Beauty just around the corner…

We’ve been hiking the Paria Trail for very many years now, enjoying our treks with the rainforest on one side and the waves crashing on the north coast on the other side.  The pelicans and parrots accompanying us on our journey.  A lovely hike with its fair share of challenging inclines.  A trail well-travelled by many an adventure seeker.

And just like that, with a glint in her eye, one of our neighbours living on the trail let out a well-kept secret of a hidden waterfall nearby.  Not far off the trail.  Around some rocks.  Crossing a beach covered in pebbles.  Look to the right and follow the river.  And right there, without any fanfare, a small but pristine waterfall, welcomed us.

Happiness for any hiker.  Clear refreshing pool of water.  A gem found.  Just around the corner.

Turn your week around…

… with a midweek escape.

There are so many simple pleasures in life that we dismiss.  Not enough time.  Too much of an effort.  The weather isn’t so good. Maybe next week. 

Take this on as a challenge.  The next time you have an opportunity to do something different in the middle of the week. Jump at it.  It may turn your week upside down.  It may delay some of your deadlines.  And then again it may not.

I promise you that the time you spend will be rewarded with a great sense of appreciation, relaxation, and accomplishment.  For you would have done something out of the ordinary.  You would have shaken up your routine.  Your busyness will be put on hold for just one day.  And the rest of your week will fly by with a smirk on your face.

Go ahead, I dare you….

Making the most…

So many times we talk about making the most of every day, every moment. I often wonder however what that really means and whether or not I am living a life of ‘making the most’.

There are moments filled with excitement, moments filled with anxiety, love, adventure, sorrow, sheer joy. Those moments filled with the good stuff should be easy to enjoy – and I even wonder if we actually do. And what about the other moments, where we are not sure what to do, where we become angry or are faced with challenges seemingly beyond our control. How do we make the most of those moments that we would rather they just disappear.

When you can make last minute decisions to spend time with family just because. When you can drop what you are doing and drive an hour to your favourite location on the coast and spend a few un-interrupted days with no specific agenda. When you can drop by a friend for a spur of the moment glass of wine. And those times when you can spend the day tucked away in your personal cave reading, watching videos, sewing, creating. When you have nowhere to be and lots of time to get there. Sure it’s easy to make the most.

I firmly believe though that making the most doesn’t depend on the amount of free time that you have – otherwise we would all be a lost cause. When you are disappointed – how do you make the most of that moment. When you are angry, sad, lonely – how do you make the most of those times in your life. How do you make the most of the times you’d rather forget. Moments that probably make up a very large percentage of this short life we have on earth.

If I’ve learned anything in my plus 44+ years, it’s your attitude that pulls you through every single time. It’s the choice that you make every single moment of the day to keep looking forward, to seek the silver lining, to do what you can to fix those undesirable moments, if you can – and if you can’t, you need to work hard to accept those moments and carry on regardless.

It’s not easy to make the most of every moment of our life, but it certainly is worth the try.

Listening to the day end…

At first it sounds quite sad. Listening to the day end evokes a picture of someone sitting alone, maybe lonely, with only the birds, trees, flowers and frogs for company. No talking. Silence.

But even though the image may be somewhat accurate, the sense is quite the opposite. Alone yes, but not lonely. With the birds, trees, flowers and other garden creatures as the only company, certainly, but happy to be among such a simple, forgiving crowd.

And then again, imagine that person basking in the stillness of thought, feet up with a glass of wine, ending an otherwise not so busy day, quietening the mind, body and soul. With the sounds of nature – the dogs across the valley barking at Lord alone knows what, the busyness of the birds getting ready to roost for the night, one or two taking their last share of the seeds left there for them, the buzz buzzing of the night creatures coming alive, the frogs leaving the comfort of the garden beds to venture out for the evening – no one really knows where they are going.

Peace reigns.

