Caribbean Cruise Critique - Part 1

Norwegian Jade

What fun is a Caribbean cruise if you can’t share parts of the experience with others!  So as I stepped on the majestic midsize ship for an eleven day trip to 5 ports, I knew I was going to reflect back on it when I stepped off.  This was going to be a new experience for me, being in 5 ports in 11 days with plenty of material good, bad and well, you judge!

My mornings must not begin without my drug of choice, chai tea. Off I would go to my quickly found Java Coffee Station promptly before breakfast!  This is a religious experience
Java Coffee but I called it
Java Hut, missing from pic:
my Fav Bartender!
for me and anyone traveling with me quickly finds it is a Godsend I get there. On this trip, no matter how early I hit the stand, I seemed to be the only one ordering caffeinated morning drinks. Everyone else was in line with requests for Bloody Mary’s, Daiquiris, and Mai Tais. Apparently, drinking alcohol has no time limits for folks on cruise ships.  The staff and I often exchanged mutual looks of wondering why in the world people can’t wait till after 8:00 am to drink alcohol!

Speaking of eating breakfast, the service is quite unbelievable on the smaller sized cruise ships.  Every time I went in the line to eat and sat down, once completed, my dishes were promptly removed from the table. The only problem with this was if I blinked they were removed. If I put down my silverware, apparently that was the signal I was done eating and out of nowhere, a waiter in white suddenly appeared and whisked my hard earned carefully picked food selections away!  My husband and I literally had to guard our plates if one of us so much as leaned over to reach for a lost napkin or God forbid got up from the table to refresh a drink! However, having service this exceptional was wonderful.

Our cabin, for the first time, was an inside room, thereby much smaller. Anyone that knows me well is well aware that I have very long legs.  Well, bluntly put the bathrooms are teeny. More to the point, if I sat on the commode with my legs in front of me, my knees were locked on the wall. If I huge wave were to come and topple over the ship, I need not fear falling off the seat because I would be literally lodged on the seat. I had to sit sideways like anyone over 5’9” did if they didn’t want their legs rubbing on the wall. In fact, if I wanted to, I could brush my teeth, while on the john and possibly wash my hair in the shower. I suppose this is considered convenient but I found it a bit cramped. But I adapted, with a purchase of Ben Gay!

Don't laugh, you are looking
at the bathroom!
The actual room is said to sleep four.   Yes, the bed centered in the room with just barely enough room to shimmy sideways on the side is considered ‘roomy’! Hanging on the wall, on my side was a big box that contained a bed that would fold down if needed to sleep two more, God forbid. As if I was not claustrophobic enough, this arrangement would have done me in, if it had been used!  If down and in place, not only would I have no room to move my arm to the side without hitting the side wall, any time I lifted my head, I would have hit the bed up top of me.  The oxygen would be cut to a minimum.   Add the motion of the ocean, help me!  And they definitely would not be allowed to have sex up there!

Oh, one night I got sick on a meal and was vomiting through the night. I kept fighting it and asking my husband for nausea meds. He slept thru the requests and by the time he heard me and was getting up to get them, I told him to forget it. On my mad dash to the commode, I nearly took him out, as the room is small.  It was hard to miss him as he seemed to be throwing a basketball pick. My usual way of dealing with nausea is to sleep on the floor of the bathroom. Can you guess the problem?  My tall body could not, would NOT fit on the floor of the bathroom, not in any form of crunching up, even in a fetal position!  So I was forced to make mad runs, actually hop or skips, while lying at the base of the bed.

Every time you turn around in the evening, there are photographers wanting to take your
My husband and I with one of our favorite photographers
picture. They are like peddlers on the street, stopping in front of you saying things like “Don’t you want to capture this moment?” “You look so beautiful.”
  Anything to get a pose, translation, more proofs to get you to spend money on prints you may never look at again but will feel compelled to buy. And so, you stand in the posed positions that look perfectly posed, with the same outfits that look like you were on a cruise ship and at the end of it, drop money on those images you will never look at again. Who is the bigger fool, the photographer or you?

