Lake Somerville : Nature’s Beauty + Gratitude

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude. – Louie Schwartzberg

Hello My Dears,

My wish was to experience gratitude on Thanksgiving by being close to nature and doing something different that felt real.  My 8 year old daughter shared with me, during one of our breakfast conversations, that nature already knows everything.  When the birds are chirping, they are tell us something. If we can’t understand them yet, it is ok…one day we will. I asked, what if we don’t like the sound of birds chirping? According to my daughter, it just means we are going thru something and that maybe one day we will understand that nature just wants to tell us to love and be kind.

If our families are small or even dysfunctional, we can still celebrate gratitude in small doses one day at time. It doesn’t have to be done all on one day called Thanksgiving.  Sometimes friends are our chosen family. The special friends who can see us for who we are and call bullshit when we are acting out of fear and insecurity. Of course, we have to be true to ourselves first before anyone else can be.

Favorite Moments: Thanksgiving Camping @ Lake Somerville Park

 

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Making smores, drinking wine, and enjoying conversations by the bonfire.
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Setting up the Thanksgiving table with the kids.

 

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A love for grilling.
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Best gumbo made with love by family.
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When kids can freely play and make new friends.
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One wish, to grow old together. 

 

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Grateful for these moments with loved ones.

Trip Details:

Destination: Lake Somerville Park in Texas at Birch Creek Unit- Old Hickory, Site #78 and #80. 2 hour road trip from Houston to the campsite. Drove 60 mph or slower due to swaying pop up camper thanks to hub’s rigged bike rack. We are not doing that again.

Campsite: 3 out of 4 campsite units were closed due to the aftermath of Harvey.  Old Hickory is more private with lots of bushes and trees. It is not an open setting where you see your neighbors. Restrooms were moderately clean with warm water for showers.

People:  First time family camping trip for most. 4 -5 families with at least a dozen kids. Loved watching them freely play.

Good Eats:  Potluck with friends. Thanksgiving dinner, BBQ chicken, Gumbo, BBQ pork skewers with vermicelli noodles,  etc.

Unplugged Activities: growing old together, spending quality time with family and friends, eating all day, drinking beer and wine (15% alcohol just delicious), grilling, fishing, smores, biking, trail walking, bonfire, kids freely playing and making new friends.

Lessons Learned: no racking bikes on the back of pop up, disposable plates/utensils means less work, rain boots and gloves would be helpful if washing dishes in the cold, space heaters needed for 40 degree nights, continue to improve on packing less.

With gratitude,
Samantha

 

 

 

Brazos Bend State Park: Our First Pop-Up Camper

Hello My Dears,

Hope you all had a great weekend. We had a spontaneous outdoorsy kind of weekend here. Drove from Houston to Willis, Texas to meet the sweetest retired couple who was selling their 2011 Coachman Pop-Up Camper. Purchased it at 1 pm and arrived at Brazos Bend State Park campsite at 4 pm on the same day…eager beavers.

Felt like we were leaving one world to another, entering into slow living.

Upon check-in, we realized we had booked the wrong dates online but luckily there was ONE site remaining…site #219 was meant to be ours. Learned that Fridays and Saturdays are usually the busiest camping days, so thank you angels for giving us a spot.

It took us about 20 minutes to convert our little pop up into a cozy home. The design is super smart and uber cute.

First things first, cheers! We poured this in our yeti, so don’t call the camp captain/host on us please. Did you know there are camp captains/hosts onsite? I think their job varies from campground to campground, but most do light grounds maintenance.

Bonfires are one of my favorites. Too bad our trip was impromptu so we didn’t have any smores to pack. For sure next time!

If you want to check out Brazos Bend State Park one day, here is how we did our online reservation: visited here and selected “campsite” for facility type and “Brazos Bend” for park and selected our preferred check-in/out dates. We selected electricity and water option for $20 per night which included a bbq pit and picnic table.

Good Things:

  • Restrooms and showers were fairly clean for a park. There is actually warm/hot water for a normal shower (compared to Huntsville when only cold water was available).
  • Each spot is spacious and clean.
  • By 10 pm quiet time.

Looking forward to discovering what #camplife (or more like #glamping) is all about.

With gratitude,
Samantha

Giving and Receiving Without Judgement

Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued – when they can give and receive without judgement. – Brene Brown

Hello My Dears,

It’s mid Autumn in November already and with just a little less than two months remaining for 2017, makes me want to spend my days ahead giving and receiving without judgement. To walk with a lighter spirit attracting and spreading more peace and love.

