Rio Withdrawals

OK, I know it’s cheesey and politically incorrect “, but I am suffering from an Olympic-sized withdrawal from watching the Rio extravaganza.  Three weeks ago I promised myself I wouldn’t spend much time watching them; after all, our summer is so very short, why waste it sitting inside watching the elite group perform the impossible.  Besides, I should boycott watching them, after hearing all the controversy about Rio – corruption by the developers, unfair distribution of the Olympic costs and benefits, the deadly potential of the Zika virus, and the controversial ban of the Russian athletes.

I used to love watching the Olympics in the summer.  When I was much younger, it was one my late summer motivators to get up and go for a run, do a workout, go for a bike ride, or just move.  I remember spending many hours parked in front of the TV watching while I lumbered through my step-aerobics, or did a few extra steps on my non-electric treadmill. I was not delusional enough to believe that I was an athlete, but I did believe I could push myself to go just a little faster, further, stronger.

But this Olympics was going to be different.  I am no spring chicken anymore. Although usually I am very happy to see young people succeed, I have to admit that sometimes the jealousy virus attacks me. Sometimes watching young people reach their dreams depresses rather than motivates me.  On my down days, these people remind me of what will never be for me.  That I will never be able to even jog any more thanks to my new enemy Arthritis.  That I will most likely never have an opportunity to travel to these exciting places, and that I will never, ever, ever, ever, be young again.   I don’t dwell on these feelings, but sometimes they spread like a bad virus  oiling around and slowly sucking away the pleasure of a beautiful day. Yet somehow I found myself tuning into the opening ceremonies and watching with rapture as each new country marched into that huge stadium.   Before I knew it, my fingers were flying to google searching to find out exactly where island nations such as Vanauta or Tongo were located. Before I even knew it, I was hooked.  I have to admit sometimes I was envious of all these athletes – especially those who came from those amazing places I now know it’s pointless to even dream of visiting. The reality of being 55+ is that I can’t do it all; I can’t afford to see it all and do it all.  Sigh.  But I digress.

The Olympic virus had stung me and I was off to a two-week binge watch. The virus had won. Some evenings I wheedled my way downstairs to sit with my son and nudge him into watching some of the volleyball or swimming.  We chatted about the teams, and guessed the medal counts.  For the first time, because I so often ache from aging injuries, I looked at the athletes and started to realized how much they must really hurt after an event or during training.  And I worried a little about how quickly all that extreme participation will impact them when they are 55+.  Will they be suffering the slings and arrows of degeneration? Or will those superior efforts keep their bodies strong enough to fight against the ravages of age?

Other days I spent time by myself puttering around the house while the Olympics gushed out of each TV in the house. I channeled surfed to catch as many different versions as I could. I downloaded the apps and followed them faithfully, even though I was extremely annoyed by the awkward, non-user friendly CBC app that controlled most of the news. I followed the games on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram. I liked the Canadian athletes, the medal winners, the media, and more.  I even sometimes wrote posts and followed some of the specific athletes. I entered the goofy contests in the very rare chance I could win some Olympic swag ( Of course I didn’t win a thing!).  I even won my own silver medal in a dragonboat competition (Hooray).  I did it all.  And in my heart, I felt a part of Team Canada, even though my head tells me I am being silly. These athletes are strangers whom I will never meet, nor ever even come close to their world, nor they to mine.  Why should I feel like I know them, or even care?  But I do.

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DASA Dragoons win silver at Calgary Dragonboat Festival – and cheer on Team Canada! Paddles Up Canada:)

 

Then suddenly it was Sunday and the virus was vanquished.  No more medal counts, no more motivational stories, no more heart-breaking 4th place finishes, or spectacular medal wins. Today feels so ordinary and bland without the Olympics.  It also seems like the death knoll for summer. The leaves have suddenly started to turn colour, the air quickly turns chilly at 8:30 at night, the air even feels different.  The summer binge, topped off by the Olympics is over.  My arthritis is back – and reminding me with a fury that I too am moving into autumn. All that is left is to mourn the loss, and wait for the sedate opportunities of fall to take over.

 

 

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Curling Rocks!

Sometimes in life we made really, really, really bad decisions, but once in awhile, we get lucky and make a great one.  That’s what happened to me this winter.

