How’s Your Downward Dog? ~

It’s another almost Wordless Wednesday.  Since I’m currently on day 7 of my 30 days at the gym, I’m looking for a little motivation to keep me going.   Here’s what I found today ~ and I am beyond inspired!   I am in awe.

Bette Calman, age 83 doing the peacock pose.  She still teaches 11 classes a week.

Bernice Bates, age 91.  Teaching yoga sine 1960.

Vera Paley, age 91.  Currently teaches yoga to Alzheimers patients.

Tao Porchini-Lynch, age 93.  Has been practicing yoga for 70 years.

With role models like this, I have no reason to not be in the gym every day for the next 30 days and beyond.  It’s time for a Sun Salutation!

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You’ve Gotta Have Hope ~

Wordless Wednesday

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who follow a practice called Wordless Wednesday.    One day a week they post only photos.  Sometimes a picture really is worth 1,000 words.  I was intrigued by the idea, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I had a wee bit of trouble with the “wordless” part, so here’s my version… almost wordless Wednesday.  Since my 64th birthday is sneaking up on me later this month, this one’s about Hope through the ages.

In my 40’s, Hope came in a jar…

In my 50’s, Hope merged with Wisdom…In my 60’s, I still have Hope, but I really need a Miracle…As for my 70’s and beyond, should I be lucky enough to get there?  I think I’ll throw Hope and caution to the wind and let it all hang out.  Something like this…

Girl’s Night!

Why do women live longer than men?  Simple answer – girlfriends.  Women nourish other women.  We spend time together talking, laughing, sharing and sometimes crying – it raises the endorphins (good happy juice) and reduces cortisol (the bad stress hormone).  Throughout history it seems women have banded together in groups of some sort.  The kitting circles and quilting bees of the past have become Girl’s Night or Spa Day of the present.   Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family...  I agree wholeheartedly which is why, when the call came out over email a week ago “Time for Martinis with the MAM’s?” everyone in our little group replied with a resounding YES!!  I was so ready for a little girl time and apparently I was not alone.

This particular group of crazy wild women have been meeting every few months since the late 90’s when we all worked at a certain high tech company just a few miles south of Portland.  It all started innocently enough…interoffice email…Hey, I need an attitude adjustment lunch, can you go?  Sure!  What time?  NOW!  Oh, Okay, I’ll drive.  Back then, attitude adjustment came in the form of a couple of frosty Margaritas and several bowls of chips and salsa at a local chain restaurant – not a dining star in sight – but it got the job done and we were back in our offices feeling much more relaxed for another afternoon of meetings at the “meeting capital of the world”.  For a couple of us that evolved into swilling several glasses of wine before attending drawing class in the evening.  She’s a fantastic artist.  I needed liquid refreshment in mass quantity to put my inner art critic into a semi-stupor.  It was fun.  It was still girl time.

Today, it’s kinda more like old girl time, but after we get past the first few minutes of hugs and comparing wrinkles, sags where nothing had sagged before… (I won’t bore you with the rest), we forget that we are two retired, one about to be retired and one who hopes to be able to retire sometime in the not too distant future 60-somethings and we become those same wild and crazy gals who still get looks and laughs from other tables for our sometimes bawdy behavior.  But, really having this kind of fun is serious business.  It soothes the soul, recharges the batteries, lowers the blood pressure and brings back that girlish glow by the end of the evening.  In short, it’s just what the doctor ordered.  I’ll drink to that!

And, here’s one I forgot to tell last night … You have reached the breast self-examination hotline.  Please press 1 now.   Now press the other one.     

Honey, I’m off to the gym ~

No, not me…the Old Guy, my newly retired hubby who recently turned 66…HE’s off to the gym.  Every morning, you can set your clock by him.  Out the door by 9:00 a.m. – walking up the street to join the rest of the retirees, housewives and non 9-to-5ers who are lucky enough to spend their mornings plugging in their earbuds and “pounding it on the treadmill”.   That’s what the hubs calls it.  While he’s pounding it and cranking weights, I’m at my desk solving the travel problems of one small piece of the corporate world and thinking about my next blog post.  What the heck?

Here’s why this is such an interesting phenomenon.  Until three months ago, his main source of physical exertion (besides getting out of bed in the morning) was walking up and down the stairs to his office, doing the cocktail hour arm lift and bending over to pick up the remote when it fell.  Oh, and the once a year trip with his lifelong buds (other Old Guys) when they get together to hike and play as many rounds of golf as possible in three days.  Other than that – nada.

So, what’s the deal?  Retirement.  It’s that simple.  He is a new man.  He is HAPPY and he is relaxed and he has a whole lot of time on his hands.  Hours and hours and hours.   As the Chief Entertainment Officer (CEO) in our house, I have to admit I was more than a little concerned when retirement suddenly struck.  My office is upstairs and that part of the house was immediately designated off limits from 8am-4pm.  He’s handled it surprisingly well and I am thrilled to discover this seemingly new ability to entertain himself.

Here’s to Old Guys Learning New Tricks – knowing how to let go of the past and move on to new adventures.  Here’s to the fine art of learning how to fill all of the hours that used to be your working day with activities that are healthy and entertaining and new.  Now, if only he’d take a sudden interest in running the vacuum.  He tried it once, but it takes away from his gym time.

You say tomato. I say La Tomatina!

