I Want An Inspirational Do Over


Yes, I’ll take one made to order, please…a pinch of awe and a dash of wonder.


And I want to be inspired in a place right out of a coffee table book. Somewhere that inspires every creative fiber of my being. A place where every shop has things made by hand or baked goods that resemble art with a taste to match. Quaint shops passed down through generations.

Colorfully dressed windows of little stores and half-timbered houses with window boxes filled to the brim with flowers brightening the cheery main street. A place surrounded by the Alps mountains topped with snow, protecting little villages where you could stroll around aimlessly for hours on end – crafted right out of a fairy tale. A place to inspire awe.


River boats cruising by, birds chirping in every tree, people in every Romanesque or Gothic church. Intellectual or creative talk in every fragrant coffeehouse. A place where everywhere you look is picture worthy, where a sunset captures your eye.


Did you ever get the feeling you belonged somewhere else? I did when I was in Germany. From the moment I pulled on my black Hunter boots, topped my head with my new handmade knit hat and started my adventure on those cobblestone streets, I sensed I was “home”. I know it has something to do with being from German heritage and growing up in a place of German descendants, but it really had a pull on me. I struggled with the language, yet I felt like I had a place in this region.

I visited some of the most charming, historic, and quaint places of off-the-beaten-path towns. That was one of the positives of seeing Germany by bus – we made a few interesting stops. But we also sped through those interesting little hamlets so I could not get photos very easily. It is not just because I thought certain German villages picturesque, but it was also the way in which the people live. Notice people biking. The big cities even had those using bicycles or public transportation rather than cars.


I can’t be alone in this alternate feel of belonging. There must be something to it. It was especially strong in Southern Germany. Both my parents’ ancestors were from near there and some relatives are probably still living there.


I never felt that pull to Western New York. It does not matter how long I have been here either. In the hospital, the anesthesiologist asked from where my accent originated. After over 30 years here, I still am asked where I am from. I can’t even shed the Pennsylvania accent.


Back to the original thought since I have a tendency to ramble.

What inspires. What motivates? What makes one smile? What instills awe? When I thought of the story for the post, it never occurred to me how most people interchange inspiration and motivation. They are very different because motivation is a personal driving force. Like needing a break to visit Germany. You do it because it needs to be done. I was motivated for that trip. I needed that trip.


Inspiration on the other hand means you are driven from your very inner being. The feeling of wanting to visit Germany and feeling like it had a kinship. You do it because you really want to follow it through, take creative or spiritual action, – you feel or become part of the process. Inspiration brings a smile. It is infectious and the enthusiasm is catchy.


I was inspired by the music, the art, the people and the place. I could have stopped to draw and paint surrounded by beautiful natural vistas. I had no desire to create a building though (my profession) because to me each place was picture perfect.

What about awe? Science discovered that our response or reaction to awe leads to a more fulfilling life. The feeling of awe can be something sublime, outstanding, or beyond our comprehension. The emotion can have a profoundly positive effect on people. A physiological effect that can make one feel healthier too. Nature as medicine! Craving awe is why I take so many grand landscape shots. Germany had plenty of awe-inspiring places. I want to live in awe everyday.

Colorful-Houses2Germany has been taking in all those refugees, I just wonder if they want a creative “German” back?

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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53 Responses to I Want An Inspirational Do Over

  1. Laurin Lindsey says:

    I know the feeling of being in a place and feeling connected. It happens to me in well establish old world cities. I think it might be a connection to the earth itself. People who lived in these places and built these building were more moved and influence by the world and nature around them. I also love the patina and imperfectness that softens the bricks and mortar over time. Stunning photos and inviting thoughts!

    • Thank you. I too love the character of the old stone and brick. You might be right in some way. Long ago, city living did have people living a more simple life – living off the land more, but big city densities today also have people living in much taller buildings, more people per building footprint. It is our move to suburbs and sprawling properties that is helping to break down how we relate to the natural environment. While cities can be more self-contained, suburb living repeats services over and over. Much more infrastructure with roads and such.

