Random thoughts on scrapbooking and life's journey

Welcome to My Fragmented Journey
Wednesday, July 23 2014 @ 10:23 AM CST

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Waters of the Dancing Sky

The stars are putting on their glittering belts. They throw around their shoulders cloaks that flash Like a great shadow's last embellishment. ~ Wallace Stevens

Choices. Each grand adventure comes with its own set of choices. Which route should we take. Our journey this day began in Winnipeg and would end in Duluth/Superior. We chose the road less travelled and followed the Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic byway through International Falls. We knew before we left there are not actually falls there anymore. There haven't been for around 100 years. It would not be the first place we found the falls filled by a reservoir. Sometimes a name catches your attention and does not let it go.

We joined the byway at Warroad, Minnesota on Lake of the Woods. From there we followed the Rainey River to International Falls. Because it was during the day we knew we would not be able to see any northern lights. The name intrigued me with its reference to the aurora that can sometimes be seen on a clear night. The Rainey River forms the international border between Canada and the US from Warroad to International Falls. The scenery did not disappoint. Perhaps the most surreal for us was to look across the river at farmhouses flying Canadian flags while driving beside ones with the stars and stripes.

Day 2

We thought about eating our lunch in Warroad at a local park. We took a wrong turn and ended up on the highway. A few miles down the road we found the Blueberry Hill picnic and camping area. There was an old style pump the girls tried even though a sign indicated the well had failed. If we had driven 3 miles farther we would have found a well maintained Lady Slipper Park on the side of the road to lunch at instead. Oh well. Sometimes the most interesting stops are the least planned. One of our stretch breaks was at the join of the Rapid River and the Rainey river. Bruce was able to photograph some of the rapids. We could see Canada in the distance. The water was quite brown most likely from a high mineral content as the boulders were rusting.

Somewhere along the route, a bear sauntered across the road in front of us. Later, we would find Smokey the Bear in a larger than life monument. He sits just down the road from historic Rainier with its Voyageur statue. Both provided fun photo ops and stretch breaks for us. We watched sailboats on Rainey Lake and tried to see the cantilever railway bridge at the mouth of the Rainey River. Surprisingly, it is the Canadian National railroad that is in operation there. The International Falls area is one we would like to explore further when we have time to hike along the trails.

Our destination was easily found on an island in the bay at Superior, Wisconsin. Our longest drives were behind us and we were ready to relax. Each day took us farther into the adventure. Each day brought new excitement. Not all had fully relaxed into the vacation yet. Vee had some nerves about the number of people we would encounter the next few days. Bruce wished we had planned more time. Choices would continue to need to be made as time limited our options.

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The Adventure Begins

Late July, our family embarked on a grand adventure. The plan: drive to Niagara Falls via Ottawa; see parts of 9 states, 5 great lakes, 4 provinces and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Along the way we have found rapids, roadside monuments and history. There has been laughter and frustration. We managed to get lost a few times but always found our way back to where we needed to be.

The first day's drive covered very little new ground. We have been to Winnipeg previously for baton competitions and to visit family. We were excited to be on our way and looking forward to having breakfast with family the next day. Because we did not take our normal route, we had the chance to discover some gems. We lunched with a big red bull in Russell. Perhaps the most fun find of the day was the Happy Rock in Gladstone. I do love word play and this town has created a roadside monument from such play.

Day one

Our first two days were planned as longer driving days. We wanted to get to Duluth for the Tall Ships Festival. We wanted to leave more time for exploring farther away from home. But we also wanted to visit with family. We met with Uncle Dave and Aunt Barb for breakfast before we headed for the border. Leaving Winnipeg, we had a choice to make, two roads diverged on a plain, and we took the one less travelled by. Instead of heading south to Emerson as most do we headed south east to Warroad, Minnesota and the waters of the dancing sky scenic route.

What did we find on the scenic route? Find out in the continuing adventure, tomorrow.

