When Travel Plans Go Awry

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I spend many hours planning a trip and months anticipating the fulfillment of those plans. That’s part of the fun of traveling.

And yet, invariably, I encounter snags during the trip, when travel plans go awry. I’ve learned that when the unexpected happens, staying open and going with the flow helps me to find the good in the situation. New opportunities usually arrive. And at the very least, I learn from the experience.

These five lessons learned during recent trips offer great examples of well laid plans going awry and the take aways from each experience.

When Travel Plans Go Awry title meme 2

 

GPS Failure

Using a smart phone equipped with GPS is a popular way of getting around in unfamiliar places. Most of the time, GPS is reliable and accurate, taking me where I want to go without a problem.

What happens though when GPS fails? Then the journey gets interesting, or at least it did in 2017 while traveling by car in Scotland.

My sister Debbie bravely volunteered to drive our girls’ group around that gorgeous country. Remember that compared to the US, traffic flows on the opposite side of the road in Scotland and the steering wheel is on the right, rather than the left. Debbie expertly drove us all over the country, relying on the car’s built in GPS system to guide us to where we wanted to go.

Are We Lost?

Except….one day it didn’t. Driving from the Sterling area northward into the Highlands, with the Isle of Skye as our ultimate destination, we suddenly realized we were approaching the Firth of Forth. The iconic Forth Bridge appeared, paralleled by the newly built but not yet open Queensferry Crossing.

We knew then we were headed the wrong way. And this time, my sister was not at fault. (See Wrong Way Sister for more about my sister’s challenges with directions.) However, the magic began as we crossed the Firth of Forth and entered the Kingdom of Fife.

Both bridges and Fife were on my “must see” list for Scotland. And yet, I didn’t expect see them this trip. As the rest of us appreciated the views of the bridges and the forth, Debbie startled us by exclaiming, “What is that?”

Looking toward the front of the car, expecting to see a bus careening toward us, my mouth dropped open in surprise at the sight ahead. Two large, gleaming horse heads towered over the trees. We “accidentally” stumbled upon the amazing Kelpies, 30 meter tall sculptures of Scotland’s mythical shape shifting water spirits. We were enchanted. And I got to check another item off my list.

Lesson Learned

Sometimes the GPS fails. Sometimes we get lost. And yet, that’s okay. Getting off track might lead to a new adventure or unexpected experiences. We never figured out why the GPS failed that day. It worked perfectly the remainder of our time in Scotland. I am grateful though for the detour. I’ll never forget the wonder of seeing those majestic Kelpies.

When Travel Plans Go Awry kelpies
When travel plans go awry…you find Kelpies

We All Fall Down

Or maybe I should say, two of us fell down. On the girls’ trip through the UK, in 2017, we almost didn’t make it out of the US.

At the Atlanta airport, the stuff of nightmares happened. Riding the escalators down a level, my sisters exited, pulling their carry ons behind them. My niece Ashley followed a few steps behind my mother and me. Like many people, I get a bit nervous as the escalator stairs disappear at the end, knowing I need to time my step off correctly. As I pulled my carry on closer to me and prepared to disembark, I saw my mother falling.

In slow motion, it seemed, Mom’s legs folded and she sunk toward the steps. Panicking, I reached over to pull her up. That was a mistake. Her carry on toppled, knocking my legs out from under me and down we both went, on the moving escalator.

Do you know that 17,000 people receive serious injuries each year, while on escalators and elevators? And 30 people die? I didn’t know the stats, as Mom and I fell. However, I knew that clothing and hair getting caught in escalators are the main causes of injury or death.

We Get Back Up

Instinctively, I stuck my legs into the air and curled my upper torso upward, trying to keep pant legs and my long hair from getting snagged. Mom’s snacks from her purse bounced by me. It felt important at the time to grab the container of hummus. My niece and the man behind her bounded up the escalator stairs, searching for an emergency OFF button. They never found one.

Somehow, I flipped over onto my hands and knees and crawled off the escalator. Debbie helped our mother up. We felt shaken, and received scratches and bruises, however we didn’t sustain any serious injuries. Well, my carry on was a goner. The fabric suitcase did get caught and it tore. However, tape held it together until I returned home.

I still shudder when I think about that experience.

Ironically, the trip ended with another fall, this time on the London Tube. It was my fault. I stood near a pole with my suitcase. Thankfully, my mother found a seat. When the announcement comes to hold on because the tube is departing, they mean HOLD ON. I fiddled with my carry on a moment too long. The sudden movement threw me off balance and I smashed into the closest wall, cracking ribs. Thankfully a man caught me and halted my journey onward to the floor. It took three months for my ribs to heal.

Lesson Learned

Never let your mother step onto an escalator pulling a carry on!  If someone falls, get yourself off the escalator and then turn to help the other person. Also, practice awareness on escalators and subways. Keep luggage secured. Lack of attention may result in pain and injury. And that’s not a fun way to start or end a trip.

When Travel Plans Go Awry london tube
When travel plans go awry – Mom seated on the London Tube, bless her

We Can’t Control What We Can’t Control

Weather played a significant role in several of my travel plans that shifted.

Tornadoes on the ground in Charlotte, North Carolina diverted the plane my grandson, daughter and I traveled on, during the first leg of our journey to Italy. We stayed in Chattanooga, Tennessee until the all clear sounded in Charlotte. However, we missed our connecting flight to Rome. Thousands of people missed their connecting flights.

The resulting storm of emotions inside the airport rivaled the storms outside. We witnessed crying, angry words, displays of temper and glum resignation. Rather than join the masses, we chose to stay calm and hopeful and open to opportunities. On a night when very few people flew out of Charlotte, we ended up on a plane to London. And from there, we journeyed on to Rome. We missed our welcome dinner however we arrived in time for the start of our tour. I believe miracles happened that night in Charlotte. Read the whole incredible story HERE.

Weather Delay Allows A Problem to Surface

Last year, Debbie and I found ourselves stuck in an airplane out on the tarmac at JFK Airport in New York City. Thunderstorms kept us grounded for five hours. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Shortly before we were cleared for takeoff, a horrible clanging noise filled the cabin. One terrified woman stood up and demanded to get off the plane.

It turned out a mechanic problem surfaced, as we waited for the weather to clear. Imagine if that problem had occurred, out over the Atlantic? Grounded as we were, mechanics ably corrected the issue and at last we took off, in the middle of the night. We arrived late in Edinburgh, and yet thankfully, we arrive safely.

Allergies in Italy

And one non-weather related incident happened in Italy, during a trip with my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We discovered that Dayan is allergic to the flowering vine, jasmine. In late May and early June, jasmine is everywhere in Italy, vining over stone walls, archways and buildings. This situation, totally out of our control, necessitated new strategies. We kept windows closed at night, avoided the vine as much as possible in villages and accepted that Dayan might sneeze…often.

Lesson Learned:

We really can’t control much of anything, and certainly not the weather or mechanical problems or allergic reactions to flowering plants. Staying open to possibilities and in the flow of life, and disconnecting from outcomes, frees us to accept what is and move forward. Believing there is a reason for everything, even if I can’t see what the reason is, allows trust to grow.

When Travel Plans Go Awry jasmin
When travel plans go awry – some people sneeze due to jasmine

It’s Closed

In spite of well researched plans, disappointments may occur. On the girls’ trip to the UK, everyone picked places to see and things to do. We found it very doable to please five different people by giving everyone a say in what we did.

In Dublin, Ireland, my mother chose Trinity College Library for us to visit. Built in 1592, the library houses the Brian Boru harp, Ireland’s national symbol, and the Book of Kells, considered one of the country’s national treasures. This ancient manuscript, created in 800 AD, contains the four gospels of the New Testament.

We arrived at the library a few minutes after it closed! Unfortunately, we flew out of Ireland the next day, Scotland bound.

In Edinburgh, we couldn’t get into Real Mary King’s Close or into a crowded Elephant House cafe. And in London, a sign on the door of the dungeons beneath the Tower of London proclaimed them closed for maintenance.

Lesson Learned:

We pre-selected certain activities but in the case of the Dublin library, we didn’t prioritize it that day. Mary King’s Close was a spur of the moment attempt and we had no control over the busyness of the Elephant House or the dungeons’ maintenance work. However, the library should have been first on our activity list for the day, not toward the end of it.

