Spirit of Dragonflies

Guide to Awakening Your Inner Self – Begin Your Creative Journey Today


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Tour Guide of My Childhood Home – WPC

Share with us an image, or two, or three, (or more!) of where you live. For bonus points, tell us what it is about the photo(s) that you love. I can’t wait to go on a fantastic virtual tour of the world, courtesy of photo challenge participants. Away we go!

As I am not really attached to where I currently live it seems quite fitting to give you a little tour of the town and village of my childhood. The same place where my mother and her 13 siblings were raised, many remained to raise their own children near the family home in the village. It is also where my sisters and I raised our own children and my granddaughter spent her childhood living there as well. Stillwater is near and dear to my heart and I visit weekly, still participate in a monthly non-fiction book club, and return for walks in the Saratoga National Historical Park and National Cemetery (Both are actually located in the town of Stillwater located in Saratoga County).

Here we go on our tour:

As you pass through Mechanicville on your way to Stillwater the first sight that captures a passerby should be the truss bridge spanning the Hudson River. The colors change with the seasons, time of day, and weather. When I would travel home to visit my mother, the first thing that felt like home was the bridge. Just like an old friend spanning the river waiting to say “hello, welcome home.”

As you drive into the village of Stillwater stop in to visit my niece at the local library. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit in a comfortable chair with a good book. You may find me there on a random Saturday morning facilitating a Vision Board class. There is fun to be had by all ages.

In the summertime there may be a small parade heading down Hudson Ave with children, firetrucks and possibly kids rides and games at the American Legion after the big event.

After the library you could walk over to check out the Stillwater Blockhouse Museum. After learning about the history and viewing photos, take some time to sit on the bench and enjoy the view of the peaceful  Hudson River.

If your interested in learning more about the Stillwater Blockhouse Museum or the Stillwater Library, click on the links below:

On the way to north on Route 4, heading out of the village toward Schuylerville, stop by the Saratoga National Historical Park. It will be well worth your time no matter the season.

If you are interested in learning more about the Saratoga National Historical Park, Saratoga Battlefield to us, check out their web page here:

After Saratoga National Historical Park, stop by the National Cemetery. There is a quiet, sadly peaceful atmosphere. The grounds have been set up to be beautiful in all seasons. The spring is my favorite. As you drive, or walk, through the trees are all in bloom and it brings the cemetery to life with birds, squirrels, deer and other critters roaming in from the surrounding woods. Last weekend while I was walking someone was firing a rifle – maybe a firing range but not sure. All these brave souls laid to rest with guns being fired nearby makes me think of the waste of lives guns can bring upon families.

If you are interested in learning more about the National Cemetery check out this website:

Population in the 60s was just shy of 1,300. In the 70s and 80s it grew to around 1,500. As of 2000 the population fluctuates between 1,700 and 1,750. There are still some farms that have not been turned into ugly condos and some forest still exist even though Luther’s Forest of my youth is now housing with roads named after the trees they deforested. The aunts and uncles that watched out for us in our youth are now all deceased. Many cousins have moved on to new horizons as have two of my sisters and most of the nieces and nephews. I feel fortunate to have my sister living in our childhood home and my niece living nearby the family home. Stillwater is fortunate to call her their local librarian. It is nice to know that I can still ‘go home.’

If you are looking for excitement and adventure, Stillwater is not really the place to visit. Just as the name states – still waters are what you will find. Mainly rundown now since all the factories closed in the late 70s, early 80s. It is a sleepy town and most of the residents travel a half hour or more to work every morning and afternoon. If you are looking for a little peace and quiet then stop by. People are friendly. You can always stop to Pat’s Sub for a bite to eat or the two/three local pizza shops. Fill up your car at the Stewart’s Shop and your within a short drive to Schuylerville, Schaghticoke, Saratoga Springs or Clifton Park.


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Variations on a Theme – WPC

This week, use your camera to discover the endless variety that one thing can contain. It can be a single photo featuring some visual play on repetition and variation — ducks in a pond, each swimming in a slightly different angle, or a wall of stained glass in a church, each panel echoing the other. You could also opt for a series of shots showing the same place, person, or object in slightly different light (literally or figuratively, as the case may be). If you’re not sure how to approach this topic, just let your daily life guide you: every day, you probably repeat several actions, movements, and rituals without even noticing. Choose one and show how even within this repetition, there’s a wide diversity of experience.

“I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath ~

I love visiting the same areas at different times of the day and year. It is a gift of nature that those living with the changing seasons experience. The sky is ever-changing shades, tones and variations which bringing a new perspective to those paying attention. We witness the vibrant greens of summer become blanketed in orange/red/green/brown leaves of fall as the grass becomes brownish orange. Then as winter sets in if we are lucky we witness a blanket of white covering the trees and ground which then becomes spotted with brown and then green once again. It is amazing to witness. The sky also dazzles the senses as it varies in color throughout the day and year. Vibrant blue, grey, pinks, oranges, varying shades of red become blackened as the night sky brings sleep and rest. We leave knowing that tomorrow we will experience everything anew.

Saratoga National Historical Park is one of those locations which fill my heart with many emotions. It is a place which I return for peace, comfort and rest. This is a location shared over the years with family times – first as a child with my own parents and then with my children, nieces, nephew and friends. It is this location where I prepared myself for BASIC, where my children and I hiked, learned to cross-country ski, and a refuge when I passed through challenging times in my life. It is a place as Sylvia Plath shared where I “live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.” Wherever I have traveled, this location remained in my heart and upon returning to ‘home’ it is where I visit to renew myself.

Do you have a location that means ‘home’ to you outside of the place where you grew up? A place that lives within you even if you can’t return.

While away from my home and children during BASIC training with the Army National Guard I first experienced the ability to meditate – more of a visualization. When sitting in the hot Missouri sun between class or exercises I would close my eyes and return home to the hiking paths with my children and nieces/nephews. We would be exploring and laughing. The younger female soldiers would ask where I had gone because they noticed I wasn’t responding to them. I shared that I went home in my mind. These young women noticed that I remained calm and peaceful after my little visualizations and wanted me to teach them. Some were able to learn and carry this with them to their next station or when they returned home to class. Eventually I could visualize and ‘visit’ with my eyes open. The only way they knew was if I didn’t respond when they spoke to me. This became very helpful when we were we living on four hours of sleep.

For anyone who lives with tinnitus, learning these methods may bring peace to your life. It may not stop the noise in your head but it will definitely help you learn to live with this constant noise. This I know first hand, as meditation and visualization have helped me live a productive life in spite of the constant bells ringing in my head.

Have you ever experienced visualization to bring peace into your life? Or, have you been in a stressful situation where meditation brought a sense of peace and calm to help you through?

If you are interested in learning more about visualization, meditation or living mindfully please complete the form below or email me at spiritofdraginflies@gmail.com. Let’s discuss next steps to help you bring some peace, tranquility, calm and mindfulness into your daily life.

Love and Light!

If you would like to view additional posts for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, please click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/variations-on-a-theme/

 


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Satisfaction – A Day in Nature!

This week, share a photo of something that brings you satisfaction. It can be monumental, minor, or something in between.

“The dragonfly spiritually embodies the stripping away of negativity that holds us back, helping us to achieve our dreams and goals. Dragonflies are the keepers of dreams, the energy within that sees all of our true potential and ability. Dragonflies inspire spirituality and creativity, they help us on the path of discovery and enlightenment. They reminder us that anything is possible.” ~ Beauty and the Green ~

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I had the pleasure of watching butterflies, dragonflies and bees enjoying a nice sunny day in the Saratoga National Historical Park. The butterflies teased with this fluttering wings coming and going too quickly to capture with my camera yet this little lady stopped to pose for my camera. Possibly she received as much satisfaction as me.

Please take your time to feel the satisfaction I felt while enjoying a long walk through the park. This is one of the places near my childhood home that still touches my heart and reminds me of wonderful times spent with family. A place to slow down, enjoy nature and all her many blessings.

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A sweet little deer was walking out of the woods as I stepped on a twig and we were both startled. A quick peek and gone not to be seen again on this walk.

“To be able to look back upon on one’s life in satisfaction, is to live twice.” ~ Khalil Gibran ~

Do you have a place that you visit that brings you satisfaction? A place that reminds you to slow down and notice your surroundings?

Hope you enjoyed my stroll through the Park. If you are ever in the area stop in and take a walk on the trails or the road. If you don’t feel like a walk take a leisurely drive and stop to see the sights along the way. You can read more about Saratoga National Historical Park here: https://www.nps.gov/sara/index.htm

If you would like to view other photos for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/satisfaction/

Love and Light!

If you would like to learn how to slow down and live mindfully, please leave a message below or email me at spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com


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WPC – Local Life

“It is not more bigness that should be our goal.  We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to…the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility…and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.”        ~ Robert F. Kennedy ~

My home town is small and, when I was young, everyone knew everyone else. I no longer know many people living in the village, many family members are now deceased yet I still feel a sense of home when I visit. The buildings, stillness of the river, changing seasons, parades, smiles, local library, Saratoga National Historical Park, train bridge across the Hudson River . . . although changing over the years still comfort me.

My niece is the librarian at the local library – a dream she had as a child has come to fruition. There are events throughout the year to bring out the local people – Ladies’ Night, local parades, Fall Festival, Easter Egg Hunt, along with other events throughout the year. Love that the local community is safe enough to still allow children to dress in costumes and go door to door saying “Trick or Treat.” My sister, living in the family home, still has over 100 children knocking on her door on Halloween.

“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower ~

Sometimes it is nice to participate in local events with family and friends. To visit a place that continues to be a place of mutual trust and respect. To feel safe and comforted when visiting the family home, library, or while taking a hike or cross-country skiing in the Saratoga National Historical Park.

Hope you have enjoyed a visit to my home town located on the west side of the Hudson River midway between NYC and Plattsburgh.

If you would like to view additional photos or would like to post your own photos, please click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/local/

Love and Light!


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WPC – Transitions

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/transition/”>Transition</a&gt;

There are numerous transitions to choose from so I decided to share photos of two. The first is transitions in seasons and hours of the day.

Two of my favorite places in Stillwater, NY are the National Historical Park (Saratoga Battlefield grounds of Revolutionary War) and the Stillwater Block House. The Block House was in the Saratoga Battlefield when I was a child through to my young adult years. Because it was not original they wanted it removed. The Historical Society was given land on a farm to relocate the House however access was difficult. After many years of fund-raisers the Block House found a home along the Hudson River in a newly created park. There are benches and this is now a small historical tourist attraction. If you are ever traveling through the area stop and take a look maybe even a walk in the Saratoga Battlefield.

The second set of photos is a transition from dough to decorated Christmas cookies.

My daughter and I had a wonderful time last year making sugar cookie dough, cutting out the shapes, baking and decorating the cookies. Then of course we enjoyed eating some of the dough and cookies before sharing them with friends and family. Looking forward to this year’s Christmas cookie bake. Another transition we had in our family was the birth of Cassie’s son on Sept. 14th so we will have a new little helper. Ok, he may not really be any help but it will be fun singing Christmas carols to him as we prepare the cookies. Transitions are a constant in families – babies are born, others die, and new people join through marriage or relationships. One never knows from one year to the next what life changes will occur.

We live through many transitions throughout each day of our life. Try to be open and allow because transitions are a part of life just as day turns to night, summer turns to autumn then to winter, spring and back to summer – everything is in transition. Remember to stop and pay attention to your breath once in a while – be present in the moment and live mindfully enjoying the small things – the smell of coffee or tea, fresh air, the taste of a treat, warmth of soup as it fills your belly, sitting in front of a fire on a cold day, placing your feet in the cool water or dirt on a hot summer’s day. What do you find pleasure in when weathering storms? Those are the times when we sometimes forget, yet they are the times when its beneficial to be aware.

Love and Light!


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Mindfully Walking in Nature

On Sunday I was grateful to be near the Saratoga National Historical Park. Every time I am in the area I park my car and head out in a different direction.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Neilson House – Saratoga National Historical Park

Sometimes I go to the right, down the long curving hill and take another right down the trees road to circular parking area to enjoy the view of the Hudson River and farmland. Other times, I walk down the hill and go to the left on the opposite side of the red house.

On other walks, I go to the left past the Neilson House (photo above), down the long treed roadway past the open field and cut across the dirt path through the woods to the road on the other side. When time permits, I cross the road and continue onto the Wilkinson Trail through the woods across an open field down a steep hill that leads to a brook, then back up the hill through the woods to the road. If I cross the road at this point I will walk across a short field to a small bridge to another treed path that runs along a cliff overlooking the brook. After a long walk in the woods, I cross another road and find myself at the same road in which I began.

In the fall, the trees are decorated in reds, orange, and gold. The sound of the fallen leaves crunch underfoot, geese honk, honking in the sky above, as light filters through the trees. The smell of earth and decaying leaves fills the crisp air and I lose myself in the beauty. It is on these long walks that I sometimes find myself in a meditative state walking through the woods without realizing how far I have traveled. Time seems to stand still.

Along the walk deer step out onto the road or cross in front of me along a path in the woods. They stop to check me out and then go about their business. I walk slowly through the woods as to not startle them or other critters that live in this protected area.

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I never get tired of seeing deer. When my mother, Aunt Helen, and Uncle Don were alive they would ride through the Park or the outskirts of the park to count the number of deer they spotted. Sometimes they would count upwards of 50, especially in the fall when the deer were smart enough to know as long as they stayed on this property the hunters could not shoot them.

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Sometimes the deer and I have seem to have contests to see who can stand still the longest. As in the photo above, we stood for quite a while before the two deer decided to move on. Many times I win because the wind will turn course and once they smell me off they go. On the days that I continue on this road past the deer, I pass an open field on the right and then back through a treed area before returning to the Neilson House. Sometimes I walk fast releasing my thoughts as I travel. Other times, I meander along enjoying the flowers, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, coy dogs, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and a variety of birds.

There are always gifts of beauty along the way whether in the woods, fields or along the roadway if you can slow down to witness. Maybe pick an apple to eat along the way.

I see others walking quickly, ear buds in their ears, music blaring from their iPhones and wonder if they ever slow down long enough to really enjoy the nature around them. Do they ever stop to chat with the deer or watch the chipmunks and bluejays play? On my walk I stopped to watch a bluejay and chipmunk chasing each other around like little children. Instead of music, I listened to the leaves rustling in the wind, crunching under the weight of the deer, a plane overhead, cows mooing on a farm in the distance, geese honking overhead, and to my own heart beat and breath. I gave thanks for the beauty of nature that surrounded me and wished I could share this with others.

By the time I walked out of the park the sun was beginning its decent. If you look closely in the distance in the photo below you can see the outline of the Neilson House surrounded by trees.

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This is one of my favorite spots. Sometimes I stay in the park until sunset to hear the howl of the coyotes and watch the last slit of red in the sky. But on this night, I had to hurry home to prepare for the red moon and eclipse that would not be seen again until 2033.

On the way to my car a couple was walking into the Park. We chatted for a bit, they were heading to the Neilson House to watch the lunar eclipse and dance in the moonlight to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. They have danced under every full moon for the last four years. It seemed so romantic. I was invited to stay – it was very tempting – but the eclipse would take a while and I live half an hour from the Park so I thanked them and went my way. While driving home, I almost turned around several times but was grateful I decided to return home to watch the rare event.

My question to you is – when you walk, do you walk fast and listen to music or do you slow down and listen to nature? Do you stop and smell the flowers, watch the bees, notice the beauty around you? Life is a wonderful experience if you can slow down long enough to enjoy it. Can you give yourself the gift of time in nature? Will you give yourself this gift? It doesn’t take a lot of time to get in tune with nature and yourself. Aren’t you worth it? Please share your experience with nature and walking, I would love to hear from you.

Love and Life!


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Challenging Ourselves One Step at a Time

 

This is the year of challenges and taking chances – one step at a time. If we don’t try we will never know what we are capable of accomplishing. Recently, while in Barnes and Noble, I picked up a copy of Digital Photo magazine and found the 2015 Landscape Photo Contest. I have submitted four photos and was surprised to discover that two of the four have 200+ and 100+ votes. All four have with 5 stars ratings with the third totaling over 90 votes and the last entry with 8.  I was excited and grateful just to have the opportunity to enter the contest. All four photos were taken prior to receiving my new Nikon camera. If you like my photos I would be very grateful if you would visit the sites I have attached below and vote for these photos.

Peaceful

Peaceful setting at Nelson House in Saratoga National Historical Park

The red house has been visited by my children and I for many years. We would take long walks in the park and stop to for a snack and drink of water. When small, my children would play on the porch and pretend that they lived in this home. As adults we stop by and take a rest on the porch. The tree is beautiful in the autumn and I have plenty of shots of this with the reds and orange leaves. In the spring there is a beautiful lilac bush in bloom and walking past the fresh scent of lilacs greats you. From this porch you can see for miles across the Hudson River to the mountains of eastern New York. It is a breathtaking site especially in autumn and when dusted in a winter snow.

http://www.dpmag.com/photo-contests/landscapes/gallery/862171-saratoga-national-park-stillwater-ny#.VeHxFayPYPk.facebook

Autumn at Adirondack Lake located in Indian Lake, NY

Autumn at Adirondack Lake located in Indian Lake, NY

Adirondack Lake is the perfect spot for kayaking in spring, summer or fall. It is a nice place for fishing and hearing loons. Last year while kayaking we met upon loons and their nest in the far off area of the lake. It is a very peaceful setting. This photo was taken on an overnight at Binder’s cabins located across the street. If you ever get the chance to visit upstate New York and travel on Route 28N stop by and take a little rest at Adirondack Lake.

http://www.dpmag.com/photo-contests/landscapes/gallery/862181-fall-adirondack-lake-in-ny

If you have a chance and would like to vote for my photos I would be very grateful for your support. If you have photos that you would like to enter you still have time to enter the contest.

When we take small steps eventually we reach our goals. What steps are you taking to reach your goals?

Love and Light!