Finding My Balance Again: Ferry to Dauphin Island

I headed west today. I boarded the Mobile Bay Ferry at Fort Morgan at the far west end of Gulf Shores. Along with the other people and cars, I was joined by many winged travelers.

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The “real” Flock of Seagulls

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Arrival at Dauphin Island and exploring what it has to offer.

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A mound of sand, at sea level, rarely exits unscathed from a storm.

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Lone sentinel at the ferry landing

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The oddest shape for a house

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Heading back east, I stopped outside of Mobile for a bite to eat at Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant. Little did I know, when I changed my mind and got off at Exit 30 instead of proceeding back to Gulf Shores, what a treat I was in store for…and the highlight of my day.

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The most extensive and beautiful sunset I have ever seen

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Battleship Park in the distance

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Great architecture…and at night the skyline is lit up in red and green

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And the grand finale before I headed back to Gulf Shores…

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Moon Pie a la Mode…yummmmmyyyy!

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Finding My Balance Again: The Magic of The Sea

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.”

~ John F. Kennedy

Spend enough time on or near the open sea and you see and feel its pull. You can’t help but be drawn to it…by it.

It incorporates a power and a serenity….DSCF1589DSCF1599

It elicits a respect and a fear.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

~ Jacques Yves Cousteau

It represents a give and a take.

It is fluid and unyielding….DSCF1617DSCF1616

It flows around obstacles. Those obstacles it cannot flow around, it erodes over time.

“All loose things seem to drift down to the sea, and so do I.”

~ Louis D’Amour

No wonder I am drawn to its presence in my life, particularly in times of duress and confusion.

“The loneliness you get by the sea is personal and alive. It doesn’t subdue you and make you feel abject. It’s stimulating loneliness.”

~ Anne Morroe Lindbergh

Its qualities represent a miraculous balance that I want for myself.

Not to mention its beauty and its majesty….DSCF1591

Being here, so near to it, centers me. Brings all the chaos into a manageable perspective.

“He that will learn to pray, let him go to the sea.”

~ George Herbert

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Finding My Balance Again: Christmas in Gulf Shores

What do you do when life becomes overwhelming? When there is more chaos than order in your day to day existence? When you seem to spend the hours fighting the incoming, at all cost and in the interest of pure survival? When you spend so much time fighting that you lose focus of what you are fighting for? When fighting becomes your only option and retreat is but a whiff of smoke floating on the breeze?

I suppose for some people they lose the ability to know when they are at their wits’ end, or at least when they are approaching that point. They get so close to the end before they realize they are trapped, cornered. They get so close that they lose themselves, their identity, their purpose, their dreams.

Too close and they risk destruction.

Destruction as an explosion, where they destroy themselves and others.

Destruction as a collapse or an implosion, where they destroy themselves.

Both scenarios result in destruction of self.

Like a fast moving train approaching a wall, whether it gets derailed or not. If that train, doesn’t slow down to a stop so it can redirect away from the wall, that train will hit that wall. That impact will result in many charred and unrecognizable pieces. Depending on the speed of the approach, and the velocity of the impact, those pieces might be salvaged but will never be used to reassemble the train, the wall, or the surrounding scene.

Maybe I am one of the lucky ones if only because I learned, early on, when to know I am approaching that wall, no matter what my speed of approach.

When I see the wall looming, I check my speed. Then I find a corner, somewhere away from my everyday life, and I retreat to it. I shut everything out. It is the only way to look inside myself, to reach down deep, talk to God, and find me and my purpose again.

The corners I have chosen in the past are places I have never visited before, that are within driving distance, or a short flight, from home. The best corners are those that are near a large body of water, preferably the ocean. The ocean and the surf have always soothed me.

This year, my chosen corner is Gulf Shores, Alabama. DSCF1576

I won’t bore you with the details of arriving after dark, despite my best efforts not to, and not being able to find the condo using directions from GoogleMaps

Suffice it to say that I ultimately made it and am safely ensconced in my condo on the beach. I am the only inhabitant of the entire building; in fact, this warranted an impromptu visit from the local police as I sat in the parking lot underneath the building. The policeman was unaware that they were still renting the units. I assured him that they are and implored him to keep a watch on my building as he paroles the streets. He promised he would.

