Adventures in Letting Go

Bucket List Adventures Virtue Letting Go

Simple is Better

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My Quest
Lately I am on a quest to simplify my family’s life. I can’t tell you how or why it happened but somehow each and every one of us took on too much and the end result is that we’ve lost our focus and our sanity at the same time.

Everything we are doing is good when you look at it separately it’s just when you apply the laws of mathematics cumulatively we have too much on our plate.

What is the price to pay we pay for this? Stress levels are elevated, sleep patterns are disturbed, weight gain has increased, fitness levels decreased, and we’ve lost the simple joy of being able to hang out and relax together.

As mom, it’s my job to pull us together, keep us organized and make the day-to-day stuff happen. When I see my family unhappy, eating badly, not sleeping well and just all around cranky, it’s my job to step in as the referee and blow the whistle.

Time to reevaluate, eliminate all excess clutter in our world and get us back to the basics.

In a society where more is always better kids are encouraged and actually barraged with invitations to try new things. Birthday parties now have to be bigger and better than last years party was, kids are in multiple sports, and then take on dance lessons and band. Between school, sports, dance, cheerleading, soccer etc the list of possibilities goes on and on.

Parents are no better, we take on extra projects at work, stay late at the office to impress the boss or go in early trying to not to be the employee that gets laid off.

I see how this happens. To me the challenge is how to use our role as mom’s to center our families, reestablish some basic boundaries, manage the chaos and reclaim family time.

This mom’s plan of attack:

It may sound radical but the past year this is what I have done.

Declutter

I led the war on clutter in my home. It was like leading the war on drugs or terrorism! I had to get serious! We’ve cleaned, sorted, purged, sold and donated all but the most foundational items. It was a painful project that took an enormous amount of time and effort but was surprisingly enlightening and empowering.

I actually found boxes that haven’t been opened for 15 years in my garage, even an unopened wedding gift from 28 years ago and a 9-year-old box of discarded junk mail! Why did I have all of that stuff? Because we collect this and then develop a fear of letting go. That or we just get overwhelmed with piles of stuff and put off sorting though it.

We get caught up in the crazy thought process, some family member gave this to me therefore I have to keep it or maybe I will need it someday.

I forced my little tribe to step back and get some perspective. It’s just stuff.

Downsize:

Trying to keep up with bigger and better is exhausting. Bigger houses, more bathrooms, bigger yards, multi car garages and excess toys all require physical and emotional support as well has a drain on your pocketbook.

Granted I took downsizing to an extreme recently but I think it is a healthy topic to at least consider. We sold the big house and downsized because we are almost empty nesting and just don’t need that much space right now. We took it pretty far by going from a large suburban house to a much smaller home but you know what? We love it!

Look at it this way, it takes me only a couple hours to clean now and with less stuff we actually know where to find the things we actually want and need! Wow!!

It was scary at first but I’m very glad we did it although it is a constant battle.


Eliminate Distractions

I took my quest even farther when I started to see positive results of a happier family. In fact, I was so radical I cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry and got rid of all the junk food that had accumulated over time. Yes, I said it, no more Cheetos, Duritos or sodas. Instead I stocked us up with vast amounts of lean meats, fresh and frozen veggies and colorful fruits! Insane, I know!

But wait there’s more! I did something else that few have had the courage to do- I turned off the tv and disconnected the house phone! While I have recently relented and we’ve restored tv, we are trying to keep a lid on it so it doesn’t get out of control again. Egad, you say!

I have watched my teen complain bitterly, crab and moan actually, but she feels better, is sleeping soundly, and has been reading more. Additionally, she is teaching herself to draw cartoon figures with a book she got at the library and is working on teaching the dog new tricks! She is learning to cook, spends a lot of time playing tennis and bike riding and has even discovered she likes beef jerky and fruit!

What’s next on my crazed quest to simplify? All organic cotton or tofu only meals? I probably will not go to those extremes but I do plan to try Gluten free menu plan for a month and see if that helps with some lingering health issues.

My point is simple

As moms we have to be willing to fight back against negative influences and we have to be able to help our families when they need it.

The fight goes on in my quest to simplify life. I believe the less bogged down with day to day life the more opportunity we have to explore our world around us and try new things and make new memories!

