Thursday, December 8, 2022

Christmas Magic

It was just a few weeks until Christmas and I could hardly wait.

We had moved into our beautiful new house, and I had my very own bedroom.  No more sharing with my annoying younger brother.

Mom was busy decorating and getting ready for the holiday.  I’m not sure I had ever seen her so happy.  She finally met someone who treated her well and even liked us kids too. 

Buzz was a kind man, quiet and gentle with a warm smile.  Walking in with his dusty work boots, exhausted from work, he was never too tired to pick me up and give me a huge bear hug.

We were living a life I could never have imagined.  There was so much food in the house we had to put another refrigerator on the back porch.  We didn’t have to worry about moving in the middle of the night because we couldn’t pay the rent.  Life was very good.

“You are not going to start another project this close to Christmas.” I heard my mom telling Buzz.

He was always working on something.  He built a new patio with a rock garden for mom in the summer and a mini playhouse for me and my brother.

Despite her protests, he began working.  

It was unusual for him to be doing it inside, but it was winter, so I didn’t think much of it. 

Mom was beside herself with the mess.  She had worked so hard to clean and decorate the house.  He had even pushed the Christmas tree off into the corner.

I was surprised and confused when I came home from school and saw that he was actually tearing down the living room wall. 

He and mom almost never argued but this was different.  There were pieces of wood and sheet rock everywhere.  I was happy I had a room to go to where I could stay away from it all.

As the days passed, mom accepted that this was going to happen whether she liked it or not. 

Just a couple of days until Christmas now and I was more excited than ever.  This was our first Christmas in the new house.

Behind the canvas tarps, Buzz worked away, he looked like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

He even enlisted my brother to help with his “secret project”.
I was a little jealous that I wasn’t included but I kept myself busy playing with my dolls and reading in my room.

Finally, it was Christmas eve.  I knew this year would be special, but I had no idea how much. 

After dinner, mom sent me and my brother to our rooms.  “We have something to do before Santa comes, so you have to stay there until we tell you to come out,” she instructed. “And no peeking,” she nodded to my brother.

Presents, it must be our presents we both thought. 

When she opened the door, she told me to close my eyes.  Gently guiding me, we walked into the front room. 

When I opened my eyes, I saw the most incredible fireplace I had ever seen.  

That is what Buzz had been working on.  Whoever had lived there before had covered up the fireplace with a wall.

It looked like something out of a fairy tale – the fire was glowing with twinkles of light reflecting on the hearth.

Under the tree were two boxes, one for me and one for my brother. 

We didn’t usually get to open any gifts before Christmas morning, so this was another unexpected surprise. 

My box was not wrapped, so it was easy to just open the top.  As I did, up popped the most beautiful little gray kitten in the world.  

Immediately I began to cry, as I carefully lifted her out of the box.

“Is she really for me?” I asked in disbelief, petting her gently. "I think I'll call her Thumbelina because she's so tiny," I said.

My brother grinned at me and began opening his package.  It was a toolbox with real tools to build things, he was thrilled.

Mom smiled and watched quietly as we laughed and played.  Buzz reached down from his rocking chair and lifted me, still holding the kitten, into his lap.

It was truly a magical Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Powers of Manifestation

I need to remember to use my powers of manifestation to attract wanted, not unwanted experiences.

I believe that there are no actual coincidences in life – although there may be incidents that coincide but whatever is appearing in our lives is because we are attracting it with our vibration.

This week has been a great reminder for me to be more deliberate in how I think about seemingly little things that can easily become much larger if I don’t pay attention.

A couple of months ago, I rented my house out and started traveling again.  I’ve been staying at hotels and planning the rest of my journey.

This is the perfect opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and press reset.  

It is also an environment full of unique experiences that require much more consideration than when I am at home. 

When I am away, I know that my energy can be so strong that even the slightest thought will manifest in some unexpected way.

This past week I have had several experiences that have literally woken me up to the absolute power of the law of attraction. 

