That View….

My husband and I just spent an extended weekend in San Francisco, visiting our youngest son and daughter-in-law. We had a great time seeing this city through their eyes….food, drinks, shopping, site-seeing, and hiking. A wonderful trip for us and time spent with our kids was priceless.

My husband normally plans all of our trips and what we are going to do. Those trips are filled with so much that we often need a vacation to recover from our vacation. So, when we planned this extended weekend, we let our son do the planning for us….. with time spent with the two of them the priority. And we wanted to see San Francisco through the eyes of these two young adults, to see what they loved about their city, their home.

Our son and daughter-in-law did a fantastic job of planning just the right amount of things to see and do and quite a variety. We completely enjoyed our time with them, creating more memories to look back on.

I could write a book about our trip and all that there is to see and do in San Francisco. But, this blog post is all about THAT View….

Our son planned a hike for us for Sunday morning. Saturday night we watched the fog roll into the city from their living room.   Of course, we checked the weather apps to see what the morning would be like and if the fog would lift before our hike.

And the weather apps all said it would lift about 8am. Yes! We would get to see those views our son had told us about.

He chose to take us on the Lands End trail hike. And said that hike would offer us spectacular, out of this world views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean and the bay. We were excited and my camera was ready to go.

Sunday morning came and we were ready for our hike. The fog was hanging on, but the weather apps said it would lift about 9am now. So, off the four of us went.

We started from the ocean, hiking toward the Golden Gate bridge and the bay.

And the fog hung on…..that view our son and daughter-in-law said was so spectacular was shrouded in mystery. The fog was surreal and mystical. And it was beautiful, creating an air of mystery all along the trail.

Our views were spectacular. And magical. And beautiful.

As we hiked and talked and took in the surrounding areas, I couldn’t help but realize that THAT VIEW was THIS—my family….my son, my daughter-in-law, my husband.

THAT view was spectacular. THAT view was beautiful. THAT view made my heart dance. THAT view was just what I needed and wanted. And THAT view will make my heart sing and bring a smile to my face for many, many years to come.

My son and daughter-in-law were right. The hike would give us amazing views! And time spent with them, talking, laughing, sweating…..all AMAZING!

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The love of family and time spent with family is absolutely priceless and NOTHING beats it!


“I have been waiting my whole life for this”

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I have heard this phrase many times….and even shared it with the members who attend my meetings. I talk a lot to others about being kind to ourselves….

“Would you say that to a friend?” “What if a friend said that? How would you respond?”

We are our own worst critics and sometimes…. actually often…our first thoughts, those words we say to ourselves are not kind…

“That was stupid!” “Really? How stupid was that?” “I am so fat!” Well, you get the idea.

The thing is, I talk to others about being kind and about that voice inside their heads. But I forget to listen to my own advice sometimes….don’t we all?

And today, as I looked in the mirror, I said some not so nice things…out loud. And my husband was there. And he looked at me and asked, “What would you say if one of your members said those words?”

SMACK! Way to hit me with my own words!

And I stopped and thought about it for a minute. What would I say when someone says “I am so disgusted! Look at this! Just disgusting!” I wouldn’t agree with them that is for sure. I would tell them they were beautiful! And I would ask them to focus on that one thing they find positive about their bodies, instead of the things that is driving the negative voice.

So, my husband was right to ask me that (please don’t tell him I said so!).

And that little exchange had me thinking or rather rethinking how I am talking to myself and about myself. Because, yes, my body hears EVERYTHING my mind thinks and says. And I have worked REALLY hard to get that voice out of my head…the one I grew up listening to that told me I was worthless, not pretty, not funny, not…. anything!

I have worked REALLY hard to get rid of my dad’s voice telling me at every chance he could that I wasn’t good enough…..NEVER good enough…..and his words became my words…..after all, I must have been ugly, disgusting and worthless because my own father, the one man who was supposed to protect and love me, said those things about me.

It took me more than 40 years to FINALLY realize that I AM WORTH IT! I AM BEAUTIFUL! And I got there by believing in myself, by looking for the positives to focus on rather than the negative, by saying those four words (I am worth it!) every day looking in the mirror and by forgiving my dad (more one day about forgiving someone who never believed they needed to be forgiven). It took a lot of my life to finally be my own friend and to treat myself as I would a friend.

