There is Something About Vermont

There is Something About Vermont

I have lived in a number of states and climates throughout my lifetime. I have been fortunate to have visited all but two states in the U.S. and several different countries. That said, I feel justified from an experience standpoint to say “there is something about Vermont.”  Those of you who know me have often heard me say I wished I was still there.

My family moved to Vermont when I was entering 10th grade.  I wasn’t happy about it then as you may imagine. Coming from a more urban area it was an adjustment. Walking into a new high school, (Go Rutland Raiders!), not knowing anyone, registered about a 7.5 on my anxiety scale.  Luckily I have the kind of personality that allows me to walk up to strangers and introduce myself.  Luckier was the fact that the first people I approached were kind and curious about the new kid.  It did not take me long at all to form friendships and get introduced to my new town.

At some point during this introduction I looked up.  I can’t remember the exact moment but I stopped thinking about what 15 year old girls think about and I noticed something. I saw the staggering beauty of the mountains that formed a circle around the town.  It was foliage season and the colors were spectacular.  The air seemed cleaner than what I had been used to and there was a slowness that existed around me that felt comforting.  It was like my breathing became slower there.  I actually recognized that at age 15, so there must have been something special going on.

Life went on, as it does, and I left Vermont for other places but came back twice and not because my family was there.  The second time I returned they had already moved away themselves.  I came back because I could breathe better.  I say that as a state of mind, not that I have breathing issues! It always felt safe and was a place where I could collect my thoughts and figure out my plan.  The combination of the natural beauty, the people and the simplistic way of life still suits me well.

Why then didn’t I stay?  Lack of opportunity for me back then was the real kicker.  I had two children I was going to have to put through college someday and the prospects of advancing my career were limited.  Add to that long, hard winters.  I was not financially equipped at the time to have the appropriate vehicle to live where I was living. Being semi-off the grid (only wood heat) in a drafty old farmhouse at the top of the mountain is a challenge in both winter and mud season.

Each year it took 9 cords of wood to heat the house using two woodstoves and I became adept at helping to split and cut wood. It was hard living but it was glorious.  Our view, all the way to the New Hampshire White Mountains, was breathtaking in every season. The kids could cross country ski out the door for as many miles as they wanted to.  The four room school house they attended had some of the best teachers they would ever have. My friends were the best.  There were locals and those who had come from all over the country because they too had felt that special something. I felt pretty rich then even though I had no money.

But it wasn’t to be forever given my nagging desire to grow and expand my future opportunities.

My last exodus from the Green Mountain state was 33 years ago. Seems I have lived a couple of lives since then.  I still go back, not nearly as often as I would like, and still dream of having a little house there that I can escape to.

Each time I go, as soon as I cross the border into Vermont, I take a deep breath and feel the same calmness wash over me that I felt 51 years ago when I was a sophmore in high school. It’s pretty magical and I have met others who say they have that same experience.

I get to have the feeling again this week as I drive north, entering into Vermont on Wednesday.  This time I will bring my work with me as I will be filming a woman in Lamoille Valley for the Beyond Sixty Project.  I can’t wait to get up there with the crew and hang out on Lake Elmore for a couple of days and take in the winter scenery.  Anticipating the feeling I will get is already making me smile.

I hope you have a place you can go to that gives you peace and calm.  Sure is worth the journey. If you haven’t tried Vermont I highly recommend it!

Love and Peace,







Whenever I hear the word resolution I think of a new year.  I imagine you do as well.  It is something we grew up with.  It was common to have any number of people ask what you would resolve to do in the new year.  I suppose it makes sense as we have flipped 12 pages of the calendar. What better time to promise yourself something than in a new year?

The Babylonians did it as far back as 2000 B.C. They had a new year festival where they pledged to be loyal to their kingdom and promised to appease their gods. The Romans did it too, every January.  Did you know January is named after the Roman god Janus, a two-faced god they believed could view the past and future simultaneously.

Each new year brings us the hope of renewal and betterment.  What could I do in this new year to improve upon the last? As a kid I stated my resolutions out loud.  It was usually something like do better in Math or keep my room clean so I won’t get yelled at.  Those resolutions didn’t work out so well.  I maintained my average status in Math and my room stayed pretty messy until I moved out on my own. As an adult the resolutions moved to get more exercise and lose weight.  By the way, lose weight is the number one resolution made every year by millions of people.  Why is it so hard to keep these resolutions?

According to the Journal of Psychology, about 50% of the population makes resolutions each new year.  The top three resolutions include exercise more, lose weight and stop spending money you don’t have.  Did you ever notice the run on gym membership adverstising December through February?

The 50% making promises to themselves have a high failure rate.  Why?  Are our aspirations set too high?  Are our behaviors so patterned in us that we don’t know how to or cannot change them?

Making a resolution work requires more than an affirmative statement.  It requires behavior modification and focus. This is something not every human can do on their own, sucessfully. Did you know you actually have to create new neural pathways in your brain in order to change your behavior patterns?   I made resolutions kind of willy-nilly and did not pay close attention to the behaviors I would have to change in order to succeed.  I knew nothing about neural pathways.

Maybe if I had a math tutor and committed to an extra couple of hours of study each week I could have been above average in math!  Not sure what would have helped in keeping my room cleaner other than paying my little sister fifty cents to clean it for me. Losing weight was sometimes a bit of a success but not consistently.  I continued to ignore the behavior changes that would be necessary to get real with my situation.

Maybe the word resolution is too big and scary.  Should we do away with it and try something kinder and gentler?  How about using intention or plan instead?  Help me out here.

I have some intentions and plans in this new year but they don’t have an end date.  I will not fall into the trap of giving myself a specific timeline to complete or measure my successes or failures.  All intentions and plans will be based on lifetime goals and changes.  I will ask for help if I need it and begin each day with a quiet meditation reminding me to be focused in the present, not yesterday or tomorrow.  That is how I started today. It’s not feeling like a resolution but rather a path.  I suppose sometimes I will go slowly and sometimes I will run and maybe even stop for a bit, but I don’t plan any reverse action.  I am reading about how to rewire my brain so that my neural pathways are connected properly and will let you know what that’s all about!

I hope whatever resolutions, intentions or plans you have made in this new year come to you in good time.  Be kind to yourself.  It took a while to create you and your behaviors.  It may take a while to adjust the things you want to change too. Ask for help if you need it.  If you have been successful in creating new neural pathways to change your behaviors I would love to hear from you!

I am excited about 2017.  I hope you are too and wish you a wonderful year filled with good health, new experiences, love and lots of laughter.

Have a great day!

Love,  Melissa