Category Archives: Abundance

You Know You Live on Big Lake When…

Big Lake

You Know You Live on Big Lake When…

The greatest pleasure in life is sharing your experience with others

The book you remember the most from college is Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Everyone asks why you are grinning

Watching TV becomes a distant memory

You feel the adrenalin rush with news of a mama grizzly and three cubs in the area

You brush your teeth outdoors

You have more beer in the fridge than water

You look into the eyes of a squirrel and it holds your gaze without moving a muscle

Your boys pee in the woods

Your life redefines “reality show”

You impress your kids with your wood splitting skills

You walk out the door and a spider web sticks to your face

A birch tree becomes your most attentive friend

You remember the joy and wonder of being a child

Crocs are your favorite shoes and sunglasses your favorite accessory

Your shed is filled with gasoline, water, propane, and toilet paper

An owl flies near your head with prey in its claws at 1:00am

You write as though the well will never run dry

Every moment is a Kodak moment

A sparrow lands on your easel as you are painting

You purchase baby wipes in bulk even though you have no kids in diapers

You worry about bears breaking into your home instead of people

You shush mice and swat flies when you go to the bathroom

Your clothes and hair smell like campfire smoke

The local grocer scrunches his face when you ask for tofu

Your tan consists of millions of freckles that have run together

The weekly visit to the laundromat is a social experiment

You have replaced hair spray with bear spray

You experience goose bumps when you hear the eerie calls of a loon

Mosquitoes are as big as birds

You prepare meals without a stove

Catching a movie has become catching frogs and dragonflies

Float planes buzz your space daily

You’re always eager to return home and enjoy your private sanctuary

Leeches, beetles, ladybugs, frogs, and stickleback fish become your pets

Any kind of weather makes a great day

The lens in which you view the world softens

The sound of birds singing becomes your favorite background noise

The favorite part of your day is skipping stones, tubing, hiking, swimming, boating,
roasting marshmallows, picking flowers, chasing butterflies, chopping wood, and
blowing bubbles

You go to bed when you want and get up when you want

A robin builds a nest above your shower

Your greatest source of inspiration and entertainment is watching the ripples in the water

You sit on the dock and watch the waves go by

You witness a bird return to life after it crashes into a window

You swing in the afternoon sun, eating peanuts tossing the shells into the lake

You enjoy watching the grass grow and fish jumping out of the water

Nature inspires the best version of you

You pause each evening to watch the most amazing sunsets

The sweetest words you hear are, “hey Mom look” and “I love you”

Your neighbors are three chickens, one duck, and a Rottweiler named Tiny

You feel like a newlywed after twenty years of marriage

Your favorite question becomes “do birds have belly buttons?”

Your heater is a Toyo

You boil water to wash dishes

It takes ten minutes to clean your entire house

It’s okay to sweat, be seen without makeup, break a nail, and get dirt between your toes

Your biggest concern is hoping this life will last forever

You go to bed when most people are just waking up

You are happier than you’ve ever been in your entire life

Your key chain floats

You sit by the fire listening to Norah Jones and watch the loons swim by

You misplace your makeup bag

Four hundred square feet feels like four thousand square feet

You wear clothes several times before they land in the laundry basket

You burn your trash

Your kids drive the boat more than you

You snap over one hundred photos each day

You dine al fresco most meals

You are grateful for being alive and every breath you are given

Neosporin, Band-Aids, and anti-itch cream become your first aid kit

Everything around you is alive and never sleeps

Your kitchen is missing the sink

You stockpile gallons of hand sanitizer

You scream and screech at least once per day as you encounter a critter on the trail

You learn the big red itchy bumps you thought were mosquito bites are actually swimmer’s itch

You can sit still and do nothing and be okay

Your kids attend school at the picnic table

Your computer is your gateway to the world some days

Your favorite snacks are popcorn and s’mores

Your bike is replaced with a paddle boat

You look into the woods knowing many eyes are watching you

Your favorite meal consists of grilled corn on the cob, veggie burger, and salad

The melody of wind chimes soothes your soul

Your “home away from home” is the gym

There is always a rustling and crunching in the bushes no matter where you sit

Your house is a ten minute boat ride from your truck

You have the courage to live the life of your dreams

You are complete!