I like spontaneity while traveling. Yet there is a place for order, especially when scheduling tours or group activities. We learned to do both: arrive on time for events and wander freely when the desire to explore called. And when met with a “no” we always found other places to go and things to see.

When Travel Plans Go Awry trinity college library
When travel plans go awry – you miss touring Trinity College Library

Missed Opportunities

This is an important personal realization I’ve had, as I travel. Don’t let opportunities slip away. It’s one thing to miss getting into a building because it is closed or too crowded. It’s another to walk away by choice and then regret the decision.

Sometimes, my reasons for missing an experience are physical. My back hurt from lugging a huge suitcase around, the day my cousins climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I stayed behind and rested at the bed and breakfast. Five months later, one of those dear cousins passed away. I’ve yet to make that climb.

I chose to stay on the ground in Italy too, while my daughter and grandson climbed the bell towers in the little villages we visited. Sure, I might have huffed and puffed my way to the top. Now, I think about the magnificent views I missed.

The three of us were too tired to walk to Trevi Fountain in Rome, having arrived so late the night before. My coin stayed in my pocket. And we stayed out of a gondola in Venice, because those rides are mostly sought out by romantic couples. Who cares? We did, while in Venice. Now, I wished I’d gone for a gondola ride alone, if no one else wanted to go.

I’ve visited Edinburgh three times and still have not experienced the Royal  Military Tattoo, where bands of pipers and drummers perform at the castle. Why haven’t I?

And…I never, ever take enough photos as I travel.

Lesson Learned:

This lesson is a big one for me, as I desire to live a life without regrets. If I want to DO something, then DO it. On my most recent trip to Edinburgh last July, I visited Dean Village, the Botanical Gardens and Calton Hill, all places I’ve wanted to see that I’ve missed before.

We don’t always get second or third chances. I’m learning to step up and do what I want to do, in all areas of my life. I want to write. So, I’m writing. I want to travel. So, I’m traveling. I want to visit the Edinburgh Christmas Market. So, I will make that happen.

I’m telling myself, don’t wait. If it is important, find a way to do all that I desire to do. Be ready, when opportunities arrive. And capture those magical moments with photos….lots of them.

When Travel Plans Go Awry gondola
When travel plans go awry you miss riding in the gondola

The Traveler

Life is a journey…and for me, journeying is life. I acknowledge and accept my gypsy soul and my wild heart. It is time to release the wildness and go where my heart will take me. And to take along the many lessons I’m learning as I travel.

Have you had travel plans go awry? Share your stories in the comments below!

When Travel Plans Go Awry on the tarmac
When travel plans go awry – tired but in good spirits, waiting for the storm to pass

Travel Finds from Amazon:

 


 

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Create Your Own Compost

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Composting is the process of decomposing organic material into a soil conditioner. Added to enrich soil, this nutrient rich humus restores vitality and helps plants grow. Plus, it’s good for the environment. Composting recycles kitchen and yard waste, diverting as much as 30% from the garbage can and landfills.

It’s simple to create your own compost, using a bin or container.

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Creating a Composting Bin

Several methods exist for creating simple composting bins.

Drill holes around the base of a heavy duty garbage can. Add organic material to the bin and stir every two weeks.

Build a simple box from wooden boards or slats. Make it at least 3 feet square and no more than waist high. Set it on bare ground, to encourage insects and earthworms to burrow in. If wild animals or the neighbor’s dogs getting into the bin is a concern, add chicken wire or pig wire to the top. Add organic material and stir to aerate every two weeks.

There are more elaborate systems out there that incorporate three bins for mixing, turning and storing. These aren’t necessary however if that design appeals to you, go for it! Google composting bins or search on Pinterest for ideas.

Or you can purchase composting bins from garden centers. If you don’t have the simple tools to build one, this is a quick option to get you started.

Create Your Own Compost
Create your own compost – my simple DIY wooden bin.

What Goes Into the Compost Bin?

Once your composting bin is set up, start adding kitchen and garden waste. The trick is to balance “green” waste such as vegetable and fruit scraps with “brown” material such as dry leaves, newspapers and cardboard. This is important because green materials supply nitrogen to the mix while brown materials are rich in carbon. Carbon feeds the organisms that break down the scraps and nitrogen builds the cell structure of the newly formed soil enrichment.

The compost pile also needs oxygen and water. Without oxygen the pile will simply rot and smell. Moisture helps the organic material break down. Sprinkle the compost frequently if it hasn’t rained. And stir up the compost as it breaks down, to help air move through the mixture.

Earthworms are welcome allies to the compost pile as they help to aerate and break down matter. I have TONS of huge earthworms in my garden. I toss some into the compost pile as I weed and undercover them.

Create Your Own Compost earthworms
Earthworms are welcome allies in the compost bin

Green, Nitrogen Rich Waste to Add

The healthy compost pile needs more carbon than nitrogen in the mix. Too much nitrogen creates a dense, smelly mixture that decomposes too slowly. The bulkiness of carbon material helps oxygen move through the mixture and nourishes the organisms living there.

A good rule of thumb is one third green nitrogen waste to two thirds brown carbon materials.

Create Your Own Compost scraps
Create your own compost – scraps

Check out these lists of green and brown materials

Brown/Carbon Materials to Add:

  • wood chips, pellets, bark
  • straw or hay
  • shrub, tree trimmings
  • shredded paper including newspapers
  • cardboard, torn into strips
  • pine needles (use in moderation)
  • leaves, chopped or shredded is best, or create a separate pile for leaves
  • dryer lint (best if from natural materials)
  • corn cobs, stalks
Create Your Own Compost newspapers
Create your own compost – newspapers

Green/Nitrogen Material to Add:

  • tea leaves and paper tea bags
  • table scraps
  • seaweed and kelp
  • lawn and garden weeds, that have not gone to seed
  • grass clippings
  • green leaves
  • garden plants that have not died of disease
  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • flower cuttings
  • coffee grounds (earthworms love these) and coffee filters
  • eggshells (which are really more neutral)
Create Your Own Compost saving scraps
Create your own compost – saving scraps

Don’t Add These Materials:

  • meat, bones, fish, dairy products
  • fats, cooking oils, grease
  • perennial or diseased plants
  • dog, cat or human poop or cat litter
  • black walnut leaves
  • machine or chain oils
  • sawdust unless it’s clean and then add sparingly
  • plastics
  • plastic coated paper or cardboard
  • anything treated with pesticides
  • charcoal

Tips to Create a Successful Compost

A few additional tips as you create your own compost.

Collect food, fruit and vegetable scraps in the house. I use a 21 cup plastic container that I already had on hand. Any container with a lid works. Because I am plant based, I can easily fill up my container in a day so I empty it every evening. When adding organic scraps, toss in carbon materials too such as newspapers, cardboard or leaves.

I love making my own veggie broth so most of my vegetable scraps go into containers in the freezer for this purpose. However I use the leftovers from juicing and blemished produce or veggies past their prime for composting.

Chop larger yard and garden wastes, to help them break down more quickly. And leaves and grass are excellent for the compost, however don’t add them in thick layers or they will clump together, slowing down aeration.

Use a spading fork to turn the mixture every week or two. If organic matter isn’t breaking down, add more green material and keep the pile moist.

If the compost pile is too wet and smelly, add more brown material and turn the mixture more frequently.

Create Your Own Compost
Create your own compost – after a month or so, this compost is coming along nicely

How to Use Your Compost

Your compost is ready to use when it looks and smells like dirt! This can take a couple of months or more, depending on what’s in your mixture.

Incorporate your rich new compost into garden beds or sprinkle it on top of the ground. Compost isn’t a replacement for soil but an amendment that nurtures it and your plants.

It’s that easy to create your own compost! Feel good about enriching your garden and easing the burden of wastes on landfills. And if you have any questions, ask in the comments.

Recycle or Compost

Other Posts in the Backyard Garden Series:

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

Gardening Finds from Amazon:


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Lions of Venice

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Venice is a magical city, with its lagoon, canals and bridges. I realized a lifelong dream when I visited in 2017 with my grandson and daughter. One of the things I noticed as I wandered around the city was the abundance of lions. The more I looked, the more of the majestic beasts I saw. In fact, the lions of Venice are everywhere, carved in stone, gracing archways and serving as knockers on doors.

The lion symbolizes courage, power and strength, all important attributes for the Venentians. The winged lion, so predominant in Venice, also represents the city’s patron saint, Mark.

