Tag Archives: appreciate

Swiss serenity

Day 6-11

All too soon we bid farewell to our loft apartment in Sankt Goar Germany and headed toward Switzerland via the autobahn highway. Navigating in foreign countries doesn’t always go to plan even with a GPS. At one point we took a wrong exit and ended up 70kms off course in a small French town. Being Sunday everything was closed except a small hotel where we asked for directions using broken English and gestures. Miraculously we ended up back on the right freeway but lost two hours in the process.

I’ll never forget the vibrancy of the bright and deep greens of the grassy hills  looking like a picture postcard as we drove in to Switzerland for the first time, When Lake Geneva came into view we were in awe of her size and natural beauty.

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The small Swiss towns with narrow cobble stone streets are picturesque with colourful flower boxes on windowsills and along the streets. Our studio in Cully sits on a cliff top overlooking Lake Geneva with views you could never tire of.

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One perfect sunny day we took a lake cruise to Montreux to visit Chateau Chilon. Traveling on a restored lake steamer built in 1910 provided a highlight as we took in the views of both the Swiss landscape and the French Coast. The 1000 year old Chateau stands  on a rocky outcrop on Lake Geneva and is compelling to walk through and explore.

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On a day trip we drove to Lausanne and spent a fascinating four hours wandering through the Le Musee Olympique (Olympic Museum). The interactive exhibits are engaging and we enjoyed reliving memories of past Olympics including Cathy Freeman lighting the flame and winning gold in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. We pushed all the buttons, read the fun facts, watched audiovisual and saw authentic memorabilia of each of the games.

The following day we walked through the vineyards near Cully up to Epesses a small wine village located 464 m above sea level with Vignerons dating back to the 17th century, with spectacular views over Lake Geneva. A steep climb but well worth it.

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A visit to Geneva was a priority on our list of things to do in Switzerland. The water fountain jet that shoots 140 metres into the sky is an icon of Geneva. When we walked along the promenade on the lake edge we searched the horizon for the water jet but saw nothing. Eventually we discovered the fountain is switched off on windy days so unfortunately we did not see the famous Geneva water jet.

We walked toward Geneva’s city area and it seemed quiet. Feeling a bit lost we entered a hotel to ask for a city map. The concierge told us the shops were all closed for a public holiday. Luckily some of the cafes were open and we found a delightful Italian restaurant to eat lunch.  We then wandered to Geneva’s historic area with beautiful old buildings, St Pierre’s cathedral and outdoor cafes on paved spaces in the sunshine. There is something  special about ancient buildings thinking that they have existed for many hundreds of years and knowing people walked on the same cobblestones centuries ago.

For the return drive back to Cully we took a longer route traveling through France and enjoyed spectacular scenery as we circumnavigated Lake Geneva (a total of 190 kms).

We visited the cheese and chocolate making area of Gruyeres on our last day in Cully. Gruyeres is a medieval village, typical of the 1500s, in which cars are banned. The buildings are historic and you get a feel of living in a different era (except for the bus loads of  tourists).

Even after five days the scenery amazes us as we drive around. Switzerland is the most beautiful and picturesque country in the world.

Our next destination is Aeschi, Switzerland and we will drive across the Southern Alps to get there. Aeschi is located in the German speaking areas of Switzerland so we’ll have to stop saying ‘bonjour’ and resume saying  ‘guten tag’.

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Moving on

When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. ~ D. H. Lawrence

During my lifetime I’ve seen continuous changes in society from the variety of food choices to our access to ever evolving technology. Other noticeable changes observed  are personal values and family structures, the move towards equality of the sexes,  housing styles and career opportunities. But one thing that remains consistent over time is the human desire to travel and see other lands.

Many friends traveled overseas when I was in my 20s but my adventurous spirit was lacking which led me to marry and start a family in place of travel. Perhaps I subconsciously viewed traveling as a negative thing.

My father traveled to Europe when I was a child leaving my mother to keep our family and home running smoothly. He was away for months every year building business opportunities. I didn’t fully understand the loneliness and frustrations my mother felt when dad was away but I sensed it was difficult for her, which worried me. Dad sent postcards depicting snow topped Swiss Alps, chalets, people in German costume, cows with cowbells and grand castles. I had no idea nor did I wonder where in the world the scenery in the bright postcards existed, I associated them with my mum being apprehensive.

