Monday

Power

"We all possess more power and greater possibilities than we realize, and visualizing is one of the greatest of these powers."~Genevieve Behrend

Wednesday

Imagination

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. ~Albert Einstein

Tuesday

Destination

Destination: The place to which one is going or directed. The ultimate purpose for which something is created or intended.

This photo is of me doing one of my most favorite things; snowboarding. I love the freeing feeling of riding down the mountain in the crisp, fresh air, as fast as I can with the gorgeous snowy mountains surrounding me. Personally, there's just no other experience quite like it. It also seems extremely appealing in the moment, since Seattle is going through a heat wave. A lot of Seattle homes don't have air-conditioning, including my own, so thoughts of snow and cool air are prevalent in my many unique attempts to stay cool today.

So several years ago, when I was just learning to snowboard, I distinctly remember a friend of mine explain the basic element to the sport; Look at your destination, point your shoulders, body and head in your desired direction, and your board will follow and take you there. Anyone who's ever gone through the process of learning to snowboard understands that the very concept of even moving on the board with your feet attached seems like absolute insanity. Usually the first few experiences feel extremely awkward, because you have no ability to move your feet to correct your balance. Just simply standing up on the board for the first time seem disastrous, and actually moving down a hill can feel like train wreck just waiting to happen. You must use your body for balance, otherwise you'll fall flat on your back. Needless to say, the learning experience is comical and an awkward adjustment, but the accomplishment is extremely gratifying. Fortunately I stuck with it long enough to enjoy it immensely, and I never forgot that very simple advice that my friend gave to me several years ago. In fact I’ve broadened its meaning, and now often remind myself to use it as a symbolic metaphor for reaching goals, desires and passions: Whatever your destination is, simply point yourself in that direction, ...and go!

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought." ~Buddha

Thursday

Truth...

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Prosperity...

The spiritual substance from which comes all visible wealth is never depleted. It is right with you all the time and responds to your faith in it and your demands on it. ~Charles Fillmore

Wednesday

Friendships: Mirrors of Our Own Character

Friend: One attached to another either through affection or esteem.

Have you ever heard of the saying that you can tell the genuine character of a person by the people they surround themselves with? The term power of association comes to mind. I must admit, I am incredibly grateful for the friends that I have in my life. I can genuinely say that I respect every one of them. They are my confidants, and they make my life better. They provide insight and integrity and I'm proud that they are part of my life. I've also learned, through years of experience, that not everyone we meet can be a friend, as it's the discerning selection process that makes our friends so incredibly special. It sets them worlds apart from mere acquaintances into very special, lifelong, unconditional friendships. We choose them to be in our lives because we find something special and good about them. It's interesting how the people we choose and attract in our lives are a mirror of our own character and integrity, just like the law of attraction: Like attracts like. Do you ever notice that those who are truly aware of integrity also continuously surround themselves with genuinely good and respectful people? There is also the flip side of those who repeatedly choose dysfunctional or superficial friendships and then become mystified when their reputation becomes questionable. It's all a very distorted perception of what's actually genuine and beautiful, as well as an extremely unattractive trait...a little like the movie Shallow Hal. Creating friendships based on the ability that one can merely fog a mirror, or other ridiculous superficial reasons typically end up creating more negative in many lives than they do positive. It can be a tough pill to swallow when one takes inventory and realizes those same dysfunctional relationships divulge one’s own true character. It's interesting how we don't always clearly see the messages we are sending out to the world through the power of association, yet those on the outside see it all too clear. Of course we experience difficult situations, and it's our true friends who lift us up and see us through. My point is that we cannot claim to be mere spectators upon our own lives, claiming powerlessness over choices of our friendships that can sometimes end up creating havoc on our lives. It’s our own responsibility to make wise choices and be selective. If one really wants to see their true self, their own emotional health and maturity level …just look at the integrity of the friends we surround ourselves with. Hopefully it will bring about a genuine smile and sense of sweet gratitude ...because whether we admit it or not, the friends we choose are in fact a mirror of our own true character.

Monday

Spirit of Love

You will find as you look back on your life that the moments that stand out above everything else are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love. ~Henry Drummond

Sunday

Serendipity

Serendipity: The outcome of where one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else completely unrelated. It can bring about circumstances and lead us down roads that we never would have dreamed. Sometimes serendipity can align us into the perfect situations where we discover a new truth and reality, when we never expected to be searching for it in the first place.