Check out some of the stories around the Lions of Venice, in this Tales from Italy post, and a few of my photos capturing them throughout the city.

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The Lion of St Mark

According to early traditions, each of the evangelists who authored a gospel in the Bible is represented by a winged creature. The winged lion represents Mark. Many of the Venetian lions scattered throughout the city, therefore, display wings and hold an open book beneath a paw. Sometimes the head is wreathed in a halo.

The ancient winged sculpture, atop one of two tall pillars in Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square), in Venice, has come to symbolize the city as well.

A long history accompanies that bronze statue. Originally created in 300 BC, the winged lion came to Venice in the 12th century. Over the centuries, many repairs occurred around the sculpture’s core. The lion even left Venice for a time, during Napoleon’s conquest of the Venetian Republic in 1797. Badly damaged, it returned after Napoleon’s downfall.

Today the lion presides over the square, and the city, a symbol of strength. The flag of Venice carries the image and a golden lion is given as the prize at the yearly Venice International Film Festival.

Lions of Venice pillars
Lions of Venice – the two pillars in Saint Mark’s Square
Lions of Venice flag
Lions of Venice – gold lion on a red background forms the Venetian flag

Haunted Lions

Near the Arsenal, stone lions stand guard. As part of their plunder, the seated lion arrived in Venice in 1687, after the Venetians battled the Ottomans. Runes decorate the lion’s marble flanks causing the locals to believe that the lion possessed magical powers.

According to the story, in November 1719, after a mighty storm, the torn bodies of two sailors showed up near the lions. A short time later, after another storm, a third body appeared, bearing wounds created by wild animals.

During the next storm, officials hid nearby and watched as a merchant with the reputation of a sorcerer laid his hands on the runes and brought the stone lions to life. He sent the beasts after another victim, however when an official stabbed the merchant with a sword, the lions turned back into statues.

One of the statues continued to roar however. An official cut off the head, to silence it. And indeed, one of the statues obviously wears a head not original to the sculpture. Beware these statues, during stormy nights in November!

Lions of Venice arsenal
Lions of Venice – haunted statues in front of the arsenal

The Lions of Saint Mark’s Square

Although lions adorn buildings, arches and towers all over Venice, one of the best places to spot them is in the city’s huge piazza. Considered one of the finest squares in the world, Saint Mark’s is surrounded on three sides by public buildings. The fourth side is occupied by Saint Mark’s Basilica, the magnificent former chapel of the Doges and the equally impressive palace. Both feature lions, outside and inside.

 

Lions of Venice St Marks Basilica
Lions of Venice – golden lion on Saint Mark’s Basilica
Lions of Venice palace
Lions of Venice – a carved lion over the palace entrance

The brick bell tower for the basilica, called the campanile, is so tall that ships used it to guide them home. Look up high for the lion. This one wears a golden halo.

And the impressive clock tower, built between 1496 and 1499, features a mosaic of gold stars glittering against a blue background. The Lion of Saint Mark was added in 1755.  Two bronze Moors strike the bell to mark the hours. I caught the Moors in action. See the video at the end of the post.

Lions of Venice tower
Lions of Venice – bell tower in the square
Lions of Venice clock bell tower
Lions of Venice – clock tower

And, don’t leave the piazza without getting a selfie with the red lions. Located next to Saint Mark’s Basilica is a little square called Piazzetta dei Leoncini. It is home to two lions sculpted in the eighteenth century from Verona marble. These sturdy lions practically beg for children and the young at heart to climb astride. My grandson and I settled for standing beside one.

Lions of Venice - red marble
Lions of Venice – red marble lions

Lions, Lions Everywhere

Truly, lions lurk everywhere in Venice. Our hotel, a 13th century former palace located next to Saint Mark’s Square, boasted a lion door knocker and doorbell. A carved lion face peered out from the building adjacent to our hotel.

Door Knocker in Venice
Lions of Venice – door knocker
Palazzo Selvadego doorbell
Lions of Venice – our hotel doorbell

In fact, carved lion faces abound in Venice. Some of them resemble mailboxes with open mouths . In the past, a citizen could secretly accuse someone of a crime by writing his name on a slip of paper and placing it in the lion’s mouth. Special magistrates collected the accusations and acted on them.

A stern lion’s face even peers down from the sadly beautiful Bridge of Sighs.

Lions of Venice bridge of sighs
Lions of Venice – bridge of sighs with lion’s head in the middle

Lions of Venice

The lions on display in Venice contribute to its magical atmosphere. It’s fun to look for them and see the variety of sculptures, carvings and paintings. Searching for lions makes a great scavenger hunt for kids and adults. Many of them have ancient stories associated with them.

Have you been to this beautiful city? Did you notice the lions of Venice?

 


 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

In this post, I want to share with you about aligning with your sacred yes. I define the term as that which makes your heart sing and your face light up when you talk about it. It’s your purpose, your passion, the reason you are here on this earth as the creation that you are. Put even more simply, it’s whatever makes you say YES! with great enthusiasm.

Monthly I chat with people about this topic. I’ve found that many aren’t sure what their sacred yes is, much less how to align with it. Here are some ways to discover what your purpose is…and how to better align with it.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes title meme

Defining Alignment

Alignment is defined as “bringing something into a straight line or an easy agreement.” We are most familiar with spinal alignment associated with visits to the chiropractor. She adjusts the spine to bring it into alignment, for optimal health. As many people know, when the spine is out of alignment, we can experience pain.

On a deeper level, alignment means “discovering the essence of your being and the values by which you live”. We can live out of alignment with that essence of being or purpose. When our outer lives are out of sync with our inner lives, we live in pain as well.

Symptoms of living out of alignment include fear, loneliness, boredom, apathy, depression, confusion, restlessness, an identity crisis, feeling lost in life and and experiencing lack of motivation.

As we move into alignment, matching our desires or sacred yes with our actions and outer life, we shift into joy, peace, creativity, flow, excitement, happiness and fulfillment. We experience winks from the Divine, synchronicities and signs as guideposts that we are on the right life path.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes
Aligning with your sacred YES

Discovering Your Sacred Yes

So how can you discover what your sacred yes is? How do you know what your life purpose is? That’s part of the joy in the journey, discovering who we are and why we are here.

Consider these ways to learn what makes your heart sing and your face light up.

Live as Your Authentic Self

This is an important aspect of life’s journey…discovering who you are created to be and embracing that self. It seems easy and yet remembering who we are and in turn, why we are here, often appears elusive.

I believe children know, or at least live closer to their passions. Kids know what they like and don’t like. They connect with their gifts more naturally.

One of the most simple ways to align with your sacred yes is to embrace your unique gifts and talents. You instinctively do so when young. And yet, as you grow, you often lose that sense of self due the influence of others in you life. Parents or grandparents may attempt to steer you toward a different purpose. Or teachers may not understand what your gift truly is and dismiss it. Classmates may ridicule you for displaying you gift or, lacking understanding, they bully or pressure you to behave like everyone else.

Some of the saddest conversations I have with adults are those that reveal how they abandoned their dreams due to the opinions of others. The man who loved trees became an attorney because his parents discouraged him from a career as a forest ranger. And the woman who longed to be a ballet dancer grew too tall and too big, she was told. Both lost their way in life, disconnected from their truest selves.

Embracing Your Inner Child

The best way to discover your authentic self is to uncover that inner child, removing all the layers accumulated over the years that hid the gifts you were born with. How have you tried to fit in? Listening to others’ opinions about who you were, when did you silence your voice? What talents did you pack away, because others told you that you weren’t good enough? Pleasing others, when did you stop pleasing yourself?

Answering these questions, looking through photographs of your childhood, remembering what you loved as a child and hoped to do as an adult help you to reconnect with your authentic self. Be kind to yourself, as you dig deeper. Parent your inner child, if necessary. Practice extreme self care. Journal. And above all, wholeheartedly embrace that inner child and those gifts. Complete acceptance goes a long way toward helping you step into the person you are created to be.

Aligning with Your Sacred Self childhood
Aligning with your sacred yes – connecting with your inner child

Go Beyond Fear

While removing those accumulated layers, on the way to reconnecting with your inner child, it is common to encounter fear. Most often, in fact, the thing that keeps us from attempting that journey in the first place is the fear of what we will find.

Fear surrounds our hearts in layers as well. Keep going. Keep digging deeper. The fear of being alone is really a fear of connecting deeply with ourselves. My fear of the dark turned out to be a fear of accepting who I am and my intuitive gifts.

