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?

I’ve Fallen Please Help Me Up

mother helps daughterThe curb was high and she was small. The little girl held her mother’s hand as they crossed the street. As she tried to step up, she tripped and fell onto the sidewalk. The tears started and her mother quickly stooped down and picked her up. Wrapping her arms around her mother’s neck, she looked like she’d never let go as her mother comforted her. It didn’t take long before she was back on her feet headed in a new direction.

Do you remember the days when our parents were there to pick us up, dust us off and to encourage us to keep going? Even now, as adults, we are going to fall down.  It will happen…

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn over the years is that I can’t live this life without help from others. I know…I’ve tried to do everything at times. Sometimes because I’m embarrassed about the mess I’ve made and others because I felt like I’d be bothering someone.

Life is so much more vibrant and rich when I share the good, and bad times, with the people who I love and who love me. Whether it’s one of my friends helping me when I’ve been down or my sisters rallying the troops when we’ve faced personal struggles, they have always been there. ALWAYS…

Don’t be afraid to ask. We all need help at one time or another. And, we in turn, have the incredible opportunity to return the favor. After all, isn’t that what life’s all about?

My How Life Changes – 1980’s

Looking Back 1980's
Decades…I’ve now lived my life more than five decades. I have to laugh when I think about how I defined “old” when I was a teenager. For some reason, the thought of being over thirty was just too strange to believe and now I’m in my fifties. Looking back, I have to say the 1980’s was probably one my favorite decades.

It was a time of adventure, making decisions, change, pain, pride and all of those things that are part of life. I was a grown-up and had a son who relied on me. I made career, financial, marriage and then divorce decisions. I think the ’80s set my foundation.

1980- Early one beautiful June morning my husband and I watched the sunrise as we walked around the block in our neighborhood. I was in labor with my son. I’ll never forget the moment when they laid him on my stomach at 2:46pm that afternoon.

1984- I held my hand up and was sworn in as a police officer. As a matter of fact, I will have been in law enforcement for 30 years in just two days. Wow! Time flies. I’m proud of the work I’ve done over the years and I believe I’ve made a positive difference both inside and outside my department. It’s been a great career and I have friendships that will last long after I retire.

1984- After a lot of thought, my husband and I decided to divorce. It was incredibly painful and frightening, but the right thing to do for both of us. I became a single mother with all the joys and challenges associated with that role. And…I’ve been single ever since.

1988- It began with $10 a paycheck going into my IRA like account at work. Little did I know how much the small deposits into my retirement account would grow. While I’m far from financially rich, I will have the ability to travel to some pretty amazing places in the years to come. What was I thinking? I’m not really sure, but I’m glad I thought it.

The 1980’s set the foundation for my life and decisions made at that time, actively set the stage for where and who I am today. 

Do you remember the 1980’s?

Top 10 movies:

Ghostbusters
The Little Mermaid
Robocop
The Princess Bride
The Goonies
Beetlejuice
Back to the Future
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Breakfast Club
The Shining

Grammy Winning Songs:

Sailing- Christopher Cross
Bette Davis Eyes- Kim Carnes
Always on My Mind- Toto
Every Breath You Take- Sting
What’s Love Got to do With it- Tina Turner
We Are the World- Multiple Artists
That’s What Friends are For- Steve Winwood
Somewhere Out There- Paul Simon
Don’t Worry, Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin
Wind Beneath My Wings- Bette Midler

Where were you in the ’80s?

Applauding Denver Media and Police – Car Chase Suspect Arrested

I’m clearly not a news reporter, but yesterday’s car chase that lasted more than an hour and the involvement of the Denver traffic reporter from 850 KOA radio who assisted law enforcement with the apprehension of the suspect was extraordinary. At the same time, the event was televised live.

It all started yesterday morning when the suspect stole a Ford Edge that was unlocked and running outside a Longmont convenience store with a four year old boy inside. Police officers located the car fairly quickly, but decided not to actively chase in the dangerous rush hour traffic conditions. So they backed off, while still following at a distance.

That’s where the news helicopter comes in. Several of our media outlets share the helicopter. Traffic reporter, John Morrissey, broadcasted the event live on a radio station accessible by all of the responding officers, providing them with the information necessary to stay in contact with the dangerous suspect. It was also clear that a number of the drivers, probably on their way to work, were listening to the same station  as they pulled out of the way.

Here’s a condensed version of the audio:

Here’s a condensed version of the video:

After stealing a car with a little boy inside, two carjackings, driving the wrong way on a busy highway, traveling up to 100 miles per hour and multiple accidents, the suspect was taken into custody. The four year old boy is safe and a Colorado State Patrol Officer is recovering in the hospital. There were no other serious injuries.

