Photo by Ashutosh Sonwani on

It has been said that “life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.” (American author Neale Donald Walsch). I have lately been thinking of this now that things have settled down from the pandemic and we move about within our lives again, getting back to work, shopping, eating out, walking the dog in a crowd, and repeating, etc.

I have been thinking for years about fire walking. From a science perspective, I know that one is unlikely to get burned, as the time of contact with the heat usually prevents this. In addition, embers are not good conductors of heat. With the right form, people survive this experience unburned, yet those who run through the embers change the position of their feet from a flat placed with a flat position and uniform surface area to a foot that is buried a little further in the embers and unevenly into the heat as a result. Sometime these people get burned. Running through the embers instead of walking slowly, taking one’s time, brings up all kinds of parallels to life and living for me as well. Most of the time the feel feel warm to the touch for a while, but do not burn. There is always a bucket of water nearby in case things go awry.

There is a certain sense of victory I imagine that one feels after walking through burning embers. However, I can only imagine that a sense of balance happens as well. How powerful the notion that another reason one doesn’t get burned from walking through hot embers is that when two bodies of different temperatures meet, the hotter body cools down, and the cooler body warms up.

I know that fire walking has been practiced for thousands of years as a spiritual ritual or is connected with some rite of healing, initiation, or faith practice in some cases. For me, the notion of fire walking means that I would step out of my comfort zone for a moment. I means that I would for a moment face the innate fear that we all have of sustaining a burn. We learn as children NOT to touch something hot or to avoid something that might hurt us. Well fire walking might not hurt us, but it instills fear on some basic primitive level somehow. I don’t need the ritual, healing, or initiation aspect of this activity, nor do I want it. I want only to shake it up by doing something out of my comfort zone.

I am toying with putting fire walking on my “bucket” list. It’s not about thrill seeking at all. Why not face my (universal) fear? Why not emerge with a greater perspective life? In my opinion, only something good can come out of it.

While I may not be able to walk on water (THAT is something ENTIRELY differentl), I CAN walk on fire. There is something about balancing the need to read quietly with a cup of herbal tea in a tiny cabin in the woods with a great view of nature that I have with pushing myself out of my comfort zone to walk on fire.  Maybe it is about Yin and Yang, after all, and finding the balance within life.

“I could walk through fire, I could feel it burning
And I could walk through fire, right back to you
And as the flames get higher, you know I’ll get stronger
Baby, I would walk through fire…”

– “Walk Through Fire” by Brian Howe/Terry Thomas sung by Bad Company

“…Filled with awesome expectation
This girl’s a fascination
And nothing in her way will keep her from her destination
‘Cause she’s fire walking, she’s fire walking…”

“She’s Fire Walking” by Tim McMorris


83076900 © creativecommonsstockphotos |

Those who know me know I often speak about having a dream, or “bucket” list items, to live fully and with intention. A hot air balloon ride, a swim with the dolphins, traveling to see tulips bloom in Holland in the spring, seeing the pyramids in Egypt, seeing the Aurora Borealis….the list is so long for many of us. But what if thinking of our “bucket list” isn’t quite the way to do it? What if there is another way to enjoy those breathtaking and precious moments our lives?

I am reading a book right now called “Driving Miss Norma” by Ramie Liddle and Tim Bauerschmidt. This book is about a 90 something year old woman finding out she has cancer after having just lost her husband. Instead of going through palliative treatments designed to extend her life just a little bit, she and her family decided to take an RV trip throughout the United States and to “live” while she was dying, creating memories of new experiences and moments of joy. I thought the book would be about fulfilling those life-long dreams, or “bucket list” items before “Miss Norma” passes away, but I was wrong. Totally and completely wrong.

The book passages say, “Norma could not find the words to create a bucket list, although at first that is what we were hoping for. If, for no other reason, it would have helped with planning. “Oh, I don’t know,” she would say over and over again, and it became clear very early in our preparations that we were not going to get a list out of her. Sometimes I felt frustrated that she would not participate much in the planning. Was it her age? I wondered. Was her brain unable to retrieve language easily? Was she simply not used to dreaming or being asked her opinion about things? But I soon grew to appreciate the opportunities her reticence to make a list gave us. With out one, we could really go with the flow. There was so much to see and do, and more than anything Norma just wanted to enjoy life. A bucket list would be much too limiting. This trip was not about checking off predetermined items. As we had quickly learned from those first delayed plans at the Mackinac Bridge and our experiences at roadside attractions, this trip was about living in the present moment, embracing whatever came our way. There would be no regrets and no need to race against time.”

