Sunday Guest Post Series: Hidden Histories

hidden histories
Hidden Histories
Victoria, Dolores and Isabella

One of the joys of retirement is finding new interests – and having the time to rekindle old ones. It will be 40 years this summer since I completed my undergraduate degree in history and, although occasionally useful for enquiries in my career as a librarian, history was never again a big part of my life until I finished work. I quickly became a volunteer History Detective with Glasgow Women’s Library, and a couple of years later I took on a similar role with Maryhill Burgh Halls near my home. I enjoy researching women’s history, and presenting it in tours and talks: it’s been life-enhancing.

So how visible is women’s history in Glasgow? Twelve statues stand in George Square in the city centre. Only one is of a woman – Queen Victoria. I imagine most British cities have a statue of her, though at least ours is a youngish, lively Victoria, sitting side-saddle on her horse, and not the unamused, elderly widow more commonly seen.

There are just two other statues to named women in Glasgow: Spanish Civil War heroine La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri), who raises her arms by the Clyde with the motto “Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees”, and philanthropist Isabella Elder (1828-1905), the only native Glaswegian of the three, in Elder Park. Among the things Isabella funded were a library and the first college in Scotland to offer higher education to women – she’s my favourite! Look her up in Wikipedia and you’ll be reading an article written by me, and I’ve also played her in a pageant to celebrate International Women’s Day a few years ago.

hidden histories
Anabel as Tour Guide

A fourth statue – to Mary Barbour who organised rent strikes in World War One – is due to be unveiled in March. (Rapacious landlords thought they could charge anything they liked when the men were away fighting: Mary’s campaign resulted in a law being passed fixing rents at pre-war levels.) But there are ways, other than statues, to remember history. For example, the whole area of Maryhill is called after the woman who owned the land in the 18th century before the government purchased it for the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal. We have a Suffrage Oak, planted in 1918 when the first women in Britain got the vote. The names of 29 women who were killed when the façade of Templeton’s Carpet Factory collapsed in 1889 are carved nearby. Friends tell me that they have walked past these memorials without noticing them, hence my title: Hidden Histories.
Sometimes we just need to open our eyes a bit more. As readers of The Glasgow Gallivanter will know, I’m happy when I come across any aspect of women’s history on my travels. So what would I find if I came to your town? And if you don’t know – I challenge you to find out!

From Retirement Reflections: hidden historiesAccepting Anabel’s challenge, I’m happy to go first! One celebration of women’s history that you might find if coming to Vancouver Island is a bronze statue of renowned Canadian artist, Emily Carr. The monument was erected along the Harbourfront in Victoria, B.C., Emily’s hometown. It was unveiled during Women’s History Month, on October 13, 2010. If ever visiting Victoria, stop by and have a look! Echoing Anabel’s question, who does your (home)town honour? Please join us again next Sunday when we welcome back Marty (Snakes in the Grass). Marty will be sharing “How to Keep the Cookie Jar Full During Early Retirement.” I look forward to seeing you then!

Sundays at Six Guest Post Series – Finding Your Mojo After a Holiday

Finding your Mojo

Hello from sunny Australia! I’m Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. I’m delighted to be writing again for Donna’s Sunday Guest Post Series. We have met some fabulous people here, haven’t we? A huge thank you to Donna for introducing everyone. I’m honoured to be returning. I wrote my first post for this series back in July where I discussed Retiring from Work, not Life – The Art of Positive Aging.

Now that I’m back, I’d like to share my tips on finding your ‘mojo’ after a long holiday. Recently, as part of my sixtieth birthday celebrations, my husband and I took a five-week holiday, exploring Spain and Italy. We flew to London, which is a twenty-six-hour flight from Australia, spent a few days there, then flew to Portugal for our Spanish Adventure. We followed this with a seven-night cruise before visiting my husband’s cousins in Italy. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. It was a fantastic experience for both of us and a great way to cap off my sixtieth birthday.

