I always know it is truly spring when the California poppies bloom

The California poppy is a wildflower that is also the California state flower. I remember first becoming aware of its significance when I was six years old. When I first discovered them, I wanted to pick the flowers so badly. But my mom warned me that it was a special flower that shouldn't be picked if it's within a certain distance from the roadside, because it is the symbol of the state of California. She also wisely explained to me that after I picked one, the flower wouldn't last long and it was better to leave it growing where it was. It was one of the first of many flowers I learned how to enjoy without picking it and taking it home with me.

Now, with my digital camera (or camera-phone) I can "pick" flowers in a different way. I can take the image of a flower home with me and leave the lovely flower behind growing where I found it. This is particularly important when it comes to delicate wildflowers like the California poppy.

Ashley at ProFlowers.com reached out to me and
gave me a heads-up that there's a new post on their blog
giving great tips on how to photograph flowers with your mobile phone 

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The signs of Spring are bursting forth everywhere and I'm loving every bit of it... except the pollen

An ornamental plum tree and cherry tree grow intertwined at the end of our street. Their spring blossom show is always so spectacular (above and below).

The old cherry tree (below) in the back thicket of our garden bursts with blossoms that never become cherries because we don't have another pollinator tree to make that happen. If I knew the variety I probably would plant a companion for it. Because I LOVE fresh cherries.

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I guess my real name should be Captain Mary Amy Belle Emma Tinkerbell Grantham

Maybe you've seen the results of those online quizzes... or maybe you haven't and I'm the only one looking at people's Facebook feeds... 

Anyway... there are a slew of quizzes at places like one named in the image above so you can find out things like "Which Celeb Should Be Your Roomate". You can also finally answer the question "Which Character From The Princess Bride Are You?"

I'm usually not one to click through on stuff like that because I know the risk involved. But every once in a while I'm tempted enough to go over to one of the legit sites and take one of the quizzes (okay, I've taken more than one). What's pretty funny is that they are often quite accurate in describing my personality. It's amusing to say the least. 

After I get done taking one of the quizzes, I'll laugh out loud and Hubby will ask, "What's so funny?" and then I'll tell him I took a quiz and he'll never guess what my result was. So every time I've taken a quiz, Hubby has ended up privy to the result. 

Last week, we were texting back and forth during the day and I sent him a link to an iPhone cover I had fallen in love with. He sweetly ordered it for me before replying and then texted me that he had. I admitted that I couldn't make myself order it on my own (it felt too self-indulgent even though it was just an iPhone case to replace my broken one). His response was, "I know... you freak-a-zoid" followed by "I love you".

My response?

Referencing all the quiz results I've had in the past few weeks I texted, "Anyone who is Tinkerbell AND Mary from Sherlock AND Amy Farrah Fowler AND Belle AND Lord Grantham is definitely a freak-a-zoid."*

He texted back that I made him laugh out loud (really). And the visual of all those characters mashed into one, makes me chuckle right now as I'm typing this.

And for the record... I forgot to include in that text a few other results. I'm most like the Avenger Captain America. And if I were a character from Once Upon a Time I'd be Emma.

* For those not familiar with the characters listed they are as follows:
  • Tinkerbell from the Disney movie Peter Pan
  • Mary Morstan from BBC's Sherlock
  • Amy Farrah Fowler from CBS's Big Bang Theory
  • Belle from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast
  • Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey
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Bucket lists and visualization techniques–is there a place in my life for them?

Today, I heard an interview with the celebrity Brooke Burke where this 40-something mother of four candidly said that she felt the reason why she's been realizing her dreams in the past few years is because she wrote about her wants and desires publicly on her blog and such. She felt like this visualizing exercise of openly sharing her "bucket list" made it all happen.

You know how most of the time when you listen to interviews and it's entertaining but most of it just passes on through? Then every so often... just once in a while... something that is said doesn't pass on through but sticks around in your head and rattles around? That was me today.

I pondered Brooke's concept of visualization and whether I felt it had validity in my own life. I also found myself pondering the value of having a "bucket list" (a concept I've never embraced or considered embracing).

I thought about it. What would I write on my blog if I were to follow Brooke's example? If (and that's a big IF) I were to compile a "bucket list" what would be on it? Would I publish it publicly? Does it even matter in the whole eternal scheme of things?

I have to say, I honestly don't know. The things that I cherish and the things that matter most to me don't need a visualization exercise in order to bring them into fruition. And they are usually so personal I wouldn't want to share them publicly. They are too precious.

I found myself asking the question, "Is this why the world's definition of 'success' eludes me? Because I don't do what Brooke Burke has done?" Then I asked myself, "Does society's vision of 'success' really matter all that much to me? Do I even care?"

My mind wandered to a photo I took on Saturday at my niece's 1 year birthday celebration (the photo above). All the children at the party had dumped the toys out of the toy bucket and were gleefully playing–the evidence of their play activity strewn about the floor.

It seemed like an apt symbol for why I haven't really engaged in either bucket list formation practices or visualization techniques (unless compiling Pinterest boards counts as "visualization"... then I have).

I know the term "bucket list" comes from the idea that it is a list of all the things one wants to accomplish before "kicking the bucket" (dying). I get that. But that way of looking at life and death isn't my style.

I think of life as a gathering exercise–a time to glean as much information, education, experience, knowledge as possible as well as gathering meaningful connections and relationships. I feel like I'm walking around with a big tub (like the one in the photo above). I hold that tub under one arm and it rests on one hip. I go around collecting "items" to put into my bucket much like a beachcomber gathering seashells along a shoreline. The bucket never gets full. It's bottomless (like Mary Poppins' carpet bag). It can hold infinite amounts of intangible treasures. Carrying this bucket isn't just about gathering, but also about sharing. Sharing makes the bucket fuller instead of depleting it. Sharing adds more than it takes away.

I suppose this is why I've never made a "bucket list" because my bucket isn't going to get "kicked" when I die. It's going to come with me. It's the only thing I can take with me. And if I'm gathering with that end-goal in mind, it seems that visualization exercises don't fit into the picture either.

Or do they? What do you think?

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