A few days ago, I was having dinner at the hotel when a large family with several young children came in.  They were adorable and very lively, I remember thinking how those parents really had their hands full.  

I finished my dinner and went back upstairs only to find that they were in the room next to me.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. 

How did I attract that?  I was tired and hoping that I wouldn’t have noisy neighbors.  I had focused on that family in a way that was not what I wanted. 

The next morning, I realized I had been thinking about it in a negative way and started to think about them as a beautiful family traveling together and how happy those children were laughing and playing.  Within an hour the family checked out of the hotel.

Still a bit tired from lack of sleep, I decided to take myself out to lunch.  Pizza and a beer sounded great.  

It was midweek so there weren’t many people there.  As I looked over the menu, I thought I might try something new.  The waiter was a very kind young man and said the dish I was thinking of trying was his favorite and they didn’t have the beer I wanted but had a good alternative.  

He was right, both were delicious.  I enjoyed a nice relaxing meal and then headed back to the hotel for a great nap.

How did I attract that?  I thought about how much I enjoy peace and quiet.  That I love meeting nice people wherever I go.   And, how truly fortunate I feel to have such a wonderful life.

Next, as I was going to take some belongings back to storage, I discovered my car battery was dead.  I have never, ever had a dead battery in over 50 years of driving.  I also have never used my auto roadside service. 

How did I attract that?  Earlier that day, I received a renewal notice for the service and I thought I might not renew because I had never used it.  Also, I was feeling a little overwhelmed at how disorganized my car was with all my excess baggage.

At first, I panicked.  I hadn’t dealt with this before and felt very insecure.  I wondered how easy or difficult this process would really be.  

For the next hour, I tried to navigate the phone and online system to get my request processed.  It was feeling like a challenge.

I knew I needed to relax, I was in a safe place and as always had many options.  I decided to walk across the street to get some lunch while I waited.  

As soon as I placed my order, the service technician called to say they were on the way.  I wondered what this man would be like or maybe it could be a woman? 

Inside of 30 minutes, a lovely young woman from the auto club, recharged my battery and I was back on track.

Then last night – I ran a hot shower to get some moisture into a very dry hotel room.  I checked to see where the smoke detectors were, so I didn’t accidently set one off.  I had a nice relaxing evening and went to bed.  

At midnight, the fire alarm was shrieking, and I had to scramble to get my clothes on and get outside in the freezing cold. 

How did I attract that?  As I was checking for the smoke detectors, I noticed the unit on the wall next to the bed and thought I would certainly wake up if that goes off.  It absolutely did, my ears are still ringing it was so loud.  I had also been thinking of how scattered my clothes were and what would I do if I needed to leave in a hurry.  

I went down to my car where I could get warm and remembered I had extra winter gear in my trunk for emergencies.  Once again, I remembered that I was safe and no matter what, everything would be fine.  Of course, it was a false alarm, someone probably triggered it burning popcorn in the microwave or maybe even taking a shower?

This post began as a simple thought about the Law of Attraction and how it works in our lives.

Whatever I give my attention to will expand and how I feel about it will dictate the manifestation. 

I love knowing that I can create anything and that I need to stay mindful about how that comes about.

There were a few reasons for this trip.  One was to write more, and another was to focus on my spiritual journey.  

So far both are feeling very satisfying and that I will happily continue to manifest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Stanley Hotel - A Ghost Story

 It was a beautiful spring day, and my friend was coming for a visit.  We decided to go to Estes Park for the weekend.  We talked as we drove up the mountain, he asked if this was where “The Shining” was filmed.  It was a glorious day - blue sky, beautiful scenery and a perfect way to begin our trip.

As we approached the overlook of Estes Park with the Rocky Mountains rising up in the background it was a spectacular sight.  We drove toward town and noticed a striking building on the hill.  Neither of us knew what it was, so we decided to investigate.  

