Abandoned

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The heat bore down on my shoulders as I walked the perimeter of the forlorn oasis. It seemed someone just forgot to unlock the gate, but it was forgotten long ago. In the heat of a summer day, an abandoned swimming pool is not what you want to find while traveling.

An empty hole of concrete, painted white. Overgrown cracks in the walkways. Last years leaves blowing around, crunchy and brown. Its enough to break a child’s heart or a grown-up’s heart who wishes to splash like a child again. Yes, I could find something else to do with my afternoon. No, I was not going to throw myself on the ground in a full blown toddler meltdown (although the thought crossed my mind). The abandoned pool seemed more desolate the longer I surveyed it. As I moved on back to my car for bigger adventures my thoughts began to wander, like they usually do, to writing about my discovery. I was having trouble putting this one in a positive light. I am not fond of summer weather. I am often heard sating the only two activities one should be doing is hiding in blessed air conditioning or swimming in a cool, clear, pool during these oppressive days.

My traveling heart is always looking for the experiences in my adventures that easily translate into meaningful life lessons. To be honest I was coming up blank at the time. Sure you could say something like, “Nurture your life so others won’t see it as abandoned” or “If life drains you be sure to fill up again”, but really? We all know our nourishment both physically and spiritually is a requirement for our own personal success. It seems contrite and almost condescending to hear the clichés over and over again.

So today I leave you with this simple statement…

If you are feeling abandoned, unlock your gate, let someone in.

Travel well my friends.

 

Pastimes

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Bowling, fishing, biking, skiing, boating, knitting, scrapbooking,….the lists of pastimes could go on and on.  This past weekend I participated in a pastime that I have come to love, Cowboy Action Shooting.

I have not talked about this pastime very often in a public forum because I was raised to think quite differently about firearms. Society and the media have attempted to paint the issue of the 2nd Amendment in a black and white.  I still believe that the grey areas of this ongoing debate have yet to be determined.  I have no use for guns. I do not own a gun and believed there is absolutely no reason for anyone to own one.  I was raised with the belief that guns were created for one purpose and one purpose only, and that purpose has no place in my household.  Then I met him….

He came into my life as a friend, we started getting to know each other and then the most amazing thing happened to me, I fell in love with him.  He introduced me to this pastime/sport shortly after we met but it was another few years before I even attended a match. Looking back I am sure he tempted me with clothes!

For all the hesitance I displayed about firearms, I feel the exact opposite about costuming.  I love costuming!  It has been a lifetime, yes a lifetime (I literally have a black dress from my childhood that is now in my costume wardrobe) of building different costumes for various events.  I have enough costumes to start a small store.  If I don’t have what you might need to help you change your persona, I know enough similarly costume addicted individuals that can help us out.  So when I learned costumes were strongly encouraged and sometimes required for Cowboy Action Shooting I was intrigued.

 

I started this learning process as rigorously as I begin any unknown project….lots of research.  I read about the sport, the clothing, the era, and yes, the guns, with the same fervor of a law student preparing for the Bar Exam.  After months of study, I acquired a costume and took a very deep breath, ready to attend my very first Cowboy Action Shooting event (match).

I started out as an observer, watching the routines, the safety procedures, and of course, the fun.  Away from the matches with a private instructor, on a private range, I learned the fine art of safely handling the guns, specific to the sport.  I was then practice shooting after my instructors felt I was ready.  At the matches I was soon keeping score, counting misses, picking up brass and helping anywhere I could. Basically I was a full-fledged shootist without firing a gun.  Finally after a beautiful summer of Sundays at the range I decided I was ready for my first competition.

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This pastime has taught me another outlook on my belief structure. I feel the shootists I have met are celebrating a very volatile time in United States history.  Not all of history is peaceful, much of it is violent, but in amongst the tragedies there are stories of perseverance, dedication, love and heroism.  As a settler in the Wild West it was imperative to you and your families survival to use the best tools available to you, from wagon wheels to guns, your survival depended on your choices.  Cowboy Action Shooting allows the people of present day to celebrate another time and place that helped shape what this country is today.

I will not say my view on guns has changed drastically but my appreciation for another viewpoint has changed immensely.  I will continue to grow in this sport with a love of history and costuming to support my desire to learn everyday.

For more detailed information of this historical pastime go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_Action_Shooting with great links to CAS, SASS and NCOWS clubs.

Soul Experiences

Ribs, Rods, and Rock N’ Roll

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The quiet little college town of Vermillion South Dakota came alive with the sounds of music, the tastes of BBQ and the sights of shiny chrome bumpers, this weekend.  It is a new festival that is literally “off the beaten path”.  We had a wonderful time connecting with new friends and enjoying time together.  The food was amazing, the music was energizing and the community was welcoming.  The whole experience left us wanting to linger longer on our ‘mini-cation’ (Monday always comes to soon).

Be sure to give Soul Experiences a call to reserve your next adventure away!  We had a great time and would love to have you come along for our next journey!  Next stop….Lincoln Nebraska, for our Husker Staycation then on to Nebraska City for a taste of Autumn on our Apple and Wine Excursion.  Check out www.soul-experiences.com for all the details of our upcoming fall tours.

