You Are Beautiful! Yes You!

I hear so many commercials on the radio and then see them in magazines for various ways to become beautiful. This magical weight loss pill or that amazing muscle building goo. Cool sculpting (I will be honest, I have no idea what that is or how it works) and laser hair removal. Why is it these types of products and services are so plentiful? Because we don’t feel like we’re good enough and those products cater to that. We are trying to win the favor of others and ourselves by how we look. I know that when my hair looks just right and I have on a snazzy outfit, I feel at the top of my game. But this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about how we try to change ourselves physically to feel better about ourselves.

I want you to know that you are beautiful just the way you are. You are! Beauty comes from the inside. I do not care if you have a scar on your face, a few extra pounds , or a unibrow. You are beautiful. Your radiance comes from inside. It has nothing to do with your outward appearance.

I can understand how easy it is to believe that loosing weight will make you feel happy. I was there once. I had gastric bypass surgery and lost over 100 pounds. I thought this would solve all my problems. It didn’t. I had to dig deep inside of myself and find the truth about me. That I am valuable as a person. That my beauty comes from the divine light that radiates from inside of me.  That loosing weight or another outward change would not make me any better of a person.

If you “fix” whatever it is you think is “wrong” with you, you will still feel the same about yourself. It won’t magically fix what is hurting inside of you. My recommendation to you is to work on healing that pain inside you. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love you! (I know it feels  and sounds funny – but it is worth it). Make a list about all of the things you really love about yourself. They can be physical but should also include your character as a person. If there are things in your character that you do not like,  work to change those. For example, I am on an adventure to stop complaining. It is a part of myself that could use a tune up. Other parts of your personality may not need to be changed but rather reframed. You just need to look at them in a different way. For example, many people might say I am pushy and bossy but I have come to understand this as being assertive and driven. I now love this aspect of myself.

Yes, I still diet. I am not, however, doing it because I think it will make me a better person or that people will like me more because of it. I am doing it because it is healthier for my body. Staying within a certain weight ensures that I can do the things I love to do, like kayaking, traveling, and riding roller coasters. Also having an awareness to when I eat and what I am eating, helps me tune into if I am eating to cover up some emotion that I do not want to deal with. It allows me to process that emotion rather than burying it under a pile of candy bar wrappers.

I really want you to understand that you are beautiful. You are worthy of a magical and  joyous life. You are enough just the way you are. You are capable of greatness. It matters not what you look like. Be proud of who you are. Embrace yourself and know that you deserve the best that life has to offer. If you feel the need to work on something, do so, but do it for the right reason and in the right way.  Because you are beautiful, exactly as you are.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you see your beauty as I see it, as if by magic.

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Croatia; A Visual Journey Through a Country of Splendor

My husband, stepson, and I recently journeyed to Croatia. This country was such a surprise to me. I found a country full of rich heritage, natural beauty, and kindness. I had first heard of it a few years ago when another friend traveled there because of his family’s heritage. I had no idea what to expect. Through my blog, I would like to share some photos of this beautiful land. 

I must tell you, I thought writing an “photo” blog would be an easy short cut to get a blog done. This turned out to not be true. There are so many lovely photos to chose from and so much I want to share with you about Croatia, I will have to do a short series to share even a handful of the photos and the experiences with you.

Lets start by talking about the people of Croatia and the hospitality. Complete strangers opened their homes, restaurants, and kitchens to us.

Long lost relatives brought us grapes they had grown, bread they had baked, and salami they had made from animals they raised.

The generosity was overwhelming to me. Such a blessing.

Early one morning as we were traveling along the coast we stopped for breakfast. We did not really grasp that Croatia does not do breakfast in the way America does. A restaurant owner who was setting up for lunch welcomed us in. Her brought us a smorgasbord of food and cooked us eggs. Another blessing on our trip.

Next I want to share with you the landscape. Croatia is a relatively small geographically. The state of Minnesota (where I live) is 4 times larger than Croatia. The landscape of Croatia is diverse. As we drove across the country we would see the landscape change, and change again. It is a beautiful country.

There were coastlines, forests (of different types depending on region), mountains and valleys. We saw farmland and we saw land that would never be farmable. All of it was breathtaking.

Growing along the roadways we saw grapes, pears, apples, plums, sugarcane. There was a valley we drove through were you could se many diverse crops all growing in close proximity to one another. Honey was often offered in roadside stands.

