I’m so excited about heading to Oakland!

My first time traveling with the Empowered Voice Traveling Exhibit. I’m joining my friends Dru & Asehli at their 2nd annual Redefined Event.

Let’s just say it wasn’t the best trip I’ve ever taken. No, let’s tell it like it is …the trip from HELL.

The day before.

Knowing I’ll be gone over two weeks, I want to get as much done beforehand as possible – finish up some makeshift stands out of styrofoam and velcro to use for the artist books that (because of lack of good planning on my part) I would have to carry through the airport and check as luggage. One piece of artwork didn’t fit in the box I’d packed up and shipped the week before, so I pick up a last minute suitcase that is slightly larger than the one I usually travel with. That suitcase proved to be exactly what I bought (CHEAP!!) I should have known better…

The morning I’m leaving, I realize that aside from last minute packing, I still have billing to do and more organizational things so I don’t have to work while on my trip.

I leave late, completely rattled from trying to get so much done before I leave.

It’s a 3-hour drive to DIA but I should still be fine. Oh No! There is a delay on I-70! Because of a fire, traffic has been diverted. 30 minute delay Yuck!

I’m getting close. Whew, I’ll be fine; a little late but should still be there 1.5 hours before flight time.

Oh Crap! Another delay from road construction. Another 30 minutes. Getting a little panicked now… Luckily I have TSA Pre-check. I take the Spot shuttle to the airport.

By now I’m pretty frazzled so (of course) I get off on the wrong side of the airport.
Overloaded with my extra baggage, I run through the airport. By the time I get to the luggage check in at Southwest, the plane is leaving in 20 minutes…


They rebook by flight, help me repackage my makeshift stands so I don’t have to pay for 3 extra bags and get me on my way. I still pay $75 for the extra package that’s too long to fit in the overhead compartment. They were so incredibly helpful, and efficient! I glance at my new ticket. Oh, not so bad I’ll arrive only 5 minutes later than planned.

Wow, that’s amazing. Thank you Universe!

Head straight to the gate” the attendant tells me. “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not stop to get coffee!
I call my husband, share the details when I get to the gate.

I finally breathe!

Then I realize I arrive in Las Vegas at 8:35, not Oakland. Ugh! “Well, at least I’m on my way.

It’s after midnight when I arrive in Oakland. I’m so exhausted I can’t think straight!

The only credit card I have with enough room left on it to pay for the rental car has my husband’s name on it. “I can’t take this” he says” SHIT!! They won’t take debit cards so I finally suggest they call my husband and reluctantly he accepts the card. Oh, thank God!

“The car is in D26” he says and points toward the door. I step outside and look around. “Where in the world is D-26” I ask myself. I see someone to the left, so carting my suitcase, carryon, makeshift stands and extra artwork in a tube, I head toward him to ask where D-26 might be. “No idea” he says. We ask someone else. Oh, I’m in the wrong area, Budget is to the right.

I still don’t see numbers so I find someone else who tells me exactly where the car is. “Last row to the right, back of the lot.” “Of course” I think to myself. I roll my stuff over to the car. No walk around. There’s a scratch on the rear bumper. No one is around to answer questions.

I load up the heavy suitcase and all the extras in the trunk and get in the driver’s seat. I can’t figure out how to adjust the mirrors (or do anything else with the car). I’m used to driving a Ford and this is a Toyota. It’s pitch black. (Remember, I’m exhausted and can’t think straight.)

I can’t find the Air B&B address. The phone (like me) is almost out of battery. I call the host. He’s incredibly helpful but tells me I need to download the app. that he sent me a link to that morning.

August is an App?!! I’m panicked!

My phone battery is now at 3%. I can’t find the charger. (Ford vs Toyota again.) My host suggests it might be in the console just as the phone dies. Whew! I download the app. It’s after 1 am.

I call my host back to get the address that is of course right where I put it in my phone that morning when I was calm and organized. I ask the attendant on the way out of the rental lot how to adjust the mirrors but the right  one is still not adjusting properly. I drive extra carefully, double checking my rear view mirror and the right side every time navigation tells me to make a lane change. I’m half way to my Air B&B when I realize the mirror has been pushed in. Well, at this point I guess I’ll wait ’til morning.

I’m there, I’m safe!

I search for my calming essential oils. No luck.

They are still sitting on the bathroom counter top where I gathered them up earlier that morning. “What!? No frankincense for over 2 weeks? How will I survive? I use it for everything – my brain, my skin, calming …you name it.

I laugh at myself. (So dramatic!) I survived! LOL

Exhausted, at 1:30 in the morning, I fall in to bed…

Surprisingly, I wake up early, somewhat refreshed. I have plenty of time for my ‘coffee meditation’. I sit, coffee in hand, in the living room and watch the still waters right outside my window. I breathe in deeply, inhaling the water’s peaceful energy. (The ultimate reason I rented this particular Air BnB.) The early morning sun glistens red on the blue grey waters. I feel calm yet energized. Yesterdays frustrations gone now. My daily ‘coffee meditation’ practice brings me back to full energy, centered and fully ready for the day.

Without my frankincense I head over to the Humanist Hall in Oakland. I stop on the way to adjust my mirror because (of course) I didn’t remember to do that before I got in the car. I park, walk into the building and promptly trip and fall. I look up from the floor at the people standing in front of me. “Oh, Hi Asehli!”

What an entrance!

I set up the show in the limited space available (without the makeshift stands I resolutely had brought with me).

I glance around. Healing candles, health information, healing jewelry, Tarot, even assistance for those who’d once been incarcerated to get their lives back. So many workshops with movement sound and more.

The rest of the day went beautifully as did the much more relaxing next two weeks of, much needed, family time.

I met amazing men and women who were healing from their traumas. A few will be part of the next exhibit sharing their healing journey in their own way. I met allies and advocates who offered to sponsor (in part) the next Empowered Voice Art Exhibit and Symposium in Oakland.

I learned so much!

…there are so many ways to heal and to advocate for those in need.
…be prepared further in advance and to created contingency plans.
…arrive an extra day in advance.
…that a traveling exhibit is much more expensive to travel with than expected.

But most of all, I was reminded again how important and well received the advocacy work we all do is and how much it’s really needed. How simple acts create empowerment.

Advocacy can really be so simple.

I held her in my arms for a few moments. Acknowledged her and expressed my sorrow for her pain. I told her it was not her fault.

“Thank you for embracing me and acknowledging my pain and suffering when so many would have turned away.” Cain

The simple act of acknowledgement and believing is powerful beyond words.

This gratitude is why I do what I do.


Travel can truly be exhausting, but there are always was to restore ourselves. For me, it’s my simple daily ‘Coffee Meditation’.


What daily practices rejuvenate you?