Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I am tired.  And in dire need of some rest and rejuvenation as well as lots of sleep.  Zzzz.  Don't you just feel like laying out a blanket and taking a nap here?  Zzzz.  I sure do.

I might just do that.  I'm officially on vacation for two weeks (except for the three days that I'm at a conference) and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm going to use these two weeks to rest, rejuvenate, have fun, enjoy every second with my husband, take my dog to the beach a lot, go fishing and canoeing, make a scrapbook for my grandpa's birthday, get back to doing yoga, take long bike rides, read a few books, go on photo shoots and take naps.  Yeah! 

I hope that all of you participating in the A to Z Challenge get some rest, too.  Way to go everyone!

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

You Know Me

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways.
Psalm 139: 1-3

Sitting in Sand

I think that it is pretty awesome that God knows us so well and still loves us.  He loves us despite our neuroses and our fears and our weaknesses.  When I mess up, I know that He will not forsake me, that He will forgive me.  He knows my deepest thoughts - even those thoughts that are so undefined that I can't voice them.

Here are a few things that God knows about me and, now, so do you:

  • I am terrified of not being able to support myself when I grow old.  This fear is almost paralyzing at times.
  • Yesterday, I shot a 12-gauge shotgun for the first time.  Only twice - that was enough.  Everyone in those zombie apocalypse movies makes it look so easy.  It wasn't.  Shooting that gun scared me more than I imagined it would.  I'm pretty disappointed in myself.
  • I am completely conflicted about having a baby.  One day I think that I'd love to and another day, I feel like maybe I'm not supposed to.  I just don't know what to do and I feel like I'm running out of time.
  • I blame working an exhausting full-time job for keeping me from finishing the writing and photography projects that I have going on.  Though, the truth is that I am a procrastinator.  Big time.  I keep myself from those things that I don't accomplish and I totally hate this about myself.
  • I turned 36 last week and I just do not feel like I am where a 36 year old woman should be.  I do not have things figured out like I thought I would.  I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will.
I absolutely love that God knows me - the real me.  Reminding myself of this helps when I feel like I'm losing my sense of self.  This is a truth that I ground myself in.  It is a rock.  He is my rock. 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


noun \ˌzenədəˌkīəˈnäləjē\
: the lore of hotels and inns

The Sofia Hotel

In my other life, I would own a hotel.  I love them.  Nice ones.  Not the ones that are grungy and so dirty you can't walk around barefoot.  I love really nice hotels.  I never stayed at the Sofia Hotel in San Diego but I did have coffee in their lobby during my lunch break when I had jury duty.  It was great.

One of my favorite hotel memories is when my husband and I stayed at the Le Merigot in Santa Monica.  We walked into the hotel, on a red carpet and the door man (who was wearing a long-tailed tuxedo and top hat) opened the door for us and our scruffy dog, Floyd.  Floyd walked into that hotel like he owned it.  People stared but we didn't care.  Our dog deserves the best.  If you are ever in Santa Monica, I would highly recommend this hotel.

When I was living in California my husband tried talking me into going to Vegas but I just didn't want to go.  Nothing about the place appealed to me.  In the 2007 firestorm, we were sort of forced to evacuate San Diego because the air quality was so bad.  We drove east and ended up in Las Vegas. 

It was not what I expected.  I had a blast and I think the main reason was because I spent 10 hours going in and out of really amazing hotels.  I love everything about them:  the vacation-like feel you get as soon as you walk in, the beautiful furniture and art, sparkling clean rooms and how everything you could ever want is in one place.    

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Waiting at the Dock

The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and exalts.
1 Samuel 2:7
Sometimes, I feel like I am waiting.  Waiting for the next chapter of my life.  Waiting to be better compensated for my hard work.  Waiting to grow my family.  Waiting for my dreams to come true.  Waiting for. . .
I think that we could always finish this sentence.  There's always something more, something else.  We're human after all.  We are driven, ambitious, always racing to the finish line.  It is not in our nature to be still.
Waiting at the dock isn't so bad, though.  This is when we get our bearings.  It's a time for rest and recuperation.  This is when we stretch and get our equilibrium.  Waiting is a necessary part of life.  It is when we become humble.  It is a time in our lives when we learn lessons that allow us to empathize with others.  Times of waiting make it possible for us to foster creativity and embrace uncertainty.  We can practice being still and quiet and reflective.   
*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vintage Reflections