Once we see fear for what it really is, a form of protection, then we can face it. We don’t have to banish fear. Acknowledging it, thanking it for the protection offered and releasing it allows fear to bow and step aside.

Beyond fear, we find aspects of ourselves that we abandoned or locked away long ago. When my fear stepped aside, I found my inner child waiting, patiently. I connected again with playfulness and creativity and my desire to express myself through writing. And I recognized my intuitive abilities as gifts rather than a curse to hide away. For the first time in my life, I fully accepted myself exactly as I was, gifts, quirks and all. Doing so brought restoration and healing and alignment with my sacred yes.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes fear
Aligning with your sacred yes – releasing fear

Connect with Intuition

Although some are more so than others, everyone is intuitive. Call it instinct, gut response or a knowing, intuition is your inner guidance system.

Intuition allows us to know something directly without analytic reasoning. It creates a bridge between the conscious and subconscious parts of the mind and also between instinct and reason.

Learn to listen to your intuition. It becomes a deep knowing that goes beyond understanding, guiding you unerringly toward your purpose.

Free writing is a great way to tap into your intuition. Playing “random” games helps to build trust in your instincts. Meditation and energy work keep your energy centers open and your mind, body and spirit balanced.

Why is intuition important in aligning with your sacred yes? Because that powerful sense of instinctive knowing keeps you connected to your passions. When you know that you know, you are not easily persuaded to step out of alignment. You come to recognize what that alignment feels like, much as you know the rightness of your vertebrae lining up. Joy, peace and happiness replace uncertainty, anxiety and sadness. Moving out of alignment creates pain as a clue that something needs attention. Your intuition picks up on the subtle shifts before your emotions or body do. Pay attention to it.

I call it a disturbance in my spider sense, that feeling that something isn’t quite right in the web of reality around me. It is my signal to pause and go within and see what is pulling me out of alignment.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes intuition
Aligning with your sacred yes – intuition

Engaging Imagination

Imagination is an important part of aligning with  your sacred yes. Further defining what your unique purpose is involves following curiosity, imaginative play and creativity.

Try new things, to better understand what lights up your soul and what doesn’t. Paint, crochet, sing, travel. If somethings catches and holds your interest, continue to explore it. Writer and speaker Elizabeth Gilbert calls this the flight of the hummingbird. Hummingbirds, she says, flit from flower to flower, trying this and trying that. She shares:

“As a hummingbird person, you bring an idea from here to over here, where you learn something else and you weave it in, then you take it here to the next thing you do. Faithfully continue to follow the trail of the hummingbird and you just might look up and realize ‘I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.'”

Allow your imagination to open opportunities and bring possibilities. Play. Create many different things. Follow curiosity. Your sacred yes will appear.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes imagination
Aligning with your sacred yes – imagination

Sparking Joy

I love the phrase sparking joy, popularized by organizational expert, Marie Kondo.  When something sparks joy, it provides a little thrill of excitement. My granddaughter Aubrey called the feeling “ringing her bell” when she was tiny.

You know you are aligning with your sacred yes when you experience incredible joy. A feeling of intense pleasure and happiness, joy is a high level vibrational energy.

Joy begets gratitude. Aligning with your sacred YES invites joy and gratitude into your life, two powerful feelings akin to unconditional love.

When gratitude bubbles effortlessly from you, when “thank you” is your continual prayer, then you know you are living in alignment with your purpose. You are living as your authentic self.

As a method of confirming your sacred yes, pay attention to your feelings. What are you doing, when joy overflows your heart? What gratitudes do you express? Write them down, in a journal or your daily planner. Watch for patterns.

Are you most grateful and joyful when writing? Drawing? Baking goodies for others? Does teaching or helping others obtain greater health spark joy?

On the contrary, feelings of anxiety, dread or obligation are indicators you are moving away from your sacred yes. Of course we all have responsibilities and chores that do not spark joy. However, living a life that primarily brings those lower energy feelings reveals a life out of alignment.

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes joy
Aligning with your sacred yes – what sparks joy?

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes

I hope you have a better idea of what your sacred yes is.

My life shifted dramatically, once I moved into alignment, with my outer reality matching who I am and my purpose for being here. I am aware enough that I immediately feel the difference, when something pulls me out of alignment. Rather than circumstances and situations defining me, my strong sense of self and my belief in what I am doing guides me.

As my journey continues, I gain more clarity. Living life beyond the edges is so much more than a tagline for my blog. Going beyond is what I am here to do, so that others know that they too can live life beyond the edges of their own comfort zones, limiting beliefs and fears.

Are you living in alignment with your sacred yes?

Aligning with Your Sacred Yes
Living in alignment with my Sacred Yes!  I am a Dreamer shirt available HERE.

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Wrong Way Sister

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Today’s travel story comes from Scotland. I intended to craft a tale from another country, such as Italy, since I posted the Scottish story The Pole Dancer last week. However, this story is the one that surfaced again and again. Perhaps it’s because yesterday was my sister’s birthday, and she features in this account.

This is Wrong Way Sister. And yes, I have my sister’s permission to share these snippets from our trip.

Wrong Way Sister title meme

Sisters’ Trip to Scotland

Last July, my sister Debbie and I experienced a series of firsts together. We grew up in the same household and see each other often as adults. And we enjoyed a girls’ trip to the UK in 2017, traveling with our mother, our other sister and Debbie’s daughter through Ireland, Scotland and England.

We’ve shared many adventures and yet we’ve never traveled together, just the two of us.  For this trip, we flew back to Scotland to take part in a clan gathering. Debbie and I are members of the Maitland Clan. The gathering gave us the perfect excuse to return to a country we both love and to meet with other clan members from around the world. Check out this post for more about that amazing time with our clan chief and family that we met for the first time.

Knowing how full the clan gathering schedule was, we tacked extra days onto our trip, so we could explore Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. Debbie and I share many common interests, including a powerful love for this extraordinary city. Before the clan gathering began, we spent our days happily wandering the city, riding the hop on/hop off buses, and popping into quaint shops and cafes.

Wrong Way Sister adventure
Wrong way sister – the adventure begins

Wrong Way, Sister

Sharing a cute little self serviced apartment, cooking our own plant based meals, sleeping in the single bedroom and big comfy bed, my sister and I bonded. People mistake us for twins, because we both choose to embrace our silver hair and wear it long. We often think the same way about situations or say the same words out loud. I woke up one night and discovered we slept in identical positions, a phenomenon we jokingly called synchronized sleeping!

During shared meals and tea times, late night chats and explorations in Edinburgh, we learned new things about each other. One trait I discovered is that my sister does not have a good sense of direction!

Our apartment on Thistle Street became home for ten days. Every morning we exited the building, off on adventures. Charming Thistle Street is populated with pubs, cafes and blocks of apartment buildings. It’s conveniently located a block from Hanover Street, which leads to Princes Street and the bridges that connect New Town with Old Town. Perhaps because of my many years as a realtor, I’ve learned to navigate by directions rather than landmarks or using “right” or “left”. I could mentally call up Edinburgh’s grid of streets in my head as we explored.

Debbie, on the other hand, generally headed in the opposite direction from our intended destination. It became humorous, watching her stride with great purpose…in the wrong direction! On one occasion, I stood at our apartment building door, watching with amusement as she walked down the block to Hanover Street and prepared to cross. Not sensing me behind her, she turned to see where I was.

“It’s this way, right?” she asked. On this day, our destination was Charlotte Square. “No,” I called out, laughing and pointing down Thistle Street. “Exactly the opposite direction.”

Wrong Way Sister Thistle Street Apartment
Wrong way sister – Thistle Street Apartment
Wrong Way Sister Hanover Street
Wrong way sister – Hanover Street

The World’s End

On another day, the hottest ever recorded in Scotland, Debbie and I decided to walk to a section of Edinburgh’s original wall.

In Old Town, on what’s known as The Royal Mile, there’s a pub called The End of the World. It marks the outer edge of Old Edinburgh. The exterior wall of this 16th century building formed part of the Flodden Wall that surrounded Old Edinburgh as a defense against intruders.

For the residents of the city at that time, the wall truly was the edge of their known world. People lived and worked and died within that protective barrier. To go beyond it meant entering a dangerous unknown.

