Healing Paradise

image

 

My Mom and Dad, or Mimi and Papa as they are referred to by their adoring grandkids, come to our rescue EVERY time there is a sneeze, sniffle, or worse. While there is a common notion that when you are sick you want your mother, for my daughter and her cousins, the mother part of that phrase can be replaced with Grandparents. Mimi Poppins and Papa have restored order and health to my household and my sister’s more times we can count!

This week turned out to be a difficult week. With awards ceremonies, tea parties, hospital visits due to illness, and an exhausted kiddo returning from 5th grade camp with fun memories and a fever, Mimi and Papa saved the hectic days EVERY time. They perpetuate our Paradise.

I know that Grandparents are the foundation for a proper Paradise. They give us the structure, guidance, and support to build then help us cement it all in with love. And my Paradise overflows with gratitude for them!

Planting Paradise

imageAfter

imageBefore

My Mom, an avid green thumb, has a sign in her garden that states, “The Earth laughs in flowers.” If that is the case, her yard can rival Disneyland as the happiest place on earth for there are flowers everywhere. I love being in her yard. It’s tranquility and beauty force you to stop and appreciate the world around you.
This peaceful Paradise did not happen overnight. She has invested years (and fortunes!) in her Paradise. The time, energy, and financial commitment she makes to creating such a place is admirable. Just ask my Dad. Even he is joining her in this venture with his very own plants this year.
I have garden envy every year and decided to take the plunge this glorious Spring day. So, little by little, I, too, will plant. I will not watch the clock that often nags me to do something else. I will not complain at the end of the day when I am stiff and sore. And I will carry a lighter wallet this season. But there will be laughter in my Paradise!

 

image

“Not everyone can have a picture of their wife and girlfriend in the same shot!” I explained to my husband when he shared this picture with me. Although I can proudly claim the Wife title, there is no one or nothing dearer to his heart, except his daughter, than a day on the lake…and a day on the lake in his own boat that he tends to like a sweetheart is even better.

His Paradise is on the water. If he has to be on dry land, all the better if there is an engine of sorts in front of him. When we first started dating, I laughingly questioned why every outing required a stop at Home Depot or the auto parts store. Now I know. For him, building, designing, fine-tuning, and listening to the deafening roar of the results is a layer of Parardise.

And although it is not mine, I don’t mind sharing the space with a few projects and tools and watching him build his Paradise. Hope you get the chance to support another in their journey towards Paradise, too. And hope you get a chance to enjoy the rewards, a day of leisure and love, where ever that may find you.

 

Ladybugs Paradise Style

imageI saw a picture of bottle cap ladybugs and knew that would be something fun to add to the yard where our daughter plays. A resourceful and creative sort (that’s her Daddy’s genes comin’ through!), this kid has an inspired outdoor kitchen where only the very best mudpies and dirt lattes are served. She explains it is her pioneer kitchen and even crafted a swing to add to the fun.
Spending HOURS out there, the notion of having a few full-time ladybugs was welcomed. And then the fabrication began.
I offered instructions, many of which were promptly overlooked, and set some firm rules that would allow us to actually complete the project. During this fanciful construction, I caught myself (thankfully!) censoring her input. Once I allowed the suggestions to flow back and forth, and encouraged the improvisation, the ladybugs, and the smiles, began to take shape.
So much of our lives require flexibility, and may, at times, stretch us beyond comfort. I know that my version of Paradise is not always what others would see as Paradise. Realizing this and inviting others’ perspectives allows me to sort through the myraid of ideas and include some overlooked colors and textures that enhance my own version of Paradise and make it that much better. So when you have others in your Paradise, listen, relax, and enjoy what they contribute. It just may add a sparkle and shine, or a ladybug, to your world!

 

Pulla in Paradise

My sister and I have a baking contest every year. We bake Pulla, a Finnish coffee bread made with cardamom, in celebration of our Dad’s birthday. The results are often both hilarious and delectable.

imageThis year’s contest, as with every other year, began with my husband absolutely horrified that I was taking over his kitchen. Despite my attentive readings of the many recipies available, this annual bread making process continues to present a challenge. Don’t judge, it just does!
Several hours later and at least one ingredient overlooked, we sang a happy birthday and compared the samples. Our Dad, ever the diplomat, complimented both efforts and determined this year to be another successful baking experience. And that is really the best result. Another year, some ingredients more and some less, but still there is laughter and celebration and love. While there are challenges, messes, and things that don’t turn out exactly as you planned in life, search for what you enjoy and what makes you smile. When you realize there are ingredients you still need, do your best to incorporate them and find your balance.
May your traditions be tasty and your family gatherings be fantastic and all your moments include hints and flavors of Paradise!

In case you want to try to make Pulla:

http://www.eatpress.com/?p=2207

 

 

 

Love in Paradise

Spending Valentine’s Day walking in the surf and admiring the beauty of the coast, I knew, was a moment in Paradise.

image

As a long time fan of the beach and all that it offers, I now delight in watching my daughter develop the same appreciation and admiration for this captivating setting. Knowing that with sea, sun, and sand one cannot help but be in love, we decided to spend February 14th enjoying our time together in a place that has long been our family Paradise.

