I started this blog to share some of the thoughts I have along the journey of life. I love to travel and spend time with my family and friends. A good meal, breaking bread with those I love, gives my life meaning. So does travel. I adore dreaming of sites to visit, not just to check them off on a list. Rather, I consider myself a student of life, traveling as an explorer, to open my mind to all the possibilities the world holds in store for me and for others. I love to travel to discover how different the world is in terms of climate, cultures, politics, terrain, economy, etc. but also to discover how SIMILAR the people are. Despite language barriers, much can be communicated with a smile or gestures. Language is simply a means to communicate, yet there are so very many other ways to communicate. Once when I was in French-speaking Canada, I realized that my 7th grade French class didn’t teach me the word for “straw”. However, when I thought about it, I was able to communicate to the very French-speaking waiter in a very French-speaking restaurant about my need for a “cylinder through which to drink” in my limited French vocabulary. Travel challenges the mind and soul, stretching us to problem solve and form conclusions about all that we experience. THAT is the type of travel I enjoy best. “All’s well that ends well”, as they say………….”Life is Good” as well.
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.
Being stuck inside the house during the recent stay-at-home orders, I have had the luxury of extra time. Time seems to have slowed down to a snail pace in contrast to our busy contemporary society. People coming, people going. Even the numbers of cars on the road have dwindled, and with many “essential” stores closing early, the town looks much like it did when I was a young girl. For the most part, most neighborhood stores were closed in the evenings when I was little until the “Big Box” stores opened. That changed a lot. The days of relaxing at home after dinner were replaced by errands, drive-through pharmacies, or take out orders some time after that in many homes. In those older days, many people used after dinner time for baths for both hygiene and relaxation.
I used to take a bubble bath at least weekly, in addition to my daily shower, until a few years ago. There was always something selfishly indulgent about carving out a half hour all to myself, letting myself enjoy the moment of solitude in the bath among scented bubble baths. Tonight I decided I would steal away some time to get back into the habit of the weekly bath. I remember when I was youn, putting my head underwater so that my ears were submerged for a period of time while my nose was above the water. Resting like this, I could close my eyes and actually hear the sound of my breathing and maybe even the sound of my heart among the solitude under water. If you are short like I am, you might still be able to submerge most of your body, except the tops of your kneees, under water. Sometimes I would take a book into the bathtub and rest it on my bath caddy that sat in front of me while I soaked. Sometimes I would take a cup of hot tea or a cool beverage as well.
Tonight, I dipped into the warm tub after turning the lights on low with some candles around the room, on the counter and along the sides of the tub. I put on some relaxing classical music, and I soaked with my head under water, except my nose, for a period of time, enjoying those stolen moments all to myself. There is nothing like the peace I feel when I hear my breathing underwater, along with the sights of the calm candlelight and scented bubbles.
After my bath during which I allowed myself to think about nothing, absolutely nothing, I began to consider the history of baths in this country and how now they are considered almost obsolete. New homes are built mostly with tiled showers instead of bathtubs. There may be ONE bathtub in a home now, where there used to be bathtubs in every full bathroom. Such a pity.
When the Pilgrims arrived in America, according to History.com, they were not accustomed to bathing regularly. They thought that submerging their whole body in the water was somehow unhealthy and immodest. In fact, History.com suggests, ” “The idea of being clean wasn’t closely associated with water in the 17th century anywhere in the western world.” Bath houses became a place for the wealthy for medicinal cures or as a place socializing. Of course, in ancient times, the bath was important for socializing among people of all classes, and there is evidence of baths in the homes of the more affluent citizens of Ancient Rome.
While coping with self-isolation, why not dip into your own bathtub again for a few indulgent moments. Put on your favorite music, take a beverage or a book, maybe light some candles and reduce your stress with some time put aside just for you.
“Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath ‘long about a Saturday night A rub dub, just relaxing in the tub, thinkin’ everything was all right Well, I stepped out the tub, put my feet on the floor I wrapped the towel around me and I opened the door And then a splish splash, I jumped back in the bath…..”
-“Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin, 1958
I am grateful for the luxury of extra time that these stay at home orders have given me and plan to enjoy these extra hours while I can. Life is good; carpe diem, friends………..
There is something about starting a plant from a seed and watching it grow. The daily anticipation of wondering if the seed has germinated. Then the daily anticipation of wondering if the first leaf unfolds. Then the daily anticipation of wondering if the the first “true” leaves unfold.
