"Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is."
"Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is."
From books, articles, podcasts, social media, and more, here are some recently enjoyed quotes:
After we eloped in Las Vegas last year, we took what I called a "minimoon" to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah. March was a little early beach-weather-wise to do our full-fledged honeymoon to Croatia, but I wanted to do something after the "wedding" itself before heading back to the dreary Michigan weather we had left behind.
As it turns out, Vegas is actually a pretty good jumping off point to get to a bunch of amazing locations—including Utah's "Mighty Five" National Parks. Because we were only able to tackle 2 of the 5 on the minimoon, when it came time to plan our first-anniversary trip, I had my sights set on hitting the ones we missed the first time around.
As an "outdoorsy-ish" person, I do enjoy camping, but if I'm being honest..."glamping" is where it's at. Our first glamping experience was at Garden Village in Slovenia last year and it was so perfect for a couple of "nature bums" like ourselves that it's become our new thing.
Once we decided that Moab would be our central location for this trip, a little Googling led us to Under Canvas Moab. For those who follow me on IG, let me just say that my posts weren't any sort of exaggerated version of reality: this place is legit.
If you haven't glamped before, the basic gist of it is that you're at a campground, in a tent, but it's a fancy tent...with a bed...and if you're lucky...a bathroom. At Under Canvas Moab our tent even had a wood-burning stove, which was amazing because in early-March the temperature dropped down to the mid-30s at night and we would have been freezing without it.
Our tent also featured a little platform porch with deck chairs that faced out to the desert and gave us a perfect view of the sunrise—which we were actually up for one morning, a first for two people who often sleep until 10 or 11 on the weekend. 😬
Under Canvas has some great amenities too: an outdoor fire pit with s'more-making materials, a community tent with couches, complimentary coffee, tea, and water, the option to order healthy breakfasts and lunches to have delivered, and on-site staff 24/7 to help with anything that might come up. Oh, and there's also daily housekeeping (I know what you're thinking hardcore campers, don't judge). I love that they're located a little bit outside of town too so we were able to feel immersed in nature but still only have to drive 15 minutes to get to Arches.
All in all, it was pretty awesome and we would 100% stay there again. I recommend glamping and Under Canvas in particular to anyone who likes to moderately rough-it (ha!) and experience something a little cooler than run-of-the-mill hotel chains.
They have a few locations aside from the one in Moab too (I'm coming for you Glacier and Great Smokey Mountains), check it out on their main site: Under Canvas
And if glamping isn't for you and neither are strip-mall hotels in seedy towns (sorry Moab), we spent the night of our anniversary at the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab (view from our room pictured below) and it was lovely. It's far enough out of town that it feels remote, the restaurant was actually surprisingly good with red rock views from every table and Cactustinis (🌵🍸) on the menu, and there's a winery on-site, bonus! The hot tub under the stars was necessary too after a few long days of hiking.
Headed out to Utah and want even more tips then I put in this blog post? Hit me up! I love nothing more than traveling...and talking about traveling...so I'm more than happy to chat 😀
I posted this article a few years ago on my old blog, 12 Months of Lent, but I thought I'd re-post it here on St. Patrick’s Day in honor of my Irish grandfather, Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell. A World War II hero who fought in the infamous Battle of the Bulge, liberated 2 concentration camps, and was awarded 2 Purple Hearts, Frank, also known as “The Wild Irishman”, amassed quite the reputation while he was off fighting abroad. So much so that the Boston Traveler (what is now the Boston Herald), sent famed war correspondent Andrew Tully to Europe just to track him down for an interview, which is transcribed below.
Frank's famous quote from the article: “There are two kinds of people in the world—the Irish and those who wish to hell they were Irish”.
Happy St. Patrick's Day 🍀
Tully Meets Wild Irishman From Brockton
By Andrew Tully, Boston Traveler Staff Correspondent
A RIFLE OUTPOST ON THE EDGE OF NO MAN’S LAND, Feb. 12—I don’t know what the hell a timid civilian like me is doing here!
With a wild Irishman from Brockton named O’Connell and a couple of other infantrymen, I am in an attic room of a partially demolished house in Saarlautern, Germany, looking through a shell hole in the wall at the German lines, only 800 yards away. I don’t like it.
