Thursday, May 11, 2017

NM - ABQ Bright Spots Extraordinaire

  While I was laying low in Albuquerque, I DID have the opportunity to talk to a few wonderful people.
BRIGHT SPOT -  Brad and Jane are relatively new friends of mine.  I know them through a mutual friend.  I never knew what they did though.  We had an opportunity to chat a little one day and I was so excited about what their service is, I had to share.  Basically, they assist elderly folks transition from their own personal homes to either Senior living facilities or to smaller residences/apartments. They actually find them a place according to their wants and needs, secure the paperwork required and even help with filling that out.  They take care of all the details.  They sort, sell or donate items for them that will no longer be necessary in their new place.  They lovingly pack their treasured items that will go with them.  On moving day, Brad and Jane are there to load, transport, unload and set up the Seniors' new home just the way they like it!  What an incredible service!  And...it is a nonprofit business as well.  Thank you, Brad and Jane for your beautiful contribution to the peace of mind of those who are experiencing big changes in their lives!

BRIGHT SPOT - After I learned about Brad and Jane's business, I got to talking with Brad and he shared a remarkable story with me.  There was a gentleman who took his wife flowers several times a week that he purchased from the same vendor...year after year after year for decades!  One day this man got a very strong inclination that he should buy 2 bouquets.  He was a little confused and doubted why he would want to do that, but the sense was powerful so he went with it.  As he approached his car, he spotted an elderly woman whose face appeared quite sad slowly getting into her car.  He set one bouquet on the seat of his own car and walked over to the woman and offered her the second bunch of flowers.  She looked up at the gentleman, accepted the flowers and began to weep.  She told him how happy it made her to receive such a lovely surprise as that day was the one year anniversary of her husband's passing.  It just goes to show that when you listen to your intuition even when it might not make any sense at the moment...something wonderful could happen if you only pay attention.  Kudos to the gentleman with the 2 bouquets!

BRIGHT SPOT -  I stayed with one of my friends for the first few days I arrived in NM.  She was giving a class that she thought I might enjoy, so I went with her.  After the class, which was delightful and very informative, I spoke with a young woman who thought she might have met me at some point prior to this class.  We talked awhile...never did figure out if we had met.  However, as I was describing my adventure she lit up!  A friend of hers who lives in Iowa has always talked about traveling around the country.  She asked if I would possibly talk with him about some logistics.  I gave her my contact info to share with him.
     A few days later, Jeff got in touch and we talked quite a while.  What a totally awesome passion he has!  He is a young man of 32 years and has dedicated his time to serving the homeless.  He has volunteered on the Human Rights Commission and for the Toys for Tots Campaign.  The absolute most amazing project that he initiated involves authors of self-help and inspirational books and programs.  He reads the books then contacts the authors to create a way in which they might help the homeless.  His program is called the "You Inspire Me " Speaker Series.  Jeff has collaborated with the following to mention just a few:
*Leon Logothetics, author of Kindness Diaries: One Man's Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World
*W. Garth Callaghan, author of Napkin Notes: Make Lunch Meaningful, Life Will Follow
*Kim Dinan, author of Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life Changing Journey Around the World
*Orly Wahba, author of Kindness Boomerang and founder of Life Vest Inside, an online non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering and educating people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness  (On May 1st, Orly and Jeff embarked on a cross-country listening and speaking book tour starting in Seattle and wrapping it up in New York...we are hoping to hook up and finally meet each other in person somewhere on the east coast!)
*Will Bowen, author of A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted.  Jeff entered a contest that Will Bowen sponsored and won.  As a result, Mr. Bowen flew to Dubuque, Iowa, spoke, and raised about $4,000 for the homeless!  A wonderful 'aside' is that I used Will Bowen's program when I was teaching middle school.  I ordered the film and the purple rubber wrist bands for my students and took the challenge of becoming aware of every time we complained and making a concerted effort to reduce that number with each passing day...it was a truly inspiring experience!
I would highly recommend looking into any or all of the above mentioned publications/programs!

***What a joy it is to know that so many people in this big ole world are doing such extraordinary things (often simple, yet profound) to make our lives richer in so many ways.  I feel honored to know many of them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Mexico - April Off the Grid

