the trip from kansas to boise – by ivy

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Hi my name is Ivy and i am 8 years old and  this is the story about how me and my uncle marc and my dad  Johnny flew from ellsworth Kansas to boise Idaho.

And now the story begins.  We had a long goodbye and then we loaded up my uncles Cessna 180 and took off then we flew

out of  kansas and into nebraska and then we flew out of nebraska and into south dakota.  This is a picture of us while we were flying.  I’m sitting in the front right seat.

 

 

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On the flight, we saw lots of grass and farms.  Everything looked very small from way up in the air.  It took us about 3 hours to get from Ellsworth to Custer South Dakota where we landed at the airport.  When we landed we unloaded some of our things, we talked to the aiport people, and we picked up our rental car.  We were kind of tired and hungry from the flight so we drove into town to look for food.  We went to a place that had Buffalo burgers and I had Buffalo stuffed mushrooms and a peach slushie.  After lunch, we drove out of town to find mt rushmore and on the way we saw crazy horse and then we got to mt rushmore.  It was a really good slushie and it came with a second one, but that was all watered down.

IMG_0311Once we got to Mt. Rushmore, we parked and walked into the gate where they had the american flag and all of the state flags on big rock posts.  After that, we went out on the balcony where everyone goes to take pictures.  After that, we walked on the trail that goes up by the mountain and walked around to the museum where they had a presentation about Mt Rushmore.  In the museum there was also a model of a building they started building behind Mt Rushmore so they could store things behind the mountain.  But they never finished the building.
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here is me and my uncle Marc with the kansas state flag.

 

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we were all out on the balcony taking pictures .
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heres me and my dad with mt rushmore .

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heres a picture of mt rushmore with the trees.

 

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we saw two woodchucks.

 

 

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after we went to mt rushmore we drove the animal loop and saw buflo.
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there were a lot blockking the way  .


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we drove out to a lake and hiked a trail but first we had to cross some rocks.

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when we got back to where we  started we walked around the rest of the lake.

 

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when we drove back to the airport  on the way we went through a tunnel.

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That night, we camped at the airport.  We came back from our drive to the airport and set up our tents and we ate freeze dried beef stroganoff and easy mac.  We made a fire and I talked to mommy on the phone while daddy and uncle Marc finished setting up camp.  After dinner we got ready for bed and then crawled into our sleeping bags.  During the night we were woken up by the sound of the wind blowing, then the thunder started.  It rained really really hard and there was thunder and lightning and wind.  It sounded really scary, but Daddy and I cuddled up and stayed dry and warm in the tent through the storm.  We fell back asleep after the storm passed, but everything was really wet in the morning outside the tent.  We woke up in the morning, we packed up our tents and got some snacks for the trip, then we loaded up and took off from Custer, SD.

 

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On the way, I took pictures of the mountains.

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I also ate lots of beef jerky and trail mix, and drank lots of water.

 

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We flew from Custer, to West Yellowstone, MT.  On the way we flew over Yellowstone National Park.  We saw lots of things, but the only good pictures were of the paint pots!

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We landed in West Yellowstone right after flying over the park.  We went to a little restaurant that had really really good food and a Very good milkshake!!

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We took off from West Yellowstone and headed for Boise.  Right after we took off, it got pretty bumpy and very windy.  During the flight, I had to move from the front seat to the back seat because I didn’t feel good.  It was hot and I felt really sick.  I was really glad when we finally landed in Caldwell, ID.  Even though I got sick on the last part of the flight, I told my Dad that I would do it all over again because it was so much fun!

I had a great trip and Uncle Marc didn’t have to go home for an entire week!  I will remember this trip for my whole life.

 

**Mom’s note**

This blog is a bit delayed (it took place in July, 2014.) as I forgot that typing is a very slow and frustrating process when you don’t know how to type.  I had to reel in my desire to proof-read for capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.  Since this was Ivy’s story I decided to leave it as is, a wonderful memento of her trip and also of her abilities at this time in her life.  She had such a wonderful time on the trip and a good time recounting the trip with us as she told this story.  I’m so grateful to my brother and husband for sharing such a fun and unique experience with her.

Dena

 

 

 

 

Kansas – Truly our HEARTland

We all have that place we go to recharge and reconnect to our core.  For our family, that is Kansas.  I was born and raised there so it’s really no surprise that I have that deep connection.  Ivy was also born there and still tells me she will move back there someday.  Johnny lived there for eight years which is nearly as long as he lived in Colorado when he was growing up.  But for him it has also become homebase.  The place where he put down his roots, built a business, had his children, and created many of his most important friendships.  The place he goes back to.  The place that has family and friends.  So back to Kansas we go, as often as possible.

This summer we have already made the sojourn to the heartland.  The girls left first with my mom and flew out for their week of unbridled fun and excitement. There are few rules at Gram and Poppy’s house except for maybe “be careful”.  They get up earlier, stay up later.  Eat more ice cream.  And love every minute of it.  The list of adventures is long.  The memories will last a lifetime.

My brother has taken over the piece of land that has been in our family for a century or so and turned it into a goat farm.  He has also built a pond and a grass runway.  So heading out to the farm is one of our favorite things to do.

 

A little goat cuddle.

A little goat cuddle.

Wrangling the goats.

Wrangling the goats.

Johnny, mom and me.