Outside is a partially flooded meadow as flat and unprotected as the top of a kitchen table. At the far edge of the meadow is the Saar River, which at this point is a little more than an oversized brook. And fronting on the far bank of the pipsqueak of a river is the part of the city of Saarlautern still held by the Germans.
We can see an occasional Jerry puttering about on some military odd job across that wide open space. Staff Sergeant Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell of 124 Lawrence Street, Brockton, just told me: “Don’t think he can’t see you”. Good old Francis Stevens Joseph.
The staccato rattle of machine-gun fire can be heard plainly off to our left, where some of our men are harassing a couple of Kraut outposts. Occasionally, the Jerries return the fire from their Siegfried line forts which line the far bank of the river, and almost all afternoon enemy artillery has been drooping shells in and around our positions on this west bank. The noise is not deafening, but there are a few moments when there is not a shell exploding somewhere.
The view across the field is one of an assortment of dwellings and manufacturing buildings clustered at the foot of the high ridge. Standing out in the cluster is a tall powerhouse chimney and on guard before and between the buildings are the ponderous forts of the Siegfried line. Our 105 howitzers have been banging away and now you can’t see the puffs of dirty gray smoke practically within spitting distance where the shells have scored hits on the Jerry real estate. Two more shells bounce off the ridge behind the town and we fancy we can hear the thud of the shells falling.
We are, of course, well within both rifle and machine gun range and Lt. Phil Stanchfield of Milo, ME., cautions us to stay away from the windows on the left. “Look out the shell hole,” he counsels, “Jerry hasn’t put a bullet through that place yet.”
O’Connell is studying the tall chimney with a look of dissatisfaction. “You can’t tell me there ain’t something in that chimney,” he says. “Betcha they got an observation post there where they can see as far as Paris.” His pals are in sober agreement. “I should like to see a beautiful 105 cut that chimney in half, right in half,” says Staunchfield as he licks his chops in contemplating such a beautiful thing.
“What he needs is an all-Irish gun crew to do that job,” says O’Connell. “Now take my squad—”
I’ll take O’Connell’s squad any day. Every outfit has its colorful character and in this one, O’Connell just about fills the bill. The Brockton boy is leader of a squad of 12 men, all of them of Irish descent. Since the outfit went into the line last October this squad has killed an estimated 300 Germans! All of them—Rourke and O’Ryan and Duffy and Reynolds—are top fighting men. But O’Connell has that wonderful intangible thing called color, which made Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean and Shipwreck Kelly stand out in the sports picture.
Sgt. O’Connell was a molder of iron, steel, brass and copper back in civilian life. He carries a genuine shamrock and he says, “There are two kinds of people in the world—the Irish and those who wish to hell they were Irish”.
Short But Sweet
You can’t pin the Brockton boy down on how many Jerries he’s killed but his pals say “about 40”. Lt. Stanchfield, who does not go out on limbs, says that figure is not extravagant. Then he tells us about the time recently when O’Connell and his crew were out looking for trouble and picked up a couple of stray Germans. “They told the boys they’d just come from around the bend,” Staunchfield recalls, “So, O’Connell says ‘to hell with going to bed,’ and the Irish headed around the bend”.
Around the bend they found two tanks and perhaps 20 infantrymen. A few bazooka shots sent the tanks speeding into retreat but the infantrymen elected to fight. The Irish obliged. When it was over, there were 16 dead Krauts on the white snow and the other four men had fled.
The Irish squad takes all this excitement calmly. Being men of simple tastes who want of the world only a little bodily comfort. When Stanchfield ushered me into O’Connell’s grinning presence today the Brockton bushwhacker was lying on one of two beds in one of the houses four bedrooms, his stockinged feet resting on a cerise quilt and a radio giving forth swing on the bedside table. He’s a solidly built citizen with short but not clipped brown hair and seems perpetually abashed.
A Little Mistake
The rest of the squad was having around smoking and talking with the exception of one man, who was upstairs keeping watch. “We don’t work too hard,” O’Connell told me. “Makes you old before your time”. Frankly, the thing I’m interested in today more than Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell is GROWING OLD. Back at the company command post, Stanchfield has offered to have O’Connell brought to me there but I said I’d go to him. Everybody makes mistakes, I suppose. Anyway, the brief trip to O’Connell’s bailiwick had me on the ropes.
You can’t go to this output in a jeep because you draw fire. So, we had to walk and as we started out, one of the boys in the CP gave me an owlish look and told me “Hope to see you again.” You know that tone of voice.
