celebrations, family

Whirlwind Weekend

My youngest daughter joined a college club lacrosse team. One of the fun parts of this is travel. First up: an away play day in Nashville that just so happened to be my birthday weekend. That was an easy sell!

It was harder to find a traveling companion. Close family and favorite travel buddies couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I was kinda pouty until just a few days before, when the daughter I was going to watch figured out she could stay with me. We traveled to Nashville separately, but after her games we were able to spend the rest of the weekend together.

It was a whirlwind weekend of packed with fun. I had most of it mapped out before we met up. I started with morning coffee at Dutch Brothers, a perennial fave. Longtime readers know that I love to visit local coffee shops on my travels, but Dutch would be an exception. It’s a national chain, yes, but there isn’t one anywhere near my hometown. I can’t resist their positive energy or their soft top!

Then I found my way to one of the Five Daughters Bakery locations, which happened to be tucked in to a cute local marketplace. Most of the shops were closed at that early hour, but there were still some fun murals and photo opps. A handful of their hundred-layer doughnuts and I was off to the next destination.

After that, a super quick visit to Cheekwood to catch a glimpse of their fall pumpkin festival displays. I was the first one through the gates that morning, and more than likely the first to leave in time to make the start of the lacrosse games. Still, it was soothing and smile-inducing to see the beautiful plants and festive surroundings. I’m sure I could have spent a whole day there, but even just that small sliver of time made me feel lighter and carefree as I welcomed my favorite season of the year.

After lacrosse, we made a quick visit to a Nashville food hall with a close family friend. It had live music and a wide variety of local eateries – something to please everyone. Then we spent Saturday night on a “touristy” thing by visiting the Grand Old Opry. Pretty classic Nashville, but my daughter had never been. It was a great variety show, even if we hadn’t really heard of any of the acts. Wonderful entertainment. (An evening at the Bluebird Cafe is still on my Nashville wish list! Didn’t get tickets this time but I’ll keep trying.)

After the show, we drove about an hour to Cookeville. This brought us close to the next morning’s adventure, a kayak to Burgess Falls. The paddle was low key and not too technical, but it was pretty long. The scenery was pretty and then it was a short hike to the falls since the river waters recede a bit in the autumn months. The bottom of the falls are only reachable by kayak or hike, which made the view all the more sweet.

Time with my youngest becomes more precious each year as she moves through college. Long car rides leave time for us to chat and catch up. We talked this time about how, as time goes on, we’ve learned that we would rather have fewer things and more experiences together.

Just like my older daughter, I can hear that her dreams will take her to live in faraway places in the coming years. This makes these experiences and memories all the more sweet. Time and attention (and shared adventures!) are the best gifts we can give one another.

adventure

Koosah Falls

While out west, I wanted to go on a hike with big trees and hopefully catch a water fall along the the trail. The choice was Koosah Falls just a little east of Eugene, Oregon.

The drive was a bit boring but the water running along the road was a spectacular view. The view just went on for miles and miles. There was a small stretch where it seemed many were building small cottages on the bank. However the size may have been small in footprint but the cost was probably very high based on the extravagant designs. Nonetheless the road trip was full of things to observe.

Once we arrived at the trail we headed up the right side to the falls. The cool breeze was amazing as the weather showed up at 102 degrees. With the tree coverage from the tall pines and the chilly mist off the water the right side trail was the perfect start to our hike.

As we trekked up the hillside there were many photo ops. The scenery was just so beautiful but even the photos don’t do the landscape justice. The blue water was such a vibrant blue in spots. We caught a few rainbows in the mist of the falls. The water was crystal clear in the pool areas. It was almost like Christmas in July as the whole woods smelled amazing. Pine trees everywhere left the scent of Christmas in the air. It was absolutely divine.

If you look close to the photo above you will see the hint of the rainbow. Again the picture doesn’t do the actual lived experience justice. After making the climb up the right we continued north a bit and crossed a bridge to go down the opposite side.

The descent was a slightly different experience. It was a lot warmer on this side. More sunshine beating down on you and less mist coming your way. Good thing I was going down. However the photos from this side yielded different views and I’m so glad I made the loop trek.

