The nomadic instinct is a human instinct — Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Having a “Lucy” on the stoop in Brooklyn, NY. A single cigarette at the local bodega is a dollar. Photo of the author by Jack Liakas

After a couple of years of deep contemplation, I decided I was tired of living a life of not quite… quiet desperation…but lingering melancholy.

I felt my life shrinking when it should be expanding. Routine had sidled up, tapped me on the shoulder, and suddenly uttered Boo!

I remembered “The Songlines,” a terrific book I had been given just prior to a nine month, solo trip I’d taken to New Zealand and Australia five years ago. A best seller in 1987, the author Bruce Chatwin is credited with transforming travel writing. …


Celebrating the Unsung heroes who help us navigate the unexpected potholes in life.

Photo by Dmitriy Demidov on Unsplash

It’s tough out there.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been, quite literally, kicked to the curb a few times over the years.

And that includes a dropkick from each of the three big contenders that figure prominently in the life-sucking-psychic-energy department: romance, work, and customer service.

But in one area of my life, there’s been a person who for the past twenty-two years has alleviated stress and kept my days, as well as my 1993 Volvo 240 wagon running smoothly. He’s not only a wizard, he’s also generous, passionate, honest, and damned pleasant.

It’s early evening and the…


Photo by Jonathan Sanchez

The amazing Helen Mirren is credited with this quote:

Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. Your 70s are F*@cking awesome.

When I first read it, the 40s, 50s, and 60s decades resonated. But the 70s? F*@ing Awesome?

I tried hard to believe her — I really did. But I wasn’t totally buying it.

Until recently.

Looking back, the 40s were good. I got married, had a son, enjoyed being young and healthy. But before the decade was done, dissatisfaction cast its shadow and darkened into a full fledged storm of divorce. Better things were…


Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

My 91 year-old mother died this month in an assisted living/memory care facility in Maine. I wasn’t allowed to be with her.

As a resident of NYC for the past year, I would have had to quarantine for two weeks making a visit impossible, and I didn’t want to jeopardize the other residents and the staff who so lovingly cared for her and, remarkably, managed to keep her home Covid-19 free.

Since she had been ill for the past ten years and suffered a couple of close calls, my family had hoped my mother would make it a few more…


Author and son painting created together.

Remembering a Thanksgiving masterpiece of moments 5 years…


These 3 easy practices, done together, will manifest positive action and, maybe, an adventure.

Photo by Natalya Letunova on Unsplash

Five years ago, I started an inner journey and stumbled upon three easy yet different processes that I, fortuitously, did at the same time. These three things shook up my life and sent me on an adventure that continues to this day.

It began with a picture I’d cut out of a magazine of a lithe, ballerina-like figure balancing on a tightrope with the aid of a tiny, black parasol. The background was dreamy and verdant. I responded to this picture in a visceral way, but its meaning remained a mystery. I placed it in the center of my poster…


“Genius is eternal patience.” Michelangelo

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Over these many months of 2020, I’ve developed this animal instinct of being on high alert sensing an impending disaster… but it never goes away and relief never comes. This flight or fright state leaves me weakened and easy prey to impatience which makes my stress levels soar.

Since early childhood I’ve been pretty slow on the uptake practicing the virtue of patience. I-want-it-now-tantrums morphed into impulsive bad decisions, into faulty reasoned thinking that I had some control over outcomes in my life. …


With nowhere to go, Covid has revived this simple pleasure and kept a lot of people happy and sane.

Photo by Marcelo Marques on Unsplash

I’m suddenly fourteen again.

In order to escape the confines of my big, chaotic family, I sneak the keys to the car and sidle out the door before anyone notices.

With a heavy yank, the driver’s side door shuts with an Omph sigh of relief, and the outside world disappears. Seated in my tiny capsule ready for orbit, I twist the radio dial to my favorite station and happily drift away. This is my great escape.

The last four months of this new age Covid living have forced most of us to return to a time of simpler things, be…


We need to develop the Buddhist practice of metta, or lovingkindness… and the benefits are worth it.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

When I read the phrase To reteach a thing its lovelinessjust let that sink in for a minute… it felt like a lifeline, like a comforting beacon of light after being lost on an uncharted sea of anxiety, fear, and growing anger.

Reading further in Sharon Salzberg’s book, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, I learned this is the nature of metta, which can be translated from Pali, the ancient language of Buddhist scriptures, as unconditional love or lovingkindness.

It is the first of the brahma-viharas, heavenly abodes, and supports the others that include compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. The…

Connie Ottmann

Solo adventurer, writer, painter, not-really-retired former high school English teacher, who enjoys jumping into the unknown. Find me at connieottmann.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store