Life-Long Learning

One of the fun things I do for myself is to watch Ted Talks, listen to podcasts and visit and click on a topic I want to learn more about. In doing so, I have found educational, intriguing and informative talks that take me places, teach me things and expand my world.

Last week, I watched a video called The Story of Stuff on I had read about the author in a Rotarian magazine article titled Watching Your Waste and then spent the next 21 minutes watching the video.

The story and video by Annie Leonard has been watched in more than 200 countries and translated into 15 languages.  The documentary is shown in churches, community rooms, college campuses and schools across the world.  The trash talking film about how we dispose of our waste and why we buy so much in the first place is just as relevant today.

The 21 minute documentary about our material goods and their lifecycle was launched in 2007 and has been viewed over 50 million times.

Watch the video (below) and then visit the
You will not be disappointed.

What’s real anyway?

Many times over the past seven years I thought I would quit blogging. Then I would take time off and come back refreshed and ready to write. It’s the writing part I love the most. And sharing what I learned, or saw, or tasted or observed.

Blogging was the vehicle to help me get thoughts out of my head and into a realm where once published they became real. It became a journal of sorts and now when I look back and read posts most times I can put myself right back to that point in time and remember what I was feeling.

When I went away this summer, I kept seeing things I wanted to share in this blog. Things I learned in Ireland. Things I learned in Switzerland. But the essence of these things comes back to learning about me. About my role in the world. About my role in the family.

I spent time going over shared moments with my siblings.
“What do you remember about …?”
“Where were you when ___ happened?”
“When did you …?”

To my surprise, each shared memory included things I didn’t remember. Words were said or not said. The time of day was different. The people in the room varied. It unnerved me that my memory wasn’t their memory. That something was altered, something minor – sometimes it was major. I often wondered if we were really experiencing the same thing.

familyI’m in the process of putting together the puzzle of my childhood. The major historians in the family have all passed away so now I have to seek out the individuals who might be able to toss some memories my way.

I realize now that the stories that were the glue of my childhood are just outlines. Each of us fills in the story in our own way from where we stand. Those moments I was so sure of … vary from sibling to sibling. It was like we all had different versions of the same story.

So, I started to gather up their stories too. To see where they stood, what they thought, how they processed the event. The on-going conversations are engaging and I am learning about the events (car accident, illness, birth, death, travel) again for the first time from another point of view… making it all real again.




Day 50: Excuses or Poetry?

Day 50!

Where oh where has this writer been?

Off to the trails, lakes and camping again?

Will she start blogging, like she promised I wonder?

Perhaps and yet … her time is asunder.

She say’s she’ll do this and she say’s she’ll do that

She rarely has time to sit down and chat!

So, let’s give her some slack and watch where she goes

She’s sure to come back, smelling sweet like a rose.

— The End —

100 Days of learning will continue at the end of July. 50 down & 50 to go!

Stay tuned!

Self-Learning: La, La, La

Day 48:

I am learning as I go. I still say Yes to most things that align with my beliefs and values. I know when to say No and step back. I am learning when to voice my opinions and when to keep quiet. I am also learning that for every mistake I make, others are willing to work with me to help get me to the next level.

Day 49:

I am learning to let go when it comes to the world of travel. There are lines, searches, more lines, delays and frustrations. And with each line, there’s an opportunity to chat with the person behind me or next to me. To learn what book they’re reading, to learn their destination. With each search is the appreciation that someone is doing their job and I am just part of the process.

I’ve learned that people-watching can take the place of television, videos, youtube and other distractions that often keep us occupied. Watching families and how they interact (or fail to interact) is fascinating. People of all shapes and sizes come with their own hidden stories. Every now and then a story is shared but for the most part, the world is filled with possible movie scripts. Off we go!

FYI– I just read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. So far it ranks as one of my favorites!

Memorial Day: Sad Lessons

Day 38

usa flagIn the United States we celebrate Memorial Day to remember the people who died while serving in the armed forces. It’s the time to visit cemeteries with flags and flowers. It’s the time to attend parades and celebrations.

