Orchards and lake

It was lunch time when the girls and I left my childhood home. I asked them what they were hungry for and Jaycie said “grilled cheese” (she could eat that three times a day, I swear) and Jordan wanted a burger. Though I was unplugged from social media, texting and emails, I was still using my phone for GPS. I wanted to show the girls some of Lake Ontario so I searched for restaurants in Sodus Point, found a perfect one and set the navigation to there.

It took us 20 minutes to reach the grill and ice cream place and the drive there was very familiar to me. I’d forgotten just how rural and flat that whole area is! It made me miss the hills and unique character of where I live now. There’s a lot of apple orchards in that area and 104 is the main drag. Several new plazas had popped up in the decades since I’d last been through there but it wasn’t exactly a bustling metropolis.

Once we turned off 104, there wasn’t much to see except orchards until we reached the vicinity of Lake Ontario. I found the restaurant and parked and we could see the lake and feel the strong breezes off of it. I took a picture of the girls and then they each took turns taking pictures of me with them.

Jordan and Jaycie by Lake Ontario in Sodus Point

Jordan and Jaycie by Lake Ontario in Sodus Point

Jaycie and I getting windblown.

Jaycie and I getting windblown.

Jordan and I.

Jordan and I. I so love eating my hair…

We got lunch and enjoyed it inside the dining area of the little ice cream and grill restaurant. It was quite humid but the sun wasn’t out full which kept the temperatures tolerable.

Girls enjoying their lunch.

Girls enjoying their lunch.

When we were finished eating, we walked across the parking lot to the little playground there and the girls tried out a variety of the equipment. Jordan tested every piece there and Jaycie followed after her wanting to be as brave as her older sister.

Jordan wasn't sure she'd fit in that butterfly but...

Jordan wasn’t sure she’d fit in that butterfly but…

She got in it!

She got in it!

Jaycie enjoyed this for about 30 seconds.

Jaycie enjoyed this for about 30 seconds.

Jordan trying the curvy slide.

Jordan trying the curvy slide.

Done at the playground, I suggested we walk down the street a bit to see if there was anything interesting. There wasn’t really, at least not compared to the beauty of Amesbury and Newburyport in Massachusetts. Yes, I’ve been spoiled by the loveliness of New England. The only thing on the street were several restaurants and they all blocked any good views of the water.

Well it's a nice sign anyway.

Well it’s a nice sign anyway.

Visual appeal is a bit lacking.

Visual appeal is a bit lacking.

Hoping to get closer to the water, we got back in the car and drove down to the little beach park. We finally had a great view of the lake…and felt the full force of the wind that was so strong it kept blowing sand at us in a less than gentle manner. We walked up to the lighthouse as we were buffeted by the wind, sand, waves and umm aromatic qualities of Lake Ontario. I saw a mama duck and her babies swimming in and eating the algae and I snapped a picture even as the sight gave me no desire to set foot in the water.

Lighthouse in the distance.

Lighthouse in the distance.

Mama and baby ducks.

Mama and baby ducks.

Islands? in the lake

Islands? in the lake

The only way I could take a picture of the lighthouse without showing the graffiti.

The only way I could take a picture of the lighthouse without showing the graffiti.

Jaycie at the end of the lighthouse point.

Jaycie at the end of the lighthouse point.

This was as far as Jordan would go.

This was as far as Jordan would go.

Heading back as the water, wind and sand "caressed" us.

Heading back as the water, wind and sand “caressed” us.

By the time we got back to the car, we’d seen and smelled more than enough of the lake. The sun was back out and we were all tired so I decided it was time to head back toward home. The uneventful drive back through endless orchards and hill-less country reaffirmed my happiness with my own house in the hills of Honeoye.

Orchards stretching into the horizon.

Orchards stretching into the horizon.

 

It also showed me that the waters that truly make me happy are ocean waters, especially those off the coast of New England. I’d just spent two hours driving in the car and hadn’t seen anything nearly as interesting to me as what I find within 10 minutes of driving in New England. I’m addicted to the wonder, mystery and adventures that I always find in New England and the energy there that invigorates my spirit and heart the way New York can’t anymore. Good thing I’m heading back east next week!

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A Trio of Beautiful Weekend Warriors

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Jaycie and Jordan enjoying Salisbury Beach, MA

My two daughters and I had an amazing weekend of adventures! It was wonderful attending the Pow-Wow, showing them the parts of New England I love the most and discovering new areas together. Seeing things through their eyes and hearing what they have to say about where we went opens my eyes even wider to the wonder of it all.

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Driving back up through Boston after the Pow-Wow

This weekend’s trip was beneficial for all three of us. The girls expanded their vision further outside of NY and I was reminded of how blessed I am to have them. We are a powerful trio of beautiful weekend warriors and together we can accomplish anything! While I always enjoy my solo adventures, being a mom is central to who I am.

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My 11 year-old daughter and I by Powwow River Falls in Amesbury, MA

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My 7 year-old and I

The love my daughters and I share is a force to be reckoned with and never to be ignored. They are my heart, my world, my inspiration and my daily motivation to be the best person I can and to set a good example of what a successful and independent woman is.

