Wild Ideas

Black and white tree with horse, Alabama

Have you ever had an idea come to you, seemingly out of the blue, that just totally makes sense?? The last couple of trips back to my dad’s house, I’ve had this idea nibbling away at the back of my mind. I’ve thought about it here and there and even discussed it with my dad a bit, but never seriously. It just didn’t seem to make sense. But this last trip, the whole plan finally just fell into place.

I can see every detail – how it would work, why it would work, and what it would take to make it work. I even sat down to sketch out a business plan of sorts and every single detail just slotted in ever so neatly. I’ve heard of this phenomena before, but I’ve never experienced it first hand. Frankly, it seems a little too easy to be realistic! And therein lies the problem. I’m a skeptic by nature and anything that seems easy is just too good to be true. I wonder how many brilliant, wild ideas have fallen to the wayside thanks to skeptical thinking…

This idea seems easy because, in truth, it’s been percolating for some time now. I’ve also lived and traveled around the world picking up little ideas and/or tidbits here and there that, when all combined, bind all the little details together. Looking back over my outline I can see influences from Miami, Phoenix, London, Ireland, Morocco, several Asian countries, etc. It seems a bit of a stretch that so many components could work together successfully in small town Alabama, but I have faith that it not only could work, but that it would work really well.

It’s only by traveling to these places, meeting so many different people, and having such a wide variety of experiences that I can even now contemplate the idea of moving back to Alabama. Apparently that whole travel the world to find home right where you left it thing has some wisdom behind it. Who knew? But now I know what’s out there. I’m much more confident that adventure is out there waiting for me whenever I choose to look, but I no longer need to live it every moment of every day. My home base no longer matters quite so much, or rather it does but in a different sort of way – i.e., home base no longer has to be an active part of the adventure, it can instead be a retreat. I need a retreat in my life (a lesson I suspect the Universe has been trying to teach me for some time now!).

Clouds reflected on pond with reeds, Alabama

I almost feel bad about not expounding on what this crazy, lightbulb-esque idea actually is now that I’ve gone on about it so. When it works out, I’ll share it – likely in more detail than anyone cares about. But the actual thought isn’t what my mind is focused on in writing this post – instead it’s about acknowledging how things can change, accepting that, and then deciding what to do about it. In the grand scheme of things, I may move from here to D.C. to London to Johannesburg and not get around to this brilliant scheme for another decade. It’s satisfying, regardless, to know that I have a place waiting for me with so many exciting options just wanting a bit of effort to reach fruition.

I left my dad’s house when I was 18 years old and haven’t lived there for more than a few weeks at a time since then. It’s only been in the last year or two that I have come to appreciate what it means to have a home, to have land, that’s a part of you because it comes from your family. I have not been sensible to that or appreciative of it – I couldn’t find those notions without some hard won perspective. Now it’s difficult to express my gratitude that it’s all still there, waiting. My poor dad. We don’t always get along, but he’s persevered and held it all together hoping for the day my brother or I would wake up and appreciate all his efforts. Well dad, the gratitude is definitely here now. We shall see what the future holds beyond that – small steps. (smile)

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Kitty Dreams & Street Scenes (Morocco)

Morocco cats asleep

As I depart for the land of ice, I thought it only appropriate to share just a few more photos from last year’s adventure in the desert oasis that is Morocco. By the end of the trip, one of the running jokes was all of the photos of cats that I had on my memory cards – to this day I still refuse to apologize for a single one! Morocco seems to be a land of cats and I love it all the more for that reason. (smile) I’ve included a few of my favorite kitty shots – and a few of my favorite street scenes too!

 

 

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Climbing Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain, Imperial County, California, art, desert

I’d seen photos of Salvation Mountain for years, especially on Instagram, and had always wanted to go. I knew it was in California, but only recently discovered that it was just off I-10 on the way to L.A. from Phoenix. To think I’ve been driving right by it all these years! So when a camping trip to Joshua Tree NP came up last month, I seized the opportunity to have a bit of a weird and wonderful road trip with a stop by this lovely attraction.

Salvation Mountain is the brainchild of Leonard Knight. Located just east of the Salton Sea (and about 30 minutes south from I-10) in Imperial County, CA, this outdoor artwork is 50 feet high and 150 feet across, made of local adobe clay, and has one glorious and profound theme – love.

The mountain is maintained largely through the efforts of volunteers who show up with paint, brushes, and a helping heart. A public charity was established in 2012 to help with maintenance and preservation of this unique gem – Salvation Mountain, Inc.

You can follow the yellow brick road up the mountain and you can also wander through the connecting “grotto” to see various other works. All the colors were so vibrant even on a cloudy day, I can’t imagine how beautiful they must be in the desert sun!