I often think about the men and women who did not die in the war but took their lives after they returned home. The veterans who couldn’t deal with the trauma of what they experienced. Those who couldn’t turn off the sights, sounds, and terror of the night. They returned in a wounded state and were unable to function. Are they considered heroes as well? Are they celebrated and memorialized or is there a stigma attached to their death? It’s clear they weren’t killed by an enemy bullet but the enemy did have a part in their death.

The suicide rate for returning veterans is over 10 times higher than the general public. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not track suicide trends among veterans of specific military units. And some units do not track suicides of former service members at all. I’ve read that over 100,000 returning Vietnam vets have committed suicide. And now the younger men and women are following in their shoes. I’ve learned that we all have a story. This one needs to change.

Day 37

I’ve learned to say Yes more often. To accept leadership roles, to hike a steep mountain, to visit large cities and small shops. I learned that I can say YES and if life gets too overwhelming to say, ENOUGH for now. I’ve learned by saying Yes, I am inviting an entire new set of circumstances into my life. New people, ideas, books, articles, opinions, tastes and vistas.

Arms out wide shouting YES!Saying Yes is scary too. It forces me to show up when I’d rather lie low. It makes me take deep breaths and look around with fresh eyes. Yes gets me in the door and then I can decide how long to stay.

Yes forces me to move whether I am ready or not. I said Yes at an early age to marriage, to motherhood, to uprooting and moving across the country, to returning to college to get my degree, to working as a waitress while I worked on my degree, to living life in a way that could only happen then. Without saying Yes, I would have missed out on meeting so many people who are now friends. At each workplace, I met someone new and wonderful. I learned from amazing bosses and bad administrators. I took chances and had friends in place to catch me when I fell.

I like going to the edge of my comfort zone and just sitting there for a bit until the discomfort fades away. The fear slowly subsides while I’m interacting with my environment – visiting the sites, meeting people, starting conversations, and staying engaged.

When I find myself in a rut, I start finding reasons to say Yes again. Yes to joining organizations, Yes to cleaning out my garage, Yes to asking for help, Yes to reading a new author, Yes to listening to new musicians, Yes to relocating, Yes to a trip — HECK yeah!

Then, in the quiet hours I reviewed the things that I said Yes to and get scared again. Why did I say Yes to that and that and that and that? What was I thinking? And yet, I learned something new, enjoyed a new band, walked a new trail, made a new friend. I know there are times to say NO and I will when the time comes. I promise I will but for now I realized I have more fun when I say Yes. I get more done and feel more satisfied at the end of the day.

For now, Yes is my friend and teacher.


Day 36

I learned (once again) how much I love walking in the morning. I love the way the light shines on flowers and how clean the air smells. I try to take my camera with me in case there is something I want to capture. My tulips and flowers morning walk1favorite things include landscapes and colorful flowers. I wish I could capture the smell as well – that fresh early morning dewy smell.


Learning about Grand Teton National Park

Day 30-Day 35 – Grand Tetons

I recently traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It was a quick 4 day visit and full of glorious views. Below are things I learned about the Tetons that I thought I’d share with you…

Amazing video about the wildlife and Grand Teton National Park.

Lesson: Grand Teton is the highest mountain in Grand Teton National Park, in Northwest Wyoming, and a classic destination in American mountaineering. It’s a popular destination for hiking, fishing, canoeing, boating, photographing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and scenic drives.

Grand TetonsLesson: Grand Teton National Park has about 310,000 acres and or about 485 miles of land and water. The park was established in February 1929.

Lesson: The Teton mountain range is about 40 miles long. The major peaks of the Teton Range were carved into their current shapes by glaciers.

grand tetons- oh myLesson: Grand Teton National Park is located a mere ten miles from Yellowstone National Park.

Lesson: Some history books say the Tetons were named by the French because they look like teats. Other books dispute it. I like this story and agree.

The majestic views are stunning beyond compare. They jut out of the landscape and command your attention. The trouble is every view is a photo opportunity. When the path I hiked went to the east or west, the views were breath-taking and out came the camera.

tetonsWe were told to Beware Bears and one hiker told of his encounter with a mother and her two cubs. I was happy to say there were no bears on my hike. Amen!


Which bear did I see video?

