Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Next 10 Years . . (Day 14) - 20 Days of Chill

In the next 10 years, assuming we haven't destroyed one another, the leaves will still change in the fall.  The snow will fall (hopefully), and the seasons will change.  

The one thing that will be different, from my perspective is, I will be retired.  I've been teaching the hormonally schizophrenic (otherwise known as middle school students) for 34 years.  I started out teaching in Buena Park, California.  I taught there for one year, then took a teaching position at Cucamonga Junior High School, now known as Cucamonga Middle School.

I'm not quite ready to step down yet, but I can see that opening at the end of the tunnel, and it's no longer a train barreling down the track, but an open window on a new world.  I know many people who have no desire to retire for the simple reason they feel they'd be bored.  Not me.  

As I noted in another post, there's a lot of things I want to do.  One of them is to experience different places in the fall.  Having grown up in Southern California, we don't really have fall.  Leave turn colors all through our winter as it gets colder. I want to see an actual fall sometime.  I haven't been able to do that, because I'm always working in the fall.  I guess my first trip when I retire will be to New Hampshire.  Who knows?  It could happen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fears (Day 13) - 20 Days of Chill

I have a fear of heights.  It's an irrational fear I know, yet it still bothers me when I'm really high in something and there's nothing to hold on to or something like that.  

On our first anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to Seattle, Washington.  One of the things that we visited was the Space Needle.  We bought our tickets and waited for the elevator to take us to the top.  Ironically, something like this usually doesn't faze me.  But when I saw the glass elevator, I panicked a little.  

Going up was fine because I was rather rude and pushed my way to the front of the line and jumped in all the way to the back of the elevator.  At the top, I was fine, mainly because there were so many anti-suicide devices that I knew I wasn't going to fall.  Perhaps that's the fear.  It's not so much the height, but the fear of falling.

Now, going down was a different story.  I had been so comfortable up there enjoying the views, that I forgot all about the elevator.  I ended up being the last one on and so I was pressed up against the glass as we descended.  I hyperventilated and had to turn around and stare at the floor to keep from going full panic attack mode.

For the most part, I've overcome this fear.  At least I know it's irrational.  I'll readily get into planes now.  Before, there needed to be a really valid reason for me to fly before I'd even consider getting into a plane.  I know people will laugh at this considering it as rather silly, but how many of those same people will shudder when looking at either one of the photos I've used for this post?

Fears are irrational.  I think Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best when he stated in his first inaugural speech, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

For other stories about Fears, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stress (Day 12) - 20 Days of Chill

Stress.  We all have it and it affects our lives, mostly adversely.  So I guess the point of this post, is to not so much talk about stress, or what kinds of stress there are, but how I deal with it.  And you will probably deal with it in a variety of ways, most of which are probably different than mine.  And if it works for you, that's great.

I've always used this blog as a way to advertise my photos. I'm not into making money, but I do like to show off my work.  As I was looking through some photos today for one that I thought would work with what I thought I was going to write about, it hit me.  Most of the shots that I had in that particular album are stress relievers for me, because they pretty much capture what it is that I do to relieve my stress.

These are the things that I love to do, in no particular order.  Geocaching. Travel.  Photography.  They get me to start thinking about other things, they get me to reorder my priorities and they pretty much de-stress me.  

This particular photo is pretty much emblematic of all three of those things.  This was taken while finding either a virtual geocache or an earth cache in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I've been geocaching for almost 16 years.  If I didn't like it, I would have stopped a long time ago.  I enjoy the hunt for those hidden treasures and I especially like the hunt when I'm in different areas than my own.  I get to experience hides by different people.  It gives me a new perspective on the hobby.  

Travel is something that I've always done, starting at age 4 when my parents took us on a week long camping trip to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  We tent camped then, but sometime shortly after that, my parents bought a 14 foot trailer to haul all of our gear and family around the country.  Whenever I can get on a road trip, I'll take it.  It's a great stress reliever for me.

I've been a photographer for as long as I can remember.  I used to beg my parents to let me take the Kodak Instamatic when we'd go camping.  Many of the photos that were taken on those trips were taken by me.  My parents bought me my first camera when I was in third grade.  I don't know whatever happened to that camera and it would be nice to have it again, just for old time's sake, but I took many photos with that cheap little thing.

When you're doing something you really love to do, it's pretty much impossible to be stressed.  I think stress just melts away.  As one of my friends said to me one time, "You're not going to be bored when you retire.  You have too many things that you're going to want to do."  Yep.  The less stress, the better it will be.

For more stories on Stress, click here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Selfie nation (Day 11) - 20 Days of Chill

The selfie photo has become ubiquitous over the last couple of years.  I know I'm as guilty as the next person for posting selfies, but I've also found that I've been looking at my selfies recently, I've found that I like what I see.