     Sometimes a girl's just gotta say, WHOA!  Three full years of full time travel, two weeks in Ecuador, two recent weeks with family...all spectacular...all pointing to a period of rest and reflection. Many times when I need answers to questions, important questions, I have been given answers. These answers have risen up from a beautiful, trustworthy yet oftentimes subtle place within me.   As long as I LISTEN, the guidance comes.  Well, as you might imagine, when there is a great deal of noise and activity, it can be difficult to hear the response you are seeking.
     These three years, especially the last six months, for me have been fraught with surprises, excitement, amazing opportunities, wonderful new friends, self realizations and even a few eye-opening life lessons.  All of these have enabled me to not only create amazing memories that will last me the rest of my life, but to create a 'ME' that is, I believe, much more authentic than ever before. This ME is filled with a peaceful gratitude and a warm contentment as well as a kind of serene exhilaration.  One thing coming up in my life that I received very clear guidance about is that, as of mid summer, I will be winding down my full-time travel to settle somewhere so I can put all my energy into writing my book.  The where has been a real dilemma ever since I made the decision over 4 months ago.  I knew that when I needed to know...I would know!
     My month in New Mexico was planned with the intention that before I headed back east on April 29th, I would know!  I had already done a little research since the first of the year and had a sketchy idea of a city that might work.  It fit most of the criteria that I set as ideal living conditions for being able to author a truly inspired piece of work.  So, I figured that was that and I began to look into places to rent.
     Within a couple weeks of being quiet enough to hear and willing enough to listen, my answer came.  I was prepared for some level of confirmation for my already 'while I was busy with life' probable choice.  It was not at all what I expected.  I actually resisted the idea for a brief period of a couple days.  Experience has taught me that resistance is absolutely futile...in any situation.  This was no different.  My plansettle in or around the Asheville, NC area...temperate weather, the Great Smoky Mtns., lakes and rivers, a culturally rich atmosphere, kinda funky, etc.  My answer:  Albuquerque!  As in New Mexico!
     Having gotten past the shock and resistance, I sat with the whole idea and it made perfect sense, I think!  There I went, trying to figure out the 'reason'.  My mind meandered and landed in the practicality of the following thoughts.  The chances of me hunkering down for hours of daily contemplating, soul searching, writing and rewriting in a brand new town that was packed with things to do and places to see and people to meet seemed quite unlikely.  Then there's the getting accustomed to the area.   The bottom line:  who knows, right now anyway, why I am being guided to live in Albuquerque while writing my book...certainly not I!  If I had waited until I totally understood WHY I've been guided to make the decisions I have made in my life...I'd still be wondering what to do after high school!!!
     Two of my favorite quotes-and there have been many-that have inspired my ultimate life choices are:
1) "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies within you"...Ralph Waldo Emerson and
2) "What if I fall?  Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"...Erin Hanson
     With that being said, I have secured an apartment in Albuquerque just two blocks from the Sandia Mountain foothills.  It is close enough to everything I could possibly need, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle to nurture my 'beingness' enabling me to concentrate on what I am passionate about at this juncture in my life...writing my book (more about that later).  I will be traveling somewhat over the next couple of months to North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and possibly a trip to the Canadian side to experience Niagara Falls.
     My apartment will be available mid July, so come July 5th, I will be driving back to Albuquerque to embrace yet another chapter in my blessed life.  I plan to continue blogging with a slightly different focus once I get settled in!  In the meantime, several more Van-Go traveling adventure posts!!!
     Next post...ABQ Bright Spot

Monday, April 3, 2017

MD - Fun with Family Post Ecuador


Family pic...kinda normal...lol
We missed you, Adam.  Hope you feel
better soon!

Family pic...seriously goofy...lol

It is ALWAYS a special time for me when I go home to spend time with my family!!!  Even though we keep in close touch through phone calls and texting, it's the hugs I miss!  The group laughter is right up there, too!  So, this visit, I spent a lot of time hugging, laughing and watching my family enjoy each other!  It was a particularly delightful two weeks.  Thanks, gang!  See you again real soon...like June!!!
A Grammy sleepover with the
grandkids...so much fun

Cameron practicing his
French horn

This electronic dog, Chip, was amazing!
Cameron even had him dance for me!

Impromptu wrestling moment...
it's a mom sandwich!

Leon taking his vitamins like
a good puppy

Loki taking her vitamins like
a good puppy

Mine and Rachel's first team puzzle

It was so much fun, we did
another one!

Nicole and Jesse at our family potluck

My genius multi-tasking son...
eating veggies and hugging
me...lol..let's not forget Megan
the beautiful photo-bomber!

Amy and Tanya donning their alpaca
hats and scarves from Ecuador

Hugs and laughter

Jay and Loki just in from playing
outside

Rachel and Megan

The aftermath of a silly string
battle with my sister!

 Canon consoling daddy (Adam) and
helping him feel better

Sunrise at my son's house...
I can only imagine how much
more lovely it was behind
 all the 'stuff'..lol
Still pretty darn amazing!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

ECUADOR - Wrapping It Up in Quito!