Later in life my parents enjoyed many trips to Europe together creating wonderful memories they treasured forever. My siblings traveled overseas independently as young adults visiting many of the same places Dad had been to. I am the only family member who has not yet been to Europe.

It wasn’t until my 40’s when something stirred within urging me to explore my fascination for Asian counties which created a turning point in my life. Traveling to Japan, Malaysia, China, Singapore and Thailand awakened my senses, challenged my sense of self, and changed my perspective about life. However during these years my desire to visit European countries laid dormant.

Nobody comes back from a journey the way they started it. ~ Unknown

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My husband Peter traveled around Europe as a young man but now in his 50s wants to visit there again with me. So with the tiniest hint of trepidation I agreed to take a six-week trip together to Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, France, Austria and Italy in September this year.

I vow to travel with my mind and eyes open and hopefully will share my experiences and thoughts about my journey on my blog as I go along.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Bon voyage!

Enjoy the little things

Not yet old but way past young I’m staring another birthday in the face still wondering where I fit in to this crazy world. Life is a mystery I’m unraveling as I go. In my heart I’m still a little girl looking for acceptance.

Memories of defining moments dotted throughout my life randomly flash through my mind at the oddest times.  I never want to forget these memories because they make me who I am, for better or worse.

In this snowballing culture of greed and excess I strive to live my life simply and with compassion. Sometimes I satisfy my own expectations but other times I let myself down.  That’s okay, I’ll keep trying. Every day brings another chance to try again.

I live a comfortable life and want for nothing. Possessions are nice to have but they are just things. The love of my husband, my three children and my little dog mean more to me than anything else in the world. These people give me purpose and make my life worthwhile. They make me laugh, love, hurt and swell with pride.  They make me feel.

My wish is for people to take time to enjoy the little things that make them smile. A smile brightens everyone’s day.  I’ve chosen some picture quotes reflecting  messages I’d like to share with you on my birthday 26 June 2014.

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Hear no evil

This post contributes to the The Daily Post Sound of Silence weekly writing challenge

Soon silence will have passed into legend.  Man has turned his back on silence.  Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.  His anxiety subsides.  His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.  ~Jean Arp

My joy is to bask in the ecstasy of silence. No thoughts, no manmade noise only the pure sounds of nature. It is only during silence that I feel the wind and warmth of the sun, smell the fragrance of the trees, taste the salt in the sea air and see the radiance of the natural world around me.

Noise has always bothered me. As a teenager I hated the music of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd instead preferring acoustic folk music.

Truth be told I don’t relate well to a lot of people because I feel alien to popular culture. I’m an introvert.  I watch and listen, and I choose the people I allow into my life very carefully. This is why deciding to write a blog was a big deal for me.

It seems appropriate that my first tentative step into blogging was a post about my need for silence https://jennadee222.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/so-it-begins/

To me a day of torture involves milling crowds of people, pumping music, heavy traffic noise, phones ringing, television ads screaming, politicians bleating and air travel.

We listen too much to the telephone and we listen too little to nature. The wind is one of my sounds. A lonely sound, perhaps, but soothing. Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for—sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive, or quiet and calm… As a matter of fact, one of the greatest sounds of them all—and to me it is a sound—is utter, complete silence.  ~André Kostelanetz

What is your personal sound preference and how does it make you feel?

Get groovy

Have you noticed how everybody seems to be extraordinarily busy?  Every day I see people swept up in the momentum of life relentlessly pushing themselves to satisfy all of their self-appointed tasks.

Getting caught up in the pursuit of busyness comes at a price and usually results in a loss of freedom.

We all have the same  24 hours (or 1440 minutes) in each day we live. How we choose to spend it is entirely up to us.

During 2013 I revisited my past many times in my blog posts but now choose  to write only in the present. I’ve spent enough time thinking about past mistakes and will not waste another minute doing this. What’s done is done and I’m leaving it behind.

