Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Michael Gard

Artist: Michael Gard

#31 While in Florida, my father and his girlfriend took me to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival in Miami. We spent several hours visiting, admiring, oohing and ahhing the works of over 380 artists showing their wares. I have never been to anything like this before. The quality of the pieces was simply exquisite.

Many of the artists prefer that people do not take photographs, but I did take photos of a few who did not post a sign asking people not to take photos. I did not catch the names of all of the artists, but if you find yourself with a bit of time on your hands and love art, you will find a list of all of the artists and their websites here. I urge you to check out these artists, as they all do beautiful work that inspires the soul to both live a creative life and to work hard to make money to buy their stuff! 🙂

IMG_2655IMG_2654IMG_2649IMG_2650IMG_2661But before I left, I couldn’t help myself and I bought three gems from this place:

Les Plus Beau Village - A photograph by Mike Behr

Les Plus Beau Village – A photograph by Mike Behr (click photo to visit the website)

Beautiful mugs created by Doug Adams (no website)

Beautiful mugs created by Doug Adams (no website)

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#30 – Stuck in Snowstorm Hell

On Wednesday, I arrived at the Ottawa airport, ready for 5 days of hot sun and gorgeous ocean in Florida. It took a lot of effort (and convincing) for me to organize my life in order to carve out a few short days to be able to fly south for a wee break and visit my dad and his girlfriend who have been there for a chunk of winter.

In the days leading up to my fight, people would ask me: “Are you excited?” I would always answer, “Not yet. I’ll be excited when I leave the office and head to the airport.”

Then that delicious moment came. I said my goodbyes to my colleagues at 3:00 Wednesday afternoon and walked away from work for 5 solid days. I was starting to get excited.

I parked my car in the Park ‘N Fly parking lot near the airport, stowed my winter coat and boots safely in the trunk and shivered while I waited for the shuttle to pick me up. It wasn’t long until one arrived and I climbed on. Leaving my car, coat and boots behind makes Florida feel even more real.

The moment I sat down, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the long distance number on the screen but answered it anyway. It was united Airlines. My flight to Newark I was supposed to be boarding in an hour and a half had just been cancelled.

The eternal optimist in me figured there was no need to worry. Surely they would get me there in time to catch my connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale and I’d still be there by midnight.

I stood in line for well over 2 hours only to be told that my flight had been cancelled due to weather. What weather? Apparently storms were expected to roll in around midnight but I’d be long gone by then. But the ticket lady didn’t appreciate hearing my logic that I thought was rather brilliant.

She spent more than a half an hour searching different options for me and settled on getting me to the Washington Dulles Airport, where I’d have to find a hotel and then fly out of Reagan Airport to Charlotte, NC and then Fort Lauderdale in the morning. I could live with that.

I arrived at Dulles and promptly caught a shuttle to a Hampton Inn closer to the Reagan so that I wouldn’t have far to go in the morning. Well! That evening, snow had begun to fall on the city of Washington D.C. and the entire city was in a panic. Seriously. I’m trying not to be judgmental and to remind myself that it’s not Canada but wow! There wasn’t even enough snow to be able to plow anything and yet the people at the airport were all freaking out as was the shuttle driver. He was freaking out yet very impatient when we got caught behind a couple of salt trucks. I wasn’t sure I’d make it to the hotel alive at one point, once he started blaring his horn at a guy in front of us and then making a 3-lane highway out of 2 lanes. But clearly, he got me there in one piece.

It was after 11pm Wednesday night when I arrived in my room. I was shown by staff that just a couple of blocks down the street there were a few restaurants. But it was snowing and my coat was sitting in my trunk in Ottawa. I decided to order in from a local eatery. Turns out, though, that the 2 that were still open had pulled their drivers off the road because of the snow.

I settled for a $3 bag of Doritos from the front desk barely the size of what you’d find in a Halloween bag of treats. It did the trick and got me to morning.

Next day, I will sum up for you very briefly: I spent the entire day in an airport that had no flights coming in or going out. It sucked. It was a miserable day, especially when I started to realize I might have to cancel my trip altogether, as it was looking less and less likely I was going anywhere until Saturday. And I needed to go home Monday.

BUT as my dad’s girlfriend often tells me, I have a horseshoe up my ass. I managed to beg and plead to be put on standby for the one and only flight directly to Fort Lauderdale that day, which was sold out. This was a much better option. If I could get on.

I was #33 on the standby list.

And at 8:00 pm, just a couple of hours after they reopened the airport and after the snow began falling again, a large group of Florida hungry, snow-exhausted passengers gathered at Gate 43, all of us hoping that this flight – one of the very few slated to make it out that evening – would not be cancelled.

As people started boarding and the staff guy was calling names off the list, I stood there, my stomach churning, hoping harder than I’ve hoped for anything in a long time, that I would hear my name.