As we drove closer, we marveled at the perfectly manicured grounds and then saw the sign “The Stanley Hotel”.  We agreed that we had to see this but that it would be too expensive to stay there.
As we entered the property, the massive white gates opened to a large patio.  The lobby was beautifully decorated with leather chairs surrounding stone fireplaces, antique tables with fresh flowers brightened every corner, it was warm and inviting.  We inquired about the rates and were surprised they had a special price for the night, so we decided to stay.  

After checking in, the desk clerk informed us that the hotel was haunted and that they had ghost tours in the basement after dark.  We thought it was amusing and a good tourist attraction but declined. 
As we climbed the stairs, we noticed the air changing, it became heavy and dense.  The brightness of the lobby faded as we walked toward our room.  We opened the door and immediately were struck with the closeness of the space.  Not only was it very small but there seemed to be no air circulating.  

We decided immediately that this would not be comfortable and asked to change rooms.  They moved us to a large, beautifully appointed suite with a great view of the mountains. 
We enjoyed a luxurious meal at the restaurant and continued to marvel at the wonderful surroundings.  We planned on going into town later and do some sightseeing, but we never left the hotel.  

Throughout the evening, several people approached me saying I looked like someone they knew.  When I went downstairs to the restroom, I felt a chill in the air.  The entire time I was there I felt as though I was being watched, it made me very uneasy, and I hurried back to our table.  My friend laughed when I told him and reminded me about the ghost tours.  I thought it was funny, and quickly put it aside.   
It was getting late so we decided to go back up to the room.  As we talked, I felt a sudden draft of cold air and looked to see where it was coming from.  I saw an apparition of a man step through one of the doorways and disappear.  

Just then, my friend asked if someone was behind him.  Standing over his shoulder I could see the faint outline of a young girl.  We both were stunned, not sure what was happening.  Slowly we began to speak, this felt like a child’s spirit nothing malevolent or frightening.  

Suddenly, the energy changed dramatically, the room filled with cold air and a bright light flashed across the room and splashed on the bureau mirror.  It felt as though dozens of very angry people were trying to get into the room. 
It was 2:00 a.m. and seemed strange to check out in the middle of the night but we could not stay.  We were relieved to see a friendly night clerk at the desk. She informed us that this was a regular occurrence and that she had seen some extraordinary things herself. 

We talked to her for some time and then she said she was not surprised that I had a bad experience.  She told me I looked very much like a woman who passed away many years ago.  

We drove back down the mountain in silence; years later I still think about what we encountered in that strange and dark place.  I have never returned to the Stanley or to Estes Park.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Travel Adventures After 50

When I turned 50, I noticed that my travel style was beginning to change.  I was less interested in speeding from place to place and more interested in a slower, more relaxed pace.  I wanted to visit fewer places and stay longer.  Taking the time to savor the entire experience.
I always begin by listing locations that I want to visit and what I might like to do while I’m there.  Keeping in mind that I don’t want a packed schedule, I plan my down time as well as my activities. 
Especially with overseas trips, I know that I will need a little time to recover from jet lag so now I give myself a couple of days to relax without making a lot of plans.  I can always do more if I’m feeling up to it but I don’t feel obligated.  It’s a nice opportunity to treat myself to a nice lunch or just a cup of tea on the patio.
Something I love to do everywhere I go is to visit gardens and museums, so I usually will build my trip around that.  It helps to narrow down where I want to stay and what type of transportation is available. 
I like to book at a nice hotel with a restaurant so that I don’t even have to go out if I don’t want to.  This also helps me feel more comfortable in a new area when I’m away.  Even though I always research the hotel and surrounding area carefully before I leave home, sometimes it isn’t what I expected or my flight is delayed and I arrive in the middle of the night.  Staying safe is always a priority.
Another nice alternative is a Bed and Breakfast.  Very often the family will help you with whatever you need and provide great information about the local area.  Do remember that they only serve breakfast so you will have to get lunch and dinner on your own. 
When I was younger, I would usually rent a car when I was away but now, I prefer to use public transportation.  I love to take taxis, buses and trains where ever I can and with ride-share available almost everywhere in the world it is easier than ever to get around.  You just need to pay close attention to schedules and plan for unexpected delays and cancelations.
Something that has helped me, especially as I’ve gotten older, is to be as prepared as possible for the inevitable travel disruptions.  More than ever, travel is unpredictable, and if you can stay flexible and be willing to make the necessary adjustments, you will have a more pleasant journey.  Some of my best experiences came from what otherwise seemed to be problems while I was traveling.
One thing, the biggest thing, I have learned while traveling is to Pack Light! 
For some, this may seem impossible but I’ve found it is more of an art than a science and with a little bit of planning and some practice, anyone can do it.
After 40 years of traveling for work and pleasure I now know that there is very little that I can’t get wherever I am and how easy it is to pivot when those unexpected issues arise if I don’t have too much baggage with me.
Everything from broken wheels and handles to the infamous cobblestone streets of Europe, I have never been sorry to have too little luggage.
I travel with one small carry-on bag that has wheels and shoulder straps and one small personal item that will fit into my carry-on if necessary.  Even for a 2-week holiday in the middle of winter, it must fit into my one carry-on or it doesn’t go.
Not only do I not have to worry about lost or stolen luggage but it also makes it possible for me to quickly change flights or get on and off of crowded buses or trains.
If you are new to travel, the best thing to do is to start small and build from there.  Plan one short excursion to do something you enjoy either in your own city or somewhere nearby for a short weekend stay and see how it feels.
Everywhere I go, I discover something new and interesting, not just about the place I’m visiting but about myself as well.
Happy Travels!

