We Went for the Earrings…

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On the west side of the peninsula that extends from the southern tip of Bali, you will find a town peppered with rice paddies and custom teak furniture makers right on the beach called Canggu (pronounced Changu).

We were actually here on a mission.  One of the ladies that my husband works with had the most fantastic earrings, which she had gotten in a little shop in Canggu.  So, that’s where we decided to stay for our last two nights. I mean really, when you’re in Bali, why not use great earrings as criteria for a place to stay?

As with the rest of our trip, we had no plan and no reservation so we got on bookings.com and found the best deal in the coolest place we could find.

We discovered Ngeluwungan Boutique Villa.

I feel like I should warn you – I am about to write a blog about a place I stayed.  Not the town, region, country place – I mean the HOTEL WE STAYED IN.  But stick with me, because this place was beyond our wildest dreams in every way possible.

What you have to first understand is the Balinese people.  They are so kind.  They are the sweetest people I have ever met.  So every place we stayed, they were welcoming and helpful.  But this place somehow managed to take it to another level entirely.

We were met at the gate by Agus.  We were early for check-in so they took our bags and stowed them and then took us to the patio by the pool for a fresh squeezed juice.  He gave us a tour and then offered us options for the afternoon until our room was available.  We decided to walk down to the beach.  It’s an easy stroll down a quiet road.  The beach itself was black sand – volcanic rock I assume.  It was high tide and a big swell – not a great day for just hanging out.  So we snapped a couple of pictures and decided to head into town instead.

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This statue majestically guards Echo Beach, just down the road from the Villa. We asked around, no one knew what the significance was of an elephant with a fish’s tail or who was riding it.  But it was beautiful.

They gave us a lift into town and dropped us off by a french bakery.  We walked down the street admiring the little shops as we went.  Some had the usual cheap trinkets, but many of the shops had beautiful artwork and clothing.  And we found the earrings! Mission complete!  I could go home happy.

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Now you have to understand when navigating Bali, it is not always easy to find a ride.

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I have no idea what it was, but it was incredible!

Case in point, when we were ready to head home (after we had tried the french bakery and deemed it delish), we called Agus on the cell phone he had provided us with to ask for a pick up.  But we were disappointed to find out that he was not allowed to pick us up if we were in town because that was the taxis domain.  Whaaaat???

Side note: this wasn’t the first time we had run into an issue.  We had almost gotten into an altercation with a harbor worker because we had called a cab for pickup and cabs aren’t allowed to pick up  from the docks.  Only the harbor workers.  But they have trucks with benches, no doors,  no seat belts, and almost no horsepower… so, no.

We got a taxi, returned to the hotel and found our room ready and waiting.  We walked across a small bridge over a koi pond into our (thankfully) air-conditioned and very clean and spacious room.  After roaming around in the heat all afternoon we, like any good tourist, decided it was time for a drink in the pool.

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It’s a salt water pool and although it’s warm, it felt soooooo good.  And this is when we met Syahrul.  He’s young, friendly, outgoing, and makes the best drinks in Bali.  It’s not easy to find a great cocktail.  But he can do it. (Am I making my case yet for how great this place is?  There’s more.)

We stayed by the pool for a couple of drinks and then decided dinner was in order.  So we moseyed up to the bar to see what our options were.  And there was Syahrul.  He greeted us by name, after only one introduction.  (We noticed all of them did this.  Even though that had several guests, they remembered everyone’s names.)  He told us his specialty was chicken curry.  We ordered two bowls.  This was the BEST curry I’ve ever tasted.

He cooked each one separately on a wok right in front of us in the open-air kitchen.  He picked herbs from the herb garden ten steps away.  I was mesmerized.  My tastebuds were tantalized.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  It was a huge serving but we ate every bite.

While we watched Syahrul cook, he told us more about the Villa and himself.  He’s been working at the villa for several years, even before it was purchased by its present owner, an Australian man and his American wife.

They decided to create a resort, a place for people to come and stay, that was built on community and family values, respect, and taking care of one another.  They implemented livable wage with the option to save, healthy and nutritious meals, healthy living environment, education, health benefits, work insurance, self-help programs and most importantly, respect.  They were each given a cell phone and a scooter.  They eat what the guests eat.  And maybe when you’re coming from America this does not seem like a big deal.  But Bali is a poor country.  Most people work seven days a week to scrape together a meager living of about $7.00 per day.  There is no extra.  But at Ngeluwungan, these things that we take for granted help create an atmosphere of peace and harmony, a community of people that take care of their guests and each other, and then pass it on to their community.

Every Saturday the staff visits the local orphanage.  They take a percentage of their tips that they earned (which are always split and shared equally among all) to give to the orphanage, and then they cook them one of their delicious meals.  And here’s the REALLY cool part – guests can go to!  I was so disappointed that we were not there on Saturday and that I would miss out on this opportunity.  What a gift, to be able to cook for others and share time with children.  It made my heart swell to see what these people were doing for others around them.  (So are you convinced NOW that this is the coolest place on Earth?)

