Another Friday Rivercruise

About a year ago, Melody and I took a cruise down a part of the St Croix river, from Taylors Falls. A beautiful trip, I blogged about it previously and posted pictures.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of peace I had then, after busy days of preparing for the movers arrival next Monday. So I booked a river cruise on another part of the St Croix river. This time from Stillwater.

The weather forecast was showing rain, but when I arrived there were very little clouds in the sky and it was beautifully sunny. I could pick my spot as I was early… top deck near the front. I missed my chatterbox daughter… but the instant peace of being on the water was there…

There is nothing more calming to me than the sound of the water, with beautiful birds up in the sky. Especially my favourite in this part of the world… the bald eagle. Such majestic soaring over the waters…

It always reminds me of the sermon Geert preaches often.. the song of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he compares the father Eagle to our Heavenly Father. Soaring, watching, feeding, and there to catch us when we fall. Seeing these eagles puts things in perspective. He is in control…

‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the Storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God…’

Enjoy the weekend, my soul is calm.

Why Are We Afraid of Sharks…Should We Be?

When you think about the ocean…what words spring to mind? Water? Fish? Dolphins? What about words such as fear? Scary? Deep? Intimidating? Everyone has their own opinion on the ocean and what words they associate with the ocean. One word we all have in common though…and that is sharks. Everyone can name at least one species of shark, whether that is the famous Great White Shark or Whale Shark, we all know one.

Now when it comes to sharks what word springs to mind? Killer? Scary? Fear? Have you ever wondered where that fear came from? Why are we so scared of sharks? Should we be scared of them? Now I am no expert on sharks, but I have extensively studied them recently and have been fascinated by them since I was 10 years old. The one question that everyone asks me is ‘are sharks really the ruthless killer we think they are?’. Isn’t that the question everyone wants to know?

I know for myself that it was the question that I wanted answered 16 years ago. At that point all I really knew about sharks was what my parents knew (the internet had only just become widely available but it was still dialup so it was either the phone or the computer…the phone won). My parents realised that I had a hunger for knowledge on sharks and ended up buying me a book on them and I remember so clearly that the pages on shark attacks and survivors is what really held my attention. Specifically it was the story of Rodney Fox and how he survived. Now what really surprised me was that after his attack, he became a shark advocate…he admitted that he was not the victim in this attack, the shark was!

This set me off on what I thought was a great detective story. Turned out that the majority of shark victims didn’t blame the shark at all and actually became advocates themselves! Now if people who were attacked by them aren’t afraid of them…why should we be?

So the big question is, where did this fear come from? Many would say, and I would agree, that the media have made sharks these ruthless killers that we are all afraid of. Whether this all started with the film ‘Jaws’ or not is another question. But the author of ‘Jaws’ Peter Benchley also became a shark advocate and regretted writing his book so much that he wrote another book talking about how important the oceans are and what lives in them.

Yes sharks look scary, they are apex predators so they are ‘designed’ to perfection for their environment. But just because they look scary it doesn’t mean that they are ‘cold-blooded killers’. In fact the chance of a shark killing you is so small, you are more likely to die from a cow or a coconut falling on your head! Those that do get attacked are mainly surfers, and that is because surfers tend to go out at dawn and dusk, prime shark feeding time. Plus the major reason surfers get attacked, is because they look like seals in the water, seals being the number one food source for many sharks.

So does this mean we should be scared of them? To an extent yes, they are the apex predators of the oceans and it is their environment. When we step foot into the ocean, we are going into their environment. But, that fear shouldn’t stop us from exploring or understanding the oceans and especially studying and understanding sharks more! The media has made us scared of sharks with behaviours that aren’t natural to them, we love being scared of monsters, they intrigue us. But instead of being scared of seeing them in the wild, lets be amazed! It is not often that you can come face to face with these beautiful creatures!

Sharks are truly incredible creatures and I will spend my life protecting them and making people aware of just how amazing they are and that we shouldn’t be scared of them.

What about you? What about sharks scare you? What about the oceans scare you? Let me know in the comments below!

