Only a day after my family and I participated in a tradition where we stood around the dinner table just before the food was served and each member expressed what they were most thankful for, (there were a myriad of expressions but collectively they all spelled thankfulness) my husband and I are riding down the highway chatting about the lovely holiday we had experienced.
In the midst of our chatting, my mind lingered to earlier times when my mom and grandma were in our midst. They were the center of our celebrations. They were most responsible for the coming together of our family. Now there is a void that can never be filled. Their empty chairs weigh heavily on our hearts but somehow we find strength to persevere.
The day after the Thanksgiving Holiday, my husband and I spent time with other family members at Chestnut Bay Resort, located in Northeast Alabama. Our drive from Atlanta was less than two hours and well worth it. It was very relaxing as we walked along Weiss Lake, the central point of the resort, relishing in the beauty of the flocks of seagulls and the site of the white pelicans floating around on the water. The property was amazing, peaceful, and beautiful. We had fun, laughter and more food.
As we pulled into the driveway, ending our getaway to Chestnut Bay, our chatting gave way to silence as we both, almost simultaneously, thought how perfect the last two days had been – enjoying family and friends. Now the food has been put away; it is a perfect time to say once again, thank you God!
As households across the land get ready to celebrate an annual tradition of thanksgiving, I am reminded of a scripture from Psalm 35:18, “I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.” As we gathered this morning listening to the pastor’s sermon, he expressed how important it is to appreciate what God has given us. He encouraged us not to worry about what we don’t have; not to let our situations dictate our appreciation. This season of being thankful is also a perfect time to appreciate our loved ones. My husband and I left church service this morning feeling amazing after hearing such a wonderfully spiritual message. With the day being absolutely beautiful – sun shining brightly and the autumn trees simply astonishing, we knew we wanted to take a long drive and embrace this precious time together. We ended up at one of our favorite places, Lake Lanier; nestled in the foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains and located about an hour from our house. As the largest lake in Georgia, it is especially popular during the summer. Boating and jet skiing are popular sports at the Lake. Our outing this morning was a picture-taking moment. I hope you enjoy this optic as much as we enjoyed the actual view.
Later, we had lunch at one of our favorite spots, The Varsity, an Atlanta institution. This drive-in fast food restaurant is one of six satellite locations. Its main location in Downtown Atlanta is called, “The world’s largest drive-in.” With its curb side service, it is a hit with patrons who prefer eating in their cars. Today, we chose to eat inside and enjoyed some of their iconic features: chili dogs, onion rings and homemade peach pies. Not your typical Sunday dinner but satisfying just the same. We’ll stay on the treadmill a little longer and workout a little harder to justify the indulgence. Ha-ha!
The ride back home was quite gratifying as I reminisced about our fantastic visit to Lake Lanier and the delicious meal at The Varsity. I looked over at my husband and thought to myself how thankful I am for him. I also thought about our loving son and how much he means to us. Yes, I was feeling extremely happy…remembering to be thankful for what I have.
A lone rider of this Honda Goldwing stops to take in the view. This is his world. His moment. His passion. His pastime. A trip out west provides enough scenery to last and appreciate until the next trip out west. It is about getting lost in the now. It is about discovering your truth. It is about being…simply being. It is about peace and happiness. It is a free-spirited American exploring all that is magnificent about life!
In less than two months apart, I have had the pleasure to visit with alligators. Believe me it was as surprising for me as I’m sure it was for them. I had a hard time establishing eye contact with them…just looking for a little ‘gator conversation. They seemed timid at first, while other times it appeared they wanted to look into my eyes. Then I became timid. Ha-ha! As I looked at them, I thought about how they were once considered to be an endangered species. Not anymore.
My recent encounter with ‘gators happened at a visit to the Okefenokee Swamp Park, located in the South Georgia town of Waycross. They seemed to be everywhere: nesting or simply resting in the pond as we began our walkabout in the Park; later riding along on the railroad tour, followed by our charter boat tour on the waterways of the swamp. Our visit culminated at the live wildlife show; my husband even held a baby alligator – ugh! Truly a visit for the entire family.
This week a visit to The Crab Shack, located near Savannah, Georgia, and a favorite spot where my husband and I like to eat, provided another opportunity to see the ‘gators again. By now, we were calling them our friends. Remembering some of the things I had learned about these carnivorous creatures, I was reminded of why they have become such a tourist attraction. Afterall, they are the largest reptile in North America. On this cool November afternoon, they were bellowing together in the pond at The Crab Shack, seemingly very content in this environment. You see, they like being in fresh water so they are right at home in ponds, rivers, and swamps. Not wanting to disturb them, my husband and I took a few snapshots and went on our way while quietly whispering, “Until next time.”
In his play, Henry V, William Shakespeare said, “All things are ready, if our mind be so.” I was reminded of his words yesterday morning when my husband came into the workout room while I was toiling intensely on the elliptical and asked me if I wanted to ride down to Savannah, Georgia, a distance of about 248 miles or 3 1/2 hour drive from our house. As excitedly as a kid in a toy store, I promptly answered yes and hurriedly finished my morning workout. We were packed and on the road shortly afterwards, enjoying a morning drive headed to a southern city we both like to visit.
Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia, holds a special meaning for my husband and I. We met there at the university where we spent four years as students. If you have never visited Savannah, I recommend you do so some day. USA Weekend Magazine declared Savannah one of the “top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America.” The New York Times named the city one of the “World’s Top Ten Trendy Travel Hot Spots.”
