Which Direction do I Take?

 

Over the course of our short lives we are offered different choices that lead to a direction affected by circumstance. Each choice is offered because of opportunity or our gut feeling that we need to change.

Many times we come to a crossroad that provides us with what seems to be equal value options. It is only with vetting the options and using our internal guiding system that we have the possibility of the reward we’re looking for.

However, if we are given a false narrative, and we base our decision upon that, chances are the outcome will not be what we’re looking for. That is when we learn one of the most important factors in decision making… trust.

If we believe the person offering us a job is true to their word then we can believe the outcome will be favorable. In many cases we want to believe the word of a friend or even a stranger because that is human nature. Most people look for the best in a person, or a job situation thinking that our circumstance will transform magically due to a physical change in location.

The truth is, if you don’t have the inner strength to handle the obstacles that occur in life, your direction will be affected by weakness and self doubt. Thus, you will be like a spinning top that never lands in a place of contentment.

The happiness your searching for is illusive because you’re not content with your own spirit. I see people think “things” will make them happy. A new car or a myriad of a thousand physical things that cannot make up for the hollowness deep inside their soul.

The happiest people I’ve found are the ones that don’t rely on themselves for inner strength. The happiest people I’ve discovered have a belief system that  revolves around God, or whatever you want to call an entity that we can draw extra support and inner peace from.

With that power that is offered by something greater than ourselves, anything is possible. The direction becomes more focused, clearer, because we realize that we don’t have to posses all the power to make decisions that will affect our future.

To release that stress from being totally responsible for our direction, we give ourselves a greater chance for the success we’re looking for. In many cases it goes against our human nature to surrender to something beyond our field of vision.

It’s funny that when we learn to surrender… we become stronger. To believe in a “transcendent” force means believing in something beyond the physical universe, independent of it and outside of space and time.

The times I’ve only relied on myself for direction, I’ve encountered obstacles that were placed there by my own inability to understand the greater picture. Almost every time it was one step forward and two steps back. This learning curve that leads to hurdling obstacles did not have to be.

When I was younger I thought that moving to a new place would erase what was holding me back. That thought process was just delaying the inevitable collapse. Of course we do learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

The mistakes we make (providing we don’t make them again) leads to a term that comes with age, “wisdom.” This wisdom can be traced to poor decisions that eventually led to self reflection. It is very important that through this process you don’t lose the gift of belief in your own abilities.

In our lifetime we will have great supporters for the road we choose, that’s called “family”. Then there are the friends we will have for a lifetime that believe in you, sometimes above the belief you have in yourself.

Those friends are rare indeed. They will be battle tested with the vicissitudes of relationships that are complicated but well worth the journey together. Each friend like that is a rare jewel. Giving support for years to those you love and care about is such a gift to those whom receive it and those that give it.

Directions in life are paths woven in soul searching expeditions that are framed in optimism. Each journey down that path excavates the wisdom we all search for to make a decision that will lead to a happy and healthy life.

Each decade provides different expectations. Responsibilities, and growing friend and family circles leads us to different nuances centered around others. Eventually when we live our lives and look back into the “Days of Future Past” we understand one important and simple lesson.

The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return.

 

Trees, Stars, and Water

 

Perhaps I’ll start you off with a little Haiku. “Trees are like tall withered snowmen, standing silently.” According to experts, there are more trees in our world, than there are stars. Nasa estimates there are about 100 to 400 billion stars in our galaxy. In 2015, scientists estimated there are three trillion trees on earth.

Five fun facts about trees: 1. Trees can help reduce stress. 2. Trees help to improve water quality. 3. Tree rings can predict climate change. 4. Trees never die of old age. 5. Trees are the longest living organism on Earth.

The Apollo 14 mission in 1971 took seeds to the moon to see  it they would grow differently there. To everyone’s surprise, the trees grew the same way as they do on Earth.

I look out our windows and see the trees providing cover for the flora and fauna. I stand in amazement as I see the eagles perched upon our cedar or pine trees. They sit in a majestic aura that captivates our senses. The wonder of nature is the formula for determining seasons, migratory trends, and the interaction between all that lives in this ecosystem.

The fundamental prize of our senses is to take in this beauty with sight, listening, and the smells of the flowers and trees that dot the landscape. Each sensory experience reduces our stress and brings us closer to being apart of all that we witness.