We had to walk only a few blocks but the last part of it brought us onto a street within plain view of Jerry across the river. We had to hug the buildings all the way down the street for a distance of perhaps two blocks to get to the outpost. I could see some Germans across that field on the other side of the river and if they can’t see me, Hitler is fighting this war with a fine bunch of myopic militarists. I scuttled along that sidewalk with my ribs scraping against solid brick and thought to myself, “When you are going to get that job selling vacuum cleaners?”
But you don’t get to meet guys like Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell selling vacuum cleaners.
If I'm being honest, as of today, March 3rd, 2018, I am currently at the end of my winter rope. The late-winter funk is in FULL effect, and dear God, the first signs of spring cannot come soon enough. I think there's a tulip coming up in my yard under the half foot of sloppy snow we got on the first of the month...maybe? 🌷
In like a lion, out like a lamb, in like a lion, out like a lamb...
This winter has been decent, tolerable weather, a trip to the PNW, 17 days of Olympics to keep me entertained, but man, by the time March finally made its debut the other day, I felt done. So done. All of my coping mechanisms have long gone out the window, I may or may not have Googled symptoms of SAD, and basically, I am just insufferably cranky. To everyone in my life: I'm sorry. Winter Danne is kind of a B.
But, this is how it goes every year when you live in the northernmost states. I always think that maybe if I self-care to the max that I'll make it through unscathed, but I don't. I never do. Eventually, winter takes its toll, and in the latter half of it, you just sort of check out, resolving to check back in when it's time for light jackets and open-toed shoes.
The good news? It's almost that time! As awful of a month as March is, the saving grace is that it's when the light at the end of the tunnel becomes visible. It's when you get that glimmer of hope that you've been waiting for, and when you know that the end is finally near. Can you tell that summer is my favorite season? 😉
Just to remind myself that winter wasn't all that bad this year though:
Things That Didn't Suck About Winter:
Things I'm looking Forward to in March:
Happy Almost Spring!
p.s. I thought this list of the months ranked from worst to best was funny (and mostly accurate, although July, August, and September are my top 3, sorry October).
In February of 1994, I was a 10-year-old little girl about to discover something that would mesmerize me for the rest of my life: the Olympics.
That year, the Winter Olympics were in Lillehammer, Norway, and as a kid watching them for the first time, I was instantly obsessed. Quickly I became familiar with a whole host of sports I had never seen before, learned the names of athletes who became my new heroes, and was fascinated being exposed to so many different cultures for the first time. I specifically remember spending hours working on a drawing of the Olympic rings surrounded by all of the star athlete's names from that year. You know the ones: Nancy Kerrigan & Tonya Harding (p.s. go see I, Tonya if you haven't yet, it's amazing), Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov (my heart!), Oksana Baiul, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen, Picabo Street—all the legends.
While the '94 Olympics were particularly magical for me, I'm honestly still just as enamored. Since the games kicked off in Pyeongchang two weeks ago, I have tuned in every single night (ok fine, except for one) from 8pm–midnight. Like the rest of the world, I loved seeing North and South Korea march in together during the opening ceremony—and of course, I was happy to see Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless flag bearer from Tonga back again. I watched the Shib Sibs nail their twizzles, was absolutely moved by Virtue and Moir's passionate gold medal ice dancing performance, had tears in my eyes during the feature NBC did with Lindsey Vonn and her late grandfather, loved seeing Shaun White make his emotional comeback, and was glued to the screen during the Russian showdown that was women's figure skating.
But aside from the actual games themselves, what I love the most about the Olympics is seeing the world come together for something positive—if only for a few short weeks. It's a little mind-blowing to me when I talk to someone who says they aren't really "into" the Olympics. From what I can tell, it seems to be the only time that the entire world unites, coming together to celebrate the best of humanity rather than magnifying the worst of it. People from all walks of life, from different countries and cultures, all put their differences aside and share in one beautiful and triumphant experience. How can you not be "into" that?
So, Dear Olympics, I love you. Thank you for giving us all a much needed break from the regularly scheduled stream of disheartening news that we're constantly bombarded with. I can always count on you to restore my faith in humanity, and to remind me that hope is not lost, and that the beauty of the human spirit is still as strong and vibrant as ever.
