Archive for December, 2009

Best of Blog ’09: Resolutions


My daughter and husband have just joined me at the cabin and Kim brought her computer.  I figure I have just enough time now to get in this one last topic: resolutions.  I’ve been here three or four days – I don’t even remember! And my macbook decided to call it quits.  Now I have a grey screen with a file folder and a question mark.  I did some searching on my blackberry and found out my disc is dead, or perhaps just corrupted and can be fixed.  Thank goodness it’s not my primary computer, so there is nothing there that I will miss if the data is non-recoverable.  Or maybe there is – but since I don’t remember, it doesn’t much matter.

For many years I didn’t make resolutions.  Then I read Jack Smith’s annual New Year’s Resolution.  He’s a deceased columnist for the Los Angeles Times and boy, was he ever good.  He said every year he’d make the same resolution: Try to stay alive and see what happens next.  I love it – becasue the main reason I want to live a long, long time is to see what happens next, with my family, with the world, with technology.

Nonetheless, last year I did make resolutions.  I wanted to develop a blog and a webpage but I knew it would remain one of those nebulous goals if I didn’t make a promise to myself.  Also, I resolved to keep a journal every day.  And you know what?  Basically, it worked.  I did develop trigger finger so I couldn’t write anymore (until after surgery and recovery) so I switched my journal to the computer, but I actually printed and pasted into the handwritten journal I had started.

After my blog was up, I wrote in that and not the journal.  But now I realize that they do not serve the same purpose at all.  So a resolution for this year is write in a journal every day.

Another resolution I made last year was to ratchet down emotional reactions.  Not that I’m not a reasonable person in my reactions to things, but I needed to get some space in some friendships, etc.  I wish I could remember back to last January and how I worded this resolution to myself, but I can’t.  I think I succeeded.

This was uncharted territory – actually succeeding at resolutions!  Could it be that I’ve grown up?  If so, why did it take me until I was 63?  Dumb question because actually I know the answer.  We have to continually strive for self-improvement throughout our lives.  I mean, if we really made it to where we should be, I guess we’d all be Buddhas.

So this year.  And I feel like I should hurry b/c up here in the mountains internet connections are capricious, and I want to get this posted.


Continue my blog and web page for another year to see what develops.

Write in a personal journal every day.

Learn more about photoshop (this is scary b/c it’s SO technical)

Learn more about my camera (this is a scary resolution because numbers are involved)

Read every night (hard to find time to read when blogging and photgraphing and doing art, but I need input in order to improve my output.

Read two or three other blogs each day to help the input situation and continue finding members of my tribe all over the world.

Get going with Flickr.

Keep producing in the art department.

Continue with Creative Every Day.


This sounds like a lot but it’s not so much.  So many of these goals are interrelated.  The real hard part – the HARDEST part for me, is that I need to develop some discipline and a routine – but I’ve never been much of a routine person.  Routines and I just don’t get along.  So I’ll have to find a way to merge my tendency to run in all directions with sticking to some sort of routine.

To all of you out there, my friends and friends-to-be, and even those who will never visit this blog again and think I’m silly, I wish you ALL the best for 2010 with more highs than lows.  We need some lows or there wouldn’t be highs, but may you all  grow and learn and be satisfied.  And I wish for everyone that we learn to accept ourselves unconditionally and let others be who they are.

Best 09: You are my Density and the Roar and Snore


You are my density.  The immortal words of George McFly in Back to the Future when Marty was feeding him words to woo Lorraine.  Of course, he quickly corrected himself to You are my Destiny.  But we’ve always loved that line.  We’ll get back to it.

I took my daughter and five of the grandkids to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

This is the first thing we saw when we entered the park:

Beautiful.  An African Crowned Crane.

We went for the Roar and Snore – a sleepover.

After the park closes, there are about 100 of us “campers” with our guides and staff.  Our tents…

were right next to the elephants – oh my.

We could look out the tent window and see them.

Can you imagine having your night be completely dark and silent except for the occasional roaring of lions?

It was magic, truly.

As usual, we packed a lot into two days.  We walked by the cheetahs several times.

There were evening activities and one of the most fun was when a professional drummer taught us some drumming techniques.

The next morning we had breakfast with the rhinos and giraffes.

The next day we fed lorikeets, among other activities we did on our own – like go up in the tethered balloon – up to 400 feet.