At night we view the stars in all their magnificence. Each bright pin prick of light helped those that came before us navigate and wax poetic about the vast universe we are but a small part of. Every star you see is bigger and brighter than the sun.

All stars begin from clouds of cold molecular hydrogen that gravitationally collapse. As the cloud collapses, it fragments into many pieces that will go on to form individual stars. The material collects into a ball that continues to collapse under its own gravity until it can ignite nuclear fusion at its core. This initial gas was formed during the Big Bang, and is always about 74% hydrogen and 25% helium. Over time, stars convert some of their hydrogen into helium.

Stars are in perfect balance even though they are in constant conflict with themselves. The collective gravity of all mass of a star is pulling it inward. If there was nothing to stop it, the star would just continue collapsing for millions of years until it became its smallest possible size; maybe as a neutron star. But there is a pressure pushing back against the gravitational collapse of the star: light.

The nuclear fusion at the core of a star generates a tremendous amount of energy. However, putting all of this scientific knowledge aside, the unbridled beauty of a star offers a poetic sense of guidance, hope, and destiny. They can also represent the infinite and unattainable, or alternatively they can represent inspiration.

The connection between the human spirit and the vast, enigmatic cosmos distills a complex emotion and existential questions. This distillation melts into a simple equation that provides a hopeful introspective look into our soul.

This brings us to our last and perhaps most important part of this piece. Water as the life blood of our existence. Interesting that 97% of the water on our planet is salt water. Water is the only substance on earth that is found naturally in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. More than 90% of the world’s supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica.

A trillion tons of water is evaporated every day by the sun! Another interesting fact is that the earth is a closed system that rarely loses or gains extra matter. Essentially, this means that the same water that existed on earth millions of years ago is still present today.

In relation to our own anatomy, our bodies are 60-70% water. Our brains are 75% water, our lungs are 90% water, and our blood is about 82% water.

As I look out upon our landscape towards the back of our home, I see the spectacle of water. This version is a manmade lake formed from the existence of a dam. It doesn’t make it any less spectacular as its soothing ebbing and flowing represents the viewing and then disappearance of shore land.

Each season promotes this sensory evolution of water. It feeds this ecosystem, enabling the clouds to breech the picture while the creatures enjoy the sustenance that promotes their existence.

As far as our existence, this water feature advances the peaceful nature of our park-like setting into a soothing picture painted by God.

 

Happy New Year 2024

learn about yourself experience life

Every year becomes a notch in the calendar of life. Most people step into the new year with a resolve to become better in their personal and professional lives.

When we are younger it’s about new jobs, better income, perhaps hobbies/travel, and most certainly personal growth for those evolved enough to realize how important that is. The ticking clock of our expiration date isn’t thought about except for landmark ages where our friends remind us of just how old we are. That starts at age 30 and continues until 60.

After 60 (if you are a male)  you are addressed as sir or some variation to let you know that you are now “elderly”. Even your friends start telling you how good you look, “Compared to what?”

If you are blessed enough to have made some good decisions along the way, you can craft your own direction and life to perpetuate the happiness we all deserve.

This year of 2024 is a tale of two thoughts. On the one hand I am so very thankful for Nancy, my daughter, my friends, my health, our home in Idaho and the vision to travel and explore the world I’ve only read about.

Of course health is the most important. Without good health we are stifled in our ability to fulfill new and exciting chapters in our life. If you’ve experienced health issues and have recovered you realize how precious life is.

Now, time becomes a race against the aging clock. To experience the fruits of our labor and expand on the wonderful relationships we’ve cultivated through-out our lives. We must live in the moment always confident that the future is bright, the past is a memory, and the present is a gift.

2024 will be another trip to other parts of the world. Spain, Portugal, Madeira, and other places yet to be explored. This, while improving our home environment with beauty and creativity, breathing excitement into our visual wonderland.

The above thoughts are the best part of what is coming for Nancy and I in 2024. The flip side is to see what is becoming of the country we once loved so much.

With all  of the “Woke” hyperbole, gender confusion, mask mandates, more government over-reach, our personal freedoms being erased by greedy politicians, more “fake news”,  and the left wing control of most of the messaging… 2024 could become our Waterloo.

Children are now taught in our schools to hate our country. Our country’s history is now being used against us as a tool to erase all that which came before us. Teachers are now apologists attempting to cast hateful rhetoric about our history by suggesting those historical statues and events promoted systemic racism and other negative connotations.

