Monday, December 30, 2019

Week 52: Update on Final Goals

Here we are in the final week of the year... the time of year that I'm usually picking out my favorite pictures and creating photo albums and slideshows, reminiscing about all the fun I had, and planning for next year's resolutions.

However, this year is a little different because I still have 8 weeks left of my 60-week count-down until my 60th birthday.

I only have 6 goals left on my list that I have yet to blog about. Here's an update on these:

  • Create a course about using Agile in everyday life
I actually did a couple of boot camps at the beginning of the year that used Agile concepts, so I may "count" this as complete.
  • Put DIY walls in basement that will allow me to hang pictures, etc.
I discovered ways to attach pictures to the basement walls with Velcro. I also found spots that I was able to hang hooks or picture hangers. I love my "photo gallery" and I got a couple of new frames from my grandchildren for Christmas so it can keep growing!

  • Create a Girl Cave
I contracted out to have the dry wall and electrical work done, but still have to redo my botched up paint job. But I've picked out my new colors and created my pretty wine rack. 
  • Go to a foreign country and practice speaking the native language
I'll be leaving Saturday for the Conversa Spanish Immersion Program in Costa Rica!
  • Put together a playlist of at least 60 songs by gathering songs from friends
I've been working on this since the beginning of the year.  I think I have about 50 songs now but will do my "final reminders" to friends and family to finish this up.
  • Plan and host my 60th virtual/real birthday party
Yay!! The big day is less than 2 months away! 

I'm very proud of myself for blogging every single week this year and taking my 60-until-60 goals very seriously!

Next year, I hope to keep to my weekly blogging habit, and I'll post updates about my final goals and figure out some new goals for 2020!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Week 51: Thrift Store Fixup

My pretty purple wine rack

We are in Christmas week, which means I'm in the midst of all that last minute shopping. I have a tradition to pick up a new (well... used.. but new to us) family game at ARC so it was the perfect opportunity for me to accomplish #55 on my list of 60 goals:

Buy something at a Thrift store and fix it up

Sadly, I'm not very crafty or artistic, but it's super easy to make something old look pretty, just with a fresh coat of paint.  I've been wanting a wine rack for my new "girl cave' (which is still a work in progress) and I found the perfect one at ARC for 3 bucks!  

3-dollar wine rack I found at ARC

On to Michaels, to peruse their spray-paint colors, and there I found this beautiful silver-lilac spray-paint.  A couple of coats of paint later, I have a unique wine-rack that will look stunning in my 'girl cave'!

A couple of coats of paints later and Voila! It's beautiful!

What worked well:
  • Very easy to spray paint and turn something old into something pretty
  • I've wanted a wine rack and this was a great find!
  • I love the new color!

What could have been better:
  • If I had more artistic talent, I'd add some unique design to this
  • When I'm so busy trying to find and give gifts, it would have been nice if my fixer-upper project was for someone else, but it's a nice gift for myself!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Week 50: Trip to Sacramento

Mom and Neal
This week I accomplished goal #12 on my 60 until 60 list:

Visit my Mom and brother in Sacramento as well as others in Northern CA who are available

I often go to my childhood home in Sacramento at this time of year. My Mom's birthday is December 9th which is right at holiday season, so over the years it has become a tradition of mine to visit at Thanksgiving or early December. This time, since I didn't have to run back to a job, and I'm doing my big "60 until 60 project," I had a bit of an extended visit and was able to have some special "celebrations."  


The priority, of course, was my celebration with Mom since it was HER 84th birthday! Her present from many of us was a new laptop. She'd been using my Dad's old computer since he died in 2010, so definitely it was time for something new. My 'present' also included helping her pick something out (picking out a laptop is overwhelming! We settled on a chromebook.) and giving her 'lessons' on how to use it.  Well, of course, this is almost like a present to me, too, because I LOVE giving computer lessons and Mom has been a great 'student,' so I feel glad that I've been around to help her.


