Simple Things Can Be Fun

July 3, 2019

We take so many things for granted. Sometimes even the simplest things in life can be really fun. This is an article about how we can miss the simple things in our quest for the Holy Grail – that is, for the big things we think are more important.

traveling to Ghent, Belgium

On my recent trip to Brussels, Belgium I had the opportunity to ride the train to Ghent. For the locals, taking a train is no big deal. For me, each step of the journey was a jigsaw puzzle requiring a complex analysis to figure out and once completed, a sense of accomplished was attained. Anyone looking at me must have been amazed at how much joy I was getting out of successfully procuring my 18 Euro roundtrip ticket to Ghent and then actually finding the right train track, correct car, and then a seat. Each piece of the puzzle coming together to accomplish the first task – get on the train! I sat there so pleased with myself! Others must have wondered why I was smiling to myself. I was so happy to just be able to figure that much out.

Honestly, it’s really not that complicated; it’s just when it’s a different country and you have no idea where a place is, the concept of first or second class seat in a special car and many trains travelling on a single track the whole thing becomes more complex. Where I live in Washington, DC there are rarely more than one train travelling on the track at a time. And if there is, I find it difficult to tell which train is arriving. Now multiply this by very many trains going to ever so many places all on each track and going in either direction, one must decide, and quite quickly I might add to jump on the train. Trains are on time and everything moves very quickly. One cannot stare at the trains and wonder too long. People are jumping on with or without luggage, and it’s important to get on and find a seat; unless it’s a reserved spot. Whew! So, again, I was quite pleased with myself.

I had briefly checked out spots to investigate once in Ghent. I was in Brussels for the Tango Festival and had completed the 5 days of the program having danced my legs off. I was sufficiently tired and could hardly get up the morning of my trip to Ghent, yet, I was determined to ride the train! Ghent was a good destination, being less than an hour and easy to maneuver, or so I was told. However, when one is on foot, getting around can be a project.

Then there was the issue of which station to disembark. One of the websites indicated one station while fellow travelers informed me that no, in fact it was better to get off at a different station. So I complied with the advice. After disembarking at the station, the next piece of the puzzle was to get to the downtown or centreville. There were many trams running on tracks to take people here and there. I had no idea which was the one I should take and. I became a bit panicky until one of the attendants indicated that I could buy an all-day tram pass inside the station. I was really having trouble buying the tram ticket from the machine outside. There might be a button to push to get English, but I had no idea of how to get there. Even for a bit more money it was worth it to me to get the all-day pass so that I’d know that I could get on the tram to get back to the station. It was only 7 Euros, so not a lot of money.

Once back inside the station I waiting in the line to buy the all-day tram pass and with a bit of explaining was successful in procuring it. Yeah, step two completed! Then I went outside once again and looked for Tram No. 1 that would take me into town. Now I had to make sure I was going in the right direction. The Tram was packed with people on this unusually warm Tuesday afternoon in June as I watched the landscape change from the station through winding streets to the centreville. Just that little trip was a bit of a sightseeing experience. It all was a wonder to me.

Upon arrival in the actual center of Ghent, I disembarked and realized that the main sights I had in mind to see where nearby. I headed towards the canal and walked along as many tourists were doing. I really felt like I was in Disneyland except this was a real place. The United States is only a couple hundred years old but this area of Europe dates back many centuries; this charming town had cathedrals, churches, and other types of buildings dating back to the 15th century. It was definitely a walk back in time. I loved it all! What a joyous day, totally alone with no one to talk to but happy within myself.

Once I understood how the streets followed the canal I felt safe that I wouldn’t get lost and began to wander around looking at this place or that for several hours. Of particular note was the Castle, called Gravenstein of which I took the audio tour. Whoever wrote the script was a real comedian and listening to the voice describing stories of the goings on in the castle during its history made me laugh. I must have been a sight myself walking around laughing to myself. One fun story credited this Castle as having the first fireplace.

When I got tired, I found my way back along the canal, like Goldilocks with her breadcrumbs, took the Tram No. 1 in the opposite direction to return to the station. Within minutes the train came to Brussels. The train system in Belgium is amazingly efficient and very fast! I never waited more than a few minutes for a metro or train even on Sunday.

I arrived back at my hotel about 9pm very tired and ate a salad that I’d put away in the room frig happy that I didn’t have to find some place to eat. Sometimes it’s just nice to go into the kitchen and get something to eat and not have to go out. As this was a hotel, the next best thing was to keep food in the frig for one of my meals.

