Remarkable Strength

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I found myself taking an unexpected day off Wednesday.  I say ‘day off’ very light heartedly.  I physically worked harder than I have in a very long time.  I have not been as attentive to my yard work as I used to be.  I have three capable boys who mow the weeds for me and a host of neighbor youngsters to keep the grass from growing too high.  Needless to say I have not raked, trimmed, mulched, pruned or even planted in about a eighteen months.  It is a jungle out there.

So I made a plan before the predicted gentle rains of Thursday set in, I was going to take Wednesday morning to whip my front yard into shape.  Nine hours later I still have plants to plant and mulch to sprinkle.  No well laid plan goes exactly as planned.  The new hoses weren’t long enough, the connectors broke, the clippers clipped me instead of the branch.  The list of derailments is a long one. 

What I found out this morning is my older body is not failing me completely.  Maybe it was the extra five hours I took to accomplish my goals.  Maybe I wasn’t as physical as my mind has decided I am.  I like to think my muscles remember the strain of working hard.  They awoke to the type of work they have always done.  Strenuous, intense, movement. 

My physical self is thankful for the awakening.  My soulful spirit is rejuvenated by the gardening.  The nurturing of my little slice of this world.  The embracing of the natural world and our modern existence combining.  It is a therapeutic journey for me.  The dirt under my nails, the thorn scratches down my sun kissed arms, my muscles reaching and stretching, it helps me remember I am alive.  It is meditative.  I am happy I took the time to garden yesterday. 

Everyone needs a break from their routines.  Maybe it is not gardening, whatever it is for you, invest the time in yourself to rejuvenate your spirit.  Indulge in an activity that lifts your soul.  Take the time to remind yourself, you are worth your time.

Travel well my friends.

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‘Cuz I’m Weird Like That

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No! I am standing in rebellion! My fists are balled at my sides and I might even stomp my feet! I love change but this is too soon!  I don’t want winter to be over.

I know, I know, everyone is sick and tired of the cold, the snow and the basically depressing weather outside their doors. But hear me out…When those first light flakes fall to the earth in an icy dance, I feel peace.  An all-encompassing quiet in my heart that makes me smile.

Think of your favorite childhood toy.   Think of how it felt in your hands, not your hands of adulthood but your tiny, uncoordinated child sized fingers.  Is it soft?  Does it make noise?  Maybe it was an item that fit perfectly in your little palm.  Think of the way you felt when you had your favorite toy…

That joyous, peaceful, “I’m in my own world” feeling is exactly how I feel when it snows.

Goodbye winter, I will miss you.
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Traveling The Unknown

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The road twisted through the hills.  Winding up a narrow stretch to fall gracefully into the valleys below.  The view from the window suggested I was in a strange, brown world of Dr. Seuss.  Large, furry caterpillars reclined on the hillsides.  Golden spikes burst from the chocolate earth.  Tangled branches reached for the heavens, begging for the sun to warm them.  Everything in various shades of brown and grey.

Little homes dotted the landscape.  They look abandoned and desolate, no movement can be seen.  Occasionally another traveler passes by, on their way to their destination.  I move forward, curious to find the next hidden getaway.  A sign beckons me to turn my car around.  Up a narrow dirt road, off the beaten path, I climb.  The sign announcing the entrance is weather-beaten.  The drive meanders into a forest.  Following the little driveway, I find patches of snow still clinging to each other trying to outlast the warmth of the day.  They squish under my tires making my tiny car slide.  I accelerate and move beyond their reach.  The lane curves into an open meadow.  The grasses cut short by last autumns mowing.  Green sprouts of new life are just showing in the tan expanse, giving the field an unnatural hue, like the earth is glowing green from within.  I drive slowly on looking for signs of modernization. 

There is no feeling like the feeling of adrenaline.  I feel a rush every time I explore an unknown part of this world.  I return to the areas I enjoy.  I want to show everyone that will journey with me the little gems I have found.  Whether it is a pristine vista, a historic monument or a private retreat, I want to share my excitement with the community of travelers. 

My hope and prayer for all of you is that you find an adventure in your life that gives you a personal feeling of peace.

Travel well my friends. 

