Replace Complaints with Gratitude

Everyone is complaining about the snow…but I still think it is so beautiful!  Here are some photographs I’ve taken in the last few days in my yard with a variety of light.  Let’s replace the complaints with gratitude…

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Shortly after sunrise this morning…

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An hour later…

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I pray that homeless people find shelter during this extreme cold!  Make it a great day!

 

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Last Minute Trip to Memphis

I’m a lucky girl!  I’m a lucky girl!  Goin’ to Memphis for the very first time in a couple of days with a girlfriend.  What fun we’ll have…new people to meet…new things to see.  We’ll be within walking distance of the famous Beale Street and the Riverwalk.  If any one has any recommendations of places to eat, things to see…please share.

Here’s a photo from the other night…

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Sending you all positive thoughts, prayers and happiness!

Life is Good

Life is good!  I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for!  I was contacted by the PR for Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana after I marketed a blog post of my visit to their casino onto their Facebook page.  They would like me to be their guest for dinner, dancing and overnight…for both a date night and with girlfriends (up to 10)!  Woo hoo!  So, I’m in the planning stages of that…checking with friends to see when they’re available.  Seems to make you quite popular on Facebook!

And…I’m buying a real DSLR camera in the next few days…a Nikon D-5100 with a 18-200mm lenses!  I’ve been using an Olympus PEN for the last year or two and can’t wait to have a “big girl” camera!

Here are some photos from the last week in my life.  Driving on country roads on my way to the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Clarksville, Ohio at sunrise…

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Across the street from that beautiful barn…some cool landscape…

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I went to lunch with a girlfriend that I haven’t socialized with in almost 5 years at the Dilly Cafe in Mariemont, Ohio and encountered this very unique individual at the restaurant.  He was conversing with a couple of men and I kindly interrupted and requested permission to take his photograph because of his uniqueness.  Notice the “Pull & Pray” behind him.  He obliged…

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Easter Day

My Easter Day today was great!  My son and his beautiful girlfriend (pictured below) spent the night and after a leisurely morning with coffee and internet time, I prepared some mushroom omelets and toast for breakfast.  He’s really tall–like 6’9″–so he makes her look shorter than she is.  We attended a new church today that’s very near our house and it was quite interesting.  To give you some background.  Although my family didn’t attend church,  I attended church with a girlfriend when I was 12.  And through the years have gone to a variety of churches…all different denominations…Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of God, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, etc.  I have my own personal beliefs, as everyone does.  Anyway, the preacher at this particular church was quite loud and full of spirit.  He was so loud on the microphone that I had to plug my ears with my fingers throughout much of the sermon (but I could still hear him).  He would start off at a somewhat normal pitch and within a few sentences of each point would be almost screaming.  He said that he knows that hell is real because on YouTube he saw a video showing a team of scientists drilling into the core of the earth and their drill bit began to wobble after they were deep into the ground.  There are only two reasons a drill bit wobbles…either it is bent or you’ve reached an area without any matter…such as a cavern.  They placed a microphone down into the hole and heard human voices screaming.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not poking fun at religion…merely repeating what I heard this morning.  Enough about that.

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Christmas Celebrations…a time for Friends, Family and Gratitude

I’m sure most of you have multiple Christmas celebrations…with all of the divorced families and grown children splitting their time between families.  I enjoy being able to have lots of opportunities for spending time with family and friends!  My first celebration was with my son and his girlfriend last weekend.  He is spending Christmas with his father, step-mother and sister in Texas.  He was excited about seeing his 14-year-old half-sister and I’m so happy that he’s happy!

I received a really special gift from him this year…one of my favorite photographs that I took in Namibia, Africa…framed!

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Friday night we spent a wonderful evening with my long-time girlfriend from middle school and her husband.  She prepared a delicious fish entrée and then we had game night…a couple games of pool and Wii bowling.  Downstairs was decorated for a party their teenage daughter was having the following night.

The photo on the top right is after we arrived home…Randy bringing wood in for the wood burning stove.  That’s how we heat the house in the winter!

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Saturday night we had lots of fun at a friend’s (more like family) house, along with my brother, his wife, and my niece and nephew.  Lynne…the hostess had decorated the table so festively…

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We had a different wine with each course…

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After the gift giving and white elephant…we sang songs…mostly Christmas songs using a Karaoke machine that hooks up to your I-pad, that Lynne received as a gift.