If you live with regrets, have a crappy job, are trapped in a loveless relationship, have lost your creative edge or lack motivation to do anything fun in your life, then snap out of it right now. This is your life and you should make the most of every day.

My challenge for you is to press  play on Feelin’ Groovy and sing along as loud as possible (see lyrics below if you weren’t around in 1966).
I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face and almost two minutes of joy to your day. How you choose to spend the remaining 1438 minutes is up to you.

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da…Feelin’ Groovy

Hello lamp-post
What cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo
Feelin’ groovy

I’ve got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all it’s petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy

Michelle’s pet challenge

Gracie Dee, long haired chihuahua

It’s amazing how such a tiny animal brings so much joy to so many people. This is my dog Gracie Dee and I’d like to share the joy of having a pet with fellow bloggers.

My blog post My eyes adore you tells the story of how Gracie Dee came into my life. Other posts include  My tiny friend and Little things make me smile.

For more photos of Gracie take a look at  http://instagram.com/gracieandjennadee#

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Thanks to Michelle at http://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com

Live life with innocence

Today I’m sharing some simple and wonderful life lessons that I aspire to follow this year, thanks to PIXAR

Love can be as simple as holding hands
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Take a minute to reminisce about childhood friendships
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Add a few spices to your life. Literally and figuratively
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Be open to unlikely friendships
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Never discount the small guys
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Take a chance on the adventure (and friendship) of a lifetime
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Hold on to your family
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Embrace your own strengths
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Laughter > Fear
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Take a break and drive in the slow lane sometimes
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True love never gets old
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Acceptance

Closure is something most people desire and I am no different.

As another calendar year nears the end it seems natural to look back and reflect on how the days unfolded.

I acknowledge 2013 as my first year of change after challenging myself to wake up and pay attention.

Jenna DeeIt took many months and multiple attempts but eventually I found closure on some life situations that had been holding me back for too long.

So it is with satisfaction and a feeling of content that I  close the door on these events and walk towards a new year of challenges.
No regrets.

This morning I read this poem on http://smallactofkindness.wordpress.com/ that eloquently expresses the essence of my post today.

You are not your age,
Nor the size of the clothes you wear,
You are not a weight,
Or the color of your hair.
You are not your name,
Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read,
And all the words you speak,
You are your croaky morning voice,
And the smiles you try to hide,
You are the sweetness in your laughter,
And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly when you know you’re all alone,
You’re the places you’ve been too,
And the one that you call home,
You’re the things that you believe in,
And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom,
And the future you dream of,
You’re made of so much beauty,
But it seems you forgot,
When you decided that you were defined,
By all the things you’re not.
~e.h

Natural healing

IMG_3739Every year in August the small sakura tree in my front yard bursts into a radiant display of pink blossom.

No matter how many times I see it, I’m always in awe of its beauty and its ability to make me smile merely by its existence.

The crazy thing is that it flowers during winter when rain and icy winds prevail. I think it should blossom during springtime on warm sunny days, but nature has its own agenda.

It is during blossom time that I reflect on things that have taken place in my life since the last flowering. Have I made the best use of my time? Have I met my expectations? Have I helped my loved ones? Have I helped myself?

Each day during its bloom I go outside to check if the blossom is surviving the bad weather and to my surprise it always remains. However after about two weeks the blossom gracefully blows away and disappears for another year.

I love the fact that nothing changes the cycle of nature. It comforts me to know that the human elements that control so many aspects of our lives have no power over natural occurrences like the flowering of my blossom tree.

This year I am dedicating my sakura blossom to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu and his words of wisdom.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
– Lao Tzu

 

 

Fresh perspective

IMG_2072Something has been unsettling me lately and distracting me from my promise to myself to lead a positive and fulfilled life.

Last night I had an obscure dream that somehow made things seem clearer and I woke with a feeling of calm.

I’m the type of person who gets caught up in too many thoughts when trying to make important decisions, but after this dream I felt different. I just knew what was right for me. It was invigorating to feel free of worry, even for a short while.

Sometimes you have to listen to your heart and believe that everything will be all right.

Enjoy each day, be grateful for all that is good in your life for who knows what changes tomorrow may bring.

I’m feeling more peaceful already.