My Birthday Trip 2015, Away and Unplugged

***Note***  This was my birthday adventure last year 2015.  I started writing about it after our trip but evidently never finished or published it.  While looking for photos of the trip i found it still in my drafts.  So here i am, almost a year later, posting it.  On another note, we enjoyed this trip so much that we have decided to do it again for my birthday this year.  Only two nights rather than one and a different, smaller cabin!

 

This year, to celebrate the start of my 38th year in this life I decided that I wanted to get away from it all.  To unplug from all the screens that run our lives.  To reconnect with nature, and myself.  After some internet research I came across this rustic, primative cabin in the  Shenandoah National Park along the Appalachian Mountains.  To get to the cabin you had to hike in around two miles into the forest, which meant carrying in everything you needed for the two days in your backpack.

I loved the idea of this, and immediately booked the cabin for the night of April 26th.  We left Saturday afternoon and spend the night in Culpeper, VA – just exploring the new little town, having happy hour at a busy little bar along the main street and deciding on Thai for dinner, before heading back to the hotel to relax and get a good night sleep before our hike the next day  Saturday was rainy and cold, so when i awoke on Sunday morning and the sun was shining i was so excited!  It turned out to be a beautiful day for a hike and to spend the night in nature.

We drove the scenic road from Culpeper to Skyline Drive.  We had three hike options to get to the cabin of varying distances, however we were warned a couple days prior that due to flooding only one of the routes was passable.  We stopped at a little gift shop along the way to get a trail map and a bottle of wine (that i had been badly wanting to have to drink by the fire at the cabin that night, to toast my birthday).  When we parked to finish up the last minute packing of our packs, i dropped the bottle of wine and it shattered all over the ground.  I was so disappointed!  But i wasn’t going to let that ruin our time.

10306231_10205453094942320_4473449697650529034_n

This is us leaving the car behind and starting our journey!

We hiked 1.8 miles, mostly downhill, until we reached Corbin Cabin.  Coming upon the cabin from the back i started to get so excited, i couldn’t wait to open it up and explore!  The renters there prior to us did a great job of having wood all stocked to start a fire.

11174880_10205453096102349_5197509073150969032_n

11108209_10205453098582411_906917446798706910_n

Inside was just as exciting!

 

we explored a little, started a fire and read through the guest book and book on the property including the history of the cabin.  After getting a good fire going we decided to start some dinner.  The water took way too long to boil in the kitchen area stove so we ended up just heating it up over the fire in the fireplace.

We had plenty of wood to last the night and went to the little creek below the cabin for our water.  After getting settled in, exploring and having dinner we cleaned up and settled down to relax.  We lit some candles and played some cards and just enjoyed the whole experience, until we were ready to fall asleep.

Up early to chop some wood, have breakfast and head out.

I hated to say good bye. wishing we had another night here

11205501_10205453103422532_4290630811199847520_n

We cleaned up, packed up and headed out for our hike back to the car.

We stopped at one of the lodge restaurant/bars for some grub and drinks before we headed back home.  This was a most incredible adventure and a way of life that is so simple and carefree, one i would love to have!  I didn’t mind not having electricity and using fire and candles to warm, light and cook.  I didn’t mind not having a toilet and having to go outside.. but i think i would miss a shower/bath tub after a while 🙂

Advertisements

Why I Love Tuesdays So Much

Tuesday-love

Have I ever told you all why I love Tuesdays so much?  If you follow my facebook page you know I am always excited when Tuesday come around.  Sometimes I wish everyday could be a Tuesday.

Tuesdays are my one guaranteed “date night” with the love of my life.  When life gets hectic and schedules take over it is even more important than ever to make that time for each other.  Happily and excitedly, not reluctantly.

It all started in the Summer of 2009.  I call that “My Summer of Recovery and Discovery”.  Maybe I’ll write a separate blog about that some other time 😉  Two friends took a chance and fell in love with each other.  Because we were previously such good friends, all of our friends were all in the same group together.  We all hung out together all the time.  After Eric and I got together, it was difficult to find time alone together because we were always with all of our other friends.  Back then I had discovered that he was also a fan of wine and wine tasting and we decided to have a “wine night” and try a different wine together.  Tuesday became the day.  It was a day he didn’t have band practice, a day I didn’t already have things scheduled with other friends, and a day that my roommate at the time did have band practice and was gone for the evening.

