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.
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.
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.
I have heard so very many interesting stories of how people are killing time during self-isolation, but this story of the human spirit is one that really inspires me. One of my best friends from college has been self-isolating with her family for quite some time now in a cold New England town. At least one grown child moved back home, a humbling situation because he has been unable to work because his job in the restaurant industry has been halted because of Covid-19. This is a very difficult period in time for most people around the globe, but my best friend, the Grateful Goddess, and her husband, Golf Guy, have found a way to instill laughter in their family. Just about two months after Grateful Goddess unexpectedly and suddenly lost her grandmother that she was extremely close to, she has found the resolve to keep moving forward, embodying the spirit of the old adage that “if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” This family makes gallons and gallons of lemonade at a time. The sound of laughter, the warm feeling of love, and the excitement of joy fill their rooms as they make happy memories at this difficult time and any other.
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
My friend, Grateful Goddess, has always been one of my most creative friends and one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. She’s always always there for me and for everyone else. I count her among my greatest blessings and have been honored to have her as my dear friend. She selflessly and joyfully gives and gives to those she loves. It’s no wonder that this matriarch of her family found a way to give some love and laughter to her family during these trying times. Her disposition is on the quiet side, but she has a playful gleam in her eyes when she is planning something fun, which is most often. She is known for having the most amazing parties with the most amazing games that she’s come up with to entertain her extended family and friends. I’m not exactly sure if she or her husband, Golf Guy, came up with a rousing game of mini golf INSIDE their New England home recently, but they all had lots of laughs as they played mini golf, moving from room to room within their home.
“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources.”
Luc de Clapiers
Tee-off started with hole number one in the home office….this was serious business, as you can see from the face of concentration in the photo below.
Golf Guy is one of the coolest and calmest Dads around, always willing to lend a hand to his family in any way he can. Here he sets the rules for the game and offers support as well.
Hole number two was in the living room with Golf Guy keeping score meticulously, I’ll bet. He has an easy-going spirit, but I’m sure he was “in it to win it.”
Hole number three in the dining room with evidence of other fun activities, such as puzzles all around………..the competition escalates………..
I can just hear the laughter echoing off the walls for hole number four, which was also in the dining room but was a bit more challenging……by now, the whole family was also “in it to win it.”
Hole #4 – Teeing off in the family room, but the hole is in the kitchen, which is the adjacent room. Now this is getting REALLY challenging…………
Golf Guy is the picture of agility in mind and body as he makes the corner for hole number four in the kitchen………such concentration and determination……going for the win………
This is where it starts to get really crazy…………hole #5. Tee off is in on the front hall stairs, but the hole is in the mudroom! I am almost certain this was the brainchild of Grateful Goddess, shown below. I can see her now with the gleam in her eye, concentrating, but hearing a little restrained giggle escape her lips……she is intent on winning to be sure.
The golf ball makes the corner toward the mudroom…………the crowd was roaring…….I can hear the commentator now………….
FINALLY the golf ball lands in the mudroom, OVER the inverted waste basket with the cat making sure there are no cheaters. Can’t put ANYTHING past that cat!
Tee off for hole six off throws caution to the wind……..each golfer draws in a deep breath as the ball is hit from the TOP of the stairs into the basement below……..
Hole six in the basement is known as “The One With The Most Hazards”, the hole that separates the “men from the boys” and the girls from the women………
This hole in the basement requires the golf ball to travel through the carefully crafted red tunnel to…..
the final hole in the corner………….
Scores were tallied, breaths were held, giggles escaped from mouths………and….the…..winner…..is……………GRATEFUL GODDESS! A great day indoors in this safe haven, which is always filled with the welcoming scent of something wonderful cooking on the stove or in the oven. Pandemic or no pandemic, this incredible family finds a way to laugh and create happy memories and celebrates a full life together. Their spirit and joie-de-vivre shines through again and again and is an inspiration to all who know them.
Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence…..”
“The darkest moments of our lives are not to be buried and forgotten, rather they are a meory to be called upon for inspiration to remind us of the unrelenting human spirit and our capacity to overcome the intolerable.”
“Nothing is more powerful than the human spirit.”
Forget about the pandemic for a while, even if it is a short while. Find a creative way to cope with corona and fill your home with laughter and love. Transcend whatever prevents you from having a little fun or whimsy in your day today to create joy.
