Category Archives: Colorado living

When I grow up

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I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since moving to Colorado with Hubs almost 2 years ago. I’m appreciative of this. I’m especially appreciative of the older women I have come to know, as they inspire me to strive for graceful, healthy aging. Like the women I volunteer with each week at the food bank. Or the women with whom we attend church.  And the women I work with along with the female senior citizens I serve in my job.

These women I’ve come to know don’t seem to let their age impede them in any significant way. They generally seem to take life in stride and their feathers are not easily ruffled. They have a strong sense of self  and understand they still have the ability to help and inspire others. Their ages do not define them, which I believe is how it should be. They embrace the lives they have and do not wallow in the physical or mental changes that aging has foisted upon them.

One 80 year old lady I know gives me the impression that who she is now is who she’s always been. She is open-minded, witty, and her fingers and toes are always immaculately manicured.  She once expressed a combination of confusion and frustration when a client referred to her as “cute”. She recognized this was an ageist statement and rightly took offense to it. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another older woman I know is exceptionally loving and caring. She never had children, by choice, which makes her a rare bird in her generation. However, that doesn’t prevent her from looking out for people younger and less wise than she, as she has the ability to embrace and appreciate one and all. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another female senior I know is a fun loving social butterfly.  She readily strikes up conversations with anyone and peppers them with “dear” or “dear-heart”. She is a snappy dresser and tells great stories about her life as a wife to a Vietnam vet and mother to her now grown children. She recently visited Disneyland with friends and their teenage granddaughter and shared stories about how she and the teen rode almost every single ride together in the park. What other almost 80 year old woman do you know who does that? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another woman I’ve come to know here is savvy and smart. She takes no shit from anyone. You know where you stand with her. She is not a word-mincer, which is a quality I sort of envy. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Yet another lady I’ve gotten to know, at our church, is adventurous. She travels frequently with girlfriends she has had since she was in college in the 60’s. She is big-hearted and a great listener. She happily donates her time and money to causes she believes in, but she is never showy about it. One time at church, I asked for prayers for someone I love very much who was experiencing a lot of struggles in a personal relationship. This wonderful lady called me a couple of weeks later to check in and see if things had improved with my loved one. I also want to be like her when I grow up.

Then there are the two retired women, who I believe are sisters, who come into our food bank at work about every other week and donate several bags of just purchased food. They look over the shelves and ask me questions about the types of foods our seniors seem to especially enjoy, so they know what to buy at the grocery store the next time. They do this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. I want to be like them too when I grow up.

I also have a food bank client with bright blue eyes that do not betray her age. This lovely lady once struck up a conversation with me about cooking, which is a common occurrence when running a food bank, and promised to one day bring me her recipe for pork green chili (a Colorado staple). Lo and behold, a couple of months later, she gifted me with her handwritten recipe for this tasty dish. I think I want to be like her when I grow up too.

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Not so sure about buying that lard, though!

The thing is, we are all aging. Day by day. There’s nothing besides death of course, that is going to stop this process. I think that we all have the ability to choose how we are going to age. Some older women are preoccupied by their health problems, or the health problems of others, and seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of worrying what illness will strike next. This negatively impacts their relationships and their quality of life.

However, these dynamic, older, and wiser women of Colorado that I’ve been fortunate to come to know give me hope and inspiration for my future as a female senior citizen.

A taste of Colorado this weekend

Notes made to myself prior to embarking on a weekend exploring a part of Colorado we had yet to visit: Grand Junction!

The title of this blog post could just as well be “We make plans, and God laughs”. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing completely horrible happened. It’s just that, because this is life, my plans didn’t fully pan out. Not complaining here, just reflecting.

Ahem…now onto my so called “plans” vs. reality:

Experiences to manifest this weekend in Grand Junction:

Morning coffee at a local coffee shop.

This was a super simple intention that didn’t materialize. No good reason why, other than the coffee at the hotel hit the spot good enough for me. 

A hike or two.

Check-big check, in fact! We hiked the Cap Trail, which was truly spectacular. We encountered different terrain, various members of the lizard family, and outstanding views of the mesas. Hubs got some great shots with his Nikon, too. Like this one. And we encountered 3 different types of lizards (see above). 

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Brew pub and winery and buying swag there

I didn’t come across any swag worthy of purchasing, but we sampled a couple of new beers at area brew pubs and enjoyed a lovely chardonnay at Two Rivers Winery following our hike. 

