Discovery In The Cove

I say I’m not very good at once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I justify spending money to do something by saying, “I’m only going to do it once,” but I am rarely successful in limiting myself to one time if I enjoy an experience.

I proved this point yet again by visiting Discovery Cove, Sea World’s dolphin-centric sister park in Orlando. I visited the park for the first time last year. The experience blew my mind. I had such a great time, I actually wrote two separate blog posts about my playdate with the porpoises. You can catch a rerun of those posts by visiting:

My Date With The Dolphins

School Of Dolphins

Even though my dolphin day at Discovery Cove was beyond my wildest expectations, my initial thought was that I probably wouldn’t do it again. There is a steep discount on the admission for Florida residents. Still, I did suffer a bit of sticker shock when the ticket price showed up on my credit card. The amount just seemed ridiculous for a day at a theme park. On the other hand, the admission gets you a lot for your money and there is a pretty low limited daily entrance to the park. You never feel like you are fighting the marauding hordes for your entertainment or for any of the “free” (well…. let’s say “included in the price of admission”) goodies they hand out with wild abandon (meals, snacks of every ilk, soft drinks, frozen beverages, beer, wine, dolphin safe sunscreen, towels, snorkeling gear, showers, shampoo, conditioner, and other stuff that I’m probably forgetting). Also, the admission price includes unlimited admission for fourteen days to Sea World and the other sister park, Aquatica.

You can probably tell that I am still trying to justify my decision to pay the big bucks and return to the park this year. Since I went ahead and did it, it is probably time to let it go.

Once I made my reservation, I began to wonder if my second trip to Discovery Cove would be as magical as my previous visit. Was it possible to enjoy the experience as much once the serendipity factor no longer applied? I remember that, on my first trip, it seemed like some unexpected, delightful surprise lurked around every corner. Now that I knew the drill, would these encounters fail to enchant me? Also, last time, my Discovery Cove trip came at a particularly difficult and stressful time in my life. In fact, I’d cancelled my original reservation because it was scheduled when my mother’s stroke was still a new and stultifying situation. By the time I actually went, my mother and I had already been through most of our difficult journey together. She had been living in the skilled nursing facility for about five months. We were past the point of believing she was going to improve and not yet at the point where death prepared to pounce. We were both living in a shadow world and trying to light the way for each other. I’m sure the fact that my first trip to Discovery Cove propelled me totally away from Stroke World for one, beautiful, restful day enhanced my first experience.

When I packed up for my recent excursion, I was a little apprehensive. Maybe it was better to live with my perfect memory of my “once in a lifetime” Discovery Cove adventure rather than risk overlaying it with another trip that might not be as wonderful. Then, I considered that I am trying to broaden my horizons by being braver and less anxious. I am trying to embrace the now rather than living in the past or obsessing about the future. I am trying to stop automatically saying “no” to things simply because they make me a little uneasy. So I said “yes” to myself and went to Discovery Cove.

The activities I enjoyed at Discovery Cove were very similar to my prior visit. I swam with the dolphins, snorkeled in the salt water reef, waded past marmosets and otters, fed birds in the aviary, and lounged my way down a lazy river. I spent hours and hours in the water. I ambled aimlessly around the beautiful grounds, sliding my feet through the elegant sand beaches and splashing around the edges of the coves. I ate and drank and read my kindle. I shopped in the little stores. I stayed even longer than I stayed last year. And I enjoyed every moment of it.

On one of my numerous trips down the lazy river, I floated behind a family with two small children. As I passed them, I heard the little girl exclaim, “Mommy, this is the best day ever!” I closed my eyes, listened to the birds chattering around me, snuggled my shoulders deeper under the gently warm water, and felt the sun skip across my face. I smiled and thought to myself, “it sure is.”

That spontaneous reaction started me thinking. Was it the best day ever? How could it be better than my last trip? Was it better than my last trip? Wasn’t it the same experience?

In purely objective terms, I could argue that this visit might not have been quite as good as my first visit. The dolphin assigned to my pod was a bit of a maverick and wasn’t really in the mood to play host to a bunch of strangers that day. Her dolphin ADHD required some patience and creativity. It was a bit chaotic. Also, the sloth I went to visit at the animal encounter kiosk was not able to overcome his slothful DNA and rouse himself from his crate, so there was no small furry animal petting on this visit. Also, I forgot my credit card and worried that I would be unable to purchase merchandise to take home. I also lost my brand new sparkly prescription sunglasses somewhere in the depths of the snorkeling reef.

Still, I had a wonderful time and I am not even going to pretend that I don’t want to go back next year. So, what was different this time that made my visit a new, magical event despite the minor glitches I’ve mentioned?

It is true that the activities were basically the same as last year, but the difference is that I am not the same as last year. I am much further along in my journey to improve my capacity to enjoy life as it comes and embrace new adventures without mourning what they are not. I am more confident. My heart is more open. My brain is calmer. I even embraced the glitches. I didn’t just tolerate them; I leveraged them.

