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.
Every now and then something crosses my desk that causes me to pause a moment. Today I am sharing something that did just that when my friend in Belgium shared it with me.
“Barely the day started and… it’s already six o’clock in the evening. Barely arrived on Monday and it’s already Friday. … and the month is already over. … and the year is almost over. … and already 40, 50 or 60 years of our lives have passed. … and we realize we lost our parents, friends. and we realize it’s too late to go back… So… Let’s try to make the most of the time we have left… Let’s keep looking for activities that we like… Let’s put color in our grey… Let’s smile at the little things in life that put balm in our hearts. And despite everything, we must continue to enjoy with serenity this time we have left. Let’s try to eliminate the afters… I’ll do it after… I’ll say after… I’ll think about it after… We leave everything for later as if ′′ after ′′ is ours. Because what we don’t understand is that: Afterwards, the coffee gets colder… Afterwards, priorities change… afterwards, the charm is broken… afterwards, health passes… after, kids grow up… after, parents get old… Afterwards, promises are forgotten… after, the day becomes the night… after, life ends… And then it’s often too late…. So… Let’s leave nothing for later… Because in the meantime we can lose the best moments, the best experiences, best friends, the best family… The day is today… The moment is now…”
Today after seeing the partially assembled pergola in my back yard, I sat under it right after a rain shower and noticed a beautiful rainbow right above my eyes. I am so grateful to see such beauty developing right before me.
As I continued to sit under the half-constructed pergola, I couldn’t help but feel the world of possibilities developing before my eyes in my mind. How exciting it is to envision a big project such as this. I am thinking of all the ways to transform the pergola into an oasis of peace and tranquility. I’m picturing lights hanging from the pergola, maybe a candle chandelier, along with some hanging pots of orchids or new guinea impatiens. I want the pergola to evoke a sensory experience with something scented, colorful, and something I can hear. Perhaps a new set of wind chimes, too. Should I have a counter-height bistro set or a low comfortable L-shaped sectional. Should I have a few chaise lounges? There are so many possibilities to consider.
As I sit here, I remember getting excited like this when we bought our first home about a few millions of years ago. It has been quite a long time since we’ve done a project like this in our own backyard, and it feels nostalgic quite honestly.
I continue to sit, watching the darkness crawl in before my eyes while I remember a poem that describes the fog crawling in similarly on little cat feet (“The Fog” by Carl Sandburg). Sitting in front of the pond behind our house, I notice all kinds of noises and sights I don’t normally see when I sit in the screen deck by the pool. I see gnats swirling around en mass in a frenzy within some sort of twirling and twisting cloud. I see various birds taking off from the water, barely disturbing the surface as they glide gracefully into flight. I hear splashes in the water as some long-necked birds swim underwater, but it is growing too dark to tell what type of birds they are. I’m thinking they are likely either cormorants or anhingas. Both birds swim in the water, but cormorants are usually found in salt water, and anhingas are usually found in fresh water. Both have long snake-like necks, but the tell-tale sign is the beaks, which would help me identify them if it were not quite so dark. Cormorants have roundish hook-like beaks at the end, but anhingas have straight beaks, although both hunt and eat fish.
I consider myself lucky to have this little sliver of time of solitude and peace while the world is in turmoil from the pandemic around me. It helps me to find a little slice of “normal” within each day, and that means finding a little smattering of beauty before my eyes.
Life is good; life fully and completely, and find a reason to be grateful today. Try to see the beauty in something today and enjoy the moment.
Life is good; carpe diem, friends………………
Feel free to comment below with any suggestions, pictures, or ideas about how I can transform my pergola into an oasis of peace and beauty.
(Note to self: ask the landscaper trim the shrubs AGAIN)
Today is a rainy day here in Florida, which is something we don’t get for sustained periods of time, except during the fall during hurricane season. I just love the rain. There is something almost magical about the sound of the rain knocking at the window on days like these, beckoning us toward a moment in time other than our our usual. The sound of rain against any skylight is enough to give me as much joy as watching a flock of birds flying in perfect synchronicity.
I always wondered about people who complain about the rain as if some little silly external event would ruin their day in some way. So very many people equate the rain with “awful weather” and that always surprises me.
The rain makes the grass grow; it cleans the air. Flowers get what they need when it rains, too. Rain fills up ponds, streams and lakes. It makes great puddles for children to splash in with their boots and raincoats. Rainy days bring worms out from the dirt, and I have always been fascinated by these creatures that we don’t often get to see. And who can deny the beauty of a rainbow, a promise that all will be well, after the rain clears. My dear aunt reminds me how beautiful the rain smells, especially in cooler climates in the Northeast.