Hot tub:

Damn stinking kids were piled into the hot tub- that was about half the size of your typical hotel hot tub, mind you-every single time we tried to use it. So that made me a little grumpy. 

Lavender farm/store:

Not what I expected. But what did I expect? Turns out the place was a distillery too. Should visit again. Have a cocktail next time. Amongst the myriad lavender infused products was a full bar serving bloody mary’s and the like. 

Peach Distillery:

So this was “planned” for the second day, on our way home. Unfortunately, Hubs caught food poisoning somewhere along the way so peach infused alcohol and other peach what-nots were not exactly appealing to him, so we hightailed it home, enjoying the stunning views of rock formations and the Colorado River along the way. We decided to visit the area again, when it’s actually peach season. That’d be a better deal anyway. 

Shopping/keep my eyes out for:

Hats and bow ties.

I know, weird things to be looking for, right?! To explain, Hubs and I will be attending a church fundraiser on 5/5 called “Cinco de Derby”. It’s a combo of a Mexican shindig and Kentucky derby party. We discussed it and decided to forage for these items later in the week at Target and the Michael’s craft store that is conveniently located next to it. I’m sure we’ll come up with something. 

Greeting cards.

Ding Ding Ding! I scored 4 awesome ones for $1 each at a downtown book store. Lord knows who I will be sending them to, but no doubt figuring that out will be fun for me.  I felt good about spending money at this independent book store on “Independent Book Store Day”. I also snagged a book there entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Thought it may provide inspiration for my “Kindness Jar” project.

Visit the hotel bar.

Why, yes we did. And we got some great advice there from Annette Bening. Lemme explain: She was approximately the same age as Ms. Bening, dressed casually in denim, drinking a beer and wearing reading glasses. She was situated at the end of the bar, but not the very last seat; the one next to that one. So she had two empty seats on either side of her. She motioned for us to come and sit, scooching down a seat to allow us to sit side by side. She then engaged us in a lively conversation of all things Colorado. She laughed easily and urged us to check out Mount Princeton for our next Anniversary celebration. She shared that it’s pricey, but there are awesome views of the mountains and wonderful hot springs to soak in. She also enthusiastically encouraged us to check out Telluride for their music festivals and good vibes. She spoke lovingly of her son, who was playing in La Crosse tournaments in Grand Junction this weekend. Hence the reason she was chilling at the bar for a bit. Such a cool lady. 

Interesting that earlier in the day,  I had purchased the book about the kindness of strangers, no?

I now can’t wait for our next Colorado adventure! Maybe a George Clooney look alike will make an appearance at a winery or distillery.  You never know…..

YOLO in Colorado

This is how I feel, especially when I’m out exploring this state!

 

Our oldest and dearest couple friends and their two teenage daughters came to visit Hubs and I recently. This visit was so very good for our souls. The four of them are virtually world travelers, especially compared to us. They are curious, adventurous folks with seemingly boundless energy.  And this was the first time they’d visited Colorado together. We visited places here that Hubs and I had yet to see. Like an indoor hot springs spa in Idaho Springs and that famous and crazy Casa Bonita restaurant restaurant in Denver. Fans of South Park may recall an episode highlighting this unique place. We even partook on a tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”, as well as a general reputation for being haunted.

Let’s just say this visit with our friends energized us in a major way. 

This visit coupled with my suspicion that our days living in this great state are likely numbered (I’d guess somewhere between 444 and 888, but hey, I’m no psychic), inspires me to embrace that beautiful concept and not to mention fun acronym, “YOLO”.

That said, it’s clearly time for Hubs and I  to start thinking about planning the places we want to go and experiences we want to enjoy while we still live in Colorado. There are so  many of them!

Such as….

A concert at Red Rocks

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With a little luck, we will be closer to the stage than this photographer was!

I actually think it may be somewhat beside the point which musical artist we come here to see. The scenery and acoustics are going to be the main draw for me.

A trip to an outdoor hot springs  spa. Where Hubs and I will partake in a couples massage and I will succeed at convincing him to get  pedicures together. I suspect he will enjoy this as much as I do.

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Once I get in this, I may never want to get out!

Grand Junction

This is considered Colorado’s wine country and yes, I do enjoy my wine. Beyond the adult beverage scene, there are numerous sites to behold there, like the Colorado National Monument and hiking trails I’ve been checking out online.