They can customize any outing for you but they have one in particular that they created.  A full day’s hike to the water fall.  Sadly, we did not have time for this, but apparently it is magical.  It is on my list for next time.  When I go back and host a yoga retreat.  I’ll keep you posted.

And just one more reason to really, really love Ngeluwungan…

Breakfast.  The best cappuccino I’ve had outside of one I had in Donauworth Germany. It’s a tie between those two.

So if you find yourself in Bali, please please make it a point to visit my friends Agus, Syahrul, and the rest of the family at Ngeluwungan.  Which in Balinese means

“change for the better, all the time.”

You can find them on the web at: Ngeluwungan Boutique Villa

And a few more pictures for you to enjoy.

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Thank you for reading.

 

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Bumble through the Jungle

The trip to Bali was full of surprises.  I thought I was going for the beaches.  Frankly, I’m not that comfortable with the ocean to begin with, so walking with my feet in the surf was good enough for me.  Second, they had a HUGE swell come in.  Great for the surfers.  Not awesome for the land lubbers.

Bali is not a major destination for Americans.  I didn’t realize that until I got there and realized how surprised they were to actually meet Americans.  It is half way around the world.  We crossed the date line AND the Equator.  One of the three flights was 14 hours long.  We traveled for 32 hours to get there.  Australians on the other hand are a dime a dozen. They can shoot in for the weekend for $100.  Crazy.

I like to bumble through my travels.  I don’t research and I don’t make plans.  And let’s face it, I’ve really traveled now twice.  So maybe I don’t actually know what I like.  Maybe I’m just a fucking idiot and don’t know how to do it.

But I went into this trip just like I did the trip to Germany this summer, with very little research and zero plans.  Johnny had to work some and we had to be a bit flexible.  And I’m pretty happy hanging out doing next to nothing.

With a few free days looming ahead of us we decided that heading inland and away from the crowds seemed like a great idea.  We booked a room in Ubud and headed north.  It was an hour and a half drive at about 30 miles per hour through village after village, past temple after temple.  We followed a winding two lane road packed with cars and scooters until we finally entered an even more crowded village.  All of a sudden our driver pulled to the side of the street and announced that we had arrived.  He quickly helped us unload our bags, took his money and got out of there.  We drug a 50 pound wheeled duffle, a 40 pound wheeled duffle, and two backpacks (No, we do not travel light.  We don’t know what we’re in for and he is there to work and damnit I want to be appropriately dressed regardless of the occasion) down a rather rough brick path to our hotel.  We were greeted by a statue with a small birdbath that had beautiful lotus flowers growing out of it.  The women at the outdoor front desk greeted us, took our information and money, gave us a key, and then sent us and a porter up a set of poorly constructed stairs to our garden view room.

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Welcome to you room. Gayatri Bungalows, Ubud, Bali.

We were given a key for the padlock to unlock the door and shown in over the threshold – which you had to actually step OVER.  Do NOT stumble back to your room drunk.  You will trip and fall.  IF you can get your door open.

 

 

 

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We were thrilled.  We were right in the heart of Ubud, a Mecca of Yoga and spiritual seekers.  A place with history and lore.  In the depths of the jungle and surrounded by rice paddies.

Ubud is also the home of the monkey forest.  The Monkey Forest is an tourist attraction providing sanctuary to about 700 monkeys and hundreds of species of trees.  It gives an economical boost to the economy and also allows a place for research of indigenous plants as well as the monkeys themselves.  There is a temple in the forest where daily rituals are performed to honor the Hindu belief of the connection between humans and nature.  Giant Banyan trees fill the space with their branches-turned-roots.  One is so large that you can walk right through it.

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On a bridge through a Banyan Tree.
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Bridge through a tree.
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So tired of the paparazzi.

After a beautiful walk through the forest and some of the village, we grabbed all of the tourist brochures at the front desk and perused them while we enjoyed dinner on our private patio.  The electric bike ride through the rice paddies caught our attention.  THAT was definitely something we wanted to do.  We made the arrangements, and then like the delirious, jet-lagged travelers we were, we bought a movie off of iTunes, and curled up for the night.  Even though it was probably 8:30.

The next day we went out early (because we were awake at 3:00) looking for coffee.  But sadly even Starbucks wasn’t open when we needed them.  We waited semi-patiently for them to open and feed our addiction-turned-to-pure-need so that we could somewhat function for the day.  The driver that spoke very little English showed up on time (kind of a miracle in that part of the world) to take us to the bike shop we would depart from. After introductions, payment, instructions on use of the electric bike, a cup of coffee from the local family restaurant, and some very nice conversation from a self-taught English speaking Balinese woman, the other couple who would be joining us showed up so we could begin our tour.

