Take Time to Breathe – It’s Time to Slow Down

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I read a message on author/illustrator’s Sandy Gingras’  Facebook page who I’ve recently become acquainted. She mentioned how people are missing the point of beach life – simplicity.

A beach girl at heart, trapped in the Midwest, I can identify with her. All I’ve ever wished for is a little cottage by the sea. I’d be happy with a one room home to call my own – as long as I could spend my time outside with nature, the waves, the sand, and the sea.

But for now, I’m limited to beachy vacations to the South and Great Lakes regions.

As a writer, I get caught up in trying to check things off my daily ‘to do’ list, and often miss the little things in life happening right before my eyes – like the white-bellied plump squirrel munching on organic banana chips I’ve scattered for her on the deck rails. Or the black banded pennant dragonfly fluttering above scores of pastel lavender and eggplant-hued Cleomes in my garden.

When I take time to slow down, I notice the small things in life.

Yesterday, I eyed a Momma bunny in our backyard foraging bits of dried grass, meticulously moving the straw-like material from an old nest to a fresh one, in preparation for a blessed event! She allowed me within a foot of her presence. Nesting grass was tightly gripped in her mouth. I was overwhelmed by her beauty.

Inside the house, Miss Adeline, our Manx cat, was leaping windowsill to windowsill, vocalizing about her bunny friend, and dreaming about a future bunny buffet!

It’s these times when I slow down, my ideas and creative juices flow.

With that said, for those of you who love to travel, revel at nature, and spend time with family and pets – you might just like my upcoming book – Ocean Rhythms, Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. It’s due to be published this summer by Ocean Spirit Photography. To accompany the essays, photographs will be at the end of each story. Cover reveal coming soon!

Have I started marketing yet? Not really. This is the first mention of the book.

Am I worried about marketing? Maybe. (Ha – who am I kidding – Yes!)

In the big scheme of things, I think it will all work out.

But for June 21, the beginning of Summer Solstice, I need to soak in the playfulness of the squirrels and the cardinals prancing about the deck rails, and listen to the words of Sandy Gingras —

“Take time to breathe”

Peace out, and love,

Sheree

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What We Need, When We Need it. Learning to Trust God

This morning, I awoke early, riddled with anxiety from a concern weighing heavy on my heart from last evening. I tried praying my favorite Bible verse, “Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything,” over and over in my mind, but the more I prayed, the more restless I became. After thirty minutes of tossing and turning in bed, I glanced at the alarm clock which read 7:01. I sat up in bed, stretched my legs, slipped on my tan wool slippers, and greeted Red Dog who was by my side, with a pat on a head.

As I pulled the cord to open the vertical blinds in our bedroom, I gazed up at the moon, still high in the cornflower sky, with hints of waking from a cold Midwestern night. The sky delighted in a canvas of cornflower blue, and silhouettes of barren trees painted the serene landscape.

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As I purveyed the entrance to our clearing, a single deer appeared. I moved quickly through the house to locate my Nikon camera in the dining room. As I moved back through each room, I glanced out windows as I passed, and spotted two more deer, for a total of three. Two does and one fawn meandered gracefully west to east along the back yard of our property. At the boundary of our neighbor facing directly east, I snapped several photos. The creatures were bending, sniffing the ground, and looking up on alert. They traveled at a leisurely pace, repeating their routine. Parts of the ground were frozen and snow-laden, while oaky-hued ground laid the foundation.

As I pushed back the sheer curtains in the dining room’s bay windows, the dogs quietly whined when they noticed the deer, and Momma cat kept a tune with a low growl, her sleek body all the while brushing the windowsill.

I watched as the deer entered our neighbor’s yard directly across the cul de sac, and disappeared in the wooded area behind their home.

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I had hoped they would come full circle, and perambulate our yard a second time, enabling me to capture a few more snapshots. So much for wishful thinking.

I prepared my breakfast of oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon, pumpkin bread, and English Breakfast tea. Rather than follow my routine and turn on the Today Show, I opted to sit and ponder my ‘wake up call’ by appreciating the wonders of nature outside my kitchen door.

The exquisiteness of the deer, the moon, the snow, and the trees, was just enough inspiration to take my mind off my troubles and anxieties. It forced me to slow down, and funnel my energy in a positive manner.