Personally, I admit that I wanted to visit Salvation Mountain because it did just seem so weird and colorful and fun. It was a location that demanded to be seen and, well, photographed. What I didn’t expect was the sense of joy and peace that I felt while there. I was like a child roaming some oddly fantastical museum/playground. It’s kind of hard to describe really. It made me want to pick up a brush and help preserve this desert beauty and, frankly, if I hadn’t been on a bit of a schedule with the camping trip, I probably would’ve done just that. The people who were there doing maintenance were super friendly and more than happy to spend a few minutes talking about the history and goings on of the project. And although it is a very Christian-themed space, it didn’t actually feel overwhelming. It just felt, well, loving. (smile)

Salvation Mountain, Imperial County, California, art, desert

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dance, Dance

drummer, First Friday, Phoenix

DJ, First Friday, Phoenix

First Fridays in Phoenix aren’t all about traditional art – there’s plenty of performing art to be found, watched, heard, and participated in. The experience truly is a feast for the senses and well worth checking out if you’re ever in town! (First Fridays occur in downtown Phoenix the first Friday of each month.)

This week’s challenge is “dance.”

Happy weekend everyone!

30-day Challenge(s): Months 1 & 2

While looking through my (somewhat ridiculous) “I would like to try/improve/etc.” list, I decided to make 2016 the year of the 30-day challenge. I figured it’d be a great way to knock some of those experiences off my list and well, it’s only 30 days. I can do anything for 30 days…right? Well, theoretically. (smile) If nothing else, I hope to learn a few things about myself along the way – and, who knows, maybe pick up a few positive habits as well!

Coconut Lemon CakeJanuary – Low Sugar

Originally January was supposed to be a sugar detox month – 30 days of no sugar. Yeah, really didn’t think that one through very well. Coming off the holiday sugar rush, giving up the good stuff cold turkey (ha) just didn’t happen. So I decided to modify the rules a bit and go “low sugar” instead, cutting out any excess sugars instead – candy, cake, cookies, all-the-good-stuff-that-makes-life-worth-living, etc.

It was still really hard – way more difficult than I expected / than it should have been. I mean I thought I just liked dessert as much as the next person, and maybe I do. But if January is anything to go by then the average person likes dessert – a lot. (smile) It was really eye-opening to see just how much of the sweet stuff I consumed in a day – both in extras (candy, etc.) and in regular foods. I had no idea how much sugar was naturally in whole foods even. Turns out it’s everywhere! Of course some of it is better than others, and figuring out what was what was actually pretty interesting.

I had hoped that going low sugar would help me feel better – I admit I’d been starting to really feel the effects of over-indulgence – but overall I felt the difference was pretty minimal. I was mostly just grumpy from telling myself “no” all day / feeling guilty if I did it anyway. (Needless to say, I don’t do well on typical diets either.) I used MyFitnessPal to track my foods and to keep tabs on my sugar intake. I found this worked really well –it was particularly fascinating to see my sugar intake on a graph for the month. You can definitely see the cheat days (grin).

So, did I retain any good habits after my 30 days? I think so. I’ve noticed that I definitely don’t consume as many sweets as I once did. I’ve also switched almost exclusively to dark chocolate to satisfy any cravings. A little of that goes a long way for me and it’s relatively healthy. I don’t find myself craving sweets as much either – funny enough once I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t have something, I stopped wanting it. I am a contrary soul… And you know what? I do actually a little feel better. So overall I declare this one a success!

Hieroglyphics Trail, Superstition MountainsFebruary – Mindful Movement

As February was the shortest month, I figured it would be prime for the movement challenge. (Although I ended up picking up the extra day in January to make a full 30 – go me!) I decided to go for a minimum of 15 minutes of purposeful movement (walking, yoga, dancing around like a headless chicken, whatever struck my fancy that day, etc.) and/or 5,000 steps on the FitBit. The idea was that I not only moved but I did so in a way that was purposeful, pulling my head out and actually noticing the world I was moving around in.

Having been in a relationship with my FitBit for some time now, I’m well aware that I don’t move around enough during the day. 5,000 steps a day is only half of the recommended 10k, but it’s still just under double what I normally average so it seemed reasonable. I’m happy to say that I met or exceeded that particular goal most days (for an average of 66% – don’t judge). I did hit the 15 minute goal each day though so I feel that the month as a whole was a success.

As for the mindful part, I found that to be particularly fun / interesting. I tried to take time out of the day to really look around and notice my surroundings – to break focus from this computer screen or to drag myself out of my own head in order to see the wildflowers that were already blooming or just how beautiful the sky was on that day. It was nice to step outside of myself for a portion of the day and remember that it’s a great big beautiful world out there!

I’m not sure how much of this one will stick with me going forward, but I really hope to remember to take notice more often. Maybe I don’t really like roses (or smelling them), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other flowers to sniff – even here in the desert!

black cat on purple blanketUpcoming: March – March Photo Madness (Follow along or JOIN IN on Instagram!)

P.S. I don’t have topics picked for every month yet, so if you have any suggestions please let me know!