The Return of Beasley

Beasley has returned.

And he has a friend.

Well, the truth is … he never left. Instead, he spent the last several years falling into a trap that any of us could be guilty of….. sitting on the sidelines and watching life go by.

That ended two weeks ago.

For the uninformed and confused…. A brief explanation.

After my divorce in 2009, I decided to reinvent myself and look for adventure. In the process, I took 3 trips by myself to Europe. And I do mean – BY. MY. SELF. No tours …. No group travel.

I packed a carry-on suitcase and wandered the streets of various European cities.

Some of my family and friends were a bit horrified as I am a woman who can get lost in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel and here I was… alone….. riding subways….. catching buses and trains…. navigating streets and hotels … countries where I did not speak the language.

I will admit….I did get lost on more than one occasion….. took the wrong subway….. tried to drive a car in England on the left side of the road while sitting on the right side of the car and got off the wrong exit in the first roundabout I encountered (Help Me Jesus) ….. went to the wrong train station….and so forth.

But in the process of getting lost….. I found myself again.

To reassure my family I was alive at the end of each day, I created a travel blog in which I posted pictures and stories each night about my outings. I knew, however it had to be more than “Today I went to Buckingham Palace” or “Today I saw the Eiffel Tower”.

Can we say…..BOR……ING? I was determined to NOT be BORING.

In those days, the internet had postings about “Flat Stanley” and “Where’s Waldo”. I obviously needed my own internet sensation. I found a small bunny at the Gap stuffed in a basket with some other critters. He looked pitiful so I brought him home and named him Beasley.

I had no idea what I was getting into.

Beasley, it turned out, was a people magnet. Strangers would see me trying to take a picture of Beasley and offer to take our picture.  Conversation usually ensued (assuming we spoke the same language).

On my trip to Italy, Beasley even won over Matteo, the wine sommelier. When I brought Beasley out of my purse at lunch and tried to explain to Matteo about Beasley…..well ……. Matteo was courteous but gave me this polite raised eyebrow look.

However, 15 minutes later, it was Matteo suggesting that we needed to take a photo of Beasley drinking a glass of wine.

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Ah Beasley…………….such a charmer.

Yet, the truth was…..this small bunny helped me write the story of those trips in a manner that I would have never been able to do on my own. And he also made me look more closely at my surroundings ….. not only seeing them through the lens of my camera but through the lens of humor.

Since my last trip to Europe (October 2012), Beasley has spent most of his time on a shelf in my home watching life go by.

My granddaughter felt sorry for him and several months ago, gave me a small stuffed animal to sit next to him—fondly known as Mr. Lion.

I am not sure where Mr. Lion came from but I think he must have had a hard life. Like some of us, he has been knocked around a bit. His hair is straggly and his eyes are attached in a lopsided manner; he has a scruffy beard; his arms are extra-long …but he has a wonderful smile and I think he has a sense of humor.

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So, earlier this month—after not traveling for several years, I joined my brother on a week-long trip to Oregon. My brother, when he is not running the family insurance agency in Miami, is a professional photographer and his photos are breathtaking. My blog headers are from his landscape collections. This was going to be our first brother-sister trip.

My granddaughter wanted to know if Beasley would be joining us and at first I said no but seeing the disappointed look on her face….I told her that Beasley and Mr. Lion would travel with me and I would send her 2 or 3 pictures each day of their outings.

Once again, I had no idea what I was getting into.

My brother would hike various trails and look for the perfect spot to take his pictures. I tagged along behind him—bunny and lion in my purse—iPhone in my hand—looking for ways to convey to my grandchildren what Nana was seeing and doing.

The irony did not escape me—here was my brother with his national geographic style camera equipment and tripod and there I was – in the midst of nature and trails and waterfalls trying to tell a story with a small bunny and a lion and an iPhone.

And yet…we each were doing the same thing…..  trying to capture and share the beauty around us with others. 

