Variety:Spices of Life

We currently have a guest in our home who is staying with us for a month. He is a friend of my daughter’s from college. He comes from a different background and has grown up with lots of spices in his food. In our home, we are very plain compared to the basil, parsley, oregano, lots of pepper, bouge cheeses, etc….So, it was hilarious to see my daughter, her Dad and her friend joining forces to make our families traditional spaghetti. At our house they like it sweet and he is use to a more savory and spicy pasta. I sat back and laughed watching them all debate how in his mind, “spice is good. Spice is a great variety of life. It needs spices!” he argued. It was back and forth with my daughter stating her side and how this is tradition and she likes it her way. Finally, it was agreed that the spaghetti would be made the traditional way our family makes it & then he can add all the spices he wants in his bowl & that my daughter would at least try it.

The pasta was finally done & everyone was happy, but I was especially happy to see both sides pleasantly talk about the variations. He shared how the sweetness was delicious and different than what he was use to. My daughter tried the spices and was open to new flavors. But sometimes you just have to try the variety to see what you really like & how sometimes your traditional will always be your personal favorite. How can you truly appreciate or value something if you don’t try anything else?

When I think of spices of life—I think traveling to new destinations, seeing new places, shops, trying new food, even if they are new spots in your own backyard, community, state, etc. We have moved to a few different states (Idaho–both sides, Arizona, various places in Utah, two different locations in Oregon) and have seen various parts of California, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, Nevada…we have a ways to go to see the various parts of this incredible world, but slowly we make our way. They are the places that make the greatest memories, the moments that stay with you. Think about it—your favorite memories and life moments—where were they??

SEEKING THE VARIETY: So, this post I am researching and giving you some fun activities and ideas to get you out seeking a variety of spices for your life!

TRAVEL: So does traveling lead to more happiness? Im sure many people would agree that the answer is yes. In fact, a survey by the travel company G Adventures found that 83% of people consider travel to be a very important part of life, and 68% of people say that new experiences are the happiest part of traveling. -Delivering Happiness.

Why are we happy when we travel? According to the blog In Pursuit of Happiness the answer is these six reasons: having a sense of accomplishment, learning about ourselves, becoming more interesting individuals, realizing that some things in life are less important than they really are, connecting with people and feeling alive. I LOVE that!!

I know for me, traveling to new places, even just a new trail, a new antique shop, a new activity, a new food place to try, a new destination…makes me come alive with wonder and curiosity. I so enjoy the newness of any new adventure. This past weekend our community had a kite festival. I had been waiting months to see this event & experience it. I even purchased a book on the history of kite flying so I would have a new perspective and understanding of the history. Always so much to learn. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that accumulated. Just the variety of people that were drawn to this event was fun to see. It was pure joy to see colorful kites blowing in the wind in every view of the ocean sky. To see huge whale kites, sharks, giraffes, modern spinners, angled shapes that twist with the breeze—beautiful! It was wonderful to see children pass by me with their homemade kites with big smiles & even bigger smiles when you commented on their kite. It was incredible to see kite fliers who created & choreographed multiple kites to musical compositions. Who knew!? To see such passion, strength and skill was extraordinary.

Travel Challenges: Visit a new city & ask the locals for all the musts to see. There are always local spots–whether its for great food, an incredible sunset skyline, a specialty shop, a unique food that is local, etc. Ask the locals for something special. They wont let you down.

Tour a new location on a bike or take some type of local transportation–trolley car, ferry ride, horseback, etc. See things around you from a different perspective.

Take a free tour of some type–whether it is a walking tour, a museum tour, local garden or historical homes. Find some free tours of interest to you.

Find local graffiti art and take selfies with your favorites. This is especially fun because there are always so many different messages, images, artists, etc. Find what you genuinely like.

Find local LOVE padlock bridges, gates or place to leave your loving mark. My little family did this while traveling through Nevada. There are locations all around the world and in different cities. Take a special padlock, write a message & attach it to a special location. Have fun!!

