Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit

Summer remembered

Summer remembered

I’ve come to see that any journey we take around living consciously, growing personally, or serving others is inevitably influenced by our dance of forgetting and remembering — and then forgetting and remembering again.  Maybe it’s not that we ever fully forget, but our awareness of our intentions ebbs and flows as the demands of life tug us in different directions.

These rhythms of showing up fully and getting knocked off-balance are not that different from the movements of ocean waves as they rush onto shore and withdraw into the sea.  They’re an inherent part of life, and any conversation about finding balance or nourishing ourselves needs to take this ebb and flow into account.

~ Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit

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The story we tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives either empowers or disempowers us; it either opens us to new possibilities or shuts us down.  Many of us create fairy tales about our lives that become the stories that limit our access to a better life.  At its highest, our story exists to teach us, to help us grow, to allow our souls to evolve.  But we make the mistake of allowing our story to define us and dictate the course of our lives.  The stories we choose to tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives dictate who we are and what we’re capable of.

~ Debbie Ford, Courage

During the last part of April, I received an email from Trish at TLC Book Tours asking if I’d be interested in reading the book Courage by Debbie Ford to review as part of one of their book tours.  My first thought was, “Oh no, I can’t do that.  I am TERRIBLE at book reviews, at reviews of any kind!”  When I mentioned it to my husband, he wondered why I would think I was terrible at book reviews given all the reading I do.  He asked one simple question that changed my mind:  Have you ever tried it?

To be honest, no.  I hadn’t really tried it.  Halfheartedly, once or twice.  But no, not really.  So I decided that with a name like Courage, this book might be a good place for me to step outside of the “I can’t” and at least give it a try.  I am so glad I did as this book has made a profound difference in my life as it came at a time when I needed to tap into my inner warrior, and find the self-confidence and courage to step outside of the box I had created for myself, not just in terms of writing a book review but in several other aspects of my life.

The book starts with A Letter to the Reader outlining a pivotal event in Debbie Ford’s life, and her own healing and awakening.  Ms. Ford courageously and openly shares a lot about her own life throughout the book.  Her writing is straightforward and honest, almost like hearing from a friend.

In the Introduction to the book, we are asked:

How many times have you felt yourself shrink?

How many times have you made yourself small enough to fit into some role that you wanted no part of?

How many times have you kept your mouth shut when you wanted to scream loudly, or handed over your power to someone who didn’t have your best interests at heart?

How many times have you succumbed to an impulsive or addictive behavior rather than making a clear-minded choice?

How many times have you told yourself, “I can’t.  I’m not strong enough.  I’m not courageous or confident enough to be all that I desire to be?”

Debbie Ford

Some of these are questions I had already been asking myself before reading Courage.  I wasn’t sure I would find any answers inside of this book, and you know what?  I was right.  The answers are not inside of the book.  They were inside of me.  However, Ms. Ford’s book gave me the tools to find those answers.  An added bonus, parts of Courage fit in well with my theme for the year of Letting Go.

In the first part of the book, Ms. Ford lays out an overview of fear, confidence, and courage, showing how they hold you back, affecting your everyday life.  In Part Two, she asks you to move from that knowledge (your head) to your heart, outlining a series of codes with exercises to help guide you through healing old hurts, forgiveness, and changing old thought patterns.

Due to time constraints, I have not had the time to truly work my way through all the exercises.  There are some I know I will go back and explore. There are others that are not new to me, just presented in a new way, and by doing them in a new way, I may end up with different results.

My favorite part of the book was the last code, and I almost wish she had started with that one in the second part of the book as I believe if I can master that one, the rest might easily fall into line.  I also like The Courageous Warrior’s Mandate at the end of the book where Ms. Ford sums up the chapters on fear, self-confidence, courage, and love.  It’s a great quick reference to all that I learned throughout the book.

All in all, I would recommend Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence, especially if you’re a woman floundering a bit in life, fearful or hesitant, and lacking in the self-confidence or even love of self necessary to move forward and experience life in a strong, bold, and confident manner.

You can find out more about the book and author at Debbie Ford’s website:  www.debbieford.com.  Or you can read a variety of reviews by following the links to TLC’s tour of Courage found here.