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Blaine bugged me all year to join him in Senior’s Curling in Lethbridge.  I just didn’t want to the big commitment.  Driving  all the way to the city  two days a week  – that means a 45 minute drive – leaving mid-morning so we get there in time to practice, staying for 3 hours to curl and chitchat with strangers, and then driving back home arriving around 4:30 or 5:00; well, it just seemed to much of a bother.  After doing that same grind (even longer) every day for almost 26 years of work, I just didn’t want to have to say yes.  But finally, in March I agreed.

Flash forward 6 weeks.  I know we must made our best decision in years.  We are together at a social event twice a week – it’s like “date afternoon”.  We are put onto different teams so we have to meet different people during reach game. I  I have been forced out of my winter hibernation comfort zone at a time when I needed it the most.

I’m not that great of a curler, but I have picked up more tips in the last 6 weeks that I have in 6 years.   I’m getting fit again.  Take note Jenny Craig, Weigh Watchers, Herbal Magic and all you other diet businesses – I have found a better way!  Today I fit into curling pants I haven’t even dare to try for over 2 years.  Who knew that curling twice a week could put me on the path to picking up my skinny jeans again (well, not for another few weeks yet, but I still can dream). Plus, because of curling, I found a friend that I can travel with. Last week we took a grand curling adventure to Swift Current Sk. to watch the first 3 draws of the World Women’s Championship. Now, I have a whole rink full of new friends to mull over the games, each of us offering our own so-called “expert” take on the games.  What a blast!

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Team Canada enters the arena at the Opening Ceremonies – World Women’s Championship 2016

The best part – watching happy seniors stay physically and mentally well.   Sometimes I can look across the ice and see the kid in us all, no matter our age. It’s fun to laugh over a mistake, worry over a shot, and  high-five over a success with my new team mates.

I wish that more younger people could see the joy in our eyes – and see that life after 55 doesn’t mean we are out to pasture. Instead, it means we are still full of vitality! Unlike those of you younger beings, we now have the time to revisit our inner child and be a kid again, despite our creaky knees, saggy boobs, and thinning hair.

Rock on my senior friends – and Hurry Hard!

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Opening Ceremonies for the Word Women’s Championship – Swift Current, 2016

Year End in Review – Not!

Sad news, happy news,  good news, bad news, same old news.  That’s the stuff of year-end reviews.  I used to love those annual wrap-ups. Sometimes I would stay up late catching as many of them as I could.  After the Christmas let-down, the year-in-review was a last blast of revelry, something to look forward to as the rush of the holiday season leaked away.

But since Freedom 55, I don’t care anymore.  The reviews seem redundant – tragedy after tragedy revisited, followed by political scandal and failings, followed by stories of brash excesses from so-called celebrities. I just don’t want to hear it anymore. Coming from a former news junkie brought on by a lifetime of teaching social studies, this behaviour is uncharacteristic of me – or at least the old me.  Perhaps retirement is forging a new me, someone who has totally different interests and passions.

Is it that I am no longer so future focused? I have spent my lifetime looking forward, striving to become the best I could be – to learn more, to work harder, to be a better mother, simply to be more. But now, none of that matters. There is no forward in the career path.  My parenting time is done. My son is grown up and has left home.  It is now time to focus on the present.

I haven’t figured this new me out yet, but I am on my way.  I am enjoying the present more than ever.  I am starting to let go of my past persona, unsubscribing from many of the previous expectations.  The annual year-end review is one of the many small pieces of the past that I am happily rejecting.

So my year end in review tradition will now be to sit down, enjoy a cup of tea and relax with a cheesy movie, a quick peek at Facebook, and a good book.  I’m saying  NO to the annual Year in Review!

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Last Minute Adventures

Happy New Year! Time is running out for my 55 adventures for Freedom 55. Nevertheless, I managed to squeak in a few  last minute adventures as 2013 waned.

1. Snowshoeing – Erin and I snow-shoed around our property just before Christmas. To make the day even better, Mackenzie “skied” around the hills. I was transported to my younger years watching him trudge up the hill in ski boots, ski carefully down the barely-snow covered hills, trudge back up and try again.   I loved it!

