Side-tracked By A Day Trip

To avoid boring you to death, this will be my last post in a three-part series about our Disney World adventures. This isn’t actually about Disney at all, but instead I will thrill and excite you with details of a day trip away from the swirling fun that is Disney. Alright, I’m certain this isn’t thrill worthy stuff but it made for a unique day all around. In the last week or so before flying off from reality, my sister and I worked out where we would like to explore. My son had one request…go to the ocean. My kids had never been to the ocean and I was determined to grant this wish. We live on one of North America’s  Great Lakes so a large body of water is part of the daily scenery. However, nothing compares to the ocean! We verbally went back and forth between the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. I wanted the Atlantic Ocean and my big sis wanted the Gulf. Who won the battle of debate? Keep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Didn’t it figure that the day we had rented a car to head to the beach ended up being overcast, rainy and windy. I had also thought that it would be the perfect day to wear a dress. I’m brilliant, I know. Life goes on and so we headed off for a day of adventure!

 

 

bridges to the beach

bridges to the beach

There were brief pockets of sunshine throughout the day but the wind was a bit of a nuisance. As to be expected, the closer we got to the ocean the windier it got. While driving along this strip of highway that seemed to be mostly bridges connected by islands I couldn’t help but think how terrifying this would be should there be a hurricane. Evacuation route signs were everywhere. My sister and I came to the conclusion that neither of us would ever live in a location that needed evacuation route signage. If you live in such a place, you are braver than us. Or you simply enjoy life being peppered with severe risk. Your call.
Cruise ships

Cruise ships

There is something so odd about cruise ships along the side of the freeway.

Beach, here we come!
Beach, here we come!

Now you see who’s debate skills are superior.  Maybe it was the 3:1 that was the clincher.

Cocoa Beach from afar

Cocoa Beach from afar

After a bit of driving back and forth along the main stretch of road looking for signs to the beach, I finally rolled down my car window and leaned out to get the attention of a city worker. He was very helpful, and friendly I might add, and pointed us in the right direction  which of course we had already passed. As we walked over to the beach the sound of the pounding surf permeated all else. There is no other sound in nature that contains such a combination of force and serenity simultaneously. It instantly transports the Spirit to a happy place. THIS must be the reason people choose to live in evacuation areas!

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Although it looks bright and sunny in this photo, don’t be fooled. It was grey and windy which made me ponder the decision for all of these people to try to catch some sun. Humans are interesting creatures.

See the red flag on the beach?

This indicates that there were rip currents and swimming was not recommended although many people were in the water. We walked in briefly and were almost knocked over by the huge, powerful waves.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach

Another danger on the beach was the massive amount of jellyfish. They were everywhere and I was just about to step on one coming out of the water when I was warned with a holler. Talk about freaking a person out!

My son just couldn’t get enough of the jellyfish. He spent most of his time getting up close and personal (too close for my comfort) to watch them pulsate. Moments such as these are wonderful teaching opportunities and allow children to gain a better understanding of all the incredible creatures we share this planet with. I’m certain this will be a memory that last a lifetime for him.

jellyfish

beach grasses and railing

The sound of the surf and the mysterious sea life captured our attention but it was the windblown sand that lovingly cradled the beach grasses that made me swoon for the beach.

The way the elements distress wooden structures such as these stairs was, to me, the epitome of coastal scenery that I carry in my mind’s eye.

sandy steps

sandy steps

Next stop…Cape Canaveral.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle

I was pretty excited to visit Cape Canaveral and the NASA museum. According to the website there are tours that shuttle visitors out to the launch pad and infiltrate your brain with all things space related.

This could have gone either way, I figured. I was hoping for new knowledge but was on guard for the nerd alert to sound. Well, upon further inspection we decided not to do the tour. At $50 U.S. per person it was a bit steep for an experience my kids were only going along with for my sake. Oh well.

 

NASA museum

NASA museum

After a day of sand, surf and shuttles we made tracks back to Disney. It was a supremely glorious day spent making memories.

“A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together.

Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.”  

– Charlotte Kasl

 

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Wake Up and Live!

“Life is one big road with lots of signs.

So when you riding through the ruts,

don’t complicate your mind.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy.

Don’t bury your thoughts,

put your vision to reality.

Wake Up and Live!

