What are You Searching for Today?

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

What are You Searching for Today?

In my search for Florida’s best burger, I am meeting some of the most fantastic people. I am learning that when you put yourself out there and challenge yourself in new areas, you will find you have more in common with people from all walks of life than you thought. For an introvert like me, connecting with people is not an easy task, but I am trying and finding that I enjoy sharing stories and a few laughs and tips on where the next great burger may be hiding. I have sampled a few burgers recently, and I wish I could say they were worth writing about, but those I have met have made the experience worth the trip.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

We discover so much about ourselves when we embark on a new adventure. I now know that I enjoy the exciting décor of an establishment as much as the food. When the restaurant is well set and shows taste and quality, you can almost always be sure that the food will be of good quality. Fantastic artwork that doesn’t scream “garage sale,” clean, well-kept furniture, and an atmosphere that smells and feels inviting makes for a delightful experience. Tie all this up with friendly staff, and smiling faces are sure to walk through the door. Happy customers share fun stories, and that’s important. Especially now after people have felt confined during the pandemic to spread a little joy is a beautiful thing!

Search for the opportunity to share a smile today!

Searching for Florida’s Greatest Burger

I have tremendous respect for vegetarians and vegans and often wish I had the self-discipline to fall in line with their example. Alas, I am a passionate lover of the all-American burger and am drawn like a moth to a flame to every burger joint, restaurant, diner, and roadside food truck with a meat menu. I’m not fond of the “fast-food burger” as it has that frozen, rubbery, I’ll never be an original taste that always comes back to haunt you two hours later while you’re still trying to digest it properly. I love a burger that is not only pleasing to look at but is an enjoyable experience, from the first savory bite to the final mouth wiping. When I’ve finished consuming it, I want a burger that I still feel good about myself as a human being.

Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on Pexels.com

Eating a good burger, “the best burger,” should be a rite of passage for meat-eaters, and finding that “best burger” is a mission I am more than happy to accept. I will gladly take the time to travel to the most recommended burger places in Florida and sample burgers from classic to creative. Going the distance and then reviewing and reporting to the best of my humble ability will be a pleasure. I hope to not only delight in some of the most wonderful burgers but to meet the men and women behind the excellent craft of preparing them.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

BON APPETIT

When Opportunity Knocks

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What do you want to be when you grow up? Remember that question? I’m still asking it of myself at 47 years old. There are so many possibilities for what to do today and who we will be tomorrow, but I believe in destiny. I feel our legacy is within us from the moment of conception. Some learn their way early, and others don’t realize their purpose until their final moments. Perhaps it all has to do with the choices we make; we may unknowingly be opening and closing doors due to a lack of vision and clarity. The idea that we don’t have all the answers is both comforting and sad because time is precious, and the hourglass slows down for no one.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am confident that I want to love and be loved. I know beyond all reason that I was born to write and travel the world. So far, life has not dealt me the perfect hand, and I must play to the best of my ability with the cards I hold. Head up, eyes open, ears tuned, and mind alert to the next knock-knock-knock on the door of possibility.

I look forward to the day opportunity comes looking for me. I’m ready, willing, and able to answer that door and always and forever learning in the meantime.  

Out of the Ashes

I’ve been in a bit of a slump for a while, and more days than not, it feels
like my life has been under a massive pile of ashes. These ashes are the
product of my past and a bit of my present. I cannot use the pandemic as an
excuse because my downward spiral began well before Covid 19. I have looked for
answers in all directions and usually end up with more questions and
frustrations. Examining my daily roles and actions, I try to find that “something”
that will pull me out of the drab place and give me back my spirit, my energy,
my smile. Searching and researching have become exhausting, and I never really
know what I am looking to discover. I’m stuck and unhappy but not depressed.

I have gone the medical route and explored the possibility of the most
likely issue, depression. That adventure turned up a whole lot of (things to
try at home) but not depression. I am now grateful for Yoga, meditation, and
quiet walks, as each has become a valuable part of my life, but it’s not
enough. There is something more, and I try to find it every day. Friends and
family always have recommendations like supplements, diets, or acupuncture.
I will admit to giving these ideas a try and realizing they are not the fix. It’s
in me, in my personal DNA, and even as a woman of faith, I am at a loss. The
idea that I will always be this way is not alright with me.

