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Cayo Coasta Beach Camping Adventure



David and I packed some coolers and a tent. We parked the truck at a marina on Pine Island and took the Tropic Star Ferry over to Cayo Costa State Park.

Upon arrival, a manatee was in the water near the dock. I felt like he came by to welcome us to our adventure. The first night we heard rustling of an animal. Either a raccoon or rat managed to get into a food wrapper we obviously did not secure. We also heard an owl, saw a snake, watched the birds feed at dusk.

When the sun went down, it became cold fast! It was colder than I anticipated. Our air mattress deflated in the night. (which made us even colder). But then the sun came up and warmed us up. By mid day, it was hot and probably 70+ degrees. Thankfully, it never rained. There is no hot water for showers. BUT there are flush toilets.

We spent three days being connected to beauty, nature, simplicity and each other. I thoroughly enjoyed being remote and having miles of beaches to ourselves. We frolicked like teenagers during the day and the hobbled like grandparents at night 😉 LOL

What an adventure. Hiking trails and miles of beaches kept us busy. We calculated that in 3 days we walked over 25 miles. I have my little stash of shells. I found a sand dollar with lace-like edges.  It’s amazing.

If you’re ok with remote simplicity, this barrier island might need to make it onto your must-see list. There’s also an option to boat over for the day to enjoy shelling if you’re not into rustic camping.



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Living Your Ecstasy


What inspires you? What makes you lose track of time? What makes the demands of life fade and the passion for life and love rush your soul in ecstasy?

A moment in dialogue with a child? A gaze upward on a starry night? A horseback ride at sunset? A hike along the forest trail? Faith-filled knowledge of your unity with God? An idea and creative inspiration in the space between waking and sleeping? Intimacy? These small snippets are the essence of what we really value, right? Is there is a discipline that allows these minuscule seconds to grow? Can we experience life more fully by experiencing more of these moments?

I think so. The discipline seems to begin with acknowledgement and giving TIME to experience glory moments. We have to come to expect them. Our busy, overwhelmed lives don’t facilitate soul food. Haven’t we given homage to drudgery long enough? It isn’t the path for wholeness.

There is another way.

While our logical mind tells us we have to worry to be productive, (and logic has it’s place in helping us survive in this body,) it’s not equipped for the survival of our spirit.  Is it possible to be living in effortlessness productivity? I desire more of that life.

This may explain why vacations and trips planned away from the routines of life fill our souls so differently. Those unique moments rise to the surface when we speak of the highlights of life. When we take time to be affected by the people we are with and the sights we see, reading books and taking long meandering walks,  intentionally letting our mind rest, we find that we became fueled and focused in profound, unexpected ways. We’re “more” of something, not less.

It’s as if life *rewards* and *responds* and *gives* based on something very different than our consumerist mindset. Maybe the mindset of passion + surrender = the inspired, purposeful, ecstatic life. Spirit living.

I’ve heard that we ARE what we LOVE, NOT what loves us. This makes me ponder.

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What if I don’t have ‘a word’ for 2018?


For years now, I have chosen a word, a verse, or a mantra for the year ahead. In many cases I would say more accurately, the word chose me. I love that feeling.But this year, (for weeks before the ball dropped) I have prayed, searched and listened for a word; THE word for me, only to find myself here on Jan 3rd without one. And I so love words. Sure, I could force it and lay claim to something, but that doesn’t really seem the right path. Am I alone? I imagine there are others who also feel a little bewildered that a word didn’t “find” them.

I’ve always considered having a word meant I had a sense of direction, vision and passion for what’s ahead.  And in some cases, it was a definite gift of grace when  I needed that exact word as comfort for a trial. But something did come to me today. It wasn’t a word, but an understanding  that (for me and at this time), NOT having a word may be the exact exercise to grow me. Have you ever cleaned and organized an office, only to find you didn’t get the work done or spent effort meal planning only to look back two weeks later to see you didn’t eat well? I guess I know deep down that a word does not insure execution of my dreams. But maybe I wanted to feel a little more “together” than I do? Does that make sense?

So, instead of looking for a word to embody a war cry or grandiose emotional movement that will carry me and/or keep me grounded, I’ll understand at a deeper level that our lives speak. There is always a word at work. Always a word lived out. I’m ok without a certain word to claim

Maybe I’ll find at the END of this year a word will emerge for HOW I DID live, not how I intended to live. I do enjoy seeing our word(s) lived out. When I see your name, words come to mind that embody you. Truly our life speaks louder than any word we could say.

To you! To 2018!



