How has Bikram Hot Yoga changed my life? — Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

 

I had the privilege of being asked to write a story on “What makes me thrive over 50.”  It gave me the opportunity to reflect on the life lessons I have learned on the yoga mat.  What makes you “thrive and feel truly alive?” 

via How has Bikram Hot Yoga changed my life? — Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

Have you ever been on a Blind Date?

I was slightly nervous.  My hands were a little clammy.  I was out of my comfort zone.

I was also curious and looking forward to this Blind Date 

I have had the opportunity to meet many new people in my life.  This was different.  This was a first for me.  I was meeting someone face to face when we had only communicated in cyberspace.  

          Spoiler alert:  Donna is even nicer and more interesting In Real Life!

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Donna   Retirement Reflections  and I initially met last Fall, when I was reading anniversary stories on WordPress blogs.  I was deeply moved by her beautiful letter to her husband, a gift of words.   A Love Letter    When I found out that Donna and Richard lived on Vancouver Island, I knew we were destined to meet.  I believe that our paths were meant to cross.  I believe in synchronicity.

As many of you know, Donna and her husband Richard are preparing to hike   La Via Francigena   this Summer.   Monday nights include a two hour drive each way into Victoria to attend Italian lessons.

Donna and I had arranged to meet before the class at a restaurant called “Victoria Sushi.”  

An initial big, warm hug was followed by over an hour of non-stop talking about many topics. 

We talked about blogging in general.  Bloggers know the challenges of writing, editing, revising and critiques.  We know the feeling of vulnerability when we share our stories.  

We shared personal stories.  Donna has led a varied and interesting life with adventures in many exotic locations. I always look forward to opening my inbox and reading Donna’s stories. They make me laugh.   Bear Attack!!    They inspire me to be a better person and a better writer.

Early on I recognized Donna’s warmth, kindness, intelligence and wit through her posts and her comments. Donna has a supportive and kind comment for everyone.  She has a gift for recognizing and validating the core message and underlying emotions in a story.

I know that Donna has a large following of bloggers that admire and respect her.  I am one of the lucky few that have had the privilege of meeting Donna In Real Life.

 I had the opportunity to see her face light up when she talks about her family.  I saw how she smiled at Richard when he entered the room.  I can see why they will be celebrating their twentieth anniversary next year.

 

 

 

I enjoy this positive corner of the internet.  I have met many like-minded individuals.  I have also met people with diverse interests and different perspectives. You have enriched my life on many levels.  I live vicariously through your adventures and photos.  You make me laugh. You inspire me with your stories, your writing, your wisdom. 

I have also made friends along the way.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you go on a Blind Date with a fellow blogger.  You will not regret it.  

Especially when you meet someone as genuine and kind as Donna.

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Postscript:   “Outtakes” 

I always have a lot of material to condense when I write. Since I enjoy watching outtakes, I decided to add a few notes.  aka “my inside voice 

  • Donna sent me links to past meet ups with fellow bloggers.  In the photos I see bottles of wine on the table and glowing cheeks on the bloggers.  Thank goodness for Marty’s timely wine post.   Snakes in the Grass   We can stay within a budget. fullsizeoutput_7768
  • Do I warn my husband about my computer history?  I did research “blind dates” and “what are the ten best dating sites in Canada?”
  • Re: IRL.  Susan’s   Swooning Grace   comment on Donna’s Retirement Reflections blog  made me smile. “Is IRL a secret code word among bloggers? ha ha.”  I am naive about the blogosphere, too.  I saw IRL a few times before I figured out the meaning.  Susan, you also made me cry on the same day you made me smile.  I read your beautiful post,   Tribute to a Father
  • In the age of Marvel comics and superheroes, Kindness is a quality that supersedes all of the other powers.  Thank you Donna, and all of the bloggers that continue to make this community fun. 

How do you teach children about death?

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Part one – January 23, 2018

Coincidence?

This afternoon, sad, teary-eyed Sadie shared with me that her fish had died.  She had this fish since she was born. 

Children often bring up topics when you are unprepared and you least expect it.  I looked at it as an opportunity to discuss death with a four year old.  

“Everyone and every living thing dies.  It is normal to feel sad.  Love for each other never dies.  Memories live on.  It is good to share your feelings.”  The usual things we say.

Questions from Sadie included:  “Was her fish in outer space?  Was my Dad in outer space?”  She was aware that my Dad had died many years ago.  

I told Sadie that I really wasn’t sure where her fish is and where my Dad is. We talked about heaven.

Sadie wanted to see pictures of my Dad.  I opened up the file on my computer from my last visit with my Dad.  My Dad was very compromised, elderly and in ill health.

Sadie noticed the Christmas decorations in the background.  She asked whether he had died at Christmas.  I told her, no.  Some time in January.

The hair rose on my arms.

I hunted down his memorial script.  May 4, 1929 – January 23, 2007.

A sob escapes my throat.

Coincidence?

 

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Part two – May 4, 2019

Sadie is now five years old.  One year older and one year wiser.

After a long, fun-filled day,  we were waiting for Sadie’s Mom to arrive to take her home.

                    This time I received an extra long hug.  She wouldn’t let go.

Then she said “I don’t want to forget you.  I looked at her and she had tears in her eyes.

I paused.  Where did this come from?  Does she know something I don’t know?

I was taken aback.  I didn’t have time to prepare an answer.  I said what I think are appropriate things to say to a five year old.  “You won’t forget me.  I will never forget you.  You will always be in my heart.”  I was a little emotional, too, although I tried my best to hide these feelings.

I get it.  I also don’t want to forget.

Memories surface around special holidays.  This year my Dad would have turned 90 years old on his birthday.

A few of my memories: 

  • I remember how birthdays were always a big deal in our house.  We always celebrated with a Black Forest Cake.
  • I remember how my Dad valued an education. On a very limited income,  he purchased the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.  We would actually read these books on a daily basis. 
  • I remember how he was a gadget person.  The latest knives, blenders, recording devices, projectors, movie cameras.  We also had the first black and white tv on the block.
  • I still get misty-eyed when I hear a song from the Sound of Music, the first movie I saw with my Dad.
  • Most of all I remember the family values my Dad instilled in all of his children.  To him, love was a verb.  He showed us every day how much he cared about us. He loved children and unfortunately he did not have a chance to meet his amazing great grandchildren. 

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Memories can fade.  We will forget details about our loved ones, especially grandparents that may have left us many years ago.  We may have only a hazy recollection of events.

Sadie had questions about death and about my Dad in Part 1 of this story. 

How do we teach children about death?

When we have the privilege of spending time with children, we quickly realize that we will learn far more from children than they will learn from us.

Sadie taught me that it is okay to ask the hard questions. It is okay to love someone and be afraid of losing them.  It is okay to have tears in your eyes.

Sadie taught me that sometimes the only answer you really want is a very long hug and not let go.

Epilogue

A few weeks ago I was making some notes outside the yoga studio, waiting for my class to begin.  I was debating on whether I would write and share this story.  I walked into the studio and I met a friend who was telling me about her upcoming birthday plans.  I asked her what day is her birthday?  She said, May 4th.

Today would have been my Dad’s 90th birthday, May 4th.

Coincidence?

 

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The Mystery of the Eleven Eggs

Eleven eggs in one nest?  A puzzle!   

We were tramping (the New Zealand word for “hiking”) in the Central Otago region of NZ.  This area has many cave-like tunnels created during gold mining in the 1800’s.

 

                         Central Otago Region, NZ 2/1/19

My husband was exploring inside these dark tunnels and he was  encouraging me to go in there with him.  I was adamant that I was not going into a manmade tunnel in an isolated area, especially in a country known for it’s earthquakes. It was not a good idea for him to go in there, either.

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                         Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

As he was coming out of a tunnel he caught a glimpse of a nest.  It was well hidden behind brush on the side of a wall.

We were surprised to find eleven eggs in this concealed, camouflaged home.

These eggs were large.  Much bigger than robin’s eggs, yet smaller than chicken’s eggs.  What bird is capable of laying eleven eggs?

At that moment, we saw a rabbit running over a hill.   Neither one of us wanted to consider the possibility of The Easter Bunny.  How foolish.  Yet, my husband and I just looked at each other, scratching our heads.

 

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                               Rabbit, Hokitika, NZ 2/5/19

One of the first things I noticed about NZ is the numerous, diverse birds and waterfowl native to this region. 

What kind of bird and what size of bird would lay these eleven eggs? 

We had no access to wifi so I couldn’t ask google questions. 

We did not disturb the eggs, spending a brief amount of time taking  photos.  One of the eggs appeared to have a crack in it.  This egg may have been damaged or a chick was ready to hatch.

 

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Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

We came across very few people on these trails, spending our day tramping in the desert-like hills.  When we met a couple of hikers, we did not share information about the nest or the eggs. We wanted to keep this bird’s secret hiding place safe. 

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                         Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

For the rest of the day we carefully scrutinized the different birds we saw.  We couldn’t imagine how any one of them could carry eleven  eggs.

In the evening we did have access to 100mb of wifi.  It was a faint, slow, inconsistent signal. Sometimes we could see words.  Other times we could see photos and words. We were hoarding our wifi mb and using them sparingly. 

A quick check into Messenger to see whether any new family news.  Then, our priority was to google “what bird in the Central Otago region of New Zealand lays eleven eggs?”

We compared our photo of the eggs to other pictures online.  We are quite certain that the eggs we found are from a Pukeko bird and more likely Pukeko birds.

 

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                       Pukeko Bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19

The Pukeko bird is very common and widespread in NZ.  Pukeko birds have a complex social life and a highly variable mating system. The birds may nest as monogamous pairs, polyandrous (one female, two or more males), polygynandrous (the male and the female have multiple partners) and polygynous (one male with multiple females, although the female will mate with only one male).  Are you still with me? 

 

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                       Pukeko bird, Aukland, NZ 2/24/19

Each female will usually lay four to six eggs.  A nest can contain as many as eighteen eggs. Multiple breeding females will all lay eggs in the same nest.  All group members contribute to chick care. Weblink    Link      

The eggs in this nest likely belonged to two or more Pukeko birds sharing the nest.

We learned Pukeko are very territorial and aggressive, especially when defending their offspring.  We didn’t see any birds near this nest. 

Even though Pukeko birds are abundant and widespread  throughout NZ, they are new to us. It was interesting to learn about their complex social groups with multiple breeding males and females. We were very fortunate to uncover this nest which prompted us to learn more about the native birds of NZ.  

We have solved The Mystery of the Eleven Eggs. 

As for us and our tramping adventures?  After 42 years I have learned that I cannot tell my husband what to do, even if I want to protect him and prevent any serious mishaps. 

I can only stand by, capture the photos, and be prepared to seek help if necessary. 

If any unfortunate predicaments do occur I will continue to be a caring, supportive, loving wife.

I will not say “I told you so.” 

 At least not out loud.

 

fullsizeoutput_7433                      Central Otago region, NZ 2/1/19

The Secret to Danish Happiness? I want that Pyt button!

When a word continues to appear on my radar, I need to pay attention.

I first heard about Pyt last year.  The Danish Library Association chose Pyt as the nation’s favourite word.  I was immediately intrigued. The Danes are known as the happiest people on Earth.  I want to know their secret.

This is the same culture that coined a favourite word, hygge, a few years ago.  I easily adopted hygge as a way to relax and destress. Reading, cocooning, snuggling, a feeling of contentment.  A favourite way to spend my time. 

 

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                           Long Beach, Vancouver Island

 

Now the word Pyt has surfaced.  I have read a variety of translations describing the meaning of this word, how to pronounce it and when to use it.   I understand how a cultural word may not be easily translated into the English language. I speak German, and we have words that do not directly translate into an English word.

 Pyt (‘pid’) is used for minor frustrations and annoyances.   Pyt is used to express ‘don’t worry’, ‘accept it’, ‘move on.’   weblink  link

When I read further about Pyt, I found out that the Danes had even created a button with Pyt on it.  When you press this button you will hear the Pyt word. A reminder to pause, gain perspective and let it go.

 

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                                     photo credit:  Karen Rossinger

I could see how a physical symbol would help the expression Pyt seep into a culture’s language and values.   I had a Happy Face button.  The Happy Face emoji is still a part of popular communication.  😊

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The underlying message that continues to surface for me is “acceptance.”  This concept is emphasized in one of my favourite books, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.  In 2017 my one word intention was “acceptance.” 

I still need to be reminded to accept the things I cannot change.

I am usually a glass-half-full kind of person. Yet, we all have stresses in our life, even the Danes. Many of us use strategies to gain perspective, like walking in nature, meditation and creative outlets.  The Danes also use words to help prompt a more peaceful, happy life.

 

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                            Long Beach, Vancouver Island

 

We can learn from other cultures.  We can share secrets.  We, too, can be the happiest people on Earth.

 

postscript:  amazon sells Pyt decals and wall stickers.  I may have to create my own Pyt button, even if it is in my mind.

What do you do when you love Mussels as much as I do?

 

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You visit Havelock, New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel capital of the world. Definitely one of our favourite days exploring NZ!

This area is in the spectacular Marlborough Sounds region on the South Island of NZ.

 

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We left early on the Pelorus Mail Boat out of the town of Havelock.   This boat delivers mail, supplies and people to remote coastal areas.  There are no roads, ferries or cruise ships.

Living out west on Vancouver Island, we have had the opportunity to spend the day on mail boats.  It is a nice way to let someone else do the navigating and spend a relaxing day enjoying the scenery.  We were looking forward to a break from driving the challenging NZ roads.

 

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It was a gorgeous day, some areas calm, some windy with stunning scenery in every direction.

 

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The captain and guide were very kind, fun and knowledgeable about the history and wildlife in this area. 

The Green-lipped Mussels are endemic to NZ.  The name comes from the distinct emerald green colour of the shell.  They are sometimes called Green Shelled Mussels or NZ Mussels.  They may have anti-inflammatory health benefits for some people. (weblink)

We saw many mussel farms in the inlets of Marlborough Sounds.  Up until now, I have enjoyed eating mussels, although, I had no idea how mussels grow in the coastal waters.