Recently, I have done some severe reevaluating of every area and relation of my life and have come to a possible conclusion. I’m stuck because I’m scared to be my true self. I have been in the same administrative job for almost twelve years, and what I do and who I am in that position couldn’t be further from my authentic self. I am, at my core being a creative person. I love to write, and I have dreamed of becoming a writer for longer than I can remember. I have a degree in Communication, and I’ve done nothing with that gift. I made one small, failed attempt at writing and self-publishing a book, and it went down the toilet faster than I could flush. My view is that I’m stuck because I haven’t the courage to be anything other than an administrative specialist.

I want to write things that make people smile and provoke positive thought. I dream of traveling and seeing places and having experiences I never believed possible for an introvert like me. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for my job. It pays the bills, and who doesn’t need benefits and job security, right? I find myself asking more and more often, though at what cost? Just how high is the price tag on the paycheck-to-paycheck life? I don’t want to be stuck in an unfulfilling life simply because it pays the bills. We all work hard and do our best for those we love, but we deserve to be happy too. I want to be happy; I want to travel, I want to write, and I want to laugh again just because I can.

 

 

Maybe all this venting sounds completely selfish and childish. I’m sure that the right thing for me to do financially is to stay put, do my job efficiently, and remain thankful for all I do have in life. It is the right thing to do, and those around me benefit from my being grateful and responsible. I only wish somehow there was a place in my life for me where I fit and find purpose.  Perhaps someday, one door will close, and another will open, and my life will feel a little more like home and less like a pile of ashes. Thanks for listening 🙂

-Julia

The Writing Canvas

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

A writer is not merely a talented person with words or even one who speaks eloquently; a writer is a chameleon and an illusionist of human communication. One who writes whether for love, or a living, or both is a gifted human being whose view of the universe is that of a kaleidoscope. The direction is ever-changing and always unique. This view, accompanied by mindfulness of culture, language, non-verbal cues, emotional and physical expression, and empathy, allows this individual to observe, listen, and record. Writers understand how to skillfully labor through imagination, glean from life, and create something brand new. Using one’s gifts and abilities to build stone by stone bridges and foundations of connection between people is one of the great intentions of written communication. 

Merriam-Webster defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Communication. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved August 10, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communication. The delivery of ideas, thoughts, emotions and absolute truths from one person to another is the surface of communication and the very soil the writer searches for buried treasure. To put into words the message that must go forth, perfect it, and send it out is to trust that the receiver will understand it. 

It can be said that written communication is priceless. Many pieces of robust documentation are so tremendous and valuable that humanity cannot attach a price tag. Culturally these written documents are preserved and stored due to their significance. When a writer puts something down in word form, we are sure this information is worthy of being read and understood by others. If the piece is private such as a diary or journal, that person may be saying these thoughts need recording for reflection. One cannot discount the value of written communication. What one thinks, feels, experiences, and learns should come alive in the written word and be available for sharing. 

The message’s delivery must be pretty straightforward and presented in an appropriately expressive form to communicate effectively through writing. When a person reads a particular piece, they seek to be informed, educated, entertained, emotionally touched, or somehow connected. People need emotional and social intimacy, so when they are affected by what a writer presents, it can be very personal. To experience a connection with what a written piece offers is one of the many reasons people pursue reading for pleasure. An individual can redefine a single moment in time, reinvent their day, or discover a whole new world of possibilities. There is no limit to the imagination or the power of suggestion when individuals are fully engaged in what they are experiencing. 

The writer writes for this reason; to touch that place deep inside the reader and connect with them. What the writer is doing by performing their craft is inviting all to come, read, learn, understand, and be open to the enlightening and unknown. This invitation is not an easy one for every writer to propose. When a person of the arts steps out and presents their work for the world, it is anxiety and hopefulness beyond comparison. There is a purpose to the art of writing, and when that purpose manifests itself, there is no greater satisfaction. To have one’s work go out and return void is disheartening and disappointing. Writers must learn to overcome many levels of disappointment and even rejection; it teaches and strengthens the inner person. All artists know that they do not know everything, and there is always much to learn. 

