Fantastic

My family and I just went on vacation to Florida. On our way back to KC, we decided to stop at Fantastic Caverns, near Springfield, MO. I took many photos in the caves, beautiful colors and high contrast. I was pretty snap-happy. I was surprised that I could get any images though, honestly, because the light was so low. Thankfully, my digital Nikon knows more about photography than I do. 🙂 Sure, there’s light in the cave from well-placed, man-made spots, but it’s still a cave.

I only know the most fundamental aspects of manual photography. The camera still focuses for me, but I can set the aperture and speed myself. I’m still working on knowing the different settings, but I do several test shots until I see what I like. It’s like poking around in the dark until hitting on something. Like being in a cave. Hopefully, I don’t fall into a hole.

Coming out of the cave, my camera didn’t adjust because I had set it manually and I snapped this photo.

overexposed.jpg

Obviously, overexposed.

If you look closely, you can see the water pouring off the edge and streaming down. It had just rained heavily the day before and the vegetation above the cave entrance was drenched and dripping. Once we came out of that dark square, we had to adjust. We were immediately baptized by the unexpected downpour and blinking to accommodate the new conditions. It was a fast change from dark to light. And it took a minute to get your bearings.

Such is life, no?

The women who first explored the cave (yes, women) were said to have only a candle in a can. It probably only illuminated a few feet in front of them. THAT is scary. They were surely brave ladies. They could have fallen into a deep hole and been fatally injured in the matter of a few steps.

When we were in the cave, the ride was bumpy, dark and at times frightening. You had to keep your head down or lose it on a stalactite. We stopped at the edge of a sinkhole that looked like the mouth to hell. Everyone stood and rushed to our side of the trailer and I felt as if I might go tumbling over the side. I was very nervous and I simply faced forward and breathed, mouthing the words to my husband, “I don’t like this.” I have anxiety about heights and open spaces. I almost-spoke my fear to him mainly so he wouldn’t encourage me to look around and gawk at the gaping hole threatening to swallow our entire caravan. So he knew, at least, “I’m freaking out!”

I patiently focused on myself, not others around me, and I made it through. I focused on the things I could control. And I made it through. I looked forward. To making it through.

Sometimes, when you can’t handle life, all you can do is care for yourself. And breathe. You can’t worry about anyone else. You can’t change anyone else. You can’t make others sit down. You can’t save anyone if you all go tumbling over. You can only save yourself.

You can’t make the driver go faster. You can’t make the driver go at all if she wishes to park you on the edge of hell. You have to control yourself, focus on what you have been given dominion over and pray that it will be over soon. Pray that the driver will stop talking after she’s made her point and quickly drive you to safety. She knows the way, she’s been down here before. Just hold on. Focus on what’s right in front of you.

This picture (above) sucks. It is a terrible failure of my manual photography skills. You can’t see the lush green of the hanging branches above. You can’t see the beautiful drops of light that spilled over our heads and sparkled in the cool morning sunshine. But, it is a beautiful captured reflection of the human condition of adjustment and transformation.

We don’t just start being good after seeing the light. It takes a minute. So grace is important for the cave dweller. Soon we will see the world in the way it was intended. We will emerge with new eyes. And some days, we may still long for the darkness of our old world. It’s beautiful mystery, silence and danger. But no one is meant to live in a cave. We are meant to live out in the light.

I know.

I don’t like living inside of my cave of anxiety and fear. It hurts everyone around me. But living above ground with normal people sucks. Triggers abound. I’m used to anxiety and fear, I can live with those. I know what to expect. But that means living alone because no one else can stand the darkness.

So, I choose light. Because living in darkness, while quiet and predictable, is a pretty miserable half-existence not intended for human habitation.

 

 

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MiO

Okay, don’t know why. But I can’t drink straight water since my weight loss surgery. I even asked the doctor about it and he said, “Yeah, it’s just one of those weird things about surgery. Other patients have the same complaint.” Which is something you never want your doctor to say.

I have tried tap water, ice water, bottled water, all kinds of water. I can’t drink water. 😦 It makes my stomach hurt for some reason. Like I’m going to puke it right back up.

BUUUT! (that’s a big but) if I put Mio in my water, I can drink it. ??? No problems. So I tried MiO Berry Blast with B vitamins and electrolytes. So good! I need to drink more water, so this helps. I don’t like ingesting chemicals or artificial flavors/colorings all the time, but it’s better than being dehydrated. And it’s better than soda (not supposed to have carbonation, stretches out the stomach) or guzzling tea and/or Gatorade.

