This poem was inspired by Deuteronomy 32:11. Like an eagle with its young, we can count on the Holy Spirit to call us out of our comfort zone in order to accomplish God’s will. Yet, our heavenly Father does not leave us alone. He carries us when we feel weary or inadequate for the task.
Would you agree 2021 seems a lot like 2020? The more stressful our lives become, the more we need to take time to relax. Even a three hour get-away can work wonders. My recent trip on a St. Johns riverboat increased my awareness of the soothing effect of water. Did you know contact with water can help people feel happier, calmer, and more creative? Hmm… maybe that’s why we get some of our best ideas in the shower.
Some rivers are known for their length, others for their exciting rapids. The St. Johns River boasts of neither. However, it holds the title of the laziest river in the world. Remember your elementary science classes? Water flows along the path of least resistance. In Florida the path of less resistance is found between Indian River County in the south and Jacksonville in the north. The St. Johns is twenty seven feet higher at its source compared to its mouth. This slow moving river drops one inch per mile over the course of three hundred ten miles. No wonder white water rafters look elsewhere for thrills.
In spite of its laziness, throughout history the St. Johns has given rise to an abundance of activity. The river was one of the earliest routes used by Europeans to explore Florida. During the Civil War, the Union Navy operated steamboats up and down the river to carry out attacks on Confederate forts. After the war, riverboats carried wealthy tourists south for fun in the sun. Throughout the nineteenth century paddle wheelers moved produce from Florida farms to northern states.
Today, the Barbara Lee is the only authentic riverboat sailing the St. Johns River. The ship was built in 1986 and refurbished in 2012. Unlike the steamboats of the past, the Barbara Lee uses diesel engines to turn the massive paddle wheels.
We boarded the Barbara Lee at its port in Sanford for a lunch cruise. (By the way, the dining room is air-conditioned.) The food tastes great and the service is superb. Above the dining room, we relaxed on the deck and marveled at the natural beauty of the river.
Standing on the deck, I felt miles away from the problems of the world. Rivers seem so sure of themselves. They have no doubt they will reach their destination. I felt linked with nature, connected to the past, and renewed in my spirit.
Travelers looking for alligators may want to select an evening cruise. The water temperature averages eighty-five degrees in August. Our guide told us during the summer the gators seek cooler temperatures at the bottom of the river. At night the reptiles are more active. When the gators swim across the surface of the water their eyes cast an eerie glow. How spooky!
Click here to learn about the many cruises offered by the St.Johns Rivership Company.
I’ve learned a lot from following my dog around. Whenever Buddy picks up an interesting scent… he walks faster and faster with his nose to the ground. Buddy will not stop until he tracks the scent to its source. It might be as small as one goldfish cracker, but he will not give up until he gets what he’s after. I must admit I admire his persistance.
I’ve discovered I need to apply a few of Buddy’s good qualities to my writing life. Although Buddy is directed by his sense of smell, I’m directed by what I see. My focus determines the direction I will go. I’m trying to direct my focus and be more productive by thinking like a dog.
Keep Looking Forward
Buddy never looks back, but continues to forge straight ahead when he’s on a mission. Sometimes I think fondly of the past and wish I could go back. That happens a lot when I look in the mirror and see how I’ve aged. Allowing my age to stop me from pursuing my dreams as a writer is a non-starter and robs me of my motivation. I need to remember and be thankful I’m retired. My age gives me more time to spend on my craft.
Look Beyond The Obstacles
Buddy never lets anything get in his way. When his back legs were paralyzed, he used his front paws to pull himself forward while dragging his back feet behind him. Wherever he wanted to go, he went. If I had focused on my inexperience as a writer, I would have never moved forward. My husband believed I could write a children’s book before I did. With his support, the fact that I’d never written a book, didn’t stop me.
Stay Alert for Opportunities
Buddy can be on the other side of the room but the sound of chopping vegetables or rustling cellophane signals his attention. He trots over to assume his position at my feet, keeping watch for any crumbs I drop on the floor.
Ideas for writing pop up on my radar just like those noises in the kitchen. Good ideas can fall to floor as quick as a kernel of popcorn. I need to keep a notebook, or my phone handy to capture them. If I’m stuck without an idea for a blog, poem, or plot, I can always consult my notes.
Take Time To Rest
I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a workaholic. It’s important to realize whether I’m being productive, or spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Busy work saps creativity. As I write this, Buddy is curled up sleeping. He doesn’t have a care in the world. He knows he can trust me to meet his needs. In the same way I need to remember everything doesn’t depend on me. Rest can be achieved in many ways, physically and spiritually. I rest physically when I stop hitting the keys. I rest spiritually by remembering that ultimately God is in control.
