It Started With A Book……

#Adventure, beach, books, conservation, day trip, food, kids, new jersey, passion, sea turtle, summer, summer fun, Uncategorized

It started with a book….

Many years ago, as I waited on line at Bells Pharmacy, the paperback selections caught my eye.  One in particular called to me.  It was titled, The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe. The cover was inviting with a big red beach umbrella and the story summary sounded like something I would enjoy reading.  Impulsively, I added it to my purchases and went on my way.  Little did I know that inexpensive paperback purchased on a cold winters day in 2002 would ignite a passion in me that still burns today.img_2344

Mary Alice Monroe has a unique style of writing. She resides on the Isle of Palms in South Carolina and is very involved in the conservation of wildlife around her.  Though her books are fiction, she researches her topics thoroughly and effectively weaves information about endangered animals into her story, inviting readers to become as concerned as she is.  The Beach House first exposed me to the plight of the Loggerhead Sea Turtles.  Throughout the story I learned many new and interesting facts and I began to aspire to someday become a “Turtle Lady,” just like the main character, Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge.  I imagined walking the beaches, protecting sea turtle nests and being there when the eggs hatch and all the baby sea turtles scurry into the ocean. Unfortunately, my aspirations were somewhat unattainable since I live in NJ and sea turtles nest only on southern beaches where the water is warm.

Vacations provided me with small opportunities.  While staying on Hilton Head Island, I often walked the beaches rejoicing each time I found a protected sea turtle nest. In Charleston, I visited the Sea Turtle Hospital where I explored for so long, my companions were ready to leave me there.  I read books on sea turtles and explored web sites to learn as much as I could. When I heard that I could “adopt” a sea turtle by donating to help fund it’s healing and wellbeing, I jumped at the chance.  Then, when I found out that there was a turtle named “Talbot” who need help, I knew I was on to something good.  Soon after I “adopted” Talbot, I introduced my third-grade class to “her”.  Through photos, letters from the sea turtle hospital and an electronic tracker once she was released into the ocean, we monitored her progress. It was exciting to be part of her journey.  Any student who enters my classroom soon learns of my passion, through children’s books about sea turtles, a sea turtle puppet and science videos, I share my love of sea turtles and soon find I have piqued an interest in many a young conservationist.  This has been about all I could currently do to indulge my passion since I am in NJ and there hasn’t been a lot to do with sea turtles in our area.

However, that all changed recently when a friend, knowing my passion for sea turtles, informed me of a sea turtle release right here on the beaches of NJ!!!  I was ecstatic and eagerly sought out more information.  It was then that I learned of Sea Turtle Recovery, “a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sea turtles and educating the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles, threats endangering them and ways to protect their future.” I read that they had opened a state of the art, 4000 sq. ft. facility within the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo! I felt as though a prayer had been answered, suddenly there were sea turtles in NJ and they were being rehabilitated very close to my home!  I knew I had to check it out! I hoped in my car and headed right for the Turtle Back Zoo.  Arriving with a good friend in tow we headed straight for the Sea Turtle Recovery pavilion.  There I joyfully chatted with a knowledgeable intern named Kristin who explained the mission of STR and introduced me to each of the turtles currently being treated at the facility.  She answered all my questions including how I can help support this great facility and how to become involved in volunteering opportunities.  She gave us the details of Humphrey the turtle’s release and we acknowledged that we would likely see each other at the shoreline on the historic release day.

I woke early on the morning of August 8, ready to fulfill a bucket list item!  My daughter and I arrived at Point Pleasant beach about 8:15am, allowing plenty of time to park and make our way to the release site.  As we approached the area and noted the large crowd, we also encountered a table where people were signing a release.  After inquiring, I was informed that not only was Humphrey the turtle being released but Buddy, The Cake Boss would be filming an episode all about Sea Turtle Recovery and he had baked a cake to celebrate Humphrey’s release!  This day just kept on getting better! We signed a release to be in the episode and took our place along the shore beside other enthusiastic turtle lovers.  The beach was filled with people of all ages, from babies to retirees, who were all here to witness this wonderful event.  Thanks to the folks at STR, Humphrey, an 8-year-old 88lb Loggerhead turtle, who had suffered from a syndrome called “Cold Shock”, was healed and was ready to return to his natural habitat.img_1907

Volunteers from STR carefully carried the beautiful turtle to the sea.  As they placed him on the ground at the surf, the crowd became silent, each quietly wishing Humphrey safe travels.  At first it appeared Humphrey was uncertain if he wanted to swim in the ocean as he turned away, however within moments, nature took over and the sea called to Humphrey.  As the tide came in, Humphrey caught the wave and slowly and beautifully swam back to his home.  The crowd cheered and I noted more than one tear from the happy observers.

