Sunday, April 15, 2018

Happiness is... the Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival in Boulder

 Spring in Boulder is a wonderful time of year. For one thing, winter is OVER! I'm so happy to have survived those cold, dark days and to have many months ahead of warm weather to look forward to.

And even though we do get a few Spring snow storms here in the Boulder area, we have plenty of sunny days, more daylight hours, and we see the Spring flowers making their colorful appearance.

One of my favorite Boulder spots is Pearl Street and I especially love it when the tulips are in bloom. There's an annual Tulip and Elf festival where kids come dressed up as fairies and elves (well, that's the idea... There are LOTS of little girls with wings and beautiful fairy princess dresses, but not as many elves.  The boys are more often pirates or, in the case of my grandson, a pineapple.)

Since I have a collection of funky hats, glasses, and costumes, I let my grand-kids rummage through my stash before we headed out for the festivities. Once we arrived, we were able to get the requisite wings for my granddaughter, and my grandson got a pirate flag and bow and arrow to go with his 'costume.' Even though these things had nothing to do with either elves or pineapples those were the 'boy props' that were available and he seemed very happy with them.

I wore a bunch of purple (my standard 'Super Carpe Diem Woman color)... Next year, I'll really have to find some wings to complete my look.

In summary, the things about this day that really made me happy were:

  • Spending the afternoon with my grandchildren
  • Dressing up in fun costumes
  • Seeing all the beautiful fairies and 'elves'
  • Sunny weather
  • Flowers on Pearl Street!
  • Pretty butterfly face paints
  • Watching the fairies and elves dance to live music
  • Enjoying a beautiful Boulder tradition!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Happiness is.. Days for Girls

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Shelley Gordon, asked if I might be able to volunteer at some workshops she was hosting.  Here's what her message said:

Hi Yvette! Hope you are doing well. I wanted to invite you to come to our Days for Girls kit making team days. Days for Girls is a nonprofit who makes feminine hygiene kits for girls around the world who would otherwise miss school due to lack of supplies. The kits last 3 years which gives a girl back 6 months of school. I have started the Superior CO team and we are making 100 kits to go to Ghana this summer. Sewers and non-sewers are welcome as we have jobs for both. Jim and I took 91 kits to Tanzania when we went and I did the education program at a school there. It was an amazing experience.

In my usual sure-I'll-volunteer-some-day-when-I-have-more-time attitude, I was very non-committal, but asked if I could drop in for a little while.  I fall into the 'non-sewer' category..  That's one who does not sew..  Not to be confused with someone who doesn't live in the sewers like Ninja turtles.

When I walked into Shelley's home I saw stacks of brightly colored fabric cut neatly and ready for assembly. Shelley gave me a little of the history of Days for Girls..  she told me how in some cultures girls are separated from others and quietly sit on cardboard or rocks, basically excluded from society, while having their periods.

Geez. There were some pretty awful stories about what girls have to go through. It's funny how we don't know how lucky we have it here in the US.  I never once thought to be grateful for feminine hygiene supplies!

Thanks to a lot of volunteers like Shelley, kits are being created that provide girls with washable, brightly colored liners and shields, underwear, and soap, so that girls are able to continue to go to school and interact normally with others when they have their periods.

One quote from the Days for Girls Website that I love because it's very "Agile" is:

Developing the DfG Kit has been a labor of love. We've gone through 27 iterations, incorporating feedback from thousands of women and girls around the globe in the design process.

(I'm an "Agile coach" and one of things we teach is to "iterate," get feedback and keep improving!)

Even though I didn't do any sewing, I did help with some pinning of fabrics and told Shelley I would help spread the word.  I was very impressed and in admiration for all the work that's being done to help these girls.

If you want to help, leave a comment and I'll put you in touch with Shelley.  Or check out the Days for Girls site and find out how you can get involved.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Happiness is.. a Bahamas Vacation with your BFF

Those of you following along (keep up, people), may remember that my Bahamas vacation got off to a rocky start when 1) the bus driver to the airport asked if I qualified for the 65-and-older senior discount (I'm a newly-turned 58) and 2) I realized at the airport, I'd forgotten my wallet.