We left, so happy and tired that we were slaphappy.  And this is where “You are my density” comes in.  We tend to laugh LOTS when we’re together.  We laugh so much that my grandson Joe says we need a Laughter 12-Step Program.  We were heading up the 5 and needed a restroom – desperately!  We started laughing out of control, and you know the effect that can have when you need a restroom.  We found one in a small market in the grubbiest and scariest part of whatever town we were in – and then we saw it – The Destiny Inn.

That did it.  We were out of control.  The irony of this depressing building being named the Destiny Inn – well, it was too much.  A dear friend called at that moment and I’m surprised he didn’t call the medics to certify us – I couldn’t stop laughing and we could barely talk.  Everyone in the car was screaming with laughter.  The only thing more perfect would have been seeing the words Density Inn on that drab, ugly wall.

We continued home and had sore rib cages from the laughter.  It was a fantastic weekend – the Roar and Snore was amazing and worth every penny.

To return to the present, not back to the future, my daughter and family were heading to the San Diego area yesterday and I got a text – “We just passed the Destiny Inn!”

Best of Blog 09: Social Web Moment – a Tweet-up


Gwen Bell poses this question for her Best of Blog challenge ’09: Did you meet someone you used to know only from her blog?  Did you discover Twitter?

Yes and yes.

I thought Twitter would be stupid but I didn’t want to get left behind, so I signed up.  I’m amazed!  First I was just following news, then news and Adam Lambert; then news, Adam Lambert and photography sites; then news, Adam Lambert, photography sites, and people involved with the Bakersfield art scene.  I’ve made friends.  One of my new friends, whollyjeanne, uses the word “tribe” for the friends she is making on Twitter. I love that term, tribe, because I feel like we are connecting in such a way with other people who share common interests that we will be honestly using the term friend – becoming part of an extended tribe.  Besides whollyjeanne, there is BeKatherine and daxtonsnini – geographically located all over the United States, but I feel like if one of these people put out a call for help, I’d be there.

So in 140 characters or less, it’s possible to get a real sense of a person.  And I do get updates from certain news sites so I can scan them and click on something that interests me.  I’ve followed people who end up tweeting too much and carry on conversations that could better be held on instant messenger or by texting, and that’s annoying so I drop them.  I’ve wanted to follow people but don’t like the language they use, so I drop them.  That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  Dropping someone? But I guess that’s what it’s called.  I’ve learned that Adam Lambert’s fans are extremely intelligent, devoted and caring people, that LaVar Burton is a kind man without a mean bone in his body.  Someone named Ben Decker started following me and I gave him a follow back, and I really like this guy.  I’m not sure what he does, but I think he’s involved in events in Los Angeles, or a model, or something.  But he is a lovely person.

But to the main part of the question: did I meet anyone?  Yes.  A group of us Bakersfield tweeps had a tweet-up!

We met at Caffeine Supreme, a downtown business, on a First Friday.  It was really bizarre to walk up to someone, for example, the women in the chair, and say, “You must be glitzyorbit.” And it was.  Or, look, MySoulIsHome is here!  So instead of the web alienating us from real people and personal contact, we wanted to see each other in person.

We toasted marshmallows – that’s me in the hat. LissaFudge and prosejunkie are also in the photo.  Lissa – whose name is Terry – also goes by BacPage and she keeps up a blog that chronicles all events artistic in Bakersfield.  Prosejunkie has a blog and he’s reading and writing about the Best 100 books on the Modern Library list.  Such interesting people!

Dave runs trivia contests at Sandrini’s Bar, so he came and we had some trivia fun at the tweet-up.

I donated packets of greeting cards that I make so there would be prizes.

We even had a visit from the man in red.

It was fun – and we all want another tweet-up soon.  I may even organize it because so many people who wanted to come to this one weren’t able to.  It’s the first thing I’ve felt like organizing in a long, long time.  Twitter is good.

#Best09 Dec. 26 – My Aha Moment of the Year – I’m Tired


It’s almost 11 p.m. and I sat down to write not realizing how late it was.  I’m morphing back into such a night person in the years since my retirement!  The main problem with that is – well, there are two. First, the world doesn’t run on my schedule – American life is a “day person.” And second, I may want to stay up but I don’t want to stay out.  There’s a certain time in the evening when I just have to get into my robe – usually hits by 8 p.m.  I guess I’m a day/night hybrid.

