All posts for the month July, 2013

Following My Bliss: Nature’s Bouquet

Published July 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Since my name, Susan, means “lily” in Hebrew, I tend to take pictures of lilies whenever I see them in gardens.  These are from my Nature Meditation at First Unitarian Church.  I simply wanted them to have their own page because they were so beautiful!

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And those were just the lilies!  Here are some other gorgeous blooms:

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Ahhhh…Nature’s Bliss!

Following My Bliss: Nature Meditations Pt 3 (First Unitarian Church of Rochester)

Published July 28, 2013 by Susan Woodward

100_0677First Unitarian has absolutely lovely gardens.  This is an example of one of the flower gardens on the property, and directly opposite this?  A labyrinth! It was a perfect way to come full circle for the day!

100_0693As I walked through this one, I noticed that there were a lot of branches that had fallen into the path.  We’d had a big storm recently.

When I’d walked the first labyrinth of the day, I’d pulled weeds on my way in to symbolize letting go of things from the past that no longer served me.  This time, I removed the branches that were obstacles in my way, something that has been a necessity in the labyrinth of life as well.

100_0678I am so in awe of these gardens!  The grounds are gorgeous and it is difficult to believe that one is in the middle of the city and not on a country estate somewhere.

Like the Tinker Park labyrinth, this one also had a meditation focus in its center…and look what is on one of the stones!100_0681  That is the second time today that a mallard appeared as a totem in the center of a labyrinth!  So I shall go back to the meaning of the mallard/duck and study it more closely.  It seems to be speaking to me.

These are pictures of other parts of the gardens, including the Council Ring, the Peace Cairns, The Hollows, and the Memory Wall.  It’s lovely to know that this bit of beauty and peace is practically in my own back yard!

It was a perfect way to round out a day of Nature Meditations!  I took many picture of the flowers in bloom, especially the lilies, and I am going to place them on a separate page like a bouquet!  🙂  Blessed Be!

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Following My Bliss: Nature Meditations Pt 2 (Corbett’s Glen Park)

Published July 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

100_0615After leaving Tinker Park, I headed to Corbett’s Glen Park… this little gem that is actually alongside the 490 expressway!  The cement wall blocks out the traffic sound, and as I walk along the creek, I swear I am more in Letchworth State Park than in Penfield!

Considering that it seems as if I was entering another realm, I decided to mythologize the experience (why not?).

Before actually getting to the nature trail, you have to walk through this tunnel.  There is a GORGEOUS farm house on the other side just along the trail, and it’s like entering another world.  I considered going through here as crossing the threshold.  I had to step aside as the threshold guardians came through (in a truck…maintenance folks who had been cleaning up the trails).

100_0616This is the view once I have crossed the threshold and entered the new realm.  Almost instantly the traffic noise from the nearby highway disappeared and all I really could hear was the waterfall.  It added to the feeling that I’d left Rochester and found my way into a mystical place.  Does the shape of this opening not look like a keyhole?

I turned toward the farm house to admire its beauty and envy its location, and then i turned toward the path along the creek.  After walking in the direct sun through the labyrinth, hiking in the cool shade of the trees along the water was refreshing.


The creek had several lovely little waterfalls that were absolutely musical.





I made a point of sitting and listening to the music of each of these falls.  Fortunately, there were very few people out that day, so I pretty much had the creek to myself when I wanted to sit.


At one point, I realized that I had stones in my shoes, so I decided to put my feet in the running water to cleanse them.  While I was soaking my toes, I thought about the walk through the labyrinth, especially my meditation about the weeds.  I also noticed bits of those weeds had stuck in my sandals.  This was a perfect time to wash those last bits of things that no longer serve me away!  The water was clear and cool, and even though I only put my feet in, my whole body felt refreshed!

100_0636Like the totem of the duck that I’d thought about from the labyrinth, I was also on the lookout for a totem from my walk.   I sat with my feet in the water and asked any creatures who wanted to come to me to do so.

When I went back to my walk, I noticed a large dragonfly buzz past me.  I asked if I could take his picture, and he very obligingly landed on a nearby leaf!  He even let me take a few shots so as to get a decent one!

I asked him to open his wings, but I guess I was to be content with him simply taking a seat on the leaf for me.  As a matter of fact, I found an entire group of dragonflies (I wonder what that’s called?)  In any case, I’d never seen more that one at a time in my whole life, and here I was seeing more than half a dozen all in one place!

Of course, I had to look up his meaning!

Symbolisms of the Dragonfly


  • Maturity and a Depth of character
    The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

    The traditional association of Dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning to this amazing insect. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life.