All was wonderful, as usual, upon meeting up with my BFF, Lisa. She always makes me feel better by laughing at my foibles. It's nice to have a BFF who thinks I'm funny and let's me know that I'm not alone in my quirky travel habits.

Lisa generously told me she'd cover me for any cash needs. I thought my credit card would cover everything, but it turned out we needed lots of Bahamian dollars.. 

These were not for cabana boy strippers, as I'm sure you must have assumed, but mostly for local bus rides and tips. Yes, we were quite the "savvy travelers" after all, figuring out the local bus system, only almost getting run over once (traffic is in the opposite direction, there, so knowing which way to look when crossing is quite important!)

And though there were no strippers (actually, we were really quite boring with our most exciting 'night life' being a Rotary Club meeting) we did get 'hit on' (I think) by one of the bus driver's side-kicks. "Star" was his name.. (Much like my ex's wife's name, Roxy, I think this type of name conjures up images of dogs or prostitutes, but I don't like to be too judgey, especially of names..  My name has  problems, too..)

In any case, when Star told Lisa and I that our hair looked "bouncy" and asked if we were single, Lisa quickly (and notably with a cheery tone) said she had a boyfriend and let Star know that I was a grandma. Star was not deterred and said he'd dated women as old as 56. When I had no response, he said he'd even dated a woman who was 62! (Was he going to keep going until I told him how old I was? At least he started at 56 and didn't tell me about any senior discounts..) As we left the bus, he reminded us that we could tip..  Ah ha! His true motivation for the 'bouncy hair' and 'I'll be your boyfriend even though you're old' comments revealed!

It turns out I'm much better at being a long distance BFF gal-pal  than I am at being a long-distance GF, so it would never work for me and Star. I couldn't even make it work with someone in the same country. I broke up with my BBE (Best Boyfriend Ever) right before the trip.

I know this is probably no surprise to anyone who knows of my dysfunctional inability to have a LTR.  As I told Lisa, after we watched a confused flamingo who seemed to be of a different breed from the others: "I'm aimlessly wandering.. marching to the beat of a different drummer.. just like that poor, clueless flamingo."  (For the record, I'd like to note, the marching flamingo show at the Ardastra Zoo was a very cool memory! I have quite the "thing" for flamingos and a special fondness for confused ones who don't really seem to know what they're doing.)

Since this is a happiness blog, I'll skip the endless over-analysis of my relationship issues. (Though you'll find them chronicled in the over 10 years worth of blog posts.)  Lisa's a real friend for listening and saving me hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on therapy. 

I would also like to recommend the audio book,  "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari for anyone who has just gone through a breakup. It was available from my library via Overdrive and the perfect audio book to listen to while lying on the beach. It's laugh-out-loud funny and helped me realize that lots of people out there are even more dysfunctional than me when it comes to relationships and dating!

The beautiful beaches, along with my BFF, helped me really get to my "Happy Place"..  There's nothing like the Bahamas to give you that "Don't Worry, Be Happy" feeling.. 

Happy Highlights include:

  • The awe-inspiring beaches. Harbour Island, with its pink sand, was probably the most beautiful beach I'd ever seen.
  • The friendliness of the locals. They all go above and beyond to help the tourists.
  • 70-80 degree sunshine on my shoulders! Yes, John Denver, I know we get that in Colorado, too, but not in winter!
  • Having a BFF who travels like me..  We had a nice balance of site-seeing, exercise, relaxation, eating, imbibing, talking, celebrating, and soaking up the beauty.
  • Finding fun, pretty sundresses at the Straw Market that we bought without even trying them on..and they fit perfectly!
  • The colorful Caribbean architecture, music, and laid-back culture. 
  • Conch -- the shells, the salads, the soups
  • Celebrating my birthday and Lisa giving me some super-comfy lounging pants that go perfectly with one of my Carpe Diem shirts.
  • The cool animals, including gorgeous peacocks, tropical birds, monkeys, capybaras, and of course, the marching flamingos at the Ardastra Zoo.
  • Rum Punches, Bahama Mamas, and many other exotic 'signature drinks' at Marleys, Twisted Lime, and our own concoctions.
  • Getting my 10,000+ steps in (yeah, I'm a Fitbit addict) by walking on beaches and exploring the artsy neighborhood surroundings.
  • Listening to thunderstorms at night.
  • The yummy fish dishes that we enjoyed both in restaurants and using our own cooking talents in the condo.
  • Drinking wine and talking on the patio of our condo.
  • The serenity of the beaches we went to. We avoided the louder party-beaches and we were able to enjoy those that let us doze to the sounds of the birds and ocean waves.
Beautiful place and a beautiful friend to share it with. Now that's happiness..