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Learn to Love Yourself- Wear a Funky Hat

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Fit is the new skinny. After 50 years I think I finally have it figured out-honestly. Self-confidence comes from within. It is not about how long and shiny your hair is, mine was always thin anyway, it is not about how long your legs are, I inherited short stout Cue family legs, and it is not about what the scale says. In fact, the scale can be deadly deceiving if you don’t know better. It isn’t about what size you wear, it’s about how you look in what you wear and it is about having a strong and healthy body but mostly it is about learning to love yourself.

I have decided that at this point in my life the only person I have to impress and please is myself. I don’t have to do anything to establish who I am other than to be myself. I just want to be healthy and have a body that will allow me to do all the fun stuff in life. I want to keep up with my kids, actually I want them to try and keep up with me!

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Society does a real number on us, especially as women. As young girls we just want to be grown up, we want long pretty hair and curves. As teenagers we want to be cool and popular, hoping others will see us as attractive. As soon as we become young women we want to be whatever we are not. We want to be in a relationship, or we want to be single, we want to have curly hair or long straight hair, we want a date to the dance and we all want to look like a model. Once we become mom’s it gets even worse, we now want to have a flat stomach and thinner thighs, we want the grey to go away and to be seen as sexy again and it is hard to do that with baby food carrots globing up your hair and a two year old wiping his runny nose on your pants. As we age a bit we find ourselves looking back longingly at pictures of us in our youth and find ourselves asking our friends “why didn’t I know I looked that good at 25?” or” I’d kill for that waist again.” Finally, it hits us. This is complete nonsense.

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For me this happened a few years ago when I found myself in a dark cramped dressing room trying on the newest style of skinny jeans and berating myself that when I looked in the long mirror under harsh lights I wasn’t thrilled with my reflection. I looked like a stuffed sausage complete with a muffin top spilling out from my tight waistband. Why don’t I look like I am supposed to? It was then that I realized what a fool I was being.

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No one looks good in skinny jeans; hell not even skinny 14-year-old pre-adolescent girls look good in them so why in the hell did I think I was supposed to? Because that’s what the magazines and TV shows told me what to think. In an act of defiance I peeled off the jeans and threw them down in disgust. This is not what I wanted and it sure as hell wasn’t healthy. Anything that makes me feel bad about myself is defiantly not healthy.

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I needed a new attitude and I needed it now. Heading back to the racks I searched until I found a modern cut pair of jeans, but ones that actually had a little fabric to them. I pulled them on and evaluated the look in the mirror. I decided then and there to focus on what looked good on me and to hell with the fashion hit of the day. This was a revelation for me. With a little research I realized I look good in A line dresses and skirts. I look nice in darker jeans. I like the look of a jacket with pants or jeans; it dresses things up a bit. I usually look better in shades of the same color; it makes me look taller somehow. I sure as hell don’t look good in base ball hats or in baggy sweats. I can however pull off a funky hat! Skintight dresses don’t do much for me either and I look downright sick in the color purple. It is important to figure these things out. Once you do I recommend sticking with it and to hell with what all these silly teenagers are wearing. Do what is right for you; a woman who knows she looks good is far more attractive than one who is trying too hard.

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So now what? Now I wear what I know looks good on me. I wear my hair in a style that compliments my face and personality. I stick to a few basic principles with my wardrobe and update it seasonally with funky accessories. I try to avoid looking older or younger than I really am. I wear things that work with my life. I do things. It’s who I am. I dream, I learn, I try new things. Some might call me nuts but I am out there hiking, biking, walking, skiing, dog sledding and rock climbing, face it. I am out there having fun. I am wearing funky hats.

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So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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One Long Wheeeeeee

One long Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee: A Bucketlistblogger Adventure

Bucketlistblogger.com Adventure

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This is just an observation, a personal opinion by this author, but I want to pose a simple question to you today.

Don’t you think life is too full up uphill battles and not enough downhill coasts?