If I had an Aha! moment this year, it would come immediately to mind, right?  I’m glad the question gives me the option of an insight or epiphany.  I’m pretty sure I had some of both.  In fact, I know I did.  So I’ll talk about the one I remember which is the most recent.

I probably do twice as much as most people in a day.  I’m high energy and high speed (but not nearly like I used to be).  I’m saying this because it’s what I’ve been told over and over throughout my life.  I have to take this on the word of other people, because to me I’m me.  I have no idea what’s normal.  I just know me.  I’m getting more tired, however, and I knew I’d hit a new insight, or had an epiphany of some sort when my husband and I had this conversation a little while ago.

Me: Mark, I’ve been thinking about the trip we’re planning for next October.  After the wedding in Maui, I’m thinking we should just go to Thailand instead of trying to also fit in Viet Nam and Cambodia.  I’m just feeling like I don’t want to zoom around.

Mark: We’ve been spending too much money lately, so maybe we should skip Thailand and just go to Maui.

Me:  That sounds fine.

That sounds fine?  No argument?  You have no idea how unprecedented this is.  When we travel, which we both love to do, we are gone about three weeks at a time because we want to see as much as we can, knowing we won’t return.  We keep up a pretty fast pace – I mean, it works for us and we do rest in the afternoons and turn in early.  Or one of us does.  And I can’t stand not traveling.  We didn’t have any big trips this year – I had to cancel a trip to London thanks to Mr. Economy.  About drove me crazy.  I was in London last October and still had things I wanted to see and intended to this time around.

Next year we’re planning to drive Route 66 as far as Oklahoma and veer off to Florida for a soccer tournament a granddaughter is playing in.  Then we’re going to a wedding in Maui and my husband suggested since we were already part way that we should continue to Bangkok to visit friends.  Wow!  Yes, I jumped on that.  Can that much have changed in a few months?

Besides being fine with skipping Thailand, I want to go back to Costa Rica, Italy and France.  China would be good too. I want to go places I’ve been.  I’d even like to go on another cruise.  This is so unlike me – there’s a whole world out there and I’ve only seen a fraction!

It’s also possible that with the current situation of my parents, I’m just out of zip.  It’s so draining mentally.  We’re at a crossroads, and they can’t live independently but they refuse to go anywhere or have anyone in their home so we’re at a standstill.  Something has to give and probably that drains my zip so much that I’m zapped.  Maybe when that whole situation is resolved, I’ll feel like moving ahead again.

But for now, my insight of the year is I’m slowing down and ready to act accordingly. I’m tired.  And running out of money too.

#Best09 – The Gift I Gave Myself that Keeps on Giving? Time with the Grandkids – An Update


I’m updating yesterday’s blog post with three new photos.  These are from last night – Christmas at our house with our three kids, their husbands, and the nine grandkids.  This is the gift I gave myself that keeps on giving – time with this precious group of people

All the grandkids are here – The Bakersfield Six and The Colorado Three.  The Colorado group is the three littlest in front.

All of us – the gift that keeps on giving.  We blessedly like each other and love to be together.

I love this picture – the two little girls in red looking closely at the package their dresses are covering up.

Below is the entry before I updated with the photos.  Sorry – I was just too tired to put them in last night.

Gwen Bell’s Best of Blog challenge question for Christmas day is “What’s a gift you gave yourself this year that kept on giving?” At first, this was hard.  Partly it was hard because after a hectic and traumatic month, it seems I can barely remember yesterday.  But this morning, first at one daughter’s house and then the other, opening gifts with the grandkids, it was obvious.  It was the gift of time with the grandchildren this summer.  Mostly I’m talking about the Bakersfield Six.

I going to reference some older posts so you’ll know what we did to make the summer special.  You can look at The Bakersfield Six Plus One, or A Grandmother’s Dream to see photos and read about the beginning of the journey to the cabin this summer – just me and The Bako Six.  Then Glamberts, Treasure Hunts, Jean Luc Picard and Tie-dyed Shirts continues that adventure.  I had planned a very busy five days full of adventure and the best part was the FUN – so much fun and laughter!

We also went to the American Idol’s concert together – at least the girls and I did.

