Category Archives: From the Heart

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

How Do You Get Into the Zone?

book-artforger-shapiro-500

girl with brushes

I wanted to share with you my last read, The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro. I loved it! Even though my book club met two weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about the main character, Claire Roth, a struggling artist who supplemented her non-existent income by painting reproductions of well known artist to sell on reproduction.com. She lost her credibility in the art community when she made the decision to paint a painting for her married professor boyfriend who was lost in an artistic manic episode in an effort to save his reputation. However, it all backfired propelling her to take part in an illegal forging scheme at the promise of her own art show. Claire struggles with internal and external judgement of being considered a master artist or master forger.

But why can’t I get Claire Roth out of my head? Probably because I can relate to her creative abilities and her intense painting sessions where she could stay in the present moment and create despite all the chaos and drama in her life. Here are a few excerpts:

“The shower cleans the sweat and the odor of fear from my skin, but it does nothing to wash away the residual emotions smoldering inside my body. Once I start painting though, the feelings disappear.”

“As the excitement grows at the thought of working on my own paintings, I push myself even more. I’ve taken to sleeping in multiple, short stretches during both night and day, upsetting my natural circadian rhythms and further cutting myself off from the cadence of the world…………I remain in the zone for longer periods of time than I ever believed possible.”

“When he leaves, I go right back to work. the zone is the safe place for me now.”

I can identify with that zone, that creative place one can go to escape, a place to take a mini break from everyday life and just be, reconnecting with who you are, all the while, filling your internal cup. Like Claire, who gets into her zone when painting, I am in my zone. of course, when I dabble in DIY and pursue my creative pursuits. It’s an important part of who I am. It’s cathartic, my respite and my heaven on earth.

Can you relate? What do you get lost in? How do you get into “the zone”?

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

In my continued quest to scrutinize all my home’s belongings, it is now time to deal with the ephemera of or lives.

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This, by far, will be the toughest challenge. I have saved a lot of snippets from my children’s lives and have my own memory boxes filled with the remnants of my life too. Letters (who gets those anymore), programs, cards and …….. There’s a lot and way too much to continue storing.

organized ephemera watermarked

The good thing is it is it’s all organized and much of it is labelled or in folders and archival boxes. And then there are the photos.

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Trust me, that’s not all of them, there’s more. I attempted a few albums here and there. however, the majority are in photo boxes rarely viewed. That doesn’t serve me or my family. I can do better.

So I’ve decided to reevaluate, purge, reorganize, digitize and assemble these meaningful remnants of our lives in a way that can be appreciated. I want to create containable stories of our lives that we can peruse instead of having to pull them from boxes in a closet to reminisce.  And so I have been perusing the internet looking for ideas and advice. I encountered this divide between those that save everything and those that save very little or nothing.

Aside from report cards and awards, I plan to ask my children what they value and evokes meaningful memories. And I’m sure this report on Mesopotamia won’t make the cut..

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I want it to be about them and for them. And if they don’t want to be bothered in the decision making  then I will have to rely on my own discretion. Hopefully,  a memory box, a binder and a photo album should suffice. The rest will be digitized and only a click away from their viewing pleasure if they would like  to take an all inclusive trip down memory lane. art page I get paralyzed by the artwork, though. I just love these chalk prints. Their masterpieces in my mind. I know, I know,  it’s not about me, it’s about them.

art page evan

 

 

I titled this one “boy floating in water”. I framed and hung it up on No 2 Son’s bedroom wall.

 

 

 

He painted it some time ago and has since taken it down and replaced it with this one. That’s a tell tale sign of what’s important, wouldn’t you say?

 

 

 

And it has gone beyond my children and extended it to my nephews and their basketball careers.

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My sister’s youngest is currently playing for the Boston Celtics.

And then there’s the sand art No. 1 son and I did together.  He was both Batman and Robin for Halloween. Hmmm, the creative wheels just started turning!  These might be  a nice added touch to a scrapbook page!

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Once framed and hung, I recently discovered.a poster from elementary school in the recesses of a closet. That handsome guy with the missing teeth is now  23 years old.

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It’s going to be hard to let go of some things, but it’s time and very necessary. I know it  will be in our best interest  to downsize our family’s memories into treasured keepsakes, manageable and in plane view, for our everyday enjoyment.

Okay so now it’s your turn!  Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a tough time letting go of life’s remnants and ephemera of yesteryear? What are your secrets for both enjoying and containing the memories? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

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My Home is Almost Cured!