The day had started off rainy and we nearly cancelled our reservation.  But even before we left on our ride the sun had come out and it was an absolutely sun-soaked, bright, vibrant, Balinese day.  We took off into the countryside on a two lane “road” no bigger than the Greenbelt of Boise. (It’s a bike path for those of you who don’t live here.  Big enough for two bikes to comfortably ride side by side going each way.  But we were a train of bikes riding on a major road with other traffic – cars, mini vans, and scooters.  After awhile you did stop worrying about it and assumed they would try not to hit you.  The only real concern was when making a right turn – remember to cross traffic and stay on the left side!

Our guides Gusti and Putu were an entertaining and knowledgeable team.  Their English was very good – some of the best we encountered on the island.  And like bike shops the world over, they just want to hang out and chat, and ride bikes.  They’re passionate about where they live and their heritage and culture and love to share it with visitors. Our first stop outside the village was a rice paddie drying in the sun.  Rice is planted by hand, one plant at a time.  Bent over and marching through the field, the women typically do this work.

 

 

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The paddies are flooded for several weeks and then drained of the water to dry out before harvesting.  Depending on the type of rice total time from planting to harvest can be 3-6 months.  It is harvested – again by hand – and hauled in giant baskets that they carry on their heads to be processed – also by hand – and readied for sale.  None of their rice is exported.  This rice is grown and enjoyed right in and around this village.

We continued on our ride, sometimes on busy roads, sometimes on dirt paths right between paddies.  The views were spellbinding.  Green in every direction and the texture created by the steppes of the paddies made it even more beautiful.  We paused in the middle of a huge paddie for pictures, where they told us some of the movie Eat, Pray, Love had been shot.  As a lover of both the book and the movie, I was thrilled to be so near to where Elizabeth Gilbert had traipsed on her soul-searching adventure.

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They took us to a village temple and explained a bit about it and their beliefs.  It is Balinese but has links to Hinduism.  Many of the deities are the same or at least similar.  Every village must have three temples, one each for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  Before a village can be built, the temples must be constructed.  On a small island with 4 million people this makes an outsider like me pause and think, “if you had fewer temples, you would have more room for the people and their needs…” but I digress.  They explained their belief in reincarnation.  Putu, being the sillier of the two said he hopes to come back as a woman.  Because they’re never wrong. But Gusti, the more realistic one said that he would not want to be a woman because their life is much harder and their status is lower.  From this short interaction, you can begin to see the realities of living in Bali, where religion rules and creates a poor and very patriarchal society.

We continued on our ride to a lookout over a valley of rice paddies on a steep hillside, complete with swing for the tourists.

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Our last stop before returning to the restaurant for lunch was a coffee plantation.  But not just any coffee plantation.  This is where they grow the highly desired (and very expensive!)  Luwak coffee.  What is so special about Luwak coffee?  The coffee cherry is one of the favorite foods of the Luwak or Paradoxurus, a small civet like mammal native to the area.  The Luwak finds the best and ripest cherries and eats them – bean and all.  the bean is fermented in the stomach of the Luwak and then passed through their system.  The still-intact bean is then collected from the forest floor and cleaned and roasted and ground.  It’s a delicious, smooth, rich coffee (yes, I tried it and thought it was wonderful).  To recap, the Luwak eats the coffee, poops it out, and some poor soul collects and cleans it so that some dumb person can pay a premium for pre-digested coffee.  I did buy a bag. It’s a gift.  I’ll let you know what they think when they receive it.

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From poop to clean bean!
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They also grow many other spices and delicacies.
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The tea and coffee sampler.
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Temple on the plantation.

If you should find yourself in Ubud, Bali (and I REALLY hope that you do, please look up the wonderful people at eBikes Bali.  You will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

The Psychic Said I’d Love Europe. He Was Right.

Remember that psychic I told you about back in January?  If not, you can read that post here.

He had other things to say, one being that I  was going to love Europe. I’ve been to Europe twice – once when I was a kid and once when I was 17.  And for the most part I did love it, or what I remembered.  I was young, scared, and jet-lagged, but in general the trips were pretty awesome.

I chuckled to myself when he told me this.  There was no way we were going to Europe anytime soon.  We’ve been trying to catch up financially for years from the move to Boise and Johnny’s flight school.  Road trips and camping were in our budget.  Not Europe.  And then to top it off, I quit the job I had because frankly, I just didn’t like it.  So there went the extra little income I had been bringing in.

But that’s how magic happens.  When you do the thing you know you have to do, even though it just doesn’t make sense, based on nothing but a gut feeling, and you’re rewarded for it in some crazy unexpected way.

Two weeks after I put in my notice, Johnny’s boss called and offered him a promotion.  Suddenly our financial worries were lessened.  He would make up the lost income that I had incurred, allowing us to continue to pay debt and work to get ahead while I stayed home with our kids.  And two weeks after that he received the offer to go to Germany for school for a new client’s helicopter.

