Clock of Life: It’s Ticking

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Clock of Life: It’s Ticking

I continue to seek the innocence within my beating heart. I, fear my days are limited. Maturity has set in my bones.  Experiences have defined the blueprint within my face.  Time continues to steal my gleeful spirit.  Yet, the hope hidden within my heart pursues the Winsome of my youth.

 

Embracing My Inner Bison in the New Year

The American Bison are the official mammal of the United States of America (thanks to the National Bison Legacy Act). Their heritage is one entrenched in tragic beauty.  They are a prehistoric animal that have continued to roam our lands, for thousands of years. The American Bison ensnare its audience with a bold presence of strength and endurance.  These dignified beasts are the emblem of my New Year.

The American Bison have provided the Native American’s tribal lands with “fuel, clothing, food, tools, shelter, and spiritual value (US Dept of Interior, 2017).” Cows (female bison) often weigh 1,000 pounds and bulls (male bison) can weigh up to 2,000 pounds, with heights between 4-6 feet. A bison’s mood can be determined by the his or her tail. If the tail is pointing straight then stay even further back. Always maintain safe distances (a football field) from a bison. (US Dept of Interior, 2017)

The American Bison are powerful swimmers, fast runners (up to 35 mph), and have the ability to jump.  Their diets consist of leafy greens and weeds; they forge for 9-11 hours, per day. Their humps provide agility for their head to move snow when locating food.  Bison have a life span between 10-20 years. Bison “wallow” in dirt, meaning they roll around in dirt. Bison wallow to shed old fur and create a layer of protection from insects. Male bison also use wallowing to leave their scent behind, during mating season. (US Dept of Interior, 2017)

Life lessons from the American Bison

  1. Own your presence in this world. Stand firm and strong.
  2. Keep forging on. Swing that head, move those mounds of snow in front of you and forge the heck out of the day before you.
  3. Your hide may be torn and tattered; nonetheless it still is protecting you.
  4. Keep roaming over these amber waves of grain. Take help from others to maintain places of safe haven for your herd.
  5. A little dirt will not hurt you. It may protect you later in life and help you shed old skin.

With the dawn of a new year, I am choosing to live in a way that mimics that of the majestic American Bison. An emblem of my nation’s history. A noble beast that captured the heart of President Theodore Roosevelt, thus marking the first strides in conservation efforts of the American Bison. In this new year, I will forge and wallow, in ways I have never before.  Happy New Year!

Bibliography

US Department of Interior (12/2017). 15 Facts About Our National Mammal American Bison. Retrieved from https://www.doi.gov/blog/15-facts-about-our-national-mammal-american-bison

Disclaimer: This post is my personal thoughts, research, and experience. I am receiving no financial compensation for this blog post.

 

 

Tis the Season to Address Mental Health

The holidays paint a picture of joy and merriment. A time to celebrate faith, tradition, family, and friends. For many, the holiday season does incite merriment. There are a multitude of individuals that experience an increase in mental health symptoms, during the holidays.

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Anxiety and Depression Association of America noted that 16.1 million Americans are affected by Major Depression Disorder; 6.8 million impacted by Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Often, when people have concerns with anxiety or depression; these mental health concerns frequently co-occur (AADA.org, 2017).

Quick Guide to the Holidays and Mental Health

Limit setting: YOU get to decide how much time to spend with family, friends, and all other types of holiday activities. Often, quantity of alcohol and/or poor eating habits increase how stress is received in our bodies. For example, drinking large quantities of caffeine can increase anxiety. It is okay to say NO!

Schedule: Adhere to a schedule. I hate to admit this but having a routine does help. Build time for YOU, in your daily routine. As a person that has struggled with the holiday blues, I can attest to that!

Professional Help: Seek out a mental health professional. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to process life with a professionally-trained third party person.

Expectations: Get rid of expectations! All of them !(I am just kidding). Downsize your holiday expectations to a manageable amount.

Self-care: Take a bath. Read a book. Drink more water. Meditate. Exercise. Lay under your Christmas tree and enjoy every minute of it. Take care of you, this holiday season.

 

Further Resources & Reading Recommendations

https://www.nami.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://psychcentral.com/holidays/

Bibliography

AADA.org (8/2017) Facts & Statistics Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Disclaimer: This is collection of my personal experience and research. You, as the reader never have to agree with my thoughts or perspectives. As always, I challenge you to seek out further information about mental heath.