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What am I talking about? Think about this for just a second. How many things in life are you “working on” during your lifetime? Maybe this sounds a bit familiar, “I’m working on getting through high school. I’m working on getting into a good college. I’m working on my undergraduate degree. I’m working on getting a good job. I’m working for a big promotion. I’m working on saving money to buy a used car. I’m working on paying off my car. I’m working on getting my credit rating up. I’m working on buying a new car. I’m working on paying off my student loans. I’m working on my retirement savings. I’m working to buy a business. I’m working on saving for my kid’s college education. I’m working on saving for a vacation. I’m working on investing in my future. I’m working on getting into shape. I’m working on losing weight. I’m working on fixing up my house. I’m working on my marriage. I’m working on raising my children. I’m working on” ….

See what I mean? The list of things we spend our time and energy “working on” during our lifetime can be a bit daunting.

When was the last time you heard someone say I’m coasting today?

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Coasting, what do you mean coasting? Are you talking about the word we used to use as kids when we’d ride our bike, “ Wheeeeeeeeeee” Do you mean when we’d hop on our skateboard, push off a few times, and then firmly plant our other foot on the board and just ride, the wind whipping through our hair? Could it possibly mean when we would get the hose out in the summer, wet down an old tarp, run as fast as we could until we hit the wet, slippery surface, and then we’d just slide?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of one single adult that I have heard utter any of these words –ever. They are all so darn busy “working on” things that they have forgotten how to coast and enjoy the ride every now and then.

Now that I have you thinking a bit, which was more fun? Of course, all of our childhood work and coast experiences were more fun. Heck, we were just kids playing. The work never really felt like work, but we sure do remember how good the coasting part felt.

As kids we had it all figured out. Sometimes, adults need to take a lesson from the little ones.

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Dylan Scott, owner of Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours in Colorado Springs has actually figured out a way to help you remember what it was like to be a kid. His company of expert guides will take care of all the adult issues like having the right equipment, getting a bike that fits you, remembering to bring heavy layers of clothing and wraps for your pant legs so they don’t get caught in the bike chain, they remember the healthy breakfast and full water cooler so everyone can stay hydrated. They have the helmets and make sure they fit properly. They get the park pass, remember to fill up the van with gas, they know the way and they drive you to the top of Pikes Peak.

All you have to do is sit back and let them handle all the details while you enjoy the view up one of America’s most beautiful and majestic mountains. But what happens next is magical. At the summit the guides with Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours get everyone organized, explain all the safety rules etc. and before you know it the tour starts.

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You settle into the unfamiliar seat of a bicycle, stretch out over the handle bars and push off on the pedals a couple times thinking, like a typical adult that you have to do all the work. Like magic the bike takes off, no pedaling required, you are just riding at a nice brisk pace and you realize you don’t have anything to do except enjoy the surroundings and. …coast. What???

It took me, a seasoned mom and worrier, all of about 60 seconds of this exercise to be totally overcome by a rush of pleasant childhood memories. Oh my gosh, this was fun! This was exhilarating and the view-oh my gosh, the view was spectacular!

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My only concern was not getting too over-confident and going too fast to handle the corners safely, but my responsible guide up front took care of that, and set a safe and reasonable pace, and all I had to do was just follow along in line, gently squeezing my brakes every once in awhile and then coast.

What a mind blowing, simple and wonderful concept. Why had it been so very long since I did something like this?

We rolled gently down the mountain, a light and cool breeze rolling past, the highway winding its way down like a slow and friendly serpent laid out before us.

At first I was noticeably uncomfortable with the foreign notion of coasting and relaxing. My natural instinct was to find things to worry about. Were we going too fast, was there a car behind us trying to pass. How sharp was the turn up ahead, should we slow down. What if there was gravel on the road somewhere, would that be dangerous. Were we getting too close to the edge, etc. but rather quickly these irrational thoughts disappeared and I realized my guides had it all under control. We were going exactly the right pace; we had a guide in front of us showing us the way and a van with a guide behind us protecting us from traffic and other hazards.

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I really could just relax and enjoy the ride. As this fascinating transformation took place and I looked over at my hardworking 21 year old college son, I saw the pure joy in his eyes as he rolled up next to me and said, “wow mom this is really cool and lots of fun.” I could see that as hard as he has been working to become a responsible adult he could still relish the pure joy of just being a kid again for a few hours. He had vivid memories of the joy of coasting. At that moment all I wanted to do was throw my hands in the air and yell “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee” all the way down the mountain.