Can I pause here for dramatic effect?

Now the only thing we had to figure out was how to get ME to Europe.

Luckily Johnny’s travel affords him some pretty sweet benefits.  He’s racking up points for flights and hotels in his sleep practically.  We used points to get us all to Kansas where we dropped off our kids with my parents and then bought my ticket to Germany.  A stretch for sure, but one we were willing to make.  This opportunity was just too good to pass up.  And besides, the psychic said so.

So here I am being a part time gypsy again.  We’ve been here for five days and the psychic was right.  I LOVE Europe, or Germany at the very least.  I love the soul of old buildings, churches, statues, art and bridges.  I love languages and although I don’t speak German, I love to try and I love to listen.  I love the culture –  very modern but with a slightly slower tone.  Public transportation is not just an option here, it is a way of life.  Trains and buses carry people all over the country. Bikes are used as well.  Paths have been built on the roads, on the sidewalks, and from town to town, allowing people to effortlessly and safely navigate city traffic.  There are bike taxis and even bike garages to help with the increasing number of bikes.

 

We only had one day in Munich before we had to leave for Donauworth, where Johnny’s school is held.  So we walked around Old Town as much as we could and caught the highlights.  My long-awaited favorite is the Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall. By new, they mean it was built between 1867 and 1909.  New, by Europe’s standards.

I went to Germany with my mom, grandma, and sister when I was seven to visit my great-grandmother.  I don’t have a lot of memories of the trip but I do remember the Neues Rathaus.  It has moving figures and a clock that chimes at noon.  It’s very quaint.  My memories of it were pretty accurate and it was fun to be back in a place I had visited as a child.

 

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We walked all over Old Town taking in as many of the sights as we could before we had to leave.  I love old churches, and Munich has many.  The oldest church was built in 1278-94.  We missed that one unfortunately but we did find the biggest.  It is in fact the biggest Gothic building in southern Germany – the Frauenkirche.  The two towers are 330 feet tall.  It was under partial reconstruction while we were there, but a picture wouldn’t do it justice anyway.  It is IMMENSE.  We walked inside and unwittingly walked right into Sunday Mass.  Oops!

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We enjoyed many other old buildings and churches, side streets with decorative grottos hidden away, statues, memorials to wars and rulers from hundreds of years ago.  To look at things that were built not just before my life time, but before my country was even discovered, is humbling to say the least.

 

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I love the old stuff, but another thing I noticed and loved about Munich is the cars.  So. Many. Fast. Cars.  Germany is home to Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. And of course one of its claims to fame is the Autobahn.  The superhighway with no speed limit. We loved watching a fast Audi, followed by a fast Mercedes drive by.  And were pleasantly surprised to see three Aston Martins in one day.  Wow.  One of our hopes while we are here is to drive a fast car – really fast.  We’ll see if we can make that happen.

Auf Wiedersehen!

 

The Bear

The bear was running toward us.  Down the hill.  We ran into a trailer that seemed to be tipped down the hill, as if it might slide down at any second.  We shut the door, but what is a hollow core door to a bear?  We ran to the far end of the trailer and waited until mere moments later the bear burst in and snarling and growling, with its mouth wide open, it ran at us.

Then I stuck a gun into its chest and shot it.

Four times.

When I woke up I knew there was a significance to this dream.  It was so real, so vivid.  The sounds, tastes and smells stayed with me for days.  The feeling of fear, and then of relief.  But there was another feeling there too that was harder to understand.  Grief.

After I shot the bear I climbed back out of the trailer and into the sunlight.  I collapsed onto the grassy hill and sobbed.  I sobbed until I had nothing left.  I sobbed for the death of this bear that certainly would have eaten me.

After a few days of continued reflection and wonder, I finally did a quick Google search of what it means to dream of killing a bear.

What I found was interesting.  A quick read of three websites gave me this interpretation.  To kill a bear represents your strength to overcome great obstacles. It foretells fortune and profit after tackling a major opponent. Being able to kill a bear in your dream is a sign of defeating your enemy and successfully dealing with a situation in your life that negatively affects you.

This idea of overcoming obstacles sat with me.  The idea of defeating an enemy – well, I don’t think I have any enemies.  Of course I could be wrong, but I’m certainly not out to get anyone.  So what does this mean?  What is the significance and why couldn’t I shake it?

It was Friday morning as I was getting ready to go to work that it finally became clear.  The enemy or obstacle is not on the outside of me – it IS me.

Our greatest enemy is the one we meet in the mirror every morning.  The one whose habits and patterns will continually set us up to repeat past mistakes.  The one who will tell us we aren’t good/smart/pretty/strong enough.  The one who will sabotage good relationships out of fear of hurt and rejection.  The one who will eat another piece of cake even though you’re only two pounds from your weight loss goal.