Johnny, mom and me.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Johnny’s sister Emily only lives 6 hours from my parents (only because that is better than the 12 she lives from us!) so she drove out to spend a few days with us.

Swimming in the pond with Aunt Emily.

Swimming in the pond with Aunt Emily.

My brother also has a Cessna 180 that we like to take flying.  Some believe Kansas to be flat and boring.  I suggest you take to the air and check it out from a different perspective.

Lucy takes the controls!

Lucy takes the controls!

Flying Marc's plane to the farm.

Flying Marc’s plane to the farm.

My dad and brother have always hunted – with bows or guns or slingshots or…whatever weaponry was available.  So target practice was always happening when I was young.  We decided to get in on the fun this time.  I’ve even got a bow of my own now thanks to my overly generous brother!!

Ivy's turn with a bow.

Ivy’s turn with a bow.

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We spent a day at the Hutchinson Salt Mine which was incredibly cool.  To be 650 feet underground and walking/riding through the earth, knowing that there are HUNDREDS of miles of mine… It is truly awe-inspiring.  We got to mine for a few pieces of our own to take home.

Mining for salt.

Mining for salt.

A visit to the Hutchinson Salt Mine.

A visit to the Hutchinson Salt Mine.

Visiting with friends is of course a highlight of our trip.  Here are the girls with our dear friend Nora in what they refer to as the “cold tub” (it’s turned off for summer) making “soup”.

Swimming with Nora in the "cold tub".

Swimming with Nora in the “cold tub”.

Drinking margaritas.  At lunch.  On a Tuesday.

Drinking margaritas. At lunch. On a Tuesday.

My dad.

My dad.

Johnny.

Johnny.

My brother Marc.

My brother Marc.

Ivy and my brother's friend Jessie.

Ivy and my brother’s friend Jessie.

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Me. Target practice.

Me. Target practice.

Swimming in the pond.

Swimming in the pond.

Climbing with the goats.

Climbing with the goats.

Train ride!

Train ride!

Train ride!

Train ride!

Working dirt at the zoo.

Working dirt at the zoo.

Zipline!

Zipline!

Hunting for tadpoles at my brother's pond on the farm.

Hunting for tadpoles at my brother’s pond on the farm.

I think we all agreed this was one of the best trips yet.  The friends and family, the outdoor fun at the farm, a wedding, a baptism, cuddling a baby, and cuddling goats.  We did it all.  As always we are grateful for everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to spend time with us.  The heartland will always have a special place in our hearts.

From off the beaten path,

Dena

 

 

 

Balance – The Key to Happiness

“A balanced and skillful approach to life, taking care to avoid extremes, becomes a very important factor in conducting one’s every day experiences.  It is important in all aspects of life. “

~ The Dalai Lama

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For the past six months or so, I have been slowly reading my way through the book “The Art of Happiness”, by HH Dalai Lama & American Psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler.  The book begins with this astounding statement, made by the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of thousands in Arizona:

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.  That is clear.  Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life.  So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”

I absolutely LOVE this.  Why else would we be here?  Through finding our own happiness, we can live out our dreams, purposes, and build our strengths.  When we are happy, we care more about others, are less self-centered, look for ways to share our joy.  A happy person is one everyone wants to be around.  Happiness allows us to be in any situation and see the good, or at least not be sucked into the bad.  To understand that tomorrow is another day and that this too shall pass.

The part of the book that spoke loudest to me was the chapter on balance.  For many reasons, I see this as a core issue among Americans.  Listen to your friends and family when you ask the questions “How are you?”  “What have you been up to?”  The answers often sound something like: “Oh, good, everything’s good.  Just busy you know!”  Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  The mantra of our country.  If we arent’ busy, we aren’t important.  If we actually have a day with nothing to do, we must be worthless, lazy, incompetent, or at the very least, boring.  This constant striving for busy-ness for the sake of looking important has driven us to a new level of ego-centric, disconnected, tired, social media addicted individuals who run around constantly shouting “BUSY! BUSY! BUSY!”  Too busy for friends.  Too busy for family.  Too busy to take care of ourselves.

How do we address this phenomenon that has captured our society?  How do we arrest the rat race of our lives and tune in to the people and events happening in front of our faces (we’ll call this LIFE )?  By finding BALANCE.  In everything.  In our work and home life.  In our duties as spouse, parent, friend.  In our time taking care of home and self.  Balance.  But like physical balance, it’s always shifting and moving, changing and adapting.  We must be able to move with it, to be strong and steady, AND soft and receptive.  Through all of this, we must also be able to BREATHE.

In Yoga when we attempt a balance pose, our muscles are constantly firing, shifting, fine-tuning, adjusting.  A balance pose is not static.  If it was you would fall.  You respond to every input with an output.  If it’s equal, you stay up.  If not, you fall.  It takes focus and work.  It also requires a letting go and allowing of what is around you.  That is life.  We respond.  We find balance.  Or we fall down.

In life this balance is harder to find.  Some days it may seem like choosing which fire to put out first.  But if we can learn to work toward this fine balance in our daily life, gradually there will be fewer and fewer fires.

Here are my guidelines to living a balanced life: (These are geared mostly for parents.  But for those of you without kids or kids who have left the nest, you can make alterations to make them fit you.)