One of my all time favorite movies is a romantic comedy titled Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. The couple randomly meet on Christmas Eve while attempting to purchase the same pair of gloves. They end up falling in love over an innocent evening of ice-cream and ice-skating. Unfortunately both are already in relationships and agree to go their separate ways. She refuses to provide her phone number or even a last name, but believes that if it's fate, then they will eventually end up together again. Years pass after the night that they first met, both become engaged to other people and are living out their separate lives. Still convinced that one day they'd end up together, they again reunite through the solid clutches of fate with the realization that they were meant for each other all along.

So that's a very sweet and romantic example of looking at the power of serendipity. But how often do we really dismiss or ignore our own serendipitous destiny just because it didn't fall into our specific plans? I think it's one of the most commonly overlooked effects in life. Quite often we attribute it all up to coincidence and miss the message and opportunity entirely. Can all of the unanticipated occurrences we experience really just merely be happenstance? Or perhaps destiny is far more powerful than we can ever imagine.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” ~Joseph Campbell

Saturday

Law of Attraction...

To acquire love...fill yourself up with it until you become a magnet. ~Charles Haanel

Friday

New Corners...

This photo was taken a few years ago, and I was obviously in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. While looking at the picture recently, I noticed my smiling expression looking in another direction. In that observation I had the epiphany that my expression in the photo actually mirrored my current state of mind: Standing on the corner at the crossroads of life and embracing the future with a smile and optimism. I haven’t always been wise enough to embrace that concept. Through my own various experiences of loss, such as jobs, relationships etc., I've been lucky enough to begin to understand the important aspect of cherishing and fully embracing those life changing experiences with a smile. After all, what's the use of wasting our precious energy on the past that we have no power over when we have a future to be happy about? We have the choice to be fearful and sad or the choice to feel free and optimistic. I feel extraordinarily fortunate in that there are always new corners to turn, which bring new and exciting experiences for adventure, happiness and growth.

“In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.” ~Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday

Prosperity

The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday

The Art of Allowing

I took this picture of The Louvre museum pyramid in Paris two years ago. I've always loved the contrast in the architecture between the 12 century Louvre Palace, (Palais du Louvre which was established as a museum in 1793) and the modern pyramid which which was obviously added later in the 20th century. It certainly pushes the element of the unexpected when you observe the two structures side by side, that are so different yet connected. When the pyramid was added in 1988, it provided a spacious underground lobby below, and the attendance to the Louvre has literally doubled since it's completion. What intrigues me the most about this is the architectural genius behind the thought of adding something so vastly different from that of the original palace, which turned out to be a phenomenal architectural design as well as overwhelmingly embraced by the visiting public worldwide.

The genius behind this is metaphoric, which is that of allowing change. Allowing change, ...sometimes very drastic change into ones life can create beautiful and new direction. We don't always view it that way, because we so often believe that there is only safety in the familiar and fear of the unknown. Familiar is good, but the important factor is balance....a balance of the familiar and the unknown. As I've mentioned before, our current American economy has left thousands in the state loss and confusion. I can very well relate to the experience, however my excitement is rekindled in knowing there are so many other options and different paths to take. Having been in the business world for all too long, it's often a daunting thought to make changes from the safe and financially secure world that it all provides. However, what about one's unique destiny and happiness? I find inspiration from those who have successfully proven that the rare path can lead to success and happiness. They remind me that we don't have to take the same train ride over and over again - unless we only want to end up at the same destination. There are other roads to travel, other sights to see and brighter futures for us to live beyond our own safe circles. The important part of that journey is to allow ourselves to be open and free to take the chance to do something different. Allow ourselves the opportunity to fail and be judged, and to let go of our ego enough to allow other opportunity into our lives. All of these actions are the art of allowing, and it's only after we allow change that we grant ourselves the opportunity to create our own destiny.

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

The Power of Thought

Whether you think you can, or think you can't, either way you are right. ~Henry Ford

Sunday

The Power to Change

Never underestimate the power to change yourself, and never overestimate your power to change others. ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Saturday

Endless Vision...

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, this you will become. ~James Allen

Friday

Aspiration

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to. ~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday

Path

You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~Jerry Gillies

Wednesday

Just A Boy...

So I spent my 4th of July in lovely Newport Beach, California. Gorgeous weather, lots of fun and beautiful beaches. It was a relaxing and interesting trip, and I really enjoyed the entire experience. I went there with my close guy friend, and his single buddies; so I had the unique experience of observing all the singles hanging out in Southern California, with lots of beer drinking, playing, and of course lots of girl/boy watching. Overall it was a learning experience to watch the dynamic on the Southern California beaches, especially at this time of year.