For the most part, I see a person who's out and about, not making duck faces at the camera in my bathroom.  If I look at them chronologically, I see a person who has lost weight over the last couple of years, yet still needs to lose some more.  That's a motivating factor.  If I don't like what I see, then my job is to fix it, which is what I've been trying to do over the past couple of year.  I've been using my Fitbit religiously, making sure I get my 10,000 daily steps.  Some days, which are usually few and far between, I'm unsuccessful in that goal, but I'm a work in progress.  

I feel I'm in better shape now, so I keep doing it.  I hiked over 3 miles yesterday and wasn't even winded when I was done.  That's a good thing.  My goal is to lose another 15 to 20 pounds.  I think if I lose half of that the next year, that will also be a good thing.

In my mind, most selfies seem to be pretty silly.  My selfies have a different purpose, at least for me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

San Francisco (Day 10) - 20 Days of Chill

As I stood there on the roof of the Franklin Institute, my mind wandered back to those trees in California and then it went to one of my favorite cities in the entire country, San Francisco.

I remembered the trip I'd taken there in July of the previous year.  Someone had told me that I needed to go there, just to enjoy the weather.  The weather?  In San Francisco?  It's cold and blustery there all the time.  What's to enjoy?  "Just go," the voice said. So I went.

Something compelled me to go to the Golden Gate Bridge.  

"Walk across it."

So I found a place to park on the southern side and walked with all of the tourists all the way across the bridge.  Now, the fear of heights has always been strong in me, but for some reason, I wasn't worried, even as I felt the bridge sway in the strong breeze.

I walked to the north side, took many photos, and then explored a couple of areas over there.  People were taking selfies with the bridge in the background.  People were getting in each other's ways.  I was trying to get the best spot possible for that shot of a lifetime.  The fog was starting to roll in and I wanted to get the clouds as they passed over the bridge.

I waited patiently, probably irritating many of the people around me who wanted my spot for their own photo.  I wasn't budging.  There, I got it.  I started to pack up my equipment, when I felt someone bump into me.

As always, my immediate response is to check for my wallet.  Nope, it was still there.  But, as I felt my wallet in my back pocket, I also felt the round end of something hard pressing into my right kidney.

"Listen.  If you want to see Herman alive again, you're going to take this ticket to the airport and get on the plane.  DON'T LOOK AROUND!  Just take the ticket and get back over to your car and drive to the airport."

Whoever it was pressed something into my hand.  Then, he was gone as quickly as he'd snuck up behind me.  I didn't even have a chance to turn around and get a good glimpse of him because of the crowds.  So I looked into my hand and there was the airline ticket...IN MY NAME!  Who was this guy, and how did he know Herman?  I guess I'd have to get on that plane and find out.

But wait, I don't have my passport with me.  This is an overseas flight.  I started to panic, but I knew that I needed to get on that plane.  So I packed up the rest of my equipment and started that long walk back across the bridge.  When I got back to the other side, I hiked down to my car, opened the trunk of the car and got another surprise.  There, in the trunk, was my suitcase, packed and ready to go.  Curious.  I reached into the front zippered pocket, knowing full well what I'd find there.  If whoever was behind this, had been able to break into my house and break into my car, I knew I'd find my passport where I always kept it. 

I reached in and felt around smiling slowly.  This guy was good.

Looks like I was going to Zurich.

To be continued.......

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Booze and Bongos (Day 9) - 20 Days of Chill

The truck had been abandoned in the field.  You could see the tires were worn and peeling from too many years in the hot sun.  The nearby shack was in a state of "arrested decay," whatever that meant.

The rain clouds were piling up against the nearby mountains.  It was going to rain, and probably rain hard, with possibly some hail thrown into the mix for good measure.  The animals knew.  They were already out of sight, hunkering down for the long storm that had been building all afternoon in the summertime heat.  

The only thing that was moving was an older man, with a limping gait staggering along as best he could.  He was going to get wet.  The truck was totaled and he had nowhere to go.  The shack was empty, but it was going to give little protection against the clouds that were within minutes of dropping their moisture upon him.

He thought to himself, "How had it gotten this bleak this quickly?" The answer was quite simple.  Too much booze and not enough bongos.

For other stories about booze and bongos, please click here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Blue (Day 8) - 20 Days of Chill

Plain and simple, Old Guys Rule.  It says so right there on the wall.  

I can't really call this a selfie, since my son took the photo, although I set it up.  I love this photo for a number of reasons.  One, I think it captures my personality pretty well.  And two, it's me from two years ago and 30 pounds heavier.  I think I would be feeling blue if I still weighed that much.  I'm not done yet, as I believe I still have at least 15 more pounds to shed, but I think I'm heading in the right direction.

And that's not feeling blue at all, although my shirt certainly is.

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