My brother, Neal, the baby of our family lives in nearby, Folsom. He shares my love of swing dancing, so on Tuesday night he took me out to his weekly dance place and we had a blast! Neal introduced me to a bunch of his "swinger friends" and we danced until the place closed down. So much fun!

Tor and Sally

After dancing, I spent the night at Neal's Folsom home and the next day was able to visit our old childhood friend, Tor, and his girlfriend, Sally. Tor is almost like an adopted member of our family. His parents died when he was quite young and I know both my Mom and Dad have felt a parental love for him and his siblings for as long as I can remember. It was great catching up on all that was happening in our lives..  as well as with our kids and grandkids!


Dee is another "adopted family" member who I've known since childhood. She and her husband, Ed (who passed away many years ago) were best friends with my parents. Dee often refers to herself as "my fairy godmother" and that's a good way to describe our relationship with her. I'm in so much awe of her resilience and spunk. At age 87, despite breaking a hip and her arm earlier this year, she is still traveling and living life fully! 


Jackster (and I am "Yvettester" to him) is a good friend who I met in my sophomore year (1979-1980) at UC Davis when we both were in the "H Building" dorm. Even though Jack and I have been friends all of these years, this was our first longer "visit." When I talked to Jack on his birthday in September, I told him about my 60 until 60 project and that I wanted to have a special celebration with him. He asked if I'd be interested in going to see a Garrison Keillor Christmas show in San Francisco on December 14th. Perfect!  In fact, I got to spend most of the weekend with Jackster, taking a long hike with him in Pacifica and enjoying holiday traditions at his childhood San Francisco home.

What worked well
  • Created lots of new memories with old friends and family
  • Even though it was rainy most days, it was a lot warmer weather than Colorado
  • Nice that I could stay for a longer visit than usual
  • I was included in a neighborhood Christmas party and saw some friends from high school that I hadn't seen in years.
  • Happy that we were able to find a laptop that Mom likes
What could have been better

  • I had a cold for the first week I was in Sacramento
  • I didn't get to visit as many people as I would have liked
  • I always miss my Dad when I visit home

Monday, December 09, 2019

Week 49: Walk 2019 miles in 2019

2019 Mile Bib Video from Run The Edge on Vimeo.

This week I accomplished what was probably my most challenging goal on my list of 60:

Walk 2019 miles in 2019

When the doctor told me a couple of years ago that I should give up running, it really depressed me. Running was really the only athletic thing I've ever done that I felt I was pretty good at.  It also helped keep me fit and sane. When I was going through stressful times, it's what I'd do..  In fact, I remember when I was in the midst of my divorce, after a particularly stressful day, I went for my usual run at warp speed. When I finished and looked at my watch, I had a moment of joy: Wow! Look how fast I am when I'm mad!

When I was depressed about not being able to run any more, I couldn't do what I usually do to cure my depression.  I couldn't run so I decided to walk instead.

As it turns out, walking is almost as good as running, and in many ways better.  As a runner, of course, I always wanted to go as fast as possible. But now I realize, going fast is not as important as just going.  Walking is just slow running and you can go a lot farther and enjoy it a lot more than running.

In order to walk 2019 miles, I had to average over 5.5 miles a day, which hasn't been easy!  This is the only goal I've had that required exercise every single day..  and not just a quick thing that like a plank. It usually takes at least an hour and a half of hiking, walking, or dancing to get in 5 and a half miles.

Even though there were days that I really didn't feel like walking because of the weather or my mood or my health, I did it. Mostly this is probably because of my somewhat neurotic "upholder" personality, but I made it!

I also discovered a wonderful Walking Group, Walk2Connect, and took leadership training for the group, so next year, I plan to lead some walks.  And I did a lot of hiking in beautiful places all year, seeing and experiencing many new places, thanks to this goal.

What worked well:

  • I got into the regular healthy habit of walking
  • I was able to meet new people in hiking Meetup groups
  • I saw a lot of beautiful places
  • Walking has helped keep me mentally and physically strong
  • I achieved a good physical challenge
What could have been better:

Now the big question? Since I've achieved this goal, will I continue my obsessive walking? The answer is...  I plan to still walk at least 10,000 steps until the end of the year..   After that?  Who knows? Maybe I'll try for 20K! (Or maybe not!)

