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.

 

Fortunes

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Thanks HyVee Chinese fortune cookies!

The fun fact about this ‘fortune’ is that the above foretelling happened at two different times of the day but were both my fortunes (yes I had the same take out twice in one day).  I’m pretty sure that my travel paths will not be in straight lines of North and South so watch out East and West, I’m coming your way also!

Let your travel plans be open to all directions and remember, sometimes the best wisdom comes from unexpected places.

 

 

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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Rejuvenation

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It is rare in my day to have the extravagance of quietly sitting, to contemplate my life.  My days are spent rushing, loving, worrying, planning, counseling, tweaking, socializing, researching, networking, and just plain living.  Yet I am never just idle.

Today is different.  Today I have chosen to take time to listen to nothing, to envision comfortable light (darkness is oppressive to me), move nowhere and just breathe.  It is not for a great length of time that I will luxuriate in this state of meditation, but it will be quiet.  Time will stand still or so it will seem.  The world will continue to spin.  Outside my window the community I embrace will carry on without me for a little while.

I celebrated a birthday a few days ago and part of my gift from a dear friend was, time to myself.  I was treated to a professional massage.  The kind where the massage therapist leaves you in a deeply shadowed room, where gentle music fills your ears, with instructions for you to “disrobe to your level of comfort”.  It was a heavenly gift.  Unfortunately, I spent so much of it thinking why I don’t do this more often.  Instead of clearing my mind of all the random thoughts churning away inside my skull, I kept thinking this is a gift I should indulge in more often.

So in remembrance of my exquisitely relaxing spa treatment, I will set time aside to meditate.  I want to focus on my inner strength so I can more effectively engage in my outer strength.

We, as a society, do not often take the time to fully ‘recharge’ our batteries.  That leaves us feeling stressed and worn.  To live our optimum lives we need to re-energize, refocus, rejuvenate, our souls.  Take time to focus on yourself for the benefit of yourself.  Engage in activities that help you to be the best you can be both physically and emotionally.

Travel well my friends!

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The Best Nest

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Creative minds will be distracted.

I sat down with my laptop to write.  A cup of hot tea steeping next to me.  As I snuggled in I caught movement outside the window of my sunroom.  Just a flash of dusty red.  Looking closer I saw the industriousness of a small robin.  The evening before from a little different vantage point of my front porch I saw this same robin stuffing beaks full of fluff into the crook of the tree.  The leaves are just beginning to unfurl for the season, so the gray skeleton branches are still very visible.  Time after time the little bird would stuff and the fluff would fall.  Yet this morning I see that all that hard work did pay off.  For he has the start of his summer home, which I am sure he, with his she, will be very happy to raise their offspring.

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Even as a little girl I loved books.  I would beg the adults in my life to read story after story to me.  I loved being transported to another world just by a few simple pictures and words strung together.  One book in particular was read to me over and over again.  It was about two little birds who loved to sing and loved each other.  The only problem in their world was one of them wanted a new nest.  So off they flew to find the perfect place to settle in and raise their family.  They flew from location to location never finding just the right perch, something was always wrong with where they chose.  During a storm they are separated.  From the perspective of the male he is devastated.  You don’t know where she is.  He searches high and low for her trying to find his love.

***SPOILER ALERT*** 🙂

Finally after searching everywhere he thinks, he returns to the old, run, down nest he shared so many happy songs with his love only to find, she had come home to ‘The Best Nest’!  And they lived happily ever after, thankful for what they do have, each other.  Okay the words weren’t actually written that way but that is what I remember the moral of the story being.

So today as you go about your daily activities, be thankful for what you do have.  Even if it is not the fanciest, biggest or best of whatever, It is worth being thankful for.

Travel well my friends.

Magical Days

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Look at the life you are living!  It is amazing!  You have it within yourself to make sure all the days you are given are astounding.  Languish in the sunshine, revel in the little moments that make you smile, take the time to savor your world.  It is in the journey we find the revitalizing experiences to keep us motivated for the next day.  Do all you can to make your days magical!

photo courtesy of Nathan Rathjen

I Am The Vine

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“I am the Vine and you are the branches…”~John 15:5

I love this quote from John.  It speaks to me on different levels in my life.  Jesus is speaking of how He is the vine and we are the branches.  Saying without him you can do nothing.  Just like the branches of a vine, if the branches are removed from the vine they will wither and die.

In my everyday activities it astounds me how interconnected we are to one another.  I know how I feel when I smile at a stranger, but how does the stranger feel in response to my smile?  If I start my day with happiness in my heart, I know my morning runs a little smoother than if I start off crabby.  It is my interconnectedness with the world around me.  Everything we do in a day effects the outcome of our lives.  Every smile or frown, every kindness or angry word, helps develop our world.  I am not saying all of us will be written about in the history books or win the Nobel Peace Prize.  What I am saying is that everything we do, say, act or believe affects the community we live in.  Just as Jesus was speaking of His belief in each of us, that belief extends to our everyday living as well.  Whether you believe the words written in the Holy Bible or not the message is the same for all of us.  We are all connected.

Be kind to each other.  Be bold in your kindness.  Reach out to your niche in this world and help make it a better place for all of us, because we are all branches of one vine.

Travel well my friends.

 

 

 

 

Short Definitions

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Soul Experiences – Tour designers, guiding soulful getaways!

Soul – the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.

Experiences – the  observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time.

Relaxation – to attain a state of increased calmness; otherwise reduce levels of anxiety, stress or anger.

Adventure – an exciting or remarkable experience.

Travel – to go on a trip or journey.

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.