Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Basking in the Glow of a Golden Celebration

Fading summer flowers,
and long past their days of glorious blooming,
signaled that the last days of summer had truly arrived.

Are these flowers a metaphor for the weekend?
I wondered as I hurried out of the house and headed off for a weekend
 with my high school girlfriends.

Long in the planning, the weekend celebration of our
70th birthdays
had finally arrived.
I had dubbed this celebration:
Our Senior Trip.

At age seventy, some may think my girlfriends and I had reached an age beyond the blooming days of youth where there is not much to celebrate.
In our hearts we are still young girls,
we have somehow reached the entry year to our eighth decade.

We came together 
to bask 
in the glory of reaching a milestone that none of knew could be so rewarding.

  1. lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure
    revel in and make the most of (something pleasing).*

The Trip to the Celebration

A few of us decided to make the trip from the Colorado Front Range of the Rockies
to the Western Slope of Colorado
via the train.
The train left Denver at 8:05 a.m. for a five hour and forty-eight minute trip
through the Colorado Mountains.
I had not taken this particular train route since my sophomore year in college.
That was fifty years ago.
The entire trip promised to be a nostalgic one for me.

Jim got up early and drove me to Denver where I met up with the other six girls traveling by train.  
We were all very excited.

This railroader's daughter loves a train ride.

As the train wove its way up and over the mountains, a metaphor to describe the weekend began to take shape in my mind:

All is golden.

My History with the Group

I had the good fortune to join the Girls of '63 when I first attended Pueblo East High School during my freshman year in high school.  Pueblo East was a brand new high school in 1959 when my father, an agent for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, was transferred from Colorado Springs to Pueblo. I was a very frightened fifteen year old, naive and quite young looking for my age, when I was uprooted from my junior high and transplanted to the high school setting in November of '59.  I had lived in the same house all of my life before that move.  I had known my classmates since kindergarten.

When I walked through those doors of East High, I had no idea that I would make some the most important friendships of my life in the three years I proudly wore gold and white and cheered for the Eagles.  Immediately, the girls from my class began to make me feel welcome by inviting me to school events, or seeking me out to sit with the girls at lunch.  Soon I was attending sleepovers where we laughed all night and told each other stories about our lives.

One of the girls from this group introduced me to my husband.  Her sixteenth birthday(click to read this story.) was our first date.  Now, all these years later, she would be my roommate for our 70th birthday celebration.  

Twenty-two of us gathered to celebrate our 70th birthdays together in the beautiful Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Yes, much has changed over the years, but in so many ways, nothing has changed.  Those friendships deeply rooted in our youth have flourished over the years as some have gathered quarterly for over twenty-five years.  We missed those who could not attend dearly and thought of them often.

It was my good fortune to join the lunch group about six years ago when I finally connected with some of the stalwarts of the group and learned of the next gathering.  I learned the truth of this quote below the first time I attended one of the lunches.  

This quote also came to mind so often during the weekend:
Your heart and my heart are very old friends.
~ Hafiz

The Celebration

We came together to celebrate attaining the age of seventy.  
We came together to celebrate friendship, 
our histories, 
our loyalty to each other, 
and each individual person.  

We came together to remember those we have lost.

 We shared stories of our lives while we have been living life.

We laughed.
We cried.

We came together to affirm our love for each other.  
We came together to express our support for each other as we move towards the future.

We are our own unique group of Golden Girls.

Here are some photos from our glorious birthday party:

We arrived at the beautiful old railroad station in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Our first task was to determine just how we would cross the river to our lodge on the other side.
We navigated the long pedestrian bridge and made it to our destination.
No taxi for us!

We all stayed at the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. We had free access to the hot springs pool and a free fabulous breakfast at the hot springs every morning.  Our rooms were wonderful.  We even were able to have a large ballroom for our birthday dinner on Saturday night.  Our fabulous planner, a Glenwood Springs resident with great connections, JG (In the flowered top) made all arrangements for us.  She did an outstanding job.  She is a party planner extraordinaire.  I also think she is  the original Energizer Bunny.  Where does this girl get her energy?

Our Party Planner

The first night, we donned our Girls of '63 shirts for group photos that were taken by a professional photographer.  The poor woman charged with taking our photos must have felt like she was herding cats.  She had excellent "classroom management skills."  Many photos were taken.We had groups that included all those whom had attended kindergarten through graduation together.  I think about nine or ten of the girls were in this group.  That alone is an amazing thing.  About five or six of us joined the Class of '63 during high school.  I alone, did not graduate with the group because my father was transferred to Leadville, Colorado just before my senior year.  