Suddenly from the board walk an ATV appeared carrying Buddy the Cake Boss pulling a giant cake in the shape of undersea coral and a turtle who looked just like Humphrey!  The crowd went wild as Buddy explained how thrilled he was to have such a wonderful organization doing such fine things in our state of NJ!  He stated that he had created this special cake to honor both the organization and this special day. After a warm speech and presentation to the founders of STR, Buddy invited all those on the beach to enjoy a piece of his artistic creation.  The cake tasted as good as it looked.

As our morning began to wind down, I reflected on all I was lucky enough to experience.  It was thrilling to see a release in NJ, a true rare event since the water is usually not warm enough for the turtles to swim in.  I also rejoiced knowing that by volunteering with STR I too could become a part of this important conservationist work.  I knew innately this was something I would pursue and something I would continue to educate my friends and family about.  If you are interested in learning more about Sea Turtles please visit the Sea Turtle Recovery Pavilion located within the Turtle Back Zoo or check out their webpage at WWW.Seaturtlerecovery.org.  Since my own passion started from reading a book, I have also included some book titles below that will help you to learn more.  They are worth checking out! Happy Reading!!!

(*These books are currently available at #PawneePages ~  A Little Free Library in the town of Cranford.*)

 

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Mothers, Daughters and Blueberries

#Adventure, #farm, blueberries, day trip, food, gardens, ice cream, kids, new jersey, Nostalgia, organic, summer, summer fun, Uncategorized

As summer approaches and school children begin to fill with anticipation of the long lazy days ahead, my daughter and I begin to count the days until our annual pilgrimage to the blueberry farm.  What began as a whim several years back has turned into an annual tradition of mothers and daughters spending the day together, trekking to the blueberry farm, dreaming of the blueberry filled dishes that will enhance our summer meals.

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Our farm of choice is Emery’s Organic Blueberry Farm, 346 Long Swamp Road in New Egypt, New Jersey. The fifty year old farm is 60 acres, 20 of which are filled with a delectable assortment of organic blueberry fields.  Blueberry season is from mid -June through July. Blueberries are sold at the farm stand in pints and flats but we have found that the best and most satisfying way to obtain the finest berries is by picking them ourselves. The farm updates picking conditions daily with a recording on their phone.  Visitors are encouraged to check in at 609-758-8514 before heading out.  The u-pick fields will not open if there is not enough ripe fruit to harvest.  Since conditions change daily, the phone call is worth the effort.

This year we planned our adventure for the first Friday after school closed. Early on that hazy morning we found ourselves bubbling with excitement as we packed into the car, boasting amicably about who would find the fattest, juiciest berry this year. The ride to the farm reminds the traveler why New Jersey is called the “Garden State.” The winding roads are dotted with farms and silos and many a barnyard animal. Signs abound for “you pick vegetable farms”, livestock for sale and even a couple of New Jersey wineries. Upon arrival we moms encourage our all-knowing teenage daughters to reapply sunscreen and visit the surprisingly clean port-a-johns on the property.  On this particular day we were surprised to see many more families than usual at the farm, seemingly planning to do the same thing we were.  Our faces revealed that we all had the same worry, how would this impact the usual Zen experience we have in the fields? We wondered if there would be enough berries for all of us. We promptly selected our picking vessels at the weigh station and headed out to the fields. 

This year we were directed to the closest field, a very short walk from the farm store and different from the fields we have taken a wagon ride to in the past.

 

Happily our fears of crowds were soon put to rest. As we meandered in the fields we were pleased to realize that despite the number of cars, 20 acres is HUGE and there were plenty of blueberry bushes and space for each of us to pick undisturbed.

