Instead of choosing a WOTY (Word of the Year) for 2021 I decided to rely on the basic elements of my contented life – mind, body, and spirit to guide me through the year. When balance is achieved within those elements, I feel satisfied, energetic and hopeful about the future. None of these are on auto-pilot and each requires intentional tending. This year I will write a monthly recap and share some highlights of my contentment here. Like my friend Tamara says over at My Retirement Project, “accountability is a good motivator.” January was a good month, especially weather-wise, so I was particularly motivated to be outside. What could contribute more to mind, body and spirit than a day filled with sunshine?
Reading, listening and learning contribute to this category. Tutorials, blogs, documentaries, and YouTube videos, are my usual sources for education, information, and inspiration. When it comes to books, I prefer quality over quantity. Historical fiction, mysteries, and physiological thrillers are my preferred genres. I typically read 3 or 4 books per month.
This month, I watched several good documentaries, but my favorite was “The Swamp” on PBS. It is the story of the Florida Everglades; why it is protected and how it became a National Park. I read several very good blog posts too, but one that stood out came from Pat at Retirement Transitions. She wrote about using Enneagram as a self-discovery too. It offers good insight into personality types, and couldn’t we all benefit from knowing ourselves better? I did a little research of my own about my favorite color and what that says about my personality. I later used that information in a blog post to link with Sunday Stills Glacier Blue challenge. Last, but certainly not least, I read a memoir, which is rare for me. It was compelling, insightful and relatable, which in my estimation says – good book. So good in fact, that I wrote a Goodreads review about it, and I want to recommend it to you.
Liesbet Collaert from Roaming About caught my attention about a year ago, but, in spite of her considerable writing talents and extraordinary lifestyle, I lost track of her blog. It happens. Recently she resurfaced (to me) on a few blogs that I read regularly and I was delighted to see that she had published her debut book, Plunge. Curious about her story, I bought the book and downloaded it to my Kindle.
Lots of people write memoirs, but it isn’t a genre that I often read, as few captivate my interest. This one had me spell-bound from the Introductory pages. It reads like a suspense novel, with just the right amount of ‘teasers’ to create anticipation and keep the story moving along. To say Liesbet’s Nomadic life is unconventional is an understatement, and although it wouldn’t be for everyone, she has managed to create joy and purpose through her connections with nature, her exuberance for adventure, the love of a good man, supportive family and friends, and a very modest income.
My Goodreads Review of Plunge
Just when you thought living a sailor’s life was about endless summer days, sipping rum punch under swaying palm trees, and swimming with manta rays, along comes Plunge, a straightforward memoir about an unconventional life, written by an unconventional young woman.
From the Introductory pages, the ride this new author takes us on is bumpy, gritty, and real. We learn in the first chapter that Liesbet is an impulsive, adventure junkie with a mind of her own. Written more like a suspense novel than a memoir, Plunge drops you into the deep end of the ocean and exposes the underbelly of living life on your own terms.
“We only live once. It’s up to us to pursue a life that suits us, tickles our senses, and shapes us into balanced, complete, and satisfied humans” is just one of the many quotable quotes applicable to our own lives.
Brutally honest, and at times, ‘cringeworthy’ revelations about marriage, compromise, trust, and commitment frame recurring themes throughout the book as we follow her journey of heartache, loss, adventure, longing, learning, and happiness. Torn between love and adventure, Liesbet’s struggle is poignant and relatable. Is it possible to have both? Does she even want both?
The backdrop of this ‘real-life’ tale is the Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific. The book covers a period of eight years on a 35-foot catamaran, named Irie (it’s all good in Jamaican) – I couldn’t agree more.
Go to Goodreads to read more reviews of Plunge here.
This category is obviously about fitness and health, and both got considerable attention from me this month.
Malcolm and I have been learning to play Pickleball together for about six weeks. It is an ‘age appropriate’ couples activity that gets us out of the house several times per week. Our practice sessions generally last about an hour.
We attempted to join a group of other players, for doubles play, but the risk seemed too great, so we continue to play singles for now. If you have never heard of Pickleball, check out this Youtube video for a basic understanding of the game. It’s addictive!
The next activity falls into both body and spirit categories, since we spent about three hours paddling around the Crystal River on a tandem kayak, and because nothing lifts my spirit like seeing animals in their natural habitat.
Manatees migrate to the interior natural Springs of Florida for warmer water this time of year and it is a good time to see them gathered in one place. Three Sister’s Springs is our favorite location for optimal viewing, so we made an overnight trip to Crystal River, which is about 3 hours Northwest of our home.
From the surface, Manatee look like big shadows, or rocks lying on the bottom of the springs. The best vantage point is to be in the water with them, but the springs were a bit too cold for us so we were content to hoover above on our kayak. Our thrill was to watch the shadows, and anticipate when one would surface for a breath. It’s an activity that requires quiet and patience. We were rewarded time after time, even as we changed locations. I spent more time watching than taking pictures, so hopefully the underwater shot below will convey the experience.
This photo is my best attempt at capturing one of these magnificent creatures under water. I placed my Iphone into a water proof cover, turned on the camera, submerged it, aimed it in the general direction and of a shadow and held tight. Clicking with wild abandon with my remote shutter produced this image.
If you think it resembles a giant baked potato, you wouldn’t be the first to suggest that description.
This category is about joy moments, peace of mind and feeling at ease with myself. If it lifts my spirit and makes me smile, it will likely land here. My life is filled with simple pleasures, and when it doesn’t happen naturally, a drive to the beach will fix everything. Waves, wind, sunshine and cloud formations – it’s all good.
In addition to multiple Manatee sightings, there were a few things that lifted my spirit this past month. The first was having the Badge I created for Thursday Doors selected by Dan’s readers at No Facilities. Dan has taken over the Thursday Door challenge and requested designs for the badge. It is an honor to have my design selected for the year 2021. To participate in the Thursday Door challenge, please visit No Facilities.
Another encouraging thing happened when I linked up to Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share with this post about the color blue. I had a record number of views for that post and interacting with bloggers new to my site was fun and rewarding. Thanks, Natalie for hosting a forum that enables meaningful shares and connections.
I was reminded this week that my happiness is completely connected to our happiness as Malcolm and I enjoyed every minute of our playtime in Crystal River. Sometimes you just need to be silly – together.
Make your own music and dance like no one is watching…