– Bob Marley

It seems as though this week has been one of many ruts. Too many to count. It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that push one to the point of tears. This week , although small in the grand scheme of life, my tipping point came when on an extremely tiring day I was itching like crazy from poison ivy only to have a wasp fly in the vehicle window while I was driving and sting me a few times on my inner thigh. At that moment I wanted to just put on the brakes and cry. I refrained thanks to a wonderful friend by my side to uplift my spirits. Friends help us see the ruts for what they really are. Through it all I tried to keep a positive attitude, laugh off the irritation or hurt of the week and just keep moving forward. Sometimes Life gets ugly…sometimes emotions are run ragged – there is always, ALWAYS a positive spin, a lesson to be learned or something better to look forward to.

Here’s where my week becomes downright fun…I am off on a road trip with my uplifting friend! Ottawa, here we come!  (More details to follow!)

Have a fun and rejuvenating weekend. Do something kind for Yourself. Love the Life you have been given. Laugh until your stomach hurts…I intend to!

Visiting History in Niagara

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a few hours and zipped over to one of our local gems…Niagara-on-the-Lake. This quaint little town is a bustling zone of tourists this time of year which adds a bit more fun to the whole adventure. There were a few large groups of tourists there yesterday that seemed to want to huddle in the middle of the sidewalks, talking excitedly to each other or listening as their tour guide and interpreter gave them the historical low-down on the area. All the milling people gave me the opportunity to stop wherever I wanted, look like a tourist myself, and take a few pictures. The Niagara area is steeped in rich history. There is far too much to cover in one post but I will touch on the history of the region every so often so make sure you follow me so as to not miss a thing.

 

 

Niagara-on-the-Lake has had a few different names in its past, the first of them being Butlersburg after Colonel John Butler. Col. John Butler was a fascinating man who was both worshipped and despised. He and his son were known as “the devils of Niagara” by  Americans for generations. Butlersburg was later changed to Newark in 1781 when it became  a British military site and safe zone for Loyalists fleeing from the United Stated during the aftermath of the American Revolution. Once again changing its name, the town became known as Niagara. Niagara became the first capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and the site of the first provincial parliament in 1792. During the War of 1812 the parliament was moved to York which is now known as Toronto.  During the War of 1812, Niagara was a central location. The town of Niagara was captured by American forces and burned to the ground.  The citizens of Niagara braved the storm and rebuilt the town. The main buildings were rebuilt out of the firing range of the cannons across the Niagara River at Fort Niagara. Yet another name change occurred in the 1880’s to its present name of Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you are interested in British-Canadian-United States history, then Niagara-on-the-Lake should definitely be on your list of places to visit.

 

 

 

In honour of Colonel John Butler, this tablet can be found in St. Mark’s Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“Fear God
Honour the King
In Memory of Colonel John Butler
A sincere Christian as well as a brave soldier he was one of the founders and the first patron of this parish.”

Ontario Historical Plaque
Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler 1725-1796
By the end of the American Revolution John Butler’s loyalist corps, supported by British regulars and native allies, had effectively contributed to the establishment of British control in the Great Lakes region. After the disbanding of Butler’s Rangers in 1784, many of the men, including Butler himself, settled in the Niagara peninsula.

The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is a fusion of historical references and the bounty of the wine region that surrounds it. The Shaw Festival plays a pivotal role in the fabric of the community as well. There are grand homes of by-gone times that are lovingly restored and maintained as well as original inns and pubs known to be frequented by ghostly visitors. One of my favorites is the Prince of Wales Hotel that sits on one of the main corners of the Old Town. It’s too bad that yesterday was a rainy, overcast day and I only had my Blackberry to capture a few sights.

Prince of Wales Hotel, NOTL

Prince of Wales Hotel, NOTL

 

 

 

 

The Prince of Wales Hotel and the horse-drawn carriages are a beautiful representation of the history of the Town. Just up the street the wine industry makes itself known with the Shaw Café & Wine Bar. I must say, it always seems to be busy. I love the way the “new” presents itself in such a way as to blend in to the “old” to keep the image of the town historically quaint.

 

 

Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar

Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar

 

 

The rich history of the Niagara Region leaves me breathless sometimes. The realization that the area I have the luxury of living in is one of political and personal passion  for freedom as well as a battleground of war is almost surreal. Today the Niagara Region is known for our incredible wine and food industries as well as the gorgeous natural settings that surrounds us.

 

 

One of my favourite aspects of Niagara-on-the-Lake in the summertime is the copious amounts of flowers that the town is adorned with. Hanging baskets, gardens along the sidewalks, window boxes on many of the storefronts and a median down the centre of the streets that are filled to over-flowing with colourful blossoms. It is like candy for the eyes!