Moab, Utah: while it’s not actually in Colorado, it is merely a day’s drive away and features so much natural beauty. Hubs will need to bring his Nikon.

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A place to meditate in Moab, perhaps after a hike

 

Next winter, I’d like to take a ride on the Winter Park train and spend the weekend dog sledding and sampling craft beers in a cozy mountain cabin. I realize this area is known for wicked good skiing, but I value my limbs too much so I think we’ll skip that part.

 

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A cozy little cabin for us to enjoy.

 

We might just need to continue living in Colorado beyond 888 days to cross everything off the list!

 

Expanding my Horizons

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This past weekend,  I attended a “Metaphysical Fair” with my girlfriend here in Colorado. Hubs sarcastically referred to it as a “Satanic Convention”, but I assured him that this not the case. I explained to him that attending this event was my way of expanding my horizons, trying something new.

Truthfully, my primary objective in attending this event was to actually do something I’ve always wanted to do: partake in a psychic reading.

There were a multitude of psychic/mediums/tarot card readers/clairvoyants sitting behind card tables along the periphery of the venue. I walked around, checking them out while asking myself in my head of course “how does one pick their first medium/psychic/tarot card reader/clairvoyant?” Was there some kind of strategy that I should be employing? It hadn’t occurred to me prior to this event to give any thought to this. So, I strolled around, sizing each one of them up.

There were the ones that looked the part: bejeweled women on the other side of 60 with colorful attire and wreaths atop their noggins. There were others that looked like they could be your next-door neighbors or your kid’s best friends mom or dad.

I ended up picking a friendly looking white dude around my age who had the word “Thunder” in his name. I approached this whole scenario with an open mind, sprinkled with just a pinch of skepticism. He almost immediately pegged me as a “planner”. That observation didn’t necessarily impress me, as a middle aged white woman donning her green sweater and emerald jewelry she rarely wears because she obviously planned her attire for St. Patrick’s Day. 

He then mentioned that after holding my hands in his for approximately 2 minutes and 8 seconds that he sensed I had lost someone who had a habit of massaging the back of my hair and neck. Nope, I told him. Could not think of anyone who habitually did this to me.  He told me that it may come to me later who it is. We shall see.

But then.

This gentle, friendly psychic/tarot card reader directed me to pick 5 cards from an array of large tarot cards, each depicting it’s own unique artwork. He then flipped them over. The first card revealed that I was a healer. He asked if I worked in the medical profession. I told him I didn’t per se, but for much of my professional career I have served clients that had physical and mental disabilities. So he wasn’t too far off.  Then he pointed to another card and said he could sense that I would have the aptitude for something called “Akashic records”. This is what struck me. Though I have no clue what this term means (he strongly urged me to look it up which I intend to do soon),  Hubs fraternity, the place that had it not existed I may in fact never have even met Hubs, was called “Acacia”. Say what?!

He also mentioned that he sensed I lost someone who struggled with back pain, possibly kidney trouble. As he did this, he placed his hand in the middle part of the left side of his back. I told him that it was me, as for years now I’ve struggled with pain in that exact spot. He told me he didn’t sense this was anything serious, but that I should lay off the junk food and drink more water. While I admit this directive may have been a result of him noticing  my spare tire, I feel it is very good advice that I shall heed.

One of the other cards that I randomly picked was “long term”. He explained that he felt I should stop feeling guilty and start thinking long term. Honestly, the statement about guilt struck me because as a people pleaser, guilt is a state in which I have lived for much of my life. He said I need to “get the ball rolling” and not get so caught up in how things are going to turn out. Kind of a general, solid piece of advice for just about anyone. However, I think this clearly applies to my blogging. It was a reminder to me to stop overthinking and/or trying to force the words out of my brain and onto my computer screen.

While I’m pleased with my first experience with a psychic/tarot card reader because he essentially told me what I needed to hear and expressed an understanding of who I am as a person, perhaps the best thing that came out of this experience was a book I picked up there.  I’ve been telling myself that I’ve been neglecting my “song brain” in my blog posts for a while now and I swear this book literally had my name on it.

It’s titled “Soul Song Playlist: How to rethink your favorite music and manifest your dreams”.

I’ll be delving into it as soon as I finish “The Bedwetter:  tales of Courage, Redemption and Pee”, by Sarah Silverman. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Highlights of 2017/Positive Pursuits for 2018

2017 was quite the banner year for me personally. Looking back on the year, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Emotional maturity-wise. Self-esteem wise. My outlook has changed. My priorities have become more clear.