Travel well my friends

Long Work Weekends

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Home again!  I love being on the road, but coming home feels wonderful too.  My work leads me on journeys.  This past week I discovered winding trails, small oasis retreats, historical markers, and so much more!  What astounds me is I found all this in Kansas.  I live in Nebraska.  You would think Kansas is just an extension of Nebraska, yet it is not. They are very different in so many ways.  From architectural designs to community forums, each state has their own personalities’, and I loved discovering all I could in one long weekend.

A friend recently asked me how work was going, just normal chit chat, between friends.  I expressed how much I love my work.  As the conversation progressed my initial response of love, was soon overshadowed by the dawning knowledge, I was having a very hard time dividing my work from my play.  I find myself working when most are relaxing.  Even traveling for work I was not taking time to play.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love my work of exploration for the sheer joy of it.  Treading up a hillside just to see where the path leads, poking my nose into a local store just to meet new people, taking photos of a run down school house just to share it with anyone who will listen, those are the events that keep me working.

The problem I have seen in myself over the past few months is I stopped shutting work out.  That distinct line between your work life and your ‘real’ life is very fuzzy right now.  I know I am not the first entrepreneur to feel this, and I am sure I won’t be the last.  What I want to stress to every independently employed person is to not lose complete sight of that separation.  Find time to shut the work away, look to others to distract you from your to-do-list, embrace the life you created with a clear mind ready to be wholly present for the ones who count on you.

Off The Beaten Path

TRAVEL UPDATE!

North Central Kansas was reviewed last week.  I will showcase Iowa highlights this week.  It was a great weekend, albeit speedy, in Iowa!  Below is the original post that kicked off my Great Plains “off the beaten path” reviews.  We have only just begun with Kansas and Iowa.  Stay tuned, more to come!

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I use the phrase, “off the beaten path” often.  I value the adventure of discovery.  I enjoy finding new, seldom explored areas.  I venture away from the norm and I love sharing my explorations with anyone who will listen to my exuberance.

I am a native Nebraskan.  I have lived in this state my whole life.  It is a perfect location for this wandering traveler.  I am centrally located in the United States, I enjoy white Christmases and hot summers, that remind me of my love of winter.  The cost of living in Nebraska is low, owning an acreage is a reasonable goal.  I have wide open vistas in my backyard, trees that tower over my neighborhood and history that is as boundless as the open skies above us.

I feel The Great Plains are the most overlooked travel destination in the continental US.  It is my favorite “off the beaten path” area.  For the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of  my top picks for fun travel adventures in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado.  I hope to share with you insights to unexplored or seldom explored areas with the intention of sparking travel desires for you.  Most of the highlights will also be sneak peeks of 2015 for Soul Experiences.  So if have not traveled with us yet or haven’t traveled with a group, this may be the preview you need to embrace a new form of traveling.  Come along with us as we search The Great Plains and beyond for “off the beaten path” journeys.

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Off The Beaten Path

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I use the phrase, “off the beaten path” often.  I value the adventure of discovery.  I enjoy finding new, seldom explored areas.  I venture away from the norm and I love sharing my explorations with anyone who will listen to my exuberance.

I am a native Nebraskan.  I have lived in this state my whole life.  It is a perfect location for this wandering traveler.  I am centrally located in the United States, I enjoy white Christmases and hot summers, that remind me of my love of winter.  The cost of living in Nebraska is low, owning an acreage is a reasonable goal.  I have wide open vistas in my backyard, trees that tower over my neighborhood and history that is as boundless as the open skies above us.

I feel The Great Plains are the most overlooked travel destination in the continental US.  It is my favorite “off the beaten path” area.  For the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of  my top picks for fun travel adventures in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Colorado.  I hope to share with you insights to unexplored or seldom explored areas with the intention of sparking travel desires for you.  Most of the highlights will also be sneak peeks of 2015 for Soul Experiences.  So if have not traveled with us yet or haven’t traveled with a group, this may be the preview you need to embrace a new form of traveling.  Come along with us as we search The Great Plains and beyond for “off the beaten path” journeys.

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Camping Blues

Piles of camp gear are strewn throughout my house.

The work of my mini vacation has just begun. While planning, packing, traveling and enjoying the great outdoors, there was always the next step to look forward to. Now it is just the work of settling all the gear back into it’s proper places, until the next time. My ‘Pollyanna’ mentality has settled on cleaning and organizing all the equipment that makes a great camping experience. I will focus on the simple joy of organization and not dwell on the fact that the fun of camping with an extraordinary group of people is over. The memories of fellowship with friends is enough to lift my spirit.

Remember to look for the positive in all you do. Even if the event is over, relish in the memories and hold them close to your heart.

