Preparing for a Trip – What I’m Reading

This past week, I’ve been preparing for a trip. I’m busy pulling everything together including the books I’ll want to read.

A part of my travel plans for the summer involved finalizing my Global Entry pass with an interview. After nearly 3 months from my application, I was able to complete the process and use my pass ID.

Travel and a Global Entry pass

I heartily suggest you get one if you are planning any international travel. The cool thing is it includes TSA Pre status. At least I won’t have to worry about standing in a long line at Orlando International Airport this week. Here’s the link to the online information to start your application:

What I’m Reading

When I’m traveling I love using my Kindle. I share book titles with my husband who is an avid reader of mystery and suspense. Currently I’m reading Greg Iles Cemetery Road. I’ll also load The Quiet Game by Iles, Book 1 in his Penn Cage Series before I leave the unlimited Internet I enjoy at home.


Do you read books in order by date for a fiction author? I sure do!

I read fiction for fun, but honestly most of my reading is non-fiction, including memoir, which is the genre I write in. As a life-long student, I’m always reading something that is instructional whether for my work or my life. Here are two of these books I’m reading.

Be the Gateway by Dan Blank and Shimmering Images, A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton.


Hunters – Single Greatest Asset for Preserving Wild America?

I can see your eyes roll, a gasp come out your open mouth, or “No way,” escape your lips. But it’s true. I’ve seen it. I’m living it this week at my husband’s hunting camp in middle Georgia and during a visit to a nearby wildlife management area (WMA).

How Do Hunters Preserve the Wild?

Quite simply, hunters are a large group of mostly men, who spend a lot of money to hunt close to home, in nearby states, or thousands of miles away from their homes. They pay for hunting leases, hunting licenses, hunting outfitters and guides or buy large tracts of virgin land for the sole purpose of maintaining acreage to hunt deer, elk, bear, mountain goats, caribou, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn. Then there are the birds; turkey, quail, dove, ducks, geese… the list goes on and on. And those hunting license fees are earmarked for parks and other state lands we all can enjoy.

The desire to have wild game available to hunt drives hunters to spend big bucks to keep wild areas wild. They fork over thousands for annual hunting leases from farmers who grow slash pine as one of their crops. Slash pine stands provide cover for deer and turkey, while the edges between crop fields allow hardwood to flourish, their acorns and fruits littering the ground. And unfortunately for the farmer, deer graze in their crop fields. I don’t know who loves soybeans more, deer or hunters.

Does Harvesting Wildlife Benefit the Herd?

You better believe it does. Any wildlife management program requires a method to thin the herd. When the number of animals become too large, sick or less robust males have the opportunity to breed, diminishing the overall health of the herd.

A Real Life Example of Hunters Preserving Wild Lands

One person that comes to mind is a botanist, Patrick Lynch, who was working on his Masters Degree in Athens, Georgia. Here is my interview with him:

Dawn: Hi, Patrick. Thank you for sharing your experiences with land preservation and the role of hunters in Georgia.

Patrick: You’re welcome. It changed the way I viewed hunters by 180 degrees. I’ve never worked directly with hunters in the field, but what I can say from experience is that astute hunters understand the necessity of preserving and maintaining a variety of habitat for wildlife and not just game. This includes both actively managed lands and more pristine, natural environments, which often harbor rare and/or endangered plant species. So while hunters and conservationists approach land preservation from different perspectives, our ultimate objective is more or less the same.

Dawn: Could you give us an example?

Patrick: Several colleagues and I spent years conducting research in an area of central Georgia containing a suite of unique and imperiled floristic associations and numerous rare and endangered plant species. Despite years of pleading, we, and several other interested parties, could not convince the state to purchase the property. It was not until the hunting lobby began to actively promote its preservation that the state finally saw the wisdom of permanently acquiring this property. Now there were some pretty heavy handed politics involved in the purchase as well, but without hunters advocating for preservation, this property would likely be a housing development, and all of the unique flora and fauna, some of which occurs nowhere else in Georgia, would be permanently lost.