I wrote this post in 2019 but the message endures today. Two years later, I’m working on book three of “The Tails of Blueberry Street” series. Buddy the Beagle is the main character of all my books. Join us for our back to school book signing this Friday in Casselberry, Florida.
“Sometimes all the planning in the world doesn’t mean your day or week will turn out the way you expected.”
I have always been captivated by the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. The mountains seem to rise out of nowhere and demand your attention. I am awestruck and humbled by their presence. If I let my imagination go, I can hear them speak of the majesty of creation. The Tetons place sixth among the most photographed mountains in the world.
We all know 2020 was hard. And like many travel deprived Americans, I felt eager to fly somewhere this summer. For weeks Herb, Jenny, and I watched videos, studied maps, and planned our activities. We had a tight schedule with four days to spend in the park. That seems like enough time, right? But this trip to Grand Teton National Park came with two unexpected trials.
One week prior to leaving, I strained my back lifting a box of books. I felt good when we left on Saturday, but the pain returned after the long flight and the drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson.
When we finally arrived at the park on Sunday, I was saddened to see smoke covering the mountains. The smoke originated from fires in Oregon. Since we couldn’t see much, my traveling companions insisted I visit an urgent care for help with my back pain.
“But we only have four days! How can I waste time waiting to see a doctor?” I asked. Eventually they convinced me if I didn’t get help, I would never be able to hike. I relented and off we went to the nearest clinic.
After a lengthy wait, I saw a doctor who called in a prescription to a pharmacy across the street. When I arrived to pick up my medication, ten people stood in line ahead of me. My back muscles tensed as I noticed the pharmacy closed early on Sunday. Thirty minutes later I reached the pharmacy window, only to be told the prescription wasn’t ready and I should come back in twenty minutes.
I joined Herb and Jenny at an outdoor table for a quick snack and hobbled back to the pharmacy. Now eleven people waited in line. (Someone told me the pharmacy closes on time whether people are waiting or not.) Desperate to receive my medication, I cut through the line to get to the pick up window. I simply couldn’t stand on my feet any longer, and the thought of being turned away was more than I could bear.
The pharmacist served me, much to the chagrin of those waiting in line, who complained about my behavior. At this point it was three minutes to five and I don’t blame them for being angry. I received my meds and left the store before emotions got out of control. I confess I felt ashamed of myself.
The remainder of Sunday I spent in bed at our Airbnb in Teton Village. Monday morning I encouraged Jenny and Herb to return to the park without me as I felt no improvement in my health. I stayed in bed and felt sorry myself. I didn’t have much time left to tour the park. I wondered if all I would see is the four walls around me? Would this be my punishment for cutting the line?
By Tuesday morning I felt ready to hike. I used my trekking poles to traverse the most beautiful trail to Taggart Lake. The smoke lifted that day and we got some great pictures of the mountains. I felt good to be alive and see such beauty. After the hike we drove to visit some of the historic buildings in the park.
Wednesday we hiked to Inspiration Point, located on the opposite side of Jenny Lake. Both hikes were listed as moderate with a significant elevation gain. I felt surprised when a fellow hiker told me I was his inspiration. (Probably due to my age, I guess.)
By Thursday my pain returned and a thick blanket of smoke covered the mountains again. We checked out and began our return trip to Orlando.
Now a week later, I am still recovering. What did I learn from this experience?
Trips take people, people don’t take trips. All the planning in the world doesn’t mean your day or week will turn out the way you expected or wanted. I had expected too much from this trip. Blessed are those who are happy with little. I am thankful for those two days when the smoke lifted and I was well enough to experience the mountains.
Somewhere in the middle, between the good times and the bad, I sensed God’s love for me. I remembered the sick woman who pressed through the crowd to reach Jesus. (Matt. 9:20-22) She received her healing. Did she cut through a line?
I am thankful Jesus is able to recycle our mistakes into something good by his transforming grace. When I depend on experiences for my happiness, I want to remember the smoke and pain of this trip.
I want to remember lasting joy is only found in God’s redeeming love.
We visited Reflection Pond on a camping trip at Ochlockonee River State Park located near Sopchoppy, Florida. A quick photo stop turned into a half-hour visit as Herb and I a watched a water lily open. Reflection pond is aptly named. Time seemed to stand still as we pondered the beauty of the scene. I felt like we had witnessed something special.
More about water lilies:
The blooms open in the morning and close in the afternoon. Each plant blooms for three to four days.
The flowers grow from underground stems. These stems can stretch which helps the lily adjust to rising water levels.