While maintaining self-isolation, we decided to get back to our “roots” as gardeners, a hobby we have not tended to in quite some years. Growing up in the northeast, gardening was so much easier than here in Florida. There was the watchful waiting of looking for the very first crocus to bloom as a harbinger of spring. There is something magical about watching a flowering plant wake up, unfolding it’s bloom among snow on the ground.
When we moved to Florida several years back, it amazed me that the plants we grown indoors in pots were the landscape plants outside my house. Something wasn’t quite right about that, but something wasn’t quite right about gardening and putting my hands in soil while risking surprising a poisonous snake at the other end of my trowel.
I had given up gardening in the fourteen years I’ve been living in Florida, but when we recently started self-isolation and social distancing from the Covid-19 pandemic, we decided it would give us something to look forward to if we started a plant from seeds. Watching and waiting for the seed to germinate somehow soothes my soul. Surrounding myself with something growing while being stuck inside was just what I needed.
Would I grow a green plant or a flowering plant? Would I grow edible flowers? Would I grown some vegetable to sustain me in case the food supply chain became scarce. I sent away for seeds for my Aerogarden with excitement. I had decided upon romaine lettuce seed pods, knowing how delicious freshly harvested lettuce is. It is too hot this time of year to grow lettuce outside here in Florida, as it is a cold weather crop.
Two weeks ago, I set up my Aerogarden indoors and inserted the seed pods into the hydroponic growing machine along with the nutrients and water that they plant needs. It always amazes me when I see plants growing without soil and reminds me that we all can “bloom where we are planted” and can thrive with less than we THINK we need.
Each day, I look forward to checking on the status of my new plants and today I tried my first piece of lettuce from one of the plants. It was the freshest tasting lettuce I had ever eaten. Romaine lettuce from the market doesn’t really seem to have much of a flavor, but these dark lettuce leaves from my Aerogarden are tender and delicious.
The need to grow something hit me all over again. Before the stay at home orders and shortly after planting my Aerogarden pods, I went to the garden center to purchase some herbs to grow in pots on my patio so I could be less likely to inadvertently bump into a not so friendly slithering friend. Walking by and touching the leaves of aromatic plants gives me joy. Maybe even bliss. It provides me with that in-the-moment magic that I adore. There is something about using my five senses when I am around plants that gives me that same feeling as when I see a flock of birds above my head while they change direction yet still maintain formation. There is beauty all around us that captivates my eyes and soul.
It is so easy to stop doing something you live for the time being for whatever reason. There are a million reasons why we USED to love something that we no longer do. The pandemic has given us the luxury of a little more time in our homes. Why not take up a hobby you used to love all over again to find some joy.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow…..”
Find a way to believe in tomorrow, for it will be here sooner than you know. Life is good; carpe diem, friends……….
The Dutch have it right AGAIN! Instead of Niksen, the art of purposely doing “nothing”, another Dutch approach to enjoying life is called “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”). Hygge centers around enjoying the little things in life that provide us comfort. Although spring is upon us, providing warmer weather in some parts of the country, other parts of the country are still experiencing a bit of a chill. Fire in a fireplace? That’s hygge. Scented candles burning in your home? That’s hygge. Meals with comfort food and friends? That’s hygge. Big comfortable furniture with a soft throw blanket draped around you? That’s hygge. Your favorite hot tea, cappuccino, or coffee served in a china cup? That’s hygge. A long indulgent bubble bath with scented candles burning on the sides? That’s hygge. A bite of a delicious Belgian chocolate? That’s hygge. Anything and everything comfortable and cozy? Now THAT’S hygge!
While you are trying to take your mind off the corona virus situation in our lives right now, turn off your phone and turn on some soft music, sip a hot beverage, light a fire, and burn some scented candles after dinner. You will most likely experience comfort and contentment that will take your mind off of the virus knocking at your door.
Hygge, loosely translated as “to give courage, comfort, and joy”, will help you to live deliberately with comfortable intentions. They say it’s the “little things that matter.” Why not give it a try? Today choose pastry over healthy food for a change. Maybe a bite of a brownie, freshly baked cookies, or Bananas Foster………..
Enjoy today; find some comfort. Enjoy the little things. Carpe diem, friends…..