And although I received thirty minutes less sleep than yesterday, what I received in return was even more valuable and rewarding. My concerns are still near, but I soon realized I needed to replace my worry with trust.

God gives us what we need, when we need it. We just need to figure out how to use it.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good.

Now go have a blessed day!

Peace out and Love,

Sheree

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grateful Jar 2017 – What are your Blessings?

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Feeling the effects of cabin fever set in, I made reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner at Pangea, voted one of twelve best new restaurants in the St. Louis area. It was located in an area called “Newtown”.

The bright and contemporary restaurant was bustling with servers dressed in black, scurrying back and forth between table delivering cream-colored plates of aromatic delectables. The hostess seated us behind a half wall, far away from the brisk night air streaming in whenever the entrance door was opened.

The menu was set for the evening – Ricotta Knudi, Filet Mignon and Shrimp, Lemon Elderberry Cheesecake, and Ancho Chile Chocolate Mousse. Dinner and dessert were divine; I was left craving more of that par excellence flavor. My tall glass of sparkling Prosecco was a nice complement to the dinner.

After dinner, we motored homeward. Once inside, we turned on the TV searching for the Dave Clark New Year’s Eve Celebration channel. I suppose the food was too much excitement for me, as I fell asleep shortly after 10 p.m.

Hubby woke me up with a kiss at midnight, singing, “Happy New Year”.

For the last three years, I’ve started the tradition of a Grateful Jar (or a Blessings Jar). During the year, you pen all the things you’re grateful for, and drop the small bits of paper in the jar, to be opened on New Year’s Day, or shortly after.

Today, with the help of my sweet little Ireland kitty supervising, I read through the memories tucked away in the jar.

Here are the awesome people, places, and memories that made 2017 great.

This was posted by my friend Abby. (She must have snuck this into the Grateful Jar while we were on vacation)

“Blessed by the fur babies I kitty sit. Love all 4 of them so very much.” Abby

  • Despite my friend Dave Reed going through cancer treatments, he and his wife Dena prepared a lovely January birthday dinner for me.
  • August 23 – The view of the bees pollinating the purple and white cleomes outside my window. The cornflower blue Morning Glory wistfully twisting around the deck spindles.
  • The artist, Craig Hosner, I met on Santa Rosa who constructed a beautiful American flag in the sand with all-natural materials — seashells, pine cones, and oyster shells.

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  • August 21 – The total solar eclipse visible in the Missouri sky over our house. The purple and red violet flares on the corona made me cry, it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life, almost spiritual in nature. The stillness of the event, the birds singing, the crickets chirping – stunning!Sheree pic eclipse crop VEnus contrast copyr
  • Grateful for good friends to confide in.
  • Writing a story on my friend Janet Jonas, of Gentle Touch Canine Massage, Sunset Beach. Hearing her inspirational story and her love for animals.
  • My story on the Waterfront Seafood Shack being voted 1 of 5 top stories in South and North Brunswick Magazine in 2017 by the readers.
  • Watching my niece and nephews grow taller, smarter and stronger.
  • Thankful for a beautiful dinner and dessert with the hubster for Valentine’s Day.
  • Thankful for a birthday outing with girlfriends Tina, Peggy, Janet and Abby.
  • The Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.
  • The dolphin excursion in Calabash, North Carolina, where I viewed more than 35 dolphins following a shrimp trawler.
  • Great friends and fellowship.
  • Being invited to Burbank in 2018 for a private taping of the Big Bang Theory by a special friend I met on Sunset Beach.
  • My love of cooking and baking.
  • Six fur babies that live with me and the hubster.
  • Ephraim, Wisconsin, and sunsets with the dogs and hubby on the private dock with the Adirondack chairs.

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  • Unexpected double rainbows on August 20 (the day before the solar eclipse). God sure was working that week.
  • Snow for Christmas!
  • The majestic 100-year-old white-washed barn in the neighbor’s corn field.
  • Spending Christmas eve with my crazy cousins!
  • Enjoying all the wonderful coffeehouses in Nashville with my friend Pat on a girlfriend getaway.

