Archive for the ‘50 in 50 challenge’ Category

rocky road

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Happy Birthday, me!

I’m actually not that “in” to my birthday these days, though I sure loved it when I was a kid.  You see, I had something to look forward to after all the excitement and celebration of the Christmas season was over.  And yes, there was a bit of materialism in there, too.  I was going to get more presents!

As the years have passed, I’ve moved away from family and I’m not as motivated by presents. I also realized that birthdays around the holidays are a bit of a pain to everyone except the people who are having said birthdays.   Case in point:  one place where I worked would host monthly birthday parties for its employees.  But the January birthday folks?  Usually forgotten, or asked if they really wanted the celebratory cake, since everyone had already eaten too much over the holidays.   I should have loudly said, “YES!”  but instead I acquiesced and  just slowly quit talking about my birthday.  Now, most of my current friends don’t even know when it is.

But I digress… back to the subject of birthdays… Last year was a big one.  I turned 50 and was going to make major changes in my life.  I also challenged myself to read 50 books, eat at 50 new restaurants/cook 50 new recipes, and try 50 new experiences.

As I turn the page on my 50th year, I decided to look back and see how I did.  At first glance, not so good. I read less than 30 books. I realized that I don’t want to eat out all the time and that, while I enjoy an occasional new activity, I am pretty stuck in routine.  I also didn’t have time to devote to 50 new adventures, what with training for my 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago.

But, the good news is that while walking on the Camino, I definitely ate at 50 different places, and had numerous new adventures.  Problem was (or so I thought) that some of those adventures weren’t ones I particularly wanted.

First adventure I didn’t want:  getting injured.  I never, ever thought or prepared for the possibility that I would get seriously (for me) injured.

People have asked why I didn’t plan for that.  All I can say is that it just wasn’t in my consciousness.  I’m basically healthy, and I had done lots of training. I also wasn’t trying to walk at record speeds.  I was going to be fine!   How was I to know that a massage therapist was going to hammer my heels with something so hard and unforgiving that I received a stress fracture?

My injury certainly changed the tenor of the trip, and caused great stress for both myself and my walking partner.  We had agreed from the start to go our separate ways and meet up at night, and that neither would change their trip for the other.  I also knew, deep down, that my friend wasn’t supposed to help me.  So that was okay.  But there were some interactions  along the way that did not feel particularly pleasant or supportive.  I say this admitting that I’m not the easiest person to be around,  and knowing that even though I tried not to impact my friend, my compromised emotional and physical state did have an adverse affect on her.

The second adventure had to do with some of what I just mentioned:  being around someone for a long period of time, thus leading to some disagreements, and having different views on how things should be done.  Where I fault myself is that I was too afraid to strike out on my own when the opportunity presented itself.  I couldn’t speak the language, I had huge communication issues with my phone, and I’m not an experienced traveler.  So I stuck to my friend’s schedule like glue, even when it would have been better for both of us if I had chosen otherwise.

The third adventure had to do with coming back to the States and looking for employment.  I had hoped to get clarity on my life’s direction on the Camino, and I did get some of that.  Problem is I didn’t get concrete, next steps to take.  So I came home,  injured and worn out emotionally, and decided that moving to some undetermined spot to start a business wasn’t in my best interest.

I’ve since been working temporary jobs and have had to deplete some retirement savings in order to pay bills.   When a job I thought was certain to be mine did not materialize, I fell into a tailspin of doubt and depression.

I spent the fall months of 2103 berating myself.  After all, I had a job that wasn’t particularly satisfying, but I could pay my bills.  Everyone had told me not to leave the job, but I felt I had to make a clean break.  I was going to move, after all.  Except… I didn’t move.  And I wasn’t finding employment that would be a good fit for both me and the employer.  Looks like I screwed up my life!

I hit rock bottom.

Then, slowly, from that place of sadness and desperation came several realizations.  One is that I made the best choices I could for myself at the time.   Another is that I can trust that I am always being divinely guided.   And a third realization is that fear really, really, really isn’t my friend.   Thanks to my experiences before, during and after the Camino, I’ve been able to integrate these ideas and am now moving forward in a more positive manner.

So, as I close out my 50th year on this planet, I have come to realize that the Camino truly did indeed give me a wonderful gift.  I am ready to  let go of fear and live a life of trust.   Thank you, beautiful old pathway! It took me awhile to realize it, but you have given me the direction I’ve been wanting.

I might not know the particulars, but I trust that signposts will appear to lead me to my destination.  All I have to do is look for the yellow arrows.

5-4 to estella 16 sign


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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon


I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals for the year is to read 50 books.  The latest book I finished was Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews.

I’ve read and enjoyed several books by this author, but this one was a struggle for me to get through.  Normally when I struggle that much, I just stop reading the book.  But for some reason I plugged along.  Took me three weeks to finish.

This book is about Annajane and her relationship with the Bayless family.  Her best friend is Pokey Bayless; she was married to Pokey’s brother, Mason; and she’s been working for the Bayless family business for years.

As the book begins, Annajane is moving on, both personally and professionally.  She’s got a new fiance and a new job and will be leaving town shortly.   Or so she thought.

