Saturday, September 14, 2019


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and get ready early enough to go watch the sunrise.

The streets are coming to life.  We have a day of exploring and family time ahead of us. Yesterday morning we hopped in the car and headed east.  Hubs and his niece had been plotting since we were on vacation, we can't stay as long as they are, but we are sure glad we came.

It's been a couple of years since we headed down to Birmingham, where they live, and his niece was pretty sure that this was half way. Well... not really... but it was a beautiful ride, Birmingham is closer.  Yet, here we are in the beautiful Smoky's.  So far it is absolutely beautiful.

All day yesterday I had to be careful to not post on Facebook, to share no pictures.  All communication we through text or covert phone messages.  I'd taken a great shot of Neeks enjoying the drive, but couldn't share it because you could see the Nashville sign in the background.

I brought a couple of projects to work on, and was very happy to be almost finished with an afghan that I have been lingering on for far too long.  At home I have too many things vying for my attention.

As we had further to travel they were here hours before us. By the time we checked in and walked Neeko they were at the water park.  I had to laugh when we put their hotel address in the GPS, without knowing where they were staying, I managed to get ours 3 short miles away.  On the same road.  Perfect!

We weren't optimistic about finding many vegan options here, but figured it was worth a try.  We ended up finding an awesome Thai place.  I was in heaven to locate a vegan curry, that was out of this world.  Having hardly eaten yesterday I was starving and it was perfect.

By the time we'd finished dinner they had returned to their room.  It was time for Operation Surprise Big Sis!  They are staying at a resort, that place is bigger than some small towns. As we were wandering the halls, yep 3000+ steps just to find the room, we found a few of the house staff that gave us directions.  Actually after a quick chat to explain the upcoming surprise and they were totally in on the conspiracy.

knock, knock... "housekeeping... we have a package for you"... Luckily his niece decided to open the door.  Because Sis was having non-of it and wasn't about to get out of bed to answer the door after 9 pm in a hotel. Nope, not happening.

Watching her fly out of that bed a nano second later, the smiles on her and Hubs faces, the quick trip east was all the sudden worth every moment.

I had a terrible time trying to get a picture of them.  The hugs, laughter, more hubs and possibly a few damp eyes was definitely a moment to be experienced not photographed.

Today we will spend time together, enjoy the moments and celebrate family.  Hubs doesn't have a huge family, it all fits into a single room at a hotel.  So to have them all together is incredible.

This will probably be Neeko's last long trip.  I think it is too much for him.  He's exhausted.  And he is being a brat about eating.  Either that or he is simply on vacation mode and wants special food and time to stretch out and relax.  He's getting so old, I worry terribly about him.  He still wants to act like a puppy sometimes, other's his senior years show.  I guess we will see how he does on the way home.  We might stop overnight tomorrow to not put him through another 8+ hour trip.

We will see...

Well time to get ready to go and explore this beautiful area of these United States!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

remember when...