Hard work and responsible decisions are the mainstay of adulthood, but don’t forget that it’s perfectly healthy to sit back and coast every now and then, and just enjoy the ride and the view.

To book your Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tour visit www.bikepikespeak .com, ask for Dylan and tell him your friend Jackie The Bucketlistblogger sent you! I promise you, he’ll know who you are talking about!

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So my friend , I ask you “what’s next on your bucket list?”

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Take the Plunge


If you are going to do it, then take the plunge and really do it-don’t hold anything back. “Go big or go home” as the saying goes.

This applies to almost every aspect of life, and it is much harder than it sounds, but it is worth repeating every now and then. Don’t do something halfway and then wonder why it didn’t work out. It doesn’t matter what the “It” is.

In the past 6 weeks life has left us with our heads spinning, but we have done some radical stuff around our house. We agreed to sell our house, sorted, purged, sold stuff, gave away stuff and then we boxed and moved/stored 25 years worth of family treasures. We dealt with the Colorado fires (which hit very close to home) and then I resigned my job so I could work full-time with my husband at our business. That’s an awful lot for just a few weeks, and we were appropriately exhausted!

I wrapped up my job, and then we headed on a week long vacation in Crested Butte with dear friends to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversaries. I have never needed a vacation as badly in my life!

I am now several days into my rejuvenating week long vacation, and I feel like a new woman! I am rested, relaxed, decompressed and properly chilled out! Even better, I have had the time to live out several bucketlist adventures!

The first adventure on the list for the week was to go white water rafting on the Taylor River in Colorado. We chose Three Rivers Outfitters to put our trust in and were very well taken care of and entertained!

When you white water raft in Colorado on a Class III, very technical river, you get assigned to a river guide, fitted with a dry suit (that was not very dry) equipped with a snug life vest, and then properly prepped with the “Safety Speech” where they terrify you with explicit details how to position yourself if you fall out of the boat, and how to rescue another rafter if they have the misfortune to fall out! Then you board the inflatable raft and go for it!

Our guide was a very friendly young man named Nick, who was a recent college grad, EMT, river guide and certified avalanche rescuer. I liked the fact hat we was so multi-talented and ready for any disaster-besides that he was fun!

Nick coached us how to paddle our oars together, taught us our commands: left 3, all 1, all back 3, right 2 and all 1, until the four of us fell into a rhythmic synchronized dance that would have impressed any Olympic team!

I guess 35 years of friendship and 25 years of marriage teaches you to work together well as a team! Anyway, Nick was impressed, and we proved to be an apt team of middle-aged rafters!

One of the biggest tricks to staying in the boat, I soon learned, was to wedge your toes under the seat in front of you as much as possible, so that if the raft took an unexpected jolt you could counterbalance yourself. I was terrified to get tossed from the boat and end up floating like an inflated blueberry Umpa Loompa (note the dry suit) so I wedged my toes in until I damn near hit my kneecaps! The first set of rapids tested my skill and I quickly learned to adjust to the unexpected and powerful flow of the river.

At this point, we rocked and rolled our way down the river with Nick at the helm, and the four of us providing the muscle power. It felt good to work together, and I learned we were good at anticipating each others’ moves, and we quickly learned to appreciate the combined power of our joined efforts.

White water rafting is all about learning to read the river anticipate its obstacles and go with the flow!

I quickly learned you couldn’t fight the power of the river. Instead, you have to learn to work with it. One person can’t row and guide the boat- it takes a team working together.

The huge rocks in the river were fascinating and intimidating also. We learned to read the river, from its smiley faces to its frowns. Smiles are good; frowns are bad; I liked the simplicity of that message.

Nick would direct us where to put our power in carefully coordinated and clear directions so that the raft worked with the river, not against it.

The rocks would divide the river forcing the rushing, frigid, snow runoff water to go around it, thus creating hazards, obstacles and dangerous pockets.

I was struck by the symbolism of this lesson. A river is much more powerful it its energy is not diverted, but instead channeled in one clear direction. It makes navigating much easier and your results are more powerful. The odds are much better you won’t crash and burn or end up going where you don’t want to go.

