Staycation Days: Cameron Art Museum

When I take a staycation, I always try to strike a balance with my time. That is to say that part of my time I devote to recreational pursuits, things that I always say I want to do but never seem to have the time to do, and productive pursuits, those items on my to-do list that need to be done but never seem to make it to the top of the list. If I can strike a balance of both recreation and productivity during a week off at home then I don’t consider it a waste of vacation hours.

One of the items on on my recreation list was to visit Cameron Art Museum, a local art museum in my city. I work very close to the museum and have said several times that I wanted to go back through it (I toured it years ago), but despite my close proximity, I had not been back to the museum to tour the galleries. One afternoon, on my week off, I returned to the museum. Ironically, not all of their galleries were open that day so I guess I will have to go back again. But I did see a few nice things.

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The picture above is by Minnie Evans. a folk artist who lived in Wilmington, NC. The inspiration for her art came from her dreams as a young girl. I actually had the privilege of meeting her briefly when I was a girl and she was an older woman. Her story is pretty fascinating if you would like to read more about it at the link above.

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This 2nd piece is by an artist named Claude Howell, titled appropriately “Sorting Fish”. It’s a little difficult to tell in my picture, but this is a ceramic tile mosaic. I’m in awe of people who have the patience and ability to create something like this.

Below are some other beautiful pieces I saw at the museum that afternoon.

 

Even though I did not get to tour every gallery that day, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I think sometimes less can be more, anyway. Part of the fun of viewing art is taking the time to appreciate each piece. With less pieces to view, I took my time with each one.

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Views of New York

Recently, I decided to take a short trip to New York City with a friend. It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, we planned less than a week out, but the idea for the trip had been knocking around in my head for a while. I live on the east coast but I had never been to New York, and in my mind, it was overdue. In typical fashion for a trip to the city, I ran the entire time I was there. I told my friend that in a lot of ways, I felt that the entire trip was an exercise in resourcefulness as we moved from one mode of transportation to another. We drove from home to RDU airport, located in Morrisville, NC to catch our plane. We parked in one of the most distant parking lots to get a better price for parking then caught a shuttle to the airport. Once we were in the airport, we walked to the appropriate terminal. We flew on our plane, landed in New York and grabbed a cab to the hotel. Once we were situated at the hotel, we obtained a map of the subways, used the subways to get around and then walked where we wanted to go. 14, 986 steps one day.  We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We caught the Staten Island ferry for the excursion. At the end of the visit, we caught another car back to the airport, walked to another terminal, flew on another plane, took another shuttle to our car and drove back home. Phew!

Obviously, I have lots of thoughts about everything that happened in between which I’m sure I will write about over time. While in the midst of all this moving about, I did manage to write a couple of haikus and of course, snap some pictures. The haiku below is about my impression of the city as I flew in that first day. I was struck by how tiny the enormous buildings looked from the sky, like an architectural model. In fact, from my seat on the plane, they didn’t even look definitively like buildings at first, but rather large rocks standing up to reach or worship the sky.

Jagged rocks reaching

to the sky, lined up Legos

or modern Stonehenge

Below are a few more pictures that I snapped of buildings from other angles. The first set are pictures I took of a few buildings from the opposite direction, underneath, as I explored the Brookfield Place shopping center.

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The last picture is a view from my plane as I left the city at sunset on my last day.

 

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Change

via Daily Prompt: Savor

Life is full of changes. My job was recently complicated when one of my leads resigned to take another position. A new team was put in place and I found myself in the position of being one of the most seasoned members on that project. Now, I’m perfectly capable of leading. I’m even kind of good at it, but I still don’t always look for excuses to lead. I love mentoring, but being the leader is a different ball of wax. Being the leader requires more commitment, more stress and frankly, less freedom; and if I’m going to be perfectly honest about myself, freedom is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s a struggle. As per my normal reaction, I’m trying to find a happy balance with the situation.

