A Brief Pause

making time to experience everything life offers

A Brief Pause - making time to experience everything life offers

Puppy Update Five Weeks

Five week old Golden Retriever

One of the 5 week old puppies being socialized during a visit with my breeder’s mother.

My puppy is five weeks old and I will finally meet her on Valentine’s Day. What a perfect day to begin a life long relationship. 

golden retriever puppy

Now the big question…how do you select a new family member from a group of five adorable girls? Most of my dogs have been adopted from a shelter. This time, I’m selecting one from a litter of gorgeous puppies. Thank goodness I have a quality breeder to help us make the match. My puppy won’t be ready to come home for another month or so, but next weekend we’ll be formally introduced and I will be looking into her eyes, breathing in that fantastic puppy breath.

The trainer is meeting with me in the next couple of weeks to talk about the process of integrating her into the family and training her to be a therapy dog. This puppy comes from a long line where many of the dogs have become therapy dogs. She and I will be in training for the next year or two. I’m really looking forward to having a strong bond with her, just like I have with her big sister, Olive.

Here were the puppies at week two. It’s amazing how fast they grow.

Two week old golden retriever puppies

Count on more pictures and stories of our journey as we travel life together. Awww! I can’t wait.

Blooming Artist

Artist

ARTIST…

I have always loved being creative. From photography to writing, developing courses and workbooks, journals and newsletters. Yes. I think it fits.

Self defined titles are important. How do I see myself and how do I want others see me? If I tell people I’m a retired police officer, it means I used to be… And that’s true. But, I don’t want to have been something, I want to be something.

What do I want to be? What do I want to do?

I want to paint, write, learn, draw, sing, dance, explore, create, explore, discover, weld, sculpt…

The great thing about being an artist, as I see it, is getting to play like a child, wearing colorful and quirky clothes and best of all…since art is in the eye of the beholder, creating what I love.

The next time someone asks what I do, I’m going to say I’m an artist. And luckily, the bills are paid so I can skip the starving part.

Over Scheduling Retirement Week One

Adjusting to Retirement

Twelve. I counted them. Twelve appointment or activities scheduled for my first week of retirement. There are notations on the calendar every day but one and only because the appointment for that day was postponed, a weather delay.

I was warned by my retirement mentors to avoid over scheduling myself. I can see how easily that can happen. An eye appointment here and a coffee meeting there. Still, I think I needed a full schedule for this first week.  I feel good. A sense of accomplishment in fact.

My aha moments of more time:

  • Ease of scheduling mid-week, mid-day appointments
  • Workout classes with a smaller group of people
  • Less traffic when most people are at work
  • Relaxed coffee with a friend
  • Waking up without an alarm clock
  • Last minute road trips

I’m trying to celebrate and recognize the gifts that come when forty+ hours of my week are not scheduled.

While I haven’t faced any moments of retirement panic, I did have a nightmare that I was overdrawn on my bank account by $17,000. I don’t know where that figure came from. With more time comes more opportunities to spend money. 

I have a budget and I’m going to do my best to stick by it. I’m one of those lucky people with a pension, so I’ll always have money coming in for the basics. It’s the worry about my IRA and my withdrawal schedule that could be a problem, especially in a stock market where 1-2% drops on a daily basis have been the norm over the last month or two. Luckily, I’m looking at the long run and have enough in “safe” funds to last for several years without worrying about the dollars in the more moderate funds.

Do I feel like I’m on vacation? Maybe a bit. It will feel more like that as I work on the final details for my retirement trip in the next few months. Watch out New Zealand! Here I come!

Cherishing the Love of a Dog

Puppies

She’s been born. She, who is yet to been named, is a cream colored golden retriever puppy, just a month old. In a few weeks, all of us eager owners will select a puppy to join each of our families. Soon, I’ll be driving to Illinois to meet her for the first time and to bring her home. A home where she will be trained and treasured. A home with Olive, her big sister, and Bubba, the cat king of the household.

As I was googling the latest in puppy training techniques last week, I found a video of Oprah Winfrey talking about her dog Sophie. It struck a chord. Oprah equated having the love of a dog to the unconditional love of God. I believe it. I’ve been the lucky recipient of this kind of furry love for all of my adult life.

