I’m About to Experience a Jaws Moment

Jaws Great White Shark
DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

DA…Da

I can hear it. The music intensifies the sense of horror involved when something you can’t see is swimming up from beneath you. I was sixteen years old when Jaws was released in theaters. It was a terrifying movie and I loved every minute. I saw it many times then and I watch it at least once a year when it’s on cable. It’s still a great movie.

I contemplated going to school for marine biology after being introduced to the great white shark. Instead I researched wild life management and then settled on business related classes. Still, to this day, I’m fascinated by the oceans and great white sharks.

So, when I rescheduled my trip to Namibia for later this summer and ended up with a few extra days on the front end, my travel agent, Ian at Africa Adventure Company, suggested cage diving with the sharks as one of several alternative activities. Cage diving with great white sharks off Dyer Island in South Africa? Count me in!!

Cage diving with sharks has always been on my bucket list and thanks to Ian, it’s been booked. It’s more like cage snorkeling, but still, I’ll finally be face to face with the incredibly beautiful and dangerous creatures of the deep. Shark diving at 55? I’ve been waiting a long time. Sounds perfect.

DA…da

DA…da

DA…da

 

Jumpstarting my Inspiration

Blogging inspirationWho:      Incredible bloggers from around the country
What:    BlogU14
Where:  Baltimore, Maryland
Why:      Looking to improve my blogging skills
When:     June 6-8, 2014
How:      Attending classes, networking and making new friends

Last weekend I had the privilege of stepping outside my comfort zone and attending Blog University. It was the first time this particular conference had been held and involved over 100 people, some hoping to start a blog and others, published authors.

I was amazed by how supportive and helpful all the bloggers were in sharing their journeys and what actions led to their success. I learned so much. While I was aware how important it is to build relationships with others who write to a similar audience, I never realized how much we can help each other.

Thank you for your support, your courage and most of all, your willingness to share your time and knowledge with me. You have inspired me to keep working away, word by word, in my part of the world. I can’t wait to meet again.

Travel Guard Rocks!

Travel InsuranceA month ago, I was packing my final clothing for my trip to Namibia when I had a severe attack of stomach pain and had to cancel. It was frightening and such a big disappointment. The good news was that I had travel insurance through Travel Guard and, yesterday they sent me a check.

What Happens When You are Too Sick to Travel?

The trip is back on for August and I couldn’t be happier. Once I get the final details for the rescheduled trip, I’ll apply my refund and double check my packing list. I have received treatment from my doctor and am back to 100%.

Everyone I dealt with at Travel Guard was wonderful and when I called to check on my claim, each person could easily look up the details of my case and give me timely updates. They were friendly and more than willing to answer all my questions. No long waits on hold.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about whether or not I was going to have a battle on my hands. It never developed. I was treated with respect and Travel Guard has earned a customer for life. Thank you!

Impromptu Girlfriends

PedicureIt was Christy’s birthday last week and I was part of her celebration. Now, I know none of you probably know Christy and are wondering why I’m sharing this information. The fact is, I don’t really know Christy either. Let me back up…

I walked into the nail salon and selected colors for both my toes and fingers in preparation for my trip, never guessing that I was going to have to cancel, but that’s another story. I settled into the chair for my pedicure with a huge sigh. I love pedicures. There were two ladies, friends, sitting across the aisle enjoying a conversation while they were being treated to relaxing foot massages. I pulled out my kindle and started to read, comfortable and content.

A few minutes later, the bell to the door went off and in walked another woman (Christy’s sister) to the delighted squeals of the ladies. She was dressed up in a bright and colorful flower covered dress and sweater and carrying a gift bag and twelve pack of diet coke. That’s when the festivities began.

After apologies for ruining my quiet spa like atmosphere, they invited me and the salon ladies to join them in the celebration of Christy’s 48th birthday. We began toasting with Diet Coke and then, thanks to the liquor store nearby, ended up with a glass of champagne.

The topics of conversation varied:

“Get the surgery. It will change your life and if it doesn’t, I’ll pay for it!” (early incontinence)

“Honey, it’s either bangs or botox.” (after Christy made fun of  commented on her sister’s new self cut bangs)

“There are no wrinkles on a balloon!” (there may be some advantages to being overweight)

“It’s better to take drugs and smoke than to be fat.” (maybe no advantages to being overweight)

We laughed and shared growing older tips and frustrations for the next hour all the way through my pedicure and manicure. It was the delightful and unexpected highlight of my day, even beyond the foot massage.

I love impromptu girlfriends, don’t you?

 

What Happens When You Are Too Sick To Travel?

