Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

Tuesday, the last day of September, 2014:

I've been doing a lot of reading, along with all the fun I've been having with my new friends in Redding, as well as my family.  Last week I drove down to Kari's house in El Dorado Hills and spent four days having lots of fun with Kari and David and the triplets: Spencer, Tate, and Avery.  You'll recall that they have started their first year of high school - and boy, are they busy - school work, football games, dances, sports, the list goes on.  With them in high school it's fun to 'compare notes,' sharing with them (when they have the time to be in a conversation with Mimi) some of my memories of freshman year.  For some unknown reason Kari was more available than usual, what with her jobs as wife, mom, athlete, athletic coach, and business owner, so we did quite a bit of retail therapy for ourselves and others.

Back to the reading notation above . . . I came across a book by a woman named Donna Markova, "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life:  Reclaiming Purpose and Passion."  I'd like to copy the poem she wrote the day her father died.  [Her father had believed that his life 'didn't matter' and he literally slipped into death, she thinks, without having really experienced the purpose and passion in his life].

Living Wide Open:  Landscapes of the Mind

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the net as blossom, 
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Donna Markova
Copyright 2000

I'm so enjoying my time in Redding with relatives and new friends, healthy living with lots of exercise (with my new knee), coffee klatches, lunches out, reading, playing with my pets, and readying myself for the next big travel adventure beginning in November.  This poem just resonated with me at this particular time in my life.  It's curious that many people I talk with about previous and upcoming travel adventures seem to be impressed with my "lack of fear."  I wasn't always so independent with my solo travel plans; but, I learned a long time ago that if I really want to do something, I have to make it happen.  One of my greatest joys of living this retired and mobile lifestyle is that I can, and must, be a go-getter for the things I want to have or to do.

I am happier than I've ever been.  How can that be?  I'm retired and living on a fixed income.  I'm alone; well, except for Lacy and Eleanor.  I wake up every single morning with the light bulb coming on saying, "I'm retired.  I have innumerable choices of how I want to live this day."  I have a Bucket List, as so many others.  I suspect that I'll never be able to check off all the items on that list; but I'm going to die trying to get to them all.

What are some of your Bucket List items?

And, I'm off . . .

Friday, September 19, 2014

Looking Forward To - And Excited Very Excited About . . .

I'm excited to share my Fall through Winter travel and adventure plans.

My daughter, Kari, and I will leave Oakland to fly to Cozumel, Mexico on Saturday, November 22nd, where we will get the rental house ready for other family members who will be flying in the following day.  The reason for this family jaunt is that Kari and her older brother, Jeff, will be competing in the Cozumel Ironman on Sunday, November 30th.  I've shared some stories about both Jeff and Kari and their fetes of considerable athletic competition.  This Ironman will be the 4th for each of them, but will be the first they'll do together as a brother - sister team. 
Ironman Cozumel Logo
The entire Ironman event will take place in the waters off the island and on the island itself

A water paradise - we'll surely do some snorkeling
We've rented a large house with enough bathrooms, forks, spoons, chairs, and floor to room and board at least 10:  Jeff, Alice and their twin girls, Malia and Samantha; and, Kari, David and their triplets, Spencer, Tate and Avery; and, me, I'm Mimi.  Jeff and Kari's dad and his wife may be in Cozumel for the race and visits to the house and their brother, Spencer, may be able to fly in from the Dominican Republic, his current domicile.  Many of you are familiar with blog posts about his long international-traveling lifestyle.  So, when the time actually arrives, there may be 11 members of the family in that one house, and a couple in hotels.

The week before the race we're hoping to take in some of the sites and attractions; although, the main event will dictate how much galavanting we all do.  Jeff and Kari will be saving their enthusiasm and energy for the big day; I'll be the chief chef; David and Alice will be chief kid-managers; and you can bet the five cousins will be into having a ball the entire time.  It should be quite a party!

I'm thrilled to see my children wanting to take on this a wonderful experience and fabulous memory-maker, together.  Not only is it an incredible accomplishment for them, but it sends such an important message to those five young people [twins and triplets] who are all Freshmen in high school this year.  Both Jeff and Kari are avid about their dedication to health and the sport of triathlon; they set the bar high for their kids, who all seem to be interested in sports and fitness.  For those who aren't too familiar, the Ironman competition consists of a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and finally a marathon run of 26.2 miles - in one day!  They are NOT competing with one another, but are planning to be a support for each other; is all goes well, they'll cross the finish line hand-in-hand.  Jeff is the elder, who, on race day, will be 53 years, 7 months, and 14 days old.  Kari will be 52 years, 7 months, and 5 days of age - pretty impressive to be an Ironman at any age, but I'm a very proud mama of these two.

I'll post more about Kari and Jeff in future posts.  This post is meant to share my upcoming travel plans . . .

On December 1st, the day after the race, I'll board a flight from Cozumel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I'll meet up with a friend and the two of us will hop on a Celebrity cruise ship December 4th for a 16-day cruise through the Caribbean, traversing the Panama Canal from East to West, and then South to Valparaiso, Chile.  There will be lots of stops for interesting visits to fascinating locales all along the way.  We'll arrive in Chile on December 20th, just in time to take part in yet another country's Christmas and holiday season. As you know, I'm a people person.  I love to study cultures and learn as much as I can about how others live, love, laugh and enjoy life on this planet.  
Departing from:  Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sailing to:  Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Panama Canal, Panama; Manta, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Arica, Chile; Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile skyline
More Latin American music, dancing and fun

Can't wait to see the colors, taste the food, meet the people
I currently have reservations and tickets for the adventure up to this point - Valparaiso.  From here on my timing and plans will blossom as they may.  My travel partner is planning to remain in South America for the entire Winter (that is, Winter in the US); of course it'll be Summer in the southern hemisphere.  My reading and web-surfing research indicates that Valparaiso will have a climate commensurate with San Francisco's Summer; so I'm feeling pretty comfortable with what to expect weather-wise.  I visited Santiago, Chile in 2003, but didn't make it to the coast on that trip and am looking forward to new horizons.  Where else I go in Chile - or other South American locales, I know not at this time.  Any recommendations form old-hand Chilean and South American visitors are welcome.

