Hello everyone! My name is Julie – I go by JulieAllyn in The Land of Blog – and I’ve been a WordPress blogger since June 2014.  Like many of you, I suspect, I was curious as to whether I had a story in me or not – or at least one that might connect with others.

The experience thus far has been most satisfying.  I love being able to meld both photography and my thoughts, views and ramblings into a public forum AND getting to meet some pretty amazing and talented bloggers from all across the globe.

I recently discovered the world of photo challenges here on WordPress and love it.  Posting old favorites and hunting for interesting and appropriate new shots to fulfill the assignment themes has been great fun.  And participating in these photo challenges has boosted my traffic stats as well!

While I greatly enjoy the photography aspect of posting to my blog, however, I want to focus on and strengthen my writing and storytelling abilities.  So here I am.  I’m looking forward to stretching and expanding and being challenged to grow my skills and to also making some new friends along the way!

Assignment: Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself

On New Years Day, Bill and I spent a pleasant hour or two reading the paper and sipping our favorite hot beverages in downtown Des Moines. This particular Starbucks, a favorite haunt no matter where it’s located throughout the city, shares retail space with the South Union Bread Café in a grand old building that houses The Temple for Performing Arts.

Both my husband and I work in a suburb area of Des Moines so neither of us is all that familiar with the many wonderful old buildings downtown but the main floor of this locale contains more than a few keys to its past and is a delightful place to sit and relax or grab your camera and explore. Since I couldn’t decide which avenue to pursue, I did both!

This Starbucks has been remodeled and redecorated in just the last year or two
This Starbucks has been remodeled and redecorated in just the last year or two
Courtyard area outside Starbucks
Courtyard area outside Starbucks
Painted pipework, bricks and the exit to the courtyard
Painted pipework, bricks and the exit to the courtyard
Painted trim on columns in the lobby
Painted trim on columns in the lobby
Freemason engravings on door leading in and out of the main lobby
Freemason engravings on door leading in and out of the main lobby
Box office for The Temple of Performing Arts
Box office for The Temple of Performing Arts
Hurry!  Intermission is almost over.
Hurry – Intermission is almost over!
Reflections on the library windows next door
Reflections on the library windows next door

With the new year – and thus, a new beginning upon us – I’m reposting a personal favorite of mine. Happy New Year everyone!

A Sawyer's Daughter


My 20s and 30s – and a sizeable chunk of my 40s – were spent allocating far too many hours, days, weeks (and more) agonizing over matters of little import, wasting precious time, energy and mojo fixated on imperfections, minutia and Other People’s Business which only served to diminish my own standing with self.

It should be easy, intuitive even, to recognize that the less stressful path to peace of mind is best pursued not from forceful, hand-wringing, futile attempts to guide events toward a self-determined outcome but rather in accepting and responding to life’s outrageously misfortunate slings and arrows with as much dignity and resolve as we are able to muster.

Don’t like how something has turned out, unfolding in directions that are out of alignment with your own wants, needs and desires? Adapt and / or find your own way, your own path, your own happiness, your own…

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Inspired by recent conversations with family as well as posts that I’ve read here in The Land of Blog, I’ve compiled my own Bucket List of adventures, goals and achievements to strive for before the days, weeks, months and years really start to slip away from me…

The point of creating a Bucket List, to my way of thinking, isn’t (or shouldn’t be) another means of self-flagellation for things not done or opportunities frittered away but rather as a vehicle for self-exploration, for contemplating your inner wants and needs, passions and desires and in the process of enumerating goals and perhaps unattainable ideals, learning something about what really means the most to you.

I’ve created my Bucket List – the beginnings of one anyway – fresh off the heels of a life-changing trip to Estes Park where my husband and I reveled in the joy and beauty of hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  This analysis of what I’d like to do and achieve prior to kicking the proverbial bucket, in part, reinforced (as did our hiking adventures this fall) the great satisfaction I found in participating in outdoor activities in my 20s and 30s – camping, hiking, spelunking, rappelling, exploring – gloriously fun times spent both with friends and with my son as well as solitary forays into the woods to hike or photograph or just spend time alone to think.

And so, what I’ve inscribed onto my Bucket List thus far is as follows:

  1. Master our new Canon 70D SLR
  2. Get myself published on Freshly Pressed
  3. Hike the Grand Canyon
  4. Relearn to crochet
  5. Bag me a 14er in Colorado
  6. Visit and explore New England
  7. Visit and explore Alaska
  8. Visit and explore Scotland, England and Ireland
  9. Experience Niagara Falls
  10. Drive up along Michigan’s North Shore Drive
  11. Travel to Instanbul
  12. Learn to kayak

Working towards one’s goals can serve, also, as a motivator like none other.  I know exercise and eating well is something I need to and should do for good health.  It’s a gnawing concern and one I strive to manage.  But yearning to hike to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain – and I ain’t getting any younger! – is going to require more than just sheer will and determination.  I need to prepare my body for this particular goal.  Visualizing myself standing at the top one of those magnificent peaks is more than adequate motivation to get myself in shape to accomplish my objective.

Travel and photography, well, I already know I love these pursuits so including them on my list with the goal of learning more and expanding what I already know, what I’ve already seen and done, is exciting and enticing.  I learned to crochet in my early 20s and have never returned to it.  I believe it’s time now to do so.  And what WordPress blogger doesn’t dream of being featured on Freshly Pressed?

This list may not stand, it may (and should!) change over time and hopefully, by the end of 2015, I’ll have #5 crossed off, and perhaps replaced with the goal of bagging yet another.  We’re already researching options and making plans.  For me, planning an adventure is half the fun!

So.  What’s on YOUR bucket list?

Bear with me as I have little (to no) experience shooting B&W photos but I’ve been nominated by to post a black and white photo each day for the next five days.  As part of the process, I need to nominate someone else to ‘play’.  So for my first go-round, I would like to nominate to join me in this endeavor.

Here’s my first offering…