I may not have been able to pet a sloth this time around, but I had a new experience. I held a macaw on my arm. That was pretty cool. Instead of worrying about the scheduling short circuiting while my dolphin played keep away, I enjoyed the extra time in the cool saltwater surrounded by a whole navy of dolphins. When I realized that I had forgotten my credit card, I stopped to strategize about how I could overcome the problem. In the past, I know I would have panicked, mournfully declaring immediate defeat. I would have been all woebegone over my inability to buy stuff. This time, I remained calm and brainstormed some ways I might still be able to charge merchandise. In doing so, I figured out how to use Apple Pay. While the loss of my sunglasses was a little more difficult to push away from my overactive nervous system, I was able to do so. I remembered that these glasses were the same prescription as my old ones, which were in the glove compartment of my car. I didn’t love that I lost the glasses, but it was not a tragedy. As if to reward my determined Zen-ness, someone found my sunglasses and returned them to Lost and Found by the end of the day.

So even though my day’s activities were pretty much the same during both my visits, each visit was a very different experience. Both were the “best day ever” while I was living them. Maybe this most recent visit felt even more like the “best day ever” because I have changed enough to immerse myself more deeply in the present moment.

Nothing is ever exactly the same. The earth keeps turning and the soul keeps growing. I think every experience is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What do you think?  Have you ever done something that seemed very different than a time when you did it before because you were different?  Please tell us about it!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a one-of-a-kind day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!  If you would like a second helping of Terri, I am guest posting on another retirement lifestyle blog this week. If you’d like to read my post, The Dream Is In The Doing,  please visit:

http://retirementandgoodliving.com/the-dream-is-in-the-doing/

 

America The Beautiful (A Prayer)

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,
(Help us to keep them clean and blue.)
For amber waves of grain,
(And remind us, when we reap the harvest, to nourish others, too.)
For purple mountain majesties
(Sometimes we struggle to the crest)
Above the fruited plain!
(But, with Your grace, we’ll reach Your banquet when at last we come to rest.)
America! America!
(Help us love our people, one and all)
God shed His grace on Thee,
(And heal us, Gracious Father, at the times when we will fall.)
And crown thy good with brotherhood
(Open our hearts to Love and Right)
From sea to shining sea
(So, as our nation changes, it changes towards the Light.)

What will you be doing to honor out country on Independence Day?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a great 4th of July!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

PS  How do you like the red, white, and blue action?

 

Shopping Around

I am a recreational shopper.  I enjoy going to malls and trying on clothes.  I love going to home décor stores.  I get super psyched by specialty shops, farmers’ markets, and craft fairs, especially at Christmas time.  I practice shopping the way some people practice their golf swing.  To me, shopping is entertainment, a leisure pursuit.

When Max moved in with me after we dated for several years, I made him promise that we would keep “dating” and go someplace fun at least once a week.  Shopping counted.  It worked out pretty well because Max is a very tolerant shopper.  He actually enjoys trailing around behind me in a mall or craft fair. He is a good fan and cheers me on when I make purchases.   If he does tire of waiting for me to try on potential new outfits, he sits on a chair by the fitting room and surfs the internet on his phone.  All in all, he is a very satisfactory shopping companion.

The only thing is, he really doesn’t get my concept of “museum shopping.” He doesn’t always understand that I can like things I see while shopping, but don’t necessarily have any desire to own them.  For me, shopping isn’t really about the acquisition of things. I certainly do my share of buying and continue to do my part to keep the economy strong, but the real pleasure in shopping is just seeing new things in different surroundings.  I get exercise while I watch people, admire the merchandise, and appreciate the store’s environment and decoration. It is almost like observing a microcosm of pop culture.  Max always seems vaguely deflated if we end a shopping expedition without purchasing anything, as if he has somehow failed in his mission. For me, the absence of multiple shopping bags digging into my arms does not mar my appreciation of the excursion.

One of the reasons I think Max doesn’t appreciate the whole “museum shopping” thing is that he takes gift-giving very seriously.  Once he has allocated money into his budget for my Christmas and birthday presents, he is like a meerkat protecting the mob (yes, that is what a group of meerkats is called; I looked it up on Wikipedia).  Every time I admire something, he pops his head up and suggests that he buy it for me for the next gift-giving occasion on the docket. That money burns a hole in the present budget until he can purchase something. Then, once he has purchased something, he budgets money for the next gift-giving occasion and the process starts all over again.   Because of this propensity of his, I think I will be opening my Christmas present for 2020 this year.  It mystifies him that I can be so excited over whatever I am admiring, but still not want him to buy it for me.  I just always want to keep shopping.  You never know when there might be something better or somewhere better to buy a gift.

Speaking of a better place to buy a gift, I don’t really consider a trip a vacation unless the activity schedule includes shopping.  I usually don’t buy a lot of souvenir things, but I do like to buy “regular” stuff while on vacation.  If a buy an article of clothing or piece of jewelry or Christmas ornament or home décor item while I am on vacation, there is the added benefit that I will always remember that experience when I use the item back at home.

