days, they didn’t have different dog sizes.

    Season’s Greetings to you, Willie James and the entire family.

    • C.K. Kochis

      My condolences on your loss as well, Vatsala. Life is an amazing adventure that brings us the ‘gifts’ (or lessons) of life.

      Thanks for sharing your furry parent note. The size of Dachshound puppy’s neck does pose an issue when trying to find the appropriate size dog collar. I’m glad you found a fitting solution for your furry baby.

      Seasons Greetings to you and yours.

  6. Heather

    Merry Christmas Cindy and Many Blessings!

    • C.K. Kochis

      Merry Christmas, Heather. Many blessings to you and yours in the new year.

  7. Josh

    Thank you for sharing! Xoxo


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