Dawn: That’s an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

Patrick: I’m happy to.

Who Else Benefits from Hunting?

Anyone interested in the environment prefers the preservation of wild lands. There are a number of ways this happens; local or federal agencies procure or maintain lands for the public good, private non-profits buy wild lands or create land trusts that save agricultural lands from future development. All these require money from individuals in the form of taxes, lottery funding, or charitable contributions.

Hunters don’t ask for your money. Yes, they are self-motivated, but they are saving these lands nonetheless. Next time you catch yourself judging that person decked out in camouflage, reflect on Patrick Lynch’s story and consider the hunters who make this world a bit better for all of us.

How I Worked Through Anxiety at 1 am

I had a rough night last night. I’m at my husband’s hunting camp in Middle Georgia. We have a nice roomy travel trailer. The weather is nice, mid-80’s and then 50’s at night, comfortable sleeping weather. So why did I wake up just past midnight with leg cramps and extreme restlessness?

Taking the youngest dog, 15 month-old Sugar, for her middle-of-the-night stroll, gave me relief from the cramps, but the restlessness was just as bad when I returned to our queen-size trailer bed. No, it was something else bothering me.

I learned long ago sleep would elude me until I felt I’d accomplished a task I had put off or faced the fear staring me in the face.

Asking Myself the Hard Quesitons

”What is it?” I asked myself. “Why am I so uncomfortable here?” Having three dogs that need walking several times a day keeps me active, perhaps too active, explaining the leg cramps. But what else is nagging me?

The memory of a panic attack in a mummy sleeping bag, inside a dome tent thirty years ago, held the answer. My claustrophobia had reared it’s ugly head. But I don’t have issues with crowded elevators or long airplane flights, well, no pressing issues.

Taking the Initiative to Find Answers

In the dark, laying in bed, I reach for my iPhone and Googled ‘claustrophobia’. There are a couple types, but the fear of being trapped seems to fit my situation. At home, I can’t even allow the folded comforter at the foot of the bed to weigh down my feet in bed. I have to push it over the railing of the four poster bed. And sleeping with dogs is not my thing. As long as Sugar is near the center of the foot of the bed, I’m okay, but don’t get between me and the edge where I swing my legs over to get up. Don’t do that!

Reading further about the cause of claustrophobia, it can usually be traced back to some childhood trauma where the sufferer was put in a dark closet or box, or just felt confined and unable to get out. I rack my brain to remember anything like that in my own past and there it is.

Making the Connection

When I was about 9, my sister and I were playing at her friend’s house. There was a rope swing hanging from a chinaberry tree. It was along the embankment leading down to a railroad track. We had lifted up a railroad tie to see is any cool bugs were lurking beneath. The tie had sunk into soft red clay that now was hard, leaving behind a perfect, narrow trough.

As I swung out, I let go with the intention of landing on my feet, knees bent to soften the impact. But somehow I landed on my butt, legs extended out, straight into the trough. The wind was knocked out of me and I panicked, trapped in the hard clay. My sister and her friend came to my rescue, pulling me out.

Realizing the source of my anxiety, helped me understand situations where I feel uncomfortable:

    • A preference eating on the open porch rather than our usual location at the bar off the kitchen, the upper cabinet over my head
    • Feeling closed in unless the blinds are open during the day, no valence or draperies on my windows, ever
    • Choosing seats on trains, buses, or automobiles where I can look out both sides or even better, three sides
    • Always preferring outside to inside, even if it’s cold, rainy, or hot

Learning How to Make My Life Better

Thinking about all this calmed me considerably and I was able to fall asleep. Even better, this morning I opened all the blinds, shared my insights with my husband and now I feel like I’ve opened a window where I can breathe into myself. It’s another brick removed from the wall of protection I’ve created.

Sugar Among the Posies