21 People at Disneyland is a new chapter – and finally, something I guess I didn’t blog about, the Roar and Snore.  I took the grandkids to a sleepover at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and it was such incredible fun that I should blog about it – but now, just take my word.  Here’s a post talking about some collages I made from those experiences.

Also, check out the animal photo gallery on my webpage to see some of what we saw.  BUT to continue…

I make some mini-photo books as Christmas presents for each of the grandkids because the summer was so special, and as they opened them today and we relived the adventures I realized that all the time and effort I put into being a grandma is paying me back a hundred fold.  The memories will live forever – if not in my mind, at least on paper and in photographs to refresh my mind!  Love and laughter made the memories.

This gift will give forever.  It’ll give past my lifetime and well into the next generations as my grandkids make the same kinds of memories with theirs.  Family, love and laughter.  The best gift ever and always.

Best of Blog ’09: My Best Learning Experience? Taming the Guilt Monster


I don’t even know what to say about this – my best learning experience, which means I haven’t learned a thing, or have learned so much that it’s hard to choose.  Let’s go with the latter.  Of course, I might not give the same answer tomorrow as I give today.  But this year, collectively, I think I have tamed the guilt monster.

Why does a person feel guilt?  It’s a pretty useless emotion.  There are all the old Jewish mother jokes, and I am a Jewish mother – we’ve joked about guilt our whole marriage.  “You go and have fun.  Don’t worry about me; I only fainted two times today but I’ll be fine.  You just go and have a good time.  Nothing to worry about.”

I’d be interested to see if guilt felt by women varies by generation.  I am the leading edge of the baby boomers, but even by the time I graduated high school, I didn’t have the benefit of that much maligned term “women’s lib.”  No, my generation was by and large obedient.  We were urged to go to college and become teachers or nurses because if something happened to our husbands (NOTE – we were trained up to know marriage was first) we would have something to fall back on (NOTE – we were not expected to work, just to be a good wife if the worst happened and we had to support our husband or he died early).  It was also acceptable to become a secretary for the same reasons.

Couple that with the nurturing we saw our moms do (if we were lucky enough to have a great mom like I did), and you realize how those internal expectations and pressures were accumulating.  Our moms made our school lunches (no money to buy lunch – were they even available?), washed and ironed our clothes (I never use an iron), sometimes even made our clothes.  They served well-balanced meals, and when we were sick (even if they were sick at the same time) they pampered us.  They made sure the house was quiet and calm when Dad got home from work and told us not to bother him until he’d relaxed and read the paper.  They went to PTA meetings, worked at school carnivals, and took us to music lessons.  They even made sure we practiced!

You get the drift.  We grew up in the nurturing mindset, not the achieving mindset, and then the women’s movement exploded.  How innocent those early days seem.  We could do everything!  Bring home the bacon and cook it up in a pan!

Well guess what?  We couldn’t do everything and I think much of our guilt – MY (former) guilt – stems from being conditioned to think of others first, fulfill others first, but to still become fully actualized human beings while we raised great kids, supported our husbands, brought home a paycheck, became president of the Booster Club, and on and on and on.  If we had to say NO or weren’t so great at something, we felt guilty.  I used to feel guilty although I may not have said the word guilt out loud in my mind.  And I forgot – we were supposed to be well-groomed and look smashing at all times.

Those days are past.  You know what?  I’ve realized this for years, but this year I finally internalized it, that I am just going to be who I am and do what I can do, and the heck with it.  Maybe getting older has something to do with it because energy does decrease, darn it.  But we are all responsible for ourselves and our choices, and as long as we aren’t being irresponsible (i.e. harmful, reckless), we aren’t responsible for living up to anyone else’s image.

I had a reminder of this recently.  My husband and I went on a seven-night cruise to Mexico, and while we were gone, my uncle died (a severe blow to my 91-year-old father), and my mom, who is lacking a short-term memory, fell and broke her wrist. (My sister does a lot of their care.) When we got back I went to my parent’s house right away.  (We all live in the same town.)  My sister as well as my oldest daughter were there.  Or maybe I went with my daughter – can’t even remember!  Or maybe she wasn’t even there and I told her about it afterwards (lots has happened in the last week.) And it was just a week? two weeks? ago.  I handed my sister the gift I bought her from Mexico and she started to give it back, saying, that’s ok, you don’t have to bring me something because you feel guilty.   No, I said, I always bring you something when we take a trip, remember?  I brought you things from Italy and China…

My daughter later asked what I had to feel guilty about.  Nothing, as far as I was aware.  I couldn’t help it that things happened when we were in the middle of the ocean.  I didn’t feel guilty about going on vacation.  I wondered if my sister was thinking I should have been there and shouldn’t have gone, and that’s when I knew I had managed the guilt monster.

