This is How We Travel

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With the minivan packed and ready, and ourselves prepared, we set off at about six in the morning. Normally we would leave earlier, but we left on a Sunday so traffic across Toronto wasn’t too bad. Coffee was of course our first need and we stopped about ten minutes into our journey to fuel ourselves. We had already decided to take the I75 route so our border crossing was at Sarnia. The weather forecast was checked at least twice a day before leaving so we could avoid potential storms, we had our emergency gear handy that included snacks and blankets. We were ready!

No one told the weather station though, that there were whiteout and bad road conditions on the 401 at London. Most of the way only one lane had been plowed and not very well at that. We saw a number of cars off the road, driving too fast for conditions, they had simply slid right off the highway and the shoulder and down a slight incline. I think this is a good time to thank the person who invented the cell phone as those we passed were standing beside their cars, cell phones in hand, no doubt calling for a tow truck. Strangely enough once we turned off that highway and onto the 402 to Sarnia, the weather cleared, there was no snow at all and it was clear sailing through to the border.

One never knows what will happen at the border. We’ve been pulled aside to have our vehicle gone over carefully by the border guard, one time we had our van packed so full that the guard decided to not even open the side door for fear that something would fall out. This time the young fellow asked no questions other than where we were headed, he scanned the passports and sent us quickly on our way. I was honestly surprised because I thought, with the new, incoming  administration, we would be in for a hard time. Ah preconceived notions.

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The rest of the trip was pretty easy. We stopped overnight in Kentucky, a state I do think is quite lovely. One of these days I’ll convince the hubby to stay a couple of extra days there so I can see Lexington and perhaps some horse farms. Whizzing by on the highway just doesn’t do it. I want a meaningful stop and tour. But the drive was clear and we sailed on through to Kentucky before we had to eat and rest.

After a seven o’clock breakfast we hit the road again, determined to make it to our destination and we did! I spent three hours on the phone but managed to book our time share for a few nights so we could get the electricity turned on and stock up on a few groceries. The timeshare is about half an hour away from our mobile home, so we could go & clean and stock the cupboards.

And now we’re here, ready to start relaxing – well not really. We have quite a bit of work we want to get done!

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But We Just Moved!

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One week after moving into our sweet little apartment, it’s time to begin our winter sojourn to our little mobile home in Florida. Crazy I know but we really don’t like the winter cold anymore and go to great lengths to avoid it. This season the plan was to travel south in November, the high cost of medical insurance and having just found our apartment, it seemed better to wait again until January. Next year I’ll be a better planner, at least I’ll try but, like most New Year’s resolutions, that too might not make it. Ah well; we live in hope.

With just about everything I own still in boxes, I started my vacation packing with the most obvious, clean out my purse. Most people I know wouldn’t consider it essential but when we travel, my purse turns into the repository of everything from passports to gas receipts. Add in a wallet containing American money and my regular Canadian money wallet and my small case for holding all cards, my cell phone, some headache tablets, keys for Florida and home and you can see that it gets really full, really fast. Occasionally I also have to carry the hubby’s wallet and keys also. He complains about the hard time I have finding things once in a while but, he too would be lost without my purse. Now that task is complete, I can move on with the rest of the packing. Clothes and toiletries of course as well as food that would rot if left here for a couple of months and what I consider kitchen essentials that travel everywhere with us. We learned last year that Florida is not always hot and sunny, sometimes it’s not even warm, so a few extra long sleeve shirts and a couple of sweaters were added this year.

We’ve made this trip quite a bit over the years so we basically know how to get to the sunshine state, but I gave the hubby a gps device for Christmas in the hopes it would be good to have for any little side trips we may take. The darn thing still isn’t programmed, we have pages of instructions to follow online and I’m just not that adept at these. Maybe I should give it to my four year old grand daughter to program for me, she seems to be a budding techie.

Next thing I pack is the personal care bag. I take a couple of meds for diabetes, the hubby takes nothing, but I had to sign a paper at the pharmacy swearing I was going on vacation and needed the extra meds. Sheesh, are diabetic medications selling on the black market now? If we feel a cold coming on, I have vitamin “c” and then first aid stuff. Then of course cosmetics, toothbrushes, our preferred soap etc. Why not buy that type of thing after I arrive? Because I have personal preferences that I’m afraid I won’t be able to get elsewhere and I already have a ton of this at home so why waste time and money buying more. Makes perfect sense to me. Besides I always forget something that I have to replace when travelling anyway.

