Up, Up and Away!

Nosh –  Red meat.  Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.)  For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1.  It’s seriously delicious.

Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song.  I don’t meant that ironically.  I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it.  I just hate it.  At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying.  I love Beethoven.  The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents.  A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata.  For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.

Wanderlust –  We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been.  Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close.  A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground.  Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show.  It was great fun!

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Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands.  I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling.  I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level.  Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.

Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration.  I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems.  They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.

Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK!  He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again.  Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia.  Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings.  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street.  We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny.  Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up.  I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home.  I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.

Photos – Balloons! Obviously.  Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.

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TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX.  If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie.  The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.

Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements).  Available on Amazon here  So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in.  I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.

Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android.  My dad got an iPhone and he hates it.  I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it.  My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it.  So which is better?  Livewire breaks it down.

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Sticky Fingers, Sting Rays, and Strides

[Chattanooga Recap]

My family and I (minus the tiniest guy) went to Chattanooga for the weekend, not knowing what to expect, but full of excitement.  We all enjoy an adventure and I have a serious inexplicable need to see and touch every part of this country and other countries.  I would like to put my two (bare) feet on the ground in every city in every country on Earth, if I could.  I am comfortable at home, but I have a nomad’s heart.

Word to the wise: A trip to the mountains – any mountains – is refreshing to the spirit.  If you’ve ever felt like your soul needs to take a good, long, tingly fresh breath, the mountains are the place for you.  If you don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo, well quite frankly, Chattanooga may still be the place for you.  After all, some things are true whether you believe them or not.  *wink, wink*

The drive from our house to the Noog (as some of the locals call it) was an easy, painless, traffic-free 5 hours.  I love a good road trip and I always like driving through Atlanta and daydreaming about the people who live and work in the beautiful buildings there.  (I see you, Tyler Perry.)  We arrived and met up with my step-dad, and then promptly drove over to see Mom at her wordplace.  Now, I’m going to keep this place anonymous in order to protect her, but we have this running joke that she actually works at a CIA Front Operation (ala Sydney Bristow in Alias) because there is no way any workplace can be this wonderful.  It’s a beautiful glass building that sits on a cliff overlooking the river, complete with coffee shop and neatly manicured courtyard including infinity waterfalls, where she’s encouraged to take yoga classes ON THE CLOCK because wellness matters.  I mean… WHAT?!  This alone is reason to move to Chattanooga.  We took a tour of the building and I tried to get the elevator to go to the “bottom” floor, but it wouldn’t. Probably because I don’t have the security clearance and wasn’t willing to do a retina scan.

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Allow me to inquire about your health insurance.

Since our trip was just for the weekend, we had to try and squeeze a lot of activity into just a few hours.  We were up to the challenge, and we started with Rock City on Friday Night.  I have been to Rock City once, but it doesn’t count, because it was the middle of winter and I didn’t get out of the car.  My 7 year old son has been once before, so he was my official guide.  Rock City is one of the most well-known attractions in Chattanooga, and I recommend it.  Because we arrived somewhat late in the evening, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which was great because we could wander and chat and it felt very relaxed.  There’s a lot of walking through beautiful foliage and ancient rock formations,  and at the top of Lookout Mountain, you can “See 7 States”, which is really rad.  There are garden gnomes all over the place and a rickety bridge that unfortunately doesn’t come with an alternate route.  I felt a little like Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was a complete coward.

(At the end there’s a small gift shop that has some really kitschy gifts.  I chose an agate slice to use as a coaster on my writing desk, and some small vials of blood stone and citrine, which I’m very excited about.)

Saturday morning started early with a 6:30 am wake-up to run in the city.  I had planned to go alone and use my MapMyRun app, but Mom wanted to run too, so my step-dad drove us over to the Walnut Street Bridge and off we went.  Firstly, the weather was fantastic!  We started just before sunrise, and I tried to take some photos of what I was seeing but the photos don’t do it justice at all.  It was cool, not humid at all (a big change from home), clouds hovered around the mountains and there was a nice breeze.  Ideal running conditions.  Walnut Bridge itself is fun to run, it’s made of wood and forgiving on the joints and it’s over half a mile long.  My legs felt fresh and breathing was easy.  Excellent way to start the day, and running is a wonderful and underrated way to explore a new city.  We ran through the Bluff View Art District and Coolidge Park, saw several interesting works of art, and smelled tons of baked goods being prepared for the day.  The run was so good, we repeated it on Sunday morning!