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  • Winning 4 writing awards at the Show Me Writers Conference in April, and a free registration for 2018.
  • Sneaking peaks at the cats and Bordeaux watch birds and wildlife outside the French doors and the storm door.
  • The adrenalin rush leading up to hiking Twin Falls on the road to Hana, Maui. Crossing the raging stream with hubby, thinking we’re going to fall over the drop off. Finally reaching the falls. Hearing the rush of the water, the chilly feeling it left on my skin. Enjoying watching Russell swim behind the waterfall.
  • Santa Rosa Beach sunsets, savory food, yummy coffee, the Red Bar, Eden Gardens, meeting Namon and Rebecca.
  • Walks with the dogs to clear my head near the lake in Heritage Park.
  • A sneak peek at the cover for my picture book with Pat Wahler, Midnight, The One-Eyed Cat.
  • Watching Christine’s hen in Nashville lay 6 eggs in a row!
  • Finding our friend Dave Reed is cancer free, for the second time in his life.
  • Grateful for Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis!
  • Dancing the polka with my cousin, Susie, around the tables at Das Bevo while listening to the Waterloo German Band.
  • Have a publisher request my poetry collection manuscript. (Still patiently waiting for an answer)
  • Being surprised with a sandwich from Jimmy John’s by my husband, delivered right to the front door.
  • Listening to two jazz musician groups this year at Jazz at the Bistro.
  • Touring Leiper’s Fork Distillery and learning how to sniff, swig and chew whiskey.
  • Meeting David Hodges from Evanescence and Alicia Witt, the actress, at the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
  • The weird art exhibit museum event with longtime friend, Tina, where we were told by museum volunteers NOT to take pictures of the pictures!
  • Walking to the Kindred Spirit Bench with Russell, Sandra, and the dogs in October before sunset. The sky was amazing!
  • Little girls named Remy at Sunset Beach in October, and husbands flying kites.
  • Touring the Bissinger Chocolate factory with friend Abby, and wearing hairnets and coats like Lucy and Ethel.
  • Meeting tango dancers Elise and Marco on the beach at Sunset Beach in October in the midst of a pumpkin-hued sky.
  • My love of photography and writing.
  • Sharing my love of travel with my husband.
  • The ability to vacation seven times this year.
  • Grateful for my fur babies and their funny quirks.
  • Grateful I’m able to comfort friends in difficult times.

What where some things you were grateful for in 2017?

 

 

 

A Thousand Sunsets…

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The last week in August, my husband, canine kids and I, spent four glorious days in Door County, Wisconsin. We stayed at a quaint inn with cabins in picturesque Ephraim, Wisconsin.

Marinas and docks dotted the curvy shoreline, and sunsets were spectacular. We set aside 90 minutes each evening to meander to the inn’s private dock, complete with white Adirondack chairs.

Four evenings brought lively conversations with other guests from the inn – a family with a young boy who loved to fish, a baby boomer couple who wiled away hours during the day searching for the perfect winery, a grandma with her children, and their children who gave the dogs repeated hugs, and a doctor and her husband who hailed from flooded Houston, but were afraid to check texts and voice messages for fear they would be homeless when they returned.

Just as the people we met were unique, so were the sunsets – pastel pink clouds, blue violet strands dancing across the glassy bay, ebony silhouettes set against golden-hued horizons – no two alike, painted by God’s hands.

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And no matter how routine our sunset ritual seemed, I welcomed the hand-holding with my husband, and the dogs’ tags jingling as we stepped lightly across the two-lane road, to settle on the wooden Adirondacks. I never tired of this. It was our time to chill. No schedules. No worries. No expectations. Nature doing what nature does best, in all its splendor.

During the day we visited new coffeehouses, ice crea20170827_192050 cherry crumblem parlors, creameries with homemade gelato, chocolate establishments, gift shops or restaurants or markets selling cherry-themed products – cherry crumble, cherry pie, cherry salsa, cherry jam, cherry granola, cherry juice, and cherry spumante. You name it, we tried it.

We hiked along fairy-forest paths that paralleled aquamarine harbors, sank our feet in sandy beaches sometimes tripping over pebbles, stood atop cliff outcroppings with lofty expectations of jumping in (well, at least my husband), traipsed through sunflower fields, visited art galleries, observed an authentic fish-boil from the porch of our tiny cottage, and frequented dog-friendly cafes and restaurants. A special thanks to Buttercups Coffee in Egg Harbor for loving on the dogs so sweetly.

