Blog

Seizing the Solar Eclipse: A Joyful Adventure in Austin with Felicia

Watching the Eclipse April 8, 2024
Watching the Eclipse April 8, 2024 in Austin

Solar Eclipse: An Epic Carpe Diem Experience

As the owner of Carpe Diem Day, I considered it a responsibility to “seize the day” and experience the great Solar Eclipse of 2024! There’d been so much hype and excitement about all the places in the United States that would be able to experience “totality” that I, along with millions, was eager to experience this wonder.

Even better than the solar eclipse, was that I was hosted by the most hospitable friend ever, Felicia! Felicia lives in Leander, TX, a suburb of Austin. While other viewers were spending beaucoup bucks on overpriced lodging, I was getting a priceless 5-star spa experience with a generous, fun, welcoming girlfriend!

Felicia serving empanadas to friends and family on National Empanada Day

The celebration started with a delicious lunch for friends and family. Without even knowing that April 8th is National Empanada Day, Felicia served her homemade empanadas! She’s an amazing cook and, obviously, has some kind of super-human powers. She’s like the Greek Goddess Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home. (Very appropriate since we’re in H-Weeks. More to come in upcoming H-Weeks blog post!)

Despite cloudy forecast, we see the eclipse throughout the afternoon!
Totality!
High tech and low tech viewing options!

The forecast had been 80-100% cloud coverage for Austin during the time of the eclipse, so I’d been prepared for a less-than-ideal viewing. As is often the case with these celestial events (or outdoor weddings), clouds or rain can be a major disappointment. As Alanis Morissette would say, “Isn’t it ironic?”

The flip side of that is, “Isn’t it amazing?” when the bad thing you expect, doesn’t happen? Still ironic, I guess, but in a positive way! I already knew that whatever the visibility would be, it would be a fun and memorable experience, but extra-special that the clouds parted throughout the day and during the couple of minutes of totality to give us all that “Wow!!” experience!

Walking & Wildflowers

Felicia and I amongst the bluebonnets

As a long-time student of Happiness, I know that two things that bump up my mood are walking and wildflowers! Add to that gorgeous weather and a good friend, and it’s the recipe for a perfect day!

The bluebonnets were out in full force – such a gorgeous indigo color. We saw them on our hikes in Leander and at Brushy Creek Lake Park.

But the real “Wow” factor with the Wildflowers was another serendipitous experience. When the LBJ Museum happened to be closed for construction, we stumbled upon the most beautiful wildflower drive ever: Willow City Loop!

I really wasn’t able to capture the extent of the beauty with my camera. All I can say is that we were absolutely hitting this beautiful haven at its peak!

Downtown Austin

Outside Austin’s Capital Building

Another one of my goals had been to visit every state capital. Even though this has been a rather dormant goal, my daughter-in-law had told me that I’d love Austin, so I was excited to have the opportunity to explore downtown with Felicia!

There a beautiful riverwalk with scenic bridges, parks, and skyscrapers in the background.

Austin River Walk

I absolutely LOVED the Austin library which seemed more like a museum than a library! There as an Art Gallery and Innovation Lab and even a Gift Shop!

Many “stories” in the Austin Library

There were many stories (I’m talking about floors!) with stairs throughout the building leading up, eventually, to a rooftop garden. Each floor was filled with artsy architecture and colorful designs. I could’ve easily spent the whole day exploring that magnificent library! I felt like a kid in a candy store!

Loved sampling the colorful unusual chairs!

“Keep Austin Weird” is Austin’s unofficial motto which is meant to be a call to support local businesses and indie efforts. The city does have a very unique and artsy charm to it that’s right up my alley.

Felicia’s Hospitality

Felicia and Jim

I met Felicia first, along with Eva and Georgette, through my good friend, Becky. We went on a Bird-Watching microadventure together in 2022.

Felicia has always been one to make me feel so welcome with her genuine warm smiles and openness. She’s in a new relationship with Jim, who shares these traits of warmth and thoughtfulness.