 

 

 

Sidewalk flower garden

Sidewalk flower garden

 

 

 

One of the flowerbeds contained this showy number – Brugmansia suaveolens. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted this specimen. I know, I know…I’m a plant nerd. It stunned me how many people walked by without noticing it until I stopped to take a photo. After taking my time inspecting this plant I turned to notice how many others were behind me admiring the plant’s beauty. Sometimes we are all so oblivious to the world around us that until we take note of someone else’s actions we miss the beauty around us. This majestic plant was putting on a show while no one was watching, simply for itself.

 

 

 

 

Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens

 

 

 

 

Brugmansia suaveolens

Brugmansia suaveolens

 

 

 

After a wonderful walk in the drizzly rain, scoping out the stupendous specimens along the way and the plethora of little shops we headed home while munching on one of my purchases…a bag of British-import Guinness potato chips.

 

 

On this Canada Day long weekend, I think of the history of not just the area I live but of the Nation I call “home” and all that came before.

 

 

 

 

 

“The upward course of a nation’s history is due in the long run to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.” – Queen Elizabeth II 

 

 

 

Ties That Bind

The ties that bind us together. Family, friends and those that weave in and out of our lives to deliver timely messages whatever they might be. On my Path through life I am often reminded how we are all connected to each other by seemingly invisible threads. I have learned that there are many different types of bonds in life; the bond of genetics is strong. Within my heart is a huge section reserved for my family. My parents, my sisters and those that surrounded me by relation. I have an amazing family that I am very honoured to be a part of. My sisters mean the world to me. Although we are each very unique we are also very similar…eerily similar sometimes. We laugh at the same things without speaking or even eye contact and often feel that the other is in some sort of distress just by intuition. Sounds kind of hokey but I think it speaks loudly of our concern and respect for each other as well as the strong familial connection. As we mature, it seems as though we are drawn back toward each other. We don’t get the pleasure of spending much time together as all three of us live in different cities. A few recent family events through both loss and health challenges has brought us back to a common goal of caring for each other. It is interesting how Life throws us back together when we need each other without realizing it.

 

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my family. My daughter and I went back to my childhood home to visit. On the way, we stopped off in Toronto to visit with my sister since she had flown in for work. I live fairly close to Toronto so this was a great opportunity for us to spend time together. Growing up, my sister was my closest ally. It was rejuvenating to get to spend time with her and my daughter together. This occasion allowed my daughter and I some time exploring on our own as well. We walked arm and arm down Yonge Street in Toronto and enjoyed each others’ company while we wandered aimlessly through the Eaton Centre. I am not a shopper by any means and I really do try to steer clear of malls and the materialism that is reinforced within its’ confines. However, the Eaton Centre is a really unique space. It is a landmark and focal point of downtown Toronto. It covers two city blocks and is four stories of shopping galleries while having a six-story glass domed ceiling. The Eaton Centre attracts approximately 50 million people per year with 25% of those visitors being tourists. It is a vibrant location in the heart of the city. It’s interesting how the mall itself still has the same feel it had when I visited it as a kid even though the stores have all changed. It is clean and bright and caters to eclectic tastes, not just the same stores and restaurants you find in every other mall in Canada.

 

 

 

Eaton Centre, Toronto

Eaton Centre, Toronto

 

Eaton Centre fountain

Eaton Centre fountain

 

 

 

My daughter was awestruck by Sephora while I just wanted to run as fast as I could away from it while plugging my nose! Sorry Sephora fans. Admittedly, it was a beautifully laid out store and the products are high quality. That is not the reason for my disdain. The odours of vanity hit my nose like a huge green cloud of toxicity. Nail polish remover, perfume, and masks of makeup on every female in the store hiding her natural beauty underneath. Makeup is meant to accent a woman’s beauty when worn on a “regular day”, not as though she were about to perform on stage! I guess I don’t share a flair for the (over)dramatic. I don’t think of myself as unkempt by any means but I felt as though I was totally naked walking through this establishment with my real face showing. I personally subscribe to the thought that we are each given something unique and beautiful, why try to look like everyone else? On that note, we carried on through the mall taking in all of the sights we aren’t normally bombarded with in our city which is surrounded by wineries and natural beauty. I love spending time in large urban areas. Seeing and experiencing how other people live is eye-opening. A reminder of why I have chosen the life I am living is essential sometimes.