🌎 🏅 ✌️ ❄️
p.s. I have a funny tradition of intentionally not tuning into the closing ceremony because I don't want to accept that the Olympics are actually over, but I might have to break my vow tonight. I need one more night!
p.p.s. And although China isn't on top of my travel list, it's always been a dream of mine to go to the Olympics (specifically the winter games), so I'm feeling like Beijing 2022 might be in the cards for me. Who's in?
Winter is always the time of year when I end up taking the least photographs (my Instagram feed is proof of this), but I carry the camera around with me anyways, knowing that something will pop up that's worth capturing.
After my Oregon trip a few weeks ago I was scrolling through all the photos in the camera and found these few pictures that I took while home on Cape Cod over Christmas that I had completely forgotten about. I love the Cape in the wintertime and the little still lifes that I find in my parents house. ✨
2018 Goal = Take More Photos
It's the last day of January which means we made it through the first full month of winter, hooray!
The only downside is that now we have February to endure...and then March. My two least favorite months. On the upside, the weather has been fairly tolerable this winter, especially when I escaped to the PNW last weekend to visit my brother in Portland, OR and got to hike through waterfalls in 60-degree weather. Why do I always live in the cold states?
Between the waterfalls, the winter Olympics that kick off next week (I freaking love the Olympics), and the trip that Dan and I booked to Utah in March to celebrate our anniversary (the only good thing about March), I think I'll survive.
To help us all make it through to Spring though, here's a little winter yoga sequence that you can practice at home. The intention is to move through the poses slowly and mindfully, taking long, deep breaths in each posture and working towards long holds (5–8 breaths if you can).
Happy practicing! 🧘♀️❄️🙏🏻
We're 10 days into the new year now and the cloud of the holidays is starting to lift (finally) and my intentions for January are becoming much clearer than they were on the first. What I'm feeling more than anything right now is that I left a lot of unfinished business in 2017 and that it's time to tie up all of my loose ends before committing to new goals for 2018. While I know that I'll never cross everything off of my master to-do list, I have a lot of things that have been on the backburner for a long time that I just need to power through so I can make space and move on.
It's time to clean house.
January is all about taking care of business and creating a clean (or at least, clean-ish) slate to work with for the rest of the year.
Here's my January to-do list (yes, I'm a listaholic):
Once these are taken care of I think I'll be ready to introduce some new goals, intentions, and to-dos. Until then, this month is all about catching up and making space for REST. January is my favorite month to lay low and chill out and I've given myself a permission slip for as much R&R as I need. ✌️
People often ask me how I’m always so "calm" and "easy-going". “What do you do?”, they ask. “Don’t you ever get angry and lose it?”
Part of it is certainly nature—if you’ve met my dad you know what I mean, he is the most even-keeled, laid-back human being I know. I often joke that he puts the “Zen” in “Dzenawagis”, and well...the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. While I am like my mom in many ways, I have my dad’s temperament through and through. It’s in my blood.
But…a lot of it is nurture too.
In college, I lived in a constant state of stress. For some reason (and it was not pressure from my parents or anyone else, I did this to myself) school was always my #1 priority, and everything else—including my health, took second stage. My body bore the brunt of this chronic stress, and throughout my college career, I suffered from a variety of symptoms like irregular bleeding, heart palpitations, ocular migraines, severe stomach pain, and more.
I had no idea that any of this was stress-related until after graduation when it all just magically disappeared. Almost instantly too. Wait a minute…I had been doing this to myself? How was working so hard that I was physically ill benefiting anyone? That was when my priorities began to shift and self-care became #1, because as my dad always says, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”. And he’s right.
It’s taken me 30+ years to figure out exactly what I need to do to feel “good”, but now that I know, I take taking care of myself very seriously. Dan likes to joke that it’s my part-time job, and it kind of is. When my self-care routine is strong, I am my best self, and when I am my best self, everyone around me benefits. A yoga teacher of mine once said that “You can only give what you have an abundance of”, and I certainly don’t want to be giving out an abundance of stress and anxiety. The world doesn’t need any more of that.
After years of trial and error, I've found that this is what optimal self-care looks like for me:
Now, do I always hit everything on this list? No. But I do my best, and I don't get upset with myself when I can't fit it all in. The months when I do though? Golden. 100% worth the effort. ✨
This is an interesting read that I've seen floating around the internet lately that offers an expanded and somewhat non-traditional definition of self-care. To each his own. ✌🏻