So in watching all of this over the weekend, I'm grateful and very fortunate in how I've made choices around the various men and relationships in my life. There are lots of wonderful men out there, however, there are also a lot of men who are seriously convinced they are their own superhero. Crazy enough, some of these same guys will truly convince many women to believe in their own superhero status. In turn many of those same women will overlook virtually every bad behavior under the moon, then get angry and still stick around because he's cute. They play the cycle over and over again, then get depressed and want the boy to change into a man. The definition of crazy is; "Do the same thing over and over again and then expect a different result." So why do some women underestimate their own power? Why is it they limit themselves and accept crazy boy behavior in relationships? And why do some women sell themselves short? The fact is that the pool is huge, so we're certainly not limited. We have a plethora of good, solid, honest, handsome and mature men out there - yet some women still feel they are limited to relationships with men who are superficial and will always act like boys. People will treat us as we allow them and expect them to treat us. No-one else is ever to blame but ourselves if we allow someone to treat us badly. My mantra is; Don't ever settle and certainly don't waste precious time and energy on relationships with superhero wannabees. Attract a real man, with real values who can be a real hero. Draw the proverbial line in the sand, because if you don't, all you'll end up with ...is a boy.

Beyonce relays that message very well  in her "If I Were A Boy" video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVTyLqkez6A



Monday

Living

Don't worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive. Because what the world really needs are people who are more alive. ~Lawrence Le Shan

Wednesday

Be

How many cares one loses, when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. ~Coco Chanel

Tuesday

Trust

As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live. ~Johann Von Goethe

Monday

Dance

It's the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance. It's the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance. It's the one who won't be taken, who cannot seem to give; and the soul afraid of dying, that never seems to live. ~ Song Lyrics, "The Rose"

Sunday

Being Happy

It's interesting when you really think about it, how easy it actually is to simply be happy. Obviously, it's clearly our own personal and powerful choice to be happy or not, however we so very easily forget the power within ourselves to do so. What is it that allows us to determine our own self worth and happiness? Why is it that in such a free society, we still have so much unhappiness? Why are so many of us effected by the choices of others? How does another person's expectations, ideals and value system determine how we think of ourselves and effects our feelings and mood? I'm convinced that the value set or actions of another human being has nothing to do with our internal feeling of being content. Choosing to be angry wastes both precious energy and time that can never be replaced. Simple actions and character traits of our different personalities can easily, yet oddly lead to judgment and condemning another for simply just being different. However if we choose to avoid judging the differences, then there's a clear path for the freedom to have joy. I also have to remind myself that there's really no universal set of values, but only similar ideals of how to act and fit into our own selected social circles. It's an amazing freedom to choose to let go of our expectations of others, whether it be how we expect them to act, or converse or live out their unique daily lives. That one decision in choosing to feel good despite our surroundings directly effects the most fundamental path to happiness, exponentially. So, how do we dissociate ourselves from our feelings from actions of another? Are we capable to actually dis-connect ourselves from the outcome of an other's actions and words and remain in joy, no matter how a situation unfolds? Are we strong enough to accept the responsibility of our own happiness versus holding someone else to blame for it because they say or do something different than our own expectations? I love the short and simple expression, "Live and let live" because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what anyone else does or says; as it’s our own choices that make the difference in creating our ultimate joy.

Friday

Writers Block

Forgive me, I have writers block today ...so I'll just try and take the attention off of my lack of writing and distract you with the picture of the cows. They are French cows by the way....if that makes it any more interesting.

Wednesday

Definition of Love

I hear everyday loves songs,
Describe a definition of love
They cry and weep in sorrow
Hoping to mend things t’morrow
So much mess and complications
With hopes and dreams that ne’er blossom
Broken dreams
Broken hearts
Broken egos
Broken lives
So why so many profess?
To know the meaning of love?
If it’s so true…
Why so much despair?
Is misery and sadness the meaning of love?
Money?
Compatibility?
Interests?
Looks?
Attraction alone?
No.
Then?
What?
Simple?
Yes.
The definition of love:
When it makes you feel
better
about yourself.
…the definition of love.

Monday

The Lady...a Dying Breed?

"The more simply a girl is dressed, ...the more chic she is." This is a quote from a book I read recently. It's simply titled Elegance, written by Kathleen Tessaro. It's a great style book defining class and elegance. I'd say the book clearly defines the styles similar to the likes of Grace Kelly and Jackie-O.