These are not the berries you find in your local chain food store!  One of the girls remarked that they were experiencing Heaven on Earth as they picked berries the size of grapes with a sweetness reserved only for the Gods. Our buckets filled quickly this year.  The strange weather of spring/early summer 2017 created perfect growing conditions for blueberries.  Each bush was filled with an abundance of huge and gorgeous berries.  We began to feel gluttonous as we filled our buckets to the brim reminding each other of the numerous health benefits of these beautiful blue berries!

When our buckets could hold no more, we brought them to the weigh station to find how many pounds we had picked. We opted to pay a dollar for a flat box to transport our berries while our friends had wisely chosen to bring a large plastic container with a lid to carry theirs home.  We were pleased to see that this year we had picked slightly over 9lbs of berries and were given a ticket to take into the farm store where we could pay for our fruit.

The farm store is a delight for the senses.  It is filled with preserves and pies and treats that will tempt even the most amazing will power! The pies themselves are known throughout the state as some of the best in the land! We found ourselves tempted by the varieties of syrup knowing that blueberry pancakes would be on the menu all week.  The girls struggled to choose between apple cider and blueberry donuts and we realized that we would live with regret it if we did not try at least one of the famous fruit pies. After paying for our selections and the fruit we had harvested, we returned to the weigh station to collect our loot. As we packed up our car we smiled at the farm animals being visited by toddlers and the young at heart. We talked about visiting again in the fall to pick pumpkins as we noted the corn maze beginning to grow.IMG_9706

On our journey home the girls reminded us of the nifty looking ice cream stand we had passed on the way in to the farm. Since it is summer and we were on an adventure, we agreed to stop and sit for a spell as the girls indulged in the homemade frozen treats. This nostalgic looking building reminded us of the old fashioned car hops with its red and white checkerboard décor.  The flavors are fun and interesting and the taste does not disappoint. We were pleased to note that not only did they offer human treats but one could also purchase a special canine friendly bowl of ice cream for a furry family friend!

 

As we began our journey back home we noted that the chatter seemed less than the on the ride to the farm. The young ladies rested after their time in the fields and the moms exchanged new and interesting uses for these freshly picked treats. This great summer tradition seemed the absolutely perfect way to kick off our season of fun! We cannot wait to see what other adventures the summer brings!

My Life in the Big Chill

Funeral, Growing up, Nostalgia, Old Friends, The BIg Chill, Uncategorized

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“When evaluating your life, ask yourself how much have you loved……if you can answer pretty positively you are doing alright.” This quote from Robin Williams, posted by loved ones on the morning after his death is especially poignant following the week I have just lived.

Last Wednesday, as I returned from a fun afternoon in NYC I got a text alerting me that the father of a childhood friend had passed away suddenly. He was a fine man, not someone I knew well but he was my friend’s DAD. My friend, a guy who had been such an important part of my teenage years; a friend who still remains so special despite the many candles that now litter our birthday cakes.

It hit me hard. It was strange because I did not know his dad well but it symbolized so much more. My friend had lost his father, a man the age of my parents. Reality hit. We are beginning to lose our parents, we are becoming the next generation. Although most of us have been parents for over a decade we are becoming “the grown-ups”, the older people.

How can that be?  Weren’t we just “cruising around” drinking beer, taking risks, exploring all the world had to offer? I swear we were just getting our driver’s license, graduating high school and deciding on careers. Suddenly I was so aware of the years that had passed and although my life today is incredibly blessed, I found myself mourning not only the death of a kind man but the loss of our youth; a place we could visit through memories and photos of days gone by BUT a place we clearly could never return to again.

I went into support mode.   I sent food, I phoned out of town friends and I made plans to attend the services.  As I stood on line for the wake I felt as if I was a patron at the theatre as I watched my past parade before me.  There I saw old neighbors, classmates, people I knew “before.” It was a strange sensation as memories I had long forgotten began crashing through my mind, tugging at my heart strings reminding me how long ago yesterday was.