This morning, after trying to sleep in late, I got comfortable in my cream-colored Kia Soll (yes, the hamster car) and went exploring.

IMG_0360Gulf Shores is a typical beach town. During this time of year, even along the warm Gulf, it is mostly deserted. Lots of high-rise condominiums hogging the shoreline, mom-n-pop package and convenience stores, seafood shops and restaurants galore, and about a dozen supermarkets.

The highlight of my explorations today was the colorful and varied bungalows snuggled in between the condos and lining the other side of the main beach thoroughfare.DSCF1584

All of the bungalows, and even the high-rise condos, are named. I suppose this makes it easier to differentiate them and gives them each their own personality.  Some of them had whimsical plaques affixed to the front.DSCF1587

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I traversed much of the island. Along the way I stopped at Lartigue’s Seafood Market to pick up dinner for tonight: boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, stuffed crabs, and something called a crab potato…a local specialty.

Plan for tomorrow…going to hit the beach, unless I get a craving for it before then!

Sandy Hook: What Can I Do?

In the wake of Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, the finger pointing continues. The media ramps up its onslaught on the weak principled and the undecided among us.

The constant discussion and wrangling is tiring. I find myself sitting and listening and wondering to myself “if I were a parent of a young child, what could I do to make sure my child was never at risk for doing something like this?”

Note the words I used: What can I do?

It seems to me that there are so many people debating this horrific act who are still pointing fingers.

  • “How could he get access to those guns? We must tell the government to tighten gun control and keep those lethal weapons off the street.”
  • “How could that mother not know that her son was so disturbed? We must make laws that control people like that.”
  • “How can the media be so unprincipled as to broadcast these nasty images that pervade our children’s thoughts and cause them to turn into such bad people? The media must be controlled and the nasty images must be cleansed, maybe even removed.”

Anything to change the focus on what hurts to acknowledge.

I’m sorry, but none of those rationalizations, nor their ‘solutions’, works for me.Free_choice_by_KILLERSMEMO[1]

Why?

Because the results of legislation such as that removes my right as an individual to choose and I want my God-given right to choose how to live my life, and, as guardian to my children under God, how to best guide and foster the lives of my under-aged children. I don’t want this government, or any government, legislating my choices, particularly when that legislation involves removing choices because a third party entity deemed my choice inappropriate or wrong.

Back to “what can I do”….

Following along with that principle of choosing for myself and paying my own consequences, let’s examine what the enthusiastic parent can do to control the environment of their children, in the best interests of their children, to increase the chances that their child will not be prematurely exposed to, and possibly inexorably damaged by, the dregs of our current societal trends.

  • Find the off switch to all electronics.
  • If you can’t find the off switch, know how to unplug the electrical cord.
  • Use this choice – this power – to control the environment in your household. If you don’t like the programming on CNN or Fox, change channels or turn it off altogether. Why one earth would you want the government deciding that for you?
  • Engage your children daily – cook together, play a game, discuss their day, discuss your day. Remember that you, as the parent or guardian, are in control in your household. It is YOUR choice that makes the difference in your household…your principles, your beliefs. If you are openly watching news programs about death, drugs, and prostitution, in front of a very young child, believe me, that child will absorb that in ways that are beyond your control. There is a reason why you feel uncomfortable watching that stuff when your child is in the room. Turn it off! We live in the world of You Tube; you can find the broadcast on the internet AFTER your child goes to bed and you won’t have to hassle the explanation to a child that is not ready to understand….and shouldn’t.
  • Know your child. This goes hand-in-hand with the fourht point. If you spend quality time with your child, you will know your child. As you grow to know your child, you understand their issues and are more able to help them through.
  • If you sense that something is wrong or different in a bad way, seek help.
  • If you have guns in the house: keep them under double lock and key.
  • Teach your children from a young age how to respect them and the power they wield, and then follow that up as they get older with how to use them safely and what instances are correct places and reasons to use a gun.
  • Teach your children early on that they have a choice in how they act, then be consistent with that information but modeling for them.
  • Teach your children the difference between right and wrong, then be consistent with that information by modeling it for them.
  • Be patient with your children while they learn.

evil_wallpaper_by_deligaris-d48ps7b[1]I am not, by any means, advocating that by being the quintessential ‘good’ parent that you can avoid raising a child like the ones who have committed such heinous acts over the past few decades. I truly believe that evil exists in the world. We, as humans, are powerless against it and cannot hope to defeat it. What this killer did, and what so many before him have done, was to make a choice to follow evil.I am not advocating that there is anything anyone could have done to ‘fix’ him. Like I said, evil is evil.

