Retirement – The First Month

A month…it’s been a month since I left my job…just a few days officially, since I entered retirement. I was on the books burning vacation time through the end of February. It’s unbelievable that I’ve been gone from the police department for a month. Time has flown by and I’m not sure I can even tell you how I’ve spent my days, other than that I’ve been really busy.

First of all, I haven’t missed my job for a moment. And…I’m actually a little surprised. The people I care about are still part of my life and I can easily stay in touch on Facebook, or by scheduling coffee or lunch. So, I don’t miss my friends and coworkers.

Here are some of the highlights of my first month:

  • Contribution: Volunteering is an area of my life I was hoping to expand and I just finished my two day training at the Denver Zoo. I’m now an Ambassador and looking forward to spending four-six hours a week contributing my time to a place I love with a mission I can support. The volunteers range from teens to people in their eighties. It’s a diverse group and we had a great time.

Volunteer Denver Zoo

  • Travel: In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving for New Zealand. It’s a trip that has been under consideration for the last five or six years and it’s finally time. We’ll be on a three week driving tour that will cover highlights from both the north and south islands. Airbnb has become our best friend as we do research on where my friend, Delia, and I are going to stay. While I love the wild places, the people are definitely the icing on the travel cake. We can meet people who love travelers and have the inside track on the best adventures.
  • Puppy Love: Scarlett O’hair-a has already made her blog debut. She’ll be coming home after I get back from the trip. In the meantime, Olive and I have been really working on her anxiety by attending training. She’s very smart and it’s been a joy to spend so much time working on her skills and visiting the Cherry Creek off-leash park. Olive runs her heart out and loves to play in the water. After the initial adjustment, I’m confident Olive will be thrilled to have a little furry sister.

Cherry Creek with Olive

The first week I focused on making sure that I was busy, then it was too busy. Once I get back from my trip, I think I will be limiting the number of scheduled days so I have more time to relax and play. I’m definitely doing more than I was before I retired. Exercising is going to move higher up on my priority list. The weather is continuing to improve and I’m looking forward to hiking the beautiful places.

Looking back, it’s been a great month. Some days I need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. You mean I get paid to do whatever I want, including napping? Yes.

Retirement is good.

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.

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?

Photographers from Different Mothers

Waves Against the Shore

I eagerly gathered all my gear and headed up into the Colorado mountains very early on a fall morning. We were meeting in at the home of a couple in Silverthorn. Another person was driving in from Aspen. I’d never met any of them before, except during online chats.

John greeted me at the door of the natural wood sided home that perfectly meshed with the beauty of the mountains. His wife, Linda, was in the kitchen making coffee. I sat down in a comfortable chair and enjoyed the incredible views filling every window.  A short time later, the doorbell rang and Kelly joined us.

It only took a few minutes before we were laughing and comparing notes. While we’d never met in person before, we all shared a common interest…photography. It’s like we’d known each other forever. John and Linda gave us a brief tour of the home, walls filled with shots of incredible wildlife and landscapes. And then we were off.

They had some favorite places in the area so we all piled into one car. We ended up at a beautiful lake surrounded by trails…a photographer’s dream. It was quiet, except for the clicking of the cameras. I’d stop as I walked, trying to capture each shot quickly, so I wouldn’t hold up the group.

Then I realized that no one was rushing me along. As a matter of fact, they were all on different sections of the trail, within viewing distance, but focused on what they were seeing. It was the very first time I was surrounded by fellow photographers. Joy and freedom…that’s the only way I can describe the feeling. There was no need to hurry and words weren’t required. I’d walk ahead and slow down to photograph a section of shoreline and another person would pass me focused on a leaf, tree or reflection on the water. It was like a choreographed dance, weaving in and out. I loved every minute.

Photographers share a common bond and speak a language all their own, not in words, but in moments that visually record their journeys. That day, we were focused on nature. It was a wonderful experience I’ll never forget.

In less than a week, I’ll be meeting up with another group of photographers who share my joy. We encourage and push each other to levels we’d never reach on our own. They feed that creative part of me that sometimes gets lost in the daily demands of life. Each one of them is unique and inspiring.

I can’t wait to spend time with my photography family. They get me. Don’t you just love kindred spirits?