  • Power and Poise
    The dragonfly’s agile flight and its ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise – something that comes only with age and maturity.
    The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour,  hover like a helicopter fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and on either side. What is mind blowing is the fact that it can do this while flapping its wings a mere 30 times a minute while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively.

    The awe inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes its objectives with utmost simplicity, effectiveness and well, if you look at proportions, with 20 times as much power in each of its wing strokes when compared to the other insects.  The best part is that the dragonfly does it with elegance and grace that can be compared to a veteran ballet dancer. If this is not a brazen, lazy, overkill in terms of display of raw power, what is?


  • Defeat of Self Created Illusions
    The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it.

    This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.


  • Focus on living ‘IN’ the moment
    The dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life and usually not more than a few months. This adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired. This style of life symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis.

    This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly.


  • The opening of one’s eyes
    The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights. Given almost 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, it symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self. It also in a manner of speaking symbolizes a man/woman’s rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds.

Okay!  So that is definitely food for thought!  And it is appropriate for me on so many levels…and I am feeling blessed to have not only seen them this day, but was able to take a keepsake along with me afterward.  That’s my boon from this place.

As I was returning, I decided to try to be artsy as I reached the threshold once more:

100_0639The leaves symbolize life, and the tendrils are growth.  There is a light awaiting me on the other side of the threshold, and the waterfall is singing goodbye for now.

100_0644Once I got on the other side once more, I asked if there were any last minute creatures who wanted to be photographed, and this guy landed near me.

He’s so cute, how could I resist?  And since he wanted to stop by, he must have had a reason, so I looked up his totem as well:

Blue jays are talkative creatures utilizing a wide range of vocalizations to express their opinions. Indeed, their speech abilities are so advanced, that they are able to mimic other birds and even humans. Blue jay’s have been known to mimic hawk calls as a ploy to lure these birds of prey away from jay’s nests.


Likewise, those with the blue jay as their totem are quite loquacious and have the gift of gab. Common vocations of those with the blue jay as their totem are sales people, lawyers, politicians, public speakers, and teachers.

Interesting.  Click on his picture for more because there certainly is!   I certainly felt that I had been given many gifts today, and it wasn’t even noon yet.  I felt that in order to complete the journey of the day, I needed to visit a second labyrinth.

On to First Unitarian Church!

Following My Bliss: Nature Meditations Pt 1 (Tinker Park Labyrinth)

Published July 23, 2013 by Susan Woodward

When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt very strongly that I needed to get outdoors with my camera, and that I should go to Tinker Nature Park, particularly to the labyrinth there.  I really try to pay attention to my intuition, so I got up, showered, and was out the door within 20 minutes, camera in hand.

Two years ago when I began this blog, I started by writing about how I see my life as a labyrinth with all its twists and turns.  I still do see it that way, and I try to use the labyrinth as a meditation tool as often as I can.  Fortunately, a traveling labyrinth comes to First Unitarian Church on a monthly basis, so I go when I am free.  There are also two local labyrinths that I know of: one in Tinker Nature Park and the other in First Unitarian’s garden.  I made sojourns to both today.

100_0609For today’s meditation, I decided to focus on the words on the sign posted at the entrance to the Tinker Park labyrinth…”Enjoy your journey through life.”

I decided that I was going to focus on my past life on the way into the labyrinth, think about my present at the center, and then think about where my future may take me on the way out.

As I walked, I began to notice how the path was filled with weeds…it hasn’t been kept up all that well.  Many of them were as tall as my knee!   Walking along, I decided to pull the tallest weeds.  Each weed I pulled symbolized something from my past that no longer served me.  I didn’t attach any specific memories…I just said, “This no longer serves me” when I pulled a weed.  Now I couldn’t pull EVERY weed along the way (it would have taken a very long time to do so), just like I cannot pull EVERY experience out of my past; I’d have no past left.

100_0601Is this (fuzzy) picture, you can see some of the standing weeds inside.  It was like that throughout the entire path.  Having no bag to carry the pulled weeds in, I laid them along the outside of the path to dry up in the sun (it certainly was beating down) and blow away.  That way, they return to the Earth.  I thought of the parts of my past I was releasing and decided to let them go into the Earth as positive energy and lessons learned.  Again, nothing specific…just in general.  It was an exercise I’d done under hypnosis several times, but it seemed to bear worth repeating at this time in the physical world.   A very satisfying meditation!