We started to share Tuesday evenings together each week.  Sharing wine and conversation and getting to know each other better.  Five years later, we still have our Tuesday wine night date night together.  Our lives have changes, times have changed and our schedules have changed but our Tuesday nights have not.  Things got hectic with Eric in class, having band practice, and working mostly evenings but no matter what he has always made Tuesday nights unavailable for any other activities other than us.  Sometimes being the only night we had to actually spend the whole evening together, made it even more important and special

Maybe that is one of the reasons, among many others, why our relationship keeps growing stronger and stronger.  Through all the bad times and all the hardships we always come out on top.  We make a conscious effort to ensure we have that time together.  Relationships are hard work sometimes and require that maintaining and attention or they will become stagnant or fail.  Ours will not.

Some of my favorite Tuesday evenings involve the two of us cracking open a bottle of wine and cooking a fun dinner together.  We come up with some pretty amazing concoctions in the kitchen.  We love to play cards or board games and spend time with our furbabies.  We often just relax out on the balcony with our wine and good conversation, talking and sharing with each other.  Those are some of my most favorite times.  Staying home, just the two of us and blocking out the rest of the world.  Forgetting about our phones, the internet, television and other outside distractions and just enjoying each other.

Every couple needs one night a week together like this!  Whether you have children or not and no matter how hectic or busy your schedule is.  If it is something that is important to you, you will make time for it.  It is about priorities and you MUST make your relationship a priority.

My Newest Artwork – AHIMSA

Ahimsa – Simply stated, Non Violence.  Non Violence in thought, Non Violence in action and Non Violence in speech.  This is a Hindu term which means the absence from violence either by thought, word or deed.  It implies compassion, respect and loving kindness to all living beings.

I knew I wanted my next tattoo to symbolize and embody this as this is how I strive to live my life.  It is imperative to develop a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love.  Compassion is such a major theme in my life and one word that describes me perfectly.

So when I was contemplating my newest piece of artwork, I did not have any difficulties in coming to a decision about this.  It is sanscrit for Ahimsa.  Each of my tattoos has immense meaning to me and represents a certain stage or turning point in my life.  Works of art that I am proud to permanently wear for the eternity of this body.

Here is the outline completed without the shading

10527598_10203446526419361_7425125747090362949_n

And the finished piece of art!

10346528_10203446503218781_7371101235927635973_n

10552648_10154428443380305_4329632196188556873_n

 

This piece of art was completed by Lisa McLeod (click to view her facebook page and other works of art).  She is not only a tattoo artist, she is also an artist.  She specialized in custom work and has many other projects such as children’s books and art for surfboards.  Check out her stuff!  If you are looking for some tattoo art work done in the Hampton Roads area, she is working on her portfolio and has a lot of great good deals!

 

I Never Imagined It Wold Be So Easy!

I am a big fan of getting money for nothing!  Aren’t we all??  Well in this day and age, it is rare that you can find a deal like this that actually works and is actually worth the little time and effort you spend on it.

I started using Inbox Dollars a couple of years ago.  They send me emails each day with a link to click to view the Paid Email and to receive cash credit for clicking on the link.  That is all I do!  Click the link, close it out.  Click the link, close it out.  I do this for each email they send me daily and the cash builds up!  You can also respond to and complete surveys for additional cash but this takes more time than I have, so I typically only do the paid emails.

Once you reach a $30.00 credit, you can request a pay out.  This can be in the form of a check or a prepaid Visa Card.  Easy as that!

Here is a summary of my past earnings and checks received:

July 1, 2012 – Check received  for $40.87

January 30, 2013 – Check received for $32.69

and now today, I am ready to request my next payout in the amount of $35.35!

Yes, it takes a while for the cash to build up if all you do is view emails and not complete surveys as well, but the way I look at it, $30.00 + for doing nothing.  And I like those odds!!  A little extra money here and there for whatever I want.  A special surprise to myself.   I always receive the checks within a couple of weeks.  I am excited to figure out what I am going to spend the extra money on this time!  I make sure to use it for something FUN and not paying off bills.

They also have a referral program where you can earn cash for friends you refer to the rewards club.  If you are interested in making some extra cash for doing nothing, like I do, then just follow the link below!  This is a special link to my referral page so I get the credit for you signing up.  Give it a try and see what you think about it, what can it hurt?  Nothing but a little extra cash in your pocket!  It is free to join and you are out nothing for giving it a try.