My Home is Almost Cured!

I haven’t been online too much because I am trying to keep up with my assignments for the Apartment Therapy January Cure; I started it at the same time I vowed to explore minimalism; actually both work hand in hand beautifully and shoving things in a drawer or closet is no longer an option.

So this past weekend, the assignment was to deep clean the living room. It wasn’t too difficult because my living room was already in a good place. To be true to the assignment,however, I did move all the furniture and vacuumed thoroughly including the baseboards. I’m still in the process of doing a family photo collage wall (Assignment 6 Making Your Home Your Own: Prep Artwork for Framing & Display). Haven’t located all the photos just yet and have to paint some of the frames but I’m just glad that I am on my way.
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I recently did a collage on the other wall after painting, but I’m altering that as well. I guess I have a thing for collage walls; perhaps because they can be rearranged and edited pretty easily.

Assignment #12 was bedroom  and wardrobe cleaning which I blogged about here and almost completed with the exception of my closet. Oh my closet, as tiny as it is, was a disaster. I’ll spare you the before pic. I took everything out and dove in.

 

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to try Project 333, limiting your wardrobe to 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. You can read more about it here. It’s suppose to include shoes, but I didn’t take it that far, although I did downsize my shoes collection and donated 10 pairs and plan to list a couple I never wore on Ebay. The beauty of the Project 333 challenge is you can adjust it to your comfort level. There are no hard and fast rules. You decide what works or doesn’t work for you. So here’s my tiny closet that makes me smile each and every time I open it!

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I now have empty hangers!  And the top shelf  is devoted to most of my out of season clothing stored in those two grey totes.

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Assignment # 15, Declutter and Organize Bathroom Cabinets Cleanout,  which includes the linen closet, since there’s just no storage space in our pint size bathroom. Let.s just say it was another disaster that happened over time.

 

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You can see why it took me the better part of the day to get the job done and restore order.

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And yes, my heart sings once again. I’m in love with the order of it all.

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For those of you who may not know, square footage is a premium when it comes to New York real estate. I just went to an estate sale this past weekend. The home looked fine from the outside, but the entire inside needs to be gutted and the unfinished basement has some serious water and foundation issues; it was over-the-top moldy. The asking price is $869K. Realistically speaking, it would take at least $250K to fix it up. I know I digressed but I just wanted to explain why the majority of us live in tight spaces, real estate is very expensive. Even the million dollar homes are small and can still need work.

Back to the linen closet , would you believe I found a pair of my earrings stuffed in a bag of toiletries, left over from one of our family travels? They almost got thrown away!

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Here’s my outbox, a designated spot to put things to be donated tossed or waiting for a new home, looked like after a few of my assignments and decluttering sessions.

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I dropped off most of it off over the weekend. And a local animal hospital was as happy to take my old sheets and towels as I was keeping it out of the landfill. Yeah!

Flowers area a part of the weekend assignments so I picked up some from  Trader Joe’s. Their flowers are reasonably priced and I usually separate them and make two arrangements. One for the dining room table

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and one for the bedroom.

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Although this is the last week for the cure, I have a ways to go. The room by room project list I created at the start of the cure will take a while to complete. But in the meantime, everything is looking up! My home is almost cured and I am steps closer to my goal, keeping only what truly matters:)

 

 

Off to a Good Start

Off to a Good Start

I signed  up with Apartment Therapy’s Janurary Cure. It is a step-by-step guide to getting your home on track. As instructed,  I compiled my room by room project list. This weekend,  I took full advantage of being snowed in and decided to start in my boiler room clean out. It was a little overwhelming and I spent all day Saturday and Sunday sorting through fabric, trim, patterns, craft supplies and a host of other household stuff that got thrown in there because it was easier to do so rather then find a proper place elsewhere.  As a result, it became a catch all area that got out of control.

After some very strong internal dialog with myself, I began the process of letting go of the my unused creative stuff I got real with myself and packed it up to be donated to Material for the Arts which provides arts supplies to public schools and non profit organizations with performing arts programs. The rest of the household items will be donated to Savers and The Salvation Army, all to be dropped off ASAP because I want it gone!

So this is what it looks like now.

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It still has a ways to go, however,  it is the unfinished part of the basement. I’m ecstatic that I can see the floor again. Once the entire space is totally decluttered, Mr. DIY and I have plans to make it into an organized functional workspace.