Robin is a photographer and avid (voracious!) book reader who was thrilled to have the opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone and do a book review.  She is currently on vacation, exploring the Eastern Canadian Provinces (probably somewhere in Nova Scotia when this scheduled post goes out).  Regular photo blogging will resume soon if there is time, an internet connection, and the inclination.

Around the pond

Peony and ant, getting acquainted

I’m having one of those days, the kind where I struggle with myself over choices.  It’s not that I don’t know the right choice to make.  It’s that sometimes it’s easier to fall back on old choices and old patterns.  The best thing to do on this kind of day is to take a walk around the pond and into the woods.

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148: Lake Erie thaw

(A view of Cleveland and Lake Erie from Lakewood Park.  Lakewood, Ohio.)

We went north yesterday.  An hour north, to be almost exact.  For the past few years friends have been inviting us to attend the Ogrefest at The Brew Kettle in Strongsville, Ohio.  We usually decline because of the hour-long drive.  The Ogrefest is, after all, a chance to sample a variety of good beers and who wants to drive all that way to get home after a few hours of sampling beers?  Bad idea.  Really bad idea.

For those that don’t know, I used to brew beer (at home).  M does it now, when he feels like it (which hasn’t been too often lately but we’ve both been vacationing from beer).  We enjoy sampling beers at places that brew their own, especially hoppy beers such as IPA’s.  So that was one reason to go.  Getting together with friends was another reason to go.  And…  I have a pair of Shrek ears.  Where else could one wear a pair of Shrek ears that would be more appropriate than an Ogrefest??

(Accurate depiction of what your eyes look like the morning after.  Shrek ear in the background.)

So we did a little planning this year and decided to go.  We had enough points at a certain hotel franchise for a free night and there happened to be one of those hotels close to the Brew Kettle.  We parked the car, checked in at our hotel, and took a cab to the Brew Kettle where we had a great time with our friends.  Thank you, friends!

As a result of the Shrek ears, I met a guy who said he couldn’t resist coming over to talk to me.  If I’m ever single again (hope not!), I now know how to pick up men. Wear Shrek ears.  One of the Brew Kettle folks said he should give me a vest to wear and call me Ms. Ogrefest.  I thought that was hilarious.  I’ve never been a Ms. (or Miss or Mrs.) anything other than as the wife of M.

(The Beer Engine in Lakewood.)

We’re out of practice when it comes to that sort of evening out.  I was feeling a little rough around the edges this morning.  The plan was to go further north to Cleveland to do a little shopping at the West Side Market and then make our way south and do some more shopping along the way at places we usually visit about twice a year (Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods being two of those places).  Because we were fairly close to Lakewood, I also wanted to stop by a store there to look at Vibram FiveFingers.  I like the pair I bought last summer and want another pair that I can wear on the treadmill and to just walk around in when I go out and don’t care that I’m wearing shoes that look like Shrek feet.

We decided to skip the West Side Market but we did go to Lakewood.  I bought a new pair of Vibram FiveFingers (the women’s Sprint, if you want to know).  While we were in Lakewood we decided to check out the Buckeye Beer Engine.  Not necessarily for the beer (although a little hair of the dog didn’t hurt).  Some of our friends keep recommending the place, and their menu looks good.   The food was excellent.  I especially like their blue cheese slaw.  I may try to duplicate that at home.  It was one of the best versions of coleslaw I’ve ever tasted.

(Lakewood Park, Lake Erie in the distance.)

The city of Lakewood, Ohio is located along the shore of Lake Erie.  It was such a beautiful day and we were so close to the lake that we had to go have a look.  It’s amazing what a difference a few weeks and some warmer temperatures can make!

(Walking towards the lake.)

I don’t know how far out the thaw goes, but it looks like it’s pretty far out there.  There is still a lot of ice near the shore, the opposite of what we’re seeing here with our pond (the edges are thawing first).

(Lake Erie.)

There were a lot of people out and about.  Lots of parents with their children playing in the playground.  We even saw a cameraman filming for one of the local news channels.  Probably getting footage of people out and about on this beautiful day in February.  It was nearly 60 degrees (F).

(Ice near the shore.)

We walked around out there for about a half hour.  It was quite windy but even so, much warmer than we expect it to be this time of year.

(Cleveland skyline in the distance.)