I find old things very interesting.  When I'm somewhere that is rich in history, I try to envision what it would be like to live during a different time.  Since I live in the nation's oldest city, this happens quite often.  The photo below is of different handles that were used in a steam room at the Alcazar Hotel (currently known as the Lightner Museum).  Hotel guests would pay anything from 50 cents to a couple of dollars for use of the health spa.  This hotel also housed the world's largest indoor swimming pool at the time.  Click here for more information about the history of the hotel.

Vintage Alcazar Hotel Handles
It was built in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance style.  The health spa included a Turkish Bath, a steam room, a cold plunge, a massage room, a gym and a lounging room.  Now, the indoor pool is lined with antique shops and a really awesome eatery called the Alcazar Cafe.  I still love visiting this place as it is really easy to lose yourself in the details, beautiful architecture and ghost-like memories of past times that still linger throughout. 
Old things.  Vintage things.  They remind me of how we have both grown and regressed as a society.  I'm reminded of how important our history is - the bad and the good.  When I walk through the hallways at the old Alcazar Hotel, I think about drinking tea and playing croquet.  Maybe taking a dip in the pool and going for a horse-drawn carriage ride through the cobblestone streets in St. Augustine (even though they still do this today).  It'd just be different back then without cars and scooters passing by. 
Enjoying history is a wonderful way to be reflective and in the moment.  I wish that everyone took advantage of these types of wonders in our own backyards.  They are great places to go with family and friends or even by ourselves to journal, capture moments with our cameras or just savor our nation's history.
*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Under a Bridge

I get a weird feeling when I'm under a bridge. How often am I under a bridge you might ask? Often enough that I know I get a strange feeling. It's part anxiety, part curiosity and part awe.

Bridge Reflections

I think that the weird under-a-bridge feeling comes from the integration of nature and industry. Two opposing forces that, in my mind, are still trying to co-exist with each other. When I reflect on this photograph, I think about what I really need.  We think we need a lot more than we actually do. Society/industry tells us we need stuff.  The latest technological gadgets, digital photo frames, garlic presses, espresso machines, iPods, different styles of shoes, comfortable furniture, a variety of colorful dish towels.  These things enhance our lives, they don't define them.  I never want to lose myself in things - this really is a fear of mine.  I've sold almost everything I own twice in my life and I would do it again.  It's a very cathartic experience. 

My mom bought me the coolest book for my birthday.  It's The Official Nancy Drew Handbook: Skills, Tips & Life Lessons From Everyone's Favorite Girl Detective.  This is a great book.  One of the clues to success in relationships and life is How to Savor the Important Things in Life, Like a Rich Cup of Hot Cocoa.  There are seven tips on how to do this:
  1. Having something hot.  I will always choose coffee.
  2. Take in nature.  This is so true - life is different when you take the time to savor nature whether it's the beach, a forest, the desert or a park.
  3. Keep your cool.  I've learned that when I'm calm and practicing patience, I see things in an entirely new light.
  4. Help others.  It feels good to help others - this is what I love most about working in social services.  I absolutely know that my hard work is benefiting someone else.  Not every moment of every day but definitely more often than not.
  5. Start fresh tomorrow.  I love this and completely agree that knowing we have tomorrow sure makes it easier to get through rough days.
  6. Talk with friends.  Friends, family and colleagues give us different perspectives on things.  Where would we be without them?  If we look close enough, we see our true selves in their eyes.
  7. Share your success.  I truly believe that we do nothing on our own.  There's always someone to thank for a success, a person who helped us get where we are.  For example, my husband supported me while I was in graduate school by doing little things (making me dinner on late nights, taking care of the house when I had no energy to clean and giving me space when I needed to study or write a paper). 
When I think about what I need versus what I think I need, I become more grounded.  I become more thankful of the simple things in life, the important things.  Like my husband and dog, walking the beach, the comfort I get from being wrapped in my worn out baby blanket, savoring a bold cup of coffee, the soothing sounds of the ocean, grilling veggies, eating watermelon and utilizing quiet time in my home to connect with God.

