Give Me A Moment, Please

I’m home now and will be back to work again this morning after four days of adventuring with a friend. There’s much to say about this trip because we packed as much as possible into every day. The good news is that there are stories to share. The bad news is that there’s so much to share that I need a moment to unpack it all in my head and get started.

So, for now, here’s a favorite picture that was captured while walking around Mount Airy, North Carolina. It exemplifies how full this trip was of memories made by simply being in the right place at the right time.

My friend and I were both of the mindset that we wanted to see and do as much as possibl while we were there. The hotel was basically a place for a good night’s sleep and a shower so we would be prepared for another fun day. We had some specific destinations in mind but were open to unplanned fun and wandering off the beaten path because there was a sign that pointed somewhere that sounded interesting.

Honestly? My best memories from these last four days are a product of saying YES when opportunity arose. We just kept looking around that next bend and kept seeking whatever came next.

That’s one of the keys to happiness, if you ask me. Life is big and interesting. Maintain a sense of curiosity, go looking for the unusual and the mundane and seek out the beauty in the smallest things. Stop and admire that great vehicle, notice the tiniest wildflower at the side of the road, be present and look for reasons to be happy. It’s there if you look for it!

Stick around. There’s a lot to come from this North Carolina whirlwind trip!

Delight

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou.

We’re all a work in progress. While the process may not be pretty, it’s kind of exciting to think we have the potential to transform ourselves into something better than we can imagine.

If you could do anything or be anything, what would it be?

People, Flowers And The Flaws We Share

Most of the spring flowers at Franklin Park are spent but there remain a few patches here and there. I scurried across the way to get a closer look at this cluster.

It looks nice enough from a distance. The colors remain vibrant and the flowers stand up straight.

But look a little closer. Most are starting to wilt and look a little rough around the edges. They will be gone in a matter of days.

It’s a natural process, the fading of spring bulbs. The petals will drop and the leaves will brown before dying back. These bulbs will lie dormant beneath the ground for the next three seasons before they begin to push through the earth into the sunshine where they will bloom, starting the process again.

Their lifecycle is ruled by the seasons. It’s an elegant, complex process that we take for granted.

I walked away a little disappointed but thinking about how much these flowers have in common with the average human.

The average person looks fine from a distance. They appear to move through their day, doing what they need to do and to be ok. It’s when you take a closer look and get to know them better that you notice the cracks in the veneer, the flaws.

Stick around very long and you’ll notice that almost every person has insecurities, quirks, anxieties and annoying habits they have developed through the seasons of their life.

We all are changed by what happens around us and by what happens to us. Sometimes we are made stronger, smarter, more resilient. Sometimes we are irreversibly damaged or broken.

These flaws are often harmless but can be destructive both internally and to other people around. We become tired, impatient, scared and vulnerable. We lash out, shut down or simply walk away.

While humans experience seasons of life the same as those spring flowers, we don’t have the luxury of receding into the ground to rest and recharge. We can recede into the darkness – both the literal of our homes and the figurative of our minds. Tragically, we tend to judge or worry when we see someone doing that.

If only we were more forgiving of ourselves and others as we cycle through difficult seasons or find ourselves stuck in a place that is unhealthy. I hate to say it but the flaws are often what make us interesting. Many have hard earned emotional scars, remnants of trauma that have helped shape us into who we are. As I grow older, I’m more conscious of my own and am more likely to own them now than ten years ago. I am proud of my resilience and that I have chosen this path.

If you are struggling for some reason, give yourself some grace. Don’t deny yourself something you want or a future you deserve because of your weaknesses. Weather this season, no matter how long it may be, allow your mind to rest, and trust that you’ll have the opportunity to grow again if you want to try.

Let’s face it. Life would be easier if we were flowers.

When Good Adventure Days Go Bad

Lest you think that my Adventure Days are always gloriously rewarding and fun, let me tell you about yesterday.

It was a bust.

We’ve had a dark cloud hanging over Ohio for a lot of this week and the weather continued to be gloomy and cool yesterday. I was tempted to stay home but had a commitment to keep in Columbus. I am part of a social impact study at Franklin Park Conservatory and needed to visit that place one more time before the end of May. Since my weekends are all booked this month, yesterday was really my only chance to go.

So I spent some time Friday night plotting indoor/outdoor activities in the Columbus area. I did not make concrete plans beyond that visit to Franklin Park but had a list of ideas. This is how I roll. I’m not the girl with the clipboard and stopwatch. I more or less wait till that day, see which way the wind is blowing and go with the flow.

Franklin Park was busy but great, as always. I spent most of my visit here with the butterflies. This is a transitional time as the spring flowers are almost spent and the gardeners are busy preparing for a new season. All the same, it was good and I had some lovely experiences with the butterflies.

From there, I wanted to hit up North Market for some good lunch and casual people watching.

This did not happen because there were masses of people everywhere. I didn’t get out of the car. Heck, I barely slowed down because my introverted self literally could not deal.