As I rafted down this gorgeous river I realized the potential strength in our recent decision to join professional efforts to work together to grow our business as a team. Alone we were vulnerable, divided and forced to navigate the dangerous waters of business separately, but together we would be undeterred, our efforts doubled by the combined power and singular goal. It was a leap of faith, but I knew there on the river we’d make the right decision for us.

As we paused mid-river for a break, Nick encouraged us to take “the plunge”; we decided to go for it as a team. Each of us stood on a rock in the middle of the river, guided by Nick, we leaned back into the unknown and took the plunge into the icy, powerful waters. It took out breath away as we hit the 58 degree water, but as we rose to the surface we were rewarded by the knowledge we had overcome our fears and we’d worked together to achieve our dreams.


Don’t be afraid to take your own plunge!

So my friend I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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One Year Later

One year later and still finding my way
One year later and your memory still fills my everyday

Without you, there is a big hole to fill
No more hugs in your arms or phone calls at will

No shoulder to cry on or wise words to hear
Just your memories that I continue to hold dear

One year later I’ve let the pain go and my journey has made me stronger
One year later and I’ll not look back or cry any longer

One year later and I let spring wash over me
One year later and its gentle breeze lets me just be

One year later and I’ve grown much stronger
Through tears, fears, laughter and pain my mother remains my friend longer

While the wind tickles my bare arm
It blows away the pain and returns me to the farm

Where love held strong, where love was simple and clear
Where I learned to hold near everything I hold dear

One year later God changed things for me
Things just arn’t always what they seem to be

But a strength and peace were found as the journey transpired
And in the end my life’s goal is to be a woman my mother would have admired

One year later and I’ve found peace and you’ve become me
One year later and I’m finally ready to become all that I can be

This is just something I wrote on the one year anniversary of the passing of my beloved mother. The past year has been challenging as I have learned how to live life without her. I have peace, and in many ways I am stronger than I thought I could be, guess that is good. Mom, I miss you.

So I ask you my friend, “what’s next on your list?”

Memories:

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The Best Last Day of the Worst Year

It was an unexpected gift, it wasn’t planned and I didn’t think it would feel that good but I had the best last day of the worst year of my life. I don’t mean to sound mellow dramatic here but it has been a tough year and I feel a sense of relief that it is finally over. Time to move on. 2012 here I come.

Once the Christmas holiday’s rolled by I had no big plan to ring in the New Year. I am not a big club girl by any means and midnight is way past my bedtime so I usually don’t even stay up to watch Dick Clark drop the ball, but when my sister called to say she wanted to rent a cabin up in the mountains for a few days at the end of the year I jumped on her bandwagon. My little family all had plans so we decided to channel our inner wild women vibe and head out alone into the Rockies armed only with our two dogs and a 3 inch knife to defend ourselves with. See picture.


Our little cabin was pretty rustic but had all necessities needed by a couple of wimps like us. We had a cozy little 100 year old log cabin complete with a bathroom and shower, small tv, cook top stove and microwave, boom box and little porch for coffee drinking. All we needed.

Since we only had a couple days we rented our cabin, scouted out the possible day trips and made a plan, that is what we do, we are moms.

The cabin, while cute and cozy, was located right in the middle of a small mountain town. We were nestled in tall Ponderosa pines and it looks like we are out in the middle of nowhere but the reality is we are surrounded by regular folks in regular houses and we are about a block away from the local coffee shop. A convenient location for a couple of scardy cat sisters who have no business alone out in the wild.

Vicki was brave and arrived a couple days before I did, her first night with Mack her dog going smoothly enough, maybe because they were exhausted after they’re 12-hour drive. The second night did not go as well. Half way through the night Vicki awoke to Mack growling fiercely on full alert at the door. Vicki did the only reasonable thing, -she yelled at Mack. After the third time of him fiercely guarding her with the demons at the door she admitted fear. Thankfully , all was well when in the light of day as Vicki opened the curtains to be eye to eye with 5 deer. So much for guard dog.