Life is good; carpe diem, friends…………
“We are all capable of living lives characterized by great joy. Within each of us is an amazing human spirit that is strong enough to overcome pain and disappointment. And no matter what our current situation happens to be, or what beliefs we may currently harbor about ourselves, we can tap into that inner strength and wisdom and move forward to create more joy.”
There is sometimes a certain positive solitude that comes with being alone. Sometimes that solitude doesn’t have to feel lonely, however. Guillermo Maldonado once said, “Loneliness is not lack of company, it is lack of purpose.”
When we find ourselves looking straight at ourselves, or our souls when we self-isolate, we are forced to face who we are. Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested that “No one can bring you peace but yourself.”
Finding peace while stuck at home is challenging for many people from time to time. The key to finding peace seems to be to slow down and unclutter your mind and your home. Accept what is instead of what you think should be. Listen to music. Like yourself in order to like your life right now. Keep a sense of humor. Recognize that life is far too important to be taken so seriously and laugh as much as you can. Life isn’t perfect, so learn to laugh at your mistakes. Worry less and “let it go.” Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel regret. Realize you are doing the best you can in your situation with what you have at the moment. Strive to better yourself by setting goals, but realize that your goals may shift their order of priority from time to time. Remember to have fun every day. Every single day. Do something you love and reach out to those that you love. Make your own peace with yourself so you can make peace with your life.
“You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”
“If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone.” – Maxwell Maltz
“Let yourself be drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not leave you astray.”
“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”
Look for peace today; you might already find it exists deep within your heart. Life is good; carpe diem, friends……………
Today, among the pandemic at hand, I still count my blessings. My daughter, “Teen Traveler,” decided she wanted to try something different to break up our Florida stay-at-home orders this past Sunday. “Teen Traveler” is only fourteen, yet she is what I have called an old soul from the moment she was born. She has always been my hundred-year-old woman in this teeny tiny body. I joke to myself that maybe she is even evidence of reincarnation. She is just beginning to enter the world of cooking but decided she wanted to make a several course dinner BY HERSELF because we haven’t been out to a nice restaurant in some time. She decided she would serve pretty simple food attractively in small portions. She is a real “go-getter” to be sure.
She spent a significant amount of time on Saturday planning her menu and thinking about items that could be prepared ahead of time. Of course, as “Graph Guy’s daughter,” she sorted her thoughts onto a spread sheet and list after list, breaking down the task at hand into manageable chunks.
She looked high and low for items around the house, mostly in the craft bin, that she could use as a table decoration, having no access to fresh flowers from a florist. She really wanted to celebrate the spring.
First came the appetizer. She decided she wanted “comfort food” for this pandemic. Nothing like a little tomato bisque soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to meet this goal. That’s my girl: goal set, goal met.
After the first appetizer, she served some sort of tomato stuffed with Mexican meat, beans, and cheese as her “salad” course, which was garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a cilantro leaf.
After the appetizer and salad came the main meal, which was mini Mexican burgers mixed with a blend of brown sugar, cumin, paprika, and chili pepper, attractively served with a pickle, cheese, lettuce, and a cherry tomato on an attractive skewer. “Mexican street corn” was the side dish she made and served in a hollowed out red pepper quarter. She made the burgers herself but “Graph Guy” grilled them for her.
She spent lots of time deciding which dishes to use to create the mood she wanted to create and placed the dishes around the kitchen the night before in the arrangement she liked.
Finally, the desserts were served. She decided she liked the idea of several mini desserts and baked mini red velvet cakes stuffed with a cream cheese frosting and served with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. She even sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on the cake and plate as an additional garnish. The girl thinks of everything.
Living in Florida, she thought it would be fun to serve something citrus for the other desserts but wanted a different flavor than expected. She decided that lemon and lime might be fun. She made lime crumble with freshly squeezed limes that she squeezed, along with a blueberry lemon crumble. Her piece de resistance, however, was home-made lime sherbert. She had never made home made sherbert, so she needed our help under her leadership, however, to get the old ice cream maker going.
“Teen Traveler” decided that the presentation was as important as the food itself, evidently, and served the home made lime sherbert in a hollowed-out lime.
I can still remember how calmly she served us in the dining room, coming from behind a closed door to the kitchen each and every time. She walked confidently and calmly, making us think she had done this sort of thing her entire life. I will always remember the joy in her eyes when she presented us her savory samples and the creamy confections she had made.
There was joy in our hearts that day. There was joy from being her parents and joy from watching her experiencing her success before our very eyes. So very much for which to be grateful.
