Forty Two Really Fun Things to Do This Year ~

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – “WOW – What a Ride!” -Anon.

Singing with Tony and the boys at Melvin's piano bar in Palm Springs.

Singing with Tony and the boys at Melvin’s piano bar in Palm Springs.

Apparently I am a very late bloomer.  Sometime around my 60th birthday I finally got an inkling that grabbing the gusto was what Life was really all about and I’d better get on with it.   I found my bravery gene and my adventurous soul finally began to emerge.  Oh, I’d had my share of adventures, but the last few years have taught me to look for the joy and the adventure in every experience.    Savor the moments, step out of your comfort rut and try new things when the opportunity comes your way.    I’m pretty sure adventure is the juice that keep us young.   You don’t have to ride a camel across the desert to find fun and adventure.  Adventure is what you make it.  Close to home or across the globe, there are so many fun ways to enjoy an afternoon, a day, or a long weekend.  The list is endless, but here are my current favorites…

1.  Start a regular date night practice.  It can be with the hubby, significant other or fun friends.  Hubs and I started this a few years ago on Friday nights.  We take turns coming up with a plan.  It’s fun to see who can be the most creative on a budget!  I also have regular date nights with “the girls”.

2.  Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a paddle.  No experience or equipment required.

3.  Unleash your inner Beyoncé.   Go to a piano bar or sing karaoke.

4.  Try Laughter Yoga.  It’s good for the body and the soul.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

5.  Learn a new language.   “Hola, mi nombre es Nancy. ¿Atienden vino aquí?”

6.  Start a twalking group.  My friend Judy came up with the word twalk and I thought it was a perfect!  Walking + talking = twalking.

7.  Listen to TED Talks and sign up for TEDx if your area has one.

8.  Become more tech-savvy.  Learn how to use all the features on your iphone or Droid.

9.  Take more photos.  Carrying your camera helps you slow down and see the beauty is in the details. I recently took a great online class with Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.  Awesome!

10.  Go dancing.  When is the last time you kicked up your heels on the dance floor?  Don’t have a partner?  Try line dancing or Zumba.IMG_1920

11.  Explore every one of your local museums.  Even the button museum can be interesting.

12.  Pick up a brochure at your local Visitors Center and spend the day like a tourist visiting the attractions you’ve never seen but always wanted to.

13.  Rekindle a lost love.   I’m talking about hobbies, sports, and other activities that you loved to do but somehow Life got in the way and you let them go.  Why not pick up those skates, the knitting needles or the swim goggles and fall in love again?

14.  Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial or other online discount offers and try out the two for one at the symphony, the theater, or a new restaurant.  A two-for-one took us to The Portland Corn Maize.

15.  Spend some time exploring the opportunities on HomeExchange.com.

16.  If you are 55+ or better yet 62+ start taking advantage of the senior discounts.  Last weekend we went to the Rose City Dog Show for FREE.   We might not have gone it we had to pay $20 or $30 to get in.  It was raining.  It was indoors.  It was free.  It was a really fun experience.  Who knew?

17.  Pack up your dinner and take yourselves on a picnic.

18.  Miniature Golf.  Fun, fun, fun.  We keep our putters in the car because you never know when you might see a new miniature golf course.IMG_3338

19.  Seek out and shop at your local Farmer’s Market.  You feel healthier just being there.

20.  Go geocaching.  I can’t wait to try this when the weather warms up.

21.  Volunteer at a senior center.  Calling bingo is calling to me.  I’m going to give it a try this year.

22.  Connect with long lost friends.  Facebook is a great place to start.

24.  Check out local theater, high school plays, roller derby, bourbon & bingo, music in the park, parades, festivals art shows.  They’re free or cheap and way more fun than you might think.IMG_2256

25.  Sign up for a creative class.  Not everyone is an artist but stepping out of your comfort zone in an easy supportive three-hour class is a great way to dip your toe.  Clay, watercolor painting, photography, drawing, card making, lettering…the list of options is endless and its a great way to get out and meet other people.  Look up classes through your local college or community center/parks and rec.

