Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those who celebrate…Happy Sunday to all others…

With spring in the air, the Plumeria trees have begun to bloom.

In years passed, Easter was a highly anticipated and celebrated holiday for our family, filled with laughter, games, traditional events and familiar foods all prepared with the utmost of love, added to the spiritual meaning of the Easter season as well.

Each year, we made no less than 18 Easter baskets, filled with goodies befitting each family member, 14 for us humans, and more for our kids’ pets and our dogs. I spent days making the name tags, bows, and careful placement of the goodies in each of the baskets, smiling all the while.

An Angel Trumpet flower wilted due to a lack of rain these past two weeks.

Tom and I would conjure up a playful game for all of the grown-ups to play in an effort to find the colorful plastic eggs filled with money that we’d strategically hid in the most surprising spots in our home along with easier games for the six grandchildren to find more eggs filled with candy, toys, and money.

The frenzy that ensued created a level of laughter that rings clear in my ears, even today, three years later. The sounds of the kids laughing and squealing as they ran through the house are sounds we’ll never forget. 

You may ask, “How could we leave all of that?” We answer, “It wasn’t easy.”

Not an Easter lily, but an orchid will do.

After over 20 years of illness, always in pain, always pretending to be fine while living a full and busy life and then, in 2011, becoming well again due to a strict adherence to a restrictive way of eating, one day in January 2012, 10 months before his retirement, Tom said, “Do you want to travel the world while your health is good?”

I was shocked by his question. After a week of careful research, spreadsheets, and calculations as to the feasibility, I answered, “Yes, I do,” with the same excitement and fervor I expressed on the day we were married saying, “Yes, I do.”

We’d spent our lives thinking and living for others, our kids, our other family members, and our friends, all of whom we dearly love. We never felt we could do enough. But, it was our time and for however long my good health would remain intact, we would carry on.

This flower baffles me with nothing online similar making it possible to identify. How unusual.

Now, 2½ years later, we have no regrets and much to our surprise on holidays such as today, we don’t feel lost or sad. We’re grateful for a lifetime of memorable holidays and celebrations with our kids, who now are all in their 40’s, knowing they’d do just fine without us, having become strong and independent many years ago.  Over the years, they developed many of their own holiday traditions which at times, didn’t include us. That’s how life is. 

Perhaps, in a way it’s not unlike the Laysan Albatross, the chick sits atop the nest day after day while the two parents fly back and forth to sea for their food to return to feed the chicks who hungrily grasp at their beaks for the regurgitated meal. And then one day, when the chicks are four to five months old, the parents don’t return from the sea.

The chicks lie in wait, wondering where the next meal will come from as days pass, as they also miss the preening and loving care of the parents. Finally, one day they realize that the parents won’t return, that it’s time to go out to sea on their own to begin their lives, able to care for themselves. In many ways, this outcome made us sad, the thought of the chicks waiting and waiting and the parents never returning.

Pets deserve acknowledgment on special days.

The chick picks up his pudgy body from the safety of the nest, walks to the cliff’s edge and fledges, wings spread and flies out to sea, maybe to return to the same spot in years to come to have offspring of their own, as the life cycle continues on.

This is not unlike our lives. They grew up. They built lives for themselves and it was time for us to go. They are fine. They are independent and self-sufficient for which we are proud and pleased. And, it was us who walked to the cliff and fledged, out to sea to care for ourselves and in essence, to be free.

No longer do we work for days preparing Easter Baskets, cooking, devising games and activities, each year new and different, in order to build a tradition that in time, we’ve passed along to them to recreate in their own ways with their children. It’s the cycle of life.

A Koala bird trots along the grass.

From time to time we meet some people who are shocked that we left our family to travel the world. “How selfish,” we read from the look in their eyes. At times, they even ask, “How could you leave your family?” 