  1. Except for emergencies, put your needs first.  Everyone will be happier.
  2. Don’t over commit.  Learn to say NO.  PRIORITIZE your time.
  3. You’ll never get it done and never get it right so learn to accept “good enough for NOW” and understand that for now, it IS right and done.
  4. A happy you (mom, dad, friend, whoever is reading this) is way more important than a clean house, a written blog, or a mowed lawn.  That stuff will wait until you are ready to tackle it.  And by tackling it when you’re ready, you’ll ENJOY it, bringing – <gasp!> HAPPINESS!!
  5. You are not your child’s sole source of entertainment or education.  Let them be alone.  You’ll both be grateful.
  6. Date nights.  Have date nights.  Often.  Dress up.  Make it special.  (Single?  Then date youreself!  YOU are special and worth it!)
  7. Expect change.  Because it’s coming.  And then be prepared to change, move, respond, and find balance.
  8. Do Yoga.  Because it’s good for you and because it teaches balance. ;)

In our house, I know that our life is balanced when things are peaceful.  Johnny and I are not feeling stressed.  There isn’t this feeling of “not enough time”.  Our girls play happily for hours without any real intervention from us.  When friends call to invite us for something fun, we say “Yes” because our time is free and we are open to fun opportunities.  We are both taking care of ourselves.  That’s the balance I seek.

In every choice you make, every thing you do, find happiness.  If that means getting up a little earlier to have a quiet cup of coffee before the kids rise, or sleeping in and not cleaning before they’re up, reading a few pages of a favorite book while they play, going for a bike ride instead of scrubbing the bathrooms… whatever it is today, choose the one that makes you HAPPY.  That fills up your love tank.  That sets your heart on fire and your soul free.

Where do you need to find balance in YOUR life?  How do you balance the demands of home, work, family, and friends.  Please share.

Namasté

Dena

 

 

 

For My Dad

Today is Father’s Day.  That day once every year that we remember the men who raised us.  When I think back to my earliest years, I see my dad as the strong and silent one.  He was always there.  He never missed dinner with the family, a concert or recital, sporting event, birthday, or weekend campout.  And sometimes I can’t figure out how he managed that.  He worked A LOT.  I never realized it at the time but have heard stories over the years.  For most of my life he has owned his own business and he would get up and work for hours before the sun came up.  Sometimes he would come in for a break about the time we were rolling out of bed and having cereal.  He’d work all day in his shop – building, inventing, welding, painting – come in for dinner with the family, fall asleep for a bit in his chair, and then after we went to bed he’d head out to the shop again.  Of course life wasn’t always this way and it’s fuzzy in my mind how much of his working life was like this.  But I do know that for most of my years he was working.  He was the provider.  And he did it without any complaints.

My dad can build anything.  Seriously.  He helped me make a tree skirt.  I wanted it to be round with pie-shaped pieces which turned out to be mathematically a bit more complicated than I had planned on.  So dad sat at the breakfast bar with me and helped me figure it out.  It turned out beautifully.  I still have it of course.

He helped me build a heart shaped shelf.  He’s fixed every car he’s ever owned.  He built the house he and my mom still live in.  He built an airplane.  For real. An airplane.  How frickin’ cool is that?!

I’ve told him before he’s some sort of genius but he denies it and says that anyone could do it.

Here’s dad and me.  Takin’ it waaaaay back. :)

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Is there anything cuter than a kid cuddled up on daddy’s chest for a nap?  Dad and I liked our naps.  Still do.  I think I have my hand stuck in a cracker jack box here?  Well, wouldn’t surprise me.

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Dad’s form of discipline was of course the exact opposite of mom’s.  That’s why it worked.  Where mom could get mad, I mean M-A-D, Dad would get exasperated.  The sigh. The shake of the head.  The walk away to go fix whatever I broke.  I don’t think I broke as much as my brother did, but there were a few things.  You could tell he really wondered how any of his kids could be so…. well, dumb.  Luckily we all grew out of it.  Well, I did anyway.  I can’t speak for my siblings. ;)

You can tell when my dad’s thinking just by watching him.  He’ll be sitting in his chair but it’s like he’s already working on something.  His foot is tapping and his hands are moving.  He’s always teased me for twirling my hair with that far off look in my eyes when I start daydreaming.  But I think I get it from him.

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My dad always seems happy.  Content.  Whatever is happening is good.  He’s not emotionally volatile, but steady and present.  Qualities I’ve always wished I had a bit more of.  Unless of course you mention Obama to him.  Then stand back because he’s going to get suddenly volatile. :)  I may do this on occasion just to watch it happen.

One of our many fun silly moments. :)  I think I have his shit-eating grin don’t you?

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And of course my wedding.  Dad walking me down the aisle.  Makes me just a little teary-eyed.  We were both so nervous. Isn’t he handsome?

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I love that over the years I feel I’ve gotten to know him better.  The time we’ve spent together has been fun.  He’s like a dad to my husband, and he is the most amazing grandfather to my girls.  We’ve gone kayaking and flying.  Camping and skiing.  He took me to the hospital after Lucy was born and things didn’t feel right.  And sat there keeping me company all night long.

 

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I read in a parenting book several years ago that it is the father’s job to make his daughter feel valuable.  His love and adoration are what build her self-esteem, self-worth.  My dad did well.  Because I’ve always felt like his greatest treasure.  And so does all the rest of his family.

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I love you dad.  Thank you for all you’ve done.