2. Trip to Great Falls – we managed a quick, 24 hour trip to Great Falls to take Mackenzie to the airport when he and the Smiths left to Disney World.  Although we have been to Great Falls before, it was still a mini-adventure.  We stopped in Conrad and found a typical, small-town restaurant for lunch. On the way home we took the back way past Choteau. Again, we stopped at a local restaurant – named “John Henry’s”. I love this little adventures.  Exploring these small, out-of-the-way towns gives me a good look at “real people”, “real places”.  Most of these types of places are very welcoming and are all very unique. Each has it’s own character, it’s own mood, and it’s own mini-adventure.

3. New Year’s Eve – Again we took some back roads enroute to Okotoks to spend New Year’s Eve with the Zanonis – our ex-neighbours.  We drove through downtown High River, catching a very tiny glimpse of the devastation left from the horrific flooding in June.   The sight of the Atco trailer village located right beside Cargill was strange. It looks like some “survivors” are trying to cope as best as they can. Christmas lights adorned many of the make-shift homes, the carefully arranged rows of alleys and stoops decked out with lights. Some even had the faux Dickenson light posts set up in the tiny yards. I am sure many of them had bitter-sweet Christmases.

4. Home from Okotoks – we took Highway 22 – driving through Black Diamond and Longview.  We stopped for a late breakfast at the Longview Hotel. Again, I love stopping at these unique small town treasures to get a taste of the local flavours.

5. December – I finished my last course in the Digital Storytelling Certificate.  I loved this last course. I felt I was back in “grad school” again. I am going to miss taking classes such as this one.  I also will miss a sense of usefulness to what I learn – a purpose and a place to apply what I learn! 

5. The biggest adventure undertaken since I gave birth!  I “retired”.  This adventure is just beginning to unfold. Today, January 2nd, my former colleagues trudged off to work. I slept in.  I haven’t quite figured out what I want from this adventure, but I hope I can make the best of my “golden years”. 

A Tally

OK. Bonzo, we are going to do 55 adventures before January 28th, 2014. So, I’d better keep a score:

Love this motto!
Love this motto!

Going backwards, starting in late October

  1. Retirement!  I agreed to take a redundancy and will finish my formal time with the college at the end of December. So, the big Freedom 55 adventure looms.
  2. We bought recreational land near Beaver Mines!!! This purchase should count for at least 10 different adventures.  Each time I go out, I take a different walk or travel a different road. I am getting used to carrying bear spray, identifying critter scat, following animal tracks, and just being in touch with nature again.  Wonderful!
  3. Going to Waterton; Hiking Bear’s Hump and Red Rock Canyon – something I haven’t done for a few years.  IT was also Val’s firs time up Bear’s HUmp.  So I think this day counts as part of the adventure.
  4. Nachos and drinks at Twin Butte Mexican Restaurant:  On our way back to the cabin, we stopped at Twin Butte’s Mexican Restaurant for nachos supreme.  I haven’t been to Twin Butte since the 1980’s. So, I think that trip counts as an adventure!
  5. Hiking to Bertha Lake -Val, Sue Bodie and I hiked to BErtha Falls. I found the uphill part to be quite a cardio challenge, but otherwise not that difficult compared to our hikes of this past summer.
  6. Dragon Boating: I started back to Dragon Boating. This year we fielded a women’s team. We had an absolute blast!  In early September we journeyed to Big Fork, Montana to participate in my first ever international dragon boat competition.  After two months of training, we really improved.  Our team posted our best ever time.  I can’t describe how much I love being out on the boat, feeling the water move beneath my paddle, soaring toward the finish line.  It is unbelievably AWESOME!

365 Days of Something New

I’ve decided one of my “to-do”s for my journey to retirement is to learn something new everyday.  So, here’s my “new” for today:

 

1.  Kabarnet, Rift Valley, Kenya is a small city with a population of about 10 000. It’s rural population is over 24 000 (Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha search.  It’s elevation is 6, 273 feet.   Nairobi, Kenya is about 133 miles away, and has a population of 3.138 million people.  I wonder, then, how much of the urban lifestyle has spilled over into Kabarnet.  I looked at some pictures and see a modern-looking town, somewhat like Tamarindo, Costa Rica.  On the other hand, when I look at Google Earth, the immediate “town” looks like a village with red earth, long rows of red aluminum roof tops, and meandering streets.   Wouldn’t this town be interesting to visit?

 

2. Why did I pick this city / town?  My student is from here. She’s very quiet, and I’d love to get her talking, so I’m trying to find out more about her life.

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