As with most luxury cruise ships, there is an on sea spa treatment center. As a treat for my anniversary, my husband splurged and purchased me a deep stone massage.  In walks petite Zimik, a Korean woman who looks shorter than I was at birth.  I quickly learned her hands were as strong as Goliath. I had previously asked her to not give me a hard pressure massage and she said she would go easy. Thank God because at times I was certain, being on blood thinner, my body would be bruised in the morning from her touch.

I had told her I am a chronic migraine sufferer and thus, have a sensitive head. I guessed I reminded her of someone she despised because her deep rubs to my head were mind-blowing, and not in a good way. I had a friend tell me afterwards I should have told her. At the time, I could not think of anything except of the hammer on my head!

I must admit the clanging of the hot stones and the feel of them on my body was the coolest feeling in the world!  She had me convinced they had helped draw out and release not only the toxins in my body but the evil demons.  This was the refreshing part until her demonic side came out, her unrelenting sales pitch where she began telling me to properly remove my toxins I would need a treatment daily of $195 each  for the 11 day cruise plus an acupuncture treatment.  The good news was that “George” the acupuncture doctor would only charge me $145 for his. I was so touched to get offered such a deal, certainly worth rescheduling our excursions to rid myself of toxins.  But when she explained many would involve seaweed I decided I would get plenty of that on my snorkeling excursions so bypassed the treatments.

We learned new lingo in Jamaica and got quizzed on it by our tour guide regularly.   Everything must be followed with “Yeah man!”  If you want to say no, you must say “Eh-eh” with a bit of a grunt.  “No problem” is often said because nothing is an issue there.  And the last important thing to remember is all tourists are told to come back next week, continually and by everyone!  The folks there are the friendliest funniest group, great culture!  The poverty though is striking which makes it surprising that everyone says no problem.  

Jamaica was my first zip lining experience and what an eye-opener, in more than one way. I was so grateful for my psychology degree. First, due to the guides and the lead trainer enjoying our group, they had us do a record nine lines that day so it was one after another with not nearly enough water breaks though! The drop off the platform each time was the scariest part for me. We had one woman who was every man’s fantasy girl, she screamed all the way through from start to finish, every single time! The rest of us were amazed at her stamina for the yelling! What a trouper!  I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit I followed her and didn’t make a sound.

We learned far too much about our crew that day. Thanks to my amazing ability to ask questions and draw people out of their shell and confide in me we learned the drama in
Zip Crew lady telling me partially
married! lol! 
lives. Once the Pandora’s Box was opened, can I just say, it could not be closed?  The head trainer was in the process of getting divorced, from the only female crew member.  Yes, and that explained why they were never at the same station nor speaking to each other. The guy that called himself Big John and certainly looked like it claimed he was the reason and even I had enough sense not to ask any further questions on this claim!  Another one of our crew that I was silly enough to ask why he looked so down was just dumped by the love of his life for the past five years. Is that enough of the drama we learned that day? Well it wasn’t! Once they learned I had an empathetic ear, high above the ground on NINE lines everyone was unloading on me and the rest of our group was laughing their asses off enjoying the entertainment of a real life reality show! By the way, we only tipped the lady and the man getting divorced but not Big John as we felt he musta played a part in their marriage woes! 

After zipping down the lines, we took a nice long downhill walk
Hidden from view, I am soaked in full clothes here
and with one sprained toe, possibly broken said ship Dr!
that seemed more like a jog where brakes were needed. Across the street was a waterfall with a pool at the base. One guide told me to take his hand and look at his face as I stepped into the pool, fully clothed with nothing removed but my shoes and socks. Splat, that was me going down on my behind! My toe hit a raised rock edge and rolled back, quite painfully leaving me with either a broken or sprained toe. The worst part was I had to put back on my tennis shoe and walk back up that horrendous mountain of a hill to return to the jeep to return back to town. Ouch or stronger language was emitted frequently on the return trip. But, it was worth the zipping but my mouth did not remain zipped!