Love,

Dena

Mother’s Day – 100 Years of Celebrating Mom

I used to joke that Mother’s Day is a holiday made up by Hallmark, to sell millions (about 133 million to be precise) of cheesy, flowery, mushy cards to people.  The influx of cash gets them through that slow time of year that is so far from Christmas.  I have of course always bought into this holiday because I love my mom and it seems like a nice thing to do for the woman that gave birth to you.

I found an interesting article at National Geographic’s website about the origin of Mother’s Day.  It wasn’t created by Hallmark, but by Ann Reeves Jarvis for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace in the 1850′s. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday making this the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.  From there it became the more commercial holiday we know today.  However, Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis fought the growing commercialization of Mother’s Day with everything she had.  Literally.  She spent the remainder of her life, her entire inheritance, and her sanity trying to keep Mother’s Day private, simple, and focused on the “best mother you’ve ever known – your mother.”  She failed.  She died alone and penniless in a sanitorium, and Mother’s Day is now celebrated world wide with flowers, brunches, cards and gifts.  And you know what?  I think that’s a good thing.

Most of us take the time to celebrate the people we love in some way or another.  We call, write, visit.  We say “I love you”, “Thank you”, “You’re Awesome”.  Having a day set aside specifically for that, especially in this day and age of “busy, busy, busy” is a nice reminder though.  To stop.  To reflect.  To feel and share that gratitude and love.

In May of 1977, my mom became Mom.  Her life changed forever and mine got started.  Of course I remember nothing of those first few years, little of the next few and some highlights of the rest.  That’s how memory is.  However, I have pictures that help, and have heard stories over the years.

We lived on four acres outside of a small midwest town in a house built by my parents and where they still live to this day.

Here is mom and me on a nice day.  How do I know it’s nice?  You see that mom’s hair is not standing straight out to one side?  No wind.  That’s a pretty nice day in the midwest.
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My mom sacrificed a lot for the three of us.  We didn’t have much money.  She didn’t buy new clothes.  For her.  My sister, brother, and I always had new duds, backpacks, and lunchboxes for each school year.  The Christmas tree and stockings were always overflowing with gifts.  We had homemade hot meals for every dinner, which we always ate together.  She worked hard.  My dad worked hard.  But they made life easy and fun for us.

Life in the country.  I’m sure there’s a reason for this picture – maybe it was a new tractor.  Maybe we just wanted to take a picture.  Regardless, another beautiful day.

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We always had a dog growing up.  When I was little, it was a Saint Bernard named Rocky.  He would find a rabbit’s nest, chase out the mama, and get the babies.  Some died but there was always one or two that survived.  And of course as kids we HAD to save them.  Meaning Mom had to feed them, care for them, keep them in a box, clean the box, chase them when they got out of the box, and put them back in.  We had a few bunnies over the years and they all had names.  Nosy, Flash, Roger, Binky-co-lala, and Pinky-co-lala.  All except for Pinky were nursed back to health and released.  And Binky was seen several times after his successful release, recognizable because of a notch the dog took out of his ear.

We spent a lot of time playing outside, but sometimes the weather would chase us inside.  I have memories of playing in the kitchen, on the floor, with my Playmobile camping set.  I’m sure I was in the way, but mom never complained.  Well, not too much.  When I was bored and wanted some attention, she had a game she played with me while she cooked.  She’d make a bunch of random dots on a piece of paper and then I would connect the dots and see what it turned into.

During the summers we would camp every weekend.  Mom would pre-make most of the food.  I’m sure she started prepping on Wednesday or Thursday.  She packed the clothes and towels.  Got the camper ready for the weekend.  Then dad would take it and the boat out Thursday night to save the good spot.  We’d play and play and play all weekend.  And then we would come back home Sunday evening, the three of us dirty and exhausted.  Mom and dad would unpack, clean, and then by Wednesday they would start the process over again.

When I was a teenager, I would climb out of the depths of my dark basement bedroom on Sunday mornings to find Mom and Dad sitting at the table drinking coffee and chatting.  I loved to sit with them for awhile and join in the conversation.  Being a teenager though, at some point I tired of the conversation and it would turn into a bit of a one-sided lecture.  And man could my mom lecture. The hands would start going.  She’d get louder and more excitable.  I always let her go for a little while and then get up and leave.  She always laughed and said something about “Had enough of the lecturing for today?”  We still laugh about it today.  And she can still get a good lecture going.

After moving back to Kansas 10 or so years ago, Mom and I started going to Yoga classes.  Then when I started teaching she was my first student.  We started a book club together.  We traveled to the Yoga Journal Conference and the Sedona Yoga Festival.  We would go for walks.  We worked together at their business and at the Antique Mall.  We became friends over the years.  Friends that could hang out, go do fun things together, laugh, talk, or just do nothing together.

Then in 2006 I became a mom.  I joined the club, and started to understand my mom a little more.  I understood what it means to sacrifice.  What you would actually be willing to give up to make their lives better (everything).  And what she had done for me, my sister and brother.  And now she gets to be a grandma.  She gets to have the fun without all of the work.  She gets to avoid the discipline and just laugh and cuddle, hug and kiss.  My girls look at their grandma as one of their best friends.  They enjoy every moment they spend together and they know they are the center of her Universe.

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Mother’s Day is a special day for me. A day to celebrate my mom and all she’s done for me.  A day to reflect on being a mom – on how amazing my children are, how much I love them, how much I love this “job” of being mom.  And yes, a time for cards, gifts, and flowers. :)

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 There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.   ~ Jill Churchill

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day mom.  Thank you for all you’ve done.  For all that you do.  I love you!