But in my dream I killed that bear.  I took it down with four perfect shots to the chest.  I didn’t hesitate although my fear was all consuming.  In the end, my grief was just as real.  I had just killed a part of myself and that was unbelievably painful.

What about the other part of the interpretation?  Successfully dealing with a situation in your life that negatively affects you.  I’ve had friends recently that I had to let go of.  In order to set good healthy boundaries for myself and my family, I had to walk away, to say “No, you can’t treat me this way.”  And that is not an easy thing to do let me tell you.  But I did it.  Maybe not eloquently or gracefully.  And I don’t believe the other side really understands, but I decided that can’t be my worry.  Only myself this time.  I will take care of me.

I overcame a difficult situation.  I’ve changed and grown.  I mourn the loss of who I used to be.  But there’s no going back.  I killed the bear.

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The Psychic Told Me I Had to Write.

Who says no to a psychic?

However, I didn’t exactly say yes either.  The little voice inside said, “What would I write about?”

Oh, he had an answer.

“Write about your experiences again, they help people.  You need to be writing.”

That was a Thursday night at a Psychic reading party. I’ve never been to one so I had no idea what to expect – and frankly I sort of assumed this guy was probably a total phony.  But the idea of hanging out with a bunch of cool women, having our futures foretold, and drinking some wine (after the reading–he doesn’t want alcohol in your system) was just too tempting.  I had to go.

His name is David.  He’s a funny, 60-something man, long hippy hair and a beard.  His declaration of my need to write (again) wouldn’t have seemed so out of the ordinary I suppose if I hadn’t two days earlier sent Johnny a text that said, “I need to write again.”

The idea of writing about my personal experiences though, well that’s touchy.  They’ve been a bit…personal.  I haven’t opened my blog since 2015 apparently and a lot has happened.  Do I talk about parenting, marriage, yoga, or work?  The answer is probably yes.

To recap, I seriously contemplated divorce, (believe me–Johnny did too),  I finished my 500 hour Yoga certification, I now work full time, and I’m in counseling – both marriage and personal.  It’s been a hell of a couple of years.  I’m glad to be through them, but there’s plenty of work to do.

The psychic had lots of other things to say–that this would be a good money and real estate year, that I should start collecting art, that I was going to love Europe, shorelines will rejuvenate me,  and that I need to stop letting stupid people annoy me so much.  I laughed out loud at that last one.  I’m also apparently going to live to be as old as dirt (luckily without the burden of dementia or Alzheimer’s), so I’d better plan for it.  (Yikes.  That one left me a little nervous.  Saving has never been my strong suit.)

Some of the more interesting things that he said had to do with the work that I do now and will do.  He saw me in front of people, speaking.  He said people listen to me, listen to what I say.  “You bring compassion to your work, a deep sense of wanting to help others.  You could be a counselor or social worker.  You’re probably working with a non-profit.”  After he finished this monologue he paused and looked at me.  “What do you do?” he asked me.  “I’m a Yoga teacher,” I said.  “At the YMCA.”

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Dance It (Inside) Out

I love dancing.  I love music.  I love the deep, heavy, loud beats that make your feet start to stomp and shuffle, your hips sway and wiggle, and your arms wave hypnotically.  I love movement and the way that it gets me out of my head and into my body.  Making me feel fully present and connected.  When my head stops its nonstop chatter – or I stop listening – inspiration can come.  Answers to questions.  Ideas.

Dancing is as old as humanity and every culture has their version and reason.  Raghs-isfahanDances tell stories, worship gods and goddesses, act as prayers and blessings, and communicate attraction between two lovers.  It’s a way to burn up energy, express feelings, and get in touch with a deep inner self.  The ancients knew this.  And we still use it today.Terracotta_dancing_maenad_MET_12.232.13

I went to Ecstatic Dance.  This is not the dancing you see in the clubs – no one is dressed up, wearing impossibly tall heels, short skirts, or make-up.  Yoga pants, t-shirts, and bare feet are the “dress code” for the night.  It is held at Yoga Tree of Boise, a beautiful studio in Boise’s North End.  All the lights are shut off, candles are lit, there’s an altar set up with three sets of cards to help you find the answers you seek.  A light projector spins a dazzling array of green dots of light slowly and methodically around the room.  And the music is THUMPIN’.  Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.  But the best part is, in my opinion, the intention with which we come together.  The leader of Ecstatic Dance, Jodeen Revere, will gather us together in a circle where we all hold hands as she expresses her gratitude and the “rules” for the night.  There is only one rule – no talking.  You can make noise – whoop, holler, laugh, cry, scream – but all talking must be taken outside.  The dancing is meant to just reflect what you feel in your body.  So it can sometimes look odd, maybe a little off-beat.  Sometimes people will go through yoga poses, or lie on the floor, sit in meditation, move just their feet or just their arms.  It’s not about shaking your ass for attention.  I think most of us closed our eyes for a large portion of the night.  I know I did.  I only had them open when I was actually moving around the room and didn’t want to crash into someone.  Before we begin we bless and seal the space, making it a safe space for all.  And then the music begins.

