NMSNT~ Game-Changer #2

Following a fall from a cliff in 1982, a new professional goal came to mind after my paralyzed body was placed in the hands of modern medicine. Ten days after I was hospitalized, a spinal fusion was performed. To abate muscular atrophy, Physical Therapy (PT) started while I was in the ICU. I spent one long, miserable weekend trying to sit upright without passing out. Once I managed sitting, I was taken to PT to practice standing with the aid of parallel bars. Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, this was a life process. One thing needed doing before the next step could be taken. 

I left the hospital in St. Louis flat on my back. I was loaded into the back of my cousin’s station wagon (thanks Sandy and Bernie) and driven home to Chicago. A PT came to my home to assist my family and I in learning how to move me to an upright position on my feet again. Gordon, my PT, was a gem. In fact, every PT that I had the pleasure of working with impacted my life and my attitude, so much so, I decided to pursue a career in Physical Therapy.

Two years in, changing majors took great effort. While I was still in a body cast, to escape boredom, I attended local college classes. The following summer, I returned to SIU to complete the classes I was taking when I fell. Nothing seemed to work for me in Carbondale. In fact, I injured my other wrist by losing my balance while dancing with a friend who Hee-Hawwed me. Eventually, I landed at NIU, a far cry from SIU. The difference was palpable, not only in the scenery but on all levels. SIU was surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest. NIU was in the middle of cornfields. I wasn’t thrilled to be going on without my SIU friends, but my new purpose drove me to polar opposites in Illinois.

A year later, with all of my prerequisites and volunteer hours under my belt, I should have proceeded to the NIU-PT program. That did not happen. 

Lost, frustrated, and not happy to enter the workforce, I was thankful for my eldest brother Ronny’s offer to live with him and his wife Mel in New Mexico. From there, a whole new world opened up. The world of Natural Therapy would change my life forever. 

On the first day of class, this question was posed: “Who has never had a massage before?” I was one of six people who’s hands went up. Follow-up question: “Why are you here?” I had no idea why I was sitting there. I heard Ronny’s voice: “Maybe this school could help you get into a PT program.” My thought was simple. With all that I had gone through, I would be an amazing Physical Therapist. I know the recovery process from zero feeling (paralysis) to walking and moving through life. 

When I filled out the application for The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics ~ NMSNT I had no idea what 3/4 of the modalities meant. They were as foreign to me as another language. But once I have a goal in mind, there is little to stop me. 

On the second day of class, the six virgins had their first massage. Touch, pleasant touch, that was new to me and my strange new body. My instructor, Charlie Brown, not of Snoopy fame, led the charge. Charlie’s hands moved along the body as smoothly as his Kentucky accent filled the air. Charlie also introduced prayer into the mix to help us center and clear the air, to get out of the way of our client’s process. It is a powerful tool that I use to this day. 

At first, my body jumped like a fish out of water by simply lying flat on a massage table. I warned my partners to keep clear of my legs as I had no control of their actions. Several classmates found this intriguing, others ran for the hills. With 33 of us, we had choices in partners. 

Polarity Therapy was one of the modalities that I could not identify. “Energy” was something that I knew passed through electrical wiring, not the human body. Each day I doubted what the instructors shared. Prove it… that was my mantra. My friend Kyle and I would retreat to his home and talk about our days with Polarity Therapy. Mostly, we thought it was all BS. That is until it impacted us; until we experienced energy in our own bodies. It didn’t take long for our thoughts to switch from doubt to intrigue. In fact, we were blown away by our Polarity Therapy segment. Kyle and I traded numerous sessions on our own time trying to get a handle on this new material. 

Polarity Therapy works with the nervous system. Not a surprise that my body responded to this modality after I scattered my pieces all over a boulder at Little Grand Canyon in Southern Illinois. With Polarity Therapy, it felt as though people were reaching into my spinal column and soothing it. It felt like they were stroking my insides and saying, “You’re ok now.” I was coming HOME again, to myself. A sense of peace came over me. 

Lor, my mom, asked, “When are you going back to school (meaning college)?” 

I replied, “I’m done. The NMSNT has changed my life.” 

When I went to New Mexico I was going there to avoid work. It was an opportunity to explore new surroundings, spend time with Ronny and Mel, and help me get closer to my goal of PT. The thing is, with GAME-CHANGERS, you never know. I wasn’t looking for the NMSNT program to instill a new goal, but it did that and more. 

