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 Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia

I have been fortunate enough to see the Coliseum in Rome. Coming from a country where all the architecture is brand new in comparison to Europe, I am always awed to walk in something built so long ago.  The trip to Rome was on our honeymoon. My husband and I were walking along the streets when suddenly, there it was. This huge ancient structure rising up out of the city. It seems so out-of-place with traffic lights blinking and delivery vans zooming by. But there it was, none the less. Giant and majestic and so old it boggles my mind.

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Colosseum  Rome, Italy

The Roman Theater at Pula, Croatia is small in comparison to the Roman one. It is still well worth a visit though and has some very interesting things to offer.

Doing some research on the Theater at Pula, I learned it is thought to be the most intact of Roman theaters. Another fascinating thing, about the one in Pula, is that it is still being used as a Theater today. Concerts and film festivals are held there routinely.  It is still fulfilling its original purpose of entertaining the people. Thankfully, we no longer watch Gladiators destroy one another, but people still flock through the entrance anticipating a great show.

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Roman Theater – Pula, Croatia

When we traveled to Croatia, there was one main purpose. This is the country that my husband’s family originated from on his Father’s side and our purpose in visiting was connected to that. We brought my stepson along, thinking what an excellent opportunity for him to see and experience his roots. I was reading a guidebook, my mother-in-law had loaned us for the trip. When I happened across the mention of this Roman Theater.  We adjusted our plans and added several hours of driving, in order to make the track to this part of Croatia, to see something history left behind for us.

It was well worth that drive. The setting sun painted the theater again and again, changing its appearance.

We sat where crowds of people sat and were entertained by events of days gone by.

IMG_6272We Walked where Gladiators had walked, pumped up for the battles they were about to fight.

We were surrounded by shadows of the past and hope for a bright future.

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Even having seen the Colosseum in Rome, which is bigger and more famous, the Roman Theater at Pula was well worth the drive. It was a visit that I will relive in my memories. and I am glad that my 14-year-old stepson was also able to experience something so old. Hopefully it will live on in him, inspiring creativity, dreams, and the promise of future adventures to come.

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Thank you for reading my blog today! May you find yourself on adventures and experience snapshots of history, as if by magic.

** Thank you to SydneysByDesign for doing photo editing to a couple of these photos. 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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Regrets; Looking Back on the Life You Have Left Behind

I have always tried to live my life in such a way that I have no regrets. Recently, someone told me that I will regret living my life the way I currently am. They feel that I will regret traveling so much and not spending more time with family. It gave me pause to reflect on my life and choices. Will I have regrets in the future?

As I reflected on my life so far, there are 3 things that came to mind that perhaps I wish I had made different choices. One was a high school friendship that fell apart related to my ego. I have since found this person and apologized. I no longer regret this, as I believe all things happen for a reason and they help us learn and be better people. The second thing is a stepdaughter, who I wish I would have fought to raise when I heard she was in foster care. I was divorced from her father at that time and although I considered fighting for her, I was really not in a place in my life where I could have taken her on and provided her with the life she deserved. I also have since found her and apologized. She easily forgave me and told me her life was going well. Once again, everything happens for a reason and perhaps the journey she walked help form her into the wonderful person she is today.

The final regret I have in my life still haunts me to this day. I wish I had stuck up more for my children. Don’t get me wrong; I fought the school systems, volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, scrimped so that they could be involved in more things and have experiences. I worked hard to be a really good mother and advocate for them out in life. But at home, when their step-father had a very different parenting style than I did, I didn’t have enough self-confidence that my way was the right way and to speak up. I allowed him to set the tone for our house. I do regret that I did not stand up better for my daughters at home. I think they are wonderful mothers and women and hope that these earlier life experiences are what helped form that “will” to overcome barriers in their lives. My hope is that, my not having enough self-confidence to stand up and speak up for what I believed in, made them stronger. This is the one part of my history that still haunts me when I look back on my life thus far. I have healed from the experiences and now have the confidence to stand up and tell others what I believe and why.

Being told that I will regret living my life and traveling, instead of staying home to spend all of my free time with family, gives me pause. Because I intentionally try to live a life free from regrets, I cannot simply let this comment pass without reflecting on it. I have worked most of my career as a nurse caring for the elderly and those on hospice. I saw countless people and couples who waited to take the trip until they were retired or until they had “enough money” (however much that is). Then one of them would get sick and those dreams would die with them. The trips were left untaken and those dreams never reached. Their money went to pay for medical care. I don’t want that to be my story.

I want to find balance in my life. I love my family and enjoy spending time with them. I enjoy doing things with them. We try having a family meal once a week. There are times when I am not home, because of my job or a trip I am taking, and I am unable to make the weekly family meal. But when I am home it is a wonderful get together. Holidays are spent with family as well. My Family has grown and spread out, so it is not always possible for me to spend holidays with “all” of my family. I have daughters, grandchildren, parents, a brother, a niece and nephew, and a whole other set of family with my in-laws. Decisions and compromises must be made. I do love my family in a very big way!

I feel that traveling also makes me a better person. I get to see and experience the ways that other people live. I see that our way is not always the right way to do it. There are other ways to accomplish the same things. I learn through my travels. I have fun and feel fully alive when I travel. I know that I need to travel to be fully me. It feeds my soul. Perhaps there will come a time in my life when traveling is no longer the right choice for me. Right now though, I feel I must travel.