26.  Spend the night (or the weekend) in an unusual lodging.   How about a yurt at the beach, glamping, a vintage trailer, a treehouse, a rustic cabin, a historic hotel or B&B complete with breakfast and a resident ghost?  Wherever you live, they are easy to find via the internet.

27.  Try out your local vegan restaurant.  Vegan food has changed since the 70’s.  It’s gourmet good and good for you.

28.  Take yourself on a walking tour in your town.  This is one of my favorite activities on a warm summer day.

29.  Glow in the dark bowling.  Yah, baby!

30.  Sign up to walk or run a 5K.

31.  Throw yourself a birthday bash.  Mine’s a biggie this year and I plan to celebrate all month.

32.  Wear your tiara.  Trust me on this.

33.  Meet your neighbors.  Invite them to dinner or throw a community party.

34.  Not up for traveling across the globe this year?  Explore the amazing ethnic communities in your area.  Great shops, great food and lovely people.  Take your camera!

35.  Do something that scares the hell out of you but that you have always wanted to do.

36.  If they are old enough, take a mini vacation with your grandkids – one at a time.  Give them a list of places and let them choose.  Take your camera!

37.  Take a cooking class, a cheese making class, a beer making class.  It’s one of our favorite things to do.  We take classes at home and when we’re on vacation.IMG_4052

38.  Sell something on eBay.   Hubs could give a class on this.  It’s fun, you make a few bucks and you start clearing out the stuff.

39.  Start writing your memoir.  Really!  There are easy online guides to get you started.   You will be amazed at all of the adventures you can recall when you take time and look back.  Savor them and share them.  The wee ones will think you’re cool when you tell them about that time you rode on the back of a Harley up the California coast.

40.  Take a helicopter ride over your city.  Or a boat.  Or the tram.  It’ll give you a whole new perspective.

41.  Buy coffee for the person in line behind you.  You’ll feel good all day and so will they.

42.  Start planning your own really big adventure!  Make a list, cruise the internet, send for brochures, explore the options, start saving.  Set a date!

What new adventures have you had lately?  We’re always looking for a good time!

A Pair of Classics ~

Meet Margaret Dunning, at 102 years very young, I’d say she’s definitely a classic and so is her 1930 Packard 740 Roadster.  Yes, Margaret still drives and in fact she is still showing her classic beauty at concours d’elegance.  In a recent appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours, she told the audience that she changes her own oil and spark plugs and that “Before old age overtook me, I could scoot under the car very nicely.”  Margaret owns several classic vehicles.  The Packard may be her favorite, but these days you’re like to  see Margaret driving around her hometown of Plymouth, Michigan in a 2003 Cadillac DeVille.  It’s her “everyday car”.

Margaret, you are an inspiration to us youngsters in our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  A true classic.  Keep on driving!

Both videos are from Utube.

Don’t you just love it? ~

It really tickles me when a lovely moment of serendipity strikes. You never know when you go out the door for a bite of lunch who you might meet.  Well, that moment of serendipity struck today when I slipped down to Nordstrom Cafe for a quick mid-day break from the office.  It was noon and the place was packed.  I ordered my half salad – chicken/apple/walnut/feta – yum! and had to squeeze myself into a tiny table along the wall between two other tables.  I settled in, put on my reading glasses and pulled out my current lunch time companion – 65 Things to do When You Retire. It’s a compilation of essays from people like Jimmy Carter and Gloria Steinem and many lesser known but still very interesting and inspiring folks.  They are true stories of people in retirement who found meaningful new opportunities.  It’s sort of a user’s manual for making the most of your retirement.   A few moments later, the lovely woman on my left (I believe her name was Carol) tapped my arm and asked “May I take a look at your book?  I’ve just retired.”   “Of course” I said and I passed the book over to her table.  I then took the opportunity to introduce myself and share my newly acquired knowledge about retirement and traveling on the cheap. Carol was interested, excited and open to all of the possibilities and adventures ahead.  I told her about the backpack and rollie plan and how I had come to be a blogger.  I learned about her career as a teacher and her recent trip through Spain, Italy and France with her daughter who was sitting across the table.  We chatted for quite a while about home exchange, house sitting opportunities and even WWOOFing.   She was a sponge for information and I was thrilled that I had lots of ideas to share!

