Seattle was not my first solo trip, but it was the trip that began my journey. I traveled out with my coworkers from the museum I worked at back then to tour the studio of Dale Chihuly. The art was everything we hoped and my time with the others was enjoyable and full of the love of friendship. What made the trip memorable however was my time in unexpected solitude. At one point, my fellow travelers all had plans with their spouse who was along or with visits to friends and family who lived in the area–I had a few hours foisted upon me that left me solely in the company of myself. I set out walking. As I did, a peculiar joy washed over me: the pleasure of being alone in the world, following only my own curiosity about what lay around the next corner. I was much younger on this trip than I am now and I had never before experienced solitude and self-direction. I had always bent to the wishes of others. My parents, my husband, had directed my footsteps. Walking now alone awakened a spark in my soul that I hadn’t even known existed. I was thrilled with the power of my solitude and the strange invisibility it gave me to observe the city life teeming around me, a stream swirling and parting around a rock. I wandered into a jewelry store that sold estate jewelry. In the case was an opal ring, my birthstone. When I slipped it on my finger, it felt like it belonged there–had always belonged there. I have worn it ever since except in situations where the soft stone is at risk for damage. The ring has become a symbol to me of that day when my soul finally started to grow. The ring is my reminder of personal power, independence, and the dawning realization that it is I alone who direct my path and choose where my footsteps lead me. This was the start of a long and peculiar adventure.