Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Musings



Now retired five years, I'm interested, intent, determined,  to live each day in as full a state of consciousness as possible. To me, at this moment at least, that means striving to do those things that are good for me, those things that make me content, happy, joyful, and to lessen or eliminate those things that leave me feeling wasteful, empty, blah. For sure my life in retirement has continued to grow richer with each passing year, but it has also delivered its fair share of challenges. I look forward to blogging here about my thoughts, my successes, my failures and the lessons, hopefully, learned as a result.

Today started with coffee for two on our just-completed front yard patio. Living in perpetually thirsty Southern California, front yard patios have recently become 'a thing' as people search for ways to reduce their water-reliant front lawns. In our case, as a result of spending so many weeks and months exploring the world since retiring, we craved open space, and our backyard, with it's 7-foot high view-blocking walls, did not deliver anything remotely close to that. Our front yard did, however, and so we took the plunge and had our own front yard patio constructed. Our new patio faces out onto a small open green space that is fronted by some trees that host a variety of interesting critters on a regular basis - squirrel, raccoon, dove, hawk, owl and opossum (my least favorite of the bunch). And although our patio's three foot high brick wall affords us a nice level of privacy, it's still very easy to look out over our neighborhood and have spontaneous chit-chats with nearby neighbors that are out walking or on their way back from our HOA swimming pool. It's been fabulous, and we are outside on it religiously each evening.

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Reading:  Two books by Gretchen Rubin; The Happiness Project*, which is actually a re-read, and Better Than Before. Because I'm smack in the middle of peri-menopause, I've been re-reading the Energy chapter in The Happiness Project over the last few days, which has been a good reminder of the importance of daily exercise in maintaining energy. I started working out at age 20, and my cardio fitness is something I counted on throughout my 20's, 30's and 40's. Now, in my early 50's, I can feel that my energy has ebbed, and that my recoveries from long workouts are longer. This has really been a paradigm shift. And even though I'm only one chapter in, Ms. Rubin's newly released, Better Than Before, has already given me a couple of  'aha' moments about why certain habits stick, while I struggle with others, primarily getting to the gym when working out outside isn't an option, and my years-long quest to reduce my refined sugar consumption.

*And the inspiration title for this blog. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closet, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun has had a lasting and profoundly positive impact on life since first reading it in 2010, the year before I retired.

Watching: The documentary UnBranded, which we viewed in part at this year's Banff International Mountain Film Festival World Tour. So beautifully filmed, so poignant and inspiring, UnBranded has just recently come to Netflix streaming. We watched the first half last night and are looking forward to watching the second half tonight.



Cooking/Baking: I have a rack of baby back pork ribs slow cooking in the oven, with a quick finish on the BBQ still to come. And there is a bowl of Scripps Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookie dough chilling in the refrigerator. In order to make them desirable for my husband, but not myself (see refined sugar elimination quest above!) I left out the impossible-to-resist chocolate chips and instead used dried cranberries and macadamia nuts.

Happy About: An unexpected Skype session with Mia, our adorable 22-month old granddaughter on whom the sun rises and sets. Since we'd already Skype'd with Mia and her mama twice this week, we didn't expect to hear from them today but we were thrilled to see her smiling little face in the computer screen.

Happy I Accomplished: Six weeks in a row of training hikes for our September backpack across Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Over the course of the six weeks I've gradually increased the weight in my backpack from a starting weight of 17 pounds to yesterday's 27 pounds. I actually expect to carry about 32 pounds during the backpack, but because it will/should be evenly distributed versus the horribly undistributed dumbells I toss in the bottom of my bag for these training hikes, I shouldn't notice the increase significantly. And although I've been in desperate need of a nap after each of our training hikes, I'm much more comfortable now with the weight I'm carrying.

Looking Forward To: Four days of RVing at our favorite Orange County campground, Crystal Cove Moro. We have tickets to attend the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, and a jazz festival in Newport Beach during our stay. We'll also be looking for some artwork to purchase for our newly spruced up family room in artsy Laguna Beach, and we'll be dining at Sapphire Laguna prior to attending the Pageant. Sapphire Laguna is the third restaurant we are visiting in a fun new pursuit we decided to do after seeing a Gayot listing of the Top 10 Restaurants in Orange County. Number one was the glorious Splashes, located smack dab on top of a piece of Laguna Beach's magnificent coastline, and number two was The Ranch in Anaheim which serves the most delicious steaks we've ever, ever tasted.

Thankful For: My loving and patient husband of 34 years. We have recently begun a weekly affirmation of our relationship during which we share moments over the course of the prior week where we felt distant or upset, or conversely very loving and/or loved. This has been momentous in helping us to remain lovingly connected to each other on a day to day basis, and our marriage has been enriched tenfold since we started this ritual.