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Week 48: Host a #GivingTuesday campaign for ALS Never Surrender

Looking for a non-profit to help on Giving Tuesday?

Please donate to ALS Never Surrender on Tuesday, Dec. 3rd!

Goal #16 on my list of 60 is to: Participate in efforts to help those with ALS and their caregivers. Since losing my friend, Craig Dunham, to ALS in 2010, I've been a very active advocate for finding a cure to this fatal and heart-breaking disease.

I got involved with the ALS Never Surrender non-profit a few years ago and was inspired by the founder, Steph Courdin, who gathered a group of colleagues and volunteers to create a mobile app that would collect valuable ALS patient progression data.

Though Steph lost his battle with ALS in March of this year, I was so excited that the organization received a $300K 3-year grant from the ALS Association.  All Steph's efforts were not in vain. The organization is currently working with Harvard Medical, Duke University, UCSD, UC Denver, and Barrow Neurological Institute to run clinical trials across the country.

I usually raise money for the ALS Association by leading Team Carpe Diem on the Walk to Defeat ALS. However, this year, I'm working with ALS Never Surrender on a GivingTuesday Facebook campaign because Facebook will match all donations made on GivingTuesday, Dec.3rd!

I feel so lucky to have met Craig and Steph and to be able to see the progress being made towards a cure. I feel confident that, with this app, a cure is in sight! Please consider giving on December 3rd!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Week 47: Basement Makeover Failure!

I don't like to admit to failure, but it's good "agile" practice to be comfortable with failure and view it as a "learning opportunity." A good number of the goals on my 60 until 60 list have been about cleaning up my basement. I've been debating about whether or not I should have it professionally finished for years. I settled on a little mixture of DIY projects along with hiring some professionals to do stuff that was too hard for me.

There's one room that had been partially finished and I went ahead and hired some contractors to put drywall in and texture the walls and ceiling.  I figured I could save some money by doing the painting myself. I bought a dark blue paint, wanting to make it dark since I'd planned to make it a 'theater room.'

Well, the whole painting project has been a disaster. The room currently looks as though some culprit came in and vandalized the room. As embarrassing as it is to post a picture, here goes:

There have been a lot of problems. First of all, I accidentally used two different colors of paint! I won't get into how this happened, but I assure you, I've been mentally saying "HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID?" every time I think about this.

Besides accidentally using two different colors, as you can see, I really had trouble with the roller getting the paint to cleanly and uniformly cover the walls. So, not only am I upset at my stupid paint color mistake, but that I don't even have the skill to paint walls. I know I can't paint pictures, but I thought I could paint walls!

Being an Agile Coach, I realize that it is inappropriate to call myself "stupid" or to mentally beat myself up about my obvious lack of home improvement skills. With more effort (and more paint), I could eventually do a better job with this. (How could it possibly be any worse?)

What did I learn? I discovered in all this, that I don't really like that color, and don't want a 'theater room.' Instead, I'm going to create a cozy 'girl cave.' So I'm going to change the color completely and (here's the important learning) hire a professional!

I had also planned to lay down "DIY" tiles:

However, I think, instead, I will also hire professionals to do the flooring in the finished room and stick to area rugs in the unfinished sections of the basement:

What worked well

  • I'm glad I didn't paint the whole room or hire someone to paint the room dark blue before figuring out I didn't like that color or want a 'theater room' anyway.
  • My daughter, Megan, is totally AWESOME with interior decorating and she's going to help me make my new 'girl cave' beautiful! She was so great when I told her what I mess of it I'd made and reassured me that she would help me fix everything.
  • I like my new cozy area rug and that's a lot easier than laying tile!
What could have been better
  • The 'finished' room currently looks terrible! (But it's all fixable!)
  • The flooring is also uneven which may be a result of expansive soil. I'm kind of worried that putting flooring in may end up being an expensive endeavor.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Week 46: Practice Kindness

This week included World Kindness Day, so it seemed the appropriate week to blog about goal number 14 on my 60-until-60 list:

Practice a mindset of kindness and gratitude and journal weekly about reflections

This is one of those goals that is more about developing a mindset than one that you can check off of a list.  However, I haven't missed a week of writing in my "reflections journal" noting the positive things that I experience on a daily basis!