Suffice it to say, for me, 2017 has been a very memorable and transformative year.

Let’s see…in 2017:

I started this blog. This was a bit scary, as putting myself out there made (and makes) me emotionally vulnerable. A target for criticism, both self imposed and from others.  It’s been a very worthwhile pursuit for me despite that however. Through blogging, I have learned that the sky won’t fall in when I put myself out there in the blogosphere.

I started my weekly volunteer gig at the food bank. I have gained new friendships along with a deeper understanding of the plight of folks in Colorado grappling with food insecurity day in and day out. This has increased my sense of compassion and reinforced my belief that it is my duty as a capable human being to help others in all the ways I can.

I started a new job. I feel so blessed every day since I started. My new job is such a good fit for me on numerous levels. And very possibly the best part is that it is a part time job. Which gives me a good work/life balance as it affords me the time to pursue other passions. Like writing, for example.

I figured out my way around a new metropolis. By both car and public transportation, aka the RTD bus. I am now able to get to and fro, whether it be work, Target, the hairdresser, or the grocery store, without using GPS. It’s just one of those little things that gives me that sense of comfort one feels among familiar surroundings.

Hubs and I  hosted a crap ton of company, most of whom had never traveled to Colorado before. We had some great fun doing this and discovered lots of new places to go and things to do along the way. Introducing people I love to this beautiful, one-of-a-kind place is a truly awesome privilege.

I “co-facilitated” my dad’s move to the nursing home (ouch, that hurt). This 9 day foray spent with my family in northern Minnesota was by far, without a doubt, the most emotionally charged period of my entire life. I am beyond thankful that now my Dad is receiving such loving care in a safe and comfortable place. I learned an important lesson from this experience: that sometimes the right thing to do is also the hardest thing to do.

I was able to partake in lots of amazing travel. In fact, more in this one year than in any of the 49 previous years. Hubs and I went to D.C. twice. We went to Seattle. We traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin a few times as well, spending time with our beloved family and friends. The fear of flying I once had is now absent because of this. It’s been replaced by an even stronger desire to travel.

I’ve got big personal goals for 2018. I’m not going to call them resolutions, because that’s such a loaded, not to mention overused, term.  I don’t think it’s healthy for me to have my goals set in stone, even if just in my head,  because I recognize that curveballs happen. Unexpected shit, like …..okay, I actually don’t want to put that out there because it freaks me out and I want to remain positive.

Ahem….

For 2018, my overarching goal is to build upon what was started in 2017. By growing my blog through higher quality writing.  By continuing to volunteer as I’m able. By finding and implementing ways to improve my workplace and the lives of the clients we serve. By branching out, driving-wise. Like hopping  on that scary I-25 and driving to Denver, getting over my still present fear of traversing freeways. By hosting more company, and exploring with them Colorado places we have yet to see. By doing more traveling with Hubs, both to visit family and friends, but also to new destinations (yet to be determined).

And finally….

In 2018, the Happiness Jar will become the Goodness Jar. As in, what good did I do today? Each and every day I will endeavor to jot down a short note about what good I put out there in the universe. Not to show what a great human being I am, because God knows I am such a work in progress. But to brighten someone else’s day, show them that they are cared about and valued. This will motivate me to be a better version of myself each day and hopefully  inspire others to consciously walk through life focusing on doing good. This might be overly ambitious, lofty even, but I think it’s worth a try. What’s the worst that could happen?

As this jam packed year comes to a close, I thank  all of you awesome readers for sticking with me on my blogging journey and wish each of you a happy, healthy, magically wonderful New Year!

Morphing into a Coloradoan

While half of my heart resides in my birth state of Minnesota and the other half resides in my adopted state of Wisconsin, I’m starting to feel more than a teensy bit “Coloradoan”. Hubs and I have now lived here more than a year, so it should come as no surprise that I’m feeling this way.

One of my impressions of those native to this state is that they look upon those of us non-natives with skepticism. Even sometimes with scorn. I get this as there has been a huge influx of transplants from other states moving to Colorado in recent years. The natives no doubt feel possessive of their beautiful, natural environment here. And they don’t want “posers” coming in to wreak havoc on their territory.

That said, and at the risk of coming off like a “poser”, I do believe that there are a number of  pieces of evidence that indicate I have indeed begun morphing into a Coloradoan.