It was a lovely exchange with a truly lovely woman who, like so many of us, is excited and eager to get on with her new life.  Carol, it was a true pleasure to have met you.  I’m glad fate guided me to that tiny table in the middle.  You brought a spark of joy to my afternoon.  I hope we meet again somewhere out on the road.  I’ll be the one with the backpack and the rollie.

Juicy Tomatoes ~

It’s September and everyone around here is knee high in ripe tomatoes.  My friend and I got a jumpstart a few weeks ago and already canned 40 pounds of Early Girls.  Lovely little jars of sweet/tart red juicy goodness.  I’m planning on picking a bunch more now that the local heirlooms are down to 85 cents a pound.  One night this week I’ll be steaming up my glasses and cooking up a big batch of spicy salsa!

All kinds of ripe deliciousness is happening, and for some reason that reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago called “Juicy Tomatoes – Ripe Living after 50”.  Since I’m well past 50 and it is my plan to live juicy well into ripe old age, this book called to me from the shelves of Barnes and Noble.  It’s filled with stories of women in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond who have discovered their own juice later in life and are changing the landscape for the rest of us.

Sometime in my mid-50’s I started asking myself “What’s Next?”  Not so long ago most women my age would have been putting on their support hose and sturdy shoes and settling in to retirement.  Shrinking into a smaller life.  Instead, like so many other women I know, I’m enthusiastically searching for new adventures.  I’ve been auditioning Second Acts for the past ten years.  I read a great blog post a couple of weeks ago about the joy of being a “flitter”.   That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, but I’ve decided to see myself more like a pollinator.  I’m learning from each endeavor and sprinkling my new-found knowledge as I go.  For many of us, somewhere around 50, our lives begin to transition.  We become restless and some of us feel a deep yearning.  (I’m talking to the women here.  Men, you’ll have to speak for yourselves.)  We know that there is something more; we’re just not sure what that looks like for us.  We need time to explore, to learn, to look closer, to test the waters, and of this can be a wee bit scary.  Treading into uncharted territory doesn’t feel safe and let’s be honest, most of us (me for sure) spent our lives building safety and security for ourselves and our loved ones.  Why rock the boat now?  I’ll tell you why. Because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Because Life is short.  Because there is still so much left that we want to try, to do and to become.   We’re not done yet, dammit!   As for my own flitting –  some of you know that at 57 I decided to become a certified personal fitness trainer.  This, after years of being a certified professional couch potato.  I joined a gym, was inspired, and wanted to share what I learned with other women.  From there I moved on to creating an organization for mid-life women to connect and learn and share in a fun social environment – in short to flourish.  Flourish grew into a great network enjoyed by hundreds of women each month.  I loved every minute of that time and all the amazing women I connected with.  Then one day I woke up and I was done. Time to flit on.  Lately, I’ve been researching retirement and travel on a limited income and I’m trying my hand at blogging.  Who knows what’s next?  I don’t.  And I’ve stopped worrying about it.  With each new endeavor, I’m discovering “juice” I didn’t know I had.  I’m keeping my mind active.  I’m feeding my creative spirit.  I’m becoming the ME I always wanted to be but didn’t know it when I was so busy being what I thought I needed to be or who everyone else wanted me to be.

Tomatoes are hardy.  They don’t require a lot of pampering.  Give them a little water and encouragement and they always deliver, even in bad dirt.  If you add a dash of salt and a pinch of pepper, they really come alive.  The longer they’re on the vine – the sweeter, saucier and tastier they become.  All the green tomatoes want to become them.  That’s my definition of a Juicy Tomato.  I ought to know.   I’ve spent enough time on the vine.

Climbing Back on the Wagon ~

I fell off the wagon about a year ago.  No dings, cuts or bruises, but it’s been painful nonetheless.  What wagon?  The gym wagon.  And, let me just say, it has been hard as hell getting back on.  Oh, I still walk an hour or so every day, but somehow I do not seem to be able to walk myself the three short blocks to the gym.  We were so close, my gym and I.  But our love affair has dimmed.  We’ve lost our spark.  I’ve cheated. I’ve been seeing others.  Yep, I had a fling with Jazzercise.  I’ve combed the listings for Parks and Rec.  I even flirted a little with the weights that sit patiently behind the door in my office.  None of these relationships stuck.  Maybe I’ve been looking for LUV in all the wrong places.  And now I’m watching the hubs build a steady love affair of his own with the gym.  My gym!   I feel a wee bit like the jilted lover and I do not like the feeling.  Not one bit.  Oh, I’ve got excuses…LOTS of them.  I work full time. I have social and philanthropic commitments.  I have to write my blog.   It’s hot.  I’m tired.  I’m bored.  My shoulder hurts.  Something else hurts.  The classes are full.  The list is endless.  And a complete load of horse puckey.

There’s more than a little irony working here as well.  You see, I’m the woman who started going to the gym seven years ago and loved it so much I studied for and became a personal fitness trainer.  I know better.  I’ve taught others how to get fit.  And still, I sit.     Watching my buffness slowly (thank God!) turn into mushness.  Waiting for some magic spark of energy.    Here’s what I now know for sure.  I’m pretty much all in or all out.  No halfway for me.  And lately, I’ve been all out.   Hubs always says “a body in motion stays in motion.  A body at rest …well you know.”   Every now and then the Old Guy nails it.

Fellow blogger, Andrea Mee Maurer,  posted a while back about Matt Cutts’ TED talk Try something new thing for 30 days.  Andrea was smitten with the idea and committed to blog every day for 30 days.  Love the idea. Loved every one of your posts.  Andrea, you and TED have inspired me!  I’m going to use the 30 day plan to get my butt back into the gym.  It’s not something new, but I’m going to use the next 30 days to re-acquaint myself with my triceps, biceps, lats, and quads.  Re-kindle my love of sweat.   Regain my passion for sore muscles. Remind myself what I loved about Yoga, Zumba, Lift and Sculpt in the first place.   Oh, I know it won’t be easy.  But it is time.   I guess I sat around long enough  that the I magic spark I was waiting for finally found me.  Don’t know.  Don’t care.  I’m going with it.

Day One starts tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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.

Life is Short ~ Wear Your Party Hat

Did you know that if you wear your birthday tiara into Starbucks on your birthday they’ll give you a drink on the house?  I didn’t either, but on my last birthday I decided I was going to celebrate with the world and wear my party hat all day long.  And, since every day pretty much starts at Starbucks for me, there I was at 7am – no make-up – but sporting my shiny purple birthday hat.  In addition to the free tea, I got some very interesting looks and had a couple of great conversations!  You never know what good things will happen when you’re wearing a purple tiara.  Try it.

The first time I saw the poem, When I’m An Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple, I was only 39.  It struck a chord with me.  Probably because I was such a conformist back then; the thought of being an outrageous old woman really appealed to me.  Well, HELLO Dorothy!  I’ve arrived at the age of freedom.  I can wear any damn color I please because I am no longer driven to please.

Here’s my favorite part of the poem ~ Warning by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

and learn to spit.

These days I’m celebrating life because I know that no matter how you count it, I am closer to the end than the beginning.  Somehow, knowing that has opened me up to finally living fully in the present moment.  Celebrating what is and whatever is to be.  I’m going  to wear my party hat every day and stock up on birthday candles well I’m at it.  Because, if there’s an opportunity to light a candle and stick in my morning pancakes to celebrate a beautiful sunny day – I am all in.  And, I’m going to learn how to spit…

By the way, these folks really know how to rock a party hat!

Go get your own hat and Party On…