So I switched gears and headed for German Village to hit the bookstore and find something to eat. Unfortunately, it was even worse there. Haha. Isn’t that my luck?

If you haven’t been, German Village is a quaint community, a remnant of the city’s German heritage with some cute shops and restaurants mingled with homes and offices. The streets are narrow, parking is sparse and people lose their minds in search of literally anywhere to ditch their car on the way to brunch.

Friends, I watched a guy in an SUV attempt to shoehorn his car into a space not large enough for my Elantra. When that didn’t work, he used that parking space to turn in the street, holding up two lanes of traffic and nearly hitting someone’s truck.

I just shook my head.

The real draw here is an independent bookseller called the Book Loft which bills itself as having over 30 rooms of books. Mind you, they are very small rooms but it is a neat place and their website claimed they had a book in stock that I wanted to buy.

Nonetheless, I abandoned ship and headed for the nearest Half Price Books. They have abundant parking but tragically did not have my book. At this point I was determined to salvage something of this day so I headed to a nearby Barnes and Noble where I blessedly found the book. That book came with a bag full of other books that I wasn’t there to purchase but we won’t dwell on that small failure today.

I did find some peace here and even a laugh when I saw the title of this book.

Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse.

Mind you, it’s a serious topic but man, if this isn’t a great title for my autobiography I don’t know what is.

At this point the sky was foreboding so I started making my way southeast to Logan for a stroll through downtown. They were hosting Urban Air 2022, a camping event where Airstream campers take up residence for the weekend. It was chilly out and a little late so there weren’t many people out to chat with about their campers. I did make friends with the owner of a new vintage shop on Main Street so that was fun. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you about that store this week.

Honestly though, the highlight of my day (besides that sack of books) was a stroll through a graveyard at a country church near Lancaster. It was cool and the wind threatened to pull the hat right off my head but the sky was interesting. There are some very old graves to look at and it was peaceful.

Everywhere else I went yesterday was just way too peopley. This place was calm and quiet. It was intriguing and sad. It inspired my imagination as I wondered about the people buried there and what happened to those they left behind.

I eventually bought a frozen dinner and some new windshield wiper blades and headed home to my little cat. And yes, he was quite glad to see me.

So, yeah. That was my day.

In the last four years, nearly every adventure day has held something memorable. There’s been some spark of magic, some bit of delight that made it all worthwhile.

I was due for a flop.

This lengthy and somewhat bitter tirade isn’t meant as a simple vent for yours truly. I tell you all of this to tell you something useful.

Adventure days come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, I am a huge advocate of making your own adventure. For you, it could be a quiet stroll through the woods or finding a bargain at an antique store. It could be screaming through the woods in a zip line or trekking foreign lands most of us will only read about in books.

Adventure is what you make of it.

My best days are the ones where I come around a bend to find an aging barn, where I hear a new birdsong in the woods or the ones where I encounter someone willing to share their story with a stranger. My very best days are the ones where I become so preoccupied with discoveries that I forget all about my list.

Every day can’t be the very best day. However, we have the ability to make the best of every day. In fact, we have a responsibility to make the best of our circumstances and to enjoy the life we have today. After all, you never know when things will change and maybe even get worse.

In my case, I found peace in books and in a country churchyard. I found even greater peace ending the adventure and simply coming home to my little cat and to read in my chair.

It turned out to be a pretty good evening despite it all.

Notice this butterfly below and how it is perched on the flower in a sideways fashion.

Was that part of the plan? Wasn’t it? Who knows but it seems pretty happy anyway. Don’t let the rain or other people or things beyond your control steal your joy.

Be well and be happy, friends. We will adventure another day!

A Spring Day

Yesterday was a perfect spring day here in southern Ohio. It started out gloomy but quickly cleared up to be about 73 degrees and breezy. The azure sky was punctuated with enormous, fluffy clouds that seemed so close you could reach out and grab them if you tried.

The lilacs are in bloom. This one came from a bush at my parents’ house. This bush came from a start of a big lilac my grandma had in her front yard for many years. I look for lilacs everywhere I go but swear that none are as fragrant as those handed down from my grandma.

There were lots of people out fishing including this father and son.

The trees seemed taller than normal yesterday.

A skink was even out enjoying a sunny patch on my back porch.

The dogwood is pretty this time of year too.

From the tallest trees to the smallest creatures of the forest floor, there is much to see that is beautiful this time of year. I am grateful for days like yesterday and the opportunity to be outside enjoying it all.

Friday Night Drive

Not every day can be fun. However, I think it’s possible to add something to every day that makes it interesting, fun or worthwhile.

After work yesterday, I hit the road to run some errands in Athens County. Along the way, I took a few turns onto some roads I have never traveled just to see where they go and to see what I might see.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, you know.

I liked this small barn in a bend in the road.

I agree with this sign. Trapping drunks seems smart to me. Sadly, this sign represents a neighborhood feud that you can read about here.

This barn was striking against the vibrant sky and grass. I like the lines and this scene makes me think that summer isn’t far off.

Friends, not every day can be a great day. But, if you can, do whatever is possible to make it a better day.