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Traveling Life: Purpose and Puzzles

16 Nov

A really wise person told me once that if you want a task to get done, give it to the busiest person in the room. There is more than a grain of truth in that and maybe busy people get more things done because they have to multi-task well. I am a firm believer in multi-tasking and think that it, much like stress, has gotten a bad rap.

When you change the lens and look at multi-tasking as a fact of life, one thing pops to the surface. All this talk about multi-tasking being bad for performance is task oriented, not brain oriented! Our brains crave activity and are continually problem solving. All of the processes that are chugging away every moment of every day rarely happen in isolation.

Even when we are sleeping our brains are working on multiple levels — healthy brains just don’t turn off.

So, in the name of multi-tasking, here are some puzzles from the first week of my recent trip to Peru. And yes, I used a whole lot of words to justify using very few when describing the photos in the puzzles :)!

Find the 3 differences in the following picture sets. The first one was taken in Lima where it is all about the hats, the materials, and the bright colors!


In the next set there are again 3 differences. The photo was taken in a school house in a little village less than 2 miles from the headwaters of the Amazon River. Powerful, powerful place.


The last set of photos was taken while on a tiny boat on the river. This was the largest port in the area, just down the river from the Iquitos airport. Find the 3 changes in the second photo.





There is so much left to study about multi-taksing but the bottom line just might be that singular focus and attention to one task at a time could be over-rated and not a very effective way to function in today’s information heavy world. Maybe the best way to process information is on multiple channels in the context of everyday life.

How do you feel about multi-tasking?

Hiking, Learning, and Honoring the Past in Travel Puzzles

3 Sep

When you take a step back and look at the bigger picture sometimes the world becomes clearer and you see how everything just seems to fit together.  This week’s exercise is a great example of  just that.  Random slices out of a whole scene don’t tell you the whole story and you don’t get the rich in depth view of the experience.

My bigger picture includes living a purposeful life and I try to push myself each day to amplify my experiences by including those things that are meaningful and important to me on a deeper level. I look for those things I love-what makes me happy and feel fulfilled-and turn the volume up on those experiences.  So, when planning a trip, even a two day train get away, my husband and I try to amplify our experience, and make our travel purposeful where ever possible.

We love to hike,  learn, and uncover pieces of the past so a trip to Painted Rock. Carrizo Plain National Monument via Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner to check out an ancient Native American Chumash site seemed to fit our needs perfectly.

Of course you must always pack the proper shoes for the occasion. This is a photo of me, in my natural environment.

hiking boots

Pre-planing served us well on this trip. Carrizo National Monument is open to the public and there is no admission fee however, Painted Rock is behind a locked gate in a protected area.  From March to mid-July you must get a guided a tour and those can be arranged at the Education Center. The rest of the year, you can do a self-guided tour but you must apply for access, get approved, and get a gate code to access the site.  The night before we left for our trip we got our access code via email!

One of the first things we saw was this rock cluster covered with different colored lichen-the stuff that rock art paint is made of! Orange, green, red, and, at this site, even purple lichen covered the rocks.

paint material

Of course, these creatures (Dan and me), in their natural element must take photos!

shaddow camera

The whole scene was a bit eerie. Here we were, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, completely alone. Or so we thought.  Check out what is coming over the hill.

elk 2

And here he is, in all his glory, at full glide, across the side of the hill. It always amazes me just how graceful full grown elk can be.

Elk 1


At the end of 3/4 mile hike and some serious exploring and wonder, we came to another rock formation just sitting in the middle of this huge plain.  The rocks formed a protected bowl and here is just a sampling of what we found in that bowl.

rock art chumash

The Chumash used this area for ceremonies and gatherings. Standing in the middle of the rocks, you can almost feel the ancients, hear the drums and the singing, see the dancers and painters, and experience the rich history this place holds.

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And some bonus photos of this amazing site!

The trail in…. Hot, dry, and completely civilization-free!P1130001 (2)

Across the Carrizo Plain is the dried up Soda Lake…. More on this next week but this shot of the vast plain gives you an idea just how alone we were on this site. Very powerful feeling.

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And there, in the distance, was the Painted Rock site.

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Rock art is a generic term for the images left behind by the ancients all over the world. There are two types of rock art: petroglyphs and pictographs.

This etching is one of the first images we saw as we walked.  Carvings are called petroglyphs.

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Paintings like this one are called pictographs. This particular, was mostly likely painting using lichen similar to what is still present on the rocks less than 1/3 of a mile away (see above).  We believe that this is a symbol that represents and a blanket but no one is really sure.

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Many of the stories, legends, and meanings were lost over the centuries but this one is pretty clearly a lizard!

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Purposeful travel is such a meaningful and enjoyable way to see the world.  Learn as you go, gain a deeper appreciation, and come out on the other side with a stronger, more connected appreciation of where you and those before you have been.



