“We must go ahead and see for ourselves” – Jacques Cousteau

As yet another year draws to a close it is hard not to anticipate the year ahead. For me, the year ahead comes with deep, dark apprehension as we bring in a leader whose policies on everything I stand for frighten me. Our planet, our rights, our tolerance and acceptance of others, and our relationships with powers in the world. The election was a very dark day for me. I have tried desperately to understand but it is impossible. Instead, I will focus my efforts as I always have in the past: Continuing to use my voice to advocate for the voiceless and stand up for my beliefs. I refuse to be silenced.

I will continue to live in the moment and practice gratitude for every blessing I have: My family, my health, my freedom, my ability to follow my dreams and my quest to make a difference in the world even if it is small. Everything counts – perhaps more than ever before.

As we move into full blown winter, I end my post with some of my favorite captures of nature at its best. These were all taken last week as winter finally arrived full force into Minnesota. I don’t recall ever seeing such a surreal sight. We had a huge snowfall and then suddenly the temperature dropped to a mind numbing -24 F wind chill. The lake had not yet frozen over so in the morning steam was rising from the open water into the sunlight.

I layered up in two pairs of long underwear, two face masks, wool socks and hat and went on a run around my favorite urban lake. I admit that the first five minutes were bone chilling cold yet as I rounded the corner and saw this unearthly view it was worth it. All the darkness lifted and an enormous smile of gratitude crossed my frozen face. There is so much beauty in the world if only we can see it, breathe it, feel it and embrace it.

Lake Harriet, Minnesota

“Our way is not soft grass, it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun.” – Ruth Westheimer

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis Minnesota

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

“The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations”. – Anais Nin

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Chinese proverb

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

Over the next couple of weeks, I look forward to seeing my family over the holidays and welcoming in the new year with an exciting adventure. I’m off to Costa Rica to a new adventure. Stay tuned…

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation.


  1. Nicole! excellent shots…I suppose they must have been shot with your smartphone! These are so refreshing!
    I always believe that you don’t need to travel if you can marvel at the natural beauty around your home. Not to be misunderstood with the reason for not travelling. But being able to appreciate natural beauty everyday is a bliss, which some are not entitled to….some are unaware…and rest don’t bother.
    And you’re lucky, Nicole! Enjoy the festivities!

    1. Thanks my friend. Yes they were shot with my iPhone. Many I do with Instagram post processing are as I always have it with me and it is easiest. There is truly a ton of beauty around me here at home and afar. Thanks so much for the comment! Happy New Year!

  2. Your diligence was rewarded with beautiful shots, Nicole. Take heart. No one wants to silence you; your voice will not only be heard, but still welcomed. Enjoy this Christmas season with your family and anticipate the new joys of the upcoming year. There will be many.


    1. Oh thanks Janet. Sometimes I feel we live in such a scary world. I felt like the election really showed how people can be when people differ on strong opinions and beliefs. I’m so grateful that I have a safe place and home here online where I can share my thoughts and feelings. I have never been threatened or bullied. Unlike so many other women I know in journalism and blogging (one famous blogger was getting death threats for writing about her adopted children of color). It is a scary world out there but alas there are still many wonderful, carrying people. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to you! πŸ™‚

  3. These pictures are absolutely stunning! Indeed, we are always surrounded by beauty and we need to open our eyes and heart to truly appreciate what surrounds us each and every day!
    The best way to brace the new year is with a positive mindset and a grateful heart as in your post πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Lexi! You too! can’t wait to hear about Cuba. I can’t remember if you’ve been there or not. I really really loved Cuba and would love to go back.

  4. Thank you for your positivism in the face of your disappointment and anxiety regarding your country’s impending change of leadership, which I totally share. As you say, we have to maintain our hope and go about our normal daily duties with optimism.

  5. The photos are beautiful, Nicole, but I don’t envy you those temperatures. It’s turned cold here too but not below zero yet. Whatever is around the corner, I wish you joy this Christmas. πŸ™‚

    1. We are used to the cold Jo so that actually makes it easier. As long as you dress appropriately you are fine even in the real extreme temperatures. It has warmed up a ton so it is gorgeous. πŸ™‚

  6. A spectacular and moving post Nicole. I can see that “smile of gratitude” πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful time with your family over the holidays and I look forward to reading all about your adventures in Costa Rica. Warmest wishes and a Happy New Year.

  7. Your capture of the winter fog is beautifully refreshing. Sunlight always sheds different light in the winter with its low angles.
    People like you with a positive outlook can be the sunshine on our political winter. Stay true to your beliefs and stay active. Our government works best on debate and participatory constituency.
    Happy New Year!

  8. There’s a lot of beauty to be found in nature for sure and I’m glad you’re choosing to stand up and not be silenced or oppressed during this presidency. I’m right with you on that, I refuse to have my right revoked.

  9. Amazing photos to compliment amazing writing! While I too am I little wary about what lies ahead with our soon-to-be leader, but I still look to the year with hope and excitement. Great post!