So, cheers! Here’s to hydration, no-calorie drinks and getting skinny healthy! *Clink*

Birthday

Guest post by: Guy C. Maggio


Yesterday was my birthday and my husband wrote a poem for me. Best gift ever.
Plus, two dozen roses! I feel so lucky. I wanted to share because he is just as talented at writing, if not more so, than I am. I just have more time to be creative.


Today is her birthday.
She didn’t ask for much-
Just some flowers and nice words.

She never asks for much-
Just the hardest things for me give:
Patience
Kindness
Compassion
Tenderness.

Simple gifts that cost nothing
But my ego and pride
Which I, shamefully,
Have treasured more than gold.

For forty and four sun-cycles
She has lived;
I’ve known her for nineteen of them
And lived with her
Longer than any other-
Even my own family.

She is
A writer, poet, teacher, and mother
My closest family and confidant.

She has
Loved, honored, and stayed with me
Even when I have not been
Loving, honorable, or companionable.

Today is her birthday.
She doesn’t ask for much-
Just some flowers
And nice words

And the hardest gift for me to find:
To be a better man.

She deserves the best.


Thanks, Guy. I love my presents. Our vacation was present enough, but you constantly amaze me. I know we frustrate one another, but the good times are better than anything.

Siesta Key

SANDALS SAYING


My family and I took a much needed vacation. We haven’t been anywhere for 7 years. We’ve been sick, poor, bankrupt and moving for the past 7 years. So, it was nice to finally get away for 1 week in our favorite spot-Sarasota, Florida.

Great beaches: Venice, Turtle, Siesta Key. Great food: Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar (try the Seafood Stuffing). Great people. It’s so laid back and fun there. We had a great time. Finding a cheap hotel on spring break was challenging, but we found a great hotel down south in Port Charlotte. A drive, no doubt, but clean and affordable. It doesn’t matter where you stay as long as your in driving distance of Siesta Key Beach. Voted best beach in the USA, that is not an exaggeration. Powdery white sand, clear water and shells to scavenge. Also! the best sunsets the Gulf has to offer. Although, Turtle Beach, just down the key, is Shell Central. We found so many. I stepped on a very large fish scale the first morning we went shell hunting. Totally intact.

Great to be back though. We stopped at Fantastic Caverns on the way home to KC. Here’s all our pics. Plus, some pics of our 2009 getaway. Those are the best sunsets.

bird friend 2.jpgMy bird friend who just had to fly over and get his pic taken. He was so close! 2017
Turtle Beach

bird in flight.jpgBird in flight 2017
Turtle Beach

hermie.jpgMy husband’s hand. Baby hermit crab. My daughter found him in the surf. She thought it was a shell, then he poked his head out! So cute. We put him back to live and swim another day!! You can call him Hermie. 2017
Siesta Key Beach

parasail 2.jpgParasailing (not us!) 2009
Siesta Key Beach

sunset 11.jpgBoat, birds and sunset 2009
Siesta Key Beach

lilli beach.jpgLilli, our daughter (6 years old), on Siesta Key Beach in 2009.

fantastic 10.jpgMy favorite shot. Fantastic Caverns 2017

giants.jpgGiants, Fantastic Caverns 2017

fantastic 1.jpgFantastic Caverns 2017

stage.jpgThe Stage in the Auditorium. Performers used to sing and play in the cave. This was the stage they built so long ago. They wouldn’t let me get up there and perform??! Why not? LOL
Fantastic Caverns 2017

fantastic 6.jpgSoda Straws, Fantastic Caverns 2017

Great vacation, lots of fun times. No speeding tickets, no accidents. Road trip to end all road trips. A few bruised egos along the way, but no permanent damage. Visited many places, saw many things. Had such a great time.

Glad to be back in my own bed though. 😉

 

What Is It To Be a Woman?

Men will never know
The painful joy of giving birth.
Thank God for that providence
Or we would have an empty Earth!

Men will always know
The advantage of being male.
They can’t understand
The privilege of that tale.

Men will never know
What it’s like to be preyed.
Simply take my “No.”
We live constantly afraid.

Men will never know
What it’s like to FEEL free.
I feel sorry for them.
They can’t be a woman like me.

Day Without a Woman

A day without a woman
Is a lifetime without:
Soft edges
Warm smiles
Tender kisses
Multi-tasking
Reason married to wit.

A day without women
Is a world without:
2nd income
Only income
Only parent
Teachers
Nurses
Presidents
Pastors
Mothers
Wives
Daughters
Family
Students
Leaders
Care
Lawful, peaceful resistance and protest.

We gather to make a difference.
We don’t loot. Or grab. Or lie.
Like Elizabeth and Maya,
We persist and rise!

#neverthelessshepersisted

#daywithoutawoman

#daywithoutwomen