Iowa Early Spring Landscape
Note: This post was written for a road trip I took a few weeks ago. It’s interesting how that trip turned out, and though I don’t have a lot of fabulous photos or suggestions for great places to eat to share, I felt what happened and what I learned might be of interest to someone. I believe in the restorative power of road trips, but they can also help us learn a lesson, or two.
I’d planned to take this road trip for a while. There was a special store I really had an itch to go visit, and the drive through the Iowa countryside on a beautiful spring day would give me time alone to really enjoy that delight. But then something happened, and I had to make a choice. Did I need to be there for someone else all day today, or could I find time for me? Would people think badly of me if I wasn’t there? Was I shallow, selfish, uncaring? Not long ago there would have been no contest. Do what everyone else needs was my imperative (as if I even know what they really need). Do what makes others think – “oh, she’s good, reliable, unselfish” – would have felt like my only choice. (Though, actually, who knows what they thought?)
But I’m (slowly) learning a new way. A way to be there for those I love, and to also let them be there for themselves. A way to be there for myself. I’ve been wanting to take this little trip for a long time, just waiting for a lovely day…and it’s here. And, wow, I really DO need to get away for a bit! Being there for everyone can mean not letting myself get out at all. I’m the one who seems to hold it together. But today I’ll go on my own to explore, and feel, and enjoy and create my new way of being. I’ll make Self space. I’ll breathe. I’ll let someone else hold things for a while. I’ll go with love, and I’ll let my sweetheart be with his family. But I will be here for him, in full, in the end because I’ll be full in myself. His pain doesn’t need to be mine, yet I can still help.
I took off for my long-planned road trip about noon, after some angst about going at all. My goal was to take the scenic route to Sisters Garden & Bloom near Kalona, but first, I was hungry. I decided to visit a place I’d been meaning to try, The Cottage Bakery & Deli in Iowa City. They offer takeout only, so I chose some yummy treats and headed to a nearby lake to enjoy a picnic. Such a beautiful day! I enjoyed watching the ducks and the leaping fish. The strawberry almond scone was absolutely delicious. And I can also recommend the tomato cheese bread – yum!
After lunch I took off for Kalona via the back roads, always the best route! I forget how much just driving around the countryside cheers me up and restores me. Iowa is beautiful in a way that comforts and delights. Along the road were farmers in the fields, the Amish in their buggies with such beautiful horses, flowers beginning to bloom, and green, green grass. I recorded a love letter to Iowa in Spring on my phone as I drove. When I figure out how I’ll share that here, but for now think burgeoning, succulent, intense color, feeling the sap rising, and the joy of becoming.
I arrived at my destination to find it all locked up. Yes, that WAS a buzz kill. I’d checked the hours at their Facebook page before I left. And they should have been open based on the hours on their gate too. But best laid plans often go astray, don’t they? Just for fun I like to see if I can figure out why, not in any logical way, but in a “what can I learn from this” way. (And mostly because it beats being pissed off!) I was pretty frustrated. I’d waited for weeks and drove myself crazy this morning debating this outing, and now my proposed reason for coming wasn’t even open! But it came to me that a road trip is never about the destination. If you think that, you’ll often be frustrated. It’s about the trip itself, how it makes you feel to be out in the world. It’s about exploration, not knowing what will happen or what you’ll find. It’s about finding out more about yourself along the way. In that sense this was a spectacularly successful trip! For me it was also about making a choice to follow my intuition about what I needed to do today, and to not follow the old programming I hadn’t even bothered to question for so long.
On the way home I stopped at a store I hadn’t been to before, The Rug Cottage and Barntiques. It’s a cute little country sort of store with some quite beautiful rugs. They have new, vintage, and antique items. I found a treasure or two to bring home, and a gift for my sweetie. Below you can see the few photos I took, but this trip was mostly about just enjoying the ride!
A good road trip is vital for my sanity, and maybe for yours too. I love to engage with the world, meet new people, gain greater perspective, and sometimes I learn a thing or two, as well! This is a new Road Trip series (see the first post here), so I’ll be writing and sharing my travels regularly. Let me know about your road trips below, or at email@example.com.
The Rug Cottage, near Iowa City
Inside The Rug Cottage
Treasures at The Rug Cottage
Pages from My Year book
Welcome to Spring, the second quarter, and more ways to integrate and connect with your Word of the Year! The end of the quarter (or change of a season) is a great time to look back and see how you expressed and lived your Word in the past 3 months. I made a list of ways I’ve flourished since January 1st. This included big steps and small, things I did for fun, scary things – anything that felt like flourishing to me! I collect these activities in a “My Year” book along with other things I do that help me envision and remember my year. Here are some other ways to play with and embody your Word:
- Do a Word photo shoot. This is a lot of fun! Especially now, with the world warming up. Walk around your home, neighborhood, town, favorite park, etc., and find images that speak to you of your Word. Or you can look on the internet, or in magazines, for these images.