This is all brings me to an interesting situation that I encountered recently. I was attending a teenage birthday party where we were helping out with the adult supervision. When I arrived, I have to admit that I was a little weirded out. I couldn't help but notice the clothing trends that most of the young fifteen and sixteen year old girls were wearing that evening. It was an odd resemblance of night club attire from somewhere in Vegas, with three inch heals and skirts barely covering their butts. The boys of course were dressed conservatively. I could not help but laugh and think, "What the hell is going on here?" "Aren't they like sixteen?" I had such a nagging desire to send all these young girls a copy of the entire DVD collections of What Not To Wear as a welcome into their teen-hood.

So, are grace and style, as well as the concept of being a lady a dying breed nowadays? Has trying too hard to be sexy now become cool? At first I thought that perhaps I'm just old-fashioned, but my common sense (and good taste) must adamantly disagree. I guess there's just a fine fashion-line that some people just don't understand. I also just simply assumed that everyone kind of laughed at the cheesy styles, teens included. Kind of like a comical Will Ferrell spoof in A Night at the Roxbury. Then I realized how we as a society need to be very aware of how incredibly impressionable young and innocent minds really can be. As kids, and in such formative years, they can easily take in all of the images very seriously, whereas most mature adults can easily understand the distinct silliness of it all. I hope that this loose concept of fashion will not go further in defining their young and innocent understanding of themselves. All too many young girls grow up comparing themselves to silly and revealing images and the constant computer and artificially enhanced celebrities, instead of defining their own beauty with real class and confidence as real ladies with real style. I will continue to have high hopes that our next generation of young women is progressing in this society about their body image. I hope that their idea of sexy is to impress themselves, and not the libido of young boys, or even some creepy older men. I hope they grow up to see the difference to attract real men, gentlemen, who can clearly understand and connect with them on a real and mature level. I so passionately wish that more girls and women could comprehend that if they are confident, then they are perfect and beautiful. I'm reminded of how easily we can become products of our environment. I'm grateful that with age comes wisdom, and one very important and lovely epiphany that I learned through the years: If we can identify and understand our own unique and individual beauty, then we can genuinely and confidently portray it with class and dignity - and that is sexy. It seems that leaving more to the imagination has oddly become a long lost art. It's simply all about being a lady, with grace and beauty- of which no article of clothing (or lack thereof), or three inch heals can ever replace.

Friday

Top Ten Break-Up Phrases

Breaking up is hard to do? Not with these fun filled break-up phrases!

1. Oh did I say I liked you? You must have heard me wrong.
2. I've decided to make some changes in my life, and start hanging around nice people.
3. I don't recognize you anymore. No really, um, who are you?
4. I'm looking for something more like a Harold and Maude type of relationship.
5. I love ya but, everyone I know hates you.
6. What? We're a couple? Since when?
7. I'm committed to a new commandment; Though shalt not keep company with those more dysfunctional than thyself.
8. Snoogy woogy: Cuddly wuddly can't snuggle anymore, ...never wever.
9. I'm breaking up with you after my birthday so I can get my presents, K?
10. It's not you, it's me, ...I just don't like you.

Wednesday

Sock Monkey Booty

Sock monkey booty exclusive, with tastefully done booty photos. We were allowed these exclusive booty shots compliments of: http://sockmonkeylogic.blogspot.com/




Tuesday

Greta and the Great Amazon

Okay, so I've been telling myself for about 3 years that I'm going to write a funny little book parodying my four years of working for a local company based here in Seattle. I'm sharing this because we all have our own quirky little stories of where we work, and all the experiences of dysfunctional behavior that goes with it. During my employment at the company (thank God I'm no longer there) I started creating funny little characters *lightly* based on some of my quirky colleagues, ...myself included. Seeing the humor around it instead of getting agitated was my therapeutic way of making it through all the craziness. I've come up with some basic characters and a basic plot based around the real and everyday ridiculousness that I experienced. The title is, "Greta and The Great Amazon" - based on a story about fourteen red-headed step children that are forced to live and work in a large old factory on a hill overlooking the city and their secret plot to escape. Here are some of the main characters:

Greta - One of the stepchildren who realizes that she has intellectual super powers when wearing her hair in a ponytail. One day after realizing the super-powers she devises a way for the group of stepchildren to come together and use their unique talents to escape from the large factory on the hill.

Betsi Bevausu - A thin, wiry haired, platinum blond screechy girl who possess evil powers with her high screeching voice. The high pitches of the screeching stuns the group of step-children into submission where they are forced to work long and arduous hours in the factory.

