Week 52 : Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Wrap-Up Edition

This last year has quickly passed and, like everyone else, it wasn’t the year I expected. Since Covid-19, I think we’ve all had more time for reflection. In thinking about my bucket list experience, there has been so much positive that has come from it. First of all, I have always been drawn to self-improvement projects that span over the course of a few months or a year. For instance, I’ve done Simple Abundance and I re-do it every few years and I am alway surprised at the different perspective a few years can bring. I’ve also embraced The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve done P90X to get in shape, which is a workout program which spans 90 days. I’ve done Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home and the Happiness Project with time spans ranging from 9 months to a year. There is something intriguing about taking a chunk of time and using it to re-shape yourself. I also feel, as an obliger, publicly acknowledging a goal makes me more accountable. So the year has come to an end and now it’s time for the reckoning. Let’s go back to the year’s beginning and I will try to do a quick summary of my successes and failures.

Here are my results:

  1. Create a blog to document my year. Obviously, mission accomplished on this one. For the first 31 weeks, I posted weekly. As my list dwindled, my post frequency lessened as there was less to write about. So I give this one a big checkmark!
  2. Go skydiving. Checkmark here as well. (week 15) What an experience. To be honest, I didn’t do it to conquer a fear, I’m not afraid of heights. I did it for the adrenaline rush. I especially loved sharing the experience with my daughter. Now quite a few years back, I faced a fear by scuba diving. That for me, was a much scarier experience!
  3. Do 50 random acts of kindness throughout the year for family, friends and/or strangers. Check mark here. I did not share each act of kindness because I am a believer in keeping the nice things one does a little more private.
  4. Finish modernizing our house. Checkmark. We modernized our lower level and remodeled the bath. We still need to redo our wood floors on the main floor. That was waylaid by Covid. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it soon.
  5. Do a 5k. No check mark here for two very good reasons. One is I waited too long and Covid canceled the runs. The second reason is I was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my hips and my doctor recommends no running or high impact exercises. As it hurts when I run, I will be following that advice.
  6. Keep up my Duolingo streak. Well I’m not sure what magic allowed this to happen but on my birthday, May 13th, I have a 1,000 day streak on Duolingo! I have completed the whole program but go on it every day to refresh my skills.
  7. Lose 10 pounds- hahahaha. Ok, Covid, I see you. I was VERY close to reaching this goal and then….Covid. Damn you! I am back to watching my weight with Noom, but I am not sure I am going to continue with it. I am committed however, to getting the weight back off!
  8. Complete 50 workouts on my Nordic Track treadmill. Gold star here! I have completed 76 workouts on my NordicTrack. The last few were very interesting. One was a walk through Salt Lake City Utah with a couple of comedians. They weren’t hilarious, but made they did make interesting guides. The other was a meditation walk through southern Utah’s Scout Cave Trail with Dr. Shauna Shapiro. I did enjoy being able to walk and meditate and check off two of my daily line items in one fell swoop.
  9. See Stonehenge. This was done early on, week 3. What a wonderful trip for so many reasons!
  10. Keep attending French Class at the Alliance de Francais, Detroit. Well I’m giving myself a checkmark here. When I traveled to our Florida home over the winter, I switched to private FaceTime classes with my instructor David. And of course, all classes are online still with Covid. I definitely enjoy one on one classes though they are a little more expensive, they are worth it. I’m able to converse with and ask my questions of my instructor, a native French speaker. I think this is one of the things that I enjoyed the most this year. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone!
  11. Try one “new to us” restaurant a month. Well, check, until Covid reared it’s ugly head.
  12. Organize our storage room. Proud to say that Mike and I worked together to get this done! (Weeks 44, 45&46)
  13. Meditate daily. Check but I have to be transparent and say that I may have missed a day here and there. I am enjoying it though and plan to carry it forward. I use Headspace and also meditate on my own.
  14. Create my own signature cocktail. Yep. See Week 18 for the recipe for “The Tropical Bae.”
  15. Learn the alphabet in sign language. Done! Here it is.
  16. Decorate our Florida retirement home. This was such a joy to do! It is spread over several different posts. I am still working on selecting a few paintings and decorative items. Week 19, Week 30 and Week 37
  17. Go hiking. See week 13 for this one. We hiked to the Au Sable Pointe Lighthouse and the Pictured Rocks area.
  18. Read 50 books in 2019. I read 72 books. I’ve set my new goal for 2020 to 75 books. I am currently 5 books ahead of schedule. I am currently reading “Love and Ruin” by Paula McLain. It is a fictional account of the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and journalist Martha Gelhorn. I’ve always been intrigued by Ernest Hemingway and have visited his home in Key West. I enjoyed reading The Paris Wife also by this author which imagines the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.
  19. Build a capsule wardrobe for Florida. Done, though I won’t say I’m entirely finished. I’ve enjoyed adding a few more pieces into the mix. If you want to see what I selected, check out week 22.
  20. Entertain friends and family in said Florida retirement home. Check! We enjoyed visits from our kids, our new neighbors, my parents and our old friends. It’s been amazing! Weeks 40 & 41.