There is so much more to tell but it must wait as I pack up and prepare us for the drive back to Upstate NY. On this Memorial Day as on all other days of my life, I am eternally grateful to the veteran who bestowed upon me unparalleled love, unforgettable lessons and a courageous spirit. Thank you, Dad!

White Knuckle Drives

Another winter storm?! Seriously?!

Another winter storm?! Seriously?!

I was supposed to drive to New England tomorrow morning for another planned visit. Unfortunately, Mama Nature saw fit to send yet another winter storm up the east coast. Such storms haven’t deterred me in the past. In fact, every time I’ve driven to New England this winter I’ve endured all sorts of scary winter weather. From the harrowing snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving to the freezing rain nightmare in December, Mama Nature has thrown it all at me. This time though, I decided to let her win. I’m staying in New York.

During my various white knuckle drives I have discovered that I’m better at winter driving than I realized. All those tips my good friend told me about winter driving actually sunk in and pop into my head right when I need them most! I’ve come upon multiple car accidents during night time snow storms, I’ve watched cars go sliding off the road when they hit their brakes too hard in freezing rain and I’ve felt my heart in my throat more times than I care to remember. I am always eternally grateful that I arrive safely at my destination and believe me, there is quite a bit of praying to all the powers that be during the drives!

I’m certain I have a guardian angel or six watching over me during my travels and I appreciate their help and guidance. I think by now though that they’re as tired as I am from the winter drives and we all deserve a break. I’ll try again in February or March or both and every month after that as the weather turns nicer. I won’t be kept from the region I love for very long but for now it’s time to regroup, recharge, write, create, stay warm and play lots of lobster fetch with Jazzerboo!

Fulfilling a Promise for Father’s Day

I realize not everyone has a good relationship with their father. I know how lucky I am that my father and I were so close. My father wasn’t perfect, no one is perfect. We’re all human and we’re flawed but our imperfections are what make us beautiful.

My father almost always greeted me with the words “Hi, beautiful!” and that is something I will forever keenly miss. I never doubted that he meant those words, they were never a ploy to win my affection, they were how he saw me. Me seeing myself as that beautiful is a work in progress.

My father gave me a priceless and timeless gift. He showed me what unconditional love from a man feels like. He accepted me as I was, no changes necessary, and he loved every bit of me, even the parts that get me lost and in trouble. A very wise woman told me that it speaks to my strength that I want to feel that kind of love again. That I’m still open to the possibility of it. It’s a scary concept though.

Being open to that kind of love is terrifying because the last time I had it, it left me. I know my father’s spirit is always with me and he will always love me that much but it’s different not having his physical presence anymore. I have great hope that someday I will be strong enough to take that leap of faith and trust that another man who I love can love me as unconditionally as my father did, but in a romantic sense. I’m standing at the edge now looking into uncertain depths and I imagine I’ll be fidgeting and biting my lip in worry for a while.

As promised, my e-book has launched today. It’s a promise I made to myself in honor and memory of my father. It’s a promise I made to my closest friends and they’ve helped me keep it with encouragement and input. It’s a promise I made to the new friends I’ve found through social media who are themselves talented writers, artists and musicians. Most of all it’s a promise to my father that I never said to him while he lived. I never said to him “I promise I’ll be published someday, Dad.” I wasn’t sure I could keep that promise. He knew I could though.

My e-book is about my self-guided and often lost tour through Boston, Massachusetts during my first visit. It was originally posted as a blog and was well-received. Somehow turning it into an e-book made it more personal for me and that much harder to share. What can a simple girl like myself say about Boston that hasn’t already been said? I am just one small voice among many, why do my words matter? My answer to that is that there is only one me on this whole world. How I feel about Boston is unique to me but will hopefully give even lifelong Boston residents a new perspective of their beautiful city.

I’ve pasted in the synopsis below and the links to my book for sale on Nook and Kindle are at the end. Even if you don’t buy my book, thank you for reading my words!

Massachusetts Adventures: Boston 

What happens when you take a girl from the country, known for getting lost in her own kitchen, and set her free on a first-time tour of Boston? A true Massachusetts adventure!

Intrigued by a new discovery on the internet, JulieAnn takes an inaugural, out-of-state, solo road trip to the breathtaking city of Boston, Massachusetts. The early November drive stirs a sense of freedom within her that she’s never felt and opens her eyes to endless possibilities. JulieAnn’s travels introduce her to new friends, evoke memories of her beloved father and lift and awaken her spirit in unimaginable ways. An afternoon spent in the City of Boston helps her understand true inner strength and feeds her endless curiosity.

Explore the City of Boston with JulieAnn in this autobiographical story of her adventures in Beantown. View photos of numerous historical Boston buildings and landmarks as seen through the eyes of this first-time visitor. Get swept up in the beauty of the city as JulieAnn wanders happily lost among cobblestone streets and skyscrapers on a journey of self-discovery. Massachusetts Adventures: Boston is the first story in an upcoming and ongoing series detailing JulieAnn’s continued visits to Massachusetts.