Let’s start with Exhibit A:

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Check out the upper middle on plant on left side-a small, ripening tomato!

To prevent certain death from the frost that will undoubtedly come at some point this fall, Hubs aka the garden whisperer recently brought our pepper, basil, and tomato plants inside. I am simply delighted by this. I love the aroma of the basil, and seeing these plants thriving next to our big picture window in our small dining area. Hubs commented yesterday that he noticed a dude walking outside this window, who couldn’t help but peer in when noticing this foliage. Likely he assumed, at first glance anyway, that we were growing marijuana in our home. To be crystal clear, these are not marijuana plants. But it does amuse me that they could be, since growing them in your home is indeed legal in Colorado. 

Exhibit 2:

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Check out my snazzy hiking tennies! Hubs and I shelled out bigger bucks than we probably ever collectively have, on shoes anyway, when we purchased new hiking shoes at REI this summer. Because we are quasi Coloradoans now, we were compelled to invest in proper footwear to go hiking on one of the many dedicated open space paths or in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just over an hour away from home.

Exhibit C1:

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Enjoying a sampler at O’Dells (?) in Fort Collins

As aspiring Coloradoans, Hubs and I have embraced the craft beer culture here. We have become, as my blogger friend CJ, has recently pointed out, “beer snobs”. I prefer to be considered a “beer nerd”, mind you, like our favorite beer pub owner and operator, Dave, refers to himself. It has a legitimacy to it, like we’re scientists or something, right? Thing is, there is a special type of camaraderie that happens when one visits one of the many brew pubs and gets to talking with the owner, bartender, and/or other customers  “beer nerds” about the complexity of the hops or the balance between hops and malt of whatever brew is being sampled amongst us. Plus, visiting these folks at these watering holes provides us with much information about things to do and places to see here in this beautiful, special, state.

And to further exemplify our status as “beer nerds” we have thrice brewed own our beer at home. First batch was the best, the second notsomuch, and the third was…something. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Let me leave you with just one special thing about Colorado. Denver 9News’ The Next with Kyle Clark highlights the most Colorado thing seen on a given day. It is always fun to see what they come up with. Below is a good example. Enjoy!

The Most Colorado Thing We Saw Today

Practicing the 3 D’s

In the summer of 2016, Hubs and I had just moved to Colorado and settled into an apartment in Boulder while searching for a home to buy. We had decided prior to moving that I would take a break from paid employment. We didn’t determine how long this break would be, however.

We busied ourselves with the job of finding the right house, exploring the wonders of Boulder, and shopping for new furniture (we had a massive garage sale before leaving Wisconsin, greatly reducing the amount of stuff we had accumulated over the years).

Then once we found and moved into our new home at the end of August, we busied ourselves with unpacking boxes, finding the perfect placement for our new furniture and wall art, and familiarizing ourselves with life in our new townhome community.

Over the following several months, while starting this blog, joining a new church, settling in to a new weekly volunteer gig, and making new friends, I found myself referring to this period in my life as my “gap year”. And I wholeheartedly admit that I have milked this time for all its worth. If you find yourself financially able, unsatisfied professionally, and middle aged, I highly recommend taking a “gap year” to sort yourself out. 

The big epiphany here, for me right now,  is that my “gap year” is beginning to exceed it’s time limit. In other words, I have come to the conclusion that it is now time for me to expand my horizons. 

I’m going to start my job search, folks. In earnest.

Making this decision brings to mind words I found written in pastel colored chalk while on a morning walk in August 2016, while still living in Boulder.

Desire. Determination. Discipline.

I do believe these big and important words were submerged in my subconscious this past year. I had a great desire to pursue blogging. I had the determination to go ahead and start this blog. And I had the discipline to pen posts on a regular basis-3 times per week, with the exception of the weeks when we were out of town or hosting company in our new Colorado abode.

Now is the time for me to move these big, important words from my subconscious to my brain’s frontal lobe on a daily basis.

Do I have the desire to find employment? Yes.

Do I have the determination to find employment? Most certainly. In fact, once this post is published I will immediately be checking for jobs on Indeed.com. Fact is, my ulterior motive for creating this post is to enhance my personal accountability for this endeavor. 

Do I have the discipline to find employment? I like to think I do. I believe the fact that I’ve made the decisions to get my arse in gear, make a daily to-do list upon waking each morning, and then complete each task before the day is done (top on the list is searching for jobs and filling out applications), exemplifies my self-discipline.