Every day I have a goal of doing these four things:

  1.  Exercise (Always getting in at least 10,000 steps!)
  2.  Learn something (Haven't missed a day of Spanish study in over 250 days!)
  3.  Have some positive social interaction
  4.  Help someone in some way

The positive social interaction and helping people are pretty loosely defined. This might be as simple as smiling and giving a compliment to someone. But doing these things regularly have really helped me intentionally practice kindness. I was very pleased to see that many of my AirBnB guests have used the word, 'kind' to describe me!

And I feel so grateful to be the recipient of kindness constantly from friends, family, and even strangers.  Every text message, email, phone call, and conversation is an opportunity to be kind and to have gratitude.

I became interested in kindness and it's relationship to happiness many years ago.  I've been subscribing to a Random Acts of Kindness newsletter and  I've blogged many times about kindness including this post which included 100 ideas of ways to be kind.

A few examples of the kindnesses I've received and that I'm grateful for this week:

  • Getting invited to a delicious home-cooked dinner by a friend who's a great cook!

  • Attending the Monet exhibit at the Denver Art Museum as an invited guest of a friend

What worked well 

  • Practicing gratitude and kindness has become a wonderful habit that has absolutely added to my happiness.
  • I feel like this goal is a lot easier for me now that I'm not working full-time. I'm much more patient and less judgmental these days.
  • Kindness is very contagious. It's interesting that even the tone we use when we speak to someone makes a huge difference in their responses to us.
  • Being more intentional about this has made me become a better person with stronger relationships.
What could have been better

Normally, I have at least one place at which I'm regularly volunteering. It's kind of ironic that this year, when I'm not working, I'm also not volunteering regularly anywhere. With all my travels and projects, I haven't done much that requires commitment.  

Even though I'm not a committed volunteer anywhere right now, I'm realizing that helping others is something we can all do every day, just by listening and providing words of encouragement and support.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Week 45: Read a Best Seller - You Are Awesome

This week the goal from my list of 60 that I accomplished was #40:

Read a book that’s on the best seller list

"You Are Awesome" by Neil Pasricha came out this week and since he's an author I follow, I had pre-ordered the audiobook from Audible and was able to listen to it as I was driving around Florida this week.

Now, I'm not sure that this book is on the best seller list yet, but I predict it will be! Neil Pasricha is a best selling author, after all, and writes about one of my favorite topics: positive psychology and happiness.

In fact, in one of the first chapters of the book, Neil talks about adding the word 'yet,' any time you start to think negatively about accomplishing a goal.  So instead of saying, "My book is not on the best seller list," you'd add the word yet, to say, "My book is not on the best seller list yet!" (implying, of course, that you have full confidence it will be!)

I also listened to the book rather than reading it, which was even better than reading it. I love audiobooks! Neil, himself, read the book, and I really enjoy the added benefits that come with hearing his voice. All the nuances in tone and delivery really added a lot! And it's great to be listening to an interesting audiobook while driving or traveling!

You Are Awesome was another entertaining Awesome book by Pasricha - this one tackled the topic of resilience. It had some great insights about how to establish a mindset of positivity, despite what challenges might come your way.

Besides listening to this book (and feeling self-assured that I Am Awesome) I reserved a couple of other 2019 best seller audiobooks on Overdrive: "Where the Crawdads Sing" and "Becoming."  Those will come in handy to listen to as I continue my Snowbird travels.

Speaking of Snowbird travels, Snowbird season has begun! My 10-day trip to Florida was somewhat spontaneous, and included 2 Disney Parties (both Halloween and Christmas), trips to both the east and west coast Florida beaches, daily walks in beautiful places, and fun with friends, both old and new!  I have so much to say about it all, that I may write my own best seller book: Single Snowbird! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Flying for Free by signing up for Sapphire Rewards Card

One of the things about retirement that I've most looked forward to is being able to take long vacations to warm-weather places in the winter.  However, now that I'm not working, I'm a lot more aware of travel costs. 