Such beautiful words. Such wisdom. After contemplating two opposite approaches to living fully (the “bucket list” vs. “going with the flow”), I have decided that either approach works, depending on our own individual personalities. Neither is wrong. Neither is right. I guess it all comes down to HOW one can live one’s life fully and how one can embrace whatever comes our way. For some it comes down to the bucket list, and for others it is living in the present moment, wherever the wind blows us with spontaneity.

Life is good; find a way to embrace whatever comes your way any way you can. No regrets. Carpe diem, friends…


Photo by Johannes Plenio on

One of my best friends and I have a little saying that helps us to deal with life’s ups and downs from time to time. The saying is that one needs a “little slice of normal” when the chips are down, much like one “needs” a slice of cake from time to time. When one of is is having difficulty with something, such as someone we love in the hospital, an accident, or some other sad and unforeseen event, we go to lunch and have “a little slice of normal.” That “little slice of normal” means something different to each of us, but for my dear friend a “little slice of normal” is a manicure, pedicure or a trip to the beach, no matter what season. For me a “little slice of normal” might be some ice cream and a movie, a cup of herbal tea, or a hike in the woods. That “little slice of normal” represents something that give us peace and is something we often do normally. That “little slice of normal” gives us a sense of perspective that life will go on somehow, as the routine of the “little slice of normal” somehow gives us comfort that some things stay the same. A “little slice of normal” is something that speaks to our soul somehow. It is not an indulgence, but it is rather something ordinary that we frequently do. For some people it might be a run on the beach, and for others it might be a few laps of swimming. For others it might be breaking bread with your family, and for others it might be curling up with a good book in a comfy chair.

Today I am thinking about this same best friend from my youth, who just finished her chemotherapy for breast cancer recently and then had her last radiation treatment yesterday. I can’t celebrate with her in person because of the quarantine associated with flying to where she is, but I just spoke with her on the phone this afternoon. As I suspected, she is out having lunch with her daughter, along with a “little slice of normal” today.

Life somehow goes on……despite the little AND big bumps along the way.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends………….


It’s no secret to those that know me that I never wanted to move to Florida. In fact, it was the LAST place I wanted to live, as I once told my parents in the arrogance of my youth that I would “NEVER” move to Florida. Florida simply is too hot for my liking, as I grew up in the cold New England weather and love the snow. I love the way the freshly fallen snow insulates the world somehow so that ever break of a branch or every crunch of our footsteps in the snow echos and gives me pause. It is as though one lives in a snow globe when the snow is falling ever so gently upon the ground.

The pandemic has created many changes in our day to day lives to be certain. However, not ALL of the changes are bad. During the pandemic I learned to embrace Florida for all its beauty, despite the hot weather. It was this year that I made an effort to get outside to begin to learn the Florida native trees and native flowers. It was during this year that I took day trips to areas that were right before me in years past, but I never knew about them. It was during this year that I developed a love for the Florida springs and all the beauty they provide. It was this year that I tried to shake things up by going the beach to watch a sunrise, when I normally prefer the sunset. Instead of planting my favorite flowers from my New England gardening days, I planted flowers that work here in Florida, like orchids on my trees.

I have never been much of an orchid lover, although they always remind me of happy times during my youth when we wore orchid corsages on Easter morning. I seem to remember some meaning associated with either the color ribbon or the color of the orchid one wore back in the day. It seems as though it was some sort of signal about whether or not your beloved Mother were still alive, such a quaint and touching tribute and custom. Maybe I am remembering a Mother’s Day custom instead.