My Quintessential Autumn

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Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile – William Cullen Bryant

Fall is upon us. The Mid-West is the place to be, during Autumn. Leaves painted with hues of orange, yellow, and red. The constant, gentle hum from the percolating coffee fills the heart with joy. Pumpkins, crisp air, and apple themed desserts on every corner (a little embellishment, never hurt). Pinterest and Instagram lure me with their fall seducing pictures and themes. Like, every Autumn before, I plan and plot to enjoy all the merits of Fall. This particular season began with my annual trip to the local pumpkin patch.

The Pumpkin Ranch, in Winterset, Iowa, is an enjoyable visit for those seeking a genuine Autumn experience. There are many options for a Fall seeker in Central Iowa. The attraction for our family to The Pumpkin Ranch, in particular was its closeness to the Bridges of Madison County (yes, there is a movie). Side note: there are several winery options and one cidery in Winterset, Iowa.

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Hogback Bridge: Bridges of Madison County, Iowa

My immediate family recently made the long, boring drive from Indiana to Iowa, for a visit. Their request was to visit a local pumpkin patch and corn maze. The Pumpkin Ranch fulfilled both requests. The corn maze (10 acres) was intense; there were a few moments of dredging through soft mud; however, with the expert navigation skills of my brother-in-law, we safely made it through. The Pumpkin Ranch offers a toddler-friendly playground, corn maze, obstacle course made out of bales, tunnel slides, pumpkin picking, food, and jump pillow.  The Pumpkin Ranch will provide all Autumn lovers with a genuine Fall experience.  For more ideas on ways/events to enrich your fall season, please visit: https://www.catchdesmoines.com/fall/

Autumn is time to slow down. A season to sip mulled cider, wear a beautiful scarf, and enjoy a short season of fellowship with friends and family. Try something new this season or revitalize an old Fall pastime (sitting by a fire, reading a book, in a cozy chair). As the temperatures begin to decline, take this cue to slow down and enjoy these fleeting moments called life.

 

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog about my own experience. Please note that I am not affiliated with The Pumpkin Ranch or Catch Des Moines.

Arrange Those Flowers

Somedays

I am the flower.

somedays,

I am the rain. -Havana

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Flowers are my love language. The beauty of flowers have captivated my (wannabe) free-spirited heart for years. On days when I need an aesthetic pick me up, I run to the local store to purchase flowers for the office or home. Longingly, I sift through Instagram photos of flower arrangements with envy. Today, I decided to create my own flower arrangement. I am no expert on flowers and/or arranging them. I watched two videos on flower arranging and then just went for it.

My interest in flower arranging lead me to a local antique shop (Found Things, in Des Moines, Iowa).  There, I unearthed a pedestal bowl. I am going for the vintage-hipster look. Fun fact: I learned from the shop owner that this beautiful vessel was once used to hold lard. It is slightly tinted with a light brown hue around the basin.

In the Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King, Gandalf exclaimed, “Run Shadowfax, show us the meaning of haste.”  Like Shadowfax, I made haste with those strips of tape; I used these cut strips to section off the bowl. There are numerous ways to create order when arranging flowers.  Often those versed in flower arranging encourage the usage of foam. The foam must be saturated fully in water; for larger centerpieces, use more foam. I did not use foam in this creation.

 

With the tape placed on the top of my vessel, I laid all the flowers across the table. Then, I placed each flower according to my liking.  After running out of flowers for my creation, I decided to get creative. I cut leaves off my house plants to fill in the gaps. I added eucalyptus for additional good smells. There is really no wrong or right.  Heck, I do not even know the types of flowers, I used. With fall being upon us, I used sunflowers, a decorative (sweet little, baby) kale, and a variety other “fall-looking” flowers.

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Favorite places to acquire flowers in Des Moines, Iowa:

  • Gateway Market
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Whole Foods
  • Trader Joe’s offers a variety of affordable flowers
  • My yard and/or house plants

In conclusion, there is a lesson learned from this flower arranging endeavor. This moment of enlightenment taught me to focus on treating myself (and surroundings) with gentle carefulness. I must focus on the beauty around me; harness it and arrange it in a way that uplifts and captivates. It was never  just about arranging flowers. These smalls moments are about creating a life that upholds beauty, creativity, and an never-ending desire to share joy with others. Inspiration starts from within.

