The Glory and Grace of Mother Earth

Today I am flying home from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to Minnesota. The PNW is one of my very favorite parts of the country. Work, play, and education have brought me to this fabulous part of the country. I have friends, new and old, scattered about the PNW. The ocean, mountains, and rainforests never fail to cause me awe. As the plane took off, it was a cloudy day. Not so very unusual for this part of the country. I am always hoping for clear days because I love seeing the gigantic volcanic mountains that rise up to make the Cascade Mountain Range look like foothills. Whether it is Seattle’s Mt. Reiner, Portland’s Mt. Hood, the topless Mt. St Helen, or one of the others; I am always dumbstruck at their sight. They are stunningly beautiful and energetically powerful in a way I do not really have the words to express. They cause emotions to rise up within me the way the molten lava could rise up within them at any moment.

As we took off and ascended above the clouds and reached our cruising altitude, I looked out the window and low and behold, there were my mountains. They rose like majestic giants above the clouds. The other mountain range could not be seen but here they were, standing sentinel to the passage of time. The white of the clouds lay before them like some royal carpet, pure and pristine. Here, above the clouds, these silent giants rein supreme. They patiently wait, holding space, inspiring dreams, and standing firmly in the now. Their future is uncertain, but then again, so is ours.

These mountains, like so many beautiful parts of our Mother Earth, have Grace. I used to wear a ring with the word “grace” on it. I aspire to have the presence that one would call grace. We have all met people like this. They have a grace and presence about them. You know when these people enter the room, without ever seeing or hearing them do so. You feel them. They float in causing the space to suddenly seem to vibrate at a slightly higher level. Sometimes these are very serious people, but more often than not, they walk with so much joy that you are drawn to them as if by a mysterious tractor beam. You feel safe, accepted, and loved when you are with them.

Where are your favorite places of Grace on the planet? Is it a waterfall, rocky coast, mountains, forest, desert, or something else? Where do you feel Grace? Where do you feel unconditionally loved and accepted? I love you! I accept you! You are perfect just the way you are! Did you know that? You are!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of finding Grace and of being Grace, as if by magic.

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Don’t Give Up!

Yesterday my husband and I hiked a very difficult trail. It was rated as moderate to difficult. It has been a cold and snowy winter in Minnesota and we have been hibernating . We have not done our usual 10,000 steps a day, but instead been watching TV (which is a rare thing for us to do). Our fitness level is not what it has been over the last couple of years. We have a never say die attitude though and believe that there is nothing that we can’t do. So we took this and applied it to Rattlesnake Ledge Trail. 

Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is a 4 mile round trip trek up a mountain. You climb up 1,175 feet of elevation to a view point that overlooks the Rattlesnake Lake. There are many switch backs that make the climb not as steep as it once was. This is not to say that it is an easy climb any means. There were spots along the trail that were so steep it was almost more like climbing a ladder than walking on a trail.  

It’s a popular hiking trail though, where we were passed by many happy and fit people. There were people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. One young man who was hiking it in dress shoes made it look easy. He passed us four different times. When we told him he made it look easy ,he said it was because he was taking it slow. This struck me as funny since he kept passing us. We saw a mother carrying a baby, a lady carrying her puppy, as well as elderly folks making the climb. 

We were probably about an hour and a quarter into our hike when it became very steep. This was the part of the path that earned it the “difficult” rating. This truly showed me that I have not been treating my body the way it deserves and I need to be better. When we hit the steepest parts, I would climb about three yards along the path and be so winded, I had to stop. I wanted to turn around and go back. Inside, my mind, I was screaming for me to stop. That inner justifier was saying you can go back and have more time to enjoy your Airbnb. You do not need to keep going. No one will judge you. But I had told myself I will do this, that I can do this, and I would be disappointed with myself if I didn’t do this. So I ignored that inner voice that just wanted to stop and forged on. 

IMG_7591The climb, though hard, was full of beautiful scenery. Trees so tall they take your breath away. Cute little wild flowers that added a splash of color. We tracked on about another 15 minutes when my husband verbalized what I had been thinking. “I feel like I just want to stop and turn around” he said. Well nothing brings out my inner cheerleader like hearing someone else want to quit. I suddenly was very positive about our success. I kept telling him how “Creps don’t give up”.  We could and would do this. We would be so disappointed in ourselves if we didn’t. We continued to plod along up the mountain, to a promise of a breathtaking view. 