Still, there are times that despite the changes and despite thinking that I have gotten rid of that voice, well……it creeps in and it takes me a minute to realize what is happening…..and then I kick that voice right out of my head. My dad was the one with the problem, not me. And it was because of his inner ugliness that he had to make me feel less than…..

But no more. A loving reminder from my husband and I am back to being kind. It took me a long, long, long time to get here and A LOT of tears….so there is NO going back. I may slip into an old habit, we all do, but I will not stay there.

I am no one’s victim! I am me…beautiful, caring, loving, adventurous me! And I am worth it! Every day!


Finishing is Winning! My first 10K

It was Valentine’s Day, 2017, and I don’t think I had fully thought through the choice I had made. My foot was still bothering me, but there was hope it would get better and I needed to do some training and lose some weight to meet this new goal….but I pressed submit and signed up for the Disney World 10K for January 5, 2018 during Disney’s Marathon weekend.

I could do this. I had a plan.

I was going to walk, fast. I knew that. And it meant I needed to get back into fighting shape….I wanted to complete the 10k at a 13-minute mile pace…. I could do that…. After all, when I was younger I had completed a 5k at a 13-minute mile pace…. (but I am a little older now…ugh!)

The year went on and life got in the way.

So did fear.

I feared the pain in my foot returning and every little twinge since last February made me contemplate not being able to complete this race.

But I kept planning for the race…. Not really thinking about the complete picture and what it meant for me.

Not only was there fear about my foot and my back acting up, but there were some other deep-seeded fears beginning to bubble to the surface…and I kept pushing them aside, ignoring them.

After all, I had a plan—

–train for the 11 months leading up to the race

–follow what I know and love about Weight Watchers and drop the 20+ lbs I wanted to lose

–get to the race and get in the front of the corral to create a buffer between me and the 16-minute mile pace balloon ladies (the ones who pass you and then you get picked up because you couldn’t keep up the pace, but I wouldn’t have to worry about it because I would have a buffer and I would be going faster….)

–And finish!

And then January 2018 arrived and I decided my goal this new year would be to continue to step outside my comfort zone, to try new things and to continue to take the leap. And little did I know when I signed up for this 10k back in February that it would test all of this and more…..

I don’t like to do things on my own, especially things that I have never done. Yes, I go shopping and travel alone. I have done a lot on my own, but each time was a test for me to push myself outside that comfort zone and to see what I was capable of. The thought of doing something on my own scares me, makes me anxious, and has my mind finding excuses to NOT do those things. And though I have done things on my own, there are still some things I cannot do—go to a movie alone, go to a restaurant alone….. It is just completely outside my comfort zone……

And this race was testing me, scaring me and making me anxious. As we packed for the trip I realized I was going to be doing a 10K alone….sure there would be thousands of others out there with me, BUT I wouldn’t know them. I had never done this! I would be alone. I have walked this distance and more with friends and family….but…..never alone.

My mind was trying to find ways out of it….I was just getting over the flu. My foot might “pop” again. What about my back? It is going to be FREEZING!!

And then this morning arrived.

My husband drove me to the start at Epcot and walked me to the corral area. I was a NERVOUS WRECK!

Remember that plan I mentioned that I had when I signed up for this race….well…….

–I didn’t train. No. Not. At. All. Life just got in the way

–I didn’t lose the weight. Not. One. Ounce. Life got in the way

–I was in the LAST corral. And tried my best to get toward the front. I was somewhere in the middle of the corral….until……..

The race had started.  I waited for my corral to get the chance to go. We were last. But I could see a lot of people behind me. A LOT! And then the corral began to move to the start and they broke us into two waves. I knew I was far enough ahead in the coral that I would start with the first wave and create that buffer…..until……..I looked behind me…..there were only about 50 people there.

WHAT??? HOW did that happen?? I was now at the very back of the racers, thousands ahead of me…..and the balloon ladies were right behind me. CRAP! There goes my plan for a buffer!

And we were off. I took off. I didn’t look back. I focused on those in front of me, picking one person to pass. And then another one. And another. I was going to put space between me and those pacers and create a buffer.