When I arrived with my own personal guard dog Rowdy Obiwondanobe, we settled in for the night, Rowdy in his kennel and Mack on his blankie by the door. I took my Ambien and we all started catching some zz’s. Peaceful enough until Mack twitched in his sleep and accidentally knocked over a broom , scaring the beejeebees out him. Doing what a good guard dog would do when faced with a bad guy (broom) attacking him in the middle of the night, he made am impressive three foot jump from the door landing in one move right on top of Jackie in her bed. Alert to the commotion Rowdy lept to his feet and stood shaking head to toe in his kennel. Talk about excitement!

After a few cups of coffee in the morning, Vicki and I managed to pull ourselves together and head out for the day. Our big plan was to go for a scenic mountain drive, hit a couple off road 4 wheel drive trails and then spend the afternoon snowshoeing. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it!


So after arming ourselves with even more coffee from the local coffee shop we headed out only to discover 100 mile an hour winds were whipping the heck out of the mountains and were sending snow swirling in white-out conditions. Sensing that maybe this was not a good situation we turned around and headed back into the safety of town. Somehow we landed at the local 125 year old Saloon. I am honestly not sure how that happened. After a delicious lunch in this historical setting we decided to play a game of pool. Picture this, the two of us, wild daring western women ie suburbian mom’s ended up spending the afternoon playing pool, drinking beer, listening to old rock and roll and having a very special afternoon. An unexpected sense of contentment settled over the two and us and we decided life was good and we were ready for 2012.

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Lake Placid Luge

Have you ever wanted to be an Olympian? I have always thought it would be so cool to be one of those super talented athletes who get to carry the flag of red, white and blue into the arena proudly with all the other elite athletes of the world. It is not that I am so competitive that I want to be the best in the world at some sport, rather, I just think it sounds really cool to able perform one of these unusual but cool sports.
I mean who grows up curling or speed skating? Where do these people learn these sports? It’s not like I have ever seen a beginner bobsledding class at the local YMCA.

Back before I officially had a bucketlist, I used to like to do zany things, or as I called it, sampling of life! One weekend while we lived in upstate New York, we took a road trip to Lake Placid, New York and toured this quaint little Adirondack Olympic town. I feel in love with the small town feel that was a cool mixture of small town charm, rich history, and funky mountain town.

On this trip, we learned we could actually go up to the top of the ski jump and stand at the gate, taking turns pretending we were about to go for the Gold on the long jump! On TV the ski jump is fun to watch and I remember thinking these guys were pretty gutsy, but I must admit, standing on the top of the long jump looking down at the ramp ahead of me, I came to the quick and accurate conclusion that these guys are certifiably nuts.

The exploration of Lake Placid got even better when we realized we could walk up the hill where the bobsled and luge runs were located. It was cool to think we were where history was made. About this time, we stumbled upon a sign that said you could actually pay $25 to go down the bobsled run in the summer. In the summer they put the sled on wheels for the ride. Your other option was to wait for snow and take a shot at the luge run.

Determining that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that simply had to be taken while we had the chance, we made our plans. I wanted to bobsled when my friend Karen came to visit later that summer and Dan wanted to wait for snow and luge.

A few weeks later, back in this quaint little town, my friend Karen and I anxiously waited our turn. We had to sign our life away on the waiver, which at the time didn’t seem very sensible because we both had two small children at home, but nevertheless, we both signed on the dotted line.

Now the bobsled run was absolutely a hoot. It was a bit like riding down a water park slide on a flat wooden sled on wheels. If you held your body really rigid and didn’t move your head the sled would kind of go where it was supposed to go. If you tried to control where you were going things got complicated in a hurry. I quickly learned on my own that when I turned my head or slightly twisted my body the sled would start to ride up on the chute causing me to have an even wilder ride.

About half way down the run the adrenaline in my body made way for common sense and I steadied my body. The ride smoothed out and I quickly gained speed. Fighting the urge to turn my head and attempt to control my outcome, it hit me that life was a bit like this. When I tried to channel my inner control freak and control all the variables in my life, havoc was usually the end result. The more I would try to control the variables in my life, the more out of control life would get. Learning the lesson, that sometimes the best decision was to just go with the flow, I finally understood that in life there are only a few things I could control. The rest of life had to just happen. It was a good lesson, one that I have had to relearn a few times since then, but good nevertheless!

