Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter in Michigan (Polar Vortex, Ice Storm, Freezing Rain)

“In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.” 

As someone who came from a tropical country, nothing has prepared me for this winter experience. For more than 30 years, I have never experienced snow. The coldest temperature that I probably had was 70F in an air-conditioned room. In normal days, we have about 80-90 degrees. This is just my third winter and this is by far the most extreme in terms of the freezing temperature, destruction, and amount of snow.

White Lake is one of the tourist attractions in our area and people fish at the other side during winter.

Winter Wonderland in Michigan. 

I love snow and I have always been spellbound by the surrounding panorama when huge crystal flakes fall. They are soft, lush and cold to the touch. Where there was once pallid, dead grassland, scenes are transformed with the trees covered with decadent ivory jewels and the ground is coated in a hefty blanket of solid white.

The snow covered lake at Whitehall which glistens like diamonds when the sun shines.

Enjoying the scenery with my husband. 

It never failed to amazed me when picturesque sceneries are abundant as the sun shines and the frosty ground glitters like diamonds. The ineffable scent drifted through the air unmistakably speaking of the crisp bluster and ice.

However, the recent polar vortex has proven that beauty could be deceiving. The colossal destruction was unimaginable as the coldest temperature in decades blanketed the state.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

My husband’s dad was on schedule to have a surgery at the time that the coldest temperature was felt across the nation. We were at the road on the way to the hospital around 4:00 a.m. and the zero-visibility, below freezing temperature, exacerbated by strong winds greeted us. We arrived at the hospital safely and spent hours of watching the city blanketed by the heavy snow. The drive to the hotel that night after his dad’s surgery continued to be a challenge when we grappled with slippery roads and plunging temperature. My fingers and toes were numb, cold nips at my nose, and my eyes hurt just in a short walk going to the lobby.

The following day, temperature continued to drop and the road on the way home was zero visibility. There were many car accidents and classes and businesses were suspended.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids where we stayed over night after my father-in-law's surgery. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex. 

The polar vortex was not the worst part of this winter, the cold taste (literally) finally hit us during the ice storm. Snow is beautiful and soft to the touch but ice is dangerous and could be fatal especially when you lose power. The power lines that veer down between poles become dense as they were laden with the heaviness of the ice formation. Before long, massive power outages gripped different places in Michigan. We were ones of those who lost the power when two transformers in our area gave in. And the battle to keep the house warm ensued.

Bridge overlooking the Lake Michigan at Whitehall. 

Ice formation during the ice storm. 

Glass window of the hospital. 

For some, staying in the hotel during a power outage is a more viable decision. But, it’s more complicated when you are scared of water pipes bursting and little dogs freezing. Thankfully, we have gas stove and the water heater is also run by gas. We had our power back on after almost three days of struggling to survive.

Ice formation during the ice storm. 

Ice formation during the the ice storm. 

The experience was unforgettable. I have always thought of heavy snow fall as being transported into the winter wonderland and fun at sledding. Winter is absolutely beautiful BUT it can also be destructive.

Sledding at Double JJ. We don't let the snow stop us from having fun. 

Sledding at Double JJ. 

One of those days we woke up and the car is covered with several inches of snow. 

Shoveling is a must if you don't want to be buried under these thick snow. 

“What, I sometimes wonder, would it be like if I lived in a country where winter is a matter of a few chilly days and a few weeks' rain; where the sun is never far away, and the flowers bloom all year long?”

-Anna Neagle-

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

Today, I Failed

“The Phoenix must burn to emerge.” 
– Janet Fitch

The news was disheartening and perhaps, inevitable. Somehow, I had that notion of failure even before it came crashing on me. I worked so hard. Countless hours, in fact. Day and night, I worked laboriously unmindful of rewards. All that I wanted was to get a glimpse of success. Yet, none of it matters anymore. I failed.

The news however, only created that fire burning inside me to work even harder convincing myself that failure is not an indication of permanence. If my way did not work, that means I need to find another one that would work. Life is a series of disappointments, pains and hindrances. But, life is also a string of hope and success.

A friend once told me that once we hit rock bottom, there is no way but up. When I first heard the news, I felt worthless leveraging my skills that amounted to nothing. It was gut-sinking and terrifying but I had no choice but to face the truth- starting from nothing.

In hindsight, failure catapulted me into realization that the world is not so rosy but I can parlay the pain info future gains. Instead of sulking and trying to lick my wounds, I need to work even harder to maximize the probability of success. I failed but it does not mean the end. Failure in essence just made me internalize from the deepest recesses of my soul to examine the raw pain and find ways not to get on downward spiral which could harm myself more.