Samuel aka Kirk, known to take off shirt if helps open gates for
passing thru properties he needs to cross! Added benefit for
female tourists! 

Hitting Curacao was just the most picturesque views; everywhere you looked was a picture for the house in the making!  It was impossible to capture the true beauty of the island.  And our guide, who was named after Captain Kirk of Star Trek looked like anybody but Kirk was quickly, renamed Samuel by me. Early on, I got everyone in our small group calling him Samuel, even he went with it!  As we progressed along a rocky terrain to the area of the island owned by the government uninhabited we were taught about the history of the island and the plant life. Samuel had his hands full too with a jeep full of pranksters and wise crackers that he never knew what was coming out next. He learned to roll with it quickly.

As bikers were approaching our jeep, innocently one in our crew didn’t see them. She had a piece of fruit Samuel had cut off a cactus.  She strong armed it behind her nailing one of the

bikers dead on in the chest!  His hand went up with a non-friendly gesture with angry shouts as we yelled at Samuel to step on it. He did not knowing what his tourists had done now. Further up the road, I informed him and he, once the shock wore off, laughed hysterically. We told him he was going to get arrested or have to bail us out. He decided to continue fueling us with fruit so that we could attempt to hit more bikers along the route for the remainder of the tour. Apparently he liked living on the wild side as much as us!

With that I think I need to give you all a break from reading my reflections of 11 days cruising. Honestly, by the fourth port, I forgot which island I was on!  And to make matters worse, I had so many beautiful colored drinks, it was getting stressful to know which one to order at the bar. Oh, such is life of a cruiser. Heck one lady had been on that particular boat for 60 days! Too much for me. My liver, sense of balance and blog readers would need a break, like right about now!  Be back on soon! 

*Both ports are beautiful to visit but Curacao is a must see on your Bucket List*


The Last Petal

She may seem breakable
 Like a ceramic doll,
Even fall apart
 With one heart-breaking phone call.

But those who know her
 Intimately over the years,
Have seen her crumble
 And wipe away her tears.

She is filled with such strength
 That many do not possess,
And the fire within her
 Is never completely at rest.

Her life has been filled with challenges
 Of hurts, hurdles and those who let her down,
But not one has prevented her
 From picking herself up off the ground.

For to be a quitter
 Isn’t her protocol.
She always comes back
 Standing tall!

You can see shattered glass,
 Someone broken with pieces amiss,
But you would be missing,
 God’s ability to give ladders to those in abyss.

She has an ability
 To see through the bull,
She may not say a word
 But this woman’s no fool.
So judge not the petal
 That is the last one on the vine,
For the last one hanging
 May be the one most divine. 


Optional Cruise

I think, after packing for a cruise I am opting for a clothing optional one next time! I don’t care what anyone says, even packing the essentials is stressful, especially on a longer length cruise. By the time everything is piled up on the bed and you examine the size of the cabin,  reality sets in.  This pile of garbage is never going to fit in that small box of a room and leave you room to sleep and maneuver without you standing out in the hallway to change clothes. So why bring any? Note: If in hallway, please look out for room steward so as not to shock him with your nudity while changing!

I started out with a very positive attitude packing for my 11 day cruise.  Even though it is business casual for dinner, why not dress up for dinners. Seemed like a great idea since it is a vacation on a fancy boat and picture opportunities are everywhere. But looking at the back of my door, reality set it. I have just enough girly girl in me to want to do the matchy matchy gig.  Women know what that means, starting with the dress, jewelry, shoes and hair accessories, if worn must coordinate.  With a two week cruise, the odds of all being worn more than twice were slim so all the sudden I feel like somebody’s personal shopper.  Hell no comes out of my mouth quickly and casual outfits overtake the idea of fancy spancy.