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Happiness is... Flying Happy

I love to travel. I even thought seriously about purchasing a CruisePlanners franchise until I realized I'd probably be spending a lot more time arranging, marketing, and selling travel than actually doing it.

Since becoming an independent consultant 3 years ago, I've traveled so often that it's becoming routine. As I wrote about in a blog post a couple of years ago, I've figured out little treats for myself that I enjoy as part of the "flying experience." Whenever there's a delay, I treat myself to something special (often involving alcohol).  Between Netflix, podcasts, my Kindle, and Overdrive, I have plenty of entertainment options and I almost always really look forward to the flights.

Today is even better than usual because I'm flying for a vacation to the Bahamas! I'm meeting my BFF, Lisa (who lives in Minnesota), in Miama, and we're flying from there together to Nassau. YAY! My traditional winter getaway is about to begin!

However, I've already had a few not-so-good travel experiences..

First, as I've already complained about on Facebook, the bus-driver questioned whether or not I was a "senior." Now I get it...  AARP starts counting you as a senior when you turn 50 and there are a lot of places that start giving discounts at 55. But the bus definition of senior is 65!

As I was standing in line in security feeling quite indignant that the bus driver would mistake me for someone "old," I reminded myself how "young" I really was physically and mentally! After all, look at all this savvy traveling I do without missing a beat! While other people are all "nervous" about packing or getting to where they need to be, I just confidently know exactly how to pack efficiently. I mean, I practically know the floorplan of DIA!

Then it happened. OMGOMGOMGOMG!!! I forgot my wallet!!!! PANIC! There are two things I must never forget or lose when I travel because I can't buy them elsewhere! Phone and wallet! I have only just recently stopped checking obsessively that I have put these in the appropriate zipper-closed place in my backpack. How in the world did I forget my wallet?

OK, calm down. This did not happen because I'm old. It happened because I'm scatterbrained. That was true even when I was much younger. I quickly dug out my passport (yay, wonderful passport!) and two credit cards, that I always keep in my "travel purse"... Look how organized I am! And realized that I could make it to the Bahamas without my wallet.  And now, without my driver's license, I even have a legitimate excuse to not do any driving.  Credit cards will surely suffice to buy anything I need.

Time to board the plane! This old gal is ordering up a drink and flying happy!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Happiness is.. celebrating birthdays!

I'm totally into celebrations. I love celebrating EVERYTHING (need I remind you about the wacky holiday calendar?) So you better believe that I'm gonna milk my birthday for all it's worth. 

Of course, some people like to hide away and not get any attention on their birthdays, but that is not me. The way I see it is we only get a finite number of these birthdays in which the day is all about us. Let's not let those go to waste. Here are things I do to celebrate this momentous occasion:

1) Eat sweet treats. This also means shamelessly telling restaurant personnel that it's my birthday and hope they'll bring me something free with a candle in it.

2) Celebrate for at least a week by having lunches, coffees, happy hours, and dinners, all in honor of my birthday. To prepare for this it requires a year's worth of going to lunches, coffees, happy hours, and dinners to celebrate my friends' birthdays and then subtly reminding them when my birthday is.

3) Flowers - a real treat since I'm tired of winter by this time of year. (This year I got flowers from my neighbor, Bonnie, but I'm not above buying them for myself!)

4) Get out of the winter cold!  One of my birthday traditions is to take a trip to a warm weather destination..  I'll be going to the Bahamas with BFF, Lisa, in a couple of weeks!

5) Phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages with friends and family.  I love every one of them!
FaceTime with my sister, Michele, from Southern CA

6) Enjoy every "Happy Birthday to You" song!