A few daily practices to consider:

Meet Others Where They Are At. A concept I learned from attending Eckhart Tolle’s retreat earlier this year, is to meet people exactly where they are at, not where we want them to be or think they should be. It does not mean we do not have boundaries or need to agree with the decisions and actions of others. It just means, without judgement meet people with compassion. Life has a way of teaching us until we are ready to learn. We all have our own struggles and will each learn at our own time.

Give With An Open Heart. As Brene Brown states, until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help. I have learned over the years that accepting help just means that I can give help without judgement. Also, trusting that I will somehow pay it forward gives me courage to accept help with an open heart.

“Judgement is a mirror reflecting insecurity of the person making judgement.” – Essential by The Minimalist

What are additional ideas on how to give and receive without judgement?

With gratitude,
Samantha

Belonging To the Present

Everything you need you already have. You are complete right now, you are a whole, total person, not an apprentice person on the way to someplace else. Your completeness must be understood by you and experienced in your thoughts as your own personal reality.  – Wayne Dyer

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A strong sense of self.
Belonging to the present.
There’s beauty in truth.
Love of family.


Hello My Dears,

I finally got my fine line botanical tattoo on my left inner forearm. It was an early birthday present courtesy of my coolest husband. I have always loved the natural elegance of botanical flowers, but never knew exactly why.  Then recently, I stumbled across the definition of contemporary botanical art as “belonging to the present moment” and  just knew it was the right time.

Today in my forties, the reason for getting inked is so different. It comes from a place of strength, artistic expression, and a desire to spread love. A way to make my soul visible. The flowers represent my little family, the foundation of my happiness. As Mother Teresa said, if you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family. I truly believe the love we have for ourselves and each other will continue to grow and become contagious to those around us. I also got my Ironman mdot touched up as a reminder that “anything is possible” and that I am stronger than I could ever imagine.

A huge shout out to tattoo artist, Will Hardcastle @allyoursoul at Red Shores Tattoo Co.  I had the best experience thanks to Will’s timely responses and patience each step of the way during the design and tattoo session. Thank you for sharing your creative talents and art with the world.

P.S. Stephanie W., I am so glad you texted me Red Shores instagram. You rock.

With gratitude,
Samantha

Lots of self discovery in Bellville, Texas

I run to feel complete, to feel alive, to feel happy, and to feel free. I run to visit beautiful places, to overcome my fears…and to remind myself, and others, that our limits may not be where we think they are.  -Chrissie Wellington

Experience: Blazing 7s Trail Run (50k)
People: Teamiam and Ultra Community
Place: Bellville, Texas
Time: September 30, 2017

I am humbled by what we can accomplish individually and collectively.
Obstacles create opportunities for creative problem solving and teamwork.
Courage grows when we want to take care of the person next to us.
Surround yourself with positive people who are doers and continue to inspire.

There is more to be discovered passed our limits.
It all starts with a commitment to train and work hard.
Curiosity ignites action.


I completed my first ultra marathon with amazing friends. Here are my notes to share since it helps me process the day better…

About Blazing 7s

The Blazing 7s Trail Runs is held at the beautiful 7iL ranch just outside of Bellville Texas. The ranch has been open for more than 5 generations and opened in 1999 for public use. The facility is over 1150 acres with water/electric and RV hookups as well. The course is a mix of single track, open meadow running and some small creek crossing along the property. The course is non technical trail and very soft footing. Great medals, free camping and TROT supported race.

3 Key Takeaways:

1. A brutal race for my first 50K trail ultra marathon

Obstacle Course: The course was described as a “non-technical” race. What does that really mean? Well let me tell you..it means you will be introduced to lots of sand dunes (minus the beach view), sticker plants (attacking all day long), impassable creek crossings (who even does that?) , cow/horse shit (calling out “poop! all day long), long horn cattle siting (thank god I didn’t see it), etc.

2. Love my Tailwind + EFS + hydration pack 

Nutrition: I mixed 1 scoop of EFS-PRO Drink  + 2 scoops of Tailwind (naked flavor) per 24 ounce bottle. One bottle lasted about 1.5 hours or so for me. I did not have to eat much at all. I also pre-mixed 4 packages and put them in my hydration pack.

