you’re so lovely, california

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^^ this trip might have been us two {ahem, three} ^^

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^^ and i might have had a whole lot of fun watching that one ^^

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^^ but it really was all about these two ^^

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i can’t even begin to describe how thankful i am that we were able to take these past two weeks to be with our friends. who knows if we’ll be able to do an extended visit like this again any time soon, since both girls will be in school and the new baby on the way might shift life for a while. we coined the term “european visit” last time around b/c europeans always seem to do the extended-length visit. i think they’re on to something. it was a long enough visit to settle into a rhythm of everyday life with just a bit of adventure spice added. i just hope these girls will remember these days.

california is soooo warm and sunny and pretty! i’ve had a bit of a weather shock coming back to below freezing temps this week. and i miss my friends. i want to thank them for making it such a memorable time for us. looove you!

but i am glad to be back in the way that i feel recharged and energized to take on life again. i feel revived by travel and new experiences. in actuality, it might just be the healthy dose of vitamin d. at any rate, i’m ready to take on spring. nesting urges may now commence.

and i’m ready to see all my columbus friends again. it’s time to come out from your hiber-holes, friendlies!

life{dot}next V

i wrote last year about the life{dot}next retreat i attend annually. well we just wrapped up another successful extended weekend and are all now working on our re-entry to the real world. it can be hard to come away from a weekend of feeling propped up and full of hope and ambition to then re-enter the everyday landscape of obstacles, schedules and valid constraints.

i feel this last weekend was very sacred to me. last year i wrote a pretty gushy post and even though i still feel that way, i feel like keeping this last experience closer and intimate. i had an absolutely wonderful time. i know i owe a good deal of my growth to these retreats. i would like to share a few pictures from the retreat to highlight some very good times with some incredible women:

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^^^ a goddess welcome to Anahata Spa & Resort in Desert Hot Springs ^^^
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^^^ and rainbow blessings, too ^^^
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^^^ set up for a calligraphy exercise ^^^
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^^^ calligraphy invocation ^^^
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^^^ stereotypical southwestern karaoke bar, complete with fried food and champagne bucket ^^^
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^^^ the lovely lady-blur of 25 females enjoying themselves at dinner ^^^
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^^^ our only sunny opening circle of the retreat ^^^
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^^^ saying good-bye to a view that left me feeling majestic and charged all weekend ^^^

weekending

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we made it. it was a whirlwind trip of driving 10 hrs friday and then again sunday. things were hairy for a bit but mostly it was a great, grand adventure.

see i have this theory about arkansas. my theory is that it’s the first state people forget is part of the united states. when people heard i was going to a wedding in arkansas most said “ooooohhhh yeah, arkansas. it exists!” ok, not really but that’s what i read from facial expressions and body language. but i was very pleasantly surprised by the town of hot springs where we spent the weekend for my baby cousin’s wedding.

this weekend i hiked a mountain in my boots and lipstick because i felt like it. i touched the dreamy, warm mineral waters in hot springs national park. i spent time chasing peacocks with my darla in a park that felt like i was visiting the elvish realms of middle earth. i visted with family. i hope you can tell by my writing how much i enjoyed these novel experiences.

in the name of transparency i’m going to put it out there that darla gave me a real run for my money this weekend. i don’t think you’re supposed to travel while mercury is in retrograde. i don’t think you’re supposed to travel with a willful 4.5 year old while mercury is in retrograde anyway. communicating with darla was difficult at times. bedtimes were late, candy and sweets were plentiful and well, it was travel, so those were all things throwing my little girl for a loop. the majority of the time she was sweet and loving but then something would come along and send her into a funk. i felt like i was living in a nursery rhyme: there was a little girl, who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead…

i’m not sure if i handled things well most of the time. in fact i know i didn’t handle things well at certain times. darla is almost 5 years old and i feel like i should have some concrete answers on how i should handle situations with her but i am still at a loss. is it like this always? like until they’re 18 and fly off on their own?

i also have to admit that this trip rekindled my desire to be a rubbertramp. plans and schemes have been forming in my head about spending months on the road, discovering places just like hot springs. there is so much of america i have yet to see and i’d really like to have a road adventure with my family.

maybe some day you’ll be reading a blog post about that ;-)

road trip

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i’m blogging from the road!! don’t worry i’m not driving. we’re on a 9 hour trip and so far so good. darla has a whole bag of tricks that i’m praying get us through the day. d’s a pretty darn good travel partner though.

and me, i’ve just got my hat and a couple good books. that’s all i need.