At the end of it, our minivan is well packed with every conceivable necessity. It looks like we’re moving all over again. But even though we just moved, we are ready to do it again! So setting out at four am; or five; maybe six, anyway we avoid the worst of the morning traffic and hit the road. Every trip is an adventure!

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Moving !

 

Moving can be a real pain and though we have moved many times, it never gets easier. Part of the reason it’s hard for us is because we prefer to do it ourselves with the help of two of our sons and perhaps a couple of friends. What can I say – we’re too cheap to hire movers. But finally, after this move, the hubby and I have agreed that moving is too hard physically and if, God forbid, there is another move in our future, we’ll use a company that employs some young strong lads to cart our stuff around.

I must give you a little insight as to why we have moved so much lately. One of our retirement dreams, from years gone by, was to have a mobile home in Florida and a home, trailer, here in Ontario. To us this was the ideal, warm weather year round and one floor, not too large, to clean. So a couple of years after I retired and the hubby’s company closed its doors and laid him off, we sold our house and down-sized to a town house. Purging was next on the list (now that’s a real hardship)We stayed there for two years, did a few other things we wanted to do and relaxed. We next bought a mobile home in Florida. So far we were on the right track but….. The hubby decided it was silly to be paying big rent when we weren’t there so we gave notice and moved most of our belongings etcetera to a large storage unit. As part of the purge, we also sold a couple of appliances and some furniture and we donated things we knew we’d never use again. I regret selling some of our things but hey, it’s a chance to shop right?

It was great! Off we went to Florida for three months and we enjoyed every minute of our time there. In spite of a very low dollar exchange rate, we really had a good time. A little bit of shopping, some golf, visits with friends who came to our area for a week or two, it was perfect. There is a lot to be said for gardening in February. But we had to return to reality and we had no place to live. EEK! Panic was about to set in.

We purchased a trailer about forty kilometres from our previous home and it was just okay. The thing I missed the most was having my own things around me. My pictures, my good dishes, all the flotsam we have accumulated, were stuck in storage. And this unit is seasonal, meaning it closed on Thanksgiving. Again the push was on to find a place to live. Our little city seems to have a definite lack of rental units. We got lucky and happened to run into a friend who, upon hearing our tale of woe, said he would put a word in with his landlord as there just happened to be a unit coming available. Yay for us, the downside being this wouldn’t be available until the week before Christmas. Off to the mother-in-law’s place in Nova Scotia for six weeks but a whole lot happier. We had a plan! Yes she is ninety-one and still in her own home and she likes me and I, her so we are very compatible. It wasn’t a hardship to stay there and gave us a bit of a breather while we regrouped and planned our move.

Which brings us to the current time and place. A few piles of boxes that won’t be emptied before we leave for Florida. But the storage unit is empty and my favourite things are once again around me. And we’re staying put, we’re here for the long term because I am not moving again!

Crystal Understanding

After studying the chakras and their purpose, I set out to discover how to keep them in balance for myself and others. I will remind you that I am not Wiccan nor do I practice any types of magicks. Again I turned to the internet and am thankful to have Google in my life otherwise I would be at my local library for hours on end because all good information can be found in books. I discovered that crystals and chakras work well together with the crystals being able to stimulate and heal the chakras and thereby helping heal ourselves. As a nurse, I was very sceptical of this process, but as a healer I could see the value of all types of care.

Once the decision was made to gather crystals for my own use, I went full steam ahead. Initially I ordered my first five from an online site and the seller added an extra stone as a thanks so my beginners’ set was complete. I then had a stone for most chakras and some have interchangeable uses. Here’s my initial set.

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Set of five “beginner’s” stones

 

These five were the ones I was told to start with although they didn’t cover all the chakras and they are, from left to right; a clear quartz, a citrine, a rose quartz (which doesn’t like it’s picture being taken) a green aventurine and an amethyst. I really thought I would be most drawn to amethyst as I’ve always loved the colour but it turned out that the green aventurine is the one I’m attuned to. I held each crystal in my hand for a few minutes to see if I could feel anything from them and when I held my aventurine, it warmed almost immediately. I carry this one with me constantly. I have used it a few times to ease headache pain and now I can’t remember the last time I had a headache. I have added to my collection with carnelian, jade, blue lace agate, lapis lazuli, sodalite, bloodstone, black obsidian, pyrite, and red jasper. I now have covered the main chakras and have a few others for more specific uses.