And speaking of changes, yesterday while going for my daily bike ride (okay, it has been daily ONLY for a few weeks now to be entirely honest), I looked around and noticed the subtle changes that have happened since even the day before. One lawn was freshly mowed, one palm tree shed a frond on the grass, one house was being painted, the breeze was a little warmer, and so on. Then I began to notice that there ARE subtle changes in the seasons even here in Florida is one is quiet enough to notice.

Just last month when walking along the same path that I biked today, some of the trees had fewer leaves, and today many of the trees have buds. There is pollen everywhere, and the angle of the sun is just a little higher in the sky somehow.

It has been said that it is important to “bloom where one is planted”, and that’s exactly how I feel today when riding my bike. I am finally “blooming” in Florida, and it sure feels good. Maybe the hot weather is just a LITTLE bit of what Florida is all about.

Life is good; bloom wherever YOU are planted and enjoy all the subtle changes from day to day. Carpe diem, friends……


photo courtesy of Angela Madsen’s FB page

“Once I decided to take control of my destiny, I harnessed the energy that I had buried deep inside me and pushed it out. Once I told the universe who was the boss, the universe took a back seat, and I created a new reality for me to live in.”

-from “Rowing Against The Wind” by Angela Madsen

“Rowing Against The Wind” is the amazing story of a former US Marine who was injured while on duty. After several difficult (“botched”) surgeries and a broken neck she sustained from another injury, she became permanently disabled as a paraplegic. She sustained many significant losses as a result, including losing her house and was homeless for a period of time. However, through cultivating a different mindset, she persevered and ultimately found success as an athlete who won a bronze medal in the ParaOlympics in London. She found her love of rowing and was one of the first woman to row across the Indian Ocean. She was the first woman with a disability to row across the Atlantic Ocean and held six Guiness World Records. She was a real mover and a shaker.

After experiencing so much anger at her situation early on in her disability, it was later after falling from a train track in her wheel chair that broke her neck that really caused her to re-think her situation. She decided to use her gifts of leadership, athleticism, organization, and dedication to continue to live her life in a new way, finding ways to enjoy her life despite her setbacks.

She died doing what she loved in 2020, halfway through her solo row from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

As the French say, “vouloir c’est pouvoir” or what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve. To want something is to be able to do something in loose translation.

Find something that drives your life. Love living. Find your passion.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…………


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Last night while walking in my neighborhood, I looked up into the sky to witness the historic rocket launch to take astronauts into space, which took my breath away. Watching any rocket launch at night from my backyard is always my favorite place to watch a rocket launch here in Florida. It always gives me the sense that there is something greater in the world than my small little microcosm. What is important to me at that particular moment seems pale by comparison to what the feelings of those brave astronauts must be. Watching the rocket launch gives me the sense also that our election woes, terrible pandemic, and other things that weigh heavily on our minds are temporary. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “This, too, shall pass away”. At some point in the future, whenever that is, our difficulties will be behind us and we will move forward to a better place or time.

When I first moved to Florida, I remember the awe I felt every time the shuttle launched into the sky. I stopped what I was doing and waited with such anticipation to watch and wait. Watch and wait. Last night, however, I was going about my business with my usual nightly walk and almost missed the launch. It brings to mind a principal known as “the hedonic treadmill” or the “hedonistic adaptation”. That is, hedonic adaptation is the tendency toward a process that reduces the affective impact of emotional events. It has to do with getting “used” to something that previously gave us happiness. For example, you may recall your first apartment that may have been 400 square feet and how excited you were when you moved in. If you look at that same apartment and consider living in it now that you are a bit more “established”, it might not give you the same level of excitement or happiness. In short, the excitement “wears off.” Experts suggest that a brand new sports car, for example, will not make you happy. No matter what the price point of the car, a person will gradually get “used” to driving the car, and the “newness” will wear off. I am sad to admit that last night I realized that the excitement of living on the Space Coast in Florida has worn off a little, as I admitted to myself the harsh realization that I wasn’t set up to view the rocket launch as I had previously done during preceding launches even though I was excited to see the launch in the sky. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy seeing the launch, as I did. It was just that the “newness” had worn off a little. Just a little.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Extrapolating this “hedonistic adapation” idea to my every day life, I know that the key to happiness, in part, is NOT the acquisition of material goods. The key to happiness is to acquire memories, to “step outside of the moment to review and appreciate it or savor it” in the words of Dr. Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Happiness comes from being both happy with your life and being happy in your life. Dr. Santos says happiness does not come from good grades, a new promotion, a bigger salary, a big house, etc. Pursuit of material goods and acquisitions is a dead end road. Instead, Dr. Santos suggests these practices to “thwart” hedonistic adaptation:

