Nature Is All Around Us

I live in the city even though I am a nature girl at heart. As I was driving through downtown Minneapolis, on my way to work this morning, I noticed the sunrise reflected on the glass of the downtown sky scrapers. It was stunning and it helped me to realize Nature is all around us.

As a girl who loves nature, I sometimes feel that living in the city keeps me away from my beloved forests, but then I take the time to notice there are wonderful ways for me to experience the outdoors without having to take a drive to the countryside. The trees and shrubs along the side of the road, showing off their autumn color,  are one way we are blessed with beauty. The squirrels, who are busy putting on their winter fat, are little bits of the wild that we can enjoy. If we just take the time to look around, there are so many amazing little gifts that the plants and animals offer us, even within the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Winter is coming to the Twin Cities, where I live. I find it difficult to get out into the natural world in the winter because the cold weather does not agree with me. I have purchased snow pants, good quality winter boots, hats and gloves; all with the intention of making sure I continue to get outside and experience the wild and fresh air all winter long. This must be a mindful decision on my part. It is not natural for me to want to venture out into the frosty cold. I have learned that when I push through and get out there, even if it is just to walk around the block, seeing the sky and feeling the wind on my cheeks makes me a better and happier person.

Are you like me? Do you feel better when you have more playtime with Mother Nature? How do you incorporate her into you everyday life? It is too easy to think that you need time to drive to the bluffs and go hiking, or take the kayaks to the river to get out there. Maybe just enjoying this gorgeous world we live in is as simple as noticing the sunrise or sunset. Maybe watching the fluffy clouds float by, or the even fluffier squirrel in the tree, can help sustain us until a deep journey into the wild is available.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find the beauty you need in your everyday life.

 

 

 

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

When we were planning our trip to Croatia, I was very excited to be able to visit this park full of waterfalls. I was sure it was nice but I had no idea how breathtakingly beautiful this visit would be. I have loved waterfalls since I saw my first one in Ireland. I now try an see them every chance I can get. I have heard that there is healing energy that is released by the cascading water. If you have ever stood near a large waterfall, I’m sure you have felt the energy it releases.

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I feel my words cannot adequately share with you the beauty of this park. Please enjoy my pictures with the hope that they might give you at least a little glimpse of the amazing glory of this place on earth. If you get the chance to visit, go! I suggest trying an early morning visit as this park is very popular and very large.

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The color of the water is breathtaking. From some quick internet research it seems limestone deposits are to credit for the stunning color of the water.

The water is also crystal clear too. My stepson’s quick eyes noticed this boat sunk under the clear water, pushed up against edge by the flow of the water, trapping it there for us to discover.

Of course, the beauty of this natural world is not without it’s dangers. This park is full of cliffs with drops-offs and some caves that offer fun climbs for the brave.

This park is dazzling because nature made it so. The park is also full of thoughtful walkways made to blend in gracefully with the lovely natural surroundings.

Veliki Slap or Big Waterfall brought me to tears when I saw it and I am not a person easily moved to tears. The magnificence of this fall did, what few things have done before.

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I have traveled a lot and I have been to many amazing places both natural and manmade. It will take a lot for this place to be dethroned as the most beautiful place I have been.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May your life offer you adventures to beautiful places, that take your breath away, as if by magic.

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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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