Recently, while on a massage table receiving, I said, “Bodywork (Natural Therapy) saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be without it.” The NMSNT ~ a game-changer to say the least. Be well… Nancy T

For more on my journey, purchase “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” at http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/

* Save $6.95 by contacting me directly, $10.00 + postage.*

NMSNT: https://nmsnt.org

Game-Changer

If you know me or you have followed my blog, you might guess that falling off a cliff and crushing three vertebrae in my upper back at age nineteen was a Game-Changer. The thing is, most people think that I changed immediately. The truth is, I’m still changing and the next several blogs will be examples of the alterations I decided to undergo. 

At the tender age of nineteen, I had few life skills that evoked change. Quite honestly, the first six months were dedicated to reclaiming my body. Even after that time, it wasn’t the body I lived in prior to the 40-foot fall. The game changed the minute I lost my footing, slid down the rock, did a flip, and landed on a boulder. From that moment on, everything in my life changed. In that split second, I would have done anything to get my life back, the life I felt was haunted. Without the superpowers to turn back time, I had to move forward and find a way to play a new game, the recovery game. 

Recovery is a strange word. It sounds like you can go back, gather things up and move on. With paralysis, that was no simple task. Once I recovered my ability to physically function, I was dismissed by the medical establishment as “healed.” Nothing was further from my truth. Countless steps were needed to adjust, cope, and learn new ways of being in the world. Boy did that make me mad! Fortunately, I had plenty of anger in storage and I used it as fuel to charge ahead.

To me, a game-changer is something that makes you look at your life, your very existence, and make the choice to stay; to face the challenges staring back at you or taking over your life. Everything in my life was affected. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, but I decided to stay.  The questions that propelled me: What does life mean to me? How can I go on? Am I willing to move forward?

Game-changers are challenges to meet head-on. Once I made it through my personal storm I realized how much I gained. Falling off a cliff was easy. Recovering from the impact was a real game-changer. Be well… Nancy T

To learn more, purchase “Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life,” by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP at http://naturalmassagetherapy.com/books/

Help or Harm

These two words, opposites of sorts, may apply to many issues and situations in life. As a writer, there are times when I read and reread my words to be sure that they fall on the side of help and not harm. Of course, that is up for interpretation. What may feel helpful to me may come across as harmful to another. It’s a tricky dance. Personally, writing has always landed on the help side from the moment I sat in the woods with my back up against a huge fallen tree to sitting on my porch hiding from a storm writing these words. Writing helps me to revisit times and events as well as giving me a place for dark/scary thoughts and lovely/pleasant ideas. However, when I write to people or address certain situations I have to ask myself, which way will my words fall; help or harm? That was not always the case. In fact, it is a recent practice. I wrote to free myself, my spirit. I didn’t intentionally spew my words on the page with the thought of harm but that did happen. I forgot to ponder were my recipient was in their process or life to receive my words. 

Medically the words, “Do No Harm,” are prominent. Unfortunately, as we “practice” our work there are plenty of people who land at our feet in the harm pile. Continuing to check in with ourselves and to clearly come from our hearts reduces the casualties. Although we can all benefit from the practice of being present, being aware, being kind, being considerate, our actions don’t always come across that way.

I recently attended a class. There was a great deal of love in the room. Most participants had been in practice for several decades. But as we were learning, we were all newbies. Even the instructors were learning something “new” from our group. What I learned was I need to “ask.” To ask for what we need is difficult for all of us but it is helpful to everyone. The rewards are great. 

If you were to look at me, you would never know that paralysis lurked in my past. Although I am proud of that fact, it also causes harm at times. Being “unsure” of what I physically feel

has gotten me into trouble. When I check in with myself on a deeper level, I am very sure. In class, it became very apparent that what was happening, though beneficial, was harmful. It did change old, hard patterns in my body but it also hurt me. The experience flipped an internal switch. Suddenly I related to my paralyzed nineteen-year-old self. Someone was doing something to my body that was unpleasant and there was little I could do to STOP them. However, in class, that was far from the truth. All I had to do was ask and the situation would have changed. Instead, I laid there and wondered, “Is this ok?” There was too much stimulation for me to easily track and absorb. 

Thankfully, I asked questions and my partner asked me to share. It was then the raw feelings came and my story poured forth. 