100_0605When I reached the center, I started to think about where I am in my life right now and how my past led me here.  I know that everything that happened in the past was part of how I came to be who I am at this moment, and if I were to go back to change anything, like the butterfly effect, I would most likely not be in this place right now.   I am happy where I am.  This is the stone in the center of the labyrinth, so I decided to look up the meaning of the duck (specifically the mallard…it looked like a mallard to me) as a totem.  This is what I found:

Mallards imprint very easily and are very sociable. They don’t like to be alone. This is something to look at if you have a duck for a totem ~ they reference to the need to be around those of like mind, where you feel comfortable and safe.

So far, so good.

Mallards are symbolic of emotions, as they are associated with the water element. They help in reminding one to take care of their emotional self, to nurture, and be easy on the spirit. They represent being able to handle your emotions with grace and strength. And after spending time with this mallard, I find they teach one to trust their instincts about others..and align yourself with those that have a kind spirit, fostering healthy relationships. (In Feng Shui, Mallards are symbolic for relationships and commitment)

Wow…even closer.  I like this meaning.

On the way out, I paid attention to the pulled weeds lying on the edge of the path.  Each of them was a reminder of how that if those events had not occurred, I would not be on this present path…and I was grateful.

100_0608This is how the labyrinth looked when I exited…fewer standing weeds and the pulled ones waiting to be taken back to the Earth.

I originally thought that I should hike through the entire park (there are other “terrains” in this place: a boardwalk through a marsh, a pond, and a wooded area), but once I finished in the labyrinth I felt called to go someplace where there was water, especially with a waterfall.

Next stop?  Corbett Glen Park…

Following My Bliss: The Sterling Renaissance Faire

Published July 21, 2013 by Susan Woodward

final-website_01                                                     Let’s face it… I love this time period!  Not that I’d want to live there, but it sure is nice to romanticize about gallant knights, the code of chivalry, ladies in waiting, kings, queens, and eating without utensils.  Fun, fun, fun!

It was time for another road trip, and I took advantage of the fact that our blistering heat wave broke with the massive storm last night.  I decided to drive the hour and a half to Sterling, NY for the Renaissance Festival.  My mp3 was loaded with Blackmore’s Night, Loreena McKennitt, and Stone Row (there’s a plug for you, Nick Corallo!), and the music blared from my speakers all the way there…including during my drive thru at Tim Horton’s for coffee!  Once I had my fortification, I was ready for my day trip and some adventure! Huzzah!!

It seems that the rain we’d had in Rochester was slowly wending its way eastward…toward Sterling.  Let’s just say I had a soggy start to the day, and my hair paid the price.  Not that it hadn’t already suffered…I made the mistake of cutting it last week, and I am going through severe remorse.  Fortunately for me, the hair grows fairly quickly, so I should be in a better place in a few months.  Until then…Rocky the Squirrel it is!  :-/

The best part of the Renaissance Faire is that it is a place to leave your ego in the parking lot and join in the fun.  It especially helps when you attend these things by yourself and don’t know anyone…or better yet, no one knows you!  🙂

I didn’t take any pictures earlier in the day due to the rain.  I didn’t want to ruin my camera.  Somehow, though, those who allowed the rain to wash away the ego seemed to be having the most fun.  Those huddled under umbrellas were complaining about the waste of money to come that day.  Not to mention that the storm the previous night knocked out all the power, so some services (like the “modern” bathrooms) were limited.


It’s much more fun to play in the rain!  It took me a little while to let go of my shyness (I can hear some of you choking from here!), but once I got rolling, that was it.  I was in it for the day.

I had fully intended on renting a costume until I found out how much they cost to do so.  Sadly, the one I’d made got ruined, so I shall have to procure another before next summer so that I can return in style (with a better hairstyle to boot…).

After about an hour, the rain stopped…huzzah!  That’s when I went to see the DaVinci Brothers Show and got selected to be Julianna Potato in an Italian opera.   Yup…that was fun!

Faire 1I am…Julianna Potato…

Faire 11 With my “one true love” Phil Prosciutto (yes, it seems that Bob DaVinci chose a real pair of hams for this one!) Faire 3Working the Madonna look…

Faire 4My proud “Papa Potato”

Faire 5My knight on his shining…hog

Faire 6With our fair director, Bob DaVinci

Faire 8Ham…

Faire 9and cheese…

Faire 10and more ham.

Far too much fun!  But what could top these lovely pictures?  A video, you say?  Huzzah!

Of course, I had to make the usual Ren Faire rounds, including the Don Juan and Migel show Faire 17 Faire 16

and Shakespeare!  This year they performed an abridged version of The Tempest.

