A Special Day

While vacationing recently at Pine Lake Manor in the Catskill Mountains with my extended family, this day stood out among the others with its wide variety of highs/healings, and lows/depletions. It represents the ups and downs of life, while supporting mindful efforts to seek out healing, inner-peace, fun, resilience, and love. Take a look.

Tuesday, July 19th

• 9:30am – Outdoor, lawn Yoga with Samantha Jo – It was a stunningly beautiful morning. The temperature was in the 70s, humidity was low. There was peace and quiet in the air with only the soft rustling of the leaves in the background. There were about 10 of us cousins spread out on the green grass. Shade was nearby.

I’d taken some, but not many, yoga sessions in the past. I stopped when I injured my groin muscle in a class. Today, several years later, I felt like giving yoga another go. So, I did. Samantha, our leader, was absolutely wonderful. She was gentle in direction, respectful of people’s body limitations, and helpful in cueing us into position. There was no sense of rush. Possibly the best part for me was Samantha’s spiritual presence using words to guide and move us towards internal freedom, body opening, trust, loosening, healing, and empowerment.  

 I recommend Samantha very highly! Check out her on-line program here.

• 1:30pm- Hike: Kaaterskills Falls, Hunter, NY (Eastern Catskill Mountains) – As I’ve gotten older, one of my desires has been to take up hiking/nature walking. I’ve developed a real love and interest to move in nature. In June, I bought my very first pair of hiking shoes; Merrill’s to be exact. Despite searching on-line via Meet Up for organized hikes, my schedule wasn’t cooperating. Today, instead, the stars aligned. Unbeknownst to me, our Cousin Melanie suggested we do a family hike, and Cousin Frank took care of the rest. How lucky was I?

Kaaterskills Falls is beautiful. The area hosts the highest 2-tier waterfall (260 feet) in New York State! I really enjoyed this hike! With regard to the challenge, the trail was for beginners but was certainly more than a flat-level nature walk. We hiked over rocks and under tree branches to the waterfalls. The surrounding greenery was beautiful and peaceful. The trail suited me well.  I felt invigorated and playful. Outdoors, nature, movement, fresh air, loved ones. Life is good!

• 7pm – Cousins’ Wine/Cheese & Parfait Party - My spouse, Janet and I, have organized this get-together outside our Pine Lake room on multiple occasions over the past several years. Everyone chips in for beer, wine, sparkling water, cheese, crackers, fruit, chips, salsa, and more. Of course, the spread was not nutritionally the healthiest, but when foods are eaten with joy and low stress, even traditionally “unhealthy” grub will nurture us. As I’ve commented before, but this bears repeating, the poison is in the dose. Would I eat this stuff every day? Nope. Do I munch on goodies on occasion? Yesiree! I munch, enjoy, and appreciate!

This year’s party was extra special for 2 reasons.

A)      We held the event after dinner. As a result, a new feature, dessert, was added to the menu which became the rage of the eve. Parfaits! Easy, old-fashioned, and a crowd-pleaser for sure.

(For those who may be wondering, no, I personally did not partake in the parfait frenzy because I’m a dedicated gluten-free eater. Otherwise, though, you betcha!)


Cousins’ Help-Yourself Parfait

Preparation (1 minute)

▫ Add 1-2 broken lady fingers into an 8 ounce cup – (cup should be short and wide mouthed)

▫ Throw in 2 tablespoons of mixed berries – Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries- whichever you enjoy!

▫ Give a generous squirt/dollop of whipped cream

▫ Place a thin cookie inside the parfait, (to the side of the cup looks pretty!)

Hint: We used pieces of cannoli shells with powdered sugar for the cookie.

▫ Grab your spoon and dig in!

 B)       We played a game together! As adults, we frequently become skilled at chatting with others in social settings. Unfortunately, we seem to forget how to play. What was our group game? Simple. Everyone in the circle took a turn, 1-by-1, and said their name, and what they did or what was going on in their current, everyday life. The kicker though was this. We were also told to share 1 thing about ourselves we believed people in the group didn’t know about us. (And, many of us have known one another from childhood.) This thing could be small or large. But, the revelation would be meaningful to the sharer in some way. It would also be something we would be happy for others to know about us.

 Result: Initially people were a bit hesitant to participate. The game was kicked off none-the-less. Everyone shared their ‘unknown life piece’ about themselves with the group. Members listened, were enthralled, supportive, and spontaneously applauded upon completion of each individual's story. Smiles abounded. The game, in short, was a smashing success. More than 1 person came up to me afterwards and expressed their enjoyment and interest in hearing what others had to say. This game/play felt meaningful, satisfying, and enriching.

 (FYI: What did Janet and I share? Janet told the group she had recently taken an upholstery class and made a beautiful ottoman from scratch. She’s proud and has photos of her masterpiece. As for me, I had recently taken several acting and singing classes through Meet Up. Everyone was really surprised and had no idea I’d wanted to do both for years. How about you?)

• 11:30pm- Aunt Elvira in a crisis – Our 87-year old aunt arrived at Pine Lake Manor over the weekend with a case of laryngitis. She didn’t feel sick, just couldn’t talk. By this day though, Tuesday, July 19th, she developed a consistent cough. Aunt Elvira went to bed early that evening. By the late night though, an ambulance was called.

To make a long, arduous, and extremely stressful story a bit shorter, our beloved aunt was ultimately diagnosed with bacterial meningitis! As I’m sure you can imagine, this was horrifying news.

 It’s now 11-days after the fact. Aunt Elvira is still in the hospital receiving treatment and recovering. There have been ups and downs in her status during this time. We are all waiting anxiously, but patiently, for her to heal as much as possible. Time will let us know what’s to be. Despite her age, our aunt is a very strong lady, (always has been). I hope with my heart to see her again as intact as possible.

My Gratitude Notation: The benefit of these types of crises is how they can bring together loved ones and draw out strength, hope, and compassion. My aunt’s illness has given me a chance to reminisce and appreciate her in ways I haven’t done for too long. Of course I know I love her. But, it’s similar to other things in life. When we have something or someone which is a constant, it’s very easy to take it all for granted and forget about the blessings that abound with that person.

Thanks to my aunt and her illness, I’ve now slowed down and am mindfully thinking of her and appreciating all she has done for me and our family at-large all these years. She has been a backbone of the family always. Aunt Elvira has thrown many parties for us and is always happy to be part of the family. She continues to cook love for her adult children and grandchildren. Lentil soup is just one of her specialties. And, (I write this with a big smile), Aunt Elvira is famous for telephoning and singing, ‘Happy Birthday’, to each of us every year. That makes my day, so special, indeed!

With appreciation and love, God bless you dear Aunt. Get well soon! Xoxo


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