Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Arizona

Lake Pleasant Regional Park is north west of Phoenix. This park is stunning. For the first time, I saw saguaros- the cactus with arms. I had only seen them in cartoons and never thought I’d see them. They have to be at least 50 years old before they grow out arms. When I got in the freezing water I noticed the clear water. So good to be in clear water. Surrounded by mesas and outdoor activities, it is a great place! A donkey let us know that he was around with his braying (hee-haw). It was funny. He posed for some pictures. Walked to the visitor’s center- 2 hrs. round trip. After getting back to canned ham trailer…there’s no way I’d forget the scenery my memory captured.

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Rock Hound State Park

Throughout the month of May I traveled west with my sisters. We explored new places and tried new things. In the next several posts I will share different pictures of our adventures. The states we traveled to are New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. We traveled in a suburban with a 1955 “canned ham” retro camper hitched to the car. We stayed in local, state and national parks. Our first stop was Rock State National Park in Deming, New Mexico. The desert area was cold (40′s) in the second week of May. This is a place where you want to walk, rest, read a book and cease time to reflect on your life’s experiences.

IMG_5021 IMG_5008 IMG_5007 IMG_5004IMG_5085You are encouraged in this place to look around and find thunder eggs, geodes and various types of minerals to keep. There is a limit though as to how many you can keep. The exploring and seeking them is a fun time.

If You’re Gonna Live

IMG_0580                                                                                                          Central Park, New York

This entry is inspired by the movie Gravity. A choice needed to be made and determination was the main motor as Ryan faced the possibility of death. She realized she wasn’t living on earth and looking from space into the world, she summarized her true feelings through a series of technological tests. As soon as I stepped out of the theatre back in December I said to my friend, “If you’re gonna live, you might as well live.”

As we know, television and the internet consumes most of society. Who doesn’t want to be entertained? The matter is that if you see something that is inspiring, then go do it yourself. Don’t let life be lived from the couch. Most people spend their whole time watching others live theirs. There has got to be more to that.

For me, living is breaking routine. My routines are predictable. I have to do new things, even in photography. I tend to stand in the same places. I have to walk to different angles and take shots from where I would not usually think of. Last month I was in the ocean in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was sitting in the car comfortably because it was cold outside. I watched others walk along the beach. Then I thought I should get out of the comfortable and experience the setting much closer. So I took a long walk and enjoyed observing the seagulls. This was better.

Living is about taking opportunities, taking risks. It is about breaking the mold. Living is experiencing. It is about learning new things, new patterns. Living is about enjoying the moment and sometimes just getting through it (not giving up). Live- don’t just exist. Only you can live your life and make it what you want…If you’re gonna live, you might as well live!

Pick Your Team

We all need a team of people who will encourage us, help us overcome our obstacles, listen, walk life’s journey and celebrate our victories. It is good to share with those who genuinely care about us our goals and dreams. Unfortunately, not everyone shares in our vision. Sometimes our own family does not believe in us. Friends do the same. When you share they say, “Yeah right.” At this point you should know not to share deeply. You need to know that you can choose your team. It may consist of one person or two. It may grow to more. The bottom line is to pick people who will always encourage you and not tear you down. They can challenge you but not deter you from what you want to accomplish. My all-time favorite movie is Rudy. His father and brothers don’t believe he can go to Notre Dame. Nevertheless, play football. His best friend who always believed in him dies and this catapults him to forge ahead and make it happen. Slowly but surely, Rudy picks his team of people to confide in. He passionately seeks every door and tears it down with boldness and courage. He does it! He becomes a part of the Fightin’ Irish school and football team. I love the fact that it is based on true story. There is a Rudy in every corner of life…you might be one, you may have a passion that you believe in but that others don’t. Don’t stop yourself from pursuing that dream. Only you can make it happen. Rudy’s mentor tells him, “In this day and age you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone except yourself.” You can’t have countless of fans until you make it happen. Throughout life, I heard people say, “People will believe in you when you believe in yourself.” Go for your dream, you can do it!

Just One Resolution

IMG_0397The only resolution I want to make for this year is to live in the moment. What does this mean? Be there. Soak it in. Enjoy. Stretch the happy effects the moment brings. Learn. Meditate. Don’t curtail the moment. Don’t rush it. Listen. Observe. Make that person you are talking to feel that they are worth listening to. Be still. Seek peace. Laugh. Love. Live. Share. Say what you need to say. Embrace the person. Embrace the day. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware that you exist. Yes, you are important and alive. Enjoy the journey of the day. Do one phase at a time. Capture the moment. Give your best. Receive. Wrap the moments in gratitude. Don’t dismiss the little things. Don’t minimize the little moments because they can be great. Stretch. Feel your heartbeat. Look into someone’s eyes and feel them.

IMG_0405Today I took a hike through the woods of North East, Maryland for an hour in 40 degree weather and it was great! You start off cold and end up warm. It was stimulating and satisfying. Finding the trail was fun. Moving past the brush was a bit painful (thorns) but doable. Jumping the trees on the ground was quite entertaining. I observed all angles looking for differences. I didn’t think about other things beyond my walk because I want to remember it. I’m learning that when I don’t multi-task (thoughts-wise) I am able to capture more from the moment.

