Our Amazing Earth – The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is considered on of the seven natural wonders of our planet.  Layer upon layer of rock has been revealed by water and time.  If you have not yet been to the canyon, go.

Here is a short video of my recent visit to the canyon.  I have been blessed to visit the Grand Canyon several times, have hiked the Bright Angel trail to the bottom of the canyon and stayed at Phantom Ranch.

HappinessG did not travel with me this trip, but he will the next time, and we will hike the Rim Trail together! Ed&MeGCSelfie

Be well 🙂

Annette

 

 

 

Photo Credits:  A.M. Beaulieu & E.T. Beaulieu

Going To The Grand Canyon Is Going Home

What makes a place a home? A habitat is the natural environment of an animal, plant or other organism. Ok, but what makes a place a home?

Most of us live in cities now.  Other than brick, wood and a cozy kitchen or bedroom, what is home for you? 

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President Theodore Roosevelt visits Yosemite National Park with John Muir, 1903

The first time I visited the Grand Canyon, I was 10 years old.  I loved being there.  I remember hiking a short way down Bright Angel trail and seeing the trains of mules.  I told myself then I wanted to take a mule ride someday.

My family drove across the country in a sedan with no air conditioning pulling an Apache pop-up tent trailer.  We camped and hiked in national parks all across the western states.  But when we got to the Grand Canyon, I felt I was home.

I have yet to take that mule ride, but I have visited the Grand Canyon many times, have hiked Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River and stayed at Phantom Ranch.

John Muir first walked across the San Joaquin Valley in 1868 through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later he would write: “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called no the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light…the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.”

Going to the mountains is going home. – John Muir

I was born in the midwest and live today in Minnesota.  Minnesota is well known for intense winters.  At the other end of the climate spectrum is the Grand Canyon, yet I find it exquisitely beautiful, vista after beautiful vista. The colors of the layers of stone are harmonious and the history is a sweet hum.  The canyon looks different by the moment of the day and the day of the year.  It comforts me knowing that the canyon has changed little in the years since my first visit — my life of however many years compared to the life span of this canyon. Research shows that the canyon may be as many as 17 million years old.

Why is that comforting? What is it about the Grand Canyon that draws me in?  The average person spends about 5 hours at the canyon, seventeen minutes of that time looking at the canyon itself.

17 minutes.

Brooks_Range-400pxBob Marshall reached Alaska and the Brooks Range in 1928 after a short career in the Forest Service.  He settled into a one room cabin in Wiseman, Alaska, furnished with books, records, a phonograph player and a writing desk. His desk looked out over the Koyukuk River and the central Brooks Range. His 15 month stay engendered a great love for these snow-covered mountains in the Alaskan wilderness.

Why is it that we travel to wild places and find that we belong there? Does it mean that we were there before?  Or is it that we resonate with the canyon or the mountains or the highland meadow?  John Muir resonated with the Sierra Nevada and from that connection created the Sierra Club. Bob Marshall climbed peaks of the central Brooks Range, and it became one of his favorite places.

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Have you ever arrived at a place for the first time and felt at home?  Have you found it to be familiar? That you belonged?  The Grand Canyon is special to me. In our summer family vacations, we visited many parks, yet the South Rim was vivid in my memory.

What places draw you in?  Where in the world do you feel a powerful connection?

Please share with us the places you love best.

Be well 🙂

Annette

 

Photo Credits: A.M. Beaulieu, National Park Service, Wikipedia

Sources: John Muir-Sierra Club Bob Marshall-Wikipedia LiveScience.com

When You Resolve To Make A Resolution…

Why are resolutions so difficult to keep?  Why did we ever start making them in the first place? Did you know that as few as 8% of people who set New Year’s resolutions keep them?

Why?

I really liked the idea of making — and keeping — New Year’s resolutions. I love the idea of taking stock and looking toward what will be in the next year.  But New Year’s resolutions began to feel separate from who I really am and what I am wanting to accomplish.  There is a list of them floating around. You may be familiar with the classics — losing weight, getting fit, stopping a bad habit like smoking.

