Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fortytude - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 35

For the 35th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Fortytude - Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life - through the 40s, 50s, and Beyond by Sarah Brokaw.

Some things that I found interesting were:
- The University of Wisconsin - Madison's Institute of Aging revealed that people in their late 40s and 50s reported significantly higher levels of well-being than did those in their 30s and early 40s. Women in particular learn to focus more on the positive and less on the negative as they grow older.
- When you view your challenges as opportunities to change, experiment, push youself, grow, and learn new skills, then you have sparkling moments. Sparkling moments can bring more than a little relief - they can even add a degree of excitement to your life.
- Fortytude means not just getting over a hurdle - be it a serious health challenge, the end of a marriage, or a financial struggle - but also fining happiness and joy in the calm periods that follow.
- There are five core values that help women cope with whatever (and whoever) shows up in their lives: grace, connectedness, accomplishment, adventure, and spirituality.
- When we make peace with life events, even when things don't go the way we want, we exhibit grace. When we manage stressful situations with humor, we exhibit grace. When we are accepting of others, we exhibit grace. Grace is not about physical beauty or having a ballerina's poise. It is composed of generosity, forgiveness, and equanimity in the face of trying times.
- Placing too much value on appearance can be unhealthy, and that are ultimate worth comes from somewhere deeper than our skin. We journey inward, seeing to identify ourselves with our true natures rather than judging ourselves and other people based on appearances. We also realize that beauty has more to do with who we are - our commitment to making the world a better place, our sacrifices on behalf of our family and friends - than how we look.
- Aging gracefully means not clinging to what we did or could or should look like.
- Beauty is what one emanates. It comes from feeling good about who you are with your flaws (and we all have them) and being at peace with yourself.
- Can you let go of how you looked in your 20s an embrace the face that greets you in the mirror today? Can you see past the the beauty that lies beneath, the beauty of your soul? Can you feel good about who you are and enjoy being in the body the way it is now, imperfect as it i? Can you focus on your health and wellness as a primary motivator for taking care of yourself, rather than simply your appearance?
- Friendships are even more critical to our health and well-being than family relationships.
- You can judge the quality of a woman by looking at her friendship with other women. And it's not necessarily the longevity or the quantity of friendships that give them value; it's quality. Friendships may endure for a moment or a lifetime - and provide a powerful connection either way.
- As we grow older..we must stop focusing on what we lose and shift our emphasis to what we have to gain. And one of the greatest gifts we have to gain in these latter decades is the possibility of depending and strengthening our female friendships.
- As we  grow older, the challenge comes taking the time to nurture our friendships. We can become so caught up with our careers, families, and other commitments that we stop calling, e-mailing, or visiting our friends. Yet, we should be careful not to give our friendships short shrift, especially knowing how powerfully they impact our happiness, health, and well-being over the long term.
- No matter how busy you are, you can create time in your schedule to touch base with your girlfriends. These relationships will sustain and guide you during your most troubled times, so that you can endure and survive.
- The most content couples consistently demonstrate a great deal of curiosity about and respect for the other person....They ask questions, share insights, and inspire and support one another without fail. They may have moments of frustration with each other, but they always treat each other with respect.
- Celebrate each other's triumphs big and small.
- Many people...subscribe to the mantra "One day, I'll have x, and then I'l be happy."...This is no way to live. We have to take ownership of our vitality and well-being here, in this very moment. If we live for the future, we end up ignoring the many blessings that we already have.
- As we enter our  fifth decade, most of us come to a point where we have a good grasp of what comes naturally to us, what talents an skills we were born with an which ones we simply don't possess. We discover that, while we all can continue to explore new activities and push our boundaries throughout our lives, honing in on a sense of mastery in certain domains can prove beneficial. We let go of pursuits that exhaust us and devote our time and energy to the activities that we find most fulfilling.
- The largest challenge stay-at-home moms is to their self-esteem.Some suffer an ego blow as soon as they quit their jobs, feelings as though their contributions to society as moms are not adequately valued. Other SAHM's raise their children quite happily only to find that, once the kids graduate from high school and move on, they are at sea, uncertain of what they should do next.
- For those women who want and are able to choose the stay-at-home-mother path, the key lies in defining who you are, independent of you roles as mother and wife. This may mean pursuing other interests outside the family, such as sports and volunteering. Or it may mean simply making peace with your truth, knowing in your heart that you are contributing to the world in your own way.
- Adventure means not settling into a tired, old pattern but rather challenging ourselves to renew our interest in and enthusiasm or life by pushing out of our comfort zones. It can be anything that piques your curiosity - anything that you find exciting.
- The older I get, the more I realize that time spent being afraid is time wasted.
-  One of the biggest mistakes we can make as we move past our 30s, through our 40s, and into our 50s, is to begin telling ourselves, "It's too late." It is not too late to take on challenges, to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, and to find our way to true fulfillment.
- Part of the struggle we women face is our tendency to become so encumbered by our daily tasks and obligations that we forget to really live.
- Imagine that you're going into a bookstore and you have an hour or two to browse and read at your leisure. Which three sections would you go to? Pick the first three that come to mind. Write them down. Now your challenge is to figure out how to create an exciting job, trip, hobby, or creative pursuit out of these three elements.
- Try to allow a bit of the unfamiliar into even the most comfortable lives.
- Spirituality is not about achieving enlightenment or mindlessly obeying a set of rules, but rather about looking for inner peace. It helps you understand your life experiences and give them meaning. It provides a way to take yourself out of your own head, so that you can delight in the smallest things.
- As we make our way through our 40s, many of the people we care most about - our parents, siblings, and close friends - also will be moving int a more advanced stage f life. ...They will pass away or they will fall ill, and we will transition into caretaking for them.
- Grieving is like learning how to swim: you don't know what to expect; you must feel for a long time as if you're drowning and will never be able to surface from the sadness or overwhelming sense of loss.
- Caretaking for our aging parents can prove a tremendous strain on our emotional health, our relationships with our family members, and our finances.
- Certainly among the most traumatic events of all, no matter what our relationship with them was like throughout our lives, are our parents' deaths. Of course, we all know that it is inevitable. The time will come when, in the natural order of things, we will watch our parents pass away. But their deaths can throw us completely off course when they happen. For the lucky ones, our parents represented home, safety, familiarity, love, and acceptance; and when they are gone, we feel unmoored.
- "Good grief" means allowing yourself to  be sad, to cry, to feel homesick, to get angry, to feel overwhelmed by loss, and to reach out to others. "Bad grief" means denying your emotions, or even getting angry or frustrated with yourself for feeling them. We are better served by giving ourselves time to sit with and deeply feel our emotions than by attempting to drown them in alcohol or suppress them altogether. Our bodies respond physiologically to the trauma of loss, and we need to respect that. We heal by embracing our grief with compassion and tenderness.
- It can be very helpful to think about how you'd like to channel your grief into making the world a better place.
- We can choose to share [our departed loved ones'] spirit with others through our own efforts. We can  carry the light and love and laughter of the people who have left this earth with us for the rest of our lives.
- As we grow older, aging itself is not the challenge. The challenge i how w approach the process. Having fortytude means realizing that while you can't control what happens to you, you can control your reactions to life's events.
- Age cannot be an excuse for abandoning your hopes and dreams. The bottom line is, the choice is yours.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Nature Photo of the Week - Week 34 - Circle