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Croc Nappers

Are We Having Fun?

My five-year old daughter snapped this photo tonight after our impromptu dinner guest (hi Mark) left.  We had a wonderful and eventful day which is just winding down at 1:30a.m.  Earlier today we had a small earthquake which measured 5.2.  I was sitting in a very solid wooden chair, at the table, and it shook once then twice.  I told everyone, “hey we just had an earthquake.”  Of course nobody believed me, so we verified it on the website.  Actually Alaska had almost eighty earthquakes today.  Unbelievable!

My husband almost had to rescue two dogs, this afternoon, swimming across the lake.  We watched the swimmers chase after their owners as they drove away in their boats.  We kept a close eye on them with the binoculars worried they might become tired and drown or get hit by a boat.  It took them about thirty minutes to swim all the way across the lake and back home.  My husband took the boat over to check on them and about that time the owners returned.  We later discovered these dogs have been taking long swims for the past three weeks.  These are the same dogs which stole my shoe from a friend’s deck yesterday.  I took my shoes off (like all polite Alaskans do) before entering my friend’s home, but when I returned there was just one lonely shoe.  So my friends (hi Debbie and Gretchen) and Casey headed to the neighbor’s house to find the suspected criminals.  Lo and behold my friends caught the shoe nappers with the evidence under the porch.  I have teeth marks in my rubber Crocs to remind me of the juvenile delinquents living nearby.  If they find our cabin this could be a big problem, since we leave our shoes and boots outside every night.


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Life on Big Lake

A Growing Family

Life on the lake is becoming our new “normal” and we’re really getting settled.  Mama Bird has two more eggs and my husband has finally relinquished the idea of hanging our sun shower from HER roost. Hey showers are overrated anyway, right?  She does occupy prime real estate in the back with privacy and full sun. This bird obviously understands the ageless concept of location, location, location.

I’m feeling more rested and not requiring as much sleep as I needed when we initially arrived. We are establishing routines with sleeping, school, work, play, projects, showers, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. I’ve realized how little “stuff” you need to truly enjoy life. We have designated areas of the cabin which serve all essential purposes: office, bedroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, library, and foyer. Yes, all of these functions exist within the walls of a four hundred square foot structure. The family room in the outbuilding has become a crash pad for the kids during rainy days and the other side serves nicely as a storage/pantry area.  Yesterday it rained for the first time in almost two weeks and the kids spent some time in the family room watching a movie, playing video games, setting up Allyson’s doll house, and anything else they could find in there to occupy their time (and there is everything you can imagine in that room except for the kitchen sink). Despite the wet weather we took the kids tubing, we cooked s’mores around the fire, roof work continued, and the outdoor grill proved once again the most convenient kitchen appliance. When you live in Alaska you go about your day in rain or shine (or wind or snow or anything for that matter…unless your dream is to live as a hermit).

Mysterious Lake Creature (a.k.a. leach)

I found another spider indoors (I promise to stop counting), saw two more shrews, and the loons and grebes
must have announced to all of their friends that we are animal-friendly.  Aaron ran up the hill today and screamed hysterically about a new “creature” he caught in the lake (turns out it was a leach).  Of course, once he calmed down it went into a bucket for closer observation (you can use your imagination to figure out a seven-year old’s idea of “observation”).

Casey's Birdhouse (finished product)


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Back on the Ponderosa

Heaven on Earth

I spent several hours outdoors yesterday in the beautiful weather and this was my view for most of the day.  My husband took the kids to visit a friend and I curled up in the swing next to the lake.  My intention was to read a book and enjoy my peace and quiet time, but I spent the entire time gazing at the water and daydreaming (and occasionally nodded off).  Wild horses could not have kept me away from this amazing place in time and space!  My family returned a few hours later ready to eat and stir up some fun (they were also ready for a good dose of sun screen in the seventy plus degree weather).

Today was an overcast day with a few sprinkles which proved to be a blessing, since we all had minor sunburns from the blazing sun the day before.  My husband spent the day finishing the roof on the family room, I spent the day indoors working with clients and organizing our space, and the kids explored everything that moved outside.