We answer, “Our journey isn’t about leaving them. It’s about freeing us…to experience life as we’ve never done before…to share our story with readers from all over the world and to leave, however, small a footprint in the sand wherever we may go. 

We love and cherish this amazing earth that God, or whatever higher power one believes, has left for us to explore, to love, and to care for.

The common Hibiscus is blooming in varying colors throughout the island.

Today, not unlike every day, we thank God as we remain in awe of the world around us, the freedom we’ve been given for the experience, and the ability to make it happen. 

For however long the good health remains, we feel blissfully committed to carrying on, with so much of the world yet to explore and a passion to see as much as we are able.

Last night, at the Full Moon party, I became engaged in a conversation with a lovely couple. As we stood beneath the palm fronds of a tree as the rain began to fall, the wife, slightly younger than I said, “You’ve inspired us to make some changes in our lives.”

Please help us identify this flower which we can’t seem to find online.  They’re growing prolifically outside our door.

The husband with a few health issues of his own will read yesterday’s post about health and resources that I’ve utilized in my life-changing way of eating. 

If we’ve been given this opportunity, it becomes our responsibility to share whatever morsels we can with others along the way, as so many have shared with us. 

Whether its a positive review we’ve posted online for the owner of a small business or a tiny bit of inspiration to a reader or person we’ve met along the way, its all worthwhile, as we too glean so much from our readers and new friends, offering us morsels of wisdom and insight into places we’ll visit along the way. 

We’re grateful, we’re humbled and we’re happy, today on Easter and every other day in our ongoing journey to see the world.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2014:

Out to dinner in Marrakech, the sunset was beautiful.  For details on that date, please click here.

Last Easter with the family for awhile…

Family life is often filled with traditions, the traditions we created for our children when they were young, that we adapted as they matured and those that we’ve rekindled for their children, our six grandchildren, years later. 

The comfort and familiarity of reenacting holiday traditions, each year filled Tom and me with guarded anticipation. Over these past years, we have come to accept, although at times painfully so, that our adult children have the right to build their own traditions that may at times, not include us.  

We recall the struggle and oftentimes, the guilt we felt when the first Christmas morning came when we chose to stay home as opposed to going to our parents’ homes. We wanted to savor Santa’s bounty with our own children, their eyes wide with delight as they anxiously ripped open package after package, them in their cartoon character pajamas, us with big coffee mugs warming our hands, all with the ease and comfort of spending this special time cozy at home.

And now, as their families have grown, their own traditions firmly rooted in their lives, in their own homes, we especially find ourselves reeling with the anticipation of all of them breaking away to spend special time with us once again, this Easter Sunday.

Practically dancing on my tiptoes, around our ten-foot-long dining room table, my arms were laden with gifts of every variety, candies carefully selected for special diets and preferences, I gleefully fill the 17 Easter baskets (including four pet baskets). I swap out one Thomas toy train for a Transformer truck from one basket to another, stepping back, visualizing the correctness of my decision, and smile. Each year, we always say, “this is the best year yet.” And it is.

Oh, good grief! I’d better improve my photo taking skills before we leave!

The meaning of Easter is not lost on our abundance of baskets, the colored eggs, the homemade bunny rabbit cake, the carefully planned and executed brunch, and of course, the painstakingly thought out game and Easter egg hunt. No, it’s not lost. It’s for forgiveness. It’s for thankfulness and, most of all, it’s for love.

This year is no different, the traditions are all here, the pile of fuzzy bunny rabbit ears everyone will place on their heads when they enter the door, the laughter over the rambunctious silly games, the glee in the voices of the little ones when they discover yet another plastic egg filled with candy, a small toy or a dollar bill.  It’s all the same. It’s all predictable. Laughter fills the air. It’s all heartwarming.

Tom and I will look at each other from across the room, our faces hurting from too much smiling, our eyes glistening with too many tears, as we enjoyed this last Easter tradition, knowing full well that we and they, will be building new traditions in the time to come.