After mentally determining the location of the remaining section of the wall, we set off. Debbie and I walked…and walked…and walked. In the record breaking heat, we quickly became hot, draining our water bottles and rolling up our sleeves.

At last we spied our destination ahead. With a sigh of relief, we remarked that the wall section was much farther from The Royal Mile than we anticipated. I was thinking of the long return trek back to our apartment when Debbie voiced the same concern. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “This was a lot farther out than I realized!”

Debbie: “It was! I’m tired and thirsty. At least we are walking toward our apartment, right?”

Me: ….

Debbie: “Right?!”

Me: Laughing. “No. No, our apartment is in the opposite direction. We’ve been walking away from it all this time!”

We stopped at a pub on the way back, for a much appreciated rest, snack and cup of tea.

Wrong Way Sister Lauderdale Bus
Wrong way sister – it was fun to see coaches with our last name on them
Wrong Way Sister Flodden Wall
Wrong Way Sister – a section of Flodden Wall

Until We Return

I treasure the memories from that trip. I loved spending those 10 days with my sister. As the oldest sibling in my family, I always felt protective of my younger sisters and brother when we were children. I still feel protective, even now all these years later. Wandering about Edinburgh that protectiveness showed itself again. I wanted my sister to enjoy the experiences and arrive at our destinations, without getting lost!

In return I recognized that Debbie trusted me, completely. If I said, “It’s this way”, she turned around without question and headed the other direction. The only time we ended up not lost, but traveling to our destination the “long way around”, it was because we followed the GPS on my phone. Instinctively, I knew how to get to Dean Village in Edinburgh. I learned that day to trust myself the way Debbie trusts me. After exploring beautiful Dean Village, we arrived back at our apartment via the shorter route, the phone’s GPS silenced.

I look forward to more shared trips with my sister. One of my greatest desires is to travel and share experiences with my family members. My big WHY involves seeing that desire become reality.

After 10 glorious days in Scotland, Debbie and I bid Edinburgh “farewell until next time” and headed home. At JFK International Airport in New York, we sat wearily, waiting for our flight to Atlanta and then home.

Debbie excused herself to go to the ladies’ restroom. I watched her enter the restroom and happened to see her exit it as well a few minutes later. She hesitated for a moment, and then with confidence turned left and strolled down the wide hallway, away from me!

I chuckled. Wrong way sister was at it again. I knew she would eventually figure it out and turn around. I’d be waiting for her.

Wrong Way Sister sibling love
Wrong way sister – sibling love

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Mer Sea and Co Travel Wrap

 

 

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Plants Gone Wild

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Gardening is an adventure and a journey. No two gardens are exactly alike and no two journeys are either. I’ve learned over the years, as a gardener, from successes and mistakes.

One of the first things I learned is that some plants thrive, to the point that they can overtake a garden, crowding out other plants and hogging water and nutrients. This is my list of plants gone wild!

 

Plants Gone Wild title meme

Be Aware

Planting is purely a matter a choice, which is why my subtitle is “be aware of these invasive perennials” rather than “beware”. I choose to include a few invasive perennials, because I appreciate their beauty. I control their prolific spread. Others I dug up and removed because the effort to keep them in check proved too great.

With awareness, you can decide what works best for your garden. Check out your gardening zone. And then be aware that the following plants may spread into other areas of your garden or yard.

Liriope

This plant officially counts as my first big gardening mistake. From east and southeast Asia, this low growing plant is often used by landscapers to border a walkway or edge a flower bed. Liriope produces green or variegated grass like leaves, and stalks of purple flowers. And it thrives…in full sun or partial shade, in a wide range of soil conditions and it’s drought resistant. Perfect, right?

Liriope is optimistically called a “vigorous grower”, meaning it quickly overruns its boundaries and invades other areas. Using landscape edging or other barriers can help restrict it, however I found it too difficult to control. Even after years of weeding it out of flower beds in the front yard, it still shows up.

Plants Gone Wild liriope
Plants gone wild – liriope

English Ivy

And this classic beauty was my second big gardening boo boo. My grandson and I purchased one small ivy plant, years ago, and lovingly tucked it into a corner of a flower bed near the front deck. That ivy plant became a monster, covering all other plants in the bed and consuming them. Well, it didn’t literally eat them. However, ivy chokes other plants, depriving them of sunlight. They die.

Ivy is an evergreen woody vine. It is extremely aggressive, vining and climbing over other plants, shrubs, trees and even buildings. It took me a great deal of time to remove the ivy that spread from that one tiny plant. I’ve learned that the safest way to grow ivy is in a container…indoors!

Plants Gone Wild ivy
Plants gone wild – my glacier ivy in a pot

Creeping Jenny

Any plant name that contains the word “creeping” implies a warning…this plant spreads! Creeping jenny is considered a ground cover that tolerates both shade and sunlight. It’s a pretty yellow green in color and it’s commonly used to fill in areas where other plants won’t grow.

I added creeping jenny for exactly that reason, in a shady area with shallow soil. It thrives there and has indeed filled in the area. Because it’s in a contained space, I simply watch for it to encroach into the neighboring area, and pull it up when it does. For me, this easy to care for plant is worth having in my garden.

Plants Gone Wild creeping jenny
Plants gone wild – creeping jenny

Goldflame Spirea

Commonly called Japanese spirea, this mounding shrub is simple to grow. The goldflame variety produces showy leaves and clusters of pink flowers. It tolerates full sun to light shade and handles heat well. Spirea bushes are aggressive self seeders, however, and can escape a garden if not tended. They’ve naturalized in areas of the eastern US.

I love my goldflame spirea though. The leaves are brilliantly hued, from bronzes, golds and reds in spring to to yellow-green in summer to finishing with copper and crimson shades in autumn. Plus, the flowers attract butterflies. I keep my spirea in check by pruning it back to the ground during the winter. I admit, it does get a little bigger each year!

Plants Gone Wild spirea
Plants gone wild – goldflame spirea

Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Bee Balm

These herbs, all members of the mint family, are prolific producers and can overrun the garden. Extremely easy to grow, simply plant them in a sunny location and forget about them. They return year after year, often showing up in other flower beds, containers and the lawn. Lemon balm is one of the first plants to appear in my garden each spring and thrives until a hard frost nips it in late fall.

I love these herbs, for their wonderful health benefits, and happily tolerate their wildness. Their flowers attract bees. I keep mint in a contained area, however I give lemon balm and bee balm free reign, pulling up the excess plants.

These herbs do well in containers and that is the best way to keep them from spreading. Also, shear off the flowers before they go to seed. That practice not only helps prevent new plants, it encourages the existing herbs to produce more leaves.

Plants Gone Wild lemon balm
Plants gone wild – lemon balm

Lamb’s Ear

These gray-green plants with the soft fuzzy leaves are fun to include in the garden. They make perfect additions to sensory gardens and their stalks of purple flowers attract bees and butterflies. Native to Turkey, Armenia and Iran, lamb’s ear is considered an ornamental plant that tolerates various soil conditions. It thrives in partial shade to full sun.

I added three small lamb’s ear plants to my garden in 2014 and realized quickly that they aggressively fill in an area and pop up all over the garden and yard. I’ve even found new plants in the alleyway, pushing up through gravel. I’ve kept the plants under control by rigorously pulling up seedlings as they appear. It also helps to cut down the flower stalks, before they set seed.

Perhaps because we had so much rain last summer, most of my lamb’s ears did not return this spring. However, three plants appeared at the edge of their usual space. I know what three plants can do!

Plants Gone Wild lambs ear
Plants gone wild – lamb’s ear

Ornamental Grasses

When I planned out my garden in 2014, I knew I wanted ornamental grasses. I love the way they wave in the breeze and their tassels in the fall are so gorgeous. And leaving the dried grasses up in winter creates interest in an otherwise drab garden.  What I didn’t take into consideration is that those tassels are seeds. And the seeds go everywhere.

Ornamental grasses come in a variety of colors and sizes, with different shaped tassels. I still love having them in my garden. And…no other plant creates as much work for me!  Because my garden area covers more than half of my backyard, there is a great deal of disturbed ground for those grass seeds to sprout up in.

While the clusters are small, ornamental grasses are relatively simple to remove. And remove them I must, or grasses would spread throughout the garden, choking out all other plants. If I miss any, they reveal themselves in the fall, as other plants die back to the ground.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have ornamental grasses in my garden? Yes. I’ve learned to walk the garden frequently and remove baby grasses. Plus, a heavy layer of mulch greatly reduces their numbers as well.

