Your Comfort Zone is Perishable

broken mirror - val in real life

In a few short days, we will say goodbye to another year. We humans have a propensity to get nostalgic, as well as hopeful, in the course of ushering in a new year. It’s natural to take the time to look at where we’ve been in the last year and where we are going in the next. As you go …

Forty-Six: Gratitude

Last year when I set out on my motorcycle for Baja, it was with the intent of pursuing adventure for my 45th birthday. This year, I’m back in Baja for my birthday but it wasn’t the purpose of the trip, just a coincidence. It happens to be a great time of year to be here. However, being here and traveling …

Investment

If you’ve followed Val in Real Life over the last few years, you know I gave my recovery from the 2015 crash every ounce of energy and determination I possess. Even though I knew my body would never be the same, I refused to settle for anything less than the best possible outcome of a bad situation. My physicians have …

Stomping Grounds

Stomping grounds—the areas where you spend most of your time, the accessible places from your home base, your most familiar territory. For most of my life, my stomping grounds consisted of the humid southeastern temperate forests, the wet earth. It’s lush, ethereal, and enveloping. The air is dense, the landscape is verdant, and the scent of humus permeates every cell …

A Walk on the Freeway in Carson City

It’s not every day you get to walk on a brand-new interstate. Pristine pavement. Sharp, fresh striping. Hundreds of bicyclists, roller-skaters, skateboarders, and runners whizzing by you. I had that very opportunity thanks to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). The last three, newly-constructed miles of I-580 in Carson City opened to traffic last week. Before our new freeway extension …

Celebrating Near-Perfect on Mother’s Day

I know, I know… it’s a Hallmark holiday. But my dear Fred happened to be born on Mother’s Day so I’m fond of it in my own way. And like birthdays which I consider personal new years, even contrived holidays have their place as a marker to review your time in this world. For all of our good intentions, hopes, and efforts …

Awake: Finding my Inner Thelma

I imagine most of you are familiar with the movie Thelma and Louise and its tale of two women finding their strength through a series of unexpected and escalating ordeals. In one of the most enduring scenes towards the end of the film, Geena Davis’ character, Thelma, says to Louise “I feel awake. Wide awake. I don’t ever remember feeling this awake. You know …

Life After Trauma

val in real life

Today marks an unwelcome anniversary: the second year since my near-fatal motorcycle crash at the hands of a negligent driver. I intended to write this last year on the first anniversary. It turns out I wasn’t ready. I knew at that point I’d be ok, but I still had a lot of processing to do. The trouble with trauma is that it …

My Forty-Fifth Birthday: Celebrating with Adventure

I’ve published a birthday post every year since 2011. It’s a reflection of my outgoing year as I consider the new year ahead. In that first birthday post, I confessed to my behind-the-scenes health issue. Little did I know how much worse things would get for me. It’s ok to laugh ironically, I promise. I have at least some sense …

Embracing Nevada: A Georgia Girl Moves West

Embracing Nevada - Val in Real Life

Twenty-two years. Half of my life. That’s how long I’ve called the Atlanta area home. (The other half was in Florida, for those that aren’t in the know.) And now I’ve left the southeast. Sort of… More on that in a moment. My tapestry… I’ve talked about the art of living with you before in a slightly different context. But largely I …