Adventures in Imperfection

Directionally Challenged and Forever Awkward

“If I were a magician, I’d hand out broken compasses. It’s all about misdirection.
Jarod Kintz



I put myself through college, can whip out a mean algebraic equation and have held my own with Alex on Jeopardy.

All of the education and a fancy job still doesn’t fix the fact that on most days I can’t find my way out of paper bag even with openings on both ends.

Let me elaborate.

It’s 1:26 on Friday afternoon and I’m tucked in a corner somewhere in the middle of the gorgeous Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort. I’m here with about 2000 other professionals strangers getting the inside scoop on this country’s healthcare landscape (Hint: it’s not pretty!)

I could say that I’m hiding from the hoards of strangers and you’d believe it because I’ve hinted at my introverted tendencies before. Even though proactively making small talk with people I don’t know makes my tummy do somersaults, it’s not why I’m sitting in the corner. 

The real reason I’m tucked in here is because, for the 7th time since arriving yesterday, I’m lost. AGAIN!


With seas of rooms that boast big Texas names like Grapevine, Lonestar and Restroom, I find myself lost and swimming in a sea of awkward with not a thing to wear (Gremlins apparently got into my suitcase and packed clothing from the much coveted HoboWear line.)

Don’t worry. I’ll find my way soon–I have a map and a big mark that says “You are here.” How difficult could it be?


 Apparently, harder for me than most.

I wish that this was the first time I was completely clueless in a new place, but it’s the norm rather than the exception. When we travel together, my husband lets me exit the hotel room first. Not cuz he’s a gentleman, but because he can’t wait to see which way I’m going to turn to get to the elevator we’ve already been on a bazillion times. I tend to zig instead of zag and tuck when I should have rolled.

I’m easily flustered, directionally challenged and there’s no known cure. It wouldn’t be so bad except that my job requires me to be in dozens of different cities, hotels, convention centers and airports. In fact, I have to park in the same spot (row 22 tower 2 on level 2) when I fly out of KC because I get the trips mixed up and have spent way too much time looking for my car. I’ve gotten lost running in downtown Dallas and led my own daughter underneath a scary bridge in Chicago because I picked the wrong landmark building on the  walk back from Lakeshore Drive.

How can a person always be so lost?!

I get my rights and lefts mixed up and North and South only make sense after I’ve calibrated the surroundings with my childhood home (hills to the East and plains to the West). Once, while working in Denver, I drove over an hour looking for I-70 West amidst a bucket of frustrated tears and exhaustion.

I called my husband and said, “I know you can’t help me, but just talk to me. I need to go West, I don’t know where I’m at and it’s too dark to see the mountains. If I could find the mountains, I could find the interstate.”  After making fun of me, he comforted me and said, “You need to keep a compass with you.”

He was so right! I knew where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know how to get there. Surely there’s a good metaphor for life here, right?

Ah…you know me too well. Of COURSE there is! Lots of them.

First of all, I’ve accepted and embraced the fact that I’m directionally challenged and awkward–in travel AND life. I don’t freak out anymore when I get lost because I’ve learned to leave early, drop breadcrumbs and appreciate the detours and wrong turns that have led me to adventures I would have never discovered had I arrived as originally planned.


Landmarks guide me back to where I started and a compass takes me to the right spot to begin with.

However, a compass only works if it’s calibrated. In life, do we use our heart or head as the calibration marker? That’s the mechanical question I’ve toyed with ever since I was younger.

As someone with the soul of writer, you’d automatically assume that I follow my heart, right? Fortunately, my lack of direction didn’t trump common sense. Had I made every decision with my heart, I would have ended up in a cute VW bus with big daisies painted on the side selling produce and patchouli on the side of road. Romantic, but not practical.

In truth, daily decisions are made with my head and bigger decisions are made with my heart.

My head chose science over journalism and my heart led me down the highway (literally) to my future husband. Both good decisions, but made with completely different perspectives and compasses.


We all have that internal dial that leads us to our core values, directs life decisions and sets priorities.

This is just a preamble to communicate what you’ll be seeing (or not seeing) on the MamaMick pages to come in the next few weeks. Day job has me working an insane amount of hours and it looks like more states are being added in addition to the seven I already cover.

I won’t unpack my suitcase until May.

My sensible compass tells me to walk away for a bit, go on a blogging vacay and come back when life isn’t so busy. My heart arrow says life will always be busy and writing is what I love to do so just keep doing it.

Whenever I get jumbly and overwhelmed on the inside, I find that slowing down, focusing on others rather than whining about myself gives me renewed energy and focus. For my blogger buds: I’ll be spending the next month reading and commenting on YOUR blogs rather than writing in my own. I want to read your words, get to know you better all while being inspired. As I’m collecting and learning, I’ll continue to hang out with Christy and Jennie at RoS and help with the Six Songs series and Braveheart Chronicles. 