After we finished the trail down we ended up in the pool that feeds the reservoir. Another bridge and a short climb to reach the end of the loop. This path allowed us to see a few fishing in the lower area with less rapids as well as some large log dam areas caused by downed trees. The overall hike was one of my favorites to date. A gradual incline. Not too strenuous but had so many rewards along the way. As I close out I will share a few more photos for you to enjoy.

Oregon is a great place to opt outside. Just read some of my Oregon blog series and you will soon see why.

adventure, family

College Is Fast Approaching

9 weeks on the road this summer. From Florida to New York and everything in between. Then for giggles clear across the country to Oregon. Sometimes the same route more than once but with different stops along the way.

Travel by plane. Travel by car. Travel by train. Travel by RV. We utilized Uber. We took advantage of Turo. We took many unconventional paths. We lived so much through our experiences. Turo and Uber were our app-worthy summer accomplishments. We even had some time to use bikes. So many memories. So many hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Good company.

Great experiences.

Countless fun.

So many photos.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always workable with a positive attitude and a lot of flexibility. Work. Play. Recover. A delicate balancing act for some. A day in the life for me. I will never get to hit rewind on these months I just lived. Knowing that made me forge ahead to cram as much into the calendar as as humanly and financially possible.

Sometimes I had to plan and then re-plan. Things didn’t always go smoothly. I lived. I learned. I outlasted. Summer 2022 is in the rear view. So many college campuses were scouted out. Many highs. Many lows. Some visits at the surface level while others more in-depth. The process is real. The decisions are hard. The challenge is ahead.

My youngest will choose soon. Where to go. What she wants to be as an adult. I will become less needed. I will be an empty nester. A title I don’t really care for but yet one I will look forward to at the same time. As I earn that new title I will embark on new journeys and adventures. Maybe not criss-crossing the county in a summer but maybe exploring cities I’ve never been or getting back into putting stamps on my passport.

I’m adjusting to what’s ahead while enjoying what’s in front of me. Years become months. Those months turn into weeks. Before you know it, days are in front of us. Don’t waste the minutes. Value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. I know I am.

As my mom always says: live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

For now I wait for the day to come that she decides where she heads off to beyond her days of high school. Close by? A neighboring state? Across the country? Another country?

challenges, dare to be different

Don’t Say Gay

“I am not gay!”

…the cry came from behind the swings. Then the young man came streaking across the playground toward the tall trees. “I am NOT gay! I AM NOT GAY!” Screamed with the terror of trying to outrun the boogie man, a cloud of cooties, a wild black bear and the abominable snowman all at once.

This summer, I am teaching third grade students. They are 9 or 10 years old. This is one interaction I witnessed this week on the playground.

I started the calm walk over to talk with him and the other boys who had been taunting him.

“What is going on?” I asked them. The conversation quietly began. One sheepishly admitted to calling another one gay. The one who used the word hung his head as he fessed up.

I hear over and over again that if we talk about gay families or students in elementary school, we are exposing them to this content way too early. Here’s the thing this playground taunt reminded me: THIS SO-CALLED “MATURE CONTENT” IS ALREADY THERE. It is already in our schools.

Some of our students have same-sex parents. They have siblings who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, not to mention aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Then there are relationships they see in the media. Some of our elementary students even know they are in one of these groups, even if they don’t have the words for it yet. The vast majority of kids in our schools already know about this through observation and experience, just as they know about heterosexual relationships from a huge variety of sources.

Here’s what I know: if adult professionals in schools avoid talking about this topic at all, it is allowed to run rampant with misconceptions and ignorance. When I told these young men (really, they are boys) that being gay is not an awful thing, it’s just how some people are, their eyes popped and their jaws dropped. I could tell they had not heard that before.

I can’t allow students to run around on playgrounds and call people gay as if that is the worst thing they could be. How would a gay classmate feel, or a classmate with same sex parents?

Is it any wonder the rate of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts is higher among LGBTQ young people if their identity is used as an insult? And adults just stand by and watch it happen?

I get it…It’s not always easy to talk about for people of many ages. One of my daughter’s friends who came out in the past couple of years saw me at a party recently. She said “Miss Beth, you forgot to wish me a Happy Pride Month!” I hugged her and wished her Happy Pride Month with a smile. I love seeing her come into her own and embrace her truth.