 

InboxDollars Banner Ad

<a href=”http://www.inboxdollars.com/?r=ref3410679″>
<img src=”http://www.inboxdollars.com/graphics/creative/banners/300×250/300x250_1.gif” border=”0″ />
</a>

Click the link above and sign up!  And let me know what fun and exciting things you do with the extra money you get!  🙂

 

easy money

 

 

A Different Kind of Celebration – Buddha Day

A Different Kind of Celebration – Buddha Day

Each year, I republish my blog on Buddha Day, with some updates and modifications. 

 

Today, Wednesday May 14th, 2014 is a very special day for those of the Buddhist faith.  Whether you are a Buddhist, or like me and just identify and believe in the loving compassion teachings of the Buddha, today is a day to acknowledge and celebrate.  Buddha Day, also known as Vesak, Vesakha or Wesak, is a celebration that encompasses the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment Nirvana and his passing away, all on the same day.  This day falls on the full moon of the 5th month of the lunar calendar, varying dates each year.  This year it falls on May 14th.   Many Buddhist celebrations occur during the full moon.   This day is one of the most important observances and celebrations for Buddhists across the world.  Vesak offers Buddhists an opportunity to reflect on the life and teachings of the Buddha and also highlights the potential for inner peace and happiness that lies within us all as well as a day for Buddhists to reaffirm their commitment to living a moral and compassionate lifestyle.  As Eric reminds me, it is not how he died but it is a day to reflect on how he lived and the magnitude of his teachings, and that is the reason we celebrate.


“The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind.”
~Venerable Mahinda

Most Buddhist countries declare this day a Buddhist Holiday and a day to remember the significant events in Buddha’s life.  Many Buddhists acknowledge this event by visiting the Vihara, or Buddhist Monistary.  This could also simply mean a secluded place in which to walk, reflect and meditate if there is no Monistary close to visit.  During this visit to the Vihara, Buddhists would be dressed in white and bring flowers and incense or candles to pay respect to the Buddha.  These symbolic offerings are to be a reminder that just as the beautiful flowers wither and die and the candles soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction.  Many devout Buddhists would spend the day in the Vihara, from morning to night, taking a retreat from their daily schedule, meditating, chanting and participating in Dharma Talk or teachings of the Buddha.  In many Buddhist countries selling and consuming of meat and alcohol is prohibited during the week of Vesak and the government will even closes down all liquor shops and slaughter houses.   Birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in a symbolic act of liberation, giving freedom to those in captivity and tortured against their will.  This is considered an act of generosity, symbolic of generating good karma. The act also symbolizes the Buddha’s compassion for all things.  While many sects of Buddhism typically calls for a vegetarian diet, there are also other sects which do not require this.  During this time Buddhists who are not vegetarian refrain from eating meat. Buddhists make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind and are encouraged to eat only vegetarian food for the day.

To celebrate this day and the life and teachings of the Great Buddha, it is not necessary to go to a temple and participate in rituals if you can’t, don’t have access or would rather not.  Many would prefer a day or even a moment of solitary reflection.  It is not about the specifics in how one celebrates this day or the rituals performed, it is the simple act of recognizing  and expressing gratitude to the Buddha for the teachings he has given.  It is really all about personal preference and what is best for you as an individual.  Maybe some would prefer a simple ceremony in front of a small shrine at home, or maybe a brief reflection on the qualities and teachings of the Buddha along with meditation.

I have always admired and appreciated the teachings of Buddhism.  When I met Eric and two of my most exciting surprises about him was that he loved wine and he was a Buddhist!  He and I begun to discuss some of our Buddhist ideals and rituals and he taught me about the different days of celebrations as well as sharing his own personal rituals and ways to celebrate and give respect to the teachings with me.  He is the one who taught me about Buddha Day and all other Buddhist holidays and from there i researched to find out more.

This will be our fifth year together  and this year, just as last year Eric will acknowledge and pay respect to this tradition and lifestyle by refraining from eating meat for the month prior, taking it a step further than just abstaining for the single day but also the day before and the day after.

We do not have the opportunity to live in a Buddhist country and have the day off so we will begin our evening by having a Buddhist feast consisting of Sushi (vegetarian Sushi for me) and miso soup, just as Eric and I  ritualistically do every year.  Then we will have our own ceremony of reading from our Buddhism books together and meditating  in front of our shrine.     I am thankful, grateful and appreciative that Eric has shared his religion, tradition and rituals with me and we have incorporated this as part of our lifestyle together.