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I was a bit obnoxious with my camera…snapping photos throughout the evening.  But, hey…that’s my thing!

My husband was a bit melancholy because all of our parents have passed away.  It can be a difficult time for people…but I read an interesting article recently that helps people control and redirect their thoughts.  Basically…imagine there is a computer in your head along with a trash bin that you can drag negative thoughts into.  I’m usually quite optimistic, so I don’t need to utilize the technique extensively, but it’s amazingly effective.

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Christmas day we’ll go my cousin’s in the afternoon and then to the neighbors’!  We’re blessed to have such good friends and family!!

 

Thank you for your Recognition

In the past month or so, I’ve been nominated for a couple of awards and I’d like to say thank you very much for your support and recognition!

The first one is the Lovely Blog Award from Renee at the Positive Boomer blog.  I love to read her posts because they are so “Positive” and inspirational!

The second is the Sweetest Blog Award from Pam at the MzZoomer blog.  I enjoy her posts because she covers a large variety of topics….so you always learn something!
Anyway, thanks again ladies and I apologize for taking so long!  Hope your weekend is great!

~Sherry~

Hiking in Autumn

My dog Jake lives to hike with us!  He knows when we put on our hiking or jogging shoes that soon he’ll be out running in the woods!  He races in and out of the doggie door, unable to contain his excitement.  If we take too long, he’ll stick his head through it to see what we’re doing…

I had to take a picture of some of the trees above the roof of the house before leaving for the woods…

And the front yard.  We live on 5 acres (of which 4 acres is wooded) at the end of a lane and love the seclusion.

This spot is located right around the corner from my house.  Definitely worth a stop!

We stopped along the way for a quick photo of a farm.  I love the texture and color of the drying soy bean crop…

These photos are a combination of two different hikes we’ve taken this week.  I am very grateful to have a park within five minutes of my home that is over 500 acres with hiking trails and that I usually have to myself!

The leaves are glittering like gold…

I couldn’t believe how beautiful the trees and reflection were when we arrived to the lake.  If you’re a photographer, you know that almost giddy feeling of enthusiasm when you see something beautiful.

I recently realized that my camera has enabled me to appreciate and observe more of the beauty that surrounds me in people, nature and things.

This is from a hike a couple of days ago as dusk was settling…

Fog had descended upon us as we finished the hike…just in time for Halloween!

Get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!  Some people aren’t able to!

End of Summer

This weekend has been wonderful!  Saturday we started the day with our usual three-mile trail jog at the nature center.  There were beautiful wildflowers weeds everywhere, so I picked some to bring home.  Breakfast was a yummy smoothie with strawberries, banana, Greek yogurt, coconut milk, oatmeal flakes, honey, 1 cup of ice, and some Chia Seeds.  I discovered the Chia Seeds at Trader Joe’s and was impressed by the amount of fiber, Omega 3, and Protein in 1 tablespoon!

That afternoon we rode the Harley to the Milford Street Festival.  We stopped along the way because Randy wanted a photo with this tank…

We stayed at the festival for about an hour and stopped by the booth of one of Randy’s friends…Steve Black…who makes cool jewelry out of spoons and forks.  A lot of the pieces are Harley and breast cancer (ribbon) related.

There were a variety of booths including face painting…

This parrot was cool…

We stopped in a gun shop and I thought this would make an artsy photo…

And this wall looked cool.  The three different colors and textures really popped!

We rushed home, changed clothes and left for our next adventure…Bob’s Pig Roast.  It was in honor of his deceased wife who had died from cancer.  Everyone donated $10 to the American Cancer Society…so $2700 was collected!

This is Bob…

I took about 150 photos, but picked out just a few to post.  This is my friend Shari.  I took 7 photos of her with my flash on and she blinked every single time.  So I turned the flash off and…voila…

This was the beginning of the party…before most of the group arrived.  The port-o-lets were for the guys and the inside restrooms were for the ladies.

Randy, Frank and I were toasting with three different beverages in a wine glass.  Wine for me, beer for Randy and water for Frank!