I continue to learn about my body, mind, emotions, and soul. Of course, my past plays a part, in a way, so does thoughts of my future. But the truth of the matter is in the present moment. In that space and time I need to ask myself, does this help or harm? Then I shall make my move and be true to myself while considering others in my life. Be well… Nancy T

The Fish Are Jumpin’

Fish are jumpin’ ~ salmon that is. This is a great example of POTENCY.* As the water rushes down river, the salmon fight their way UP current. The tactics that each fish uses vary. Some salmon head straight for the bubbling water. Their tails wag at a rapid pace as they propel their bodies into the air, landing in the water and fighting to get further up stream. A large red belly goes off to the far right. The current is forceful there but the salmon slides along the rock, inching its way through the pounding water. Little ones fly though the air, bodies curved like a U as they hit the water only to be thrown downstream again. Off to the far right, in the quiet water, a school of salmon float, seeming to catch their breath. 

Seagulls swarm and call for their territory. One grabs a crab and tears it apart on the bank. Each bird seems to have its own strategy for fishing.

  Pink fireweed rises from the corner of the pointed edge where a seagull plays sentry ~ barking orders at others as they fly by. 

The sound of the Russian River takes away any manmade sounds. It rushes, it pools, it bubbles, it vibrates the shores. 

Ah, this is ALASKA!!! Be well… Nancy T

Note: This is an unedited vision of what I saw, felt and experienced while watching the event play out. 

* POTENCY: a therapy term: To organically build energy to propel you forward.

Traditions

Happy Holidays! Tis’ the season of sharing, coming together and contemplating the past year as we welcome the new year. Countless traditions embrace this season. Whether they have been shared by family or friends, traditions are unique and cherished by many.

Recently, I was invited to a Polish celebration, a Wigilia. Although this celebration is reserved for Christmas Eve, we did it early to accommodate travel. A “roping contest” ensued. Living out west that usually entails an animal, but this roping was done to close the Pierogi (filled dumplings). 

Debby, our hostess, introduced us to her family tradition, which includes a wish for everyone individually. With nineteen in attendance, we did not follow the rules. Instead, Debby chose a wish for each of us, presenting it in a lovely origami box that she made with her mother. Each personalized message brought us all to tears. I heard one of the men say to Debby, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never experienced anything like I did tonight.” That was true for one and all.

With Polish blood running through my veins, I was surprised that I never heard of a Wigilia. Lor, my mom, explained that she followed the tradition in her youth, but her mother didn’t maintain it. What a shame! A Wigilia is a beautiful tradition. 

For the winter solstice, I followed a Buddhist tradition: to write something that I wanted to release from 2018 as well as something I desired in 2019. I shared my thoughts with Beth and she with me. Then we burned them. Another new tradition that I fancy. 

Today a Croation tradition of making Pogacha, a sweet bread, is at hand. I used to get a loaf in the mail. When I opened the package, I sat and just smelled it for the longest time. My childhood would come flooding back; the smell of Pogacha filling every nook and cranny of the house. My paternal grandmother would measure every ingredient. Lily would roll and punch the dough. She’d laugh after slapping our hands when we would pull a small chunk of raw dough from the mound she just kneaded and pop it into our mouths. Cinnamon & sugar, plain or cream cheese filling, it is something I still enjoy and remember with such love. Lor continued the tradition; she became a Croation through osmosis. It’s a long process to make such wonderful, traditional bread, but I’m willing to put forth the effort to bring Lily, Lor, and all of my ancestors to my doorstep. 

From the Wigilia tradition, I will close with my wish. “I wish you a time of wonder as you honor your traditions, new and old. In the spirit of your ancestors, may you enjoy it all.” Be well… Nancy T

The Face of Gratitude

In recent years, I have written about gratitude many times. One article I wrote was called “The Greatest Gift,” which was dedicated to gratitude. In my youth, my old friend Ozzie told me, “You have a bad attitude,” many times. Throughout the years, I have learned that when I live in gratitude my “attitude” is deleted.

Ozzie was right, in my teens, I carried a large chip on my shoulders. Anger fueled my existence, frustration was my guide, and my BAD attitude ruled my life. There was no one thing that frustrated me, it was a combination of things. Mostly, it was simply the unknown; all of life’s questions scurrying around in my head.

