Overcoming Fear

When I was 39 I started snowboarding. While it was all a pretty big challenge for non-coordinated, not-athletically-inclined me, one of the toughest parts for me was the chair lift. I’m not fond of heights, and would get serious heart palpitations even on the bunny slope lift.

Just ask my men.

There is fire tower near our local beach where we went to go for a picnic once when they were young, and I couldn’t handle it. So uncomfortable eating up there, I made everyone traipse down the steps to eat on the ground-level. For the next couple of decades they teased me with the new name —

Mom-freak tower

I really don’t blame them. I know the fear is a bit irrational.

So it’s with great joy that I can officially announce that I overcame the chairlift fear. In fact, the lift ride is one of my favorite parts of snowboarding.

This past summer while in Utah, Lauren and CJ gifted us with Passes for Deer Valley, and I used mine a whole bunch of times for scenic lift rides up and down the mountain, delighting in the fact that the rides were so long.

Now to tackle the tower…

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something Iโ€™m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

Thankful for Work Views

Summer Starts Turning to Autumn
I'm thankful for beautiful days and a job I can do from our sun porch.
I’m thankful for beautiful days and a job I can do from our sun porch.

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something Iโ€™m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

Thankful for Motivational Reminders

Be the reason someone smiles today sign.
Love reminders that inspire us to help others. This was a sign in the hotel lobby of our hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something Iโ€™m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

Summer Nights With Friends Part 2

There are some special friends in life. Super gifts. The ones that you don’t see for a decade or more and pick up right where you left off the next time you meet — as if it were yesterday. Friends like my college roommate, Lauren and her husband Tim.

Life is busy for us all. Lauren and Tim live about 45 minutes from us, and each time we get together we start planning our next connection. We take turns canceling and rescheduling as life comes along, usually managing to get together for real about 3-4 times a year (if we are lucky).

As noted at the bottom of this, for this month am writing things I’m thankful for, and I scheduled some of theses post a while ago. The images here are the ones I had scheduled to go out today. However, when I looked at my post, I figured I’d share a bit more of the magic.

This night in July was perfect. I finished my last half-hour of live chat support at their house while the guys and Lauren perfected a grilled steak dinner. The taste and texture of the food were perfect, and we relaxed on their deck enjoying the sounds and smells of summer as we caught up on each others’ lives.

We debated continuing our relaxation there, or heading over to a beach area for a sunset. Chris and I had not been to that particular beach so we decided to venture out. I’m so glad we did. The sunset was gorgeous (when are they ever not?) then we strolled around a cute little town and watched people having fun on some rides.

While indulging in some amazing ice cream treats, we walked along the shore and yakked a bunch more.

It was one of those occasions where you realize how blessed you are in everyday life. It truly is a gift, and the entire evening was a great memory.

**For the month of November each year, I try to focus on something Iโ€™m thankful for each day. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving where I live, after all. Focusing on the positive and remembering the little things that make life great are things I should do more often. Last year I found that writing every day during the holiday time got a bit stressful. So this year I’m writing throughout the year and scheduling the posts to go out in November.

People Watching

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Some people love the last-minute rush of getting to an airport and leaving just enough time to get through security and hit a gate right when a flight is loading. I know this because recently I was part of a conversation where this was discussed. The idea freaks me out.

Not only do I want to be at the gate at least a half-hour before boarding, but I will often encourage my rides to drop me off a few hours early. I think this is because I get to people-watch, and airports are some of the best places for this activity.

I’ll see someone in full winter gear (boots, heavy jacket and cap) walking past someone in sandals and a tank top. Clearly they have different destinations. It’s fascinating to see how people interact with each other and the circumstances they find themselves in. Strangers bond together to help entertain overtired children during long flight delays.

Once I saw a woman teach an impromptu yoga class for travelers at the gate. Another time I watched a reunion of two people who hadn’t seen each other in years as chance threw them together in the same terminal. There’s always something intriguing to observe, even if it’s just the way people choose to entertain themselves as they wait for flights.

Some people look very professional. Others seem to be wearing pajamas (yes, I mean grownups). So much of everything.

Soooo, what’s the story?

Where did they come from? Where are they going? Why are they traveling? Have our lives intercepted in the past? Will they in the future? What can I learn from them? I don’t know, but it’s all fun to think about.

