Change

January 22, 2018 — There are a lot of things in this world that would benefit from change.

Since they’re too numerous to mention, and many are out of my control I’ll start with something simple.

I started this blog nearly eight years ago, and have made only two layout changes during that time. Now it’s time for something different, a facelift if you will, and although it might have been more appropriate to introduce a new look with the start of the new year, today felt right.

 

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Firsts and Lasts

January 16, 2018 – I’m trying to compile a list of things I’ve only done once in my life.

It might have something to do with a friend who decided to jump out of an airplane to commemorate a milestone birthday. When I told her I could never do that, she looked disappointed asked me what happened. She said I used to be fearless.

My friend loved the experience, said she’d probably never do it again, and got to cross it off her bucket list. I wouldn’t call this my bucket list since I didn’t set out to accomplish these things – they just happened. And it’s not something to prove I’m brave or fearless because I’m obviously not. Rather, it’s a set of unique experiences that I can share (rated PG, of course).

Here’s what I came up with so far:

5. Sang a duet with Steve Perry of Journey fame in Prescott, Arizona. OK, so his song was coming through the radio and I was driving from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix while harmonizing with him, but it happened. My friend and traveling companion enjoyed it, we both laughed, and I never did it again!

4. Got snowed in during summer vacation. While visiting the Yukon Territory of Northwestern Canada the bus that was driving us to our hotel had to pull over because of snow. Did I mention this was Labor Day weekend? Twenty inches of the white stuff fell on the Canadian Rockies that weekend, which is something that rarely happens during the summer. My compadres and I spent 18 hours on that bus, and most of it on the side of the road near this strange little lodge, the Hotel Caribou, which inspired the singer/songwriter in one of my friends. “Welcome to the Hotel Caribou,” she sang. “Yukon check out any time you like but Yukon never leave.” It certainly felt true, and once I did check out I never went back.

3. Drove across the Southwest by myself. I have a few business trips and a long personal weekend away to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe to thank for this first and last. I drove from Taos, N.M. in the northern part of the state, down to Roswell, the infamous UFO landing spot near the southern border, from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, which took me through the breathtaking Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, and from the Flagstaff, Ariz. to Nogales, Mexico by myself. That’s a lot of desert with long stretches of nothing else to make it through alone. Since then, I’ve never repeated it.

2. Walked through a rain forest. It wasn’t in the deep jungles of the Amazon, but rather in the tamer landscape of the Caribbean. Still, it was a rain forest complete with tropical sounds, plenty of humidity, rare creatures, and darkness even in the light of day. The El Yunque Rain Forest is a tiny rain forest in Puerto Rico. I haven’t stepped foot in another rain forest since that experience.

1. Witnessed a glacier calving. You know that thing that happens when a large piece of the glacier falls into the ocean and causes a huge ripple? That’s called a calving, and it happened at the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. At the time, the tour guide told us we witnessed something relatively rare. At least for me it was, and I’ve yet to experience another calving.

It’s funny how all of these firsts and lasts occurred while away from home. I suppose I’m more adventurous when traveling.

Bumper Sticker Philosophy

January 8, 2018 – I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?”

It made me laugh, but then it made me realize that humans do have a tendency to complicate things.

That memory comes to mind whenever I’m stressed, or trying to figure out why things happen the way they do. And then it makes me ponder the age old question … what is it all about?

While the answer may differ for everyone, most people would say something about the importance of health, and family and other relationships. That’s how I would answer, too, but if I put aside the family, relationships, etc., and ask myself what’s important to me as an individual, outside of being a mom, a sister, a daughter or a friend, what would I say?

That silly hokey pokey bumper sticker comes to mind. It’s funny and poignant, and makes me realize that aside from family and friends and good health, laughter is what it’s all about.

So, here’s my best attempt at bumper sticker philosophy: “Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to!”

Better yet: “Make someone laugh every day!”

The Day After

December 26, 2017 – Few things puzzle me more than folks rushing to the mall the day after Christmas, whether it’s to return gifts or find the best bargains. It may be a popular thing to do on December 26, but shopping is the last thing on my mind, and my wallet appreciates that.

Perhaps shopping for some is a way to avoid the post holiday blues. It’s common to feel let down when Christmas is over. You put so much time and preparation into Christmas, and the day passes much too quickly. In fact, psychologist say the more you prepare and the more exciting the holiday is for you, the more you may feel letdown the day after. Our brains need to establish equilibrium, and the higher we are, the lower we must fall to settle back into that middle space.

The let down may also be why many countries around the world celebrate Boxing Day, a day after Christmas tradition that started in England during the Victorian era when the wealthy would box up gifts they didn’t need and bring them to the poor. It’s a nice thought. As a child, my mom and dad asked us to pick one of our gifts to give to baby Jesus. On Christmas night, we had to place that gift back under the tree and it was gone the next morning. I found out when I was older that those gifts actually went to less fortunate kids.

I enjoy the day after Christmas because it’s when my entire family gets together. With some of us living in different states and others with obligations elsewhere, it’s typically the only day of the year when all 18 immediate family members are in the same room.

Oddly, my post holiday blues start on January 1, the day I should embrace the new start that lies ahead. I’m usually a glass half full kind of person, but there’s something a little sad about New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The holidays are officially over and the long winter sets in. Thankfully the feeling is short-lived.

This year I am determined to focus on the positive and feel excited for what 2018 has in store. I will treat New Year’s Day with the respect it deserves. It’s won’t just be the day the decorations come down. I’ll wait for January 2 to do that.