Alabama Gulf Coast · Fitness · Gulf Coast · Lifestyle · Sailboats · Sailing · Self Care · Travel · Uncategorized

Staying fit and healthy during the Holidays: Workouts for Boat Life

Ok guys, I have to be 100% honest with you. I have COMPLETELY fallen off the eating healthy bandwagon. It started off with forgetting to take my lunch to work and then being so busy that I’d have to pick up something from the grill at the airport or fast food. Then the weather became cooler and my mild love of Starbucks became a wild obsession. I tried to order healthier i.e. avoid the really sugary syrups or just have cream.  I realized however that even ordering half the syrup in my favorite drink and nonfat milk (ok with the whipped cream) wasn’t helping me on my caloric intake. I gained a few pounds. Nothing crazy, but when you are only 5ft tall. 5 lbs looks like ten. I also stopped working out like I had been in the past thinking that the physical labor involved in my job, lifting heavy bags, running, taking the stairs etc, would make up for that. Trust me it doesn’t. I thought I was taking good care of my body but on Sunday even after really stretching and preparing to be in the cargo bin of an aircraft stacking bags, I did something terrible to my right shoulder.

It didn’t hurt at first. There was a loud pop and some tingling in my right hand but as the day went on it began to hurt to lift my shoulder. Then my right pinky finger became swollen and numb. As soon as I left work, I went straight to urgent care. I didn’t want to go and it took my supervisors, friends, and parents to convince me I needed to be seen. So here I sit, in a sling, typing one handed because I’ve apparently injured my rotator cuff. Misery. End of story. It doesn’t appear as if I’ll have to have surgery but I may have to have an injection or two and some physical therapy. It is a huge reminder that I’m not getting any younger and that I have to start taking better care of myself.

With the end goal of living full time on the boat, I started researching some ways to stay actively working out. A major part of living aboard is discovering how you can fit your life into such a small space. So I wanted to share some tips of what I do and what I hope to be incorporating soon.

The biggest hurdle to overcome in my opinion is just getting started. Most people when they think of working out think of the gym. That’s not always an option when living aboard. Here are a few suggestions and tips that I hope you’ll find useful at sea or land.

The easiest exercise to do is something that you love or enjoy. Think of swimming or if you’re in port, walking.

Make sure you set aside a specific time and try to stick to that schedule. Just like I have a sleep schedule, I also have an exercise schedule. I really attempt to stick to that schedule as best as possible so that it’s routine. I also try to find healthy ways to reward myself for sticking to the plan!

Have a routine that’s easy to follow and doesn’t get boring and find a friend to keep you accountable or to pass the time with.

Put your jam on! Thankful my neighbors in the marina don’t live aboard otherwise they might not appreciate my workout music vibe! But find music that motivates you. Maybe it’s the Rocky theme song, or in my case early 2000’s rock but find it and get moving.

Yoga is a great exercise to incorporate into any lifestyle. I find that I’m able to use my body weight for the workout and there’s definitely room on the bow of the Rialto Zephyr to lay out my mat.  I love yoga. I was a pretty active practitioner until I moved to the South. It wasn’t really a big thing here but is slowly catching on with all the trendy hipsters moving into the area. Thanks Hipsters! I also incorporate some calisthenics into the routine. Planks, lunges, sit ups, crunches (God I hate crunches) tricep dips, you know the things you hated about gym class, can easily be done on the mat as well.

Don’t forget that eating healthy is important as well. I no longer follow any diet fad these days but try to live more by a guideline. Low sugar, fresh produce, low dairy (even though I LOVE cheese) and no processed food. Sometimes that can be a challenge if you are at sea. I recommend taking fruits and veggies that hold for the long haul. I find that when I’m living on the boat, I tend to eat smaller meals which is also a major plus for me. And McDonald’s hasn’t built a float thru driveway to my knowledge YET. The jury is out on whether Starbucks has considered this option. In that case I might be in trouble.

Find what works for you and stick to the routine.

And don’t forget that staying active, fit and healthy is important but nursing our mind and body is as well.

Namaste Everyone!

two women planking at the seashore
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Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Lifestyle · Sailboats · Sailing · Self Care · Travel · Uncategorized

How to be in Love with who You are: Loving Yourself in the Here and Now

AUUUGGGHHHHHHHHHHH! There I sort of feel better.