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Connection is contagious. When I see it, I smile. Monday #beautynearme is brought to you by my parents (their connection with each other) and my grandson (his connection to his creativity). It evokes gratitude. So much gratitude.

When we intentionally look for connection, even if looking on from a distance, our hearts are warmed.

The cold of the season cannot chill a warmed heart.


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A Time for Gray


It’s a chilly morning, but not frozen

 It’s “in-between” world where I feel neither “here” nor “there”

-a place where nothing is completely anything

Few leaves, colored and clinging remain, still hopeful in the breeze

All the others are swirling down on the ground, free, unattached and forgotten

My thick skin hasn’t emerged for the season

so I place my my fingertips over the heater

I start to wonder as I watch the leaves, ‘which am I’?

Have I fallen already? Or am I still clinging?

This melancholy settles in with the blanket I wrap around me

I see pumpkins discarded from porches, replaced with the lights we need at night

Though it’s morning, grayness settles comfortably in the sky as if there is no sun in the east

That dreariness in the sky against the fieriness of the trees  grate on me

And yet if I’m honest, I admit I both love and hate the contrast

Why does gray have a place? My artist brain works for an answer

Opposites and gradients of color highlight each other

Is this how I make sense of the newness of sadness? Is this the comfort of change?

And then, as if on cue, I hear you outside my window

Yours melody is so free. No expectation. No restlessness in the gray

Like a dance

Your happy “in-between” gray cadence

trails effortlessly and fearlessly, leaving me mesmerized between longing and belonging

comfortable and inviting in the in-between

For the first time in a long while, it makes sense

You’ve gifted me, little feathered one,

with such a truth: gray “in between” moments belong, as do I


There is a “time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…”

There is always a time for gray


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Food Fads Through the Decades

Oh my, I’ve been scream-laughing reading the Vintage Recipes Ads. I grew up in the 70’s and this article has my sides hurting from laughing so much. Take a look at these pictures!!!!!! Did you eat any of these?


Thankfully, my mom is a really good cook and is also health conscious. But some of these make me question how my generation even made it past the 70’s!!!!

So, let’s take a look at the FOOD FADS and diet fads through the decades.  These were listed in bon appetit magazine as follows:

Fruit cocktail. According to Fashionable Foods: Seven Decades of Food Fads, when Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, it dramatically shifted dining habits in addition to drinking rituals. Fruit cocktails garnished with marshmallows or sprinkled with powdered sugar came into vogue, though not as dessert. They replaced oysters on the half shell served with Champagne as the dinner party opener. Hmmmm. who knew?

Diet Fad: Smoking

Gelatin everything! Salads that contain the world “gelatin” or “congealed” make me gag a little. The “in” crowd began serving these architectural marvels (that jiggled!) at social gatherings during the Great Depression. Cooks were not shy about sticking any old ingredient into the cold molds: chicken, hard-boiled eggs, grapes, grated carrots. EEEEEWWWWWW

Diet Fad: Grapefruit a day.

Canned meat. The lingering effects of the Great Depression and rationing for World War II dictated culinary trends during this time period. Enter SPAM. The canned meat marvel became a staple of soldiers’ diets and caught on among civilians, both as a buffet option (fruit cocktail-SPAM loaf please!) and eventual punchline. The only thing more lasting than SPAM’s “indefinite” shelf life has been its popularity. To date, Hormel Foods has sold more than seven billion cans. Can you believe that?

Diet Fad: They Cayenne Cocktail. (Yes, Cayenne pepper infused juice.)

Casseroles. The Middle America staple goes by many names–casserole, hot dish, funeral potatoes–but it has always been defined by one key element: It is traditionally made entirely from processed ingredients, including canned tuna, tater tots and the quintessential binder, cream of mushroom soup. The end result often takes on the characteristics of glue and mush, yet this comfort food starred at picnics, family reunions and church receptions. Still does, in fact.

Diet Fad: Cabbage is where it’s at. Eat cabbage all day. eat as much cabbage as you want! 😉

Instant and Imitation food. Despite the proliferation of hippie home cooks experimenting with ethnic cuisine, food companies flooded the market with NASA-inspired just-add-water products, such as instant mashed potatoes, freeze dried coffee, powdered cheese mix and scientifically-engineered Tang. The introduction of Easy Cheese, Bac-Os bacon bits and Cool Whip cemented these science project foods (some of which we still turn to every day) foothold in society.

Diet Fad: The point system (weight watchers). Forget health conscious. Let someone else decide the necessary magic system .