Unbelievable! Great job performed by all of the officers from multiple jurisdictions, the traffic reporter and Denver media outlets. Job well done!

Loving Mini-Bill Vacations – Extra Money

many money

I’m in the money…I’m in the money… (Sing along)

This morning, I had to smile. An email statement arrived from my cable television company and this month’s balance? ZERO! NADA! PAID IN FULL! I just love it when that happens.

When I pay my utility bills (water, heat, electric, phone, cable tv), I always pay the average amount and add a little extra, usually rounding up to the nearest ten dollars. I don’t miss those few extra dollars each month and it adds up quicker than you might think. And…voila! A mini-bill vacation.

The really fun part is deciding what to do with my extra $100. So many options…

Photos From Getty Images Are Free- Think Again

Don’t celebrate too soon.

Getty Images just announced that non-commercial users can now have access to millions of photos for free through use of their new embedding process. Check it out. The photo for this post has been embedded and I didn’t pay to use it. The photographer, Kristian Sekulic, created and owns the copyright to this photo. She has contracted with Getty to assist in the sale of this work and didn’t earn a dime when I used it for this post.

I get it. Many of us bloggers are small fish, and have limited budgets. It’s difficult to pay for photos. So, use of free photos without the concern of getting sued sounds fantastic. But, the adage “if something is too good to be true, it probably is” applies here.

Read through this section of the current Getty terms of service:

“Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.”

I’m not an attorney, but what it sounds like to me is that one of these days, I can reasonably expect any of these embedded photos to contain advertising for products that I may, or may not, be interested in supporting. My post may be about a very painful family moment and the ad may be for a weight loss company. Or the photographer who owns the photo has decided to no longer do business with Getty and the space is now blank.

By using the embedded photo, I’ve now given Getty the right and ability to change the content in the photo area, and permission to track data associated with the photo and my blog. I’m not sure that I care to have Getty earn money by selling space on my blog for their financial benefit in exchange for using “free” photos or illustrations.

I also believe that artists, photographers, illustrators and yes, blog writers, should be able to control usage of their work and be fairly compensated. If Getty begins selling ads associated with the use of these “marketing” photos, will the copyright owners get paid? Maybe, but I don’t know.

So Getty is giving away images for free? I don’t think so. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.

Update: Here are a few links to some thought provoking posts.

Getty Images Not Quite Free to Use
Free Images From Getty-Why it Matters
Getty Images Blows the Web’s Mind by Setting 35 Million Photos For Free (with conditions of course)

Hoping We Can Prevent Teen Suicide

Logo National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Eleven days…families shattered, possibilities destroyed, lives changed forever.
Four teenagers committed suicide in Douglas County, Colorado in an eleven day period in early February.  Shocking? It was shocking enough to become headline news because of the number of young people lost in such a short period of time. Most teen suicides go unreported in the media because it isn’t news anymore.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • 157,000 young people between the ages of 10-24 receive medical attention for self inflicted injuries each year…an average of almost 18 teens every hour, every day or an attempt every four minutes.
  • An average of 4,600 of them succeed…twelve per day, or one, on average, every two hours. EVERY TWO HOURS!

Why would a young person with their life ahead of them just give up? There are a number of reasons including depression, bullying and drug abuse. They lose hope.

I want to scream from the rooftops, “Don’t give up, there’s hope!”

You are worthy of respect, hope and happiness. I want to share the air I breathe with you so you can reach for the sky. You are beautiful, and unique and full of possibilities. You don’t have to be alone in your pain. There are other people who have been where you are and so desperately want to help. Just ask.

Several possible resources for teens and the people who love them:

It Gets Better Project
National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide
National Suicide Prevention Helpline
1-800-273-8255

Thursday Frustrations

Frustrations
A little bit of wind has been taken out of my sails. It’s temporary. But today, I’m frustrated.

FREE IMAGES FROM GETTY

The good news is that Getty has decided to allow us use of millions of photos for free. If I don’t use my own pictures on my blog, I purchase a license to use them from iStockphoto. So, I should be jumping up and down thinking of all the money I’ll save. Except, I’m one of those photographers. What if anyone could take our blog posts and put them up on their site without our permission as long as they link it to our blogs and give us credit? Does it still sound like a good idea?

I’m a stock photographer and have been for the last five years. When I started, my hope was that the income would pay for my travel in the years to come. So I’ve worked hard to keep improving, including purchasing expensive equipment and software.

I’ve made a lot of friends in the stockosphere from all over the world who are concerned about what will happen as this system moves forward. Some of them rely on their stock income to support their families. I know this latest move has changed my plans. With a few minor exceptions, I won’t be uploading more of my work. I hope things improve, but I’m not holding my breath.