Published on -
Do you like to travel?  Has your travel style changed as you’ve gotten older?  Share your stories.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

30 Day Reboot

 It’s that time of year again.  The time when I begin to feel a bit restless and in need of a change.  I don’t feel stuck, just a little less interested in my usual routine.

Time passes so quickly that I forget to stop and reassess where I want to be.  All of those things that I thought about doing so many months ago, but never did, now don’t feel so important or interesting.

Being retired, I don’t have the commitment of work and yet my life is full and busy and for that I am grateful.  Now, I am ready for something new.

Time for a Change

I have to be careful when I’m feeling this way as I have a tendency to make radical changes, like moving houses or even leaving the country.  I don’t need to go to that extent if I can just find some new ways to revitalize my outlook.

What I have learned is that all change actually happens from within and that is where I need to start.  So, I have created a personal challenge that will help me to reset my perspective and allow some fresh ideas to surface.

Be Easy About It

What I am looking for is a gentle shift, not a huge leap.  Some way of opening up to some new things without having to throw out the old. 

One thing I will do more of is meditate.  Spending just 10 minutes a day, sitting quietly is so simple that I forget how much power there is in reconnecting with my spirit.

When I do that, it seems that I feel lighter, and more creative ideas come to me. 

Do What You Love

Something that never fails to soothe my soul is to go out in nature.  No matter what the weather is, I always love just walking in a park.  I go during off hours so I can be alone and just experience the peace.
This year, I started a small vegetable garden.  It has been so satisfying to care for the plants and watch them grow.  It is a lovely reminder of the cycle of life.

Have Fun

Part of the process for me is to remember to have more fun.  I have always been a very serious person so light-hearted fun is pure joy when I can let myself feel it.

Over the years, I have found that I enjoy many things but don’t often incorporate them into my daily life. 

Whether it is turning up the music and dancing while I’m cleaning house or cooking some new exotic dish, it doesn’t matter.  Just being playful is key to feeling happy.
Minimize Negative Influence

It is helpful for me to reduce outside interference in order to make sustainable changes. 

The big one for me is my phone.  I live alone so it is easy for that to be my biggest connection with the outside world, but it has become less of a tool for communicating and more of a time warp of senseless activity.  I catch myself scrolling through a flood of information that I don’t want or need in my life.

I remember when a phone was just a phone, not a mini-computer.

Television is another intrusion that I allow far too often.  I don’t need the constant input of bad news and excessive advertising. 