Finding your MojoWe returned home with wonderful memories. For the first time, we came home TIRED after our holiday. It took a long while for us to get over jet lag. After sampling the delicious food and sangria, I felt bloated and uncomfortable. I felt out of sorts and didn’t have the motivation to get back into exercise or blogging. I’m a person who likes to be active and living life, but I didn’t feel like running with my Saturday Sisters or doing anything strenuous at all. That had to stop! So what did I do to recapture my mojo and zest for living?

Take Time to Recover

I allowed myself to recover and not feel guilty about it. In the past, I would have jumped straight back into life and pushed myself. I realised that I didn’t need to do that because I am retired so had no immediate commitments waiting for me. I gave myself permission to rest and recover not only my body but also my mind. It also gave me time to reflect on our holiday and enjoy the recent memories.

Make a Plan

What is the point of visiting fabulous places and restricting yourself? I knew that I wanted to enjoy the food of Spain and Italy and of course the sangria. However, coming home and feeling uncomfortable I knew I had to get my healthy lifestyle back. For this, I needed a plan! I set out a strategy for resuming my regular exercise and eating well-balanced meals. Rather than rushing straight back into my normal exercise routine, I started with gentle yoga and stretching, and downloaded an app, ‘My Daily Workout’. I hadn’t exercised for five weeks, so I needed to listen to my body and ease back into my workouts.

Catch Up with Family and Friends

Finding your MojoI regularly mind my grandson each week and after five weeks away, I had missed him so much. It was great to start that weekly commitment again and also catch up with my family and running friends, my Saturday Sisters. Getting back to connecting is a great way to lift your spirits and help you feel motivated again.

After one month, I was feeling back to my fit, fabulous, healthier and happier self with wonderful holiday memories. I was ready to take on the Festive Season! Life is certainly not dull in our household…but that is a story for another time.

How do you find your mojo? I’d love for you to leave me your comments.

Sue
Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond


From Retirement Reflections:
Thank you, Sue. I’m sure that many of us found this post to be very timely. I certainly did. I like your advice to permit ourselves to take time to recover and then get back to our routines slowly but steadily. As our holiday company left this past week, yours is a strategy that I will borrow to transition back into my regular activities…and my regular meals! Up next week is Anabel from The Glasgow Gallivanter. Anabel will be talking to us about ‘Hidden Histories.’ Please join us next Sunday to see what she has to reveal!

Seize Life

Seize life

On a warm summer’s evening last June, Richard and I gathered at a nearby beachfront enjoying drinks and appetizers with others who had recently moved to Vancouver Island. The air vibrated with everyone’s excitement with their new (or relatively new) surroundings. As most of us had finally reached retirement, the air was also filled with hope and optimism for all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

As I moved about in my usual chatty style, Richard settled into one spot getting into deep conversation with another newcomer. Both men had a passion for CNN, both loved to rant about the antics of a certain President, and both were looking forward to their long-planned adventures that would come with retirement.

This past Saturday, just over six months after that gathering, Richard and I met with many of those same people also on a nearby beachfront. We were there to say goodbye to the man whom Richard had conversed with so easily just months before. This past autumn, that man so strong and vital and so ready to live his dreams was diagnosed with cancer. He died three months after his diagnosis.

As Richard and I stood on the beachfront, listening to warm stories shared about our friend, and toasting him with scotch (our friend’s favourite drink), we hugged each other tightly.

It is so easy to take our lives for granted – even when we know better. It is so easy to forget that life is fleeting. It is so easy to shield ourselves in denial.

Life and love are our most precious gifts. Call a sibling. Write a note to a friend. Tell your Mom that you love her. Hold your family and friends close. Apologize to someone whom you’ve hurt (it doesn’t matter who started it). Seize life now. Do not expect tomorrow to be a guarantee.

Our friend did not want a funeral. Instead, he wanted us all to celebrate life. That advice is now my New Year’s Pledge.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

I am a Writer. Why is that so Hard to Admit?

I am a writer

I am a writer. Why is that so hard to admit?

It should be safe to say I am a writer. After all, I spend a lot of time writing. I write corporate communication pieces; I write a blog; I have written magazine and newspaper articles; I even wrote a novel.