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Panorama at Sunrise, Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga (photo: me)
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Sunrise at Bluff View Art District (photo:me)

That brings me to two other great things about Chattanooga:  The food and the architecture!  The amount of coffee shops and bakeries here is mind-blowing and extremely pleasing to the fat girl inside me.  I’m sure I could eat my weight in delectables at Rembrandt’s Coffee. (If you’re ever there, try the Nutella Macaroons!) Many of the buildings in C-town have a German feel to them. I lovingly refer to them as gingerbread houses.  My husband lived in Germany for several years as a kid, so I was particularly excited for him to have the opportunity to see something familiar and tied to happy memories.

Beyond patisseries, there are LOTS of places to eat in Downtown Chattanooga (we mostly stayed around the downtown area for this trip).  We chose to eat at Sticky Fingers BBQ, and it was a magnificent choice, if I do say so myself.  Here in Georgia we use Sticky Fingers sauce and until we drove past the building, I didn’t realize they even had restaurants.  I chose a sampler plate that included a pulled pork sandwich, ribs with sauce (you can also choose them dry), veggies, and sweet potato soufflé that will make you say Hallelujah.  The food was satisfying, the ribs in particular were very well cooked – tender and flavorful – and the sweet potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had (which is saying a lot, given my affection for my aunt’s Senator Russell potatoes) and our server was very friendly.  I can’t wait to go back and have more ribs.

After our exhilarating run, we headed over to the Tennessee Aquarium.  For my son, the Otter Whisperer, this is a big deal.  We arrived to see that the Saturday Market was going on right outside, so that was fun.  We shopped and met local artisans and crafters and I was reminded that we humans are creative.  We are wildly imaginative and talented, and I’m proud of us.  High five, homo sapiens!  Inside, the aquarium was a little crowded but the place is huge so the crowd moved freely.  There are escalators to the different floors, which is nice, and the air was on “Arctic” setting, which after standing outside in the sun for a while was a welcome break.  Sadly, the otters didn’t feel like playing, but we did see penguins and the gator feeding show, and I pet something!  I honestly do not remember WHAT it was, probably because I was terrified, but on coaching from my son I put my fingers in the water and touched some kind of gross fish!  Check that off my bucket list!  It was softer than I expected, and kept swimming back for more loving.  It acted like a cat, but was definitely not a catfish.  I learned some new things while there, which I love doing, about jellyfish – the Sea Walnut (which reminded me a lot of a flux capacitor) and the Upside Down jelly, in particular.  I also was a magnet for the Sea Horses, which just reaffirms my belief that I am Snow White.  Even though it wasn’t an outside activity, this aquarium was one of the highlights of Chattanooga for me.  If you get a chance to go, please do!

That night we went by Publix, ate at Mom’s and watched Jurassic Park.  It was lovely to get a rest and some family time just relaxing.  Everyone slept early, which was also nice.

Sunday after the run, we packed up and went to Shoney’s.  Step-dad wanted us to go and Emmett is nearly dumbfounded at the idea that you don’t have to wait for your food, you can just go get it!  The breakfast bar was delicious, and I ate way too much.  For our last stop before driving home, we hit up Build-a-Bear at the Northgate Mall.  We don’t have a Build-a-Bear Workshop near us, so this is a special treat that Emmett gets each time he travels to a place that has one.  After some deliberation, he chose a Pokemon outfit for his bear, and we hit the road.

The Noog was fun, refreshing, and educational.  I really have nothing negative to say.  Some things were a tad bit expensive, though someone pointed out that it might have been due to large crowds traveling up to view the eclipse.  We didn’t get to see Ruby Falls because of an enormous crowd, and I’ll also blame that on the eclipse.  The great news is, the tickets we purchased are good for a whole year!  So we’ll be back to Chattanooga in the Fall to see Ruby Falls and Christmas lights.  There was a LOT of art and friendly people (and dogs!) and we walked 4-5 miles each day.  We saw the Trail of Tears and a handful of other historical places, and I got a hug from local radio DJ Joe Cook, my mom’s friend who I’ve known and loved since I was around 5 years old.  Shops like All Things Groovy have a special place in my heart, and while I didn’t photograph them I did shop them.  Highly recommend the Chattanooga experience to anyone who wants to feel a mix of down home and big city, shore town and mountain hideaway, hipster-friendly with an appreciation for history.

Jailhouse Rock

A La Carte:  Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars.  Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week.  Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great.  As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now.  Any way I can get them, especially fries.

Tunes:  Elvis!  That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week.  My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice.  So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”.   I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.

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Where I’m Going:  I want to go somewhere new for Christmas.  Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter.  It doesn’t snow here.  I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic.  New York?  Paris?  Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west.  I like to ski!  Maybe Aspen?  I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.

