Category Archives: beauty

The light of the moon

The other night I looked up into the sky and gazed at the moon. It was just a sliver of a thing at first appearance, a soft yellow crescent just hanging in the sky. But, as I looked more closely, the dark shadow of the remainder of the moon was visible as it completed the circle. A lyric from my favorite Waterboys’ song came into my head:

I pictured a rainbow / You held it in your hands / I had flashes / But you saw the plan / I wandered out in the world for years / While you just stayed in your room / I saw the crescent / You saw the whole of the moon

I sighed, wondering how our focus can often be so different from someone else’s, how what we see can so dramatically diverge from what another sees when we’re looking at the same exact thing. Or person. How do you explain it?

There have been times in my life when what I see when I look at a person is dramatically different than what others might observe. Where I might see someone as fallible and imperfect, another might draw a far more negative conclusion. Whose perspective is more wrong – the one that sees the dark or the one that sees the light? How do we come to interpret and process the same object or person in disparate manners?

I have no answers, just instincts and optimism. My eyes might linger on that bright spot in the sky, while others can’t see beyond the darkness and I believe that’s their choice. While there are times when I may wish for that same negative perspective I know that, for me, I’ll continue to do my best to see the light and the whole of moon.

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Filed under aging, beauty, love, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized, winter

Desert beauty – Palm Springs, December 2018

Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.

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Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Flowers, friends, Hiking, holidays, love, Observations, Recommendations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter

Resolving to find grace

A new year is probably the ultimate holiday gift, don’t you think? Receiving the chance to try again to get things right, to attempt something new, to do something better, is a luxury not everyone gets and while I’m not a devotee of the typical new year’s resolution, I do get a little jazzed by a clean slate on which to write a fresh chapter.

I’ve decided that my task for 2019 is to work on accepting what others give me with grace. Whether it’s a physical gift, a kind word, or an opportunity to experience something, I want to be able to receive and accept it with openness. That may sound simple to you, but it isn’t always easy for a person who is accustomed to meeting their own needs and prides themself on being fiercely independent.

This grace to which I aspire is something I probably should have begun working on long ago – like that time a friend’s family took me to Florida with them for vacation and I attempted to pay for my meal* at a rest area on the Jersey Turnpike. My friend’s father spoke to me quietly, with kindness in his voice, and told me they had invited me with the expectation that they would be paying my way, unheard of (and unimaginable) in my world. Just like seeing Florida for the first time, his generosity will be something I’ll never forget.

On New Year’s Eve I had my first chance to start practicing being graceful. I was presented with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, a gift that I might have been inclined to resist because it was generous and felt like too much after having been hosted as a houseguest for nearly a week. Instead of immediately declining though, I paused, took a breath and accepted my present with a sincere thank you. I love the gift and will use it frequently and I know that my thoughtful and dear friend was happy giving it to me.

How about you? Is there something you’re hoping to find or create in your own life this year?

*I had $50, given to me by my brother, for a 10 day vacation. I was poor – and clueless.

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Joshua Tree and the miracle of hot springs

When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.

Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.

I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle. 

The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.

It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.

Stretched & soaked

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Filed under beauty, California, Exercise, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, travel, vacation, winter

Sometimes running makes me cry

The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.

I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.

The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?

As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.

I took a deep breath and started running again.

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Filed under Austria, beauty, California, Exercise, favorites, Hiking, Italy, musings, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Hiking with the golden girls

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet exploring and reacquainting myself with Palm Springs. In the morning, I hoofed it to Palm Canyon Drive to wander along the wide avenue, browsing shop windows and people watching. The cloudless blue sky and mild temperatures made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed my alone time.

Later in the day, my friend R and I drove to meet a friend of hers for a walk, that is a walk for me to take with R’s friend, J. An MS diagnosis has caused my friend to curtail her activities and she wanted to give me a chance to exert myself, so naturally a hike with 80 year-old J was just what I needed. Um, ok.

