What to do When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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Everybody has dreams. But not everybody achieves their dreams. That’s just a sad fact of life. So many just think “Well, it’s a nice thought, but it will never happen.” They don’t have time, or they don’t have the opportunities, or they don’t know the right people. They just don’t have that kind of luck, or there’s already so many other people out there who are more talented so there’s no room for them.

So they go through their days fulfilling their obligations to family, work, and friends, doing everything to ignore that little voice inside that says, “There’s more. You were meant for more.”

What do you do when you know in your heart that you are not living the life you were meant to live, but you don’t know where to begin? When the burden of being ordinary when you are anything but becomes just too much to take anymore, then you are ready. There’s never a better time than right now to simply…begin.

But I don’t know where to start,” you say. That’s okay. You don’t have to lay out a whole roadmap right now. All that matters is that you do something. One step will lead to another and then another, and the way will become clearer as you go. Yes, eventually you will need to get focused and lay out a plan, but to get started one must simply take action.

Maybe you need to go back to school to achieve your dream. Maybe your dream is to run a marathon or climb a mountain. Maybe you’re an artist or a musician stuck in a soul-sucking job just to pay the bills. The first step is the same for everyone: simply decide you’re going to do it, and take action.

Think on your optimum outcome, what it looks like when you’re living your dream, and work backwards from there. Are there others who have achieved what you want to do? Take some cues from them. Reach out for advice from those you admire. You would be amazed how willing most people are to give advice and help others.

Granted it’s scary to pursue your ultimate dreams and ambitions. That’s the main reason so many don’t do it, but remember this: You were born with everything you need to be everything you want in this life. You were born with talents and gifts that were intended to be used.

You weren’t put here to trudge through your days feeling unfulfilled. You were born to share your unique abilities with the world. Quite simply, you were born to shine!

What’s your dream? And what one thing can you do today to get closer to it?

 

 

So anyway…

if you want to hear God laugh

It’s an old joke – “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him about your plans.” I swear God gets more than His share of chuckles off of me! But that’s okay; laughter is healthy for everyone. Last I checked in (so long ago because yikes, time flies!) I had just started a new running plan and was so excited about it. It was going so well…for about a week and a half.

But then I hurt my foot. I don’t know how; I blame old age. I literally stood up and went to take a step and this crazy pain came out of nowhere and wrapped around the back of my ankle, which then buckled and went out from under me. Well. Okay then. Here’s my advice: Don’t get old.  You can actually hurt yourself just getting up from a chair.

Also don’t be a stubborn ass who refuses to acknowledge a clear message to stay off of said injured foot. Because then the Universe has to get tough with you and send you a flu that will knock you on your stubborn ass for oh, say, 2 weeks or until you get the message, whichever comes last.

So all in all, I’ve spent most of 2016 so far either injured or sick in bed, and now I am starting all over again. All the strength and endurance I had gained is completely gone. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Obviously I need to take things slow and build strength back up without hurting myself even more. Running is getting put on hold until I can get some new running shoes, but luckily I still have my hula-hoop and my bike, which is fine for now. It’s hard to be sad when you’re hula-hooping.

Since running is not an option right now, that leaves more time for yoga. I just love, love, love Yoga with Adriene. She has a series called 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene on her YouTube channel that I am currently working through. The videos are challenging but not impossible, and she tells you how to modify any moves you’re not ready for. She has such a personable, caring way about her, and her love for yoga and for people really shines through. So if you have ever thought about trying yoga or you want to get back to a yoga practice, go check out her channel now!

So that’s what’s new around here. Starting over again. But hey, it happens. It’s okay to fall just so long as you remember this:

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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? How are they coming along?

 

 

Happiness

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Besides going through the gazillion pictures I took on my cruise and then on my recent trip to Nashville, I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. What is happiness really? Why are some people seemingly happy all the time and some people never happy? How do you know if you’re really happy? What do you do if you’re not?

In general, I’m a pretty happy person most of the time. But this wasn’t always the case; I’ve had periods of depression where I really just wanted to give up. And while I haven’t slipped into depression, stress has been creeping into my life like a fog I can’t keep out. Not going to share details here, but times are tough right now and the situation is not going to improve anytime soon.