  21. Complete the complicated puzzle that my husband Mike bought me at Christmas that sits untouched. Week 22 saw the completion of this puzzle. If only I had waited it would have made an excellent corona virus activity.
  22. Bake a loaf of bread from scratch. I completed this on week 25. I’ve made a couple loaves since then. It’s a lovely skill to have acquired! (Thanks Deana!)
  23. Try a new recipe at least 1-2x a month. I’m giving this one a provisional check. I was rocking it all the way until Corona virus hit. I feel like I am blaming this miserable virus for quite a bit but it complicated my methods. I usually select my menu for the week and then go shopping. Well, with shopping being hit or miss, I am having to come up with menus around what is available. I still enjoy trying new recipes though and will continue to do so.
  24. Find and attend a French Meet-up event. Again, enter Corona Virus. I saved this for my return from Florida and meet-ups are currently out of the question. I did attend a virtual Zoom Happy Hour with some of my classmates though, so I’ll give myself credit after all.
  25. During our annual family trek to the Les Cheneaux islands, take a day trip to somewhere we’ve not been before. Check! See week 13.
  26. Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room. A great big project that I was happy to wrap up! See week 28.
  27. Re-enact the Beatles walking on Abbey Road. Done! See week 2. I was so tickled to be able to check this one off on our awesome trip to London.
  28. Reach out to a friend or extended family member in person or online at least once a week. This has been even more so since Covid. We are zooming with family and friends probably at least as often, if not more so than usual.
  29. Daily Visualization. Done!
  30. Finish a course in the Masterclass online teaching series. I have finished several Masterclass courses and have enjoyed them all! My most recent was an interior design class by Kelly Werstler. I also did a Storytelling and Humor class by David Sidaris and am looking forward to taking a gardening class and a Mixology class. Perhaps I’ll come up with another new signature cocktail!
  31. Teach our dog Kobe a new trick. Check and here it is! His new trick is playing dead.
  32. Ride my bike from the Lower Huron Metro Park to Lake Erie and back (about 40 miles). Done, see week 14.
  33. Host a fun event for all of the ladies in my family. Well this one did not get done, sadly. Again with the Covid thing. But I am really looking forward to doing this at some future point. I am envisioning a Hallmark movie night sometime before Christmas, with cookies and cocktails!
  34. Learn to play a simple song on the piano. OK. Here’s the thing. I did make a HUGE discovery. I haven’t any talent or ability here. I also have no desire to try to acquire any. I am happily crossing this off my bucket-list and placing it in the “don’t ever do this” list.
  35. Learn how to use the Overdrive app to borrow books from the library. I have been enjoying the heck out of Overdrive/Libby. I use it almost exclusively, unless there is a book I am dying to read and the wait time is too long. I’ve also showed my mom how to do it and hope to help Mike’s mom with it as well. It’s a money saver and really allows me to indulge my reading without feeling guilty about spending the money on yet more books.
  36. See Buckingham Palace. Again, this was done early on when we made the trip to London. Week 3
  37. Work on our Family Tree through Ancestry.com. Done! Well, I’m not actually done with the family tree. It’s still a work in progress. But the interesting thing is extended family I’ve not met in person on both sides of my family have reached out asking to be in touch. I’ve been emailing back and forth with a couple of them. Such an unexpected benefit!
  38. Try the restaurant The Woods on our annual family trip to Mackinac Island. We were happily able to do this on our family trip to Mackinac Island. Week 9
  39. Take our kayaks on a romantic paddle leading to a picnic in the park. Yes! I discussed this one on week 15.
  40. Keep an herb garden and use it in cooking. This was done over the summer. What is surprising is the chives that I planted wintered over and I have a full crop already. I didn’t realize they were perennials. Week 6
  41. Try something new I’ve never done before. My spontaneous thing was asking my mom to pick a destination for her birthday for her and I to travel to. We had an awesome time in Williamsburg. (See week 17)
  42. Actually take out the jet-ski instead of letting it sit in the hoist un-used. Nope. This did not get done. I did take it out once. But we didn’t end up bringing it up north and I usually preferred a boat ride over the jet ski. I am hoping to get some use out of it this summer.
  43. Plan a sunrise breakfast on the pontoon. Done on week 8. Mike and I often enjoy spontaneous last minute boat rides. Having our boat at the dock, uncovered except for the canopy on the hoist makes it easy!
  44. Take our dog Kobe on a walk through a nearby park. Kobe was delighted with this one. He also enjoyed a whole lot of walks when we were in Florida as there is a dog park in our community located about 3/4 mile from our house. (See week 12)
  45. Watch a movie in French. Done. In fact, I’ve watched several and through the course of the year, my comprehension has definitely improved, though I still use the subtitles as I don’t pick up every word.
  46. Discover a new favorite wine. I was happy to have been gifted this wine aptly called Shady Lane. Alas, it was a limited edition from a private vineyard. I will stay on the look out for more wines of this varietal from their Shady Lane vineyard. Week 11
  47. Do a high-ropes course. So fun! If you remember it took two attempts due to inclement weather. But if you are thinking of doing it, I highly recommend Treerunner. It was fun for our whole family. (See weeks 17 & 20)
  48. See Liverpool. Again, I tackled this early on during our memorable trip to England. Week 2
  49. Go sight-seeing in Boston. We loved Boston and I discussed our trip during week 10.
  50. Do yoga at least once a week. I may have missed a week or two in here but especially now with arthritis, I am planning to practice it even more regularly.