Zooming Out: Take a Broader View on Life

15 Jul

This week we are exploring perspective and the choices we make when navigating our way through life.  Yesterday we zoomed in on some of the small wonders and took a close look at what we miss when don’t stop and examine the little details.

The big picture –  the broader view – carries much different information.  This big picture holds details that we miss when we don’t look up from the small details.

Think about the photos from yesterday’s post. If I had not changed my perspective and looked up from watching the lady bugs living their lives on the back side of a black-eyed Susan, I would have missed all of this…

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As the bees were busy collecting and spreading life sustaining pollen from Eeyore’s favorite snack, another kind of life sustaining  power generation was taking place just on the horizon.   The big difference between bees’ work and wind generators’ work is a matter of scale and perspective. Is it possible to take it all in – big and small?

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I took lots of pictures of Skunk Cabbage.  Native American lore says the tips of the Skunk Cabbage, a delicacy for deer any time of the year, will show above the highest snow drift. According to the stories, you can predict how much snow will fall by the height of the Skunk Cabbage.  Looks like it might be a snowy winter in Colorado….

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Paying attention to the cues and clues from nature is not such a bad idea.

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And now the big reveal!  We moved from photos that screamed Colorado to those that are uniquely Southern California!  Here is the top….


And here is the bottom of the same palm!


Awesome detail on this succulent!


Your daily challenge is to figure out how not to lose the details that will help you lead a better life.

Getting the Big Picture of a Trip Home: Zooming Out

8 Jul

My travels last week took me to many parts of Colorado.  I  filled my cognitive reserve and fired up my brain chemistry by being social, engaged, and active.  I reaped the benefits that come with a much needed re-connection with nature,  great conversations, and a bit of a physical challenge.  Recharging, refueling, and refilling our tanks are not just good for brain health but overall health and well being.

The photos from yesterday’s Zooming In Challenge came from Day 1 of our trip — a visit with treasured old friends in the mountains.  Evergreen, Colorado is a beautiful little mountain town with tons of character and outdoorsy things to do.  You can lose yourself in the shops and restaurants downtown or you can, as we did, go right to the lake!

I spent the morning with some of my favorite people on the planet as I recharged my batteries and refilled my energy well.

The first photo was a piece of this beautiful bridge over an inlet that leads to the main part of the Evergreen Lake.  Most of the year there is snow on the slopes in the distance but this July day was 72 and sunny with a slight breeze.


Same bridge, different view!  Yes, her mom was right behind her, just out of view!



A day with my son means a day of laughter and smiles. The piece was just the tip of the kayak — ropes and knots.


The next chunk came from the paddle in this more laid back pose.


Ha!  That cammo hat did nothing to hide this fisherman from anyone’s view!


This is the view from the cafe on the edge of the water.  The zoomed in bit came from the chair back.


Awwwww… look who came to visit us as we walked back from the lake?


Ever wonder what might be behind those piercing blue eyes?


Remind yourself to look at things from many views — you might just see something new or something old in a new way.






Zooming In On a Day On My Trip Back “Home”

7 Jul

It is important to find a comfortable level in life — reach a place where your body, your actions, your thoughts, and your behaviors just feel right.

From a health perspective we call that comfortable place  homeostatis — the spot where your  heart rate and breathing are where you want them; your brain is firing effectively; your muscles are moving easily; and your body is generating new cells.  All systems nourished and all systems ready for what might come.

From a day to day living perspective, you can call that place “home”.  Home, in my life, has been, where my “stuff” is.  Home has been the place that I return to at night or fly back to after a trip.  It has been where I tend to my daily life and make sure all is working well.  For the past 5 years, that has been Southern California — many different physical locations but all in Southern California.

This past week we went back to Colorado — the place I lived for 25 years and the place I met my husband, raised my son, launched my career(s), made wonderful friends, and lived my daily life.  Even though I was not born there nor do I reside there now, Colorado feels like home to me — the place where I fit better than anywhere else.

We spent the first day of out trip at Evergreen Lake with longtime trusted friends.  My Zooming In puzzles all  come from that day walking in and interacting with all that is nature. It felt good to return home and find myself with my feet firmly planted on comfortable ground!

Can you guess what these pieces came from?

This one has a clue in the colorful section….

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Step carefully here….

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You can really go places with this one….


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Not going up stream without this….

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This one just blends in…

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Provides a bit of support here…

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This will no doubt get stuck in the “rut” in the fall…

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Just because this was too beautiful not to include…


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Come back tomorrow to zoom out and see the whole picture!


Road Trip, a Flashback, a Game of Hide and Seek, and a Kia Soul

20 Jun

I remember seeing the first hamster Kia Soul commercial – you know the one before they turned into gansta hamsters – the one where you really just couldn’t help but bop along. This one….

For a long time, every time we saw a Kia Soul on the road we did the “hamster fingers” tapping on the door panel. Silly but I felt compelled.