  2. A.M.B. says:

    Just beautiful. I can see why you would feel so inspired there.

  3. What gorgeous views from the country landscapes to the cities! I love the colorful shops and Old World architecture and styles. And I always look forward to your stunning photos. Just beautiful!

    • Thanks Sue. Our country does not have the Old World feel nor the depth of history. I have been so many places in the US and never felt the same. Cities viewed from their waterfronts or from the air don’t even come close to those in Europe. They are a completely different animal altogether. US cities are stunning, but a whole different feel.

  4. Søren says:

    I fully understand that sense of “belonging”; I have had that everywhere I’ve lived – Aarhus, Paris, London, Copenhagen, even part-time living in Aberdeen – except for Houston. Houston never inspired me, never encouraged me to set down roots and build something. In that sense I would probably have been happier living in some “backwater” in the US…

    But I do like the US, and actually I’ve booked 10 days in Chicago in spring, partly because I actually have more friends living in Chicago than I ever had friends in Houston, and partly because dammit! I want to be in love with the US, and I need to go there and have a great time exploring the “otherness” of a place so very different from what I grew up with.

    (As for your comment on the bikes… In Copenhagen 1/3 of all people rely on their bikes as their main mode of transport, and the majority of the rest take public transport.)

    • I hope you enjoy Chicago. I only was there twice for any length of time in JANUARY, so you can imagine I don’t have the best recollection. It was COLD and very WINDY! I would bet a lot of European cities have people using bikes for daily use. I remember in a few German towns, there were bike parking areas with hundreds and hundreds of bikes. But in Amsterdam, you could get run over by the bikes there were so many. We were told if one hits us, it is our fault and we were responsible for damages. Bikes rule there.

      • Søren says:

        Actually, bikes are responsible for accidents involving pedestrians in the Netherlands as they are in Denmark – even when the fault lies with the pedestrian. But it’s still worth paying attention, especially for Americans who aren’t used to bikes in such numbers. If a person on a bike hits you with 20 mph, you can get pretty hurt, so as a tour guide I might also choose to bend the truth a little, just to make people take extra care.

        At the busier train stations in Copenhagen it’s quite common to see thousands and thousands of bikes parked – approximately 700,000 people commute by bike, and many of those who don’t do that still ride their bike to the nearest station. Also, during rush hour, seeing a few hundred bikes queueing by a red light is perfectly ordinary… The busiest biking lanes in town see some 40-50,000 bikes per day – in each direction.

        As for Chicago, it’s a lot further south than Denmark, so I don’t worry about the weather. I’m Danish; I’ve ridden my bike to school and work in -5F… 😉

  5. swo8 says:

    We always loved Germany too, Donna. It does have a certain charm.

  6. Victor Ho says:

    Good thought. I’ve been shooting dive shots three years… same old same old. But then again I never did that. A rut? Who knows, then you see something….neat! Get out of your comfort zone, it’s exhilarating, it’s scary. Hard to do…

    • It is true, it is all in what one sees that is unexpected or new. I suppose if I lived there for sometime, things would be less awesome. I know I see Niagara Falls everyday and it is no longer awesome to me, pretty yes, but a lot more commonplace.

  7. Life is full of so many wonderful possibilities; the true charm of travel is open our eyes to that fact…Your adventure only ends when you say it is at an end.

  8. alesiablogs says:

    One of your best posts. I felt the same way when living ovef there. Never ever felt out of place and my German was terrible!!

  9. aussiebirder says:

    How very beautiful, It just makes you want to go there, thanks Donna for sharing these beautiful images!

  10. Annette says:

    Looking at your pics I felt like going home…and yes, we do indeed have lots of beautiful places in Germany and what’s more plenty of nature all around it. I’m intrigued that you feel so drawn to it, Donna. We wonder too about what will happen with all the refugees, Angela & co. took in. She’s a brave woman and I hope her plan will work out.