LACK OF BLOGGER COMMON COURTESY

One of the best parts of being in the blogging community is the support and friendship of other bloggers. They are always willing to offer tips and inspire me as I learn. So, we comment on each others blogs and have the opportunity to read incredible work. I’ll be able to say I knew them when…as they publish successful books and at some point, have a movie made from their incredible work.

Most of us work full-time in addition to working on our writing addiction, so I understand when people don’t visit my site and comment on a regular basis. Sometimes I have a lot going each week, so I may not be able to do it either.  But, when I comment, I try to be thoughtful and sincere.

I commented on a blog post the other day and opened up about a painful part of my life. The post was incredible and it really touched me. I could relate and wanted to offer up my support and my experience. The author of the post hasn’t even taken the time to acknowledge comments from all the visitors.

Please, give me just a little common courtesy and respond to me when I take time out to visit and sincerely comment on your blog.  Luckily, this is far the exception rather than the norm. But, I have to admit, this one really bothered me because I shared my heart. So, there is one blog where I won’t be commenting in the future. That gives me more time visit other sites where my participation is appreciated.

Okay, frustrations aired. Sorry for the rant. The good news is I’ve got a busy day ahead of me, including the next session of my tough love writing class. I’m hoping for another amazing breakthrough. And, on top of that, it’s going to be a beautiful day. Spring is in the air.

What Ever Happened to Growing Old Gracefully?

Beauty Aging
When I think of beautiful, I don’t just think of young women in their twenties, or men with washboard abs, although I can appreciate that, too. Beauty doesn’t end at some arbitrary age, but follows people throughout their lives even as they grow older. Thinking of Maggie Smith, Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, Ian McKellen…they all have a special kind of beauty that only comes with age and life experience.

As I watched the Oscars on Sunday and saw celebrities, like Liza Minnelli (67) and Goldie Hawn (67), it made me sad. Just like Kenny Rogers (75), Joan Rivers (80) and many other people in the spotlight, they have had major surgery in order to look years younger than their actual age. While I respect everyone’s right to make their own decisions, I believe something that can never be recovered has been lost.

Show business is a cut throat world and these stars may not have had the same opportunities without doing everything in their power to look younger. Would Joan Rivers, appearing all of her 80 years, have a successful show reviewing women’s fashion? Probably not.

There is something beautiful about the wrinkles and yes, even age spots, that show the story of our lives. The difficult and joyful times are etched on our faces. I’m certainly not one hundred percent satisfied with my body and some of those lines appearing on my forehead, but they are an honest reflection of who I am and where I’ve been.

I admire all of these people. They have enriched my life, even from a distance. Still, I’m sad that some of the most beautiful people in the world felt the need to remake themselves because they didn’t look good enough. 

As I continue to age, I’m looking forward to seeing actors I can relate to, those that have life’s experiences written all over their faces, just like me.

Adult Choices

choices
Eeny, Meeny, Minee, Mo!

The most unexpected part of being a grown up is all of the amazing choices that are available and knowing myself well enough to decide what’s important.

Sometimes, it’s the simple things like having breakfast for dinner or taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon. Or the ability to choose the color of paint on my wall. I remodeled my house last year. Making a plan within my budget, selecting the contractors and overseeing completion of the work was far more fun and frustrating than I ever expected. And…I love my kitchen.

There are other options that aren’t available now, or probably never were. I’ll never be President of the United States, but President Obama and his wife, Michelle, will never have my joy of sitting at a table in a sidewalk cafe watching people as they walk by. I’ll never be a famous performer, but I love viewing television shows like The Voice where incredible singers have an opportunity to make their dreams come true. I’ll never be wealthy, but I am richer than I ever expected to be in the areas of my life that count.

There are other options that are wide open like the possibilities of writing a book or traveling the world. I can go back to school and study art, or science or graphic design. After working in my career for thirty years, I can recreate my life and dedicate my time to something completely different. Okay, sometimes there are too many choices, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love that while I’ve screwed up some things early on, requiring me to declare bankruptcy and having a home foreclosed, I took responsibility for my poor money management and made better choices moving forward. Today, I’ve recovered from those mistakes and own a beautiful house and have great credit.

While I don’t have total control over everything in my life since we live within a society where there are limitations, I have control over my choices. Sometimes I’ve made bad ones, but I’ve also made incredibly good ones.

My favorite thing about being an adult is the ability to write my own script, and through those choices, make a positive impact in my part of the world.

Right now, I’m choosing to put on my tennis shoes and go exercise.