Dena

Learning to Fly

The sun has come back to us.  The long, dark, grey, cold, damp winter is gone.  The grass is turning that perfect shade of green.  The buds are popping out on the trees.  Flowers are tentatively poking their heads out of the ground.  The breezes are blowing.  The birds are stretching out their wings.  And the kids have those dirty little feet that show up in spring, and don’t seem to get properly clean again until November.

We got out for a stroll down the Greenbelt to look at the birds, the flowers, and the river.  Just to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sunshine on our faces.

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My driveway and back patio look like a pastel warzone.  Our grill is usually smoking with something delicious inside.  It’s that perfect temperature when Johnny is comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, and I’m cozy in my sweatshirt.

Did I mention I love Spring?

To add to my delight, we had a beautiful day with no plans, no agendas, and no to-do lists.  And I have a husband that has access to helicopters and pilots.  So we put together the two and I had my first Discovery Flight. Meaning – I GOT TO RUN THE CONTROLS.  YIKES!

My dear friend Sean Summers was my instructor.  Our other friend Jeff Hill was the videographer.  Yes, this was all documented.  Both inside and outside the helicopter.

This at first made me a bit nervous. You know how watching yourself on camera can be.  You never look or sound quite like you think you do in real life.  And then there’s the fact that I was going to be doing something so new, scary, exciting… there was a really good chance I could make a complete ass of myself.  But hey, I’m always game for that. ;)

Sean and I did the required pre-flight and SFAR 73 awareness training.  So I could know everything that could possibly go wrong during our flight.  There’s kind of a lot of things. <gulp>.  Deep breath.  Ok.  Still going.

While Sean and I headed out to fly, Johnny and the girls hung out at the shop. Which he loves and so do they.  Going to work with daddy is like the coolest thing ever for them.  They moved stuff around, swept up some dirt, ate lunch on the work platform, played loud music.  There may have been some motorcycle riding as well, but I think that was supposed to be a secret.

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After the final checks had been made, Sean taxied us out to the runway for takeoff.  He’s a very calm, easy person to be around.  His instructions are clear and he has a way of telling you to do things that make it seem like it’s going to be so easy.  Well, it’s not.  But he still just encourages and corrects, always making you feel like you’re doing really wonderfully and that you’re not a complete idiot.  It makes for a nice experience.

When he let me take the controls I think I laughed at him.  REALLY?!  You’re kidding.  Uh, ok.  So I took them.  I’ll be honest.  My memory of the next hour or so that we flew is a little fuzzy.  I was so TENSE.  My hand cramped up.  My shoulder hurt.  He was giving me so much information my head was spinning.

We flew along the Boise river (sort of) following the curves.  As well as I could anyway.  All this while trying to maintain a steady speed of 70 knots and some elevation that I now can’t recall.  Seriously – I told you it’s a little fuzzy.  Well, I did manage that part pretty well and was feeling mighty confident about my skills.  When you fly a helicopter you use your feet to control the tail – creating the turn.  You use your left hand to run the collective – the up and down movement.  And your right hand is on the cyclic.  And I’ll be honest – that thing I still don’t get.  It will propel you forward or backward, or side to side.  It’s amazingly complicated and terrifying, at least for those of us who haven’t figured out how it works.  It’s all done with small gentle adjustments.  No big movements.  All finesse.  Relax and breathe.  It takes incredible concentration and hand-eye coordination.  But I did it.  I was flying.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.  When I really started wanting to fly I was in junior high.  It was when Top Gun came out.  I was going to be a fighter pilot.  Actually I wrote about that in a previous blog if you’d like to read about it.

Back to my first flight…

After cruising along the river, we decided to head back in for some hovering.  Hovering is, according to all of my pilot friends, one of the most difficult things I’ll EVER learn.  Like in my whole life.  I’ll go ahead and agree with that.  Every pilot I know – Johnny included – thought they really would never, ever learn.  It’s really that hard.  But, they all learned it eventually, so I might as well try!

Johnny, the girls and Jeff drove out to the end we were practicing on to take some video.  Here’s a shot from that.

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We’re in a nice pendulum swing here.  Sean recovered us very nicely.  And I wondered if I was going to need a change of pants when this was all over.

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This was a little better but I’m only on the collective, not the foot pedals or cyclic.  Controlling one or two directions is almost doable.  All three is kind of a nightmare.

Before we came in, Sean wanted to let me experience a practice autorotation.  This is a simulation of an engine failure.  As you’re coming in toward the ground (really fast!) he cut the throttle so we started falling.  My stomach jumped up a little.  I think I made a weird little noise.  And then we were there at the ground and Sean throttled back up and took us to the hangar.  Easy peasy.

And then it was all over.  I shook my head in disbelief.  Sean and I laughed and took a selfie.  He told me I was awesome.  And frankly, I really felt like it.

That night when we watched the video, I cringed as I waited for that sound of my voice that isn’t my voice, or that feeling of embarrassment that comes when I usually watch myself.  And it never came.  I watched with amazement as this woman smiled, laughed, looked confident and excited, shared her joy and fear, awe and confusion, success and failure.  And then I realized she was ME.

Here I am, terrified – and SMILING.  I’ve got all three controls in this picture.  And look – we’re LEVEL!