Send yourself or someone you love a fun postcard. This would be a fun memento to yourself and it would be a great way to remember the places you have seen and adventured.

Find the Unique or largest something of some kind challenge: Whether it is the largest croissant, a large local statue, big sign, giant rock coming out of the ocean, a manmade elephant, an octopus made out of recyclable plastics, etc. Find things wherever you are that you may not see somewhere else. Go out of your natural way to find the unique and extraordinary.

BEST VIEW: Seek out the best views in town. Humans are 90% visual beings, so it would make sense that we are moved by visual settings, things and places we see. No matter where you are, ask around for the best views in town. Whether it is on top of a hillside, the top of a building for an incredible skyline, a tall tower, a good whale watching spot, a beautiful beach to photograph, a forest path that leads to an open meadow. Seek out the places that you are drawn to. Maybe you like to take photos of graffiti and ask around for local art. Maybe you just want an idyllic picnic spot. Maybe you want to take a tram ride to a meadow of wildflowers. There are special spots everywhere. Seek out what you need to find.

NEW FOOD: Make it themed. At our house, we try to add some spice to our meals with a fun, new song themed with our dinner—ie: Italian, French, Mexican and have the fun music mixes playing while we saute meats, bbq steaks, boil pasta, broil breads, etc. Add some flair, decorate, try new dishes.

You could also do a fun share and care potluck with your neighbors. Have everyone sign-up to bring some fun flavors & try a bit of everything.

Also, try out some of your local dishes. Seek out and find a favorite thai or mexican dish, maybe find some place that has incredible desserts. Try it all. Find what you enJOY!

SOMETHING out of your NORM: Seek to find something that will help get you out of your norm. Find some activity that will challenge you on a new level—whether you have always wanted to go sailing, hike into a cave, golf from an ocean view, Tour and walk to the top of a lighthouse or maybe a haunted house. Maybe you have an obsession with Twilight & want to stay in one of the epic homes in the movie. Maybe you want to find Big Foot & need to find a museum to explore your curiosities. My neighbor wanted to stay at a hotel with alpacas & play with the babies on the property. Maybe you want to stay overnight in a treehouse. Maybe you have a list of waterfalls you want to see—The list of opportunities is endless. It is up to you and your imagination. Plan a trip and make something happen.

I hope this list gets you thinking, planning, and shaking things up to bring a little more variety and spice to your life. Your life only changes when you begin. Think about it—Everyone LOVES a good surprise. Life is full of surprises if we take the chance to seek and find them in all we do.

-Peace. Love and Light to you. -H

Digging Deeper w Yourself

The most satisfying journey is the journey you take inward with yourself. -Nitin Nameo

We often get stuck in the routine of life, often missing a deeper connection with things that are quite essential to our life journey. There seems to be a rushing clock of life that does not stop for anyone. My little family was talking last night about how our new surroundings, external experiences, new physical address, the old, the new and how quickly life has happened. We reflected about leaving our old home of 11 years almost a year ago seems to have been a distant dream. It seems like we were there years ago, but it has not even been a year yet. Time flies. Life quickly gets snatched into the reality of change. Every journey is different, but every single one is essential to growth, challenge, change, ultimately a greater version of who we are to become.

So, lets talk about one of the most essential journeys–the one to truly find ourselves. The kind of journey that takes you inward on a deeper level. The kind that takes time to truly seek within, but so often is neglected in the intertia of the day to day. Lets take a moment and relfect what we need.

A SPECIAL PLACE FOR PRAYER OR QUIET REFLECTION: As I reflect on my own journey, I instantly think of times where I was broken emotionally and what I did to get through those moments. I found prayer to be a place of calm. I have found special places in nature—an open field peppered with horses that I could just sit and ponder, pray and be taken to a place of peace. Another place I have found—in our new surroundings–a special rock that I sit and pray, ponder and seek calm at the ocean. I think having a special spot creates and opens a space of quiet, inner conversations and moments that open to personal reflection, deeper thoughts and questions that your soul yearns for.