The inner cheerleader in me lost strength after a bit and I began to question my sanity. I asked Marty repeated if he wanted too stop and turn around. I worried about how sore our bodies would be the next day. Marty was now motivated and his never let go attitude was in full out determination mode. On we went. 

As some other hikers were descending, we asked how much farther. The lady told us we were very close. The man said what we thought was 40 minutes. Could I really keep going another 40 minutes. Yes, we were going to do this. No matter what. On we went. Suddenly we round the corner on a switchback and could see light coming through the trees. I am pretty sure I heard trumpets blowing and confetti was falling.  As we climb the final few steps to the rocky ledge top, one of the hikers, who had passed us earlier, said (with some surprise in his voice), “Hey, you made it”. We felt exactly the same way and told him so. We had made it! Our lungs burned, our legs were wobbly with fatigue, and sore muscle would welcome us the next day but we had made it. Despite all the screaming in our heads to quit! Despite the fact that it took us twice as long to climb it as we expected (2 hours vs the 1 hour promised on the sign), we had made it. 

I climbed out on the edge of the ledge and sat down even closer to the giant drop off. I have always been afraid of heights but on this day I was Queen of this mountain! Looking over the sheer drop off did not bother me (much).  I sat there, amongst the clouds,  overlooking the valley. I could see the parking lot, next to the lake, below were we had started from. Wow, we did this!

When things seem to be taking longer than you would like, when your inner voice is yelling at you to give up, just keep going. Sometimes you cannot see the light through the trees that promise success, but it is close at hand. You might just round the next corner and see the light. Suddenly, without warning, you will be at your destination and  have achieved your desired outcome. 

Voyage on my friends. Thank you for reading my blog today. May all of your journeys end with success and pride! I love you! You can do this! 

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5 of My Favorite Places

I simply love to travel. My blessed life and amazing job has given me the opportunity to travel quite a bit. I have loved every trip and every new destination. There are, however, some that are my favorites. These are places I would like to go back to again and again. My husband and I were planning some new trips and this caused me to reflect on some of my favorite places.
1. The Pacific Northwest. I am enchanted with this part of the country. Its volcanic mountains and giant tree filled mossy forests make for stunning scenery. The area is a rain forest and so magical. You can imagine fairies and gnomes peaking at you from amongst the branches. The Portland Saturday Market is full of interesting and talented artisans. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center provides a unique experience in the mountains and the opportunity to go within while there.
2. Ireland. This is another magical place. Here the gnomes are replaced by leprechauns. The people of Ireland are amazing. I felt so welcome while I was there. The Burren Perfumery has beautiful gardens where you are free to wander. They grow their own plants to make the perfume. The small windy roads of the Irish countryside pass by castle ruins with sheep grazing on the grounds. It was in Ireland that I saw my first real waterfall after a long delightful hike.
3. Florence Italy. It is stunning to be walking down the street and all of a sudden there are sculptures you saw in your art history text books. The history and the art is breathtaking. While there, we were able to see Michelangelo’s David. Words cannot describe how I felt when I saw this masterpiece. The food was also quite good. Affordable authentic Italian food was plentiful and we did not have one bad meal.
4. BWCA (Boundary Water Canoe Area). If you follow my blog you have heard of this before. Untamed wilderness, very few people, and the serene beauty of the area make this a yearly destination. I have a passion for the forest and when that forest involves camping, overlooking a quiet lake and paddling tranquil water ways, it makes for an even better experience. Sitting around the campfire at night listening to the wolves howl in the distance is a harmonious lullaby.
5. Cocoa Beach Florida. There is nothing quite like laying on the beach in the sun and listening to the waves lap the shore. It can be very meditative. I learned quickly to respect the sun’s powerful energy. Drinking lots of fluids and seek shade so as not to get burned. I lived in Florida for 10 years and it still feels like home to me. I enjoy the heat and humidity. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket to me. Traveling more inland the vegetation changes. When I see the Spanish Moss on the old Live Oaks it gives me a whimsical feeling.
There are so many places I loved visiting. To many trips to share all of them here today. I just wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. Perhaps they will inspire you to plan a trip in the New Year. Get out of your comfort zone and go someplace new. My bucket list is bursting at the seams with yet to be taken trips. New favorites await!
What are some of your favorite places? Why do they make the top of your list?