Trees in Aspen
Image courtesy Pinterest.

Flesh:  Elliptical cross-training!  I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be.  The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back.  It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN.  If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness.  Life is too short to have it otherwise!  So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do!  Challenge yourself with the settings, too.  I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat.  (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.)  Another bonus:  The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!

Here’s a short article on some of the benefits of elliptical training.

Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life.  I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything.  I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.

Dreams:  Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home.  She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why.  I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her.  One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.

Cruise Home
Image from Business Insider

Photographing:  SCHOOL IS IN!  My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.

Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo.  It is available on Netflix and it is adorable.  Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to.  Before this, he would not watch TV at all.

Library:  My own book.  Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief.  The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon.  The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony.  I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was.  So… I’m stuck.  I’m sure it’s only temporary.  The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)

Tech: Duolingo is my best friend.  I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over.  If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App.  It’s fun, free, and easy to learn.  Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun.  You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.

Turn Around, Bright Eyes

Nothing I can say, Total Eclipse of the Heaaaaaaart….

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

As many of you know, tonight we will see (or some of us will see) a partial lunar eclipse.  It’s actually not going to be visible from the US, so we ethereal goddesses and moon lovers on this side of the globe will have to use our imagination when it comes to wishes and such.  I’m very imaginative, so this will be no problemo.  In fact, I have a small list of things I’ll be doing tonight during the min-e-clipse. (See what I did there?)

  • I will be Grounding (or Earthing) – in fact, my shoes are already off.
  • Cleaning my home and clothing Read about this here.
  • Preparing my gems and coins that I keep in a homemade gris-gris bag (this contains a couple of gem stones, some coins, and some names on paper collected during my visit to the ever-enchanting New Orleans, Louisiana. You can add herbs, oils, whatever speaks to you or your purpose.)
  • Watering my plants – This is just something I do for my succulents on eclipse days.  As living things, I believe that they are affected by certain phenomena as well.
  • Clean out my money bowl – I have a blue and white ceramic bowl in my kitchen.  It keeps our spare change and the occasional lottery ticket.  During eclipse time I clean it, fill it with water, and ceremoniously drop silver coins into it under the moonlight to attract “coin” to my purse and to illustrate gratitude for the money I already have.
  • Speak to the moon.  – I do this before and after the “coin” bowl.  In general, I don’t speak about myself, but for others.

Feel free to get creative!  If your heart or spirit says to do something or not do something, go with that.  Your intuition should be your guide.

This partial eclipse is just a precursor to the solar eclipse set to take place on August 21st.  Eclipses always come in pairs, so this isn’t a unique occurrence, but this smaller eclipse is a great time to practice for the larger one, by cleaning out junk (literally land metaphorically) that no longer serves us in our current lives, getting real about what we want to happen going forward, and really allowing our dreams to take flight.

Check out this handy info page on the Solar Eclipse to see the eclipse path and best times for viewing.

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On the Menu:  Pork chops in A1 marinade.  This was a happy accident, as the A1 bottle fell out of the fridge and busted, and, having been raised by my grandmother, I know better than to waste food.  Baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and yellow squash FTW.

Lyrical:  No new music this week, looking for something fun and uplifting.

Walkabout:  Chatta and Disney are on deck.  Found some RT tickets to Rome for around $500/pp, so we might be saying “Ciao, Bella!” before my birthday!  So exciting!

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Image from Google
Temple:  I took a much-needed rest week.  This was completely unplanned.  I had several symptoms of stress and over-training:

  1. Fatigue – I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, and even “accidentally” fell asleep a couple of times.
  2. Weight Gain – Suddenly my weight was up 3-4 lbs, though my diet hadn’t changed.
  3. Muscle Soreness – My legs were hurting, big time.  It wasn’t just superficial pain, it was DEEP down.  When I laid down, they would throb and ache.
  4. Irritability – Emotionally, I felt so drained, and I started lashing out at people for no reason.

So, I made a decision for my health, against the advice of my ego, and I. SAT. DOWN. Difficult (and sometimes it can feel shameful) in #MomLife, but very, very necessary.

Ethereal:  Listening to my August forecast on YouTube, and as always, taking lots of notes and excited to see what this month will bring.  Check out my favorite reader, Kayleigh Jean, at Falcons and Pentacles.

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Best Card Ever.
Dreams:  The only thing I remember from this week is a dream about a former teacher.  Mr. Mustache was my English teacher in 8th grade, and was quite a character.  I dreamed he had died, which according to this link can have several different meanings.

Photographing:  Kids, Snapchat selfies, the usual.