Because this was my reaction.  Maybe my sister had been thinking that, but I still didn’t have anything to feel guilty about.  And she didn’t mean anything by it either – it was just a stress reaction, but it made me reconsider the whole guilt thing.  I do what I can according to who I am and what I can manage.  I’m not going to worry about if someone else thinks I should have done this or that, as long as I am fine with myself – and this is NOT the same thing as being selfish. I suppose that means I’m not feeling guilt.

That’s the lesson I learned this year.  Finally.  It’s about time.

And you know what else?  Guilt is meaningless.  If you aren’t doing something right, don’t feel guilty about it.  Correct the problem.

Best of Blog 09: What was your best web tool?


Gwen Bell organizes this “Best of” challenge so she writes the prompts.  Answering them is not quite like being a student because I can ignore them if I want to.  My seventh-grade students had to write several times a year on writing prompts the district distributed, and I sympathized totally when one would say, “I just can’t think of anything to write about!”

Now I find that I have to give an indirect answer to this question (what was my best web tool) to answer it at all.  I’ve been fairly gung-ho on internet stuff – Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I don’t feel I can fairly judge social-networking tools (not that anyone is asking me to), nor can I understand their impact on the rest of the world, if I can’t use them myself.  So it’s been full steam ahead.  I even caught the Google Wave!  But since no one I’m involved with is surfing the wave yet, and since I’m retired, it just sits there on my screen ebbing and flowing, mostly ebbing. (I have some invitations if anyone wants one.).  So that takes care of social networking/work productivity.

I have a web site and a blog, which means I have to understand Google analytics, AdSense, and the associated terminology – what a unique visitor is and so on.  I talked about my blog a few days ago – on my blog!  What I didn’t mention then is that the statistics drive you to get more unique visitors!  Grow the blog! Compete  with yourself!  And silly me, I thought someone might want to buy a photo from my web page. Ever the optimist – photos are a dime a dozen.

I’ve been writing on eHow (I’ve made $12 so it’s not a get-rich-quick endeavour) and eZines.  I have an etsy store, SusanReepPhotoArt (again, thinking someone might want to buy one of the still lives or something) and a Flicker account.  So I’m with it technologically.  Oh, and I have an iPod!  But I forget to listen to it.  And a BlackBerry which I love.

Although, you know what?  Now that my email comes over the BlackBerry, there’s no anticipation to get home and wonder what email I might have.  Just like email replaced the anticipation we felt when we went to the mailbox.  Anyway, I get it all instantly and I’m so used to having my BlackBerry in my pocket, that sometimes I think my pocket is vibrating when it’s empty.

Texting might just be my best web tool.  Better than phoning because you don’t have to worry about hearing the person (For some reason, I can’t hear well over my BlackBerry.  I don’t think I position it correctly.)  Texting is less intrusive, also.  And it can be secret!  Sort of.  As much as anything can be secret.  Not much.

So here I stand.  Or text.  Or tweet.  Or facebook.  Or or or.  I get the idea.  Technology is going to develop at lightning speed so I’ll still have to keep up.  I’m 63 and plan on 40 more years, so I can’t let it eclipse me.  (If my parents had not been so computer-phobic, the internet would be enriching their lives now at 91 and 86.)

I’ve gotta feeling, though, that folks in general are tiring of so much instant communication.  Facebook use, or frequency of use, seems to be falling.  I think we’re all realizing how much time it all eats up from our creative lives.  I checked out a link from whollyjeanne on twitter and bingo!  It was the push I needed to rethink my strategies.  Check it out yourself.  Although I must warn you, the item about hair dye is seriously misguided.  I intend to keep dying my hair for a long, long time.

Gwen Bell’s Best of ’09: A Business I Found that I Love? Mmmm – Cruise Ships?


Business?  That I love?  If you’re talking retail, maybe.  And then it should come with the name Costco, Trader Joe’s, Zappos, Target, Amazon, or Shutterfly. Other than that, “business” and “me” don’t belong in the same sentence.  Or paragraph.  Or essay.  But let me just stretch this a little bit to talk about something I never in a zillion years expected to enjoy – a cruise.  Cruise ships may be many things to many folks, but they are mos’ def businesses.  And a discovery to me.