Even if you are not Buddhist or have never studied any of Buddha’s teachings, everyone can learn a lot from the Great and Wise Buddha.  In today’s society we are killing each other, we are killing our planet in which we live.  In my opinion, there is a huge lack of compassion and consideration in everyday human life.    What can we learn from Buddha?  That non-violent living is the way to go.  That we need more peace, love and compassion to create the positive energy our society is lacking, and to help promote good Karma throughout our lives.  We need to expel hatred, greed and stupidity from our lifestyles.

“He who lives only for pleasures, and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle, and has not the power of virtue — such a man is moved by mara (evil one), is moved by selfish temptations, even as a weak tree is shaken by the wind.”  Buddha

Fun New Years Eve Traditions – Out With the Old and In With the New

Happy New Years!  Good bye to 2013 and hello to 2014.
With this New Years falling on the New Moon, it is all about new beginnings, making a fresh start.  Wipe the slate clean and say good bye to all the negativity.  Start this new year off the way YOU want it to be and keep the ball rolling to make this the year you want it to be.  This year, it is all about a new and fresh start!  Change your perspective and point of view and look at life through a pair of fresh eyes.  Fill this year with kindness, love and compassion.  Live with excitement instead of fear!   Let this year be all the adventure you have hoped for.  Want it and make it happen.  Be motivated and wild, let your spirit dance and sing.  Don’t let complacency and dullness rule your year.  Life the most full, exciting and free life possible.  Wish for it and make it happen.  Life the life you wish to live and be the person you want to be.  There is nothing stopping you or holding you back.  This is the year to make it happen.
The last few years it has been really important to me to come up with my own traditions and customs, and for Eric and I to develop our own traditions together.  Incorporating some of the things we knew in childhood and growing up, as well as things from our heritage or things that came along with our new beliefs and ideals we developed in adulthood.
One of the most interesting traditions I have learned about trough my research that we have put into practice in our own New Years Eve traditions is called First Footing.
First Footing is and old Celtic tradition.  In Scottish and Irish households, to ensure luck and good fortune for the year ahead, the first person to enter the house after the stroke of Midnight on December 31st, on New Years Day has to be a tall, dark, and handsome male.  It is believed to be a symbol of good luck in the coming year.A red-headed female would be the last person you would want to enter your door as red hair was considered a sign of the unlucky and would bring hardship and grief.  It is also said to be unlucky for the first footer to come empty handed.  Some of the traditional gifts include whisky or some form of alcohol, coins, coal or a loaf of bread.
The way Eric and I have incorporated this into our own traditions is that no matter where we are or what we are doing, when we arrive home after midnight on December 31st, he is always the first to enter the door and cross the threshold – as he is the tall, dark and handsome one of the two of us!  Me, the red head… enters last.  He carries coins in his pocket as the “traditional gift” to the new year.
So to have a happy and lucky new year, pay attention to who comes through your door after midnight, and watch out for the redheads… 😉
An interesting Pagan New Years Tradition is to place a silver coin on the porch before midnight.  Then on New Years Day retrieve the coin and throughout the entire year, it is said that money is sure to arrive when it is desired.
This is a small new little tradition I may incorporate this year.  By placing some coins outside on the balcony under the darkness of the new moon, I will set the intention for a prosperous new year filled with wealth and health.
Each year, since a child, eating cabbage has always been a part of my New Years meal.  As a child mom used to make pork and cabbage, but now as a vegetarian I skip the pork.  It is said to bring health and good fortune for the coming year.
And of course, don’t forget the New Years Eve festivities.  Fun, partying, sharing of champagne, the midnight toast, the first kiss of the new year with that someone special… all are on my list of traditions yearly.
But whatever you do, have fun and be safe.  If you plan to be out sharing too much champagne, designate a driver or call a cab.  Please think of yourself and others.  No one wants their New Year to start out with an arrest, an accident, an injury or worst of all, a death.

Remember, this is the year for a new start.  All of the negativity, bad habits, problems and difficulties of the years past, leave them at the door.  Another tradition is to “sweep” out all the negativity and bad and all the old you have no use for in the new year.  Open up your door and physically sweep it out, setting the intention and make a ritual of it.  Making room for the new, for the positive and for the good.  Making room for your new dreams and desires.  A clean slate.  This year is yours!!

Winter Solstice Celebration 2013

Happy Winter Solstice to all and Blessed Yule!