18 Years...
I was driving down the sunny, overcrowded street on my way to drop off my car, the USB full of music that Hubs handed me the other day playing loudly.  Deeply engrossed in the joy that comes with owning a convertible on a cool late summer morning, I didn't notice the first notes of the song that had started. 
Then it hit me, I hadn't listened to that collection of music in a long time, so I wasn't fully aware as Alan Jackson started singing "where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day..."
Suddenly 18 years disappeared.  Instantly I was transported back in time, to a place half way around the world. 18 years ago, I had just gotten home from work.  I was using instant messenger to talk to my mom back in the States, my sweet little boy was engrossed in his after school cartoons, my ex was kicked back in his recliner enjoying his annual early September vacation (football season had started) and our girl was over at her friends house, across the street. 
It was a normal day, half way around the world from where it all stopped. 
My little guy was just 10 at the time, he whirled around and looked at me.  The anger was written all over his face.  He'd waited all day to watch his shows, even gotten his homework done quickly so that he could "relax".  I looked at my ex, both of us were in shock at what we were watching on CNN - the only American news channel we had at the time.  They had cut in, breaking news, the first tower already burning we watched in horror as the plane hit the second tower. 
I quickly typed to mom that I had to go, that the towers had just been attacked.  Being a military family I think we understood quicker than others had.  I knew it would impact us greatly.  We lived in a foreign country, on a military base, within walking distance of a major international airport. I needed to get both of my babies with me.  I was frantically calling my daughter home, I understood she was simply across the street, but I wasn't in the mood for her teenage attitude.  I needed her HOME.
As my ex slowly lowered his recliner, we both knew that his vacation was over.  We both understood that soon the phone would ring; that he would be recalled to duty.  We had lived in Germany during Desert Storm, we remembered, he was always mission essential. 
It didn't take us long to process, we were numb, but we understood.  Being military, we also understood that it had to be the work of Osama Bin Laden. It was a name we new, had known, a dangerous man.
As the gates surrounding us locked we were cut off from the outside world, schools were cancelled, Threat Con Delta was implemented.  We both did our jobs as parents and employees. 
I remember feeling thankful that the pantry was stocked, that if needed we would be able to share with neighbors that hadn't had time to go to the main base and were now reliant on a very small shoppette with limited supplies.  We had no idea how long it would last, none of us had any answers. 
There is a picture that is burned into my brain.  One my ex took the day after.  I haven't seen it in years, I don't even know if I have a copy of it.  I don't need one. It lives forever in my heart and mind.  As he went about his duties the following morning, it was raining.  We were confined to our small housing area.  It was eerily quiet, as most traffic had stopped - there was nowhere to go.  The planes were all grounded.  The only sound was rain and soft voices speaking is hushed, stunned tones.  We were all walking on eggshells.  There was no where we could go.  Armed police keeping us safe were everywhere protecting us from an unknown and unseen threat. 
The picture was a single rose, wrapped in plastic, wedged in the back gate and the chains that were enforcing the regular lock.  A kind German had put it there.  A symbol of sympathy and solidarity. It was drenched from the pouring rain.  He'd done it in black and white. It was how the world felt for us.
I don't understand how that day and the days that followed felt for people in the States.  I watched the cycling news in horror.  I don't know how quickly life returned to "normal" in the US, I know that when I left Germany almost a full year later, life hadn't returned completely to normal.  It was a long while before we stopped living in threat con Delta.  Before we went back to threat con Charlie.  Freedom hadn't really returned the way we had treasured it before. 
I spent many nights working the USO so that troops passing through could call their families back home.  Making coffee and providing a safe place.  This was after a day spent working to keep our kids safe.  I spend countless hours arranging armed guards for each bus, on each trip between our bases and schools. I stopped having time to plan the fun events that I had done the year before.  It was all about safety.
It was harder for our kids to come and go from the bases and communities as they used to.  No more traipsing through the woods to the closest village for treats and meet ups with friends, our world so far away had forever changed. 
It is hard to realize an entire generation has been born and raised that will never understand the impact of that September day.  So many that are protesting and fighting because of the silos of race, religion, gender, socio-economic issues, etc. will never know the power of being united and one. 
I grew up in a different type of world. I raised my kids in that same world.  The military is different.  There are many things that I encounter on a daily basis now in my fifties that are awkward and uncomfortable, it feels like life is trying to unteach me a lifetime of knowing to simply love my fellow man. I stumble when I get sucked into conversations that include those silo's, it isn't natural for me.  For a moment in time, America was only filled with American's, it felt wonderful.  For a moment in time, we were able to love completely.  It sad it took something so ugly to do it, even sadder that we have forgotten. 
I'm sitting in a car dealership waiting for a ride.  They ran out of rentals. I technically had the last one assigned to me.  The young man on his way to a major job interview was moments behind me; he was going to have to cancel the repair appointment that it took a week to get.  
Maybe it was the day.  Maybe it was the fact that I could wait for a ride - that my sweet Hubs was able to come a get me, get me to my meeting on time.  Maybe it was that I had all of my work with me... I was able to let them give him the rental. 
I don't know. 
What I do know is that one this day in particular, with the words to that song and the memories of all the stories echoing in my mind, it felt good to be able to say please give it to him. It felt like a higher power decided it for me, long before the words left my mouth. 
The chair I'm sitting in is not that uncomfortable, the work I will get done can happen here or at the table in the meeting area I was heading to.  I was able to help make a person's day just a little bit later. In return it made my day just a little bit better. 
I will never forget where I was that day, the change it made in my life and I will always strive to honor the cost.  The innocent lives shattered, the heroes, the first responders, the working dogs, the lives destroyed and forever altered. 
Five years ago yesterday tragedy struck my family.  I remember the love and compassion even strangers gave us.  Maybe if all strive to live like it might be the last moment, love unconditionally, and not be so self-centered we can overcome so much of the negativity and hurt that radiates through our world today. 
So... where were you?