DEEPER QUESTIONS: I am often teased about all the questions I ask. When I meet new people, have intimate conversations, of course I am going to jump into questions—not just the, hi, so what do you do for a living type, shallow, hallow, aimless questions. I go for the deep, jump into the pool with me kinda questions. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable, but sometimes we have a deep dive convo that is priceless. I think these deep questions are especially essential for one self. Lets get started: What makes you come alive? My daughter’s favorite quote by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” What do you lose time doing? What lights you up or gets you excited? Those are a couple indicators of what makes you come alive. GO Do that! What could you give a 30 minute quality talk on with little preparation? I came across this question and love the idea because this is an instant guide to what your heart knows and is passionate about. This is often the stuff you research, read up on, know all about, want to share, take time to get educated on, etc. Think hard about what you are truly knowledgable about—is it trends, is it happiness, self help, a sport of some kind, politics, travel, baking, reality tv, creating memories, yoga, etc. This is also a great key to unlock personal directions of interest, possible career opportunities, etc. What was probably one of the most stressful experiences of your life & what did you learn from it? Stressful situations bring about instant reaction & it is a time where you learn so much about yourself, how you react to situations and what you take away from them. They are true growth indicators for your journey. Is there something you have always wanted to do but have not been able to yet? A big dream. A dream job. Created something…Why have you not done it yet? This one is a hard question because lots of excuses can pile up, so be honest with yourself. This is where you dig deeper, create baby steps and begin slowly. At least begin. Little by little big things are built. Brick by brick. Small keys open big doors. Begin. Celebrate each small win. What is something you FEEL sets YOU apart from other people? your strengths, your super powers, your creativity, your enthusiasm, your skill set, what sets you apart? How can you use that to your benefit? Do you feel you live your life more authentically by Love OR Fear? [These are the two primary emotions–which one do you live in mostly?] Those are both ends of the spectrum, so be honest with yourself on this one. Think of your day to day interactions, your thoughts, your emotions, your actions—do they seem to be living from an energy of Love OR Fear? “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. What is your definition of Happiness? I recently sent out a text to family and asked this simple question…or so, I thought pretty simple question. smile. smile. I had one person respond (out of probably ten) and that was my brother who is currently doing a lot of self-reflecting during a divorce. This is a real question you need to ask yourself. What does it mean to you. What are three things you wish you knew for sure? That is a great question that makes you stop and ponder. This also reminds me of Oprah and how she always would ask guests what they knew for sure. Think about it.

This is also a great stopping point to say—great questions bring about a greater life. period. There are plenty of questions out there. Google questions. See which questions make you stop and ponder. Take the time to ask yourself hard questions that help you ponder, pray, seek and find greater answers for your life. That is what we all need on our personal journeys.

ADVICE. Motto. Mantra: This is a tricky one. We all hear the phrase for many occasions–what is the best and worst piece of advice you have received. Whether it was for your wedding, a job, a life choice, etc. Think over the years of advice and write down some of your favorites that you have since tried to live by or appreciate. Some of my favorites: Give the love you want to receive. It is what it is, so its up to you how you react. Your life is what you make it–you choose. Get outside of yourself and be better in the service of someone else. Be aware of the energy you carry. Karma. Namaste. Live Love. Give Love. I also heard a fun idea—randomly ask a stranger, co-worker, friend, family…whomever you like what is a favorite motto or piece of advice they live by. Then try to take a day and implement it into your life. See how it feels. I just randomly asked someone and this is what they gave me…”Conformity kills character.” Be open to ideas. Share in finding those things you live by that will help you as an individual dig deeper into who you need to be or become.