It has almost been three years since I traveled. I have been playing it safe these last three years. I have been, on some levels, sitting on the sidelines and watching life go by—I quit looking for adventure.

It is time for that to end.

I have a small bunny and a lion sitting on my shelf at home and they now remind me of the importance of NOT settling for less when I am capable of doing and experiencing more … whether it be in my professional life or my personal life.

For the first time….. in a very long time…I am truly excited about the unknown.

And….. some final thoughts for my granddaughter—who also likes to write stories and take pictures—

Beasley and Mr. Lion enjoyed their trip. They behaved (most of the time) and they liked hiking, seeing new sites, and going on adventures. Thank you for suggesting I take them with me.  It will not be their last trip.

Perhaps one day you and I can also take a trip with them….. one in which we write our own story….

And take pictures together.



For your enjoyment—a few pictures from the real photographer and the iPhone photographer—different in style but still sharing the beauty we saw…..

River Bridge

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Trillum Lake

11 Trillium Lake Negative Two

Koosah Falls

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Beasley and Mr. Lion share a chicken biscuit at the Atlanta airport


Crater Lake


McKenzie River View

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Mr. Lion lends a helping hand at Koosah Falls


Huckleberry ice cream


Picnic with Uncle Joe

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Hiking an Oregon Trail

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Coffee with Nana

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Flying Home–Are we there yet?


Waiting for the next adventure



Link to the real photographer’s web site: Joseph C. Filer – Fine Art Photography



Walter’s Story—and Being Challenged by a Simple Gesture

My church, St. David’s Episcopal, offers breakfast on Sunday mornings. They recently started a Breakfast Greeter ministry where a member stays in the breakfast area to welcome parishioners and keeps an eye out for new people. If you stood in the room, you would see many tables filled with people laughing and talking.

But if you are new to the breakfast….. it can be daunting to stand in a room full of people while holding a tray in your hand trying to figure out where you should sit… wondering if the persons at the table would welcome you or want to talk to you.

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Love, Defined, in 6 Words

I recently read a quote that has stayed lodged in my heart and will not leave. The quote, by L. R. Knost, is:

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

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Why I Entered a Dragon Boat Race

Have you ever been asked a question that stopped you in your tracks? That made you go “Hmmm?”

Last month’s story, The Year of “Hands On” Living, was about my decision to live this year “Hands-On” ….. where I would be willing to make a greater effort to be truly involved with life… not just sitting back and watching …..but to be willing to take chances and make a few messes….. and maybe, in the process, to share my heart with those around me.

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Reflections on a Duct Taped Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The annual tradition of finding my perfect Charlie Brown (CB) Christmas tree began in 2011 when my granddaughter joined me on this quest.  I had moved into a condo after my divorce and had given away my large tree, so I decided to get a small (aka Charlie Brown) tree. She helped me choose the perfect table top tree.

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Being Thankful for Endings that Turn into Beginnings

On Sunday, November 19th, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my son and his family by hosting a Thanksgiving brunch at my home. To add to the joy, my grandchildren (ages 8 and 5) spent the night with me which included S’mores, hot chocolate, and stories before bedtime. It was an evening filled with love and laughter.

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The Challenge of Stillness

My priest, Kenneth Swanson at St. David’s Episcopal Church, offers a course called “Spiritual Direction” in which one learns the purpose of prayer and how to pray. The course is not for the faint of heart. Participants meet twice a month for two hours from September to May. There is one hour of small group conversation followed by a one-hour lecture by Ken.

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Killing the Cockroach of Fear

Now that my grandson has begun kindergarten, Nana-Days have changed to Nana-Afternoons. I pick him up at his bus-stop at 2:40 PM—we scurry to my house—play, read, have dinner—then I zip him home by 7 PM for his family time. It is a bit hectic but it is still treasured time.

Recently I picked him up for our Nana-Afternoon and when he got off the bus, the conversation went like this: (GS = Grandson; N = Nana).

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