When did hair and beauty become so complicated?  Why do women have so much product to use on their hair and face?  I think the au naturelle look if one opted for a naked cruise would be the best choice!  It would complement the body well! And the luggage would be so much lighter.  Instead, I sit among a sea of lipsticks, eye shadows, mousses and of course my specialty shampoos that cannot be left at home wondering why is my bathroom so complicated. How can I transport it to a bathroom that is the size of my refrigerator without walls?

I kinda like what my neighbor Pat said to me this morning, buy it.  Pack what you want and buy the rest. But, again, if clothing was optional, why would there be a need to buy much of anything. Think about it for a moment, why cover up when no one else is?  You would look like the odd one, the nerd! 

Why were men not born with a keen sense of color?  Anyone married knows part of the job of packing is matching outfits for the husbands. God forbid you’d get on a cruise, walk out to dinner and the man you are with has on green shirts with a red shirt!  Oh, and we all have seen it.  Call it a daring fashion statement but it is a sorry bloke who got no help packing! 

Undergarments are the easiest part to pack, grab ‘em and run!  Count them and off you go. Thank God there is one part of packing that is easy.  Because every other part is stress-city! 

Shoes kill me.  I try to limit the number I pack because they take up room but they have to be comfortable and conform to your clothing.  And there has to be a variety.  Shoes seem to be the one thing too, you don’t want to have buy on a trip.  I wonder, on a clothing optional trip, what shoes you wear. I suppose, being naked, dress shoes are out so you are wearing flip flops, don’t you think? I mean anything more might look abit overdone, hence that makes packing easy. Zero options.

Men, it is clear from talking to several, bring all of their swimming trunks. This consists of two!  I can’t recall ever having only two bathing suits! Wow, would that make packing easy!   Women need to vary for tanning lines, different looks, mood swings, you know, all sorts of reasons.  We have the sexy ones, the practical looking ones, the barely there, the too tight, too lose, the old ones that should be pitched but are just hard to say good-bye to and the “I feel fat” day ones.  On vacation, I prefer to bring the ones that make me feel 20 years younger than I am. Too bad none of those exist!

Let’s call it daywear for the clothes you pack to put on for excursions and days at sea when you aren’t romping around in your bathing suit. Here we go again with the matching game, shorts and shirts. If you’re smart you pick solids on one end, top or bottom, to make your life easier! I gave up trying to match up jewelry for these outfits during the days and instead found throwing things in a jewelry bag for an in-house game of basketball was much easier and put an element of fun and chance into packing.  

There are so many other miscellaneous things to pack that it is like being a project manager who isn’t getting paid for doing a superb job. Your only reward is spending the first day of vacation recovering.  However, back to my main point, clothing optional cruises would enable you to truly enjoy each and every day of the vacation without this added hassle.  Before you Deep Six this idea, ask yourself would you rather be evaluated on your clothing when on a vacation or just focus on just having fun?


He's So Fine

How many women wish that once in their life they got to date that hunk that looks like the guy that walked across the beach on one of the episodes of Bay Watch?  I was tired of the blonde bombshells
and the brunettes with the bodies that looked like that spent every waking moment at the gym between eating carrot sticks and protein bars hanging on their arms of these guys. Or pretending there was a shark in their vicinity when they weren’t fake drowning getting the macho men!  I was going to land one if it killed me before I died.

So several years ago, in one of my single periods, across the multitude of nameless faces, I spotted my prey. He was looker alighty but has to rename nameless, maybe more for his protection than mine. Plus, well I will get to that later.  At the time, I simply thought for months, out of reach, not in my league however, I did feel the woman he was with was not up to snuff. How can you not evaluate the women these guys are with? I found myself sinking to that low I accuse others of doing, women cat-nipping each other.