It was a busy and FUN day!  I’m grateful we have so many nice friends!  We’ve had beautiful weather, but it is cooling off this week.  Hope your weekend was great and wishing you a wonderful week!!

xoxoxo

Map My Run

I usually jog 4-5 times per week.  This is the first winter I’ve chosen to jog outside.  The weather has been mild, so it’s easier.  I can’t seem to get motivated to jog on the treadmill anymore.  I love the variety of things to look at outside…the houses, people, businesses, and nature.  It’s fun jogging on new streets and finding your way back.  Different memories are stirred up from the smells I encounter…the smell coming from people’s dryer vents…or food cooking.  People smile at me or wave and it’s nice to interact.

I found this neat website…”Map My Run” that you can map out your route ahead of time or like me, after you’ve jogged it.  It keeps track of your mileage and the dates you work out.  It even shows the elevation changes.  I’m so thankful that I enjoy working out… because it makes me feel good, makes me look good and keeps me healthy!  Every time I put my jogging pants on…they have the inscription…”Just Do It” on the inside seam and I think…I Am!

I ran my first half marathon on Halloween and still can’t believe it sometimes.  Here I am, in my 50’s and I can run farther than at any other time in my life!

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”
John Bingham, running speaker and writer

Life is Black and White for now

 My life is good.  I have had my share of “bad” things happen in my life, mostly to those I love, which has helped me learn that I have limited control over certain things.  I am a spiritual person…not religious… and agree with the message of the “Serenity Prayer”.  

This has usually helped me to handle the stress in my life in a more positive way.   I have everything I need.  My health.  I have friends and family (although a small one) a husband… one grown child (who still lives at home)…my parents are gone and I’m not close to extended family.  All of the basics (shelter/food/clothing)…I have gratitude for everything and know that I’m blessed.  If you read one of my most recent posts, “50 Things I Love”, you know that I receive pleasure from the simple things in life.  Why then do I feel a discontent…an almost constant pull to travel…need for an adventure…to find my purpose…and loneliness.  I’m free to make choices…am I settling…will I have regrets later?

 Working full-time while my son was growing up, left little time to “find myself”, and even less money to travel to far-away lands to learn about other cultures.  Although I loved being a mother, I remember feeling trapped much of the time.

 If you’re like me, there are a variety of messages that pass your way every day.  Blogs, books and even Pinterest speaks to me!  This was a message on Pinterest yesterday…

The only thing that makes it a part of your life
is that you keep thinking about it!

 

I signed up for messages from “The Universe” and here are some of the most recent—

 

Some think life is not so much a place to seek personal
happiness and fulfillment, Sherry, but rather a place to learn
 lessons and pay dues.  And so it is for them.  
Tallyho, The Universe

 

This one is telling me to have fun…enjoy life!

Get out, get out, get out even more, Sherry! Because there are
people you’ve yet to meet, laughs you’ve yet to share, stories
you’ve yet to live, and riches you’ve yet to tap into, that will not
find you under any other circumstances.
Besides, how else can I shower you with surprises? 
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me to go on that “trip around the world” that you’ve been wanting to take, but haven’t because you’re worried that you shouldn’t spend the money because you need it for retirement!  But then I’ll think, well I could teach English as a second language or house-sit, or couchsurf, or find other ways to make a living while traveling!

You don’t even have to know what you want, Sherry.
I’ll take care of that.  Just enjoy that you received another
day, and the 10,000 miracles within it.  It’s on me, 
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me to stop worrying about which direction to go…just do what makes you happy.  It’s not that complicated…stop over-analyzing and just have gratitude!

Often, Sherry, having what you want is a function of
letting go of what you have.  If you know what I mean.
The Universe 

 

This one is telling me again…to travel!!  I’ve already minimized possessions… 

What do you now fear, Sherry?
How will you use this?
You’re welcome, 
The Universe 

 

This one knows that I’m still analyzing and fearful about how big changes will affect me and those around me!