Whether running after waves, creating mermaid sand sculptures, or paddling out to catch a wild ride, my family revels in lingering days at the beach. Lately, my beach days have been spent wandering the shore in search of the sea’s gifts. My latest collection includes heart shaped rocks, shells, and sea glass.

image

Discovering these treasures hiding in the sand with their surprising shapes is yet another reminder to embrace the love that surrounds us.  How lucky we are to be able to wander the shore and have evidence of love and beauty every step of the way?

May the hearts and love you celebrate on Valentine’s Day be with you throughout the year, making your Paradise that much sweeter!

Sunrise in Paradise

I often wake before dawn. Exhausted, I prepare for the day in a sleepy haze, usually wishing to return to my pillow. But the mornings I wake in the dark and prepare to join my Friends for a few hours of exercise and conversation are so worth the fatigue.
We began this once a week date several years ago in preparation for a marathon. None of us were runners; no one could even claim a 5k completed! But we walked, jogged, ran, and trained until we faced that ultimate 26.2 challenge… every mile in the relentless, pouring rain. We thought after that water-logged journey our race days were behind us. But we found something much more valuable in our time together than the marathon medal we earned.
I am so proud that our dedication continues years later. We sign up for races and cheer each others’ growing medal collections. We increased our vocabulary to include references to things like Personal Best. And that is really what it is all about, although it doesn’t always have to do with a lowered race time. The early mornings we spend together are always a reminder to me that I have surrounded myself with others who strive for their Personal Best. These accomplished women do this in their jobs, their relationships with their families, and with the difficult decisions life sometimes forces upon us. They help me keep racing toward my Personal Best, or my Paradise. And, the best part, they keep me laughing every step of the way!

(null)

Puppies in Paradise

We rescued our dog, Tye, from Pet Orphans. I like to think he chose us, just like our next rescue dog a year later, Jewel. These crazy canines were our first kids. I, as many of us do, babied these puppies and allowed them to rule the roost. How could I not? Who else but your tail wagging dog will greet you with an outpouring of love and devotion EVERY time you walk in the house? Who else, no matter how many things you did wrong that day, will look at you as if you are the only person that matters and snuggle next to you on the couch for as long as you would like?
There is something magical and healing about our furry, four legged family members. Despite their barking, digging, indoor accidents, and endless shedding, we love them and they make our homes complete.
I miss Tye and Jewel everyday for different reasons but mostly because the love they shared with all of us each day. They have been gone a while now but I like to think that their spirits are in a Paradise, where they can run, jump, and play to their generous hearts’ content. One day we will invite another puppy to join our family, but for now I am thankful for the 15 years that Tye and Jewel made our home just a little bit more of a Paradise.
Give your dog (or cat!) an extra hug today. Go ahead and take them for a walk or let them cuddle into your lap on the couch. For it is only you that can make their days a Paradise, too!

(null)

(null)

Paradise on a Plate

I love to eat. In the eat to live vs. live to eat contest I find myself in the latter. Thankfully, my husband loves to cook or else my daughter and I would be suffering through endless scrambled egg dinners – my culinary contribution for the nights when we are dining on our own. He is often creating a fantastic dish, complete with plated perfection, and stating, “Someone get a camera!” We enjoy these lesiure dinners more than a trip to a swanky restaurant as the flavors are tailored to our tastebuds and the parking is never a problem.
This inspiration comes from many evenings spent in our youth at the ULTIMATE dinner destination, a friend’s home where everything was artfully prepared and the decor, music, menu, and entertainment were incomparable. My husband and I still toast to these memorable, impressionable occasions and are so thankful for the experiences and what they taught us about how to enjoy dining and sharing a plate of Paradise.
Today our favorite ‘restaurant’ is right around the corner, the house of our close friends where they, too, create amazing dinners worthy of a photograph. There we can sample and share not only delicious flavors but enjoy the company of Forever Friends as we celebrate and survive the triumphs and tribulations that life serves. Open the fridge and call your friends over with the toast, “Here’s to you!” Enjoy a night of fine dining, relishing an extra serving in Paradise!

IMG_8335.JPG

IMG_8337.JPG

IMG_8336.JPG

IMG_8338.JPG

IMG_8343.JPG

Paradise at Work?

Throughout the 20 years invested in my career, I have been fortunate enough to carve out a bit of Paradise. The essential ingredient: the Right People next to you! Like anyone else’s career choice, there are perks and drawbacks –moments I am thankful for choosing this path and moments when I bang my head against the wall with the, “What was I thinking, taking this job?!?” phrase knocking through my mind. But what I have discovered, year after year, is that the Right People will help you create a Paradise, no matter where you are.

The Right People decorate your work place with their wit, humor, and generosity. They can elicit laughter during the darkest experiences, support risk taking ideas, and tether you when those risks tempt you to wander too far out on a limb.

We all find ourselves in frustrating stages, stagnate times, and questioning why we answer to our early morning alarm. It is those creative and dynamic moments with the Right People that energize us to keep going and strengthen our success.

Today I want to offer my sincere appreciation to the Right People who have helped me carve and color my 20 years with vibrant scenes of a bit of Paradise. Don’t forget to thank yours for these wonderful people make your days (and years) better and brighter.

IMG_8315.JPG