I felt good. The first mile done. Then the second. And I knew that when I reached the 3 mile mark I would be almost half way done and would be in World Showcase in Epcot. As I turned the corner and saw the flames in World Showcase I knew I was half way done. I could do this!

I had passed a lot of people and with a quick glance back I felt I was doing well. So, I stopped for what should have been a quick bathroom stop…….and there was a line……..and that quick bathroom stop turned into minutes……..and I was finally leaving the bathroom, just as the bicyclist stopped to tell all of us in the bathroom we were now BEHIND the pacers…….

Ugh! That bathroom stop.

There went the last bit of my plan.

I was NOT going to let it stop me from finishing. So, time to adjust. They were 1 ½ minutes ahead of me at that time. Okay. I hadn’t come this far to ONLY get this far! I was going to FINISH this race ahead of the pacers!!

And I left that bathroom and ran.

Yep. There went the plan to just walk.

No training and now I was running (slow, but faster than my walk!)

I could see the ladies ahead of me. I had to stop running and walk fast for a bit, but even walking I was gaining ground. And then I ran again, getting very close. I could hear their conversation. I walked a minute and then ran again. I ran right past them. Me! I RAN right past those pacers. Now, to create some distance between me and those balloon ladies.

I focused on one person at a time to pass.

We ran around the boardwalk and then back into Epcot.   Mile 5 done! And when I looked back, I couldn’t see the ladies. I was building that buffer and passing a lot of people. Walking fast with short moments of running.

And then mile 6.  Emotions started building.

Only .2 miles to go. The longest .2 miles ever.

I rounded the corner. There was the finish line. Yes! I was going to finish!

And I jogged across that finish line! I did it! As I crossed the finish line, I told myself just how proud I was of ME!

I am not often proud of myself, really proud. This morning I was proud. I had pushed past the fear. I had pushed past the discomfort. I had silenced the excuses and negative thoughts. And I DID IT!


My husband was there at the finish waiting for me. The look on his face when he saw me, the pride in his eyes……brought me to tears. My husband believed in me even when I didn’t and he knew I could do it, even when I doubted. That hug was the BEST hug ever!

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I did it! I realized that by pushing myself out of my comfort zone I am so much more capable than I thought, I can do so much more. I can accomplish a goal even when the plan gets derailed. And when faced with the possibility of not finishing what I started, I found that my determination will get me there. I won’t quit! I will succeed!

I took a chance. I took the leap and I finished!


2017 Reflections

In a few short hours it will be a new year here in Arizona.

The end of a year is a time of reflection…..what went well, what didn’t….the joys, the sadness, the challenges, the losses and the lessons learned…..all reflected on during these last few hours of the year.

I have been more than ready to let go of 2017 and move into 2018. This year was difficult and filled with many challenges. I spent more time in courts and doctors’ offices than I care to ever do again. I spent a lot of time talking to medical, psychological and addiction professionals while trying to navigate a very frustrating system. And I have learned a lot about myself, my strength, my capabilities and about my family during this past year.

So, yes, I am ready to move on and leave all of this behind, looking forward to continued progress and continued healing.

I have been writing in my journal a lot these past few days, as I reflected on the past year…..writing a lot about the pain and fears….the loss of my friend….the challenges that faced my son and my family…..and then my thoughts started moving in another direction.

You see, living through this past year, well it was always with me, there in the back of my mind as I tried to enjoy the moments and time with my family and friends….addiction and mental illnesses and all that goes with them hang over our lives like a storm….always waiting for the next round. And even when things were going well, it was hard to not notice it hovering there, in the corner waiting to strike again. And that is what I kept writing….. and still it hangs there….but……

As I sit here reflecting on the past year, my thoughts are moving in different direction. The joy is beginning to outweighing the pain. There was much to celebrate this past year. There were happy times, even in the midst of immense pain. There was joy, travel, adventures, family time, and a wonderful wedding. And there were moments….tiny and large….when the joy took over…… small times when I could leave it all behind and just enjoy……

This slideshow has some of the moments from 2017 that brought me joy…..and the highlight of the year was the wedding of my youngest son to the love of his life, the one time in 2017 when I was able to leave all my fears and worries behind and really enjoy the celebration for a few days.