Maximize the Positive

It is easy to go through the day without stopping to think about how I am really feeling.  Every day there is an opportunity for me to look for the best things in the world around me. 

Something as simple as a friendly check-out clerk at the store or a lovely yellow butterfly on the bush in my yard.  Life is as wonderful as we let it be.

Many years ago, Bing Crosby sang “Accentuate the Positive – Eliminate the Negative”, that is my new mantra.

I can’t wait to see what delightful things I will discover on this new journey.
Do you feel a need for change at different times of the year?  What do you do when you are craving something new?  Share your stories and join the conversation.

Published on Sixty and Me

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What I Didn't Know About Ireland


As an Irish American, I grew up thinking that I knew certain things about Ireland.   Of course, I had always heard how beautiful it was and how friendly the people were, but I was surprised to discover that there are so many things that as Americans we don't really know about Ireland.

Here are just some of the things that surprised and delighted me during my travels to the lovely green isle.

Top o' the Mornin 

I've never heard an Irish person say this in over 20 years of traveling there.

Corned Beef and Cabbage is not the national dish

The most common or traditional meal I found all through the country is boiled back bacon (pork), potatoes, cabbage and a lovely parsley cream sauce, it's just like the country boiled dinner my grandmother made when I was growing up.  Corned beef and cabbage developed in America due to the cost of food and immigrants living in the same communities with some who did not eat pork.  

Irish Bacon is not the same as Canadian Bacon 

It a gorgeous slice of pork loin (rashers) that I adore!

St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday to honor their patron Saint

Until 1970 pubs were required by law to close for the day.  Irish immigrants in America began celebrating in remembrance of their homeland and it has evolved into the green madness we know today. 

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate countries

Although they share a border with the South, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

Pubs in Ireland are truly Public Houses

They are a place to meet, gather and conduct business.  You are as likely to find a hardware store or linen shop in the same building.  I even found one that had a mortuary on the other side.  Many have become more of a drinking establishment, but you'll still find many true pubs throughout the country.

To say that the Irish are heavy drinkers, is not a fair reflection of the culture

I found drinking to be more of a social activity, and many prefer tea or soft drinks over alcohol when they are out.  My favorite was black currant juice mixed with water, very refreshing.

Having said that, there is a very healthy respect for the black stuff

During my travels I would often see Guinness mini coupes driving through the country to inspect and service the tiny pubs in the towns and villages.  As a woman you are more likely to be offered a glass instead of a pint when you order a beer, just tell them you want a pint, and you'll get a smile and a wink.

We've all heard of Irish Wakes 

I was very moved to hear the story about families having American Wakes for their loved ones who were emigrating to the US - they knew they would probably never see them again.  

Christian - Pagan - Ancient Celts

As I trekked up the Hill of Tara, I was surprised to see a very modest statue of St. Patrick and all of the surrounding monuments and symbols to honor their ancient pagan history as well.

Cherish the History

That is something very unique about Ireland - they don't remove something just because it is old or seems out of date.  A lovely caretaker I met at the Kylemore Abbey gardens explained to me that anything that thrives there stays there. 

Taxi drivers are more like professional tour operators 

They will give you great information about the local area.  It will also be the most interesting conversation you will ever have.  The Irish are very well informed about news and world events and love to chat with travelers about all of it.

How lovely and social they are is not a myth 

If they ask you about yourself, it isn't simply to be polite - they really want to know.  When I lived there, I was told early on, to allow extra time when you go out so you can chat with the people you meet along the way.  

The Irish have an incredible, irrepressible, independent spirit

That is perfectly displayed on the Painted Doors of Dublin.  At the same time, they have a deep love and loyalty to their country, like singing the national anthem at the end of the night after drinking and dancing.  That is something you would never see at an American bar.

They are the warmest, kindest most generous people I have ever met, and the countryside is absolutely stunning.  

If you've been there, then you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, then you must see it for yourself to understand the true beauty of this very special place.

To say I was charmed by Ireland would be a tremendous understatement.  It's not only the home of my ancestors but has become the homeplace of my heart.