Gotta have some background here.

1.  I believe in trying as much as possible, embracing life and what it offers, and giving almost anything a chance.

2.  My husband never, ever, wanted to go on a cruise.  Period.

3.  We had a great trip to China which involved three days on a boat on the Yangtze River, which we both loved.  It was a small boat.

4. A worldwide recession exists.

5. Alaska Air kept sending dirt-cheap offers for Carnival Cruises.

6.  I wanted to surprise my husband with an anniversary trip but money was short.

7.  I took a chance and booked a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

I’m a great planner and researcher of vacations we take, but this time I just went for the best offer, a seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise on the Carnival Splendor.  I added three shore excursions, hoping I chose what my husband would like.  After 41 years of marriage, I hope I have a little insight there!

What we don’t do: We don’t stay up late, we don’t enjoy casinos, we aren’t night-life people, we aren’t big socializers, we aren’t big drinkers.  Not saying we’re opposed to those things, but when you’re in your 60s, some activities just aren’t as easy!   Cruise ships are HUGE on night life, drinking, casinos, and FUN FUN  FUN.  There are SO many opportunities to separate you from your money on a cruise ship.  Not complaining, it’s a business.  A big one.

What we like: Outdoor stuff, nature, culture, hot tubs, relaxing, water, quiet.

First big surprise: A cruise ship that holds 4,500 people is remarkably uncrowded.  We were amazed.  Everything is so well organized that even embarking and debarking go smoothly.  Very few lines at all.  Except for the Mongolian Hotpot line.

Second big surprise:  Every single employee is so friendly that it’s impossible to be annoyed by anything, even the jangling decor and reverberating music on the Lido deck.

Third big surprise: I’m a photographer.  I document.  In excess.  I was so surprised that every single photo of my husband from this cruise shows a much more relaxed man than I’ve seen in a long time.  And my husband could never be called tense in the first place!  He must have been having fun.

If we could like a cruise, anyone can.  I’d just go with one caveat:  go to relax.  Don’t go to soak up local culture, to tour – just go to relax.  Here’s some relaxing:

It’s a huge ship  – but we never felt crowded.

Our room is important to us – we DO spent time in there.  This was so spacious and comfortable.  If that curtain were open you would see…

the ocean.  It’s important to me to be able to see the outside.  I sat on that balcony every night before bed and other times too.

We spent plenty of time in hot tubs.  This one had a great view of the ocean and we saw dolphins. The other spas were on decks in the open.

This was a fabulous deck.

Then there were the shore excursions.  Many people don’t take them; they go ashore and shop, or they aren’t even awake since many seem to stay up in the casinos and seeing the shows.  Maybe that’s why we didn’t find it crowded.  But what a waste of fresh air and ocean expanses!

Catamaran trip around Los Arcos, the tip of the Baja Peninsula at Cabo San Lucas.

Gorgeous pool overlooking the ocean at Mona Lisa Restaurant in Cabo, where our excursion stopped briefly.

Mark and I ocean kayaking in Mazatlan.

Beautiful color as we return to the ship in Mazatlan.

Hiking on Deer Island, Mazatlan.  Can you spot the iguana?

Giving a 3 1/2 month old lion cub a bottle as we return to the ship at Cabo.  Yes, I paid to do this and I’d pay even double the $20!  Or triple!  The money is for environmental habitats for wildlife in Mexico City.

Finishing a visit to Cacti Mundo in Cabo.  Fantastic cactus garden.

Walking on beautiful private beaches in Puerto Vallarta.

Seeing frigate birds (not that I have anything against pelicans and sea gulls).

A beautiful sunset off Puerto Vallarta where the cloud bank and the hills looked like a mouth gobbling up the sun.

More ship fun.  Me sitting on the Serenity Deck (no children allowed).

Waterslide fun.

Finally, frou-frou drinks whenever you want them (and want to pay for them).  But you know what’s especially fun about this?  You can take your drinks wherever you want all over the ship – clubs, restaurants, wherever.  The whole thing is your playground.

So my “business find” of the year is the huge cruise ship industry.  We’ll probably do it again!