While I was zipping down the bobsled run that day with my friend, all I could imagine was the roar of the crowd, the ticking of the time clock and the determination of the individual athletes as their entire life came down to one run. As I navigated one s curve after another on this most famous bobsled course I wondered what must it have felt like to be a real Olympian on this run?

Long before I finished pretending I was in this for the Gold my run was over and I was left to ponder the idea of following my dreams to the top of an Olympic run and the challenge of letting go of my desire to control every aspect of my life. Sometimes, you just have to let go and let God drive the sled.

It was a great experience and I am thankful for the courage to give the bobsled run a try. I am still trying to learn the other lesson.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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No Mental, No Dental!

Last weekend my sister came for a visit and as we sat drinking coffee early one morning on my deck she innocently mentioned that she had recently just discovered her new health insurance lacked Mental health coverage and Dental coverage, I about spit out my coffee, as the realization hit me full force. This was a problem, no mental, no dental; this would not do, not at all.

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I immediately mentally adjusted our weekend schedule. If she had no mental, then I would have to provide a little mental adjustment for her of my own. If she lacked dental, I would have to take that into consideration also. Not good.

I immediately started planning; we had much to do and very little time to do it in!

I whipped out my iphone and with a few keystrokes had us scheduled for a little giggle fest-a pole dancing class on Friday night. Then I checked the weather and blocked out all day Saturday for a much needed mountain drive through Estes Park to do some fall leaf peeping, followed by a Sunday adrenaline rush with a little ziplining adventure at Royal Gorge.

Estes Park is a truly amazing place, especially in late September, for some reason the animals that reside in the park are much more visible in the late fall, not to mention the way the crisp mountain air bites at your cheeks and golden hews of the Aspen’s dance on the hillside in their full fall glory.


Vicki did not remember visiting the park when we were young kids so each twist and turn of the road was a happy surprise for her. The view of Trail Ride Road slowly winding its way up the mountain to the Continental Divide provided her with amazing vista’s of rugged mountain ranges, field after field of fiery red and golden yellow leaves dancing in the wind and wild mountain lakes tucked into the sides of massive mountains in the distance as far as the eye could see.

There is something about a fall drive in the Rockies that helps clear your mind, replenish your batteries and fill your lungs with enough fresh crisp air to last all winter long.

We managed to see Elk munching in the yards and ditches of the town of Estes Park, as comfortable with the tourists as the snow on the mountains. We caught a glimpse of a large male Moose grazing just behind the tree line and we saw the most amazing mountain vista’s that grew more impressive with each curve of the highway.

Along the way we sang to vintage classic rock and enjoyed the ride with her windows down in her very cool red Jeep. We sang along with Bob Segar and Bon Jovi. We talked about our dreams, our fears and our struggles. We laughed and ate sandwiches and sipped our Diet Cokes and we concentrated on the simple joy of breathing in the fresh woodsy smells of the mountains. That was all we had to do. No problems to solve, no fears to overcome, no deep revelations to discover. We just drove around a beautiful mountain park in the height of a gorgeous September fall day with the windows down and the music up in her cool red Jeep. Life was so simple. Life was good. We are blessed to have each other as sisters and friends.

By the end of the day, our mental therapy needs had been met and our energy levels were restored. The mental part was taken care of.

Now for the dental, I think I will send her the pictures of our glorious September Rocky Mountain drive with a package of floss and let her figure the rest out for herself.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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Fins the Left, Fins to the Right….

A Jimmy Buffett concert has been on my bucketlist now for many years and I have been waiting, ever so patiently, for my opportunity. It takes a lot of patience to wait as long as I have, but I finally got my chance and I am happy to report it was worth the wait. Jimmy Buffett, rock and roll legend, margarita-in-hand icon, stick it to the man himself, arrived in Denver, Colorado in October to fulfill one of my dreams.

Parrot heads are an interesting bunch, ranging in age from 7 to 70, they come in all shapes and sizes, gathering like a flock of migrating birds to city after city on the tour. They arrive for the show all dressed in their best Caribbean beachwear, straw hats, coconut shell tops, and flip flops with their beers in hand to pay homage to one of rock and roll’s most interesting characters, Mr. Jimmy Buffett.