Jim both picked me up and dropped me off at the airport, was our driver for much of the week, and openly joined us in conversation and meals throughout the time I was visiting. They both are such a joy to be around, easily laughing and sharing their stories and wisdom.

Felicia (Goddess of Hearth and Home) has so many decorative touches in her home that I was going around taking pictures of everything from the soap to the vases, to the big, comfortable bed to the outdoor bathtub filled with flowers. Her home could be in any House Beautiful magazine.

But beyond the beauty of her home, Felicia has a gift in how she makes others feel. Her generosity and welcoming smile generate an immediate trust… someone you’d be ready to share your deepest secrets with.

A True Carpe Diem Experience!

Austin State Capital Building

In the end, my journey to witness the solar eclipse and explore Austin with Felicia was nothing short of magical. From the awe-inspiring sight of totality to the charming streets of downtown Austin, every moment was filled with a sense of joy and adventure.

I am deeply grateful to Felicia for her warmth, generosity, and friendship, which made this experience truly unforgettable. As I reflect on this visit, I’m reminded once again of the importance of seizing the day and celebrating the connections we make along the way. Here’s to embracing life’s moments, both big and small, with open arms and grateful hearts. Carpe diem!

Come join the discussion!

Share your own Solar Eclipse experiences or favorite “Carpe Diem” moments in the comments below or on the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Page!

G-Weeks: Goodness, Gardner, God and Groups

Websites Spreading Goodness

As we Gather to Give our Goodbyes to G-Weeks, I want to first Galvanize this Group by making you aware of websites spreading Goodness.

The homepage of CarpeDiemDay.Com lists a Group of Great Websites including:

I could Gush about the Gallery of Game-changing content in these Gazettes. They are Gems that remind us that the world is filled with Generosity and Goodness.

I discovered this Gift of G-Words as well as the Good Good Good Website itself, thanks to Google earlier this year! (This Gal is GaGa about Google!)

Gardner Park

Great Gal with her Gorgeous Greyhound

It’s always my Goal to have a microadventure celebrating my theme letter. For G-Weeks, my Groovy Gal-pal, Becky, aGreed to meet up at Gardner Park with her dogs, Jack and Carla.

Carla is a Gorgeous Greyhound who Galavants and Gallops at such speeds, you can’t help but Get Giddy! Go, Carla, Go!

Jack will also make you Giggle; his is more of a Geriatric Gait, his Gaze filled with Genuine Gumption.

G-Weeks Gathering

Besides a Dog Park, Gardner Park Garnered Gardens and a Gravity Swing. Even as a Grownup, I Glibly Glided down the Green track with Gusto.

We topped off the Gardner Gathering with Grapes, Gastronomy and Gabbing about Gifts and Gadgets at The Granary.

God’s Grace

On the weekends that I don’t write my Goofy alliteration blog posts, my Goal is to write something with more Gravitas. Last Sunday was Easter. I was able to attend a Gorgeous sunrise service at Holmes Beach.

Easter Sunrise Service on Holmes Beach

The final song they played at the service was Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with lyrics telling the Easter story. (I have a long history with the song, Hallelujah, which may be more appropriate to discuss during H weeks.)

Getting back to G’s, as tears came Gushing down my cheeks, I realized how intertwined Grief, Gratitude, and Grace are. That through our deepest Grief, God’s Grace promises us the Gift of eternal life.

I’m Guessing God, is Giving me a Gold star for my faithful revelation, though perhaps a Gaffe to be Goofing around, Going on about G-words. I mean G-sus! (God, I hope the fact that I didn’t spell His name right, makes it OK to say that.)

Groups

I am so Grateful for Groups and Gatherings and all the Goodness we Get to enjoy. The Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group was full of fun enGagement, as always.

I Geek-out on the Gibberish and GobbledyGook!

Geez!

R.R. Garcia Gave us Grasshoppers and Green Grass. Heidi shared a Glorious Gratitude Green photo.