Our tradition of making resolutions comes from ancient Babylonia and Rome. In ancient Babylonia, people wanted to be sure to return borrowed objects and get out of financial debt.  If the Babylonians kept to their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor. Romans celebrated the god Janus who looked forward to the coming year and back to the year just passed. For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.

LittleThingsHardy

If making a resolution starts from a place of lack, then every time I think of my resolution, or work on it, won’t I remind myself of a deficit in my character?  Won’t I remind myself of being less than, of being unworthy?

When you are wanting to master something, which helps you more — looking at what you have left to accomplish or seeing how far you have come?

There we are.

In any journey, it is pivotal to assess how far you have traveled.  On a road trip, you gauge your progress by the miles traveled. Seeing how far you have come, how many things you have mastered gives one energy for the rest of the journey.

Perhaps it is the religious connection with resolutions that sets people up for failure.  It is my belief that when one starts by defining oneself as lacking, it is really quite difficult to move to worth.  Much of our religious history has taught us that we are not enough.  Making resolutions in this context makes success that much harder. You are much less likely to work toward something, wouldn’t you agree, if every time you think about it, you remind yourself of how unworthy you are?

Growth usually happens incrementally.  Evolution happens in steps.  So wouldn’t the best way to approach intentionally making improvements in your life, or in yourself, be to make an adjustment?  And, wouldn’t it be more fun if there is a little whisper of the positive to encourage you?

Thank you to Darren Hardy for the kernel of this concept.  You will also find it familiar if you have ever been told the Fable of the Grain of Rice.  The longest journeys are made up of single steps.  The smallest pieces come together to make the biggest picture.  Our efforts do add up.

I have never sailed, but the visual that jumps into my mind is an exquisite ship of old, perhaps a pirate ship chasing another vessel at the great speed of 8 knots.  The sail is hoisted; it fills with wind and glides toward its target.

ProsperousNewYearV

What I love about this way of thinking is that it requires me to not only stay focused on my desired destination, but also requires that I assess how I am progressing toward it.  This process is a journey, not an exercise in success or failure. A black and white process lets me off the hook too easily.  Quitting is less of an option because the exercise is judging progress.  When you know it will be a journey of some length, marking progress becomes the next step, the next required activity — not arriving. Bigger projects or greater growth take longer than a day or a week. If you are correcting your course, the changes can be subtle yet achieve a great deal over time.

If I were sailing across an ocean, judging how far I have come would be right in front of me every moment.  Most of us are growing things or building skills that are less straight forward. Judging where you are on your journey is still vital.

My vision is building an online presence and community that offers people ways to live healthier that are also kinder to our planet.  It is my role to inspire people to the certainty that we have all that we need to heal ourselves and the planet.

Sure, building a successful online community is a large undertaking, but I can write a few thought-provoking paragraphs today, can’t I?  Of course I can.  I can grow my email list a bit every month?  Yes, I can do that too.

When you think of what you are wanting to create or master as a journey, motion becomes your partner.  Now my journey is fluid and allows me to respond to all of the factors involved. How can you know every step already?  And, how can you predict what wonderful support will show up for you on your way?

Do you assess your progress over time?  What is it about human nature that we only look forward to see where it is we need to go?  Perhaps it was just my nature.

So now I look back to see how far I have come. When I hiked Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park, tracking my progress was built in to the hike.  There is a rest house at 1.5 miles & 3 miles, then Indian Gardens is a midway point.  The points of reference are different for every journey.

When I completed hiking the Grand Canyon, I felt incredible — unstoppable.  The canyon was epic. Awesome. Beautiful. Magnificent. What I gained is the absolute belief that I can plan and succeed at whatever project I choose. What if this were how we kept resolutions?

Cool.

What is your next journey? All you have to know is the next step.  Take it.

Be well 🙂

Annette

 

Post Blog Script: Read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy to gain more on the concept of the power of making small, cumulative changes.

Photo Credits: Frances Brundage & A.M. Beaulieu

Sources: History.com,

Our Amazing Earth – Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge between Sedona and Flagstaff in northern Arizona.  Only 12 miles in length, the canyon is considered the smaller cousin to the Grand Canyon because of its craggy walls dotted with deciduous and evergreen oaks. At its base is Oak Creek.