~ Fear is only as deep as the mind allows – Japanese Proverb ~

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Taking Time for Yourself

It’s important to, once in a while, take some time for yourself…I did just that this last weekend. After dad being away for 2 1/2 weeks last month…my anxiety picked up…it hit me out of nowhere and for those of you who also have anxiety…you know that it isn’t something that you can just stop…

Anxiety can be crippling, it can make you scared to leave your house, talk to new people, try something new…but you also know that it is a completely illogical fear. I’m known as an over thinker…I over think pretty much everything in my life and so my brain is a constant bundle of things I need to do and scenarios that would never happen. I have yet to find a permanent solution where I can battle my anxiety and overthinking. For right now though a few hobbies keep my mind distracted and this last week and weekend I really focused on myself and pressed the ‘reset’ button in my brain.

So last week, Dad and I took a trip down to Cornwall…dad had an event that he was playing the drums at and I used the time to just relax. We rented an airbnb in Porthtowan just minutes walk from the beach. Now for those of you who know me know that there is something about the ocean and the beach…I feel like I’m at home. My love for marine biology intensifies whenever I’m near the beach and I always feel like the ocean is calling me…my mood instantly changes when I see the ocean, no matter the weather…I cheer up…I relax…I breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

I had so many things planned for that weekend, however there were 2 factors that hindered those plans and could have ruined it all for me. The weather is not something you can control and bank holidays in the UK are notorious for having poor weather. Well, the weather in Cornwall lived up to that…I received pictures from several important people in my life showing the blue sky and talking about how hot it was…I looked out my window and all I had was dense fog, the sun wasn’t anywhere in sight…But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being on the beach! Now the second factor was a little more annoying…2 weeks before I had managed to dislocate my right shoulder (yes I am right handed) and was still in significant pain and arm still in a sling. So suddenly things like picking up trash on the beach, or trying to take a picture with my camera, became a lot harder to do. Yes we had the dense fog for 2 out of the 3 days we were there, but the last day the fog finally lifted and I remembered why I love the ocean and the beach. The colours of the sand and the blue hues of the water…there is just nothing quite like it for me.

Now getting back to what I did to press the ‘reset’ button, I went for numerous walks on the beach and along the coastal path along the cliffs and spent time staring out to sea, anxiously looking to see if I could spot any wildlife (some seals but that was it), I explored some of the numerous ruins that Cornwall has to offer. Spent time reconnecting with old friends, building connections with new ones and drinking multiple iced lattes and peach green tea lemonades. Oh and who can forget the ice creams!!

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Unfortunately, time always flies and before I knew it we were home and the instant lull in my mood was noticeable. I knew I had to do something to stop myself from slipping back into my anxiety driven state. I ended up looking through my yarn stash and decided to crochet something again. Recently I had been knitting a wrap for myself but I really wanted to crochet something. So I picked a pattern and off I went…There is just something about crocheting and knitting that keeps my mind preoccupied and allows me to relax.

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Some people might say that it is selfish to take time for yourself. But if you don’t, then when do you get the time to be yourself…allow yourself to grow and to relax. Sometimes that means a mini break away to your ‘happy place’ and sometimes it means just picking up an old hobby. All I know is that since my mini break…my anxiety has lessened and my mood has improved.

What about you…what is your happy place? Do you have anxiety? What helps calm you down? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!!

Have a great weekend!

~ A cloudy day at the beach, is still a day at the beach – Unknown ~

Crochet

Yep, my favourite past time… crocheting takes my mind of lots of things. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still.. I need to have something to do, something to not only keep my hands occupied, but something to take my mind of things. So hands race over the wool…

With my soon return to England, a lot of things need to be arranged.. simple things, like changing my phone plan, to more complex things like arranging the movers and applying for customs exemption…. my mind is racing, and so are my hands… I like straight forward patterns for this… something I do not need to keep my mind on… no complex patterns (unlike my daughter Melody does)… just straight forward and fast… counting till 7.

Blanket after blanket, with a scarf or two in between are getting finished… if you happen to receive one from me, yep… crocheted with a busy cluttered mind… if you did not receive one… it’s not personal… my stress period is not over yet… hahaha

“Crocheting keeps me from unraveling”

Am curious to know what your way is of stopping the mind from ‘unraveling’. Everyone copes in their own ways..there are no good or bad ways… but curious I am!