Intravenous IV dripI’m sad…

I should be in the Olive Grove Hotel in Namibia, enjoying the very first stage of my big trip. Instead, I’m in my home in Denver writing this post. I can’t help but torture myself by looking at the itinerary and imagining myself there instead of here. Never would I have guessed that less than 48 hours before I was to climb on the airplane, I would be lying on a bed in the emergency room of my local hospital.

Imagine extreme gut-wrenching pain radiating from my stomach and around my rib cage including my back. I was very concerned that I was having a heart attack. Thank goodness they ruled that out immediately. As the pain and vomiting continued, it was clear that I was in no condition to travel or to even begin to attempt 33 hours of four different flights, with layovers, just to get to my first hotel. 

Thousands of dollars of special lenses and photography gear I rented from Borrowlenses, sit on my kitchen island and my almost fully packed bags lay on my bedroom floor. I am so disappointed, I can’t even tell you. I very seldom get sick, so this was a real shock.

What happens when you are too sick to travel? I’m finding out from personal experience.

First, as always, I purchased travel insurance for the trip when I booked it late last year. The policy is with Travel Guard, a company that friends highly recommended. I insured my trip for $13,000 so it included flights and all the on ground transportation and accommodations. My plan does cover sickness of the traveler. As I read the policy in more detail over the weekend, I discovered it would not have covered me if I had traveled with an illness that began before I left the country. It will not, unfortunately, cover the photography equipment rental.

I always buy travel insurance for my international trips. Still, I hate to use it. After all, it means that something has gone wrong. But, that’s why I purchased it and while I couldn’t travel at this time, I hope to reschedule. Namibia is calling and I still plan to answer.

I booked my flights through United Airlines, where I have frequent flyer miles. I called them on Friday afternoon and cancelled the trip. The ticketing agent was wonderful and patient through my emotional explanation. The upgrade fees were immediately refunded and my flights cancelled with the costs credited for future travel. There is usually a $300 cancellation or change fee, but they have waived it because of the unusual circumstances.

Ian from Africa Adventure Company, who coordinated my travel arrangements, was very kind. My costs are not refundable. It’s very clear in the contact I signed and I completely understand. It would not be possible for all of the companies on the ground to fill my slot at such late notice. I love working with Ian and he will definitely be my go-to guy when I’m ready to rebook the trip.

I’ll be completing all of the insurance claim paperwork requesting a refund of $7,205.00 this week and heading back to work on Wednesday. I need my vacation time for when I am able to reschedule my trip. I’m not sure how long it takes to process a claim through Travel Guard, but I’m hopeful they will respond quickly.

While I know it was the right decision for myself and the people I would have been flying and traveling with, I’m still so very disappointed that I’m here and not there. As my sister says, there’s a reason for everything and while I don’t understand it, it will eventually all work out.

I’m not sure when, but soon, I’ll be walking the streets of Windhoek, Nambia, and this disappointment will live only in a post on my blog and as a footnote in my travel journal.

Don’t Forget to #walkwithme Today

#walkwithme Olive
“Shhhh. Don’t tell Olive we have a walk planned this morning. I’m hoping the house stays quiet for a little bit longer.”

Today I’m challenging myself and others to walk with me. It’s as simple as taking a quick power walk or a longer enjoy the morning or evening jaunt.

My plan is to walk a path at my local park that climbs and gives me an amazing view of the city and my community. It’s 6:37am here in Denver and I’ll be ready to start my walk at 7:15am. I’m not sure if anyone is joining me. Regardless, I’ll be out there walking and I hope you will be, too.

Don’t forget, you can walk at any time during the day, but the pre-set times are 7:15am or 7:15pm just to make it more fun. Imagine a group of people in different places of the country, or world, out taking a walk, even if it’s just around the block.

I’m using the hashtag #walkwithme on Twitter and will be posting pictures once I return.

Feel free to add your comments or any links if you are planning to join me. See you out there!!

Did You Just Call me Ma’am?

Ma'am in the mirror
“Thank you, ma’am.”

Ma’am? Ma’am? Did she just call me ma’am!!!???

I remember the first time someone called me ma’am. I was at a store purchasing clothing and after I finished paying, the teenager called me ma’am. I immediately told her, “I’m not a ma’am!” and stomped out. Talk about a life changing moment! These days, ma’am doesn’t phase me. I’m actually appreciative of how respectful it sounds.

But then, my son told me about a shocking experience he had last week. He was buying dinner at Chipotles when the guy called him “sir”. Right away he demanded they not call him “sir”. When they asked what he wanted to be called, he said, “I don’t know, dude maybe, but definitely not sir.” As he explained his frustration, it threw me back right into the first ma’am moment.

Oh crap! Now I have a son that is a sir!

The last straw was on Monday when I took a class in finances and the thirty-something instructor looked out across the room and referred to us as an “older” audience. And then, she talked about us seniors who would soon be retiring. That was over the line!

NO…I DON’T ACCEPT IT!