Soon after arriving, we went to the Riverfront District, a popular site for visitors. This attraction is alive year round. Our next visit was to the university’s campus. We rode around reminiscing and appreciating our education from this institution of higher learning that taught us “You Can Get Anywhere From Here.” The 200+ acre campus is quite charming with the moss trees, marshland, and historic buildings. Later as we were driving on White Marsh Island, headed to a must stop, The Crab Shack, we were eager to have lunch there. It’s a local eatery located by a marina at Tybee Island where you’ll not be disappointed. The food is scrumptious. Feeling quite pleased after an enjoyable meal and a sightseeing tour of the real baby alligators resting in the outdoor pond, we left the restaurant and headed to Savannah Beach which spans five miles along the Atlantic Ocean and the Savannah River. Being there was everything you expect when you’re at the ocean. Watching the seagulls soaring overhead while locals were fishing and kiting, made us feel magical.
What started out as a morning routine workout at home turned into a delightful day trip. We spent the night and headed home the next morning. While driving northbound on the coastal highway, we were pleased that our impromptu getaway had been such a success. I know we will return for another visit to such a lovely place called Savannah, the largest port city in the state of Georgia. Spur-of-the-moment actions can be fun and rewarding. When you have an attitude and mindset that is always ready for excitement and adventure, life can be so special! How ready are you?
Isn’t blogging fun? We learn so much from each other. As we near the end of 2013 and reflect on our lives, take a moment to ask yourself a few things as you wind down from a busy year and get ready for holiday festivities:
1) Are you healthy?
2) Are you happy?
3) Are you in control of your time?
4) Did you travel this year? Were you exposed to new experiences and knowledge?
5) Did you walk by the ocean and reflect on your blessings?
Please take a moment to visit my blog for posts related to all of the above. I believe you will find them beneficial and will provide an opportunity to be reflective about your life.
Author Marthe Troly-Curtin writes that “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Have you looked at your calendar and found absolutely no time for yourself? Have you somehow been left off your priority list? Today is that all important meeting, tomorrow is the day you were asked to do something, the next day you had another obligation, the following day you committed to something else, and the list goes on and on. You know? All those perfectly wonderful things you say yes to or volunteer to or allow yourself to be volunteered for or you simply could not bring yourself to say “no.” You find yourself going here and there until one day you look up and a week has gone by, a month, and finally the year. You feel overwhelmed and downright exhausted, but you pride yourself on being responsible and meeting obligations. Afterall, “it is the right thing to do”, you’re quietly thinking. You like sharing your skills and knowledge. You are kind, caring and helpful, believing that this internal rationalization will make everything alright. Due to this overloaded calendar, your needs have somehow been quashed. Stop! Stop! Do yourself a favor and say “time out.” Determine how to effectively reset. It’s ok to schedule some precious time to do absolutely nothing; it’s also quite reasonable to schedule “you” and all that entails. Sure, being nice and needed and helpful are admirable traits we all should strive to personify. However, only when you have taken care of yourself are you able to be most effective in relationships with others. Take time to organize your calendar to accommodate your lifestyle, paying attention to your needs, as well. Soon you’ll be superbly managing yourself in no time. Tick tock.
Obeyed the speed limit; always careful to use signal lights.
Never texted while driving.
Was a healthy eater.
Stayed on budget.
She always believed that if she lived right, respected people, and “stayed in her lane” she’d live a long and happy life. Her motto was, “Associate yourself with success.”
Sadly, none of this was enough. While driving one rainy night, another driver was distracted by an ongoing cell phone call whose lack of concentration caused a head on collision. In an instant, the lady was gone. Her life had been snuffed from under her. She had been a kind and caring person her entire life. She trusted that humanity was well. She simply trusted. Sadly, the other driver perished also. Once again signifying the perils of driving while distracted.
Do you know her – the kindly lady? Do you know the other driver? Unfortunately, society has come to know the distracted drivers all too well and how they impact life and death. Regrettably, we all know or have heard of these two very different drivers: the careful driver and the careless driver.
It is a call to action for our society to embrace the fact that we have a problem that is of gargantuan proportion. Let’s work to wipe out a problem that can be easily rectified. Let’s do it for her – the kindly lady who left this world far too soon. She had so much more goodness to spread!
Do you enjoy standing by the ocean and feeling peaceful and joyful? Did your child run to your open arms when he saw you coming? Did your spouse call just to say, “I love you?” Did you get some really supportive and constructive comments on one of your blog posts? Did you get a ton of likes on one of your posts? Do you enjoy waking to the sound of rain on a chilly morning when you are feeling cozy and warm in bed? Did your eyes sparkle as you walked with your spouse at sunset? Did your boss give you the day off just because (you worked really hard on a successful project)? Do you feel special when you’re having dinner with a loved one who treats you like you are the most important person in their world? Did the scale register a loss of pounds? Do you feel amazing at the sound of Christmas carols throughout your home as you sit by the warm fireplace while it’s snowing outside and you’re sipping hot chocolate? Are you thankful for family and friends? Did you leave the doctor’s office with a smile because she told you to “keep up the good work?” What makes you happy?
Happiness comes in so many ways. Take time to appreciate your life. I recently paused to reflect on my blessings, and I hope you visit my latest blog post, “ARE YOU HEALTHY?” and read about how precious each moment is. Are you happy?