FOCUS ON THE BRIDGE

Today, I wanted to share something that I read which inspired me, especially during this difficult time for our country and world during the pandemic.

“Rather than focusing on the obstacle in your path, focus on the bridge over the obstacle.”
-Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gymnastic Gold medalist, who also won two silver medals and two bronze medals in 1984

Life is good; find that bridge somehow somewhere today. Carpe Diem, friends.

THE JOURNEY OR THE DESTINATION?

lantana, zinnia, and sweet potato vine

I have come to many realizations while being cooped up inside during this pandemic. My fascination with one’s perception has me asking myself which is more important in life? The journey or the destination? This is a hot topic among many people, whether they think about it or not. If you think of the people you know, there are many people that are more “journey” type people, yet others are more “destination” people. This fascinates me to no end. Our perceptions about the world colors our approach to living time and time again.

Recently, the discussion in our home has centered around the pergola that my husband built recently in the back yard. We talk about how we are planning on growing all kinds of plants in containers to make the space more inviting when we sit under it. I have enjoyed the many “pipedreams” that have gone round and round in my head, much like I enjoy a good road trip. For me, the journey is such an important part of the experience. Thinking about doing something, pondering about all the possibilities, brainstorming for new ideas, “seeing” the plants in my head in various combinations all give me joy. Similarly it doesn’t matter where I plan to “go” on the road trip; doing whatever comes along, stopping where the wind blows is equally fun. The trip itself, or the journey, is half the fun. It is similar to the selection of planting materials, containers, etc. in my mind. It matters less what I actually plant, as the journey is part of the experience with growing plants as well as I search for “thrillers, fillers, and spillers” for my containers. The pandemic has inspired me to get back to my “roots” of gardening, if only in containers, which is something that had always defined me until I moved to Florida. Gardening here is a whole new world, one that I had not ventured into again until recently.

zinnia, lantana, and calibrachoa

It is very interesting to me that my daughter, “Teen Traveler” isn’t always quite like me. She isn’t always quite like her father, either. However, she’s game for almost anything, like both of us, and I dragged her to a garden center today where we could be in the open and socially distance ourselves with a wide area away from others. I told her I could use her thoughts about what we grow near the pergola and told her that my only requirement was that the plants need to attract butterflies and be colorful. We walked round and round in the garden center, and after a while she announced that she was “done” with the experience as she was getting very hot in the Florida morning sun. She laughed when she said “I guess it really doesn’t matter to me what we plant in the containers. It will be fun, but all I really care is that they look good in the end.” What a revelation. Definitely a “destination” person, at least in this matter. Fascinating.

pentas (I am not a big fan or red in the garden, but it sure does attract butterflies)

I guess in the end, I have decided mostly that I want it ALL. I always want it all. The “journey” is part of the joy in my life, as well as the “destination”, too. I always enjoy a good “pipedream” as often as I can as well as having my hands elbow deep in the dirt, but the finished product gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy, too. I wonder if this approach is situation specific or if this approach can be generalized to other areas of our lives as well. Food for thought.

Life is good; enjoy both your journey as well as your destination if you can, whenever you can.

Carpe diem, friends…………………

Two links for creating beautiful container gardens:

https://www.provenwinners.com/Container-Design

THE BARE NECESSITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

“Look for the bare necessities

The simple bare necessities

Forget about your worries and your strife.”

-“The Bare Necessities” song sung by Baloo in “The Jungle Book”

For some reason, I thought about this song yesterday. It has been years since I’ve seen the movie, “The Jungle Book”, yet that song has stuck with me through the years. It’s application is universal and very timely. When I think about the song’s meaning for my own life I am constantly reminded about what’s really important to me. Time with family. Friends. God. Laughter. Health. Food for the mind. Food for the soul. Food for the body. Exercise. Free will. Freedom. Perhaps everything beyond that is a luxury, even certain brands of toilet paper, napkins, or paper towels in this pandemic. Certain brands of hand soap, too. All luxuries. The pandemic has taken us back a bit to examine what is really meaningful in our lives to help us get back to basics. For every drop of rain that falls, as it has been said, a flower really does grow……..

Life is good. Find and think about what your own bare necessities are if you haven’t already.

Carpe diem, friends………….

THE BLESSING OF AN INSPIRATION AND OF A FRIEND

Wall mural and bike photo taken in Amsterdam, the “cycling capital of the world”

I have an amazing friend who lives in another part of the world. He has a certain “joie de vivre” that I can’t possibly explain. I have been fortunate to have had the chance to break bread with him and share a laugh or two over a short period of time. When he smiles, the world smiles with him. My friend recently went on a bike ride while going for a short get away while he was seriously ill and feeling very tired. He was equally tired of all his body has been through with his illness, yet he managed to find joy that day. An explorer and a traveler, my friend adjusted to his status at the time, adapted to what he could do, and revised his conception of adventure during this week end. A picture of him riding his bike that day is one of my favorite pictures of him, as it captures his essence somehow. This friend makes me smile again and again. The world is a better place, in part, because of him. The world is also a funnier place, too, because of him. He knows how to live well, and I admire that in him. He enjoys the love of his beautiful family, great food, travel to exotic places, and reading. One of his favorite songs is “Oh What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and it has always been one of my favorite songs, too. My friend is an inspiration to many people, including me. I will keep this photo of him etched in my mind and heart forever, feeling fortunate to have had the good fortune of spending time with him, even if a short time.

my strong and funny friend

Today, thinking of my friend, I decided to get on my bike, as I used to really enjoy riding my bike and haven’t done that in a while . Seems like it’s been a long while since I went for a bike ride in the neighborhood. Too long. Can’t believe I haven’t thought of this earlier as I try to find something new or re-connect with something that I used to do as often as I can during this pandemic and self-isolation. It seems pretty easy to social distance on a bike.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”

-John F. Kennedy

(photo taken in Amsterdam)

Perhaps I’ll go for a little longer bike ride tomorrow. Perhaps the next day will be even longer. Maybe later in the week I will put the bike on the bike rack on the car to go for an even longer ride. No time like the present. Makes me think of a reply I once heard when I asked someone what time it was. The reply was simple; the person said “the time is now.”