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I’ve not felt this relaxed since our anniversary trip to Pearl Harbor, and the grandiose waterfalls, beaches, and stunning scenery in Maui, Hawaii.

But of course, travel back to that familiar place is inevitable – home.

Last evening, I listened for the beauty at our abode –

It showed me favor in the crisp fall air with crickets chirping, coyotes wailing, the faint sound of a motorcycle revving its engine in the distance, the monotonous hum of our refrigerator, and the sound of voices from the television on the lower level.

Four cats reposed in harmony – one cleaning and preening velvety fur and precious paws while sniffing night air, another curled up on the sofa, one more playing hide and seek in the tunnel of the kitty city condo, and one waiting at the garage door for Daddy to come home from a long day’s work.

Two goofy canines slumbered on the king size master bed complete with tons of throw pillows. They dreamt of running as they yelped and fidgeted.

It’s nights like these I cherish the ceiling fan pushing cool air downward from the open window as I nestle ‘snug as a bug’ under the covers.

It’s times like these that remind me of the thousand sunsets of my life I’ve been lucky enough to share with loved ones, by quieting my mind, and realizing that beauty is universal.

Stop. Listen. Observe. Feel.

Quiet your mind, and look for the sunsets in your life. What you’ll discover might just be amazing!

Peace out and love,

 

Sheree

 

 

A Walk in the Woods….

Yesterday, the morning air was crisp, and my senses were awake to the sights of October in all its fall regalia. Took a walk with the canine kids on our three acres and found some amazing feats of nature.

They reminded of a song by Chris Tomlin – “Indescribable” — the first part goes like this:

“From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God”
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Please enjoy my photo journey that I’ll do my best to describe…

20151013_085236 fuzzy seedpod copyrA white fuzzy seedpod…

20151013_085130 knarled tree trunk crop copryA knarled tee trunk reminding me of a scene from a fairy tale…

20151013_085315 berries crop copyrberries that looked like miniature tomatoes…

20151013_085210 leaf crop copyra tree changing colors, and the affects of pests, but still beautiful…

20151013_085737 yellow wildflower crop copyra yellow wildflower…

20151013_085409 dried queen anne's lace copy crop copyrA dried flower that mimics tiny stars…

20151013_085442 deer like trunk crop copyra fallen branch that looks likes a doe’s face…

20151013_085614 corn copy copyrcorn stripped clean from the husk….

20151013_085533 leaf crop copyra sunset in a leaf…

And finally, when our walk was finished, I snapped this pic of the dogs. You can sense the happiness they are feeling (well, at least one of them!)

20151013_090117 dogs revised cropTake time to notice the universal beauty in nature and everything around us, and you’ll soon realize we’re all connected….

The Sights, Sounds, and Smells of the Morning….

As I walk the paved path at a nearby park with my blue-eyed girl and cinammon-colored boy fur babies, I am reminded of the familiarity of my surroundings.

Hens and drakes skim across the lake, a killdeer sings her song of distress least anyone disturb her nest, and the cicadas low hum remind me of a small fan motor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI bump into Jan and Ralph, a cute couple, out for their morning stroll. They always surprise my curious canines with crunchy Milkbone treats. Today is no different.

Nearing the end of our walk, the dogs hop in the car. I quench their thirst by pouring water from an empty milk carton into their pink soft-sided bowl. Girl dog sloppily sips water from the mouth of the jug before it trickles into the bowl.

We make our usual morning coffee run to Starbucks, where I know the all the barristas names.

Lincoln greets me at the counter, and says, “The usual?”

“Tall cap, non-fat, ristretto, extra hot, with one pump of mocha, light whip and salt.”

“Dry?”

“Yes please.”

“Haven’t seen you here in awhile,” Sarah says with her cheery smile, who is busy making my beverage.

“Yeah, I know.”

I love hearing the sound of the espresso machine as it screeches, before the dark caramel-hued liquid drops into the shiny shotglasses.

I head back to the car to find Boy dog sitting in the driver’s seat, or Girl dog posed in the passenger seat.