Let’s Get out and Garden, Golf, or Goof-off for the weekend, as we say Goodbye to G-Weeks. Come Monday, it’s Hello to H-Weeks!

Visit Finland: Learning about Sisu

A week or so ago, my daughter-in-law forwarded me this article about a Happiness Hack initiative sponsored by Visit Finland.

Being the Happiness expert that I am, I’d heard that Finland had won the #1 Happiest Country award for the 7th year straight. However, I hadn’t been aware that they were giving away a free trip to Helsinki for 5 lucky winners!

The challenge was to create a video describing a Happiness Hack and why we should be selected.

My submission for the Helsinki Happiness Hacks Challenge

Happiness Hacks

I was very confident about the Happiness Hack portion of this challenge. Ever since 2010, Craig’s final year, I’ve been studying happiness! I’ve created more content about Happiness than any other topic, including a series of videos asking people what makes them happy.

My first “What Makes You Happy” video

Visit Finland: Find Your Inner Finn

But why should they select me to go to Finland? What could I learn by visiting Finland myself? What could I pass on to others? I decided I needed to find out more about how Finland was winning this #1 rating in Happiness year after year.

I found Visit Finland’s 2023 Happiness Masterclass: Find Your Inner Finn. This series of 5 videos is available to everyone for free. It describes the unique aspects of the Finland that sets the country and culture apart. (By the way, I added the link for Find Your Inner Finn to the CarpeDiemDay.com Landing Page.)

Each of the 5 videos in the Masterclass were Finnspirational, doing a deeper dive into Finland’s culture, environment, and traditions. The class that I was most interested in was the third in the series about Health and Balance.

The Finnish concept of Sisu

The third class in Visit Finland’s Happiness Masterclass was titled, “Fluxing with April Rinne.” April talked about the importance of trust, embracing change, and living with uncertainty. As an Agile coach, these are all concepts I’ve taught myself. When I went to connect with April in LinkedIn, I saw that, in fact, we have many shared connections in the Agile Leadership space.

However, the Finnish concept of Sisu was new to me. April described this as “the art of inner strength.” I did more digging on Sisu and learned what an important part it plays in Finnish culture.

It sounds like the closest translation in English is resilience. Here is a video interview I did with Nic Friedman about resilience in Season 3 of my Carpe Diem Connections podcast.

This concept of Sisu or resilience is so meaningful to me and so difficult to describe. When I think about it, I’m usually on the verge of crying… not out of sympathy, but out of admiration. Showing such amazing strength in the face of adversity is a heroic trait.

Finland’s Recent Tragedy

I spent the weekend falling in love with Finland. Last night I submitted my Helsinki Happiness Hacks video on TikTok. Though I know getting selected is a huge long shot, I learned a lot, so I have loved this challenge.

Then this morning, in my daily CNN newsletter I read about the school shooting that happened in Helsinki yesterday.

I felt a wave of shock, sadness, and grief. Even the world’s Happiest Country is hit with unfathomable sadness. Of course, any loss of life is tragic, but I can think of nothing sadder than an innocent child being killed in a school shooting.

In the midst of our happiness, we’ll experience hardships, tragedies, and challenges. I have faith that Finland, thanks to sisu, will remain strong through this and other hardships. They will remain a leader in World Happiness. They will help the rest of us to “Find our Inner Finn.”

Thank you, Visit Finland, for sponsoring this initiative. Thank you for all you’re doing to spread happiness throughout the world.


The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.

Walt Disney Company

2024: An Alphabet-Inspired Year

I recently made a case against the idea of an “Anti-Bucket List.” In that post, I wrote that I like to create a yearly project filled with “trivial” goals. This year my project seems less than trivial. It might be described as Dr.Seuss-level silly.

Every two weeks I use a letter of the alphabet to help provide prompts throughout the 2-week iteration. (My background as an Agile coach is showing itself, I know.)

Even though this sounds like an exercise from Kindergarten, I’m finding it unexpectedly fun. My 3 requirements are that I use the theme letter to:

1) Go on some kind of little adventure

2) Spark conversation in the Facebook Carpe Diem Connections Group and

3) Write a blog post annoyingly full of alliteration.