Then there is online shopping. My mother was Amazon.com’s best friend.  It was a rare day when she did not receive multiple boxes from the Big Box Store In The Sky. Max likes the purchasing without benefit of human contact that online shopping provides.  I’m not a huge fan.  Because of my poor visual reasoning skills, I have a hard time converting the pictures and descriptions on a website to what an item will actually be like in real life.  In regular stores, I can look and listen and smell and touch to my heart’s content.  Yes, my mother did teach me not to touch, but it didn’t take.  I’m careful, but I always touch.

I do appreciate the efficiency and cost effectiveness of online shopping when I know exactly the item I want.  I regularly order hard-to-find protein bars and the Costco brand of over-the-counter sleeping pills from Amazon.  Cyberspace buzzes between Amazon and my kindle on a regular basis.  However, I find that online purchasing misses exactly what I like best about shopping… the exploration (that visual reasoning thing makes searching for items online unsatisfactory for me), the exercise (I don’t really call rhythmic keystroking exercise, do you?), the sensory experience (you can’t touch the merchandise in online stores) …. and, for the most part, the excitement.

I’ve just written over 800 words about shopping.  They say everyone needs a hobby when he or she retires.  I think I’ve decided shopping qualifies.

Do you think shopping qualifies as a hobby?  What hobbies are you pursuing in retirement?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Buy yourself something nice today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

And another fun fact to know and tell…..

If you would like to receive an email when I post new blog content, you can hit the Subscribe button.  If you are viewing the blog on a computer, you will find the Subscribe feature at the side of the page under the list of prior months.  If you are viewing the blog on your phone, I believe you will have to scroll all the way down to find the Subscribe feature.

Graceful

I am an extraordinarily klutzy individual. It started when I was a tiny child.  I expect that I fell on my head a lot as a toddler.  I have a report card from the end of my year in kindergarten that says, “Dorothea should work on her fine muscle coordination over the summer.”  I think that is teacher-speak for “Teach this hot mess of a child how to walk without injuring herself or any other unfortunate child who happens to be in her wake.”

I also took dance lessons when I was in kindergarten.  After kindergarten, we moved from New York to California.  Although I begged to continue dance lessons in California, my parents refused.  I was very disappointed, but I think my parents just saw the writing on the wall.

When I was about seven, I broke my right arm, in another predictable demonstration of my clumsiness.  I was trying to swing from one jungle gym bar to another.  I apparently did not understand that there should never be a time when both one’s hands are off both bars.  As far as anyone knew up to that time, I was right-handed.  The broken right arm required a cast and I could not use my supposedly preferred hand for some six weeks. I managed pretty well.  As uncoordinated as I was when I had the use of both arms, the bar was set pretty low.  I don’t think it surprised anyone that I struggled doing tasks with my left hand as much as I did with my right.

It was when the cast came off that we were all in for a surprise.  I was actually less adept at tasks using my right hand than I had been when I was forced to use my left.  My mother was very alarmed.  Let’s face it; there wasn’t much wiggle room in my manual dexterity to begin with.  Several visits to various medical specialists later, the consensus of opinion was that I had probably been born left-handed.  I had just adapted to a right-handed world because no one knew any better.  I guess this is a more common phenomenon than most people realize.  Many people become ambidextrous as a result.  In my case, I became ambiklutzious.  I could find a way to fall, drop things, twist myself into awkward angles, tangle my legs together, and sprain my own wrists equally well using either hemisphere of my brain.

I never grew out of my dexterity challenges.  In junior high school, I actually had a pair of tennis shoes embroidered with the words “right” and “left” on them so I could keep my feet straight. The only class I ever came close to failing in my life was Home Ec. Sewing was completely beyond my confused and uncoordinated central nervous system.  The art of positioning fabric, laying out a pattern, cutting material, and assembling pieces of cloth was way beyond my ability to cope. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say my problem bordered on a learning disability.  When the teacher told us to make a gathered skirt, I was as horrified as if she asked me to construct a nuclear bomb.

When I was training to be a midlevel manager, I had to attend a class that involved spending a day at a ropes course.  I am not particularly afraid of heights. However, as a person who regularly trips over lint, I was a little apprehensive about making a fool of myself due to my tendency to pratfall.  I managed to get through the first couple of exercises without hurting anyone.  Just as I was beginning to think I might make it through the day without incident, my group headed over to the zipline.  I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of trying a zipline. I was kind of excited to give it a whirl.  Since the point of the whole thing is to fall off a little tower and plummet towards the ground, I thought I might be pretty good at it.  I wasn’t afraid.

I should have been.  I ended up being the class injury.  I screamed as I stepped off the platform.  The instructors thought I was screaming from excitement or fear or just because people tend to scream automatically when shooting through the sky.  Actually, I was screaming because I was in pain.  Somehow, I had managed to come close to dislocating my shoulder.  The good news is that the ropes course was right across the street from a hospital.  Somebody knew I was coming.  I ended up on painkillers, with a huge, nasty, multi-colored bruise that covered most of my back for the next several weeks.

