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.

 

 

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

 

Peace Found in Utah

Traveling to Zion National Park gave me an opportunity to appreciate the beauty within the natural world.

Zion National Park, Utah

“Love her, but leave her wild.” -Atticus, To Kill a Mockingbird

There is a fire deep within my Mid-Western soul that longs for the beauty of Earth’s mystifying elevations. Having stood looking up at a myriad of mountain tops, canyons, and cliffs,  throughout various trips, during my life; I am reminded of the significance these stone monuments have played in my journey.

During my early twenties, I participated in a project trip to Ecuador. This was my first experience in seeing the Andes Mountains.  Never will I forget the impact those looming mountains had on my inner being.  The stillness of each curved rock as it created a barrier between earth and sky still remain fresh in my mind. The insignificance I felt, standing before these great thrones. I remembering contemplating my hopes, dreams, and fears in those moments. The mountains have always been intrinsic to my spiritual being.

Zion National Park, Utah

Fast forward to my late twenties, the unforgettable days of being in Utah’s Zion National Park. The sun was slightly hidden beneath the Navajo Sandstone that make up the stone features of Zion Canyon. A canyon created from the flow of the Virgin River; the river’s flow continues to frolic beneath its carved creation. My journal was in hand diligently writing the soft words of my soul, seeking to preserve my keen memories of those days. God’s presence was known to me in that canyon. 

Zion National Park, Utah

I knew peace in those days. Lush green landscapes beneath the colors of goldenrod kept within Zion’s kingly rocks. A calmness that can only be prescribed by the natural world. A natural world only created by a higher power. Like all trips, it ended. I prepared to return to my daily routine of being ruled by clocks and bills. I vowed silently before the Zion throne to return again. 

Many years have passed since those days in Zion National Park. My heart still yearning for one more adventure in Utah’s recreational sanctuary. 

Go visit the wondrous scenery of Utah’s Zion National Park!

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

Iceland Taught Me to Get Naked and Get Over Myself. 

“There’s no one on the island telling them they’re not good enough, so they just go ahead and sing and paint and write ” – Eric Wiener

Nakedness just sucks. Yet, there is no way to avoid it. My family took a beautiful trip to the land of fire and ice (yes, that was a Game of Thrones reference). Little did I know that during this Icelandic adventure, I would bare myself to others, emblematically its people.

Iceland is a captivating land. It’s people are equally as enchanting. Cold days turn in to  frigid nights; however, the warmth that permeates from the Nordic culture within its people melts the thickest forms of ice.  Iceland called to a deep place within my soul.  The quiet within my being that longs for intransitive beauty. This unbridled nature that seemingly is untouched by human hand.

My truest self felt the alluring peace and stillness of this ancient land. Drinking coffee became a transcendence in to spiritual realm, I have long forgotten. The landscape evokes a vulnerability within; a whisper from life painting it’s greatest work. The Northern Lights will beckon the artist in us all. You owe it to yourself to seek out these dancing hues in the sky. No words, I can write will do justice. They are fickle and appear at only their will. I saw just a glimpse of one and was mesmerized.

Reykjavik is the largest city, in Iceland. Bakeries, shops, restaurants and inviting steel buildings enveloped my senses. Watching the jovial spirit that ensared our family was surely enhanced by Iceland’s dramatic features.

This is where the road takes a metaphorical turn. My family decided to make a visit to  the community outdoor pool; all of Iceland pools are outside and heated by geothermal. My pride wants to warn you, that as an American there have been few experiences in which, I was expected to shower fully naked in a room full of open showers, with other women. However, with my vast array of body image issues; I had what some may call, an adult sized tantrum.
Before removing one article of clothing, I had already informed my husband that I would be going back to hotel and never returning to this locker room. My husband handed me a towel and reminded me that this was about giving the children an experience, of a lifetime.

Anger filled my thoughts and my heart rapidly beat. Slowly, I undressed and quickly, I ran to the shower. Never had I known a shorter shower that seemed to have a lasted a lifetime. Once, I snatched my towel from the rack; reality hit. Not one person in that shower room seemed to have noticed me.

Life again reminded me that my body image haunts my most vulnerable moments. As I walked to the pool on that particular night, I realized that my image of myself was greater than the opinion of those surrounding me. I held my head a little higher that night, knowing I had removed one bar within my perceived prison cell.