Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer Reflections

Labor Day weekend is here, the unofficial conclusion of summer. How did those long-anticipated, delightful summer months go by so quickly?  I longed for the warm, breezy, verdant and beautiful days and evenings of summer during last winter's harsh, endless and unforgiving weather.  Once summer arrived, my husband Larry and I gratefully took advantage of every moment.  We took countless evening walks.  We attended numerous local events, concerts and festivals.  We consumed pounds of delicious produce sold at the downtown farmer's market. As I reflect on this summer, I think of actual reflections of the setting sun on Devil's Lake.  A long swath of brilliant orange would reflect on the water, causing it to sparkle and shimmer like jewels. Soon, we'll enter a new season of changing leaves, pumpkins, heavy sweaters and football games, but for the moment, I'll soak up the last hours of summer before it unofficially comes to an end. What a glorious season it has been.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Best Medicine for Mind, Body and Soul

I recently read a quote by Hippocrates: "Walking is man's best medicine."  For three seasons of the year, I take walks in the evening. Most of the time, my husband Larry walks with me and most of the time, our walks take us to Devil's Lake State Park.  Our evening walks put a period on the end of the day for me. Forty-five minutes of fresh air, birdsong and sweet-scented breezes are just enough to give me time to meditate, enjoy gentle conversation, become present and feel relaxed. The walk is good for my physical health to be sure and I truly appreciate its benefits, but it's what it does for my mental well-being that is of particular blessing. In his five short words, I believe that Hippocrates was right. Walking is indeed man's (or woman's) best medicine. Walking is easy exercise, requiring no fancy equipment, no special skills, no organized effort, just appropriate shoes and a desire to put one foot in front of the other and get moving. No bitter pill here. Walking is the perfect medicine for my mind, body and soul.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fueling Our Passions

I'm no aficionado, but I do love looking at antique and classic cars. I admire the care with which a classic car owner tends to his or her vehicle. Last month, I had the pleasure of walking the downtown streets of our community for a classic car show. Our courthouse square was filled with 100 colorful, shining, perfectly detailed classic vehicles, ranging from trucks to roadsters, sedans to sports cars, even a truck that had a cannon for a human cannonball circus act affixed to its chassis. I couldn't help but think about the many objects or activities that fuel our passions, whether they're classic cars or quilting, gardening or baking, reading or running in marathons. Our passions feed our souls and express to the world a glimpse of who we are.  I know people whose passions have been clearly defined since they were children, where others have cultivated their passions over time, sometimes well into their adulthood. I have a close friend whose passion is art in its many forms.  For years, she quilted and sewed and gardened. These days, her passions have turned to painting. She paints intricate designs on eggs and rocks, each a miniature masterpiece. Whatever our passions are, I think life becomes richer, fuller, more meaningful when we allow ourselves to fuel them. Realizing our passions is a gift to ourselves and to others. What is your passion?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Quiet Times with Queen Anne's Lace

It's that time of year when the roadsides are white with Queen Anne's Lace.  The lacy, white flower clusters capture my attention as they wave in the warm August breeze. Seeing the delicate flowers brings back fond memories of peaceful moments in the midst of fun, though hectic days. During my years at Circus World Museum, where I served as the public relations director for the museum, its circus train and its circus parade, I was one of the lucky staff members who got to ride our circus train through the Wisconsin countryside, stopping in towns and cities along the way to Milwaukee where we staged a colossal circus street parade. My days on the train were busy with media, music and merriment.  I thrived on the activity, but when my mind and body finally tired, I would retreat to a part of the train where I could sit quietly, undisturbed and just look out the window. It was during those moments when I first fell in love with Queen Anne's Lace, focusing intently on how gently the long stems bowed in the breeze. All of the circus train's laughter, music and crowds melted away during those stolen moments, just the Queen Anne's Lace and me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

30 Years Already

Last Wednesday, July 30 marked 30 years since my dad's passing. I'm rather stunned at the fact that three decades, more than one-half of my lifetime, have gone by since that pivotal day. As an only child, I was blessed to be close to both my mother and father. In many ways, they were friends, as well as parents.  I had no reason to go through a "rebellious teens" era because my mom and dad were so much fun, so supportive and such interesting and talented people. Since I was 17 years old, I had known that we were somewhat on borrowed time, my dad and me.  He had suffered a devastating heart attack in May of 1976.  He had suffered from congestive heart failure on at least one subsequent occasion, and he was experiencing some worrisome symptoms before he died suddenly on July 30, 1984. During the last couple of years of Dad's life, my maternal grandparents were experiencing health challenges themselves. When Mom would go to visit my grandpa and grandma, Dad and I would have "date" nights. They involved our going out for dinner - just the two of us, taking a walk, listening to good music, enjoying each other's company and engaging in meaningful, deep conversation. When I think of the many blessings in my life, I include among them my truly wonderful dad.  Although we only had 26 years together, we made the very most of all of those years. 'Love you, Dad.