I’ve walked and run these trails before and they are no bullshit. The grade can be pretty steep, the trail is often quite wide, but equally rutted and rocky and the surface is an unsympathetic sandy dirt. Introductions were made and a remarkably fit and youthful J and I headed up the hill in the warm sunshine.

It turns out that J, a retired Canadian teacher-librarian (!), and I immediately hit if off. Our conversation, between catching our breath from the demands of the trail, was easy and comfortable. We talked about sons and husbands and divorce and politics and life and the time flew by. Her fitness was impressive and she told me how conscientiously she has worked to stay active, how it hasn’t been easy but she feels rewarded by her efforts. She was a marvel.

We made our way down the hill to meet R, who we were going to walk a bit back up the hill with to cool down. As we collected R, another woman familiar to my friends joined us, E. Walking poles in hand with eyes of the brightest blue, E, another active 80 year-old, became part of our posse. I learned she was a retired physical therapist and it seems, judging from her level of fitness, she was good at her job. E made some suggestions to me to work on my bothersome piriformis muscle and shared some thoughts on staying active. Her walk with us was her second time of the day to hit the hill and she said it wasn’t unusual for her to visit the trail three times in a day. Wow.

Growing old can be daunting. We don’t do a great job taking care of the aged in our country and I could really get myself freaked out about staying independent and healthy, but after my time yesterday afternoon, I’m feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve ever been previously about what 70 or 80 might look like. Honestly, I’m hoping to grow up and become Rose.

 

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Filed under aging, beauty, California, Exercise, friends, Hiking, musings, Observations, Uncategorized, vacation

Universal thoughts

On Sunday I took a walk at the golf course and found the most fantastic piece of deer “shed.” It was lying in the meadow, completely exposed and bleached white, a four-point rack from a buck. I could scarcely believe it was just there in grass, there where no one else had seen or taken it. I picked it up, surprised by the smoothness, and accepted it as a gift from the universe. You know, because that’s the kind of relationship the universe and I have.     

I’m completely convinced that I was rewarded for something that happened a couple of days ago. I had been at the grocery store picking up what I needed for Christmas Eve dinner and noticed the deli counter was featuring two different prosciuttos. The price per pound difference between the two was significant so I asked if I could sample both. As expected, the $19.99 per lb version was significantly better – less salty, more tender. You know, better. I placed my ordered and happened to catch the clerk ringing my purchase up and couldn’t help but see that she entered the wrong PLU. Instead of prosciutto she keyed in the code for pancetta, an item that was only $11.99 a pound.

Enter moral dilemma…

There was a significant line of folks behind me looking to order and I didn’t want to hold anyone up. I also was hesitant to point out the mistake in front of a crowd of people. I didn’t say anything.

I finished shopping, debating internally the whole while, and  selected a register, unloading my cart onto the conveyer belt. I gave the clerk my coupons and rewards card and the pancetta prosciutto. I told her a mistake had been made and that the package was mislabeled and therefor mispriced. She called a manager over to make the price adjustment, but first the employee asked me if I knew the correct price. I did and shared it with her. She looked at me. With an expression of disbelief, she asked me another question “So, you want to pay more?”

Well, yeah. I don’t mind paying for what I receive and I don’t need to invite bad karma or negative energy or something gained from an unethical exchange into my life. No, thanks on that.

The manager warmly told me to “get out” and not to worry about the discrepancy and I think we both felt better about humanity in general by our exchange.

The very next day, I found my shed on a path I infrequently walk. Undoubtably, it was an acknowledgment from the universe of the correctness of my action. Incidents like this communicate to me that sometimes you truly do get back what you put out in terms of energy. It doesn’t always work like this for me or anyone else, but if you keep your eyes open you may find an opportunity to do the right thing, as well as a sign from nature that you made the right choice.

Enough writing. It’s time to look out the train window and see if I can spot more bald eagles. I already was lucky enough to see one.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Christmas, Dinner, holidays, Local, musings, Observations, Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter