The Hibiscus Flower

The Hibiscus flower holds so many memories for me. 

It transports me to my childhood in Zambia, where it grew in abundance.  My friends and I would destalk the flower and we would siphen out the sweetness that lay within (just like sucking through a straw).  

It reminds me of a time of innocence and simple friendships.  

It reminds me of when life was seemingly easy.

It takes me back to my visits to India when I was young (I mean really young πŸ˜€). Back then, the culture gap was much larger.  I totally enjoyed taking the overcrowded city buses.  I would attempt to read the posters that were written in the local Indian script. I thought the local food stalls and street vendors (vegetables, ice cream, desserts) on a bike were totally cool!

It reminds me of fun bonding with my cousins.

It reminds me of a time when modern was more of an exception than the norm (I mean that as a positive).

During my first visit to Hawaii with my husband, the first flower I noticed was the Hibiscus (followed closely by the Plumeria…another childhood association).  My first reaction to my him was, “Oh, this place reminds me of Zambia!”  Of course no Hawaii trip is complete without a picture of you sporting a Hibiscus in your hair! πŸ˜€

It reminds me of the first experience of snorkeling and snuba diving.

It reminds me of beaches, couple time, helicopter rides, golf and so much more!

I just received a Hibiscus plant from a friend.  Of course I didn’t share all the memories it holds for me but I certainly thanked him (many times) for the plant.

It reminds me of happy times past and present!

  

A.K.

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Sometimes we have to cave

My daughter has been persistently hounding me for a pet for over five years now.  She actually has been asking for a dog.  I have been successfully diverting the topic with some excuse or the other.  I think dogs are cute and everything but I am just not willing to make that commitment for a number of reasons (that I don’t wish to bore you with…for now).

When she realized that I was not going to budge, she lowered her expectation to a guinea pig.  Simple enough right? Well, this is how that “went down”.  She went to the pet store with her dad to check out the guinea pigs and came back with a swollen face!!  Guess who was allergic to guinea pigs?!

I thought that incident would quiet down the pet topic but it came back up two months ago.  Sigh!  This time it was fish!  So we went to the pet store…again.  Found out all the details…really exciting detail…yeah.  So the only thing left was to decide on the kind of fish she wanted.  So I put the  onus on her to do the needed research and decide.  I thought the enthusiasm would wear off but it did not!  So we broke down and made her wish come true. 

It was definitely interesting to see how all aspects on this tanks had to be set up to ensure that the environment was just right for them.  Then, there were the fake decorations to add color and points of interests for the fish. Packaged fish food?  Humans do love to domesticate don’t they? πŸ˜€. Atleast fish won’t become overgrown and attack us! Okay, I know I am being a tad over dramatic. πŸ˜€
On a positive note, I see both my kids caring for the fish, feeding them, monitoring the water temperature and pH levels. They are a cute bunch…the fish I mean. πŸ˜€

A.K.

Imagine…Dragons

What was I doing when my kids discovered the exceptional talent of the Imagine Dragons?  I was living in a cave, listening to my CDs…you know, those things that look like flat donuts that produce music when inserted into a CD player.  

A couple of summers ago, I was designated chauffeur for their trip to summer camp.  The moment they heard my music on the car, their reaction was, “Can you Bluetooth my iPod?”.  Apparently, they had downloaded the “Night Visions” album after hearing “Radioactive”.

I had a chance to hear all the songs from the album and also immediately noticed the level of talent in this group!

  • A singer with a great vocal range.  I usually refer to this as “A Real singer”!
  • Their use of a variety of percussion instruments.  Some had an African feel, some Irish and some a street feel.  I guess I have an affinity towards percussion (my son is a percussionist in Band…a pretty good one at that πŸ˜€).
  • A variety of guitar sounds (acoustic, bass and electric) balanced well between subtle and impactful.

I was sold.  So when their new album “Smoke and Mirrors” came out and I heard a few of the songs, I got on it my phone right away…my turn to Bluetooth! πŸ˜€

This weekend, we got to watch them in concert. Amazing!!  I love my son’s comment after the concert,”Their drummer was a BEAST!”.  

So here’s a small dedication.

I am waking up to ash and dust 

Everything you touch turns to gold 

 It’s where my demons hide 

 
Smoke and Mirrors 

   

Nothing left to say now…

 

To Real Musicians!!

A.K.

Life after a Death

This topic is probably going to scare many of you.  The thought of death can be scary whether it relates to a family member, friend, coworker or a even a total stranger!  

We all deal with death (or even the topic of death) in different ways.  Sometimes we live in fear of this literally everyday. It becomes worse when we develop that so called “attachment”…which is often confused with “love”.

