Month: August 2014

Be Happy: Spring 2014 Freak Out

Hepburn  -1 How can you forget how blessed you are and not be happy?  Most people have certain freak out times in their lives that they will never forget. I have a few periods of my life that I will never forget, but the most recent freak out was the spring of 2014.

I was retiring from my job in education after twenty-eight years that went by in a flash of light. I was experiencing problems with friends and a boyfriend relationship, and I was going to be a Gigi (a grandmother), and I would be turning 50 in September. Can we say emotional roller-coaster from hell?

My decision to retire was a hard one, but after seeing the financial breakdown, it was the smart thing to do. I loved the people that I spent my day with in the office,  and I enjoyed the administrative parts of my job. I did not enjoy grading one hundred essays a week during certain weeks of the school year. I loved helping other instructors and being the go to girl for online English problems. It was rewarding, and I felt like I was actually making a contribution to the online program at ICC to move in a forward motion.  When I saw on paper how my salary would increase if I stayed four more years, I realized it would not be the right choice for me to stay. I am a breast cancer survivor who does not believe in counting on tomorrow. At this point, my prognosis is good (if I change my life style), but how mad at myself would I be if I worked more years and then realized that my time on this earth was up.  This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.  What would be my new normal?

I am a Virgo control habitual list making freak, so change sometimes throws me for a loop for a little while.  I did have a deep desire to live somewhere else for a while and travel, so that is what I did-hence the Charleston and Costa Rica trips. I still plan to travel a lot and meet new people and see new places. Who knows where I will end up, but I know it will be a fabulous place.  My heart is beating a little faster as I think about the places I am going to go one day.

I had an amazing support system. I cannot say thank you enough to my friends who have stood by me and checked on me where ever I was. The hugs, lunches, daily counseling sessions and pep talks from my friends were my shelter in the storm.  My friends believed in me when I felt emotionally drained.   They said, “Go for it. What is the worst that can happen? If you can handle the worst scenario then you got this.”  I cannot thank my daughters enough who were excited about my adventures and encouraged me ever step of the way. My family was supportive but worried.

A grandmother in September- Wow! My kids are not old enough to have kids! Oh wait, they are 27 and 24. I guess they are old enough.  I think the first shocking thought was “My baby is having a baby”!  To make it even more interesting, it is a boy baby.  I know baby boys pee in your face and love Bob the Builder. Who is Bob the Builder? Is that Barbie’s friend? Am I old enough to be a Gigi- Yes, I am.

I am excited about this new addition to my life that I will love very much.  I have a great rocker thanks to Jane’s grandmother, and many books to read to my grandson. I love to rock and read as we called it when the girls were little.  I can give him candy, and I do not have to pay his dental bills. My daughter and son-in-law will be amazing parents, and the support system they have is unbelievable.

I will be 50 in September. Do I feel 50? No, and those that know me will definitely agree that I do not act my age even though sometimes I guess I should. I do try to preserve my face and exercise – Yes, I have a vain and shallow side. Doesn’t everyone? Thank you Retina A and Botox.

This made my thoughts go in a different direction. What have I done with my time on this great earth? There are so many things that I could have done better, but no dress rehearsal is allowed, and don’t you hate that phrase about hindsight is 20/20?  You get one shot, and it passes by so fast.  What could you do better? I have so many things that I need to work on in my life to make me a better person; I want to be loving and kind to everyone and never cold and is an investmnet

My new normal for now is teaching a couple of online classes and working part-time for a great business; therefore, I am a very busy lady as I wait to be a Gigi. I hope to declutter my house soon, get the little trees out of the flower beds when I have time, and Thursday night starts this Ole Miss girl’s football season. Hotty Toddy!