Saturday, September 7, 2019


Sitting here in the sunshine, enjoying these cooler mornings, savoring my coffee.

I should be relaxed and calm.

Instead I am in a very strange place. I want to cry for someone I barely know.  I am mourning a decision they made at a very young stage in their adulthood and understanding the impact it will have for the rest of their life.

When the email popped up that I had been waiting for, my heart sunk.  I knew it was coming.  I knew there was no way for it not to.  But to see it in black and white, truly hurt my heart.

Change is hard.

I've been in a cycle of change for a bit.  Actually over a year.  Dad passing started it.  The fear of losing Hubs when he had his stroke and other health issues has compounded it.  The loss of our Snug and Gator, have felt like further blows. And each day watching our Neeko age is absolutely bitter (as November and his 15th birthday loom nearer I feel a greater sense of dread).

There are many bright spots too.  So much good has happened in the midst of it all.  And I am reminded of that frequently.  Spending time with Hubs and the kids.  Enjoying it.  Knowing the boy will come home for a visit at the end of the year fills my heart with hope and joy.

The journey Hubs and I are on, inspires me to do better.  Its a huge change.

I think the lack of definition, this messy period of change is what is wearing me out and causing this malaise in my soul.

This path and journey feel like they must be walked and each bit must be felt. The laughter, the tears, the uncertainty, the joy.  Yet I am longing for calm. 

I absorb too much emotionally. 

Like I said, I've had brief encounters with the person my heart is aching for.  Yet for almost 36 hours, my heart has ached.

Hubs has a temper, always has.  I understand it most of the time and am able to allow him the space to vent and rage when needed.  Lately, it seems to be more present and unavoidable.  I have a deep distrust of big pharma and docs and their solutions.  I saw my Dad become the same after being put on several of the medications that Hubs is now on. 

I want this whole food plant based lifestyle to have an immediate impact.  I want my sweet Hubs back. I don't want to worry about him.

My patience is not strong enough.

I want solutions now.  I want all his medications gone.  I want my sweet Hubs healthy.  I want my normal grumbling teddy bear back.

I'm sitting out on my deck, listening to an assortment of critters, waking up and calling for their breakfast.  I don't know what I am listening to, just that it surrounds me.  I assume a variety of birds.  I can see a cardinal way up high in one of the trees towering above me.  I cannot locate the ruckus behind me. 

I cherish time to simply sit and soak in the sounds of nature.  I mourn the intrusion of the mowers and vehicles I hear in the background.

My home is filled with the sent of freshly baked vegan/oil free granola and seed bark.  It's fragrant and warm.  I have the door open so the scent follows me outside. Slowly I am learning to prep here and there.  To take the few minutes now that will result in having the things we need later.  The things that will keep us from heading to the grocery or risking eating something not good for us. I am learning again to savor those moments in time.

I used to spend hours doing that.  Long before a cell phone or computer was part of my world. Long before "convenience" became a word that replaced all others.  I've been missing so much of what brings me joy.

