Dear Me – A Message to My Younger Self

Business woman reading letter
If I could go back in time, I’d tell my much younger self, as I began my journey through single parenthood, that it’s going to be okay.

Dear Me,

I know you are frightened about all the the responsibilities laid on your shoulders. It’s okay. You’ll be fine. You care about getting every detail right, including the small ones that really don’t matter so much. Take a breath and know that you are good enough, strong enough and committed enough to make it through the tough times.

Show your love to the people that matter most and be willing to accept love. Make sure your son knows how much you love him. And, ask for help. People are willing to share the load. You don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s not a sign of weakness, but one of strength, allowing you to focus on the most important things.

Take care of yourself. Keep exercising. Your fitness will help you stay strong and confident. 

You are a good person and all of your efforts will pay off. So, relax and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be exciting, challenging and lots of fun.

Love,

Your Future Self

Knowing what you know now, it there any message you’d love to send to your younger self?

Walk With Me Challenge #walkwithme

dog with leather leashIt’s always good to have someone to join me when I get out to exercise. So I’m asking you to be my walking buddy or rolling buddy, if that applies. Please walk with me.

I know you are busy. No excuses this time, okay? You can bring the kids, your significant other and even invite your friends. The more the merrier.

Add it to your calendar.
Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 7:15
Morning or evening, you ask? Whichever one works for you.

I’m going to try to do both. This way, if one time is during the night for some of you in other places of the world or you have to work, you can still join me.

THE CHALLENGE

It doesn’t matter where you walk or jog, just take your first step at 7:15 am or pm. If you are in a wheelchair, make your first push at the same time. If moving a longer distance is too much for you right now, walk once around the block. We’ll do it together.

Please help me spread the word. Write a blog post and link up in the comment section here. If you aren’t a blogger, share it on Facebook or Twitter or, just the old fashioned way, with a phone call. The hashtag is #walkwithme.

How many people will be joining us? I’m hoping it will be a crowd.

On May 3rd, I’ll put up a post very early so we can share our thoughts on how it went.

Thanks for being my walking buddy. You are helping me on my journey to health!

Leaving and Bequeathing – My Living Will Be Done

Notary documents
Yesterday, I signed and initialed in all the appropriate places and it was done. I’m now the proud owner of a will, trust, medical and financial powers of attorney and a living will.

I walked out of the attorney’s office with a weight off my shoulders I didn’t even know I was carrying. Whenever the day comes, when it’s my time to go, I know that everything will be okay for the people I leave behind. It is such a relief.

My gift to my family members is a clear roadmap and understanding of my wishes. I prefer cremation, but don’t want them to waste money on an expensive funeral. Go cheap! After all, I’ll be up partying, God willing, and I want them to party too. 

Having an attorney prepare my documents was a bit expensive, but well worth it for me because of the complexity of what I wanted set up. If you want to get your affairs in order, there are less expensive ways. Search online and you’ll find websites that will help you work through the right paperwork for your situation or…ask your friends to provide you with the name of an attorney that helped them with their documents.

Are you ready when your time comes? It can never hurt to be prepared and it feels really great.

Technology Relationships

Relationships Through Technology
While we may curse technology for making us available 24/7 in a world that is already so busy that some days it’s hard to take a breath, it is still amazing.

For example…

  • Yesterday, while I was driving, I answered a phone call from a friend. I didn’t have to struggle to grab my phone or wait until I got home to check messages. The phone rang on my car’s system and I answered it by pushing a button on my steering wheel.
  • Friday night I chatted with some new friends on Google+. These were bloggers who I first met in a group on Facebook. There was one friend from England and several others from different places around the US. We laughed together and shared stories. My English friend and I also arranged for her meet me at Heathrow Airport in London when I have a stopover on my way to Namibia. In contrast, I remember when long distance calling was so expensive, we’d watch the clock so we could end the call before going over budget.
  • Photographers that I’ve met through forums on iStockphoto or Facebook, are now new friends who I meet in person on trips to wonderful locations.
  • Several of my family members have met their husbands on Match.com.
  • My phone can take a photo or video and I can share it with hundreds of friends in just a few clicks.
  • Ordering almost anything online and having it delivered just a few days later on my Amazon Prime account, is still an incredible surprise.
  • I can watch movies on my computer screen at home or on one of my other devices in a waiting room or at a park.

I tried to think of the ways I’ve used technology over the last week. It has become so ingrained in the way I live that I forget it’s even there. When I bought my first computer more than twenty five years ago with 20MB of memory, I had no idea where technology would lead. While it frustrates me at times, I can’t imagine living without it.

My favorite result is that I can easily keep in touch with family members and friends, both old and new. Technology has enhanced my relationships and that’s a wonderful gift. Now I’m off to Twitter and Facebook for a short visit with friends before I head in to work.