When you’re going through a hard time, you have to work at being happy. So in an effort to do that, this morning after my breakfast I kissed my man goodbye (while feeling grateful to have such a wonderful partner in life), and headed to the park for a run. It’s been a while since I’ve gone for a run – somehow I just got out of the habit without realizing how long it had been – and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.

Well, it went awesome. It felt so good to be running outside in the fresh air, through the trees, hearing the birds and just being out in nature. I think gratitude is a major component in happiness and running in the park I felt grateful for the ability to run outside, something not everyone can do. I finished feeling strong and grateful that I hadn’t gotten as out of shape as I thought. And grateful that I had found a training program that was challenging but doable.

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My happy place

Running through the park actually covered four things on this list of ways to jumpstart your happiness. I got exercise while savoring life’s joys, giving thanks for the ability to run outside, and definitely hit that state of “flow.”

Call me crazy but I think the universe sends signs to help us along, if we’re paying attention. In the same day that happiness was on my mind I came across the picture at the beginning of this post and felt compelled to share it, found a doable running training program, found the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin (can’t wait to read it!) and this post by Karen at One Salty Kiss, which reminded me of the importance of gratitude. It’s like happiness was just jumping up and down, waving its arms yelling “Hey, don’t forget about me! I’m right here!” Well okay, universe, I’m paying attention.

Remembering to be thankful for even the smallest blessings can make even the biggest problems easier to get through. We all have something to be grateful for. What are you thankful for? What is your strategy for getting through stressful times?

 

Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Sunshine: St. Martin/St. Maarten

I recently took the trip of a lifetime (so far!) to the Caribbean and I honestly regret not traveling more before now. In my entire adult life, except for one girl’s weekend to Pleasure Island (now Citywalk) in Orlando damn near 20 years ago, I have never been on a vacation just for the sake of vacation.

I have traveled back to my hometown, I have traveled to my brother’s home in South Carolina, and I have gone to visit family in Texas. None of these trips count because the only thing I saw on all of them was my family’s homes, which is nice but hardly counts as vacation.

So for my first vacation I went all out! An 8-day cruise to the Caribbean and I made the most of it, or at least I tried to. I toured the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, saw a demonstration of Batik and then toured a historical fort in St. Kitts, went horseback riding in Puerto Rico, and wrote messages in the pristine sands of Grand Turk.

And I tried to take as many pictures of it all as I could. I am by no means a great photographer and my camera is pretty cheap, but I do love taking pictures and plan to learn to take better ones in the future. For now, these will have to do.

First stop was St. Martin/St. Maarten, a 37 square mile island divided roughly 60/40 between the French and the Dutch. We arrived at the port of Philipsburg, the Dutch capital and I met up with the tour group and we headed out. Our tour guide was Dennis, and he was very entertaining as well as knowledgeable; he told us all about the history of the island.

I absolutely love butterflies so I picked the tour that went to The Butterfly Farm (Les Ferme des Papillons), of course. It was smaller than I expected and we didn’t get to stay very long, but our tour guide Molly really knew her stuff. I heard that a recent hurricane had wiped out some of the species of butterflies they usually have and I noticed that a sign I saw in pictures beforehand was not there anymore, but still a very nice stop.

Our tour guide Molly holding a Blue Morpho

molly holding owl butterfly

This was one of the coolest creatures there, and it’s actually a moth not a butterfly. It’s an owl moth, named so because of those spots that look like the eyes of an owl – their way of tricking would-be predators.

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monarch plant

butterfly farm

I thought this mural on the wall by the gift shop was pretty cool.

Next we stopped in Marigot, the French capital. We had about an hour to walk around and explore. Just about the first thing I noticed was this juice stand on the corner.

rasta juice stand

So Rasta…I love it.

This was the message on the side.

St. Martin Rasta juice stand side

Right around the corner from the rasta juice stand was this guy – Coconut Man. He was chopping coconuts so fast I was worried for his fingers!