How do you savor the important things in life?

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tranquility: Reflecting on Presence

Tranquility is important to me.  It is extra important on a day like today.  I was conflicted about my post for today.  April 23 is an emotional day for me as it is both my birthday and the anniversary of my dad's death.  I wrote about my memories of my dad's death during last year's A to Z Challenge and I'm glad that I did.  Click here if you'd like to read it.  This year, I feel like reflecting on my dad's presence, not his death. 

Tranquility on the Bay Front
He was a very calm person.  The kind of person you could just sit next to without feeling obligated to engage in conversation.  It's a bit difficult to describe his presence but I think of words like peaceful, kind, humble, passionate.  He was the sort of dad who you were proud of.  Not for any specific reason but just because he was his own person.   

He was funny.  He would do things that seemed so out of character for him but would make you laugh so hard your stomach hurt.  Once when I was a child, we went to the beach.  I guess that it wasn't planned because my dad didn't have his bathing suit with him.  So, he just stripped down to his bikini underwear.  No big deal.  They looked just like Speedos. 

He loved desserts and would make my sister and I order dessert when we went out to eat, even if we didn't want it.  That way, he could eat them and not feel guilty for ordering three pieces of pie.

When I graduated high school, my parents hosted a big graduation party for me.  My dad catered the party and bought me a really cool graduation dress.  He was really good at planning parties and events.  He even planned my mom's wedding when she married my step-dad.  Both he and my mom made being a child of divorced parents very easy.

I took this environmental education class in high school and one of our field trips was spending a few days in Key West.  I had never traveled without my parents as they were quite protective.  My dad booked a room in Key West during the time that I was there just in case I needed something.  He met us out for dinner one night and I never felt weird about it.  I actually really enjoyed spending time with him and, even then, I appreciated his protectiveness.

Seventeen years ago my life changed.  I experienced my first major trauma the day my dad died.  It seems like forever ago.  I miss him.  I'm happy that I can still remember him.  I still remember his scruffy beard, the way he would hang on to my sister and I at family events to mask his insecurity, the flannel shirts that he would wear no matter what season it was, how he would make my sister and I cover our eyes during scary parts in movies, that he loved his family unconditionally and he connected with God prior to his death.

I know that I am like my dad in many ways.  We share similar personalities and I hope that his presence will stay with me as long as I'm alive.  If I ever have a child, I pray that I am able to share my dad with my son or daughter.  That he or she will know my dad through me.  Remembering him and sharing him with others is how I will keep his presence alive.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Slipping on Seaweed

This stuff is slippery.  Trust me.  I know from personal experience.

I stumble, slip and trip a lot.  I wear flip flops almost every day (except to work and only because they're not allowed) and they tend to become slippery when it rains in Florida (which is often).  One day, I was walking with my husband across the parking lot of a very busy grocery store and my flip flop broke.  It actually broke.  I slipped, almost doing the splits, in front of a car that stopped to let me cross in front of it.  It was a very embarrassing moment.

I think that my husband was embarrassed too because he just kept walking until I yelled for him to come back for me.  What is it about embarrassing moments that make them easier to cope with when someone else is with you?

I did my graduate work in leadership studies and I am absolutely fascinated with the practice and  theories of leadership.  One of the characteristics that I feel is important when we are exercising leadership is the ability to laugh at ourselves.  Having the confidence to admit when we messed up and move forward with humor and a new sense of purpose.  Not ignoring the embarrassing moments but embracing them with humility and dignity.  Now, this is courageous.  Maybe the next time I slip in front of others, I'll try not to call out for someone else and utilize the embarrassing moment to enhance my leadership capacity.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Really Cool Things

So, two really cool things happened yesterday:

  1. I found the most awesome new collar for my dog, Floyd. My husband wanted something that was camouflage and I wanted something with skulls on it. We found a camouflage collar with skulls. This might sound weird but my dog is almost 16 years old and he's losing his toughness. I figured a collar like this would help him feel young again.
  2. I love the saying in Scarface when Tony comes out with a machine gun and yells, "Say hello to my little friend". I found the audio clip online and now it is my new ring tone. I love this. I laugh out loud every time I hear it. You can find it at http://www.soundboard.com/sb/scarface - it's the very first clip.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

East Coast Sunset

I love the concept of renewal and rejuvenation.  I like starting over, doing something new.  Sunsets and sunrises are perfect examples - every day is a new day.  I remind myself of this all of the time.  I had a couple of lazy and exhausted weeks.  Weeks that were unproductive and unhealthy.  Weeks that have become a catalyst for renewal.  I don't necessarily enjoy these kind of moments or days or weeks but they do have significance because I sincerely believe that from darkness comes light. 