I have never seen so many decked out vehicles, surfboards and VW vans in one place. The crowd left their careers as doctors, plumbers, lawyers and teachers behind as they gathered for the biggest beach party Colorado has ever had.

Drinks in hand, the crowd joined as one, in singing anthems such as Wasting Away in Margarittaville, Brown Eyed Girl, and we all became Pirates together like a bunch of kids. The party was a hoot, everyone managed to leave their worries checked at the door, no deadlines, bills, stock markets, or Middle East standoffs to worry about, all we did was dance and sing like a bunch of fools, multiple generations joining together, teenagers and grandparents, youngsters and parents, we all joined together and pretended we were dancing in the sand as the waves rolled in, nothing but time and friends on our side.

Finland is a magical place; the Caribbean sound floating in their while the invisible smell of the salty sea fills your senses. While I was there, I relaxed, I let go, and I put my hands on above my head and sang along to “fins to the left, fins to the right, like you’re the only bait in town!!” Jimmy Buffet has it all figured out. Don’t let life get you down; all you need is a good song, a guitar, a surfboard and the sea. The rest of it really doesn’t matter, cause “If we didn’t laugh, we’d all go insane!”

Watching the generations merge together, the stress and worry disappear from all of their faces, I realized I danced with new friends and I sang with the best. Somehow, it will all be all right.

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Far Niente, Far Away


Romantic Notions
I have always wanted to follow my romantic side and escape for a long a weekend to California, spending my days biking and wandering the rolling hills of the wine counties of Sonoma and Napa Valley, and my evenings tasting the sweet flavors of red and white wines grown in this region. I am still working on the notion of a full weekend, preferably with just my husband, but I did get to do a tour of one of the best vineyards in the state and it exceeded my expectations in every way.

This grand day adventure was a couple years ago, but every time I see the pictures I am taken back to that magical day. We were in California for the Vineman, a Half Ironman Triathlon that my husband and sister were competing in, and we only had one day to explore the vine region, but we tried to make the best of it in every way.

Thanks to my brother-in-law we had a reservation at Far Niente, one of the more upscale and traditional vineyards in California. I had mentioned to him my girlish, romantic notions of what a vineyard tour and tasting might be like and he confidently informed me that if I only had time for one tour, this was the place for it. Trusting his excellent taste and good judgment I agreed wholeheartedly.

Wine Country
When the day dawned and we found ourselves driving through the slightly brown rolling hills of Sonoma Valley I was in awe at the tidy fields of vines, tenderly cared for over the years and the unique personality of the area. Glancing over my left shoulder I exclaimed to my husband “Oh look at that one on the hillside” just as he obediently turned on the blinker after the GPS directed him to go left. “Wow, do you think that is where we are going?” I asked, as if he had been here before!

Soon my questions were answered and we turned into a tree-lined drive complete with row after row of perfectly tended, lush, green vines all heavy with grapes. As we turned the corner a large stone structure appeared covered with ivy and surrounded by fields and fields of flowers. It was if I blinked and landed in Disney World, the place of young girls dreams!

Wine Making 101
Entering the ancient looking structure I felt like I was on a Tuscan movie set, my eyes searching, I saw rows of bottled wine and pictures of barrels perfectly arranged. When our tour started we were led down a spiral staircase into a dark, cool cave, which much to my delight was lined with more barrels of wine than I could count. We learned about the fine art of growing grapes and how they actually produced higher quality wine if they were forced to overcome variations in temperatures. In fact, the wine tasted best if the vines were challenged. We learned how the barrels came from different parts of the world depending on the type of wood and desired flavor of wine.

I was almost as captured by the wonderful fields of carefully tended flowers and manicured lawns, as I was by the lessons in wine making, but I was struck by the complexities involved and the creativeness involved. Honestly, I had no idea all that went into making a distinct and tasteful glass of wine. No wonder there is so many choices at my local liquor store!

The day was especially wonderful for me because it was spent with both my parents and I still remember the joy mirrored in my mother’s face as the fields of flowers and rows of immaculate vines, too, mesmerized her. As time marches on and life continues to challenge me, I hope that I too, am better in the end, for all that I face. This day is etched in my memory; the flavors of the wine and the smells of the flowers serve to remind me of special days remembered even if they are far, far away.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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