Winter Is Dying

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The days have grown longer, sunshine brightens my mornings.  It has been a long cold winter on The Great Plains.  Weather personalities speak of a Polar Vortex, sweeping down to consume us all in the arctic air of the north.  I feel like the great Alaskan Malamute that lives down the street from me.  As the snow piles higher, that beautiful, cold loving, hound, prances on his daily walks with his master.  One very bitter morning, as I was shoveling my front walk, I thought I saw him smile.  I feel the same way about this quiet, chilly time of the year.  The snuggles are freely given, movie marathons with “blanket beds” retain almost no guilt for tasks left undone, and hot tea warms your body and soul.  I love winter.

In the last few days my fantasies have turned to blissful green meadows, flowers blooming, neighbors chatting, walking a little slower from building to building, just because of the warmth in the air.  Soon inhabitants of the quiet houses all throughout the city will wake from our sloth laden slumbers.  As the sun warms this area of the world, we too shall wake.  I dream of the sunshine warming my hair.  The smell of fresh turned dirt sparks in my memories.  I hear the laughter of children playing in their yards.

It is still just a dream.  Winter has not released her grasp on us, yet.  The air is cold.  Jack Frost will visit again tonight.  I will continue to dream of spring.  While I am awake I will relish every cold moment.  For everything changes and soon winter will pass along to spring.

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Find Inspiration

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I did not attend church yesterday.  I was visiting older friends, out-of-town, who do not normally attend church.  We spent the morning sipping our various warm-wake-us-up-drinks, chatting, relaxing and generally enjoying the calm of another cold winter morning.  The grey clouds veiled the sun from us.  The winds blew whistles in the trees.  We stayed inside, in the warmth, of my hostesses home and her friendship.

Our conversations flowed with the ease of old friends, reacquainting ourselves with each other.  We talked of our children, the Olympic games, favorite foods, and our individual faiths.  We did not rush.  We just relaxed.

As the morning waned to the afternoon our hostess excitedly told of a pastor on television that gives a great sermon.  She told us he is not like any pastor we have heard preach and insisted we watch this mornings message.  I will not mince words here, I was not interested.  I take my sermons from trusted pastors in familiar settings, like a church.  I am of an era that remembers the scandals of TV evangelists.  People that got rich from little old ladies sitting in their living rooms trusting the reverend who gave a “great sermon”.  They being of the era that knows their tithing is a direct path to righteousness.  Then the scandals would explode on mainstream media.  The women, and men, who trusted their earthly souls to a person, who took their money for their own benefits and ran.  It is heartbreaking for me to see the trust so generously given, be stripped away so completely.  So, I do not give a lot of credibility to this form of religion.

Yet I sat down and opened my mind to the words this pastor imparted to the millions this Sunday morning.  His message talked about judgment.  How we should not be standing in judgment of others.  Quotes from the bible rolled off his tongue, he added in funny antidotes, and knowingly talked of theologians.  He talked to his congregation as if he was talking with a group of old college friends.  He seemed at ease with his stardom.  Without really thinking about it I started taking notes in my journal.  I was jotting down the bible references, adding in my personal thoughts, just plain wanting to remember the words that he spoke that did mean something to me.

At the end of the message our hostess turned to me with a smile and asked, “Wasn’t that a good message?”  I honestly responded with “Yes it really was.”

You may not be looking for inspiration, but sometimes inspiration finds you.  Be sure to keep your hearts and minds open to our world around us, you never know where you will find inspiration next.

A Day For Lovers

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Snow blankets the earth, you are by my side.

We sit, snuggled under a blanket,

watching our fingers intertwine.

Your voice whispers to me, “stay here.”

I feel your heartbeat next to mine.

Gentle, falling, lacy crystals

entice us to remain.

The day will pass, outside my door.

We will embrace forevermore.