Fondue—This idea is great in theory–crusty bread dunked in melted cheese; strawberries drowned in chocolate–and yet horrible in execution. Concerns of double dipping, spillage and the communal hot pot turning into a petri dish of germs all raised red flags. Then a Canadian design company decided to market the same concept, except as a chocolate fountain, making it all but impossible for one to dip his banana into the waterfall without staining his shirt.

Diet Fad: The little magic pill- Ephedra (ephedrine and caffeine). Pharmaceutical mania in full swing.

Pasta Salad. In 1982, Florence Fabricant made a sweeping declaration in The New York Times by proclaiming, “The pasta salad, that darling of the carry-out shop, is here to stay.” That was an unfortunate reality for anyone who believed that mixing cold noodles with vinegar or mayo and sliced canned olives was a wise decision. The trend took a turn for the worse when salad dressing companies entered the game. Just pour a bottle of Wish Bone over those tri-colored tortellini’s and–voila!–a summertime favorite.

Diet Fad: Slimfast- ready-made meal replacements.

Fat free. Bags of Frito-Lay’s WOW Chips fat free potato chips advertised “All the Taste 1 Gram of Fat.” Wow indeed! The secret ingredient was Olestra, a calorie and cholesterol-free fat substitute. Sales skyrocketed to over $300 million in the first year alone, which meant that plenty of folks discovered the side effects of Olestra: an urgent and unanticipated need to run to the bathroom. Not surprisingly, sales slipped to $200 million two years later. The product is still around today, however, it has been re-branded as “Light” chips. Olestra is still listed as the second ingredient. Bathroom, anyone?

Diet Fad: Anti-carb movement & Fat free everything.

The Atkins Diet. Nothing about this diet made sense. As long as people cut back on carbs, they could gorge on all of the marbled steaks, cholesterol-friendly eggs and robust cheeses they could stuff down their gullets. At the height of this weight loss fad, 10% of Americans followed the starch-averse nutritional plan. After carb cravings returned in 2005, that number fell to 2%, Atkins Nutritionals filed for bankruptcy and bakers everywhere breathed a sign of relief.

Then, Energy Drinks. Yikes

Diet Fad: Atkins followed by Juicing for weeks at a time followed by the SouthBeach diet.

Bacon everything. Don’t blame the bacon bacchanalia that has swept the country on the delicious pork product. Point the finger at the cooks who have taken the cultural obsession about 12 steps too far and put bacon in places it never should have been in the first place: donuts, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, cakes–the list of sugary snacks runs out the door and around the corner. Hardee’s and Burger King are now selling a bacon sundae, which seems to be a good sign. Usually, once Corporate America gets on board, the trend is on the way out.

Also, Frozen yogurt shops. Gluten free eating,

Diet Fad: Paleo- (Dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, and coffee were taken off the table in favor of vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, and fish.)

As we embark on the close of 2017 and welcome 2018, I wonder what food fads will emerge this year. Any ideas? Happy eating.





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It’s seems so vulnerable to see the leaf release from the tree and at the mercy of the wind.  Do you ever feel like that? Like you’re a leaf that’s just been released from the tree, just swirling, vulnerable, journeying to someplace unknown?

I’m so glad change doesn’t separate us from beauty. And even more surprising, change can land us right in the middle of beautiful purple flowers. A grace place. There’s such beauty in the surrender of the “fall”- (pun intended).


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Finding Magic



While on our family vacation, Bethany, Natalie and I decided to take advantage of low tide to get to the north end of Kiawah Island. (This trip was a plan B since hurricane Irma squelched our Edisto Island plans). To be honest, I was a little disappointed that the Kiawah Island beach didn’t have shark teeth. I heard that there may be an opportunity to find one on the north end. We had baby Lennon with us, so we weren’t sure how far we could go. She was a little trooper!

We noticed as we journeyed north, there were no other humans.  We encountered flocks of seagulls and pelicans. Then Natalie spotted a whole sand dollar. We grabbed a photo to commemorate the find. Little did we know that we would find over 100 sand dollars as we continued to walk!!!As we neared the point, I even found a shark tooth and we saw dolphins playing. It was one of those walks that can’t be explained. Memory upon memory. Magic was in the air and drifting to shore. A Ranger drove in a truck made sure we knew high tide was a’ comin! We had about an hour before the inlet would be flooded. We raced back with the jewels.

side note: we found out that if sand dollars are still in the shallow water, the best thing to do is gently put them back into a little deeper water on the ocean floor. They are alive until they are on the shore for a few minutes. You will be able to see a little movement in the slits on the dollar when they are alive and see that they are a little fuzzy. Only take the ones that have landed and been on shore without water. Here’s a great article to read about the differences between them being dead or alive.