These days, as gratitude fills my cells, I know deep down that it is the best place to live.  Carrying gratitude in my heart for the simplest of things stimulates joy. Gratitude at a soul level is truly the greatest gift.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I recognize how overlooked gratitude can be on a daily basis. We go about our business and forget how much we have. As a traveler, I’ve witnessed people in other parts of the world with so much less, yet their spirits are high with so much more. It always amazes me how much more we want, how much more we need, how much we feel we lack! 

The picture included here is “The Face of Gratitude.” As I sit listening to the creek meander along the rocks and drop into pools of water, I’m so grateful for my ears to hear the cacophony of nature. As I look at the tall pines, birds flying, clouds moving through the sky, I’m so grateful for my eyes that paint gorgeous pictures for me. As I weave my way along the path, jumping rocks and skirting huge boulders, I am ever so grateful for the ability to walk and move through this world. Sitting amongst the boulders and breathing clean fresh mountain air brings joy to my nostrils and fills my lungs with Pure Love. The simple things create “The Face of Gratitude” that I share with you today.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!  May the gratitude you share today be carried with you always. For you and so much more, I am grateful.  Be well… Nancy T

Yes Baby!

Assuming we have all had some experience with a baby, we recognize that when a baby cries it is in need. If the baby is not recognized, its cries become more insistent. Still left alone, the cry increases in volume and vigor. Ignored, the baby may throw a tantrum trying to get its need met.

I often use this analogy to helps clients to understand what is happening in the body. The body is our baby and how we treat it causes reactions large and small. Similar to the above scenario, when the body is hurting it cries. This may appear as a slight pain or discomfort. If we override this whimper, the body resorts to an adjustment in volume, perhaps increasing the pain level. Still no response, the body finds a deep pain or it reacts with bowel issues or anxiety. If we continue to ignore its plea for help, it becomes insistent with persistent headaches, back spasms, or incapacitation. All of this in an attempt to get us to STOP, LISTEN, and RESPOND to its cries. 

Why do we do that, ignore all of these signs and let our baby wail? We all have our reasons but mostly, we have trained ourselves to overrun our internal wisdom. Some people even look upon this act as being strong. Beating ourselves up, ignoring our body, mind, and emotions, that is one of our greatest weaknesses. 

I employ you to tune in and start saying, Yes Baby! When the slightest plea arises, take a moment to check-in with yourself. STOP whatever you are doing for a moment and take a breath. That simple act can save you from causing an internal avalanche. LISTEN, so that you can hear what your baby needs; perhaps a sip of water, a bathroom break, a moment to look outside. Given the situation, RESPOND as best as you are able. If you need to put off a response, make a deal with yourself and do it later. Whatever you do, honor the agreement you have made or you will have an uncontrollable baby on your hands.

Paying attention and giving our baby what it needs, not only settles the baby, it makes the entire family HAPPY and HEALTHY. Yes Baby! Be well…. Nancy T

Honor Yourself

Photo on 8-18-18 at 9.32 AM“Honor Yourself.” Over the past week, I have spoken those words a half dozen times. After class, two people were talking about shoulder injuries. One, an older gentleman, just underwent surgery; the other, a young woman, was warned that if she didn’t stop much of her physical activity she would be facing serious injury. The young woman looked crushed when she spoke of NOT doing what she loved to do. The gentleman, standing before her in a sling, described the severity of his pain before and after surgery. I added to the conversation by saying, “Honor Yourself. If you don’t do it now, you will pay later.” The young woman looked at me as if I was mad, “How can I go without rock climbing, mountain biking….” I understood that she felt her world was crumbling; to her not being active was the end of the world.

To Honor Yourself  may be difficult. Personally, I have overridden my system, especially in my youth. However, my body was more forgiving then, or at least the recovery time was less.

As the words, Honor Yourself, continued to pour from my lips I had to ask myself, “Are you honoring yourself?” That afternoon I desperately wanted to take a swim, but when I listened to what my body needed I landed in my hammock and proceeded to drift away. I honored myself with rest.

To Honor Yourself is a terrific practice. It keeps you on track. It keeps you healthy. It keeps you in the moment. It keeps you safe. It keeps you going in life. Take a little time to practice and you will find that to Honor Yourself is the gift that keeps on giving. Be well… Nancy T

I’ve Done My Job

Thirty plus years and here I am, arriving at the realization that I have done my job as a therapist, a teacher, a person who cares. Recently, clients have been sharing unsolicited comments that have touched me deeply.