Niagara in the Fall

Haha. See what I did there? Back when Chris and I lived in western NY, we would go to Niagara Falls for small getaways. But we’ve never been to Niagara Falls in the fall.

Our lives are increasingly in the northeast so our getaway isn’t as easy to access, but we were going to Rochester for WordCamp and to visit the kids anyway. Chris had the brilliant idea to trip down memory lane by driving another 90 minutes to enjoy our old stomping grounds.

Mollie was already at work when we woke up Sunday morning, and Hudi had to work at 8:30 am so we decided to head to the falls early, leaving at 8am. I knew it was a long shot, but when we got to the hotel we asked if we could do an early check-in, and they agreed ๐Ÿ™‚ Talk about lucky. We also asked for an upgraded room because I am a sucker for a nice fireplace (and the hot tub in front of the fire wasn’t painful to deal with, either). We got their only remaining upgrade. Wahoo!!!

Chris enjoying breakfast at the hotel.

This was a very good start to our getaway. We even got breakfast. I have a weirdness where I’m obsessed with oatmeal servings at hotels. I don’t know why it’s such a big treat for me, but there it is. And this place had oatmeal ๐Ÿ™‚

We were a bit tired from our recent travels so after breakfast we relaxed in the tub in front of the fire then took a luxurious nap. When we woke up, refreshed and ready for some exploring, we realized that without our great fortune, we would just be checking in.

Now let me back up a bit and explain this hotel getaway thing. Chris and I are tightwads. We actually enjoy life on a budget for the most part, so vacations are usually limited to camping. However, we found this delightful site called Travelzoo, which has amazing deals.

Just like in times past, we reserved rooms in the hotel at a great rate, and also had a package which included free chocolate, free cocktails daily, free beer samplings daily, BOGO’s to local attractions and best of all — Casino points.

Since we are not big gamblers, but we enjoy the Casino music and lights, we tend to head over to the slots and Blackjack and play for fun with our free credits. As soon as we are up a bit, we cash out. Free money for us. Over the years we also learned that Tuesday night is Date Night. You get an amazing buffet along with more free Casino credits.

Chris enjoying the buffet

Chris got the healthy food while I focused on desserts ๐Ÿ™‚ If you look closely on the left, you can see the falls out the window.

So there we were, enjoying our meal and casino points. And enjoy them we did. On Monday our CA$ 50 in credits turned into a bit over CA$75. Tuesday was even better. Chris is good at waiting until the credits he has are almost gone then cashes out so he gets bills. I don’t trust the machines and cash out pretty much when I’m up. As a result, I get a lot of loonies and toonies. A bit heavy, but fun.

Monday found us touring around in delightful weather. Usually we go around my birthday so we can see the Christmas lights. We aren’t used to seeing people, but the tourists were definitely out and about. How very fun! Instead of lights, flowers spilled off lamp posts and lined our paths. The air smelled so sweet. A different sort of beauty from the sparkling lights we were used to. The moon even posed over the Skylon Tower for our appreciative eyes.

Tuesday was a work day for us so I attended meetings and worked support before heading out in the evening. Chris worked on some art. After our lovely buffet and a bit of slot fun we went back to the room to see POKร‰MON Detective Pikachu, which I found surprisingly entertaining. Thanks for recommending that one, CJ ๐Ÿ˜‰

As we packed up Wednesday morning, and I headed out for one more round of oatmeal, we ruminated over how amazing the getaway was. We didn’t really do touristy things aside from walking around. We didn’t even use up all our wine and beer offerings. What we did do was talk. A lot. And relax. A lot. Then we talked some more. How can it still feel like dating after almost 28 years of marriage? I’m not sure, but I’m thankful.

Thanks to our Casino points, we had taken a good chunk out of our hotel bill. As we went to pack, Chris decided we had too many coins and asked if I was interested in hitting the slots with my won loonies and toonies, knowing we could lose them all. We decided to splurge and have fun with the CA $18 we had gathered.

On the very last spin of our very last credits, we won CA $200. How fun is that?!?! Together with our other winnings, the three nights in the upgraded hotel room were paid for.

It's very fun watching the winnings build. We finished the vacation with CA $200 :)

From kids to WordCamps to delightful getaways. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Wonderful Weekend with our Kids

Star Greets us
Star Greets us

Crisp autumn colors and sunny skies framed our journey last week as Chris and I headed to Rochester, NY to visit Hudi and Mollie and to attend WordCamp Rochester. The young adults have very busy lives (an opposing work schedules) so we only got a little time of the four of us together, but we embraced those moments and also loved the 1:1 time with each person.

