Nudged to Bloom: When Following my Intuition led me to Radiant Flowers

At last!

I reveal my Summer Chicago Adventure.

In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry (MSI), revisit The Bean, explore the Lincoln Park Zoo, see an incredible view of the entire city from the John Hancock building, visit the Buckingham Fountain at night, and (most importantly) experience the lovely band She & Him live at Millennium Park. But today, we start with two truly photogenic surprises I found on my way to MSI Museum and the powerful metaphor behind that experience.


There’s also something pretty special about this article that is not immediately apparent. This is the first article that I’m writing the majority of with OS X Mountain Lion’s dictation feature. The only downside of this is that I have to double tap the command key every couple sentences to continue speaking, but it’s not actually a big deal because I take a moment to consider what I’m going to say next anyway. 🙂

It’s pretty amazing, really. It’s accuracy is easily over 95% which is impressive considering you don’t have to train it to your voice. Who knows, with this technology perhaps I’ll start publishing even more than roughly 4000 words per month I now write for this site. (Actually, I’d love to know if you can tell any difference in my writing style based on this change. Feel free to let me know in the comments.)

Okay, enough about that. Let’s get on with the story.

Another Action–filled Adventure

It had been fully seven months since I’d been in Chicago. (The last time I had been on the way back from a massive West Coast adventure.) And now, finding myself back, I was reminded at how lovely Chicago is in the summer. My first destination was the Museum of Science & Industry, which I soon learned was basically on the opposite end of the city from where I was staying on the north side. So getting there by public transportation from the north side was going to take about an hour.

Not that I’d have it any other way though. Not only is driving in Chicago frustrating, I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of CO2 and carbon monoxide that I put into the air, using a bike or public transit whenever possible. I do this partly to set an example and partly because I know that every little bit counts. And I found Google Maps on my iPod to be especially indispensable in knowing which train and bus to take this time around. (Thanks Google!)

On my way to the L-train station, I was shocked to find some beautiful periwinkle and pink flowers along the sidewalk. Even though I wanted to squeeze in as many hours in the museum as possible, I just had to stop and photograph these gorgeous blooms. (Pictured below.)

And when I reached the downtown loop I was surprised to see an old Chicago landmark being cleaned. The Old Colony Building, a beautiful 17-story building that was the tallest building in Chicago when it was built in 1893, was being power washed just below me when I looked down from one of the L train stations.

We Bloom Gradually

Even though this may sound strange, I’ll say it anyway. The more I travel, the more I get the sense that the universe itself has some kind of safety net under me. (I’ve certainly had my butt saved more than once.) But it goes beyond that. Sometimes I even feel guided to make a certain turn or slow down, sometimes discovering a story where I expected nothing, and the journey itself goes even better than I anticipated.

There’s this idea I’ve been turning over in my mind lately. The idea that nothing is permanent. That when we gain higher perspective, our level of worry goes down dramatically because we realize that everything truly is temporary. All pain, all confusion, but also all that we see. I realize that this idea is thousands of years old, but lately I’ve been finding more and more connections between this idea and the idea of travel. If we believe, if we realize, that life itself is nudging us in the direction to promote our growth and our unfolding, we can follow those intuitional nudges with more confidence, resulting in some incredible experiences.

And my experience at the museum was nothing less.
More on that, and much more, coming up soon.

Truly, we bloom gradually as we mature, but that blooming is more beautiful than a thousand desert roses.


Periwinkle and Pink flowers

Periwinkle and Pink flowers macro

Huge Power Transformers on pole

Irving Park L-Train station

Old-Colony Building being washed

Madison’s Lights on the Lake Festival Review: A Venetian Night Boat Parade

Where land meets water and boats meet light, there you will find the boat parade of night.

If you’ve been reading BT for a while, you already know that I visit Madison pretty regularly, so imagine my surprise when I learned that a boat parade had been happening once a year, right under my nose, along the shore of Lake Mendota since 2009! Seriously, parade people, have you heard of advertising?