Saturday, with the first song, Jodeen had us lie down on our backs in the shape of a giant X.  She gave us a visual – when we look at stationary maps that lead us on a trail, there will be an X that says “You Are Here”.  She encouraged us to feel that.  And to see where “here” is.  Where in our life, on our journey, are we?  And I also took it as being fully present in my body and in the moment – which is something I’ve struggled with in recent months.

I have a hard time not going into things without sometimes huge expectations.  It’s difficult for me not to go to a class like this and not hope for all my questions to be answered, my hopes realized, my Karma burned.  I’ve had amazing experiences like that, so why not expect them every single time?

natarajaShiva, The Lord of the Dance, is a beautiful symbol of what dancing can do for us.  He comes in as the destroyer in preparation for new creation.  One of my friends had a beautiful Shiva pendant on that night, which reminded me of this idea.  That before creation, there has to be destruction.  That I was truly there to dance it (inside) out.  To tear myself apart at the seams, and see what I found.

As the music started and I thought of myself as an X on a map, as I felt my total presence, I released the expectations I had come with and allowed the music to guide me.  I realized very quickly though that I did not want to come up.  I stayed on the floor for awhile moving in cat-like stretches feeling into each and every corner of my body.  And when I finally did place my feet on the ground, I still could not bring myself up to a full standing position.  My desire for grounding was so strong, so primal that I could only sway through my hips with my spine and head hanging down to the floor, fingers dragging from one side to the other, feet firmly rooted.  At one point, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to uncurl my spine and reach up, coming into a full standing position, feet still wide, knees bent.  And the powerful dislike of being upright hit me like a ton of bricks.  Now don’t misunderstand – I was not light-headed or woozy from being in a forward fold.  It was a feeling I had more on my skin coupled with a general feeling of unease.  So I folded over again.  Grounding, rooting, connecting first to my core, and then to the Earth.

At some point it felt right to move and so I did.  I came up to standing and began to dance.  But even then my feet wanted to stay planted so the dancing happened from the knees up. Knees, hips, spine, shoulders, arms and head all moving in their own unique way, with feet still firmly planted on the ground.

Eventually the need to wander around the room arose and my feet started moving of their own accord.  And gradually, as they did, an idea, an inspiration, an answer came to me – “Trust Yourself” it said.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  And I realized in that moment that I hadn’t trusted myself – maybe ever.  I always looked to others for approval and validation.  I needed others’ guidance to work through problems and make decisions.  I hadn’t done some of the things I thought I wanted to do because I just didn’t trust myself to first make the right decision, and second to actually execute it.  I could easily see in my mind’s eye this pattern I had built up of not trusting myself.  It became clear.  And with that clarity came the relief, the release, and the realization that I CAN trust myself. That I and only I have the answers that I seek.

About half way through the hour and a half long session I took a break to sit at the altar, pondering this new idea and searching for a bit more clarity.  How does one go about trusting themselves when they’ve never done it before?  What does that look like?  I drew a card from the deck in the center.  These cards are simply paintings.  Although they are of an obvious scene of some sort, there is a quality about them that leaves them open to interpretation.  A fuzziness around the edges.  The picture I drew was of a figure looking over the ocean at the full moon, holding a mask in their right hand.  I heard/felt “Take off the mask.  Be authentic.”  Ok, wow.  That resonated and I felt also provided an answer to my question.  The second deck is a different type.  I drew a card that said “Deliverance”.  And then explained it as “relief, release, a fresh start.”  Double wow.  And from the third deck I drew the Isis and Osiris card.  On the back it tells the story of Isis – the great Creator of everything –  and her deep love for Osiris.  The moral of her story?  That even the greatest goddess has and SHOWS her emotion as made evidence by her tear over Osiris’s death that flooded the Nile.  WOW does not even convey the depth of my reaction to that.

I got up and danced some more but I could never get the big fast movements that are typical for me.  That’s just not what my body wanted.  I wasn’t tired.  Physically I felt fine.  I finally went and sat against a wall and closed my eyes and let the music and the energy of the other dancers wash over me.  And that’s when I heard it, “Be still.”  Just that.  And I realized that most of my life is spent going, moving, and doing.  I never stop and just ALLOW things to come up.  Emotions get set aside, buried, not expressed.  I don’t trust myself and my own strength to handle them.  I’m fearful of being still and silent and must keep up the facade that I have created which has me running running running – from myself.  But all I need is to sit still, listen, and trust.  Myself.

I felt like I had started putting the pieces of me back together.  Creating something, or someone new.  Someone stronger, more real, more authentic, more compassionate, more full of LIFE and LOVE.  What was broken was coming back together, even more beautifully than before.