We tend to put on comfortable clothes when we are inside on rainy days like today. We tend to experience a moment of solitude when the rain falls and might even enjoy being in “the moment” if we watch the almost hypnotizing and mesmerizing drops of rain as they fall softly and gently, then loudly and strongly. against the walkways and streets.
One thing is certain, however, the rain can force us to change the plans we had for the day. If we had planned an outing to the beach, the rain puts a damper on that. Similarly, if we had planned to go for a bike ride, the rain can also put a damper on that, too. I guess that’s part of the beauty and charm of the rain for me, however. The rain FORCES us to flex a little and to change our expectations a little. It might even push us out of our comfort zone if we need to drive in the rain. In some way, the rainfall is parallel to the world in which we live at any given time, especially during this pandemic. What IS happening at the moment is sometimes different than what we WANT to happen. We are forced to change our focus to something else, like working at home, learning from home, shopping solely from home, etc..when we would rather be in and around our extended family, co-workers, and friends along with our own immediate family.
I love the rain because it also makes me think of my Nana, who always told me that “The rain is God’s way of saying ‘slow down.’ ” My Nana told me a rainy day is a good day to crawl up on the couch with a soft blanket to read a good book. A rainy day is a good day to have a sauce or soup simmering on the stove.
A rainy day is a good day to pause and enjoy the gift of having the luxury of that extra special sliver in time that we didn’t expect to ourselves. A rainy day is an unexpected gift if we think of it in that way.
A friend of mine years ago used to keep cookie dough frozen in her freezer for rainy days, when she would take out just a few frozen balls of cookie dough to celebrate the day in all it’s glory. Such a wonderful idea that I have taken to doing as well. Tonight, we’ll have our cookie dessert BEFORE our dinner as a way to celebrate this beautiful day. In this house, we find a way to celebrate EVERYTHING.
Rain also brings about fond memories of my father, who once had the patience to sit near a window when I was little during a thunder storm. He was an amateur photographer back in the day when cameras actually had film. Photography was as much a science as an art in those days, as one needed to understand depth of field and how to create it, as well as what camera aperture setting is necessary to capture the image we desired to capture. He wanted to capture that exciting split second when lightening raced across the sky and waited….. and waited…. and waited all day to do so. He was so very happy when he developed his film in his “dark room” in our basement when he discovered that he was able to do what he set out to do. The man taught me lessons over and over again about the value of patience and the need for beauty in watchful waiting that stay with me to this day.
Rain also brings me back to long ago when my daughter, “Teen Traveler,” loved to stomp around into the deepest puddles she could find when it rained. Her”devil-may-care” laugh and impish smile across her face always made me smile. Such happy memories make me smile today and fill my soul to inspire an attitude of gratitude for me on days like this.
It has been said that “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene). It’s about finding something that gives us joy, even though we are faced with a change in our plans or what was expected. It’s about finding joy when we stop to look and listen to what’s going on around us, beyond us. It’s about remembering my Dad, a beautiful and patient man with a beautiful heart and Nana, a pillar of strength, a kind- hearted soul who would feed anyone who needed a place to come on any given holiday.
“Well I love a rainy night; I love a rainy night. I love to hear the thunder; watch the lightning when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good.
Well, I love a rainy night; it’s such a beautiful sight. I love to feel the rain on my face; taste the rain on my lips, in the moonlight shadows…”
-“I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
Life is good, even when it rains. Carpe diem, friends……
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………..
Bored from self-isolation, social distancing, shelter in place, or safer in place restrictions? Close your eyes and find a moment, any moment, where you saw joy unfold before your eyes. Close your eyes and find a moment where you saw someone living in the moment, a simple moment where time stood still. Look as far as you need to when that sliver in time was pure and simple. Now open your eyes and think about that moment and how you can find that same joy right now. Maybe it is experiencing the scent of your favorite flower growing in your own yard. Maybe it is the touch of your baby’s finger wrapped around your own finger. Maybe it is the sound of laughter of the children playing in the next yard. Maybe it is seeing the wonders of that perfect sunset dipping below the horizon from your own window. The French call it “joie de vivre”, or a vitalizing energy, a zest for life and living.
Look around. Beauty is all around us. Enjoy the moment. Consider the little things that bring you that joie de vivre. Find your own wonder even if you are cooped up inside. Carpe diem, friends…..