  • Meditation – a practice to help someone become present in the moment and tune out distractions.
  • Savoring – the simple act of appreciating and being present in the moment, or stepping outside of the experience to review and savor it . This can be done by looking at old photos of experiences that took part in, such as old family gatherings, a great vacation, doing something different.
  • Gratitude – taking time to appreciate the blessings in your life. Some people use a journal daily to write out several things for which they are thankful each day to give focus to the day.
  • Kindness – acts of kindness toward other people. Try paying for the coffee in the person behind you at the drive-through window some day. It simply feels good.
  • Social Connection – having friends and being part of a community can make you more likely endure disease, difficulty, and hardship better. Try re-connecting with others during this time of the pandemic, even if on the phone. Reaching out to others helps us in so very many ways.
  • Exercise – 30 minutes a day, which has been known to be mood boosting physiologically.
  • Sleep – at least seven hours a night for adults and nine hours a night for teens.

Finally, doing things to “shake up” our routine from time to time can help us to thwart hedonistic adaptation. For example, every now and again, I close my eyes and walk toward the sink, turn on the faucet, and get a drink of water “just because”. It helps me to appreciate the use of my eyes and helps me to “see” my world a little differently.

The link to Dr. Laurie Santos’ free course from Yale University about “The Science of Well Being” can be found below. Why not shake things up during the extra time you might have on your hands during lockdowns, social isolation, and the pandemic? You just might learn something that surprises you and motivates you toward a happier life.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends …………

Note to self: savor living on the Space Coast in Florida and witnessing the forward progress to getting to Mars in my lifetime, because life is good.


photo courtesy of

When the “Enterprise” Starship had orders to return to Space Dock to be decommissioned in “Star Trek: The Undiscovered County”, Captain James T. Kirk said, “Second star to the right and straight ’til the morning,” before he and the crew went on one last trip. This quote is originally from Peter Pan when he told Wendy how to find a star.

I can’t help but think of this quote during this historic voyage planned by our American astronauts here in Florida tomorrow on it’s first operational, not last, trip to take the crew to the International Space Station. Tomorrow’s flight, called “Crew-1”, is scheduled at 7:49 PM on November 14, 2020 from the Kennedy Space Station. Although astronauts were launched into space already aboard the space taxi, this flight represents the beginning of what is expected to be regular flights back and forth to space. It is also represents the first NASA officially certified commercial spacecraft system capable of transporting humans to and from the International Space Station. This is such an exciting time for space travel, first with the Space Force agency creation, and now this. So much for which to look forward!

The planned flight was originally slated for October but has experienced several technical issues, so it was pushed back to tomorrow from Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX forged ahead, despite these obstacles, to meet their goal with the visionary leadership of its founder, Elon Musk. Goal met.

American astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins  will join Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi on this historic mission tomorrow. The international cooperation in space and aboard the International Space Station is inspiring.

“Second star to the right and straight ahead ’til morning,” astronauts, and Godspeed. “Ad astra per aspera” (which means “from hardships to the stars”, the official motto of the State of Kansas with origins from writings of the philosophers Virgil and Seneca).

Life is good; find something to celebrate today. Carpe diem, friends……….

*The rocket launch was postponed until Sunday, November 15 at 7:27 PM and launched successfully.


Photo by on

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”

-Ferris Bueller in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”


We enjoy going to the movies but not during this pandemic. We’re just not there yet, so we decided to take a long drive to go to the Ocala Drive-In in Ocala, Florida. It seemed like a good idea, as we could socially distance from the car or from our chairs in front of the car. There are two screens there, and three of the screens played first-run movies (“Tenet”, “Spontaneous”, and “The Last Shift”). We opted for the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus” with Bette Middler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

The movie start times varies according to the time it gets dark, so be sure to check the movie start time seasonally. When we visited on October 3, the movie started at 7:45 PM, and the gate opened at 7:00 PM. I highly recommend getting there early, as close to opening as possible to get a good parking spot, as the drive-in appeared to be nearly sold out by the time the show started. The price is six dollars per adult and three dollars for children from six to twelve. Children under five are free.