Dad&MeOakCreekCanyon

Check out my recent visit to Oak Creek Canyon here (Happiness G wasn’t able to fly to Arizona, but he will hike with me the next time 🙂 ) I traveled with my father who is 79 this year.

The weather was incredible, perfect for taking photos. We enjoyed every moment of our trip.

Be well 🙂

Annette

Photo Credits: A.M. Beaulieu & E.T. Beaulieu

It’s My Blog, And I’ll Write What I Want To!! — Chocolat Chaud

Cocoa is good for you, you know.  Maybe not the kiddie hot chocolate you may have grown up with, mostly sugar and buried in marshmallows.  But grown up hot chocolate – cocoa – chocolat chaud certainly can be.

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Photo Credit LeBlogdeLili.fr

So I always loved hot chocolate as a child growing up in a proper northern winter, but the epiphany happened when I sipped, “Chocolat L’Africain” at Chez Angelina in Paris.  Trust me, your life — all of your lives —  will never be the same after sipping chocolat at Chez Angelina.

Chocolate has a long history starting with the Mayans who drank cocoa unsweetened and spicy. I love chocolate and choose it most of the time when having something sweet.  What I love about chocolate, however, is that it is still delicious when it is less sweet.  And, it is more nutritious.  

Cacao, or cocoa powder is a source of fiber, protein, fat, antioxidants and trace minerals.  Historically it has been all of the sugar that makes chocolate not the best choice for every day. For anyone working on reducing sugar in the diet, you can still enjoy a warm drink using very little or no sweetener. Now, here is what you really want to hear. It’s good. It’s really good.

It’s simple.  Make a ganache!

Here’s what I do:

Coarsely chop 1 ounce of dark chocolate.  You could use keto friendly chocolate to reduce the carbohydrates.  Warm 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of heavy whipping cream to just before boiling.  Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and wait for five minutes.  After five minutes gently whisk your ganache. It will combine into an emulsion of chocolate and cream, shiny and luscious.

At this point add 4 to 6 ounces of whatever “milk” you would like to finish off your chocolat.  I do drink dairy, but also enjoy making my chocolat with a chocolate coconut cream ganache and coconut milk.

Delicious!  What I realized I most enjoy about chocolat chaud is the richness of chocolate and the lusciousness of the drink itself.

Do look for more precise details of this recipe in a future blog post.  Since the only source of sugar is in the dark chocolate (unless you use stevia sweetened chocolate which would give you completely sugar free), this chocolat will have far fewer calories and carbohydrates.  What I love about cocoa is how easy it is to make healthier, or keto-friendly and still be so good.

Chocolate!  Nutritious and delicious.  I suspect there are a few more chocolate posts to come.

Be well 🙂

Annette

Post Script: Thinking about hot chocolate & cocoa & chocolat chaud in January has made me happy. I live in Minnesota, and one thing that is well known about Minnesota is our long — and often cold — winter. I do not sip a hot chocolate every day, but like life, the joy is in the journey. The entire journey of planning, researching and now writing this post has been a joy.

Photo credit: Le Blog De Lili & A.M. Beaulieu

Source: The Spruce Eats

 

Our Amazing Earth – Minnehaha Falls

What one hears most often about Minnesota is how cold it is in the winter.  We do have cold weather, but it is also lovely.  Minnehaha Falls is the centerpiece of Minnehaha Regional Park, one of the oldest and most popular parks in the city of Minneapolis. The park features the majestic 53-foot waterfall, limestone bluffs and river overlooks.  In winter, the falls become a cascade of blue ice.

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HappinessG approved:) Check out our visit here.

 

Be well 🙂 Annette & HappinessG

 

 

Our Amazing Earth – Minnesota Valley

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is home to bald eagles and other waterfowl, migrating birds, fish and wildlife like river otters and coyotes . Along 70 miles of riverfront are 14,000 acres of habitat, a large part right alongside 3 million neighbors of the Twin Cities and suburbs.

MNValleySelfieIt is HappinessG Approved! Check out our visit here.

Be well 🙂 Annette & HappinessG