Several clients, who recently sustained physical trauma, have come to me within days of injury seeking therapy. For all these years, I have spoken of trauma. How we can help ourselves immensely by addressing the trauma as quickly as possible. Physical trauma does not stand alone, all trauma is included here. I even urged my mother to go to a male therapist in Chicago to release a fall she had recently sustained. After the first session, she did what she always does, downplay it. “It was fine. I’m fine.” When I persisted and spoke of how so many people come for therapy and then walk away before they have fully released the injury, she caved and agreed to a follow-up visit. My words, “Why would you want to carry this with you when you don’t have to lug it around? He, the therapist, now knows your body and he can help you to finish this release.” “OK, make the appointment,” my mother replied. (Inside my head; YES, Yes, YES!!!)

This YES feeling has continued with my clientele. One gentleman who has often arrived at my door with numerous issues said, “You know, I went places and felt things that I haven’t felt before with this session. That was wild to experience a treatment without a major problem.” YES! I followed up his statement with a personal testament. “When I have done therapy sessions without a complaint taking precedence I have gone further than I ever have before. I have reached places in my body, my soul that was sleeping. It is really amazing.” With a look of awe, he shook his head and replied, “Yeah….”

Another client who is working out of town contacted me with trepidation. He didn’t want to offend me but he conjured up the nerve, the courage to step out of his comfort zone and ask, “Can you recommend a therapist in_________ area?” A smile crossed my lips.YES! I told him in no uncertain terms how HAPPY he made me that he was taking care of himself. It’s not about me and my work, it’s about people getting what they need. That has always been my goal. To teach people to ask for what they need, to show people the power of therapy, to be there when called upon to the best of my ability. YES!

I share these stories, not for the praise of what I do or what I have done for people. Therapy has changed my life time and time again. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it SAVED my life; it helped me reclaim my life on several occasions, and it has kept me relatively sane for all these years.

When people ask who does what you do, the answer is simple, “No one.” But, there are countless therapists who do therapy their way and it is valuable. In this high-speed world, to be touched in a loving, non-sexual way is a gift most of us need.

I’ll end with words from my mother. “I’m just not as comfortable with him as I am with you.” Therein is a gift as well. My 87-year-old mother stepped out of her comfort zone to help herself. That speaks volumes to the power of therapy. All these years, thousands of bodies, copious stories and I now recognize, I’ve Done My Job. Be well… Nancy T

Ballooning

Thirty-three years ago I went to my first Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, NM. At that time, there was no grandeur. There was simply balloonist who gathered together to FLY. Alone, I walked out to the open field in the dark. Crews were busy getting their gear ready for the sunrise launch. I, along with other spectators, sought a warm beverage. With a hot tea in hand, I watched the crews work diligently to prepare the hot air balloons for launch.

Living in New Mexico throughout my therapy training, I watched hot air balloons floating on air most mornings and evenings. A  snapshot in my head is the multicolored balloons set against the Sandia Peaks. It always looked like grace in the sky.

One day my brother Ronny and I were standing in his kitchen talking when the room went dark. Ronny and I looked at each other and then we looked up at the skylight overhead. It was then we heard the “chuuchuuu” of a hot air balloon as the gas was lit. The balloon lifted and light returned to the room. The balloon touched down on the land above Ronny’s house. Moments later, the chase crew arrived to retrieve the party.

I have attended countless balloon glows where they tether the balloons to the ground after sunset and set the flames firing to light up the brilliantly colored fabric. I have stood in a gondola and posed for a photo as if I were in flight. On March 29, 2018, I took my first flight in a hot air balloon.

Sedona, AZ was the backdrop. Quite honestly, you can’t find a better venue than the red rocks of Sedona. My sister Jan and her husband Dale accompanied Beth and I. This was my 50th B-day present, 5 years late due to extreme winds that kept us grounded in 2013. A white van picked us up around 6AM. A bunch of young, strong men, the chase crew, joined us at a parking lot and we were off to the launch site.

Watching the operation, start to finish was amazing. The young men sprung into action as they wheeled carts stuffed with colorful material away from the gondola. I never saw a basket like the one laying on the ground on its side. It was rectangular, divided into four quadrants with a large space filled with gas containers in the middle. Once the balloons were unfolded, the fans were fired up to fill them. Slowly, the colors started to appear as the balloons began to take shape. Then came the FIRE ~ “chuuchuuu” “chuuchuuu” “chuuchuuu”. . . .