On the morning of the funeral I found myself unexplainably nervous.  While getting ready I chuckled as I applied my eye cream, now truly realizing I was no longer that 16 year old girl I had been visiting with in my memories, but a middle aged mom trying daily to juggle all the blessings that God had bestowed upon me. I plucked a few gray hairs, (another sign of my growing age), packed my reading glasses and I was ready for the service.

Entering the church was like walking into a strange boardwalk funhouse.  There I greeted colleagues and neighbors but I also observed friends I knew “back then” and the ghosts of love interests I had long forgotten.  My worlds were colliding, intersecting in the weirdest of ways.

The day was sad as funerals are, but there was something else.  I felt my heart filling up as reflected. Here I was surrounded by people from so many parts of my life.  These were the people who count, the people I can call despite the years that have passed and they will be there.  These are people I LOVE and who love me back.  Not the romantic love of those teenage years gone by but the true friendship love that comes from shared memories, life experiences and mutual respect.  It made me think, (A LOT), of my favorite movie, The Big Chill where college friends gather at a funeral for a friend.  They too are reflective of the love they share as friends and what a treasure it is.

How much have I loved you ask?  I’ve loved A LOT and I am blessed to have been loved right back!  As I sit reflecting on my middle age life which is not filled with extraordinary wealth, beach homes or fancy cars but the blessings of a great family and wonderful friends, I can easily answer the question posed by Robin Williams…I have loved a lot and I am definitely doing alright!

Fireflies and Front Porches……

#porch, cranford, nj, fireflies, Girlfriend Getaway, heat, kids, new jersey, peace, summer fun, Uncategorized

In my heart I am a southern girl.  I have this fantasy of what life might have been like if I grew up in the south among the peach and magnolia trees and the homes with the wrap around porches.  Oh how I love those wrap around porches!  I can just see myself sitting on a porch swing in a wide brimmed hat, sipping lemonade and entertaining guests.

The reality is I am not a southern girl.  I live in New Jersey in a suburban home, not on a plantation. However, I do have a porch!   My porch is not the wrap around kind but a small little oasis on the front of my modest home. IMG_8067 It is my favorite place! When the weather is warm, my porch is where spend my evenings reading books, sipping lemonade (and sometimes wine), unwinding with my family.  My porch is where I watch the neighborhood go by. We are lucky enough to live at the end of a dead end street in a neighborhood surround by strangers who became friends.  Children scatter the street with bicycles, sidewalk chalk and wagons. Neighbors chat and catch up on the local happenings.  And when the June air comes in, we catch fireflies!

Who can deny the joy that chasing fireflies brings?  It is an annual event that is harbinger of the good things ahead.  Fireflies arrive in New Jersey when the air is warm in both the day and into the evening; usually around the beginning of June.  It is around this time that we anticipate the end of the school year as we ponder what adventures the lazy days of summer will bring.  These magical little insects flitter through our yards like fairies filled with promise whispering, “catch me if you can…see if you can capture the magic…..”

Today I find myself looking forward to those days.  Though this winter was not snowy it was cold and gray and spring took its time to arrive.  Today it is sunny and most would say HOT! It is perfect weather to hang out on the wicker chairs while I write and watch the children revel in the sunshine.  Today made me wish for the fireflies.  Then it hit me!  I remembered that I had seen a way to make pretend fireflies in a jar, sometimes called fairies in a jar.  I searched Pinterest to find the instructions and soon after took a trip to Michaels to gather the limited supplies.  There I purchased cute little jars, glow in the dark paint, glitter and a variety of thin paint brushes with long handles.  A 50% coupon made the inexpensive materials very affordable!!

I rushed home to try this little experiment from my favorite spot on the porch.

On my first attempt, I followed the directions I found on Pinterest.  After pouring my glow in the dark paint onto some scrap paper, I dipped my paint brush into the paint and into the jar creating a speckled look within the jar.  I found it relaxing to paint the dots and could easily imagine what this would look like once the evening turned dark.  It would definitely resemble fireflies in a jar!  Just for fun and because glitter makes everything special, I painted the lid and added some glitter to the top.  The finished product looked great!