There is an excellent view of the Cleveland skyline from Lakewood Park.  Lakewood is about 10 miles from downtown Cleveland, and appears to be a nice community with plenty of shops and restaurants.  I could see myself living there.  But I bet it gets pretty brutal there when it’s cold and the wind is whipping off the lake.

(Cleveland skyline.)

It was a fun little excursion.  And now that I’ve had my vacation from my vacation from alcohol, it’s time to go back on my vacation from alcohol.  (Confused yet?)

At home

Things changed a bit at home overnight.

(Yesterday’s view of the pond.)

(Today’s view of the pond.)

I skipped the early rising and yoga practice this morning.  I just couldn’t do it.  There are some people who sleep better after imbibing.  I am not one of them.  It tends to keep me up most of the night, almost as if I had a big shot of caffeine to go with it (which I did not).

As Scarlett O’Hara was fond of saying, tomorrow is another day…

142: The early bird

(Peering through the trees at today’s sunrise.)

Day one of my 10-day yoga challenge.  I woke up just before 6:00am and have to admit that it wasn’t easy to leave the warm bed.  As much as I love early mornings, I find it more difficult to rise and shine on cold, winter days.  It’s so much easier to snuggle down under the covers and go back to sleep.

(Today’s sunrise and trees in pinks and blues.)

Knowing I would have to come here and write about how I didn’t get up, I resisted the urge to go back to sleep, made my way out to the kitchen, and fixed a cup of hot lemon water.  Just the smell of the citrus fruit was enough to wake me up.

(Wavy sunrise and trees through the frost on the window.)

The abstract looking sunrise photos were taken after I finished my yoga practice.  I shot through the frost on the kitchen window, zooming in through the trees to various parts of the sky to capture the different colors.

Yoga Journal has been putting out a series of DVD’s, Complete Guide to Home Yoga Practice.  I have received the first three DVD’s over the past four months or so.  It works much like a club where the DVD arrives in the mail, you have 30 days to decide whether or not to keep it, then you either pay for it or return it (they include a return envelope).

I have only used one of them (the first) once or twice.  The first is titled Foundation Poses for Strength and Stamina and covers Sun Salutation (a flowing sequence that includes forward bends and gentle back bends that help to warm you up) and a few standing poses, the foundation on which you can build a home practice.  The DVD has a 40-minute instructional segment in which you can learn and practice the moves, a 35-minute flow sequence, and a few bonus options (an interview with the instructor, Natasha Rizopoulos, and a few other things such as turning on the medical commentary or turning off the music).

(Sunrise and trees through a frosty window.)

I opted for the instructional portion of the DVD.  A review seemed like a good place to start to reestablish my practice.  I like the way the instructor takes her time, explaining the poses as well as using the other two people in the video to show modified and advanced versions.  She explains clearly and concisely where your various body parts should be in, how the hips should be aligned, where you should be looking, etc.  I also find it helpful when Natasha does show-and-tells about the gentle corrections she makes on the others doing the sequences with her.

(The early chickadee at the breakfast buffet.)

I struggled a little this morning.  I think that has more to do with being out of shape than any real resistance to the practice.  Once I warmed up and loosened up, things went much smoother, including my thoughts and breath.  I left the mat feeling much more relaxed than when I got there.

(Opening to the day.)

I sat in meditation for about 15 minutes after I finished my yoga practice.  I will work my way up to a longer meditation session as time goes on.  It was a great way to start the day.  I don’t know why I don’t do this every day.

Outdoor adventures

Here’s an interesting tidbit:  Black bears and bobcats roam Ohio.  I knew about the black bears.  I don’t recall hearing about the bobcats prior to this (but my recall isn’t what it used to be).  Apparently the county I live in is tied for top ranking in black bear sightings (13 each for the top two counties).

(Icy flow II.  The running water is actually encased in the ice now, but it doesn’t show well in any of the photos I took.)

It’s warmer today than it has been for the past few days.  When I stepped outside the sun was shining and there were big patches of blue sky.  By the time I finished my walk, there was one thin line of blue to the east.  The rest of the sky was a variety of shades of gray.

(At the end of my walk.)

I walked down to the creek and through the woods.  I haven’t been through the woods in a while and had some trouble finding the path.  I finally decided to follow the animal tracks which worked well enough and eventually led me to the path.