 

 

 

Metal Sculpture

Metal Sculpture

view from 21st floor

 

 

 

Later that day, the three of us went out to enjoy dinner together. We found an incredible little place that served vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free pizza, pasta and desserts. Oh, and beer.  Jackpot! It was a great little hole in the wall that we all enjoyed immensely. If you are in Toronto and have the opportunity to eat at the Magic Oven I highly recommend it. The service was friendly, the prices reasonable and the food outstanding.  After dinner we headed to Chinatown. I love Chinatown, but sadly it was getting late and the shops were closing up for the night. My daughter had the shock of her life when she stepped on what she thought was a fish head (who knows what it really was) and I just couldn’t stop laughing at her reaction. If you’ve ever watched the show Pitchin’ In with Lynne Crawford and have heard her when her gag reflex kicks in, this was what my daughter sounded like. Hilarious. We booked it back to our hotel in the -10 degree weather as quickly as possible so we could warm up again. It was an enjoyable, if not frigid, walk. We stopped long enough to snap a pic on this extremely cool sculpture outside the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I got stuck holding the bags of desserts while my daughter clambered around behind me.

 

 

 

Sculpture outside the AGO

Sculpture outside the AGO

 

 

 

Saying goodbye to my sister as we left was, as always, bittersweet. I love spending time with her but that was merely the start to our busy weekend. Two more family and friend-filled days ensued. I got to spend some much-needed time with my other sister and parents. Visiting at “home” was a much more relaxed pace which was enjoyable after the hustle and bustle of the two days prior.

 

 

Catching up with my dear friend Crystal (Change My Body, Change My Life)  after a few months apart was grounding. Bringing me back to introspection. She is so good at reminding me to ask myself the important questions in life. She seems to always be able to read me like a book which is very comforting. There is no need to explain myself but just to be who I am…whatever heart space I happen to be in.  I am honoured to know that I am also a safe place for her. We help feed each others’ souls with positivity. Thank you.

 

 

These are merely snippets from my weekend spent reconnecting. Pulling the ties that bind closer to my heart. My world is more colourful and glorious because of those that grace the stage of Life.

 

 

 

 

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller

Processing

I had no idea the impact that visiting Las Vegas would have on me both physically and mentally. In a strange way, I guess it has affected me spiritually as well. I suppose you could say  that  I had a cushy  upbringing and my only reality was the one I was in – like so many other people I only saw things from my perspective. Yes, I am compassionate. Sometimes overly so to the detriment of myself. I have tended to put others first to not create waves too often in my lifetime. I have been focusing on respecting my own Being over the last couple of years and have made huge strides in allowing myself to be joyful and fulfilled without guilt or selfishness. This has taken a lot of focus and strength. Learning to say “no” was paramount in my forward movement of personal growth. A person can take on too much and stress themselves out needlessly when “yes” becomes the dominant response. Call me crazy but I feel very empowered when I say no when it is necessary. The trick is not being reckless with “no’s” but to use them wisely, not foolishly just for the sake of it.

It has taken me approximately a week to process my reactions and actions as well as absorb what I have learned while in Vegas. I figured I would just carry on my merry way and come home the same person. WRONG! My eyes have been opened to another reality that I had never really inspected thoroughly before. Another lifestyle choice that was not like mine. The world of the Eternal Party. I love a good party just like the next person but I must admit that there can be too much of a good thing.

 

The puzzling part of  this trip was how overwhelmed I felt once I got home. I was  bombarded by so much in a week’s time that I needed to allow myself to come back down to reality. I am not sure how else to explain what I was feeling. I learned a great deal about myself in the process. Here are a few of the things I discovered in my week of processing.

  • I reaffirmed that I love to live a fairly simple existence.
  • I prefer moderate temperatures. Not extreme heat that sucked every bit of moisture from my flesh or the polar opposite of shivering in overly air-conditioned buildings. How is a woman supposed to know what to wear in these conditions?
  • Home grown and home-made (with love) food is essential to my well-being.
  • my sister that was one of my travelling companions is, and always will be, one of my best friends. I am very thankful we are a part of each other’s lives.
  • gambling is of no interest to me
  • smoking repulses me. Not the person smoking, per say, but the act of smoking and putting out noxious air into the surroundings. I apologize if you are offended by this statement but I am entitled to my opinion.
  • there is no excuse for behavior that encroaches on other people’s safety or well-being. We are all equal here on Earth…get over yourself if you think you are better than anyone else. This is not directed at anyone in particular, just a random observation.
  • I have been vegetarian in many variations (vegan, raw foodist, ovo-veg, lacto-veg) over my lifetime. Eating any other way seems unnatural to me now. Why is this still so hard to grasp for restaurants?
  • I love to travel but I really love to be at home.
  • to love generously and without judgement. We all have “stuff” we are dealing with. This is an ongoing project.
  • Shaklee supplements are essential not only while at home but while travelling too. Thanks to my good friends that insisted I keep up my regime.
  • dehydration sucks
  • there is too much perfume and air “freshener” products in this world. The air is not fresher because chemicals are swirling around in our nostrils. If something smells bad it needs to be dealt with – easy peasy.
  • sleep is vital
  • walking is good. I am thankful for a fully functioning pair of legs. I won’t take them for granted any more and worry about what they look like. They work!