When will you begin that long journey into yourself? -Rumi

Peace. Love and Light to you today. May your journey be yours in every possible way. -H

Creative Whirl

Creativity is always at the forefront of my mind. I think we all have more creativity at play than we realize. I find myself at the beach watching my husband and daughter get lost in the thrill of agate hunting, so I have found myself yearning to seek something else to do on the sandy, beach landscape. It first began with looking for heart shaped rocks, which then led to making rock towers and now I make cairns (The name originates from a Gaelic term that means “heap of stones.” It was likely first coined by Scots who used them to mark trails across grass-covered, hilly landscapes. In the Andes Mountains and Mongolia, rock cairns were used to mark routes to safety, to food, and to villages– It is a simple exercise in patience, but also simple beauty.

Stacked rocks that seem to balance with a gentle touch. Who knew It could be so addictive. It is a game that my creativity likes to challenge. My mind whirls in movement as it seeks different colors, shapes, textures to build the ideal stack. It made me think of nature artists and artists who seem to have such natural flow in the land of art. I have sinced googled artists to find people like Andy Goldsworthy who seems to create such imagined art out of nature. His works are unique, sometimes seemingly unimageinable in the way he stacks, teeters, twists and constructs materials together to make such incredible beauty. [look him up—worth the visit–couple of his below]

I am always drawn to art, especially the artists who seem to have such depths that seem endless. So, needless to say, while flipping through Netflix, I came across the documentary called Sky Ladder, the Art of Cai Guo-Giang. His name was not a familiar one to me, but when I saw some of his art, I recognized it. He has so many incredible mediums and depths that his imagination whirls in, but my favorites were definitely what he is able to do with biodegradable gun powder to make such incredible stories and beautiful landscapes across a sky. It was like a chalk fest on another level, with depth and creativity I had never seen. It lit me up with imagination and wonder. I wanted to run out and buy a canvas and throw colorful chalk to experience a similar explosion of color. It was incredible.

Then the story began to talk about one of his personal quests, a project that seemed to propel him to another level of creativity and imagination. After multiple attempts and having various issues stop the plans in the making, the Sky Ladder seemed to become a personal mission, a larger limit, a project that many felt was unachievable and had many nay-sayers, but to him pushed him and the project into existence. It was a wonderful journey and story of how dreams, projects, art, inspiration and imagination can guide, push, propel us to new heights, fresh ideas, to see things from different lenses and to believe that anything is possible—if we simply believe.

It is amazing to me that such a story can touch another on such a level. I came away from that documentary ready to create—even on a small scale. To see someone so passionate, so driven to see his dream become a reality, was awe inspiring.

It took me back to a couple of years ago when I was inspired to create a lantern walk in my little community. I bought hundreds of lanterns and hung them on a path in a nearby forest. I created hearts out of light ropes, hung numerous lanterns of variety from trees, made luminary paths, and lit up a small park for the greater good. It all ended at a giant “LOVE” sign that was four feet tall to take pictures with friends and family. It was a lovely event that had probably about one hundred friends and neighbors in attendance, but the night seemed to have magic and wonder for all who experienced it. It was imagined, created for a larger purpose, inspired to bring connection, love and light to a community and the artist within me seemed to sing with ideas for months. It was a culmination of a creative whirl!

I am going to get all my lanterns and come up with another creative culmination that will spark a little more light and love on another scale in another community. Thanks Cai. You have inspired!!

FOR PERSONAL INSPIRATION: Watch the Netflix documentary or read this article and video about Cai

Go into your yard or outdoor space and find some medium to be creative with. Maybe start with a rock pile, leaves, twigs, chalk, water, bubbles, sand, anything you feel drawn to. Take some pics of your creativity.

Look up creative artists–whether they are caligraphy masters, nature artists, watercolor, musicians, photographers, painters, people who work with resin, natural materials like shells, etc. Find pieces that you are in awe of.

May you find something today that ignites a spark of something greater within you today.

-Peace, love and light to you. -H