So, I eyed him, discreetly at first, than openly hoping to catch his eye. Over time, I did and flashed my dazzling smile. Okay, that may be stretching it abit but hey, my smile was really stretched large for his benefit. With large dark brown eyes, strong shoulders, beautiful thick brown hair, and a thin trimmed beard to match, he was hot.  His body build was too. When he walked in the room, even the men took a side eye, sorta glaring at him as their wives and girlfriends stopped listening to their idle chatter. 

He began smiling back at me which I saw as encouragement to begin plotting my web of capturing him in a lovefest!  How to begin with a person out of my reach?  Could it materialize?  I knew his parents so I   worked on becoming closer to them, that part was easier because I adored them and they began to feel the same about me. I was invited, over time to their home and to home parties.  Eventually, lo and behold, who should be there, surprise, but he. Imagine my surprise, him and I in their beautiful luxurious home at the same time? Wow, what a coincidence! Imagine my acting skills playing that one off? 

As we began chatting at their home at a party, and I was internally monitoring my heart rate, I mentioned how difficult it was, at times to reach his mother. Looking back, how transparent is that?  Knowing he worked at the same company as his mother, he offered his phone number letting me know he could reach her if I couldn’t. When he flashed his smiles at me during that conversation, I was so glad my friend was next to me so I didn’t fall back leaving her to swoop me back off the floor. If it had stopped there, I think I would have been satisfied.

I left that party, two weeks before Christmas happy. Two weeks later my phone rang. I answered it and Mr. I –Want-Under-My-Christmas-Tree was on the line. I counted to 10, then asked if he could hang on a minute and put the phone down. I then made a mad dash around the house two times while my kids asked me if I had to pee. This was simply to calm my nerves as the hot looking male model was on the telephone talking to me. Hell, it could be accidental but my hormones were in overdrive! I was ready to dump the guy I was dating and hadn’t even picked back up the phone!

When I did, we chatted. He wished me a wonderful holiday and asked if he could call on me after the holidays. I nearly pulled the phone cord out of the wall!  And thus began my several months of dating the guy on my wish list and the best and sometimes worst experience of dating.

What I learned from Mr. I Am So Hot is he did not know how to treat a lady because he didn’t have to. Women were so ingratiated by being with him that little was expected of him. Oh, that would not do for me and I let him know. For some reason, he actually liked this and found it amusing. Simple things like, calling in advance of showing up when I was a single mother with two children. Imagine my surprise when I am going over homework with my kids and he shows up with pizza at 8:30 p.m. at night when it is bathtub thinking he is super cool to my kids? It was clear he was not daddy material.

Okay, I will say it because everyone wants to know, at least the women so I will satisfy your curiosity, yes it was great.  Don’t pretend not to know what I am talking about. If you don’t, well I can’t help you there!  And yes, he taught me more than anyone in my life. I am going to go out on the line and assume it is because he had so much of it. With looks like that, I don’t think getting it was hard for him. So it was definitely a graduate level class for me that I enjoyed taking!  However, in time, his ideas got weirder and weirder, way outside just about anyone’s comfort zone I know. So NO became a normal response! Or, “What the hell?”

The other thing about good looking guys I learned is they can get by with an awful lot solely on their looks. It is funny to me that his mother told me this. She told me that I would find he lacks common sense. She was right. He also lacked any kind of sense, he was just plain odd. I had a hard time following him when we got into any kind of in-depth conversation. And for my part, if I discussed anything remotely complicated, such as politics, attitudes towards education, etc..he got lost. His statements back made positively no sense. I began to think it was pointless to have any discussion with him beyond where we were going to eat, what we were going to do and what his latest greatest new invention was going to be.