 

The Shaklee Convention was the main focus of my trip. It filled me to overflowing with incredible information. So much so that I think my brain shorted out and was in need of time to absorb and filter all the knowledge that was packed in. My brain is back to functioning properly with all this new information sorted and filed where it should be. I must send a big shout out to all of those at Shaklee head office that put together this fantastic convention. You all are amazing!

 

This trip to Las Vegas began as a time to focus on growth in my business as well as a vacation. I came out on the other side of this experience with much more than I had expected. I have evolved in ways I never knew I would. I thought I had already made peace with my existence and the life I am living but I gained a new sense of  “belonging” within myself that was deeper than I thought possible. Belonging to Myself and loving it!

 

 

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”  – Rachel Naomi Remen

Viva Las Vegas!

“Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire…”

Set my soul on fire, it did.  I have never been anywhere in my travels that is remotely similar to Vegas. Bright flashing lights, the sound of  helicopters constantly, slot machines announcing another winner, the smell of smoke and the crazy antics of people out for a good time.  I’ve ventured into casinos in the past but I’m not a gambler and feel unnerved by people literally throwing money away for mere seconds of  exhilaration that they may win big. I have enjoyed theatrical performances over the years but Las Vegas is so packed with choices as to which shows to visit, no one could possibly enjoy them all. Some of them would scar me for life if I did see them. The endless buffet lines were a statement of societies sheer gluttony. That’s a few of the negatives. What about some positive thoughts, you say.

I was blown away by the creativity and splendor of the hotels. I felt as though I had time traveled or teleported, or whatever, each time I entered a different hotel. Incredibly amazing (in a good way). I love that people wear sequins at any time of the day or night in Vegas. Sparkle like every day is Christmas seems to be the motto…and I love it! I must admit though that the best part of being in Las Vegas was the people I was with. My spectacular sister and fabulous friends and business associates.

Why was I in Las Vegas you must be wondering. Business or pleasure?

Why, a little of both!  I was attending the Shaklee Global Conference from August 8-12 and decided that while in Vegas I should see the sights as well. The conference was mind-blowing with the abundance of information and excitement. I have never, and I mean never, seen a company host a conference like Shaklee does…wow! Shaklee isn’t just a company, it’s a movement. A movement for positive change. A movement to become the healthiest you have ever been while enjoying yourself. A vehicle for health and financial wellness that is ethical, environmentally responsible and proven to be safe and effective.  These qualities in a company touch my heart like no other company can. There is absolutely no comparison out there as far as I’m concerned. Visit my Facebook page and “like” Live Love Be Green. You will be kept up to date on what’s going on and be a part of the conversation regarding health and wellness.

As if the conference wasn’t packed with enough fun-filled moments, my cohorts and I tried to pack in as much excitement as possible. We were awestruck by a Cirque de Soleil performance called KA at the MGM Grand. How the human body can do the things it does in Cirque’s shows baffle me. My brain kept repeating, “don’t try this at home” throughout the performance.  Don’t worry Brain, I won’t be foolish enough to think that I could execute any of the actions I witnessed.

We also took in the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay and had lots of laughs while being amazed at the aquatic life.

There was nothing that could prepare me for the heat of Las Vegas. The 112 degrees of blistering heat made my eyeballs feel as though they were melting in their sockets. I am a southern Ontario Canadian girl who likes moderate temperatures and gets out of sorts when the thermometer reads 80 degrees or higher. 73 degrees is optimal in my world. I’ve had a difficult time acclimatizing back to the temperature at home and even found myself putting on a sweater this afternoon. I will remind myself of the extreme Vegas heat whenever I find myself wanting to complain that I am hot!

I would love to see Vegas become more vegetarian friendly. It was difficult to find things to eat and I ended up cinching in my belt  three holes. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than happy to tighten my belt but I would like to not feel light-headed while doing so. Maybe I was just drying out in the heat.

Over all, Las Vegas was a blast. Thanks to Shaklee for hosting a totally kick-butt convention again this year!

I’ve always wanted to see the bright lights for myself and now that I have I can focus on other destinations.

“Viva las vegas with you neon flashin
And your one armbandits crashin
All those hopes down the drain
Viva las vegas turnin day into nighttime
Turnin night into daytime
If you see it once
You’ll never be the same again”