Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tomoka State Park and Bulow Creek State Park

Last weekend Richard and I took advantage of the beautiful weather we had last Sunday to take another day trip. We ended up at Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach. This is a beautiful park located along the Tomoka River and the Halifax River and join with the Intracoastal Waterway at the north end of the park. You can enjoy picnicking, camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and if you're a birder, there are many species of birds to watch. Richard and I enjoyed a picnic in a secluded little picnic area overlooking the Tomoka River near the boat ramp. After lunch, we walked along the shore and watched as the mullet continuously sprang from the water. We spoke with an older gentleman while he fished, not much luck this day, but he said there was usually very good fishing along this river. We took some time to check out the camping areas of which there are plenty. They were nice, but a little too small and close together for our taste. We generally like a large area with room to spread out. If you're in need of fishing tackle, snacks, drinks, firewood, toiletries or other supplies, there is the Tomoka Outpost which is located at the boat ramp. This was definitely worth the short drive down, a really nice place to spend an afternoon. At the recommendation of the young man at the outpost, on the way back we drove a few miles down the scenic Old Dixie Highway to stop off at Bulow Creek State Park. This is a great little park to enjoy a picnic and see some of the oldest standing live oak trees around. The main attraction at the park is The Fairchild Oak, named in honor of American Botanist David Fairchild. This is a beautiful, majestic live oak tree that has branches that were so large, they grew into the ground and back out again. Also on the grounds are the remains of a historic coquina building built in 1915 that was to be the land sales office for the purpose of building a residential community at this location. Fortunately for all of us, this did not happen. There are also 2 walking trails, which I'd love to go back to take advantage of some time. One is the 6.8 mile Bulow Wood Trail which takes you to the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park; the other is a short loop around a groundwater spring that seeps from a coquina rock bluff.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Happiness Project

While reading the book The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, I gave a lot of thought to what I would do this year to make myself, my family and my friends happier. I have to agree with one of her 12 commandments, act the way I want to feel; this is definitely one rule that I am trying very hard to adhere to. I want to be happy, so why not act happy. I try to steer clear of people who are constant downers, why would I want to be that way myself; it makes for a very lonely existence.

I have to admit, I really need to do what ought to be done and tackle that nagging project. I admit, I've been procrastinating on that one. It's a major project that I have been putting off for a long time. Let's just say if someone were to open my bedroom closet, I would be very embarrassed. It will require that I buy a few needful things, for the purpose of organization, but it will be worth it once I am finished. It will go towards that theory of outer order makes for inner peace. A small investment in this case will buy a little happiness, my husband will be VERY happy once this "nagging task" has been completed.

I am back in the habit of doing one or two extra chores a day, so that I can have more free time on the weekend to do the things I want to do, like spend time with friends or family, take a day trip, or spend time reading a good book. Like Gretchen, I can get completely absorbed in a book and neglect everyone and everything around me. I have a few craft projects I plan to work on, I'm not exactly an artist, but I dabble and it's a way to stretch myself a little, I find that doing something creative can really lift your mood. I am also spending more time doing working on one of my favorite activities, just what I am doing right now, blogging. This has been a fun hobby for me that has challenged me to learn something new, and it has been worth the effort.

Do Good, Feel Good, there are other takes on this, all mean pretty much the same thing -
Live by the golden rule; do unto others what you would have done to you.
What goes around, comes around.
The good you do comes back to you.
Give and it shall be given unto you.
No matter how you put it, when you do good deeds, bless others, it always comes back around, and often just in the nick of time.

We all definitely need to make time to play; you're never too old for a little fun. In today's world, we all really do need to lighten up. Have some fun, laugh, relax, it's good for you; ask any doctor, too much stress is detrimental to your health, so take a little time each day to laugh and play.
If there is one statement in The Happiness Project that couldn't be more true, "The days are long, but the years are short." I think I'm going to paint that on a plaque and hang it over my desk.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daybreak at Salt Springs

While on a camping trip with my family, I woke up early one morning while most of the other campers were still sleeping. I was awakened by the sounds of pileated woodpeckers hammering away high in the pine trees surrounding our campsite. Nature's alarm clock was sounding, telling us it was time to greet the day. I decided to take a walk down to the springs while it was still quiet. As I walked the path down to the springs, I noticed a couple of deer and a fawn, still with its spots, standing at the edge of the woods. I stood motionless for a moment and watched them until they spotted me and darted off into the woods. As I continued my walk, I was caught by surprise by several wild turkeys gobbling loudly as they crossed the path in front of me. The site of them made me chuckle. Looking out over the springs and toward the lake, there was a thin layer of fog lying over the water like a blanket. The sun was coming up and looked as if it were just perched on the water, slowly rising to start a new day. The otters came out to play; I watched in utter delight as they frolicked in the cool water as if they hadn't a care in the world. Suddenly the springs were bustling with activity; there were coots, ducks, and cormorants gliding across the water occasionally dunking their heads below for a bite to eat. Several egrets and a great blue heron took flight and landed on the banks of the water in search of their morning meal. I watched as the fish performed a ballet, springing from the water as if elated at the site of this beautiful morning. As I witnessed this miracle of nature, I thought to myself, it just doesn't get any better than this. There is no better way to start a day, and I was grateful to have been able to see it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life With Ziggy

You think Marley was bad, you haven't met Ziggy!

"Ziggy, that's not a rug you're sitting on!" Sweet Lula, she's so tolerant.

Time for a little R&R

"Night Night!"

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Ziggy was an unexpected addition to our family a year ago. He's quite the handful, but he has brought me so much joy and laughter. Every morning I wake up to this adorable face, how sweet is that. Our dog Lula welcomed her new playmate, although at times, he really wears her out. She is so tolerant of his antics, as you can see above.

Book Review

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gretchen Rubin has come to the realization that she is not focusing on the things in life that really matter. While riding the city bus one day she looks out the window to see a woman about her age trying to balance an umbrella and look at her cell phone, while pushing a stroller and carrying a child. The sight of it gave her a jolt. She saw herself, riding the same crosstown bus everyday, back and forth; "This is my life-but I never give any thought to it." She realized she was suffering from a mid-life malaise; although she lived a very fortunate life, something was still missing. As she states early in the book, she had everything she could possibly want, but failed to appreciate it. Like most of us, she was caught up in the day to day routine of life. We just go through each day and fail to realize the things that really matter in life. The more she thought about this, she realized she needed a better perspective; she needed to be more grateful for just an ordinary day. That's when she decided she would start a happiness project.

Rubin creates a list of twelve resolutions to focus on each month known as her Twelve Commandments, she lists what she believes to be some of the secrets of adulthood, and along the way discovers what she calls Four Splendid Truths. She reads countless books on the subject of happiness from the likes of the Dalai Lama, Martin Seligman, Aristotle, Elizabeth Gilbert, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson and many others. She studies a great deal of scientific research, tries meditation, begins a strength training exercise program, studies various spiritual leaders and their philosophies, tries journaling and many other ideas in the pursuit of a happier life.

It is obvious Rubin is very passionate about this project. At times maybe a bit too analytical, however, I found the book to be very enlightening and I really did enjoy it. While reading The Happiness Project, I was inspired by much of the wisdom she shared from various books she read on the subject; I have added several of the books to my personal book list. I think anything book that promotes the pursuit of a happier, more fulfilled life is worth reading.

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