So why do I hesitate to say I am a writer? It’s certainly not embarrassment about writing or a disrespect for the craft; I have a deep admiration for writers. In fact, that may be part of the problem. It feels presumptuous to put myself in the same category as respected writers. So as soon as I say, “I am a writer,” a voice pops into my head, “well, not a real writer.”

If anyone else said that, I would respond, “If you write, you are a writer.” Somehow I’ve developed a different standard for myself—a standard that until now I had never fully defined. So I took a quiet moment recently and asked myself, “What would it take for me to feel like a real writer?” I was a bit surprised at the narrow definition. As it applies to myself, I equate being a writer with being paid to publish. While I have been paid for writing, and I have been published, I have never been paid to publish.

How sad is that? I’ve left myself only one way to success and it happens to be something outside of my direct control. And this arbitrary paid-publishing requirement—it only applies to me. In my world, other bloggers are real writers. Self-published authors are real writers. Just about anyone who puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is a real writer. Except for me.

The good news? Since I created the rules—and evidently am the only player in my crazy game—I can change the rules. I can redefine what it means to me to be a writer. To help with that task, I went looking for inspiration. Turns out I’m not the only one asking, “What does it mean to be a writer?” Here are just a few of the answers I found, and guess what, none of them talk about payment or publishing.

Mallory England: Anyone can write, and many who hate writing are forced to attempt it in Freshman Composition courses. However, just writing doesn’t make someone a writer. Like with anything in life, if you want to be a bona fide writer, you have to love it. It has to be where your thoughts wander when you’re alone. It has to be the thing you use for comfort and, sometimes, a mode of escape.

Joel Ricki: It means having a story to tell and a need to tell it. Really, that’s all there is. So, if you think you’re a writer, you probably are.

Duy Truong:
To be a writer means I want to invite you to step into my world: chaotic, imperfect, dazzling. Full of pain, love, determination.

Michael Barnard: I’m a writer as part of my identity, not just someone who does the activity of writing. It’s integral. I do it like I breathe or eat. I apparently can’t not do it, regardless of whether I’m rewarded for it or not. Acknowledging that I was a writer as part of my identity was like getting married. It was just acknowledging a pre-existing state formally to other people. And probably most of them were thinking to themselves, “Well, duh. Took him long enough.”

Do you consider yourself a writer? I’d love to hear what being a writer means to you.
I Am a Writer
Christie
So What, Now What?


From Retirement Reflections:
When Christie first sent me this post, I immediately loved it and could not wait to publish it. I admire her openness, her honesty and mostly her willingness to have this hard conversation with herself. The question that she poses is an important one for all bloggers and writers of every form. The core of her query can be applied to any of our passions and, I believe, can help give us a better understanding of ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments on this topic. Next week we welcome back Sue from Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond. Are you currently feeling slightly off-track or floundering due to ‘disrupted routines’ during the recent festive season? If so, you will not want to miss Sue’s post on “Finding Your Mojo After a Holiday.” I look forward to seeing you there!

Questions Over (Virtual) Coffee and Cake

blogiversary

This week is my blog’s second birthday. I had previously committed to doing a full blog review and theme update on each blogiversary. But… with full-on holiday festivities, and my recent experience in Blogging Hell, January 1 came and went fairly quietly for this site.

Instead, I’d love it if we could chat over virtual cake…and the drink of your choice. As we watch the balloons fall, I can give you a quick update on how the ‘birthday child’ has grown.

• 667 monthly views in January 2016 to 3.3K monthly views currently.
• Readers in 111 countries (with the majority of readers in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore, Spain, China, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, and Thailand). * Significant to these stats: my youngest son, and several friends, currently live in Singapore…and I spent 14 years working at an international school in Beijing.
• 26 Guests Bloggers (and counting) have generously contributed posts.
• 11 Guest Posts have been written by me for others sites.
• 54,955 total words (60 posts and 27 Guest Posts) this year (158 posts in two years)
• 2 blogging awards (Top 30 International Retirement Blogs 2017 and Smart Living’s Top Positive Aging and Retirement Websites and Blogs 2017).
• 2393 comments, not including replies from me, have been kindly left on this site (I love comments)!