This new little (soon to be big) dog will be traveling to a place where she belongs and is a valued part of the family. She will contribute more than I can ever return to her. She will be happy to see me whenever I come home, hike with me, make me laugh and be there with me when I’m sad. I will cherish every moment and am so grateful to be loved by my dogs.

There is simply nothing like it, here on Earth anyway.

The Last Day Before Retirement

Retirement Road

Retirement…

What came to mind as I drove home today, was the last scene in Terminator 2 where the road stretches out towards an unknown future. Okay, that’s kind of weird. But, it did feel weird. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be driving downtown everyday, I wanted to appreciate the moment.

Retirement…

The last few months, I’ve been paying attention to the lasts.

The last off-duty job when I worked traffic control for the Turkey Trot; the last day in uniform; the last shoot qualification; the last training course; the last…the last…the last.

Retirement…

I suppose it isn’t really the last day, since I have some administrative details to clean up and I’m officially on vacation, but it sure felt like it as I left my empty office behind and loaded up all my boxes, calendars and the coffee cup that has seen me through my last few assignments. Thirty two years wrapped up in six boxes and three thumb drives. Saying goodbye has never been easy, so the small informal potluck was perfect.

Retirement…

Some people have large recognition events and some just leave one day and everyone is surprised when they find out they’re gone. My goodbye was in the form of an email with all my personal contact information, including links to my social media accounts.

A lot has happened in 32 years. These people have worked beside me in the most strange and sometimes tragic circumstances. They have supported me and kept me safe.

Retirement…

Hopefully, my co-workers, both civilian and sworn, will call me and we can meet to tell war stories over coffee. If life gets busy, as it often does, I may not see some of them again. But I’ll never forget what an honor it has been to work beside them.

Retirement…

I unloaded my boxes when I got home and was greeted by my very enthusiastic dog, Olive. To her, this was just another day. Little does she know that she has a lot more walks in her future.

Retirement…

During the evening as I thought about the day, I came to the conclusion that over time the weirdness will wear off and my new life will become the norm. Until then…I plan to embrace the weird and to turn off my alarm clock.

 

Retirement the End or Just Another Beginning

retirement journeys

“You’re too young to retire!”

“What will you do?”

“Aren’t you going to be bored?”

RETIREMENT

A group of us discussed the word in a class I took last year, Planning for Change in the Third Age. Some people refused to even say it. I was shocked at the powerful emotions expressed during our discussions. Retirement means something different to everyone and the lifestyle associated with it has evolved over the years.

At 57, I’m in a much different place than my mother was at the same age. Today, people are more active and there are more opportunities available to us then there were 30+ years ago. Modern medicine has improved and the majority of us can expect to live another 25+ years. It’s just another phase of our lives.

When I was working out this week, with sweat pouring down my face, I thought about my mom. I wonder how her life would have been different if there were fitness centers on every corner and healthy living was a priority. As I approach this major life change, I’m in a much better place and more active because these options are available to me.

After 30+ years of proudly working in law enforcement, it’s time to focus my energies in new directions. I can travel, learn, contribute and even try a new career if I choose to do so. When I say retirement, it means moving on from my current career into something else. What it doesn’t mean, is that I’ll sit at home watching television and fade into the background.

I’m 20 days away from my last day at work. While I have a brief moment of panic every now and then, I stop myself and review all the planning I’ve done and get excited again. I’m going to do things I love and things I’ve never tried and may end up loving. So, watch out, because I’ll be living large and loud.

A Sparkly New Year From a Different Perspective

Planning 2016

The map spreads out before me, so expansive that I am easily overwhelmed. 

After almost thirty-two…32…30+…more than three decades, of being in one profession, I’m retiring from law enforcement. My road has been very defined for most, if not all, of my life. That’s about to change drastically.

As I look back in review, there have been ups and downs, but overall, I’m proud of the work I’ve done and how I’ve served my community. I’ll write more about that later, but for now, I’m looking forward to a bright and sparkly new year.

It’s strange, scary, exciting, intimidating…I’m not sure I can even name all the emotions that flash by quickly like an out of control slide show.  So, what do you do when life opens up and you’re walking a path you’ve never been on before? Here’s my plan.