When I received my crystals, I cleaned them by allowing cool, filtered water to run over them and then soaked them for about fifteen minutes. Please remember that not all crystals can be left to soak in water, salt based crystals will dissolve in water so be careful! New to you crystals tend to pick up energy from whoever has handled them so a cleansing step is very important. If there is still mud on your crystal, it can be cleaned off with a new soft toothbrush. Some folks prefer to smudge their stones with sage, sweetgrass or incense. Spend about five to seven minutes smudging by wafting the smoke over the rocks with a feathered fan. Don’t use your hand; as the smoke rises it pulls negative energies away from the crystals and if you’re using your hand, that negativity will enter your body.

After I cleansed my crystals, I set them in the sunlight for twenty-four hours to charge them. Another way is to put them in the moonlight for the same period of time, this is especially good if done during the full moon period. If one of my crystals is used a lot, I will flick any negativity away and then blow on it to reset it for use on myself. If I use them on someone else, which I haven’t yet but plan to do, I intend to do a smudge cleanse afterward.

I am happy with my crystals and am looking forward to using them more. My next step will be to cleanse my chakras using my crystal quartz pendulum. I’ll be telling you all about that experience for sure!

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Pyrite and crystal quartz pendulum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to Know My Chakras

 

Meditation is helping. I am calmer and have more organized thoughts. I wondered what other tools there are for me and others to use. Many years ago I studied reflexology, became a practitioner and was aware of, and able to, stroke auras. This was before such “out of the box” practices were the norm and I was a little embarrassed by my interest so I tended to hide it from most of my acquaintances. I used reflexology sparingly but became adept at stroking bad energy away from those on whom I practiced. It was never a successful business venture and I didn’t keep up the practice. Fast forward to now and I wish I had continued to do reflexology and study even more about the metaphysical.

My meditation routine has really helped with concentration and ability to stay calm and focused (most of the time). The next logical step for me, was to go deeper into how and why these practices work. So I’ve begun learning about our chakras, their purpose and how to maintain balance in my life.

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A very basic sketch of the position of our seven basic chakras

This rough sketch shows the seven major chakras. Since these are the most important ones, I decided to start here. Much more information can be found on the other chakra areas but these are the ones to start with as a beginner.

The first (1) is the Root Chakra, named I think, because it is at the base of the spine in the tailbone area, the “root” of the body. This is our foundation and enhances one’s feeling of being grounded. It is responsible for survival issues such as financial independence, money and food.

Second is the Sacral Chakra located at the lower abdomen about two inches below the navel and two inches in. It helps connect with the people around us, our ability to accept others and to accept new experiences. It also contributes to our sense of abundance, well being, pleasure and sexuality.

Our third chakra is the Solar Plexus. It is the located at the upper abdomen in the stomach area. This one gives us the ability to be confident and in control. Through this chakra we  have self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem.

The fourth chakra is the Heart Chakra. This is located at the centre of the chest, just above the heart. As you would expect it is responsible for our ability to love. Joy, inner peace as well as love come from this chakra.

Next on the list is the Throat Chakra, located of course in the throat. It gives us the ability to communicate. It is responsible for self-expression and truth.

Our sixth chakra is the Third Eye. It is located on the forehead between the brows. The ability to focus on issues and see the big picture comes from the third eye chakra. It is responsible for intuition, imagination, wisdom and the ability to think and make decisions.

Finally we have the Crown Chakra. Situated at the very top of the head, it is the highest chakra and represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually. It also gives us our inner and outer beauty and pure bliss.

 

Calm & Relaxed

 

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As I mentioned in my previous blog, I decided to start meditating. It’s not something I know a lot about but because I felt so scattered, I thought I could really benefit from this. I want to be able to focus on the task at hand and not have my thoughts dash off somewhere else in the middle of something. I am an early riser so I can set aside that time and do my meditation without interruption. Now for the big question; how do I do this?