(Visiting the creek.)

The creek still has a clear channel of running water.  Had the cold snap continued another day or two, it might have frozen over.  There are lots of animal tracks near the creek.  I would like to have walked a little closer but I’m not sure what’s under the snow (the last time I could see what was under it, there was a foot or two of water from the flooding due to snow melt and heavy rain).

(Yesterday’s sunset.)

The walk to the creek, through the woods, around the pond, and back to the house used to be a leisurely walk.  The snow makes it a good cardio workout now.

Today’s CD

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

You can listen to one of the songs from the album here.

South Boulder Creek

M and I went on an easy 4.5 mile hike yesterday morning.  We took the  South Boulder Creek Trail up to Mesa Trail and looped around on the Big Bluestem Trail to where we started.  I enjoyed it.  It didn’t involve steep climbs or the possibility of steep falls down the side of a mountain.  The first half of the hike involved ascending.  The second half was all downhill.  Nice.

The hike goes through meadows and grazing land.  We passed through a lot of gates, some open and some closed.  We didn’t see any cattle or sheep or whatever grazes out there.  We did see plenty of scat on the trails, especially around the berry bushes where the black bears like to hang out from August 15 – November 1.  Grasshoppers, butterflies, and birds flitted about.  No black bears, mule deer, fox, or mountain lions popped up anywhere along the hike.

It started out sunny and warm.  Then the clouds and wind moved in.  I thought for sure it might rain given the ominous look of the clouds rolling off the mountains.  We did get a little sprinkle but that’s it.  The clouds and breeze kept things cool, making it a pleasant day to be outside.

(Big skies)

There are great views of the Flatirons from the trails.  I took a lot of photos of the Flatirons last year so I tried not to take so many this year.

They do fascinate me, the Flatirons.  We climbed around up there last year.  The views are marvelous but my favorite way to look at them is from below.

We went back to Boulder for lunch.  On the way in we stopped at an overlook so I could snap a few pictures of Longs Peak which looked beautiful in a cloud wrapping.

We have a couple of hikes planned for today, our last full day in Colorado.  I’m not sure where we’ll end up.  We might do one or two.  We might do them all.  It depends, in part, on my left foot.  Somewhere around the last half mile of our hike yesterday I felt some discomfort from my hiking boot rubbing my heel.  It was never bad enough that I felt like I had to take off the boot.  I didn’t have to limp out.  But when I finally did take off the boot I discovered a good-sized blister.

One of the hikes we’re considering for today is on a trail that is well padded with pine needles.  I’m thinking this might be the perfect opportunity to put my Vibrams to the test.  I have worn them around the hotel and on small walks, but not on a major hike.  One reason I’ve avoided wearing them on a major hike is that the trails tend to be rocky.  I have discovered that one of the things you don’t want to do while wearing the Vibrams is stub a toe (or toes).  I tend to drag my feet when I get tired, an action that is almost guaranteed to result in the stubbing of a toe.  A well padded trail might be just the thing for my first good hike in my new “barefoot” shoes.

(Evening on the Pearl Street Mall.)

We had dinner with M the Younger and Merdi in Boulder again last night.  This time we went to The Mediterranean Restaurant.  It was a fantastic choice.  The food was excellent and the service was good.  We’ve noticed in passing the place on various occasions that it always seems to be busy.  Now we know why.  We started with some tapas dishes.  M stayed with the tapas so he could try different things.  The rest of us moved on to entrees.  I had the vegetarian paella.  The saffron rice was perfectly cooked and mingled with a big variety of peppers — both sweet and hot — as well as peas, artichoke hearts, asparagus, onions, and kalamata olives.  There may have been a few other veggies in there that I’m not remembering.  It was an interesting and lively dish.  Piquant describes it well.  I would have eaten it all if I could.

The serving sizes were good, too.  They were not super-sized as they are in a lot of U.S. restaurants.  If I hadn’t sampled the tapas and had ordered just the entree, I could have finished it without walking away feeling as if I made a pig of myself.

I’d better get myself ready for the day.  I can’t believe it’s already our last day here.  The time has flown by.