Then I showed her my watch face, which made her eyes light up. I have my Apple Watch set on one of the new Pride faces. It may seem little, but even small signals to young people that they are seen, accepted, and embraced for who they are matter. And I will continue to say it and show it in whatever ways I can.

author moments

Brain Dump #1

As I work through a task-driven book on inspiration in 2022, I am given many reminders or smacks in the face on things I should continue to practice daily/weekly instead of putting them on the back burner.

Keeping with the above statement, reading is one thing that gets pushed aside a lot. However I have found that reading a few pages a day at breakfast is very manageable and self-soothing. Almost giving me a calm balance before my chaotic day begins. Not sure how long I will keep it up but for today it’s working for me.

Another is writing. I write on this blog often but not as often as I have in the past. Maybe life gets too messy and drains me of my creativity. Maybe it’s I feel redundant. Maybe I wonder if anyone is reading my entries. However, my inspiration book has told me I should write a brain dump in the morning that will clear my mind for the rest of the day. Ironically I’ve been reading in the mornings and enjoying it. Instead of a daily brain dump I am offering this post as a compromise to my assignment. Hence the title Brain Dump #1. Obviously the numbering will allowing me to keep up with the task should I desire.

In this blog I will bounce around a bit. I will dump out what’s in my brain. Today. Now. In the moment so to speak. This morning I have already read some. I already had a good breakfast of eggs and a bagel. I chose to wash it down with an Alani Watermelon Wave drink for a sweet treat. I spent a few minutes working on my creative project for 2 Chicks and a Pen. An ongoing practice that will payoff down the road, but for now it’s a creative outlet.

I’ve done my household chores. Some sweeping. A little vacuuming. I made breakfast for two kids and myself. I played with my dogs. I did some research on GWVR for some vehicles. This may sound odd but it was purposeful for me. It was also a learning experience. I went outside and felt the warmth of the air. 

I just gazed at my faithful companion sitting by my side as I blog. She is sleepy from playing outside but never far from me. The most loyal dog and not to mention adorable. 

Just before I snagged this picture she was using all her energy to gaze out the window. She was intently listening to the birds chirp outside. Simply mesmerized by their symphony of sorts. She slowly slid down the high back chair to her resting spot. Ah to live like a dog who has a queen lifestyle.

And then there were two. 

It didn’t take long for the younger sister to notice she was guarding mom. They both moved closer to my feet for their siesta. As I write quietly they rest and protect. The sweetest damn thing you could ever see. And how full my heart is to know my fur babies want to be right there by my side even when I do nothing.

Circling back to what I’m reading currently. It’s the Indra Nooyi Book: My Life in Full. I was given this book to read by my oldest. Intrigued, I picked it up. As it started out I was like he isn’t going to like this book but I kept reading. I picked out a few nuggets along the way that I could relate to. I pondered a few things. I read on. I’m about to wrap up the book and still wonder why he chose to buy this book. I had to ask. For he read a quote from her recently in a newsletter we both read. I missed it. The quote caught his attention and triggered the purchase. 

Now I wondered what did I miss. We are very much alike but maybe I was skimming instead of reading. Which leads back to the beginning of this brain dump. I need to read with focus and intent first thing in the morning. This way I am actively reading or engaged vs skimming and maybe missing the finer details. Simply put, if you slow down a bit sometimes you can see what’s right in front of you. That’s an awakening for me.

I guess that leads to part two of my brain dump which is related to pace. The pace of one’s life or my life. I am going to purposely slow down in some areas at times to rediscover or reacclimate to things I may have overlooked due to speed of life. Not sure if any outcomes will change but I’m going to be purposeful about my time.

As I speak about time, I have had to split my time between people and places of recent to cover things out of need. It hasn’t been fun. It’s been tireless work. It’s also given me a chance to reflect on the why’s. The why not’s. The who gives a shit. The who doesn’t give a fuck. And so on. My time is mine. I use it for my purpose(s). My purpose may include others but it won’t include those who wouldn’t do the same for me. That means if somebody around me is knocked down I will help. However I won’t help those who can’t or won’t help themselves and I won’t help those who won’t ever be around to help me when I need it. That’s a mouthful but true for many.

 For now my brain dump is over as I need to run an errand. I hope you had a glimpse into my early morning hours via my brain dump. Maybe I will provide another dump at a later date. And I do mean brain dump not the other kind of dump.