There is an appropriate quote that has looked many writers in the eyes and stated the truth perfectly. “To be a serious writer requires discipline that is iron-fisted. It’s sitting down and doing it whether you think you have it in you or not. Everyday. Alone. Without interruption.” -Harper Lee 

The writer, like all other hopeful professionals, must be disciplined and self-controlled. Writing requires hours of practice and commitment. The level of dedication to the art of writing is worthy of acknowledgment. One does not take lightly the amount of “self” invested in this art of communication. The writer’s labor happens with passion, meticulous focus, and with intent. Perhaps the project is not always a labor of love but connecting with people, understanding, and being understood. This communication act cannot happen through artificial intelligence or preprogrammed applications; it requires a soul, a human soul. Technology will always have its place and be ever-transforming lives and improving the way humans function, but many gifts and talents will always be best enjoyed and understood when experienced through the human spirit. The authentic writer is a unique individual whose imagination is perfectly imperfect and whose thoughts cannot be silenced. This gift is like a fire trapped in the bones of the untamed; it absolutely must be released. Some may wonder if writing is a dying craft and believe that books are becoming extinct. One could say this; nothing can die if it is loved and remembered. A thing cannot become extinct if it continues to exist in some form. Many tens of thousands of people who love reading and writing and treasure the beauty of every form of literature will never allow this gift to pass away. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Every writer who puts their hand to the pen is an artist. The paper, the screen, or the spoken word, is the canvas on which the artist creates. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication and will always have a place. When moments of doubt arise as they will, the writer must remember that story inside them must come to life. The universe is the canvas, and the story needs to be heard. Tell it with every fiber of the human soul; write it! 

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

–Franz Kafka

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

–Robert Louis Stevenson

Changes of Life

            There is not always a defining moment when a woman realizes something is different within her; when everything is changing, and you have no power to stop it from happening. As a woman, you spend years discovering yourself, and not long after your season of spring and beautiful vitality, things slowly begin to change. As I learned to recognize these changes to my life, body, and emotions, I felt a little betrayed. I told my season, “I have only just arrived and become comfortable, and I am not ready to transition yet,” Life and time continue to move forward, whether we are ready or not. Not every woman prepares for the change of life; there is no natural cushion for the course.

            When I reflect on my childhood, adolescence, and early adult years, I am shocked by how little women communicate with one another about this process. Most of us do not prepare our daughters, sisters, or friends. It is almost like an unspoken prison sentence, and most women suffer it in silence. I come from a large family of females, all of whom have succeeded in these changes and never spoke of them to me nor each other to the best of my knowledge. My mother, sisters, and ladies I have been close friends with have never brought up the topic of Perimenopause or Menopause or had a thoughtful conversation with me or in my presence. I simply understood that this process existed, and every woman experienced it to some degree at a later point in her life.

            It is relatively simple to acquire beneficial information as doctors, nutritionists, and wellness practitioners share educational and clinical studies via the internet. The resources are almost endless. The world of female medicine has expanded, and doctors are more open to working in the realm of hormonal balancing and helping women transition through Perimenopause and Menopause. Women can talk to their doctor or wellness practitioner, which is lovely, but we need to speak with one another as well. Women need to be open about their health and well-being with each other. There is so much we can learn from timely and straightforward conversations with the women in our lives.

            Having a pure and honest discussion with other females in your life can open a world of knowledge. We, women, are more impressive than we give ourselves credit for, and to share the wealth of time and lived experience within us is a genuine gift. Communication is a lifeline and a blessing, and as we learn, change, grow, and are occasionally remolded, it is our responsibility to pass on that precious legacy. Transparency amongst the female gender is beautiful. As each of us reaches out to another in response to a heartfelt cry for much-needed leadership, we are laying down our stone on the path of future generations. The journey we build together must be clear and so much stronger than those of previous generations. The world is ever-changing, and our daughters’ needs may often be very different, or at a level, we’ve never explored.

            These days I find myself in regular conversation with my daughters about each new feeling and permanent shift in my life. I laugh even as I write these words because I am fully aware that my girls are beyond tired of hearing about “me and my transition,” but as bothersome as it may seem to their young adult minds, I know I am teaching them. It is with love that I speak openly and honestly not only about the physical changes that come with age but the emotional and spiritual journey as well. Age is not always kind to us, so we must be kind to ourselves and one another. I tell my girls that someday in the very distant future, they will wake up to a world that I am no longer a part of, and as they take the necessary steps toward a destination paved with love, my words will bring comfort.