So what is the difference?

Attachment – dependency on another  to fulfil your life.  The presence of this characteristic also causes people to want to control the other to comply to their template of “right”.

Love – caring about someone (without expectations of reciprocation) unconditionally.  

When I actually understood the difference between those two concepts it gave me a more wholistic view on life.

What is actually prompting me to write all this?  Two coworkers were killed by a driver while they were on a morning bike ride.  Both men were well established in their careers and were great leaders.  One was 45 and the other 55.  May their souls rest in peace.

Everytime these unnatural deaths occur, the first question that comes to my mind is “Why??”.  

This makes me evaluate my own life. Am I leading it correctly, honestly, with a good heart, with good intentions???  Could I have been nicer, less judgemental, more understanding, more compassionate???

You really cannot lie to yourself.  So if I fall short by my standards then I really try to reset.  Let bygones be bygones but start over (earnestly).

The other thing that occurs to me is the importance of family.  Not work, money or luxury.  When you pass on, all this does not matter.  I like the saying ,”Work to live, not live to work!”  

Did I spend enough time with my kids?  Did I have a quality relationship with my spouse?  Was I good to people around me?  Did I make a difference in anyone’s life?  

In the end, it is the answer to these questions that really matter.  What you do today is what counts…not what you might do tomorrow!

I leave you with my favorite quote, “Live in the moment!”. 

A.K.

Pleasant SurprisesΒ 

I dragged myself out of bed this morning with a lot of mental effort.  I knew I had to finish my 6 mile run in the morning since I have a pretty low tolerance to hot weather. Incidentally I am still trying to understand why I set such challenging fitness goals for myself…but I am not ready to quit just yet…I guess.  It was going to be a whopping 84 degrees.  Can you tell that I am acclimated to long, cold Wisconsin winters?!

I continued to drag along, got dressed, drank my vegan protein shake (Mmmmm sounds delicious doesn’t it? πŸ˜€) and headed out the door to my favorite trail.

Surprise #1 – A beautiful orange Sun

   
Based on the local weatherman’s story, the orange sun was as a result of the smoke from the forest fires in Canada.  So it would seem somewhat comparable to how the lower frequency colors (orange, yellow, red) come through at sunset.  That is my very layman explanation (and totally out of my comfort zone).

Surprise #2 – Deer on the trail

   
 I can be a daredevil but when it comes to wildlife, I am a total wimp!  I almost turned back to go home when I saw the deer because they seemed to be staring directly at me!  Luckily, a cyclist pulled up next to me which made me feel a little more secure.  I figured, I could always hide behind him if anything were to happen…πŸ˜€

Surprise #3 – A snapping turtle 

  

This was a rare sight for sure!  I kept a respectful distance to avoid making him SNAP! πŸ˜€

In the end, it was not a bad day for a run.  I did pause to take the photos, but it was certainly worth it!

A.K. 

How to be successful on the golf courseΒ 

I first started learning golf when my husband and I got married.  It was another way for us to spend time together.  We literally played 18 holes every weekend.  Ah those newlywed days! πŸ˜€

When we used to go out more often, I used to get really frustrated when I didn’t do well. I would get even more frustrated with my husband for trying to coach me on the course. Poor guy!

After we had kids, the frequency of my “hitting the links” times reduced. We maybe golfed about twice a year.  We usually planned it around an anniversary or birthday. 

I noticed that when I got out less often, I actually enjoyed the game. I chose not to keep score.  My success criteria was whether I got one good shot with the primary clubs.  My standard quote upon meeting the criteria was, “I can go home happy now!” πŸ˜€ So even if I hacked a few, it didn’t bother me too much.
Yesterday, we went out for an anniversary round. Excluding my putter, I had success with my driver, 5 wood, hybrid and sand wedge.  As I would jokingly say to my husband, “Dude, did you see that?!  That was like textbook good!”  Ok, maybe I was getting a little carried away. πŸ˜€ 

So, do you also want to be textbook good?  Here’s my advice (Disclaimer:  Please follow at your own risk).

  1. Do not play for 6 to 9 months prior to your next outing.
  2. Do not go to the driving range 3 to 6 months before the outing.
  3. Inherit your son’s newer and cooler clubs (now that he is taller than you).
  4. Stretch out a little.
  5. Go with the flow.

I think just having such low expectations of myself actually made me follow the technical aspects of the swing rather than trying to power it solely with my arms.  I certainly got more distance and straighter shots!

Where do I go from here?  I guess that means no more golf for another six months. πŸ˜€

A.K.