You guys it’s been a TOUGH few weeks. I’ve experienced some setbacks with work, family, and that floating piece of junk I love so much. I’ve been really feeling down lately. It’s been hard to write, to find anything that I even wanted to say, which if you know me is UNUSUAL. I always have something to say.

Yesterday when I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize the face staring back at me. It was a rather sobering moment to be honest. I sat down at my computer and realized that once again I was blank when it came to content for the blog. All the prompts that I use felt really silly. How can I blog about holiday family traditions when my family has imploded and is COMPLETELY dysfunctional? I mean it doesn’t feel right. I opened the blog and scrolled back to posts I made a year ago and you know what? I was feeling the same way then too. I was writing about reminding myself how far I’d grown in the last year and not getting stuck. I realized that in just circling around the sun one more year, I’ve just completed the circle in returning to right back where I’ve always been. SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE!

After seeing social media posts from friends, I decided to pick up Rachel Hollis’s book “Girl, Wash Your Face.” Even as much as I love writing, I’ve never looked at motivational books as an answer. I mean c’mon, you go into your local bookstore and you find thousands of self help books on this and that, all with the great intention of making you a better you. I don’t know about you, but I’ll read it, believe it, get motivated to put the truth I learn into action and then fail miserable at it. Let’s face it. I suck at goal planning. At any rate, everyone has been going on and on about this book so I bought it. I opened it up waiting for an eternity while Kendall (my 18 yr old) browsed the racks at Forever 21. GUYS I CANNOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. Just in the intro I saw myself in those words. I got home and broke out the highlighter so you know it had to be good. There has been more truth that I’ve discovered about the lies I’ve believed in the first 3 chapters of that book! HOLY #&#(#&(*! If you are a woman, you should read this. It’s raw and real and honest and I’m just in chapter 3 you guys!! I couldn’t put it down last night and had to stop myself from reading the whole book. Rachel Hollis really made me take a  second look in that mirror I talked about earlier.

I’ve been so hard on myself the last 20 years. While trying to exude grace for others, I’ve had absolutely no grace for myself. I’ve been smiling and laughing all the while being completely unhappy. I’ve looked for others to create my happiness. Relationships, children, friends, etc. when the truth is the only person responsible for how happy I am is ME. In Rachel’s book she says “It’s impossible to go somewhere new, to become something new, without first acknowledging where you are.” Sometimes acknowledging where we are isn’t pretty. Maybe where we are is lonely, 15 lbs heavier than we want to be, divorced and angry. Or maybe where we are is believing the lies that has been perpetrated by social media, family, that ex who hurt you. For so long those lies have played like some faint radio station that I can’t quite get clear reception from but just enough to annoyingly buzz in the back of my mind. Not good enough. Not thin enough, Unloveable, Abandoned, Lost. Yep they’ve played so much that I can pull the emotions up by memory. We only get once chance to live. Why would I want to spend it feeling this way about myself? Why would you? I need to acknowledge where I am in this life through the lenses of GRACE.

For the last year I’ve been talking about becoming something new and while I’ve seen some incredible areas of growth in my life, I have a LONG way to go. I need to acknowledge that right now where I am in life is tough and be ok with that. I have all these dreams and goals but I’ve never pushed myself to follow through on them. I’ve basically given up when things became tough and made excuses for why. No more. I want to whole heartedly live a life filled with joy in the right here and now, even if the right here and now isn’t comfortable. I want to acknowledge the person I am right in this moment. I’m 39, divorced, mother of 3 kids who is in a transitional phase of her life that doesn’t feel pleasant most of the time, but you know what, that’s ok. It’s honest. Most days I feel really confused about what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Having grown kids and a 15 yr old who lives with her father has thrown the role I thought I was supposed to be playing for a loop. I mean I legit get up some days asking what in the world do I do now and where do I fit in. I’m not a mom of young kids. I don’t have a husband to do life with. Most of my friends live away. What do you do when everything about who and what you thought you were dissolves? I’m still searching for that answer.