Chasing rainbows

(Sculpture outside of COSI)

M and I went away for the weekend.  The magic of WordPress allowed me to compose my weekend posts ahead of time and schedule them to publish on Saturday and Sunday.  I bet you didn’t even realize I was gone.

We spent the weekend with our oldest son and his family.  Part of the visit included a Saturday morning play date with our oldest granddaughter, the Exquisite Emma.  Emma is five years old now.   She is great fun to have along on a play date.  We went to COSI in Columbus.  For extra fun we brought along a friend of Emma’s.  Her name is Gracie.

Emma and Gracie have both been to COSI numerous times so we let them lead the way, taking M and I around to the things they wanted to do.  M and I have visited COSI numerous times as well.  In fact, you can find a picture of us with our two sons in the Einstein Photomosaic.  I don’t remember what year the photo is from but I think it must be 10-15 years old by now.

After exploring some of the hallway exhibits (such as the hot air balloons, one of which is pictured above), we went to Little Kidspace.  We played Go Fish in the room for the first graders, where Gracie (who is a year older than Emma) will be able to hang out when she starts first grade in the fall and then moved out to the main area where Emma, Gracie, M and I had a blast playing in the houses and with the puppets and other toys.

(Little Kidspace)

When we finished there, Emma and Gracie took us to the Ocean exhibit where they were able to explore and sit in a small submarine.

(Gracie & Emma waiting in line for the submarine.)

The Ocean exhibit is dark in places with red and yellow lighting in other places.  It makes for some interesting photographs.  I’d like to go back sometime and check out the other areas in the exhibit with the new camera.  We didn’t make it all the way through because time was flying by and before we knew it, the girls were hungry and it was time to go to lunch.

(Part of the Ocean exhibit)

We had lunch at the Banana Bean Cafe.  I like the name of the place.  It sounds like fun, don’t you think?  I did check out the reviews to make sure that they had good food to go with their fun name.  Some of the reviews complain about slow service.  In our experience, both food and service were excellent.  It’s true the food doesn’t arrive pronto but it’s not a fast food joint where the food sits under a heat lamp.  They have to prepare and cook the food.  Our drinks (iced tea for M and I, chocolate milk for Emma and Gracie) arrived quickly and the waitress did a good job of checking up on us throughout the meal so when the need arose for fresh napkins or refills on the tea, she was there to do it.

We started by sharing a plate of the fried plantains.  Emma and Gracie had never had plantains before and both were willing to give them a try.  They seemed to like them at first and then wanted the outer part removed so they could eat the sweet inside without the fried outside.  For entrees, both girls had pancakes.  M and I picked from the Brunch House Specialties menu.  I had the Lobster Hash (“griddled lobster & red bliss potatoes, two poached eggs, green chile Hollandaise, and a simple salad”).  It was scrumptious.  Emma and Gracie were fascinated by the lobster tail that was a little more than a decoration on the plate (it did have some meat in it).

Following lunch we took Gracie back to her parents, rounded up the rest of our crew (Emma’s parents and sister Maddy) and we went to Zoombezi Bay Waterpark where we all had fun in the water.  It was a good day for it since it was hot (in the 90’s) and very humid.  Around 6:30 or so thunderstorms started moving in.  Emma and Co. took off for home while M and I spent a little time walking around the park in the heavy rain that preceded the thunder and lightning.  It’s been a long time since we’ve walked in the rain like that.  It was fun.

As we were leaving the park the sun came out in the midst of the storm, creating a big, bold, and beautiful rainbow stretching out over the park.  We followed the storm for a while, the rainbow always just a little ahead of us.  At one point it looked like we had caught up with it and were going to drive through the colors touching the ground.

I did not capture the rainbow with my camera but do have it in memory.  Taking the camera to the waterpark seemed like a bad idea, as did leaving it in the trunk of the car on a hot and steamy day.  So the camera stayed in our hotel room while we went out to play in the sun and water and rain.

We spent Sunday with the family at their house.  I played with Emma, Maddy, and their mother while our oldest son and M worked on a few home repair projects.  We started home around 2:30 or so and arrived at our house in time for the first of the big thunderstorms of the evening.

(This morning’s deluge)

The rains continued throughout the night and into this morning.  We’ll probably get more storms today as a cold front moves in.  I’m looking forward to the drier, cooler weather that is supposed to follow the front.

(Monday morning rain)