Learning how to optimize all those frequent flyer points has been one of those things I've always wanted to do, but never made the time for...  until now!

There are a lot of books and sites out there that will teach you about "Travel Hacking"...  just google it. It can be overwhelming and, I have to admit, even though I heard about people traveling all around the world for free, it sounded like it would be complicated and time-consuming to figure out.

However, I found this great site: 10XTravel that included a free eBook about getting started, and I found out I'd be able to get a few free trips just with a single credit card.

The first thing you learn is that the best card to get right now is the Chase Sapphire Rewards Card.  It's got a $95 annual fee, but when you spend $4K in the first 3 months, you get 60,000 Rewards points which are awesome! You can turn around and get $600 cash back if you want, but they are estimated to be worth $1200 in travel because you can use them with a lot of partners. 

I was able to get almost all my winter travel, including trips to Orlando (where I am now!), Sacramento, Costa Rica, and Mexico, using points!

I also get 15000 points by referring others, so I'm spreading the word! Use this link and start earning points yourself!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Week 44: Thanking the Police

I've been enjoying a wonderful vacation in Orlando (stay tuned for a bonus blog post!), but I didn't want to miss completing a goal from my list of 60.  I just accomplished goal #11 on my list:

Write a gratitude letter to the police who helped me during a family emergency

So often we take the police for granted..  or maybe we get annoyed at them when we get a ticket.. but, I, for one, am so grateful for help they provided during a family crisis we had in 2011.  I know I'll never be able to adequately thank those who helped us, but I hope the cards I wrote today will remind them that they make a huge difference in our lives.

November is a month when we typically practice gratitude, so I felt like this was a good time to complete this goal!

Thank you, too, Michael Bolé, for giving me the idea for this goal last year when we were talking about the police and all they do to keep us safe. I appreciate your service and the service of those who work and sacrifice so that we're protected and safe.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Week 43: Fun Lights!

It's snowing and cold here in Superior, CO..  my least favorite kind of weather. I'm heading out to Orlando on Wednesday to start my snowbird adventures for the season, but I've made a mental note that if I really want to beat the snow, I'm going to have to leave by mid-October.

However, knowing that I'll be gone for most of the winter, it's been a little easier to remind myself of all the beautiful things I do enjoy about wintery weather: the sparkly new snow, staying warm and cozy with snuggly blankets and warm drinks, and holiday lights!

This was a good week to work on goal #53 from my list of 60:

Hang pretty lights in basement and bedroom

A couple of years ago, I bought a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree which means I have an abundance of extra holiday lights.  I thought it would be fun to put those up in the rafters of my unfinished basement!

I also found these cool neon flamingo and palm tree lamps for 75% off at Michaels! Add a space heater and I can pretend I'm already in Florida!  (MB: Thank you for your help with the assembly!)

This has been a more challenging goal than you'd think because I had to get an electrician to add some additional outlets around the basement.  Then I had to get power strips and extension cords to let me hook up all the lamps and lights.  I really wanted to add a lot of light so that rather than being depressed by the dark days of winter, I could instead enjoy all the fun lights!

I have an old lava lamp and some other 'retro' party lamps that fit right in with the other 'vintage stuff' in my basement.  OK..  maybe it's really just 'old junk' but I like it and it is the perfect decor for the 60's theme party that I'm thinking of throwing for my 60th birthday.

I also bought an LED strip that comes with a remote that let's you change to any color. You can do things like make the lights blink or change colors for holidays or certain moods.  I have bulbs that are controlled by a remote in the same way. These LED "party lights" are incredibly cheap, but they've had their share of problems.  The remote doesn't work too well, and the first set I got was missing a very important adapter cable, so I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to get it plugged in. But today I finally got the missing adapter and now that I see how these lights work, I'm getting more!
As for my bedroom, I put a couple of beautiful tiffany lamps on my Wish List, so let's hope I get one from Santa!