The sounds and scents surrounding me this morning bring me joy. 

I couldn't believe it when I woke up at 4 am.  Even the alarm wasn't set that early.  Yet, I was out of sleep and ready for the day. I spent quiet time stretching and lying in the silence, just being.  I don't do that often enough. It was the perfect start to these two glorious days off. I need them.

It was odd, several folks asked my plans for the weekend.  I'm sure it sounded like a to-do list to them.  To me, it sounded like paradise. Hubs is off taking care of maintenance on his car, I've already been cooking and cleaning.  I'm simply enjoying this moment of guilt free rest.  I plan to clean up the house, maybe even extract the carpets.  I want to clean my car.  Tidy my yard.  Help my daughter complete a project that has been waiting for far too long and then... who knows.  There is a Crystal Fest that I would love to go to, I wouldn't mind stalking the Bombay Food Junkies and stopping at the Farmers market.  The weather is so beautiful, maybe a short hike at one of the local state parks.  Or... I might just sit peacefully at home and plan our menu for the week.  Or maybe I will decided to cook a fancy WFPB dinner.  It's even possible that I may take a nap out here in the soft sunlight.

I mean seriously, these two days are my oyster.  My refuge.  I need them.

Soon I will have a phone conversation with one of my team.  It will deflate me again.  But only for a moment or two.  I am sad.  I cannot change it, nor can I impact it.  I am learning to let things go that aren't meant for me. 

This period of growth and change feels so powerful.  Bigger than I am.  Yet I have faith that all things happen in this life the way they are meant to.  And each of us is stronger and more powerful than we realize.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

tiny pebbles...

What a productive day!  Didn't plan on it, totally planned to rest.  Just kick it with the Hubs and Neeks.

I tried.

Somehow the day spiraled into busy and productive.  Not just busy for the sake of busy.

While we sipped our coffee and woke up for the day we decided to watch a documentary that the owner and chef of Bombay Food Junkies recommended. I'd heard of it before, but refused to watch it, because I absolutely cannot stand to see the video's from slaughter houses.  She assured us it had just a bit, but not much. 

With afghan, yarn and needle in hand, we decided to watch "What the Health". Fair warning, if you ever decide to watch, it requires a strong stomach. My stomach is still turning and it's been over 12 hours.  Each time something reminds me of it, I feel ill again. I am more convinced than ever that Hubs and I made the best choice when we opted to start being whole food plant based. It was terrifying, it will definitely require more research.

I felt a strong need to wipe that from my mind, and decided it was time to check on my newest rocks.  We did a double step one, our patience is better this time. They are looking so beautiful, smoother and shimmery without even having started step 3 - pre-polishing.  I think we will ultimately run some of the first batch through again.  They are so beautiful. I am definitely looking forward to slowing down and starting to turn these beauties into pendants.

Then there was a leisurely brunch x2, because we went to Fiddlehead Fern Cafe first, I've been dying to take Hubs there for almost a year.  After waiting in line for over thirty minutes everything he was wanting was sold out.  So we savored our delicious coffee's.  I love their pour over coffee, the Brazilian is my favorite.  Hubs had a cappuccino made with almond milk.  I goofed he'd wanted a latte, I misunderstood, luckily it was yummy just the same.  As they didn't have what he was hoping for I got him vegan croissants with a vegan herb butter. I have to admit, I didn't expect those to be exceptional, they were.

Sadly, sweet Hubs was still hungry, so we stopped and got him a second brunch.  I sipped a cold tea while he munched. He had a yummy breakfast burrito at Lulu's. I couldn't have him hungry as we went grocery shopping, that is a crazy expensive idea.

We hit all of our favorite spots, snatching up beautiful fruits and veg to round out our grocery list. I have always heard it was crazy expense to eat this way.  Ironically, I spent more on dog food and treats than on groceries for Hubs and I.  I think we will definitely be okay.