 Oh, did I not mention he was into an Inventors Club and constantly creating ideas.  This was a “secret.”  A club that was supposedly “confidential” as their inventions were to be pattoned thus shared only with members. I was to feel privileged because he would share them with me. God were some of these the most useless things imaginable. At least though the other guys created them, my dude just talked about them and did nothing with them.
Eventually Mr. Hot-To-Trot got so comfortable with me and turned on by inventions he started talking about them during sex. At that point, I asked my close friend for advice, “How do you get a guy to shut up during sex?” Her advice, “Put a bag over his head!”  I said “But he is good looking.”  She suggested duct tape. I asked him the next time I saw him if there were any inventors working with new taping products we could try out as something kinky fulling intending on using it on his mouth. No luck.

Eventually I learned he had another woman on the side. I was hurt, disappointed and relieved at the same time. A voice message was left on my recorder by the woman screaming at me that she had found out about me and that if I really didn’t love him, please back out of his life so she could have him all to herself. Far be it from me to stand in the way of true love.

He seemed far more bothered about this than me, calling me for weeks on end to reconsider. He swore he could see me discreetly without her knowledge. I pointed out of course he could, he had apparently been doing that for some time, according to her message. Oh, her second message apologized for the first, crying and saying it was fine to see him. She was so kooky I determined they were actually well matched, much better than he and I. Why should I stand in the way of progress anyways.

I am glad at age 57 dating some hot chick magnet is not on my Bucket List. It is not all it is cut out to be by any stretch. Being vain is not really all that fun to be around, it wears thin pretty quickly and leaves the other person either feeling empty or like me,  laughing a lot behind the scenes. His looks began to look a lot less hot. Oh, you will overlook so much for some guy that is just smokin' that it begins to be hysterical!  I really found myself laughing right infront of him. I look back and am amazed he liked me more because of it!  What was wrong with him, he should have been insulted. I told him right to his face.  What a dufus! 

The song “He’s So Fine” doesn't  apply to him anymore. Sad to say, his looks are long gone. He can't rely on them anymore. I am told he looks now like a hobo. Perhaps he never did come up with that wonderful invention he always dreamed of creating. He was too busy  and should have concentrated on  it instead of landing his next prey. Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang


Grandma's Church is Mine Too

I have been asked many times why I practice Catholicism. The question must stem because I am an independent thinker and there is a conception that being Catholic is rigid in believes which is really not founded in truth.  All churches have foundations but the people that practice their faiths have their own individuality. Mine is grounded in my grandmother’s love of the church and in me.

My Grandma Gliatti, as I called her, was as devoted to the Church as anyone I ever met in my life. She was Italian, coming to the United States after marrying. One of the things she retained is her Roman Catholic faith. That aspect of her life never changed till the day she died.

One weekend a month, my dad would load up the car and off we would go to Toledo, Ohio to head to Point Place to see Grandma and Grandpa.  All of those visits were always welcome trips at a time when many kids hated being away from their friends. My joy was being around my grandma. She was and is the purest form of love to me. 

When Dad would leave us alone with her to go out at night, she would talk to my sister Terri and me about God and her faith. She explained to us about faith and about the Catholic Church, how much she loved it and her devotion to it, from the time she was a little girl. We, at the time, were not practicing Catholics.  My sister was a few years older and remembers the content more than I do but I remember her Catholic prayers at that time.

When Grandma got too sick to go to Mass, she would sit on Sundays in front of the TV and turn on Mass. She would go through the entire Mass reciting all the responsorials as if she was attending. If we interrupted her or were too loud, she would shush us. This was important to her and we all knew it.  It made quite an impression on me and stayed with me. Mass was a must for Grandma.

In my life, no one seemed to love me like Grandma Gliatti. She was the unconditional love person God put in my life. No one had that kind of unconditional regard for me and I believed some of that came from her love and faith in God.  She thought I was loveable for just being me. 

I remembered her faith and chose to raise my children in the Catholic Church. I taught my children the same lessons my grandmother taught me. “No matter what happens to me, God will always be with you and his love is far greater than mine. He will also see that I will be watching over you.”  