Discovery is more than just an eye-opening experience; it is an opportunity to create change.

-Julia Ray

Defining Her

A powerful woman is a beautiful woman, and her confidence is radiant and magnetic.

Women have always been amazing without question, and history teaches that women of every walk of life are strong enough to accomplish anything the universe brings before them. There is nothing in this life a female cannot overcome if she so chooses.

A woman is the sound of the crashing ocean and an unforgettable alluring scent in every room. She is the light and presence that makes all the difference wherever she may go, and even her smile commands attention.

Women are, first and foremost, dynamic creatures of illusion. We have the gift of allowing the world to see us as a goddess; beautiful, graceful, whole, and unstoppable.

While these traits are ours and always alive within us, the illusion is behind the goddess, moments of hurt, pain, and exhaustion. We never let the familiar world look beyond the goddess into the human soul. It is this ability that makes us so powerful and so perfectly wonderful. Women love so wholly and are willing receivers as well of love that is honest. Mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, and extended loved ones; women are the sweet kisses from the all-powerful divine to the most lovely universe.

Fashion Forward

The days of the runway fashion power are far from over. Scrumptious ideas and trending designs are steadily rolling through time. Sadly, if we are not careful enough to lift our eyes from the meaningless absurd tik tok on our latest iPhone, we will miss the opportunity to savor it. It’s true, fashion trends rise and fall very quickly, but that’s no reason to neglect them altogether. It is perfectly well for one to go about a day in a life while giving proper credit and attention to the season’s newest additions. It also shows character to acknowledge the genius behind the design. There is talent invested in what we wear and how we wear it. Glamorous or comfortable from start to finish, the designers’ brilliance and skilled teams are pretty remarkable.

Legends such as Coco Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gianni Versace, and Christian Dior have successfully paved the journey for our up-and-coming designers of fashion and beauty. The runway has not crumbled; my friend, it has expanded and been elevated to new and exciting levels of quality and grit. One must only put away the idea that all life is lived online, and clothes are a simple side note. Your presentation, the care you invest in your life decisions speaks volumes about who you are and the value you place on yourself. Look to quality and longevity when building your wardrobe your self-worth will thank you.

Universal Skin Care

Universal Skin Defense

The skin we live in won’t last forever. It ages and can fall victim to the environment, what we eat, makeup, and unseen toxins that live among us. Fresh, clean, healthy skin from head to toe doesn’t come without a price. The care of our skin requires time, effort, and a little tender love and care. We are all aware of the importance of sunscreen, but there are other benefits to a quality sunscreen that promote health and vitality for our skin. Sunscreen protects against the severely harmful UVA and UVB rays; this is true. It’s also one of the most effective anti-aging products one can count on every day. I’m not saying a good bottle of sunscreen is the fountain of youth or anything, but it certainly does prevent the sun from turning someone into the crypt keeper before their time.

We are given one life to live and only one body in which to live it. We must make self-care a priority. How we care for our health; our bodies produce a difference in how our bodies and appearance respond. Quality skin care begins inside, and of course, we must be mindful of what we eat, drink, and the supplements we consume. People also need to understand that our skin is delicate and must be protected and nurtured to the best of our ability. Using products that are clean and free of harsh chemicals is ideal and will be incredibly beneficial—remembering when it comes to makeup, less is more, and a fresh face is a beautiful face. Love yourself, be good to yourself and take care both inside and out, and your skin will reflect the very best of who you are.

Good morning, Sunshine

Spring is the loveliest of all seasons; do you agree? I woke up this morning tired and disheveled as usual but soon felt a shift in my attitude. My spirit was lifted, and I began to feel energized from within. I have a gratefulness today and a desire to share, to be generous. A few steps around the yard this morning in the warm sun, a cup of peach cobbler tea, and the smell of jasmine flowers blooming never felt so perfectly needed and healing. The kind of healing that only happens in the springtime.

Today is a good day to smile at a few extra people and call that friend you haven’t chatted with in a while. A little spring cleaning and some open windows can make a world of difference in the house, while a lightly scented candle offers the perfect feel of a home. Love is blooming, and kindness on the rise. People desire a deeper connection with people and to build more beautiful relationships. Allow yourself to be a blessing to everyone you come into contact with today and every day. The universe deserves your very best.