For the friends and family who read my ramblings, when I’m home, I’ll spend more time with you than my laptop. I’ll cook meals, bake cookies, help with homework, plant the garden and give away my tomato plants (uh, there are 60 seedlings and I only have room for 8!)


I’ll also be working on a travel series planned to span a period of 4-5 weeks in a row that will use music, photos and words to illustrate the Heartland like you’ve never seen it. Here are the five proposed chapters–my head is already full of the photos that I’m going to take and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Life is a Highway
Flyover States
My Hometown
Every day is a winding road
Long Trip Alone

Please don’t worry if you don’t see me as often in the next few weeks. I’m happy, blessed and staying out of trouble. I may pop in to drop a video, a few pics on my photography site and provide music while you wait. Unless life drastically changes and provides me with a clone, you’ll not be hearing much until my series is ready to launch next month.

Until then, I’ll still see you around. I’ll be reading and engaging on your sites and favoriting your tweets. I know the map, I have the landmarks and even if I get lost, I’ll have fun finding my way back.



 Compass by Lady Antebellum



41 thoughts on “Directionally Challenged and Forever Awkward

  1. I love this post, Michelle. Your schedule, however, makes me dizzy. lol

    I have spent most of my blogging time reading and having discourse on other people’s blogs. I have grown so much, and been profoundly enriched, plus the nectar on the chocolate bon bons? —> I’ve met some incredible people, who are now my friends. Some, no doubt, will be lifelong friends. *winks*

    I will have to say that there are side-effects to bouncing around on other blogs, especially when you leave comments. You want to talk about getting lost? 😀 I can get so behind on returning replies. But eventually I get there. I just need to get better at leaving breadcrumbs.

    Follow your bliss. ❤


    1. *waves* hey lifelong friend! Nectar, bon bons and other people’s words…I can’t think of a better way to spend some time in the midst of the craziness!
      I’ll follow my bliss if you continue to follow your arrow 😉


  2. Loved all the metaphors! When I started my grad school program the prof in charge of our exec program chartered our course, gave us the coordinates and painted the landscapes…at graduation, he gave each of the 36 of us a gold compass to help us signify our journey, to provide direction for the future, but most importantly to illustrate that we are the needle of the compass and we as leaders get to choose where the needle sways.
    Your words always make me smile, Michelle! And trust me, I can totally emphasize as I too am DIRECTIONALLY CHALLENGED! Which is why I’m so grateful for technology. And if it makes you feel any better, I too have found myself lost in that very hotel ~ it’s nuts! Sorry for the increased work load and please know we are here for you and happy to help in any way! Hugs!


    1. What a cool professor! I’m so glad you shared your words and provided that additional insight. I LOVE stories like yours.
      This hotel IS crazy! I didn’t mention the part about leaving dinner last night before everyone else and having the same group finding me 30 minutes later. I think I made 10 circles to the same spot before someone finally rescued me!
      I think of you often (every day) and am so thankful for you and who are you are.


  3. Well, having been so recently introduced I have old posts to go back and read and enjoy to get to know you a bit better, so I guess that’s what I’ll be doing!
    Sounds like a busy time, but I’ll be very interested in your travel journal, great idea.
    And, just to make you feel a whole lot better….in my yoga class yesterday the teacher couldn’t remember which side we were supposed to work on next and asked for a reminder from the class with the caveat “NOT Michele”…yeah, I need a compass to tell left from right.
    It can always be worse, right?
    Have fun on your travels and a lovely time with your family when you’re home.


    1. Oh Michele…I’m laughing so hard right now! What a relief to know that I’m not the only one who gets confused at right and left. Love it! People who don’t know just don’t know! Do you think it could be our name?!?
      Hopefully, you won’t think I’m a stalker, but meeting you on Christy’s site was what prompted me to get out of my own space and spend some time in others. You have talent and write with such heart. I just know I’ll learn, grow and have a really great time doing it.
      I, too, am excited about the travel series–it’s still building and morphing in my head. Even if I’m not actively writing, I’m always thinking.
      I can’t tell you how glad I am that our paths crossed. Your next job is talk me into doing yoga and reminding me how good it is for me.
      As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.


  4. Your right Michelle, getting lost can lead you to some amazing adventures that otherwise would not have come about 🙂 If you ever want to get lost in Australia, let me know, getting lost is so easy down here 🙂
    Take care and enjoy your ‘new’ adventure. Namaste


    1. Getting lost in Australia sounds divine! I’ve not been there, but the folks from your country I know (and who on WP) are so friendly and genuine. It sounds like a place I definitely need to visit. Thanks for stopping and saying hello. Your blog is one of the places on my list to navigate.
      Thank you, Mark!


  5. “Not all who wander are lost.” Pretty sure that was Tolkein, but Jennie would know for sure.