I met Max at a dance.  All I can say is that it is a good thing he was drinking at the time.  We might not have made a life together otherwise. If he had been completely sober, I am sure he would have taken one look at my graceless dance moves and decided that dating me would be hazardous to his health.

I may be the only woman in Florida who does not wear flip-flops.  I gave them up years ago.  Max calls them my “fall down” shoes because…. you guessed…. I fall down when I wear them.  I love the look of flip-flops, but I have tripped over the front of them and fallen off the back of them more times than I care to admit.  I am not talking about stumbling, either.  I am talking about full-on, hazardous, land-in-a-prone-position kind of falling down.

Recently, I hit a new nadir in my clumsiness.  I was blow-drying my hair and walloped myself in the head with the hairdryer.  I actually saw stars and raised a lump the size of a sugar cube on the back of my head.  I thought my hair and I had come to an understanding, but I guess it was just lying in wait before forming an alliance with the hairdryer to try to take me out.  It almost worked.  I did not straighten my hair that day.

As I sat at the kitchen table holding a bag of frozen peas to my scalp, I felt a bit woebegone and sorry for myself.  Why do I have to be so klutzy and graceless?  Don’t I have enough unattractive qualities without being an accident constantly waiting to happen?

Then, I looked out the window at the view in my backyard.  The sun dappled through the large oak trees.  Two squirrels were chasing each other along a branch.  I could hear sandhill cranes yodeling.  I saw the blooms on the bushes out in the wetlands behind the house. I noticed there was a sound roof over my head and a refrigerator filled with food.  As I looked around the living room, I saw the beautiful picture of my book cover signed by my wonderful, supportive friends.  Max wandered in and kissed the sugar cube on my head to make it well.  When I looked up at him, I noticed a Bible verse I have on the wall from Psalm 84:1- How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord almighty!

Never mind about the clumsiness.  It doesn’t matter.  I have a more excellent kind of grace!

Are you graceful? How can you tell?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

I hope you find some grace today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

Growing Grown-Ups

This past Mother’s Day was my first without my mother in my life.  I think I’ve been pretty healthy in mourning my mother, but Mother’s Day was more wrenching than I expected.  I felt a bit lonely and lost.

When I’m feeling down, it frequently helps to focus my attention outwards.  Rather than spending the day grieving the loss of the best mom in the world, I decided to celebrate some of my friends who are mothers.  I decided to consider what attributes have made them successful growers of great human beings.

I want to tell you about my three friends- Sunny, River, and Star.  These are not their real names, but they are definitely real mothers and I definitely really admire them.

Sunny is still on the front lines of mothering. She is our church rector’s wife. This means that she not only has to cope with the normal challenges of parenthood, but she also has the added pressure of doing her mothering in a pretty public way.  She is the mother of five boys and one little girl. She also serves as a stand-in mother for her teenage niece who lives with her brood. Her oldest son is 20.  Her little girl, our parish’s princess, is 3.  I don’t know Sunny well, but I have been observing her with her children on a regular basis for a couple of years now.  It may be presumptuous of me to comment on her mothering skills, but I am so impressed that I just can’t help myself.   Luke 6:44 says, “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” Presuming that is the case, I know that Sunny is a first-class grower of grown-ups.

Sunny’s eldest son started his own business while still in school.  In addition to growing the business, he writes a blog and is graduating early with his degree.  He is also planning to marry in the next few weeks.  While most people would think that 20 is very young to get married, this young man seems to be doing everything right to put himself and his bride-to-be in the best place possible to succeed as life partners.  The other children are also very accomplished.  Two play musical instruments beautifully.  Two others sing in the children’s choir.  They look after each other, keeping a special close eye on their little sister who is a tornado of energy and potential. They are all respectful, well-behaved, and helpful to others. The thing that really strikes me, though, is that they are not just “good kids.”  They seem poised and relaxed and confident.  They are secure in the knowledge that they are loved… by God and by their parents.  Sunny exudes that love.  She is warm and cuddly and wise in dealing with her children.  She is bemused but delighted by the notion that she may well become a grandmother while still raising a preschooler.  It couldn’t happen to a more qualified woman.

My friend River has two daughters.  River is the most free-spirited and independent of my friends.  She is strong, creative, ambitious, and charismatic.  She has excellent vision and perspective. Life is her personal adventure.  River’s younger daughter is sixteen and has big dreams.  This child knows what she wants.  It never occurs to her to think that anything is beyond her reach.  River’s older daughter struck out confidently away from her parents’ home when she went to college.  That daughter recently completed her Master’s degree in Accounting.  She now lives half a world away from her mother.  Still, River remains connected to her child by an infinite kite string that soars as high as her daughter flies. River cultivates strength and independence in her children by offering a form of support that is an encouragement and not a crutch. Her girls know there is a safety net beneath them to catch them if they fall, but they are confident enough to believe they will never need it.