Sometimes being lost is the only way you can truly find yourself.

Massachusetts Adventures: Boston on Kindle 

Massachusetts Adventures: Boston on Nook

Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

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I often joke with my best friend that I could write a book about my life and sell it as fiction because no one would believe it all happened to one person. I haven’t climbed to the top of Mount Everest or formulated the cure for the common cold, I’ve just lived my life and done my best to roll with what comes. I think we all have an amazing and unique story to tell when we escape the mundane of daily existence and see life for what it really is: an endless adventure!

My beloved English teacher and friend, Derek Hulse told me when I was 16 that I should write my autobiography. I found the idea silly because I was only 16 and felt I hadn’t experienced anything that justified an autobiography. Apparently he saw great things in my past and future that were worthy of being told and I’ve been telling them for the past few years in my blogs. I am certain that numerous people live far more interesting lives than I do and I don’t profess to be an incredibly amazing, crocodile-wrestling, swashbuckling woman of the world. I’m just a girl who wakes up every day grateful for another dawn.

I never know what my day is going to bring. Even the smallest tasks turn into large undertakings sometimes. My quest to find a more fuel efficient-and yet still standard transmission-car involves renting an automatic car for the weekend when the first auto deal falls apart. I set out to dig up thistles and the handle on my garden spade snaps like a twig. I go to mow my lawn and the neighbors chicken decide to hold a parade through my lilac bushes. A weekend trip to Boston leads to a whole new direction and purpose in my life that continues to motivate me onward. These are the adventures I’ve lived and continue to live.

So I created a photo montage set to music and uploaded my video to Vimeo for your viewing pleasure…or to at least take up three minutes of your day. You can watch it by clicking on the photo above or the link at the end of this entry. In it I’ve featured several photos from my blogs and others I’ve taken just to document the mind-boggling little mishaps that occur in my life. Stars include my darling daughters, adorable dog, samples of my baking, creatures from the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, my mower, the Massachusetts locations of Boston, Newburyport and Amesbury, some of my artwork and everything in between. I believe it tells an interesting story about the everyday adventures in this extraordinary life that belongs to a simple woman just making her way in the world.

Everyday Adventures in this Extraordinary Life

Seeking the Extraordinary

Sara – “Maybe it’s like what you said. We should both just go our separate ways and then we’ll do just fine.”

Hitch – “What if fine isn’t good enough? What if I want extraordinary?”

Sara – “No such thing.”

I needed something to inspire my blog this morning. I was watching the end of the movie “Hitch” starring Will Smith and those lines were exactly the inspiration boost I needed. I say often that life isn’t like a romantic comedy or a fairy tale. Things don’t wrap up all neatly in the end with romantic lines and gestures that make girls go “awwww!” In real life there can be many of those “awwww!” moments but they’re not the end of the story, they’re just part of it.

The word “fine” is used far too often to describe how someone is feeling. I think when most women are asked by their mate how they are and they respond “fine” they mean anything but. Fine is the short answer, a pathetic attempt to sum up emotions ranging anywhere from anger to sadness and everything in between. When a woman says “I’m fine” what she usually wants is for the partner in her life to delve a little deeper and see through that excuse for a word.

When I’m talking to my best friend and we both says we’re “fine” we know we’re lying to each other. Even if we’re only communicating via text. Women, especially close friends, are intuitive and can read each other. Plus most of us know “fine” is a mask. Chances are that if a man says he’s “fine” he really means that he’s just fine and life is going swimmingly. Even if a man isn’t fine, he might not admit it for fear of showing weakness and all that. I’m not a man so I don’t know how the male mind works. I’m also not a relationship expert or a psychologist so everything I’m saying is just from observations I’ve made in my life.

Fine is how I would describe my life right now but extraordinary is how I want it to be. I know how lucky I am to have a loving family, two beautiful daughters, great friends, a lovable dog, my own home and car…and so on. That doesn’t mean I’m content with “fine.” I don’t feel that I’m being greedy by wanting more. I think working toward more is what makes life worthwhile.

You see, I am extraordinarily in love. “Ah ha!” you say. “I knew it!” Only it’s not what you think. I am in love…with a place, a state in fact. Its name is Massachusetts. I imagine people reading this and who follow me on social media wonder about my obsession with a state I wasn’t born in. Perhaps I seem like an interloper because I’m from Upstate New York. Personally I think it speaks to the amazing opportunities and beauty of Massachusetts that it can capture the heart of someone after just one visit. I’ve been to Massachusetts four times now and every visit has been different. All of my visits have been unique adventures and created unforgettable memories. So do not dismiss me and my love so quickly.

Home really is wherever you make it and you should seek to make it and your whole life extraordinary. Never settle for less than you deserve but don’t be discontent with what you have. It’s about finding balance without falling into a rut. Not an easy thing, trust me. I’ve tripped into many ruts and holes that I’ve had to climb out of. But I do always climb out, brush the dirt off my knees and am “fine.” I then square my shoulders and remember that fine isn’t good enough and that I want extraordinary!