17 June 2014

How to Have a Happy Summer

Befriend the young;
they're fun to hang out with,
see it all fresh and have unfettered hearts.

Befriend other women;
they walk our path,
mirror our souls and lend their comfort.

Befriend other couples;
they are mentors,
supporters and cheerleaders.

Play games;
they keep you sharp and happy
and give you a way to connect with the young.

Go out for coffee;
find a cafe that writes happy messages to you
and serves little sweet extras to start your day right.

Hope your summer is a happy one. Better yet, make it happy! What would that look like for you?

09 June 2014

Simple Joys

My Honey and I took a stroll through our town with friends. Summer weather, sunny and dry, is here to enjoy. We sat for awhile on a bench in a new square just built and planted. I love the old wall next to the newly painted one and the sculpture in the center. We have sculptures all over town. We ate gelato and admired the flowers. That's all. Seems like I've absorbed some of the Italian lifestyle.

It was our first gelato of the season from one of our cafes. I sat on the bench next to the profusion of flowers in the photo. Such lovely colors.

When we returned home my Honey made baked stuffed zucchini and salad with orange and fennel, served with a local white wine. Delicious. La dolce vita.

Wishing you summer's abundance and simple pleasures.

05 June 2014


Yarn hangs on the woven shelter
in the garden. Chosen by children,
it tells their secrets in a color riddle,
favorites deliberately picked,
hung on branches like leaves in the wind,
stowaway messages for other lovers on the bench.

Posted for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, Get Listed, hosted by Fireblossom. The words of her list that I used: yarn, choose, garden, love, stowaway, riddle, secret and favorite. This photo was taken in a delightful garden in County Clare, Ireland on a recent visit.

04 June 2014

5 Years and 500 Posts Later...

5 years ago I retired, moved to Italy and began this blog to chronicle my journey into elderhood. It never occurred to me how monumental it was to move to a different culture and learn another language while retiring from my beloved profession of nursing and beginning my next life stage. This is the 500th post on my blog, which is monumental in itself, and what a journey it has been! Since I've also decided to move back to the states, I wanted to take stock of where I'm at and what these years have taught me.

Top 5 accomplishments: 

1. Ran my first marathon and chose running as my exercise. I've continued to run 3 times a week and love it. Why did I wait so long to give myself this gift?

2. Started this blog not knowing the first thing about the blogging world. I figured it would be a way to stay more aware of what happened on my journey and provide information from afar to my family and friends. Along the way it introduced me to a world of people also trying to be more aware and writing their insights down to highlight, share and preserve them. Imagine friendship with such people. Another gift.

3. I embraced my wanderlust and it opened the world to me. I explored Italy and Europe and realized how big and beautiful our world is. I've come to feel like a world citizen. Making friends in so many countries sweetens this gift.

4. Discovered a world of conscious crones to inform and inspire me, through good freinds as we age together as well as other elder bloggers. Makes me proud to be an elder and eager to find new ways to serve my community as an elder with experience and wisdom to share.

5. Closed out the first decade of family gatherings with the young women of the next generation of my family and their children. I hope this is a gift to them because it certainly has been to me. I came to New England from 14 years in California and realized I had lost connection to my east coast family. I longed for bonds with them as adullts and from that simple wish grew a closeness so much more satisfying than I could ever have imagined. I'm forever grateful to them and my sister-in-law, Georganna, (and Peg in the early years before she died) for joining me in this adventure. 

Top 5 things I learned:

1. You know what's sexy? A real conversation! The greatest gift is the long-term love of 40 years together, 40 years of conversations, that takes our differences and turns them into the deeper understanding that opens up a whole other world. I love that. I'm grateful to be on this journey with my Honey. 

2. Grow plants, flowers and herbs and spend part of each day caring for and appreciating them. Read poetry and good books daily and cherish them. Let them change your mind and your heart. Go to coffee, call or write to someone daily to reach out and connect. On good days, do all three.

3. The older I get the more important family becomes, the more insistent their pull. They are written on my heart. Time spent with them and appreciating them makes me happy and nurtures me deeply. 

4. Eat locally grown organic food and exercise regularly. It's delicious and keeps me healthy. It's great for my body and best for our environment. Changing the world starts with me.