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I hope that everyone gets to step so far out of their comfort zone.  That you get to try something so daring and be scared – and joyful all at once.  That you get to know the feeling of testing all of your limits.  And I hope you smile all the way through.

Sean and me.  My oh-so-dapper instructor.  Thank you for making my first flight so AWESOME!

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And to make it all official, I have my own logbook now.  1.0 hours.  Yesssss…..

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That was all on Sunday.  Today is Thursday.  I had a rare day of no children as both had been invited for playdates.  What’s a girl to do with herself?  Johnny invited me to come out and join him for lunch and a flight.  This time with him.  Of course I said yes.

For this flight we stayed close to the hangar and to the ground.  Hovering, gliding, sliding (did you know you can just slide the skids along the ground?!?  I didn’t. )  We flew for almost an hour and by the end of it I was absolutely spent.  Again my body ached from the tension and my brain was overloaded.  I had to ask him to go in and quit for the day.  I was nearly in tears from fatigue and hunger.  But I was happy.  I felt I had done ok.  Believe me, it still wasn’t “anything to write home about” ;) but for me just getting out there and DOING it is 90% of the battle.  I’m actaully not that concerned about being good.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to be good so I don’t crash, but I’ve left behind that fear of not being the best.  Or of not passing the test.  Or of not finishing.  I feel like I’m finally just here.  Right now.  Enjoying the ride.  Spending a rainy spring day cozied up in a tiny little helicopter cockpit with my best friend.  Spreading my wings.  Learning to fly.

Searching for the Next Great Adventure

I recently posted a blog on our intention to use Boise Public Radio’s Idaho Bucketlist as inspriration for travel and adventure, and of course blogging.  I printed out the list, bought a map, and have been pinning and planning fun adventures for the coming weeks, months, and years.  There are over a hundred items, so yes, YEARS. ;)

My trusty helper in all things, helping me find our soon-to-be-adventures…

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The Idaho Bucket List:

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In going through the list, we found several things we’ve already done.  It was fun to reminisce and look through pictures.

#49. Sample local foods at Boise’s Farmer’s Market.  This was taken on our exploratory trip to Boise, August 2010.  One bunch of carrots, one bunch of gladiolas, and one little baby! Oh my!

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#70. Visit Boise’s Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been many, many times.  For pumpkin decorating, live music and beer drinking, and even a wedding.  I really like this picture from Christmas Eve 2010.  It’s absolutely magical to walk through.

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#10.  Attend the McCall Winter Carnival.  Such a fun day in the snow and sunshine!

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#8.  Slide down the Bruneau Sand Dunes or stay the night and watch the stars come out at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory.  We did both and it was AWESOME!  It’s been a looong time since I’ve seen such a full night sky.  And with their powerful telescope we were able to see a star cluster that was completely invisible to the naked eye.  The girls (especially Ivy) were in awe.  Waiting the thirty minutes in line to climb the stairs to the giant telescope an hour past their normal bedtime didn’t even phase them.  And the sand dunes were the ultimate kid play place.

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#9.  Enjoy a performance under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare festival.  Our dear friends from Kansas, the Rice’s were able to join us on our inaugural visit.  Here’s a few selfies from before the show.

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#67.  Catch an idaho trout.  Johnny’s Uncle Ken took Johnny and the girls fishing just outside of Ketchum last summer.  The girls loved the fishing, but not touching the actual fish so much.

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#107.  See the City of Rocks in Cassia County.  This was one of my favorite trips last year.  The City of Rocks is about a three hour drive from Boise.  Almost exactly inbetween here and Salt Lake City.  Which was handy as we were meeting some of our bestest friends the Herberts from SLC there.  It’s a perfect mix of big granite walls, evergreen trees, mountain meadows, and desert brush.  The weather was warm during the day, cool at night.  The sky was a bright blue.  We hiked.  We caught bugs.  We sat in the shade and told stories.  We sat around the fire and listened to music.

The annual “family” picture of us and the Herbert family.

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And one of just the kids.  In a mountain meadow.  Holding hands.  Ahhhhhh…. :)

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There were a few others on the list that we have checked off, but I wasn’t able to find any more pictures.  Now we begin planning our year full of adventures!  Who wants to join us?

Our map, full of pins and potential.  The trips to be taken, roads to be traveled, and mountains to be climbed.  Both close to home…

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And far away.

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Wherever the road may take us, sometimes it’s good to remember that there is great beauty right outside our own back door.

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From off the beaten  path,

Dena

There’s A Time For War And A Time For Peace… Repost

I first posted this blog back in 2011.  After visiting with a friend this morning who had completely missed the “Turn your clocks forward this weekend” announcements, I thought it would be fun to revisit on this rainy Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy!

In our modern world with its many conveniences, the idea that we need to somehow extend our day seems a bit….archaic. In a more natural world, we would rise and set with the sun. In these last weeks of winter, getting up early would gradually become easier and easier, and joyfully, there would also be the beginning of sunlit evenings in which to play outdoors. However, with the invention of Daylight Saving Time, those long bright mornings were taken away.  I think that maybe it is time we reconsider this idea.