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Shoot Out at the ....

No not at the OK Corral, at the Solar Gardens. July 2, 2013, Bruce and I joined the Saskatoon Camera Club on a shoot out. We had permission to photograph at a greenhouse that normally does not allow any photography. They grow succulents. Many varieties of succulents. July 2 was the hottest day of the year so far and the greenhouses were even hotter. I mostly stuck to wandering the grounds and looking for ideas. It was a bit overwhelming actually.

Solar Gardens

It was overwhelming because I do not see myself as a photographer. I went along to visit with Bruce and enjoy the location. I found some birds, a squirrel and some inspiring art. The art is created from living objects when planting a variety of succulents in a myriad of containers. Other art is created with metal and glass. There were birdhouses made from reclaimed materials. While, I was overwhelmed with trying to photograph what I was seeing in an artistic way, I came home inspired. The two hours immersed in art with a group of artists inspired me to pick up my comfortable tools and create. Hopefully it has also inspired me to pick up my other supplies and stretch myself again. We will see what happens in the coming week.

My comfortable tools are paper and pixels. I am putting the finishing touches on some new pages for my scrapbooks. I am also playing with words again. My paints, pencils and colored pencils are still waiting for me after months of neglect. The camera remains a tool I use hesitantly. Bruce is the photographer. Kathryn is becoming a photographer. I continue to enjoy their work.

Photog In Training

What are your favorite tools for creating?

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Memories and Milestones

I started writing my thoughts down at the beginning of the week. There were still two days left in this school year at that time. Two days until Victoria finished grade eight. She has now finished and has gone to her high school orientation. Our summer vacation has begun. The thoughts remain.

It is a time to look back and a time to look forward. It is a time to celebrate the memories as a new milestone is achieved.

Farewell

Victoria is my quiet, serious girl and yet she has a fun side she occasionally shows us a glimpse of. She surprised us this year by joining the school volleyball team and canoe club. She continued with debate club and presented a persuasive speech on the benefits of year round school. She doesn't think she likes to talk in public. However, she spoke clearly and confidently when introducing a fellow grade eight student at farewell. She continues to show us glimpses into the mystery of who she is.

Victoria is a perfectionist like my sister. She strives for order. She spurs me on as I work to provide a restful haven for the family. I often fail, but together this year we are learning the lessons found in risk and failure.

I look forward to walking through this next chapter alongside Victoria as she continues to grow into the beautiful young lady she is becoming. We are proud of her and celebrate with her this current accomplishment. Congratulations Victoria.

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Track Meet

Last week, Kathryn had the opportunity to represent her school at the city-wide community schools track meet. She competed in Long jump and 800 meters. She likes to run and she likes to jump. We have been trying to convince her to train for some of the longer distances like the 400 and 800 meter. She wants to sprint. Maybe if she keeps doing well in the longer distances at the school level she will change her mind or maybe not.

Long Jump

It was interesting to watch her and cheer her on. She started training for pole vault in January with her track club. With pole vault they often somersault out of the pit. For at least one of Kathryn's long jump jumps, she somersaulted out of the pit. At least she doesnt have to worry about losing ground by falling backward when she throws herself forward into a roll. She can not compete in pole vault until high school. It may be possible with club track that she can compete above her age group and give pole vault a try once she has a little more of the technique. In the meantime, she just loves to jump.

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In Praise of rest

Some days life happens and throws all the plans out the door. Early May, I started an update that was to include a video. Unfortunately, it stalled out while I tried to figure out how to embed video. Our household is not tech shy. Bruce was going to help but he had a few things that needed to be higher priority. As he was starting to have time, my health started to deteriorate. I did not want to admit the severity of the illness and continued to try to meet all my commitments including running with friends. Running and congested lungs are not a good fit. I pulled back. I was exhausted. But I did not rest.