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience. I am receiving no financial compensation or benefits from the listed stores, in this post. You should read up on flowering arranging. Apply what information you’ve learned when arranging flowers. The beauty is in the individualistic application to your works of art.

 

Devoted Traveler in Nashville, Tennessee

Quick and dirty account of our recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee. Review on 3 restaurants and our Solar Eclipse 2017; Path of totality experience.

Monell’s Restaurant, Nashville Tennessee

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow” -Anita Desai

Ya’ll, this Midwestern girl just returned from a quick weekend trip to Nashville, Tennessee, with a newly discovered southern drawl, in tow.  Nashville is the known as the Music City; home to country music, delicious Southern foods, and rich experiences beckon all that enter its city limits. Partner this with a bountiful lists of decadent option for food and fun, plus the allure of being in the Path of Totality during the 2017 Solar Eclipse…you are definitely in Nashville, ya’ll.

The family and I, drove 10+ hours from Des Moines, Iowa to Nashville, Tennessee, with the only rousing stop being in Pella, Iowa, at Jaarsma Bakery to pick up two dozen Dutch letters; aka… heaven wrap in dough and almond paste.  Road trips with kids require snacks, ipads, and more snacks. The landscape slowly started to shift from farm lands to rolling hills, with Nashville, on the horizon.
Family happily greeted us, as we arrived at my cousin’s home. Things in life are sweeter when family come together to make merry over food and a Solar Eclipse. Together we ventured to 3 different  Nashville dining establishments.

Fat Bottom Brewery is a Nashville native owned brewery, with a variety of locally brewed ales to quench the thirst of all types of consumers. The location is aesthetically pleasing to the eye; with lights strung outside hanging over an area to play Cornhole (Bags, dummy boards, doghouse, Baggo, Bag toss, etc).  My husband, a seasoned beer drinker, was pleased with his choice of their Lychee Weisse. There is a full bar for options outside of microbrews. Overall, a cozy, hipster place to hang with family and friends.

My cousin and her husband conveniently live close to McDougals Chicken Fingers and Wings, in Nashville, Tennessee. Ya’ll, chickens fingers with your choice of dipping sauces. I am just not sure that life could be any better. The kids ordered wings and a grilled cheese sandwich and I heard no complaints. Plus, each meal ends with a small cup of ice cream.

Kids waiting patiently to eat at Monell’s

YA’LL, the restaurant, Monell’s. YA’LL, there is nothing to say except, go. Go, now! You will have to wait to get a table. You will most likely have to share a family style table, with strangers. You will be asked to put away your cell phone. You will eat outstanding Southern food.  And just when you think the food will stop coming; the Monell staff  will place several more options on the table. After eating at Monell’s, you will need to immediately go home, put on stretchy pants and take a nap. Go for the brunch, lunch, or dinner. Check their website, for their hours.

Sign above doorway at Monell’s Restaurant, Nashville, Tennessee

Let’s talk about the Path of Totality! The Solar Eclipse of 2017 exceeded all expectations.  The temperature dramatically dropped and the boisterous song of the cicadas could be heard during these two minutes of totality.  A supernatural moment to reflect on the universe’s ability to continue without the control of mankind. Sure, we can market these events and sell merchandise, all while singing Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart…you get the picture. There are moments that are outside of our control. These brief periods that award us a moment to be enchanted by the power of nature and for many it is a reminder of a higher power.  Can we get a solar eclipse more often, please? 

Solar Eclipse 2017; Path of Totality, Nashville, Tennessee

Overall, the weekend trip was fun, fast paced, and full of fantastic experiences. Writing about my travels is providing me  an opportunity to process my journey.  Traveling is much more than relaxing or hitting up the gift shop, of some major attraction. My short visit to Nashville, reminded me that my journey is a collection of moments that have chiseled my inner being, into the person, I am. Moments with good food, beautiful landscapes, and community make up a life of marvel. These seemingly short lived moments have become the foundation in which I stand upon. 

The journey of a thousands miles begins with a single step. -Lao Tzu