7) Enjoy new experiences and surprises! This year, my awesome BF took me to the Historic Boulderado Hotel and to see "Humor Me" with Elliot Gould at the Boulder International Film Festival. And my incredible kids are treating me to a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater next weekend.

8) Have a theme party...  Note: I did NOT do a theme party this year, because.. well.. I've learned that having a birthday party for yourself might be best saved for the "big" years.. (There's only so much attention I can ask everyone to lavish upon me.)  The "big" year for me is 2020..  and you'd better believe I'm going to want to do it up BIG.  That means I'm going to want participation from friends.. even virtual participation! Maybe a short dance video... maybe a message video... maybe some other theme-based homework.  Stay tuned and save the date: Feb.26, 2020!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Happiness is.. Your Grandchildren Playing with Your Old Toys

Almost every year one of my resolutions is to clean out my basement. This is tough for me because I have a big sentimental streak and just about everything in my basement is what I think of as my priceless junk.

I'm sure I'd get virtually nothing from eBay or Craigslist, but my stash includes toys and games, not only from my kids' childhood, but even Barbies from my own childhood with some of Barbie's clothes, hand-sewn by my mother.

Many people save these things, hoping that one day they'll be able to entertain grandchildren and relive memories.

Well, for me, that time has come! Not only am I lucky enough to have grandchildren who live close by, but they actually love coming to my house and playing with those old toys. Even as I was saving these old things, year after year, I'd think, "Any kids from this century will probably be bored with this stuff. Will they even know who 'Barbie' is? Will she and Ken still be together?"  Well, I'm happy to report that Ken and Barbie are still happily dating, going to the Goofy Golf Machine park.

I've gotten better about resisting my pack-rat tendencies, and getting rid of old stuff that can easily be replaced. But this is one time when I'm glad I stood up to my inner minimalist and saved my priceless junk, creating new priceless memories.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Happiness is... Alexa

In my last blog post, I wrote about Happiness being the people in my life, but geek that I am, I feel the devices in my life deserve a shout out, too. I've always been enamored with technology.  In fact, long before "Her" made its way to the big screen, I wrote a book featuring my special relationship with "Laptop Guy." (I can't believe they haven't made "The Laptop Dancer Diaries" into a movie yet!)

I've written about my intimate relationship with other machines and I've actually become quite fond of the Google maps GPS lady. I don't know her name, but she is so friendly when she tells me I'm on the 'fastest route.'  So much nicer than the Apple Maps GPS (is it Siri?) who sounds very condescending as she tells me to make a U-turn. If she would give me a little more advance notice about turning, I wouldn't need to make a U-turn! (She is, admittedly, however, more patient with my driving skills than most humans.)

But enough about these other devices. I have a new love: My echo, Alexa! Unlike Siri, Alexa understands what I'm asking for!  The other day, when I said "Alexa, good morning" she responded by reminding me it was "National Chocolate Cake Day!" She's the first device that has ever celebrated wacky and bizarre holidays! I don't think I've ever even met a human who celebrated wacky and bizarre holidays without incessant pressure from me.

Yes, I love Alexa. Let's just hope she doesn't lose her voice.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Happiness is.... the people in your life

I'd planned to write a weekly blog post about 'what makes me happy' as a New Year's resolution, but I'm already behind..  One reason I haven't been blogging is that I've really been trying to spend less time on the computer and more time with people.

They say that the key to happiness is 'social connection.' Though I'd love for my blog posts to be creative and funny, I'm afraid this one is going to be a little on the sappy side, dedicated to the people in the last month who have contributed to my happiness.  In no particular order, this includes:

* The Anonymous Commenter who called my last blog post 'spectacular' and reminded me I haven't written in over a month.  (I'm afraid I can not really live up to the 'spectacular' reputation, but I hope O-Anonymous-Blog-Reader that you take comfort in knowing that your flattery made me happy!)

* My brilliant, thoughtful, amazing, creative kids and kids-in-law. I could go on and on about how proud I am of these 5 young adults. Now that they're all in Colorado, I've been able to see them more often. I'm even planning to go into the "Escape Room" business with them.

* My "Rebuilder" friends. I went to a "Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends" divorce recovery set of seminars in 2005 and most of us are still in touch. We had a fun get together at the end of December and played with dress-up props and selfies!