That’s about all I’ll write, since I’m posting this mainly to give myself credit for reading the book.  And I am just now realizing that it’s November, meaning that I won’t be anywhere near meeting my goal of 50 books.  Maybe I should start counting all the ones I started but didn’t finish?

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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 books.  The latest book I finished is my favorite so far:  Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

This book is about Pharr Davis’s first, solo thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail.  I loved hiking vicariously along with Pharr Davis as she traverses the 2,175-mile trail.  There’s the bugs, the inclement weather, the feet issues, the rocky terrain, the weird and/or scary people, the traumatic situation she witnessed.  There’s also the beauty of the mountains and valleys, the sunsets and rivers.  There’s the friends and trail angels she met along the way.  There’s the characteristics she discovered about herself.

I loved this book.  I loved this book.  I loved this book.

Did I say I LOVED this book?   Granted, I’m a fan of walkabouts, having recently finished a much less challenging one myself.  I think they are great ways to figure things out (even things you didn’t plan on figuring out) and connecting with the Divine.  So of course I was going to love this book.

What surprised me, though, is that I now want to do a thru-hike myself.  But then I remember there’s the bugs, the inclement weather, the feet issues, the rocky terrain, the weird and/or scary people… For me, there’s also the time and money issue, along with the idea of having to carry more supplies than I did on my recent Camino.

But regardless of whether I personally experience a thru-hike on the AT, I’ve enjoyed reading about Pharr Davis’s experiences, and I’m once again motivated to plan another walkabout.

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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 books.  The latest book I finished is No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year by Virginia Ironside.

The last book I read was about older women reclaiming their life and passions.  This book is the diary of a woman who, upon turning 60, has decided to slow down and enjoy growing old.  She doesn’t want to take classes, participate in adventure sports, or travel to exotic locations. She has also decided to give up on pursuing a romantic relationship.

Instead, she revels in the idea of becoming a grandma, taking it easy, and having a “Freedom Pass,” which gives her free access to things like public transportation and museums.

I chose to read this book based on the title alone.   Most everyone I know, myself included, wants to keep active and learning as we grow older.  So I wanted to read a funny book about someone who didn’t particularly care to have any more adventures.  Of course, life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned, does it?

A nice, light read.



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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon


I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 new books.  A book I recently read is The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love by Joan Medlicott.

This book is about three women who became friends while living in a group home for elderly people.  One of the women, Amelia, inherits an old farmhouse in the mountains of North Carolina.  The three drive down to see the place, envisioning a beautiful, comfortable house.  What they find is a building in disrepair.  Rather than move back into their group home, they decide to make the repairs, using the money Amelia also inherited, and move in the farmhouse together.   During this process, each woman faces unresolved situations in her past, and either finds or rediscovers her passion.

I liked this book for several reasons.  The first is the idea of remodeling an old house, though the price on Amelia’s remodel seemed mighty cheap to me!

The second is the idea of a group of people moving in together to help each other out.  I’ve had conversations with several friends about a similar idea.  How can we help each other out when we are older?  Probably the best version we came up with was to buy land together and everyone have little cabins of their own, with some common space for events.  But the ladies in this book figured out a way that worked for them.

The third reason is the setting:  I love the mountains!

A nice summer read.


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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals was to read 50 new books.  The latest book I finished reading is The Best of Friends by Joanna Trollope.

This book is about two people, Gina and Laurence, who have been best friends since childhood.  Once grown, they both ended up back in the same hometown, married to different people.    Then Gina’s husband leaves her and life changes for everyone.  Actions do indeed have consequences, and sometimes ones that are unintended! Families fall apart, then build themselves back together.   That’s all I’ll reveal,  in case someone wants to read the book.

I did enjoy this book, and while it doesn’t necessary have a patented “happy” ending,  I got the feeling that the characters would all be okay, and even happy again one day.  That’s almost as good as a happy ending, and perhaps a bit more realistic.




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image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 new books.  One I recently read was The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil.

Looking back over the books I’ve read this year, I notice a pattern:  light, easy reading, tending toward the humorous.  I also seem drawn to books about things I find interesting but will probably never do, such as quilting and knitting.  Sometimes things happen in books that I hope will never happen to me, either.  This book is easy to read and funny at times; is about quilting; and starts out with a tragic event.

Jo Mackenzie’s husband announces he wants a divorce,  leaves the house, and then was killed in a car wreck.  Not being able to afford to stay in her London house, Jo moves her two boys to her small  hometown and takes over her grandmother’s quilt shop.

This book chronicles Jo’s life as she adjusts to being a single mom, makes new friends (including a famous actress), and brings change to the quilt shop.  Despite the misgivings of long-time employee Elsie, Jo brightens up window displays, orders trendy yarn colors, and starts a quilting club called “Stitch and Bitch” to appeal to new quilters.  Along the way, she deals with disapproving inlaws, helps her grandmother enter the dating scene, and even finds time for a little romance herself.   A nice light read about how to handle life’s changes.  Unfortunately, I note that Jo handles things with much more grace than I do!  I tend to kick and scream, whine and complain, then move on.  Perhaps I could learn a lesson or two from Jo about going with the flow.

Anyway, I have noted that there are several more Beach Street books, so I hope to read them soon.





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