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with River and her older daughter.  River’s daughter drove four hours each way to come spend the weekend with her mother and me.  “Spending the weekend” entailed driving us all over central Texas like honored diplomats.  Not only is this young woman strong and smart, she is generous with her time and ability.  Another thing I noticed about her is that she understands that what you do is sometimes much bigger than what you do. For instance, she works full time in the accounting field, but is branching out to coach cheerleading on the side.  She loves cheerleading and enjoys being connected to the sport.  Her excitement about this new endeavor exploded out of her when she told us about her plans.  As she talked, I realized that the joy was about more than just the sport.  River’s daughter knows that she is doing more than just coaching cheerleading.  She is using her creativity to infuse children with a passion for teamwork, fitness, leadership, and positivity.

I’ve been watching my friend Star mother her two children for over 35 years, since her oldest child was a year old.  Star is kind, smart, and beautiful.  She lives her life with complete integrity.  She is unfailingly true to her core values and to the enormous amount of love she holds in her heart for the people who are close to her.  In fact, I often call Star the perfect person.  I have seen her tired and overwhelmed and low on patience, but I have never seen her without love.

Star’s children are successful and positive.  They are optimistic about life and excited about what they can make of their futures.  They understand that life is not always happy and they can weather disappointments because they believe that good things await.  They believe this because they learned from their mother that, no matter what mistakes or misfortunes they tripped over, their mother would understand.  She wouldn’t necessarily approve and she would try to teach them how to make better choices in the future, but she would always love them.

Star’s children are polite, personable, and insightful.  They have good judgment and good hearts.  They have a curiosity and care for other people that goes beyond just good manners.  Star’s oldest child has two small children of her own now.  Star delights in her grandmotherhood, recrafting her nurturing skills to support her daughter’s own wonderful way of being a great grower of grown-ups.

My friends Sunny, River, and Star are very different.  They live in different states.  They do not know each other.   I am sure they each make different parenting choices.  Yet, they are all great mothers.  I think it may be precisely because they are different that they have been so successful as mothers.  Each one of these women has brought the best of who she is to the life’s work of growing grown-ups.  They have instinctively recognized the uniquely beautiful qualities God gave them and sowed the seeds of those qualities in the children they raise.  They trusted that vigilance, hard work, and a super-abundance of love, with God’s help, could nurture and germinate those seeds into high quality human beings. Because they “play to their strengths” in being the kind of mothers they were meant to be, they are able to be the best mothers they can be.  They produce the very best harvest imaginable.

Thank you Sunny, River, Star, and all you other uniquely wonderful moms.  You do us all a service by cultivating wonderful people.

What qualities do you think it takes to be a great mother?  Please

share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a nurturing day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

DON’T FORGET TO GET YOUR COPY OF CHANGING MY MIND: REINVENTING MYSELF IN RETIREMENT  BY DORRY CURRAN.  TO ORDER, PLEASE GO TO:

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Flutterbies

I went on an outing with the community garden club awhile back.  Among other things, we went to a natural history museum to visit a butterfly rainforest.  It was sensational.  The rainforest consisted of a room about the size of a fairly large movie theater.  It was filled with beautiful, lush, colorful plants.  There were butterfly feeding stations sprinkled throughout the room.  Innumerable wisps of gorgeous butterfly bits flitted randomly around the space- color and grace gone wild.  The museum’s butterfly whisperer gave a short educational presentation and released a newborn batch of flutterby beauty while we watched. 

One of the first things I noticed about the butterfly rainforest was that the air was weighty with delight.  Despite the fact that there were a sizable number of visitors in the area, the butterfly rainforest felt peaceful and mesmerizing.  Everywhere you looked, there was something gorgeous and enchanting to see.  I think butterflies must have some special endorphin that they secrete into the atmosphere because all the visitors stood around with huge, unrestrained grins on their faces.  Those butterflies generated joy.  Every now and then, a butterfly would light on a visitor. It happened to me once. It was kind of awe-inspiring…. as if the butterfly was God touching me with a tiny glimpse of the miraculous.   

As we looked around the rainforest, my friends and I talked about the different butterflies and which ones we liked the best.  Initially, all of us settled on a species of large, electric blue butterfly that almost glittered in its flight.  The color was so eye-catching and fantastical.  As we spent more time in the butterfly sanctuary, though, we started noticing other beautiful specimens.  I changed my mind about which I thought was most beautiful.  There was one species that was smaller in size and pure white in color.  When I looked closely at the wings, I saw that they showcased an intricate, delicate white-on-white pattern. The pattern on the wings looked like the most exquisite handmade artisan lace.   But you had to look closely to see it. 