See you in London, Lizzi!

 

Why Are We Not Considered Smart Enough To Choose Our Child’s School?

School Choice
I never understood what the big deal was about being able to choose in so many areas of our life, but not the future of our children?

I can choose whether or not to continue my pregnancy. The country is finally moving toward allowing me to decide who I will marry. I can choose to work a minimum wage job until my knowledge, skills and abilities prepare me for a higher paying one.  I can choose who to vote for or what faith fills the aching in my soul. There are certain limitations on some of these choices, but people have fought for our ability to choose.

Why is it then, unless I have a lot of money, I don’t have a choice in where to send my children to school? We all pay for public education and it has been a system that served us well over the years, but it’s time to reconsider the options. We are  falling behind other countries in the education of our children.

I’ve heard the concerns about private schools being unwilling or unable to accommodate children with special needs or those coming from families with severe economic challenges. Separation of church and state has always been part of the argument since “the government” should not financially support religious organizations.

However, what we are doing, in many cases, is not working. As a parent, I should be able to choose where I send my child to school and have a voucher to make that happen. Schools that are part of the voucher program should be required to have programs available for students with special challenges. Wouldn’t parents of special needs children like options, too? If I, as a parent, want my child to attend a faith based school, I should have that choice. Not all children learn the same way and we need to have the ability to select the school that best fits the individual needs of our child, not only those that meet the needs of the majority, leaving others behind.

We can make this option work for ourselves, our children and our dedicated educational professionals. It’s not about preserving the status quo, it’s about giving our children a solid foundation for their future. It’s a BIG DEAL and we should get over the politics and put the needs of our children first.

Can We Be Truly Objective – Travel Writing

Travel WritingWe had an interesting discussion in my new writing class yesterday. The instructor is a travel writer, previously working for Outside Magazine and then as an independent with articles appearing in the New York Times and National Geographic, among other major publications. So, he’s a pro.

“What is the future of travel writing?”

The question he asked hung in the air for a moment before he began talking about how the internet has changed writing. In the past, writers proposed stories to editors and, if interested, they would be sent out to complete the piece. Travel costs were covered and the writer would be paid for his/her time. Articles may have paid a writer up to $10,000. At that time, writers could get by with 6-8 published articles a year, depending upon their lifestyle.

With the advent of the internet, magazines and newspapers have shrunk in size, some even going out of business. Online reporting is at an all time high. Frankly, that’s where I get my news. Where writers were paid for content before, many bloggers submit articles or posts for free for the “exposure”. The Huffington Post comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others.

Then the discussion moved specifically to travel blogging. There are successful travel bloggers who earn a good living, not many, but there are some. Our instructor believes that blogging may be the future of travel writing, with bloggers earning money from ads on their sites. That brought up another questions to ponder.

“Can you truly be objective if you receive free accommodations, access to activities, meals, flights or other subsidies for your travel?”

In order to be “objective”, magazine publishers would not allow writers to accept “gifts” from businesses they were going to be reporting on. In comparison, travel bloggers may receive free “gifts” that essentially discount their travel in exchange for those businesses being included in the final review.

Most bloggers disclose receiving discounts and free products or services to their readers and mention that their opinions are their own. What happens, however, if the accommodations are horrible and that information is reported in a post? Would other businesses still want that same blogger to write about their product knowing that the writer is brutally honest? And, if you enjoyed your time, could it be because you were treated differently than a regular traveler because the business knew they were being evaluated?

I certainly don’t have the answers to these tough questions. If you are a travel blogger, how else do you get “paid” for your work? It’s definitely a dilemma. As someone who wants to include travel reporting in my blog, I’d love to be as objective as possible, but does that mean I can never be paid for my time?

What do you think?

Music on the Red Rocks

Red Rocks Park
I went to a concert once…actually more times than once, at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. If you’ve never been to a concert at Red Rocks…say it together…you’ve never been to a concert. Not only is it a fan’s delight, the bands love it too.

Red Rocks is just west of Denver at 6400 feet above sea level and seats about 9,500 people. It’s an intimate setting for some of the world’s greatest musicians. The website describes it best: “Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a geological phenomenon – the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world.”

When I was in my late teens, I went with friends to Red Rocks. We arrived really early in the day. At that time, there were no reserved seats and you could take a cooler and spend all day. The early birds got the best seats. We could have been in the first two rows, but we decided seven rows up was the perfect spot. John Denver, our Colorado artist, was playing.

It was a beautiful Colorado day. Mid morning John Denver and his band came out for sound checks. I could have walked down and shook his hand. The concert that night was amazing. Where else in the world would “Rocky Mountain High” resonate better? This video is actually from a concert in Australia, but you get the idea.