St. Martin coconut man

Marigot is overlooked by Fort Louis, built in 1767 on the orders of the ill-fated King Louis XVI. From here you have an unblocked view of Marigot, Simpson Bay, and Anguilla. No one could sneak up on Marigot. It doesn’t look like much from this picture, but I’m told it’s incredible. Next time I visit I will make sure to take a tour of it.

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St. Martin Fort Louis Marina

Marina Fort-Louis is very popular with yachters as you can access it easily from the ocean and it offers 150 berths.

St. Martin boat in water

In front of Marina Fort Louis is this cannon, just kinda in the street there with traffic diverting around it. I don’t know anything about this cannon except that I found it an odd place for a cannon and so I took a picture of it.

St. Martin cannon

I didn’t know anything about this statue until I got home and searched Google for info because the inscription on it is all in French, but apparently it is to commemorate the new  status of St. Martin as a commune of Guadaloupe. It’s called Monument to a New Beginning, and was erected in 2007.

St. Martin birds statue

On Wednesdays and Saturdays clothing and souvenir vendors join the food vendors at the Marigot Market. This is a statue dedicated to the market women of Marigot.

St. Martin market woman statue

Next to the statue is a plaque that reads:
“Many souls, thousands ten thousands have trodden
Through my open-air gallery.
Fish, fowl and beast are my treats.
Selling, purchasing, the exchange of coins is like music to my ears.
I am the market in splendid beauty, color and sound.
I reign.
I am the market”

St. Martin mosaic wall

St. Martin mosaic wall closeup

There were these lovely mosaics on the walls of the marketplace.

St. Martin flags

I only recognize the flags of Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands here. I’m not sure what the other two are.

St. Martin La Vie en RoseDowntown Marigot is so charming!

marigotI’m sure I’m about the millionth person to take this same picture, but I couldn’t resist. It looks like a postcard to me.

St. Martin sign in portBefore I knew it, it was time to head back to the port. I ran into one of my travelmates and decided to try the local rum.

St. Martin Guavaberry Rum standme in St. MartinEnjoying a rum punch from Guavaberry.

St. Martin ships side by side on pierHeading back to the Carnival Sunshine. We were next to the Disney boat; I wished I could sneak on there just for a look.

St. Martin view from the pierPulling away from St. Martin/St. Maarten much too soon for me!

So that was my trip to St. Martin/St. Maarten. I really enjoyed it and I already can’t wait to go back. But I know I missed so much of it! Have you ever been? What was your favorite thing about it? What should I make sure to see/do next time?

Fall is Here! Sort of…

14401369-20201853-thumbnailOfficially it’s the first day of Fall, and I don’t know about everybody else but I am sooooo ready for Fall. My friends and family Up North – that’s anybody above the Florida-Georgia border to us Floridians – are already enjoying some Fall weather, but here in the Sunshine State it is still either hot or raining. Or both at once.

Several weeks ago I was already so tired of the brutal, unrelenting heat that I declared Summer over and proclaimed it to be Autumn already. To make it official, I decided to make a stew that reminds me of Fall, and this is what I came up with:

fall stew

 

Fall Stew

1/2 package of bacon, divided – I used thick-sliced Applewood smoked bacon
2 1/2 pounds stew meat (beef short ribs work well also)
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 large carrots, sliced
1 bottle amber lager – I used Third Shift Amber Lager, but any amber beer you like is fine
2 cans French Onion soup
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

Combine flour and salt in Ziploc bag or shallow dish and coat beef.

Cook half of bacon in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Brown half of beef in bacon drippings until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from Dutch oven, cover and keep warm. Repeat with other half of bacon and beef.

Add minced garlic and sliced carrot to Dutch oven and sauté 5 minutes. Return beef and bacon to Dutch oven.

Add French Onion soup, beer, brown sugar and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook another hour, until beef is tender.

Serve over egg noodles or along with mashed potatoes.

So there you have it, Fall Stew. What’s your favorite thing about Fall? Besides pumpkin everything lol. Do you have a favorite Fall dish?

Back in the States and Back on Track

Ok, well, physically I got back here over a week ago, but mentally I just now got here. The Caribbean is too pretty to just leave! The cruise was fantastic, but coming home was a bit of a readjustment. 8 days is plenty long enough to get spoiled. My first night back I was hit with the realization that there would be no shrimp cocktail for dinner that night. In fact, there would be nothing for dinner if I didn’t cook it myself. Ugh, reality. It’s harsh sometimes.