 

Now I was on a roll! I wondered how the jar would look if I painted on the OUTSIDE.  This time, I did not use the brush but instead simply dotted the paint on to the outside of the jar straight out of the container.  This created a unique raised dot effect that although it did not give the appearance of fireflies in a jar, would make a nifty nightlight and a fun project for tweens, teens or a girl’s night out! IMG_9467 Finally, I had to see my projects glow.  When I placed the jars into a dark area I saw magic!!! In the dark these jars literally sparkled!  It reminded me of the fireflies I adore, it reminded me of summer!

As I write this I am listening to the neighborhood children giggle.  Their joy is contagious and forces even a troubled soul to smile.  I am glad that I bought extra supplies; maybe tomorrow we can make these as a neighborhood as we gather again to welcome the warm weather and dream of the days of summer!

Time Travel at Liberty Hall Museum

#Adventure, #colonial, #history, day trip, gardens, kids, new jersey, summer fun, Uncategorized

Don’t you love the feeling of finding a real treasure? Maybe it’s a first edition book bought for a quarter at a garage sale or an old family photo album discovered in a box in grandma’s attic.  That feeling of exhilaration is the same; It’s part bewilderment, part excitement and part an adrenaline filled urge to share your discovery with others.  This is the feeling I got when I “discovered” Liberty Hall Museum right in my own backyard, on the campus of Kean University! IMG_9435

I first happened upon Liberty Hall while attending a private event with my daughter several years ago. When we were offered a tour of the exquisite gardens, we jumped at the chance to explore.  We were so glad that we did!  As we meandered through the well-manicured gardens we were regaled with tales of the property that dates back to the 1700’s.  We soaked up the stories our guide shared with us as we relished the beauty of every garden section; each unique in its beauty and purpose.  A special treat was noting a gorgeous pear tree that was original to the property and therefore over 200 years old.  Fascinated does not begin to express how we felt at the end of the tour.

As we explored further we noted a beautiful Victorian style home on the property.  This home, built in 1772, was the home of NJ’s first elected Governor William Livingston and generations of Livingston/Kean families. My daughter was dying to see inside and instantly declared that she wanted to live in this home!  Upon hearing this declaration of love, a volunteer informed us of a program we might find interesting. The program is called, A Child’s View of History and it runs every Tuesday in July and August.  The cost is $8.00 per child and $10.00 per adult.  It runs at 11am and 1pm.  Reservations are required.

On the first Tuesday in July we, along with some friends, embarked on our journey back in time. You see, the program invites participants to “time travel” back through the centuries in order to experience childhood just as the children who lived in this home had experienced it.   We were tickled pink to join a costumed docent as we explored the first area which took us back to 1780.  Here we learned about life from a child’s perspective as we were invited to touch and explore many of the artifacts.  On our journey we continued our “time travel” through 1820, 1860, 1900 and 1940, always being led by a docent in period costume and always being invited to touch and participate.  The girls were most fascinated by parlor where they learned “the language of the fan”, a special way for young ladies to communicate with suitors during the 1900’s. Certainly more subtle and sophisticated than the social media of 2017!

At the conclusion of the house tour we were directed to a gorgeous glass porch where we were served cookies, fruit and lemonade.  We continued to ask questions and our guides happily shared all the history they knew.  The view here was amazing and though we could have lingered all day we knew that there were still great activities ahead. IMG_9445 Next we were led across the lawns to play some of the fun games the children of long ago enjoyed.  WOW!  The girls were surprised to discover that not only were the games challenging and fun but they did not involve any electronics!!! Finally, since we had learned monograms were regarded as prestigious during the 1940’s, the children were invited to create monogramed book marks with the beautiful material set before them. 

As we wrapped up our day in the gift shop we all expressed how much we had enjoyed our day.  It was exciting to note that there are many other programs available at Liberty Hall including apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, Wednesday afternoon tea and a variety of other tours.  We look forward to returning for many of these as we enjoy this newly discovered treasure in our backyard!

Liberty Hall Museum is located at

1003 Morris Avenue

 Union, NJ 07083

909-527-0400

www.kean.edu/libertyhall and on Facebook and twitter

Walkway over the Hudson…A perfect way to spend a gorgeous day!