Exploring further, we noticed a large species of butterfly with brown wings resting on a plant.  Again, looking closely at the wings, we saw a pattern of swirls and dots and curlicues in shades of brown.  The wings looked like soft, suedey hand-tooled leather.  Again, beautiful craftsmanship, but not necessarily flashy and eye-catching.  Then, the brown butterfly spread its wings and took off in flight.  We discovered that this “brown” butterfly was actually one of the striking electric blue butterflies.  When at rest, with wings folded up, the butterfly appeared to be brown.  When the butterfly opened up and showed the other side of its wings, it revealed a spectacular, sparkling surprise. 

So here’s what I learned from my day with the flutterbies: 

1.    The beauty of butterflies can touch you and give you a sense of God’s miraculousness.

2.    Sometimes, butterfly beauty is more than flashiness and you have to look closely to find it.

3.    No matter what you see on the outside of a butterfly, there may be another whole layer of beauty on the inside. 

I guess butterflies are a lot like people. 

Have you ever been to a butterfly rainforest?  Did you see any similarities between butterflies and people?  Please tell us what you learned!  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a fluttery day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

Vacationing To Versus Vacationing From

Some time back, I posted a blog piece discussing the concept of vacationing after retirement.  You can review it at http://www.terrilabonte.com/tag/vacations/.  I asked whether you can still call it a vacation when you no longer have a job from which to vacate.  After considering the routine of my post-employment life and the activities I enjoyed on a couple of trips Max and I took after retirement, I concluded that the word “vacation” is still appropriate.

Recently, we visited Williamsburg, Virginia. There is something about the whole vibe of Williamsburg that relaxes me, reduces my physical and mental pace, and delights me.  Max and I have been there together three times now. Each time, we have highlighted different sights and experiences.  We repeat some activities, but, for the most part, each visit has been different. This time, we experienced a rather impressive number of new adventures.

If I had to put a label on the theme of this trip that made it different from prior visits, I’d probably say that this trip focused on “immersive” experiences.

We went to a reenactment of an actual colonial trial.  We’ve done that in the past. This time, though, I volunteered to play the part of the plaintiff. As wild and madcap and uncharacteristic as it was for me to willingly put myself at the center of attention, I actually enjoyed myself.  And I did a really good job.  Just ask my new agent.

In the colonial city, we also participated in three “nation-builder” talks.  Three fantastically smart and incredibly brave historic interpreters channeled George Washington, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson.  These gentlemen spent some time “introducing themselves” to explain who they were and into which specific time period we present day tourists had stumbled. Then, unbelievably, they took questions- any random questions from anyone in the audience (I know because I raised my hand and asked one).  It was mindboggling how much these guys knew.  What was even more incredible was how deftly they molded the massive quantities of data that must be filed away in their brains into coherent, conversational, and seamless answers to questions they didn’t know the audience would ask.  I was in awe.

Not only were these presentations impressive exhibitions of historical prowess, they were damned entertaining.  It was more than a mite chizzly in Williamsburg when we were there. The temperatures were in the upper 40s during the nation-building presentations and there was a less-than-gentle “brrrrr…eeze.” We sat in the cold and wind for 45 minutes for each of the talks. We were so mesmerized, we barely felt the blood freeze in our veins.

We ate dinner in one of the colonial taverns for the first time on this trip. We went to Christina Campbell’s, which is a restoration of George Washington’s favorite restaurant in Williamsburg.  I say that I have the eating habits of your typical four-year-old.  If a four-year-old won’t eat it, I probably won’t either.  At Christina Campbell’s, I even pushed the boundaries of my non-adventurous eating.  I tried the spoonbread.  I didn’t like it, but I got into the spirit of the thing and tried it.

Our “immersive experiences” did not stop at the colonial city.  We also visited Busch Gardens.  Our main objective for this excursion was to go on two special animal tours. During those tours, we interacted with Clydesdales, border collies, sheep, and wolves. What made the tours even more special was the fact that Max and I were apparently the only two people in the park more interested in animals than roller coasters.  On both tours, we were the only two participants.  We had private Clydesdale, collie, sheep, and wolf training lessons.  I got to pet a Clydesdale, shake hands with a border collie, feed a sheep, and play tetherball with a wolf.  It was all pretty terrific, but I have to admit that asking a wolf to jump for her ball and throwing her hot dogs when she did so was over-the-top cool.

This trip really was very different from our other trips.  When I think about it, I realize it wasn’t different only because of the activities we enjoyed.  The concept of “immersion” went deeper than that. I felt more engaged and connected with the entire experience.

I think my “immersion” experience had to do with the whole work versus retirement thing.  When I was working, I looked forward to vacations with almost the same intensity of a dialysis patient waiting for a kidney. The fun of a vacation generated at least as much from what I was escaping as it did from the trip itself. I had to spend a sizeable portion of the vacation bailing work-related stress out of my saturated brain before I could notice the delights of what was actually going on around me during the vacation.  Then, there was the period at the end of the vacation when I was reigniting to go back to work.  Those periods at the beginning and end of the vacation were not unpleasant.  They were helpful and regenerating.  It was a personal and professional advantage to take that time to reset my brain.  The thing is, though, that it didn’t really matter where I was or what I was doing when engaged in those “decompress and regenerate” cycles.  My focus was on the process of resetting my brain, not on the process of experiencing new places, people, and activities.  Those new places, people, and activities were really just a backdrop to my own attempts to renew my brain.