As I drive away, I roll the windows all the way down, so my animal children can feel the cool air caress their soft fur like an ocean breeze hugs warm naked skin.

As I turn down the gravel road to my home, cardinals chirp, squirrels carrying nuts scurry, and bunnies scamper. The oak, walnut, and maple trees are dressed in celery greens and corn-maize yellows ready for their fall fashion show.

Opening the door from the garage to the kitchen, I tell Boy dog to “push it,” and he gently nudges it open with his nose.

Girl kitty is waiting for our arrival home, talking in her best ‘quack’ voice that we’ve been gone way too long!

As I pen this note on the deck, the dog children rest nearby – one sleeping, the other pensive and curious about the sounds and sights on our property.

The Cleomes, bathed in shades of lavender, are favorites of the hummingbirds. I study their lacy blooms that fan out in a helicopter-like pattern.

All is right with the world.

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Dear Kindred Spirit…..How I’ve Missed You

DSC_1691 Ks mailbox copyri Dear Kindred Spirit, This is the fifth time in three years that I’ve visited your peaceful respite. The mailbox and the bench formed the basis for newfound friends – Nancy and Jazzy from Virginia, Jacqueline and Sandy – your keepers, and Colin and Dan from LA. It’s piqued the interest of friends back home, Lisa and Mark.

It’s with deep sadness since last I wrote in your journal, my Aunt Georgia succumbed to emphysema, and my sweet three-legged cat, Tripoli passed on. Though they’re gone, they shared a common thread. Both were both Kindred Spirits – bringing joy and happiness to all those around them.

And just last year, on the sandy shoreline, near the Kindred Spirit Bench, our dogs Sabrina and Bordeaux frolicked with Dan, the Italian greyhound, now running free on Rainbow Bridge. DSC_1702 dunes copyr

Oh Kindred Spirit, how I love your inspiration! From your weathered post, to the ocean’s depths,DSC_1697 flag copyright to your rolling dunes, to the red, white, and blue waving in the breeze!

A gracious ‘thank you’ to the couple who planted a foundation so many years, and started a movement of love…a way to share innermost thoughts and feelings in journals safely protected by a mailbox at sea’s door.

I come here today with my fur babies, and my husband – my best friend.

May your legacy live on! Xoxoxo Sheree Nielsen Wentzville, MO http://www.beachdances.com

There is No Such Thing as a Little Moment….

DSC_0114Walking through the house this week, I was reminded of a saying on a picture frame, “There is no such thing as a little moment.”

The moment in time, protected by pewter and glass, was captured at the St. Joseph, Michigan lighthouse jetty, early on in my marriage. It was a windy day, the sun was shining, and hubby and I were smiling ear to ear.

Each day, I am reminded that there are no such things as ‘little moments’.

When the dog does something silly like get wrapped up under the blankets, rendering it impossible to make the bed…20150325_094841 Sabrina copyr

When you walk among 4,000 Blue Morpho butterflies in flight at the Sophie Sachs Butterfly House, in Chesterfield, Missouri…

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When you witness the sky change colors from orange, to blood red, to blue-gray while strolling the shoreline in Sunset Beach, North Carolina…

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They’re really big moments, aren’t they?

So here’s to those moments, those fleeting bits of time, that lift us up wherever we are.

Those moments…knowing God is in our presence.

Happy Thursday and God Bless!

Xoxoxo
Sheree

Wednesday Awakenings…

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It was a Wednesday. I’d only been gone a couple hours running errands, when I returned home to find my sweet tuxedo cat, Mr. Trip, passed away on the wool rug in our dining room. He lay in the spot where I usually placed my feet under the table, when working from the dining room chair.

Devastated, my sobbing began from the time I found him, and went on for days. There was no rhyme or reason to my crying. It happened anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances.

When a full week had cycled, I cried on the one week anniversary of his death.

Wednesday, February 4 was different, though. In the quiet of the morning, I was startled by a loud male voice.

Not sure if I was in the transition period between dreams and consciousness, I heard, “Sheree!”

I sat up immediately, eyes wide open.

The voice sounded like my Dad’s …and God’s? Although I have no clue what God’s voice sounds like, I thought it must be Him. The strong sublime voice was telling me to ‘Wake up!’