After photos, we walked through town to go to a vaudeville show which was excellent and exceeded all expectations for entertainment for the evening.  As we walked through town we garnered quite a few reactions.  "Hey, were you all born in '63?"  I said I'd take someone believing we all were 63.  A passenger in a passing car built our egos with a whistle.  (Hey, it's been a long time since we've had a guy whistle at us.)

Saturday night we had our big birthday dinner.  So many did so much work to get everything ready, but JG outdid herself.  A florist by trade, she made our table centerpieces and dressed the tables in our school colors of gold and white.  Yearbooks and memory books were on each table.  We had individual table place markers with a picture from our high school yearbook.  SP made each of us a rose bookmark.  JG made the fabulous birthday cake.  

A history of our group was read by PS.  As is our tradition, we raised our margaritas as a toast to those we have lost too soon.  We wept as a list of all of the fallen Eagles from our class was read.  Too many are gone too soon.  A few of the girls went to great effort to set up a tree with photos of all of our fallen Eagles.

The weekend was all about friendship.
I have the best girlfriends.
I am so blessed.
My Girlfriends
Pure Gold
Some of my readers have remarked that they are amazed that this group has met on a consistent basis.  Truly, it is a remarkable feat in this day and age to have a group stay so connected for all these years. We owe PS for the gift of this group.  She is our organizer.  She keeps us together by setting the dates for our meetings in advance.  Those who can come to events, do so.  Those who can't come try to attend the next one.

The hostess for each gathering usually has a co-hostess who serves as a backup hostess just in case of emergency.  The hostess provides the main dish.  PS makes sure we have desserts, salads, and sides assigned to all attending. She even maintains a group photo album that includes a group photo from every gathering since the very first one.  PS had the vision of a 70th birthday party, and we actually made it a reality!  Thank you, PS!
PS reading the history of our group
The setting for the celebration could not have been better.  We had access to the healing waters of the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs for three glorious days.  The warm natural springs provided just the right place for bonding again with each other.  One day, I'm sure we spent at least three hours in the afternoon just standing in a large circle in the water, or sitting on sides with our feet soaking in the warm water, talking.  Yes, there was a lot of talking, talking, talking, and much laughter.  We cried a bit.  We marveled at the stories of our lives.  We were astounded that we actually had these hours together for such deep, reflective, sharing.  
The setting
DC & KM friends for 65 years

I felt younger and healthier after a weekend of soaking in the healing waters for hours on end.  Was this place the fountain of youth?  I remember looking up at the beautiful Colorado blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders, and gazing into the beautiful lined faces and sparkling eyes of my lifelong friends and thinking that life just doesn't get much better than this.

Too soon, it was time to go home. 

Throughout the weekend, we shared hugs, 
held hands, 
promised to be there to end.
DDI commented that next great challenge as a group would be loss of hearing.
Yes, we had a hard time hearing at times.
That is the reality of celebrating 70!

We had soaked up rays of sun and healing waters.
We relaxed and experienced great pleasure.

We reveled in, and
 made the most of
celebrating our 70th birthdays.

We basked in the warmth of our golden friendships.

* Dictionary.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Savoring Those Final Summer Days

Why do we rush the seasons?

Am I wrong when I remember that seasons during  my childhood were more clearly defined?
These days, children go back to school in August while we didn't go back to school until
after Labor Day.

While the summer flowers are blooming, the grocery stores start selling mums.
Starbucks starts selling lattes flavored with pumpkin before I'm ready to think of fall.
The Halloween displays come out in August.
The retail stores must hurry with these displays because soon we will see Christmas displays.

The autumnal equinox arrives at 4:21 a.m. EST on September 24, 2015.
Until then, it is technically still summer.
That means:
for me
the sandals can still be worn, weather permitting,
as can the sun dresses,
the shorts,
the cropped pants.
I've put away the white pants and the white shoes.
This is reflection of those rules of proper seasonal attire  that are deeply ingrained in my head:
no white shoes or pants should be worn
 before Memorial Day 
or after Labor Day.

Until September 24, it is still summer in my world.
I'm not ready to move into fall yet.
My mind and my body just aren't ready to make that transition.

Yes, just as I wrote in my last blog post, I am still on the cusp of autumn.




a point that marks the beginning of a change
a point of transition: turning point, edge, verge

Don't rush me.
I'm not ready to make the transition.

I do admit that  transitions are difficult for me.
Today, soon after my arrival to her office, my therapist asked me an important question,
"What are you doing to prepare for the fall and winter days that are coming?"
Has she been reading my mind?

Actually, I've been giving this topic a lot of thought.
I know myself well enough to know that I must prepare for the coming days when I can't enjoy the green grass, the leafy trees, and the beautiful flowers of summer.
I must plan for those days when I feel housebound.
Those days when the snow flies, the wind blows, and the roads are covered with ice are not days that I particularly enjoy.