I bounce from different schools of thought…

the universe is giving me a sign…to

just envision what you want, take action, and you can manifest it…to

just meditate…it really doesn’t matter who or what is in your life…because you can control your thoughts and perceptions (Eckert Tolle)

 So….I’d love to hear from you…how do you handle these thoughts in your life?  I’ll leave you with more Black & White…

  
 

The Citadel in Cairo, Egypt - 2009

 
 

Stone hut on side of road in Peru - 2009

Dead Fish on ice at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Man weaving on beach on Roatan Island, Honduras - 2007

Sleeping man at outdoor train station in Egypt - 2009

Man at the Pyramids

Little girl in Petra, Jordan

Listen to the Whispers of Your Heart

This past week has been a wild ride.  After being dropped at the Cincinnati Airport to travel to California for a Symposium, where mass interviews took place, I realized I was at the wrong airport.  How does that happen to someone who is as detailed and organized as I am?  I believe I wasn’t supposed to go and I was ignoring the whispers of the universe/God/my heart!  I had tried to back out of going a while back and people talked me back into it.  And actually—that sign from the Universe was yelling—not whispering!

I’m frantically calling my husband repeatedly to come back and pick me up—to no avail—he had turned his cell phone off because people kept texting him while we were having a rather heated discussion on the way to the airport.  Everything was aligned against me going.  The next flight through that airline to Sacramento wasn’t until Tuesday and flights through other airlines were too expensive.

While I was waiting for my girlfriend to pick me up at the airport, having cried and feeling at one point that it was the end of the world, a handicapped man hobbled past me and a new perspective hit me.  So what, I missed a flight.  That happens some times…it had just never happened in all of my travels…to me.  If I really wanted to be a Tour Director, those are some of the kinds of things that happen while traveling.  I also remembered a conversation I had with my boss’s girlfriend the day before leaving.  She said the universe guides us if we listen, which I knew, but had forgotten.  I spent the day helping my girlfriend pick out décor for remodeling her bathroom, had a couple of rum and coke and spent the night at her house.

My husband picked me up the next day—on Sunday—and I asked him if he’d like to drive to Florida for the week.  I had a friend that had offered her condo for us to stay in at Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.  After checking with his boss, it took all of 2 hours to unpack winter clothes, pack summer clothes and hit the road for the 17-hour drive.  On the drive down we stayed at the same motel in Macon, Georgia, my mother and I stayed at in March, when I drove her down before she died from Cancer in June.

The weather was glorious…80 degrees and sunny every day.  I jogged every morning, took 3-4 mile hikes on the beach and read by the pool!  I’m glad I chose to not sulk—to seize the moments!

Here are some photos from the trip—

CAPTIVA BEACH…FLORIDA

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA

GREAT IDEA!!

As Marilyn Monroe has said…”Sometimes Good Things Fall apart so Better Things Can Fall Together”.  I can’t wait to see what the Universe has in store for me next—I have a feeling there are some adventurous times around the corner!

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!

My Half Marathon in Clayton, Ohio

After some ibuprofen, a hot shower, and a nap, I’m beginning to feel better since jogging my half marathon today!  Normally, I don’t get sore after a long jog (the longest before this was 10 miles last weekend), but since it was only 35 degrees this morning, I’m assuming that is why it affected me differently… anyways…it was an experience and I’m glad I did it.

It’s kind of like childbirth, I remember I was wishing it was over a number of times, but looking back, it seemed to go rather quickly.  I finished in 2 hrs. 15 minutes, which is the time I predicted, since I normally jog 10 minute miles.

For breakfast, I had whole grain cereal with banana and almond milk, and water.  We drove an hour and 10 minutes from a suburb of Cincinnati to Clayton for the race.  There was one in town last weekend, but I was out-of-town and there is one this coming weekend, but I’ll be out-of-town again.

This is me pre-race…

My husband took photos of me and although he has many talents/strengths, photography is not one of them.  These are the best of the many he took…most of them are blurry.  But, I’m not complaining, I was thankful he came to cheer me on!  I’m fourth from the left in the photo below.  I think there were about 200 people total.  I’ll get the results sometime in the next couple of days.

We started about a minute later.

The terrain was beautiful, rolling roads through rural Ohio with pretty trees and farms along the way.  When I would get caught up in my head thinking… analyzing…etc., I would look around and be in the moment, thinking I love the feel of the sun warming me (a bit) and thankful that I am able to run (so many people can’t because of being out of shape, past injuries, or worse)!   I bought some goo to eat once (at mile 10) for energy.  It tastes like chocolate icing.  Some people don’t like to take it because of the texture, but it did seem to give me a boost.