The man at the gate entrance was very pleasant and gave us brownie “Z-Bars” with our receipt, which was a welcome surprise. I am a big fan of the “small good thing” one receives unexpectedly. When I voiced my surprise and thanked the gate keeper, he gave me a warm and genuine smile in return.

We have been to a few drive- in theaters in Florida in the last ten years or so, and a few are in less than desirable neighborhoods and looked a little worse for the wear. Ocala Drive-In, however, is in a pleasant and safe neighborhood and has been kept up well. The rest rooms have been updated a bit, very clean, and the owners take pride enough in their drive-in to place a decorative item on the vanity in the women’s rest room. I was happy to see the door to the restrooms propped open to allow adequate exchange of air during this pandemic, too.

The concession stand delivers food to your car if you want, but there are newer patio chairs and tables for those that wish to eat at the concession stand.

During the height of the pandemic, cars were parked in every other spot to allow for maximum social distancing, and at the time of our visit, only a few blocked spots remained for social distance. However, cars appeared to be parked four or five feet away, and the distance from driver of one car to passenger of the adjacent car appeared to be well over six feet.

I appreciated the proprietor’s request to stand when the National Anthem was played on the screen and had forgotten this happened before every movie I saw as a child in the drive-in. I also was pleasantly surprised to see a black and white Popeye clip play just before the movie, along with a kitschy concession advertisement like those I remember advertising the “hot buttered popcorn” at the concession stand from my childhood.

The quality of the movie, even though it was old, was great. The sound coming through the FM radio of our car was equally great. Patrons were all well-behaved, and we viewed no sketchy characters there.

All in all, it was a great outing to the Ocala Drive-In, and we will definitely go again. I highly recommend this particular Drive-In, too, as the attention to detail the owners provide for this old but in good condition theater shows.

Life is good; find a way to do something different today. Carpe diem, friends…………..


A few weeks back, I ventured to Enterprise, Alabama and saw for myself a profound celebration of the human spirit. It seems that Enterprise, near Fort Rucker Military Base, has a love relationship with the boll weevil, a beetle that feeds on cotton buds and cotton flowers. As the story goes, it also seems that many years ago Enterprise depended on cotton crops for their economy. Cotton was grown successfully until somewhere around 1915 when the boll weevil first appeared in the town. This boll weevil devastated the cotton crops and put a damper on the economy for quite a while.

boll weevil painted on a wall in downtown Enterprise

But, because sometimes adversity is a catalyst for change, the people of Enterprise decided to try their hand at peanut farming in response to this crop devastation. Diversification of crops from cotton to peanuts lead to greater economic prosperity to the area, and in 1919 the people of the town erected a thirteen foot statue of a woman holding up a trophy with a boll weevil on top of it over her head in deference and in celebration to the creature that almost ruined the town’s economy.

The trophy confirms that the town had won the battle against this pest, and the pest was something for which to be thankful. The statue is a celebration of the human spirit and its triumph in times of adversity.

sign near the boll weevil statue monument

Throughout the town today, there are constant reminders of the boll weevil’s importance to the town. In fact, there are many whimsical statues of the boll weevil in front of various businesses.

boll weevil statue near the police station, courtesy of

a boll weevil in the local art supply store window

mural in downtown Enterprise with peanuts and a boll weevil

As the story goes, peanuts became very important to the town from thereafter, and there are reminders of the importance of peanuts throughout the town and adjacent areas.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20200816_092311_hdr.jpg
Dothan Botanical Gardens

The can-do spirit of this tiny little town, this work-the-problem-to-find-a-solution mentality is inspiring today, one hundred years later.

Life is good; find a “work around” to whatever problem you encounter today and any other day; find a way. You CAN do it with the same mentality of those spirited and courageous folks in Enterprise, Alabama a century ago.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……..