Cypress Hills view

Instead of resting, I joined Victoria's grade 8 class on a camping trip in Cypress Hills. Three days, two nights in a tent. I looked forward to getting away from the regular routine. I looked forward to exploring with the class as they hiked and climbed. I looked forward to spending time with this great group of teens. It was a good time. However, my lungs rebelled. Hiking the hills in the wind with dust and pollen blowing was too much. When I returned home, Bruce took me to a doctor. The verdict: very poor lung function. Without rest and medication to help the lungs, I would end up in the hospital. A hospital visit is not a vacation I want to take. I had no choice. I napped morning afternoon and evening. It was all I had energy for. I could not read, my eyes would not focus.

One week later, I still struggle with rest. I am regaining energy and strength. Unfortunately that means I am likely to overdo things. Tuesday, I cleaned all my pots from the seedlings I started. One small box cleaned and packed away for next year. It wore me out. I needed a nap. It frustrated me. I have many ideas. I have many things I want to try, to learn and to explore but no energy to do it. Saturday, I woke up with more energy than I have had all week. The risk: doing too much.

I expect research and creative play will be easier to do this coming week. I will still need to rest and let my lungs recover. Instead of running, walking will become my exercise to rebuild. I am looking forward to having the brain power to tell the stories from May and June. I have an art idea that has been waiting since April and a book review for my Artful Readers Club. The book review is done. The art is waiting. I read a book in May and plan to review it as well. I do not have an art idea for it. When I do not work with my ideas, they stagnate. Hopefully by taking the time for creative play, the ideas will once again return.

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Hijacked

The best laid plans....

April loomed full of possibility. The schedule freed of constant running, or so I thought. Now it draws to a close with more packed into a few short days than I imagined at the start. My plans for the month were hijacked. Delays and unexpected tasks accumulated. My month of relaxation melted faster than the snow which lingers on my lawn.

April 2013 promised many things. Spring returns in April, or so we thought. Mounds of snow dot the landscape after the coldest spring in 100 years. The frigid temperatures seem to have slowed our thoughts. Somewhere excitement waits. Sometime relaxation will come. Until then, I am tackling dreaded tasks. An ear infection lead to a jaw infection which put me two weeks behind. Two weeks behind with deadlines is an ugly combination. Mistakes lurk in the corners. Hurry exposes them.

The next instalment of the Artful Readers Club is due today. What have I been reading? I doubt anyone wants to hear of tax codes and spreadsheets. Hemmingway has inspired some artwork, however, I have been prevented from completing it due to my own dilly dallying and the dreaded accumulation of responsibility. I keep hoping the elusive balance is just a day away. High speed living gets tiring. Until then I join Orphan Annie, "Tomorrow, tomorrow...."

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Finding Confidence

He that is overcautious will accomplish little ~ Friedrich von Schiller.

Actions repeated regularly become habits. Habits get comfortable. Change happens slowly. It requires thoughtful action to rework the habits. Some habits are beneficial. Some habits hold us back.

Some time ago I started a habit of doubting my ability. It ate away at my confidence. I let others take the lead on projects I could have done. I justified it in various ways. Sometimes it is helpful to let someone else take the lead. In my case it became a habit. It became a habit that is in my mind and thinking. It affects new activities I try. My confidence sagged. Each time I doubted my ability, each time I stepped back just in case, I chipped away at me. I stopped taking risks even well thought out risks. My fear of failure grew. My fear of failure no longer affected only me but those around me as my lack of confidence held others back.

Since September, I have been challenging my thinking. I have read books. Reading is only half the equation. It gives ideas. It spurs thought. Without action nothing changes. This year, I have stepped out and tried different things. I have also stopped trying some that I enjoyed. Why did I stop? I saw possible success coming that would demand more. The confidence kicked in and I questioned, "Am I really capable of more?" As I push at the boundaries I have confined myself to, there is excitement and nervousness. I push forward and pull back at the same time. Finding confidence is hard.

