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.
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.
Just to share the beauty of nature in its stages of new growth, peak of life and the aging process. How it coexists naturally to bring beauty and depth to our surroundings. Much the same way that families welcome their young, nurture their youth and cherish their elders – all coming together naturally and beautifully to ensure continuity of life.
About 5 years ago I wrote a whimsical blog on Maps. At that time maps were synonymous with adventure, excitement and wonder for me.
They represented places I’d lived, places I had explored when I had not a care in the world, places I had visited with my boys opening their eyes to everything exciting and new – different cultures and languages – giving them a taste of what this wonderful world has to offer. So many memories of good times, with family and friends. So much to look forward to in the years to come. A bucket list that was getting longer and longer.
Fast forward to today and this Map has turned into a scary sight. Many borders closed to non-nationals. People isolated in their own countries fearful of venturing outside of their bubble. Instead of awe and excitement, it represents fear and trepidation. It is filled with numbers and statistics and I wait ever so patiently to be reunited with my family. To meet my grandchildren for the first time. To let them know that Grandma is more than just a funny face on the other side of the IPad. That you can hug her and kiss her in person. That all your screen kisses will one day be accompanied by the biggest warmest hug ever. That there’s more to your Grandma than clapping hands or reading books. That together we can explore this world and build memories that will last a lifetime.
That light at the end of the tunnel is ever so faint. Yet I keep it in my sight, knowing that one day it will be the brightest light in my universe.
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.
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.
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
Freedom to chat with my children and grandchildren whenever they call
It sounded like a cool vacation-type day, exploring the coastline, dreamily driving through the quaint villages, stopping to take some pics, experimenting with the local cuisine, and finally dipping your toes in the ocean, relaxing on some secluded beach sipping on your favourite beverage. Life in the tropics.
That’s one way to tour Tobago – Trinidad’s charming sister isle. But I met a bunch of determined, strong-minded, never-give-up, leave-no-man-behind kind of tourists, who took Tobago by storm – on their bikes. Oh, and I am quite sure there must have been some level of ‘crazy’ in them as well – but that’s another story.
Before the sun could rise, vital supplies were packed, bikes prepped, minds set and off we went. And by ‘we’ I mean, me donned with my camera in a vehicle, and the rest of the group on their bikes (just to be clear). What initially seemed like a cool, slow, leisurely ride around the island quickly turned into a gruelling test of will, strength, preparedness and sheer gut. They pumped their way up and down, up and down some of the steepest hills, with sharp hairpin corners, in the hot midday sun. Stopping only to refuel, regroup and start all over again. Their minds set on the finish line and the oh so rewarding moment when you realise that you have just completed a 102km ride, climbing 2,700m, some sections with a gradient of 15-18%, 5-7 hours of riding your heart out.
I learned a lot on this tour. I learned that your mind is probably your most powerful tool. I learned that your body can endure far more than you give it credit for. And quite unexpectedly, I also learned a few choice words to add to my ever-expanding vocabulary.
Who won? They all won. If nothing else, they won my complete admiration.
The day did end with the ‘sipping on your favourite beverage’ part, near to a body of water. Not to mention the telling and re-telling of the many personal stories of the day. There was laughter, camaraderie, relief and most of all a great sense of accomplishment.
You people are all my heroes.
(I’ve included a short video for those wishing to see the heroes of the day)
Fridays have always been a much-treasured day for me. A day when years ago I would rush home from work, gather up the kids and head to a dear friend’s home, so that the kids could play with their friends and I would have someone to share the week’s ups and downs with – with a ‘drink in hand’ of course.
Then it became the Friday B-B-que night – where I’d prepare all the food, sit back and watch my boys ‘do the B-B-que’ – with a ‘drink in hand’ needless to say.
As the years passed, and work responsibilities increased, not to mention the kids became teenagers, Wednesday became the new Friday – if only because the ‘drinks in hand’ scenario needed to start a bit earlier in the week.
I won’t even go through the Covid times when every day rolled into one and Friday was whichever day you wanted it to be – signalled by the ‘drink in hand’, of course.
With nowhere to be and lots of time to get there however, my Fridays have taken on a new meaning – it’s the wherever I want to be day and I’m loving it.
Over the past few years that I’ve had the privilege of occupying a modest space on our north coast, I’ve witnessed hundreds of hikers brave the Paria trail. It’s not a hike for the faint hearted. It has its fair share of hills which meander gently down to small creeks. Views of the coast tease you from time to time. And the cool breezes that waft through the forest beckon you on to your destination.
It is challenging and well worth the effort. And over the years that my husband and I have trekked the trail for our early morning exercise, I’ve always threatened to take my camera with me. To stop from time to time to truly enjoy the views, the flora, the breezes, the birds awakening, the butterflies flitting.
Now that I have nowhere to be and lots of time to get there….. Guess what…. My camera came for the hike.
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.