Sunday, June 24, 2012

Living Little

I took a solo trip last
week to visit my brother
and his family.

And like most trips, be
they short or long, I
carried home memories
and a fresh perspective
on life.....

While leaving 
a little piece
of my heart 

For five days I resided 
in a land where topics of
discussion included the
legend of unicorns, the
love of tractors and trains
and why dragonflies
choose to alight 
where they do.

A place where riding the
Metro or going to The
Red Door {Target} is
not a mundane chore, 
but an event!

Where an ice cream cone
after dinner is worth 
jumping up and down, 
or the promise of a book
before bed puts an extra
spring in your step.

Yes, sweet friends, within
a few, short hours I recalled
how it used to be to live life
in a whole different way.

Living little.

Living little has big 

You exist in the moment.

You don't watch the clock,
but the birds or the clouds,
fireflies or stars.

You bust out in belly laughs.

You give and receive a lot
of impromptu hugs.

You are little and you are
happy with little and that 
is where it begins and ends.

But, with teens in my own
house now, it has been a
while since I lived little.

Like the foliage in our yard
that started out small, they
seemed to have sprouted up 
overnight, even though I realize
that it has been happening 
each day, before my eyes.

So I return home with a 
renewed resolve to view
my life and this world
through the lenses of my
dear nieces and nephew....
and live little, no matter
my age.

Think I'll start with 
an ice cream cone 
after dinner.

Care to join me?

up and down,
of course : )


{All images, P&H, except
for the ones taken of 
me and the littles by my

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ups and Downs

I was exercising yesterday,
huffing and puffing along
as the machine that I was
on graphed my progress
on its monitor.

So much of life these
days seems to be presented
to us in graph form,
such as,

the Stock Market
unemployment rates
real estate sales
new housing and construction
presidential popularity
currency's rise and fall
the weather report

and on and on.

But then, life really
is like a graph, isn't it,
with its highs, lows
and plateaus?

When I was younger, I
yearned for the excitement
of the highs ~ going off
to college, landing my first
real job, travel, dating,
love and marriage,
pregnancy and children.

But as the years have
unfolded, I've found that
the genuine joy on the
graph of life is those
plateaus, the calm seas,
which to me signify

Into every life some rain
must fall and when you
graph it, those rainy times
are the lows on our life's
graph, be it illness, the death
of a loved one, divorce, 
job loss or other sorrows
or struggles.

I have experienced 
those dips and witnessed
them in the lives of many 
that I hold dear.

Luckily, when our graph
hits rock bottom, if we
survive it, there is no where 
else to go but up.

I have a close friend whose
early life was fraught with
lows on her graph.  Now,
all grown up and the mother
of three, it is difficult for her
to embrace the peaceful,
straight line that embodies
the present condition
of her life.

I'm always waiting for the
other shoe to drop, 
she explains.

Are you able to savor the 
plateaus in the graph of your
life, or do you worry that there
is a low just around the corner?

Do you long for more high
points, or are you grappling
with a low point right now?

As my great-grandpa Bill
used to counsel his kids
during the Depression,

It's a long, long road that
doesn't have a turn.

If you are at a low point on
your graph, I pray that
the road will turn, soon.

If you are at a high point,
enjoy those dizzying

And if,
your graph has a nice,
level line, I wish you
the presence of mind to
really, really relish it.

What a gift.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Her Shoes {or Wellies}

We travel,
some of us, forever,
to seek other states,
other lives, other
~ Anais Nin

When I travel, 
whether it is to a
metropolis or a
the countryside,
a beach town, a
mountain village or a
  desert community,
I immediately start
to think and dream,

I could live here!

And each day on
that vacation, I hungrily
gaze upon various local
dwellings and think,

What sweet house
would I call my own?

Which leads to practical
matters {even though
it is just a fantasy} such as,

What would I do for 
a living?

Last month, when I
was on a brief holiday
with my mom in California's
Napa Valley, those same
wheels started turning.

I could SO live here!

Mmm, yes, I'd never leave.

I would get a job at a winery!

This time, I had a real-life
inspiration for my traveler
who never leaves fantasy.

Her name is Kelly Fleming.
She lives in the lovely
Calistoga Canyon area of Napa
Valley, and she owns and
operates a small, family-run, 
organic winery and farm on
300 beautiful acres, 12 of them 
dedicated to the grapes.

My mom first read about this
gem of a winery in The Wall
Street Journal, over the Christmas
holidays.  We had already chosen
Napa as this year's mom-n-daughter
trip and knew that we had to
visit Kelly Fleming Winery.

As a child, growing up in
Oregon, Kelly picked strawberries
and filbert nuts for candy money
and always liked getting her 
hands dirty.

Adult Kelly visited Napa Valley 
with her husband, helping him to
select wines for their restaurant
businesses.  In 1998 they bought
the Calistoga property and Kelly
Fleming, who wanted to grow grapes
and become a farmer, went from
being a visitor with a dream to
 a visionary who made that 
dream come true.

Over the next six years, Kelly 
directed the building of her family's
home, winery {with a limestone cave
dynamited out of the rocky soil}
and farm.  Their first vintage was
introduced in 2004.  Their premium
wines have been well-received by
the wine community, ever since.

When the limestone winery, with
it's red-tiled roof, first came into
view, my heart skipped a beat.
It had that classic look of a 
Tuscan or Provencal villa.

Imagine living and working in
this breathtaking setting.

Ah, there in lies the rub to this
little reverie.  Work, work and
'lots of it.  Living this Wine
Country dream involves
plenty of elbow grease.

When the vintner/farmer/owner
came out to greet us, she was
radiant, albeit a bit tired, in her
dusty Wellington boots.  Mom and I
had just toured the winery and 
caves with Kelly's assistant manager
and daughter, Colleen.

Colleen and Kelly Fleming
The wines that we sampled 
were delicious.  Not only could
we taste the Napa Valley sunshine
and the soul of the land in each
sip, but we most definitely tasted
the fulfillment of a dream.

Do you imagine yourself in
another's shoes when 
you travel?

If you had the means,
would you ever act on that
dream, as Kelly did?

Here's wishing you 
happy travels and
beautiful dreams,
this summer!

And we travel, in essence,
to become young fools again ~
to slow time down and get
taken in, and fall in love
once more.
~ Pico Iyer


You can learn about visiting
Kelly Fleming Winery,