DQ - One of the fourteen stepchildren, who is a large bear like boy who is terrified of everyone and everything. He cries at the drop of a hat.

Tortuga - Another of the stepchildren. He's a short and slow but methodical child, who isn't very wise or socially adapted. However he is very smart and is a wiz with spreadsheets.

Mad Anderson - Another stepchild who's character is the complete contradiction of his name. Mad is a happy go-lucky child who is intellectually brilliant and his super powers lay dormant in his humor. He discovers his super power while telling a joke one day to the rest of the step children when Betsi Bevausu catches him telling jokes instead of working. He realizes that she becomes lost in the laughter and cannot regain her composure, and hence the beginning of where he and Greta start to devise their plan of escape.

Enrico Fuentes - Another stepchild who secretly collaborates with the factory and the evil Betsi Bevausu. He's a small, quiet and mousy boy. He never really says anything to anyone. He surprisingly disappears and re-appears without anyone ever noticing.

Randy Helperson - A sweet and kind character who works for the large factory but has a good and gentle nature. He helps the stepchildren and assists them in the plot against evil through putting the enemy to sleep with his calming words and tone.

The Magic Bookshelf - A bookshelf that Greta finds to be a great tool in protecting against the evil Betsi Bevausu. When Greta hides behind the bookshelf - she is protected from the screechy evil screams of the slave driver Betsi.

More to come - as the story develops...

Ego

How easily can we identify the ego?
At what age does it begin to develop?
How closely attached is the ego to our possessions?
Do possessions of equal quality provide the same satisfaction without designer branding?
Do we feel superior with our designer brands?
Does it make us feel inadequate to be generic?
Are we still the same character and person without our social status or circles?
Do our careers, income and belongings define who we are?
How closely attached is our ego to our actions?
If we don't respond to insult or antagonism, is our self worth affected?
If we don't boast, does it make it less important?
Without our ego, can we still succeed?
Does fulfilling the ego effect the happiness of others?
Does fulfilling our ego effect the happiness of ourselves?

Monday

Random, Bootys

Elephant Booty




Rhinoceros Booty

Sunday

Don't Believe Everything You Think



I took these photos a few years ago. It's the La Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona Spain. It's one of the most amazing structures that I've ever had the opportunity to see. It's a privately-funded Roman Catholic church, and it's massive. This building has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882! It’s expected completion date isn't until at least the year 2026. The structure was designed by the renowned and very uniquely talented Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Gaudí's architectural style was extremely different than any other architect of his time as well as today. He worked on this project for 40 years of his life, and when approached on the subject of the longevity of the constructing of the church, his response was, "My client is not in a hurry."

It's interesting that Gaudí did not limit himself with the fact that the structure would take over 100 years to finish, and that he himself would never have the opportunity to witness it's completion. He only allowed his creative thoughts and instincts to drive him and effect the reality. If he had indeed allowed the fearful and negative thoughts and believed the limitations, then perhaps he may never had begun the construction of this now historical and top tourist attraction that stands today.

I guess it's human nature that sometimes allows ourselves to be self sabotaging, by believing every single passing thought. Therefore allowing limitations and fears which scare us away from creativity and taking new steps - that could turn out to ultimately be profound and life changing. I often forget that we really don't have to believe everything that we think, but only what we choose to think. So, I'm certainly inspired from a very creative and famous architect from over 100 years ago, who I think mastered this concept beautifully; Don't believe everything you think!

Saturday

Random Cute


I took this picture of the Fennec Fox at the Woodland Park Zoo. The Fennec's are the smallest fox in the world and live in the Sahara Desert. He's so cute!

Friday

Fore!


This was taken a few summers ago on Orcas Island. It was an interesting trip. We had been staying at a nearby hotel and could swear it was haunted, but that's another story for another day. I remember the weather was gorgeous and warm and we practically had the entire golf course to ourselves. Fortunately we were not yelling "fore!" at any time during this particular game.

I've certainly had to use that term on far too many occasions, indicative that my golf skills can be a bit lacking. If you're familiar with golf, you know that "Fore!" is shouted as a warning during a game when it appears that your ball may hit other players or spectators. The term means to "look ahead.” The origin of the word is believed to come from the military "beware before", which was shouted when a battery fired behind friendly troops. There are other probably origins that include the term "fore-caddy", which was a caddy who waited down range to see where golf balls landed.

That all brings me to my original thought; Wouldn't it be great if in our daily lives, when trouble is heading toward us, or when we're on the verge of making a poor decision, we could be forewarned? Just a loud resonating voice shouting down from the sky, "Gretchen, FORE!" Oh all of the compromising situations one could avoid! We could steer clear from bad relationships, dreadful jobs, even horrible former presidents…oh geez the list goes on!