• But, as I have mentioned numerous times before, the connections made have been best of all!

In her interview with me last November, Debbie from Deb’s World asked me what future plans I had for this blog. The truth is, I did not know. Despite my experience in HELL, my creative side still yearns to experiment further with this site. Here’s where I need your help. What direction would you like to see this blog take? What changes would you suggest? Here are a few questions to help get you thinking. If you could answer even just one of them for me, I would be extremely grateful.

1. Why do you read this blog?
2. What do you like most about this site?
3. What changes (big or small) would you like to see made on this blog?
4. Is there a new WordPress theme or must-have plug-in that you would recommend?
5. Images, colours, readability….any recommendations there?
6. Any annoying features (too many snowflakes or falling balloons….or too many repeated words or expressions) that have irked you?
7. Would you like to see a different publishing date/time? I publish Guest Posts at 6 a.m. on Sundays (BC time), and my own posts more randomly (usually 6 a.m. midweek).
8. What’s missing or what would you like to see more frequently?
9. Oh, and adding a true confession, I never check Google Analytics. (Insert shock and horror here). Should I? What will it tell me that WordPress Stats do not?

I very much value your opinion and insight. Whether you are a frequent commenter, have never commented on this site previously, or are somewhere in-between, I would love to hear from you in any form that works best for you. Here are a few options.

• Direct comments ( I can take it…she says with confidence)
• Private Contact Me Form
• Private Email
• Facebook Messenger

I look forward to your honest feedback.

Donna

Sunday Guest Post Series: ‘Twas a White Canadian Christmas

Wagemadness

Hello! I’m Jess from Wagemadness. I’m also Donna’s daughter-in-law.

I’d like to thank Donna for having me guest post on her blog. I have been following it since her very first post!

I am nowhere near retirement, but hope that you will be able to relate to my post in one way or another. I am here to write a bit about our recent family Christmas holiday. It included four generations–eleven adults, two kids, one (large) dog, tons of food and heaps of snow in a beautiful Canadian log chalet up on Mt. Washington, British Columbia.

Christmas 2015

We’ve spent many family Christmases together and they’ve all been so much fun. Now this holiday has taken on a whole new meaning because of the wee ones! We have a thirteen-month-old daughter who is crawling around and becoming her own little diva. She has an older cousin who is two and a half. For our daughter’s first Christmas, she was only one-month-old. I was so consumed in my new mommyhood that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. What did we do last Christmas again? The memory is clouded in sleep deprivation, raging hormones and cluster feeds. However, we were surrounded by family who came over and cooked Christmas dinner at our house so we didn’t have to take the baby anywhere and we were forever grateful for that.

This Christmas, things are much different as the kids are more independent and aware of what’s going on. That gives family time, holiday time, and Christmastime a whole new dimension. It’s true; kids make Christmas better. Santa is real again! Cookies and carrots were put out for Santa and his reindeer. Those are memories that I cherish from when I was a little girl. I hope these little ones will too. Just watching their excitement when opening their gifts under the tree was heartwarming.

We were able to get out into the snow, hike and snowshoe around the mountain, hit up the local pub, check out the tubing slopes and take in the freshness of winter. Where we live in BC, we don’t get much snow, and rarely a white Christmas, so this was very special. Our little one has never seen snow before either, so being able to throw her in the Ergo carrier on my back in her brand new snowsuit from Grandma and Grandpa (thanks for that again…such a lifesaver!) was super exciting! I would plop her down in the snowbank and she didn’t know what to do with it all except smile and point. My little nephew loved the deep snow as well, what kid doesn’t!? One of the aunties and uncles brought their beautiful malamute, Nala, up to the mountain and she was in heaven. She took a nap out on the deck, it was snowing, but she didn’t mind. She was covered in snow and was…happy as a ‘husky in winter’ – okay, that was cheesy!