 

 

IMG_0414I do have short-term goals and long-term goals for this year. It will be the proactive disciplines that will help me accomplish them. They are important to me. Just one resolution I have in mind…that in all I do, I can be in the moment and appreciate all that I am doing. Even the hard things bring many lessons, knowledge and wisdom. May I fully develop the discipline of living in the moment.

 

 

 

*All these pictures were taken in North East, Maryland in December, 2013

 

La Posada

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**I want to post my pictures only in this blog. I found this piñata in a Mexican bakery in Chatsworth, Ga.

Our Christmas tradition growing up was to go to my grandparent’s house in Mexico to attend La Posada. It is a Mexican celebration. It includes music, singing, dancing, playing games, hitting a piñata and eating great foods. The foods consist of tamales, pozole, buñuelos, empanadas and other desserts. Everyone would get a bag of candy and other gifts. The Nativity scene was always present. It was the reason we got together, to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. Joy To The World is one of my favorite songs. It describes the meaning and reason for the season. La Posada was a magical experience! Everyone was so happy and every moment was precious. La Posada lasted late into the night and continued when everyone woke up. I was so happy seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins having a good time. Growing up all I cared about was playing outside, so toys and dolls did not mean much to me. Mothers bring their children together but grandmothers bring more people together. This celebration was about giving my grandmother that joy and honor by being there to celebrate together the joyous occasion. My last posada was over ten years ago. Beautiful memories are all I have of this awesome tradition. I wish I could back and relive those moments. La Posada is definitely my best memory, experience of Christmas. Today, all I want is what the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s My Grown Up Christmas List talks about.

“No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list”

Hiking in Carters Lake

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Carters Lake in Chatsworth, Georgia

It was a beautiful fall day in Carters Lake today. It was so cold, just right for today. While some parts of the country have snow already and are preparing for more, Georgia’s clear weather was just perfect as it is nearing the year’s end. The sunshine was bright and warming while the sky was a bright blue. I went hiking with friends and with three dogs. Buster decided to get into the water. I was surprised he got in the freezing water but it made him happy. Oh well. We were there for about an hour. The water was clear and inviting (I so wanted to be in a canoe!). My favorite part of the hike was walking to different angles and grasping as much as I could. After a while of walking I got warm and wanted to take my jacket off. Cold weather used to keep me inside but not anymore. I have to get soak in some of it. I need to see the scenery in its every season. It felt so good to be out there and take countless of pictures. Andy (Osito) was so happy as he was running everywhere. Hiking up the hill was no problem for him. He was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Only nine more days of fall therapy for those who can get it. I’m heading to Maryland where there is eight inches of snow with more coming. I will have to make snow angels, several snow men and have my fill of snow. I look forward to it but I want to retain today for as long as I can. Walking on autumn leaves feels so good. It is such a good experience that I just can’t describe. It is definitely a gift. Not everyone gets to experience every season and so, for me it is just wonderful.

Life’s a Journey

IMG_0939                                                                                     North East, Maryland

When I was a child the end result mattered the most. Whether it was a goal or a travel destination, it was about getting to the endpoint as quickly as possible. When I matured I started seeing life differently. I appreciated all the work, effort and purpose it took to get there. That is when I was grateful for the prize all the more. Life’s intentions and resolutions unfold in their timing. The way it unfolds can be trying and disappointing. At that point patience should be in the backpack. A voyager knows that anything can happen in their travels. They carry gear for their journey and a positive mindset to get to their destination. Their greatest strength is to find the adventure of getting out of their troubles. That is why the voyagers always have a survival kit. In life, we all should acquire survival skills as well. Keep seeking, keep asking, keep knocking, keep walking and keep the eyes looking ahead. There is a time for everything. Take time for rest and renewal when you feel burned out. Exercising good principles and values is needed for endurance. Though life can be tough it is also rewarding.

The Main Point of Our Journeys

Is it not to live to the fullest and find the answers

that bring healing to our hearts and souls?

Is it not to go down memory lane and laugh again

over the dumb things done?

Is it not to reconnect with old friends

and to put new photos in the album?

Is it not to travel the harder roads

and collect new understanding on these paths?

Is it not to meet new people and see new places

to add new lyrics to our life’s song?

Is it not to push when needed

and rest when we can’t go on?

Is it not to continue

and discover all the wonders of the world?

Is it not the journey

that makes life worth living?

© Alicia Joann Pena

Thanksgiving in the Heart

New Orleans, LA  -From inside the home

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Here are some quotes to reflect on this holiday. I thought I’d gather a couple to reflect the attitude of the heart and mind. We always have so many things to be thankful for. It is important that we know how blessed we are. It is important that we know how much we have. It is important. The quotes come from different authors. They share truth and insight about material things and honorable thinking.

“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world. If you have money in the bank or in your wallet, you are among the top 80 percent of the worlds wealthy. If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.” Author Unknown

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  William A. Ward

On Thanksgiving Day family and friends gather for a special occasion. The warm, delicious meals are filling. The conversations and play times are many. The most precious single time is seeing each other face to face, exchanging hugs and smiles. A good tradition to implement is to go around the table one by one, that each may share what they are grateful for. Thanksgiving, the holiday, is great and once a year. Each day is a gift and we should share in it. When thanksgiving is in the heart it can be whenever.