This morning our family barely drug ourselves out of bed in time to be at school. Ivy grumbled, Johnny headed for the coffee maker, and Lucy just looked at us all like we were crazy. We tried to “prepare” for this adjustment, but let’s face it, you don’t get a bank account to save sleep in. We rushed to eat and get everyone ready and out the door in the nick of time. But then when we returned home after preschool, the sleepies had hit – HARD. Lucy cried. Ivy got snotty and mouthy and wouldn’t eat. Both girls were swiftly put to bed without a bite and with many tears. Of course it took them about 20 whole seconds to fall fast asleep. But all of this made me wonder…. WHY?

Daylight Saving Time is defined by the people at http://www.timeanddate.org as:

Daylight Saving Time (or summertime as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer. During Daylight Saving Time, the sun appears to rise one hour later in the morning, when people are usually asleep anyway, and sets one hour later in the evening, seeming to stretch the day longer.

The concept was first presented by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 and was presented and discussed several times after that but it wasn’t until 1916 that it was finally adopted by several countries in Europe to help with the war effort by saving fuel used to light lanterns in the evening hours.  After the war, many of those countries reverted back to normal time.  It wasn’t implemented in the US until WWII, 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  It was called “War Time” and the US time zones were labeled Eastern War Time, Central War Time and Pacific War Time.  I’m not sure what happened to Mountain time in there.

How odd to live by a totally different clock during a war.  And to have it labeled as such.  After Japan’s surrender we returned to normal time and it was labeled “Peace Time.”

The main reasons for implementing DST were economic, however some studies show that there could be other benefits such as fewer traffic accidents at night (do they all happen in the morning now?), more tourism for many areas (Really?  Do tourists ONLY do things in the evening?  I doubt it.), and more evening social time for children (and WHY is that important?  My children get plenty of social time thank-you-very-much.).  But for each of these studies there is another one that contradicts it, so who really knows?  All I know is that it was just starting to get a bit easier to drag my ass out of bed at 5:30 for my Yoga class and now it is just barely starting to show the first glimmer of light by the time I’m coming home.  And the evening “social time”?  Well, I kind of like to tuck my kiddos into bed early and have that for my sweet hubby and myself, but I guess as long as the sun is up, the kids will be too.

When dear Mr. Franklin, who I would never dare to criticize, came up with the concept up turning our clocks ahead by an hour to save fuel, one very wise Native American was heard to say,

Only white man would cut an end off a quilt and sew it on the other side and think he had a bigger quilt.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

From off the beaten path,

dena – Part Time Gypsy

Happy

Originally posted on Confessions of a Drive-Through Christian:

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My conversations, readings, yoga classes, Facebook wanderings and even the music on the radio keep pointing me in the same direction. Happiness. What is it? How do we find it?

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The Dalai Lama says our purpose in life is to find happiness.

Maybe you find it in time spent with someone you love.

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Maybe you find it in your favorite animal.

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Or perhaps the happy smile on a child’s face.

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Whatever it is that makes you smile, that makes your heart sing, go. Find it. Never stop searching. It is your life’s purpose.

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Sedona Yoga Festival; Life’s Little Victories

I anxiously awaited the arrival of February 6th.  I was going to the Sedona Yoga Festival.  As a participant, but also as an assistant.  A huge opportunity for me.  And a huge learning experience.

Every experience in life offers these opportunities.  We can choose to embrace them or simply ignore them.  Ignoring them I have found only kicks the can further down the road and sometimes makes it come back with a bigger (aka HARDER) lesson.  Best to learn early, learn quickly.

But first some beautiful pictures…

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My mom came with me on this trip.  We used to travel every once in awhile to Yoga workshops but this was the biggest trip we have ever made together.  And since we haven’t done it in awhile, we were both super excited.

Our friend Kate Williams, a fellow yogini originally from Kansas, also joined us.

The first day we were there was rainy.  Which might be even more beautiful than a sunny day.  Or maybe not.  It’s really hard to say.  Sedona is one of those magical places in the world that is so beautiful, so breath-taking, in every direction, every view.  The next is only better than the last.

We went for a hike on Friday – a free afternoon as the classes we had signed up for were cancelled.

My mom and a tree.

My mom and a tree.

I love the trees in this area.  Their bare, stark beauty.  Their bold lines and surprisingly elegant curves.

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Me with mom and our friend Kate.

Me with mom and our friend Kate.

Taking a break under a ledge.

Taking a break under a ledge.

Yoga on the ledge.

Yoga on the ledge.

Second try.  The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.

Second try. The first time I tried this mom was looking at the rocks instead of at me.

Coffee Pot.

Coffee Pot.

Learning experience #1) I need down-time.  I think I knew this.  Must have forgotten.  Or thought that since I wasn’t traveling with my children it somehow didn’t apply to this trip.  It does.  I was exhausted.  But I refused to slow down and take a little “me-time”.  I kept pushing.  And ended up sick.  So Friday night I tucked myself into bed to watch the Olympics and recharge.  I also ate a cheeseburger.  Nothing sets you right like comfort food! ;)

Saturday morning we woke up to SUNSHINE!!!  Yes, that deserves all caps because if you read my blog a few weeks ago you’ll know that Boise has been seriously lacking in the sunshine department and that this was definitely in the top three of my “reasons to go to Sedona in February” list.

But first, Learning Experience #2…

I was asked by a dear friend and one of my favorite yoga teachers, Lori Tindall to assist her class at the festival.  It was the whole reason I went.  I’ve never had such an honor and honestly could not believe my luck.  She also brought along the lovely and talented Sadie Babits (to connect with her on Twitter: @sadiebabits) to be in charge of photography and social media.  She’s allowed me to use her pictures here.