Gwen Bell’s Best of Blog 09 – What did I start? What am I Proud of?


Gwen asks: Project.   What did you start this year that you’re proud of? Wow – a question with an easy answer! When I retired from teaching a couple of years ago I determined to start a blog and a web page.  It took a little while because first, I had to get into the rhythm of retirement.  If you asked me to explain that to you, there’d be no good answer.  I suppose I just had to be retired long enough to – -to — to what? My days never seem to have any predictability about them.  I am NOT good at schedules but I am good at late nights.  As long as I’m home.  I suppose enough time had to pass while stuff muddled around in there.  There meaning my head.

Then too, it helps that I have a son-in-law who constructs web pages. So I have the blog.  You’re reading it.  I have an index page, photography tutorials, short stories, travel journals, stuff about me.  And I have the web page.  With my photos and art.  I was hoping to sell something but that was a pipe dream – after all, photographs are a dime a dozen, everyone has a blog.

Now I’m left with the bigger question.  I have the web page and the blog and I’m proud of them.  I fulfilled a promise to myself.  But why?  Why does it matter if I have a blog? Everyone has a blog.  Everyone has photography tutorials.  Am I imparting wisdom that will make a difference to people?  Is there worth in me putting myself out there?  Why should anyone care.  Am I playing into the narcissistic trend?  I have a feeling, not unlike the Black Eyed Peas i suppose, that it’s going to be a good year, but during the next year my blog will disappear and become a journal again.  A private journal.  To help me wrestle with life issues and find my way to growth.  We’ll see.  I’ve been mulling this over for a while, unless I get a clear indication of where this is going, it’s going to change direction.

#Best09: Unsung Hero of 2009? Daxtonsnini and BeKatherine Reminds Me that All of us are Unsung Heroes


Best of Blog challenge of 2009 says write about this on the 20th:  New person.  She came into your life and turned it upside down.  He went out of his way to provide incredible customer service.  Who is your unsung hero of 2009?

I could list all the ways in which my children became my unsung heroes – but maybe they are “sung” since they as well as everyone else should know how incredible they are.  There’s the employee at California Adventure who was exceptional and I wrote to Disney about him – he now has the commendation in his personnel file.  But my unsung hero of the year is all of us.  Me too.  In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten some new insights on life from Twitter, of all places, and I’m finding quite a few of us – just folks out there – who are meeting life with courage, doing the best they can, and leaving a trail of kindness behind for those of us lucky enough to find it.

Perhaps this resonates because this year, as have the last two, is ending with some chaos, sadness, and difficulty.  We can get so mired in it all that we forget such is the way of the world, everywhere, for everyone.  I’ll give two specific examples.  One is daxtonsnini.

I noticed this twitter name on Adam Lambert’s twitter and thought, Daxton? Is there actually another Daxton out there? One of my granddaughters is named Daxton and my daughter made up the name.  So I asked daxtonsnini, tell me about your name. Her grandson is named Daxton and he can’t say her name, Nita, so he calls her Nini.  In this innocuous exchange, and several more messages of 140 characters or less, I realized that daxtonsnini has encountered more than her fair share of sadness in life but she moves forward with courage.  Just by these small exchanges, in which she’s shown true kindness, I’ve been reminded that we all face the same challenges.

Then there’s BeKatherine, someone who started following me on Twitter.  Her tweets make me realize this is a person I would like to know, so one day I told her how much I enjoy them.  She read my blog and responded to my short story Sunset in such a way that I realized all over again that we all need to learn from each other, be reminded by each other, how we fit into the fabric of life.  How we all face the same challenges with parents, how we are not so different after all.

Daxtonsnini is in Oklahoma, BeKatherine is in Ohio.  BeKatherine sounds like me – just younger, prettier, and a 3rd grade teacher instead of 7th grade.  Besides the raising the puppy part, you could pretty much put her bio under my name.

So that’s nice.  This Twitter thing is forming connections in spite of, or maybe because of, the 140 character limit.  It’s reminding me that we all share the same problems, likes, dislikes, loves, dreams, and that we don’t live our problems alone.  It doesn’t even matter if no one else knows the details of whatever my particular travail is at the moment – I know that we’re in it together anyhow.

So all of us, daxtonsnini, BeKatherine, me, my children and husband, and everyone else who I’ve encountered and haven’t encountered, we can all share the unsung hero appellation.