I had every intention of eating healthy and using the gym every day while on the cruise, but I actually only made it to the gym 3 times and while I ate healthy, I also ate a lot. The food just kept getting better and better toward the end of the cruise. I will keep that in mind for next time. In fact, I gained back 5 pounds in those 8 days. That harsh reality again. Even on vacation, calories count. Sigh, life can be so unfair.

But it wasn’t all a week of falling apart. I did run on the treadmill 3 times, which is not so easy on a rocking ship. And I did improve some. I can run longer at a time than I could before and need less recovery (walking) between running intervals than before. And I ran 5K to see what my time would be now and improved by 3 minutes and 4 seconds. That made my week – and I was having a pretty good week!

So now that I’m back on land, it’s time to get back on track. Time to get back to choosing foods more wisely, making exercise a priority, and getting enough sleep. Starting Monday, I will set weekly goals again and have weekly weigh-ins again.

This week I will post pics of the beautiful places I visited – St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Grand Turk. I already can’t wait to go back to the Caribbean! I don’t care if I go back to the places I just went because there’s still plenty I didn’t get to see or a new place. Cozumel looks very intriguing and I hear St. Thomas is beautiful.

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

 

 

 

Random Things That Made Me Happy This Week

To be honest, I had a really bad week this week. I got some news that is very upsetting and has me fighting depression. Unfortunately it’s a situation that I can do nothing to change and am just going to have to get through it. One thing I can do to keep the depression at bay is to take pleasure in the little things. So today’s post is just a list of random things that made me a little happy this week.

1. My furbabies always make me happy.

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My furry family (+ 1)

See that adorable kitten on the porch? He adopted my porch a couple of weeks ago. He runs every time I come near him but he doesn’t go far. I’m 95% sure that he’s the brother of my little black one, because the mother is a black and white feral cat around here who is always pregnant and no one can catch her. She’s a ninja I swear.
This little black and white cutie hangs out on my porch most of the day. On the corner of my patio is a palm tree and he hangs out in there. He’s adorable even though he’s a little bossy.

2. I hate my apartment, I really do. It’s basically a slum run by greedy slumlords who don’t care about anything but money. However, it is in a great location. It’s right next door to the library, which I love. I’m there just about every day. When you walk in there’s this awesome sculpture:

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How cool is that? It’s called “Preparing to Shrug” by the artist Joe Thompson. He’s a sculptor from Georgia who now lives here in Merritt Island, Florida and he makes art out of found objects.

3. Finally got to read the March issue of Cooking Light and it was a good one. So many yummy-looking recipes.

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Here are the ones I’m going to try:
Seared Flank Steak with Blue Cheese Polenta
Grilled Scallop Scampi Kebabs with Arugula and Herb Salad
Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables and Gorgonzola
Pasta with Bacon, Shredded Brussels Sprouts, and Lemon Zest
Braised Fennel with Parmesan Breadcrumbs
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

4. Found this workout DVD at the library:
untitledI love ballet and dancers have the absolute best legs. This workout is pretty challenging but it’s fun, too.

5. From my apartment I can see the launches. I’m not sure what this mission is, I just heard the rocket going up and caught this pic from my back porch.

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6. I tried Tzatziki for the first time. Yum! Seriously, where has this been all my life? Why did no one ever tell me about this stuff?

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7. I got a bike. It’s really ugly and the seat swivels but it’s better than walking everywhere. I’ve always loved summer, but this over 90 degree heat every. single. day. is just about on my last nerve. Bring on fall, already!

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8. My hula hoop! I just love my hula hoop. I get in about 10 – 20 minutes of hula hooping just about every day. It’s kind of addicting. You should get one.

PicMonkey Collage

9. And last, but not least, this adorable video of this baby getting glasses and seeing clearly for the first time. I am really nearsighted so I totally know that feeling of not being able to see clearly and then getting new glasses and being amazed by the world all over again.

 

So there you have it, a list of things that got me through this terrible week. What was good about your week?