What worked well
  • Having more light cheers me up, especially in winter.
  • Those LED lights that change colors are so fun and so inexpensive!
  • Love having holiday lights up all year round.
  • 75% off my cool flamingo and palm tree lights!
  • MB helped me assemble the flamingo and palm tree since the instructions were not very clear.
What could be better
  • I still have a lot more lights that I want to hang..  I'm hoping my kids, who are very creative and artsy decorators, will help me continue hanging more lights in my basement.
  • I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to install the LED lights that were missing an important adapter.  Customer service was unresponsive.
I also have lots of big comfy blankets to snuggle with down in the basement so bring it on, Mother Nature! (Just as long as I can get out of here on Wednesday!)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Week 42: Updating my Website and CARpe Diem!

I have my daughter-in-law, Stella, to thank for inspiring me to work on Goal #58 on my list of 60 goals:

Update Website with my coaching / training / writing accomplishments

Last week, Stella sent me an email telling me she'd wanted to learn Web design and had already created a mock-up of a new Website for me, pulling in from elements of my current Website and blog.  This was a great reminder of my goal to get my Website updated and also just what I needed to help me think through what I want to do in this next chapter of my life!

As much as I loved the work I did as an Agile Consultant,  I have really been enjoying the freedoms of not having to go into an office or sit for hours in front of the computer.

However, I really enjoy part-time freelance work as a coach, trainer, and writer.  I also have toyed with the idea of moving more into personal coaching and hosting workshops and retreats.

My Website and my Professional Blog were both extremely out-of-date. I made some updates to the content on both of them and I'll work with Stella to get my new look and feel!

Meanwhile, I also gave my car a new look and feel with a colorful wrap. What's really amazing is that Stella created the mockup site above without even knowing about my car and look how well they match! As usual, she knows exactly what I love!

Even though I hate marketing, I can add a URL to my wrap and then write off part of the cost as a business expense!

What worked well:
  • Really good to reflect on what kind of work I want to do in this next phase of life
  • Love updating my branding and coaching to incorporate Carpe Diem lifestyle and colors
  • I practiced doing personal coaching with friends and got positive feedback
  • So nice of Stella to pro-actively do some Website design for me and amazing that she picked colors and a design that matched my car without even knowing about the car!
  • Good to review and revamp my old Wordpress blog
  • Love my new colorful car and happy that I'll be able to use it for marketing and have a business expense
What could be better:
  • Even though I updated my old site and blog, I still haven't migrated to the new look and feel
  • I'm still not sure I want to work at all, so am reluctant to do any marketing quite yet. I may save that for next year, since I still have so many other things I have planned for the rest of this year.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Week 41: Leaf Peeping in New England

Woohoo! Another awesome goal, wildly exceeding expectations! This one was #34 on my list of 60:

Visit New England in the Fall with Rebecca R.

Even though we have beautiful scenery and fall colors in Colorado, I’d often heard that nothing could match the New England fall foliage, so this experience had long been on my bucket list.  One of my best friends, Rebecca Ritter, is originally from New York, and agreed to join me on a trip out east and even offered up the opportunity to spend one of our nights at her parents’ beautiful home! 

We thought mid-October would be perfect leaf-peeping season, planning on spending our first couple of days and nights in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and then head to Rebecca’s parents’ home. As our flight from Denver was leaving, the national news reported this:  I

It's going to be a wet and windy end of the workweek and weekend on the East Coast, as a fall nor'easter -- with wind gusts approaching tropical-storm-force -- slams an area stretching from Delaware to Massachusetts. 

Oh dear! Wind, cloudy weather, and rain was predicted for our entire 4-day stay!

What a surprise that the weather turned out to be so beautiful! The leaves were breath-taking, living up to their reputation. We heard that they’d been even prettier a couple of weeks earlier, with more reds, but it’s hard to imagine it could be any prettier.  The experience was so wonderful that I want to make it a tradition to visit the area each fall. 