I am proud to say that I have in the last few months accomplished some life goals. I traveled internationally by myself to a place I’d never been and it was amazing. I want to expand that map a little more and am in the planning phases of another adventure. I think I’m finally ready to start dating again, although I have to tell you the online dating scene probably isn’t for me. I’ve decided this time I am going to be EXTREMELY selective. The last year has given me plenty of time to think about what I want in a relationship and what I’m not willing to sacrifice or settle. I don’t say that selfishly. I just want to be able to be the best version of me if I am with someone. I don’t want to compromise in order to be what someone else needs me to be. At the same time, my heart is still so tender and raw that I know this is going to be a long process. I have become a little cynical when it comes to romance and romantic love. I refuse to believe the lie “something or someone else will make me happy” any longer. I want to be able to know that my happiness comes from a place of me being secure in who I am not who I am when I’m in a relationship. I don’t want to just change the view outside my window. I want to throw the curtains wide open and love and be ok with the right here and right now, even if it does feel lonely. I’ve always lived my life years ahead of time. It’s a trait pretty common in military families. We live for the next deployment, the next duty station, the next move. It’s always looming in the background of our life. I got so caught up in that at times I realize I lived my life in the future with all the worries, what ifs and plans I tried to work out and I wasn’t living in the present. This has overwhelmed me with sadness lately as I feel I didn’t slow down and live life with my precious babies who are now grown. I was living in fast forward. I refuse to do that this time. I refuse to work out in my head a relationship and where it should go days, months, years. I am going to take this slow and savor what it’s like to just be still and enjoy someones company and hopefully they’ll enjoy mine as well.

So my answer for all of the questions right now is to stop comparing myself to the self I thought I was supposed to be. You know, the image you sold yourself of what life would look like when you reached a certain age or stage. You cannot do that! You will be miserable discovering all the missed opportunities or horrible decisions you’ve made. You have to be able to tell yourself that every day is new day to become the You that You want to be and you have to go from there. I am going to try with everything in me to surround myself with positivity and positive people. I am going to do the things I love with people I love. I am going to discover new amazing things about myself, things I never thought possible and I’m going to learn to be ok with the here and now.

And on the days that seem the hardest, you’ll remember that – by an inch or by a mile-forward momentum is the only requirement” Rachel Hollis “Girl, wash your face”

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Holiday Challenge

It’s cool and rainy today. I’ve often referred to this as “Coldplay Weather”, which is basically just a throwback to a time I would to listen to Coldplay’s Parachute Album while drinking hot tea or coffee. The music always seem to fit rainy Autumn weather. Ironically, Coldplay’s “In my Place” is playing as I write.

I’ve been feeling stuck again lately. I know that I’ve made SO much progress in the last 10 months but sometimes the weight of expectations I’ve place on myself become heavy and I feel immobile. I recently had major setback at work, received some news that while gave me some peace also stirred some fear, and it stirred those feelings of running away again. It’s times like this I have to remind myself to just BREATHE! We are entering the holidays. Divorced, single motherhood, empty nest syndrome, all factors that make the holidays really hard for me. This is a time of year that catching my breath is the hardest. I’ve written blogs on how to stay centered, but how does one stay centered in a world that feels so out of control. Just in the last few weeks there has been so much hate spewed into our country. Division in politics, hate crimes, even home grown terrorism are the headlines being fed to us on the 24/7 news channels, even as we enter into a time of  year that we wish each other “Peace on Earth.” We speak about gratefulness and things we are thankful for but do these feelings extend beyond the bubble of of our own lives to the world around us?

I want to challenge you to actually MOVE beyond all the challenges and thankful lists. I want to see ACTION. I want to see what you are doing to show your gratefulness. Maybe it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, or cooking dinner for those new parents, or even just inviting your elderly neighbor over for a cup of coffee.

This year I’m really encouraging all of my friends and family to participate in Operation Christmas Child. This is an amazing organization that makes sure children receive gifts and know they are loved. My kids are pretty much grown and we don’t do the traditional family Christmas anymore. I decided this year I would sponsor three boxes in honor of Brandon, Kendall, and Kaitlyn. I’ll be shopping this week for gifts to pack into the boxes and be praying for each child that will receive one. It might not be much, but to a child without it could mean the world. Go to http://www.operationchristmaschild.org to find out how you can be a part of this really great organization.

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Lifestyle · Sailboats · Sailing · Self Care · Travel · Uncategorized

Fall Favs: Cozy Evenings Ahead

I’m being really hoping the weather man will come through for me and bring those cooler temperatures on down south. Fall in New England was/is my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, as usual in the deep south, it’s going to be nearly 90F with thunderstorms in the forecast.  My answer to this serious dilemma is to not worry about the power bill and turn that A/C down to 65 degrees! It’s time to get cozy ya’ll!