Today, December 21, 2013 marks the Winter Solstice this year.  This is officially the first day of winter, the longest night and the shortest day of the year.  Winter Solstice is also known as Yule, Christmas and Saturnalia. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is typically around December 21-23rd and is the day in which the sun’s path stops moving toward the sky. Solstice literally means “sun stands still.  Days will now stop growing shorter and will start to lengthen again.  This is a time for festivals and celebrations for Earth, for the new Solar year and the beginning of winter.  The solstice is linked to the idea of rebirth.  It is a time for inner renewal.

Today we welcome back the Lord of Light.
Tonight is the Winter Solstice and will be the longest night of the year, it is a magical time of transition. After this day the nights will start to get shorter and the days will become longer. As the waxing Sun grows in strength in the coming months the earth will start to blossom once more.
Build a fire of Oak in honor of the Sun God and speak your wishes into it’s flames for the coming New Year. Eat drink and be merry.

I have my own tradition as a way of celebrating.  I started my ritual Winter Solstice celebrations four years ago in 2010, and have carried on some of my own same traditions, as well as created new ones to develop the holiday as well as ways to include Eric and develop new traditions for us together.    Whether it is Christian or Pagan or Traditional or whatever you want to call it makes no difference to me.  This is something i started for myself, four years ago while i was going through a very difficult life transition.  I had always celebrated the Christmas holidays with my family as a child.  However, as i got older and begun to develop my own beliefs and ideas i started to question my reasoning for the celebration.  What it boiled down for me was a time to share and spend with family and loved ones.  During the Winter Solstice of 2010 i was in Wichita, KS with no means to spend the holidays with my family in West Virginia.  I had begun researching the Solstice in terms of traditions and meanings behind the celebration and it made sense to me, and made me happy.  I wanted to come up with MY OWN tradition to celebrate the Solstice.  I had always celebrated or at least acknowledged the Summer Solstice so it only made sense to me to celebrate the Winter Solstice as well.

The way our culture has come to celebrate the December holidays often leaves me feeling more miserable than merry. All of the shopping, the stuff and the stress seems to crowd out the anticipated joy of the season.   I decided to start a new tradition: honoring the original December holiday, the winter solstice.  The winter solstice as well as the summer solstice have become two of my favorite holidays and reasons for celebration… mainly because it is completely rooted in nature.  It is not commercialized or stressful.  It doesn’t matter what one believes or doesn’t believe, it just is.  People from the Celts to the Hopis have celebrated the solstices for over centuries.

I came across a website, EcoHearth, that had some really great ideas for celebrations and they had a recipe for Winter Solstice Vegetarian Chili.  I make that chili every year now!  I spent that first year alone, enjoying my chili, delicious wine, lighting candles and meditating.  After that,  Eric joined me in my celebration.  Along with my Winter Solstice Chili and wine we read stories and passages to each other about the Winter Solstice and celebrations and meanings.

Last year we started a new tradition for the two of us and incorporated a Yule Log into our celebration.  We took a day and went out in nature, in search of the perfect log along with all the greenery and adornments to make it perfect.  We stopped into the A.R.E to get a special devotional candle and decorated our log together.  This is another tradition we will carry on.  We then keep our log and burn it during our Summer Solstice Celebration.

Today is a beautiful day in Virginia Beach.  I will start my special traditional Winter Solstice Vegetarian chili in the crock pot and Eric and I will head down to First Landing State Park in search of the perfect log and greenery to decorate it with.  I plan on going to the A.R.E for another new candle to add to last years.  We will come home and decorate our log, enjoy our chili and wine and special holiday ale, relax and enjoy time together.    After our log is done, we will have a special meditation session with our log, blessing it and preparing it for us, energetically.  Gifts aren’t really a big part of our celebration, but this year we decided to get each other flasks for our Solstice.  We thought it was a fun idea and neither of us have ever had one before.  I also went out and got some special new toys for the girls to enjoy.

The Winter Solstice is a time for new beginnings.  To reflect over the previous year and plan for the new year.  Some traditions say that the mood for this day sets the tone for the year to come.  Suggestions to create a great year ahead are to let lose and have fun!  Drink, be merry, feast, dance, sing, make love and enjoy your day.  Do not let the stress of daily life infringe on the day.  Do the things you enjoy and set the tone for a great year to come.  I plan to!

There are many rites, rituals and celebrations that are historical or traditional, and I took the ones that made sense to me and geared the celebration toward myself and what felt right to us.  If you are interested, here is the link for my traditional  Winter Solstice Vegetarian Chili.

But most of all…