So, if you are keeping track, I consider myself to have completed 46 of the 50 things I set out to do. Some things simply couldn’t be done thanks to Covid and others were interrupted. In the case of piano playing, I decided it really isn’t something I actually wanted to pursue. For me, this has been a worthwhile endeavor. In looking back over my 59th year, it has been filled with travel, novelty, leisure, enjoyment, learning, adventure, along with the unwelcome surprise of Covid-19. I think creating a list of desired goals and activities definitely added a richness to my year.

What have I learned from this year? I’ve learned I’m made of sterling stuff. I’m tougher than I thought. I am happy to welcome my 60th year, along with all it brings, both the joy and the challenges. We’ve got a new reality and while we are all learning how to adapt and adjust, I am going to keep reaching out to try new things. I’m going to push myself to look at things with different eyes, to challenge my body as well as my mind. I wonder what my 60’s will bring. What new challenges will be presented and what new opportunities will arise, or are they one in the same? Being diagnosed with arthritis makes me wonder about my genetic lottery, what other illnesses may yet reveal themselves? I hope my 60s are as wonderful as my 50’s have been. To tell you the truth if they are only half as good, it would still be more than I could possibly hope for. And for that I am so grateful. As my 50’s have drawn to a close, this will be my last post. Whether you tagged along for the whole trip or just popped in here and there, thanks for following me. You are appreciated. Stay well my friends. Cheers to the next decade!

