Life's Sweet Journey

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Me, My Story and the Face I Show the World

I actually fell in love with the following quote a while back, but in running through my thoughts on today's Blogtember prompt (the real you vs. the online you. Are they the same or different?) and if I felt and urge to share on the subject I thought this was a perfectly fitting time to share it... 
While the tone of this quote may not seem all that light and happy there is something about it that resonates so much with me. I think, that for me, blogging is a place to share my thoughts, my heart and my passions. It's also not that I truly believe my story isn't sweet. Many parts of my story are so sweet it makes my heart ache, but there are other parts that make my heart ache because they are in stark contrast to any of the sweeter moments. It's the mix of all of that, the sweeter moments and the salty, darker ones that make stories so intriguing to me. It's the truth and reality of life that really catch me as a reader and so I hope that I can offer the same for whoever comes across this space and decides to dig in for a while. I want to be myself fully. So for me, I think I am pretty much that- fully myself- both on and off of this blog. 

If you met me face-to-face, over coffee or while sitting down to lunch, you would learn quickly that I am a pretty open person. You would learn that I'm spastic and a bit all over the place. This blog has been the same. I think when I first started this space I had plans to gloss over some of the rougher parts, to make the things I shared more uplifting and fun, but life isn't always like that and for me I had to share all sides of my story. The folly, the blunders, the dreams and the accomplishments. 

I know that every blog I read may not be the same. There are niche bloggers, with a style that must fit the personality that were established under. Sometimes I think maybe I should have pick a niche and go with it. But then I realized that just wouldn't be me. I can't stick to one thing in "real life" so why try to keep up with just one path here. 

This space flows pretty much the way the pace of my life off the computer flows. When there isn't much going on I don't write as often. When something happens that makes me passionate enough to share it with others over coffee I usually have to write the feelings out at some point or I can't sleep so I may as well put them here. When I get overly excited my voice will get more high pitched in person and I have realized in blog translation that means I just ramble on and on, use tons of parentheses (because I just can't keep my side notes to myself) or I share the high voice on here anyways with a vlog (yes I am talking about Flo). I share the sadness, the broken moments, the laughter and the joy, tears, fears and every spectrum of emotion. I share them because that's life to me, all of it together in on beautiful mess. 

Are there things I don't share? Sure! There may not be many things, but there are some. They are the things I don't share with just anyone. They are the things I reserve for God or Babe or my best persons. 

But all in all, I think I would say I am the same person in blog land and off. And I am happy about that. To hide part of myself from the world is like hiding part of myself even from me. I want to be open- to be open to all of the stories and all of the truths that make me who I am. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Blogtember: Sunday Currently

 reading: The School for Good and Evil: The Last Ever After; this has been such a great series. It is a tween novel series, but it is absolutely wonderful for adults with an adventurous, fairytale heart. 
writing: This post. 
listening: to Once Upon a Time on Netflix. I'm halfway through season 4 and as much as I want to binge watch I am trying to make it last. 
thinking: about Friday's adventure with Babe! We explored Fort Christmas and then hiked at Orlando Wetlands Park. It was a great day. The hike was warm, with not a lot of shade, but there was a lot of wildlife and the scenery was great. There are all kinds of different combinations of hikes you can take, so you can spend the whole day hiking or just take a short stroll. On Fridays and Saturdays they will also take you on a golf cart ride if you would prefer to see the beauty with less of the walking. They begin the rides around 9am and end around 3.
smelling: The Chipotle we just shared for lunch. 
wishing: That weekend could last just one more day! 
hoping: To be more productive this week and actually get serious about my goal to get more organized! Organization and this girl definitely struggle! 
wearing: Unfortunately not my new favorite tank. I got the most epic shirt for our hiking adventures, but then realized I may adopt it as my all the time shirt. It reads, "Just a wizard girl living in a muggle world took the Hogwarts train going anywhere." I sure do love me some Harry Potter and Journey. Don't stop believin' in magic and dreams! 
loving: the men in my life. The week started off with the delivery of my new galley table for the kitchen, made by my sweet father-in-law. Then on Tuesday I accompanied my dad to a dinner to celebrate Turning Point of Central Florida's 20th anniversary dinner to honor the years they have dedicated to helping those in Orlando battle recovery. What my dad failed to tell me when he invited me to dinner was that he would be speaking the closing remarks. It wasn't until I read the program for the dinner that I realized the reason he was doing so was because he is the Vice President of the Board for the program. I am so blessed to have two such humble, wonderful men in my life.
wanting: A nap! I am pooped today! 
needing: To get ready for work, but my motivation level is very low today. I am thinking today is going to be one of those 'through-yourself-together-in-5-minutes' type of day. 
feeling: nostalgic! I was looking for pictures for an earlier post this week and stumbled upon a whole bunch of pictures of my sister, nephew and I from 10 years ago. He was such a little bean! Then on Babe's and mine adventure on Friday we were driving backroads and he was pointing out all the roads he used to mow when we were first dating. It was crazy to think about where we started and where we are now.  
clicking: Through Florida travel websites to plan our next big adventure with Flo!!! Just two more weekends!! 