A couple weeks ago, my friend and oh so talented writer Lois from Midlife at the Oasis, and I went on a press trip to Long Beach and Lois got a Kia Soul for us to test out! How totally fun! Lois had to make a stop on the way out of town so, the plan was for me to get dropped me off at the door and text when I got there so I could find the car. I saw this, as we drove into the parking lot….


We are both at that age where we forget and lose stuff, like cars in parking lots and that, my friends, was not going to be an issue with this brightly colored beauty. My usual, “Holy crap where did we park” panic vanished and was replaced by the comforting thought that we would be able to find this car anywhere.

In brain health style, I made a game that will help you understand. Find and click on the Kia!

The Kia Soul handled like a dream. We talked, we laughed, and we sang along to Lois’ wonderfully eclectic iPod as we zipped effortlessly in and out of lanes.
I love road trips – they create a space where you have no choice but to connect with the person you are with. Who doesn’t love a captive audience, right? One of my favorite parts of this road trip and the Kia Soul was the oh so comfortable seats. Age, for me, carries with it a few aches and physical issues that make sitting for long stretches a bit challenging if the chair is not right. Just like Baby Bear’s bed, the seats in this Kia Soul were not too hard, not too soft but just right!

Off we go, drumming our hamster fingers on the door panel.

smaller kia photo


Zooming Out Tuesday Big Reveal: Details in the Hotel Maya

17 Jun

Oh the beautiful things we found in the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, CA.  From the moment we walked in the front door there was an authentic warm and welcoming feeling that ran through every room, outdoor living area, and restaurant / bar.

Now let’s zoom out and reveal the bigger picture of each of these cool features from yesterday’s puzzles.




The last two BOTH came out of this one.  First see the detail on the top and then, look to far right for the pillow on the edge beyond the smiling happy people :)!

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Lois and I both look forward to coming back to this beautiful place!


Zooming in on the Tiny Details of Travel

16 Jun

My friend Lois and I went on a press trip to Long Beach a few weeks ago. The Long Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau showed us the sites, feed us intellectually, provided some adventure, and stuffed us to the gills with amazing food in beautiful settings.

This trip fit right into the brain healthy aspects of travel! Long Beach is full of things to learn, active lifestyle choices, and even a few  purposeful / citizen science activities — all of which I plan to talk about but  today is puzzle day.

Our first stop, The Hotel Maya, was one of our absolute favorites. It was so nice to be in a place where the people, the appetizers, the scenery, the rooms, and the cabanas were about as pleasant and comfortable as life gets!  This easy atmosphere allowed us to do what we do best — enjoy the moment and laugh, just a bit :)!

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Let’s look at some of the tiny details we found in, The Hotel Maya, and focus on the little things that made it great!   All of the following are tiny pieces of things we found on the property.  Can you guess what they are?

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What impeccable attention to detail!  Come back tomorrow to zoom out to see how these beautiful details fit oh so well!

Game of the Week: Find the Difference in Cozy Places to stay

4 Jun

Challenging your brain is sometimes easier when you travel or explore new places close to home.  Think about this:

  •  Everything is new when you set out to explore. Novel things make you stretch your thinking in different directions.
  • Traveling allows you to activate those sensory pathways to get a fuller picture of the experience. When you try to take in and get a handle on the whole experience, you activate so much more of your brain.
  • You also might be more likely to pay attention to the things that make you “feel” when you set out to explore than in your everyday life — all in the name of understanding a place, its culture, its people, its rhythms.

Two types of puzzles today — each letting you focus on different processes and examine the details in the scene — and two types of exploring.

The first puzzle is from a recent trip to Long Beach. We went on an Urban Harbor Tour with Harbor Breeze Cruises and explored the many sides of this beautiful harbor and got a great view of the Queen Mary from the water!  Find the one photo that is different!

Long beach patrol boat static


The next two puzzles are Find the Difference puzzles.  Find the 5 differences in these 2 scenes from Bed & Breakfasts in San Diego.  Can you feel the peace and quiet?


Horton Grand Hotel


Elsbree Bed and Breakfast

Zooming Out: Restaurants in Long Beach, What a Treat!

3 Jun

The big reveal….
The first 2 zoomed in photos were taken at The Boat House on the Bay, a steak and seafood restaurant perched on the edge of Alamitos Bay. We enjoyed a breath taking view as we ate… you guessed it….

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…and this heavenly plate of sea bass and veggies….



The next two photos were taken at The Attic on Broadway, a funky little place with eclectic decor and mismatched cups and plates that just felt like home!  This photo was of a selection from the extensive Bloody Mary Bar!  Yes, that is a rib and a cornichon!

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Now the really crazy– crazy delicious — dish from The Attic… Mac ‘n Cheetos.  Sounds odd to put spicy Cheetos on top of a bowl of creamy mac ‘n cheese packed with bacon but oh my, my, my…it worked so well!

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Before last week, I did not know that Long Beach was really a foodie heaven but it is!  Look for more food photos from restaurants in Long Beach in more puzzles coming both here and in the Games section of the site!



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