The year will begin as it has for decades, with a relaxed timeout for an inventory and then a rough mapped route of where I want my life to travel this year. Even better, I’m facilitating a group session on mapping out the new year with my favorite people, some I know and some I will soon meet.

A new year always seems like a fresh start, building upon the foundation I’ve set over the years. While I’ve thought a lot about my path moving forward, it’s still opening a door to a place I’ve never been before.

So, I’ll be looking at life from a new perspective with lots of available choices. So, I’m choosing to have a sparkly, fun and adventure filled new year and I’m planning to share my journey here. Stay tuned!

What do you choose for the new year?

Etosha Elephant Pool Party

One of the unexpected highlights of my trip to Namibia occurred at the Etosha National Park on one of our last days. Toni, our guide, had mentioned seeing the elephants at Halali, but we’d had such an amazing morning, I hadn’t given it much thought.

She parked the vehicle, handed us our lunches and told us to follow the path. We ended up at a covered overlook above the watering hole. There were about 20 people there, several with professional looking cameras with long lenses. It was a large space, so there was plenty of room for everyone.

Toni leaned over and pointed at the trees. I saw the top of an elephant and looked back at her with a smile.

“Jennifer, look!”

I turned back around and there they were. More and more elephants came from the distance toward the water. It was incredible.

Elephants Pool Party

I loved every moment of the Elephants’ Pool Party. My face hurt when it was over, I was smiling so much.

Thanks for such an amazing experience, Toni.

This is a must see when you visit Namibia. Who knows? I may just see you there. 

Cruising on Walvis Bay

Swakopmund
We spent the afternoon wandering around Swakopmund and then out for dinner at The Tug which is a former boat. The salmon was fabulous! I enjoyed wandering around the town with the wonderful shops. Keeping in mind that I had no luggage space to speak of, I limited my souvenir shopping.

We stayed at the Hansa Hotel, which was originally built in the very early 1900’s. It was a beautiful place and very comfortable. After another good night’s sleep (it seems as if we are exhausted every day so I was sleeping great) we set off for our Walvis Bay harbor cruise.

Walvis Bay is just a few miles from Swakopmund and one of the main seaports in Africa. About 50,000 people live here, primarily working in harbor related industries. It doesn’t feel like the city is that large. Most people live along the shoreline.

Walvis Bay Cruise

We arrived at the harbor and climbed onto a catamaran style boat. There were probably 20-30 people aboard, but it didn’t feel crowded and we had a great view. Once we were out on the water, the special cruise features began. The birds were amazing. I’ve never been up close and personal with pelicans or seagulls. I’ve seen them before, just not within reach. It was incredible.

seagull walvis bay

Here is where I get carried away with seagull pictures.

seagulls walvis bay

seagull walvis bay

They are huge!

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Crystal was the trained profession. I just watched in awe.

pelicans walvis bay

Gorgeous! I was fascinated by these two birds.

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And then, after having their fishy snacks, they flew off.

BlogWalvisBay4

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And then, lest we get bored, here came Bronzy the cape fur seal.

seal walvis bay

See the knee in the bottom left corner? That was me. I just wanted to reach out and hug this little guy. He was a bit shy so Crystal asked us to stay quiet and still. Wendy, my sister, would have loved this. She has been fascinated by seals since she was a kid.

cape fur seal Walvis Bay

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cape fur seal Walvis Bay

He was beautiful!

This was another jaw dropping moment on my trip. I never expected to see birds and seals so close. It was so special.

Then we left the area and made our way around the rest of the harbor.

Cape Fur Seals Walvis Bay

Here the seals were “checking out the chicks”.

Pelican Point lighthouse

This is the Pelican Point Lighthouse and next to it is a lodge where travelers can stay. That might be fun for my next trip to Namibia.

Hey Wendy, want to go see some seals?

Cape Fur Seals

As we made our way around the rest of the bay, we headed inside because the seas were a bit rough and it was windy. That’s when I started to get a little nauseous. So, I spent my time looking at the horizon. I’m sure the tour guides had some very interesting things to say, but I missed all of them.

Despite a few stomach issues, I loved this cruise. The sea life was stunning and I enjoyed every moment of the first half of the trip. I highly recommend adding this to the itinerary if you are heading to this part of the world.