While it’s sometimes hard to get the boat cooled off, it’s usually not that hard to get it heated when the temps dive. There is nothing cozier than being on the boat all snuggled in. I wanted to share some of my “sailing life” fall favorites as well as something for you landlubbers. I’ll start off with my Favorite Fall Soup, “Corn and Poblano Chowder”. This is a really easy but looks fancy soup! If you opt out of the vegetarian life, you can always add chicken. img_0236

Credit Completely: To http://www.simplyrecipes.com for this really amazing Chowda’!

Ingredients:

5 to 6 large poblano green chiles (can sub canned chopped green chilies)

3 tbsp butter

2 medium onions, diced

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 in chunks

4 ears of corn or 4 cups of corn

5 cups of chicken stock or vegetable for vegetarians

1 tsp kosher salt

2 bay leaves

1 tsp gr. cumin

1/2 tsp dry oregano

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 limes one sliced for garnish, one for juice

Method:

  1. Roast the chilies. When they’ve cooled down enough to touch, use your fingers or a dampened paper towel to strip off the charred bits. Cut them open, remove and discard the stem, seed pos and inside veins. Roughly chop the chiles and set aside.
  2. Soften the onions and celery: Melt butter in a 5 to 6 qt. heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and the celery, stir to coat with the butter. Cook for 8-19 minutes, lowering the heat to medium, until the onions and celery are softened and are beginning to brown.
  3. Prepare corn: While the onion are cooking, if using fresh corn on the cob, cut the fresh kernels of corn away from the cobs.
  4. Add potatoes, stock, spices: Once the onions and celery are beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the potatoes and the stock to the pot. Add the bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Increase heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 8-19 minutes until the potatoes are just cooked through.
  5. Add corn, then poblanos: Add the corn kernels to the pot and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through. Add the copped roasted poblanos to the pot.
  6. Add cream: Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the cream. Add black pepper, more or less to taste. At this point, if you want a thicker base for your chowder, you can use an immersion blender to puree about a third of the soup.

To serve sprinkle with a little fresh lime juice and serve with a slice or two of lime.

There’s nothing like a heaping bowl of chowder, pjs and cozy slippers. I love Fuzzy Baba at http://www.fuzzybaba.com for the super cute slippers and assortment. I love slipper socks on the boat because honestly if something goes wrong above deck I can slide on my boat shoes and head up. Target is pretty much my go to place for pjs and this fall they have adorable and really amazingly soft items to get you in the mood for cozy!

During the day, I always make sure to have some great foul weather gear on hand for the rain. You definitely don’t want to be cold and wet on the boat. LLBean has really great boots that work on the boat and on the land. Not to mention they last FOREVER! img_0237credit to The Sandlot

So fellow southerners, turn down the thermostat, simmer that soup and start dreaming of Fall when it arrives in December!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Photo by Vali S. on Pexels.com

 

Alabama Gulf Coast · Fitness · Gulf Coast · Lifestyle · Sailboats · Sailing · Self Care · Travel · Uncategorized

Hello October! It’s still hot in the South..

Welcome October! One of my absolute favorite months. Unfortunately here in the south, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo about cooler weather. I am wicked jealous of my New England friends and their sweater weather frivolities. I went on Pinterest today to find a list of October Activities and to be honest the only apple picking I’ll be involved in is going to take place in the produce section of Whole Foods! I mean c’mon isn’t there something that’s Autumn and Southern themed that I can take part in?!?

Meanwhile, I continue on this journey of “Positivity is Pretty.” I set a goal of not speaking negatively about myself mid September and so far it’s going well. Changing your mindset isn’t easy but I’ve found that being positive about myself, while not necessarily changing my situation, has given me a better outlook. Instead of beating myself over the “have nots” or “I’m not”, I’ve tried really hard to focus on how far I’ve come in the last year and that ladies and gents is FAR. I’ve traveled internationally. I’ve bought a boat. I’ve managed to go from being unemployed to being a full time airline employee. Most importantly I learned how to forgive myself from the guilt I carried for the failures I thought I had been responsible for. That in itself is life altering. When my kids were younger I would tell them “Practice Kindness.” We aren’t good at something unless we practice, or work hard to achieve it and kindness is no different than a sport of musical talent. I’ve been pretty horrible about being kind to myself over the years. Kindness is the theme I picked for my 39th year and so you’ll hear me talk about it over and over. You have to learn to be kind to yourself not just others. If you don’t you’ll be sweet and treat others graciously all the while beating yourself up. It’s not a good space to be in.

