Celebrating the Big Four Oh

No, not my 40th birthday.  That happened a LONG time ago, and quite honestly, I have no recollection of how we marked that milestone.

THIS big event is our 40th wedding anniversary, and yes, that photo is indeed 40 years old.  This year, our anniversary happens to be on Memorial Day, same as the day we eloped.  Of course, true to form, our way of celebrating doesn’t coincide with the actual DATE, but that’s just the way we roll.

We have never been big party people, partly because so many of those near and dear to us are geographically scattered.  Years ago, we stopped giving gifts, instead opting to collect memories rather than objects.  Okay, so that’s the build-up.  You ready for the “reveal”?

To mark our 4 decades together, we decided to travel to Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). Yes, I know Nepal had a devastating earthquake last May, with a full complement of aftershocks.  For a country that depends on the tourist trade, we decided a way to support the Nepali was to visit their country, then share what we see and experience.  We hope blog and Facebook posts might encourage others to do likewise.  Or at least prepare those that come after us for what lies ahead.

I recognize that given the infrastructure of these three countries, I probably won’t be posting while traveling.  That will have to wait till our return, but in the meantime, I’ll share what we have learned during the preparation stage, and believe me, there is a lot to learn.

I have been checking out air options, collecting visas, figuring out what to pack that will get us through a month away, with temperatures ranging from a high of over 100 in Chitwan National Park to lows of 19 in Lhasa, and everything in between, while also staying within the prescribed weight limits.  I’ve also been busy reading everything I can get my hands on about the three countries.

So, fair warning.  If you aren’t interested in that little corner of the world, subsequent posts are going to be bone crushingly boring to you.

For those that are considering traveling with OAT, this is my way to pay it forward.  I have benefitted greatly from the kind people who have taken the time to post information on the OAT forum, and want to do likewise.

More to follow!

 

 

 

 

“Get On Your Feet” Gloria Estefan

No, this post isn’t about Gloria Estefan’s Broadway musical, although that may be a future post, if I make my way into NYC to see it.  Nope, this  is about that second essential ingredient for a happy retirement:  Good Health.

Yes, we all SAY we want good health, but what do we DO?  We overeat, and what we are stuffing into our mouths is usually the worst possible choice.  We smoke (well, I never did, but I am related to people that still do.  Yeesh.)  We act like The Cat in the Hat children.  “All we could do was sit, sit, sit, sit”.  We keep on electing NRA sponsored candidates that refuse to do anything about crazy people owning weapons of mass destruction, also known as assault weapons.  (Whoops, got carried away by current events–that too belongs in a different, possibly future, post.)

Yes, it helps to be born with the right genes, but research continues to uncover the very strong link between lifestyle and good health, which is something that we “lifestyle managers” believe and preach enthusiastically to anyone that will listen.

About those genes: If our parents’ lifespans are any indication, there is a strong probability that Mike and I have inherited “longevity genes”.  His made it into their ’90s.  Mine are close to that milestone.  But what about the quality of those later years?   I’ve seen first-hand what lack of exercise can do to a person–both mentally and physically, and it isn’t pretty.

So, why wait for the calendar to flip to do something wonderful for yourself?   Who says resolutions can only be made on New Year’s?

Full disclosure.  I hate the thought of exercising.  During my college years, I cut more of the required gym classes than I attended.  Lucky for me the gym teacher sucked at taking attendance.  So, when even an external requirement couldn’t get me into the gym in my younger days, how do I now get my sagging butt out the door?  Major psych up.  I tell myself I’m doing my part to keep Medicare costs down.  (You’re welcome, Gen X,  Y, and Millenniums).  I remind myself of the places that I want to visit and the things I want to do once I get there.  (Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet in the spring.  Yeah baby).   I look at what the total absence of exercise has done to my mother, and realize that I wouldn’t want my one child to have the responsibilities for care that are currently being shared by me and my siblings.

During my work years, I had a community of co-workers and a structured week.  By joining the YMCA, I discovered the retirement equivalent of both.  The variety of classes offered provides structure, and the friendly and welcoming  attendees (mostly women) have become part of my community.

Notice I didn’t mention six pack abs in my reasons for exercising.  Truth be told, if those three words appeared in a sentence about me, it would be this one.   “Check out her abs–looks like she drank a whole six pack in one sitting”.  No,  at my age, exercise isn’t about looking better.  It’s about staying the same.  And that’s a great goal for someone who will be 70 in 4 years!

How about you?  Wanna join me?  I’m off to zumba right after I push the publish button.

 

“A Joy That’s Shared is a Joy Made Double”

Nothing would have made me happier than to have all my favorite people with me on this trip. Although I was unsuccessful in recruiting all of you (not from lack of trying), I DID manage to convince our good friends, Owen and Shirley to “double our joy”.  For those of you that are making the journey with us via this blog (especially my sister, Sue, who refuses to fly), I’m so glad to have you riding along.image
Now, back to our first full day in Tuscany. After Radicofani, we made our way to Giuseppi’s (Pepe’s) sheep farm. Unfortunately, according to Pepe the sheep had a  “party” five months ago, which resulted in a lot of very pregnant sheep, so for a reason I have since forgotten (but was definitely connected to the party) the sheep were all in the barn. Too bad. It would no doubt have made for a lovely photo op.  Instead, the photo at the top of this post just shows you the picturesque fields.  Take a look at the lengths I go to so you don’t have cars or garbage cans cluttering up your view.

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Back to the sheep that we didn’t see.  They are Sardinian sheep, because that breed produces the milk that makes the VERY best pecorino cheese.  In case you haven’t guessed, Pepe and his family are from Sardinia.  Like Silvana, Pepe was highly amusing and quite informative.

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Of course we had to sample some of that wonderful cheese.  Eight different kinds.  Washed down with wine, accompanied by prosciutto and salami and bread.

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According to the official itinerary, we were done for the day, but Anna had a little surprise for us.  We stopped at a cemetery for Americans killed during World War II, just in time for a brief lecture about the military campaign, the men buried there and  the MIA.  After taps, the flag was lowered.  A very sobering experience, especially given the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It made me think about the differences: WWII was the pain and sacrifice was shared by all.  The recent wars are so very different.  A small percentage of our population is giving so much, while the rest of us go about our normal lives.

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Normally I like to end on an upbeat note, but for this post all I can say is “Thanks for your service”.