Sometime after the first of the new year I'll jump on another flight and head to Guatemala for a long-awaited visit to my cousin, Linda, who lives there, and all the wonderful friends I made while I was living there in 2011 and 2012.  I can't wait to see my Spanish teachers and their families,  my knitting / crocheting students, both adults and children, and all the wonderful kids and adults in the various foundations I grew to love.  And, I have three very important, to me, young people who are continuing to work / study very diligently to possibly be able to head to the United States for further education, after which they'll return to their Guatemalan homes and families with skills to really make a difference in their communities and families' lives.  I'm very excited to see them again:  Isai, Shirli and Hazel - be ready for me!  
Oh, how I love this country, the land of the eternal Spring,  the home of the Maya and volcanoes

Cobblestone streets, flowers, colors, lovely people
I'm tentatively planning to stay in Guatemala for about a month; but, who knows?  The first time I went with the plan to stay for 3 weeks - and stayed for a year and a half!  Seriously, though, I am planning to return to California, Floribunda, Lacy and Eleanor sometime in February.

So, that's the plan for Winter this year.  I'm already giving thought to next Spring, too.  More about that as it materializes . . .

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello from Redding

Hi Everybody,

It's been a long break since I last posted; believe me, I've been thinking about all my virtual friends out there.  From the blogs I follow, I know there's a lot going on all over the place.  We, here in California, have returned to one of our hated and frightening "draught years."  I think almost every part of the state has been affected by forest fires.  I was talking to my daughter on the phone the other night and I could hear the in the background, "There's smoke coming in the house!"  They're in El Dorado Hills just off of I-50 about an hour and a half from South Shore Tahoe. 
 King Fire Arsonist Arrested

Here in Redding, I've moved my RV into a lovely RV Park, Green Acres, that I didn't even know existed until a couple of weeks ago.  I've not headed back out onto the open road because I've made some exciting travel plans for this Fall and Winter - without Floribunda and Petunia.  More about that in a future post.

I've been thinking about perhaps changing the focus of my blog during this time when I'm not out exploring this beautiful Country.  My original intention, when I began posting a couple of years ago, was to blog for my grandchildren about the adventures and experiences of their Mimi.  Well, suffice it to say, I'm not sure any of the eight looked at the blog more than once or twice.  The two older girls, Quinn and Addison, did sporadically - but they're so busy with their own lives, careers, fiancees, etc. that they don't have time or inclination to read Mimi's blog.  So, I've a bee in my bonnet to perhaps weave into the blog some short stories that have been whirling around in my head for years - mostly autobiographical tales - with the ulterior motive to have them down for posterity; so that my grandkids can read my tales, maybe when they're grandparents!  

I haven't been just vegetating while here; I'm very actively pursuing the healthy and active lifestyle I wanted when I retired and moved into Floribunda.  But, first I had to get the knee surgery over and recovered from - in order to be capable of enjoying all the adventures available.  I moved Florabunda and my family (Lacy and Eleanor) to my son's home in Cottonwood (about 25 miles south of Redding) and stayed there for about a month.  Then, my sister-in-law, Barbara, in Redding, asked me to care for her house and cat while they headed to the Coast in their RV for about 6 weeks.  So, I stayed in their house, but missed Floribunda, so moved her up into the RV hookup they have in their side yard.  After they returned, I moved to this lovely Green Acres RV park, only about a mile from them.  It's a real find:  beautiful and level cement pad and patio at each site, each is surrounded by green grass (a rarity in this parched environment) and shade trees.  I paid for a month and have decided to stay at least another, maybe more.  I'll take some pix to do some advertising for them; however, I don't want too, too many people to discover it, for obvious reasons.  There are about 25 sites, all full hookups, free cable TV and the best WiFi I've had in any park so far.  It's a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Redding and convenient to so many wonderful attractions:  Mt. Shasta, Lake Shasta, Whiskeytown Lake National Recreation Area (free with Senior Pass), Mt. Lassen National Park, Trinity Alps - the list goes on.

Before my sis-in-law left on vacation, she took me to the Shasta Family YMCA in Redding and introduced me to her gym buddies.  I've made such wonderful friends and have looked forward to getting to the gym almost every single day.  My knee recovery has been a dream I'm happy to report; there is absolutely no pain and I'm really getting back into shape after a long, long absence from exercise and physical activity in my life.  Those of my followers I've met personally over the last few years know that I was pretty incapacitated.  The doc says I may have to have the other knee done, someday.  I guarantee I'll not put it off, as I did with this knee.  I have been very conscientious about the recovery and I think I deserve, and am having, a positive experience for the whole thing.

I ride the exercise bike up to an hour a day and walk at a brisk pace on the treadmill, too.  I've started adding some weight training to try to get some of the muscle mass back that I lost with all that pain and inactivity.  I also swim a few times a week (indoor and outdoor pools at the Y) and have made the BEST friends.  

Every single day, as I awake, I'm thankful for being retired, having my health and my wonderful family - I'm loving life.