One of Aaron's "Pets"

I found another spider in the cabin and this time I calmly took care of business with one paper towel and no bottle of 409 (not even a scream).  We pulled out our bird book and settled the ongoing dispute of what kind of grebes are nesting out front, we verified Mama Bird now has three eggs in her nest (I think she might be deaf, because nothing seems to phase her…that’s it, she’s a Mom), saw a shrew run under the building (I’ve heard them chewing in the outhouse, but never actually seen one until now), and realized I have now been at the cabin for more consecutive days than any time in history.  Wow, I’m setting records and blazing new territory every single day.

Casey's Bird Habitat


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Life is Glorious

Our Name Placard

I’m not sure what I have done to deserve such a wonderful week, but I’m grateful and I’m enjoying every moment.  So much happens in just one day and I’m excited to share some of it with you.

I spent about four hours today planting flowers and strawberries, hanging hand painted birdhouses, and strategically hiding our gnomes and other garden friends around the dock area.  If my dirty feet and aching back are any indication of a job well done then I’m satisfied.

Our Favorite Shoes

Mama Bird is still hanging out in the back even though my seven-year old son (Aaron) banged away with hammer and nails all day long.  The noise didn’t even phase her and he was a very happy camper building his first boat.  My five-year old daughter (Allyson) loves to take photos and she really helps me document our journey each day.  We watched a plane take off and land probably ten times and she was able to capture the moment.

Great Source of Entertainment

The sunsets are truly amazing and I take a moment to pause each night to watch the spectacle.  It reminds me of when we visited Maui about nine years ago.  It’s a local tradition for everyone to stop whatever they are doing and watch the lights go out.  Their sunsets are very quick in comparison and when the light goes out there it’s actually dark.  Not here.  We are currently getting eighteen hours and thirty-two minutes of daylight and still gaining around three and a half minutes per day.  My husband and I sat out by the dock last night/this morning watching four grebes interact (or mate, or fight, or whatever they were doing.)  I love to sit and watch the lake late at night and early in the morning, because it’s so flat and peaceful.  I still pinch myself each day and wonder if I’m going to wake up from this dream.  I’m exactly where I want to be at this moment in my life.  I know that some of you reading this blog might think my desire to have this experience is strange (or at least unconventional), but that’s the point of it all.  Me having the courage to be Me as you watch the entire process unfold.  Too much fun!

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The Mother of All Moves

My Sister Vickie and I (me on the left)

A sorting we will go…wondering where I have been?  In a cloud of dust from all the boxes, sorting through things from my mom, my husband’s mom, my grandparents, my childhood, my husband’s childhood, my childrens’ childhoods, okay you get the point.  This move will certainly be remembered as the Mother of All Moves!  I finally feel as though I am crawling out of the abyss of stuff and have found the floor in some rooms.  We have extended our stay one final time to May 17 to get out of here with our sanity intact (a matter of opinion).  We have been working from sun up to sun down (in Alaska that is all day) every day to get this house packed.  Much to my surprise this move has taken on a life all its own even though it is my fifty-sixth move.  Historically I have moved boxes to the next house even if I had not opened and organized them, so physically touching each and every item has proven extremely time-consuming.

When we started this process I had approximately three thousand five hundred books in this house (my rehabilitation led me to the Nook Color), hundreds of beanie babies (what was I thinking in the early 90s), tens of thousands of photos (including the infamous “black suitcase” which has traveled through our family since the 1940s),  enough office and school supplies for a few years, enough baskets and gift wrapping supplies (including gifts still in the boxes) to open a gift basket business, enough clothes to outfit a family of twenty (how many outfits can you possibly wear in a day or before you grow out of them), enough papers to sink a ship (the recycle bin has been full to the brim), and over forty houseplants.  I am happy to report that I kept fewer books than I donated (I think the local bookstore may have doubled in size in the past few weeks); gave away all but a couple of houseplants; and happily shared bags and boxes and truckloads full of toys, clothes, stuffed animals, household items, dishes, furniture, appliances, computers, etc.  I jokingly tell my friends that I have a “no return” policy on everything I share with them (thanks Chris, Sina, Rachel, Kay, Carl), so I hope we are still friends.