 Faire 18Prospero and Miranda

Faire 19Ferdinand and Ariel

Faire 23Prospero, Trinculo, Ariel, and Stephano

Faire 20Caliban

Other fun included get picked (huzzah!  Picked for two shows in one day!) for a hypnosis show!  Apparently, I had a great time…the best show I ever slept through!  Seriously, though, I can remember what we had to do even if I still felt compelled to do what was suggested…including drinking Happy Juice and getting happier and happier by the shot, singing Happy Birthday to the Queen while dancing, yelling at the guy sitting next to me for “pinching” me (he really didn’t but it sure felt like he did!), and then when I complained that the young man (who’d been told to laugh harder the more I yelled at him) was about my kids’ ages, the hypnotist suggested that I was a cougar and to flirt with him.  Again, too much fun!  🙂  No pics of that show, though!

And there was the food (they ran out of turkey legs by the time I wanted to spend the $8.50 to buy one…the Universe’s way of telling me that it was too expensive).   I did get salt potatoes and “balls of fire” (meatballs on a stick topped with Frank’s Hot Sauce) and washed it down with Redd’s Apple Ale (which I seriously need to find in some store near me).

Faire 14There were people in fun costumes (and they must have been dying during that heat blast last weekend!),

Faire 13funny costumes,

Faire 12and just downright cool costumes!  (My favorite was this Ent!)

Faire 25There were musical groups (this is Cantiga),

Faire 15and even a Hobbit hole!  At least that’s what it reminds me of!

I had a tarot reading as well (I was very disappointed that the Shaman group that had been there for years was no longer there.  I had been looking forward to getting my reading from them like I usually do).   It was very confirming for many things, including how I am learning to take care of myself.   Sometimes I still beat myself up for what I allowed to happen to my physical body over the years, and I have to stop doing that and realize that all comes in time.  This didn’t happen overnight, and perfect health cannot happen like that either…not that it will ever be “perfect”, but I want it to be perfect for me!

So I shall continue with my exercise (still going to the YMCA and swimming…something physical at least 4 times a week), eating better (still juicing 3-4 times a week as well as keeping the calories at bay and making healthy choices), and NOT SMOKING!!!  🙂   When I saw my doctor and complained that the pounds were not coming off as quickly as I’d like, she reminded me that I’d quit smoking six months ago and most people put on 20-30 pounds after quitting.  According to my chart, I weigh five pounds less than I did one year ago.  She said that, in her eyes, I’d lost between 25 and 35 pounds if you take into account that I didn’t gain after quitting.

That made me feel better!  All it took was some healthy perspective!  🙂


Following My Bliss: Lighthouses!

Published July 15, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Bass Harbor 5 And now, finally, to the Lighthouses!!!

I was lucky enough to see a little over half a dozen lighthouses as I wound my way south along Coastal Route 1 after leaving Acadia National Park.  After having spent the day hiking, climbing, and wading, I still had enough energy to hunt down one lighthouse before calling it a night.

This is Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

Maybe I was just tired from all the activity and the driving (it took me a couple of hours to find this place), but I kind of found this one anti-climactic.

Bass Harbor 2This is a different shot of it.

But I did have ONE MORE climbing expedition that day…climbing down those stairs to get to the rocks below.  My legs were shaky, but I was determined to see the whole thing through!

Bass Harbor 3After all that climbing and hiking, I was ready to find a bed and get some well-deserved sleep– after eating lobster, of course.  So I drove and drove, knowing full well that the Universe would provide even though it was the 4th of July.

The Universe certainly has a sense of humor:

Baits MotelOk!  So I was going to stay at the Bait’s Motel!

At least it wasn’t this one:


Happily, there was the Anglers Restaurant right next door, complete with a whole lobster dinner for $18.99.  And, boy, was I hungry!!  Washed that baby down with some Belfast Brewery (local) Lobster Ale.  Yum!

I slept the sleep of the dead that night and completely missed the fireworks.  I was OUT before 9:00!

When I awoke, it was fully light out and I thought it must be about 7:00 already.  Ha!  I looked at the bedside clock and it said 4:36!  AM!  I had to go look at my phone to check to see if the clock was set wrong, but sure enough, it was now 4:37.

Time to get cracking, I guess!  After hopping in the shower and packing, I was on the road by 5:30.  Nice!  All I needed was coffee, which a gas station was nearby to provide (sadly, I could not find a Tim Horton’s).

I was on the Lighthouse Trail!  I had my map (sort of…more like one of those travel booklets) and I had a full tank of gas.  I was off!