I had zero intention of cleaning out the kitchen. I mean of course I knew it needed done, but I was longing for a nap.  I didn't sleep well last night. 

Yet as I started to put the groceries away, one thing led to another and I started cleaning it out.  Things had to go! I was tired of trying to sort through the stuff lining the shelves, looking for the items that I wanted or needed to cook the meal that I wanted to make.  I was tired of not knowing for certain what I needed to purchase, because I thought I had seen it.

So while Hubs was outside mowing and trimming, I got busy inside.  Load of laundry thrown in and cupboard open I started to clean things out.  Stuff that we'd bought on a whim, thinking it would be quick and easy for dinner, giving up and going out.  It was time to start fresh.  I know for a fact that one of the first steps of my upcoming class is going to be to clean out the stuff I don't want or need. My grandson came over and picked up 5 or 6 huge grocery bags full of stuff for him and my daughter to divvy up. We didn't need it.

And since I was cleaning out cupboards why not move on to the fridge and freezer.  I'm tired.  I'm trying to find the energy to go make dinner. But I actually feel accomplished. I feel like stuff that has been lingering out there has finally started to move. I found places for stuff that has been hanging around on my counters.  I made space.  It was awesome to open the pantry and see space.  To see order.

It's the darnedest things that leave me feeling empowered. 

Tonight as I was chopping veggies and getting ready to cook dinner, it felt so nice to just put my hands on the ingredients that I needed.  No need to dig through anything.  It was all right there.  Hubs got me a new non-stick pan, my beloved cast iron was definitely stressing me out the past few weeks.  Maybe once I have mastered some of the skills they will make me happy again.

It's been a busy, fulfilling day.  I feel successful today.  Not because I accomplished a million of the things on my to do list. But I accomplished a few small ones, that feel big now that they are done.

Tomorrow is another day, I will go to work for a few hours, I will work to get budgets worked on, and then I will head home.

Hopefully, I can sleep tonight...

Saturday, August 31, 2019


Okay, I'm not gonna lie, we might have been stalking the Bombay Food Junkies and their food truck today.  Okay, maybe not stalking, but close to it.  I had to work this morning, and was thrilled to find out they were going to be at the farmers market near my work until an hour after I got off.  Hubs and I knew we had to grab some lunch before driving to Illinois for the memorial service of a man that we both truly loved and respected. It seemed like it was meant to be.  The farmers market and the food truck were in the direction we were heading.  So... I sweet talked him into meeting me at my Y and we drove together.

Of course we stopped on the way. 

The rain had finally stopped and while we didn't get there in time to really shop, I did manage to squeeze in a few moments while waiting for our lunch.  We will definitely be going back.  I don't know why we have never been, but what a missed opportunity. 

First I browsed a native plant booth, we had an incredible conversation about the perennials that he had, as the only thing I saw that could handle mostly shade was a woody mint.  First question, does this spread like regular mint?  I could tell he was trying to figure out an answer that I might like, before he finally admitted that it would take over.  While I appreciate all that comes with mint, the scent, the uses, etc, I am not a fan of anything I have to control.  I have been fighting with the English Ivy that was here when I moved in.  As a result, I was definitely not interested.  

I described what I was looking for and the areas that needed love.  And before long we'd plotted out a nice collection of plants that would fill the area I needed taken care of and also entice the hummingbirds, butterflies and produce flowers throughout the summer.  We have plans to meet again, as I wasn't sure the plants would survive the journey to Illinois, he'll be back almost every weekend, and I have his card.  This might be the solution I have longed for. 

Quick stop back to Hubs, who was sweetly waiting in line, and it was time to order.  As he handed me our water, my eye was caught by baskets of beautiful fresh veggies. I simply had to go a shop!  My fridge was almost bare and those were fresh, organic veg... I really needed to go. 

Happily I wandered off.  Hubs is aware that I wander, frankly I'm surprised he hasn't felt inclined to put a leash on me like a small child or puppy.  At least I usually give him a clue the direction I am wandering.  I sort of stayed in view.  Well I tried. 

