Saturday, March 6, 2010

February - Celebrating a milestone reached

Thanks to a blogging buddy, I've been nudged into posting an entry to my blog. Where did February go?

I spent most of the first week of February at CCIRA (Colorado Council International Reading Association) in Denver. It seems at bit strange that I would first attend CCIRA after I had retired, but there is an explanation for becoming a part of an educational conference at this point in my life. I had been asked by a good friend to co-edit the Colorado Communicator with her. Since I really knew very little about the organization itself and the people who held leadership roles in it, I decided to go to the conference. I had a wonderful time attending the sessions and came away with many things to think about and explore. I am actually working on a post about some of the sessions that I attended.

Of course, an extra bonus that I gain from the conference was spending time with my good friend Dr. Linda Button. Linda and I met many years ago at what was then Colorado State College. We lived in the same dorm and we both pledged to Sigma Kappa. While we were never close friends in college, we re-connected about six years ago when I attended a meeting in Greeley at our alma mater, now the University of Northern Colorado, where Linda was a member of the faculty. Since we have both retired, we have tried to make it a point to stay connected. Re-connecting with friends and building friendships are a great benefit to retirement time.

February was also the month where my husband and I tried to jumpstart our diet and exercise plan. I did spend more time at the gym during February than I have in the past few years, but I can't say that I have spent enough time there. My husband has been much more committed, and for that reason, he has had better results.

February is my birthday month. This year was a milestone. I finally was eligible for Medicare. Who would have ever thought that I would celebrate that? I entered retirement a bit naive about the reality of paying insurance. In fact, I went back to work full-time from January to May in 2008 in order to get insurance. At the end of that job, I had to begin paying my insurance through COBRA. Ouch! Finally, at age 65, I no longer have that big insurance bill staring me in the face every month. What a relief!

Every Friday during January, February and March, I have also been attending classes Colorado Master Gardener classes. I've longed dreamed of the day when I would finally be able to take on the obligation of working toward a certificate in master gardening. I knew I would be making a huge commitment when I took this project on. Not only do I have to attend classes weekly for three months, but I also must contribute 50 volunteer hours in order to meet the qualifications for the certificate.

In February, I was blessed with had two special birthday celebrations. My good friend Judy met me in Colorado Springs and took me to lunch at The Margarita at Pine Creek.
We both love this special place! It was so great to laugh, talk and reminisce with Judy. The crazy thing is, it wasn't until she said something about teaching in Alexandria, Virginia, that I remembered, "Oh that's right. Judy is an ESL teacher just like I am." In fact, that is how we met each other. She worked with me at the University as we worked to get the ESL endorsement program put together. Now, our lives don't revolve around professional things. She is now my "retirement model." I hope to someday enjoy retirement as successfully as she does.

East High Girls Gather
At Sally's House
I had a big birthday bash at my house on the day before my big day. Actually, the gathering was a get-together for a group of girls I went to high school with. I am a newcomer to the group. They've met three times a year for over 25 years. I lived out of state when they first began meeting, and just joined the group in November. What a special group of ladies they all are. We all had a great laugh when my husband asked if he needed to turn the t.v. on for us before he left. I guess he thought we would have nothing to talk about. As you can guess, we didn't stop talking, laughing and sharing our stories for the entire time we were together. I love that this group loves and supports each other through the good times, through illness and death, and through the loss of husbands and parents. It truly is comforting to know that I have friends who knew me back when and continue to be a part of my life.