My feet are on the ground now. I am still finding my way and adjusting to the changes in my life, but my life is good.  I hope your life is good to live- hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was an amazing classy lady. Cheers to her!My Fair Lady Breakfast

Gratitude and Pay It Forward

My summer discoveries are really simple: practice gratitude and try to make someone’s day a little brighter with a smile, a hug, or a kind word or all three. If I repeat myself in any of my blogs, it is because I need to write those words again for me.

1. I feel gratitude every day for my wonderful life. Being grateful for all that I have and all of  the wonderful opportunities I have experienced keeps me balanced.   Solitude and meditation work for some people, and it did help me, but I tend to gravity toward interaction with people.  (I first wrote medication and that may work better for some people.)  Whatever you need to feel grateful for your life, go for it!   I felt extreme gratitude every morning when I looked at the view from the balcony. Everything that happened in my life led me to that balcony and to that wonderful feeling of inner peace.  Trying to preserve it now, but it is a struggle when you enter the familiar rat race.

2. People enter your life and people leave your life and that is as it should be. Do not spend too much time trying  to understand the how’s or why’s.  Some things are not meant to be understood; they are meant to be accepted and used as a life lesson. Remember the love you received from those people because you would not have been a part of your life if you did not feel loved on some level and for whatever reason, it is where you wanted to be at that time in your life.  As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Whenever you think of them, send them love and light.” Cherish the good times.

3. Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you. Do not be around people who delight in finding and pointing out your shortcomings. Everyone has things that he/she does not do well. Pointing out the inadequacies of others will not make your inadequate behavior any less noticeable. We need to be lifted up and  challenged to never stop growing, learning, and embracing new things and new people. Find the people that after you talk to them you think about your conversations, and you feel enriched by being around them and you want to investigate that new book or that idea that they present.

3. From my life book, Eat Pray Love,  “let it go”. Focus on the joy of living. You can only control what you do. Everything else is out of your control. The world will not stop turning if you just let go.

4. You know from when you are young if you are one of those people who want to know the how and why and if you willing to go the extra lengths to find answers. I knew I was one of those people from a young age, but I made choices that allowed me only to look at life from a small window. Keep looking and searching for your pot of gold. Everybody has different dreams and different ideals of what he/she considers to be “the good life”.

5. Human beings are amazing creations that are adaptable and filled with love.

6. Happiness is not measured by material things. I saw the happiness and the love that comes only from having food, shelter, and clothing and someone to love.

What would happen if each year companies modeled a “Pay It Forward” initiative like Bell State Bank and Trust? This program illustrates Anne Frank’s statement.
Check out this link shared with me by my mentor:
Pay It Forward: 2013
“In 2013, Bell State Bank & Trust and Bell Mortgage employees again had the opportunity to Pay It Forward by giving back to the communities we serve. Each year since 2008, every full-time employee has received $1,000 and every part-time employee $500 to Pay It Forward as they see fit to those in need. In what has become a year-round tradition, our employees carefully consider their Pay It Forward gifts. Our Pay It Forward gifts since the program’s inception are nearing $5 million that has been given to people in need and causes we care about.

This past year, we made an addition to Pay It Forward that doubled its life-changing impact. Through our “Pay It Forward: Community Connect” component, each employee selected a customer, vendor or community member who themselves had the chance to Pay It Forward to an individual, family or organization in need.”

Have a wonderful week!

Costa Rican Return

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Pirate’s Beach: Thank you Bill for taking me to see this beach!

A few travel hints and my Costa Rican departure story should assist you when you visit Costa Rica. Was it hard to leave? Oh, yes! It was hard to leave the beautiful beaches and the sense of calm and peace, but all good things come to an end. Does anything last forever?  No, not on this earth.Costa Rica 295

1. Bring enough contact solution. Very few people in Costa Rica wear contacts and maybe the ones that do get the solution at the eye doctor’s office. I started looking at every store, and I did not see any solution then I found it at the farmacia in Flamingo. I mentioned it at dinner with Dave and the radio DJ that does the radio show at Flamingo Hotel. He said he purchased saline solution  in a bag and  then withdrew it with a needle for his contacts. I think most people that can afford the laser surgery have that done because it is so cheap in Costa Rica. All dental and medical procedures are very affordable.