Coping with Covid-19 was that day centered around consuming the creamy confections and the meal that my daughter lovingly prepared for us. For the moment, for that sliver in time, all was well in the world, and I will always be grateful for that day that time stood still and there was joy in the moment. There was joy in ALL the moments that day, thanks to my daughter.
It has been said “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade “(Elbert Hubbard). The logical axiom that follows, then, is “If life gives you limes, make lime sherbert!”(Caye Smith)
Life is good. Enjoy the gifts of the day. Carpe diem, friends………
During this time of self-isolation and stay-at-home orders, I try to look for something that makes me smile. During a drive in our town the other evening after dinner, I couldn’t help but notice that the stores that are normally open until nine o’clock or ten o’clock at night, including the grocery stores, were closed right before or right after dusk. I am reminded of growing up in New England when the “Blue Laws” were in effect in a big way and most stores, with the exception of the malls prior to the advent of the big box stores, were closed after dinner to give the shop keepers time to be home with their families. On Sundays, stores were either closed or had very reduced hours because of the “blue laws”, which were designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious or secular reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. In fact, until recently in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the “blue laws” prohibited stores from being open on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Technically, the state of Rhode Island can still fine a company for making certain employees work on Sunday. Luckily it’s only a maximum fine of ten dollars.
Professional sports, with the exception of hockey and ice polo, need a special license to play on Sundays.
Furthermore, it’s illegal in Providence for a store to sell a toothbrush and toothpaste to the same customer on a Sunday. I’m not sure how or ifTHAT law is enforced at this time though. I can’t even imagine the logistics of that one.
Speaking of petty archaic Rhode Island laws, evidently exercising any labor, business, or work, or using any game, sport, play, or recreation, or causing any of the above to be done to or by your children, servants, or apprentices on the first day of the week (Sunday) results in a penalty of five dollars for the first offense and ten dollars for the second.
Finally, for those of you in the home audience who lose sleep wondering, yes, it is still unlawful in Rhode Island to throw pickle juice on a trolley as well. I’m not even sure the last time Rhode Island had a working trolley.
Thinking of these crazy archaic laws in Rhode Island brings a smile to my face today and reminds me we have come so far in recent years. We have come so far, but I miss the times when the focus of our community was on the family. Admittedly, the nostalgia I feel about the closing of many stores for the time being reminds me of a kinder, gentler time not too long ago.
Life is good. Find something to make you smile today. Remember good times of the past, and look forward to good times in the future. Maybe the best times of our lives are stillahead of us on the horizon. Certainly, better days are ahead but enjoy today while it lasts. THESE might just be the “good old days” for one reason or another….
“I wish somebody would have told me babe Some day, these will be the good old days All the love you won’t forget And all these reckless nights you won’t regret Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change You’ll miss the magic of these good old days…”
-“Good Old Days” by Macklemore
“…Cause I might be crazy…
I think it’s high time We break out the good wine Raise a glass and say These still are the good old days…”
-“Still the Good Old Days” by James Taylor
“And tomorrow we might not be together I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days… (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days) (These are the good old days)….”
-“Anticipation” by Carly Simon
Enjoy today; THESE are the good old days. Carpe diem, friends…………..
After self-isolating for about a month now here in Florida, I am looking forward to getting back into society at some point soon. Very soon. While I can always keep busy with a project or hobby inside the house, I am really looking forward to getting back together with my friends and getting back to making connections with other people day to day. On this day of angst from feeling cut off from the rest of society, I can’t help but thing of a remarkable young lady who was thirteen years old and the self-isolation she went through.
I’m thinking about the legendary Anne Frank, who was a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family and a few friends in 1942 because of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. For two years, she and her family hid in the upper floor of her house and couldn’t even flush a toilet for fear of being heard by the workers in the floors below. For two years, she and her family could not speak a word during the day time and hid in their small sequestered area of the house without any daylight, as they drew the curtains shut in the day and the night.
The house on the left side of the diagram above shows the Frank’s main house and Mr. Frank’s business. Directly above the white triangle roof in the middle of the diagram between the two houses you will see the room which contains the bookcase that was built to cover the doorway into the “secret” annex part of the house where the Franks and their friends lived for two years. Their secret quarters appears in the building on the right side of the diagram as the upper three floors and attic. Four hundred and fifty square feet is the area of the portion of the annex in which they hid for two years, about one seventh the size of my home. Four hundred and fifty square feet is the area in which eight people self-isolated for TWO years. Makes the month that we have been self-isolating and the space we have to do it in seem pale by comparison.