By the way, if you are not impressed with the  picture above, perhaps you will be after you lay your eyes on the the before pic.
boiler room IMG_9915

Be honest, did it make you gasp? If it did, take a minute to catch your breath. Just wanted to keep it real. I m sure some of you can relate to  trouble zones such as these, whether it’s a junk drawer, catch all space or overcrowded garage. It’s something that just creeps up on you, festers and turns into an out of control beast. Perhaps I’m being a little dramatic but the trouble areas in my home are disturbing to my overall well being. Thankfully, I’m on my way  to turning all that around and enjoying the ride to only having what matters.

Do you have  a trouble spot in you home?

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

 

2014

I have a real good feeling that 2014 is going to be a great year for everyone, including you! Although I am always optimistic, this year I am over-the-top optimistic and I’m welcoming the feeling with open arms because it feels good . Every year, I take time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to focus on in the coming new year.

This year, I decided to focus on separating what really matters from the things that no longer serve me and hampers my creativity. My creative abilities and insight is a huge part of who I am and serves me in my everyday life. Recently, I discovered a collection of podcasts at Untitled Minimalism containing very meaningful discussions about living life to the fullest.  The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect for me. By the way, please don’t let the name  or subject matter deter you; the discussions go way beyond eliminating the excess in our lives. After listening to several of the podcasts, my take away has been a heightened clarity about how meaningless stuff interferes with your life’s true path.

Spending way too much time looking for something I know I have but can’t find because it got lost in an abyss of clutter in our two problem areas, the unfinished part of our basement and the garage doesn’t serve me. Both areas have turned into a chaotic nightmare that is both overwhelming and anxiety inducing. Realizing that when you have a home, even a small one like ours, it enables one to save stuff, too much stuff, for a “maybe one day” that might never happen. What’s the point? It’s my hope and mission to have in my home only what matters.  I intend to spend the year scrutinizing everything, deciding if it has purpose and whether it serves our family. If the answer is no, it got’s to go! Hey that rhymes:) Nothing will be off limits, including my creative supplies; trust me, that’s going to be very hard but I’m ready for the challenge!  I even plan to whittle down my wardrobe even though it is fairly small to begin with. I rather have a few pieces that I wear consistently than hold on to things that rarely see the light of day and may be of use to someone in need.

As always, I plan to take a creative approach to my first steps to a clutter controlled life. You see, I always fantasize about living in a one room cottage surrounded by nature.

dream cottage
courtesy of tinyhouselistings.com

with and outdoor area that looks like this

outdoor bliss

I will keep these retreats in mind as I scrutinize my belongings. Furniture aside, I will keep only the meaningful items that I would actually take to my fantasy dream cottage. I sure hope you will check back regularly to see how I am progressing. Yes, 2014 is going to be a good year!

What are your plans for the new year? Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

My Personal Project Runway Experience

My Personal Project Runway Experience

Last weekend, I had the greatest experience. I  attended a weekend class, Styling for Photography at Fashion Institute of Technology (aka FIT). About 15 minutes into the class, I realized  then content wasn’t quite what I was expecting. As a disappointing feeling started to take over, I quickly reframed my thoughts. As long as there is a take away , a bit of useful information or I walk away inspired, then it will be worth my while. And guess what? The class turned out to be fantastic and I had so much fun!

My reason for taking the class was to learn the art of styling photographs. Although effortless for some,  I find the process daunting. This class was geared toward someone who aspires to be a professional fashion stylist, however,  I walked away with helpful information and direction. There were two teachers, a professional stylist and a professional photographer. The photographer, Maria, was extremely helpful and  steered me in the right direction, suggesting the photography and still life styling classes that are more in line with what I was looking for.  She must of been a comedian in another life because she was soooooo funny.

Our assignment was to come up with a concept and message using the color brown. There were two teams of 6. Each team had to come up with a still life design and two fashion outfits. Everyone collaborated on the still life.Our concept and message was urban nesting with nature. We discussed the look we wanted to portray, decided on the items we needed and the outdoor  location for the shoot.  The next day, we collaborated some more and came up with the final still life shot and the photographer took the photos. And boy are they beautiful!  It will be a while before I will get her shots, so I snapped a few quick ones.  Here’s the still life using some of  the items we brought in.

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The bird  that looks like it’s sitting atop a nest is actually a hat that we will also used in our fashion shoot.