Plants Gone Wild - ornamental grasses
Plants gone wild – ornamental grasses

Have Your Plants Gone Wild?

There are other plants considered aggressive invaders. I’ve only listed those I’ve personally dealt with. Bamboo, for example, should never be planted in a garden. It is the most difficult plant to contain and even more difficult to remove. And pretty little periwinkle, a ground cover, can certainly run amok!

Truthfully, most perennials possess the potential to spread beyond their borders. That’s why I choose to plant them. They return every year and continue to fill in.

That’s okay. I love a little chaos in my garden. A profusion of flowers, herbs and plants and a bit of wildness makes my heart sing. How could it be otherwise, for a woman who continually seeks to “go beyond”?

Tell me about your garden. Do you have a story about plants gone wild?

Plants Gone Wild night garden

Check out these posts in the Backyard Garden Series:

Spring Garden Tips

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

 


 

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The Pole Dancer

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I’m excited to expand my writing into more travel related posts, as I have more travel experiences. One of my biggest dreams is to work remotely, from my laptop, anywhere in the world.

However, what is a traveler to do, when the whole world is under a travel ban? She revisits the places she’s been, via photos and memories. And she crafts stories from those previous trips.

Today I introduce the “Tales from…” Series with a funny story, The Pole Dancer, from a trip to Scotland in 2017. I hope you enjoy it. And watch for travel tales here each Friday…until this wanderer can wander again and deliver new content.

The Pole Dancer title meme

Tales from Scotland, The Pole Dancer

Stepping off the tour bus, we disembark into a changed Edinburgh. When our girls’ group began exploring the city that morning, people overflowed the surrounding landscape, covering streets and parks like an international patchwork quilt. Visitors from around the world jostled shoulders as they scrambled for buses or pulled up maps on their phones and set off on foot.

Now, nearby streets empty as weary wanderers move toward cheerful pubs and cafes, intent on refreshment. Even the piper on the corner has vanished, taking the signature sound of Scotland with him.

I glance at my tired traveling companions, my mother, sisters and niece, and shrug.

After spending the day wandering the city, including a tour of Edinburgh Castle, and shopping along the Royal Mile, we thankfully boarded the last hop on/hop off bus for the day. We looked forward to a hot meal and hotter showers and a good night’s sleep. Except…we missed our hop off spot. The bus parked for the night, with us still onboard.

It’s up to us to find a way to our lodging.

The Pole Dancer Hop On Hop Off Bus
The Pole Dancer – Hop On/Hop Off Bus

George to the Rescue

We have options. The bus tours begin and end on Waverley Bridge, near the train station tucked into the heart of Edinburgh. The three span iron bridge we stand on literally connects medieval Old Town with 18th century New Town. Cabs regularly swing through this area, assured of a steady stream of arrivals.

“Are you ladies lost?” 

A guide approaches us, a smile on his round face. An unruly thatch of gray hair caps his head, and in spite of the long day, his good humor remains intact. Laugh lines frame bright blue eyes that disappear when he chuckles. His rumpled white shirt stretches over a rounded belly. GEORGE is etched across his name tag.

George sees damsels in distress. He nobly offers assistance. We like him immediately.

He listens as we share our dilemma. We aren’t lost, we explain, only temporarily displaced. Perhaps George can flag down a cab for us? He concocts a better plan.

“Where are you staying?” he inquires in his soft Scottish brogue.

The Pole Dancer Edinburgh Church
The Pole Dancer – Edinburgh Church

A Private Joke

I supply the name and address of our serviced apartment near Grassmarket, south of Edinburgh Castle.

George’s reaction surprises us. He rocks back on his heels, his smile widening. Laughter bubbles up and George waves other guides over. As he tells our story, they raise eyebrows and chuckle too. The band of guides shares some private joke and we aren’t in on it.

Wiping his eyes, George steers us toward a bus, empty except for the seated driver. “My friend, please take these ladies back to their apartment,” George instructs. “They’ve had a long day in our city.”

The Pole Dancer Girls Trip
The Pole Dancer – enjoying the Royal Mile

An Impromptu Game of Charades

The driver nods. George gives him the address. His mouth quirking into a lopsided smile, the driver looks at us with amusement as we settle gratefully into seats.

“Okay, what’s so funny about where we’re staying?” I ask.

In response, George hops into the bus. With an infectious grin, he prances toward the metal pole nearest us. Placed there to steady standing travelers, George has other intentions.

Humming, the Scotsman grabs the pole and dances, surprisingly agile. He twirls around and throws back his head, amid cheers from guides gathered near the bus door. Hooking one leg around the pole, George looks at us, expectantly.

Our dancer plays a spontaneous game of charades. My family members exchange glances as understanding comes. He’s pole dancing, as a clue!  

We are incredulous. “Are we staying in Edinburgh’s red light district?” 

Applause from the guides confirms the guess. The driver snorts and waves George off his bus. He exits with a wink and an admonition to behave ourselves.

The Pole Dancer View of Castle
The Pole Dancer – Our view of the castle, from our five star lodging

A Street with a View

As the bus pulls away from the curb, we look back at George and wave. Laughing, he performs another little twirl on the sidewalk and bows. 

Walking up to our apartment building, we stop and really look at our surroundings. We arrived late the night before, eyes captivated by our first sight of Edinburgh Castle perched high on its volcanic rock.  And we left eager for adventure that morning. Now, turning slowly in a circle, we realize that our five star lodging is located in the middle of strip clubs, lap dance parlors and adult shows. No wonder George and the other guides laughed. We are amused too.

My sister Debbie recently returned with me to Edinburgh, my favorite city in all the world. We stayed in a different serviced apartment, in New Town. However, every time our hop on/hop off bus passed through Grassmarket, we peered up the hill toward our previous lodging. And we smiled, remembering George, our rescuer, our pole dancer.

The Pole Dancer Edinburgh Castle

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Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

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It’s true that April showers bring May flowers! The plants in the garden flourish during this month, offering colors, scents and beauty. In fact, May is Gifts from the Garden Month, with a different emphasis on each day.

May 3 is Meditate in the Garden Day and I celebrated the occasion with afternoon tea, journaling and a time of meditation in my contemplative corner. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and re-entered the house refreshed and full of joy.

It’s easy to create a meditation area in your garden. Think of this space as a place to daydream, write, relax, reflect, draw and pray or meditate. From a simple chair in a corner of the garden, to a hammock filled with pillows, to a fun, themed corner, the meditation area soothes the body and feeds the soul.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden title meme

Elements of a Meditation Area

I first fell in love with small personal garden spaces as a child. In my own backyard I found a large bush to crawl beneath, when I craved alone time. And the wonderful couple across the street, whom all the neighborhood children loved, gave me permission to use their little corner backyard garden spot anytime I wanted. This area, with a single bench and honeysuckle covering the fence, became my own secret garden. I spent hours sitting in that space and as a result, I love honeysuckle.

Use some or all of the following elements, to create a meditation area in your garden. Simplicity is key. You don’t want a high maintenance area that creates more work and stress. This is your personal spot to de-stress, unwind and breathe deeply. Make sure that the environment supports those intentions.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden chairs
Create a meditation area in your garden – seating

Water

Water features soothe frazzled nerves and relax tense muscles, encourage reflection and mask noise if the water is moving. They encourage butterflies, dragonflies and birds to visit.

Add a koi pond, fountain, tabletop fountain, bird bath or a simple shallow bowl filled with water to the meditation area. If the water is still, change it frequently to discourage mosquitoes from using it as a nursery.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden water feature
Create a meditation area in your garden – water feature

Natural Elements

Add natural elements such as brick, stones, wood, bamboo, grass, pebbles or sand to your area. These materials complement plants, flowers and trees, providing a restorative space for grounding and centering. They also offer a deep connection to nature.

Add a couple of large rocks for interest. Or create a privacy screen from wood. Brick, sand, cedar mulch or paving stones make an excellent floor that helps to define your space and provides a solid foundation for chairs or benches.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden natural elements
Create a meditation area in your garden – natural elements

Seclusion

This is perhaps the most important element to keep in mind, when creating a meditation area. Find a place that is separate from the rest of the garden. A simple chair in a corner or alcove works well. A bench at the end of a pathway or a hammock strung between two sturdy trees is ideal also. If you have a structure in the yard or garden, such as a gazebo or a covered back porch, create your own little private nook there.