 
View from our room at the
Howard Johnson's


 Before we got on the road to Quito, we hung around the Hacienda taking a few more pictures and just admiring the over all ambiance.  I had started feeling out of sorts the night before...dry cough, dry mouth...so it was great that it only took us about an hour and a half to drive to Quito, our final destination.  Bud and I walked into town to find a pharmacy to get a decongestant, vitamin C and Hall's thinking that would take care of my symptoms.  By mid afternoon, I had a low grade fever of 101.4 and chills that I couldn't shake.  I went to bed and Bud went out for a walk and returned later that day with Tylenol...Go, Bud!!!  While he was gone, I called down for some fruit tea and a pitcher of water in an attempt to keep hydrated.  I slept that whole day more or less.  When Bud called down for dinner, he ordered chicken soup for me.  It was the only thing I had eaten and it tasted wonderful. The Tylenol had begun its magic and my fever was down to 100.7.  That as well as more sleep through the night enabled me to wake with no fever and enough energy to take a slow walk through the park.

This is just a tiny bit of what was
available
 The breakfast buffet there at the Howard Johnson was incredible...unfortunately, I had no appetite.  So, with only a cup of hot tea in my belly, Bud and I went to the park.
     This park was like nothing I had ever seen.  It is called Parque La Carolina and covers 165 acres.  It is situated right in the middle of Quito's central business district.   There was something there for everyone.  There were at least 5 playgrounds each with equipment for specific ages, skate parks for bicyclists and skateboarders and areas designed for aerobic exercise.




An actual jet painted by the local children

Check out that look!

Look at all the colors!!!





Even the trash cans were
beautiful



Soooo cute!  I hope he doesn't have
much farther to go...lol

Three generations and a friend of
the family











 You could play soccer, basketball, and volleyball.  Kites were flying, people of all ages were on the walking/running trails, and others were having snacks that could be purchased from the many vendors.  At one end of the park was a meandering pond for paddle boating enthusiasts and at the other end was a botanical garden.  There were artists and performers of various kinds also. It was delightful to see families out enjoying each other on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
By far...one of my favorite
photos from the entire trip!

Silly me!





You have heard of a fire breathing dragon...
THIS is a cotton candy breathing man...LOL

Hoe sweet is this?

Bud was dancing across from this little
guy...he really got him going!
So great!




     Our flight back to Atlanta, Georgia was at 11:15 PM, so around 6:00 we packed up and left to return our rental.  We then spent the next 3 hours hanging out at the airport...fun...lol  It was hard to believe that our spectacular adventure was coming to a close.  Memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you, Bud!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

ECUADOR - Latacunga - Crater Lake and The Hacienda la Cienega







I love cobblestone



Fog drifting in behind us


















In the morning, we left immediately after breakfast and headed off to Crater Lake which was awesome.  On the way, we passed a section through the mountain where the heavy rains had caused a rock slide.  There were men shoveling up rocks and dumping them over the side.  We arrived at the lake just in time, too.  Approximately 20 minutes later, the fog started moving fast and it covered the entire lake...visibility - zero!   Still, there were folks taking a donkey ride down to the base. We had a pretty lame pizza at a cafe there, but I did find great hats for a few family members while there though...that was terrific!
     We continued to drive before stopping for the night.   We ran into another online vs. real life hotel situation.  We did go in just to see and it was like a ghost town and the woman and young girl acted like they had never seen a guest before.  Online it stated that this hotel was staffed to accommodate the needs of world travelers - not so much.  We left, searched again for a place and moved on down the road a short distance toward it.  We were led down yet another muddy bumpy road.  At one point, we thought we could see what might be the hotel through the trees and fences.  We turned around - our favorite thing to do...lol - and went in the direction we thought would take us there.












Wow...suddenly right in front of us was a tall opened wrought iron gate that led us on a long canopied road to what appeared to be a castle!  It was the Hacienda la Cienega.  We were met at the door by a gentleman dressed in a white starched shirt, perfectly pressed trousers, a bow tie and a warm welcoming smile.
     After we were guided to our room and got a little settled, we toured this amazing place.  Hallways, dining rooms, sitting areas, a music room, a chapel, gardens, courtyards, cows and llamas roaming around loose. horses, an old playground and pool, tennis courts, and on and on.  It was incredible.
These ornate carvings were
on much of the furniture

Roaming free

Thanks Bud for this shot!

Cotopaxi, an active stratovolcano, as
 seen from the Hacienda.  Its last eruption
lasted from Aug. 2015-Jan. 2016
It's the second highest summit in Ecuador
at 19, 347 feet 



Entrance to the chapel













Bites still itching and nose
still running...lol

This was the only rose amidst the thick bramble











In the chapel



A mighty mushroom







































This magical place was built back in the 17th century, we think.  It wreaked of royalty.  Yet, it was as welcoming as anyplace we had been during our adventure in Ecuador.




































 There was history oozing out of every nook and cranny.  Funny, though, there was little information there and next to nothing online...weird.  Imagining what it was like in its hay day was fascinating.  Lots of kids, loyal staff, activities everywhere...an absolutely delightful vision!
     Our room was spacious, but cold...despite three heaters and a fireplace.  There seems to be some resistance to piping heat into any building in Ecuador...gotta love plenty of blankets!!!