I wanted my kids to know that faith mattered, keep the lines open to God I would reinterate. I wanted them to know I unconditionally loved them so told them every night. I even gave them the sign of the cross on their forehead when they were asleep before I went to bed, even when they got older. This was something done to me when I was confirmed in the Catholic church. I wanted God to always bless them and watch over them, part of my Catholic faith.

Now I have stayed with the Catholic Church because every time I attend, I sit in Mass andI  am at home with Grandma. I feel her there with me, smiling knowing I am following the faith she told me was such an integral part of her. I feel God’s love there too. I feel it other places also, like when I’m outside in the yard, or in front of the ocean or in a park,  but in the church is definitely different. Grandma taught me that the cross means that God so loved me that he gave me/us his only son.  She also said that she would always watch over me. I love the feeling in my church because I get a sense she is attending it with me.

I love the ritual of Catholic Mass, the routine where I can depend on a format I can follow just like Grandma did over and over again in her living room. I know what each part means, each has a significance that relates back to faith and Christian growth. I see Grandma smiling all the while.  I am grateful Masses are said in English and much more contemporary, especially the churches I chose to attend, so it is relatable.  We all need to feel we are sitting at a table with friends and not being talked down to when at Church.

So, yes I am open-minded and progressive but I am Catholic and proud of it. I am Grandma Gliatti’s protégé even now.  I will continue to be till I die and she will continue to smile. I will continue to grow and love in faith. May you find the peace and love of God in your heart in whatever works for you! 


Psyched to Bike

I began, several months ago, bike riding to condition my body more seriously.  Prior to that, it was more about the idea of looking fit and forcing me off of the couch and computer. I felt certain any bike riding would be advantageous to my body.   The idiosyncrasies of riding a bike in a closed community were then discovered.   
 My primary focus, initially, was the color of my bike. It wasn’t necessary that it be color coordinated with my clothing, though that would have been ideal.  I did want something that looked more like the Health Magazine ads.  Imagining what I would look like from a side profile if neighbors were to look out their window and capture a glance of me biking down the road on my cool colored bike.  I thought that might spur me on!  I knew I needed motivation.

I settled on a bewitching silver bike, one that is sleek looking with a highlighted pink color. I needed that girly touch too so I looked like the Female Athlete of the Year.  The first time I got on my new bike, though, I felt like anything but! Speaking of butt, I never recalled those seats being so uncomfortable and hard.  I really considered buying padded pants!

Athletes can work through the grit, grind and pain. My legs felt like they were poured in gritty cement and as if weights were on my feet. I was initially sure I would make it through the whole community, heck it was flat!  After the first street on the first few days on the bike, I regretted not having my cell phone with me. I needed to call home for reinforcements, namely a pick up car to tote the damn bike home along with me!

Gradually it got easier but, at the same time, I realized that sweet habit everyone had of waving was an issue. My stability, not being what it was in younger years, required both hands on the handle bars. I was getting odd looks for not waving back at motorists waving at me. I even tried shouting “Hey, how’s it going?” Doing that when you are moving outside on a bike in Florida can get you about 4-6 bugs in the mouth each time you say it! And no response from drivers in air conditioned cars who can’t hear you! It makes it hardly worth the effort to say anything. So I have adjusted and learned to simply slightly lift up my hand ever so slightly from the handle bars or ignore those drivers and make it look like I am one serious rider on a mission!

When the weather is hot, it is impossible to bike in Florida, except at night. That is, unless you want to leave a trail of water behind you everywhere you go from your sweat and tears. The only wind you get is like the kind coming out of the oven when you pull the door open.  Add the feeling of a heat wave when you are pumping your bike pedals about 10 mph or more. Uncomfortable!   So the bike is now equipped, at night, with flashy lights so motorists can see me. But regardless, some drivers don’t like to pull over to the other side of the road to pass me even though there is no one there. They prefer to hang on to the same side of the road I am on.  Why?  These roads are not super wide.  Are they trying to either test my stability or just plain want to hit me?  I see some of the same cars so I am beginning to think I am a nighttime pastime, let’s try to hit bikers tonight!