Unfortunately, or even perhaps fortunately, life is not a game. One can only dream! I'll just have to leave it all up to my own intuition, stay my own course, and call it a day.

Thursday

Ten Ways to Mildly Freak People Out

I enjoy a good laugh once in while, so I've posted Ten Ways to Mildly Freak People Out or perhaps more appropriately titled, Ten Random Ways to Entertain Yourself. I would love to hear some more if you have them.

1. Take off your shoes and socks, then just carry them walking down the street, shoes in one hand and socks in the other. Smile and sing repeatedly, "happy feet!"

2. Casually confront people walking by, ask them if them if they've seen your pen.

3. Walk up to random strangers and hug them, don’t say a word and then walk away.

4. While in conversation, randomly start another one on an entirely different subject. Then interject with, "Okaaaay, what did I tell you about interruptions?!" ...and then resume your initial conversation.

5. While talking with someone, suddenly grab your ears. When they ask what you are doing, just calmly say, "They were trying to take them," and then simply resume back to what you were saying.

6. When going to a restaurant, take along your favorite kitchen ware i.e. blender, coffee maker, and while holding it close, ask for a child's seat and a place setting for it at the table.

7. When sitting in a waiting room, sit next to a stranger and fidget uncomfortably and then repeatedly say, "I need to go to the bathroom," and don't get up. Just continue over and over.

8. While at a public show, instead of clapping, just start snapping both fingers simultaneously.

9. For an entire day, don’t speak to anyone, but instead only communicate with your own made up sign language.

10. Instead of walking everywhere, run...down the hall at work, the grocery store, you get the drift, just run.

Random: The REAL scoop

So a I did a post a few days ago with some old pictures of my mom's friend from the early 1950's. I thought I sort of knew the story behind them but after reading it, my mom wrote me back with more accurate details. So here's there real scoop on these photos, in my mom's words with a tidbit of history too. Thanks mom!

"The cowgirl is my friend Janet at about age 13. That's my shadow as I was taking the pictures. It was taken in Big Bend, North Dakota where we lived when our fathers worked on the Garrison Dam project. The dam was being built by the United States Corps of Engineers. That is when we attended Riverdale school, a military base school. Our fathers were civilian workers on the dam. I believe that Riverdale has long since become a community and is no longer associated with the military."


Wednesday

Sailing On...

I took this picture from The Fire Island Ferry several years ago. If you've never been to Fire Island, I highly recommend it. It's a great getaway that you can only access by water taxi. It's just sand, boardwalks and beach homes and it's the perfect place for rest and relaxation. It's hard to believe that the gorgeous getaway is only a few hours of a drive, and short water taxi ride from the bustling city of New York. When I looked at this photo, I found it to be very symbolic, where from afar; the sailboats appear to sail so effortless and free in the wind. But as you look closer, there's a crew on board each one of those sail boats with strategic responsibilities, focus and hard work. They are all determined to reach the finish line before the rest, but not without a plan and a mapped out course to get there. It's also very similar in the way that we sometimes view the lives of others, that can appear to just always come together so easily. But when you take a closer look, there's a drive and determination that is combined with focus and movement. Those qualities eventually get them to their destination in attaining their dreams. Their reward is that of an elevated happiness, and from that we sometimes forget about the long roads that they have traveled, or the oceans they have sailed.

“There's no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there's no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you never thought you'd make…”

Monday

Fun With Birds?

video

I took this short video while waiting for the ferry from Bainbridge Island in Washington State. There was a huge flock of birds flying in circles and it's cool to watch. It looks like a big dark blob moving through the sky. You can see how huge the flock really is toward the end of the video. Hopefully you won't mind my sound effects, as I was kind of intrigued in the moment.

Saturday

My Favorites


So every once in awhile I come across a really great product and I have to tell all my girl friends about it. This is one of them. I love, love, love it. It's called Essential 24. http://www.bestskinoil.com/

Inside Château de Beynac

I was asked the question if you can actually go inside the castle. Yes you can, and I did. This first picture is from inside looking out a window over the Dordogne countryside.

Cooking Area

Chapel

Main Hall

Random


Don't even ask...

Château de Beynac


Château de Beynac, located in Beynac, France. It's about 200 miles south of Paris. The 12th century fortress was built by barons over a sheer cliff to discourage assaults. The castle looks down over the winding, gorgeous Dordogne River below. One of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen.


