Hello, dear friends! What do you think of the new blog look? I thought that the site need a brighter look and I like the happy feel I get when I see the blue and green colors! I posted a new welcome picture taken this summer when I visited Boca Grande. I think the new look will motivate me to share some stories about travel, my addiction to fashion and some good reads. I’ll be back soon with more news.
This is a bittersweet Christmas and some Christmas songs bring it to the surface. My Dad passed away 7 years ago and after that I missed him but Mom was still around even though her health continued to deteriorate over the years. The Christmas years after Dad passed were happy ones but this one is so different since Mom passed in April. I think about them often and how they established so many traditions during the holiday season for my sister and me.
When I hear certain Christmas songs, I immediately remember connections to Mom and Dad. Mom loved to sing and I can still hear her harmonizing to Silver Bells and White Christmas with the car radio. Dad thought the Chipmunk Song was the funniest thing he had ever heard. As a child he had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and would let my sister and I talk and then he would play it back at a fast speed so that we sounded like the Chipmunks. Click on the song titles above to hear the original versions that my parents loved.
We lived in Pennsylvania so our tree went up Christmas Eve because trees dry out so quickly in a heated house. Dad would buy it on his way home from work and we would decorate it that evening. Often it was not the perfect tree but we were happy with the results. It was usually a blue spruce, my Dad’s favorite. Those were the days of glass ornaments, bubble lights and lots of tinsel.
The little cutie below is ME! Notice the tinsel-laden tree in the background.
Today I made my Mom’s cheese ball and did it her way. Mixed it with my hands, spread the walnuts on aluminum foil and folded it up to make the walnuts stick. Getting my hands in the cheesy mess was an excellent idea, so much easier to mix than with a spoon. You were right Mom.
Our family will miss both of you this year and I pray that you are together and happy with the angels. Memories and traditions make Christmas special. As I hear your favorite Christmas songs on my car radio I remember those long ago years that seem like yesterday. Thanks for the memories.
May your Christmas be white with silver bells ringing and the Chipmunks singing along!
Merry Christmas 2016
What are your favorite childhood memories? What triggers those memories? Send me a comment.
Too much has happened since my last post and I have been afflicted with writer’s block big time! I couldn’t seem to force myself to write a post for the life of me. I decided that today was the day to push through so here we go. There are four reasons why my mind was locked up!
I officially retired as director of the Lucas Center for Faculty Development at Florida Gulf Coast University on April 30, 2016. Although I was looking forward to the freedom of retirement, the final days at the university were very bittersweet for me. I had been with FGCU for over 20 years and was a founding faculty member. It’s hard to leave something that has identified you for so much of your professional career.
Navigating the paperwork of retirement has been a challenge! There is Medicare, Supplemental, Drug Plan, Social Security, Pension, etc. Some of these challenges have required hours on the phone, trips to offices, more paperwork, etc. Then there are the issues of budgeting when the money comes in once a month instead of every two weeks plus figuring out how much to withhold for tax purposes. The whole process took weeks!
A few weeks before my retirement, my mother passed away. It was not unexpected since she was a month shy of 95 and was in a nursing home. I had gone to see her at Easter, just a few weeks before she passed but when my brother-in-law called to say she was gone, I was taken for a loop. I still have bouts of sadness even though I know she is in a better place and with my Dad and the rest of her family. I miss both of my parents deeply.
I had to spend the past 3 weeks with my foot in a boot! No long walks, no exercise classes, just couch potato land! You would think sitting on the couch reading, watching Hallmark movies and wanting so bad to move would have motivated me to WRITE a post; but, no, gridlock continued! The boot came off a few days ago and it is a joy to wear a normal shoe again rather than drag a cement block around but it wasn’t until today that I wrote one word!
A few things have shaken me out of the doldrums and gotten my fingers moving on the keyboard again. The motivation to get going is based on a big dose of guilt! I’ve received e-mails and texts from readers asking if they have missed any posts! A dear friend from the past found my blog and wrote to me last week and I felt bad that the darn thing was so out-of-date. Another friend e-mailed me and said that if I couldn’t exercise the body, I should exercise the mind! Thank you all!
I’ve learned that any block to moving forward can be hard to break through. Possibly laziness comes into play but similar to when I had writer’s block at work, the best antidote is to just do it! My life changes muddled my mind but now I feel content and accomplished that I have typed this post. There are more to come, my friends.
How do you work through a road block in your life? Leave a comment above.
On Friday I was chatting with some of my female neighbors who have become dear friends and confidants. One of the many topics we discussed included actual age and inner age. We all agreed that age is just a number and the 90’s seem like yesterday so children born in those years must still be in kindergarten. Wait, they are in their 20’s? How could that be! Sorry I digress on how time flies, but it is relevant to how quickly the years pass but our inner identity moves much slower.