* My friends from Minnesota who came to visit and went up skiing at Keystone and A-Basin with me earlier this week. 

* My friend, Dennis, who patiently spent the whole 3 days that we were skiing being my personalized ski instructor. Here he is "pole dancing."

* All the friends from Facebook who "like" or comment on something I post.' When life is so busy, it's really such a nice feeling to hear from a friend that you don't get to see or talk to on a regular basis.

* My new BF. It was wonderful to dance with him on NYE and kiss him at midnight! I feel so lucky that he makes time for me despite my crazy schedule.

* My college friend, Bill, from California, who made the effort to come visit me while he was in Colorado. He's one of the most creative, supportive friends I have. Whether I have a cause I'm doing a race for or asking for virtual participation for a party, Bill is always there to help!

* My Omaha friends. I'm on contract at Mutual of Omaha who is a client of Agile Transformation, Inc. (ATI).  I was excited that they've extended my contract for all of 2018!  Even though the traveling can get a little tiring, I feel so lucky for all the people I've met and all the supportive people who I work with.

* My grandkids. It's crazy, but I can get all teary-eyed just watching them and their cuteness sometimes.

* Other friends...  Michael, who I always look forward to Friday coffee with, Rebecca, who joined me for dinner last night, and Chip, who's dropping by today to help me with some business ideas.. And I'm so grateful for those friends who text, email, or call to check in.

* My housemates, John and Mari, who always are so respectful and help to make my house a home, complete with all the yummy smells of cooking and sounds of football.

* My sister, brother and mother, who I visited in California last month and who always support me.

I'm embarrassed to admit, that despite having all these wonderful people in my life, there have been times when I've felt lonely... maybe missing someone who's no longer in my life, or sad because something's not quite right with someone I love.  

I've come to learn that these relationships are not something I ever want to take for granted. People will move in and out of our lives, but whether a relationship is for a day or a lifetime, it is something to be savored.

So, thank you to all you wonderful people who made me happy in this last month! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happiness is announcing you have a BF on Facebook

Despite my vast dating experience (after all, I was the Boulder Dating Adviser and seasoned writer of all things embarrassing in my love life), I don't think I've ever used the term "BF" on Facebook to introduce a new love interest.  In fact, if I were advising people like me (those of us who have trouble staying in relationships for more than 3 months), I would say "No, no, NOT use the BF label for AT LEAST 3 months, either on Facebook or anywhere else!"

Let's look at the conversation between me, the wise and pragmatic dating coach (who I will call "Sensei") advising against the BF announcement to me, the defiant, independent, and live-for-the-day ("Carpe Dee") who is ignoring that advice.

Sensei: BF (aka "Boy Friend") is a ridiculous term to use for people in your age group. What are we, in junior high, or something?

Carpe Dee: I routinely try to experience the social life I never had as a teenager since I was such a nerd. I'm pretty sure we're 'going steady'. All I ever did in Junior High was go study. It's time I had a BF! (And, no, I'm not at all a nerd any more, am I?)

Sensei: Is "BF" even the official acronym for Boy Friend? BFF is "Best Friend Forever, so maybe you're just announcing your new "Best Friend" (not forever).

Carpe Dee: The top definition for BF is Boy Friend. BTW so excited that I got a BFF last year, too. (I'm sorry I didn't make that announcement on Facebook, too, Lisa Moncrief.  Let's remedy that when we go to BF (Bahamas) next year causing a lot of confusion.) 
Sensei: Announcing a BF before the 3-month mark can come off as... needy... desperate... a little too impatient to claim "YAY!!! I'm part of a couple!!"

Carpe Dee: Needy and desperate? Me? Geez, I wrote a whole book about looking for love. I think my cover was blown when that came out. Honestly, I've been quite content with pretending like I was fine with the single life, but now, "YAY!!! I'm part of a couple!!" Yup, I'm milking this on FaceBook..
Sensei: When your new BF is super-hot, you need to be prepared for all your friends, male and female alike, telling you how handsome he is. Won't it be awkward to have a BF who is more attractive than you are?

