A Cheeky Kiss from Alaska to Houston – With Love

Day 55 – #100HappyDay Challenge

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Here’s a cheeky kiss from Alaska to Houston, sweeping in with gusto, making my cheeks blush in the chill air, before drifting away, letting the normal Houston sunshine take center stage. Hello, crazy weather!

Today, in Houston, we get to experience the entire winter weather pattern in one day. The thing is, I imagine for most Houstonians, this weather is wrecking havoc since they aren’t use to this white stuff making a morning appearance. It’s one of those times when I’m grateful I can work from home. Just listening to NPR is making me cringe with the number of vehicle accidents being reported. 

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Yes, it was snowing, and now we are experiencing breakup (for those of you who don’t know, breakup is a term we use in Alaska for when the snow melts leaving messy mud and muck for weeks, sometimes months, which is often confused for spring).

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View from my home office – a very familiar sight…just not in Houston!

Its really not that cold. At least not as cold as up North which I am eternally grateful for. You have no idea how tired of shoveling snow off my car I am. I wasn’t blessed with a garage in Anchorage so I spent far too many mornings and evening shoveling snow over the years. Now, to be fair, I didn’t think I would see snow this year in Houston and had just mentioned how happy I was about that very fact. Karma is knocking at my door laughing. 

You know how just recently I posted my excitement over growing my very own tomato? Yeah – I’m pretty sure my tomato and basil plants are toast, that is the frozen-deep-freeze -kind-of-toast-never-to-come-back-kind. I plucked the little guy from the cold blanket of snow and brought him inside… there’s Karma chuckling. But that’s alright. I’m going to make pesto with the basil. The jury is still out on the lone tomato.

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Take that Karma!

Dang, I’d better be careful or the next surprise visit Karma makes may not be as delightful as fresh-brand-new-fallen-snow that disappears in a twinkling of an eye. Because, honestly, there is nothing better than waking up to fresh snow – as long as you don’t have to shovel it.

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Sending you all very, merry, happy thoughts your way for a fun snow day!

Love, April

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Kids Say The Cutest Things

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard

Day 45 – #100HappyDay Challenge

Coming home I stepped out front to check on the herbs and one lone tomato plant. I planted the half a dozen plants just for fun and to prove to myself I could. And low and behold a tomato emerged! I’m so excited. This would have never have happened to me in Alaska.

While admiring God’s handiwork the kids across the street came running through my front yard chasing after their puppy, its leash trailing behind her. I greeted them happily.

The older girl, around 12 or so, let me pet the puppy. As I admired the little mixed auburn pup, her little brother and sister began to ask me questions. I love kid’s curiosity.

“Do you have a dog,” the little boy asked me. I said no. “Why not? Are you going to get a dog?” I could tell the way he looked at me he couldn’t imagine NOT having a dog.

I explained that I lived on my own and that I was away from home too much to have a dog and there wasn’t someone home to help take care of a dog. He nodded his head solemnly, “Are you going to get a husband?” I suppose that would solve being alone and then I could have a dog.

Oh, my goodness, I just laughed and laughed. His older sister, embarrassed, cheeks flushing, hustled them away. How cute are they!?!

I never really considered that as a reason to find a husband, but maybe I should have. Then I might have a husband and a dog. The kid might be onto something. Mmmmm.

Des Moines Airport – heading home

Day 42 – #100HappyDays Challenge

I’m going home. I’ll be happy – eventually. Only right now I’m a little sad at leaving the guys and Mr. Abraham. The Des Moines airport is quiet here in the early hours. The comparison between Houston and Des Moines can be summed up by their airports.

But Houston is calling and I have things to get back to. Like work. I checked my work email a few days ago and ran through things, sorting them into actions or deleting the junk. It should make catching up a bit easier later today.

Talk to me about Black Friday…did you shop? I am watching the news scroll by with a story about Amazon opening brick and mortar stores. They already have Whole Foods but this goes beyond the specialty grocery store. It’s just fascinating to me how company’s shift and change to capture more and more of our dollars.

Home.

Cheers!

❤️

Viva Las Vegas

I booked a trip months ago to Las Vegas when Delta was having an air sale. These are the best kind of trips; easy on the wallet and good for the soul.

Speaking of which I thought I would share my cost saving tips as I go along. As I write this I can hear my friends and family snickering since I struggle with staying on budget. I like really nice things. And nice things tend to cost a bit more. But with the uncertainty around my livelihood that is on the horizon now is not the time to splurge. Quite the opposite. I should be saving for that rainy day that literally might be next week, but here I am looking at the Trump Tower Hotel from my window. C’est la vie.


I’m staying at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino – but that’s the old school name. Many of you may know it by just TI. Vegas has this thing about constantly rebranding – gotta keep everything new and shiny, right? It’s so much fun to pop in for the weekend and see what’s new on the Strip. But the rate was reasonable (budget, people!) and the location is convenient since it’s centrally located on Las Vegas Blvd. or more commonly called “the Strip”.

