Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax 

After some holiday shopping, how do you spell R-E-L-A-X?  A little cheese and charcuterie …. with a side of hand-crafted cocktails from Vikre, Duluth’s local distillery (Juniper Gin and Tonic on the left, and Spruce Gin Gimlet on the right).

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Relax” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Relax.

 

The Importance of Holiday Magic

This year, even more than ever, we are in need of finding the magic of the holidays … that magic that helps bridge divides, smooths strained relations, allows people to set aside differences to share in the beauty of the season.

Even without snow on the ground, and the second warmest November on record, Duluth’s Bentleyville is just the place to go to kindle the often-nostalgic feelings that accompany the December holiday season.

Whether you are 2, or 20, or 20 times 4, joy fills the air as you walk through the arches of light, as Christmas classics play over the speakers.  Donations and sponsorships support the free cookies, popcorn, hot cocoa, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows! People from all walks of life come together to watch the lights dance on the 128 foot tall Christmas tree, wait patiently to talk to Santa or Mrs. Claus, or pause for one of the many photo ops.

The year-round evening illumination of Duluth’s lift bridge glows across the bay, taking a back seat to this seasonal festival of lights.

The meandering lit paths give many opportunities to reflect and be grateful — whether wandering with friends, with family, or taking time for solitary reflection. Give thanks for good health, for a roof over our heads, for love, for community. Bentleyville gives a nod to our troops, as well, with Duluth’s own 148th Fighter Wing garnering a special spot in the display.

If only for an evening, let the “Tour of Lights” push the stress and anxiety of the world’s issues to the side … Embrace the magic of the season.

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “It’s Not This Time of Year Without…” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: It’s Not This Time of Year Without ….

Kat’s Weekly Reflection of Gratitude: The Privilege of Voting

The sentiment about exercising your right to vote is timeless. Today is the day if you haven’t already … vote, and make your voice heard. I believe love can trump hate, and I hope kindness and our American tradition of inclusiveness will prevail.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Travel. Garden. Eat.

One of the only blessings coming from Hurricane Sandy is a brief respite from the usual tenor of political campaigns at this juncture, with the election for President of the United States now only a few days away.  Other important offices, at the federal, state and local levels, are up for grabs in this election, as well.  In many states, important constitutional amendment questions are posed to the electorate, in some cases asking the populace to forever determine constitutional rights of others in our society.

Whatever your political affiliation — whether you swing left or right, red or blue, or like many, somewhere in the middle — spend the next few days educating yourself on the candidates and the issues that are going to present themselves on your ballot.  Really educate yourselves . . . I am not talking about reviewing the latest Facebook updates, tweets on Twitter or, as entertaining as it…

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Zen on the Trail 

It has been a long week. The candle was burning at both ends most days; I sacrificed some needed sleep to find those extra hours in the day. So when the end of the work day rolled around on Friday, it was tempting to just pour a glass of wine and tell myself  could postpone a run until the weekend.  After finding great camaraderie and motivation through the “Another Mother Runner” podcasts that often keep me company on the road, I signed up for a 5-week training program through the “Train Like a Mother Club” to jump-start the fitness machine after taking a break following the more intense training earlier this year for my June marathon.  Nothing like a  virtual community of training partners to provide some accountability… in addition to my faithful companion.

Today’s training schedule called for a “Zen Run” – leave the GPS watch behind, pull out the ear buds if you run with music, and just go while letting go … It was exactly what I needed.

Corbin was born the year I turned 40, and as I approach another decade marker, Corbin and I both are a little grayer, a little slower, and more appreciative of the little things … OK, perhaps Corbin has always been blessed with that joie de vivre ….

We set out with the intention to enjoy a leisurely 3-mile loop on the trails before the sun set.  While the days are growing shorter, tonight still had echoes of summer …. almost 70 degrees, a tad humid (by Duluth standards), and forest sounds more reminiscent of August than September.  As my trusty pal has aged, he has become more sensitive to the warmer temperatures, particularly if the humidity is up, so he did not stray far from my side as we trotted along at an easy pace.

Corbin used to pull me up the hills with my hands-free leash around my waist. This evening, I found him preferring to slow to no more than a fast walk up even the smaller inclines.

The somewhat muggy conditions on the trail made for a perfect meditative pace.  We jogged, we walked, we took note of the signs of the changing seasons.

When Corbin was younger, he would run twice as far as I would on a trail run, looping out and coming back to me, again and again.  Now, he was just as happy to stop at the river overlook and catch his breath as I caught mine, before we started off again.

I admit to feeling my eyes fill with tears at one point as we ran along, realizing that this very well could be my last fall running with my dear four-legged friend on these trails, given how much he has slowed down over the past year.  I was reminded, though, that Corbin is blessed with that gift that we all seek — enjoying and living in the moment.  As we trotted side by side, he looked up at me with a grin.  I let go of the worries of what the months ahead may hold. We just ran and I was grateful for the time we had right now.

I got my zen on and cleared my head, noticing the gifts that Mother Nature had placed for us to enjoy along the way.

We paused periodically to admire the treasures of the great outdoors.

The diversity and delicate details on the forest floor are awe-inspiring if you take a moment to truly appreciate them.

We extended our 3-mile loop, by another mile or so, continuing to intersperse walking with running.  I let Corbin set the pace – he would slow on an upward incline, and then once the trail sloped downward or flattened out, he would start trotting along again.  We embraced the silence between us, and filled it with the evening sounds of the woods.

Our relaxing evening jaunt came to a close, and the sun started to peek through the gray cloud cover.

We made a brief detour before heading home, and stopped to say good evening to Lake Superior. Peaceful and serene, the big lake embodied that zen I sought and found on the trails with my dear friend.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

Aurora looked into the mirror and liked what she saw, dancing and shimmering along the horizon, with shades of purple and green, as the stars twinkled in appreciation of the sight. Friday night at the cabin on a little lake in the Minnesota northwoods was special, indeed.

Northern Lights Cabin TGE 20160903 3 (1280x853)

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Mirror” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Mirror.