Wake up now?
Wake up to my surroundings?
Wake up to life?
What was he saying?DSC_1066 sunsrise copyri

As I arose from our king size bed, I slipped on my socks and robe and stumbled to the kitchen. Two pooches and one cat followed.

As I pushed the sheer curtains open in the dining room bay window, the most magnificent yellow-orange sunrise radiated across the sky. I smiled. A peacefulness filled my heart.

Sauntering in the kitchen to prepare my breakfast of oatmeal and raspberries, I eyed the resident gray squirrel outside. Inching his way down the wooden deck rail, he separated sunflower seeds from their hulls, munching on the meaty treat inside.

DSC_1076 squirrel eating sunflowrs copyrightSeated at the kitchen table with my oatmeal, rye toast and English Breakfast tea, I noticed a pair of cardinals hopping across the deck outside our French doors.

I felt like God was telling me to ‘wake up’ and embrace the beauty around me.

The visuals of nature helped me forge through the rest of the week. I cried a little, but remembered the beauty I’d discovered on that Wednesday morning.

February 11, in the wee hours of the morning, I had a dream.

In the dream, I awoke from slumber. The back rear door to our vacation home was open, and welcoming sunlight poured in. The hardwood floors of the hallway were cool to my feet. In the living room, my husband relaxed on a plush beige sofa.

I didn’t notice our Australian Shepherd at first, but when she emerged from behind another sofa, a cat was riding her piggyback.

As I approached my smiling canine, I studied the cat’s fur and color. His body, mainly white, sported light grey spots. The reddish-brown color of his head and face were separated by a white part traveling from his crown to his nose.

Awaking from the dream, I thought the cat reminded me of a parrot. I smiled.

After breakfast, I scuffled down the hallway to the bathroom. Squeezing the toothpaste tube, a tiny bubble formed, and floated upward. The small masterpiece remained airborne for at least five minutes. I watched the bubble travel about the bathroom in amazement. First up, then down, then sideways, toward the window, over the tub, and back towards me like an astronaut weightless in a space capsule. I stepped into the bedroom to grab my camera to capture a shot of the bubble, but when I returned it was gone.

DSC_1721 cappucino art design 1 crop copryLater in the afternoon, my young friend Rileigh and I ordered lunch at a local coffee house. When the server delivered my salad, the dressing rather than on the side, was on the salad. I explained my original request. The server politely offered to make a second one. Upon his return, he handed me two tokens for any coffee beverage and apologized for the inconvenience.

After lunch, we visited the Sophie Sachs Butterfly House, and observed more than 20 varieties of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbutterflies in a humid glass-enclosed structure. The smell, the flowers, and temperature of the habitat brought back memories of my visits to the Caribbean.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blue Morphos floated past us, just like the toothpaste bubble. Rileigh and I sat on the custom wood benches and observed. Our heart rate slowed as a calmness filled our bodies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe concluded the afternoon with a trip to a local bakery called “The Cup” to stuff our faces with sweet delights.

Although the events of a particular Wednesday left a somber and melancholy feeling in my heart, I believe God’s loving arms helped me realize Wednesdays are to be celebrated – whether through death, or a new life, or a change.

I believe that my sweet fur baby, Mr. Trip, running free on Rainbow Bridge, would want me to savor all the good and positive moments that Wednesdays bring.DSC_2121

I’ve decided that Wednesdays are ‘get out of jail free’ days – a break from the crazy world of stress.

I look forward to more unexplained sweet ‘awakenings’ in my life, and know that God always plays a part.

Care to join me?

Pleasures await you by the seashore…

This summer I had the opportunity to sit and observe nature while on vacation in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

I love watching birds, their graceful movements, and sometimes silly actions. I wrote a poem on this cold winter today which actually fits quite nicely with a fortune cookie I received awhile back.

Here’s the poem – I hope you like it. It’s called “Pleasures at the Seashore”

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Six little sandpipers
dip long spindly legs
and feet
in the shallow mud flats
and
watch tourists
on the shore.

Preening, gleaning
angel-like wings
and brown-tufted bellies,
resting idly
at ocean’s door.

A gentle waveDSCN0353 birds crop adj
pushes foamy surf
across wet land
in a lover’s
lullaby
of the sea.