During these dark times, I feel vulnerable and I embrace this vulnerability because it is a part of life.  We have to accept the bad as well as the good.  I took a few Human Relations courses during my graduate work and one of my professors was a Catholic nun.  I remember her telling our small group that when we are doing adaptive work, we must connect with everything around us, including the "shit".

When we transcend darkness, we can be renewed and rejuvenated.  We can focus on the really important things in life.  It is during times of renewal when our minds become clear and we can see glimpses of the big picture.  Most importantly, we become more open to God and we are freed up to listen to Him.  To hear what He is telling us, not what we are telling ourselves. 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.    


Friday, April 19, 2013

Quaint Cottage Reflections

This is a hidden garden behind a store on St. George Street. The store is a gift store full of wind chimes, garden decorations, wall hangings, coffee mugs, jewelry, etc. You wouldn't even notice this garden and quaint cottage in the back unless you walked into the store (or you're a local).

Quaint Cottage

I love being a local in a tourist town (well, sometimes) because I know about all of the city's secrets and hidden spots. I know where to park without having to pay, if I have to use the restroom I know which ones to go to that are nice and clean, I get into various tourist attractions for free and when I pass by certain places I am flooded with wonderful memories.

Like this quaint cottage located at the back of a small garden. My husband and I come here sometimes and just sit and take everything in. One day, we sat in the garden for a while and listened to Celtic music that was playing across the street.

There's a small park on the residential end of St. George Street that most people never see. I think many people walk by without even noticing it. This is where I got married. It looked very different when the walkways were lined with vases filled with water and floating candles and sprinkled with purple rose petals. There were candles and twinkle lights everywhere - it was very beautiful. Sometimes, I go to the park to reflect on my marriage and my amazing husband.

When walk on the grounds of the Castillo de San Marcos (or what locals refer to as "the fort"), I don't think about the battle that took place almost 450 years ago. I think about the night my husband proposed to me. I think about the fort being my dog's most favorite place. He used to play in the grass and run up and down the hills when he was a puppy. There's a point that looks out over the water. You can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Bridge of Lions (a beautiful historical drawbridge). My husband wants his ashes sprinkled here when he dies. It's one of his favorite places.

These are quaint places for me - they feel cozy and bring me good thoughts. They are full of beautiful memories and I am very appreciative of their ability to foster moments of reflection.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I love this country.  I love the men and women who fight for our country and for what is right.  My grandfather, my dad, my cousin, my friends who all served in the armed forces.  The Navy, the Army, the Marine Corps are all represented in my small circle of friends and family.  I'm so proud of them for serving because they felt it was the right thing to do.  They are so courageous.
Flag at Fort Matanzas

Patriotism is my grandfather who enlisted in the Navy when he was only 17 years old and lied about his age.  He was supposed to have been shipped to Pearl Harbor but got sick and couldn't go.  What would have happened if he did? 

Patriotism is my 94 year old friend who fought in the Battle of Bastogne (i.e. Band of Brothers) and was part of the group who visited Hitler's palace.  He's amazing and his life is so full.  This man is still very sharp, funny, loving and the best storyteller you will ever meet.  He is part of America's history.

Patriotism is my dad who served in Vietnam and never, ever talked about it.  He was the most peaceful man I  know and I'm sure that being in the war caused him a lot of conflict.  This is one of the things I wish I would have asked him about when he was still alive.  I so admire his loyalty. 

Patriotism is my friend from high school who served in the Army and was killed in Afghanistan.  He was special forces and was involved in things that we can't imagine.  When he died, he left a wife, two children, many brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and a very proud mom and dad.