Travel well my friends!20140707-101121-36681867.jpg

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Celebration Preparations

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This day marks the beginning of the only ten days of summer I love!  I am a snow-bunny at heart.  So when the days stretch longer and the sun over heats the earth I run for cover, better known as indoor air conditioning.  The activities of summer are fun, the vistas are brighter but the heat melts me, which in turn, makes me cranky.  I was born during one of Nebraska’s infamous heat waves.  My mother tells of how she thought it was far too hot in our house when I came home from the hospital and she promptly moved my bassinet to a prime location, in front of the window air conditioner, where I would slumber peacefully with nary a bead of sweat on my soft baby skin.  I believe my love affair with A/C started right then and there.  So from my first moments till now I have had a tumultuous relationship with warm weather.  Back to why I love these next ten days of summer…. 

Nebraska has some very strict laws about fireworks, what we can and cannot light off.  So we also have a time frame of when we can send fireballs of sparks soaring to the heavens.  Today marks the beginning of the selling season for fireworks!  Little tents have popped up all over the state.  Most of these temporary houses of splendor are decked out in red, white and blue.  With banners beckoning you to stop and spend all of your hard earned money on piles of sparklers, fountains of bursting lights and screaming smoke balls.  Parents slink by the stands praying their beloved little ones don’t notice the new structures that hold untold curiosities.  Teenagers flock to spend their fortunes on five second displays.  I, will spend time investigating the new fun just like every year.  I go into numerous tents, comparing prices, comparing quality, talking with the vendors.  This is the holiday that helps me “survive” the summer, one magical evening of fireworks.

The Fourth of July was the pinnacle of the summer for me as a child.  Our family always spent the holiday in the country with family.  Our families’ Independence Day celebrations were known across the community as the best gathering in a tri county area.  Neighbors would start gathering just after the children got up from their naps.  The farmers would come in early from the fields to scrub up and join in for the picnic.  I remember us kids running off to plan skits to perform for the “older” adults.  The food would sway the rows of tables.  It was a the start of a seemingly unending night.  Everyone brought fireworks to share and display.  We took turns lighting one spectacular explosion after another until the smallest of the children fell asleep in a grandparents arms and had to be carried to bed.  Memories like those can not be imagined they must be experienced.

So to gleefully mark the beginning of 2014 fireworks season I will stop in to the first open tent I see and let my sense of smell take me down memory lane to my favorite 2nd favorite holiday!

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Absent

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The world continues to spin on it’s axis.  I have been absent from my writing.  I miss the ritual of sitting down and letting my mind flow through my fingertips.  The feeling of accomplishment, connection, is fleeting.  I love allowing my thoughts to tumble forward onto the paper.  It is soothing and necessary.  I am delighted to be back. 

My adventures took me through the rolling hills of Eastern Nebraska.  The apple blossoms of the famous Nebraska City orchards were in full bloom.  Walking down the miles of straight rows of fruit trees, showing off for the bees, is a magical sight.  Everything around you is shrouded in an inner light that seeps into your spirit, uplifting your own peace.  I spent my time investigating the natural beauty of spring.  Enjoying all the spectacular sights, sounds, and smells of this time of awakening.

It was then on west to central Nebraska for my time with my boys.  We spent the weekend reuniting with friends, forgetting sunscreen and relaxing together.  It is a blessing to see friends and family coming together to spend our time supporting the teenagers in our lives.  Too much food, too much sun and not enough sleep equals a perfect weekend away.

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Blessed

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My life took a huge turn for the better a few years ago.  I do not focus on what I survived, I focus on my future.  Every now and again I stop, like I am at the crest of a hill and turn back to see where I was.  Behind me is a huge dark valley with small patches of light.  Light that I would travel to, needing to move forward with my life, but knowing I would need to trudge through the dark to get to the next tiny hill bathed in light. As I slogged through the darkness my path grew ever wider, the brambles that would snag at me, were further back from the trail I walked.  Then my path began an upward ascent, like a rock climber with no gear I scrambled ever up. I was wounded, exhausted, and raw.  I reached the top of that ridge only to be standing on the edge of a cliff, bottomless and darker than anything I have ever seen.  The winds pushed at my back encouraging me, not forcing me, to take a leap of faith.  It was a sea of black, the unknown, ready to swallow me up.  Yet something inside me reassured my soul,  ‘Just take the first step’.  So I did.  I found the moment I stepped off of the cliff I could find my feet with every step.  I was not lost in the blackness.  I was the light.  Most of the time I only had a fuzzy grey outline of the path.  But with every step it becomes clearer and clearer.  I feel I am at the crest of yet another hill.  The vantage point is vast.  The difference this time is I am not exhausted, I am energized!  On either side of me I see the people who have supported me, sometimes carrying me.  In front of me I see the wide open expanse of possibilities.  I will continue to move forward on my path and I hope we meet along the way.

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Today marks the public beginning of my business!  It is with great pride and thankfulness I, with my mother/business partner, launch Soul Experiences!  We will celebrate the “fuzzy path” with friends and family tonight.  People who have lifted us up and helped us to be what we are today.

I am blessed.  I have food to eat, a place to sleep, friends to laugh with, children to hug, parents who forgive my teenage angst, siblings to connect with over the miles, the support of the man I love and so much more!  The blessings I have outnumber the hardships and that alone is my biggest blessing.  My hope for each of you is that continue to travel to your ‘light’, counting all of your blessings along the way.

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Travel well my friends!