Even after I retired, I think I still had the “vacationing from” mentality rather than the “vacationing to” mentality.  Taking care of my mother, even before she suffered the stroke, replaced my “regular” job.  I didn’t work as many hours at this “new job,” but I invested all my love and energy to create as beautiful an experience as I could for her.  In creating that beautiful experience for my mother, I also created one for myself, but doing so required energy and focus.  When I went on vacation during the time I was caring for my mother, I had as much need to concentrate on renewing myself as I did when I had a paying job.

I think this trip to Williamsburg might have been my first vacation that was really about the vacation itself.  It is kind of ironic that, after grappling with whether a pleasure trip is still a vacation after you retire, I should come to the conclusion that post-work vacations may be more pure vacation than those trips during career life.

Now that I no longer have to focus on renewing my worn-out brain during vacations, I find myself much more able to throw myself into the experience of the vacation itself. A vacation is now an event instead of a respite from events.   I can immerse myself in the novelty of the experience.  I can participate more fully in the “only on vacation” moments- the activities, the sightseeing, the food, the environment, etc.  Everything about the vacation seems somehow more “in focus” than when I took a vacation while I was working.  It feels like I was experiencing vacations in 2D when I was still working and now I can perceive the vacation third dimension because the part of my brain that shut down to destress while I vacationed from work is now available to process a richer, more complete experience.

I don’t know whether I would say that vacationing after retirement is “better” or “more fun” than vacationing while one is still working, but it certainly feels different to me.

What do you think?  Are vacations different after you retire?  What has your experience been?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  Please also email me if you would like to join the launch party for my book,  Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In RetirementThere are still lines available for the conference call.  

Also, if you would like to get an early copy of the book, you can go to https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/2076  to order.  If you use the promo code terri, you will receive a 15% discount.  Those of you who are attending the launch party, either virtually or in real life, may want to wait as I will be offering a larger discount for party participants.

Finally, Happy Mothers’ Day! I’ve been working on a Mothers’ Day post, but it just wasn’t coming together as quickly as I had hoped.  I decided I would rather do it just-ice rather than just-in time, so terrilabonte.com will be celebrating Mothers’ Day at some future date.  For those of you living in the real world, though…. have a warm, wonderful celebration of motherhood whether your mom is in this world with you or not.

Phew!!!!! Hope I haven’t exhausted any of you.  Please try to get some rest today, after reading this marathon!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

Hide And Seek

This week, I’ve run away from home. I’ve left behind my day-to-day routine and am bending my reality. I didn’t want you all to think I’d forgotten you, so I figured I’d stop in at the blogsite and say “tag…you’re it!”

Yes, I thought we’d play a game this week. Let’s see if you can figure out where I am. I’ll give you a couple of clues. I spy with my little eye….

A palace
A pillory
A part-Percheron

Where do you think I am wandering? Please take a guess! Everyone who gets it right will win a virtual “prize.” I use the quotation marks purposely. Don’t expect anything of any real value. Let’s not get carried away. This is for just for the fun part of “for fun and profit!”

Where oh where has Terri LaBonte gone? Please share your guess by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have an playful day!  I’ll be back next week with news about how you can get in on the Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement  book launch celebration!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

I’m baaaaaack!  I saw:

Governor's palaceme in a pillorytwo percheron mix horses

 

Okay, I’ve been working on this for more time than I wanted to invest and have still not been able to get the pictures to stand up straight.  Heavy sigh.  Anyway, I saw the Governor’s Palace, a pillory, and a pair of Percheron mix horses in Colonial Williamsburg!!!!

 

 

 

Writer’s High

I previously told you that I’ve written a book. I call it Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. The book is based on this blog, but there is some new information and I’ve structured the content in a new, more effective way. The bottom line is that the book chronicles my observations about navigating the transition from work life to retirement. I poke fun at the comical moments. I vivisect the sad moments. I offer practical tips for thriving during reinvention. I think it will be available for purchase by May 19, 2018. I’ll keep you posted and give you more information when we get closer to launch date.

The reason I am not certain about timetables and purchase sources at this point is that this is all very new to me. I am learning the process as I go through it. The folks at the author services company have been helpful, but there are numerous steps to climb to reach the point where the book will be completed and available for purchase. Each step has its own estimated timeframes, so the total time is going to be highly variable depending on how well each step goes. I am just starting the marketing and distribution piece of this project. The people at the author services company tell me that everything should be done before May 19. Still, I’m not sure I completely believe that. Either I can’t quite conceive that this is really happening after dreaming about it my whole life or I just have trust issues.