The homes changed from area to area. In the North we notices lots of cute balconies adorned with flowers. There were brightly colored flowers everywhere we went.

There was such charm in the homes, it was easy to believe that this is a very happy place to live.

Business and churches also had a lot of charm. Often as we were driving down the road I would squeal in glee seeing a church that was so cute. We would have never made it around the country if we stopped to take a picture of everything that caught my eye.

This country is truly a country of slender. It starts with the people and their big, kind, generous hearts. It moves on to a beautiful landscape that covers all of the country as it moths and changes from area to area, and charming, homes, business, and places of worship are not to be forgotten.

I will be writing future photo blogs about our trip to Croatia. There is just too much to share for one blog to possible be enough to show you all that I want to here today.

Zagreb and Dubrovnik: Two Very Different Cities

The Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia

The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been; Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be filled with journey to places of splendor, as if by magic.

** Thank you to SydneysByDesign for doing photo editing to featured image on the blog. Your work is breathtaking!

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My Grandmother’s Hands

I love this picture of my grandmother’s hands holding her new great great granddaughter. This was the last great great grandchild she would get to meet, for she passed later that same year. I love how this picture shows the legacy that her hands started so long ago. 

My grandmother’s hands scrubbed floors and took care of her siblings as a young girl. She grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota. She was the oldest child in a large Catholic family. As an adult, she worked hard to care for her own family and keep her house clean. She taught me to work hard.

My grandmother’s hands baked bread and cooked big meals. As a farmer’s wife, she fed the farm hands and neighbors who came to help with the harvest. She would take meals to the sick or sorrowful neighbors. She hosted large happy holiday events. She taught me to take care of others.

My grandmother’s hands raise two children. She would have liked to have more, but it wasn’t meant to be. She mourned the loss of two still-born children.  She was crazy proud of her son and daughter and the successful careers they would have. She taught me to be proud of your family.

My grandmother’s hands instructed 5 grandchildren. I was the oldest of those 5 grandchildren. She fostered in me, a love and respect of nature. She showed me how to experiment and express myself through cooking. She modeled for us the best way to accomplish many tasks. She taught me how to learn from others’ examples.

My grandmother’s hands held on to my grandfather’s while they danced. They loved to dance and did it often. They belonged to a round dancing club and had many friends and much fun doing it. She taught me how to embrace life and do what you love.

My grandmother’s hands painted. It was something she started as a hobby. Her beautiful landscapes and floral paintings decorated her home. She taught me the value of art and being artistic.

My grandmother’s hands held a passport. Her and my grandfather loved to travel and they did not wait until they were old. They went and explored the world. She gave me my adventurous spirit and she taught me that wanderlust is a wonderful thing.

My grandmother’s hands played. She loved to play cards, other games, and was not one to be left out of the odd squirt gun battle or ballgame. Throughout her 80s she played and kept up, never saying she was too old. She taught me to always embrace your inner child. 

My grandmother’s hands prayed the rosary. She was Catholic and her faith was important to her. I saw how God held her following my grandfathers death. She was open to learning about others spirituality, but for her faith, she made no apologies. She taught me that even though my beliefs were different from hers, it was safe to be who I am and have my own faith.

My grandmother’s hands tried new things. She rode jets skis and tubes behind the speed boat well into her 80s. She was the queen of the kayak. She even let me give her Reiki (healing touch) with my hands. My grandmother taught me that it is important to always try new things.

My grandmother’s hands read. She was hungry for knowledge and loved politics. She felt bad that she didn’t go to college but she still learned through reading, traveling, talking to people, and being open to it all. She taught me to never stop learning. 

My grandmother’s hands hugged 11 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren. She never met a baby she didn’t love. Some of her great grandchildren lived further away then the others and she did not get as much time with them as she would have liked, but she loved each and everyone of them for their individuality. She taught me how to love.

My grandmother’s hands cheered people on and congratulated them. She was always happy for other’s accomplishments. She celebrated right along with them. My grandmother made a room brighter by just being in it. My grandmother taught me that a positive attitude will raise the spirits of others.

My grandmother’s hands held a telephone. She loved to chat on the phone. She was always ready to listen to what was going on in my life or something new I was learning. She talked to many people, every day. She truly loved people and sharing their lives with them. She taught me how to listen.

My grandmother’s hands held me when I was broken. When bad or sad things happened in life, I could always count on my grandmother to comfort me and help me see the silver lining. She taught me how to keep going.