ERIN KUHNS…My name never sounded so sweet. I got on that plane and sat there patiently, watching them de-ice and waiting…hoping fiercely that it wasn’t a cruel joke and that they weren’t going to force us all off the plane. I watched the snow fall outside my little window and each minute we waited felt like an hour. But then we rolled away from the airport. The flight attendant did her schpeel about seatbelt and air bags. It seemed like it was actually going to happen. Soon after, we started down the runway, faster and faster until we lifted gracefully into the night. The entire airplane erupted in cheers and applause.

We made it. We were actually going to leave the snow and head for the sun.

I really do have a horseshoe up my a$$!

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TrappedAtMyDesk

I saw this on Facebook and when it was finished, I sat speechless for a few minutes, goosebumps running rampant throughout my body. A stark reminder that we must live each day to the fullest, be kind to one another and have no regrets.

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#29 – Confession Time

latteLet’s get this out of the way. I have a confession to make. My close friends know this about me and love me anyway. When I meet someone and tell them this little tidbit about myself, I see their faces twist up into a blend of curiosity and disgust and they don’t know what to do with me.

See, the truth is: I don’t like coffee. I never did and I’m pretty sure that I never will. I love the smell of fresh coffee beans and I’ve always wanted to do like AmĂ©lie in the movie Le fabuleux destin d’AmĂ©lie Poulain and dip my hand into a deep vat of coffee beans just to feel the sensation of thousands of beans swallowing your hands whole. But the taste of it repels me. It’s bitter and harsh and I cannot for the life of me understand why people enjoy it so much. But I accept that I’m an anomaly on this planet and I’m okay with that.

But because I don’t like coffee, I sometimes feel somewhat limited by my choices at places like Starbucks or Bridgehead. Sure, they have a decent selection of teas, but let’s face it – it’s not terribly exciting to go into a coffee house rich with flavours, aromas and choices and order a plain old mint tea.

About as exciting as it gets for me (and trust me, it’s fairly exciting, sadly) is a chai lattĂ©. Love them. And the spicier the better. Every cup of chai in every restaurant, coffee house or home, tastes unique and I love that the blend of spices varies so much from cup to cup. But when I walked into a Starbucks yesterday where I waited for my son who ad his music lesson, it was 5:30 p.m. and far too late in the day for the caffeine laced chai and I wanted something more exciting than a herbal tea but not quite as decadent or sweet as a pumpkin spice lattĂ©. So as I hemmed and I hawed at the counter, the barista suggested I try a vanilla rooibos lattĂ©. I almost said no because it’s unfamiliar and I hate to waste money on something that isn’t a sure thing. But then I remembered that I’m trying to change things up in my world; live on the edge. So my living on the edge for the day yesterday was to try a vanilla rooibos lattĂ©. My body tingled with a little bit of excitement at the thought of having taken such a big plunge as to try something so different, especially since I’d tried a rooibos tea once before and wasn’t so fond of it. But as a lattĂ© with a bit of sweetener in it, I thought it was worth a shot.

So I watched her steam and mix, mix and steam, then she handed the frothy drink to me and I immediately sniffed it. Not bad, I thought. I stirred the tea bag around for a bit and took a sip. I couldn’t quite decide whether I liked the flavour or not.

I found a seat and set it down next to me. I watched the cup carefully, still trying to make up my mind. I sipped it again. It had a distinct flavour that I still can’t put my finger on, mixed with a hint of vanilla. Another sip. And another. I got about a quarter of the way through the cup and my decision had been made.

I’m sticking with the chai.

The vanilla rooibos lattĂ© made its way to the trash. It wasn’t repulsive but I didn’t like it enough to finish it.

So my little challenge to myself resulted in learning something clear: Chai lattĂ© – yum. Vanilla rooibos lattĂ© – not so much.

It may not be trying to conquer Mount Everest (sorry, but you’ll never see that one on my blog), but sometimes trying a new fancy drink is enough to remind me to live outside of what is familiar. Did I waste $4 that day? No, not really. Even though I threw most of that drink out, I felt good that I didn’t let the fear of throwing $4 away stop me from trying something new. These are things I must remember.

Image credit: jannoon028 / 123RF Stock Photo

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#28 – Searching for Peace and Finding Some in Yoga

yoga dogFor a long time I kept telling myself I should do yoga, I should meditate, I should, I should, I should. Then I remembered a self-care poster I once read: “I will not should on myself today.” Too true.

So instead of walking in the Land of Shoulds, I waltzed into Pranashanti, a peaceful, inviting yoga studio in Ottawa. I had taken yoga before – years ago – but it felt like I was starting from scratch nevertheless.