Week 7 Farewell to My Fabulous 50’s Tour

It’s been a busy week and I’m sure you’ve been busy as well, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. We are making progress on our bathroom remodel and hope to wrap up all but the painting by July 4th. So far we’re on track. Our contractor, Tony has been doing a great job and we are delighted with the progress being made! He even worked on Saturday to help ensure he meets the deadline. Have I mentioned he’s awesome?

Making headway in the shower. The wall tiles are in, just need to add accent tiles, the fixtures and grout!
The cabinet and grouting as well as the wainscoting are next up.

My husband, Mike and I invited our friend Dave to come along on a “warm-up” bike ride before we tackle #32 on my list, riding our bikes to Lake Eerie. That ride will be 40 miles. Today’s route up to Flat Rock, was a little over 20. My only mistake was not wearing my cycling pants with the padded seat. I thought the padding Mother Nature so amply provided me with would be enough. Silly girl. I think we might be ready to tackle that longer ride soon but I’m definitely wearing cycling pants for that one!

20mile bike ride + no cycling pants= foolish lady

As far as things that are ongoing, the Duolingo streak of 684 days is intact and my crown level is 879 (for anyone familiar with Duolingo). I did a stretch morning yoga on Sunday via Youtube and I am up to 19 workouts on the Nordic Track. I am currently in the middle of Bora Bora beach bootcamp. I am still enjoying the adventure aspect of the workout and it’s been fun learning trivia about each workout location.

Bucket List Item #18: I am currently at book # 37, and am 72% towards my goal of 50. At this pace, I am 12 books ahead of schedule. My most recent reads were The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See, The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware and I am currently reading When Life Gives You Lululemons. I very much enjoyed Lisa See’s book. She is a favorite author of mine and I’ve read and enjoyed most all of her books. Ruth Ware’s gothic mystery was good and I finished it quickly but it didn’t have any “ah hah!” moment for me. I’ll keep you posted on When Life Gives You Lululemons.

I am still meditating with the Headspace App and using visualization. The series I am currently on for Headspace is “Balance.” It has become a quiet and necessary part of my day. I have also been continuing work with our dog Kobe. He can play dead pretty well, still working on that tale wag though. I have been trying to get him to jump through a hoop and that is a work in progress. I am looking forward to sharing video of his tricks once we’ve perfected them. If all else fails, there may be some humorous out-takes.

This is Kobe. He is a good boy and a fast learner.

And finally, the jet-ski is in the water. I took it out for a quick spin and am looking forward to touring around the lake a bit more this summer. That’s it for this week. I hope to have more to report next week. Enjoy this beautiful weather we’ve been having, and have a safe and happy July 4th.

Week 5 Of Farewell to My Fabulous 50’s Tour

This week has been a busy one! Most of my time and effort has been directed towards our kitchen and bathroom renovations. I am happy to report we are making great progress! Much of the kitchen has been done. The only things left to do in the kitchen are to paint the shiplap and to accessorize it to suit the new vibe. Our old cottage kitchen pastel accessories just don’t suit the space. I have to go on record as saying our contractor Tony has been awesome so far. He’s on time, on budget and a hard worker. Mike and I are very pleased with the results. In the kitchen, he put in a glass tile backsplash and a new sink and faucet as well as added shiplap to the front of the breakfast bar area. He accomplished all of this in two and a half days. My job was to be on top of purchasing the sink, faucet, tile and grout. I picked out some new cabinet hardware and Mike and I replaced those ourselves. Overall, we are delighted.

Love my new glass tile backsplash.

Next up is the bathroom space. Can I just say how much I dislike stripping wallpaper! YUCK! What a job. Happy to report that part is finished. After a mishap with a back-ordered tile selection, we finally arrived at our final decision. We are going with a linen look tile and a mosaic accent tile in grays, whites and creams. Mike and I also hauled all 900 pounds (really, 900 pounds!!) of tile down the back steps. He did the bulk of the heavy lifting. I forgot how many little decisions go into a bathroom remodel. I’ve picked out a light fixture and towel bars. Mike and I ended up going to a specialty shop for the shower heads though. We wanted a rain shower and a hand held shower as well as body sprays which we just weren’t finding at the big box stores. Tony returns on Tuesday to start in on the bathroom. Can’t wait for it all to go in and to share the final result with everyone!