Happy Friday!

Team Building

The last couple days have all been marked with special experiences…. I went to see the play ‘guess who’s coming to dinner’ in the Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis. That play reminds me once again how prejudiced we can be to those that are different. An old movie with a very relevant theme. It’s hard to accept those that are different to us, whether it’s because of culture, beliefs or skin colour. I know I don’t see different skin tones, but I can’t say I never feel prejudiced towards others with different customs and believes!

Tonight was our work team building event. Not everyone was able to make it..but for those that could…we went axe throwing… not something I would choose to do, and of course I suck at it big time… but it taught me something… I don’t need to be good at something in order for me to enjoy it. Quite a different thought for me…as my husband reminded me, I can be rather competitive…. today I could rejoice in the fact that everyone was achieving well, except for me.. and that’s ok! The teams were fun, friendly banter…and an opportunity to see colleagues away from the seriousness and business of work.

Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and have fun with those whom we spend so much time with. Life is more than hitting deadlines and achieving at work… also this was an opportunity to let go of preconceived ideas and prejudices about colleagues… see them in a different way. As I hope they will see me in a different way also.

Team… that rocked… let’s do it again some day (when I can move my arms and shoulders again!)

Weekend

Another weekend is here. Am so glad the snow has finally given in to beautiful sunshine and is nearly gone. The lakes are still frozen but the scent of spring is in the air. Not long now and the trees will start to show their green leaves… hope the flowers start soon to bloom too. All in time for me to experience a last spring while living here in the USA.

Yes, the year in America is coming to an end. 5 weekends left before my home address goes back over the pond again… England, I have missed you!

But first… weekend! Sun, God, me-time..

What are your weekend plans? I hope your weekend will be peaceful with unexpected blessings!!!

Some Much Needed Vitamin D

Spring has FINALLY arrived here in the UK!!! I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the last week already and the promise of sunshine and warm weather stayed! Waking up this morning I was welcomed with the suns rays through my blinds and the excitement grew!

After a quick walk to the doctors (still in the process of getting my fibroids sorted – read ‘Living with a hidden – not so hidden illness’ if you want to know more) and then buying some fresh bread at the local bakery…I am now sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine, enjoying the weather!

I’m not the only one who is enjoying the outside life…the cats are both thoroughly enjoying it…lazing around in the sun, catching all the flies and being stung by wasps…

One thing I realised whilst being sat here in the sun is that even when life is dark and there are moments when I can’t see the end of the tunnel…just sitting outside in the fresh air, in the warmth of the sun and no threat of rain…life isn’t as dark as I thought. There is light at the end of the tunnel…whether that tunnel has led you to where you thought you were going to end up or not…isn’t that the exciting thing about life? You never know where your journey will take you!

Since finishing my masters degree I have been looking for a PhD or a job…not finding much luck in either…so right now I don’t know where my life is going to lead but I am excited to find out!

What about you? Is it sunny where you are? If so, what do you enjoy doing when its sunny? Let me know in the comments below!!

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Spring

Spring in Minnesota has a different ring to it. Instead of seeing lots of blossoms in the trees, there is another 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Yesterday we wanted to get pancakes in St Paul, which ended up with the car stuck up a hill. The friendly Minnesota nice came out with a random guy behind us helping to push the car up the hill. If it would not have been so inappropriate I would have taken pictures!!!

We made it home safe though and were just watching the winter wonderland from the window.

I guess there will be some more Home days!! Although Geert is now on its way to Washington for a pastor conference.

I am ready for real Spring though!!!

Christian in Science

Being a christian in a science world can be hard…it has led to many questions and led to me doubting my faith and everything that I thought I knew. My experience really started when I left for university for my undergrad degree.

Moving hours away from my parents (I studied in Bangor, Wales whilst living near London) meant that I would be far away from my parents and my church. It was the first time that I would be living out of my parents house, so not only would I have to adapt to  living on my own but I would finally be studying something that I have always had a passion for, knowing that it would be difficult.