The castle overlooks the original village which is lined by a cobblestone road, and winds all the way down to the river. Residents and vacationers occupy the village homes. One of the buildings serves as the only hotel, which has the coolest pool surrounded by the lush countryside and beautiful views.


This is actually a church, overlooking the river. It sits on top of the cliff adjacent to the Chateau De Beynac, and still holds services to this day.


Me walking along the Dordogne River.

Friday

Barcelona

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, in Barcelona Spain. More commonly known as just simply La Boqueria. One of the largest and oldest outdoor markets in Europe. You can find just about anything under the moon there and it's amazing. The most delicious prosciutto I've ever tasted in my life was from La Boqueria, and was seriously a taste of heaven.

Thursday

Monday

Cool Cats

Here's one of my favorite old photos. It was taken at my grandparent’s farm in 1961. Every time I look at this picture it absolutely cracks me up. It looks like the kittens crawled in through the window from outside and are literally just hanging out looking for more mischief and fun. I find it an interesting dichotomy in how our modern society changes so drastically through technology, interests etc. However cats still play, eat, sleep and function exactly the way they always have, just like in this 1961 photo. Albeit change is good, as I’m a very big advocate of change and progress - but I certainly find delight in knowing that some of the simplest yet extraordinary things remain unchanged.

Sunday

Play Every Day


I took these photos when I was visiting a small town in France, called Beynac. It's located in the Dordogne region and overlooks the beautiful Dordogne River. I was there exploring the small village that also sits beneath a castle high up top a steep cliff which was built in the 12th century. Apparently the castle is one of the best preserved in it's region, and the views from the castle looking down upon the river are absolutely breathtaking. The fountain in the picture sits along a narrow cobbled road in the old village across from a cafe where I was sitting and enjoying my morning coffee and croissant. I was enjoying the warm summer morning as I looked across the path and noticed this little girl completely intrigued with the water fountain. She stopped and played for at least a good ten minutes, discovering everything she could about it. Then when she was finished, she skipped along merrily and followed her family up the path. My take away from this wasn't anything deeply profound, or insightful, but just a sweet and simple reminder to take a moment and make sure to play every day.

Thursday

Is time standing still?

If only, oh the things I could change! This photo was taken at Musée du Louvre in Paris. I think I'll just be quiet now ....and let time stand still. Shshsh.

Check Please!

Or as the French would say, " L'addition, s'il vous plait!"

So this picture was taken nearly two years ago. It was at about midnight in a cafe in Paris. We had just arrived from a really long flight, were exhausted and searching for a nice quick martini and small snack before heading back to the hotel to catch some sleep. The cafe service was prompt and polite, and the food of course was delicious. We consumed our drinks and snacks, and were ready to head out. The jet lag was quickly creeping upon us. As we sat at the table, we realized that our drained minds could not remember the French term for "Check Please," and despite our several attempts could not communicate that to our waitress. So we decided instead that we would just wait it out for her to bring the bill to our table - I mean it couldn't be long, right? We ended up waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting...until eventually over two hours had passed and the time had reached nearly 3am. We wondered what had happened. Didn't she want to go home? Didn't she want to get rid of us? We finally decided to step it up, get pro-active and track down the waitress with perhaps a more effective way of communication. The situation turned more confusing as well as comical with our stupid hand motions and ignorant attempts to pronounce the word "check." After much ado, we eventually communicated to her that we were ready to pay our bill and she was prompt and sweet and kindly waived, "Bonne nuit!" (Good night!) as we exited the cafe.

So, as the rest of the trip continued, eating at many other wonderful French cafes and restaurants- the similar situation played out again and again. I slowly started to understand how the typical French really enjoy a meal. There are no hurries, there's no rushing for the door, and by no means the bill offered until we specifically and politely requested it. I was initially confused and then came upon the epiphany, what a great concept! Enjoy the food, enjoy the drink, the surroundings and the conversation - just purely enjoy the meal and the entire experience. By all means no-one certainly had to twist my arm to acclimate to this forgotten and basic appreciation! Over the years I had become so wrapped up in the rush of everyday life, as well as our Americanized expeditious ways. I'm already a pretty relaxed person, and have always appreciated a nice evening with friends and family simply enjoying a good meal - but this experience had taken that to a new level. It made the rest of my vacation much more enjoyable, whether we dined at a small cafe or a highly rated restaurant, it all came down to the same point; slow down and enjoy the moment. I mean seriously, at the end of the day, ...what's the rush? With that, ...good evening or bonne nuit!