As the sun sets, the light casts a glow on the garden that makes the flowers radiant with colour, creating a mysterious sky, but in such a soothing manner that all your muscles relax, your thoughts subside and you focus only on the breeze that caresses your face ever so gently, and the faint hustle and bustle of those poor sods rushing home after a hard day’s work (no offense intended – I’ve been there).

Listening to the day end brings calm, allows you to rationalize your worries, to notice the beauty that surrounds, bringing great anticipation for the beginning of another day to come.

And we can only hope that we will be gracious and grateful for such.

Retirement fun …

My daily sunset view

I have slipped into this new way of life so easily; it scares me.  I guess I was super ready for this phase.  And, as I learned during my years in the corporate world, preparation is key to success.

”Don’t you miss being busy?”  Well, first of all, ‘being busy’ is over-rated.  There is much to be appreciated in just sitting still, enjoying the view, the sounds, the people passing by – emptying your mind and focusing on the now, the person next to you, your grandson making funny noises, having his breakfast or laughing at your silly antics and clapping hands on the other end of your iPad.

Oh, and that afternoon nap.  Who knew that a short half- hour nap on an afternoon could bring such joy – readying you for your quiet enjoyment of the end of the day, watching the sun set in all its glory.

I have time for everything and everyone, mostly.  I have become available – for what I want to do (and this is critical – what I want to do) – and it is empowering.  I am still capable of learning new skills, and this excites me.

Do I miss my former work life? No.  It played a significant role in my growth and development, and I am now onto new and exciting things.

Do I miss my work friends?  Most definitely.  But we’ll catch up some day.

And as I look at my new life unfold; I can only count my blessings…

  • Not having a schedule
  • Getting up early with nowhere to be and lots of time to get there
  • Working in my garden whenever I feel like it and for however long I need
  • Watching the sun set every single day
  • Noticing the wide variety of birds in and around my garden
  • Daytime naps
  • Freedom to chat with my children and grandchildren whenever they call
  • Having impromptu Covid-sanctioned limes
  • Learning new skills
  • Being available to my family and friends
  • That glass of wine

And the list goes on….

On the other side of Covid-19 …

I always try to look at the positive side of life.  It just makes more sense.  And as such, even though Covid has brought many many downsides, I am still standing firm that there has be a bright light at the end of this very long tunnel.  We’ve witnessed many many good things though – with amazing people stepping up and helping within societies and communities, families coming together for the common good – in some instances for the very first time.

I acknowledge that we’ve all lost – family, friends, livelihoods, time with family and friends, education …. and the list goes on and on… but I can’t help believing that there has to be a damn good reason for our pain.

There must be a lesson that we need to learn – that I need to learn.  Otherwise, this dark era will be for nought.

We’ve learned that family and friends are more than just important – they are critical to our well-being.  We’ve learned that our materialistic way of life is worth little at the end of the day.  We’ve learned that we are all in this thing called life, together.  That for one of us to survive, we all need to survive.  That we are social beings who struggle without human contact and interaction.  That as much as technology has got us through this to a large extent, it is not to be revered.  That to get through this our faith is also an important factor.

And none of this is new.  We’ve been given a chance to step back, take a second look at where we were heading, where we truly want to be going, and press that reset button.

Stop.  Don’t yell at me.  I know there are people suffering.  I too am suffering.

But I honestly believe that amidst all of this, if we can just spare one moment, we will all realise that we have a tremendous amount to be grateful for, and that to move forward on a more sustainable path, we need to make some changes.  That coming through that Covid tunnel not only depends on a serious vaccination programme, but on an internal rejuvenation process that each of us must take.

What has the past year and a half taught you.   What have you done without, that you realise is of little significance to your happiness? What blessings have kept you going?

Nurture those things that you realise are important. And get rid of those things that are merely superficial.

We are a village.   A village that is not as large as you believe it to be.  We can do simple things to help the village grow and prosper. Each one of us is a critical spoke in the wheel.