The Dutch have it right. They actually have a word for doing nothing or being idle. The word is “Niksen.” In America, many have been conditioned to be super productive for all waking moments, or else we feel lazy. We even have a phrase that lauds the merits of multi-tasking, the colloquial phrase, to “kill two words with one stone.” But the Dutch know that there is a certain beauty of “doing nothing”, but with purpose, from time to time in order to reduce one’s stress level. Some gaze out the window while simply “being.” You can let your mind wander. It lets us dial down the noise in our lives while allowing everything to “be” around us without being an active participant in whatever is happening. Lying on your back in the grass watching the clouds roll by? That’s Niksen. Watching the waves crash upon the beach? That’s Niksen. Sitting on the couch and staring out the window on a rainy day? That’s Niksen. Laying on a bed looking at the ceiling? That’s Niksen. Sitting on a park bench watching the world go by? THAT’S Niksen.
While self-isolating because of corona, try a little Niksen; it’s good for the soul. In fact, the Dutch often use the phrase “lekker Niksen,” which means something like “deliciously nothing.” You might feel less stress from the corona situation if you dial it down, switch it off, and do nothing for a little while today if you can. You might even feel more productive, happier, and energized afterwards. You might even have the energy to clean that closet, you know the one that you have been putting off the WHOLE time you have been self-isolating, after all.
Life is good; the virus won’t live forever, and we won’t be living like
With Covid-19 positive cases cropping up here in Florida, combined with the CDC recommendations not to visit places with greater than fifty people, I am strolling down memory lane to visit Silver Springs State Park, which was extremely popular within Florida’s tourist industry, until the early 1970’s when some of the large theme parks opened in Orlando. This park was so popular that a tour boat operator released rhesus monkeys there in an effort to make a Tarzan-like attraction. Now, visitors can spot an occasional wild monkey roaming about the park. If you see a monkey, though, don’t get too close. Many are infected with herpes B virus, which can be transmitted to humans through contact with the monkeys if they bite. Sometimes the monkeys are aggressive, so it is better to stay away from them and live life through your lens with photographs.
I spent the day, with my daughter, “Traveling Teen” hiking through the trails, enjoying the moments as they unfolded before our eyes……..
Although swimming is not permitted at Silver Springs State Park, you can take a glass bottom boat ride for only $12.oo for a half hour. You can even see some statues from one of the underwater scenes from a James Bond movie filmed there.
Many movies were filmed at Silver Springs:
The Seven Swans
Never Say Never Again
Moon Over Miami
Creature From The Black Lagoon
Don’t Give Up The Ship
Tarzan And His Mate
Tarzan The Ape Man
Smokey And The Bandit, Part 3
Rebel Without A Cause
While coping with Covid-19, you can always take a road trip to Silver Springs to create a memory with someone you love as you get some fresh air. If you want to avoid a crowded boat, you can rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards, and canoes there, too.
Life is good; get out to enjoy it whenever you can. Silver Springs is located in Marion County, Florida, north central Florida, just east of Ocala. The blue waters and this park is “old Florida” at its best. Enjoy today; carpe diem……….
As the world hunkers down to try to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, many travel restrictions are in place around the world. I decided about a week ago to postpone my bucket list travel trip to Egypt. In the meantime, unless there is a “shelter in place” for our area, I have decided to get out of the house to a local park where there is fresh air and no need to maintain a distance of three to six feet between myself and others, as there really are not that many people out and about right now.
I traveled to Ravine State Park in Palatka, Florida, which is a beautiful state park with large suspension bridges along a 2.5 mile loop wooded trail. This place is very interesting, as it is elevated in some spots beyond our usual “sea level” flat trails here in Florida. Although this place has had some damages from recent hurricanes, it is known for its display of azaleas and LOTS of them. At this time of year in 2020, most of the azaleas have already bloomed, but I saw an occasional bloom peaking out among isolated branches. A spot of color on an otherwise green branch here and there gave me pause and reminded me that all things are temporary, including this Covid-19 virus. It will run its course eventually, and eventually life will return essentially to normal for the most part. I am not sure what this will do to our economy or way of life long term, but I do know that the Covid-19 will eventually run its course. In the meantime, I will get out to local travel places, now that even Disney has shut down, to find inspiration…….find inspiration in nature and revisit places I have visited already again in my mind……
I ALWAYS will agree to the sentiment behind the company whose logo says, “Life is Good”.