Patriotism is my cousin who served as a sniper in the Marine Corps.  He enlisted at 18 years old as an insecure boy and after eight years became a kick-ass solider and an amazing man.  When he hugs me, it actually hurts because he is so strong.  His values about courage, freedom, duty and love of one's country are so very beautiful. 

What does patriotism mean to you?

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I think of myself as a pretty optimistic person. I'm not blind to reality or naïve about dark truths. I just prefer to have a positive outlook about life - even the negative things. Life sucks sometimes. But it doesn't suck all the time. Things always get better - in one way or another. Maybe not as quick as we'd like, but they do get better. If I keep this in mind during one of life's sucky moments, it really helps me stay positive and optimistic.

I Can Make It
A Few Quotes About Optimism:

"You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down."
- Charlie Chaplin
"Choose to be optimistic, it feels better."
- Dalai Lama XIV
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
- Dr. Seuss
"Things are always better in the morning."
- Harper Lee

"We'll never survive!"
"Nonsense.  You're only saying that because no one ever has."
- William Goldman (The Princess Bride)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Never Forget Your True Self

I love this time of year because I can go to the beach after work and still have lots of daylight left. One of my favorite places to go in the evenings is Matanzas Inlet. During the week, there usually isn't many people there and you feel like you have the entire inlet to yourself.


I've been more consistent about taking my camera with me when I go places. One of the reasons I chose to focus on photography for the A to Z Challenge was to motivate myself to make photography a part of me again. I want my camera to be an extension of my body. I had forgotten how amazing this feels.

As I was standing on this wooden ramp at the inlet, I leaned over the railing, looked down at my teal-colored toes and focused on the camera hanging from my hand. Because of the way I was leaning, the strap was almost touching my feet. I had this amazing moment where I remembered how natural it feels to hold a camera and want to capture every moment and everything around me. I can't believe I allowed myself to forget this.

I felt like I could hold my camera forever. That I didn't ever want to let go. I wanted to capture shots of the dunes and the horizon as well as footprints in the sand, birds gliding by, how the sun was reflecting on the water, fallen palm trees, clouds in the sky - I couldn't stop. My eyes were opened and I was taking everything in. My camera is how I capture unique moments. Moments that pass much too quickly and become beautiful memories that I capture with my Olympus.

God is everything. When I take photographs, it's like I'm capturing His presence and being my true self at the same time. This is what I will never again forget.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Life's Mantra

I've been struggling with understanding my purpose in life.  Really struggling.  I'm exhausted and I feel very deflated at times.  I have been praying to God that He help me figure things out.  I have faith in God, it's just that I don't always understand faith.  Recently, it was revealed to me on a Monday morning on my way to work and I now have a new mantra for my life.

White Caps on the Atlantic

I was driving to work, feeling tired and not looking forward to the start of my week.  I turned on the radio station and usually listen to hard rock stations.  I began flipping through various stations and came to one of the local Christian music stations.  I like Christian rock music sometimes but I don't listen to it regularly.  There wasn't music playing, though.  It was a sermon.  Usually, I just pass on by but something caught my interest and I began listening when the pastor asked, "Why do we struggle?" 

He explained that we struggle when we shift our hope in God to hope in something else.  That something else is usually some kind of outcome (i.e. a new job, a promotion, more money, etc.).  All of these somethings will always fail us.  Maybe not right away but, at some point, they will disappoint us.  We're never satisfied with things. 

We can be completely satisfied with God, though.  He is the only one who will never disappoint.  He is our one true rock.  Deep down inside, I know this.  Really I do.  I just don't know how to embrace this.  I declare that I am going to give things to God and wait for Him to show me the path He has in mind for me.  But, what does this really mean?  How do I do this?

This pastor on the radio began explaining how we center ourselves.  Center ourselves in Christ.  Okay.  I remember thinking that God was being very concrete at that moment.  Sort of like He knew that I was too overwhelmed for subtle hints.

I didn't plan on listening to this sermon on the radio.  I almost switched to a different station.  I am certain that God was speaking to me that day.  He was very clear.  I remember thanking Him for this because I just wasn't in the mood for subtlety that Monday morning.  I came away with a new mantra for my life:  stay centered.  How simple.  How beautiful.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Luminous Moments

I've experienced many luminous moments throughout my life and I am very thankful for them.  Some are big milestones like my wedding or college graduation.  Others aren't as substantial but no less significant.