In addition, my baby sister has decided to move to California which is literally on the other side of the country. I’ve been scrambling to get some time with her before she goes; and I’m already thinking ahead to my first visit, which has been difficult to pull together due to conflicting timelines.

Last night, our large family came together and we took her to dinner. There were seven small children total in our group so I imagine the restaurant is still nursing the wounds of that trauma 🙂 (Needless to say, we tipped our waitress very well). Afterwards, my sister and I stood outside of the restaurant and talked to one of my brothers and his family for about 45 minutes then she and I went for a drink with a couple of her friends.

As we stood outside of the restaurant, I looked up to see the sky in all its glory as the sun set behind the clouds. A sense of awe and freedom and gratitude washed over me as I stood under the sky and talked to my siblings in the parking lot. Afterwards, my sister and I went out and extended our visit.

Sometimes, life takes twists and turns and we don’t know where it’s taking us. I was talking to a friend a while back. She was looking to make some changes in her life and was overwhelmed by how she should do it.

“I have a tendency to get bogged down with the big picture,” I said.

“Me, too!” she answered.

But I think the key is to just take the next step. We can be aware of the big picture, but most of the time, we won’t be able to just jump to the end. We just have to take the next step and savor the good times along the way. Make the most of a visit when the opportunity presents itself and always glance up to see the sunset.

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Daily Prompt: Bumble

via Daily Prompt: Bumble

I don’t spend as much time in my yard as I need to. I hate it, but I’m single, I work a lot and I run out of time. The people who lived in my home before me were retired and spent countless hours in the yard. They planted so many azalea bushes that in the springtime when they blossom, it’s like an azalea wonderland. They also planted mimosa trees and a variety of flowers. I don’t even know what some of the flowers are. I’ve literally had people come over to visit and admiringly ask, “What kind of flower is that?” to which I have often replied, “I don’t know. It just popped up”.

It’s amazing to me that these flowers keep popping up. I’ve been in this home for over a decade and have planted barely anything new (although I do currently have some marigolds in a pot waiting to go into the ground and I’ve decided I want a pine tree in the back) yet every year flowers continue to blossom in my yard. The soil is dark, I trim things back and sometimes I weed, but that’s it. I’m very fortunate. They are beautiful. Maybe one day I will have the time to give them the care they deserve. Or maybe they are doing just fine with what I’ve been offering.

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Yesterday, I came home from work and glanced over at my shed to notice, once again, something new. Vibrant pink flowers, some dead or dying and some brand new. I snapped a picture and sent it to both a friend of mine and my mother in the hopes that one of them would know what it was. Look, I texted, another new flower. My friend simply commented at the marvelous color but my mother offered the idea that it may be a day lily. I googled it and it appears that I probably do have day lilies. Day lily blossoms live, sadly, for only one day but the flowering stalk produces lots of blossoms which explains why I saw both brand new blossoms and dying flowers on the same stalk.

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In my day lily googling adventure and in an effort to tie this in somehow to the daily post for bumble, I started looking into whether bees like day lilies. They do, but it appears that butterflies like them better.

I did find this adorable article about how bees sleep in flowers, though! I never knew that. I didn’t even know that bees slept. How precious. But of course they do, everything thing sleeps. I’ll be looking for it now.  Stay tuned for pictures of bees sleeping in flowers in the future 🙂

Have a great night all and hang in there, it’s almost Friday!

Carolina Beach State Park

July 4th was a busy day for me. I couldn’t sleep and woke up before dawn. I used the time to watch the sunrise on the beach then I called my 75-year-old father, who I figured would be up, to go to breakfast. After breakfast, we drove down to Carolina Beach State Park. I’ve been wanting to check out CB park for a while, and now I want to go back.

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Carolina Beach State Park is 761 acres large along the Cape Fear River and Snow’s Cut which is part of the Intracoastal waterway. There are 8 hiking trails scattered throughout the park ranging from .35 mile to 3 miles long: 6 miles of hiking trails total. All are sandy terrain and considered easy.