With the basket upright, we were welcomed aboard. Jan, Dale, Beth and I, gracefully and not so gracefully, climbed into our section of the gondola. Simple instructions were given: Stability is not based on your weight, feel free to move around, the balloon will turn for everyone to catch every view, enjoy the ride… “chuuchuuu” “chuuchuuu” “chuuchuuu” … AND we rose from the ground… just like that.

The crew was working feverishly on the ground to launch the other two balloons in our party. By then, we were seeing the sun softly touching the red rocks of Sedona one ray at a time. It was magical. When Mark, the pilot, hit the gas fieriness from the flame warmed our necks. With no engine, only the sound of our party and the flames hung in the air.

Ballooning left me feeling as though I was floating in mid-air. It was as if I were on a rotating pedestal 1,000 feet above Sedona where nature called to me. I answered the call by taking in the scenes through my eyes and letting the awe seep into each and every cell. Magnificence!!! Mark maneuvered the balloon just as he promised. A tug on a rope and the view changed, nothing dramatic, just a slow-mo panorama of a stunning piece of Earth with the sun lighting up different sections as it rose higher in the sky.

As a fox was spotted, my attention was drawn to the ground. I caught a glimpse its fluffy tail as it scurried behind a green bush, its head turned to the monstrous balloon overhead. Mark said, “This is how I like to go hiking. You can see everything and you don’t stress too much physically.” Floating high above it all, everything changes.

The other two balloons caught up with us though they were on another thermal in the distance. Capturing them on film with the red rocks behind them was magazine worthy. Beth caught the shadows of the balloons as she was fascinated with what was happening on the ground. To see the paths, the greenery, the wildlife, by air, that drew Beth’s attention.

Jan and Dale were beaming. We were a little nervous with Dale as he claimed “fear of heights.” Mark’s talk made him realize that he is not afraid of “heights,” he’s afraid of EDGES. Even Mark, a hot air balloon pilot with 28 years under his belt claimed “fear of edges.”

Love filled my heart. The silence, the stillness, the grace of being above it all and taking in the divine… WOW! Hugs all around. Gratitude, so much gratitude for my life that I even texted Lor, my mother, when we were on the ground; “Thank you for my life.”

Mark went through the landing procedures as our flight was coming to a close. “There are straps on each side for you hold on, please stay in the balloon once we touch down, we’ll let you know when it is time to exit.” Everyone found their straps and then we all laughed as we neared the ground and Mark instructed the chase crew to pull us over to a flat parking area. “Wait, what?” Three young men did as instructed and pulled the balloon filled with 17 people and supplies across the street and into the designated area. Mark said, “This is good.” The next thing, we touched down. Mark laughed, “I guess you didn’t need those straps after-all.” It was so gentle, that we barely noticed the difference between hovering and landing. Mark said to the crew, “Now, somebody needs to go pick up that cow-pie because it’s in line with where the balloon will come down.” Shovel in hand and the cow-pie disappeared. The crew already worked hard but that was just the beginning of the end. A little fun comes with the job. One guy had a rope that was attached to the balloon. With the rope in hand, he ran away from the balloon and he is airborne, flying in a circle in front of us with a BIG smile on his face. Mark invites a teenager in our group to give it a try. Grinning ear to ear, he gets out of the balloon and he is off to be lifted. The teen needs more practice but the experience made his day. A piece of history is etched in his gray matter.

Mark asks us to exit the gondola. As the balloon deflates, the chase crew feverishly works to get all the air out, roll, fold, and stuff the balloon back into the cart. The teen, now an unofficial crew member lends a hand. The gondola is next to be loaded. Three guys in front to lift, three in back to tilt it. Mark drives the van with the trailer back and the front of the gondola is in. The van powers back and the crew lifts the back of the basket into the trailer. As we load into the van it feels like Game Over but Mark drives over to other balloons and his crew jumps in to help. It was quite the operation.

The magic didn’t end there. Everyone met up at a picnic area for the traditional champagne toast. “The winds have welcomed you with softness. The sun has blessed you with its warm hands. You have flown so high and so well, that God has joined you in your laughter and gently set you back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.” For that and so much more, I AM SO GRATEFUL!!! Be well… Nancy T