John Denver is only one of a number of concerts I’ve seen at Red Rocks. There are many more that I’ve missed, from the Beatles to John Mayer. This summer we have lots of concerts scheduled, among them, One Republic, The Fray, James Taylor and Sarah McLachian. It’s not only about concerts. Red Rocks hosts a spectacular Easter Sunrise Service and you can find exercise fanatics running the steps on a daily basis.

Red Rocks is one of the sought after places for artists to play. Somehow the music just sounds better bounced off the rocks under an incredible star filled sky. One of the greatest concerts ever hosted at Red Rocks was U-2 in 1983, over thirty years ago. I’m sorry to say, I missed it.

My favorite Red Rocks concert was John Denver. His music was a perfect fit to the incredible beauty of the amphitheater located at the base of our beautiful Rocky Mountains. That’s my favorite concert. What’s yours?

A World Full of Teachers

Asian woman with chalk globe drawn on blackboard.
Here’s where I show my age…again.
I graduated from high school in 1977. I know many of you weren’t even born yet. I loved my high school years. No, I wasn’t the most popular kid, but I had wonderful friends and teachers who inspired me.

I went to college, on and off, over the next twenty-five years and finally got my B.A. in Organizational Management. Most of the teachers were wonderful, but there were a few that pushed their own political agendas or berated students. There are a number of advantages to attending college as a working adult, my favorite was calling BS when needed. After all those years, I happily received my degree and moved on.

While I’m done with formal school, the best part of my education happens everyday. Aren’t we lucky to learn from a world of teachers?

  • This week I met with an estate attorney to get my will in order. He took the time to thoroughly educate me about my options and to help me select the best plan for me and my family.
  • I spoke with my investment advisor just this morning who answered all my questions and helped me confirm my investments are in order.
  • I’ve finished two writing classes since the beginning of the year and start my next one, Travel Writing, in two weeks. The instructors have been amazing.
  • I learn from several of my coworkers, but one, in particular, has such a wonderful attention to detail that results in large complex plans working in difficult situations. She cares about all the moving parts and each person who plays a role. It’s an inspiration.
  • Over the years, I’ve taken classes in stained glass, drawing, history, photography, software, exercise, diet and may even take some video classes soon.
  • I’ve traveled to wonderful places and learned about other areas of the country and the world.
  • Even things as simple as the man showing incredible patience as we wait in line to get served and the next door neighbor watering my flowers during the summer when I’m out of town, teach me something.
  • I’m also learning a lot from my fellow bloggers who help me improve my writing and my blog. They encourage, inspire and push me to play harder.

There are so many people, adults and children alike, who teach me something new nearly every day. And, I hope that in turn, people learn something positive from me, too. So while the formal education is over, at least for now, my life education will never be complete while I live and breathe.

Let’s face it…I LOVE LEARNING!

What have you learned in the last few days?

Within Walking Distance

Closeup of movement of people
It was like an explosion.
As soon as my hand hit the leashes, the fur went flying and my dogs ran around in circles, jumping, running, while still keeping eagle eyes on my every movement. A WALK…A WALK…A WALK…

The sky was a beautiful blue spotted with an occasional puffy cloud. The wind over the last few days had cleared out any haze in the sky so the view was crystal clear as I walked up the path to the top of the hill. It still takes my breath away after living in my neighborhood for almost fifteen years. I’m so lucky.

I’ve walked the path a number of times, but clearly not often enough. An occasional jogger, girlfriends out catching up while they walk, families with strollers and other dog walkers enjoying a spring afternoon. I guess it’s not officially spring until tomorrow, but the weather screamed spring.

The hill is actually a wall of dirt that functions as a dam, surrounding an incredible wetlands area where the geese and ducks enjoy the solitude of ponds surrounded by grasses. It’s a hidden treasure only found by those taking the time to climb. In the distance is downtown Denver with an incredible backdrop of snow covered mountains. In the foreground, a group of adults kick the ball around the soccer field and an expanse of open grass awaits the beginning of spring team sports.

I bypassed the usual route, skipping the first trail down and the stairs that have been installed in the side of the hill and continued walking. Then, I came to the end of the path which was a large, level circle of dirt overlooking the nearby golf course. The grass isn’t green yet, but it was beautiful in it’s curves and sand traps. I’ve lived here fifteen years and never walked the extra three hundred yards that rewarded me with a view I’d never seen before.

Isn’t it funny how I’m planning to travel to some incredible destinations this year and such an amazing place is within dog walk distance of my house? I stood there and breathed in the air while I took in the moment. I wonder what else I’ve been missing?

This morning, the sky is still dark and my dogs are both asleep. The house is quiet while I keep an eye on the clock so I have time to get ready for work. But I’m already anticipating another long walk, perhaps later today. I clearly have more places to explore. I can’t wait for this afternoon’s explosion of excitement when I grab the leashes.

What wonderful surprises are within walking distance of your house?