In line with the whole Positivity is Pretty movement, I’ve decided I need to learn how to goal set. I’ve set some rather lofty goals in my life that to be honest weren’t very attainable and led me to being really discouraged rather than encouraged. I found a really amazing Pinterest post that was a template for goal setting from movenourishbelieve.com MNB-JULY-RESTART-GOALS2

Here are my October goals:

NEW SKILL I WANT TO LEARN: I would really love how to refinish the galley on my boat. I’ve been talking about it for months but I just haven’t been able to get around to it. I have a very limited experience refinishing wooden cabinets but I don’t think I’m ready to forgo a project the size of my boat galley.

A PURCHASE I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE: I’m really wanting to take better care of my body. I’ve never really shared some of the health issues that I’ve faced over the last ten years. I’m pretty private about them. However, I’m tired of it being an awful little secret. A few years ago I developed an internal staph infection. It ended up colonizing and in a weird twist is in my blood cells. It almost acts like an autoimmune disease. I’ve tried really hard to fight it with my diet and I’ll go for a few months without it being an issue only to have it return. It’s been embarrassing because of the scars that it leaves. My arms and back are the worse! I’ve been doing some research on skin care that would maybe fade some of the scarring and I’d really like to purchase a body spin brush. I found an inexpensive one with great reviews on Amazon. Hopefully I’ll be kind to myself and buy it.

A BOOK I WOULD LIKE TO READ: OMGOSH so my trip to England was eye opening. Especially the time I spent in the bombed out church, St.Luke’s, in Liverpool. I am looking for books now about the Blitz and WW2 in England. They were heavily involved in the conflict long before the US. I ordered a copy of Merseyside’s Secret Blitz Diary by author Arthur Johnson. I am really looking forward to reading about several of the neighborhoods that I visited while in Liverpool.

A WORKOUT I WOULD LIKE TO TRY: So I modified this a little. I recently joined Planet Fitness. I worked out two days and then came down with a horrible bacterial upper respiratory infection. Go me! At any rate, my fitness goal for this month is to complete the Express Workout at PF at least 2x a week and to walk every Saturday and Sunday evening.

A GOOD DEED I WOULD LIKE TO DO: Every year I support Operation Christmas Child (www.operationchristmaschild.com) It’s a really great organization with a truly heart warming mission. I’ve always done three small boxes for the kids but this year I want to do one really nice box. I am also going to encourage my friends and coworkers to join in. Another good deed is the Christmas Angel tree. Since my kids are grown, I’m going to shop this Christmas for children in need. I know what it’s like as a parent to be concerned what kind of Christmas you are going to give your kids and this year I want to bless someone else!

A LESSON FROM LAST MONTH: This past month has been all about lessons in patience. Although I’m a Virgo, it’s not really a characteristic that I’m good at, especially when I feel as if my life is out of order and chaotic. I also learned that it was ok to say I needed to take time for myself. I’m a fixer. I came to the realization this past month that sometimes I allow people into my life that really have no place. I take on their issues and problems and try to fix them. I end up becoming emotional involved in people who don’t mean to be toxic but that’s what happens. I’ve learned to really take a step back and evaluate what relationships/friendships are bring to the plate and that it’s ok to say I can’t fix you. Again this is a lesson of kindness to myself and ultimately to others because it’s headed for disaster.

DREAMS: I am planning a trip back to the UK this time with my oldest two children. I dream of sailing my boat at least four times this month. I am dreaming of my vacation that is in the dream stages. I want to hike the Snowdonia Mountains. I am dreaming of a full time writing career (cause when am I not dreaming about that!) And I’m dreaming about love again which is nice but scary.

ACTION PLAN: HMMM… Well action planning for all the travel is to set up a specific bank account for traveling money. My dad and I will be setting aside several days this month to sail. I am in constant communication with Stewart (my friend in the UK) and hope he’ll be my tour guide to hiking. Writing…well I keep plugging away at the blog and occasionally writing on my outside of this. Love, I don’t think I can really work on that one so much as let it happen but I’m working on preparing my heart for when it happens so I can be the most authentic person when it does.

Do you have any October Goals? I’d love to hear about them! Share here on the blog and at my email at wayfaringtailwagger@gmail.com

Happy Fall Ya’ll

(Even if it’s still hot as ya mama’s oven in the South)

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With Love, from Liverpool

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So I finally did it! I crossed the pond on my first big adventure since starting to work with the Airline. For years my very good friend and favorite Brit, Stewart Davidson, has been trying to get me to visit. With my birthday approaching at the first part of the month, I was ready to do something amazing to kick off the year that would end my 30’s. My coworkers, who are FANTASTIC, stepped up and helped me out by volunteering to work my shifts. This birthday girl packed her bags and headed east!