ARKANSAS OR BUST!!!

story bored

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and here’s a post where i write about something i’m really passionate about.

you may or may not have read my last life{dot}next retreat post. irregardless, you should know that i’ve been counting down the months until i’d be able to attend my next one. it’s set to begin 2.26.14. i am beyond stoked.

these retreats have been lifelines to me. i started attending them when i was beginning to believe that maybe following my dreams was out of my reach. i had begun to think that others got to follow their passion but not someone like me. the life(dot)next retreats helped me believe in myself and trust in my path again.

the community and conversation of the retreats help me think about the possibilities of my life. they’ve helped me to see life with more potential as i get older, not less.

and i’m going to admit to the fact that i’m still a little bit in denial that very soon the sun is going to disappear from my life for months and i will exist in a grey haze that is ohio for winter so taking off for someplace that is 80 and sunny just when i’m about to go bat shit crazy from it all sounds rather appealing, right?

the theme of this retreat is Flexing the Story. as soon as i heard that i was in. this is something i’ve been working on personally for some time. life is all about the stories we tell to ourselves and other people. when i focus on telling myself positive stories { i.e. yes, you can do this. you are smart and capable of figuring anything out as you go } my life is much smoother than when i tell myself negative stories { i.e. other people may follow their dreams but not you, elaine }. i really want the tools that this retreat will give me to further craft my story.

ladies, if you’ve been looking to get an inspiration infusion in your life then consider the retreat. if you think the retreat sounds wonderful but not your cup o’ tea then take a minute to square up against what is holding you back from doing something of this nature. consider it again. take a leap for the sake of growth. do you wanna come?

maybe you think the retreat sounds like a grand adventure, just not for you? then sponsor me! 

i know. i just panhandled. but seriously, someone should sponsor me because this momma is flat broke. partial donations will be accepted!

because, guess what. i’ve been following my dreams just like the retreats told me i should and in this world that comes with a price. i’m looking at it as an investment at the moment: very few returns in the beginning but a big payoff in the long-term.

getaway

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in case i hadn’t sufficiently rubbed it in your face that we spent the first couple of days this week in the woods, communing with birds and spirit animals then here is a whole entire post dedicated to just that.

i was having myself a time. my sweet mother joined us so this meant i was afforded some alone time and i spent it in the woods, in glorious natural woods. i feel i really need to make an effort to spend more time doing this. i really have no excuse since there are so many parks and green spaces in and near columbus. i take darla to the parks a lot and we do go on hikes but i don’t make alone time to do this and i think i really need it. my brain kept tapping into some of my most cherished memories as a child which always involved some camping trip in the woods or a stay at scout camp. i could feel how my brain operates differently in that setting. most of the time i feel like my brain takes in way too much information and i can’t focus in everyday life but in the woods my information inundation has a purpose. i feel like my vision is in panorama view the entire time. it feels right. i mean, i saw a spirit deer for cryin’ out loud.

i enjoyed little quite moments of solitude that left me yearning to make a solo cabin trip someday soon. nothing too long but maybe a 2 day excursion to the woods to have myself a walden weekend. please universe?

my daughter on the other hand had a different experience. this cabin had 3 tvs in it. 3 TVS!!! i was hoping this would be a break from television but it wasn’t for her. that’s how she chose to spend her time. can you see her up there in that last photo fighting the forest? because that’s what she said she wanted to do. i think darla may not be as much of a nature-girl as i am. and that’s ok….i guess. maybe she’ll come around but i know i wasn’t as focused on television and electronics at her age. i wanted to be outside, up in a tree, at the creek or in the woods. it makes me sad for her that she’s not getting to know the freedom of a rural childhood.

but she’s got her own thing going on. like turning party hats into unicorn horns that she has to use to impale a bull to the moon. i have the visual arts to thank for that.

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so, i’ll be carrying a little bit of the natural world around with me until i can get back. and next time we’ll be renting a cabin without 3 tvs.