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And that is what I want to reflect on now, in these last few hours of 2017….the joy, the happiness and bright lights found in otherwise dark days. And as I move into 2018, I am looking forward to more light, more joy, more moments of happiness and lots of healing.  And I will remember, that even in the midst of the storm, there is always a rainbow…a light at the end of the day.  There is always something to smile about and to enjoy if I just take the time to notice.

I don’t make resolutions anymore, because, well….I am NOT good at keeping them. So, instead, the past few years I have focused on mantras and mindsets…..challenges, really, that help me to continue to grow and learn and help me to continue moving toward a better version of myself.

To that end, 2018 will be the year I continue to step outside my comfort zone, to try new things and to say yes more! My focus will be to “live in the moment, present and mindful” and to “let go and let God”.

I will continue to look for those moments that not only bring a smile to my face but make my heart sing….even off-key!

And I will continue to take the leap and just breathe!

Shouldering the Load

How much weight can one person’s shoulders carry?

The past couple of years, and specifically the past 21 months have shown me just how strong my shoulders are…..and how much stronger they are when the load is shared with another and when I trust in God.

March 2016……my husband’s birthday weekend, one of the worst weekends we had had in a really long time….years actually. That weekend, we couldn’t reach our son. He didn’t come home. He didn’t answer his phone. And after a couple of days, we decided to try tracking his phone through our carrier…..and that is when we discovered his phone was more than an hour from us, so I called again. This time it was answered by a stranger… son’s phone had been found on a garbage can in the parking lot of a casino and the person took it with them. We spent the next few days talking with the police, and driving….hours of driving trying to find our son….up and down every lane in the parking lot of the casino where his phone had been found, looking for his car……hours driving city streets in areas we knew him to have been……hours texting and calling his friends and no one had seen or heard from him……and many sleepless hours. And then we feared the very worst, we would never see our son again……..and then he called. Relief. And anger when he told us his crazy story.

That weekend began 21 months that showed me just how strong I can be. The beginning of months of disappearances and worry. Months of having him home then asking him to leave. Months where weeks at a time we had no idea where he was, or if he was alive or dead. Months of fearing the knock on the door and the ring of our cell phones. Months of dealing with the darkness of addiction. Months of dealing with the justice system…arrests, court appearances, probation visits…….

And today, finally, relief……

My son has been under the threat of prison time since last April, when the system decided to file more charges from earlier arrests. And those charges started months of stress for him and for us…. Probation violation and the nightmare that followed in Yavapai county, then the threat of prison. In September, my son decided not to accept the plea deal to go to prison….. and he opted for trial.

More stress. Worry. Fear.

The last nine months had my son finally at a point that was positive in his life. He had completed intensive outpatient drug treatment. He was present and working on staying clean. He had monthly random drug tests that kept coming back clean.

But the threat of prison weighed heavily on him. And that stress sunk him deep into the dark hole of depression and severe anxiety. I was scared. We were beginning to lose him again, but this time to depression not drugs.

My shoulders were sagging under the weight of all that had happened and the weight of the fear and worry while watching helplessly as my son sunk deeper and deeper into that black hole.

And then things started to look up, positive things were happening……an emergency visit to a real psychiatrist had my son hopeful, finally being put back on medication he had been without for a couple of months. Hope. Relief.

And then a letter in the mail a few days ago, one that may have upset another, but for us…..relief. My son had gone through an evaluation for mental health services and was accepted, his mental health illness severe enough to warrant real help…..finally! Someone listened. Someone saw what we were seeing. Someone heard my son and knew he needed help. Hope. Relief. Weight lifting for all of us.

But we were still facing today, a court appearance for sentencing. The choice to go to trial gave my son another chance for treatment and not prison. They offered him a much better plea deal, one that would not send him to prison and one that dropped the charges from 2016. He accepted the new plea deal last month.

And today we were back in that courtroom in front of the judge. It was a long morning. Stress. Worry. Fear. And then my son was standing in front of the judge. And when she told him she was sentencing him to 3 years probation…..the weight I had been carrying suddenly lifted. I didn’t hear the rest of what the judge said.

Everything these past 21 months, every moment of fear, worry, anger…..every moment that sought to destroy me, to destroy my family……. It suddenly bubbled to the top…… I wasn’t sure I could walk out of there in that moment.

