Random thoughts

My birthday, a Cardinal, a sweet deer, and Florida alligators

This past Monday was my birthday and sadly I wasn’t feeling quite like myself. That didn’t stop me from spending the morning with an old friend and doing something that I love; enjoying nature and documenting what I see through my camera.

A high school friend of mine is planning her step-daughters wedding at O’Leno State Park in September and she needed to go out there to see the dining hall and pick some cabins for the guest houses. She knows that I love hiking and photography so she invited me and my camera along to hang out with her.

O’Leno State Park is located in High Springs, Florida – about an hour from Jacksonville. It includes a portion of the Santa Fe River and is home to a number of wildlife including deer, turtles, alligators, squirrels, and numerous birds.

There are several hikes throughout the park, but we chose the river hike which is about a mile and a half loop that takes you along the Sante Fe River, to a large sink where the river simply disappears underground. It was a gray and overcast day and as I said I wasn’t really feeling well, but in spite of that, it was a nice walk. Even though the water at the sink was covered in a thick layer of green algae, it didn’t seem to bother the turtles that were hanging out on the logs floating around.

In addition to the turtles optimistically waiting for the sun to come out and warm their dark green shells, we saw numerous squirrels, a few birds, including Cardinals, and a cute little deer chowing down on some breakfast. I spent the better part of the day fearful that we were going to come face to face with a gator, but if I am being honest, I am a little disappointed that we didn’t.

Below you will find a few pictures from the day.

O'Leno State Park February 2015

Suspension Bridge over the Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-14

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-5

Such a pretty little deer, checking us out before going back to her breakfast.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-6

I’m not exactly sure what these things are called, they aren’t really tree trunks and they aren’t saplings…

O'Leno State Park February 2015-7

Don’t go swimming out there!

O'Leno State Park February 2015-10

A turtle hanging out at the sink.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-8

Turtle teeter-totter

O'Leno State Park February 2015-9

Turtles at the sink. This log just slowly spun around all day long.

O'Leno State Park February 2015-12

2 Cardinals and a squirrel walk into a bar…

O'Leno State Park February 2015-13


O'Leno State Park February 2015-3

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-2

Sante Fe River

O'Leno State Park February 2015-4

Tree overhanging the river

O'Leno State Park February 2015-16

Are you looking at me?

O'Leno State Park February 2015-17

A Monument at O’Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida

O'Leno State Park February 2015-15

The Dining Hall, O’Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida

All-in-all, it was a great way to spend a birthday. Have you ever visited a state park? Where’s your “happy place”?

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to Love Myself

There’s a movement afoot, and it’s one that has been a long time coming. It’s a movement for overweight people to love themselves, regardless of their size.

I have disliked myself and lacked self-confidence for a very long time, all because of my weight. I have been working on learning to like myself for years; surrounding myself with some very positive and loving people who accept me for who I am and lift me up when I am low.

What I have come to realize is just because I wear plus-sized clothes, it does not mean that I am stupid or ugly or unable to be successful in other areas in my life. My weight is only one of many characteristics of who I am, like hair color or eye color, it does not define me or negate the fact that I am a caring, empathetic, and open-minded person.  Nor does it mean that I should live in a world of shame where I should stay hidden in the shadows of life, wearing a muumuu and waiting until I am thin to be happy with myself. I can wear trendy, cute clothes and participate in activities I enjoy and anyone who has an issue with it, that’s their problem, not mine. I don’t have to carry that negativity or allow it to make me feel as if I am not worthy.

By no means does this mean that I am not going to work to get healthier; just as I will not stop learning new things because I am an adult. Just because I am learning to like who I am does not mean that I can’t also work to improve myself.  I realize there are areas in which I need improvement, but now I can embrace that and accept that those areas and that lack of perfection is what makes me human instead of hating myself because of it, and by liking who I am, that will make it easier and more enjoyable to take care of myself.

I now understand that you don’t have to wait until you get to your destination to love yourself, it is possible and also very important to love yourself where you are in your journey.

Categories: health, Life, Musings, nobodyshamecampaign, selflove, weightloss | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Eve

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and as anyone who’s ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner knows, it’s not a day of rest, but rather the day to do much of the baking and cleaning to prepare for the big day.

Today, we will make cheeseballs, dips, pies, cakes, and boil the eggs for deviled eggs. To be honest, those are my favorite things, the appetizers and desserts, everything else is just gravy (see what I did there:)).

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Categories: Musings | Leave a comment

What are you reading?

Recently, I received a Facebook post asking me to list ten books that had the most impact on me, but that’s difficult because any book I read impacts me in some way. So, I decided to post my favorite books and a list of books that are on my to-be-read list here to share with all of you.


1) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

4) The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

5) Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

6) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

7) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

8) The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

9) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

10) Sarah by Orson Scott Card

To-Be Read:

1) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

2) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

3) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

4) 1984 by George Orwell

5) The complete works of Flannery O’Connor

6) Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

7) The Complete Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

8) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

9) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

10) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

So there are ten of my favorites and a list of books on tap to read. There are many more on the to-be-read list, but I thought ten was a good place to stop.

Feel free to write down your list in the comments below, I would love to add your recommendations to my list!

Categories: Books, Jacksonville, Life, Musings, NaBloPoMo2014, Reading | Tags: , , | Leave a comment


Many of my friends are posting daily thankful posts on Facebook to celebrate November and the American holiday of Thanksgiving, so I thought I would provide a list to share what I am thankful for this year.

1) I am thankful for my two daughters who challenge me to be a better Mom, friend, and teacher – every day.

2) I am thankful that my Mom and Dad have opened up their home to let my family move in until we are able to get established again.

3) I am thankful my parents are still around

4) I am thankful that I have a husband who puts up with my lack of self-confidence, crazy mood swings, hair-brained ideas, bigger-than-life dreams and goals, and keeps me grounded, even when I don’t want to be.

5) I am grateful for friends who I know will always be there, no matter how far away or how infrequently we see and speak to each other.

6) I am grateful for social media that allows far-away friends to feel closer than they are.

7) I am grateful that I am able to wake up every morning and take my kids to school, complete mundane errands, and, if I choose, do household chores like laundry and making dinner, without assistance.

8) I am grateful for four dogs who love me unconditionally.

9) I am grateful for one cat who loves me when she feels like it.

10) I am grateful that I have experienced love and loss, and have a better appreciation for the ‘good times’.

What are you grateful for?

Categories: Gratitude, Life, Musings, NaBloPoMo2014 | Tags: | Leave a comment

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