I found Camden first, though.  What a gorgeous harbor!  And by then, I was ready to scrounge up some breakfast.  It was already 6:15 for heaven’s sake!  I wanted to look at the harbor first, though.

Camden 3 Camden 5While I was looking at the boats and wandering the docks, I noticed a waterfall that seemed to come from beneath the buildings at the top of the hill.

Camden 2

I was really thinking how lucky the folks who got to sit on that deck must be to have that waterfall right there all the time.  After looking at it for a while, I decided that breakfast really was in order, so I headed up to the town.  When I went down the main street, there was a cute place called Camden 6Marriner’s.  I entered and noticed that there were window seats in the back that faced the harbor, so I asked to sit back there; however, once I saw that there was an outdoor porch, I asked to sit outside in the sunshine.  Guess what?  I was on that porch at the top of the waterfall!!  What a perfect place for blueberry pancakes and coffee!

Once my tummy was satisfied, it was back on the Ol’ Lighthouse Trail.

The next one I managed to find was Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.  That was after my little off-shoot to Rockport, thinking that’s where I was supposed to be.  But I finally found it.  Oh my.  When the brochure said that the lighthouse was about a MILE out into the water, I thought, “That don’t look like no mile!”  Optical illusion.

Rockland 1Yes, it looks like it extends WAY into the water, but a mile?  I didn’t believe it.  So I decided to walk it.

Yeah.  It’s a mile.

Not that it was a strenuous walk.  Actually, it was just what I needed after all those blueberry pancakes!  It’s just that I found it so hard to believe.

 Rockland 2I want to know who cut all these giant stones and laid them out for a MILE to build a lighthouse at the end of it!  Probably the same folks who built the Jordan Pond Boardwalk…magicians!  At this point, you cannot even see the lighthouse at the end.

Rockland 3 Ahhh…here it is!Rockland 5

I walked out onto the floating (and rocking) dock to take this shot.

Rockland 6

This is the view from the rail on the upper deck of the building.  That was a LONG walk back!  I cannot imagine being out here in bad weather.  I was extremely fortunate with the weather the whole trip!

From there it was on to Marshall Point Lighthouse.  Now I was only going by the little tour book that I’d found in my first motel, and after going back to the internet, it seems I missed a LOT of lighthouses in between the ones I saw!  I guess I will have to go back!

Marshall Point 1This was a very pretty little place, but it was still not even 10 AM when I arrived, so the museum wasn’t open.  But at least I got to climb around on the rocks!  Those $5 water shoes I bought at Big Lots the week before leaving really came in handy!  I put quite a bit of climbing time on them, and they smelled like the ocean to boot (along with the sea shells in my car trunk).

Marshall Point 2 Marshall Point 3My next stop (and it was not yet noon) was Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.  Of the lighthouses I saw, this was my favorite!  Not so much the lighthouse, but the ROCKS were CRAZY!!

Pemaquid Point Pemaquid Point 2I scuttled along on what looked like petrified wood all the way to the water’s edge…and that was some strong water!  I REALLY wanted to have that water splash over my feet (but not my head, ok?), and I noticed that there were barnacles on the lower rocks.  Hmmm… I wondered if they kept the rock from being slippery.

Pemaquid Point 7

Pemaquid Point 8

Pemaquid Point 6The brown stuff is barnacles…and they made for very sure footing as the water washed up and over my feet!

Pemaquid Point 5Okay, now THERE’S the lighthouse!  WAY up there!!  This is one CRAZY rocky shore!

Pemaquid Point 3Fortunately, the museum was open, and I actually climbed up that lighthouse!

Pemaquid Point 11There was quite a line to get out of the sun, and since only four people could go up at once, it made for interesting chatting while in line.  Seems there were a couple of families where the parents were teachers- one family from Massachusetts and another from South Carolina.  We had a very nice chat about the Common Core Standards.

Pemaquid Point StairsNarrow, steep…just the way I like it!  And a ladder at the top to get up to the final observation deck.  Good thing my vertigo is in check these days!  Notice that the pic is a bit out of focus?  That’s because my hands were shaking.

Pemaquid Point 12The view was gorgeous!

Pemaquid Point LightAnd we were severely warned NOT to touch this lantern in any way.

After that I found Portland Head Lighthouse, and Ram Island Ledge was just in the distance out in the water.

 Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 2By the time I arrived, the museum was closed; however, the grounds were gorgeous.

Ram Island Ledge 2It was hard to get a clearer picture of Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, but I zoomed as best I could!

Portland Headlight with Ram Island Ledge 4You can see both lighthouses in this one!

Since I’d hiked on Homan Path, went to Jordan Pond, I had to go to Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse for my eldest daughter.

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse 1 This one was on private property, so this was the best picture I could get of it.

One thing I WAS looking for (even though I knew it was fictitious) was Passamaquoddy Lighthouse (come on, Pete’s Dragon fans!).  There was a West Quoddy Lighthouse, but that was WAY up north and I wasn’t going to drive that much further (almost to Canada).   There is, though, a Passamaquoddy Bay and Native American tribe in that region…so I learned something new.  I kind of wanted to see where the movie was filmed and pretend to be Helen Reddy up on the walkway. 🙂

But, then again, it was filmed at a California Lighthouse near Montana de Oro, and not in Maine!

Just so that I have all my lighthouses in this post, I am going to re-post a picture of the first one I saw on the day I arrived in Maine: Cape Neddick (Nubble) Lighthouse.

Nubble 2Anyhow, by the time I’d seen Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, I was ready to call it a night and begin the journey home in the morning.  I got to do everything I’d wanted to, which was to eat inexpensive lobster and take pictures of lighthouses.  I’m feeling confident that I can do things on my own, like get out there and take road trips, and be okay with it.

Actually, I was more than okay… I felt empowered.

(NOTE: for those who want more, each lighthouse picture has a link that contains historical information about it.  See more about American Lighthouses at the link below.)


Following My Bliss: Exploring the Varied Terrain of Acadia National Park

Published July 14, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I have been taking time following my bliss of doing nothing for the past few days…and liking it!  But I do want to share my Acadia adventure up a mountain, down to the seashore, and into a forest around a pond.  Such diverse terrains on one island!

Welcome to Acadia National Park (click on the pic for a link)!acadia-map

It took me several hours to get from Moody Beach to the Bar Harbor and Acadia region, and because I didn’t take the coastal route, it wasn’t as pretty.  I took 295 and then 95 north, and it was just highway driving.  But I’d left at 5:30 AM to get an early start, so that wasn’t too bad.

I originally wanted to stay in Bar Harbor, but when I finally found the place, it was crawling with people for the 4th of July…craft show included.  And my car literally crawled through there amidst the other crazies who dared to drive down those roads, even before noon!  Actually, I am happy simply being able to say that I passed through Bar Harbor and leave it at that.

Not stopping in Bar Harbor allowed me to go straight to the part right then and there, and I am so glad that I did!  I first found the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

100_0353After walking the paths through the gardens for a bit, I was beginning to feel adventurous.  The man in the Nature Center told me about a challenging hiking path that led up Dorr Mountain behind the Sieur de Monts Spring House.  Feeling up to the challenge, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Acadia Hike 1I am so very glad that I brought my hot pink running shoes!  My sandals never would have made it!

At first the hike started out pretty neutral, and I was feeling pretty darned confident that this was going to be a walk in the park (ha ha).

Walking though the woods was so much cooler than the humid, blistering 96 degrees in the sun, and the trail seemed so tame.

Acadia Hike 2Now doesn’t that look gentle to you?  I thought so…till the steps became steeper and steeper, and steeper!  I was wishing that in some past life I’d been a mountain goat just to climb some of those steps.  I have not been as glad to have quit smoking as I was during that hike!  Turning around did cross my mind, albeit briefly.  I wanted a challenge, and I was going to rise to it no matter what!  In the future, though, I think I will make sure that I am hiking with someone else…just in case.  These are just the pictures going UP!

Acadia Hike 3 Acadia Hike 4 Acadia Hike 5 Acadia Hike 6 Acadia Hike 7I was very glad to have a water bottle, good shoes, and to have been working out.  I was also glad to have my cell phone just in case.  Once I finally made it to the trail that would cut across (I didn’t go all the way to the top, but darned close), I had to laugh and take a picture of the sign:

Acadia Hike 8 HomanI had to call my daughter, Robin Homan, to tell her that I was on their hiking trail!  According to the link, this trail was closed for a time due to earthquakes!

Here’s a view from as close to the top as I got:

Acadia View 2

Acadia View 1

Acadia LedgeSee that ledge?  It’s not as wide as it looks.  This was where I was telling myself that my next mountain climbing extravaganza will include another person.  Doing this solo wasn’t the smartest move…but I did have my cell phone.

Acadia Hike 14 Acadia Hike 12 Acadia Hike 11 Acadia Hike 13And then I finally made it down!  I was COVERED in sweat and glistening like I’d just been oiled (except for the red face and hard breathing, it might have been attractive to some mountain man…).  The first thing I asked the park ranger was for directions to the nearest beach!  I needed to cool off, pronto!