I miss her everyday. I still often go to pick up the phone to call her. Her legacy will go on and on. The people who knew her will never forget her and those who carry her blood in their veins, will carry her bright light into the future. I love you grandmother and I was blessed to have your influence in my life. Thank you for all you taught me.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you be an inspiration for others, as if by magic.

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Our Connections With Others

People are wonderful. They really are. I have met so many amazing people in my life time. Each interaction, changes me a little. I learn from them, I grow, and ultimately have a bigger (and better) understanding of the world around me. 

There is a group I facilitate once a month. We explore a number of topics and have rich discussions. We all learn from one another. Last night there were 13 of us in attendance. We have had bigger groups and we have had smaller groups. It is a very fluid collection of attendees. New members come and old members drop in from time to time. Some people come once and never return, while others join and become regulars. It is a group that welcomes everyone. The richness of the group is directly related to all the wonderful attendants. As I looked around at the people who were there last night, it made me think about the spider web of life. It made me reflect on how these various members had come to be present at our gatherings. There were those who were friends of mine, those who came because the were connected to the church where we hold the gathering, and still others who were friends of friends and had made their way to our little circle. It is a great representation of the wonderful diverse web of life. 

Because I have been gifted with a life of travel, I have friends in many different places. Some near and others very far away. I have learned from all of these people. As with my monthly gathering, these friends have come into my life from so many different sources. Connections from relatives, classes, and jobs. This is one of the reasons I feel social media is a blessing. It allows me to keep a connection with many of these people. Some I consider deep and intimate friends that I care very much for, but it would not be possible for me to keep up relationships with all of them, if not for social media. There are those that I get to have a meal with once or twice a year. Others, who are a random text message now and then. This doesn’t diminish the thoughts I have for them and the gratitude for their parts in my life, nor the blessings I wish for them. 

Someone told me once that people come into our life when we need them. When they have served their role in our life, the energies will change and they will slip away to a new part of their life. I like this concept. It makes me feel better to understand that those very dear friends, who are no longer active in my life, have moved on as is intended by Divine order. New people are coming into our lives all the time. Are you open to the messages and lessons they bring with them? 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of dear friends, as if by magic. 

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How Are You Improving Yourself?

I am always trying different things to improve myself. Are you also obsessed with becoming the very best version of you? I have multiple ways that I am working on myself at any given time. Some are very successful; others take more effort and require that I try again and again. I often think about the goals I have set for myself. Which ones are realistic and which ones are more grandiose ideas.

Currently I am working on going 21 days complaint free. Despite the fact that I have been working on this for several weeks I am still on day one. But with this I am finding that I am becoming more aware of my complaining. I am finding that, depending on who I am around and what I am talking about, makes a huge difference in how many times I need to change my bracelet. To learn more about this, please read my blogs: Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining? and OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

It is the first of October as I write this and I am thinking of writing a blog every day in October, sounds like a great idea, right?! This maybe one of my more grandiose ideas for a couple reasons. Blogging everyday takes time and that is not always a luxury I possess. Another is that, Adventure Sister Emy and I make sure not to post blogs on the same day. This avoids overwhelming our readers and helps make sure both of our important messages are heard. But what would be realistic number for me? To write 20 blogs in October? That certainly seems reasonable and I can write them without posting them. Just save them for a day when I don’t have as much time but need a blog. Okay – that is “now” my goal for October.

Continuing to improve my health with intermittent fasting is another. Somedays I do better with this than others. It remains my goal to start eating somewhere between 10 and noon and complete my caloric intake for the day by 6pm. It is a worthwhile goal to me and I have lost somewhere between 10-20 lbs. doing so.  I remain horrible about keeping track of my weight but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

I’m also trying 28 days without having an alcoholic drink. I feel this is also a worthwhile goal. I like the way a glass of wine helps me relax and causes the stress of the day to role off my shoulders. I like the way I can decompress and the stress seems to melt away after a glass. Specifically, because of the way wine helps me not have to deal with my things, is precisely why 28 days without it is a great goal. To remind me that I don’t really need it and by working through the lessons of my day is really better for me.

Another goal I have is to start running again. I cannot say I am currently really working towards this goal… unless you count reading How to a Lose  Marathon by Joel Cohen. I keep planning to start training again but so far it is all just talk. I need to overcome the fear that my knee injury is permanent.

