awareness, nature

Chasing Sunshine

Some days you just need to take a break and enjoy the sunshine or should I say chase the sunshine. It could be taking a walk. Maybe taking a hike is more your speed. For me today it was just sitting in the sunshine. Not doing anything per se.

It was a cool crisp day but the warmth of the sun took the chill out of the air. The breeze was calming. The leaves just ruffled as they blew side to side. Today is supposed to be the last day of sunshine as the gray skies are moving in. A winter cold front full of snow, ice, sleet or whatever shows up per the weatherman. Today is an odd day to sit outside yet it seemed perfect at the time.

Many I know are struggling for various reasons in life. Some have depression. Some are anxious with the pandemic still lurking around. Others have health issues in their family spiking beyond the pandemic. Many are stressed for one reason or another. Maybe this post will make its way to somebody who just needs a dose of sunshine. A ray of light on a dreary day.

If you are reading this today and needed to hear this message, step outside. Feel the sun on your face. Smile. Reflect. Enjoy what is great in your life right now. Put the worries aside. Focus only on the peace around you. Listen to the sounds. Think about how you could pass some virtual or homemade sunshine to another. Maybe a sweet email or text. Maybe a hand written card to friend. Maybe a cup of coffee for the car behind you at the drive thru.

While outside enjoying the sun, you may hear the panting of a playful dog. You might hear a bird chirping. You may hear the revving of car as it passes by. Whatever sounds are near, let them creep into your soul. These sounds can be beautiful if you listen with intent. Active listening is a skill that needs to be mastered by everyone. Sometimes stepping away from your crazy day or life even for a few minutes will allow time to regroup, breathe more deeply and set your mind at ease.

Chase that sunshine. Today and everyday. When you learn how to capture it, pass it on. One can even find sunshine on a cloudy day. You just might need to look a little harder or listen a little fiercer to feel its warmth.

adventure

Sin City

I took a trip to sin city with my mom recently. It was a trip for the memory books for sure. Seeing the city and how it’s changed through her eyes was amazing. I can’t include all the highlights as there were too many but I can jot down a few of my favorites. The photo below looks like a postcard. However it’s just a shot from the parking lot we parked in on our first night. 

Let’s start with what’s that smell? From the constant aroma of marijuana in the streets to what seemed like raw sewage seeping through the ground at times on the strip. Then there was the clouds of smoke that casted smells of cigars or cigarettes of all kinds when moving throughout the casinos. I even think she noted the smell of burnt toast each morning going to our condo elevator. However there was a pleasing scent of gingerbread and pine needles in the Bellagio hotel while immersed in their holiday display. Clever use of the HVAC system I’d assume. Too bad the nice smells can’t overpower the gross ones. Oh, the smells that created giggles galore.

We took a trip to old Vegas or Fremont Street which had changed so much since her last visit. This area was revitalized. She was mesmerized with the laser show above her head set to today’s hit music. See photo below. In a corner she also enjoyed a DJ playing upbeat music while dancing and entertaining the crowd with her fancy hula hoop moves. 

Of course there were other sights she wasn’t as fond of, like the barely-dressed young girls dressed with feather plumes bearing their butt cheeks. Some had whips but all were looking for men she said. To hear her recount this was hilarious. She also saw the rougher side of life gone bad. The homelessness of the city. From those asking for money when you left a restaurant to those sleeping in the streets with signs looking for beer money. Very sad to see. I would drift off thinking about what got each person into the state of homelessness.

There is another side to sin city many may not ever visit. Maybe it’s a short car ride to see Seven Magic Mountains. Maybe it’s a unique visit to the Container Park. For this blog I will talk about the day we took a trip to Valley of Fire State Park. The history and experience was impressive. The rock formations were amazing. The colors of the rocks tied in so well with the sky. Pictures are great memories but somehow don’t do the experience justice. We also got a glimpse of some cool wildlife as an added bonus. 

Taking the scenic route always adds value to any trip. The photo ops. The time together. The soaking in of all nature has to offer. These are the priceless moments.
We can’t end this post without a good damn story. Thus we close with the damn experience. The Hoover Dam that is. A short drive from Vegas. You will start in Nevada but end up in Arizona after a short walk. A great little way to say you visited both states. The walking bridge was a hit for us this trip as it was constructed after my mom visited many years ago. She had a new viewpoint. A new experience. It was fun to hear her reminisce on what it looked like before for travelers. For one there wasn’t a security checkpoint similar to the airport or military installation. That was the first wow moment upon arrival. Nonetheless the beauty of the area didn’t disappoint.

Signing off from sin city.

3Splitz Farm, author moments

Moments of Vacation

We’ve talked about life being lifey lately. In addition it’s just been a busy, hectic time. Sports leagues, long days at work, volunteer commitments, owning businesses and all that goes with it…it’s just kinda out of control these days.

My county had a true fall break this year for the first time. A glorious five-day weekend in the middle of my favorite time of year, the fall. When I saw this coming on the calendar, I imagined a quick trip to the coast for some salt and sand therapy. Or maybe a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the leaves change. A long hike in the great outdoors or laughs at Dollywood. I dreamed of a getaway.

Life being what it is, enough little commitments popped up that a getaway wasn’t in the cards this year. Just too much going on and the lure of catching up mixed in with a few poorly-timed “have tos” would keep me at home.