The girl next to me in the photo below was beside me for the last 1/2 mile and I told her we could help each other go faster.  Anyway, she started to pass me right before the finish line, so I amped it up…that’s why we’re laughing!

Right afterward, I could barely breathe or walk.  I’m glad I didn’t stop running the entire time, except for 30 seconds to eat the goo, or I might not have been able to start again!

After stretching some, below is my celebratory photo!  Tonight, we’re going to a Halloween party, so a few drinks should loosen me up a bit more!  Happy Halloween to everyone and to all a GOOD NIGHT!!

Everything is a Miracle

I believe everything is a miracle.  You are a miracle.  There is no one else on earth like you!  Everywhere you look, there is a miracle…the spider web in the windowsill, the computer I’m typing on, flying in a plane, being able to hear and see and taste and touch everything!

People are amazing…the things that they can do physically and intellectually!  Animals are so cool!  Anyway, this is the park I trail run at, but I took a hike there tonight…some of the photos may seem to look-alike, but they are actually quite dissimilar…the colors of green are different and the composition of the trees, etc.

This is what I see first after exiting the vehicle to jog or hike…

Then…I walk down this gravel road and turn to the left…

 

Jake, the spoiled hunting dog runs ahead…

 

 

That’s me…

It felt strange hiking rather than running the trail this time…

 

I love the light in this photo…

 

Here comes Jake…

 

There goes Jake…

Hope you can see the miracles all around you and in you and have gratitude for them!!

The Good – The Bad – The Wonderful

Looking back over the past four years, I realize how blessed I’ve been to have had some amazing experiences, learn new skills and obtain more knowledge in a variety of areas:

Technology:

How to make a blog.  How to make a collage of my photos on Picasa.  How to embed slideshows from Flickr onto my blog.   How to utilize more functions on my digital camera.  How to upload videos on YouTube.  How to use iMovie, iDVD, iMac, iPod, iPad, iTunes, TomTom, Skype, and a smart phone.  More about Search Engine Optimization and Google.

First time experiences:

Taking a Segway tour.   Being hit by a car as a pedestrian in San Francisco.  Riding an Elephant, Camel and Donkey.  Sleeping on the Nile River, on a boat in the China Sea, in the Desert, on an overnight bus (ugh), on a plane overnight (ugh), in the Amazon jungle, and on an overnight train in Portugal and Egypt.   Learned Hot Yoga.  Smoking flavored tobacco from a hookah.  Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; through Petra, Jordan; in Cinque Terre; to the bottom of the Grand Canyon solo; to the top of Mt. Sinai; through Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Bryce and Zion Nat’l Parks.  Seeing the Pyramids.  Spending the night with a Peruvian family on an island of Lake Titicaca.  Getting an authentic Thai massage.  Taking a longboat ride on the Mekong River.  Trying new cuisines.  Swimming in the Dead Sea & the Red Sea.  Having a Turkish Bath/Massage.  Getting Botox.  Sand boarding & jeep riding in the desert.  Playing soccer with locals in Peru.

Travel:

Egypt/Jordan, Peru, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Spain, France, Portugal, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Dominican Republic, New England road trip (solo), California by Amtrak (solo), Alta, Utah (snow skiing), cruise (Belize, Roatan Island, Grand Cayman, Cozumel (solo)), Las Vegas (solo), Costa Rica, numerous hikes/camping throughout Kentucky and Ohio (with meetup.com hiking club), Florida, Chicago, and Nashville, TN.

Cooking:

Making…Broccoli Venison Over Rice and Roast Venison Over Veggies from this site.  Lots of new recipes from the Pioneer Woman.  Taking a cooking class in Thailand.

Meeting new people:

In addition to many new friends through Meetup.com, I’ve met people from England, Morocco, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Amsterdam, Gibraltar, Egypt, Jordan, Peru, and Thailand.

I have gone through many of life’s biggest stresses: moving (3 times), divorce, remarriage, job loss, family members with addiction issues and illnesses, and the death of my father.  I’ve acquired more: Compassion, spirituality, gratitude, patience and tolerance.

I have a feeling that the next four years will be as wonderful as the last!