Relief overcame me…..

This chapter is over. And in that moment, as the weight on my shoulders lifted, I realized just how much I had carried….. and wondered how I had done it…… How did I manage to still get through a day at work? How did I wake up each morning and get through my day? How did I manage to take those trips that needed to be taken? How did I stay afloat when the weight was trying to drown me?

I have heard many times that “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” True. I am stronger, much stronger than I ever thought I was. And I can do so much more than I ever imagined. I have traveled a road I never imagined I would find myself on…… and now I get ready to help my son navigate this new road, one that is leading him toward hope….. hope for a life without drugs….. hope for a life with some meaning…… hope for a life where he does not live in fear and where he can find peace.

And I know that I did not carry this load alone.

How much can one person’s shoulders carry? It depends. I have discovered that my shoulders can carry a lot of weight, but not alone. I have only gotten through these past 21 months because of my family, who helped me and gave me strength when I thought I would fall….. some dear friends who checked in on me and gave me a listening ear, a hug when I needed it and a shoulder to cry on……. and my faith, with God by my side I can do anything, and He made sure that the people I needed were there when I needed them….. and I carried this load because my best friend, my partner, the love of my life and the father of my sons was right there next to me, helping me to carry the load and at times carrying all of us when I was too tired to keep going and then resting while I was strong.

We now have hope. We are ready to continue this next chapter, to help our son get healthy and find his way in the world.

It won’t be easy for him. But it sure will be easier without the fear of prison weighing on him every day.

These past 21 months I trusted….. and I just kept breathing…….

And for those of you reading this, who find yourself going through the storm, don’t give up…… hold on…….reach out to others….. and know that you ARE NOT alone. So many are going through this and you do not have to shoulder the load alone.

For those of you who know someone going through the storm, don’t pull away….. instead reach out to them, give them a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, let them know they are not alone. The storm of addiction is lonely and isolating and the weight of it all can crush a soul, but with support, with care and understanding, the weight can be carried, the storm can be gotten through and lives can be changed.

My hope is that by sharing my families story we have opened the minds and hearts of others so that we can support each other without judgement and stop the isolation and loneliness that comes with addiction.

A Grateful Heart

Today is Thanksgiving, a day to spend with family and friends….a day for eating…..and a day to be thankful.

This week I received some news that has my heart hurting and so today, I am especially grateful for my family and my friends.

I am reflecting today on the things that mean the most to me, the things that have shaped who I am and the people who have entered my life, for a short time or forever.

I am thankful for each person who taught me something, understood my hearts joy and pain, challenged me to step outside by comfort zone, made me laugh, made me cry, and everything else in between.

I am thankful for the good times and the difficult times in my life…those times have made me who I am today.

I am thankful that I had a few years with my mom, the one who adopted me and taught me so much about life, but mostly to love unconditionally.

I am thankful that I have now found my birth family and have the answers I searched for, whether I liked the answers or not.

I am thankful for my friends, old and new, spread across the country….for the talks, the shopping, the laughs, the walks, and all the things we shared in the past and share now.

I am thankful for our expanded family through the marriage of our son and thankful for our daughter-in-love.

I am thankful that this shy guy asked this girl out on a date in high school and that through all the ups and downs, he has stood by my side, sometimes carried me, and been my biggest supporter.  I am one lucky girl!

And I am thankful for my boys, the greatest gifts I have ever received!  My love for them is unconditional and they give me purpose.

And today, more than any other in the past, I am so very grateful for the internet and the ability to communicate quickly with many and thankful that through messaging, phone calls, and texting, old friends could come together, despite the miles between us and comfort and support each other through a difficult time.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Today, hug your loved ones a little tighter and tell them what they mean to you…….I am hugging my family tight today, near and far.


Resilience in the Redwoods



The mighty Redwoods.

Walking among the giants was mesmerizing…..peaceful…..majestic.

We were in California 2 weeks ago for our youngest son’s wedding and while there we decided to spend a couple of mornings seeing nearby sights. My husband and I love to travel and explore and seek out new adventures. And we don’t believe in letting an opportunity to find some hidden gem, pass us by…

On our second morning in California, we got up early to go explore Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It WAS WORTH the early morning!