I failed. I understand that I am in pain. I acknowledge my vulnerability. But, I take the challenge to succeed by failing.

I got this.

“When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” 
–Ellen DeGeneres- 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Eyes that See the Best of Everything

The world is often dark. The reality is accentuated with the fact that more often than not, you are bombarded in social media with cruel, merciless, and nonsense posts. I do wonder, what is there to hope for?

The feeling of isolation is more potent than ever. Despite of what the technology has done to connect people around the globe, we still live in a really lonely world. We become more concerned of being ‘RIGHT’ than being ‘HEARD’. We desire for instant gratification by ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on our posts than finding genuine happiness. We become judgmental without hearing facts because of how easy it is to do that instead of engaging in intelligent discourse. The world needs less anger, resentment, and negativity. We need the eyes that see the best of everything.

With all these less than optimal feelings, I take comfort with what Martin Luther says, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Sometimes we need to walk through the dark in order to see the light. It may be cloudy now but there’s a silver lining along the way.

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Inspirational Articles/ Daily Blog

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Thoughts/ Opinions

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

The Best of 2018

Just like that, 365 days of 2018 is over. The journey was both internal and external, finding the validation that life is indeed embarking in the unknown. Despite of my infallibility, I survived the challenges and the stark contrast of what I got so used to for many years- finding myself invariably failing over and over again. There were many moments that I questioned my worth and my confidence. Yet, my traverse is not defined solely by these deterrents. The trails of disappointments were long but the positivity is longer. Hence, let me reminisce the best memories to cap the year 2018.

1. Celebrated the Valentine’s Day at Grand Rapids
This trip allowed me to learn more about United States by visiting Gerald Ford Museum. The night stroll with my husband made it more memorable.

2. 3rd Anniversary Celebration at Chicago
We explored so many places together but we love the Adler Planetarium and the
Millennium Park.

3. Travel to New York
The sight of the Liberty State Park was so surreal. I could not believe that I finally saw it in person.

4. Met a Very Special Friend at Philadelphia
The highlight of my year. I have not seen her for almost seven years. Ours is an attestation that friendship will always be a special bond of two people who cared deeply about each other.

5. Birthday Celebration at Niagara Falls (Canada Side)
We were exhausted after several days of being on the road but the experience was amazing. Niagara Falls is beautiful beyond explanation!

6. River Tubing Adventure at Ludington State Park
What made this adventure special was not the tubing itself but swimming in the Big Lake with the waves higher than us. It was scary but at the same time an exciting experience.

7. Travel to the Most Beautiful Place in United States (Sleeping Bear Dunes)
I found the inner peace on this place. The place was nothing that I have seen in person. It was majestic and filled me with tranquility.

8. Fall Camping at Ludington State Park
The colors were beautiful and the company was special. We love the friendship and relationship made deeper by this trip. It was also my first time to stay in a camper!

9. Celebrated New Year with My Husband
New Year with my husband. He is the best gift that I could ever receive.

Cliché as it may seem, life is a journey. What happens along the way, the pains and disappointments, the gift of faith and hope, the crooked lines, the rocks and the mountains that blind you, they shape you and at the end and you will never be the same.

Cheers to the new year, fresh hope, more roads to traverse, and stronger FAITH. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Beautiful Autumn in Michigan

"Autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile." - William Cullen Bryant 

Autumn allows us to enjoy a day through a kaleidoscope of quaint foliage. The sceneries are adorned with vibrant yellows, red and auburn leaves. Michigan is one of the states that you should travel during this season. With miles and miles of picturesque vistas, Michigan was declared by Nikon, the camera company, as the best state to take pictures of Fall colors.

This photo essay enriched with quotes will give you a glimpse of the beauty of Michigan during Autumn.

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." 
- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables 

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.” 
-Hal Borland- 

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and autumn was awakened.” -Raquel Franco- 

"I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze. The sweet chill of pumpkin, and crisp sunburnt leaves." -Ann Drake- 

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." - Stanley Horowitz 

"How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” -John Burroughs- 

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”

“The heart of autumn must have broken here, and poured its treasure upon the leaves.”-Charlotte Bates- 

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." 
- Albert Camus 

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." 
- George Eliot 

“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour." Victoria Erickson- 

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." 
- John Burroughs 

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” -Samuel Butler- 

"Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." 
- Lauren Destefano- 

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."- F. Scott Fitzgerald- 

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." 
- Emily Brontë- 


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