2. The climate is different for each section of the country. Getting weather for different sections of this country is a little tricky. I read online that the nights can be really cool. Well, that was in San Jose not Playa Flamingo, so the blue jean jacket, the sweatshirt, the work out jacket, the ankle skinny jeans,  and the scarves were not needed. Packing fail again! I did survive with five pair of shoes for the entire trip, so that was a success.

3. You must arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight.  If you are late then you will be told that you will take the next day’s flight. There is an exit tax to pay to leave the country. It is $29.00. There are places that you can pay it before you get to the airport. There is only one in the area where I was located, and it was at the Playa Flamingo Hotel, but it was inaccessible most days. I did not have any problems when I arrived at the airport paying the tax. When I arrived, I took the Airport shuttle which was very nice and very safe, but it was expensive. With tip it was around $90.00.  For the trip back to the airport, I booked through Eoctrans, and it is only $50.00 if I am the only one on the shuttle. If more people book for that flight from this area, then it will only cost $25.00. I was the only one, but it was a very nice peaceful ride and worth the money.

5. The currency here can be understood by doubling the sum or something like that: Below is the official rate.

1.00 USD = 540.649 CRC

500 colones  =  $1.00
1000 colones=  $2.00

By the end of the trip, I was doing a better job with the conversion. (Do not ask Bill or Dave or the waiter at Marie’s if I was improving.)

6. There are English channels on the TV. I found Warner the second night I was there, but I thought that was all I had. Bill came over and showed me the other three channels that you have access to with basic cable. I was going in to Big Bang withdrawals until I found it on Warner!

7. Books- As most of you know, I am a readaholic. Bring your books with you. Marie has a share area at her restaurant that was a lifesaver and Linda (from Washington) also shared her books with me before she left.

Since I shared my trip with you to get to Costa Rica, I wanted to share the return. After paying the exit tax and checking my bag in at Delta with the help of this nice man who assists people for tips, I went through security with ease and headed to the wait area. Because of the departure of my plane being at 12:55 and getting to the airport at 10:00, I was hungry. For a mere $30.00, I had a fruit smoothie and a small quesadilla. They have you at the airport early, and they take full advantage of it. I shopped a little, but I did not buy anything. The chocolate covered coffee beans, almonds and fruit were very good. They had free samples and free coffee. Brit coffee is very good.  There was a cowhide purse that I really liked, but not to the tune of $200.00.Costa Rica 407Costa Rica 408

Our departure was smooth, and the flight was a good flight.  The plane landed in Atlanta and went through passport check which the form is now electronic if you are a US citizen then we waited in line to get our bags, re-checked our bags and then went through security again. This took around one hour and thirty minutes. It was a long painful process. Then I proceeded to gate B 32 and purchased a salad, brownie and a water. While eating and talking to Lori, we were told that our gate had been changed to  A 9. I gathered up my food and started the hike to the next terminal and then rode the little train to terminal A.
The terminal was packed, and we waited and waited. A storm came through so our flight was delayed. We started boarding around 10:40, and we all got on the plane then we waited because we had NO pilots. They had been detained by the bad weather on another flight. I arrived in Memphis at midnight, and my dear friend, Lori, was waiting on me with a welcome sign.  We made it to my house by 1:45 a.m. She had to be at work at 8:00.Costa Rica 410

As Hemingway stated in The Sun Also Rises, there is a price for everything that is good and my Costa Rican trip was very good.
“Women made such swell friends. Awfully swell. In the first place, you had to be in love with a woman to have a basis of friendship. I had been having Brett for a friend. I had not been thinking about her side of it. I had been getting something for nothing. That only delayed the presentation of the bill. The bill always came. That was one of the swell things you could count on.
I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good. I paid my way into enough things that I liked, so that I had a good time. Either you paid by learning about them, or by experience, or by taking chances, or by money. Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth. The world was a good place to buy in. It seemed like a fine philosophy. In five years, I thought, it will seem just as silly as all the other fine philosophies I’ve had.”
― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