I appreciate that this person felt brave and comfortable enough with me to share their opinion on my life choices and how it may affect me in the future. It was not something easily dismissed. I caused me to reflect on what they had said. It caused me to think about my family. I reflected to things my parents and grandparents did before me. Those wise ancestors who I came and learned from, made choices about their lives too. Did they regret the choices they made? I don’t know. I do know that I am responsible for my life and my choices. I will continue to work to find a healthy balance between time with family and living my life the way my soul is calling me to live.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find perfect balance in your life, as if by magic.

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My Gypsy Life

My life is nomadic. I am here and there and everywhere. I travel for work almost every week. I love to travel. Being in a different place, meeting people with different traditions, and seeing how others live; is a fascinating adventure for me. The New Oxford Dictionary describes a gypsy as a nomadic or free-spirited person. This is me to a tee! 

Despite traveling 4 days a week for work, my Husband and I often set out on mini adventures on the weekends. It may simply involve hooking up to our ever-ready pop-up camper and driving across the State or flying somewhere for a quick weekend getaway. Our boat in Florida also provides us with another option to be on the move, especially in the winter months. I hear people talk about the joys of sleeping in their own beds. This is not true for me. I sleep much better when I am on the go. IMG_1121

Traveling to other countries is something I hope to do more of. I have traveled to 20 different countries and have 2-3 more on the agenda coming up soon. In fact, I may be in another country as you are reading this! Traveling to places where people live very differently than us gives me insight into how things can be done other ways. It teaches me that our way, may not be the right way or only way. There is usually more than one way to solve problems, live life, and have experiences. Not only does travel outside of my comfort zone teach me about others, but it also teaches me about myself. When I traveled to India, I learned a lot about India and the way people live there. I learned even more about me. I learned how the things I was seeing and learning affected me. I felt shifts in my opinions and I felt that trip helped me grow as a person. It enhanced me. 

While hiking through the woods today, my Husband was sharing with me how the land in this part of Wisconsin was formed. He told me the hills were formed by a large river that used to flow high above theses current banks, as it went, it deposited sediment that became the hills that were now covered by trees around us. When I was in elementary school; Geology and History did not interest me. Now as I explore these new places, the history of the land and people fascinate me. Traveling helps these things come to life for me. Tasting new foods, hearing local music, and experiencing old local traditions creates a sensory smorgasbord of learning. I feel travel is a wonderful way for people of all ages to learn. 

I love the romantic image of gypsies traveling in their wagon pulled by horses. Making their way across the land, telling fortunes, cooking over the open flames, and living a happy carefree life. Perhaps in a past life I was a gypsy; it is certainly a lifestyle that resinates with me. To me Home is not a place, for me, home is carried in my heart. It is with me wherever I lay my head down at night. I love my gypsy life and I am so happy that I have a life partner that feels the call of new and exciting destinations to travel to with me as well. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life feel free and be the life of your dreams, 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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My experience with a decision that could have jeopardized a relationship.

Emy and I are The Adventure Sisters but we are not biological sisters, we weren’t even raised together. We met at a class several years ago and were friends before we knew we were friends. Our friendship goes so much deeper than a typical friendship. We are soul sisters. There is a familiarity between us that hints at past lives of being princesses together. A soul connection that calls to past history of dancing through lives together. I am completely myself with Emy. Her presence brings out a deeper part of me. I feel safe in her love; safe in the knowledge that I can be me and she will not judge or walk away from me.

Emy and I have had an annual trip to the BWCA for awhile now. It has been something we both look forward to; at least until a couple years ago. For some reason, I have become more resistant to this trip. I know how much Emy loves it and how it feeds her soul; so I keep trying to push through to make it happen for her. This year, only about 3 weeks prior to the trip that has been planned for 6 months, I started to feel anxious about going. I am not an anxious person; typically I can push through whatever hang ups I may have to do what needs to be done. I spent a week, trying to work through it, seeking guidance and even talking to Emy about making modifications to the trip. In the end, just over 2 weeks prior to the date of the trip, I told Emy I wasn’t going this year. I still needed to feed my spirit but I needed to do it in a different way. I needed alone time to go deep within myself. I needed time to recharge my own batteries. I advise people all the time to take care of themselves first but relized I had not been following that same advise.

I knew Emy would be upset, disappointed, and angry with me. I imagined she would feel abandoned and maybe even disrespected. I reflected on how I would feel if the places were switched around. I also trusted that Emy loves me just like I love her. No two blood relatives could have a stronger connection than we do. I knew she would understand why I needed to back out and would support that decision, even if it wasn’t what she wanted. Emy did not disappoint me. She showed me what a strong, nurturing, and amazing woman she is. She modeled how I would hope to respond in a similar situation. She expressed how she felt, honestly, to me. She had reflected on what the lessons might be for her in this situation. She shared love and support with me. She is a beautiful soul! She encompasses so many powerful, nurturing qualities. I am proud and so very blessed to have her as my adventure sister!

This year we will still have an adventure but different than it has ever been before. She will voyage in one direction and I in another. I am setting off into a forest to spend time in nature searching for parts of myself that seem to have gotten lost in caring for others. She is taking her personal trip to discover her own lessons.

I love helping others; I feel it is a part of my mission. But, as they say on the airplane, I have to put the oxygen mask on myself first. I appreciate it so much that Emy understands and support me in this. I appreciate those wise friends who helped me dig deep for guidance. They supported and encouraged me through making a challenging decision, a decision that could have jeopardized a relationship that I hold close and so very dear.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish all of you will find your soul siblings, as if by magic. I love you and I am proud of you!

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