In my younger days I did some yoga but that really was just for laughs with some friends and I never really took the instructions about meditation seriously. Fast forward to the present and I am much older and physically unable to assume the “lotus” or any other position and I haven’t found a “yoga for mature adults” class yet. I’m not riddled with arthritis and I haven’t had any joint replacement surgery yet but the old hips and knees just don’t bend the way they used to. The mind is willing but the body is weak! Still I refused to fall back on the excuse that I’m too old to do this. I love  Google and started to search meditation how to’s. Every site told me I had to sit on my mat on the floor & assume the lotus position. I was getting discouraged until I found one that said it didn’t matter where I was or how I sat as long as it was quiet and I could be comfortable. Finally a site that understands what it’s like! So now I can sit on the side of the bed or on a low chair or stool. My mother-in-law has a low tub chair that she doesn’t use in the tub anymore and it’s a perfect height. I think I’ll get myself one though I know I’ll have to pretty it up a bit. An oversized pillow might work too, or one of those beanbag chairs. It all depends on how close to the floor you want to be and how comfortable you are there.

My meditation is very simple and when I’m finished I am calm and relaxed and ready to go about my daily tasks. Once comfortably seated, I do cross my legs at the ankles and keep my back straight. This opens up my breathing and allows me to concentrate on the meditation. I place my left hand, palm up, about four finger widths below my navel. Then the right hand palm up on my left and bring my thumbs together resting them at my navel. Sitting up straight helps place my hands in their correct position.

I start with breathing, slowly inhale and exhale through my nose. No deep mouth breathing or chanting is necessary because it’s what your mind is telling you not the rest of your body. Once I have levelled my breathing, I start to picture the fresh breaths in as white, pure energy and the breathing out as the dark, negative energy flowing out.  This is repeated for at least twenty-one breaths. Then I start to visualize successfully completing my main tasks for the day. By the time I’m finished the breathing portion, I am ready to organize my list for the day and I no longer worry about getting everything done or what to do first. Somehow I am able to put activities in order of importance and even better I get things done!

I really think that this simple meditation exercise has resulted in a much more calm and relaxed me. I am blogging again, I’ve started writing fiction again, I have placed exercise at the top of my daily list, just to name a few of the things I enjoy but wasn’t making time for on a daily basis.

I’d love to know your thoughts on meditation so comment away and share with others who may benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Reality

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I am back to writing, after about eight months of not writing and feeling quite guilty about it. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have time to write anything so I just didn’t, but really I just didn’t carve out the time I needed to write. So much was going on that I allowed myself to be distracted, yet everything that happened were things that every retiree goes through at some point in time.

To start the hubby and I decided we wanted a home in Florida. Although recent events in that state have made us question our decision, we made a quick trip last December to look at and ultimately purchase a mobile home almost smack dab in the middle of the Sunshine State. It’s not huge, a single wide park model, and some painting and repairs were needed, but it’s comfortable, the people are nice and let’s face it, there’s no snow. I Have to apologize for the picture. It is from the back of our trailer in Florida and I forgot to crop but it gives you an idea of our nice little space.

We decided to leave our townhouse too. We sold our home a few years ago and were renting so we thought why put out that much money when we won’t be there five months out of twelve. So we left at the end of our lease and bought a trailer in a small park situated on the shore of Lake Ontario. Our children and grandchildren live about an hour away so the choice was easy.

But I have to tell you, all these lifestyle changes were a real shock to the system. We moved a lot of our “stuff” to Florida when we went there and the rest we put into a rather large storage unit. We also donated some belongings, sold some of the furniture, and took some to the dump but we still had a lot left. Hence the need for a storage unit.  My goal this summer is to go through all our belongings again and decide what more we want to take with us to Florida and what we can either sell, give away or trash. One thing that really bothers me is there is no place to hang my pictures right now. I don’t have a big, wonderful art collection but I have a number of prints either given as gifts or purchased just because I really like them. Here at our trailer in Ontario, there isn’t much wall space for hanging things but we do have much more space in Florida, so quite a few pieces will be making the journey with us in November. What do I like, really like, about trailer life? There is so much less space to clean!

Although I am enjoying the quiet and solitude here during the week, I miss seeing my friends and family more often so we are still undecided about staying in a trailer here. I will try it for this year but I am leaning to going back to a rental if we can find one that is reasonably priced.

I have one other issue with being retired, I am not focused enough on what I want to do with all my time. I want to write so I must make time for that. It’s not hard, I have lots of time, but setting aside time for a specific task is difficult for me as my mind wants to go to many different scenarios at once. So to solve that I decided I need to meditate. I used to meditate about a hundred years ago but life and all its busyness got in the way. so now I meditate sporadically. I have vowed to do it on a daily basis. My meditation has led me to a new interest that I’ll tell you all about on these pages as time goes by. Hopefully my blogging again will bring me back to the reality of a calm, organized life.