Usually I find out about such events from friends or Google searches, but I’ve gotta give credit for this one. After joining the Madison Energize Activities group a few months ago and checking out their calendar, I saw that someone was hosting a “Lights on the Lake boat parade” party, and a little bell rang in my head. Yes! How could I forget? I’ll have to make that a priority, I thought.

So I did.

Bringing an Intention into Reality

Last week, that intention became a reality when I arrived at a charming house on the edge of the lake, the home of a generous and kind gentleman named Pete who was hosting the meetup event at his home. I’d met him the night before, actually (at a thoroughly enjoyable Blue Moon party). More people had come for this event though, and soon dozens of fold out chairs crowded the edge of the lake.

I passed the time by chatting with people who I felt intuitively nudged to talk to. Most in attendance were part of the Energize group, too; and I soon realized that I was the youngest person there (further adding to my suspicion that bad Coke Cola reduced fertility in the 1980s, although that’s another article altogether). But don’t get me wrong. I don’t allow age, or the perception of age, to become a barrier between positive connections. Indeed, I had a lovely talk with a fellow writer that night.

A Photography Challenge

Once the sun had finally set (and I had eaten more hummus than I’d like to admit), we finally saw the Dane County Sheriff patrol boat, the first in a line of illuminated parade boats. However, because of the distance and the darkness, it was exceedingly difficult to get a decent photograph. The boats are supposed to follow the edge of Lake Mendota, but they don’t get that close to the shore at all. Even someone who had a better camera than me said he was only able to get colorful smears. (In fact, I took over one hundred photos that night, and I’m only sharing nine of them here. That’s how tricky it was.)

However, I am pleased at what I did capture. And I’ve got to give credit to Pete for lending me a small tripod which allowed me to take better photos. As any photographer knows, a long exposure time is an absolute must when it’s dark. (If you don’t hold the camera still for the length of the exposure, you get a lovely smear of light. Not exactly conducive to clear photography.) Having said that, I’m quite pleased at how the rainbow sailboat came out (4th photo below). Even though its motion produced a slight smearing of rainbow light, in this case it looks good!

Afterward, they even had a short fireworks show over the lake. Some of them looked like 12” shells, easily making them large enough to enjoy as they exploded in rich reds and oranges over the lake. A pretty lovely end to a pretty lovely night, I’d say.

Some Thoughts on Improvement

The boat parade isn’t without its shortcomings. Two practical suggestions that would really improve it:

  • Make it longer. There were only about 7-9 boats. Pretty short.
  • Come closer to the edge of the lake! What good is a parade if the attractions are tiny in the distance?

How to Attend the Venetian Night Boat Parade

That being said, it really is a one-of-a-kind Madison event. Also known as Venetian Night, nothing else is like it; and I really enjoyed it. The next “Lights on the Lake boat parade” is Sunday, September 1st, 2013 at 7:45 PM. And all you have to do is bring a chair and pick a spot somewhere along the shore of Lake Mendota. Try finding a spot behind UW Memorial Union on 800 Langdon st. (a public meeting spot by the lake which would provide a good view). And if you’re arriving by car, never fear: there’s a parking lot right off of Langdon street.

Bring your camera, bring snacks, bring foldable chairs, and consider bringing mosquito repellant. But most importantly, bring someone you care about.

Such a fun event is meant to be shared. 🙂


Man on pier beside Sailboat

Sunset behind Lake Mendota

Magenta Rock n Roll boat

Sailboat Rainbow Light Streaks

Orange Sherbet firework over Lake Mendota

— Bonus —

After you graciously hit the “Like” or “Tweet” button below this post (a courtesy for which I am very grateful), you may want to checkout the Lights on the Lake parade webpage for times and info over at the Drake & Company website. They even have some excellent videos of past parades.

All accompanying photos are in the Lights on the Lake Boat Parade photo gallery. With so much free, high-quality content, why not tell a friend and share this article?