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A marina provides access to boating and fishing. Campsites tailored toward both families and groups feature amenities such as picnic tables, grills and fire rings. There are some cabins available for reservation and restrooms with hot showers are located nearby.

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On my trip to CB State Park, we hiked part of the Sugarloaf Trail which travels through the marsh along the river. We saw waterbirds along the way and several fiddler crabs crossed our path as we made our way along the route. I have intentions of going back with a picnic lunch and hiking the trail to the Sugarloaf Dune which I hear offers an excellent view.

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Definitely check this park out if you are in the area. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

 

Moore’s Creek

I squeezed in a historical excursion today. Moore’s Creek National Battlefield, located in Currie NC, is the site of the first influential victory by the Patriots in the American Revolution. The battle, which took place on February 27, 1776, ended British authority in the colony and empowered North Carolina to be the first colony to declare independence. The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge as well as the Battle of Sullivan’s Island close to Charleston, SC were the first open conflicts of the American revolution and led to the Thirteen colonies declaring Independence on July 4, 1776. (Wikipedia)

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Today, the 87-acre park has reenactments, a tour of the battlefield and a visitor center which offers videos, displays and other educational opportunities.

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On the grounds, a History Trail (0.7 mile) follows a walk across Moore’s Creek and features several monuments. The Patriot Monument honors John Grady, the only Patriot killed in the battle. A Loyalist Monument honors those who supported the British cause who “did their duty as they saw it” and another monument honors women in the region for the roles that they played in the American Revolution. The Tarheel Trail  (0.3 mile) begins near the end of the History Trail.

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It was an informative trip for me as I did not realize what an important role NC played in the American Revolution. I’m sure I learned it in school a looooong time ago, but it was nice to have the reminder. It was also a really beautiful place to walk. I even saw some friends along the way.

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Breathwork and Baby Pines

This past year, a friend recruited me to be a part of an online meditation group led by a friend of hers who teaches yoga in Costa Rica. I’m not an expert yogi, but I do attend yoga classes from time to time and I always experience a sense of calm when I do yoga. Something about the stillness and the stretching wrings out my tension and gives me a sense of peace.

Recently Ashley, the instructor from Costa Rica, was in the US. She has ties to my hometown and stopped in to teach a few classes on breathwork at a local studio. I had never taken a class focused solely on breathwork, but I like to try new things so I attended one of the sessions. Before the class, Ashley asked me if I had an intention, something on which I wanted to focus during the class. I shrugged.

“There are a few uncertain changes going on at work,” I said.

“Well, that is something you can think about,” she answered.

When the class started, I didn’t focus on anything, at first, except for breathing. The idea of breathwork, as I understand it, is to breathe fully in a circular motion, from the diaphragm, through your chest and out of your mouth then back. We breathed in the air through our mouths and we exhaled out of our mouths. Ashley asked us to breath throughout our entire body. I imagined the air moving from my feet through my legs into my belly and my chest, then up into my head and out of my mouth. At times, I was distracted by the sounds of other people breathing around me, but I focused on the breath. I started to imagine the breath as a circle, traveling the length of my body then looping to go back around. Somewhere along the way, I started to think about other things, but not about work, and my thoughts took me to the heart of something. I started thinking about how most people play it safe with other people. We share enough of ourselves to be seen as friendly, but little enough to protect ourselves from being hurt. I know I do. This prompted me to start thinking about forgiveness and letting things go.

After the class, Ashley paired us with a partner and we talked about our experience. I was paired with a woman on a mat behind me. We sat cross-legged on our mats and looked at one another. She was older than me and a little weathered. Her silver hair was cut in a very hip style and she had two of the most alert, smiling, clear blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I told her about my thoughts.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s very similar to what I was working on.” And she shared some things about herself with me.