Wishing you all the most glorious and fun-filled of weeks!!
Our view from the golf cart tour! 
Linking up for a little Sunday Currently during Blogtember

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ode to 17 Year Old Me Then and Now

I am excited to finally be jumping on the Blogtember train! I knew I wasn't going to try to blog my way all the way through, but there were certain prompts that caught my eye. Today's was the first one that really jumped out at me, mainly because I had actually done something similar when I first started this blog. I thought it would be neat to go to the beginning of it all, see where I started, where I was at during that time in my life and where things have come. 

Today's prompt asked us to write a letter to our 16 year old self and while my original letter was to my 17 year old self I figured it was close enough that I could break the rules a little (I have been known to do that from time to time, just ask 17 year old me). I figured I would share my original post and then build on the letter with what I have learned in the 2.5 years since it was written. The original letter (or ode really) read as follows... 
Ode to my 17 year old self
You think life is only going to exponentially get better and you think adulthood is some fairytale; Ha! Try again; life ain't no joke kid.  

You think that you will go off to college, be wild and crazy for awhile and then settle down; Ha again! You stay in your hometown for college (something you swore you would never do) by choice, you will get married as soon as college is over, after having spent the majority almost all of your college life acting as if you already were. 

You think that after getting married you will start a family right away and all will even out and be as it should; Ha ha!! You actually partake in some of that crazy college-like life that you didn't have about a year after getting married and realized that while fun, life happened as it should, you personally didn't miss out on much and had you actually done said "full-blown-crazy-college-life" you would not be where you are (God knew what He was doing).  You will also realize that as much as you assumed jumping right into having said baby would be a wonderful idea you had to learn to be a good wife first. Good wives set good examples for children down the road (or so you are now assuming). And you now know to think, "Life as it should be? What does that even mean?"

You will not even think about the things you will have lost along the road to where you are; please make sure you have told the people you love how much they truly mean. 
You will find comfort in the fact that you think she knew how much you loved her, but it will not make missing her all the time any easier. 
You think that things have gotten as bad as they can get with issues involving your brother; I am really sorry (for him and you and everyone) that that is just not true.  There is grace thrown in there though. You will learn how to play your part and when it is time to just bow out and realize that the best help you can give is to not try to fix everything.  You will learn to focus more on yourself and the things in you that need fixing. 

You assume that because you have stayed on a pretty good path you won't be tempted by anything "bad"; Oh contrare.  You just realize that temptation takes on different faces and while at 17 you would have never considered certain things "bad" they can still be just as damaging to your world if you let them be. 

You think that there may be the possibility of marrying the man in the picture next to you; yay for you! This one actually worked out for you (though there were times, due to your own ignorant head, that you could have wrecked everything).  Thank heavens the person next to you was already well on his way to being a stable, level-headed man and not some dumb boy who would have actually let you let yourself just walk away. 

You never think about how much said man in the picture will teach you; Oh my dear young soul; things; profound things (and not just laundry).  Remember to be thankful for him and not to take him for granted.  You do it far more often than you should; stop!

Oh the list of things I could continue to tell you about yourself and who you were and who we have become.  We are still changing.  We do not like change by the way (at least for right now), though I think I remember you did (does that mean that 26 year old you is scared of 17 year old you? Oh help us, maybe it does).  So I guess for now that is all I will leave you with, but please remember to be grateful always.  You have never had it all that terrible (and that is an immense understatement). 
Oh the feels I get when reading that now. There is so much that has changed and at the same time so much that hasn't. I think the biggest things I would add are... 