All in all, I’d had a very good day filled with simple activities, yet quite satisfying. I appreciated not getting lost, all the people along the way that had said a word or two of guidance, and especially those that could speak English! Sometimes the best things are very simple! As always, comments are welcome.


If a tree could talk

January 7, 2019

Ever walk by an interesting tree and wonder about it? Old is It? Do animals live in its branches or inside part of its trunk? What stories could it tell you about people that have been walking by. Some trees are called witness trees because they’ve seen horrible events… or maybe two people got engaged under a tree. All of these are possibilities if a tree could tell you what it’s seen or heard.tree

What is precipitating this question for me? Recently there was a tree that fell across the walking path behind my townhome. As I stood looking at this huge brown tree devoid of leaves, essentially dead, it fell across the path, having fallen due to excessive rain, I wondered about its life.

After a heavy rain storm, I decided to get out and take a walk on my to find the path blocked by this fallen tree. For some strange reason I actually felt sorry for the tree, as it had come to the end of its life. Then I thought again. No, perhaps it was the end of its living life but in death it would provide a means of life to other creatures. Does that mean it continues on in another fashion?

Can we say the same thing about our own lives? When we end our physical lives and change our form do we continue on in another fashion and live life in another form ourselves? It might be another version of us; the spiritual version that is eternal just like the tree continues on even when it decays into bits of wood and then into bits of earth. It then becomes elements that give nourishment to plants and other living things.  As we change form do we help other living things to flourish? Does the spirit inside us help others to flourish? I believe we can do so when we become spirit guides also known as guardian angels. This is when our souls choose to help others while we are in spirit form.

Just as this tree will one day provide a place for a nest for birds, a home for squirrels as well as mosquitoes or even other little creatures, we too can help other people thrive once we cross over.


Trusting Guidance

July 26, 2018

Ever get a funny feeling in your stomach and realize that a little voice residing there is telling you something?  It’s becoming well known how the stomach has a second brain with lots of emotional intelligence. But the point of my story is that I get my own inner guidance in many ways, one of which may be discomfort in the stomach.

Over the weekend, I had dinner with a dance friend. Our plan was to enjoy dinner and the jazz group that was playing at the Vietnamese-French restaurant nearby, then we would drive to a local dance venue. It would take about 30 minutes to drive over. Normally, this would be a routine trip, nothing to be concerned about except on this evening there had been reports that heavy rain was due to fall. I tried to tell myself that a bit of rain was nothing to fear; that said, I kept remembering the terrible rain that I drove through back in January when a truck tire exploded and like a missile sent the remains crashing into my car causing me whiplash and $2,000 damage to my almost new car. Needless to say, it was upsetting and traumatizing. I had come out of it alive when such a crash could have killed me. Hence, there was trepidation over driving in heavy rain.

My friend was insistent that I go out with him and to help alleviate my concerns he offered to drive me and then take me home later since we’d met up for the dinner as dance friends often do. I reluctantly agreed. So off we went under an umbrella with me thinking, “Well, it’s not raining hard now. Perhaps we’ll get there before the downpour”. We were only about a mile from my home, and the local plaza where we’d eaten, when I felt a really strange feeling in my chest and stomach. I don’t normally have such pains. I told myself that it was only a 30 minute drive and that I would be ok. I assumed it was just a bit of fear after having had the accident back in January; leftover trauma, so to speak.

alarmAs we approached the highway entrance, an alarm on my cell phone caused me to say, “Stop and pull over”. I knew the sound of that siren type of alarm. It was used to indicate an emergency situation. In this case it was the NWS warning people to get off the road due to the impending dangerous weather, heavy rain and possible flooding. My reaction was immediate. I said, “No! I’m not going.” And we turned around and my friend drove the short distance back to my house.

Now one might ask,”Was it a coincidence that the alarm came in just before we got on the highway when it would be more difficult to turn around and go home?” We were only one mile away, so returning was easy. And my friend certainly understood at this point so no harm done in any case. I got inside the house and was totally grateful to be safe, then settled into the rest of the evening in front of the TV with my cat Skylar. I was never so happy to be in my PJs!

I do believe that my angels were watching over me. That when I needed them, guidance helped me with an outward signal that staying in was the right thing to do. The next day I saw on the local internet about all the down trees, accidents, cars that got stuck in water, people that had to be rescued from their cars, etc. it wasn’t a joke, nor a figment of my imagination. There had been real danger and I had been warned. I am truly blessed. Comments and observations are welcome.


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