Hydration Gear:HydraQuiver Double Barrel Hydration Pack helped me stay on top of my nutrition and hydration. Plenty of storage room and best of all no chafing. Looks kinda cool too!

Attire: Lululemon sports bra and speed shorts, Brooks running shoes, and visor felt comfortable the entire run. Super glad my husband gave me compression socks race morning, which helped make the high grassy areas and sticky plants more tolerable. Next time, I will test the compression socks that cover my ankle and legs.

Tips: Bring sunscreen, bug spray, extra socks and shoes in case you have to walk in muddy creeks. Race director Rob advised, do not leave the aid stations until you feel good. If not, you will set yourself up for a bad experience. Truth.

3. Misery loves company

Met a new friend named Rosa on the course, who was doing her second 25k. She thought we were crazy for doing a 50k on our first try, which in hindsight that would have been smarter, but l don’t think we would have done any different. =)  At some point during the race, there was caution tape on the ground, which we later learned it meant to pay attention and turn inward. Well our happy asses decided to go outward until we heard Rosa screaming for us to stop. Oh my gah, she saved us many extra miles that day. Thanks Rosa!

And can I tell you…all the volunteers at the aid station had to set up early race morning and some working multiple shifts until the following day. They were amazing people. I greatly appreciated their energy and support. Favorites on repeat: pickle juice, ice, lays chips, and trail mixes.

No one was left behind and we all finished before sunset. So many giggles as well as moments of silence along the way. This was a humbling experience of self determination and teamwork. The connections, stories, and adventures shared are what really matters. Stay humbled and kind.

Until the next adventure….

With gratitude,
Samantha

A Shift Within

Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. – Eckhart Tolle

Today, I feel low in energy, sadness, numb, and pain from the recent natural disasters and suffering in our society.  I am saddened by how mentally insane some of us have become. The question is why are we so angry and unhappy inside at the core, that we would hurt others and end our own lives? It is pain wanting to inflict more pain.

I feel helpless but at the same time empowered to do more. To gather all the strength from within, to have the difficult conversations and challenge everyone to shift our focus within. How can we be healthier human beings from the inside out and continue to spread love and kindness? The first step is to face our own truth and focus on our individual struggles and pain. Have more compassion for ourselves before trying to change others and things we may not be able to control.

A shift within requires strength. Most may think you are weak or ignoring external issues. Instead, you are building the foundation of self compassion so you have the strength to spread love and kindness to others.

No one person has all the answers, but we can each do something positive. Today, I write.

With gratitude,
Samantha

The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle

The most popular spiritual author in the United States. Depressed for much of his life until age 29, when he underwent an “inner transformation”. Spent several years wandering “in a state of deep bliss” before becoming a spiritual teacher.

The Power of Now

  • Inner Peace: exist in the present, the now. Worrying about the past and future has no benefit since everything happens in a continuous stream of present moments.
  • Pain:  is self-created inner resistance to external things that you cannot change which creates a negative feeling. It can become “pain body” where part of the self needs pain to survive because it becomes an essential part of you. You are afraid to let go of the pain.
  • Ego: stops you from being happy. Destructive part of the human mind. Ego wants to be the most important part of you and with gained control it will bring much suffering.
  • Separate From Your Mind: and focus on your body. Your mind brings up pain from memories of the past and anxiety for the future. Shift our focus from the mind to the body.
  • No Judgement: Observe the mind without judgement. Be fully conscious of your mind and the power it has over you. “What will my next thought be?” It takes awhile before the next clear thought arrives. Observe without judgement and listen to your body. Expect the voices in your head and make no attempt to follow the advice.
  • Permanent Alertness: active waiting means your attention is focused on the now.
  • Relationships: ego of the “normal” person feeds on problems while  the person who is present, calm and at peace is experienced as a threat. Darkness cannot survive near the light. If you can live in the present you’ll be able to stop judging, criticizing or trying to change your partner and instead see him or her as an independent person. Inner peace that being present brings enables you to hear your partner without judging.
  • Sadness and Pain is Unavoidable: when experiencing something traumatic, which causes you real pain, you can just accept it for what it is. Allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel without guilt or shame. Accepting instead wishing things were different.
  • Not Passive Life: inner peace is not worth much if your outer life situation is bad. Living in the present can give you clarity and strength to change for the better. Instead of creating problems you are solving problems.