Pink Flowers

Like walking downtown with my husband and being drawn to the vividness of these flowers.  Or missing how my dog would snuggle with us when it stormed in the night.  I will always remember my dad resting his hand on my knee when we rode in a car together.  Summer picnics on the beach after work.  How the very first sip of iced coffee makes me feel instantly better.  Finding the perfect shell.     

These are the moments that make life worth living.  What are some of your favorite luminous moments? 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Sometimes kindness is a genuine smile or empathetic nod. Other times, it's going out of your way for someone else. Helping others feel good about the decisions they make by providing guidance and coaching them through difficult times. 

Kindness is my friend who offered to help me out yesterday and my husband who just put gas in my car so I don't have to worry about it. Kindness is also giving myself a break from writing last night and using the small amount of leisure time I had to relax with my husband and watch the Dick Van Dyke Show. Happy Friday.

Soaring Above the Horizon

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs is a part of the Ocala National Forest.  I love it here.  I also love Salt Springs.  When you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, taking a dip in a natural spring is a wonderful way to dissolve any negativity you may be feeling.  But, be warned:  the water is cold.

Juniper Springs

The water stays a constant 72 degrees all year but, when you first get in, it feels much colder.  My husband will dive in.  I take my time and step in inch-by-inch.  He says that I torture myself by doing it this way.  I wonder what this says about us?

I'm a planner and he's more spontaneous.  He is a true risk taker while I only pretend to be.  The first time we moved across the country, I started crying as we were driving around San Diego.  It seemed like a really big city to a small town Florida girl.  While he was embracing the adventure I was in total freak-out mode.

I am learning to love adventure and new experiences.  I would be the first to move to Alaska or work at a ranch in Montana.  Out of the two of us, I was the one who initiated our mini-yacht purchase that we ended up selling a month later. 

As I've gotten older and more confident in myself, I am more open to these types of adventures.  Still, though.  I am not able to jump into a 72 degree natural spring.  I just can't do it. 

What about you?  Would you dive in or walk in slowly?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In Just 10 Minutes

One afternoon, while I was eating brunch on my balcony, I watched a storm blow by.  It took about 10 minutes. 


It went from being dark and windy to bright, sunny and breezy.  I actually saw the wind blow the storm clouds from the west to the east and out toward the ocean.  It reminded me of how quickly the storms of life pass by.  What might feel like forever is really just a brief moment in the big scheme of things.  Knowing this probably won't take away pain or discouragement but it might lessen those feelings.  It may give a sense of hope that wasn't initially there. 

We all need to focus on bright sunny days in order to help us accept the loss, disappointment, illness, hardships and frustrations that are a necessary part of being human.  Everyone needs something to look forward to, something positive and good.  We all need to hope.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 
Romans 5: 1-4

 *I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Hour

Happy hour - my own style.  No bars.  No smoking.  No loud talking or superficial conversations.  Just the scent of the ocean, a salt-infused breeze and an awesome view.  This is the best happy hour ever.

Happy Hour

This kind of happy hour is more about enjoying a tranquil lifestyle than anything else.  It's a celebration of hard work and weekly accomplishments.  This is a time to reflect on lessons learned.  I am cognizant about the impact I had on my organization and my employees.  Was I individually considerate?  Did I practice creative leadership?  Were my decisions authentic and purposeful?

These are important questions to ask ourselves at the end of a long week.  We enhance our leadership capacity through reflection and happy hour on the beach makes reflecting on one's week a pretty enjoyable experience. 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

It's good to get out of our comfort zones every now and then.  They're not easy but they are wonderful experiences that give us opportunities to learn about ourselves as well as the world around us.  I recently got out of my comfort zone and went to Bike Week 2013 with my husband. 

I knew there would be a lot of people in Daytona Beach but I didn't realize how many.  The streets were packed and you were actually touching other people as you made your way up and down Main Street.  It was a melting pot in terms of people of different races, ethnicities and ages.  I passed a family (don't ask me why they were in Daytona during Bike Week) and the young boy yelled at his parents, "Just get me out of here.  I don't like this" while he cupped his hands over his ears.  I think this poor child has been scarred for life.  At one point, I ran into an orange traffic cone but I didn't see it until I was standing right on top of it, knocking it over with my sun dress.