- That leads me to the next idea – create a Pinterest or vision board of your Word and how its expression motivates you, or how it feels to you. This is a great visual reminder of what you want to learn and experience through your Word.
- Choose an oracle or tarot card for each month asking a question like:
- What do I need to know about (your Word) this month?
- How can I (your Word) more this month?
- Where am I now with (your Word)?
- How can I embrace (your Word) this month?
- So, for example, using my Word, a question would go…”How can I embrace Flourishing this month?” Then use your intuition to see what the chosen card has to tell you.
- You can look for quotes with your Word in them that inspire you and post them where you can see them. You could make an art project with them too – create a meme, or a painting with the quote on it.
- Write a script about what life is like when you live your Word. How does life look, smell, feel, taste, sound? What do you do more, or less, of? How do your days go? Scripting is a popular LOA practice – for more about scripting look here for Jeanette Maw’s experience.
I like interacting with my Word more than just at the beginning of the year, or when I remember that I’ve forgotten it! Activities like these are fun, and help me to connect with and express what I’m hoping my Word will bring into my life this year. I’m learning more and more about the value of ritual and practice, and how they form a bit of structure to enhance and promote my dreams and plans, I hope these ideas will be of help to you too!
Here’s a link to my first Word of the Year post.
Image by Luis Llerena
Like a runaway train, my mind goes at speed! I wonder what life would be like if I was able to actuate even half of the amazing (or, at times, not so amazing) ideas that I produce. The truth is, in order to make things happen I need something other than speed, something to allow fruition. I need to stop.
Lately, I’ve been practicing suggestions in Deepak Chopra’s book Perfect Weight. The one that has really gotten me so far is eating at a measured pace. Now, I certainly wouldn’t want you all to think I just scarf my food down….but, chewing something fully, and breathing before I take the next bite, has put me in mind of how often I really do scarf my food down, so I can run right on to the next thing. The question that comes up is – why? And I also wonder, if rushing here isn’t such a wonderful thing, where else in my life am I failing to take time to savor, to digest?
Looking at my day I can see I’m taking breaks, but often still rushing. If I’m not zipping from one thing to the next I wonder if I’m doing “enough”. I feel like a time-worrying, breathless Chicken Little “No time, No time!!” And maybe a part of me thinks the sky will fall too if I slow down.
I understand the grace of taking time to really invest myself in a project or event, not thinking of time as I just allow myself to be a part of the process. It’s delicious! I love to celebrate “wins”, small and large, as I move from one project or task to another. But somehow, at some point my old ways of being, my old ways of thinking, my rushing Chicken Little mind jump in and send me off on a fearful chase.
The practice of taking time to chew, taste, look at, and enjoy (or not) my food has been eye-opening for me. I realize sometimes I bite off more than I can chew and that sends me to rushing, but the main issue is I don’t always allow myself the time or space to process things before I move on. It’s true I have a lot to do; it’s true I have many tasks to accomplish each day. But it’s not true that I need to hurry so much that I never acknowledge what I’ve done, or taken in, and give it time to nourish me. And when I feel more time crunched – then I become more time crunched.
I also see how rushing can keep me from taking action on things I really want to do, on big ideas I have. Because, these things take time. Thinking something through, and taking steps, and learning new things all take time. When I feel rushed I don’t always allow myself to invest in all the lovely steps of contemplation, planning, learning, savoring, adjusting, etc.
So my new practice is to savor, be aware of, appreciate, and enjoy my food, but also my life! I’ll complete a thought before I move on to the next (Ha! Well, sometimes.). I’ll breathe before I run to the next thing. I’ll even STOP completely and just take note of where I am right now and celebrate that. What I’ve learned from eating with more awareness is this: I have a greater appreciation of my food and my time, a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t for me; I’ve noticed that there are foods I eat regularly, but I really don’t enjoy them, so I can adjust my eating to be more healthy and enjoyable; and when I invite peace and pleasure to the table I feel much better – rested, fulfilled, nourished on so many levels – not just filled up. This is a delicious investment of time! And these lessons can apply to any area of life where I’m rushing around like a crazy chicken.
When I begin to rush again, and likely I will, I’ll recall these benefits, these lessons, and ask myself what is true. Is it true that rushing will enhance this blog post? Is it true that it will enhance my enjoyment of my work? Is it true I’ll get more done? Is it the kind of “done” that I value?
I know when I slow down things go better, and smoother, and are so much more delicious! Are there places in your life where you would feel much better if you stopped and invested your time to appreciate and enjoy? I’d love to hear about it and cheer you on!