For this week's Nature Photo of the Week, I chose the theme "Circle." I didn't have too many pictures to choose from since much of the past week focused on catching up on things I needed to do following my mom's visitation, funeral, and burial from August 15th-21st.

So, I chose this image of a setting sun. It's not a great's difficult to see how truly beautiful the pale lavender and magenta sky was and how the entire circle of the sun was illuminated in the sky as it set.

This was the image at 6:48 p.m. as I pulled our driveway. Earlier that day, was my mom's visitation, funeral, and burial. The setting sun...kind of a closing chapter of the day (and my life)...felt like the most appropriate image of the week.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Nature Photo of the Week - Week 34 - Tradition

One of our favorite traditions during the summer is raising monarch butterflies. We have been doing this for many years now...since Sophia and Olivia were young girls.

This is the first monarch that we raised and released this season. It had rained the evening before and throughout the day. We gave this butterfly plenty of time to dry its wings and then waited for the rain to stop during the day before releasing it.

It seemed to enjoy these flowers a lot, and stayed there a long time. The vivid color of the monarch against the flowers made for an uplifting image on an otherwise dreary day.

This is the 34th picture for the Nature Photo of the Week. The theme was "Tradition."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Nature Photo of the Week - Week 33 - Energy

As I reviewed the photos that I took during the past week and the remaining themes for the Nature Photo of the Week challenge, I chose the word "Energy" as I looked as this uncapped frame from a beehive.

We were invited to go to Sophia's mentor's home to watch and participate in the honey extraction process. This is one of dozens and dozens of frames that Phil had uncapped. This one, like the others, is resting on a bar while the honey slowly drips from the frame.

After a batch of ten frames is removed from the extractor, this one and nine more frames will be next. The extractor spins the frames and the centrifugal force removes the honey from the frames.

We were able to taste the honey fresh from the frames once it was extracted. It was delicious! There is nothing that you can buy in the grocery store that compares to local honey.

Sophia and I are very excited to be able to extract honey next year from her hive. Hopefully it will be the start of a rewarding - and perhaps profitable - hobby that she can enjoy throughout her life.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Nature Photo of the Week - Week 32 - In My Hand

We were excited to find this big monarch caterpillar this week munching on milkweed. Normally, when we find caterpillars they are much smaller. The fact that this one survived in the wild for this long without getting eaten is amazing!

After observing it for some time, we placed it in our monarch raising container along with some milkweed leaves from our backyard. Soon we'll watch it transform itself into a chrysalis to a butterfly. It's always an awe-inspiring process to observe.

This is for the 32nd Nature Photo of the Week with the theme "In My Hand."