That's the other thing I was really aware of:  I was the only woman among thousands of others who was wasn't wearing jeans or a mini-skirt and a sexy shirt.  My husband and I had decided to take a drive that afternoon.  We weren't planning on going to Bike Week so I didn't dress appropriately.  I showed up wearing a flowery sun dress, a purple cardigan and flip flops.  I was very out of place.  I felt uncomfortable and I really embraced this feeling.  It was good for me to feel out of place as it allowed me to be extra cognizant of myself among others who seemed so different than me.  You can learn a lot about yourself when you are the one who doesn't fit in.   

Even though my first Bike Week experience was completely surreal, I'm glad that I got out of my comfort zone.  There's a sort of adrenaline rush that comes with this type experience.  You become very sensitive of your surroundings and it's almost as if all of your senses are synchronizing with one another.  It's very. . . liberating. 

Have you ever gotten out of your comfort zone? 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Florida Beauty

I absolutely love living in Florida.  When I told my colleagues in San Diego that I was moving back to Florida, no one could understand why.  There is a tranquility here that is not easy to put into words.

Fort Matanzas

It is not uncommon to drive along A1A and see dolphins swimming parallel to the highway.  I've canoed creeks that were so isolated, the only sounds you can hear are birds and the inhalation and exhalation of your own breath.  You can always find a place that is quiet and without people.  It is easy to spend hours and hours swimming in the ocean during the summer.  You sort of lose yourself in the salt water, sand and sun.

I also love that you can walk from the beach to a laid-back bar and order a beer.  Maybe some fried okra and steamed oysters, too.  You can live most of your life in flip flops.  I love the southern charm and local eateries where employees know the names of their customers.  I am grateful that I can look out every window and see palm trees and also hear the ocean from every room of my condo. 

It is quiet here - quiet in the sense that people still enjoy living, relaxing and savoring their surroundings.  People who live quiet lives and appreciate the simple things.  People who are just as excited to walk on the beach or ride a rollar coaster at Universal Studios or hike through a national forest.  I'm so thankful for my travels and for living in other areas of the country and it is because of those experiences that I discovered I am a true Florida Girl.  I belong here and this is my home.

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Embracing the Broken

Broken dreams.  Broken relationships.  Broken hearts.  Being broken is a part of life. 

Broken Sand Dollars

I never wished for pain or disappointment.  I didn't want to lose my sense of self in my first serious relationship.  I didn't want my dad to die on my birthday.  I never would have imagined going four years without speaking to my family.  These things hurt.  They made me cry in agony and curse God.  There were times when I didn't think I would make it.  Can someone die from heartache?  I had moments where I thought so.  I felt discouraged and completely broken.

But, because I was broken, I am now stronger.  I am confident and assertive.  I trust in God and I learn from my mistakes.  If I hadn't been through my broken times, I wouldn't be who I am today.  These experiences, however painful they were, helped me become the woman I am - they molded me into today's Jaime because I learned to embrace them.  The Jaime who is both excited and nervous about the future.  The Jaime who is best friends with her husband.  The Jaime who can love her family and set boundaries at the same time.  The Jaime who loves God and has faith that He will never ever forsake her. 

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Destination Heaven

Whatever is going on in our lives, whatever conflict or stress we may be dealing with, God provides us with answers.  Most are very simple.  They are healing gifts from above.  This is one of them.

Looking Upward
Moments like this remind me to open my eyes and re-focus my energy on Him.  No matter what is going on in my life, He is with me and I will never be alone.  There IS good in the world.  God has plans for me.
It is so easy to allow negativity to creep its way into my life.  Sometimes, it's difficult to understand things like homelessness, how drug abuse has affected almost every family I work with, why my grandpa can't remember who I am, whether or not I'm supposed to have a baby and why I continually struggle with knowing my life's purpose.
When I look at this photograph, I am reminded of my destination.  My purpose in life is to be the best woman I know how to be as my ultimate goal is to climb my way into Heaven.  To ascend into the place that is my home.  The place where I belong.  When we know our destination, we're free to enjoy the journey that much more.   
*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Childhood Memories

We all have certain things that remind us of our childhood.  One of mine is sun tea. 