There were baskets and piles of fresh veggies, beautiful fresh veggies. I was instantly homesick for my beloved German farmers markets. As I stood there trying to figure out where to start and wishing I had grabbed my shopping bags from the trunk (wondering did I have enough time to dash over to my car before lunch was ready) I saw the sign "$25 for a box of vegetables".  For $25, cash, I could have a full box of veg and a carton of eggs, which I declined in favor of more veg.  

All of it was fresh.  Harvested the day before, they filled the boxes with some of everything they had, I even got to pick the type of potatoes that I wanted.  I went with sweet, I have plenty of the others, I was out of sweet. 

I think Hubs was a bit surprised as I wandered back with 3 big bags of fresh veggies.  I am fairly certain he figured I would just browse or maybe get a few tomatoes, although he doesn't often underestimate me, he probably knew.  Now I only have a few things left to pick up on my grocery list. 

I was equally thrilled when I found out the farmers market also happens on Tuesday evenings.  I am going to have to plan my Tuesday's better. And I think next Saturday is going to have to include a full trip to the farmers market, as Hubs didn't tell me until we were returning from Illinois that he'd spied a table full of rocks, crystals and gems... WHAT?? I'm not sure how he couldn't remember to mention that when we were there.

I have really been enjoying cooking and finding new flavors and dishes for us to explore.  I am trying to keep Hubs on track, as this was an easy decision for me, a bit harder for my steak and potato guy.  I am finding that I lack a few skills for cooking the way that I want to cook, I'm struggling to make my old ways bend to the new ways.  Besides none of my high school classes taught me to cook whole food plant based meals.  There is a learning curve.

Ironically, because we all know all of our electronic devices don't track us, so it has to be irony... just the same, the online cooking class that I have been pondering and researching, suddenly has a 25% off special going on.  After much pondering and debating with myself and Hubs, after all I barely have time to do the other stuff that keeps grabbing my attention, I decided to go ahead and do it.  Next month I start a three month cooking course. They even grade you?!?  Not sure I am ready to be graded on anything, but I desperately want to make sure that Hubs never feels like he is missing out on anything. 

Fair warning, if you are anywhere near my house, you might become a test tummy.  I mean, I feel like I will be doing a lot of cooking. And Hubs and I are trying to get healthy (it's okay to read that as we both need to lose a bit of weight) and there are only so many meals that are prepped for two. I expect leftovers.

Truthfully, I am excited.  This new path feels like the one we have been meant to be on.  At least for me. It doesn't hurt that I am a learner.  It is what I like to do.  I love to try and experience as much as possible.  

This morning I was watching a class to learn how to make my own incense.  I mean, I guess I could... but there simply aren't enough hours in the day.  Still it was fascinating. 

Where has this day gone?  Time to finish up my chores, go pick up Hubs car (seems I forgot it when we came back from Illinois), and then... who knows... 

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Exhaustion level today... extreme.

As tired as I was last night my brain would not shut up. No matter what I tried between the non-stop chatter in my mind and the pain in my body from helping a friend, there was no rest last night. In fact I don't feel like less than 5 hours really makes it anything more than a long nap.

Some of the inner turmoil is coming from the fact that I know I am going to have to go and finish someone else's work.  I don't want to spend all my time at work either.  I want my weekends off.  I will have spent a good portion of the past two weekends at work, because the person responsible simply isn't doing it. And honestly I am tired of their lack of performance reflecting on me. So in a bit, I will take my tired body and go put in another day doing someone else's job. I'm not doing it for them.  I'm doing it for my members.  Which makes it marginally better, but then I remember that I am on duty next weekend and I feel exhausted all over again.

I get the new buzz phrase.  I know everyone feels that they need work/life balance.  I'm just wondering when people are going to stop and think for a moment about what their actual contribution is during the "work" portion of the day. Because if everyone was working to capacity, instead of planning the "life" portion, I feel more of us might be able to pull off the balance part.