As I scrolled through the posts of colleagues and local friends who had hightailed it out of town to Disney or even Napa Valley, I had to reframe my mindset. Instead of being stuck at home pouting, how could I find those moments of vacation in my days?

Coffee Break: I love my coffee in the morning, but it’s generally on a timer. I have my two cups then I’m out the door. I decided to reframe my mind to think of an extra cup of coffee at a leisurely pace as a morning getaway. Even just a slower pace can be a helpful break.

Day trip: I went to a town I had never been to for a few hours to hang out / support / cheer on friends. I ate at a local bagel shop. I saw some new places and things to wonder about. It was less than two hours from home, but just taking that little trip made me feel refreshed from my day-to-day.

Appreciate nature: I had some things to take care of at the farm this weekend. Although I had work to do, I tried to remind myself to stop and appreciate the beauty of the dahlias and fresh fall air. I ate lunch outside on the porch. I took a few extra moments to breathe it all in and notice it.

Maybe noticing is the secret to finding those moments of vacation in daily life. Slower coffee, looking around a new place, taking a moment to observe and appreciate the nature that I often speed by on my way from task to task.

I do still feel that pull to take a trip, but for now these little vacation moments will tide me over. They are always there if I take the time to slow down for a minute and notice them. Yet another instance of how we can choose daily.

adventure

Surprise Adventures

Alarm set: 5 am. I did not want to wake up on a Sunday sleep in day at this hour. Quick shower to wake up. Reality hits. Starbucks isn’t open yet. Arrived at the planned meeting spot for 6 am. Party of six women off to adventure the unknown. Two know the plan. Four only know it’s a surprise. A packing list was assigned. Car shuffle occurred. 2 cars head out with random people assigned to each. Off we go. Oh wait I forgot to lock the car. Back we go and the caravan is broken immediately. Are we lost? 

We are not exactly lost but we are a bit behind. Glad we went back to grab my purse as I had left the car unlocked. Potty break in car two. The car that started out behind added to their delay. It’s about an hour into travel,   And we just completed our first car ride activity. Mad libs virtual edition. We each filled in the blanks and did a FaceTime chat to share answers and giggles. One might have been raunchy while the other one family appropriate.

Now the downpour starts. Visibility is low in the car. Our activities are supposed to be outside. Will we survive the weather?  The packing list called for a poncho and change of clothes. Who actually planned to use them? First stop was breakfast and the coffee art was a big hit. The food was good too, but the coffee art won me over.

Off we go to the next stop. Lula Lake, Tennessee was the destination spot. Only open a few days a month to the public and we were on the list for today.

The first view was the mini falls into a nice pooling area. The picture doesn’t really do it justice but it was breathtaking in person. As we left this area the downpour came. It was like buckets and buckets of rain drops. We were drenched but it added to the fun of the day.

The main event was the big water fall. It was beautiful from the top with the mist and the fog but the real amazing view was at the bottom. A little wet from the rain but the mist of the falls sprayed you when you were up close. It was an experience to say the least.

A lot of wet fun was had on the hike but we then ventured off to the park for a cute fall picnic. Thank you to Trader Joe’s, a ton of fall delights that we all grazed on. Some pumpkin spice hummus, a tasty charcuterie tray, everything but the bagel chips, pickles, moist cinnamon bun cookies, pumpkin white chocolate brownies, nuts, pumpkin flavored seeds, green goddess dip, pumpkin granola bark, cranberry chicken salad, spinach and kale yogurt dip, chocolate almond spread, crackers and so many more treats. It was a feast of sorts in the park. I am so ready for my next picnic. Anyone can make the best of a cloudy day. 

Hopefully you are not hungry after reading this but I am in a food coma thus I must end this post right here.

3Splitz Farm

Going to Seed

I knew it was coming. I saw it on the horizon. But still, I was sad when it happened. For so long, I was just hoping and hoping to see the color when I drove around the bend. I was hoping the zinnias would keep going long enough to make the girls’ homecoming flowers. So much holding my breath, watching the weather, wondering if it could be. Until, at last, they made it!

Once they made it, I knew it would be the last time I would harvest them for the season. It was golden hour, the sun slowly slipping behind the mountain. I keep repeating to myself “thank you, thank you, thank you” as I admired their beauty one last time for the year. Their work was done! It was time to let these amazing babies rest and go to seed.

It’s not a pretty process. After months of deadheading, pinching, ripping out and stomping on weeds, trying to make way for the blooms to thrive, now the whole idea is just let the field go wild. Let them turn brown and overgrown. Let all that energy spent blooming just run its course. Let the seeds drop where they may. What was focused and intentional care and maintenance becomes just a reckless field of nature.

Then we hold our collective breath and see if the seeds will take again next season. My home patch of zinnias has doubled each year even though seeds were only planted once. We are hoping for the same abundance to take at the farm. We have faith that what has been so beautiful will return with vigor and abundance when the seasons turn again.

For now, it’s rest time for the zinnias. The dahlias will follow shortly after (but their hibernation is a little more complicated!) And the work of these flower farmers will focus more on paper than dirt, more on dreams than digging. We will rest and restore our energy, getting ready to return next season with renewed joy and color.