Before we left, Ashley suggested that it might be a good day to spend some time in nature since we were already in reflective moods. That worked well for me as I was already going for a walk.

I went to a local park, Hugh McRae Park, and walked for about 45 minutes. Hugh McRae is filled with established pine trees, but as I walked, I noticed that the park has planted new pines, as well. Several baby pines were nestled among the older pines. The scene of pines filled me with pleasure and I stopped for a while to look at them. Now, that I look back on it, I know why they made me happy. Not only were the pines a bright, happy green and quite pretty, but they were new little lives releasing oxygen back into the air. Breathing their own cycle like me. There was a sort of synchronicity to finding them right after my breathwork. Pretty cool.

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New Orleans Streetcar

via Daily Prompt: Tender

It has been about 8 months since I visited New Orleans for the first time. One of my friends is a HUGE Keith Urban fan so we traveled to NOLA to attend a concert at the Smoothie King arena downtown.

The wonderful thing about going somewhere for the first time is that it is perfectly acceptable to be a shameless tourist. Besides the concert, we filled our weekend with all of the typical NOLA tourist activities. We took the streetcar to Bourbon Street  where I’m pretty sure I dined on the best shrimp jambalaya I will ever consume in my life, and to Cafe du Monde where I sampled the best beignets I will probably ever taste. We took a bus tour of the Garden District, which was beautiful, then to the 9th Ward where we saw houses and neighborhoods that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

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All of these memories linger in my mind, and now with a base of experience, I have a better idea of what I want to explore further if I go back to New Orleans; but there is another memory from the streetcar that lingers, as well, and it is a simple one.

The streetcars intrigued me. Their charming trademark appearance of wooden seats and exposed light bulbs were distinctly New Orleans. For those who don’t know the mechanics of the streetcars, they run on electricity. They don’t travel quickly, and there are frequent stops. They offer a unique experience but also require some patience. There was a variety of people thrown together on the streetcars: tourists, people going to and from work and residents just running errands.

The first night we were in New Orleans, we took the streetcar to Bourbon St. That is a story in itself. We missed our stop and would not have known except that I started talking to a female passenger who informed me that if we were going to Bourbon St, we had to get off the streetcar quickly. I told the driver and she did stop for us…two blocks out from Bourbon St. She pointed to a stretch of dark road and said, “It’s two blocks that way. Just go straight and you will walk right into it”. We hesitantly got out of the car and stepped into a city that was strange to us then walked down the dark stretch of road to Bourbon St. It didn’t help my nerves when I looked back at the woman on the streetcar and noticed a look of concern on her face. But we made it there okay and it was a lesson learned. When we left, we took a taxi back to the hotel since it was so late.

As I said, there was a diverse group of passengers on the streetcar. I remember one time during our travels when the streetcar stopped for several minutes to pick up another passenger. I glanced out the window, curious to see who was boarding. An older man in a wheelchair sat on the curb. He held a large bottle of water, a cup and a small dog on his lap. I learned that the streetcars are equipped with platforms that can be lowered to the curb for people who use wheelchairs, but there is a process to lowering the platform and it takes a few minutes. I glanced around the car which was relatively full, and noticed that even though we were full and on a delay, no-one seemed impatient. Everyone took the pause in stride. I glanced back down at the man. He poured some water into his cup and shared it with the dog on his lap. For some reason, I was filled with a sense of tenderness. For the man, for the dog and even for the passengers who patiently waited for his arrival inside the car. Shortly thereafter, he wheeled onto the lowered platform and was raised up to join us.

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All in all, it was a really enjoyable trip. I was reminded by a couple of people during the weekend to “be careful” as I explored the city as a tourist, but I was very fortunate. Most of the people I encountered were friendly and patient. Even helpful. And also, in case you are wondering, Keith Urban was great in concert! If you get a chance to see him, you should go.

Have a wonderful weekend, all!