Water lilies are beneficial to ponds because they help control algae and stabilize the water temperature.
If your birthday is in July, the water lily is your flower!
Thank you for reading my post. An earlier post entitled Being expresses a similar theme of living in the moment in the Florida Keys. Nature has much to offer if we slow down and take notice of our surroundings. May your summer be blessed with special moments outdoors.
Whew! We’ve all been there. Moving from one place to another is pure chaos. Even though a moving company handled the packing and transporting, the process stressed me out.
I apologize for my long absence from cyberspace. In my last post I mentioned our upcoming plans to move to a retirement community. For the past month, I’ve been consumed with trying to create harmony between myself and my new living space.
Our new apartment is small. (1500 square feet) We no longer have a garage, which was quite useful for stashing items we didn’t use everyday. Now, every inch of storage space matters. Although we tried to downsize, our closets are full. The movers stacked our framed art against a wall in the guest room. Every time I walked in there I thought, “What are we going to do with all of these pictures?” We live in an open floor plan with less wall space, and more windows.
If you think God doesn’t care about the little things we deal with, think again. This is one dilemma I prayed about, and His answer increased my faith.
I felt a need to keep the art I still liked—colorful landscapes and nature scenes from trips we’ve taken. So, I carried each picture from room to room to envision how it might look on the wall. Still, I couldn’t see how this eclectic mix could possibly fit together. Most of all, I didn’t want to make unnecessary holes in any of the walls. Once the pictures were hung, that’s where I wanted them to stay.
Two years ago I repurposed these frames with photographs I took at Lue Gardens. The colors brightened up the dining room and complemented our chairs, so I decided to keep them.
Then I found a collection of small canvases Jenny, our daughter, had painted. For years they decorated a bedroom. When I carried them into the dining room, I realized they matched the chairs as well. Jenny and I found some rustic looking frames at Joann Fabrics, which my husband prepared for hanging. Originally I thought I would line them up horizontally on another wall.
Enter Shaun,O’Dwyer, a floral designer with an eye for hanging pictures. Shaun came up with a new idea. Create harmony by bringing these different elements together vertically. Then hang them high. The result is amazing. I always thought pictures had to be at eye level. Shaun opened my eyes to new possibilities.
If you are wondering what to do with something old, instead of throwing it out or giving it away, think about changing it. Enlist the help of someone who might see things differently and create a new look.
“Redecorating has the power to make us feel like we have created new energy, a new vibe, a new life” —Dr. Sherrie Campbell
I am so thankful God cares about the little details in our lives. When it comes to creativity, I want to remember to look to the master creator. Behold, He makes all things new! (Rev.21:5 KJV)
Thank you for reading my blog. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear how you solved a decorating dilemma.
A positive outlook about your age can help you live longer.
This week I received a phone call from a high school classmate inviting me to our fiftieth class reunion. The call hit me by surprise. What? Fifty years have passed since I graduated? After the shock wore off, I did the mental math. I graduated from high school in 1971. Just another reminder that time doesn’t stop. Sometimes I feel like my body is a driverless car on the road to an unknown destination.
The cosmetic industry has made billions from products which help hide or slow down the effects of aging, but nothing stops the process. For twenty-five years I colored my hair to hide my age. When the 2020 shut down closed the beauty shops, I let my hair return to its natural state. After awhile I began to like my salt and pepper look. Now a year later, I’ve accepted myself for who I am. After all, isn’t gray hair considered the “splendor of the old?”
Most women don’t want anyone to know how old they are. After age eighty, all of a sudden their attitude changes. They wear their age like a badge of honor to represent their personal victory over the struggles of life. I am thankful for the advancements in health care which make it possible for us to live longer.
Today people can expect to spend a quarter of their adult lives in retirement mode. These can be the best years of our lives if we approach them with the right attitude. That’s right, attitude means everything. Did you know a positive outlook about your age can help you live longer? In this post I’d like to share some tips for nurturing a healthy attitude.
Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
Are you someone who regularly complains about how bad they feel? Accept the reality that you are aging and do what you can to alleviate your aches and pains. Focus on the opportunities of today instead of regretting the mistakes of the past. People lose their “aliveness” when they weigh themselves down with negativity.
Exercise Your Mind
When we learn new skills our brain function increases. Routines create ruts and limit our growth. Our brains love stimulation. Try puzzles, read, learn new vocabulary, dance, listen to music. For more ideas go to this link for brain Exercises.
Stay Connected Socially and Spiritually
Keep in touch with old friends. Deepen your relationship with God by reading the Bible and praying. Connect with people who share a similar interests. Volunteer in your community.