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Paige Bradley’s statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dive deep into the middle of your heart and dance yourself to the surface and see what you find.
This is your dance, your way.
Dance like no one is watching.
Dance your heart (inside) out.
~Jodeen Revere

If you’re in Boise and interested in experiencing an Ecstatic Dance session, contact Jodeen Revere of Creative Yogic Arts. They are held every second and fourth Saturday nights at Yoga Tree of Boise.  And they are truly a magical experience.

I’m Writing for Share Yoga! You should definitely check it out…

I’m writing at Share Yoga!!  Check it out – or read what I have to say here first…

The last couple of years have been rocky, but with great trial, comes great reward.  I believe that thanks to the trials I have endured and am still going through, I have opened up something inside myself – a door, a window, a portal to a magical place.  Or maybe just my own soul.  Whatever it is, as I’ve worked through some of my own shadows and demons, burned through some Karma, and really took a hard look in the mirror, I’ve had more opportunities come my way.  Where the shit was lying dormant, stagnant, collecting dust and cobwebs for years upon years, there is now fresh, clean, open space ready for creation – for all things NEW.  One of the blessings of these past two years is that it pushed me to finally start on my 500 Yoga Teacher Training Certification.  I have 200 hours, so adding 300 more isn’t necessary, but it’s been a goal of mine for a long time.  And when everything is falling apart, why not try to build something new?  Take on a new challenge to take the focus away from some of the shit and create something new.

With that decision has come so many crazy good experiences that have opened up my eyes, my world, my heart.  The Yoga I practice and teach has changed.  I have brought a whole world of Yogis into my life that I honestly don’t know how I lived without before now.  I have immersed myself deeply into that which I love, and it is loving me back.

One of the most incredible opportunities is that I am now writing for Share Yoga.  I am beyond thrilled that they are allowing me to write for them and wanted to share my first published article with you.  It follows the last article I wrote here about re-creating my life.  This one is about living your truth, which is of course what I’m working on.  Every. Single. Fucking. Day.  Give it a read.  Let me know what you think.  You’ll find it here.

I’ll have another piece coming out very soon at Share Yoga on Contentment.  That should be an easy one. 😉 And there’s always juicy goodness in the works right here at Part Time Gypsy.  So stay tuned.

Thanks for joining me.

Rising From the Ashes

When my birthday approaches I inevitably write my list of goals and aspirations for the coming year.  I reflect on the previous year and note what I have done, what I have achieved, and am usually pretty pleased with what I see.  I look at each birthday as a chance to start over, recreate, re-do, remake.  It’s a blank slate, a RE-BIRTH.  All things new.

I turned 38 on Friday and I got to celebrate by starting my day with 27 beautiful yogis.  They sang happy birthday to me, which nearly brought me to tears.  And then they blessed me again by allowing me to lead their practice.  How did I get so lucky?

I had a theme for this class – Death.  WHAT?!  Actually, the theme was really Re-Birth, but before a re-birth can happen, something has to die.  As we approach our mat, we may have expectations, fears, judgements or beliefs.  We might feel tension, weakness and vulnerability.  By the end of the class, in Savasana or Corpse Pose, we hope that some or all of those might die – that we might be able to let go and create space for something new to grow.  Allow them to become fertilizer for the soil so to speak.  And then from the heart, our radiant, true Self can bloom.  I set the tone of the class with my playlist.   Alison Krauss’ “Down to the River to Pray”, for the warm up – helping us to connect to something bigger, something inside.  Madonna’s “Shanti/Ashtangi” is a really beautiful, very rockin’ version of a Sanskrit chant that helps to start building the heat, the fire as we start the process of burning through the layers.  First in the physical body – it gets warm and pliable.  We then tap into the breath to create a connection.  As we practice, we allow the breath to be the music to which the body moves to.  It is our guide and when we follow, we are fluid and graceful.  When the two connect, the fluctuations of the mind begin to quiet.  They take place somewhere in the background.  And then the heat can grow and spread.  At this point the Vinyasa is in full flow.  The sweat is dripping, the breath is fast.  With these words from Josh Garrels’ “The Resistance”
we are reminded of the importance of this work – that it’s not just about stretching our hamstrings, making washboard abs or tight tushies, it’s the inner transformation that is important.

Every mortal breath, is meant to bring forth fire
But only when the fear of death, gets consumed
On the funeral pyre
So let the flames rise higher

Throughout a class, I will continuously remind my students to check in, listen to their bodies and see what arises in their minds.  And then let it go.  I remind them of their intention – Friday’s was Re-Birth.  I asked them what was dying, and what was coming to life inside of them.  What is growing that wants to be expressed?

I got a new haircut a few weeks ago.  I absolutely love it.  It’s been calling to me for a long time now and I finally just did it.  I needed something new and fresh, something that started to reflect the changes I felt inside – asymmetrical, a little edgy and fun.  It’s totally me.