What worked well:

Weather and scenery

I haven’t missed a day of walking at least 10,000 steps every day since the year started.  (As I’ve written about, I can be quite obsessive about this.) This goal can be difficult when traveling, especially if the weather is bad.  However, Rebecca’s such a good friend that she said she wasn’t going to let me miss a day and would walk with me in the rain if need be (despite her cold!)

Again, the weather turned out to be perfect, and the hikes were amongst the prettiest I’ve ever been on! My photos really can’t capture the brilliant hues of fall colors but the whole time we were there, I kept thinking, “Wow!! This. Is. Gorgeous!”

Bonus perk: We missed a record cold day back in Colorado! Yay!

The Berkshires 

Neither Rebecca nor I had ever been to “The Berkshires”, a touristy place with a lot to see and do. The vibe was friendly, and down-to-earth. The streets were lined with quaint restaurants and shops and every street looked like a Thomas Kincaid painting. 

Rebecca and I enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods, drove by the impressive Tanglewood, stopped and visited the Kripalu Yoga Retreat, and spent most of Friday afternoon at The Norman Rockwell Museum (I just LOVE Norman Rockwell!). Friday night, after a delicious dinner, we went out to see a thought-provoking play, Time Stands Still, performed by Shakespeare & Company.

Rebecca’s Family

Speaking of Norman Rockwell, Rebecca's family could have easily been the models for his pictures!

Norman Rockwell picture
Archer Family Dinner

Rebecca is the 3rd in a family of 8 kids. Her father (age 90) and mother (age 84) renovated a beautiful, big barn that the family used to use for a vacation home, but now is her parents’ full-time home.  What a fun, big home with a huge sunlit great room where the family gathered to talk and laugh.

Two of Rebecca’s brothers and her sister, along with some spouses and her sister’s daughter met at their parents place for the weekend, so I had the pleasure of getting to know her family more. Her family was all so sweet to me…. I felt like I was just another sibling!  I was especially impressed that her parents were so energetic and healthy, seeming much younger than their years. 

I’ve always loved big families, and it was fun for me to listen to all the stories as they reminisced. They even found a box of memorabilia from Rebecca’s grandmother with old letters and her mother’s report cards from elementary school! They were all laughing at some surprises that were uncovered including a drama about a crazy college roommate! It was better than an episode of The Waltons!


One thing I’ve learned about my 60 until 60 project, is that my favorite goals are those that I’m doing with someone I love. Rebecca has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years and I feel so grateful for having her in my life.

Even though she was sick and has been so busy, Rebecca made the time to take this trip with me. She never complained about anything, and whenever there was a little curve-ball, she didn’t let it derail her, She’s always positive and flexible and such a great travel buddy. She even drove the whole time because she knows I don’t like driving.

I feel very lucky that I got to not only experience beautiful fall scenery this week, but was able to share it with such a good friend and to experience her fun-loving family!

What could have been better

As I'm finding with most of my goals, especially the trips, the good things were SO good that the not-so-good things seem very insignificant.  However, here are a couple of minor things that could have been better:
  • The rental car smelled like smoke and had a broken tail light when we picked it up. The pick-up and drop-off processes were very inefficient.  I don't think I'd use Avis again.
  • We had to wait two hours on take-off because they needed to de-ice the plane and also a passenger was sick and needed to get off. Though this really wasn't a problem with Frontier, the flight-attendants were kind of snarky, and Rebecca and I agreed that we both preferred Southwest.
Again, Rebecca didn't let these things, or the fact that she was feeling under the weather herself, get her down.

Memorable trip with a wonderful friend! 

Monday, October 07, 2019

Week 40: Goal #43: Try marble contact paper on an old table

It's the end of Week 40 of my 60-week celebration and a many of the goals on my list have to do with cleaning up my basement.  I've got a lot of old junk down there. However, I saw a picture last year of a table that had been beautified with marble contact paper and thought: 'I want to try that!'

Finished Result! 
After my old table was transformed, I used it to display some other thrift store finds and I think it looks very cute in the corner of my basement!