We agreed that we work at keeping gravity and expansion at bay; however, there is one time when the truth about aging hits you in the face! There you are at the salon getting your hair cut, trimmed, highlighted, colored…any of the above…and you look in the mirror! Yikes, who is that person staring back it you? She has wet stringy hair, little make-up, wrinkles in places you have never seen them before and maybe the beginning of a double chin! Ok, sit up straighter and lift your head, that’s a bit better! My friends and I attribute that mirror image to poor lights and that unflattering black cape, not our chronological age. It’s a known fact that black may not be our best color that close to our face and that what we see is not our true self. I tell you, it’s a sobering moment and I only torture myself with that vision every 8 weeks.
The funny thing is, we honestly don’t recognize that woman in the mirror and we swear we feel at least 20 years younger. To top it all off, we are really starting to look like our mothers! OK, enough about our female vanity and more about how to feel our inner age. Even though aging is emotionally hard and physically challenging, these 60-something bodies have many good miles on them and really not the worst for the wear and tear. An article in AARP states that “41% of age 50-plus Americans say they are ‘optimistic’ about getting older.” That’s encouraging. They go on to say that “staying mentally and physically active can help keep you, well, younger.” Aside from things we all know like exercise, eating healthy and sleeping more; the article says that as we age we get happier! Who knew! According to research, one reason for this happiness may be that as we get older, we know most bad times are behind us. Not sure I agree with that one given the world situation but on some level I see their point since we no longer are up with cranky babies all hours of the night or must help with homework or worry about paying for college, etc. AARP says having a strong social network adds to the happiness quotient and I’m all about that. Read more about aging in this AARP Article on What to Expect in Your 60s.
Personally, I’m fighting aging at every turn by happily entering retirement, cutting back on the wine, watching what I eat and really exercising more. I surround myself with happy people and their upbeat attitude is contagious. I’m open to new adventures like riding a Harley (on the back only) with the Colonel. I feel free and youthful as we travel back roads to fun lunchtime destinations most weekends. Don’t you love my helmet?
Age is a matter of mindset. Do you agree? How do you keep that youthful feeling? Leave me a comment above.
Last Saturday my walk was a bit different. Doodle, the dog pictured here, is owned by the Colonel; however, Doodle has become attached to me and follows me everywhere. Doodle, the Colonel and I took the Saturday walk on Lover’s Key. Doodle was very busy with his nose to the ground and I was very busy with my eyes on the scenery! I was struck by the beauty of the untouched vegetation as we strolled…it is not a powerwalk when you go with the dog so there’s plenty of opportunity to see things!
I suspect most folks think Florida is all palm trees and white sand but left in its natural state, the vegetation is over-grown and a bit scraggly. Every once in a while, I would see something that stood out and I perceived its natural beauty, uniqueness and brightness within the scraggly landscape.
I loved peering through the brush and seeing its natural beauty
as the leaves and trees framed the water.
I loved how the light surrounded the leaf and made it unique to the plants around it.
I loved how the purple flowers brightened the scraggly vegetation.
There is much to observe and much to ponder in this world. Some folks, like Doodle, are nose down and miss the beauty, uniqueness and bright spots. Others seek out these things and ponder them in wonderment. There’s more than meets the eye and maybe on closer encounter quiet hidden treasures to enjoy. Look closely because treasures abound, just like the real Florida.
Saturday was finally a beautiful sunny day in Florida! I put my sneakers on and headed out in my neighborhood. Along the way I often see deer snacking on shrubbery around houses and they especially love nice juicy hibiscus leaves and flowers but this morning I came upon a group of wood storks feeding in the shallow pools created by all of the rain we have had lately. Together they were feasting on breakfast and didn’t even look up to see me. I, on the other hand, enjoyed watching them and observing their table manners. As I passed by them and continued my walk, I thought about the diversity of creatures on our planet who can live in harmony and respect. If only we all could follow their example.
Well, here we go! My first post! As I mentioned in my About Me section, I am sooooo close to retirement…April 30, 2016 to be exact. I’m filled with excitement and trepidation with all the paperwork and decisions that must be made in the next 2 months. One of the biggest decisions to make is what “stuff” from my office should I keep and drag home and what do I give away and what goes into the trash.
What to give away is easy…my collection of children’s books from my days of teaching early literacy methods courses will go to a local child care center now that I have pulled titles that I can’t part with and those I have given to my grandchildren. The other two categories are not so easy. How does one throw away things that defined them as a person for 20+ years? What do I do with all of those promotion portfolios and letters of support? Will my children and grandchildren look at those notebooks someday when I’m gone and toss them? Right now “the paper of my professional life” has moved to a large plastic bin that will end up in my garage since I can’t seem to part with most of it. What do I do with all of my teaching files? Gosh, they were creative ideas that I used over and over. Who will want them? So many decisions to make.
As I write this I wonder if I’m unable to let go of this “stuff” because I have been defined by my work for so many years. I have always been proud to say that I’m a professor at FGCU…that’s my identity. What will my new identity be? Will it roll off my tongue as easily as saying “professor”? Change is bitter sweet but I’m coming to realize inevitable and opens up new opportunities. If only I could convince myself that all of this “stuff” does not define me and let much of it go.