Making the Most of Your Travel Journal- Part 1

My Thursday theme is travel. This week I’m starting with a post about travel journals. Today let’s talk about where to begin.

Travel Journal 4 web

Journaling is a wonderful way to document your travel as it happens. Each journal is a keepsake that will become a family treasure as years go on.

“We found a bumper sticker that said, ‘Beep, beep, my ass!’
My mom said I could write that, so I did.”

Travis, age 9 (now 33)

On December 21, 1989, my mother, son and I headed on a road trip from Denver to Flagstaff, Arizona to celebrate Christmas with my older sister’s family. I purchased a blank log book and we started our first travel journal. The next big trip was a sister reunion to Disneyland in 1993. My younger sister, Wendy, is an artist and drew amazing caricatures. Everything got glued or taped into the trip journal from flowers to used sugar packets.

Since then, I’ve traveled to a number of places including Germany, Africa, Antarctica and my last trip to Canada. Each trip has its own journal. My family members and I love going through the books and revisiting each unique journey. Some of my friends ask to borrow the journals if they are thinking about visiting some of the same places.

Where to begin:

The Journal

Part of my trip planning involves selecting just the right journal, although you can make one, too. On my trip to Antartica, I bought an 8 1/2″ x 11″ hard cover spiral bound drawing pad. I wasn’t going to carry it around with me. It was staying on the ship, so the larger size wasn’t a burden. Smaller journals (5″ x 7″ or less) are useful to put in my purse and carry with me as I travel about town. As soon as my trip is confirmed, I purchase my journal. I have one sitting right here for my upcoming trip to Namibia in May.  The first entry is dated November 2013.

Supplies

  • Pencil bag to store supplies small enough to fit in my purse (I also add brochures and receipts to the bag as I gather them during day so I can include them in the journal when I stop to write)
  • Pens, colored pencils and a pencil sharpener
  • Glue sticks
  • Stickers with travel themes and letters
  • Small scissors I can take on the plane

Travel Information

Not only do I cover the day to day activities, but I also include copies of documents. So each journal has my flight itinerary, hotel confirmation letters, travel agent contact information and travel insurance summaries. My journal then becomes a back up resource to the original documents. I’m careful about not including too much personal information, in case the journal is stolen. It does, however, have my name and email address so that if I lose it, someone can contact me.

For more great information about travel journals, check out these blogs:

Thrifty Travel Mama
Bursts of Creativity
Suzy Cucumber

If you have tips you use during your travel, please add them in your comments. I love to hear about your adventures and suggestions.

Making the Most of Your Travel Journal – Part 2

Next week I’ll share how to write and otherwise fill your journal with wonderful content.

 

Singing Out Loud at Christmas

It’s easier to sing songs when I know all the words. That’s one of the reasons I love Christmas carols. The other reason is because the songs bring such wonderful memories.

  • Baking spritz Christmas cookies with my mom and sisters
  • A Christmas treasure hunt for my son, Travis, when he was little
  • Making Christmas ornaments of dough
  • Candy cane reindeer
  • White elephant gift exchanges
  • Family time together

Here’s one of my favorite Christmas songs performed by an incredible group of artists. Talk about a joyful noise…enjoy!!

 

Wild Family Christmas

We celebrate the gift of Jesus during Christmas along with the love and togetherness of a wild and wonderful family. Laughter until our full bellies hurt and organized fun…what could be more amazing at a time of year when we all stop for a moment to actually listen to each other and to share some time together. I love you all!!

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and the love of family and friends to keep you throughout the season and beyond!

Missing Green Chile Soup

My nephew, Joey, has taken on a brave adventure by moving to Taiwan for his work. It’s been a good time in his life to make that choice. He’s made a lot of new friends and has had incredible opportunities. It was so good to see him when he came “home” for Christmas to be with our family. He made a Taiwanese dish that included shrimp with the heads still attached. That was a new one for all of us and very delicious. It was fun to see even the most adventurous family members a bit squeamish when they tore off the heads. His adventure has created more adventure for us.

I think his move also makes him appreciate some things that he may have taken granted before…including green chile soup. I just had to capture a photo of him taking a picture of the soup to take back with him to Taiwan. I wonder if his new friends will be tasting green chile soup anytime soon. Cheers to new adventures!

Missing Green Chili Soup