Doing a really great job at work is always a goal for me too. I want to continue to improve my skills at my job, learn more, and be more of an asset to my co-workers and boss. Sounds like a lofty goal perhaps but one I feel strongly about.

With all of these goals, I move forward little by little, step by step. I can make big strides in one, while the others may stay stagnate for a time. At other times I move all goals forward in someways. Of course I have many more goals than those listed here. I wanted to convey to you that it is “okay” when goals do not go according to our plan and that when it comes to being the best version of ourselves, we can work on several things at once.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make progress on all you goals, as if by magic.

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7 Tips to Remain Optimistic When Stressed.

Stress is a part of all of our lives! Here are some simple things you can do to help remain optimistic even when stressed. It may not always be easy, but a shift in focus, will certainly not hurt.

1.      Live in the NOW! – When you live in the ‘now” you are not worrying about what is coming (what is past) or how to make it be okay.

2.      Count you Blessings – Looking at all the positive things (happening) in our life, helps us not stress over the things that are making us feel stressed.

3.      Remember you are safe – Everything happens for the reason but even those things, that we do not want to happen, often teach us and help us grow.

4.      Paint a picture of what you want – Keep your thoughts on the outcome you want, rather than the outcome you do not want.

5.      Don’t forget to breath – All too often, when we are stressed, we either hold our breath or breath into our shoulders.  Taking some deep belly breathes helps provide a calming effect.

6.      Remember that failure is just a chance to start over – Some people think it is the end of the world but this is not true. It is a chance to start over and try again. By recognizing that failure makes success sweeter, perhaps will make it less scary for you. You now know what “didn’t work”, that will help you move towards the way that does.

7.      The sun will come out tomorrow – Like the song from the musical “Annie” says, the sun will come out, tomorrow is a new day, and good things are just around the bend. Even when we can’t see the sun, it is still there.

It is not always easy to remain optimistic when stressed or when (crazy) things are going on. It will, without a doubt, improve your outcome however. Whenever possible try and keep your thoughts positive and look to a brighter future. It is coming for you.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May your future be filled with sunshine and happy outcomes, as if by magic.

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Nature Will Always, ALWAYS Take Back What Is Hers

Have you ever noticed that when humans step away from things, Mother Nature is quick to say “Ok, I’ll take that back”. Sometimes she even takes it back before we might be ready to give it up. This thought has occurred to me several occasions over the last year or so. In the end, all that we think is ours, (including our bodies) will belong to Nature once again. IMG_1612

Have you seen where a store has closed and no-one has gone into the parking lot for awhile? It doesn’t take long before there is all kinds of green grass and weeds growing up through the blacktop. I tried to look up how long it would take for New York City to revert to nature if humans disappeared. The answer was not as easy as I thought it might be. Somethings would happen rather quickly like wildlife returning, vegetation growing up, and things starting to decompose. Within 10 years Nature would definitely have an eco-system functioning quite well within the city. Give it another 50 years, 100 years or 200 years  and it would be nothing more than ruins among the wilderness.

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Sometime the human race doesn’t even need to step back. Sometimes Mother Nature decides she wants something back and will force herself on a certain area until once again it is hers. Sometimes we can do something about this; like fill in a sink whole, rebuild after an earthquake, or divert water to another course. Other times there is nothing we do can to persuade the natural world to give us back what we “think” is ours. IMG_6458

When you really think about it, if Mother Earth decided that she was no longer going to tolerate us, and wanted to take back all that we think is ours, there is not a thing we can do to stop her. Have you been through a natural event? Hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake? Have you ever truly seen the power of nature? Have you been there when she swoops in fierce and angry? There is nothing we can do to stop her when she is like this? DSC_0231

Even when she is not full of turmoil and destruction, even when we think we are living in harmony with her, she is slowly taking back what is hers. It is only through our constant maintenance, presence, and a pushing back, that we maintain a delicate hold on our corners of the world.

So the next time you see a crack in the sidewalk filled with “weeds”,  an IMG_2702abandon building that is over run by vines, or the pigeons sitting on the head of your favorite statue; realize that this is Mother Nature. Patiently waiting for her opportunity to take back what was once hers, alone. Remember to thank her and offer her blessings for allowing us to coexist with her. Respect her and try your best to take care of her and the creatures that are part of her. Keep in mind that she could wipe us from the face of the earth at a moments notice, if she so chose to. Nature will always win in the end. She will always take back what is hers.

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Thank you for reading my blog today. May you easily and happily coexist with Nature, as if by magic.

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