And the feathered
reflections of nature –
six mirrored silhouettes,
dance on the glistening sand.

© Copyright Sheree K. Nielsen 2015

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Things I’ve Seen Before, but Never Noticed

Since returning home from our South Carolina book tour, I’ve felt less than inspired to write. Blame it on the hectic schedule, blame it on ‘beach’ withdrawals, blame it on being tired and rundown. I’ve used countless excuses for the last 2 weeks.

I needed a jolt of energy to jump start my creative inner-self.

So rather than hop on social media, as I often do after breakfast, I slipped into my Sorrel boots, grabbed my trusty Olympic camera, a jacket, and the dogs for a pre-winter walk-about on our three acres.

Rural suburbia (an oxymoron, in itself) provides all kinds of photo ops in the Midwest and I set out to find them.

Normally, when I go for walks with our Aussie and Bernese Mountain Dog, we don’t take time to enjoy the little things — we’re just walking to walk.

Today was different. Dogs do what dogs like to do. Sniff. Scratch at the ground. Sniff. Explore.

Today was as much their day, as it was mine. They had free reign.

As I ambled, I observed.

I found…..

Knarled leafless trees, reaching skyward, like those in a Tim Burton movie

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A shiny, crisp brown maple leaf reflecting the sun’s rays

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Majestic pines and hickorys bathed in white light

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The cottony fuzz of a wild grass, against the warm sienna hue of dog’s fur

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A petrified permisson hanging on for dear life

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A forest clearing. Untreaded.

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Acorns in mulch, mud, and wood dust, scattered about by squirrels or other forragers

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Fungus sprouting on cut worn wood, reminding me of barnacles under the sea

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And as the three of us trudged through the red berry bushes hugging the property boundary, we found ourselves in a pasture of wet, tall grass.  In the distance, sat a century-old barn — white washed — the foundation of our neighbors farm.

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These things I’ve seen before, but never considered, and maybe took for granted.

Sometimes all it takes is a little visual stimulation and a walk in the woods to be inspired and to clear your head.

Live your passion. Whatever it may be.

LIFE IS PASSING YOU BY!

Silver Springs and the Summer of ‘61

One of the best things about summer as a kid, were family vacations with Mom and Dad.  Vacations allowed me to (1) be a free spirit, (2) explore, and (3) wade in the tepid waters of the Gulf or Atlantic, and sometimes tip-toe in the Great Lakes’ frigid waters.

Oh how Mom and Dad embraced Florida! From Jacksonville’s soft sand beaches and Aunt Mary’s crab boils, to St. Petersburg’s old forts, and Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. Mom and Dad loved it all.

Recently, I found a black and white photo of Mom and me posing on a concrete bench at Silver Springs, Florida.  A glass-bottom boat was the background scenery.  Mom and I wore matching white leather huarache sandals. I loved those sandals.  (My brown leather softies purchased as an adult, even outlasted my first marriage.

Mom and me- silver springs001I was eager to discover the underwater world at Silver Springs, a popular tourist attraction.  My white huaraches and I stepped foot onto a glass-bottom boat for a tour of the Silver River, lead by an official ‘Captain’.  With glistening views of the sandy bottom and sea shells, the day was unforgettable.

Shortly after I discovered the snapshot in my cardboard box of memories, I read a story the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran by Alan Youngblood of the Ocala Star Banner.

The exact same boats I remember in their heyday, appeared as the backdrop for the photo in the Post, with cypress trees, bushes and a park bench in the foreground.

copyright Ocala Star Banner

copyright Alan Youngblood, Ocala Star Banner

In the 1960’s the popular TV show Sea Hunt was filmed at Silver Springs, as well as countless movies. The attraction recently reopened as a state park. The article mentioned the glass-bottom boats are still a feature for park visitors.

Over the past year, millions were spent to preserve the springs with different anti-pollution projects.  Apparently, the water clarity disspated due to nitrates infiltrating the spring water.

I’m curious to see now, if the springs are pristine, clean and full of interesting fish and bird life — the way I remembered them as a child.

And I’d like to think that the same concrete bench — the one Mom and I sat on, decades ago – is still waiting for me….to make new memories.

(I’ll need to buy a new pair of huaraches for the trip.)