The first leg of my trip was super easy, until I arrived in Philadelphia that is! Bad weather in Orlando and British tourists attempting to return home for the school year nearly cost me the entire trip. A last minute failure for a passenger ended up being my blessing in disguise. I flew in the very last seat on the very last row with two British kids laying across my lap, but I MADE IT!

I arrived in Manchester UK the morning of Aug 30. I was pretty exhausted but you wouldn’t have known for the excitement that was bubbling all the way down in my soul. I’ve dreamed of coming here for years and honestly I couldn’t believe I had arrived.. The airport in Manchester was easy to navigate and I really appreciated the big open windows in the customs and immigration section. I was able to take in my first views of England from there. It was cloudy, slightly foggy, and I could see hills in the distance. The customs and immigration agent was friendly enough. He asked me where I was staying and why I had come to England. He teased me about how I had probably come to find a British husband because that’s what all the American girls were doing these days since Megan. I was a little nervous when I realized that my phone service didn’t work AT ALL outside of the airports WiFi but again everyone was extremely helpful. I was able to make my way to the train station and it was easier than I expected to find my train to Liverpool.

I booked my accommodations through AirBnB and WOW I can’t say enough about my incredible host Sarah and her lovely home. It was as if someone had taken the blueprints of my dream house right out of my mind and built them. The row house was located in Old Swan, a neighborhood within the suburbs of Liverpool. It was absolutely adorable! My host had left a list of really fun and FREE things to do in the Liverpool area as well as a note that she had stocked the house with snacks and toiletries. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to get a nice hot shower after 12 hours on planes from the day before. My room was big and bright with really eclectic fun decor. I decided on a nap and boy I must have really been tired because I didn’t wake up until the sun was going down. The little house at 5 Abergele had a sweet little terrace in the back that Sarah had tastefully decorated with plants. She even had a vertical herb garden with mint for tea. I sat outside and watched as the sun sank low over the rooftops. I won’t lie the song “Chim Chimney” from Mary Poppins came to mind as I sat there with my cup of tea watching the sun bid me good night. I spoke to Stewart briefly and we made plans to meet in Liverpool. Thankfully he was able to call my cab for me since my phone didn’t work. We decided to meet for coffee around 10 am in Liverpool.

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Surprisingly, despite being warned that the weather most likely would be crap, I woke up to find sunshine and relatively mild temperatures the next morning. My cab arrived promptly at 8:30am and the Delta Cab driver couldn’t have been friendlier. He asked me all sorts of questions, the most pressing being if I were American and what I thought about our president Donald Trump. I would later find that this is what most Brits were interested in. He laughed and teased me when I stated the address incorrectly for the One Liverpool Shopping Centre and said he knew where I was headed. Stewart was waiting for me when I arrived and gave me a hug. It was so amazing to see him! We’ve been friends for such a long time but distance has made spending time together almost impossible. He became my tour guide for the next four days and did not disappoint.

I really didn’t have any agenda in mind so we started out with a walk along the Albert Docks. I was immediately fascinated with the architecture and the River Mersey. It was much bigger than I had imagined. Little wooden boats and sailboats dotted the small protected harbors. We settled for lattes at a tiny shop and sat outside catching up on our lives. After coffee we walked by the Beatles statue. The influence from the band can be seen all over Liverpool. We decided to visit the Liverpool Cathedral and it did not disappoint. We were lucky enough to be there while a choir was performing and honestly I couldn’t get over the beauty of the stained glass. It was breathtaking. Little did I know this would begin a love affair of cathedrals for me. We decided to climb to the top of the cathedral for the views of Liverpool. AMAZING! Stewart pointed out significant buildings and geography from what is the tallest cathedral in Britain. You can see all the way into Wales from the top. It also is home of the largest cathedral bells. I wouldn’t want to be in the stairwell or above them when they chime but it was fascinating to think all of this had been built by hand thousands of years ago.