I’m not really writing this to educate you on the publishing process. Nor am I writing it to get you revved up to buy a book when they become available (although it would be great if you did get revved up to buy a book when they become available.) I am writing this to report on a momentous milestone.

Throughout the production portion of the book project, I have been making numerous design and stylistic decisions. I’ve also had several rounds of proofreading and editing. I’ve read the typeset version of the book many times and approved the final copy to send to the printer. I’ve worked with the cover designers to select front cover art and produce a compelling back cover. I was incredibly psyched when I signed off on each step. It felt so real and important, somehow. Then the realest and most important thing ever happened. I received the first actual copy of my book to approve for distribution.

When I opened the box and saw my book, I think I discovered a new form of exercise. I wasn’t aware of moving any part of my body, but my physiology sure seemed convinced that I was. I think my pulse rate increased. I immediately felt endorphins explode inside me. I’m sure I was actually burning calories just looking at the book. There is no way that my body was behaving remotely like my usual “at rest” condition. I’m sure I was exceeding the maximum daily allowance of giddiness. My body could barely contain itself. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t concentrate on anything beyond the fact that I was actually holding MY book in my hands!!!. Two weeks  later, I am still having a hard time trying to keep my overheated psyche stuffed inside my skin. My excitement and energy just push out from inside me so firmly, my face cracks open into a ragged tear of a grin, even when I don’t know I’m even thinking about it.

Changing My Mind is beautiful. I love it. I hope other people will love it, too. On the other hand, even if no one else loves it, I have to say that I feel something kind of miraculous just knowing that I’ve created this lovely little bit of me. I always say I am an expert at nothing except examining my own navel. The thing is, everyone has a navel and I guess one navel looks very much like another. Hopefully, my navel-gazing musings ring true for other people as well.

So, what do you think?  Do I need to just chill out or is this as exciting as I think it is?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a creative day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

The Half-Circle Of Life

My blog post about how my life has been very different than what I imagined in my misspent youth inspired a lot of conversation.  I’m glad that so many of you could relate to my observations and commented on them.  It made me feel like a less of an oddball. Not that there is anything wrong with being an oddball, but sometimes it is nice to know I am not the only ball rolling around at a different angle than everybody else.

I think most of the conversation generated from my musings about my childless state.  Many of you seem to contemplate what your life would have been with children, without children, with more children, or with less children.  I guess that is just one of those things about which we all wonder.  In general, it doesn’t bother me too much.  I think of my lack of children to be part of my overall existence.  I don’t know what my existence would have been like if I had children, but I do know it would have been different…. And I’m pretty happy with the life I have.

One aspect of not having children that I think still does bother me has to do with my mother’s death.  I wonder if people who are not parents generally grieve differently when they lose a parent. I did some googling to see if I could find any studies or research to suggest that this is an actual “thing,” but came up empty.  Still, just because no one ever studied something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Truthfully, just because I may be the only one to feel it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I’ve talked to some other women about it.  I asked women with children and women without children.  No one seemed to have experienced what I described.  Many offered the perspective that perhaps women with children have a more difficult time with mourning in some ways than women without children.  Women with children often have to put the needs of their children over their own need to grieve in their own way.  Women with children are often much busier than women without children.  Women with children may not be able to spend as much energy on their relationships with their own mothers at the end of life, which may lead to more regrets after the fact.  I think all those points are valid and true.  I’m not saying women with children grieve in less pain.  I’m just saying that the grief may be different.

Being without a next generation myself, I sometimes feel I lost not only my mother, but the entire mother-child dynamic.  I’m sure the women who have children often feel a huge change in the shape and balance of the mother-child dynamic when they lose their own mothers, but that dynamic still exists.  I remember, very clearly, the day my mother’s mother died.  I was six years old.  When I came home from school, my mother told me that Nana had died. She sat in the rocking chair my father bought her when I was born. She pulled me into her lap.  In the same way as she must have done when I was a baby, she folded me into herself and rocked me as I cried.  I remember that rhythmic rocking and the soothing sensation.  I also remembered that, on the day my grandmother died, my mother and I were crying together for the first time in my young memory.  Even at that young age, I could feel the transfer of emotion in that rocking.  I could feel her being comforted by comforting me.

When my mother died, I had no daughter to take on my lap and rock.  There was no little person to drain off some of my sadness and to remind me that life goes on and motherly love goes on.  Even seven months later, it is difficult to face the reality that my mother-child relationship in this world is gone.  It is also difficult to face the fact that, when it is my turn to leave this world, there will be no daughter loving me through that transition.

They say that a parent’s death is part of the natural order of things.  Of course, that is true.  The implication is that one generation passes and another rises. They call it the circle of life.  My circle is incomplete though.  Instead of a circle, my life is simply a curved line.

I try not too be too sad about that curved line.  Even though I don’t have any little circle-makers of my own, I still know that life really does go on and motherly love is forever. And I am lucky to have had it abundantly.

What do you think?  Do people without children grieve differently when they lose a parent than people with children?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a loving day!

Terri/Dorry  🙂