I remember one of my first lectures so vividly, it was an introduction to the course and an overview of what the module would be teaching. I knew going in that there would be a lot of evolution but what threw me was that the lecturer in a class of 500 said ‘those that believe in creation are stupid’. I know I was not the only christian sitting in that room…I felt personally attacked.

Yes I believe in creation but I also believe in evolution. I don’t think that we all come from monkeys but there is evidence of microevolution and theres no denying that! What irritated me was that the lecturer had no respect for other points of view. It tainted my opinion on scientists…However, after speaking with dad that evening I realised that not all scientists would think that way…I was now a scientist and I wasn’t like that!

Yes I am one of the rare few that are christian in a scientific world. A world that teaches us to question everything and only believe something that we can see or undeniably prove. This contradicts the christian part of me…the part that blindly believes in something that we cannot ‘see’. Would I change either side…no! Absolutely not!

My scientific side has taught me so much. How to question things, how to prove things, how to argue my point, and it has opened my eyes to all the wonderful things on this planet. My christian side has also taught me a lot though. It has taught me that I am never alone, that I am always loved, no matter all my mistakes, and that there is hope in my darkest days. I am a miracle baby, science couldn’t understand how I came to exist, but here I am…26 years old, healthy (ish…) but alive and well.

Do I have all the answers? No. Do I still question my beliefs every day when science makes so much sense? Of course! But I also believe that you can’t grow in your faith unless you are tested. Not everyone will get tested in the same way…For me my journey isn’t anywhere near being done. But I think its important to be a christian in science. It has given me a whole new perspective on life and made me very open to new thoughts and ideas. Lets see what the rest of my life will throw at me…no doubt there will be plenty of questions! One thing I know for certain…my faith and science do not contradict one another…they go hand in hand and help me understand things in a deeper level.

What about you? Are you a christian in science? What’s your experience? And if you’re not a christian in science…what do you struggle with in your daily life? And if you’re a scientist…have you had to deal with any christians in science…and if so…whats been your experience? Let me know in the comments or message me privately!

~ The more I study science…the more I believe in God – Albert Einstein ~

Science is a Gift

Reflections

This has been a weekend of reflection, re-evaluating that which is important during a period of madness. Work has been very busy, a little more than usual. I did not know if I could make it to go away. Although I had scheduled holiday, I could not actually take the time off. However, I really did want to go down to Tennessee where the memorial service of my uncle would be held. Of course my uncle would not know any better if I would turn up or not. After all we believe the dead are sleeping, until the resurrection. But I really wanted to be there for my cousin, whom I just recently reconnected with. Being in the US is a great opportunity to tighten family connections.

But now work commitments were threatening this time I had sat aside. Even though I had wanted to spend as much time as possible, I actually only saw them for the first time during visitation. And as my uncle was well loved, there was high demand on my family’s time. Particularly since they had all lived in Tennessee also and were there to visit.

It became quickly known to me that my desire to spend time was to be put on hold. Mixed with a bout of shyness to intrude and work calling, I only stayed for the service.

Coming back to my hotel room, and having my cousins words ringing through my head ‘don’t disappear’ I realised I really did have to think about what’s important. Sure, I need the job and right now work requires my focus. But being so close to relocating back to the UK, my opportunity to connect with family far away is also very important to me. I had challenged my cousin to a ‘rematch’ of walking/running up a hill in one of the state parks, and the time window was closing!

I ensured to have understanding of my boss that it was ok to skive off on Sunday…. and down the country lanes I went. Shame it was dreary out, no walking to be done. But I was very fortunate to have my cousin and his wife for myself for a couple hours! Catching up on years gone by and reminiscing of shared past time. Meeting up with their kids and grand kids, whom I actually had not met (except their eldest son, who was at Newbold College in England for a year during our time there).

The time to leave cane around way to early. Funny how you can feel so connected to someone in such a shirt time!

With promises to stay in touch I drove back to Atlanta to fly home to Minnesota, glad I did do what’s important to me. Family, no matter how far away, is very important. Time spend is not wasted.

Looking forward to the next opportunities to spend time!