What am I doing to make the transition into the seasons that are coming?

This is what I am doing:
I am hanging on to summer as long as I can!

Intentional self-care does not come naturally to me.

Summer is a time when I find it easier to adopt healthier habits.
Do you find that is true?
Here are some things I'm doing to help me transition from summer into fall in a healthy way.

Mental/Emotional Self-Care
Photographs of a favorite summertime vignette are captured to remind the heart during the dark days that no doubt will come in the following months that summer will again make its appearance.

Journaling is important part of maintaining my emotional and mental health.
I love to journal on the back deck in the summer.
I love to see shadows of leaves across the page as I write.
I always miss my outdoor writing times when summer is over.

Physical Self-Care

This season, the one we are still in, is a great time to try and get in shape.
I'm exercising outside as much as I can.
We live in the most wonderful area for walking.

See what I'm talking about.
Here is a wonderful example of the hoodoo rocks or mushroom rocks that crop up all over my neighborhood.
I never tire of looking at these beautiful rocks.
Look at the interesting shapes and textures.
Don't you just love my hoodoos?

Here is an example of another hoodoo  in my area.
Notice how the colors in the formation are different from the  colors in the example above.
I love this rock.
I call her my "Cat Rock."
I like to think she keeps a protective eye on our neighborhood.

Besides walking, as a preparation for when I can no longer exercise outside,
I am trying to get in the habit of making it to the club more often.
The old hip is acting up, so I have traded Zumba Gold for water exercise.
Last week I tried Aqua Zumba.
What fun!
After class, dripping wet, I decided to dry off by lounging outside in the sun.
As a nod to those days when I was a sun worshiper,
I actually spent ten or fifteen minutes just soaking up the bright sunshine before I had to make a hasty retreat to the shade.
This is another way I am preparing for the cooler days ahead.
I am soaking up as much sun as I can while I can.

I'm also looking after my past medical issues.
I just had the five month check on my pacemaker.
My life is greatly improved since that little device was implanted in my body.
According to the last check, I have ten years left on the battery, and
I'm using it 75% of the time.
I had no events of AFib in the last two months.
Technology is wonderful.
That little device helped to make my summer a great one.


I truly am trying to establish a schedule.
I do better when I have to live by the bell.
Teaching schedules gave me that discipline.
I struggle to adopt my own schedule when one is not established for me.
It has been an even larger challenge to learn to adopt a schedule
now that my husband is working retail.
Some of you may remember that my husband, after working in education for forty-two years,
decided to begin a new career by working for Apple.
He loves his job, and his job is good for him, so I am trying to adjust to a schedule that changes
day by day.
Some days he works days.
Others he works nights.
I find it nearly impossible to establish regular times for the daily tasks of living.
Since I need a time schedule that is fairly routine,
I'm still working on finding balance in this area of my life.
In the meantime,
Boston and I mark time while he is gone by walking together in the evening,
or I read or write with Boston at my feet.
Make no assumptions that I have become the number one person in Boston's life;
he still won't eat while his master is gone,
and when his master comes home there is a love fest that takes place between these two.

I'm learning lessons from my husband during this season.
Fulfilling work remains important even during the retirement years.
As I leave summer, I am pondering this life lesson.

Spiritual Self-Care

One of the greatest blessing of the past year has been the time I have spent with a very special group of ladies from my church.
We call ourselves Monica Moms.
St. Augustine's mother was named Monica.
That is where the name for our group comes from.
We pray for our children as she prayed for her son.
Every other Wednesday, we meet for two or three hours to lift up our adult children in prayer.
The time I spend with these women in prayer are times I will forever treasure.

I'm blessed to have a mother who prays for me.
Just recently, I called her and when she answered the phone, she said,
"I was just praying for you."
She is nearly 100 years old, but she continues to pray for me.
I hope to have many more summers to pray for my children.
I rest in the assurance that those prayers will forever be found at the Throne of Grace.

People Support

Summer is a perfect time for lunch with friends.
I've enjoyed many long lunches with great friends this summer.

I'm ending off the summer by going on a three day trip with my high school girl friends.
It is our big 70th birthday bash!
We have talked about and planned this trip for years.
We wanted to enter the seventh decade of our lives in a big way.
We are going on our "senior trip."
Watch out.
The Girls of '63 are heading to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

So, during these last days summer,
I'll be off traveling.

I'm getting on a train with a bunch of the girls.
That alone will be a great adventure.
Once we all arrive at our destination,
we have three days of a very full agenda planned.

I think I'm capping off the summer of 2015 in grand style.

See you all in the fall.
Enjoy the final days of summer.