WagemadnessOur chalet was perfect for us. It was large enough to give everyone their own space.I loved the Haida-carved log posts and the million-dollar mountain view. It was a bit of a climb from the parking lot to the cabin but we were able to hire a snowcat with a freight toboggan to haul up all of our luggage  (babies have a lot of stuff!)

WagemadnessEach couple was responsible for a meal or two and some snacks. It can be hard to provision properly for eleven adults and two kids. With teamwork we managed it nicely. On Christmas Day, Donna (Grandma) and her mom (Great Grandma) prepared an amazing turkey dinner that I am still salivating over. It was delicious! Probably my favourite meal of all time is turkey dinner with all the fixings. Can we just have this meal every day, please!?

Whether you’re eating all the Christmas goodies, singing Christmas carols, watching the plethora of Christmas movies, playing board games or just relaxing on the sofa from that ever-so-strong tryptophan-effect, doing it with your loved ones during the holidays is soul topping. Sharing these traditions with your kids, watching their joy and reliving Christmas spirit like you’re a child again is the cherry on top of an already stacked sweet memory.

So, I hope you, too, had a Merry Christmas with your friends and family wherever you are. From my family to yours, all the best in 2018! Happy New Year!

lessons learnedJessica
Wagemadness
Instagram

Lessons Learned in 2017

When reflecting upon this past year, I selected one photo from each month that represents a valuable lesson learned. Many of these lessons are not new but have taken on even deeper meaning for me in my retirement.

January: Be grateful for friends who keep in touch

Even in this age of ‘social media galore,’ it is easy to lose meaningful connection with others. I am saddened by many relationships that have gone unnourished and greatly appreciate those who have done the extra mile to keep me in their lives…and to remain in mine. Here’s a sampling of a few of those people who I have been able to connect with in retirement. If you do not see your photo in the link, please drop by or otherwise keep in touch. I would be delighted to add your picture.

February: Last minute travel has great perks

Lessons Learned

Spontaneous, spur of the moment travel can be very invigorating and may be more doable than you think. Last February, we were able to book a Cocoa Beach Home Exchange with super cheap flights by booking less than one week ahead. Sometimes a last minute break is just what the soul craves.

March: Happiness is being part of the gang.

lessons learned

When I was a young child, my favourite t-shirt featured a Peanuts cartoon bearing this quote. For many reasons, this shirt became significant to me and I included it in my memorabilia that I brought with me to university. Research repeatedly proves that those who are surrounded by friends/family typically enjoy greater health benefits.

April: Grandparenting never gets olds

lessons learned

When a baby trustingly snuggles in your arms, or a toddler takes your hand and calls you Grandma…it melts your heart. I look forward to discovering further milestones in Grandparenthood. Bring it on!

 May: Live your life to the fullest NOW!

lessons learned

Last May I had a health scare that instantly dissolved my petty worries and clearly revealed what and who was most important in my life. Miraculously, the health concern turned out to be a misdiagnosis. The valuable lesson learned remained.

June: Love where you live.

lessons learned

There has been significant research done on ‘Blue Zones,’ environments that increase our health and happiness. I am extremely grateful for our small island town. It contains beautiful beaches, offers a mild climate (by Canadian standards), is highly walkable and is a doable drive to most of our family members. As an added bonus, we are surrounded by the best neighbours ever!

July: Great accomplishments begin with just one step.

Tackling the top travel item from our bucket list, my husband and I agreed to walk over 700 km of the Camino Trail this past summer. Two months before showtime, I developed sciatica and came down with dreaded (and long-lasting) bronchitis as well as an ear infection. I feared that I would never make the hike.

August: The journey outweighs the destination…BUT the destination can be pretty sweet as well!

lessons learned

But make the hike we did…and we loved every minute of it. Within two days of walking my sciatic nerve returned to normal as did the rest of my health. These challenges served to increase my determination…and made reaching the destination even more thrilling. (You can read more about our Camino adventures starting here.)

September: Celebrate!

lessons learned

Milestones are important…and give us a great excuse to honour those we love. This past September was Richard’s 70th birthday. We are both grateful to all who sent their warm wishes and helped commemorate his big day.