I guess my exhaustion is leading me to feel a great deal of frustration and almost anger.  I don't live well in with that state of mind.  Probably why I didn't sleep.  I probably should have just gotten up, gone and done the work, and would have slept well. Heaven knows I wouldn't want the person responsible to give up any of their balance.

Ugghhh... I think I am getting old.

I'm truly in a weird space right now.  My world feels... tilted? Off?  I'm not sure what it feels, it just doesn't feel right.

I think I need to get back to a happy place for me.  Hubs and I haven't really had much us time this week.  And what we have had, has centered around meals.  Thank goodness they are healthy. I have to admit that I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction when I see him enjoying one of the meals that I have served.  Of the delight on his face when the "vegan" food actually tastes great!!

This has been a huge transition for him.  I was a vegetarian for a long time, the transition hasn't been so big for me.  I am still trying to change his mindset of "it's a diet" to it's a lifestyle choice.  We will get there.  As long as the end goal is the same, I do not really care.

I think part of my current exhaustion, frustration and pain is that I am trying to put a bit of priority on us, something that hasn't happened in a very long time.  It's hard when other's are selfish.  I want to be a bit selfish where Hubs and I are concerned.  I want the time to further explore our journey together. 

I had planned to attend a class on Shamanism yesterday, but a friend needed us, and I wasn't about to say no.  There will always be time for a class, there will not always be time to support a friend in need.  I might have tricked him a bit, we took him to a vegan restaurant for lunch.  Surprisingly he didn't hate it, I'm not sure he loved it, but he didn't hate it.  Hubs and I enjoyed it.  Of the three we've been to so far, I am going to say this is my least favorite, and I am not sure I will feel drawn to fight the traffic in that area to return.  The other two are tucked out of the way, and a bit of a drive, but definitely worth the trip and the time to find!  Treehouse was good, please don't get me wrong.  But Seedz and Bombay Food Junkies were amazing!

I am finding that my happy place lately is centered around cooking and learning to be healthier. As I'm chopping vegetables, trying all sorts of new ingredients, I find that I cannot wait to serve those dishes.  I'm also toying with investing in a cooking course, sometimes I am a bit of a cheapo.  But I am also aware that all of the cooking classes I took in high school and from my folks, never taught me to cook without animal products or processed oils.  When I get frustrated that my dish doesn't look as beautiful or have the same rich flavors I am wondering if I am simply trying to cook a new way with old skills.

I am still weighing options.  But... I really think I might. 

I spent a bit of time reading last night.  I have had "The Four Agreements" sitting on my nightstand for almost a year.  I never seem to have time, or is it make time, to read it.  Last night, I started. I'm also dabbling in meditation.  Because even though I am hating all the additional work hours, I am also very aware that balance is not about actual time.  It's about taking care of yourself and making sure that you are "whole".  I could have hours to do anything, but if I chose to waste that time, it's on me.

I am going to also start finding my 30 minutes a day to go for a walk. If I can find 30 minutes to fuss about laziness, then I definitely can find 30 minutes to take a long walk.  I need it.

Well, it's time to get ready for the day.  Time to go and do the work that is waiting.  It's the right thing to do.

Then a bit more time for us...

Sunday, August 18, 2019

solitude and space...

There is absolutely nothing that fills my bucket as much as peace and solitude.  Today it was filled to overflowing!  Exactly what I needed.

Hubs and I got up before the sun, loaded the picnic I prepared last night and lots of water into my sweet little bug and we headed southwest.  We'd wanted to get a float trip in while on vacation and things didn't line up that way, we filled our time with too much relaxing.

So after six crazy work days, I was not going to settle for not getting a float trip.  We both know we despise Saturday floats.  It's crazy crowded and loud.  Definitely no bucket filling happens there. 

So we worked for a few hours on Saturday, helping out with pressure washing and weeding the landscaping. Catching up on little things and hoping to help make a big difference.