The first thing that hit us was the smell…..that redwood forest smell….ahhh…..we don’t get that in the desert and boy do we miss it.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park encompasses 40+ acres……acres filled with the tallest of the trees, the redwood. Here the coastal redwood survives and thrives. We walked the Redwood Grove Loop Trail in the park and were thrilled.

Walking with my husband through the forest of giant redwoods was exactly what I needed at that moment. The redwoods are giant, growing tall, some for over 2000 years. These coastal redwoods were magnificent! Majestic! Mighty!

The Redwoods grow tall….some reaching heights beyond 300 feet! Here in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park the tallest tree—the Giant—stands 270 feet high. And among these trees we felt very tiny….just a spec in the forest.

As we walked through the forest I was awed by the beauty surrounding us. Learning about the redwoods in a book is one thing, but to actually walk among the trees and see for myself how they grow, how they spawn new growth, and how resilient they are, took my breath away.

Redwoods can live for over 2000 years. And some of the trees surrounding us had been here far longer than us, our parents, our grandparents and our great grandparents……actually, many of these redwoods were here long before any of my or my husband’s ancestors came to this land. It is hard to comprehend how any living organism can stand so tall for soooo long. Yet here they were, just waiting to tell us their story.

At the beginning of the trail we picked up the brochure that would explain the stops on the loop trail. We learned about the redwoods and how they grow. And seeing for ourselves the redwood family circles was beyond amazing. Redwoods have the ability to sprout from the tiny seeds, but it is their ability to sprout new growth from the base of the “parent” tr3ee that really struck me. These magnificent trees sprouted new growth from the base, and from their roots. Amazing! And as we stood looking at one of the family circles, it struck me….this was representative of our family, and of the young couple whose wedding we were celebrating….this family circle. Love, support and strength are found in the family circle.

And then we stopped and read about how the roots of these trees were shallow…only 6 to 12 feet deep….wow! These mighty trees, these VERY tall trees, did not have the deep roots that I had expected. Instead their roots were shallow. Then how could they survive? How do they grow so tall and withstand so much? The roots of the Redwood tree may not go deep, but they do travel out, extending hundreds of feet from the tree base. THAT is how they withstand so much. The roots of the trees extend to the roots of other trees and the roots wrap around each other, supporting each other through the forces of nature that threaten to topple them. The Redwoods not only sprout new growth from their base, but they reach out to the other Redwoods to support each other. Amazing! Resilient! Wondrous!

Not only do these trees thrive through their family circles and their extended root system, but when a tree dies, it gives life to more trees. Trees sprout from the dead trees, growing right out of them and the root system of the downed tree lives on, giving more life and supporting the newer generations of trees. Much like my mom has done for me! Even though she is no longer living, she is still my support, she is still with me, a part of me and my family.

Our walk among these magnificent trees was showing me a lot about my life…..

All of this amazed me, but the one thing that I discovered among these 4 (2)giants that really resonated with me and spoke to me was their resilience. Redwoods have a bark that is thick, REALLY thick and the bark has a Tannic acid within it that helps to protect the tree…from insects, from animals, from the forces of nature and even from fire. We stopped at one tree that had been hollowed out at its base, much of it burned away in a fire over 100 years ago. Silently I stood under the tree, in the hollowed out area and touched its scars. This redwood had deep scars from a fire that would have destroyed the life of any other tree. Yet this tree was still standing, still alive, still growing and healing, and still sprouting new growth. RESILENT! STRONG! It had survived the worst thrown at it. Not only did it survive, but it found a way to thrive, to grow and to heal. The scars remain, a symbol of what the tree has survived.

And standing there I couldn’t help but reflect on my life and my scars, both visible and invisible, yet through it all I am still here. Like the Redwood, my roots may not run deep, but they run far, joining with other’s roots and providing support for each other through the storms of life. My family circle has grown and the support I have found keeps me thriving. Despite the forces throughout my life that tried to destroy me, I am still standing tall. I am scarred. But I am alive. My scars remind me of what I have been through and how far I have come. And like this magnificent redwood, I am resilient. I am strong. I am a survivor.

Some say it takes a village. And here in a redwood grove, I realized that it also takes a forest!