October: Volunteer

lessons learned

Want to increase your own well-being? Do something for others. Richard and I are fortunate to be regular volunteers at our local animal shelter.  This past autumn, we also had two amazing volunteer experiences at Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary in Utah. In all cases, we have gained much more than we could ever give.

November: Reach Out

lessons learned

I’m  grateful for all those who have reached out and turned being ‘acquaintances’ into firm friendship. This past October-November, I was able to meet in- person four bloggers whom I regularly follow. I have also been able to meet one other blogger who has recently moved near me. Whether it be at your yoga studio, during a walk in your neighbourhood, or at your favourite blog…reach out and make a new friend. It can enrich your life one-hundred fold.

December: Cherish Every Moment

lessons learned

For this recent Christmas holiday, my immediate family (four sons, three daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, granddog, my parents, Richard and I) decided to celebrate ‘presence’ instead of presents (although a few of those snuck in as well). With one son currently living in Singapore, and another son working out of province…plus all of our busy lives, it is often impossible to get all of us together at one time. I was grateful for every single moment. As a bonus, my daughter-in-law, Jessica, has offered to write a Guest Post about this experience. Please stop by again this coming Sunday to check it out. (Even I have not read it yet.)

Thank you to both Christie and Miriam for inspiring this piece via their recent posts. I LOVE that this corner of the blogosphere is sharing, collaborative and thought-provoking!

What about you? What was an important lesson or reminder reinforced for you in 2017?

Guest Post Series: Christmas Eve Reflections on My First Year of Retirement

Chirstmas Eve Reflections

Hello again, I’m so happy to be back for Donna’s ‘Sundays at Six’! I’m Debbie from ‘Deb’s World.’ I’ve enjoyed being a guest at Donna’s blog throughout the year. I also had a blast featuring her in my ‘People of Interest’ series. She is a generous soul and someone I now call a friend, despite having never met in person (yet).

Holiday Greetings to you all from the Land Down Under!

For this ‘Sundays at Six’ series, I thought I’d take a reflective look at my summary of how 2017, my first year of retirement, has panned out. I know I wrote enthusiastically back in March about how much I was enjoying myself. Now that I have a full year under my belt, I thought I’d use this opportunity to give you a further update.

This post came about from my ‘Annual Report’ to former colleagues, at our recent Christmas Party/Reunion. We have managed to stay in contact and have had numerous get-togethers during the year, even though we all live different lives now and some live out of town. We are like family.

At our Christmas lunch we were each given five minutes to present our Annual Report – updating everyone on family/pets, highs/lows, and plans for 2018. This was a great way of sharing our news with everyone at the same time. We then did Secret Santa!
It is fitting for me to share that this time last year (December 2016) we were all made redundant from our teaching jobs in the State’s Prison system. It was a hard time. We celebrated our successes of over 20 years of good work and tried to look forward to an uncertain future. I know I was in a bad place at the time, but here I am bright and sparkly 12 months after to share that I’m in a very good place now. It’s here that Donna can insert her wise words – “I told you so!” (From Donna – “It’s true…I did mention this!”)

Summary from my Annual Report:

Christmas Eve Reflections

Highs:
Family:

.Our family increased with the official addition of a new son-in-law following our youngest daughter’s wedding in Fiji. A definite high point of the year!

Travel:

LOTS of it! I calculated that this year I have spent 170 days away from home traveling whether on my own or with my husband. That’s an incredible 24+ weeks of travel!! I’ve even managed to blog about a lot of our travels.
• We spent time in Tasmania, the Flinders Ranges and South Australia, Fiji, Melbourne, Canberra, Murwillumbah, Nowra, Brisbane and New Zealand. (There’s a song I can sing here called “I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere,” but I’ll refrain for the moment).
• We loved celebrating with our three daughters and their partners all together in Fiji in October! Thoughts on a Destination Wedding from the Mother of the Bride
Running: I managed to run a bit more regularly and did the Mother’s Day Run in Canberra and the Run Melbourne 6km event. I’ve got so much more time now that I’m not working (said no-one ever)!