Parking at the beach was not the easiest thing…after all, several hundred other people thought that going to the beach on the 4th of July was a good idea.  I had another hike along another trail just to get to the beach from where I had to park my car.

Acadia Sandy Beach 1

Acadia Sandy Beach 2

Acadia Sandy Beach 3

This is me trying to be artistic.  I managed to get a flying gull in there within the “frame.”

Acadia Sandy Beach 5The water was very cold and a dark, almost black seaweed lined the shore.  Because I was carrying my camera and didn’t want to put anything down while I took a total plunge, I contented myself with wading in the 50+ degree water.  I certainly cooled off in a hurry!  And I splashed myself with water as well.

Acadia Sandy Beach 4This cool cave was at the far end of the beach.

Well, after my beach excursion, I decided to head toward Jordan Pond.  Hey, I’d seen Homan’s Path, right?  Well, Jojo needed to have her place on my trip!  So off to the next type of terrain.

Acadia Jordan Pond 1I was told they serve tea and scones at this restaurant.  I won’t know on this trip…there was a two hour wait!  (4th of July thing…)

Acadia Jordan Pond 2I did sneak upstairs to the closed-off area to take a quick pic.

Acadia Jordan Pond3Even the outdoor seating had a waiting list, so I decided to take a hike along the trail.

Acadia Jordan Pond 5In order to avoid disturbing the natural environment, hikers are asked to stay on the boardwalk.  This thing goes on for what must be miles!  I’d like to know who split all these logs and placed them, LEVEL, all along this “pond” (which, by the way, is larger than some of the smaller Finger Lakes).  Passing folks who were coming from the other direction while still remaining on the boardwalk was a challenge!

Acadia Jordan Pond 4Three terrains: mountain, seashore, forest/pond.  I feel like I traveled to three different places miles and miles away from each other, and yet I was on one island.

How awesome is that?

Following My Bliss: The Quest for Lighthouses and Lobsters Begins!

Published July 10, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Well, technically, it began July 3 when I left, but I didn’t take my computer with me…and I have been lazily “recovering” since my return.  😉

As take-off day was a cloudy, drizzling day, it was perfect for driving because I didn’t feel like I was “missing” any good weather.  After all the last second running about (getting gas, hitting the ATM, and the all-so-important fuel, coffee), I was heading East by 7:11 AM.

I was originally going to drive right into Boston to hit the ocean and then turn north, but this was the beginning of the 4th of July holiday, and I was not dumb enough to drive into Boston during that time.  Happy 237th Birthday, America!  And I am avoiding the holiday traffic to your birthplace by heading north on 95!

Route 95 ran right through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and by 3:30 in the afternoon, I crossed the stateline into Maine to continue on my eastward oceanic pursuit.  By this time, any hint of rain had been left behind on the New York side of the Appalachian Mountains, and the sun shone gloriously hot here!

Within ten  minutes, I was rewarded with a little sign that said, “Lighthouse” with an arrow on it.  Woop!!  I followed the sign and came to my first Maine lighthouse, Nubble Light.

Nubble 2  If you click on the picture, it will take you to a link about Nubble Light at Cape Neddick.

For me, it was thrilling to come around a curve and have it just appear!  I’d seen Maine lighthouses in movies and on the internet, but it was quite different to actually be there in person!  It made me think that I had somehow stepped into a virtual postcard and could walk around in it.

I hung around the area for a bit, going down to the rocky shore on the opposite side of the peninsula and watching the ocean lap up hungrily against the rocks.  And speaking of hunger, I was starting to feel dinnertime pangs and continued on my quest to find a room and then some lobstah!

Part of driving out to a resort area during 4th of July weekend is the quest for a room.  However, I was certain that what I needed would appear at just the right place for me, so I trusted that the Universe would provide, and It did.  Soon I found a great place to stay, the beach was nearby, and an inexpensive lobster dinner was right across the way!

Moody Beach 2    Moody Beach 1There was a time I really would have been afraid to jump in a car and just head someplace all by myself, but I am so glad that I am beyond that.   Learning to do things for myself, even if by myself, has been a good growing experience for me.  The lapping of the waves on Moody Beach was soothing, and the cool air off the ocean took the edge off the high temperatures.  I walked up and down the beach, exploring as much as I dared before it got too dark to walk the unlit half mile along the side road back to the hotel.