Stewart was a wealth of information about the history of Liverpool, especially during World War 2. We made our way to Bold Street and to a place known as the bombed out church. When the blitz happened, the roof of the church was completely demolished and it burned. Incredibly enough the majority of the building’s frame still stands. We entered and almost at once the noise of Liverpool silenced. There was a small alter with a peace offering and prayer along with two benches on either side. Stewart and I sat quietly side by side and I’m sure I could have sat there for hours. Inside one of the rooms that still stood was a list of all those killed in the Blitz along with artifacts of the horrific event. It was a somber moment that will forever be in my heart. A quote that has stayed in mind was of a little girl asking her Aunt about the strange orange glow in the sky. “That’s Liverpool burning, Love” was the Aunt’s reply.40477314_10156706019278629_806195001028509696_n

We had a Guinness or two at an Irish themed pub and I was pleasantly welcomed into the world of British/Irish beer. Sorry Americans, but while I’m patriotic, IT’S SO MUCH BETTER! Stewart and I discussed our plans for the next day as we we made our way back to Liverpool One. We stopped for dinner at an outdoor American style restaurant and listened to live music till the stars begin to reveal themselves above us. My first day in England and I was already in love.

The next day we made our way to Chester. Chester was once a Roman city called Deva. It sits along the banks of the River Dee and carries a deep history that includes a medieval cathedral, fortified wall, and Roman Amphitheater. It is about a 30 min train ride from Liverpool but well worth the trip. As we traveled by rail, each stop produced colorfully and poshly dressed Brits. It was then Stewart and I discovered it was Race Day in Chester! Visions of one of my favorite movies “My Fair Lady” came to mind! If you haven’t seen it, please for the love of everything holy! WATCH THIS MOVIE! 42225263_10156753972098629_4900260533128658944_n

The streets were alive with happy race goers and shoppers dressed in their fascinators and hats. The shops lining the cobblestone street dated back to Tudor times. I was again fascinated with the age of the building and the history contained within the walls of Chester. The best however, was about to be revealed in Chester Cathedral.

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Built in 1092 as a Benedictine abbey, it has an incredibly rich history. The original church was built in the Romanesque or Norman style and many of the architectural features are still present today. It is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been to in my life. Hidden doorways and halls open up to small places of prayer and worship. The picture with the candle above is a small chapel within the church where I was able to kneel, light a candle, and pray. It is by far one of the most spiritual moments in my entire life. There is a lovely garden with a beautiful statue enclosed within the cathedral’s walls. As they say, “If only these wall could talk” what an amazing story they would share. 41552566_10156733105963629_2556703093966241792_n

After spending a great deal of time at the Cathedral, we made our way along the city’s walls to the River Dee. We sat down and people watched, honestly one of my low key favorite things to do in a new place. Stewart and I discussed everything from politics to family life for Britain. It was really interesting to hear our differences and yet see so many similarities. It’s easy to see why over the years America has formed a deep friendship. We had lunch at the Bear and Billet. A pub older than America itself and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. That evening we made our way back to Liverpool to a fire dancing exhibition taking place on the Albert Dock. It was so much fun to watch people from all over Liverpool talk and laugh. I was educated by a real Scouse on the Brexit issue that the UK is facing. While I won’t write the colorful language that Stewart had to translate for me, I will say I’ve not laughed that hard in AGES.

On Sunday, I woke up to cloudy skies and a little bit of breezier conditions. For my last day, Stewart had decided to take me to his hometown of Formby. Formby is a beautiful small town on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The only thing separating it from America is Ireland. We walked the forest trail to the beaches and I wasn’t disappointed with the view. Sweeping dunes rolled to the waters edge. Seagrass danced on the hilltops and the spray that came from the ocean was extremely salty. We walked the beach for a bit when the sky began to release tiny droplets of rain. I must have asked a million questions about the vegetation and wildlife but Stewart, ever so patient, answered each question. He asked if I was ready to warm up and to visit his favorite place, The Freshfield Inn.

The Freshfield is Stewart’s local pub. He spends a good bit of time here with family and friends. It’s easy to see why as the food and the beer was incredible. Do not, I repeat DO NOT believe the lie that British food is boring and bland. The Wild Mushroom and Chicken pie I had here still causes my tastebuds to water. Stewart also arranged for an amazing surprise while we at the Freshfield, a visit from his father Mr. Davidson and his StepMother Pat. What followed was the most fun I’ve had in years. The Davidsons are quite the life of the party. We laughed and talked for hours, with me enjoying every second of it. It was easy to see why Stewart and I became friends and why I dearly love his father and Pat. They are wonderful, wonderful people. I was sad when our time came to an end but with Pat’s promise of getting together again soon, I just smiled and returned Mr. Davidson’s wink.