Please click on this link, and after you read the list, wait on the pictures at the bottom to load:They are so funny and so accurate!
13 Things Only Solo Travelers Will Understand

Costa Rican Wednesday

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My Costa Rican Wednesday started with a scenic drive to Rincon Largo  and then I was able to see the beautiful birds at Dave’s house that he feeds every morning. These smart birds take the dog food (that he puts out for his roaming dogs that never stay home) and dips the dog food in water to soften it and then they eat it. Smart birds!CR 9 001

The beach was amazing again today, and the waves were huge. This lady had more fun with her board then all of the kids combined.  I also played in the waves,  and I was taken down several times. I have never seen waves this high. CR 9 034CR 9 019CR 9 025

The Costa Rican beach snow cone is amazing. The snow cones have powdered sugar and what we call eagle brand condensed milk poured over them for $2.00.CR 9 031

After the beach, I had lunch at Marie’s and gave her a big “See you later” hug, not a good bye hug.   I will share more with you next week about my different adventures. I am preparing for home and trying to spend as much time with my friends as I can before I leave.

To all of my Costa Rican friends, ” See you later”.

Yes, I had the tourist pics made!
Yes, I had the tourist pics made!


Bill and Marie- more about our great Saturday later.
Bill and Marie- more about our great Saturday later.

Costa Rica: Chili, Tuna, and Sea Bass

CR6 049It has been another great week in Costa Rica with Chili, Tuna, the Beach and Sea Bass.  When  Bill mentioned Monday that the best chili was in Coco,  I was ready to go.  We drove over Monday to shop and eat Chili. The main store we wanted to visit was closed, so we looked around a little while and then we walked to La Vida Loca in Coco Beach.  Bill ordered the chili, and I spotted Coors Light in the cooler, and the mountains were cold.  We had a great time and as always in Costa Rica, the scenery is breathtaking. CR6 042 CR6 046

Wednesday night, I had great seared tuna with Dave at Embere’s. The owner was very kind as he brought a fan and put it by our table. This was a very colorful place with a hotel and a restaurant. The restaurant was on the second floor looking down at the pool. PangasCR6 045

Thursday, Ron picked me up for lunch, and  I asked him could we go by the bank.  I had not been to the bank since I arrived.  When you enter the bank here, you go through a  metal detector, and your purse is searched then you take a number and have a seat. Your number is called and then you go to the teller. Ron speaks Spanish which is comforting, but the young man behind the counter could also speak some English. It reminded me of being at the DMV for  license renewal. We then preceded to Tamarindo to the very nice  French restaurant, Pangas. Ron said that I  could not leave Costa Rica without having the snapper. It was very good. The view of the river flowing in to the ocean was very pretty.

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In the trees above us as we ate lunch.
In the trees above us as we ate lunch.

After we left there, we drove toward town and someone hollered at Ron. It was his friend Katarina, so we parked and walked to her restaurant the El Coconut for a drink. She is a very interesting lady who has lived in many places: Norway, the US, Paris, England and Costa Rica. She left home at 16 and began her travels.  As she talked about her parents, the love and respect that she has for them is apparent. She said there were two rules: 1. Your plane ticket must always be open, so you can always come home. 2. Call at anytime from anywhere.


Thursday night was the radio show at the Flamingo Beach Resort Hotel.  This is where I had the wonderful sea bass. Afterwards, we went to the Shack for live music, and as you can see, we had a great time.

Claudia  and Sue
Claudia and Sue


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I will return your fan.
Dave playing with the band.
Dave playing with the band.

I would like to say a big thank you to all of my new friends in Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica for letting me share your wonderful life for a little while.

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