I’ve mentioned before in a previous post  the long journey from Anchorage to anywhere you want to go is forever.  I swear it’s often shorter to fly to Europe than to the Lower 48 States.

I landed in Las Vegas tired and a bit hungry, but food could wait. I had a spa appointment! First I collected my bag. Now don’t get me started about carry on luggage. Sometimes I’ll do it but for the most part I like strolling through the airport with nothing more than a tote on my arm. For me, there is nothing worse than chasing a suitcase like a wayward puppy. 

Check your luggage. Try it. The liberating feeling will set you free, not to mention save space in the overhead bins.

The Oleksandra Spa & Salon

Tip* The day before I found a groupon for the Oleksandra Spa & Salon conveniently located on the third floor of  TI. Basically I paid $60 for $120 worth of spa services. What’s a girl to do? Book a 50 minute massage!

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Sleep deprived (did I mention I don’t sleep on planes?), I arrived at the spa’s lobby an hour early. Did I mention with any spa service you can use the facility all day!?! Yes!

The receptionist was welcoming and gracious. The spa is small but beautifully decorated in gold and cream. I shed my clothing, wrapped myself up in a robe, poured a glass of spa water and curled up on a comfy chaise lounge. Awwweeee.

It’s a clothing optional facility and it’s important to respect others privacy so you will just have to go to experience the tranquillity. I snuck a picture since it was just me in the entire place but it’s frowned upon. Naughty, girl. 


Heaven!

My Room

Note to self and to you: Do not get a lovely, relaxing massage if you plan on going out afterwards! 

C. sent a text. They had left L.A. later than expected  and wouldn’t hit town til late. Perfect! There was no way in my relaxed state I could go out. Heck, I was wondering if I had enough strength to make it to the 17th floor. So, with inordinate will power, I tore my relaxed-into-a-buttery-melty-lump from the uber spa cocoon – to bed! Thoughts of my room and it’s delicious bed drew me to its softness like a Las Vegas magician. It was 7:30p.m.!

I took a nap. It lasted all night. 


Snippets from today:

An older inebriated gentleman followed me into the elevator. He stared at the bank of numbers and told me 18 was missing. I nodded and took a look at the row of numbers. Pushing 18 I told him I found it. It was hiding next to 17. Very tricky elevators. “See you in the funny papers, kid,” he called after me as I left the elevator. I haven’t heard that phrase in eons! I laugh and wave. I hope he found his room wasn’t playing hide-and-go-seek.

 

“Drink lots of water!” The therapist reminded me as I left the massage room. With what remaining energy I had I ran downstairs to the convenient shop on the casino floor to purchase a bottle of water. They had a case of water stacked up by the entry on sale for $6.99. The clerk explained to me it was a great deal since one bottle of water was $3. I left the shop with a case of water – cuz that’s how I roll in Vegas, baby. All the water you can drink!

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A New Day, A New Month and the Theme is LOVE

It’s All About Love
The days are getting longer. The weather is warming just enough to turn the snow to slush during the day and cold enough at night to turn the streets to ice making for a fun commute in the morning – kind of like ice skating except in cars (not recommended) – and the stores are blooming with pink and red hearts.

Welcome to February!

Love is in the air.

Did you know that for every language there is a word for love? But the meaning of love crosses so many boundaries and morphs depending on who said it, the context it was said in, even the enunciation can change the meaning. There are feelings to consider (so many FEELINGS). There are relationships to consider (commit/don’t commit/somewhere in the middle). Let’s just agree there is a lot to consider to this very simple word L O V E.

Before sitting down to write I popped online researching pages and pages. There is a minefield of information all on the meaning of love. Wow. I encourage you to check it out yourselves. For those of you with a very analytical mind love may not be a riddle easily solved. However, many have tried. My personal favorite happens to be the Greek’s 6 words described here at Yes Magazine.

1. Eros – sexual passion

2. Philia – deep friendship

3. Ludus – playful love

4. Agape – love for everyone

5. Pragma – longstanding love

6. Philautia – love of the self

My Very Personal Opinion:

No matter how you slice or dice it love begins internally with each of us. Love is an ember of warmth that, if nurtured, flares to a glowing fire warming all who nears its presence. Love begins with me. It begins with you. Love connects us. Love grows us. Love excites us. Love is the adventure of a lifetime. Like the Beatles’ song goes “all you need is love”.

Here’s to L O V E!

Cheers!

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Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World – January 30,2017

Cee’s Photo Challenge: Share Your World
Here is the basic format.
I will ask you: 
To answer fours questions each week. Bonus Question is always the same “What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?” Because we all need to be reminded that there are many things in our lives to be grateful about.  

Let’s get started (I’m so excited!):

What  is the most incredible natural venue that you’ve ever seen in person?