    • I was impressed by all the nature, but have to say, there were not many birds about. Must have all left for warmer climates. I have been following the refugee plight over there. It is sad for both the Germans and the refugees. I really hope the refugees are not causing all the problems our news services are reporting. Those mobs on New Years were rather scary.

  11. “Picture Perfect” indeed, Donna! 🙂

  12. I too know that feeling of belonging to a place…I have lived the longest here in NY, but never felt like I belonged. I felt at home when I was in both Ireland and Italy. And yes I am Irish and Italian. I could live in either, but prefer Italy more. I felt the strongest pull there to just sell up and move without a thought. I cried the whole way back to NY when we left.

    I am also German and have felt the pull to visit there….your pictures pull me again. I think they just might need a ‘creative’ German there Donna….wouldn’t it be great to live in our dream spots at least for a year and then decide to stay or not.

    • I would love to live over there for a year. I am 100% German according to ancestry searches done by my cousin. She herself has French relatives on her father’s side. It really would be nice to be able to pick up and move. I suppose there is always the chance a lotto win could make that come true.

  13. Next time you go to Germany Donna, you can take me with you and I will help you with the language. (I’m a first generation American. My mother is German and it’s my first language.) Germany is indeed a beautiful country but they have their struggles ahead of them. Europe is slowly changing. The demographics are changing and with it the culture. Your photos certainly inspire and capture the old world feel.

    • Thanks, Karin. I can speak some German, but did have some difficulty with the dialects like in Austria. They had no clue what I was trying to say. It would have been great having you along. Then no problems! It was funny, but I did not look specifically for Old World images. While in Frankfurt, it was a beautiful city, but so much was new build. In fact many places hit by the war were new, but not all looked modern.

  14. When I visited Germany, I also felt at home. It was weird because there are places in the United States that I have visited where I didn’t feel at home. I think in the southern U.S. the trees and plants and weather are so different than in Western New York that it feels very foreign to me. My family came from Germany as well, so maybe there’s something in the genes and having heard German spoken occasionally by my grandparents. Back to awe– I had to stop and just gaze at that first photo for quite awhile. It is awe inspiring!

    • Our country is so big and so varied. Not much is similar from coast to coast. I really do think there must be something to the feeling of home. It is where things feel familiar when you know they aren’t. Thanks, Connie. I liked that first image too. I think this was in Melk, Austria.

  15. Lisa - Ontario says:

    Such beautiful architecture. We don’t get the old world charm here. Many of those buildings are older than our country. It is awe inspiring. And the mountains of course are fantastic.

    I feel most at home when we go north to our cottage. Northern Bruce Peninsula, wilderness, escarpment views, beautiful clear waters to paddle on. Oddly we have more friends up there than at our residences. I guess we have more in common with the people who choose to live up there. Most of them live an active life hiking, paddling and volunteering to maintain the Bruce Trail. That is home for my soul.

    • So true, the buildings are far older than what we have here. When I think places I lived in the US, Philadelphia and Boston have some of our oldest history and that is not old by European standards. You are right on having things i common with people. I feel the same way. I find that with my friends that share my interests. My cousins in PA also share my love of nature and animals. You said something very profound, “That is home for my soul.” That is exactly how I feel too when I am exploring nature.

  16. I have never wanted to visit Germany but your photos and thoughts were inspiring in the direction.

  17. mazza18467 says:

    living next to Germany , I can inform you that Germany suffers under the refugees, and we as well. We welcomed them, we fed them en clothed them but the response we get back is terrible, Food is thrown away, cloths that don’t fit is torn up so noboy else can use it. And we are afraid that they brought their war to our country. so much violence, theft and cover-up bythe goverment. policeman are not allowed to say if refugees are involved or not. if woman are violated their are no arrests. it is terrible.
    I hope with all of my heart That we can survive this and our world will not be destroyed . It is still early days but the sign are not good.

    • I can imagine being in the Netherlands it would be a bit alarming with what I read in the news here. I hope it is not true they are bringing their war to the shores of other countries, but it seems they already have done so. In the US, we are not even safe from the extremists. We are home growing them. It is hard to believe they would treat your country’s generosity so callously. I am really saddened by what you wrote here. These folks don’t sound like good people at all.

      • mazza18467 says:

        It is a scary world, and it is hard to stay positive, and difficult with all the news to realize that not all people are like that. Hope is hard work at the moment.

  18. Beautiful photos of Germany. I have lived in New Zealand (my home country), London and Austria. I really loved Austria but once I had my children I really wanted to come home. The pull of my homeland was so strong – I wanted my children to experience the more laid back culture of New Zealand. Not to mention better educational opportunities for them as well. They are happy here too. They still have contact with their father in Austria.

    • New Zealand is a place I would LOVE to visit. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world by photos I have seen. It is funny because I thought I would love Austria, but it was a place I did not think as beautiful as it was billed to be. Maybe my expectations were too high, or I did not see the places I would have chosen to see.

  19. Absolutely beautiful photos. I think I feel more at home in Chicago than any other place, even though I grew up in New York. I loved France but I could never say it felt like a place I belonged. When I was in Russia I felt a connection, probably because my grandfather came from there. But I would not say I felt comfortable there – and I imagine my grandfather didn’t either, which is why he left.

    • I know, comfort is important. In this crazy turbulent world, it is difficult to feel safe anywhere. Many are saying no to travel now. Even to the US I have read. A few comments above talk about how their country is being impacted by the refugee crisis. Sad, sad times.

  20. germac4 says:

    Wonderful photos, I haven’t been to Germany, but your photos gave me a lovely look at the country.

  21. Indie says:

    What a wonderful feeling to have, and how great to have such a inspirational trip to recharge you! Must be your heritage calling to you! I remember going to England and just having this sense of how very old and full of history everything was. It is so wonderful to travel.

  22. You’ve inspired me!

  23. I read your posting, Donna, before slowly browsing through your photographs, feeling this is one of the best posts you have produced. I found your pictures very inspiring (like a coffee table book) and agree with your narrative; although being born and raised in England, I don’t feel the connection with Germany that I feel in Oxford or the Lake District. But no American city compares with those in Europe for architecture and history. I stay because my family are here. And I made a garden for my inspirational do over. Traveling when I can is a plus. Great posting! P. x

    • Thank you, Pam. I can understand you not having that connection to Germany being from the UK originally. My relatives were from the Southern border along France. I wonder if I went to France if I would have a heritage connection since Germany at one time had very different borders depending on who defeated those Germanic tribes.Funny thing on my garden, there is no connection to it like you mention on yours. I guess that is because I design so many. I never had a “garden” connection in PA either.

      • I believe my connection to my garden is because I made it as ‘English’ as I could (in this totally different environment.) I have planted shrubs and flowers that remind me of my parents and grandparents, while choosing native plants as much as possible. The style reflects English cottage garden style. It’s the only garden I have ever created and am proud of my achievement. I don’t know if I would feel the same if I did this for a living. P. x

        • Since your garden is the only one you ever created, that is quite a beautiful accomplishment. I assumed you have done this many times before. You have a great eye, and a good sense of design. You also know your plants and I could see you doing this for a living. But if you did, you would find being a bit too tired at the end of a work day to go out and tend your own garden, especially one as large as yours. I view mine more as an extension of work. I used to have the landscape guys do the work, but after I started adding many native plants, they would have weeded them out. Having a garden that reseeds itself does not make it easy for seasonal workers.They basically only know the trees and shrubs.

  24. Maria F. says:

    I’m so glad you felt this connection, soon I will be taking a similar trip.

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