Weekly Photo Challenge — My 2012 in Pictures

2012 was a year of discovery and fun!

I participated in lots of activities…

Activities

Pinterest inspired me to make over 125 new recipes!  My husband gained a few pounds.

And…I made homemade Febreeze, carpet stain remover, deodorant, In a Pickle Bag, scarves made from t-shirts, and these beautiful Easter centerpieces…

Made

I attended lots of fun festivals, farmers’ markets, parties, and concerts!

Festival2

Festivals1

I was a tourist in my own hometown of Cincinnati and the surrounding areas…

Tourist1

And–had so much fun seeing familiar places with new eyes through the lens of my camera!

Tourist2

In May/June, I camped for 26 nights of the 40 nights I spent touring seven AMAZING countries in Africa.  You can read the first post here!

Africa

Met unforgettable people and had once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

People of Africa

Strangers opened their homes to me in South Africa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida–through an organization called Couchsurfing!

It is an amazing way to meet new people, make travel affordable, and get tips from locals on what to see and do!

Couchsurfing

My six week-4,200 mile-USA road-trip through North & South Carolina, Georgia and Florida was an adventure!  I left in late October and returned home in December.

I so enjoyed walking through all of the cities I visited!

Roadtrip4

There is so much beauty in the USA!

Roadtrip5

Florida was too pretty for words!!

Roadtrip2

Roadtrip1

I took a wine painting class with girlfriends, went to Columbus, Ohio for a girls’ weekend, and had girlfriends visit me in Florida!

Friends

Last…but most importantly…had quality time with family!  I thank my husband for being a good sport concerning my passion for travel!

Family

My cousins and I had fun taking photos with Santa!!

Santa

I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a rich life…but I’m truly grateful and if 2013 is as good or better than 2012…then all I have to say is…”LIFE IS GOODGREAT IN YOUR 50’s”!

2011 in Review

Looking back at what has occurred in my life in 2011, brings to light the observation that many of us don’t realize how much we’ve grown or what we’ve accomplished during any given period of time.  Until you put it on paper or…in the blog!

In February my mother was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer.  In March I had a family reunion while she was still able to spend some quality time with people.  The first photo was from 2007 – you can see how she changed in a few years.

March was a busy month…I took a flight to Los Angeles for the Travel & Leisure show– to network for employment within the travel industry.

A week later I drove my mother from Ohio to Ft. Myers, Florida for a mini vacation…knowing this would be her last time to see the beach…it was bittersweet!

April was filled with lots of exercise…hikes, hot yoga, a 5-K run, and my first boot camp.  I spent more time with my mother…picking her up to spend the day with me at my house.  She enjoyed soaking up the sun on my back deck…surrounded by trees and the beautiful beginning of spring.

I helped a friend organize her house one day, met with hospice for my mother’s evaluation, and did lots of yard work.  I bought a new camera (Olympus PEN) and won third place in a photography contest at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati with this photo…

I volunteered at a food bank in May, took my son to the traveling “Cirque du Soleil” show, attended a derby party, organized a couple of social events for meetup.com–a motorcycle meetup–and a winery tour in Madison, Indiana.  I moved my mother into my home at the end of May to take care of her during her last week of life.

She died on June 9th and I made a short movie to show at the memorial service.  The rest of June was somewhat quiet.

July was filled with pool parties, boating, jogging, yoga, hiking and traveling.  I hiked on the Appalachian Trail for a couple of days with a friend and you can read about it here

We treated ourselves the third evening to an overnight stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast!

A week later I left for a vacation to Washington State and British Columbia that was absolutely breathtaking…filled with beautiful scenery and amazing hikes!  Read about it here

I quit smoking cigarettes one month from the date my mother died…and consider it my most significant accomplishment of the year!

In August…after only two days at home…I was blessed to be able to go on another trip…this one to New Mexico and Colorado.  It was truly magical and stunning!  Read about it here

In September I started training for a half-marathon that was coming up at the end of October.  I took photography classes to learn more about aperture, F-stop, shutter speed, etc.

I also made the decision to follow my passion for travel and enrolled at ITMI (International Travel Management Institute) for a two-week class that was starting in October, to become a Tour Director–to take people on trips around the world!  It was held in beautiful San Francisco…

The class took a trip to the enchanted Sequoia Nat’l Park and Kings Canyon Nat’l Park…

I ran my half-marathon at the end of October and completed it in 2 hrs. 15 minutes.

In November I went on a girls’ weekend to Lexington, Kentucky…

I joined Toastmasters!   And I started a temporary full-time job for the next couple of months until I start Tour Directing!

My blog was “freshly pressed” twice this year…which I am so grateful for and I’ve met a lot of interesting and nice people both online and off!

The two quotes or philosophies that have stuck with me this year are:

Your attitude + Your choices = Your life

Collect experiences…not things!

It was a year filled with beauty, challenges, sadness, joy, confusion, and much gratitude!