At 17 you don't know how broken the world can be, you had glimpses, but nothing to prepare you for the utter destruction that can hit a heart this side of Heaven. But you also don't know strength. Not yet. But you learn it, you watch it. You watch yourself and others pick up pieces that can't fully even mend on this Earth, but you pick it up at carry it. You carry yours, you carry others, and others help you lighten the load. You learn that this world is full of things that can trip you and take you under, but you learn that is also so very full (full to the brim) of Grace and Love and a community of people who understand that we need to have one another's backs in order to make life work well. It's the same community of people who supported you and shielded you as you grew. But now you are old enough to help them with that burden, a burden that becomes lighter as you work together. 

At 17 you don't know what losing a sibling can do to the inner workings of someone. But unfortunately you learned. You know that it can shift so many things inside your soul, but that you can still stay the same person all at the same time. You know that it can take you to the darkest of places, but that through that darkness there is a Light that only grows stronger in weakness and that shines in a different way now. 

You still take that boy next to you for granted too much, but there's a deeper appreciation for the man he is and the way he helps you follow your dreams! Praise the Lord you are learning to get a few things right in your old age. The man God gave you as a partner is so much better than you could have ever dared dream for, you've learned that along the way and you are still reminded of it all the time. He has taken the turns of life with you, the changes to your heart, and loved you solidly through it all. He has supported new dreams and held your hand as you worked through letting go of old ones. He, and your day-to-day life together, is your biggest adventure to date, don't ever forget that! 
Oh and guess what?! You have learned to embrace change! In fact, in some ways you have returned to your 17 year old adventurous soul. When your whole world changes in an instant you kind of have to roll with it. And you literally are. As in you bought an RV and plan to take the open roads by storm. You are dreaming of crazy things now, of changing the path your adult self had planned for your life. It's doubtful that you will really change it completely, but you aren't afraid to anymore. It's freeing really. You aren't as afraid of risks and change (part of you still thinks you should be), but instead the idea just incredibly excites you. 

And on that note I guess we will check back in in another 2.5 years. As which point this blog post will need to be written into a novel because it has just gotten way too long... 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fort De Soto Camping and Egmont Key Great Florida Parks

Get outdoors and explore the beauty of Florida's parks at Fort Desoto and Egmont Key!

Happy Friday Folks!! This past weekend we had our first maiden voyage from home with Flo in tow! We managed to snag a last minute camping spot at Fort Desoto, a county park in Pinnellas. From there we were also able to explore the beauty of Egmont Key State Park.

I have decided to embrace the idea of blog videos and thought I would start what have now been dubbed, FloRida Road Talks! I figured videos would be a great way to share highlights from our trips and let you know what things you might want to see and what things to you may want to avoid. In this case there wasn’t much to avoid, except for our first try at a campground. But the rest of our trip was pretty spot on with what I had envisioned for Flo’s first big adventure (a warning that it is a little long, so if you would prefer to just watch the sweet little critter snippets of fun, they are at the end of the video)…

Let me first apologize for the thousands of ‘ummms and ‘likes’ that I used! This is all still a learning experience and those are my go to nervous fillers! I thought briefly of doing another when we got home, but then I thought, "no, that's what Flo is for! She is for the freedom to grow and learn and to be free to just be yourself!" So it stuck!

Also, if you are wondering where our first campground was it was Vacation Village. It was a nice place, with a pool, shuffle board and a rec room with pool tables. It was nicely kept and maybe if it hadn’t been our first big adventure we would have just rolled with it. But with it being literally right off the interstate and on a main road, with the ability to see into the apartment that bordered the park it just wasn’t the fit for us. But you may prefer to have lots of amenities nearby. We wanted more of a ‘back-to-nature, different-than-home’ experience. I will just need to look further into the Encore parks so that we know more about where we are staying next time we use our free days. They have their own island in the Keys so that will probably be where we chose to go. Anyone have any experience with the Thousand Trails/ Encore resorts?

Fort De Soto Campground

We had heard that the Fort De Soto Campground was nearly impossible to get into without booking months ahead. Somehow we got lucky! The sweet lady who let us borrow her canoe said that happens. She said that people book months in advance but then when they realize they can’t actually go that weekend they will call and cancel. She said if you just keep calling that you often get lucky. So just know that is an option. Or you could just wait until day of like we did (maybe not the best choice but hey, sometimes things work out). I seriously felt like we had won the lottery!