Wednesday

Simple Pleasures

In this picture I'm reaching down picking one of those "mini-daisies." Whenever I see a field of those little flowers it always brings back memories of summertime when I was a little girl. Probably no older than five or so, on warm summer afternoons I'd sit in the grass in the front yard making those the little daisy bracelets, necklaces and little daisy crowns. It would seriously entertain me for hours. It's those simple little pleasures that I think give me the biggest satisfaction. Here's another one, the other day I went for a run and decided to stop down by the beach by the waterfront. There's a little nature preserve with ducks and such. What caught my attention were some turtles all hanging out in the sun all lined up together on a log. They were just hanging out, about five of them, sunning themselves. Another thing I look forward to witnessing, without fail, every morning across the street I see a little old man walking his little old dog. You can tell they have been together for several years. They are both slow, don't walk very well, and you can see the familiarity between the two. It makes me laugh every single time.

Tuesday

Horse Shit

Yep, that's right...horse shit. I wonder if perhaps I could write an entire blog post around the subject of horse shit? The inspiration came from looking at an old photo. That's me sitting on our pony Sherri - and obviously a great deal of that horse shit was created by that sweet little thing. She was with us for several years, basically grew up with us and lived through many crazy adventures. She was a sweet, stubborn and a very special part of our family. Our neighborhood was also quite familiar with our horses through more unusual circumstances. We stored the grain in old metal garbage can containers to protect the grain from moisture and little critters. However, Sherri being the wiz kid that she was, was very keenly aware that garbage cans meant dinnertime. So sure enough, once in a while our horses decided to escape from the pasture and go on adventures through the neighborhood knocking over all of the garbage cans looking for their oats. Quite a brilliant yet funny little pony I must admit. We eventually bred Sherri and she had a filly (a girl) and we'd watch them run together as fast as they could across the pasture with their manes flying in the wind.

We also spent countless occasions crying over Sherri's bad temper and stubborn pony-ish ways. It was almost a daily occasion where my sister and I were either bucked off, or Sherri just decided it was time to go home and took off like a bandit with us holding on for our lives. Yes - so many adventures and lessons learned from that unique creature.

Last but not least, my other fond memories are of her grazing amongst the tall grass with big purple bur weeds stuck all over her main and tail. It was very obvious that she was in absolute pony heaven as she grazed away all afternoon in the sunshine. And so that brings me back ...to horse shit, which I certainly shoveled enough of when I was a kid. Where therein lies the silver lining in an old saying that I heard years ago, "With all the horse shit, there must be a pony in there somewhere." And yes, there was indeed, with all of that horse shit - a sweet, loving, stubborn and perfect pony.

Monday

Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels

So here it is, the first blog for Wooden Nickel - which just so happens to also be Memorial Day. Kind of a little ironic with the blog title, but it truly is just a little coincidence as wooden nickels were so prevalent in the Depression era just before wartime. By the way, I got the idea for the title from the many conversations with my dad, who at the end of every phone call, email or live conversation says "Don't take any wooden nickels." He grew up in the era of The Great Depression which again is similarly another irony at the timing of the beginning of this blog - as our our nations current recession is in full bloom. Anyways, if you are not familiar with the term Wooden Nickel - it was an actual wood coin token issued after the Great Depression from banks or merchants that were redeemable for various items. The actual saying "Don't take any wooden nickels" is more of a jocular reminder to be cautious in one's dealings.

I hear in the news about how Americans are trying to budget and save money, for instance like staying home over Memorial Day weekend. I must admit that my memories of my own Memorial Day experiences cause me to chuckle a bit, only because those memories are of the family packed in the car with several dozen flowers in the trunk and placing them on the gravestones of relatives and friends of the family that passed away. Both my sister and I hated it, we fought as all young siblings do in the backseat of the car, as we begrudgingly went along just waiting for the afternoon to end so we could get home and play outside in the sunshine. In hindsight I must acknowledge that I do in fact have some admiration around the respect and tradition that my parents had for the meaning behind this holiday. They were paying tribute to those closest to them that had passed away through both war and other tragedies. The understanding of this stems through knowing that my parents grew up in a different era, through tougher times (the Great Depression) and living past it to the other side witnessing our very modern and different time in this nation. I guess driving around and putting flowers on the graves for those who experienced such pain and tragedy is a small price to pay on my part. It makes me realize how fortunate I really am - hence the symbolism of the posted picture of the kittens playing - that we are free to run, play and express ourselves ...freely. So on that note, enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, remember how fortunate we are ...and "Don't take any wooden nickels!"

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