The "Black Suitcase"

At one point I felt as though I had entered some kind of weird time warp and my head had spun out of control with a lifetime of memories.  The “movie” played out in my brain, but  in a very disjointed and haphazard fashion as I compiled all of our family photos and keepsakes (which represented several generations spanning over one hundred years all over the country) in one area.  I’m so happy that we have completed all the sorting and now it’s just a matter of wrapping, packing, and storing.  I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it feels great.

Look What Made The Cut

We found evidence of many different types of media available during our lifetime:  Disc camera, 35mm, digital, slides, 8mm movies, 110, Polaroid, video cassettes, dvds, cds, and microcassettes.  We found baby shoes, baby outfits, wedding dresses, wedding rings, old coins, old dolls, greeting cards (some that never made it to the mail box), my mom’s spoon collection (hundreds of spoons collected over sixty-seven years), letters, legal documents (including funeral announcements, birth announcements, marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, wills, divorce decrees), medical and dental records, x-rays (why do people keep these things, don’t the doctors have this stuff on file), footprints, hospital armbands, my Brownie dress and my husband’s Cub Scout shirt.

Brownie Dress and Childhood Books

I have learned patience as I dilligently review the contents of each and every box, because I am always rewarded with a special keepsake. Some of the really special items we found were my mom’s genealogy (I couldn’t even remember my great grandparents’ names), photos from the 1920s and 1930s, my mother-in-law’s wedding dress (which I actually retrieved from the garbage after we found her wedding photos and realized the error), old love letters (which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent), old coins, old books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and old address books belonging to my mom and my mother-in-law (which really helps put the puzzle together.

Our decision to simplify our life has been completely validated as a result of this entire process.  I think I will experience the effects of the stuff “hangover” for a very long time and I’m thrilled to know that I will have far less stuff to clutter my space and mind and far more time to enjoy life.


Full Circle

Some of you might be reading this and scratching your head wondering what in the world is she doing?  Well, I’m making this move deliberately and consciously with the full support of my husband and children.  Honestly, we are all excited about the adventure that lies ahead and for the kids each day will be like an extended summer vacation.  We have not stamped an expiration date on this journey, so we might still be on this path by winter or we may have found a new zip code.  In my mind whatever happens is part of the bigger plan called Life and I’m grateful for the opportunity to discover what makes me tick.  I’m very proud to have mustered the courage to be Me and all that entails (thank you Kelly B).

When I awoke this morning I kept thinking “full circle” and wondered why this concept was so important.  Tonight I was studying with my oldest son and suddenly realized the significance of this thought.  I truly had an epiphany!  (Don’t you just love that word?  It’s so much fun.)  You know…a light bulb moment.  I finally understood why I had been pushing away the very idea of a simpler life, because in the past simple equalled failure in my brain.  For years I thought the chaos of work and hectic schedules and accumulating stuff meant I was a success.  I actually believed this insanity!  I also tried really hard to conform to society’s definition of success and normal.  I was never at peace or happy with myself in this state and now I know why.  Crazy Land is not where I want to reside.  Please understand that I absolutely love my work, but will be conducting business a little differently.  Helping others and inspiring people to help themselves is in my DNA (thank you Troy) and I wouldn’t abandon that part of my life for anything.  That is my purpose on Earth.  I have learned what’s most important to me and that is being present NOW for myself, my family, and everyone that I encounter.  Life is what me make of every moment.  Now I measure success by the amount of joy that I’m experiencing.  I certainly cannot put a price tag on that.

Most people who know me are not aware that I grew up very modestly.  Literal translation:  dirt poor.  I programmed my brain to accept a distorted reality of believing the further and faster I ran from anything that resembled my childhood the better.  I figured if I lived a life that looked completely different from the way I grew up I was successful.  This was actually my measuring stick.  That’s because I believed that being poor meant failure or at a minimum lack of success.  My personal concept of success now has nothing to do with my net worth.  It has everything to do with my self-worth though.  I’ve come completely full circle and back to where I began as a child.  A simple life!  However you want to dissect it I have realized that being Me is about living my life on purpose with passion.  I almost feel like saying, “Hello You, where have you been?  Or what took you so long?  Or, duh!”