#Adventure, biking, Culinary Institute, food, hudson valley, Hyde Park, NY, rail trail, Uncategorized

Oh what a beautiful morning!!!  Today is the kind of day that is perfect for heading out on a fun family adventure!  I’m posting an adventure from the fall that is perfect almost anytime of year.  Get out today and embrace the glory that sunny days bring!  ENJOY!

Returning to school each fall can be difficult for both students and parents alike.  Long lazy summer days roll into jam packed cooler days filled with car pools, color coded calendars and crock pot dinners. That is why we knew that successfully completing the official first week of school called for some kind of celebration.  Fortunately Mother Nature agreed and provided us with a perfect Saturday to play as a family!

Fueled with a nutritious breakfast we laced up our sneakers, loaded our bikes onto the Explorer and headed north.  We’d recently heard of a bike trail in New York’s Catskills region that was both picturesque and interesting.  We knew that at the end of the short trail we would find the “Walkway over the Hudson;” an attraction not to be missed. Our travel took about 90 minutes. The traffic was easy, the sun was shining brightly and the conversation was flowing.  Don’t you love how car rides provide uninterrupted time to chat and catch up? It’s one of our favorite ways to really connect!

As we pulled into the town of Lloyd, NY the parking area for the Hudson Valley Rail Trail was marked and easy to find. It surrounds a park and several ball fields but since there were no teams playing, spaces were abundant and filled with other nature lovers ready for a day on the trail.

The paved trail is wide and welcomes pedestrian, bikers, skaters and scooters.  Those on wheels are reminded by signs throughout the trail to yield to those on foot.  Benches abound at picturesque areas and mid trail there is a par course fitness area inviting everyone to stop and get in shape. An unusual and pleasant surprise was the large and very clean bathroom mid trail.  It is located next to the genuine red caboose which invites playful children and adults to explore it while they wait.  A perfect win/win for a family out exploring for the day.IMG_9374

Less than 4 miles into the trail nature lovers will begin to notice a busier area marked with flags, an information booth, more bathrooms and a smattering of concession stands.  This is the beginning of the “Walkway over the Hudson”, the main attraction for the day! The 1.28 mile walkway which was once an abandoned railroad bridge was opened on October 3, 2009. It is 212 feet above the Hudson River and is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world! Though the bridge is high, it is also wide and therefore less unnerving for those afraid of heights. The views are spectacular and the photograph filled signs along the bridge provide a plethora of information about the bridge and the river below. 

After enjoying the breath taking views and meandering along the bridge we found ourselves ready to refuel so we packed the bikes back on to the car and headed to another local treasure the Hyde Park Brewing Company.

Though the name says “brewery” the atmosphere felt more like a fine dining restaurant than a cozy pub.  Upon entering I was concerned that our biking attire may not be appropriate for the crowd, however or lovely hostess assured me we were fine and seated us in one of the two dining rooms. The selection of beer allowed us to choose between 7 house brewed beers, beer cocktails, wines and soft drinks.  The food menu was creative and we truly enjoyed the burgers we ordered along with the amazing garlic parmesan fries. We were ready to continue our adventure!

Being food and wine lovers we could not leave Hyde Park without a visit to the famed Culinary Institute of America. The campus is gorgeous and visitors are invited to dine in one of the campus restaurants where chefs in training provide memorable high quality meals along with wine or cocktail pairings.  Though we had just eaten, we thought we would visit the Apple Pie Bakery to purchase some goodies to bring home.  Sadly, the bakery is only open weekdays so instead we viewed chefs through the glass windows and shopped for unique cooking tools in the gift shop.

The Hudson Valley area is tourists dream as it also includes a number of historical homes including the Vanderbilt Mansion and the homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Though we popped into the presidential library, our tired bodies begged us to return on a day we could give these locations our full attention.  They are definitely worth returning to and we have already added them to our list of future excursions.IMG_9364

As we rode home along the New York thruway we continued to enjoy the precious time as a family; reminiscing about the glorious days of summer and looking forward to the fun filled fall days to come!