Movies and TV: Mostly Law & Order: SVU.  It’s definitely a guilty pleasure show for me.  I miss Stabler, but like the new characters, too.  Check it out on Netflix, or check USA channel, it’s normally running there around mid-day and afternoon.

Words on Pages:  No books this week.

Tech: Looking for a new laptop, one that is versatile and user-friendly, but also will last a long time.  I currently have a DELL, but I’m looking at the Chromebook too.  Also loving my GIF keyboard by GIPHY, it’s fun and silly and easy to use.

Frankly, My Dear

Eats:  Craving lasagna this week, and all things Italian.  Think Joey from Friends – “Fried stuff with cheese!”  I’m also trying to make a peach cobbler, a la Gone With the Wind. Baking is my culinary “sweet spot” (excuse the pun), so I’m expecting it to be delicious!

Tunes:  Infatuated once again with Sheppard, after hearing this song on YouTube. “Keep Me Crazy” is another Sheppard favorite.  I suggest creating a Pandora station centered around them.  Coldplay, Chainsmokers, and Jeff Buckley because he’s eternal and if you don’t know him, you should.

Wanderlust:  Disney and Chattanooga are booked!  Looking at NY at Christmas or early 2018, and Vegas in the Spring for my HS Reunion.

Body:  Running roads this week.  Morning, afternoon, whenever I can fit it in.  My right hamstring is sore, so I’ve been doing yoga, applying ice and heat, and generally going easy on myself.

Heart and Soul:  Forced laughter turns into real laughter, if you do it long enough.  It’s actually very good for you, and can be contagious.  This is known as Laughter Yoga, or Laughter Meditation.  This week I have been working on spontaneously laughing.  Frustrated?  Laugh.  Sad?  Laugh.  Doing laundry with the kids?  Start laughing.  It leads to all kinds of pleasant things.  In our house, it led to telling jokes, which evolved into an impromptu crawling-on-all-fours tickle war, an experience every family should have at least once. There’s no quicker way to raise your vibe, or to feel connected to someone, than to lie on the floor and laugh with them.  Good times.

Dream News:  Not much to report here.  I’ve been so tired this week, and yet not sleeping well.  I’m not sure there have been any dreams at all.

Photographing:  Leaves, plants native to Georgia.

My Eyes are Watching:  Game of Thrones, DUH.  Actually didn’t watch on premiere night, but did watch the next day and without giving anything away, I’ll say my mind was blown before the intro music even started.  My allegiance has been with House Stark from the beginning (except I do totally love Khal Drogo and Khaleesi).  The North Remembers!

Bookshelf:  I’ve only read blogs this week, especially Abundant Mama, who features a whole series for highly sensitive moms. I am currently in desperate need of book suggestions, if anyone has them.  My oldest just discovered the Magic Treehouse series and he’s totally enchanted.  We also picked up some Solar System flash cards from Target and they’ve been fun for the whole family.  I can boast that I now know what an Eagle Nebula is.  Do you?

Tech: Today I figured out how to get the “Mail” app/shortcut back on the iPhone, in the event your 15-month-old grabs the phone and deletes it like the little maniacal genius he is. See How Here. Also reading up on creating a podcast, and might have something going in this department in the next month or so.

Bright, Shiny Things

When I get attached to a musician or band or song, it’s about the lyrics.  Yes, the music has to sound good, but the ones that sneak up behind me and capture my heart are the ones that have clever lyrics and tell good stories.

Vacation is coming.  I cannot WAIT to post about vacation in a historic city and being there with proper adults – no kids!

Bright, shiny things.  I keep them in my treasure box and I pull them out sometimes, and instead of just enjoying how bright and shiny they are, or the joy they brought me once, I study them and wonder if they are still as fond of me as I am of them.

Hemingway.

We choose friendships and form relationships based on what we subconsciously think of ourselves.  Aim high. Aim higher.

My son thinks time travel is possible and I hope he always believes in things and hopes in his own abilities and has faith in his fellow man to accomplish great feats together.

It takes courage to be so vulnerable.

How can writers be so insecure and so vain at the same time?

Debt is an illusion.  So is power.

No judgment, but it’s ironic when a famous person who’s had lots of plastic surgery and other enhancements says “just be yourself”.  Like, yeah… how did that work out for you?

Paris.

Running is hard. I love it, and it kicks my ass, and I feel like such a warrior when I finish.  Doesn’t matter the terrain or mileage.  Just challenging my belief system about how strong I am (or am not), how far I can go, how fast I am, it’s an incredible feeling.

Sometimes late at night I just sit here and read memes and laugh until I get a Charley Horse in my abdomen.