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After we finished with the still life, our team broke off into  two teams of three to create the fashion looks. We had a professional make up artist and model assigned to us for the shoot. Here are some of the fashion accessories we decided to use. I apologize for the horrible photo, Iphone and florescent lighting do not work well together.

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Here’s the first look styled by the other half of my team.

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It was so fun to see a professional model doing her thing up close and personal.

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Natural and effortless.

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And here’s the second outfit I helped style.

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Never in a million years would I think of putting all these elements together.

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Love, love, love the skirt!

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And that’s a crochet bikini top peaking underneath the faux leather jacket.

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By the way, the paper trailing behind her was intentional.

 

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As one of my teammates schooled me, “fashion doesn’t have to make sense”.

This is my favorite pose.

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She was as sweet as she was beautiful.

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I plan to take the classes the photographer suggested, one of which concentrates on still life styling, and maybe, just maybe, I will be able pull this off all by myself.

Still life IMG_9403

This was one phenomenal experience! I felt like I was on me-cation/stay-cation. Laughing and learning are a great combo. I walked away elated and inspired.

Do you have natural styling ability or are you like me and struggle with it? Taken a me-cation lately?

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Remember to Play!

Remember to Play!

5 book steps to discovering your personal muse

It is so easy to get entangled in our everyday lives, overwhelmed  by our day to day responsibilities and consumed by the never ending “to do” list.  And if you’re a mom, your job is 24/7, period. So why not make yourself a priority, schedule a few minutes and give yourself permission to play. And by that I mean spending time doing whatever allows you to experience joy. It might mean coffee with a friend that makes you laugh, participating in an activity that keeps us in the present moment or just doing something that deviates from our normal routine. Or, it can be as simple as curling up with a favorite book or magazine and closing the door to everything else. And guess what? The world is not going to stop revolving and the “to do” list will still be waiting for you upon your return;however, it will  be easier to tackle because you took time to care of yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s selfless because now you offer the world a better you.

So my question to you is, how do you play? What is your idea of fun time? For me, in addition to the things I mentioned above, it’s getting into a zone, where I find myself creating and meditating simultaneously. Creativity isn’t limited to producing magnificent works of art – painting an impressive masterpiece, sculpting exquisite pottery or writing a best selling novel; creativity is discovering yourself from the inside out, honing your talents and gifts and using that specialness to make your personal mark on world! How you do that is a manifestation of your uniqueness. So, If you think you’re not creative, please, please, please kick that notion to the curb. I’ve written about this when I first started this blog, here and touched on it again, more recently, here. It’s part of my calling and it’s important that I write about it and put it out there. We’re all creative, just not in the same way; that’s what makes each and every one of us unique. and special beings.

But just in case you have yet to find your creative genre, no problem! You are only 5 book steps away from discovering you personal muse!

Step 1. 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment (Voices That Matter) by Stefan G. Bucher, a book full of questions designed to document who you are, where you are and where you want to go.

344 Questions_

Step 2. How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith prompts you to be observant about your often overlooked surroundings.It provides a fun way to appreciating the tiny details in everyday life.

How To Be An Explorer Of The World_

Step 3. Finish This Book, also by Keri Smith, offers inspiring activities using found objects and writing prompts is perfect for all ages and a great summer activity for children.

Finsish This Book

Step 4. 365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! by Noah Scalin provides 365 simple project ideas; however, they are just that, suggestions. He encourages the reader to incorporate their own interests and passions and/or take a theme approach to ones daily projects.

365 A Daily Creative Journal

Step 5. Living Out Loud by Keri Washington is filed with activities, games, projects and more to begin your journey to creativity and personal discovery.

Living Out Loud

Perhaps, you will find one, or all, of these books helpful in connecting with the creativity that resides within you. Please let me know your thoughts and, remember, don’t forget to play!

Marble Notebooks Mean the World to Me

Marble Notebooks Mean the World to Me

Journaling has become a favorite part of my life which has served me well. It has allowed me to vent, release the bad and spot joy so much more easily. Although, I remember having a diary as a little girl, however,  daily journaling  was a mandatory requirement for one of my high school English classes. That was the real beginning of my journey into journaling and it has changed my life in significantly awesome ways. The funny thing is I was so brutally honest, as you should be, but I can only imagine what my teacher was thinking when she read my entries. LOL Seriously, it is the one place that you can let it all out, clear your head and vow to start anew. It is a place to hang and just be, all the while getting in touch with your most authentic and raw thoughts unedited.