I do believe that by being involved and compassionate parents, parents with common sense and the backbone to stand up to our kids (because at a certain age we MUST stand up to them)  in the interest of teaching them  right from wrong, that we might be able to make a difference in a generation. I believe that we, as parents, have more influence over our children than we think we do. Or maybe that influence comes at a high cost of time.

Either way, wouldn’t it be worth the effort to try to tip the scales to sidestep this type of tragedy?

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Good-Friday-Jesus-on-Cross[1]

Sandy Hook: Stop The Blame Game (if only for the children!)

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What I am about to write might offend some people.

This is NOT my intention. It is only my intention to write what I feel; maybe to start a discourse.

Before I start, I would like to offer a prayer for the children and their families:

Lord, please gather close to you the victims of Sandy Hook. Please wipe away their fear and keep them in Your light and presence. Lord, please spread Your love and warmth over those left behind, that they may understand that You have their loved little babies safely in Your arms forever.

Now, please do the following before you read any further:

  • Remove the plugs from your ears.
  • Use this key to open your mind and your heart.
  • Put your finger(s) down and tie them to your side or sit on your hands.

Good…

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, it is not only the children and their families who are mourning. Parents, teachers, children and so many people all over the world are trying to come to grips with the senselessness of it all.

I believe this is part of being human: we try to find meaning in chaos.

In so doing, we look into the chaos and latch onto anything we can make sense of. Many facets of this tragedy are coming into the spotlight in just this manner as we all try to make sense of the chaos. The proponents of these facets are trying to put the spotlight on their beliefs and what they think caused this tragedy. This is a means to order and understanding. If we can put order to it, package it neatly and put it in a box, we might be able to stop it from happening again. We might be able to fix it.

Unfortunately, as with anything else where humans are involved, it is impossible to identify THE cause, that one big factor. Because there are too many factors that are too convoluted. Humans are complicated creatures. Medical and psychological sciences are still wrangling with the complexities of defining behavior. They try to label it, attempt to package it. They are usually wrong or not completely on target.

There is no one cause to this abomination.

Any attempt to take sides, whether from a political or self-promoting platform, is fruitless and will lead to more chaos, more polarization, more strife. Bottom line: taking sides will NOT solve a problem that may not have a solution.

If there is a solution, it will not be solved quickly. The problem was not created quickly.

Let’s review some facts:

  • The only one who caused this event is the shooter: not his guns, not the media, not his upbringing, not the circumstances of his life. He made the choice to take those actions that day and he will reap his just reward.
  • There are multiple facets that might have influenced his choice of action. All humans can be influenced to make one choice over another; but, in the end, it is still each human’s choice, the initiation of free will, to take individual action.  
  • The shooter took a course of action independently, working from the inside out. We, as those left in the wake, cannot hope to find the answer by looking at the outside.
  • We cannot look into the shooter; he is dead. As such, all the analysis in the world will never lead us to THE CAUSE. It will only lead as to presumptions and assumptions.

If we, as a society, truly want to make this violence go away, we have to try a little bit harder than just blindly pulling out one element and blowing it out of proportion. Furthermore, we have to quit looking to the outside to answer and solve problems that are most likely coming from the inside.

From an inside that only God knows for sure.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Galaxy Moviehouse and Eatery: Better Than Home

Several years ago, my brother built an in-home theater. I immediately fell in love with it the first time I saw it and experienced it.

The overstuffed, cushy, leather sofa, the warm colors, the big screen. Not to mention the wet bar in the back.

It wasn’t a big room, but it was a place I could get used to. More than only get used to…it was a place I could escape into when watching my favorite movies.

I have finally found a place that comes about as close to that feeling as I will ever get…and I found it at Galaxy Moviehouse and Eatery.

Even better, Galaxy not only figured out the winning formula, but they perfected it.