    The way I remember directions is by picturing a map in my mind. California is west, Florida is east. North is up, south is down. Lol. I’m horrible with north south east west… Just tell me left or right!

    Take all the time you need hon, sharpen the saw…. You don’t even have to read, just enjoy the quiet. Write in a notebook. Unplug. Recharge.

    Love the Gaylord. We’ll have to meet up in Dallas sometime! xo


    1. Looky who is still up!
      How awesome you would provide that quote. I had it in the post and took the image out because I couldn’t find that it wasn’t copyrighted. I need a t-shirt with that saying.
      I LOVE the “up down” references!
      Thanks for stopping by and adding the “sugar” I adore so much.
      xo 🙂


  6. I love this metaphor. I think my heart has directed me for the most part – I studied literature, married young and very recently changed career – but I’m glad at where I ended up.
    Ah, good luck with your travelling schedule. I cannot wait for your travel series, though and reading you on RoS. In the meantime, enjoy the ‘downtime’, and those cookies!


    1. Hello dear Nadia! I’m so glad to hear that you like where you ended up. Me too 🙂
      I’m pretty sure that having a roadmap would have messed both of us up! Thanks for your kind words. I’ll be seeing you–I’ll bring cookies when I come to visit your space.


  7. Oh I’m another with zero sense of direction. Friends keep telling me to get a sat nav for the car I’m so hopeless at knowing where I am or reading the map, but I quite enjoy the challenge and surprise of it. You sound to be in an exciting place – enjoy!


    1. Hi Liz,
      I gave in and got the garmin. However, even with that…well, it’s not a slam dunk. That silly little thing even landed me in a fender bender once (long story, small space).
      I’m so happy to have discovered more kindred spirits with directional problems–it’s nice to know we’ll not be wandering alone. I love that you appreciate the challenge and suprise. I can’t wait to spend more time over at your blog and learn more about you (and your sweet kiddo!)


  8. I once drove three counties out of my way (on a major highway, no less), in the opposite direction from where I needed to be. Oh, Mae, where were you and where were you attempting to go? To a doctor’s appointment in the city I grew up in. I feel your pain.


    1. Oh Mae!! That is awesome!! I absolutely love it and am belly laughing right now. I’d like to say that hasn’t happened to me, but it has. My first trip back home after being married and in a new town. 75 miles north of my destination before I found a pay phone and asked for help 🙂
      Ps: did you get an email from me about the 6 songs series I invited you to. I’m always nervous when I hit “send” using something other than direct email 🙂


      1. Perhaps the sadder thing is that I realized my mistake but couldn’t decide where to get off and turn around, so I kept going. I got so far out, that there were no exits for miles and miles. I eventually pulled into a state park and turned around from there. 🙂

        I received and answered your email yesterday afternoon! (The answer is yes, of course!)


      2. Yay!! Thank you!
        I think the emails go somewhere other than my inbox, so I’ll get with Christy and find it. I’m so glad you’re going to join us!
        (Regarding your trip–I would have done the same thing!)


  9. Such a heart-felt and honest post! “…and appreciate the detours and wrong turns that have led me to adventures I would have never discovered had I arrived as originally planned” really grabbed me as truth. In my years as an Army wife, every new duty station brought the opportunity to drive until I was lost, and then find my way back to my new home again. I discovered so much that way!

    Travel safely, keep your compass handy, find the hotel elevator, and take the moments necessary to recharge your slightly introverted self. 🙂


  10. I love that you saw your lost driving excursions as adventures. Your words are so kind and I can feel the warmth and friendship from clear over here 🙂
    I gotta tell you a funny army base story. As part of my job, I get to call on Army and AF bases and all things DoD. My silliest encounter was at Ft. Riley in NE Kansas. The roads were winding and made a complete circle. I landed myself at the artillery field before ever finding the blasted hospital. At least the soldiers who escorted me away were cute 🙂


  11. One of my prized possessions is a compass in a small wood box that my wife got me (because I’m into that kind of thing).
    It’s just one more tool in my bag of tricks that always leads me back to her.

    Hope the schedule becomes manageable, and that you still find time to enjoy yourself@


  12. best wishes for your upcoming travel series – and also – best wishes for any “blog posting pause” –
    also- how fun that you give out all those extra tomato plants – I still have not started any of my garden goodies – (not a hint for one of the extras or anything – O_0) – and well, I also really liked the compass talk in this post – and that “internal dial” – so good! 🙂


    1. Hi Yvette,
      Thanks for your kind words and well wishes. How fun it would be if I could give my seedlings to my blogger friends. It’s always fun to find a fellow plant lover. Thank you again for stopping by–I plan to spend some time getting caught up in reading you, too!