Blogging:

Having time to spend on my blog and interacting with other amazing people around the world. I’ve used my blog as a way of using my brain, learning new skills, technology and staying up to date. I had business cards made saying I was a Blogger and gave each of my colleagues a card. Losing my identity after being made redundant was something I suffered with a great deal, this was my fun way of being someone again!

Lows:

• The slow decline of my father. He has Parkinson’s Disease and it’s awful seeing him slowly fade away. It has been good being able to visit my mother more often and to see dad in his aged care facility, without worrying about leave forms and time-frames (so that bit’s a high).
• Our daughter’s cat, of a great age, suddenly disappeared and hasn’t returned. We won’t be replacing Luna Aphrodite.
• I’ve missed the daily contact with my colleagues.
• There are not enough hours in the day anymore!

Plans for 2018

More travel to see our daughter who lives in the UK but we know we can’t keep up the pace we set in 2017!

So that’s my update. As you can see, I have made the most of my time. I haven’t even mentioned things like our involvement in Rotary Youth Exchange programs, my reading, community involvement, photography or other daily occurrences.
Wishing you all happy and safe holiday season wherever and however you spend it. Looking forward to a new year just as exciting as this year and continuing my blogging connections with you all. Thanks again Donna for having me over.

Debbie
Christmas Eve Reflections

From Retirement Reflections: Thank you to Debbie for joining us again and sharing her very full and positive first year of retirement (told ya so!). Please drop by next week for a very special Guest Post…this time from my Daughter-in-Law, Jess from Wagemadness! Wishing you all a very warm and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Hammy the Deer

Hammy the Deer

Being the ‘opposite of a procrastinator’ (a true liability!), I diligently wrote my December contribution for ‘We are the World Blogfest’ well in advance. I then discovered that #WATWBF takes a break in December…so I could have relaxed a bit more with eggnog in front of the fireplace! Since the tale of Hammy seemed appropriate for the Christmas season, I thought I would share it with you one month and one week in advance. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Christmas filled with warmth and kindness.

What is it about animals that can so deeply capture our attention…and our hearts?

Although I typically avoid the news, there is one story that I have actively followed since it began late last summer. That is the adventures of ‘Hammy’ the deer. (Yes, news about this guy even reached me in Spain.)

You can read one of the early stories about Hammy here or watch him on video.

In summary, last August 14, a buck became ensnared in a backyard hammock in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Although police were able to free the deer, he then ran off with a large chunk of hammock still attached to his antlers. At first, local authorities believed it best for the deer (affectionately dubbed ‘Hammy’) to be left as is, knowing that he would eventually shed his antlers. Later, concern arose that Hammy could become entangled with another stag if butting heads during mating season. The search to catch the buck and remove the remaining pieces of hammock lasted for over two months. During that time, Hammy was frequently spotted by locals but remained elusive to capture.

Quickly, the young buck’s fame spread far and wide. A Facebook Page was created for him. This was followed by t-shirts, Hallowe’en costumes, artwork, Christmas decorations…and much more!

hammy-mural
hammy-the-dog
hammy-christmas-ornament-1

In late November, authorities were finally able to free Hammy from his remaining purple twine. They then painted a section of his antlers a deep purple so that he could be tracked and his well-being assured.

You can read the complete story here.

Some scientists argue that human beings have an ‘inborn instinct’ or a ‘biochemical reaction’ that connects us with animals (source). Others suggest that our distinctly human capacity to infer the mental states of others is key to the human-animal bond (source). Whatever the reason, there is no question that animals have the ability to melt our hearts. If you are ever in doubt of this, just ask Hammy!

We Are the World Blogfest’ takes place the last Friday of each month. Its purpose is to “promote positive news stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit.” You are invited to join in as a reader, a writer or both! I look forward to seeing you on January 26th at #WATWBF or #WATWB.

Photo Credits: 1) CBC, 2) George Baker/CBC 3) Shelly Samuels, 4)Dwayne MacNeill 5) Morgan Wilson.