Anne Frank was the age of my daughter, “Teen Traveler”, when we visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last year. Any given thirteen year old in America today is concerned with their phones and friends, yet Anne Frank was completely cut off from her friends in 1942. Her father fabricated a story about how the family went away to explain their absence from the community , and poor Anne did not even have time to say good bye to her dear friends.
While in self-isolation Anne kept a positive mental attitude, which is evidenced time and time again in her diary, which was later published by her father.
Visiting Anne Frank’s house and museum was a highlight of our trip to Amsterdam last year. It was such a humbling and sober experience, and visitors actually whispered when they toured the rooms in which Anne, her family, and her friends lived for two years in Nazi occupied Amstersdam. Seeing the peeling wallpaper in those rooms and the pictures of celebrities that Anne pinned on her wall was a reminder that life stood still there, as it does for us here, for a period of time. Although now temporarily closed because of the Covid pandemic, the Anne Frank House and Museum is normally open daily from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, depending on the day and the season. From November until April, the museum closes earlier, normally at 7:00 PM except for Saturdays. I highly recommend the introductory program, which lasts thirty minutes, before the tour of the house and museum. This introductory program helps create a timeline and reviews significant historical events happening at the time of Anne Frank’s hideout. This is especially helpful for children who may have no frame of reference. Photographs are not permitted inside the house out of respect, and visitors who have disability concerns about climbing stairs might have difficulty visiting here. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are in limited supply daily. I HIGHLY recommend getting tickets ahead of time on-line at the Anne Frank site in order to avoid long lines and the possibility of not getting tickets on any given day. At the time of this writing, entrance fees are 10,50 Euros for adults, 5,50 Euros for children aged ten to seventeen, and 0.50 Euros for children up to age nine. The introductory program is an add-on fee.
I think of Anne today as I look out my window, as there was a small window in the attic in Anne’s secret annex that she looked out daily to see a chestnut tree which became symbolic of hope. I think of Anne when I hear sounds outside my house today, as she heard the bells of a local church in the courtyard from the same window in the attic. She wrote,
“From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.”
The chestnut tree outside of Anne’s attic window, which became diseased, lived until 2010 when a strong wind blew it over. In the years before the tree died, workers from the Anne Frank House and Museum collected chestnuts from the tree in hopes that they would germinate so that the tree would live on in other locations, spreading the message of hope from Anne Frank. Several saplings have grown from these chestnuts and have been planted around the world, including one that was planted at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocost memorial in Jerusalem.
Anne Frank continues to be a source of inspiration for many people, including myself. I think about her when I look out my window during self-isolation from time to time. I know that keeping positive thoughts in my mind when I look up to the sky like Anne did will help make the journey during this pandemic and self-isolation a little easier in some way .
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” -Anne Frank
“As long as you can look fearlessly into the sky , you’ll know that you’re pure within and will find happiness once more.” -Anne Frank
Life is good. Find happiness and continue thinking positively. Carpe diem, friends…….
To take a virtual tour of the Anne Frank house secret annex, click on the link below:
Throughout the Arctic, in Northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, there are many stone cairns dotted along the natural landscape called Inukshuk (or Inuksuk). For the Inuit people of the Arctic, these stone cairns served many purposes in ancient times. They were, in effect, some of the earliest “road signs,” alerting travelers which way to find food, a reference for travel routes, a message that someone had been there, a change in direction, where to find hunting areas, etc.
One type of Inukshuk, the Inunnguaq, is a human figure-shaped cairn of rocks. There are approximately one hundred of these human-shaped cairns over two thousand years old and are still standing at the Inuksuk National Historic Site on Fox Peninsula ( Baffin Island) in Canada. Some of these figures are six to seven feet tall, a formidable sight.
While these figures may have originally been a reference for travel routes, they remind us today of many things. These figures were carefully crafted of numerous rocks delicately balanced one on top of each other. Each rock supports and is supported by the rock above it and below it, and this balance reminds us of the need for balance in our own lives at this very moment, as we navigate through the new waters of this Covid pandemic. Each piece of the Inuskshuk is as important as the piece above and below it. These cairns have also been associated with hope and friendship as well.
The Inunnguaq reminds us today that we will find out way through this pandemic, no matter how long it takes us. The Inunnguaq also reminds us of the need for team work and the importance of community in this journey as well. May you never lose your path and may you always find your way home.