After a speech contest

Finding confidence takes me out of my comfort zone. It challenges my assumptions. It forces me to act. I make mistakes. Slowly, I learn to analyze what went wrong and move forward. Slowly, I find my confidence. Small steps forward. Small challenges. A speech on Redefining Failure. A speech on the power of words. New audiences. New risks. The journey is long and slow. The rewards are worth every step.

What habits hold you back? How do you move beyond them?

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Currently...

... recovering from an ear infection

... working on a website for my Toastmasters club

... reading For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemmingway and Antifragile by Nassir Taleb

... Waiting for the snow to melt

... preparing a speech for Tuesday. Practicing a speech for next Saturday.

... dreaming and planning a road trip. Niagra Falls anyone?

... making to do lists and ignoring them (as usual)

... looking forward to working at a writer's conference this weekend

... trying to find my missing creativity

... writing and editing short stories. Wondering what to do with them when I finish.

... wishing the house would magically clean itself

... setting goals and working towards them

... thankful for my full and varied life.

March 13, 2013 in photos
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In Review: March

As I look back on March, I wonder how did we get ninety-one days into the new year? Time is speeding by and I am missing it. March was a very busy month and we knew it would be. I am not sure I like it but at least April is looking to be quieter. Perhaps that is balance busy followed by quiet. Before I rush into the calm, I pause and reflect on the storm that passed and storm it did for March. March 21st there was a winter storm over much of the southern half of our province with some areas experiencing blizzard conditions. Even in the city there were areas that driving was difficult due to drifting.

March 2013

My review questions for the month are:

1. What books and or magazines did I read this month?

For the Artful Reader's Club, I read Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Once again, I did not finish any other books this month. I continued to read Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. While I was waiting for it to be available at the library, I read most of Better by Mistake: the unexpected Benefits of being Wrong by Alina Tugend. I am finishing the last chapter today. I also started Adapt: Why Success Always Atarts with Failure by Tim Harford and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway. It is one of my Artful Readers choices. With my ladies BOOKClub bible study, I read through Romans.

2. What movies, TV shows, plays, etc. did I watch?

We did not watch anything this month.

3. What interesting things did we do as a family? With friends?

We attended baton competitions almost every weekend. Kathryn had a track meet. I took part in some Toastmaster events. We celebrated Bruce's Mom's birthday and ended the month with Easter.

Preparation

4. What were our accomplishments?

I took 2nd in our club evaluation contest and am preparing to participate in the area contest this weekend. I am also representing our club in the speech contest. Victoria caught some baton tricks she has been struggling with. She caught a two spin in front of the judge at the last competition and had a no drop solo-dance routine in spite of not feeling well. She worked hard to achieve both. Kathryn's relay team placed third in provincials.

5. What were our disappointments?

Juggling schedules continues to be a frustration. There are many things we all want to do and it is hard to choose which to focus on. I missed Kathryn's track meet because I was in Edmonton with Victoria. Bruce stayed with Kathryn. We were all a little disappointed that the events were the sae weekend. I continued to struggle with health and injury.

6. What did I do for exercise?

Track time continues to be a struggle. My knee kept me from walking properly some days. I enjoy swimming and can handle that easier with my leg injuries. Illness added to the injury woes and I missed two weeks of exercise. Once the spring weather arrives, I will return to running outdoors. Hopefully, I will continue to swim once that happens. Shovelling snow replaced some of the track time.

Us

7. Did I make progress on my goals?

I have started to refine my goals for the year. They are still mainly large, vague ideas. Setting an exercise goal would likely help me set and stick to a training plan. I am trying to set up routines that help me with writing and creating while not ignoring the household tasks. We are discussing a few bigger ideas as a family that will affect this years goals. I made progress on cleaning up the stacks of papers but am not finished.

As the year progresses, I expect this list will change to more accurately reflect the things I want to track and remember at the end of the year. I am also working on a list of tasks I want to make sure I complete each month. I have had huge stacks of papers to file. I hope to build routines to keep that from happening.