Just because AARP has been sending me solicitations for five years now, doesn’t mean a thing. I tear each one up. Pretty soon I’ll be taking the blank documents and returning them in the postage paid envelopes. There…that’ll teach ’em.

I’ve decided I’m drawing the line. I’m not a senior! I’m defining senior as sixty-five…or at least until someone offers me a worthwhile senior discount. Then, I might just reconsider.

#walkwithme on Saturday

dog with leather leashI invited all of you to walk with me this Saturday in a post I wrote a few weeks ago. Here’s some clarification about the upcoming walk.

I look forward to having you join me this weekend. Remember, no excuses!

Let’s work together to get the message out and encourage ourselves and others to take steps towards health. I can’t wait to see your pictures on twitter. Remember the hashtag is #walkwithme.

Don’t forget to add your comments on the #walkwithme post I’ll add this Saturday. Wouldn’t it be great if we had people participating from various places around the world?

I’ll see you then!

Walk With Me Challenge #walkwithme

Decisions…Decisions…

Traffic Stop
Being indecisive has never been a problem for me. Some decisions I make immediately and others take some research. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to choose a career in law enforcement. It wasn’t a usual direct and focused decision, but one that came a different way.

At the time, I was separated from my husband and had a two year old son. The police scanner had been background noise in my life for years since my husband volunteered as a reserve police officer in the city where we lived. Testing to join a nearby department was coming up and one of my girlfriends planned to apply. She asked me to go along with her and that’s how I found myself testing to be a police officer. Not that I hadn’t been interested before, but my friend helped push me into taking the steps to make it happen.

Thirty years later I’m still working for my department. It’s been a wonderful career and I’m looking forward to retiring in about four years.

I’ve been blessed to be part of this profession for a number of reasons, primarily because:

  • I’ve had the opportunity to help people when they’ve needed it the most. Whether it was comforting a child after a serious accident or protecting a woman from abuse by the person who was supposed to love her, I’ve been there. I’ve responded on tragic suicides and walked away from a person, dying of cancer, who stopped breathing and had a do not resuscitate order. I accompanied a young girl in an ambulance who was shot in the head by her father in a domestic violence situation. I arrested people for crimes they committed. I taught classes to children on avoiding drugs and helped move the department forward on social media so that the community could stay better informed. I’ve made a difference.
  • I work with heroes in action. The vast majority of officers are true professionals, keeping our community safe every hour of every day, including holidays when most people are celebrating with their families. They are a phone call away and will respond to assist even people who are the most vocal anti-police activists.
  • The job helped me provide for my son and I with fair wages and benefits. Now looking forward to retirement, I’m grateful that I have a pension and savings that will allow me to live comfortably and to travel as I move into the next phase of my life.

It has been a privilege to serve my community as a police officer. While we seem to be beat up in the media a lot, I know that most citizens appreciate the work that we do and they feel safe as they move through their days. I’ve made some good decisions during my lifetime, but becoming a police officers was one of the best.

What’s one of the best decisions you ever made?

Is Full Time Traveling After Retirement an Option?

Retirement TravelingAs I’ve continued to research life after retirement, I’ve been amazed at how differently it looks for so many people. Retirees leaving full-time jobs have so many options these days, with people living healthier and longer lives. Here is just one example: Lynne and Tim Martin, who retired into full-time traveling. I’m fascinated by this couple who sold their home and spend several months at a time living in different countries. They blog about their travels on HomeFreeAdventures.com.

Lynn and Tim’s story sounded so amazing, I wondered, could I do it? Sell my house and spend the majority of my life on the road experiencing other parts of the country and the world?

Nah…

While it sounds intriguing and I’m planning to follow along on their adventures through their new book and blog, I just can’t imagine stepping into that life.

Why?

I love returning to my house and knowing there is someplace safe, quiet and yes, filled with my photos and other things that make my life so comfortable. I can’t imagine selling almost everything. I like to be surrounded by my stuff. I also love my neighborhood and the convenience of grocery stores and restaurants that are within walking distance.

Family members and friends live fairly close by and it’s easy to spend time together on holidays and spur of the moment kinds of things, like movies and dinner. I know there are single people who travel a lot, but for me it would be difficult living “on the road” by myself.

Bubbaweb

And…just as important to me are my pets, my two dogs Olive and Sadie, and the royal kitty, Bubba. I don’t ever plan on not having animals as part of my life.  Coming home to wagging tails is such a wonderful thing after a long busy day at work and knowing that I can spend more time with them after I retire is a bonus.

I admire how adventurous Lynn and Tim are as they live in different places around the world, many that I plan to visit. Full time traveling is certainly an option, but not one for me. Most of my retirement time will include home, family and furry friends.

Is full time traveling something you’d ever consider?