After that, we ran our errands, bought groceries for the week and had an incredible lunch at Seedz, I have to say they are going to be responsible for me being broke!  We've eaten there twice, tried a total of 4 different dishes and not one has disappointed.  I enjoyed the vegan donut we tried, Hubs did not.  At all. I am completely nuts about the Mata Mint tea... Again Hubs... big fat NOPE!  He did try the Jasmine Orange Boba tea... I have to admit that his face when the boba came up the straw was hysterical! Sitting in the sun outside on those beautiful sun dappled streets was a calming reset to start the weekend.

I'm determined to hold precious the weekends, the time when we can enjoy each other, spend time with Neeko and just stay focused on reclaiming "us" time.  After all, "us" time doesn't have to be doing something or even not doing something.  For me it has to be about making an effort to hold space for things that bring me joy and balance.  I am finding sheer joy in shopping for the food that I can use to make us nourishing meals.  I have rediscovered the joy of cooking.  I've missed it. It had become a mundane chore.  It wasn't filling my bucket. 

Yet last night, I made us Spring Roll Buddha bowls. Oh my!  I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I can assure you, we were both very happy with the results. After dinner was finished, I started working on today's picnic.  Pasta salad full of bright colored veggies and then I decided why not give cold peanut noodles a try. Both were a success. 

We'd picked an 8:15 am start for our trip down the Courtois River.  Hopeful to have peace at least for the start of our journey. Meaning we left St. Louis at 6 am.  The moon still high in the sky and the sun just starting to light the morning sky on fire.  It was a gorgeous 90 minute ride to the river.  We checked in and heading to the bus that would take us 6 miles up the road.  Cell phones quit working almost as soon as you leave the highway, over twenty miles away from where we will head out on our raft.

We were starting to wonder if we were in the wrong place, no one had joined us as we sat there waiting.  A few moments later, Hubs and I boarded our bus.  Just us. The driver was delightful and we chatted on the ride, it's odd to have a whole school bus for just three people.  We loaded our raft and shoved off. 

We hadn't been able to take that portion of the river last year, it was simply too low.  We weren't sure what to expect.  It winds through Mark Twain National Forest and very remote.  We'd hoped for a bit of time without friends.

At 1 pm we'd completed our journey, never seeing any other rafters or people for that matter.  It took us about four and a half hours to make our 6 hour journey.  We even found a wonderful stretch of the river wide, deep and still that we floated along without thought or care and enjoyed our lunch.  We listened to birds, bullfrogs, counted fish swimming under us in the crystal clear water.  We even had a brief encounter with a gray and black stripped nope rope (snake) sunning itself on a large tree branch.  There were so many turtles, a few of them snappers. 

In addition to the beauty and silence, the most precious gift was our ability to simply be.  Silently floating, occasionally paddling to keep from hitting both submerged and low hanging trees, pushing ourselves through shallow spots, a couple of times we carried the raft through the shallow rocky beds.

The beauty was breathtaking.  The peace we found priceless. 

On the drive down we'd been listening to Cheryl Crow, one of her songs is so us, but there is a line in there about being able to worship in the great outdoors.  That is where I find myself closest to God.  Where I am at one with the universe.  Today, that was gliding down the river, laughing and talking when we felt like it, sitting in silence and soaking up the energy of the earth around us, and all of this is with was with my best friend.  The person I feel makes me a whole. 

And just us.  No one else until the very end.  Six precious, pristine miles of peaceful co-existence with nature. No connection to anyone else.  No electronic leashes, nothing to break the beauty of this day.

Tomorrow will be a high pressure day, long and busy. I am learning the self-care is deeper than I thought.  It isn't just the food you eat or working out, its about taking care of yourself mentally.  And knowing it is okay to just be.  Having spent this time centering and just holding space has filled my bucket.

I'm ready. 


The sun is just breaking over the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Watching it set last night was breathtaking! Tomorrow I will get up and ...