Wall paper stripping was not my favorite thing to do. It was hard and I have the blisters and calluses to prove it!
Tile selections.

In other bucket-list items, my random act of kindness for this week was letting an elderly gentleman with just a few items in his cart ahead of me. My Duolingo streak continues with day #670 and crown level at # 817. I’ve jumped a level up to Saphire and my new goal is just to stay in the top 10 on the leader board, which has been challenging. I continue with my French class which is coming to a close this week. My teacher, David, is taking a hiatus until the end of July and classes will resume then for me. In the meantime, I will continue listening to Pimsleur French V in my car and plan to review all we’ve learned in class.

I’ve done a couple more Nordic Track work-outs. One was a stroll along the Seine and the other a walk along a beach in Bora Bora. That puts me up to 12 out of a goal of 50. Daily meditation continues, using the Headspace App, as does visualization.Visualization must work because I have been visualizing ourselves in our Florida home and we just got word that they are breaking ground in two weeks instead of August. We are psyched about that! I also did a relaxing yoga flow via Youtube. We had to postpone our lake-side yoga class but looking forward to being able to do it soon!

Strolling along the Seine and later a view of Notre Dame.

With my reading goal, I am still on Poldark series book #11 The Twisted Sword but happy to report I am rounding home base with a book on deck (thanks to April!). My new recipe for this month was again from The Doctor’s Diet, a chicken vegetable stir-fry which Mike really enjoyed. As usual, I’ve altered it a bit to suit our tastes. Recipe to follow.

Chicken veggie stir-fry with a Rosé.

Chicken Veggie Stir Fry

Olive Oil cooking spray

1 pound chicken cut into bite size pieces

1 yellow pepper cut into 1 inch strips

1 red pepper cut into 1 inch strips

1 cup broccoli florets, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 cup fat-free, reduced sodium beef broth

2 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce

1 TBSP chili paste (more if you like spicy)

Spray skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Over medium high heat, stir fry meat until cooked through. Remove to a plate. Turn off the heat and spray pan with more olive oil spray. Over medium heat stir-fry the veggies and cook until crisp-tender. Combine the broth, soy sauce and chili paste, stir into vegetables, add meat back into the pan and heat for 2-3 minutes. Top with cashews. Make 4 servings.

Adapted from The Doctor’s Diet by Dr. Travis Stork

I’ve reached out to friends and family this week and enjoyed a Fathers’ Day barbecue at my parents. Have I mentioned my mom is amazing and hosts our family almost every single holiday? Now I have!

I am still working on finding that new favorite wine. I tried two. Both sounded promising but neither delivered. The Rosé was in a super cute bottle with a rose on the bottom and a glass stopper but that was where it peaked. Despite the fact that I generally like Rosés, I really didn’t care for this wine. The second wine, San Angelo, an Italian Pinot Grigio, sounded promising in it’s description: fresh fruit-forward bouquet with notes of pear, banana, peach, anise and honey; rich and full-bodied with a long finish. How could I say no to a banana note. I’ve never seen a wine mention banana before, so intriguing! But…uhmmm..no. Not the one. I didn’t taste much in the way of fruit notes, but of course, my palate is not really that developed. I do, however, know what I like! The quest continues. 

Rose bottom of the bottle was the best thing about this wine.
Notes of banana? Nope, at least not for me.

Unfortunately the jet-ski is STILL sitting in the drive-way. Of course, whenever we have time to do it, it’s raining! Maybe next week.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Father’s Day! We brought Mike to brunch at Parc, one of our favorite restaurants. It is located in Campus Martius, Detroit and featured some great menu items and an amazing vocalist. I wish I knew her name (think Jewel).

I am anticipating next week focusing primarily on the bathroom remodel but I do hope to squeeze a few more things in. From our family to yours, we hope you all had an amazing Fathers’ Day! Until next week.

Happy Fathers’ Day from our family to yours!