Heartitude in the New Year

The Art of Heartitude.

Did I make that word up? It was on my mind as I surfaced from delicious deep sleep on the snow-crisp, cold morning of the newest year to date, 2018.

Heartitude: n., the state of having a heart-felt attitude; a feeling of love; an opening the heart chakra; use of love and compassion in decisions and relationships.

January 1, 2018. Wow.

I slept in this morning—because I could.
Designating January 1st as ‘my day”, I have been taking liberties with my personal choices —what to do, when and how. Freedom is an elixir. A good way to start a year, methinks.

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Not feeling so “seasonally bright”?

Not in the brightest of moods?

Recently, a discussion group that I belong to posed the question: What have you done to bring  joy into your life during times you don’t FEEL joyful?

I’d been wrestling with this lately because cold weather had me feeling over-dressed and frumpy—which in my experience, often leads to weight gain and poor body image. Maybe you can relate.

There must be as many strategies as there are people, but one that works for me is to—Dress the way I want to FEEL —and build on it from there.

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Everywoman–of a certain age

The CHANGE    

Meet my friend, Lola

She’s in her mid-60’s, smack-dab int he middle of the baby boomer generation.   Divorced, she’s accustomed to living alone. She’s happy to be the mother of a good mother.  Deeply involved with her grandkids, she’s enamored beyond belief–who knew?                                                                                                         

She had a successful marriage for approximately 15 years then she experienced a change. Many people call menopause THE CHANGE.  Maybe it is.  But maybe the change is more than hormones in need of replacement.  Maybe THE CHANGE is a change of heart and a change of mind.

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Head too heavy?

Do you sometimes feel that your head is too heavy and your neck is too tight to turn?

Remind your self to use your headrest and take advantage of the support.                         Here’s where a little “self-talk” comes in–be conscious of relaxing the neck muscles that you are not using when you rest your head against something.

In that moment, a release can make all the difference.                                                       Exhale the tension that has built up–really empty your lungs as you sit with your head agains the top of the couch or the backrest of your car–or wherever…

It only takes a few moments to change your situational discomfort.  And the relief becomes worth the effort–believe me.

Don’t confuse stiffness with decrepitude

Don’t confuse stiffness with decrepitude. Turn on some music and dance a little–you’ll soon smooth out your moves and groove.

Just because we are stiff, does not necessarily mean that we are arthritic or “losing it”. When you move and stretch to music, you find a way to unlock those stiff, rigid muscles. Go ahead–try it–you’ll see.

Research shows that music stimulates motor cells (muscles) using a different part of the brain.

During WWI, patients who were shell-shocked and catatonic, began to move and even dance in ways the medical community would not say is possible when they heard familiar music.

Experiencing some polio-effects, I can relate.  When I walk, I seem to have more power and movement possible when I’m grooving to my tunes.

Kindness in the Subway

Ellioto is a mass-transit-kind-of traveler.  He loves the hunt, the economy and the expediency.  So when we travel, taxis and Uber, etc. are considered only when public transport doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes we rent a car but usually we (he) study the maps and figure it out.

Grumpy when the elevators/lifts/escalators aren’t working, I grudgingly pull my weighty luggage and feel quite sorry for myself.

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The Elephant in the Room: terror in the streets

I hesitate to write this post.  As the Good Natured Traveler, I prefer to view the world through rose-colored glasses.  I believe that most of the time, our expectations influence the events that we experience.  Self-fulfilling prophecy.

But in light of the awful events that we have seen and heard around the world, it seems that bad things can happen.  Bad things do sometimes happen.

“Every time you go somewhere, there’s a tragedy, it seems!”, my sister wrote following the Las Vegas, Canadian and French killings this past Autumn.

Is that true?

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Valencia, Spain (yes, like the oranges)

Even the word conjures delight.  Fresh oranges, juiced  with  just a little pulp and big flavor– my mouth is watering, just writing about it.  Orange trees are everywhere– ornamental and useful!

The 3rd largest city in Spain, we came to Valencia because the high temps in Madrid (104`) drove us out.  8-10` cooler, located on the western shore of the Mediterranean, we opted for a sea-breeze.  After packing a bag and riding the bullet train for 2 1/2 hours, our reality took a better turn.

Through Booking.com, we found a last-minute room with a view.  It seemed like it might have been an old boarding-house in the past but it has its own charm with the ever-present marble staircases and a really good restaurant-on premises.  The warmth of the staff softened the spartan rooms which housed the basic necessities– including a 1/2 balcony (if that) with a view.  The view! the view–it’s all about the view!

No air conditioning scared us at first but a fan supplemented the constant breeze quite nicely.