Lori Tindall.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

Lori Tindall. Photo by Sadie Babits.

Here is what I discovered.  Even though I am very familiar with Lori’s teaching style, her flow, her way of adjusting, as an assistant I was neither the teacher nor the student.  I was an awkward in-between.  And boy did that bring up some sh!t.  You see, when teaching a Yoga class, I get into this zone.  I feel things, say things, do things, that I’m not always consciously aware of.  They come from somewhere deep inside.  That place in me that is connected to the Divine, the place in me that is infinite.  That place that is connected to each and every student.  A class flows from me.  I do not plan it or forcefully shape it.  It is organic and every class is unique.  From that place when I walk around, talking and occasionally assiting, I know who needs help when.  I feel when they need my words and when they need a hand.  I intuitively sense when they need to be left alone to work on it in their own way.

As a student I am also deeply in tune, but with my own Self and my own body.  Everyone in the room is completely shut out of my experience.  It is as if I am alone.  Same connection to Divine.  Completely different experience.

View from the mat.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

View from the mat. Photo by Sadie Babits.

As an assistant (especially a first-time assistant), I could not feel either connection.  I came in all twitterpated.  A jumble of raw nerves still pinching myself at my good luck for being asked by Lori to be there.  So my debut as an assistant felt like a flop.

I was not connected.  I could see and analyze in my brain what was going on with these people.  But it was mechanical, thought-based.  “Tight hamstrings and shoulders. Possible knee injury.  Big Ego wants to go too deep.  Foot issues.”  These things were going through my head but since I wasn’t the one actually teaching, since I wasn’t saying the words out loud, and I didn’t always know what Lori would say or do next, I would hesitate, hold back from helping a person find more ease in a pose.  With the first hesitation, the disconnect grew and then my mind started to chatter, quietly at first, but louder and louder as the two hours went on, “What are you doing here?  You call yourself a teacher?  You don’t belong here.  You’re not good enough to be here.”  And once the chatter starts, it’s really hard to stop.

Enjoying the discussion before class started.  Photo by Sadie Babits.

Enjoying the discussion before class started. Photo by Sadie Babits.

The class was wonderful.  Lori is a gifted teacher with a wealth of knowledge of Yoga, holistic nutrition, and Reiki and Prana Chikitsa. (For more information on any of her teachings, check out her website: http://www.energyseven.com/ , follow her on Twitter @yoginilori, or Instagram OMgirlTRIs).  But I left there with a heavy heart and my subconscious really enjoying giving me an ass-kicking.

The afternoon was open to us, the sun was shining so a hike was definitely in order.  We donned shorts and t-shirts, sunscreen and sunglasses.  Most of which hadn’t seen any use in months.

Ahhhh.  Much better.  Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.

Ahhhh. Much better. Nothing lifts spirits like sunshine and fresh air.

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Mom doing "Victorious Pose" which she learned in Lori's class.

Mom doing “Victorious Pose” which she learned in Lori’s class.

Yes, we are yogis.  Wherever we go, we do Yoga!

Yes, we are yogis. Wherever we go, we do Yoga!

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Doesn't it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape?  Well, we thought it did.

Doesn’t it look like a cloaked figure just passed through the rock, leaving only their shape? Well, we thought it did.

The remainder of the trip was mostly uneventful, but still very fun.  We hiked to a Vortex – one of the energy centers that Sedona is famous for.  We took many, many, many pictures of the red rocks.  We did some Yoga.  We ate mouthwateringly delicious Italian food.

Sadie and Lori also went hiking and they decided to do a Victorious Pose on the rocks as well.

Lori and Sadie.

Lori and Sadie.

Sunday night we met up with Lori and Sadie and their husbands, Doug and Nate for another mouthwateringly delicious meal – this time of the Mexican variety.  I did my own version of Victorious Pose after finishing my margarita… ;)

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And then this guy at the next table thought it was cool so he wanted to do it too!!  I love people’s enthusiasm and willingness to play!

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Kate, Mom, and I.

Kate, Mom, and I.

We had great conversation, learned more about each other, shared our experiences of Sedona and of course had great food.  Followed by the requisite group picture taken by our dear server, Angel.

Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.

Mom, Kate, Sadie, Nate, Me, Lori, Doug.

Looking back on the weekend, I have realized a couple of key things about myself.  I will sacrifice my own needs for what I think others want and expect of me.  Instead of taking one hour to rest, ground my energy, and check in with myself, I kept pushing because I was there to hang out with my mom and Kate.  I didn’t want to be rude or thoughtless.  If I had just taken a little time, I would have been able to enjoy the movie with them and would have felt good.

Also, I’m really hard on myself.  Really hard.  I have huge expectations of myself and when I don’t live up to them, I am such a harsh critic.  It’s time to stop that inner chatter and remember my gifts and talents.  Or realize my faults and lovingly accept them.  To not succumb to self-doubt, but to walk with confidence.  Both of these lessons are about loving myself.  Wholly and completely.  Just the way I am.  By loving myself, I can give of myself more fully.  I can love others the way that they are.  I can tap into the Divine, whose essence is Love, and allow that to flow into and through me.  The light in me, will see the light in them.  And that we are all ONE.  And in this realization, we will all find VICTORY.

Mom and I.  One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.

Mom and I. One last picture on the drive back to Phoenix.

Namaste,

Dena