Partition off your chosen area with fencing, repurposed gates, pig wire covered with flowering vines or lightweight fabric. Make use of existing trees or shrubs to provide privacy. And consider how much sunlight the area gets. Too much sun can be uncomfortable during the summer. Tent the area with a water proof, lightweight fabric or grow vines on an arbor to provide shade.

Create a place that delights the senses, where you can be alone.

Create a Meditation Area for Your Garden hammock
Create a meditation area for your garden – hammock

Beauty

Beauty inspires creativity, uplifts the spirit and brings joy to the heart. And beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. What makes you smile? Include those things in your meditation area.

Plants, flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, trees and shrubs are excellent choices. Water features fall into this category too as do small boulders, pathways and garden art. Gather items that spark joy, to borrow a concept from Marie Kondo. This is your personal space. Let it be a reflection of who you are.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden beauty
Create a meditation area in your garden – beauty for my eyes, next to my meditation corner

Personal Touch

Finally, because this is your personal retreat area, add items that showcase your unique personality. Add garden statues for whimsy, flowers in repurposed containers and inspirational signs.

You’ll need a place to sit. Add a chair, or a pair of chairs if you’d like to occasionally share your space, and a small table. The table is perfect for holding a journal, a candle, a glass of cold water or a tray with afternoon tea.

Choose a playful theme or include your favorite colors. Add interesting textures by way of cushions, pillows or snuggly wraps. If you’ll practice yoga in your meditation area, create space for a mat. Add twinkling lights, battery powered or those that plug into an outlet, so you can enjoy your meditation area during warm summer evenings.

Use what you have on hand to personalize your space. Make your own pillows. Repurpose items. This project does not need to be expensive to create. This is all about enjoying peace and solitude, even if only for a few minutes a day.

Create a a Meditation Area in Your Garden bicycle
Create a meditation area in your garden – repurposed bicycle

Bringing It All Together

Here is how I used the elements listed above, in my own meditation area.

I created the contemplative corner when I laid out my original garden in 2014. The space evolved over the years, to its current state.

I am adding a water feature this summer, in the form of a fountain. Greg is running electrical wiring to the corner so the fountain can plug into an outlet. I’ll string lights up as well.

A wood privacy fence forms two walls in my corner. Pig wire, covered in clematis vines, creates the other two walls, leaving an entrance into the area. This spring, Greg replaced the cedar mulch flooring with vintage brick. I love this change. The brick defines the area beautifully and creates a feeling of permanence.

The wood fence and vine covered fencing separates my meditation area from the rest of the garden. And yet, I still have gorgeous views of my backyard paradise through the vines and the entrance.

Beauty is provided via clematis vines, flowering plants, potted plants and the colors and items I’m using to cozy up the space.

And I’ve definitely added my own personal touch to my meditation area. My favorite colors…blues and greens….are represented in the cushions, pillows, throw, table and flower pots. I light candles when I’m enjoying my space, carry out tea and a journal, and include a colorful sign that reminds me to RELAX. And my beloved metal cranes stand guard at the entrance.

Meditation Area
My meditation area

What Will You Include in Your Meditation Area?

What will you include in your special area? I’d love to hear your ideas and see photos of your meditation area, contemplative corner or relaxation space.

May you enjoy many pleasant and restorative moments in your garden or backyard this season!

And check out these posts, in the Backyard Garden Series, for more ideas!

10 Shade Garden Plants

Easy Container Gardening

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden gate

Gardening Finds from Amazon:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Where’d You Go Bernadette Movie Review

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I missed Where’d You Go Bernadette when it played at the theater. However, the preview I saw before another film stayed with me. I appreciate Cate Blanchett as an actress. And the story line intrigued me.

Last weekend I watched this enchanting film via Amazon Prime. Check out my review!

Where'd You Go Bernadette title meme

Where’d You Go Bernadette Cast

This comedy drama stars Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig and Laurence Fishburne. Richard Linklater directed Where’d You Go Bernadette and co-wrote the screenplay, based on the novel written by Maria Semple. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for occasional strong language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 49 minutes.

 

Where'd You Go Bernadette family
Where’d You Go Bernadette – the family

Defining Motherhood

Bernadette (Blanchett) is an involved, loving mother completely devoted to her daughter Bee (Nelson). After experiencing difficulty getting pregnant and then a premature birth, Bernadette abandons a promising career in architecture to focus on raising her daughter with husband Elgie (Crudup).

As Bee considers leaving her little family to attend prep school out east, Bernadette realizes how much she’s shunned society and how small her world has become. She’s disconnected from Elgie, who spends long hours working as a developer for Microsoft. And she’s at odds with her neighbor Audrey (Wiig) who views Bernadette as an eccentric.

Where'd You Go Bernadette Elgie
Where’d You Go Bernadette – Elgie (Billy Crudup)

Trip to Antarctica

Before Bee leaves for prep school, she convinces her parents to take her on a trip to Antarctica. Although she wants to please her daughter, Bernadette hates the idea of being around other people, especially on board a cruise ship. She turns over all travel arrangements to her virtual assistant, whom she frequently rants to, and ultimately considers staying home. The stress over the upcoming trip keeps her awake at night and on edge.

Meeting with her old college professor, Paul Jellenik (Fishburne), Bernadette pours out her feelings. Paul listens patiently and then suggests that perhaps Bernadette needs to get back to work, pursuing her passion by creating buildings. Because, it is obvious to Paul that Bernadette’s life has stalled out. The big rundown schoolhouse that Bernadette and Elgie bought, to transform into their dream home, sits partially finished. That house visually represents her life and career. They both held great promise and yet Bernadette placed them on hold.

Where'd You Go Bernadette
Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go Bernadette

Awakened

Concerned about his wife’s erratic behavior, Elgie secretly meets with a therapist and plans an intervention for Bernadette. She slips away, literally running away from home. On a whim, she heads to Antarctica alone. Discovering her whereabouts, Elgie and Bee follow.

In the Antarctic, helping a scientist take water samples, Bernadette learns that the old research station is scheduled for demolition. Her creativity stirring, Bernadette offers to design the new structure. For the first time in a very long time, Bernadette feels excited about a creative idea. Gaining acceptance as the architect isn’t guaranteed and there is her family to consider, however, Bernadette pursues her desire.

As they track her down, Elgie realizes he’s less than supportive of Bernadette. And Bee reconsiders leaving for prep school. All three discover, in their own ways, that sometimes life needs to fall apart, before a better life can come together.

Where'd You Go Bernadette hug
Group hug in Where’d You Go Bernadette

My Thoughts on Where’d You Go Bernadette

This film falls under the “quirky” category for me…and I love quirky! It is humorous. I enjoy seeing actors in different types of roles and Cate nails this performance. And yet, Where’d You Go Bernadette is so much more than a comedy.

The family dynamics seem so exemplary of many today. Distance exists between the couple. And one parent overly focuses on the child. Bernadette takes parenting to extremes, believing she must sacrifice everything else, as a show of gratitude for having a child at all.

In doing so, she completely loses the most important parts of herself. Bee’s impending departure for prep school and the discomfort of the trip to Antarctica become mirrors that show Bernadette just how much she’s disconnected, not from society and her spouse, but from herself.

And that’s the inspiring message in this film. Sacrificing yourself for your children is not as important as showing those kids how to truly live, fully and with passion. We all want our kids to live their best lives. We must model what that looks like.

Where’d you go Bernadette? Deeply inward to find yourself again. It’s a journey so worth taking.

Where'd You Go Bernadette Antarctica

Check out these other reviews of Cate Blanchett films:

Cinderella

Thor: Ragnorok

Blue Jasmine

You can find the movie and the novel by clicking on photos below:

 

Purchase or rent.

 

 

Novel

 

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Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

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I love this time of year. Spring signals rebirth and new life, as this part of the world awakens from winter’s sleep. For me, spring is gardening season, as plants awaken as well.

In my Backyard Garden Series, I’ve shared information about various types of plants, tips for gardening and ecological hacks. Today I add to that series with this post, Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden.

As important as the flowers, herbs and veggies are, it’s the personal touches that make a garden uniquely yours. That backyard paradise, patio garden or window box full of herbs becomes a canvas to create upon. No matter how large or small the space, the garden is your opportunity to tell your story.

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden title meme

What Story Do You Want to Tell?