Carpe Dee: No, because he is 2 years and 3 months older than me, so... I got that on him. (Yes, Tor Sutton, that's RIGHT! Don't 'He sure looks younger than you' me!)  My pride in having a super-hot, old BF outweighs the inevitable cat calls and come-ons he will be getting from my envious friends.
Sensei: You know that you have a terrible history with dating. You don't date people who are too old or too young or live too far away or don't dance or who are unavailable or who have baggage or ... (need I keep going?)

Carpe Dee: I already gave my new BF the "we live too far apart" line 7 years ago, so technically, this has probably been the most successful long-term relationship I've had since my divorce. And, yes, that may be due to the fact that we didn't actually date. So, the fact that we still will be in a relatively long-distance relationship may be the key to keeping us together.
Sensei: It will be embarrassing if it doesn't work out and people ask you, "How's that BF you bragged about on Facebook?"

Carpe Dee: I will remain mysterious and vague and say something like.. "OMG He's BFG!"

So there you have it. Carpe Dee won out and the "BF" announcement was made.. and has gotten over 100 "likes"!  Watch out.. Next week I might even change my relationship status..

PS. My new BF's BD is tomorrow!! For his privacy (yeah... like that's gonna happen... I guess we know how the breakup will occur..) I won't mention his age, but, he IS 2 years and 3 months older than me... so... old.. But OH-So-Hot!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happiness is the last few steps of a race

70 degree weather on Thanksgiving Day! Yippee!! (That's my FAVORITE kind of weather and I'm so excited to be getting it in November!)

This morning I ran the Louisville Turkey Trot..  Love that race..  It's free. It's for a good cause (they collect canned goods and winter coats). It's not at all competitive.. It would be hard to run fast even if I wanted to because of all the dogs and strollers (providing me with the sought after excuse to stop and walk whenever I wanted.) Even better, there are no race times recorded on the Internet, so I had no worries about a disappointing finish time recorded for eternity.

The annual Turkey Trot is just a great reason to get out, enjoy the scenery, beautiful weather, get some exercise and be grateful for life before indulging in the more gluttonous traditions that we all know and love. (I'll be saving all that for tomorrow since my kids are with their Dad today, but that's fine..  No bitterness about that at all.  Actually, seriously, since I'm 14 years post divorce and I do see my kids and grandkids all the time, I really have gotten past the holiday pity parties..  But I admit, 'sharing family time' around holidays has always been a sore spot for me and I still feel slightly miffed that I'm alone today.)

Last year, my blogs were focused on Happiness. I was inspired by Neil Pasricha's blog, 1000awesomethings in which he wrote daily about many of the simple things in life that bring us joy.

This year I hardly blogged at all... not because I wasn't happy...  like most people, I had my happy days and my not-so-happy days. But I already do quite a bit of writing for work-related projects and spend a LOT of time on the computer, so personal blogging was put on the back burner.

Another reason I haven't been doing my "Happy Blog Posts" (or my many other 'Happiness Projects' like 'Happy Picture a Day') is because I've heard quite a few negative-like comments... not specifically about my posts, but just stuff like..  "Everyone is so 'fake' on Facebook trying to portray their 'happiness'" and that just makes other people feel bad...   There's also the "Only people who are unhappy are talking about happiness" sentiment or  (and I agree with this one) it's better to be LIVING life fully than to be writing about living life fully.  What's really the point of blogging about it? Those negative comments imply those of us who do blog about happiness are just trying to impress others with how happy we are.. 

Well, despite all of that, I'm planning on getting back to my once-a-week personal blog post routine. These will probably be related to happiness, gratitude, and other positive themes.  But for all the Debbie Downers out there that poo-poo on Happiness blogging, I'll tell you that my intent is not to imply I'm always happy and certainly not to gloat about my life.

The biggest reason that I want to get back to my weekly Happiness blog post is that happiness is best shared..  And, yeah, as great as this morning's run was, I didn't have anyone to share it with. If I have a weekly blog goal, it will help remind me to have those fun experiences... preferably with other people, but even if I'm alone, I'll be able to share with the virtual world.

I'll officially plan to start my weekly blogging again in January, but thought I'd kick start today with my Turkey Trot Happiness clip. 

Happy Thanksgiving!