That was in the fall and here I am months later and my colleague and I almost never miss our weekly lunch hour class. And every week when we walk out the door of Pranashanti, we gush about how much we love our class, how fantastic our teacher is and how glad we are that we attend this class every week. Because believe me, it’s often tempting to skip it, simply because there’s too much work to do. But we both see the enormous value in going and it does help that we nudge each other if we become too tempted to let our work bog us down.

As the weeks go by, I have become more and more in tune with the yoga spirit. I’m not going to get all “woo-woo” on you but I am finding that my body and mind are really doing well with the whole stretch-om-pose yoga thing. I have been pretzelfying myself into poses such as Geckko pose and still coming out of it in one piece. When we mediate at the end of the class, I’m coming closer to calming my mind. Still not there yet, but it’s coming.

When starting something like this, I don’t know about you, but I need to ease into these things. I can’t just sign up for a class 3 days/week right off the bat. For me, that’s a recipe for failure. But now that I’m settled into my one class a week, I have just signed up for another one, which takes place one evening a week just 5 minutes away from my house. Living in the middle of nowhere, this is no small thing.

So now I find myself taking yoga twice a week and there is definitely room in my calendar, my mind and my body for more. So taking on this one challenge of trying a yoga class has really been great for me. I will continue with my lunch hour yoga class for the foreseeable future and frankly, already couldn’t imagine my week without it.

dog yoga 2
Image credit: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo

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#27 – A Precarious Moonlit Walk

Around 8:30 this evening I rolled into the driveway after a long – but good – day in the city. When I put my car into park, it slid a bit. So I moved it forward and tried again. A bit more skidding. I moved it to the flattest spot on my skating rink I call a driveway, then, satisfied it wasn’t going to roll into the pond, I closed it up.

When I got out of the car, I was stunned by the beauty of what I walked into: a full moon bathing snowy fields and bare trees in a brilliant light that even Hollywood couldn’t replicate. Then my dogs slipped and slid their way over to greet me and we made our way inside. I fed them but didn’t take my coat off. I was longing to walk in that moonlight, but the ice that we’ve been dealing with after a recent thaw doesn’t make it terribly appealing.

But when the dogs finished their dinner, I just couldn’t resist and decided to take that icy walk in the moonlight, though it occurred to me for a brief moment that if I had a football helmet, this might be a good time to stick it on.

So the dogs and I headed out. Slowly. As I headed up my long lane way, I took small, deliberate steps, creeping along the subtle trail of gravel that was left by the sand truck last week but had become covered in several days worth of water and ice. I was in constant awe of how bright this tiny little corner of the world was so many hours after sunset. These goregous moonlit winter nights really make magic out of these otherwise dark and cold months.

I stopped in the maple grove a little ways down the lane, surrounded by hundreds of bare trees that seemed to dance in the moonlight. I felt like I was being hugged by life. The dogs had run up ahead of me, probably as happy as I was. And then I heard it – the happy yips and howls of the neighbourhood coyotes. Does it get any better than that? Standing among trees on a moonlit winter night being serenaded by coyotes? My dogs had stopped to listen as well and then promptly ran back to me (without my saying a thing to them) and stood right by me – Bubba leaning against me; my protector. Kokwa, though she loves me fiercely, has wimpier intentions and she clearly just wanted to head home. So after listening to the singing coyotes and then the response from a different pack in another direction, the dogs and I slowly and carefully made our way back to the house.

I almost didn’t go for that walk tonight because of how the ice can make me feel so vulnerable, which is frankly, not a very comfortable feeling. But I am so glad I didn’t let that stop me, especially since I had to walk slowly, with intention, and by doing so, I was able to enjoy this special evening in a way that I might not have enjoyed had I been able to stroll along like I usually do.

Now I just have to make sure this isn’t the only (precarious) moonlit walk of the season.

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#26 – Making it down a hill on cross-country skis without wiping out

This might not be a big deal for some but it’s a huge deal for me. I’m not a cross-country skiing expert (far from it) but I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. It’s kind of like swimming for me – I quite enjoy it, I can get along but never had any formal training and my technique is, well, I have no technique. I just ski. But that also means that when I have to get from the top of a hill to the bottom, there’s a bit of praying that I reach the bottom without breaking anything that goes on before that final push.

I’m fortunate enough to have groomed trails outside my door where I can ski through the fields and forests with my dogs running alongside me.

On one recent ski, I came upon this embarrassingly small downhill leading to a curve. Every time I try this hill, I land in a pile of arms, legs and skis. This time was no exception.

But then I came to the final hill – a much bigger one – and was determined to figure out a way to get down without a crash landing and I figured it out! I knelt down on one knee and used my hands for balance. I glided down the entire way with elegance and class. For a moment, I worried I might land in the creek at the bottom of the hill, but fortunately, I did no such thing. Instead, I slowed to a stop without so much as a wobble. This technique is probably non-existant in the skiing world, but it worked for me and I can’t wait to try it again.

 

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