History shouldn’t be erased to comfort those that don’t understand the benefits of learning from our past. While there is admittedly past and even present figures, historical events and symbols we should not blindly support… there is the pride we should feel in a country that far outdistances the rest of the world in humanitarian aid, technology, and more freedoms that have yet to be compromised.

When organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” identify with a racist agenda promoting one color over all others the time to stand up and be counted is now. If I said “White Lives Matter” I would be canceled in a heart beat… the hypocrisy is palatable.

Once again the double standard for those that are offended by everything, except their own systemic guilt for all that has transpired before them is a destructive force gaining incredible momentum.

This momentum is perpetuated by our educational system. From elementary school through college the teaching narrative of gender confusion, entitlement ideals, and socialist propaganda is simply brain washing. This is exacerbated by a left wing media that takes that agenda and spins it for their own destructive narrative to further divide us.

The owners of this mind control are the spinners of the web for their own economic benefit. From mask mandates, climate disinformation, and all the other laws going into affect to “protect us”. This is a sad commentary for those that still possess the ability for critical thinking.

2024 is poised to be the most important election year in our history. We either continue down this path of self destruction, which will wipe out our constitution, or we stand up for what this country used to stand for, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

The One Thing in Life that is Constant… is Change.

learn about yourself experience life

When we craft our lives, the majority of time we bank to the right or left depending upon the circumstances. Sometimes we move forward into a place that was meant to be and other times we fall backwards to a place, upon reflection, was the wrong move.

Regardless of our movement, or our direction, the one thing that is constant in our life is change. New places, new friends, unforseen circumstances, the vicissitudes of life. Each development strenghtens our resolve to learn and grow, or weakens it.

As each state of affairs presents new challenges, our mindset to adapt and conquer produces an avenue for change. The road contains warnings or clues that we sometimes miss. The people we trust to help us or the job or place we fall in love with is sometimes at odds with our gut feeling. Our gut feeling guards us from potential bad choices or enhances our belief that we made the right choice.

In many cases the road is worn with the foot prints of others to help us gauge our own direction. This direction can provide us with a new level of excitement invigorating our inner self to the possibility of even greater happiness. I beleive we are at our best when we are stimulated by the challange of change. However, driven by emotion rather than intellect can be a recipe for disaster. This leads to my next expression.

Learning from our mistakes is often the best way to align providence for the not to distant time ahead. Mistakes are the cornerstone of wisdom. This wisdom can only be realized if we never look to the past to make excuses for the future.

Your body doesn’t live in the past… why should your mind? I hear so often people grouse about the mistakes of the past as they continue to make the same mistakes moving on. This most certainly is an excercise in futility. The ship has sailed on that event and it’s time to cast that anchor of pitty and regret aside. It’s time to read up-lifting books and surround ourselves with positive people that bring out the joy and hope in us.

“The Road Not Taken”
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the diference.

It is with that sentiment I gaze upon those I call friends and family. One is by design, the other by blood. Both carry the enormous joy of experiences that have led to those two definitions. Because of change and the alluring sense of discovery our inner strenght is sometimes the proclivity to be drawn to that which we know.

However, the best surprises lie in the packages we unwrap. In many cases these places, people, or events reveal a view into the looking glass of our soul. This can unmask our true and unwavering view of life, a reflection into the beauty that only we will truly know as the sand in the hour glass of time has run its course.

The way that we envision our future is a direct correlation between our beliefs, our experiences, and the certainty in which we execute our path. Obstacles are part of life and if we have enough of them and we overcome them… towards the final chapter, we will be in control of our destiny.

Isn’t that the recipe for a happy and fullfilled life? Living life on our terms with the knowledge that we’ve hurdled over doubt and trepidation that has led to a wonderful enriched belief in ourselves. If its too tough for you… its just right for me.

Living in a Park Setting, Hiking, and other Observations

 

a place that lives in your heart

Two years ago we began a build above a little town in Idaho called Orofino. Finding this property was not easy but the journey to discover its place in our hearts was worth every obstacle we faced. We then fell in love with the possibilities of purchasing this wonderful property overlooking the Dworshak Dam reservoir.

