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Me, Myself, Maranda

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Practicing Mindfulness With DailyOm: Places

This year, I started a course on DailyOm to help in practicing mindfulness. Each week, a new lesson is released with writing prompts to guide the journey on a specific topic. I’ll be sharing some of my topics here in My Life.

A New Place

Remember a new place you visited. Remember seeing it for the first time. How do you feel?

My first trip to the Netherlands was wonderful, but seeing it for the first time was exciting and inspiring. Leaving the airport, the first thing I noticed was how clean the roads were, and how tidy everyone’s properties are kept. Simple brick houses, thatched straw roofs… It was a feeling of charming historical tradition meeting superior values and self-control. Piercing blue sky over clean land and water, healthy and fit society. I felt like a sloppy American outcast in this seemingly pristine culture.

View into the distance of the Afsluitdijk in the Netherlands showing roadways in both directions between sparkling water and open blue sky.
My first stop after arriving in Amsterdam was the Afsluitdijk, a 20-mile dam and causeway separation between the North Sea and IJsselmeer.

A Special Place

Remember a special place that you visited as a child.

Every Friday night in the summertime, we went “out to the lake” for as early as I can remember until I was about 13 years old.

“The lake” was Sand Lake in Nottawa, Michigan. My great-grandparents owned a little old cottage on Rainbow Drive. Memorial Day marked the start of the lake season, when the family gathered together to put the dock in. Labor Day marked the end of summer, when the family came together to take the dock out.

Between those holidays were weekends filled with love and joy, family, fishing, good food, and good times. Dad’s speedboat. Tubing. Swimming. Paddle-boating with my cousin. Playing Barbies. Fireworks on the 4th of July. The ice cream shop across the lake. Playing with the kids next door. Walks and bike rides down to the dead end of the road.

“Out to the lake” is synonymous with happy weekends of my childhood, the light at the end of the weekly tunnels, a home away from home.

Unfortunately, after my great-grandmother passed away and great-grandfather sold the property, most gatherings with the extended family came to an abrupt halt and we began to fall apart.

Old Polaroid photo of two young girls in bathing suits laughing.
An iconic family photo from the lake. My cousin (left) and I (right) enjoying something funny… but no one could ever figure out what we were laughing at.

A Surprising Place

Describe a place that awed or surprised you when you first saw it.

When we first arrived in Las Vegas for our wedding (specifically, Luxor Hotel and Casino which I blogged about), we were blown away by the unique pyramid design. The inside was huge, filled with the lights and ambience of the casino floor mixed with their unique Egyptian theme. Constant noise from the machines and gaming floor, bustling in there like a miniature city. We took the strange inclined elevators up to our room, which was bright and flooded with sunlight along one side, with our jacuzzi tub nestled in the other corner. Luxor was such a strange, awe-inspiring place that we’d love to go back and visit again.

Night time selfie of Maranda and Arnold in front of Luxor in Las Vegas.
Arnold and I in front of Luxor, Las Vegas, 2011.

An Outdoor Place

Think of a favorite outdoor place and describe it as if you’re discovering a new land for the first time.

My absolute favorite outdoor place to be is walking the beach along the ocean. At Myrtle Beach, you can get to the water’s edge just steps from beachfront hotels. Cross the dunes, over the hot, powdery dry sand, to the darker sand that’s cool and wet with the tide. The constant breeze blows your hair and clothes and fills your nose with the briny scent of the sea. Chips of shells glitter along the bank and poke the soles of your feet. The tide laps at your toes – usually chilly – and leaves a salty residue on your skin. Marvel at the rolling waves and contemplate how far the ancient shells and shark teeth have come to finally rest above water. Stay out too long and you’re easily sunburned.

My soul feels at peace with the ocean, and I feel most complete and in balance when I’m in this space.

Maranda a plus size woman, standing near the water at Folly Beach in South Carolina. Pier 101 spans the background horizon.
Walking the tide at Folly Beach, SC, 2016.

A Place To Visit

What place have you always wanted to visit, and why?

I’d like to tour Germany. Berlin, specifically the eastern side, to experience remnants of the culture that lived under the GDR. I want to marvel at historical architecture and place my hands on the oldest buildings. I want to travel the countryside and visit WWII memorials and experience the somber occasion of concentration camp tours, to feel firsthand what I’ve read so much about. I’d like to stay in the mountains and tour the castles my husband visited when he was a child.

I’m thankful for a small taste of Germany that I was given when I stayed in the Netherlands, but I’d really like to go back and truly dig further into the history as I trace the roots of my family tree.

Panoramic view of historic market plaza in Meppen, Germany, featuring brick architecture and umbrellas over outdoor dining tables.
Panoramic view during our visit to historic Meppen, Germany, in 2010.

DailyOm offers courses over an enormous spectrum of topics in health and wellness. I've selected just a few questions and answers for this post, and paraphrased to shorten for readability. If you'd like to check out this specific course for yourself, it's "A Year of Writing to Uncover the Authentic Self" by Rachel Astor. I highly recommend this course as a way to chronicle thoughts, feelings and memories in a practical way.