Well, great news!  Did you know that America now has it’s own version of the famous tomato fight known as La Tomatina?  I didn’t either until yesterday when I received an invitation to the upcoming event in Portland called Tomato Battle.  First, a little history on the original which is held every August in Bunol, Spain.  The tomato fight has been a tradition in Brunol since 1945.  Yes, for 67 years people have been hurling tomatoes at each other in the name of juicy red fun.  Except, of course, when that pesky Franco ruled Spain and “fun” was cancelled pretty much altogether.  Now a week long festival draws up to 30,000 people from all over the world for music, parades, dancing and fireworks.  On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest (One of hubby’s favs).  Shopkeepers use huge sheets of plastic to cover the fronts of stores and buildings in an attempt to protect them from the mess.  Around 11:00 a.m. truckloads of tomatoes are hauled into the town square.  This, of course, is all just leading up to the big event.  The fun officially begins when one brave (crazy?) soul has managed to climb to the top of a two story high greased-up wooden pole and reached the ham (I kid you not!) that sits at the top.  Once this meaty prize has been claimed, the water cannons are fired and the battle begins.  What does one wear to a tomato fight?  Bathing suit, goggles, gloves and non-slip shoes of course.  There are LOTS of rules but it still looks like crazed chaos to me.  After exactly one hour, the cannons are fired again and the fighting stops.  The streets are cleaned and everyone goes home to get ready for next year.

With our American focus on all things food – eating contests, pumpkin chucking and the like, I’m surprised that it took so long for this particular version of the “worlds largest food fight” to cross the pond.  I’m not surprised that some creative thinkers from Seattle came up with the idea.    Started in 2011, this group of pranksters have taken their battle on the road.  Since I can’t make it to Spain this year for the real thing, I’ve already got tickets for Tomato Battle Portland.  One Northwest twist which made me feel a little better about the wastefulness of all this merriment.  They only use tomatoes that are already slated for the dumpster which makes this a fun disposal method of no longer edible food.

Got goggles?  Want to join us?  Maybe we’ll just enjoy the music, drink some wine and watch the festivities with camera in hand – but it still looks like fun to me.  Those crazy Spaniards!

If you don’t live in Portland, check out the website, Tomato Battle may be coming to your town soon.

When Fear Slithers in ~

Ok, I admit it, there’s a reason why my retirement dreaming has been more in the direction of Alsace Lorraine than some place in the Amazon.  One word – SNAKES.  Oh yes. I have a big time, full on, beyond all reason, fear of snakes.  Any kind, and size is not a factor.  I know it makes no sense.  I’m an educated and generally intelligent woman but this is one of those totally irrational things and, let me just say, this kind of REALLY BIG FEAR is not what you want to take with you when you become a citizen of the world.

Snake Charmers

As a kid in Canada, I grew up spending summers at our cottage on Balsam Lake and there were snakes but I don’t remember worrying about them.  We did all the crazy kid stuff and sometimes we’d see one.  No big deal.  But, sometime between those carefree summers at the lake and high school in Southern California, this crazy fear slithered into my mind and has grown into a green eyed monster.  In high school, I  paper clipped the pages of my biology book together so I wouldn’t touch the snake pictures.  True story.  But wait, it gets worse.  In 1996 I took a trip to Belize and Guatemala.  I was fearful of the jungle and what was lurking there, but I thought the best way to overcome my fear was to face it head on.  Right!  We were in Tikal hiking through the jungle to climb the Mayan pyramids.   It was dense and humid and we could hear the howler monkeys and parrots up in the trees.  I was pretty sure there was a big ole snake up there too, but we didn’t see any.   When we met a local guide/professor, I mentioned my fear of snakes.  He said “Don’t worry about snakes, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them”.  Ha!  Wrong-o!  And, then he said “Besides, you can smell them.  They have a very distinct and not pleasant smell.”  Really?  I did not know this.  I made it through the day and enjoyed every minute of this truly amazing experience.

Yoo Whoo! Any snakes down there?

But, the next morning, my friend Don and I decided to take an early walk.  We followed a dirt road just outside of the park.  We walked for a couple of miles and every now and then we would see a large sign, in Spanish, that said “Danger Venomous Reptiles”.  Okay, a little concern started to creep in.  My friend said it was just to keep tourists out.  Hmmm.  Wouldn’t it be in English too?  We kept on going, but then without warning – a really bad smell.  I lost all reason and control.  I screamed SNAKE! then turned around and ran as fast as I could in the other direction leaving my walking companion standing there shaking with laughter.  I was terrified obviously, since I still remember it like it was yesterday.   It’s embarrassing to say the least, but truth be told, snakes represent all the ways that I let fear stop me from living life full out.  And there are plenty of them.  I won’t bore you with the list.

How do you suddenly become brave at 63 1/2?  I’m not sure really, but I’d like to figure it out.  Actually, I’d settle for braver.   I’ll probably never jump out of an airplane and I’m OK with that.  But, there are a whole bunch of places in this world that are really worth experiencing and I’m not sure I can go because there might be snakes?   Am I really saying that?  It sounds crazy even to me, but it’s kinda true.  For now.

All I know is that life is short and I want to live every minute with all the gusto I can manage and so, somehow, the fear has to go.  You can’t pack it in the rollie.  It takes up way too much space and it definitely weighs you down.

Oh, and by the way.  Snakes don’t smell.  He was just messing with me.

Captain of my Own Cruise Ship ~

Retirement is when you stop living at work and begin to work at living…

I don’t know where this quote came from, but I could not have said it better.  I am so ready to be there.

And, let me add – “Thank God there is cocktail service on this cruise!”

Enough said.