      1. Thanks Mama-Mick! and I do not think there is too much to get caught up on at my blog – I post photos and short snippets more than longer posts – but I am honored that I am on your “catch up” list. woo hoo.
        also – wanted to let you know that after your post about how you write for empowered me, well I checked them out and have been getting their short daily email – quite inspiring and nice way to start my day. 🙂


      2. And I just love your photos, too 🙂
        I get the daily e-mail and look forward to them everyday. That site has a bunch of stuff on it and they are low stress to write for 🙂
        Thanks again for your kind words…you absolutely made my day today!!


  13. You have a lot on your plate, woman!! Good luck with all the traveling. Can’t wait to read the series when it goes up!!

    Is it bad that I still use a GPS in my own neighborhood? I’m horrid with directions. I love how you wove in the whole metaphor for life thing – the internal dial really is there. I try to use mine as often as I can. 🙂


    1. Yesssss!!! I sometimes need a little GPS in my own neighborhood, too. If my kiddo has a new friend he’s visiting or there’s a parent meeting somewhere…ain’t nothing wrong with using the technologies available to us, right?
      I grew up in a town so small that we didn’t even have street signs. Our only clues were the church and the bar…you could find anyone if you knew those two spots!
      Thanks for stopping by cutie!


  14. Sometimes I wonder just exactly what is it about the brain where one person is directionally challenged, where another can bring up that map in their head quite easily and keep it there (me). In fact, I used to work as a ship’s navigator, getting us from there to there, on time. However, I remember a trip where my husband and I were road tripping around the country (back when we were dating), and I had to go east on a road, and I took us in the exact opposite direction. It was at that moment that because I grew up about 30 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean, I always found east by heading towards the ocean. I also learned that it doesn’t work if you are on the west coast. Now I live in WA state, and I still have to consciously think about which way is east or west, as I know live about 40 minutes from the Pacific Ocean.

    I love your metaphors and talking about calibrating your compass. I definitely navigate the twists and turns in life using a combination of head and heart, with heart making that split decision call. And, the best way to calibrate my compass is to stay in touch with my intuition and to trust in it.

    Enjoyed checking out your photography, especially the trains, as my son loves trains.


    1. Hi Susan,
      I loved reading your reply. Something about seeing you navigating through the waters and road tripping with your hubby using the ocean as your internal guide (even if it was opposite!) just made me warm and smile all over. I can’t even imagine having the knowledge and skills required to know where you’re at in the middle of that big blue abyss. You rock!
      I also love how you use intuition to calibrate. So true! Those little tingles on the back of your neck, the feeling in your gut…a skill that gets even better with time and practice.
      I mentioned that I’d be reading and learning more from others. You, my dear, are my “must read” list. Thank you so much for a wonderful reply!


  15. My husband is directionally challenged too but he has led us to the most amazing places. I have an internal compass and I can feel where north is even in a strange town but do not like to get off the beaten path. I wonder how much sense of direction (or lack of it) is related to our drive to take risks? Interesting concept. Safe travels!


    1. How cool that you have an internal compass…you must know your “true north” 🙂
      How wonderful to be a couple who balances each other in adventures vs. beaten path.
      My son (who just started driving) got into the car with me yesterday and said, “How come I don’t have any idea which direction to go?”
      Before I hopped in to assuage his frustration, he said, “I guess it’s okay though, right? I usually end up where I’m supposed to be”
      Out of the mouths of babes 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by, Karen. I always love hearing from you.


  16. I SO relate to you on this. My internal GPS is missing a couple letters, but hey, that makes things interesting. Here’s hoping you find the good and great in your time away, Mama.


    1. “My internal GPS is missing a couple letters.”
      That is SO good!
      Thanks for stopping by. Just so you know, I’m going to be spending a bit more time at your site. I’m looking for content/inspiration for the next RoS Braveheart series and I know you wrote something about 4 or 5 weeks a go that struck a chord with me.
      You’ll probably hear from me again….soon 🙂


      1. I’m honored and thankful. What was the post that struck the chord? Don’t tell me just now, I have to go eat dinner. But tell me, I’m curious on that. And thanks.


  17. I love your honesty here. Not that you haven’t been honest in your other post. The first half of this made me think of my mother, we can’t leave a store at the mall without her going “which way were we going?”. Of course I always say the wrong thing just to mess with her. LOL. I think I feel lost more days lately than anything, I can completely relate as far as the blogging aspect goes. It can be overwhelming and so incredibly joyful at the same time. Nothing wrong with a break though. I hope you find some “you” time and get back to doing what you love. I know I don’t comment often and it’s not from lack of reading, but usually because I have a kid in each arm and it’s impossible to type. I really enjoy your blog though- good luck with everything. 🙂


    1. Oh Dye! You don’t know how happy I am to hear from you. Your words made my day and I think of you often…being the mama goddess I love. I’m stuck in another hotel room for the week and your kind thoughts put a smile on my face. Thank you!!


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