Like many of my goals, this turned out better than expected! First of all, the roll of contact paper only cost $5! Secondly, it's very rare that I'm pleased with anything crafty that I attempt, especially on the first try! This turned out to be exceptionally easy, even for someone like me, who makes a mess out of anything that involves stickiness (duct tape, packing tape, super glue, etc.) You should have seen the pathetic job I did with the Dollar Tree stick-on fingernails I tried! But, unlike the botched up fingernails, this worked like a charm!

I started with this very old little table.

Uh oh! When I saw all these creases I thought I was in trouble. But after the backing was removed, it was easy to smooth out the contact paper and remove any bubbles or creases.

Contact paper applied

Both sides brought up for a longer table

What worked well:

  • Contact paper was only $5
  • Even though I'd never done it before, I'm very pleased with the end results!
  • I was able to do this whole project in less than an hour
What could have been better:
  • The edges and corners aren't perfect
  • This worked well on a small table, but it would be harder on a bigger table because the seams would show. 
  • If I were doing a larger space or piece of furniture, I'd want to do it with someone else. Projects are always more fun with another person (especially one who knows what they're doing!)

Monday, September 30, 2019

Week 39: Roadside Altars

One of my favorite TED talks is this one that describes the language of experience. In it, Poet Ali, very effectively describes the language of a fat kid, the language of watching a loved one battle cancer, the language of 9/11/2001, and the language of being a minority.

There are some experiences that are impossible to truly understand unless you've also had that experience.

Do you speak this language?

You get a phone call and your life will never be the same.  Someone you love, someone full of life, someone who was just laughing with you, someone who is much too young, is no longer alive. It seems impossible that the world is still operating as though nothing happened, that people are still talking about trivial matters, that life is going on for the rest of us.

When my brother, Chris, died in a car accident in 1997, someone told me I'd joined "the death club." It's a club that understands deep grief.  You exit the innocent world in which we all are going to live very long, healthy, happy lives, to one in which we realize that we all could die at any moment. We face our own mortality and the mortality of everyone we love. We experience a grief so deep that we don't think we can ever be happy again.

Time goes on and we are happy again, but not in the same way. We don't take life for granted. When there is a death, we have more compassion than we once had. We understand the "language of grief." We question, more than ever, the meaning of life. We want, more than ever, to spend our precious time wisely.

My friend, Rebecca, is one who also understands grief. She used to have a Website, "Altared Spaces," in which she described sacred spaces that we make to bring comfort and joy to ourselves or to others.

About ten years ago, Rebecca and I spoke often, and we talked about visiting roadside altars..  we knew that the families who created the memorials were others who understood and spoke the language of deep grief.

This year, when I put together my list of 60 goals I knew I wanted to finally fulfill that goal of visiting those altars. Number 37 from my list of 60 was:

Do a roadside altar road trip with Rebecca M.

What better time to do the trip than Chris's birthday, September 28th? Rebecca, who lives in Mesa, Colorado, had already scouted out several roadside memorials.  We made plans to meet, visit the roadside altars, and then go on to Moab, Utah, to hike in beautiful Arches National Park.

Rebecca was an awesome hostess throughout this memorable weekend. She is a friend that not only understands the language of deep grief, but the language of deep friendship.

I was so touched at the end of the day, after a delicious dinner that she'd prepared, Rebecca read out loud the book, "On the Day You Were Born" in Chris's honor.

Gazing out at the beautiful surroundings, remembering Chris, feeling the loving generosity from my friend, feeling empathy for the families of those who grieve..  all of these fill me with emotions that bring tears to my eyes.

I was at a memorial service recently for a man I used to work with. His son-in-law said he'd heard this quote about grief:

Grief is like glitter; No matter how much you try and tidy it up you’re never going to get rid of it all. You’re always going to find bits of it.
When grief is new, it's hard to find anything 'sparkly' about it. But now, when I think of Chris, or the other people I've lost, they are sparkly like glitter, reminding me to love deeply and live fully. It might seem cliche, but when you speak the language of deep grief, you understand.