Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year 2013!

May 2013 bring your heart’s desire.

Champagne in my glass & chillled bottle in my kitchen
Champagne in my glass & chillled bottle in my kitchen

It’s a few hours before midnight, Dec 31, 2012, and I’m home in Los Angeles.  For the first time in 18 years, I’m not in Paris.   Do I wish I was there?  Absolutely!  My soul sighs contentedly the moment I reach the top of the RER B – Saint Michel exit.  I inhale the scents, my ears welcome the sound of French and I. AM. HOME.

Oddly enough, I am calm.  I chose to cancel my annual trip for several reasons and they feel right.  Paris waits for me and I can re-start my tradition in Dec 2013.

No crazy new year resolutions for me.  Why?  I don’t keep them and come February/March I feel like a failure.   If I make none, no guilt.  Instead I’m focusing on 2 “houses” — financial and health.   Without health and some level of wealth, midlife (and beyond) will have little pleasure and joy.

My wish for you in 2013

May you have love that never ends, lots of money, and lots of friends.  Health be yours, whatever you do, and may God send many blessings to you! – Irish Blessing

Do you have resolutions for 2013? 

Midlife Musing – Crickets …..wow I’ve been quiet!

My Midlife Musing has been so quiet lately that I can hear crickets!   Lots of little reasons as to why — trying to get my many ‘Midlife houses’ in order — financial, relationship, work, health, fun/travel.   Phew!  I’ve been traveling quite a bit the past 2 months.  Thankfully, December is quiet except my annual New Year’s trip to Paris.

Financial house is getting in order.  Living in Los Angeles when I retire is not an option.  As young as I feel, retirement will upon me sooner than I think.   Matter-of-fact, most of my traveling has been to check out different cities in the Midwest and West.

But it will be hard to retire anywhere if I haven’t fully prepared, meaning if my retirement savings are insufficient.  No bueno.  My plan (this week) is 1) to have rental property in the city where I’ll retire, 2) to move into one of the properties at retirement and 3) to live in a small apartment in south of France during the winter.

With that in mind, I’m implementing the plan.

Relationship house is in order.  Pretend relationship went belly up.

Work house is a work in progress.  Not sure what to do about it and I’m not spending time thinking about it.   Still figuring out my blog and how to “get myself out” to the masses.

Health house (would that be a gym?).  meh.  Need to get my focus back.

Oh the fun house — travel!   I have quite a few upcoming trips but most of them are either blog conferences or rental property hunting trips.

Lots to blog about on the varying ‘houses’, especially as progress happens.  Don’t expect much progress in the relationship house — that will probably remain a 1-room outhouse! 🙂

Thanksgiving in the Sacred Valley – Monument Valley UT

For Thanksgiving, I journeyed to Monument Valley — sacred center of the Navajo culture.  The desire to go to Monument Valley started easy enough — fans of BBCAmerica’s show Doctor Who will remember “The Impossible Astronaut” episode was shot in/around Monument Valley.  IN!

Did you know John Ford filmed many of his most famous Westerns in Monument Valley?  Yup!    DOUBLE IN.  All I had to do was book the ticket and go …. except that was 2011.  I didn’t make it because of work obligations.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2012.  Air fare – check; Hotel – check; rental car … oops.  When I checked into Hertz, I had 2 reservations according to the chatty woman behind the counter.  My choices?  A SUV or a Mustang.  Neither sounded appealing.  For those who know me, you know I’m not a fan of SUV (never mind the trip to Wyoming in May) nor do I like going fast.  Give me one of those ‘super-economy compact’ cars with roll-down windows.  As long as there’s a slot for my phone charger, I’m happy.

On impulse, I changed my mind and went with a Mustang.  I was heading to Navajo country.  It seemed right.

White Mustang

 

The drive to Monument Valley was uneventful.  Except for some of the mountain driving and the big rig that almost ran a SUV into the side of the mountain.

As the endless road stretched on (and on and on), suddenly in the distance, Monument Valley appeared!

Nonument Valley from a distance
Nonument Valley from a distance

It’s hard to describe the feeling of achieving a bucket list item.  A sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride and a sense of awe at the geography.  It is more breathtaking than I imagined and my photos are woefully inadequate.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Monument Valley - more
Monument Valley – more

 

The road on the valley floor is traveled by the Navajo people who live there.  They choose to live in this sacred place without electricity or running water, as their ancestors did.  It’s also a 17-mile drive around most of the monuments.  NOT recommended for cars low to the ground — I went for it!   The mustang is a rental, after all!