Florida gets rain out of the blue, one minute it is dry then, whoosh, it pours! And when it does, the water has no place to go so the roads can be pretty soaked and have puddles on them. Too many times, I have been out bike riding and surprise, downpour. Riding as fast as I can back home, everyone and their brother stops me, on route. Their primary comment, “You better hurry and get home so you don’t get as wet.” Note: this is happening while I am getting soaked and have to come to a complete stop to get this advice from several different folks in enclosed cars or golf carts. Genius advice. Now, can I start pedaling again and get home?

The idea of living in a flat area that is secure for biking seems easier than out on the main roads. There is an issue though, lack of changing scenery.  To get my mile count up, I have to circulate the same roads, same houses multiple times. Thus I feel often times, like I am casing out the entire neighborhood. I know all the dogs’ routines for potty time and I see many of the same faces over and over again on the same ride. Each time they feel obligated to wave at me thus I can see a few get annoyed being friendly. Hell, I would too. Should I tell them please ignore me so I don’t have to attempt to take my hand off the steering wheel? It slows me down and I don’t always feel like being friendly either!  I wish they’d swap out their plants on each round thru their neighborhood just to throw me off abit and change the monotony.

As I have built up my legs and body, I can now ride at higher speeds and faster. I can honestly say you won’t see me on the Wide World of Sports competing.  But, I can go further distances and will continue improving. I think I will progress to going outside the community so that walkers don’t feel they are being stalked by me this coming year as my distance is improving.  The joy of me and my silver bike and the fitness I am getting from it are delightful. If you are inclined, find an exercise that works for you and laugh while hitting your goals! If you feel psyched, get a bike!


Tapestry of Your Life

I once heard someone describe our lives as a beautiful tapestry. He went on to say each thread is interwoven and may circle back with a purpose and each is put in by design
creating a colorful legacy. I rather like this imagery description of our existence here on earth.  Are we not each a master of all the images we are creating of our lives?

So what kind of tapestry are you creating?  I think the colors should be vast and variegated. Life should not be mundane or there is no growth.  A picture is captivating in black and white but a tapestry draws no attention without color. Your live should be colorful and eye-appealing if reviewed in full.

Draw outside of the lines. Conformity is entirely too overrated. Why make the picture of you look like everyone else?  I always told my children dare to be different. Be the one that stands out in a crowd. We all have a destiny. Discover yours and fill it. You can’t if you do nothing but always walk rank and file.

Dare yourself to take risks.  This is when new threads begin in the tapestry of your life.  These are the ah-ha moments that give your existence a new dimension.  It doesn’t matter if it is a new career,  a new sport, or a challenge but sometimes do the things no one things you are capable of.  Believe in you. Life is only one shot so give yourself that chance if you think it is worth taking. Passion is a hunger that should be quenched!

Don’t close the door to the past simply because it is over.  That fabric is part of your make up; it is in your tapestry and is part of your beauty with its joys and sorrows.  It is to be celebrated because it has made you part of who you are and the life you are now living.   The threads are critical to the image!

God sees our lives as a beautiful tapestry from above that we weave of our own freewill. Our choices are the ebb and flow of the wave of colors and the overall look and feel of the final image.  Additions in your life may very well be thread changes so don’t settle for staying idle, never moving forward or outward at all.

 As you move through your life, ask yourself, is there color in your life? Do you allow change and growth opportunities or do you run from a challenge that forces you to grow or become more passionate?  Do you allow any new threads to intertwine?  Do you smother the flames of any sort of passion outside your comfort zone?  

Live your life to the fullest but, define it with your own definition of greatness, not someone else’s.  Most importantly, make your tapestry a masterpiece.  It should reflect the legacy of a life fully embraced with  your passion that shows the world you alone could only create this wonderful tapestry! Get to work!