“It is the unknown around the corner which turns my wheels.”

-Heinz Stucke

(photo taken in Zaanse Schans in the Netherlands)

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein

Life is good. Find something you used to love doing and haven’t done in a while today. Live fully, live life well, and enjoy the moment, using some inspiration as your guide if you have one.

Carpe diem, friends………………………….

LESSONS LEARNED FROM A LANTERN

Lanterns have been used throughout the ages for many things. First and foremost they have been used to light up a dark area. They are the inspiration for many festivals around the world, especially in Asia. They remind us that the light they yield can bring us out of darkness, if we follow the light, both literally and figuratively. Finally, lanterns symbolize joy, celebration, good fortune, longevity, and protection (from evil.) Lanterns have also been associated most recently with knowledge, finding one’s way or helping another find his or her way, light over darkness (or good over evil), intelligence, and even truth.

It’s uncanny to me that “Teen Traveler”, my daughter, and I discovered by chance recently that we both had seen lanterns made out of cans independently and both wanted to make them some day. Someday is today, whenever I can make it so. To that end, we have been washing out cans from the vegetables we stocked up on for the pandemic. Seems as though we’ve been eating our fair share of canned green beans. Probably even more green beans then we ever wanted to eat. Probably even more green beans than we ever will eat again. That being said, we put some water in the washed cans and froze them overnight. This makes punching holes in the cans easier (and safer), as the can is less likely to roll when working on it.

After we decided on our designs, we put the can on a towel to prevent it from rolling while we were working on it and to catch the water as the ice melted. The internet is full of can lantern patterns, so we looked on the net for inspiration. Some people spray paint their cans afterwards, too.

With a hammer and a nail, we punched a hole through the pattern we taped onto the can. This project takes just a few minutes and yields a lot of fun when doing it together with someone. “Teen Traveler” makes me laugh so much that tears flow from my eyes, and this project was no exception. Ice from inside the can broke like an iceberg off a continent while we were hammering the nail, and the ice slid (and sometimes flew) out of the can. The pattern from the can became wet and disintegrated after a while. The project looked so easy to those that had gone before us to do this very same project. The more the project didn’t work out according to our plan, the more we laughed. Life isn’t perfect, as they say, and neither is this seemingly easy project. I am reminded of something Alan Alda, and American actor, once said he wished he had told his younger self years ago. That is, the need to “adapt, adjust, and revise.” We adapted the pattern we wanted to use. We adjusted the pattern we had chosen, as it was far more complicated than we originally imagined to accomplish. Finally, we revised our plan to fill the yard with a barrage of lanterns we would make and hang from the tree. Maybe just two is plenty, afterall….

I wanted to think of some clever poem or song about lanterns to provide us with some inspiration, but then decided that simply being together with my teen daughter doing something fun was inspiration enough for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is what it is, and what it is was beautiful.

Life is good; find a way to make something wonderful with someone you love today. Create beauty and recognize the beauty of the moment.

Carpe diem, friends………..

DON’T FORGET TO HAVE SOME FUN DURING THE PANDEMIC

target (credit:Dreamstime)

My daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I used to have a lot of fun when she was little with the computer chair. On days where it was rainy, and we were stuck inside, I pushed her around in the wheeled computer chair through the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way. When she was a bit older (and stronger) we took turns pushing each other in the same manner, laughing again until our bellies hurt.

It has been a while since we did this, but the other day, “Teen Traveler” rolled me out from in front of the computer….into the living room, into the kitchen, then into the family room, along with some twirls and spins along the way, laughing and laughing as we went along.

I was recently thinking about how much we missed going to Walt Disney World while it is closed due to the pandemic. While I was laughing in the computer chair, an idea came to me. I have seen how some people have gone to great lengths creating Disney World in their own homes during the pandemic, so I wondered how we could make a fake “Buzz Light Year” – type ride. I got off the computer chair and went into my daughter’s room to get our old supply of nerf guns, ammo, and tactical vests. You can imagine her watch me, wondering what I was up to. Even the look on her face made me laugh. Yet, just minutes later, she completely understood what I had in mind and let me know with her twinkling eyes (and her glimmering smile). Before long, we were donning our tactical vests, loading our guns with ammo and re-filling our ammo pouches. Not too long after that, we were busy making bulls-eye type targets to hang around the house. Game ON! I loaded Teen Traveler into the computer chair, both of us still laughing, and slowly moved her out of the computer room into the living room, spinning her a few times, watching her try to hit the targets we had taped on the walls. We kept score, and she is evidently quite a marksman, EVEN when trying to hit a target while moving. My “Lara Croft”.

Next was my turn. Armed with my tactical vest and belt, I was poised to beat the record. Game ON again! Ready……set…..GO! Of course my daughter turned and twirled me in my chair every single chance she could, and I was already dizzy before we even started. Try as I may, I can not beat my daughter’s score, but we had such a fun time. NOT “Lara Croft Mom”.

Life is good. Try to connect with those you love in ways you haven’t connected in some time. Find the fun. Look for a way to laugh ’til your belly hurts today.

Carpe diem, friends………….