 

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Local Travels

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I have found that when you travel you inevitably meet local people.  My favorite place to strike up a conversation with strangers is at small, outdoor cafes. Most people are happy to be engaged with fresh air, while sipping their beverage of choice, noshing on a favorite treat (this is not recommended in torrential rain storms, icy winter gales, or any other offending weather).  Outdoor seating seems to push people into another earthly dimension.  The world continues to hustle and bustle just outside of the little fences, some eateries deem it necessary to install, quite resembling corrals to keep the cattle herds from wandering away to greener grasses.  Yet, it is an atmosphere that breeds conversations with relaxing contentment.  It is also a great stage to people watch.  Yes I said it “people watch”.  I feel confident in saying it is a guilty pleasure of most everyone, some just enjoy it more than others.  I am a curious person by nature and sitting comfortably watching the comings and goings of crowds is very interesting to me.  That being said there is “people watching” and just being creepy, which are two completely different activities.  One should be reported to authorities immediately, if you feel the latter is happening.  The other is a great information gathering tool.  You will notice what the community is like just by observing.  To truly get to know an unfamiliar area though you need to talk to individuals who live, work or play in the region.  I enjoy conversing with locals about the place they know better than the visitors center.

Let’s be realistic though, most of us do not have the luxury of traveling most of our days.  Work, family, and life tend to tether us to an area.  That does not mean travel needs to be out of your routine.  Small local trips are the best way to learn about your own community.  I have found that not being able to answer the questions “What is there to do around here?” or “Where is a good place to eat?” is downright embarrassing.  I make it a point to have lots of responses for anyone who asks about the region I live in.  The only way to honestly and confidently do that, is to go out in the community and experience your surroundings.  Take a “staycation” in your hometown, road trip off the beaten path, or travel to a tourist area near your home.  Get to know your community by experiencing your own neighborhood.  One of the best gifts you can give yourself, is the gift of local traveling.

Winter Captivity

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HELP!  I am being held captive by my blankets!  They refuse to let me go.  They say it is for my own good that they keep me securely in my bed.  Their warm embrace cocoons me.  The blankets who did not welcome me as I laid down to sleep last night now ensconce me completely.  The treadmill is calling, I cannot move.  My work is begging me to start my day, the blankets snuggle me closer.  I am trying to break free of their bounds….or maybe I secretly like it!  😉

Secret Getaways

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Take me away to a snow filled place

Just you and I

Where the cold welcomes me

My breath freezes on the wind

It is my dream to sleep beneath

the stars with snow all around

A magical place of snow and ice

You are my warmth, my shelter

I want to wake to the sunrise

surrounded by a sea of white

Just you and I

Your arms encircle me

We are alone in the snowy land

I find peace in the icy quiet

Noises muted on the snow covered world

Crystals shimmer like the dust from a fairy

No tropical masses

No sun drenched beach

Just you and I beneath the stars

Snuggled in out of the cold

with soft blankets and each other

Just you and I

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Paradise Found

I was on a road trip yesterday.  Traveling down roads I have never been on.  Enjoying all the curiosity in each moment.  I have lived in Nebraska my whole life.  Exploring this state I call home has been a mission of mine since my first cruise in 1996.  If you have ever stepped onto one of the monolith cruise liners you know they are traveling cities.  Well “back in the day” everyone signed up for either early or late formal dinners, then the cruise line assigned you and your party to a table with fellow cruisers.  Strangers.  After a meal or two together small talk becomes more personal, and the searing question was asked…

“What is there to do in Nebraska?”

My twenty-one year old mind froze.  I tried to quickly think of interesting events, sights, and general goings on, but my mind was serving up a big blank expanse of nothing.  What was there to do in Nebraska?  Plenty but in that moment I couldn’t think of anything, witty or fun to say.  I was in the middle of the Caribbean on a giant floating city wearing a formal gown.  I was trying to forget the rest of reality even existed.  From that dinner on I have always had five or six genuinely creative responses waiting to entertain anyone who asks the infamous question again.

On my road trip yesterday I finally found the reason to live in Nebraska! (giggle, giggle)  As I crested a hill winding my way between the two largest cities here in my fair state, I found utopia! 🙂 Hawaiian Village is a small community of beautiful homes all with “lake front” access.  The lake is more of an amoeba shaped pond.  Yet every back yard had sandy beaches, decks with covered grills and boating access.  Which is much more than the average home in Nebraska has.  What I loved about this small community is their name for it.  Hawaiian Village.  Not a palm tree in sight, no thundering volcanoes, the air smelled more like a pasture than the salty sea, and I am sure that the temperatures in Hawaii do not dip to the single digits.

I hope for this community is that their “Hawaiian” paradise is more of a state of mind than an actual trip to the tropics every time they come home.  Maybe this community is on to something though.  If you perpetually live in a state of paradise maybe your reality will become paradise.  Find your paradise!

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