*For more information on the interesting history of the Walkway over the Hudson, check out this recent episode of Treasures of New York produced by PBS. http://wliw.org/treasures

 

Nuturing the need for JOY!

momisms, musings, joy, bike ride, Cranford, NJ, Uncategorized

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When was the last time you felt joy? A pure truly blissful moment? The kind that makes your heart smile?
Are you having a hard time coming up with something? Don’t worry, you are not alone. I feel the same way. Honestly, that is hard for me to admit. I’m the kind of person people perceive as being always happy, full of energy, ready for the next adventure BUT lately as much as I hate to admit it, I’m just not feeling it.
It’s been a crazy month. Nothing in particular but enough to make me feel like I’ve lost my edge.
Maybe it is the weather; chilly and dark in New Jersey during what we had hoped would be sunny spring days filled with promise.
Perhaps it’s my career. Planning engaging lessons, making deadlines, assuring that every child is up to speed, appeasing the individual needs of 22 sets of parents, and always trying to be a truly exemplary teacher.
Could it be the activities and social schedule of my busy sixteen year old child? It’s certainly possible!
Everywhere I turn my friends are saying the same thing. I look into their eyes and see a reflection of my own.…tired, worn and searching for something more.
But what is it we are searching for? What is lacking in our very busy lives? For me I’ve realized that I’ve lost a little of myself lately. Though I’ve filled every moment with fun family adventures, carloads filled with giggling sixteen year old girls and many family obligations, I have forgotten to take care of ME. I’m usually pretty good about this but somehow in the midst of “fitting everything in” I have forgotten to take a moment for me.
Now, this may sound selfish. How can a woman whose family has so many obligations and places to be possibly think about taking time away for herself? What kind of a mother and wife would a woman like that be?
Well, I have to confess, I think that lady would be a very happy and healthy mom! Think about it. When you board an airplane and the flight attendant explains the emergency procedures, the first step everyone is instructed is to take care of yourself first! Place the oxygen on YOU so that YOU can then take care of everyone else!
I contend that this is what so many of us are missing as we rush through our overscheduled lives. Though I have physically been with my family as we check off our list of obligations, I feel disconnected and slightly unhappy and I have been unsure why.
I once read that in order to be in touch with “your real self” the “true you” one needed to channel the person you were at ten years old. Asking “what did I like to do?” “ What were my dreams for the future?” “What gave me joy?” Sitting back and recollecting those ideas of my younger days made me begin to smile. Fond memories rushed through my mind calling me back to the days of dreaming. One absolute certain was that I loved to ride my bicycle everywhere! I’d ride in the neighborhood, I’d cruise “downtown”, I would visit my grandmother’s house and when I was older I even rode to the neighboring town where my friends and I were convinced the “cute boys” lived.

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I still LOVE to ride. I have a fabulous pink beach bike with a basket that I adore! Suddenly, I knew it was time to break out my bicycle and clear my head.
Thankfully the clouds gave way to some warm sunshine this afternoon, finally a good day for a ride! Since I didn’t have long I decided to stay local and really focus on my beautiful surroundings. I planned to notice everything from sights, to sounds and smells. Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey” filled with mansions along the Rahway River that were the vacation homes of some of the wealthiest New Yorkers. Many of the homes are large and each one is unique. As I rode I imagined the people who had summered here. Creating stories in my mind of the clothes they wore and the parties they held. Inhaling the gifts of nature I imagined the river carnivals and canoe races scented with the abundant honeysuckle and lilac perfume on the riverbanks. I remembered a story I once heard that Katherine Hepburn had attended a party at a home near the river. I marveled at how awesome those days must have been.


I began to smile and relax. I realized people were smiling back. A stranger waved to me and I realized I was again projecting the real me. I continued to ride, breathing in the cut grass, the burgers being cooked for a neighbor’s dinner, the smell of the river itself. I stopped by the back of Dreyer’s Farm to take in the bountiful beauty of all the locally grown crops. Appreciating the lush colors thanks to our recent rainfall. I was peaceful and grateful. Ready to now go on with the evening, showing the world the real me.

Newly energized and ready to take on all that life had to offer. Mother Nature might still be suffering from a mood swings but I know that I have found my JOY and I intent to keep nurturing it!

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
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Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
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