Every day think of three things you are thankful for. Keep a journal of blessings. Express your thankfulness to and for others. Be thankful for your age. God has given you these years and it is indeed a wonderful life.
Soon my husband and I will be moving into a retirement community. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and treasure these years together.
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”
Why would a turtle crawl onto the same bank as an alligator? Excuse me, but something doesn’t seem right about this photo. After all, alligators eat turtles. Their massive jaws have an extreme biting force that can easily break the shell of a turtle.
Strange but true, alligators and turtles sometimes become friends. In fact, some alligators let turtles ride on their backs. A gator might provide a nice way for the turtle to sun itself in a wide expanse of water.
Alligators only eat when they feel hungry. But how would a turtle know the gator’s stomach was full?
Herb and I saw this interesting scene on our latest camping trip to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Although Herb zoomed in for a close up, the gator was only about twenty feet away from us. Since we had Buddy (our beagle) with us, we didn’t wait around to see what might happen next.
The phrase “timing is everything” applies to many situations in life. The success of something is often related to when it happens. Our intuition guides us to the appropriate time to act. Animals rely heavily on their sense of intuition to process what is going on in their environment. In contrast, humans rely on their cognitive processes and tend to ignore their intuition.
Perhaps the turtles had a “gut feeling” about the alligator and the contents of his “gut.”
On that note…. until next time, watch your back.
Leave a comment if you have had any interesting animal encounters.
Everyone has dreams. How many of your dreams have become reality?
Five years ago I started writing this blog. Initially, I wanted to encourage people to pursue their creativity. I started as the Poet on Blueberry Street on April 1, 2016. My first post was very short. I really didn’t know what I was doing or where this blog would take me.
So it goes with creativity. One step leads to another and before you know it five years have passed. I have published one hundred sixty-two entries since 2016. Some of you may have followed me since the beginning. We have shared the ups and downs of camping in Florida, adventures in gardening, and of course who could forget the pandemic?
Throughout it all I’ve weaved my love for poetry, reading, and writing. Today I looked back at some of my favorite poetry posts. In case you missed them, or would like to revisit, click on these links.
I realize I am not a blogger who keeps a specific schedule. I tend to hit the keys when I feel inspired. Creativity cannot be forced, but it can be furthered by allowing ourselves to “be in the zone.” I am thankful for this opportunity to express myself without an editor looking over my shoulder.
In the process of writing this post I discovered a website called DayZero. I was surprised to learn the world’s most popular goals include writing a blog, losing weight, and writing a book. Interesting. How blessed I am to accomplish two of those goals. (Remember, I like to eat bread.)
Whatever your goals, I leave you with this quote from Darren Hardy.
“Starting is not most people’s problem. Staying, continuing, and finishing is.”
“Some threads of our social fabric have changed forever.”
Do you ever wonder what life might be like if Covid 19 had never happened? Unfortunately, we will never know. One year has been wiped out of our lives. As difficult as the year has been, we have established new habits. We’ve become accustomed to a stilted way of life. One which is less social, less free, and less risky.
Why have we chosen comfort and safety above everything else? What happened to the bold Americans who explored unknown territory? Why do we still hesitate to venture into public without our masks and wash our hands countless times a day?
One year ago I wrote a post entitled Lessons from a National Emergency. Last March the entire country was under a stay at home order to “slow the spread.” Over the past year Florida eased many restrictions regarding social distancing. Public schools opened, as did restaurants and hair salons. However, many churches, and community organizations continue to meet virtually. Museums, if open, insist upon scheduling appointments to accommodate visitors. Businesses maintain mask policies, and many employees still work from home.
I believe some threads of our social fabric have changed forever. Virtual communication is here to stay. We are different now. It is so much easier to meet with someone on a screen. Driving somewhere to interact with people involves too much effort. We feel uncomfortable without our masks, and wonder… “what if the vaccines we receive do not protect us from a deadly variant?”
When our children were young, we rented a small trailer and took a road trip from Columbus, Ohio to Yellowstone. Prior to the trip, we prepared a child friendly map of the U.S. for each of them. We drew our route on the map and highlighted all of our stops. When we were on the trip the children placed a star sticker on each stop we made. We hoped it might help them to see how far we still needed to go before we were “there.”
In a similar way, most Americans can’t wait for the day when the pandemic ends. We all want to be “there.” Back to a time when we could enjoy a play in a crowded theatre or attend an indoor concert. (without a mask) The slow car ride to normality drags on. We feel disappointed when we hear our government say, “Put another sticker on the map, kids. Busy yourself by looking out the window.” Like you, I am bored with the view from the back seat and continue to ask, “Are we there yet?”