Mollie met us after her work day and showed us around their house they share with friends. Love the place! Especially because Star greeted us, and they had two other dogs and a cat to love on as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Mollie cooks with the dogs at her feet.

After a tour of their garden, we noted the crispness of the autumn air and headed inside for homemade bread and homemade cheese and veggie soup. Delicious!! After that we played Iota and were just heading off to be when Hudi showed up. He had gotten out of work a bit early so we got to talk a bit.

Mollie had to leave for work quite early, but Hudi, Chris and got to hang out for a few hrs in the morning. While I love being able to connect with my kids on video calls, there’s nothing quite like being there in person.

The cat is helping Chris with door repairs. (In reality, she's trying to get him to open the door so she can escape. Haha)The cat is helping Chris with door repairs.
The cat is helping Chris with door repairs. (In reality, she’s trying to get him to open the door so she can escape. Haha)
Chris and Hudi and the dogs
Chris and Hudi have coffee, and the dogs snuggle.

Hudi had to leave for work mid-morning so Chris and I drove over St. John Fisher’s College to attend the Rochester WordCamp. In five years of attending WordCamps, this is the first time I ever went as a true attendee. I was not volunteering or speaking. A novelty, for sure. But the reason I didn’t volunteer was because I wanted the freedom of schedule to be able to work around Hudi’s schedule. It worked perfectly.

After work Mollie came over and joined us for a session then the after-party.

The time flew by quickly, but it was better than nothing. And I’m lucky — I get to go see them again in a few weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Again, Mollie was off to work very early in the morning, and Hudi was leaving for his job around 8:30 so Chris and I hit the road for a bit of a (most amazing) getaway at Niagara Falls Ontario. I’ll write about that one soon, too ๐Ÿ™‚

Reflections on Breathing

Breathing. One of those super-simple things that is hard to do. But, oh, the clarity it brings. I am truly relaxing for the first time in a super long time, and I am able to focus on breath and thought. It’s actually kinda hard — some of the things I have time to think about now are things I don’t really want to face. But I know it’s good in the long run.

Inhala exhala

~Jane the Virgin

I did a lot of inhaling and exhaling as I attended a keynote and additional session with Millana Snow at our recent Grand Meetup. During the sessions we did deep breaths normally then made the breaths even deeper by basically inhaling past the inhale then exhaling. I relaxed.

Getting ready for our Deep Breathing session.
Getting ready for our Deep Breathing session. Phones away shortly.

I saw colors moving in odd yet interesting forms. My senses were heightened. (It’s interesting to do a deep inhalation session with 800+ of your colleagues who all stay in the same hotel. Quite a whiff of the hotel shampoo. Good thing I liked it.) I felt parts of my body I had forgotten existed. And I created and sorted.

Conversations danced through my head, nudging the question “What if” to the forefront of my brain. And you writers out there know this: a decent “What if” is always followed by a good story. Am I right?

Stories swirled, and my mind whirled, and I stood up thinking about the world differently.

I believe in energies, but I don’t think in this particular instance the breathing and energy were the key components to advancement. Testing will occur in my future, I’m sure, but at this point, my thought is that the growth and insight that came to me in that time were results of simply allowing myself to relax, while awake, for a session focused on mental freedom.

I can do this from home. I just need to remember how effective the outcome is. This is a very good lesson, and something I should take the time to do throughout the year. Lie down for 60-90 minutes and simply breathe. Nice, deep breaths. Let time, obligations and phone notifications rest in an alternate reality for the hour-and-a-half. The world will keep rotating, astonishingly. At the other end, life is a bit more clear.

It all reminds me of how I have felt in the past in regard to Bible study and prayer time (basically the same meditation I refer to above). I know I’m solid in the God-arena so it’s easy it push off that quiet time, especially when I’m busy and tired. But when I don’t take time to step back and breathe my life starts falling apart. Work gets overwhelming, relationships become strained, etc. The busyness of my reality takes over in a very non-healthy manner.

However, if I take the time to study, consciously breathe and pray, somehow things always seem to fall in place. So why is it so easy to have that slip? I’m not sure I will ever figure that out.

Breathe in

Breathe Out

Pray in

Pray out

Oh look, almost a reflection ๐Ÿ™‚