Today, my entries range from autobiographical to stream of consciousness with a lot of gratitude and affirmations thrown in. Stream of consciousness is writing anything that pops into your mind uncensored – words, incomplete thoughts, fragments of anything and everything. It’s all good. You’d be surprise what you can learn about yourself. I find I no longer carry around excess baggage or burden myself with the icky stuff in life. Instead, I write it out and let it go instead of harboring things that don’t serve my best interests.

I have had many different journals, and have even amassed a small unused collection waiting for their turn. I am drawn to books with empty pages to fill. If one catches my eye in the store, I just can’t help myself. But for some reason, I keep going back to marble notebooks, which is what I used in high school – perhaps a nod back to me journaling roots. I find it’s the perfect size – not too bulky to stick it in my bag. Yes, I love to journal everywhere, at a diner, on a plane, out in nature. I know I am dating myself but remember when marble notebooks just came in one black and white color pattern?

marble notebook

But today, they come in every color and pattern imaginable.

Marble-Composition-Book assorted colors

Yes, folks, I drool over marble notebooks; they make my heart skip a beat each and every time. I hope your heart skipping a beat too!

composition noteboook assortment

As I said earlier, joy often comes easy to me. Even for something as small as a marble composition notebook! Name changes when they sport a pretty pattern. That’s why I always look forward to school supply shopping each and every year, as I will be doing for No. 2 Son in the next couple of days. I can’t wait to see the new colors and patterns. Sometimes, I buy and extra one just for me. Why? Because they’re pretty and they make me smile! I also have a thing for erasable pens too but I’m not going to get into that here:)

However, when I saw these Ms Mudpie Boutique on Etsy, I just gasped.
MSMudpieBoutique
They are available in so many colors and patterns and you can even have them monogramed. Oh wow!!! Aren’t they gorgeous! Journaling can’t get any prettier than this. Don’t you think? Now that I hang out at Etsy a lot these days maintaining my shop, I find so many neat products. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I stumbled upon this baby at Jounals by Ginny. It’s a journal cover for marble notebooks! And that quote is a testament to my life.

JounalsbyGinny

It’s the little things in life that can make all the difference. How about you? Do you journal? Is there something small that means the world to you? Please leave a comment and let me know you stopped by. I really would love to know your thoughts. And, just in case you didn’t know, your comments mean the world to me too:)

New Mexico

New Mexico

I had the pleasure of traveling to New Mexico this summer. After reading this post, I decided to rely on my point and shoot camera and limit the picture taking overall. I wanted this trip to be more of an “present moment” experience. And you really can’t be in present moment if you are busy taking pictures.

My family and I spent a week in Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. As I write this, I am on the flight home and I am so proud of myself now that I can finally spell Albuquerque effortlessly:) Although I found New Mexico to be a little too touristy, we focused on it’s cultural attractions – museums, landmark churches, Native American cultural centers and toured the Taos Pueblo (an intense history lesson).

But what I was truly smitten with was the open roads and wide open spaces. The drive from Albuquerque to Santa Fe

ABQ to Santa Fe IMG_6823

was just as scenic as views along The Turquoise Trail, a 54 mile stretch along Highway 14.

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That was really special. We passed a few ranches

Turquoise Trail  Ranch IMG_6915

and lone houses.

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The towns are quaint and just take you back in time. Isn’t this just darling?

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It was a leisurely drive. A couple of times, in between towns, Mr. DIY pulled off on the side of the road so that I could snap a few pics. During one of the stops, I heard Mr. DIY and the boys quietly, trying to quickly lure me back into the car and I couldn’t understand why.
Then they pointed out a huge snake camouflaged on a rock very close to where I was standing. Yikes!

IMG_6905 snake
As we drove off I started thinking all the “what ifs” as Mr. DIY started joking about how he would have come to my rescue by applying a tourniquet, sucking out the venom and rushing me to the nearest hospital. While his humor stopped the “what ifs”, after the laughter died down, I kept repeating my most favorite prayer, thank you, thank you, thank you…….
Turquoise Trail IMG_6904

Snake and all, it was all breathtakingly beautiful. If I’m ever in the area again, I would stop in each town along the Turquoise Trail for sure. Have you ever visited a place that has taken you back in time?

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Between Naps on the Porch: Metamorphosis Monday