One of the “must do” items in Monument Valley is watching the sunrise or sunset.  My hotel, The View Hotel, sits in the park and is built to give every room a view of the Valley.

044 043 041 037Monument Valley — a spiritual center for the Navajo, a spiritual center for those of us who visit.

It was a special way to spend Thanksgiving.

Just don’t get me started about the drive back to Phoenix at 4a!  What was I thinking?  Well, I changed my flight in order to make it home in time for a friend’s wedding.  Without realizing the drive is 4.5 – 5 hours.   I needed to be at rental counter by 9:30.  Ugh.

As I checked out, the desk clerk suggested I drive 40-45 mph because cows might be on the highway.  Uh, ok.  Cows?   I didn’t know that Navajo land is free grazing which means cattle freely roam all hours of the day and night.   I sat in my car as it warmed up and said a prayer to Mother Earth and Father Sky.   Mother Earth, look out for me and the cows until Father Sky woke up.  With that said, I started out.   Whatever happened I was thankful and at peace.

The first glimmer of day light appeared at 6:14a and I was never so happy as that moment.  I don’t know which was worse — desolate night driving or mountain driving.   Thank you Mother Earth and Father Sky.

However, my Mustang was outstanding!  I’m not a fan of fast or driving; however, I enjoyed driving that Mustang at 85-95 mph!  (not sure which guiding spirit to thank for the safe delivery to Phoeniz Airport but THANK YOU).

 

 

Blogging at Bloggy Boot Camp Baby – Say that 3 times fast

Learning more about Blogging in Sin City

Spent the weekend in Vegas.  No, not gambling.  I went to Bloggy Boot Camp! Woohoo!  A fun-filled 1-day blogging conference for beginning and novice bloggers.

What a great day!  A great group of dynamic women in an intimate setting.  Tiffany Romero, co-founder of Bloggy Boot Camp, holds nothing back, speaking with knowledge and passion about the blogging world.  She preaches “vision of your blog” and “support of each other.”  It’s true.  There are more than enough opportunities for bloggers who want them; it’s not a “if I help you get yours, I won’t get mine” situation.

It’s true that one blog cannot be all things to all people nor can one blogger hope to be all things to brands.  Each of us has a unique voice that will appeal to the appropriate audience.  Question is how hard is one willing to work to find that audience?

Ford’s Warriors In Pink – United in the fight against Breast Cancer

More importantly, the 1st segment was devoted to breast cancer.  Ford’s Warriors in Pink sponsored a video and Tina Herold, a breast cancer survivor, spoke about her fight with breast cancer and the inner strength which makes her a warrior.

My Benefit

For me, the price of admission was worth the opportunity to meet some of my midlife idols — Caryn of  The Midlife Guru,  and Jane of Midlifebloggers.  There were many other women — an assortment of moms, singles, young and old.  Business cards and blogs I’m still sorting through!

Of course, seeing the ever-awesome Michelle of Gluten Free Gabber was icing on a very delicious (non-fat, mind you) cake!  It’s hard to describe the feeling of meeting someone and having an instant connection.  Yup, Michelle rates very highly on the new friend meter.

I knew there was a community of women bloggers, even a local community in SoCal, and at this conference I tapped into it.

Bloggy Boot Camp was also a good kick in the butt, a reminder that I need to stay focused on why I blog.  Surprisingly, it’s not only about potential for $$ — a huge part of blogging for me is connecting to other people in the same stage of life, about building a community.

 

Retirement Planning – Step 1

One of the inevitable tasks of midlife is planning for retirement.   In 15-20 years, I’ll be retirement age.  Do I plan for it or let it happen?

Naturally I’m on Team Planning!

Preplanning is the dreams of retirement versus the reality of retirement.  What, where, and when are the 3 questions that lead to “how much.”  Because the best dreams of retirement depend on the bank balance at retirement.

What do I want to do? This one is most difficult for me.  A part of me is considering politics  because a bigger part of me wants to make this country better.  Then I want to open a breakfast/lunch cafe because I love cooking and love food.  Let’s not forget travel.  Do I want to live abroad?  Can I afford a small flat in the south of France?  Do I join the Peace Corps or work the National Park Service?

Where do I want to live?  Look for this in an upcoming post.

When do I want to retire?  Look for this in an upcoming post.

Have you thought these questions?  Have you started your retirement preplanning?