 

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Spat (juvenile mussels) are collected, where they wash up attached to clumps of seaweed.   Spat arrive at a mussel farm and are transferred to ropes in seawater until about 6 months of age.  They are removed and then reseeded onto long stretches of rope, and grown for another 9 to 12 months.  They are then harvested. 

Most aspects of farmed and wild mussels are identical. The mussel farms are located in the same areas where wild mussels thrive.  Mussels require sheltered areas. There are over 600 mussel farms in NZ and they cover thousands of hectares of marine space. (weblink) (link)

We saw some boats go by carrying huge white bags.  Each of these bags contain over a ton of mussels.  These boats were obviously very low in the water.

 

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We stopped at a remote lodge for lunch.  Of course, we ordered the mussels. 

I bit down on a mussel to the sound of a crunch.  Was it a piece of shell or my tooth?  Hiding underneath the mussel was a pea-sized crab.  More on this later in a future story.

 

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We stopped for a hike on a secluded beach.  The only access to this area is by boat or helicopter.

 

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We came across colonies of beautiful, big seabirds called Gannets.

 

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We were introduced to a huge insect endemic to New Zealand called a Giant Weta.  It is described as a relatively harmless insect.  Only a few of them bite.  I didn’t know which side of the fence this Weta belonged, the biting or the nonbiting side.  And using the term “relatively harmless” does not make me feel better. 

 

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A highlight towards the end of the day was to have a large school of Bottlenose dolphins swim around us.  Even, Trish, the guide became very emotional. Although she travels these inlets every day,  she had never seen this many dolphins stay as long to play. 

 

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We have been surrounded by breathtaking scenery and incredible natural beauty in NZ.  Every day has been an adventure.  We have learned about the history of the Islands.  We have been fortunate to witness the diverse marine life and wildlife native to this country.

Exploring the Marlborough Sounds region on the Pelorus mail boat was definitely a highlight for us. It was one of our best days in New Zealand!

 

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And what will I continue to order for my favourite meal?  Mussels, of course!

 

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How much do you rely on Wifi, the Internet, Google?

 

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No wifi again.  This time for 5 days. 

The past few weeks in New Zealand have been filled with amazing adventures, exploring and long road trips.

 It was now getting to the end of our trip.  We arrived at Cook’s Lookout Motel, Paihia, an area called the Bay of Islands, the very north part of the North Island.

 

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The information about this motel had indicated access to wifi.  I had planned a couple of days of catching up.  Messenger and FaceTime with the family.  Surfing the internet.  I wanted to read the blogs I follow.  I was planning to research some information to add to my stories. 

The owner of the motel had a complicated story about major wifi glitches in this area the past few weeks.  No wifi for guests right now.

It was slightly disappointing.   Although, not unexpected.

Over the last two months in New Zealand we often have had minimal or no access to wifi.  Sometimes, we were allowed only 100mb of use. 

 

I really didn’t know how much I rely on the internet until it was no longer available:

  • Researching my husband’s spider bite:  symptoms;  should he see a doctor?
  • The weather forecast each day
  • Sending birthday wishes to friends and family
  • Is the Giant Weta harmful?
  • Names of bird species we encounter
  • Booking excursions
  • Opening times of attractions
  • Prices
  • Restaurant open/close times
  • Restaurant menus
  • Checking emails
  • Confirming our flights
  • World news
  • Who won best actor category at the Oscars?
  • What would you add to the list?

 

Version 2Giant Weta – “New Zealand’s most recognizable creepy-crawlies”   weblink 

 

Version 2Kea – species of large parrot found in the forested and alpine regions of the South Island of New Zealand  weblink

 

What did I do without wifi for 5 days?

  • I finished reading books I had started at the beginning of this trip.
  • I went swimming.
  • I did more tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking).
  • I wrote stories.
  • I took photos.
  • I watched the sunrise and sunset.
  • I sat outside, breathing in the fresh sea air, truly enjoying the scenery.

 

 

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Do I miss not having wifi?

We have gone camping in areas on the west coast of BC and in the Yukon where we were truly unplugged.  I plan for it, and I actually look forward to the respite from the online world.

 

Version 3Long Beach – Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

 

My stress level and angst significantly decline when I am oblivious to the daily news, fake and otherwise.

Wifi affects almost every part of our lives now.  It is how we communicate, surf for information and often do our shopping and our banking.  Our entire vacation was researched, planned and booked using the internet.

 

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I did not miss access to wifi while we were on the Bay of Islands.

We were there for only five days.

The first thing I did when I arrived home?

I plugged in my computer. 

 

Postscript:  I wrote this story about one week ago while we were still in New Zealand.  We experienced a wonderful, life-changing adventure.  Everywhere we went we met kind, thoughtful New Zealanders.  I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Christ Church this week.  My heart goes out to the victims, the victim’s families and all of New Zealand. Unfortunately, this is not fake news.