3rd floor stairs however, were a bear for me!  Geesh.  It is worth it , but I work hard–taking it slow, and conserving my trips (no pun intended!) 
(Note: When using a cane on marble, it can be tricky-so it helps to have a rubber tip.)
Neptune Beach seems to attract the physically challenged– I was amazed by how many wheelchairs, motorized and not, cruised the wide, flat, palisade boardwalk.  
Looking it up on the internet, I found that this is a popular resort for those who are walking-challenged.
(Note:  Europeans call the ground level,  “0”, so when we booked our room, we were planning on the 2nd floor and frustrated to find that room #209, alas,  was on the 3rd.)
It is easy to become meditative in places like this.
  • Negative ions soon saturate the the human body,  relaxing the brain’s stress load, allowing the mind to wander and wonder.
  • Sailboats in silent regatta, huddle together as if on secret mission.
  • The marina is filled with upright masts, like naked spires stark against the changing sky.
  • Communities of umbrellas sport their colors like flags staking claim.
  • In the distance, jet skis spew silent wakes, like baby whales spouting water.
  • The breeze, a sultry siren, urges me to stay and play awhile.  I’m easily convinced.
I noticed three specific beach types: 
  1. The quiet morning exercisers– biking, walking and jogging.  They are older, like me, with various degrees of health and levels of performance.  I catch myself thinking, “‘Lookin’ good for our age.”  (oh dear)
  2. Family groups— parents lead, with children tagging behind –while reluctant teenagers are lagging behind.  I’m charmed by how many grandparents  and grandkids engage, hand in hand, in close communication.  It’s a luxury we didn’t seem to have as parents.

Night-life types, loud and boisterous, drinkers and dancers.  They didn’t quiet down until around 4:00 a.m.  We gave it up around 1:00.
Policia cruise regularly; it feels safe here.

Ever an eye for SnaZZy, I love the beach-wear!  Skirt-like, harem pants feel like you are wearing next-to-nothing, stitched in panels, flowing and breezy; Gold is big-lookin’ good with all the redheads over here; maxis, minis; At the beach, almost anything goes (or nearly nothing, in some cases!)  I saw tattoos in places and on types of people that I’d never imagined!


Sand sculptures that took weeks to create,  urge tourists to have a heart and show their appreciation– boardwalk busking, seaside.

I’ve grown accustomed to Spanish meals, enjoying a light breakfast usually of cafe` leche` (coffee with foamy milk) and a carb– such as bread or toast.  Near the Mediterranean, it’s common to top your toast with salsa-like chopped tomatoes and olive oil-or fruit preserves.  ‘Much easier to burn off on your beach-walk than eggs and fried potatoes.



Lunch is served late and large- 2:00 or so- just before Siesta`, so you can sleep off your calories.  This is a great time for the local Paella, cooked with local rice and saffron.



Dinner is late-very late, and moderate by State-side standards.

It stays light later here so eating at 10:00 p.m. sneaks up on you.
We like to eat where the locals do,  so we walked a few blocks off the beach to find a collection of outdoor tables and Spanish speaking patrons.  We weren’t disappointed– we chose a tapas of seafood and veggies , along with locally produced red (tinto) wine, taking a couple of hours  to soak up the ambiance,  along with our meal.
Europe does that to you.

The flood-prone river that once ran through Valencia was diverted to create rice fields, increasing agriculture in the area.  The dried up river bed is now green space with parks and recreation.

And the science museums are ingenious and extraordinary.



My favorite sight-seeing is of Roman (or before) ruins–and there were a few of those, strewn throughout.  Below is the remainder of Roman gates, part of the old wall that surrounded the city.

Taste of Spain

Flashback: On my way to the Dayton International Airport, all packed and ready (I thought) for Spain, I remembered,
                  “Oh no!, I left my iPad charging at home!”.

I immediately called my daughter who sent to me the next day. (FYI:  USPS was way less expensive than UPS.)    After 2 weeks, I learned that it was being held at the Spanish Customs office –and could be there indefinitely.  “What?  Why?”  And then–my cell phone wouldn’t work !

Ellioto even tried to get his Spanish colleagues to intervene–but they got the same results–none!
It seems that Spain is trying to halt the influx items being bought elsewhere (Amazon, eBay, etc) and brought into the country without going through Customs.  “Did I have a receipt stating date of purchase?”  The iPad was 3 years old–and used and rebuilt–no, of course, I didn’t.
 I felt pretty cut-off from the states.  Without my computer, I was on-the-loose with my camera using up all that eager energy to explore a new country.  I found myself living more in the moment rather than writing about it.
For two weeks, Madrid has been under a high-temperature, weather-advisory  (104`).  I  now have a real appreciationfor their afternoon siesta`.


Learning the train routes allowed me to seek refuge in Madrid’s fascinating museums in the blistering daytime heat, located within 2 blocks or so from the Atocha train station.  And Retiro Park is within walking distance as well–a welcome solace with its sprawling gardens, botanical treasures and colors in gay profusion.

Language can be tricky, In downtown Madrid–or near the Atocha Train Station, people tend to know some English–but in the suburbs, where we were staying, not so much.  I’ve done pretty well with gestures and my language app– until the other night, when I thought that I was ordering a vegetarian sandwich.

Instead, I was served chicken-on- white-toast,  with a single tomato slice and a scant piece of iceberg lettuce, slathered in mayo.  When I tried to explain the problem, the waiter picked up the top slice, removed the chicken and slapped the bread back on.   “Ahi`(there)!”
People- watching opened my mind and softened my heart to not only the differences between us–
–but also to the similarities that unite us.