TreasuresThese are my treasures from the ocean!  I am creating a personal medicine wheel with them once I return home.  This is the basic layout, and I will work my own symbolism into it.  I did make the mistake, though, of placing them inside a plastic bin in my trunk.  I was carrying a blanket and additional supplies in a plastic bin in the event of an auto breakdown emergency…and it was 96 degrees out.  Putting the shells straight from the ocean and into the bin was not the best idea.  The smell was horrid!  Lesson learned for future excursions!

Lobster sign Once I returned from the beach, the sign across from the motel got my attention– see for yourself.

Lobster dinner for $15.00?  Yes, please!!!

As a newbie, I had to get some assistance from the waiter regarding how to “wrastle” with the lobstah!  I am happy to say that he was not only willing to indulge me in my ignorance, but he took a picture to commemorate the event!

Dinner 2








This entire dinner, pint of Nut Brown ale and tax included, came to $19.21!  Now THAT’S a bargain!  And it only took me 51 years to get to Maine to experience this treat!

Restaurant signI highly recommend this place (click on pic for link)


And I will be back!

Following My Bliss: Lighthouses and Lobster!

Published July 2, 2013 by Susan Woodward

northeast_cities“Remember what Bilbo used to say: ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.””

— J.R.R. Tolkien

That’s my plan for this weekend.  Tomorrow morning I shall get in my car, gas up, head east and drive till I get to the ocean.  Once there, I will turn left and continue until I find lighthouses and cheap lobster!

Who needs a road map to get to Maine?  All I need is a basic knowledge of North Eastern US geography to figure out how to get around.  Heck, I do it all the time in NY.  Whenever I go for a long, lazy drive, I have a general idea of where I am.  I know that if I drive west and hit water (Lake Erie), I am near Buffalo.   Depending upon how fast the water is moving, I can pretty much tell how close I am to Niagara Falls.   I can figure things out from there considering I was born in Buffalo.  When coming home to Rochester, if I am in the Southern Tier (south of Buffalo, that is), I know that all I need is a north easterly direction to get back.  If I head north and hit water (Lake Ontario), I just have to turn right and wait for the 390.  If I choose to go east first instead of north, well all I have to do is drive east till I run into the 390.  Since it goes all the way down the state, the 390 is a good marker.

See?  No map.  Just a general awareness of where things are in the bigger picture of the state.  I intend to expand that theory as I head to Maine.  Really…how hard can it be?

I am leaving here with no itinerary, no booked rooms, no map, and no idea of what I will find except lighthouses and lobster.  I am certain that all will be provided and that I am going to see some awesome sights!

Now that’s bliss.

Following My Bliss: Stoney Brook Park

Published July 2, 2013 by Susan Woodward

100_0291“The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me.  I’m not trying to figure it out, you know what I mean?  And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.”  — Chris Evans

That’s me walking into the waterfall at Stoney Brook Park in Dansville, New York (click on the pic for park info).  From where I stood in the water looking up, it was a complete moment of awe and, yes, bliss. As I got closer and it washed over me like the most powerful shower imaginable, I felt the stress of the end of the school year being pounded out of me.   At that moment, nothing else mattered.

Another trip I took this week as part of my Follow My Bliss campaign was with my daughter, Illy and my granddaughter, Jordan.  I had taken all the kids when they were younger, but this was Jojo’s first time, and it was exciting to see her eyes get big as we rounded the bends while hiking the creek and came upon larger waterfalls each time.

100_0269This was the beginning of our journey just as we were getting ready to enter the creek and approach each waterfall right from the water itself.

The first waterfall was relatively small, and she practically skipped up it.

100_0276Illy had to carry Jojo at this point because she was afraid of the rushing water as the falls got bigger and bigger.

100_0281She was starting to get a little braver by this point, but as she got closer, she turned away from her mom and ran back to shore with me.

100_0288I loved the sound of the water rushing over the rocks.

100_0299Three generations of women simply enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer…

100_0293…and leaving a temporary mark on the site that was immortalized by my camera.

100_0302The final waterfall at the end of the trail…and look what I see:

Pride Rock CollageI just couldn’t resist.

100_0309And I just want to point out that I climbed these stairs with no huffing, puffing, gasping, or stopping because I am NOT SMOKING!!  I simply walked up them right to the top as if walking up a regular flight of stairs.  And when I came down later, I was able to walk down with one foot right after the other instead of stepping down with my right foot each time and bringing my left next to it.  That’s how I came down all stairs for years after I injured my knee.  Now with all the exercise I am doing, my legs are strong enough for climbing!

That is blissful.

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