IMG_3895Then just a couple of days ago I came across this quote:

A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

~ Coco Chanel

Yeah.  Definitely.  I feel that in my soul.

This has been a long, hard year (actually almost two) of growth, change, hardship, devastation, brutal honesty, secrecy, tears, heartbreak, forgiveness, and soul-searching.  And it’s not over.  There are days when I don’t think I can possibly take anymore, and then somehow I make it through that day, and on to the next.

I’ve come through the past year and realized many things about myself.  I am incredibly strong.  I am loyal.  I can work harder than I ever thought possible.  I can also hurt and  – more importantly – LOVE more than I ever thought possible.  I carry years of hurt, anger, regret, fear, and resentment inside of me, and they find ways to sneak out.  I am open and vulnerable.  Even now.  Even after being hurt.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  There are no secrets with me.  But I’m a Gemini, so my heart can change very quickly.  I can be lighthearted and happy one moment and angry and bitter the next.  Sarcasm is my greatest weapon, and I aim to kill.  I can wither another’s spirit with a simple word.  I’m not proud of that.  It’s my defense mechanism.  The wall I put up to make sure you don’t hurt me first.

On my running playlist is Amazing Grace – the version by the Dropkick Murphys.  It’s rock-n-roll meets bagpipes and I love it.  Morbid?  Maybe.  But for some reason contemplating an ending, makes it so much easier to run a little faster.  The pain in my legs and my lungs seems so much more tolerable when I consider the other option and a screaming quadriceps is better than a broken heart any day.

With the idea of rebirth, comes death.  Something has to die to be reborn.  Can pieces of us die?  The parts that no longer serve us? The beliefs that once kept us aloft, that are no longer true?  Can we let those go so that something new, something wonderful, something true can take its place?  I think so.

So on this, my 38th birthday, I choose to let die the fears, the regrets, the anger, the resentments.  And in their place I choose to make space for love, forgiveness, kindness, hope, and courage.  All things new.  All recreated.  A life rewritten by me, for me.  Like the Phoenix, from the ashes that was my life, I will rise.  I will become all that I was meant to be.  Nothing holding me back.  REBORN.

phoenix-hi

How does one go about making such HUGE changes?  The only clue I’ve been given so far is Yoga.  And that was given to me loud and clear from two sources.  So I will continue to dive deeper into my personal practice.  I will read, learn, meditate and teach.  Because the more I teach, the more I learn.  And because when I open my hips, somehow I also open my heart.  I hear a voice inside, sometimes it’s just a whisper, but lately it’s gotten a little louder.  Yoga helps me to get quiet, get still, be present and connect.  And then I can truly listen.

What does this transformation look like?  I’m not sure yet.  I have the usual goals and “things I want to DO” list… but this is a deeper inner change, that may not look like very much at all on the outside.  And then again my life may be completely unrecognizable as I navigate this new road I’m on.  It’s hard to say just yet.

I do know that part of this is being open and vulnerable.  In the last two years, one thing that I have learned is EVERYONE carries around something – some SHIT.  They’re all fighting a battle.  Their life may look perfect and amazing and easy on the outside, and then you find out that they are struggling in some way, just like you are.  But I didn’t find these things out until I started sharing.  I found I could not hold in my pain and sorrow.  They would just come out.  I would feel bad, silly, and oh my God so vulnerable when opening up in this way, but there was usually a palpable relief as the other person realized it was then safe for them to share their struggles.  I’ve created deeper, more meaningful friendships than I’ve ever had, in a mutually beneficial circle of support, trust, and vulnerability.  I’m so grateful for this.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  And I think if everyone had this sort of connection, many of our more mundane human problems would end.  Human connection is all we ever want.  It is our deepest desire.  It’s the easiest and hardest thing to have.  It requires being completely open to others, allowing them to see the crazy, the dark, the nasty inside of us.  And trusting them to love us anyway.  And in return, they’ll show us their dark and dirty self, and we look and listen with only love, no judgement.  Only through our vulnerability can we be completely authentic.  Otherwise we are just a shadow of our Selves, not living to our full potential, not letting our light shine brightly.

But being vulnerable can be scary.  There is the chance of being hurt.  But here is what I have found – No one can hurt you unless you aren’t speaking honestly.  If there is a falsehood anywhere in your story, then yes, they can hurt you with that.  But truth can’t hurt.  Only secrets and lies can hold you hostage.  The truth, as they say, will set you free.

I finished Friday’s class with everyone lying in Savasana, Corpse Pose, listening to Amazing Grace.  A soft, beautiful, piano version.  I gave them the chance to let go of all they held onto, all the burdens they carried, all things that no longer served them.  To let them die.  And when it ended, and I rang the bells, I asked them to rise.  To rise up from the ashes, to feel renewed, reborn.

Happy Re-Birth Day to me.

Tell me, what is it

you plan to do

with your one

WILD and PRECIOUS

life?

~ Mary Oliver

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