I’ve noticed that within my small circle of family and friends, simple things have kept us together – the sharing of our time – a simple telephone call to check in – sharing our overabundance of fruit, a new recipe, an extra loaf of homemade bread, a not so funny joke.  We have bonded in a way that we may not have if life had remained on its fast-paced track. And I am sure you have too.

As much as I favour the positive side of life, I worry though that this simple life will not last long.  When the world is once again available in all its glory, will I be strong enough to continue to focus on quality vs quantity.  Will I be humble enough to nurture a simple life?

Serenity abounds

Just look around….

With eyes that look for the beauty that surrounds, everything is picture perfect.

My camera has been smiling a lot lately. I recently shared with another photographer friend that I had simply lost my photo-mojo.  Work life balance was challenging.  I was going nowhere that was picture worthy.  My life was one big world wind of work and more work.  He was horrified and fearful that I was spiralling into a depression of some sort.  I had absolutely no desire to think of F-stop, Aperture, ISO – this was becoming so foreign to me.

But today – my camera (my mobile for the moment anyway) and I are once again joined by the hip.  Well let’s just say that the dust is clearing, and we’re rebuilding that special relationship.  There’s that quaint house, the mountains, that view that all make is so easy to snap.

And the beauty of the world is once again high on my radar.

And life goes on …

When you are on holiday, you tend to dismiss the fact that people actually live in the places you visit. And when you do notice that these idyllic places are inhabited, you then wonder what their lives must be like. Where do they live? What do they do in their spare time?

Wondering through Rogoznica it was clear that life was being lived. Meeting up with friends for a drink. Taking the kids to the beach. Fishing on the rocks. Singing to your heart’s content, without a care in world – as I stumbled upon this little boy serenading his dad. Such a pleasure, indeed, to be reminded that people are the same everywhere, well all things being equal at least.

And as I ended my visit to the northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the island of Rogoznica, its simplicity, its serenity and its beauty remain imprinted indelibly on my mind.
(another Saddle Skeddadle journey)

And finally a rest day …

From cycling that is. The beauty and relaxation still full on.

The KrKa National Park is characterized by exceptionally rich and varied flora and fauna. It is home to an amazing waterfall, beautiful walk paths and peaceful views. While we took the ferry up to the waterfall, we decided to return to the town of Skradin on foot – just to keep up the exercise I suppose. But it also gave us the opportunity to enjoy the views missed on the way up.

We ended our day on the beautiful island of Sibenik. Unlike other cities along the Adriatic coast, which were established by Greeks, Illyrians and Romans, Šibenik was founded by Croats and as such has been fiercely defended by them during the many wars that ensued.

Its reconstruction after the final battle in August 1995 is testament to a people proud of their island, proud of their achievements, proud of their history.

(another Saddle Skeddadly journey)

Can it get any more beautiful …

An early morning cruise to Preko took us cycling through to Tkon. An easy cruising ride leaving the port of Preko, serenaded by the sound of what seemed like local opera, made you want to stay just for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee with the locals.

The views were once again magnificent as you crossed from one island to the other. Our coffee stop gave us the opportunity to explore the nearby church – what seems to be a prominent fixture in almost every town we visit. Croats are a deeply religious people and suffered terrible under Tito’s rule when he discouraged outward displays of religion as part of his effort to meld the ethnic identities – no surprise therefore that they lost no time publicly celebrating their Catholic faith when the country declared independence. Amazingly all the churches have a very similar design. It’s almost like ‘Ground Hog Day’ every time I take a photo.

Back on the cruising trail we stopped off in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea. Always so refreshing. And then on to explore the simple quiet island of Zlarin. A much quieter town, we strolled through to the top, picking fruit along the way – figs and grapes – the sweetest I’ve tasted in a long time.

To end off the day, we joined the locals in watching the sun set, with the now expected cool breeze to set the mood.
skedaddle