Our criteria was simple: 1. The property must have its own water supply (a well). 2. The location must be close to a hospital. 3. The location must be close to a firehouse. 4. Location needs to be relatively close to a Costco and Walmart. 5. There must be a sense of seclusion away from people, immersed in nature, quiet and peaceful.

And so after the Pandemic supply chain issues were navigated the home was finished.  We then made our way from Henderson Nevada to our new dramatic  lifestyle change to begin in June 2022. Technically I was still working at the Aria in Las Vegas as I was on a three month leave of absence. The leave was for medical reasons but really was to determine whether, once we settled in, Orofino was the right place for Nancy and I.

My leave of absence was to expire on September 1st, 2022. We quickly fell in love with the place, the people, and the park like setting. September 1st, 2022 I gave my notice for retirement.

From that point on our new life began. All in, we began the strategy to live here full time. This meant that our beautiful home in Henderson Nevada was going to have to be sold. Managing a property long distance without a property manager but with the headaches that accompany any long distance venture became an excercise in futility.

October of 2022 our home in Henderson went on the market and in March of 2023 it closed. Another chapter (16 years in that home on Pony Ranch Circle) closed and a new story to be written. One of the most beautiful parts of life is living in a story you write and not dictated by others or monetary circumstance.

Yesterday we hiked along a road on our property framed by Birch, Mapple, Pine, Spruce, and Douglas Fir trees with the sound of birds and the quiet solitude of nature around us. We came upon (in the middle of nowhere) a tree fort. This reminded me of the many tree forts we built as kids and so, of course, I climbed and viewed a spectacular view of the reservoir and a herd of Elk grazing below.

Timeless in this moment all persepective became a future fond memory living in natures catalog richly displaying its beauty and serenity . Hiking along the path from our home to the outskirts we experienced so many of nature’s  nuances.

It hasn’t been since I was a kid that I really took the time to enjoy a moment in nature like this. I used to sit on the lawn of our home in Fairfax California and watch the bees land on the clover flowers. I remember sitting there for hours enjoying the dance of the honey bees as they flew back to their hive after pollinating the little white blooms.

Even in the darkness of winter this place is magical. Watching the deer, elk, and other creatures graze in the meadow below our home is mesmerizing. Its like living in an aquarium without fish. Viewing all of this from a solarium captivates our senses and enhances our connection with all those living things that pass along our viewing spectrum.

The colorful sunsets in our field of vision project a band of colors, as seen in a rainbow, produced by seperation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction according to wavelenght, distance, and scale. The changing subtlety of this display is in full exhibit every night as the sun sinks and the stars rise upon the canvas of darkness.

Travel seems to be on the horizon for us. However, with each trip we come back to the reality of our situation. We are truly blessed to be in a play that we’ve written acted out on a stage we’ve built in an environment we love.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving… a Time for Thanks and Giving

Reflections in a mirror reveal the present. It is the holidays however that the mirror seems to reflect the past while giving you a glance into the future. I’m sure that most of us during this time of giving thanks also gaze into our souls that miss the loved ones we spent so many holidays with.

The Thanksgiving meal represents a blessing that brings our family and friends into the fold. It is the real beginning of the holiday season. The day brings witness to the special thoughts we have for those we haven’t seen (in many cases) for months or even years.  Friends and family travel from near and far to be with the ones they love and care about. Special is the pomp and circumstance that surrounds these festivities. It’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Football, The Classic Meal,  and of course the Decorations.

Ever since I was a little boy the Thanksgiving meal was Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Jello Salad, Yams, and of course… Pumpkin Pie. Since the meal I remember there have been additions like ham with a sweet berry sauce, lamb in a whole grain mustard sauce, prime steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, cauliflower in a 4 cheese sauce, and for desert… pecan pie.

Also, we mustn’t forget the beverages. Thanksgiving week is the scheduled offering of Beaujolais Nouveau. This wine is released on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 am. It’s a wine that lasts for just 6 months but reflects the perfect pairing with Turkey. Delightfully light and fruity it is the ultimate reflection of the French vineyards kicking off the holiday season.

Other than the Beaujolais Nouveau the other perfect pairing wines  come from the Burgandy region of France or the Russian River area of California. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the chosen compliments to the above mentioned meal. The apple and fall fruits represented in the classic chardonnay (with a hint of oak and a whisper of fresh herbs and spices) enhance the vegetables, salad, and accompaniments.