5. Find a purpose and dive in. Something that matters to you, that gets your juices flowing, that makes you glad to be alive. Then do something with it, in it or to do with it each day. Feels good and it matters.

Addendum: After 68 years and all this travel, the only philosophy and political view that makes sense to me is that we are one. We need a bigger world view that encompasses us all in all our diversity. I want to be involved in finding solutions that work not just for us all no matter where we live but also for our children's grandchildren. "You only are free when you realize you belong no place- you belong every place- no place at all." Maya Angelou

That was then and 
this is now:

    The grands






                The family


My granddaughter's shirt says it all- love (and add a little sparkle!). It makes the world go around and makes the journey sweeter. 
For all that has been- thanks. For all that will be- yes.

p.s. One of the things I haven't learned is how to even up blog photos that are side by side!

01 June 2014

Further Travels and Travels of the Heart

Recent travels took me to Cheshire County in England for a short visit with friends highlighted by immersion into their everyday life - seeing where their kids go to school, what hobbies they enjoy, what their downtown offers, what restaurants are around (we ate at a delicious Syrian/Lebanese restaurant with lots of vegetarian options), what the surrounding areas look like and a wonderful walk through their neighborhood. Weather cooperated by being sunny and warm. Their hearts are, too.

And speaking of gorgeous weather, Ireland had it as well- 4 days in a row. Bluebells newly bloomed decorated a park near John's cousins' house in Lissycasey, County Clare. We enjoyed a lovely walk with his cousin and his cousin's grandson couldn't resist sitting among them.

An apple tree starting to bloom next to the lake in their backyard captured my eye. This is the view from their kitchen window.

Heather scattered throughout the grass on the cliffs of Kilkee by the sea. John's cousin's daughter and her son toured us through their favorite gradens and a sea hike.

A view from the cliff walk on a gorgeous day.

A scattering of ladybugs painted on stones in the enclosed garden of an old estate now revived for the public. They made me smile as did time with an energetic eight year old.

Me on a chair woven of branches and embellished by children in the same garden.

And a whole different sort of activity at a nearby pub listening to traditional Irish music with John's cousins. It's something we share in common and look forward to whenever we visit. The added bonus, of course, is relaxed time with extended family we've come to cherish.

Travels of the Heart:

Next was a trip last week to Jacksonville, Florida to be with my sister-in-law, Georganna, who lost her husband of 32 years although they've been divorced for ten years (my younger brother) and her Dad within three months of each other. We're good friends and we needed time together with no agenda other than to talk, share, reminisce and take solace in each other's company. That's just what happened and it felt good. The healing power of love.

And in a dear gesture of love, my niece, Colleen, my brother's youngest daughter (he has three), took some of his shirts and made aprons from them. She gave them to her Mom, her sisters and me. It's a clever idea and I felt his presence when I put it on. She's talented and thoughtful that way.

As is Danielle, his middle daughter, who came to her Mom's, planned the Memorial Day barbecue, hosted the guests, cooked the food with her husband, Ben, and cleaned up afterwards. What a class act. It was a wonderful day and I felt so proud of her. She's pictured below in the photo with her sister, AnneMarie. She has the same premature gray hair as my brother, her Dad.

I also had a wonderful time with my niece, AnneMarie, who is getting closer to her goal of walking again after a devastating closed head injury in a car accident ten years ago. She does regular water exercises in their pool to further this goal and walked 50 feet while I was there using a special walker  assisted by her personal trainer. She also works with therapists at Brooks Rehab. using a harness hung from the ceiling which gradually gives her have less and less aid in the process of walking. She has to qualify each month by making sufficient progress to receive more therapy the following month, so she's motivated! I was better able to understand her speech by the end of the week which was a bonus and thrilling for me. I'm proud of her efforts and her positive attitude despite her obstacles.

I wasn't able to write during all these travels. It seemed I could pay attention to the folks I was with and take care of myself or I could take quiet time apart to write but I wasn't able to master doing both during this stretch of time. Losing my brother took the wind out of my sails and left me with less energy. I can feel more of it returning after time with my sister-in-law. Bless her.