Overall, this is the best holiday I’ve ever been on. The people of north Britain were welcoming and friendly. I never once felt unsafe or that people were unapproachable. That night as I left Liverpool for the last time in my cab, the cab driver made note of my lonesomeness as I stared out the cab window “You feckin’ love him don’t ya” he said in an Irish lilt. With the Beatles “In My Life” playing in the background I answered, “Well maybe, but I know for sure England has stolen my heart”.

With Love from Liverpool,

 

Rebecca

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Alabama Gulf Coast · Fairhope, AL · Gulf Coast · Uncategorized

The Misadventures of the Musical Mechanic: Part 2

I recently wrote about some of the adventures, or misadventures if you will of my Dad. Yesterday he came in and shared a story that was just too good not to write about it. Trust me I don’t make this stuff up. So here goes….

 

Last year Dad decided that he wanted the school to purchase bleachers for the High School band to sit in during football games. They currently sit in the crowded bleachers with fans. The school agreed to buy bleachers from the local community college, but Dad would have to arrange to have them picked up. This is no simple task. It required man power and a gooseneck trailer. They are heavy! With school starting this week and football games following shortly, my Dad enlisted the help of his best friend William and his brother, my Uncle Mike. They loaded half of the bleachers, leaving the other half for another day. Have I ever mentioned that my Dad is slightly impatient? Ok, well make that slightly more than slightly. He couldn’t wait for William and Uncle Mike to come back to help so he enlisted my brother in law Zach, the assistant Band Director, to load bleachers.

My Dad teaches in the country. A place loving referred to as “Snake Country.” It’s the perfect mix of dry and wet making the perfect accommodations for both rattlesnakes and moccasins alike. Most people wear snake boots when roaming the woods. So Dad told Zach to dress accordingly to pick up the bleachers that had sat vacant. The grass was about waist deep and it was HOT! Like middle of summer in Mississippi hot, because guess what it was!

On the way to the site, Dad tells Zach of all the perils that could be lurking in the grass. He explains that the bleachers are heavy and Zach could lose a finger if not careful, something really important to a guitar musician. “If you see me run son, don’t run towards me to help. I’m running from something so you just haul it the other way.” Zach was now throughly anxious about walking through what my Dad described as a landmine of danger. They made their way towards the bleachers, Zach hot and on edge, Dad cautious and alert. Dad began giving instructions on taking the bleachers apart. They got ready to lift one section when POW! My dad puts his hand right on top of a red wasp nest. The angry homeowners in an effort to protect themselves stung him five times, three times on his right hand and two on his left. Dad began waving his hands around in an attempt to ward off the attack. He and Zach ran to the car and promptly drove to Walmart for a can of wasp spray. Once the wasps were dispatched, they returned to the task at hand. 1, 2, 3, LIFT and with one hiss, the cottonmouth moccasin, who also called the bleachers home, let everyone know he was most unpleased about being disturbed. The moccasin began slithering quickly towards Dad with his mouth open, the unmistakeable white and triangular head revealing his deadly intentions. The nearly 3ft long snake made it clear he meant business and Dad yelled “SNAKE!” Zach, dropped his half of the bleachers and began running in the opposite direction. He got about 3 feet away when he heard the unmistakable warning rattle of an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. He froze and before him in the brush was the rattler. He turned to run back towards the bleachers. By this time the moccasin had decided he’d rather hide than fight. A local guy who’d been mowing the field, seeing Dad and Zach running, waving and yelling decided he’d better see what all the fuss was about. He made his way over. “What ya’ll doin’ out here fellers?” he asked. Dad explained the purpose of their adventure. Zach now excruciatingly hot voiced his great displeasure of being in the snake infested field. “I don’t want to be here” he announced to everyone as he wringed the sweat out of his shirt. Dad recounted the story of the wasps and snakes to the man. “Well sounds like you boys have had an exciting day, but what in the world else did ya’ll get into ’cause ya’ll stink to high heaven!” It was at this time my Dad noticed something fury just in the place where Zach had dropped the bleachers as he had escaped the snake. A small brown and white skunk had also made his home beneath the bleachers and had met his end when the bleachers crushed him. In a final blow, he had sprayed everything nearby, including my Dad and Zach.

That night as my Dad narrated the story to the me, I was thankful for the horrible head cold I currently have. He had run everyone else out of the living room with the stench of skunk. “Well, I guess I’ll go get a bath and we’ll try again with those bleachers tomorrow.”

The Misadventures of the Musical Mechanic……..

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