The comfy leather recliners…sitting in one of these is like lying in bed. All that was missing was my favorite feather pillow.  The perfect way to watch a movie: recline and relax! IMG_0030

The spacing between the recliners…I didn’t feel afraid to take my sweater off for fear of elbowing my neighbor in the face. Nor did I worry that my head would end up on his shoulder, complete with snoring and a little drool, when I fell asleep in the middle of the movie.

The warm décor…felt like home, in my own theater, with 50 of my closest friends.

The food…was restaurant quality and great variety. On the menu: half a dozen different pizza varieties, fish and chips, sandwiches, and an eclectic chicken pesto pasta made with pumpkin seed pesto. Yummy! And, let us not forget the obligatory bowl of buttered popcorn! Yes, REAL popcorn in a REAL bowl!

The refreshments…OK, soda is great at a movie. And Coke Icee at the movie is my trademark. But, I can’t knock the opportunity to enjoy a cold beer while watching my movie. And a draft at that. Mixed drinks are on offer as well.

The service…nothing beats NOT having to run down to get a refill of popcorn or soda. I enjoyed the movie and the experience so much more knowing that a server was checking in on me and that getting my refills would not result in me missing any part of the movie.

The cost…not much more expensive than dinner and a movie.

The convenience…I loved being able to drive to one location, park once, sit down once. That beats hands down the hassle of the other way.

Galaxy has become my movie venue of choice for all of these reasons. I only hope that they don’t change the price when they find out what a jewel they have. If they do, I might have to re-evaluate.

In the meantime, you can find me at Galaxy in 2013.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Emerald Restaurant: It’s All In Your Perspective

It always amazes me how two people can look at the same thing in such different ways.

One will look at absolutes, black and white, “one or the other”; the other at variations, shades of grey, “maybes”.

One will marvel at the color; the other at the shape. To each, the other’s perspective is lost, dulled, or unimportant.

It amazes me even more to think about this in terms of multiple people and views; of how these views affect others and the opinion that others may form as a result.

Of how these opinions can influence choices…the true essence of marketing.

With large entities, individual opinion does not carry much weight. If we are talking about restaurants (which we are), places like Cheesecake Factory and Chili’s have established a critical mass of opinion. One person’s opinion of the food, ambience, or service is drowned out and has little chance of swaying anyone’s choice to eat at places like these.

Now, apply that to a small family-owned restaurant struggling to survive.

Opinion matters.

Enter Emerald Restaurant in Austin.

When my friend invited me to join him for dinner at Emerald, the first thing I did was say yes. He has been before and had good things to say about it.

The second thing I did was hop on Google and check it out.

The URL displayed details like creative and authentic Irish fare on the menu, white table clothes, and cozy atmosphere. Small, romantic, unique. It was right down my alley.

I next went to Yelp to see what the reviews said about it. This is the point where my opinion could have been changed because of the varied perspectives of the reviews on Yelp. If I was too ensconced in my own perspective, and closed minded, I could have chosen not to go at all.

Some reviews focused on the condition of the restaurant and overlooked the potential for ambience.

Some reviews focused on the food and forgot to mention the warm, homey service and attention.

Some reviews focused on the service, labeled it slow, and failed to notice the smiles of the staff and feel of dining with family.

In my perspective, they all took out their magnifying glasses, leaned over the fine details like they were trying to identify and burn an insect, and hyper-focused on minute details that fell soley into the purvey of their perspective, instead of  opening their eyes and taking in the entire experience as a whole.

In so doing, they missed the point of a place like Emerald.

Those who were focused strictly on the food missed out on the hospitality of their hostess. She was polite, pleasant, accommodating, and engaged. How often does one get that at Cheesecake Factory? And, by the way, the Irish potato soup, the Chateaubriand, and lobster tail were tasty, cooked just right, and came in huge portions!

Those who were focused on the service (which was perfect in my experience) missed out on the opportunity for an intimate dining experience, without the din of crashing dishes and crying babies.

Those who were focused on the worn veneer failed to appreciate the authentic artifacts that were all over the cottage, from the Coat of Arms in the foyer, to the green bathtub in the ladies room, to the Irish accessories adorning the table setting.

Is Emerald Restaurant going to make it to the Top Ten Restaurants of Austin or start a chain of restaurants all over the country? No. But, it’s clear that is not the intent of the owners.

If you can have an open mind and want to try something new, Emerald Restaurant may just be a venue for you to consider.

Come hungry and ready to relax and be treated like family.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.