I have been blessed to have traveled and seen so many places. I know, living in Alaska, a living  post card, you might think I would share sights of the Last Frontier. But, no, I am going to share with you a place I discovered on a pilgrimage in the South of France. The Saint-Baume Grotto, thought to be the home of Mary Magdalene during her last years, sits high upon a hill by Marseille.

The pilgrimage begins  at the edge of an old woods with and a tree guiding the way. It was my marker to point me in the right direction as I headed up.

There are two paths up; the left or the right…either will take you to the Holy Cave. But the request is for silence and contemplation as you make your way up. Don’t forget to stop for a sip of holy water at the edge of the trail.

I arrived at the top just in time for Mass. I slipped into a pew just as the doors closed behind me and the priest began the service – all in french. If you get the opportunity stay for Mass – take the time, close your eyes and let the spirit fill you. I felt the spirit of the divine move through the few of us there and its a memory forever in my heart.

How many siblings do you have? What’s your birth order?

I have 3 brothers; one older brother and two who are younger, the youngest brother and I are twelve years apart.

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If you were a shoe, what kind would you be and why?

BOOTS! I’ve never met a boot that I haven’t liked. There just something about them that makes me happy…so much so that my girlfriends began calling me Boots years ago. We should all have girlfriends that love you unconditionally and I am soooo extremely lucky to have some of the best friends in the whole world. Did I mention a pair of Sorels are stocking me? Yep…everywhere I go online there they are just pleading for me to bring them home. But I’m ignoring them as best I can…I can do it… I can do it….but they are soooo CUTE.

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What is the strangest/weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

Since I have a pretty sensitive pallet I must admit that I don’t typically stray from tried and true cuisines. I know…just my adventurous side kind of turns into a  weenie when it comes to venturing out when it comes to food. I did dip my finger into the buttery, garlicy sauce that escargot sat in…that must count. No? well…darn.
Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful for taking the plunge into blogging. I’m opening up to the unknown and I’m enjoying the creative outlet. And I am sooo looking forward to prepping for my trip to Vegas. Its just around the corner and I cant wait to share it with you.

Cheers!

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone & Those Really, Really, REALLY Cute Boots. 

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be, well, uncomfortable.

That’s just the nature of growth or so that’s the way it goes for me.

Thank goodness not all growth is that uncomfortable cuz this girl might need some retail therapy and my closet cannot house another pair of boots. Even though I saw a beautiful pair of Sorel’s calling my name on the Nordstrom website and pictures of it continue to follow me from website to website teasing me, begging me to bring them home. Anyone else experience boots haunting them online? Yeah – welcome to my world. I might need a 12-step-self-help program.

Back to topic…where was I? Oh, yeah – Mindfulness. Or at least I was getting there.

In some ways, it’s an overused word that causes some eye rolling. Just me? Ok, moving on. Now add a genuine smile and some humor to mindfulness and you have my attention. Laughter is good for the soul. And that’s what this is all about, right? Being present to enjoy this big ball of blue we happen to live on.

AnyHOO, part of my growth is discovering new teachers to get my butt moving towards mindfulness (or is that slowing down?). What have I learned? Teachers come in all forms and walks of life! Sooo – no epiphany there. What is amazing is that those teachers sometimes show up just when you need them most. Kind of like an Oprah Winfrey’s aha moment.
I’ll share a few with you who I’ve been virtually introduced to:

  • Tara Brach, Ph.D, author, physiologist, teacher of meditation and kick-ass-spiritual-awakener (my words) who soothingly threads motivational messages with science and humor. A girlfriend sent me a text to listen to her podcast. I’m so glad I did. One message I jotted down on my bright green sticky pad is “hate is too great of a burden to bare…Turn towards love.” Just wow. Listen to her message.
  •  Baron Vaughn, Comedian – Funny, funny interview on “The Hilarious World of Depression”, a podcast I stumbled on because, full confession, I’m a NPR geek. With ear buds on in the cube farm I work at, I listened to the interview with Baron quietly chuckling along to the cheerios diet (not recommended), how to apply imagination to anxiety and sound bites of his album “Raised by Cable”. Seriously – great escape from the grind as well as great for the mind to digest a not so funny subject. Listen to it.
  • Davidj, author, stress management expert and an all around amazing meditation guide. I discovered his meditations years ago during a painful breakup or what I like to refer to as a gawd-aweful-growth-period. It was my first step into meditation. And I find myself returning to his meditations when I need to find center. Take a listen.
  • The checkout clerk at my local grocery store who looked me in the eye, genuinely smiled and gave me the space to respond – with a smile. Have you ever noticed it’s pretty hard not to smile when someone genuinely smiles at you? Try it…and let me know what you learn. I don’t have a link to share with you for this one. But I’m betting that you have someone similar in your life if you look close. But turn it around and be the one to share a smile with the next person you see. We can all be teachers too.

This type A lady has gads of work to do in slowing down and focusing on the important things in her life. If you have any teachers you’d like to recommend I’m all ears. Please share them with me in the comments. Namaste.

And as always, Cheers!

💕