Drugs, Books & Buddies

DAY 29

I learned about a deadly drug called Flakka that can be found in abundance in Florida. This drug is made from a synthetic version of the stimulant cathinone, the same class of chemical used to make bath salts.

The khat plant, which grows in parts of the Middle East as well as Somalia, is the source of cathinones. The leaves of the plant are often chewed to achieve euphoria or a high, however, that high can be as potent as crystal meth or cocaine. It causes people to act totally out of their minds – erratically, uncontrollably and dangerously.

This highly addictive drug originated from China and has been traced to Florida, Texas and Ohio so far. The users of this drug have a high that can last 3-4 hours but it harms the body physically and physiologically it triggers anxiety, paranoia and delusions.

It’s scary stuff… Click to watch youtube video.

Read More:

DAY 28

One book I recently read was called Dead Wake by Erik Larson. It’s a story about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Some of the story was conjecture but plenty of it was information from passengers on-board. The luxury liner was hit and sank within 18 minutes. It was crazy that the ship sailed into a harbor during war and didn’t have an escort. And once the ship was hit, the one battle ship that could have reached the site in an hour turned back to it’s harbor according to wartime policy. Instead help didn’t arrive for 6 more hours. It was an amazing story and I relearned quite a bit about the U.S. political scene, war in Europe, and issues that heads of state were dealing with at the time.

DAY 27

I learned that I should totally delete my account because everyday messages get sent to my spam folder. I found messages from my son and emails from traveling friends who write to reschedule — only Yahoo spams it. Geesh.

Gmail is where I need to focus now and get friends and family to convert to the new address.

Day 26

I learned to appreciate how different schools work to connect their students.  At my grandson’s elementary school, each first grader is paired with a 5th grader. This person is their Buddy and they stay in contact throughout the school year – checking in, high fives in the hallway, visits in the library as a way to help the young children feel connected. The relationship allows the 5th graders to lead, teach and bond with their younger counterpart.

As a thank you, the first graders are going to sing some songs to their Buddies. This is one song that my grandson was singing, called My Wish by Rascal Flatts.

It’s the learning that matters!

Day 25

I heard a new singer today and really enjoy her music. Her name is Regina Spektor. I found her on then downloaded her music for a month using Hoopla. Most of all I listened to her songs and videos on youtube. It was pretty, whimsical and engaging. I wanted to hear more and more.

Day 24

Have you ever watched Grace and Frankie on It’s a comedy about two women in their 70’s who are recently divorced. How and why that happens is where the comedy comes in. The serious part of the story involves the sadness of being divorced 70-year-old women. The issues they never expected to have to face – saying goodbye to their long-held identities, figuring out who they are without spouses, managing expenses, reentering the dating world, learning to trust and love again and so much more. I watch the show and laugh out loud, then take a deep breath and sigh.

The show is my reminder to keep learning, growing, making friends and reaching out. Everything is temporary. The bills that are a struggle to pay, the calories consumed by that amazing cheesecake, the books I read and loved, the books I started and hated and didn’t finish (life it too short to waste on a bad book, trust me) and all those opportunities I passed along with all those amazing adventures I accepted – Temporary.

The big blackboard in the sky doesn’t care if we say YES a hundred time and NO 879 times. It’s what we learn along the way. It could end tomorrow (if so, please return my library books) or not for decades down the road. Right?

Day 23

I live in a world where many people come into my life. I learn something from each and every one of them. I learn about their jobs, families, hobbies, fears, desires and hopes and dreams. Then they leave and others come into my world and I learn more. While I am learning, I am sharing. It’s a beautiful circle and I feel blessed to be part of it.

Day 22

I learned how to dole out simple joys. Like Grace and Frankie. A new season means that I can turn on the show and watch all 13 episodes on the same day. My preference is to spread out the joy. Pace myself. Once I get to the last episode it’s over. Take my time. Sort of like taking one present at a time at Christmas and making it an event. Then sitting back and watching the others open their gifts – giving them my time and attention. Once the gifts are unwrapped, it’s over. Know what I mean? Sort of?

Whoa, enough for one day! Hope yours was a good one. Now go forth and learn something new and wonderful today – then share it with me! HA!