  10. These pictures are wonderful! I hope you do keep using your voice to speak up for the voiceless. Now is a time more than ever for people who oppose everything Trump (ME TOO) to show and be the better part of humanity.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Sorry for the delay in responding but I was traveling. Yes now is the time
      More than ever to stand up and fight for our beliefs. We are so fortunate to live in a democracy. On another level I would like to check out your blog as the name captured my attention. I’ve had chronic neck pain for 30 years yet I too keep
      Moving! 😊

  11. Great photos. I don’t envy the below zero temperatures, but I would trade the cold rain we’ve had the last tow days for a good snow. I’m going to try to enter 2017 with hope.

    1. Thank you! Since then it has warmed up
      And got cold again. I got to escape to the jungle of Costa Rica so got my dose of high heat and humidity. Now back home and the 30s feel beautiful. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    1. Me too! But once I learned to
      Embrace winter and get out every single day no matter how cold and awful I’ve learned to love winter and beat my years of winter blues. πŸ˜ŒπŸ’›

  12. Beautiful shots and post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It has been a challenging time for myself and I struggle daily to stay in gratitude for abundance and the blessings I do have.

    1. Thank you! Yes we are so
      Inundated with bad news. I was in Costa Rica last week where no wifi and just basics of life. People were so happy and enjoyed life. Hard to
      Come back but must also be grateful. 😌

      1. Your welcome. Crazy I just had this conversation with my boyfriends son. Times have changes and computers and internet have ruined a lot of things as much as they are nice and convenient and all. I miss the good ole simple days when we actually communicated lime humans. People do not understand how much meaning is lost in text messaging and instant messages. Then there is the constant hands and eyes on the phones. I am so guilty but I am also trying to change that also.

      2. Yes so true. I grew up way before internet. Now my kids are growing up obsessed with it. Yet we try our best to set rules on how much they can be online. It is hard though when all their friends do it too. It is a worldwide issue.

      3. Yes, it is really cold here in Minnesota. Glad it is warming up though. We are skiing tomorrow so that will be nice to get out as a family. πŸ™‚ Happy weekend!

    1. Oh thank you! Yes it was so amazing!!! Now the lake is all freezes over. Such a spectacular moment in time. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. Appreciate it! 😌

    1. Thank you so much Jane! I had just left for Costa Rica when I saw all the comments coming through and had no idea what happened until I saw your comment. What a wonderful surprise. Happy New Year!

      1. I had a feeling that you didn’t know, given your travel. It’s a fun honor… I was “discovered” a couple of months ago and was rather bowled over by the nice response. Hope Costa Rica is fabulous!

      2. Thanks Jane! Yes it was nice! So nice to get so many comments too. I feel like my blog has declined a bit in the community I have built over the last six years. I simply haven’t had the time to read other fellow bloggers posts as much as before. I hope to work harder this year at it! Costa Rica was amazing. Now to catch up! πŸ™‚

  13. What amazing shots! I admire your determination to go for a run in this freezing weather. I was in New Jersey as Winter began to fall and I couldn’t wait to come back home to sunny Mumbai . It truly is a gift to enjoy every moment in life in every circumstance…..Thanks for this inspiring and motivating post

  14. WOW! The post is incredible. I loved every single word! As a person who loves nature a lot I enjoyed seeing the pics too! Good luck on the Costa Rica trip, waiting for the photos from there! And Happy New Year))

    1. Thank you! Yes being positive is something we must practice every day. Life is stressful and it is easy to get down or grumpy. I try my best to be grateful and thankful! πŸ™‚

  15. Thank you for your inspiration through your encouragement and pictures! It brought a smile to my face and hope that there are other people in the world like me who remain hopeful. Have a great New Year!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing! I truly appreciate you and your perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely pictures and exceptional writing. Thank you.

  17. At last I have broken the anticipation, as I set up this blog I wish to inspire those who had lost the hope of existence, those who feel so hated and those who feels life is so difficult for them.
    I promise you will have the hope to live again after going through my blog.


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  19. Amen to this! All we can do is practice gratitude and create our own happiness. A new president or policy will not vastly change our lives or situations. Only we have the power to do that.

    1. Yes that is so true. I guess I just am so hugely concerned about the environment. That is one of my greatest concerns because without the health of planet, then everything else doesn’t matter. But yet we can only do so much. Practicing gratitude and also advocacy is the best. πŸ™‚

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  21. Anticipation of the year ahead of us is always scary and exciting to think about. With 2017 bringing a new form of leadership in the United States, you never know what might be in store for our country. American citizens will never fully agree with our new leaders decisions, but in reality wanting our countries president to fail at his presidency is like wanting the pilot to crash the plane we are all on. Everyone needs to continue to live in the moment, be thankful we live in a country that has freedom and we are based in a republic; in which the powers of sovereignty are invested in the people and are exercised by the people.

    1. Very true! I don’t want him to crash and burn yet I am terrified at losing our democracy. Gag orders on the EPA and shutting down the White House comment line (I have called to voice my concerns about issues I disagree with) to me are
      Terrifying as are many of the policies his administration is implementing. I fear our nation is becoming more divided than ever. I strongly believe in our rights of freedom of speech yet am fearful when it is starting to get blocked. Plus now our state is considering making protesting harder which is another red flag.

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