These ideas, grouped into six categories, are merely suggestions to spark creativity. There are endless ways to create gardens, whether they look formal, look wild or fall somewhere in between.

It’s fun to plan a garden. Choosing which plants to grow, what layout to use, whether your garden has a theme or not is just the beginning. After all the planning and planting comes stamping your garden with your unique style and personality. Choose ideas from one of the categories below, several of them or all of them.

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden firepit
Six ways to personalize your garden – features such as fire pits

Foundational Features

Features provide a foundation for the garden, designating certain areas for particular purposes. When planning the garden, decide what you’d love to include in this outdoor space. This is your sanctuary so make sure whatever you add is a reflection of you.

For me, a fire pit, seating areas and a secluded space for meditation and contemplation were important initially. I’m now in the process of upgrading the meditation area and adding a water feature and electricity for lighting. And I’d love to have an inviting, bohemian style hammock in the shadier north side of the yard.

Feature ideas:

  • fire pits/fireplaces
  • patios/seating areas
  • water features
  • pathways
  • gazebos/structures
  • secluded areas
  • outdoor rooms/kitchens
  • lighting
  • speakers for music
Contemplative Corner
Six ways to personalize your garden – secluded space with its vintage brick

Artistic Accents

With the foundational areas designated, and plants in the ground, now is the time to play creatively. Do you paint? Create garden art. Sew? Make cushions for chairs, swings or the patio in your favorite patterns and colors. Whatever your creative passion…building birdhouses, pottery, macrame, stained glass, metal work…bring your artistic abilities into the garden.

In the house, I create vignettes that tell stories. I do the same in the garden, grouping items together, using unusual containers for plants and coordinating fabrics in my signature colors.

Garden art:

  • paintings on metal or wood
  • wind chimes
  • birdhouses/spider houses/toad houses/bug hotels
  • fountains/birdbaths/bird feeders
  • fabric pillows/cushions/hammocks/tents/throws
  • mosaics
  • murals
  • signs/inspirational sayings/poetry
  • plant markers
  • decorative fences/trellises/obelisks/sundials
  • statues/decorative concrete
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden art
Six ways to personalize your garden – art from the NW Arkansas Botanical Garden

Repurposed Items

This is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do, inside and outside the house. I love finding new ways to use existing items and if they are vintage, that’s even better . My garden is full of metal buckets, wash tubs, tool boxes, wire baskets and leftover wire fencing panels. The containers typically hold flowers and plants. One of my favorite pieces, an old minnow bucket, holds a fat candle.

I’ve used a variety of wood pieces in the garden as well. And while I love how the old doors, chairs and boxes look, they just don’t hold up well. Eventually the elements rot them away, no matter how well I paint or treat them.

Use your imagination. If something grabs your interest or sparks an idea, no matter how unusual, try it out in your garden.

Repurpose these items in the garden:

  • metal pieces such as buckets, trays, canisters, wash tubs, tool boxes, metal tables, metal drawers, minnow buckets, gates
  • metal tools such as old cultivators, vintage wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels
  • wire baskets/wire trays/wire boxes/fence panels
  • vintage brick/stone/concrete/paving stones/building materials
  • wood pieces such as chairs, drawers, boxes, dressers, screen doors, signs, baskets – with the understanding that the wood will eventually rot
  • kitchen items such as colanders, strainers, kitchen utensils, storage bins
  • farm pieces such as chick feeders, water troughs, watering tubs, vintage sprinklers, signs, posts
  • odd items such as box springs, tires, sinks, bicycles, vintage metal baby strollers, vintage toys, trucks, automobiles
Vintage Minnow Bucket Candle Holder
Six ways to personalize your garden – repurpose items, such as this old minnow bucket turned into a candle holder and a bucket into a flower pot

Memorials

Some of the most precious items in my garden belonged to family members who have passed on. My Aunt Annie’s red wooden box graces my covered front porch. It holds eight clay pots, full of begonias. My cousin’s wash tub holds vinca this year. Grandpa Bill’s rusty old cultivator is covered with clematis. My mother-in-law’s wind chime sings in the breeze. And the butterfly my stepfather painted years ago brightens the garage wall.

And those are just a few of the family memorials gracing my garden. There are more. All of these items remind me of my loved ones, as they serve in my garden. They tell stories about lives lived and joys experienced and challenges overcome. I don’t use fragile family pieces in the garden. These are all hardy items that can withstand weather.

In addition, I have plants that came from family members. The lilac bush was a start from my grandfather’s. The creeping phlox came from Mom Moore’s garden. And irises from my aunt’s yard now bloom in mine.

Items that can be used as garden memorials:

  • metal, wood, clay containers
  • art including wind chimes, signs, durable paintings
  • garden tools such as cultivators, rakes, shovels, sprinklers, watering cans
  • ceramic tiles
  • kitchen gadgets and containers
  • wood boxes, signs and containers, if protected from the weather
  • outdoor furniture
  • statues/concrete art
  • cuttings and transplants from their gardens
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden cultivator
Six ways to personalize your garden – Grandpa Bill’s cultivator

Whimsy

Whimsy is defined as “playfully quaint or fanciful”. I love whimsy. It appeals to my inner child, makes me smile and invites play. I make sure I include some whimsy in my garden. The rabbit statue, a nod to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, stands guard near a clump of ornamental grass. Herbs cluster in an apothecary garden.And a couple of years ago, I created a fairy garden in a vintage wheelbarrow.

Other whimsical touches in my garden include playful art such as the large butterfly, a bistro table and chairs and various candle holders. Special note, only place candles in fire safe items such as metal buckets or votive holders. I love sprinkling candle light throughout my garden by using candle holders from the garden and house. Soon I’ll have twinkling white lights in the garden too.

Whimsy is a state of being as well. When I’m whimsical I enjoy tea parties in the garden, make a bohemian tent to color in, stargaze or appreciate a crackling fire in the fire pit.

Add whimsy with these suggestions:

  • candle holders
  • gazing balls/birdbaths/bird feeders
  • fairy garden/miniature garden
  • child’s garden/vintage toys/lawn games such as croquet, badminton or corn hole
  • playful statues/garden gnomes
  • playground equipment/playhouse/treehouse
  • garden swing
  • bistro table and chairs
  • wind chimes
  • unusual plants/flowers
  • apothecary garden
  • secret garden
  • hammock
  • koi pond/zen garden
  • maze/labyrinth
Fairy Garden
Six ways to personalize your garden – whimsical fairy garden

Tell Your Stories

Your garden, as an extension of who you are, tells your stories. What stories will you include in your garden? One of my favorites is the pair of metal cranes near my contemplative corner. Read their amazing tale HERE.

These cranes tell part of my Scottish story. I christened them with Scottish names. Every time I look at those graceful birds, I think of Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland, home of my ancestors.

The natural wildness of my garden reflects who I am, as does the candle light, the vintage brick patio and the many metal pieces scattered throughout the space. They all contribute to the telling of my tale. They all share aspects of who I am. I love that I can accomplish that with my garden. You can too.

Add these elements to help tell your story:

  • garden style…formal, semi-formal, natural, wild, modern, vintage, eclectic, flowers, herbs, trees, vegetables, fruits
  • lights/candles
  • fabrics/tents/hammocks/pillows/cushions
  • statues/art/whimsy
  • family pieces/memorials/ancestry
  • colors/textures
  • wildlife/pets/koi
  • structures/outdoor rooms/kitchen/she shed/outdoor office/he shed/play area
  • water/sand/grasses/rocks/trees
  • music/art/inspirational signs
  • outdoor furniture
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden - candlelight
Six ways to personalize your garden – tell your stories. The cranes, the candles, the metal containers…they all tell parts of my story.

Fresh Ideas

I hope these six ways to personalize your garden sparked fresh ideas. The garden is such a personal space. Make it completely yours.

If your garden area is tiny, find creative ways to fill it. After the Joplin tornado in 2011, I lived in an upstairs apartment for two years. My “garden” was a 3’X4′ balcony. An assortment of flowers and plants thrived on that balcony and brought me immense joy.

And that is the greatest benefit from gardening and allowing creativity free reign…joy. Oh the herbs and veggies and flowers are wonderful. However, it is the whole experience that blisses me out.

What stories will you tell, in your garden? What will you create there?

Whimsy in the Garden
Six ways to personalize your garden – whimsical rabbit

Check out these gardening finds, from Amazon:

 


 

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