Booking a Ferry to Egmont Key 

The ferry we booked to Egmont Key State Park is the only one that runs out of the Fort De Soto Park, though they aren’t actually affiliated with the park itself. They have two departure times, but sometimes the return trips change. It was advertised that they have return options at 2, 3 and 6. However the day we went there was only one return trip at 2:30. This depends on weather forecasts and season. So check ahead! 

Things to Know for Egmont Key State Park

If we had better prepared we would have probably gone earlier had we known 1.) how nice it would be and 2.) that there would only be one return trip that day. The crew was great; friendly and informative, and we couldn’t recommend it more. They prefer cash (though they will take credit cards), but I hadn’t thought to make sure we had extra cash to tip the captain. I would recommend making sure you have a few extra bucks cash - or if you end up buying something aboard the ferry (chips, snorkel gear, lunch, etc.) then you can pay with a credit card and add a tip for them that way!

Our experience really was great! We loved Fort De Soto camping and Egmont Key was a great state park. We will be back for sure!
Egmont Key State Park

And just for giggles – or for those of you who, like me, might be challenged with assisting in backup of large machinery - here is a video courtesy of the man who doesn’t like to be on the camera often! Yet, for someone who prefers to be behind the scenes wheel, he doesn’t seem to mind as much when he is “teaching” me the proper etiquette on all things hauling and work related!

Things I learned from videos this go around
1.) Be more planned out so as to avoid taking up time with the words um and like. If I had put them all together in one long um and like compilation I'm betting it would take up over a minute of the video (sorry folks)!! 
2.) Condense!! I am a talker and I love little extra blurbs, but it doesn't mean everyone else does. And it makes the video reeaallyy long- again sorry!! 
3.)  Don't sweat the learning process! Like any new thing it takes time and practice, so give yourself the grace to make mistakes and learn on the go! 

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you find yourself adventuring soon!!
Canoeing Fort De Soto Park

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September Currently

Can y'all believe it is already September?! I can't! But I am looking forward to all things Fall and some cooler weather! 
I am joining in for a little September Currently fun with Jenna and Anne!
Reading- I am actually currently listening to a book on Hoopla. I am not usually one for books on audio. I much prefer the feeling of a book in my hand, where I can breathe it in and turn the pages. There is something therapeutic about it to me. It is also the reason I am an opponent of Nooks and Kindles. However, we were supposed to read The Good Girl for our book club and I thought I had an extra week, but surprise (or more so my inability to understand time) it was tonight! So yesterday I downloaded it (for FREE!!) and got to speed listening. I've been listening in the car, in the tub, in the bed, around the house... and it's actually pretty nice! The book is pretty good too. It is told from a lot of different perspectives and times, which I don't typically like as much, but maybe the different voices over audio help with that! I would definitely say it's worth a read (or a listen).

Making- Nada! Well, does popcorn count?! Babe was out of town so that usually means I sit around, eat popcorn for dinner every night and watch Harry Potter! What I need to be doing is making a list of things to do to get this house in order. Maybe I will start now, but then again, that's doubtful!

Pinning- Things and plans for Flo! This is one that I am thinking of getting and framing for above the bed...
Anticipating- Flo's first road talk video! I decided that one of the best ways to share some of the places we go, with all of you, was through videos. That idea led to plans to talk through our adventures on our way home. I dubbed these videos, FloRida Road Talks. And while I was excited about the idea, I think I was so nervous for the first one that I didn't realize how many times I used "um" and "like" and rambled on. In hindsight it was a lot. I am not sure yet if the first road talk will make it's way on to this space, but part of me also thinks it would be neat to just add it and see how the first video compares to ones 'down the road' as I learn more with each new one. We will find out one way or another when I post about our trip to Fort De Soto! 

Loving- I am loving the new look of Pick Your Plum!! If you have never heard about this site, it is a great place to find super great stuff at even greater prizes (yes, there's just a lot of greatness going on)! I love my new adventure necklace - at least that's what I call (it gives me a Hunger Games vibe for some reason) and I love checking in on some of the sweet deals they have. I figured with all the love going on I would share so of my finds with you. I am giving away one of the necklaces (all wrapped up and new, since the one pictured it mine) and a pocket 'Bucket List' notepad in honor of the bucket list I am still working my way through putting together.
Good luck and happy September!!