Orange Blossom Hibiscus Sun Tea
I don't remember drinking flavored tea as a child but I do remember laying out in the backyard sipping on my mom's iced tea or iced coffee.  Summers in Michigan were wonderful.  You just had to spend the entire day outside enjoying the warmth of the sun.  Iced Tea Days were savored and remembered because they were as simple as they were rare.

As a child, I don't remember ever contemplating what I was going to do on one of those days.  I just played, laid around and felt comfortable at home.  Now, as an adult, I find myself always having to do something on the weekends.  My husband and I talk about where we should go, what we should do, etc.  Always moving.  Never being still. 

I do not have ADD so that's not it.  I guess that I just hate the idea of wasting time.  But, why is it that I feel sitting at home and doing nothing is wasting time?  Isn't being still just as important as being productive?  Don't we need down-time as much as we need to be active?

It's about balance and accepting where we are in life.  Sometimes, we need to sit still in order to move forward.  We learn about ourselves during these quiet times at home.  As I reflect back on those summer days in Michigan, I remember how wonderful my childhood was and how this contributed to my adult self.  All of my childhood experiences are important in this sense.  They made me who I am today.  This is why I really appreciate simple experiences such as drinking sun tea, playing in the sand, having a slumber party with my husband and swimming until my fingers get wrinkly.   

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Being in the Here and Now

I'm a ponderer.  When I'm out walking, it is natural for me to keep my head down.  I do this because I seem to always be thinking about something.  It is very easy for me to get lost in my thoughts and lose touch with what's around me.  I struggle with being in the here and now.  When I remind myself to look up and enjoy my surroundings, I see beauty in the world.  I see beautiful things like this:

Sea Oats at the Mission of Nombre de Dios
It's challenging to be in the here and now all of the time.  Life is so faced-paced and people seem to be on-call 24/7.  We have forgotten how to ignore the phone that is ringing and put the electronic devices away.  I think about a simple walk.  There's usually always a reason:  to get somewhere, to lose calories, to be healthy, to visit a favorite place.  What about walking without purpose?  Walking just to walk and be in the here and now.  How many of us do this? 
When I try to get into this mindset and become conscious of my mind and body - I notice that most of the time I am holding my breath.  This is my first step to get into the here and now -  simply breathe.  I imagine that each breath I take dissolves the busyness of my mind.  My surroundings become more vivid and life seems to slow down enough that I can actually embrace it.   
How do you get in the here and now?
*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge.  Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet.  To read more about my theme, click here. 


Monday, April 1, 2013


I'm intrigued by life's awakenings.  I consider awakenings to be "ah ha" moments.  Those times in our lives when we discover something about ourselves, why we behave the way we do, how old habits hold us back from moving forward or being successful, what we really want for ourselves. 

St. Augustine Lighthouse

I have these types of awakenings from time to time.  There were many during my graduate work - the title of my portfolio was "Awakenings and Reflections" which is where I came up with the name for this blog.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  I don't remember.  I just know that it is very important to me to always reflect on the various aspects of my life and, hopefully, discover new things about myself in the process. 

Though, not so many awakenings lately.  It's as if the busyness of life has devoured my capacity for self-discovery.  I reflect all the time.  While I'm cooking, watching a movie, trying to sleep, taking a shower - I'm always reflecting on my purpose in life and trying to figure out what God actually wants me to do. 

This has been one of my recent awakenings:  our plans are not always His.  I figured this out when my plans began failing.  As I was torturing myself about why things weren't happening the way I wanted them to, it occurred to me that maybe it was because they weren't meant to.  Ah ha moment.

What do I do now?  I am not really sure.  So, I just start praying.  I pray for guidance and for clarity.  I pray for strength while I continue to reach upward.  I pray that I see the signs God shows me and that I understand they are from Him.  Most of all, I pray for patience and the ability to transcend the busyness of life so that I can be more open to life's amazing awakenings.           

*I'm participating in the 2013 A to Z Challenge. Every day in April (except for Sundays) I will be posting according to a letter of the Alphabet. To read more about my theme, click here.