To me the most elegant, graceful and pleasing wine to be served at this feast is pinot noir. The description would include but not be limited to a little black cherry, strawberry aroma, subtle earth, and mint. This harmonious symphony of flavors produces a balance between beverage and food that is heavenly. When you pair the correct wine with the perfect food, light in character but high in acid that exhibits the characteristics of said wine, you have a wonderful culinary experience that brings out the best of both the food and the wine.

The flawless Thanksgiving is one that begins with a hug and ends with a hug. It is a very special moment in time when the connection with those at the dinner seems like you’d spent countless hours with them over the course of the year. However, in many instances it is the first time in many months or years that you’ve gotten together with these family members or close friends.

Acknowledging how blessed we are in those rare moments where time stands still, is a gift unto itself. To share the love and friendship that is the link between generations, or just the human connectivity that is rendered on this very special day, is a reminder of how precious time is.

As the door closes and we wave goodbye, we often think of this:

If they came back tomorrow, we’d take them back today… because our world keeps growing smaller every second, minute, hour… they’re away.

Happy Thanksgiving to those we spent time with, those we miss, and those that wish they were here.

 

Leaving Las Vegas

a place that lives in your heartThere are many chapters in ones life that make up the context and composition of said life. Part of that is beginnings and endings.

We have people that come into our lives, make an impact and leave by their own circumstances related to moving, moving on, or death. Each person brings a new perspective on life and another lesson we learn about people and more importantly about ourselves. We can grow from this if we look into the heart of the decision process or we can devolve into the insecurities and timeless adages that stiffle our difficult yet necessary cultural evolution.

We have jobs that take us to other circumstances which involve the complicated nuances of housing, family, and friends. Each step along the way provides a learning curve for exploration. Exploration takes place because of devine guidance or the gentle breeze of change that lives in all of us.

Beginnings are the life blood that provides hope that a new environment will bring education, excitment, and peace of mind that we all search for. If not properly anaylized our “new” beginnings can become a quagmire of hopelessnes and despair.

However, the opposite side of the coin is the bright light of beauty and wonder at the amazing journey we have undertook. Any journey begins with the first step. To ensure a better place filled with the expectation that dreams will come true and reward us we must painstakingly survey our future goals.

As we begin this study of self and take a look into the future for the outcome we desire, a list must be written that conveys the aspiration of time frame and execution. This survey of the future depends largely on our health, timing, and monetary consideration.

Each step is calculated with the help of past experiences and the knowledge that comes with discovery, mentorship, and design. I never thought we’d leave Las Vegas in the time frame we did. However, the political climate and the obvious “Californiazation” of Nevada that once held its own as a conservative respite from the “Left Coast” was a major factor in the decision to move to Idaho.

Nancy and I lived in Las Vegas/Henderson area for twenty years. Along the way we witnessed the city grow into a world-class destination for travelers interested in food, entertainment, and sports. New casinos with beautiful design matched the quality of the celebrity chefs preparing exotic dishes. Then there was the entertainment from Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, and of course Cirque du Soleil to every other amazing musical talent to grace the stages of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has become a self absorbed caricture of itself. Throngs of people that can’t afford the experience lose themselves in the marketing phrase, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” No identity theft here… most lose their identy upon entering the city. The selfi becomes the picture framed in a moment in time harboring no love for manners or self respect. The millennial is a statement unto itself of social networking at the expense of those sharing the same space and time.

So for us the ending of our time in Las Vegas/Henderson brings a bright new light that shines on a state we love. Idaho is what California used to be. Not what you have, but who you are. How hard you work, not how you’ve figured out how to get on the government dole or cheat a restaurant based upon the fear said restaurant has of your Yelp review.

People in Idaho love the connection to each other. They love the open spaces that gives one a chance to breath in the beauty that surrounds them. Leaving Idaho is like going to another country. You won’t see the obsession with cell phones and you certainly won’t see the prohibitive taxes for trains you don’t need, and social programs you don’t want. Each individual has a choice that is honored for themselves and their family to be raised in a place that centers around God, Country, and the Nuclear family.

And so here we are in the middle of nowhere content in our surroundings. We  listen to the animals, the birds, insects, and reptiles as they communicate to each other in a dance that is timeless. We see the stars in a darkened sky light up the forest that is the perimeter around our home. We feel the tranquility as a soothing warmth that covers us in the blanket of perception that we have found our most perfect place in time.