Though I started out being embarrassed at this very simple-minded project, I’m 6 iterations in now, and writing my letter-themed blog post has become an enjoyable creative writing exercise. I also really enjoy the Facebook banter and the theme-based microadventures.

This post will be my “Master” post placeholder that I’ll continue to add to throughout the year. I’m hoping this will keep me motivated to finish through those tough letters that come at the end of the alphabet!

A-Weeks: Alphabet Assists
B-Weeks: Bradenton Beach, Belonging and Being
C-Weeks: Connections and Companionship
D-Weeks: Dollar Tree, Death, and Dance
E-Weeks: Elderberries, Escape Room, Ego and Engagement
F-Weeks: Field Trips, Facebook Facilitation
G-Weeks: Goodness, Gardner, God, and Groups

F-Weeks: Field Trips, Facebook Facilitation, and Fun

As we Finalize F-Weeks and I reFlect, I’m Fired up about Fulfilling the goals of my self-assigned Framework. Three Functional Outputs? A Field Trip, Facebook Facilitation, and Finally, a Blog Post Filled with the Focus-Letter. Most importantly, the overall goal is to have Fun.

F-Weeks Field Trips

Free 5K Fun Runs Weekly at 99Bottles in Sarasota, Florida

My F-Weeks Field trip was a Free Five-K Fun Run in downtown Sarasota, Florida. Running a 5K each month is a 2024 Fitness goal, so this Field trip Functioned as a TwoFer, helping me Fulfill two goals at once.

Of course, F-Focused Field trips are inFinite when you’re in Florida, since you can simply count anything. I actually had a Fantastic time with a new Friend, Sue Ellen, seeing a musical perFormed at the freeFall theater in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 3rd.

Seeing Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater at freeFall Theater Company

Technically, I Engaged in this Excursion on the day Ending E-Weeks, so I inwardly Frowned upon it “counting” as my oFFicial F-Week Field Trip. It wouldn’t be Fair to my inner rule-Follower. But Field Trips with Friends are more Fun than those done alone. Because it was the Final day of E-Weeks, I Find in Favor of granting Extra Fine credit For this EFfy EdFenture.

Facebook Facilitation

Since Forming the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group, I have tried to Foster a Feeling of Fáilte. The Focus-letter has helped provide Fodder For prompts For Folly and Fotos.

Whether or not the discussion or posts are Filled with the Focus Letter is irrelevant. Of course, I love any creativity that comes From working in the theme letter. Let me Feature a Few examples.

Heidi posted an “F”emerol Fog Foto and Ron Filled the group with Fotos of Friendship, Flamingos, and Foxes.

John Fakes commented, “F is For Fakes,” to which I pointed out the Fallacy of Fakes News. (John Fakes is Funny and Full of… let’s call it Farts in honor of F-Weeks.)

Kelly posed the riddle:

Can you name an 8 letter word with 4 f’s?

Heidi immediately replied “niff-naff.” That was a new word (or is it a Frase?) For me (I love learning new words!) It reminded me of “riffraff” which Kelly said was the word he had in mind.

“F is for Famous: Who’s the most Famous person you’ve met?” resulted in Fascinating stories! My Favorite was from Elizabethe:

Dan Brown writer of Davinci code was at my Fortieth bday party, gave me a flawless bottle of fermented faber grapes from France. Everyone had to dress as their favorite feminist. I went as Zelda Fitzgerald. After I drank a glass, I fainted and my glass fell on his foot. Not a fabrication!

This Factual story of Feminist Fitzgerald in a Femme Fatale scenario with Famous Fiction-writer, Dan Brown, was Fantastic!

Mike Cohn, who I noted as my Favorite Famous person, worked in a 2nd-hand F-bomb to his answer:

Either Drake in a hotel in London or basketball player Bill Walton in the security line at the airport and then in the United Airlines lounge. I once met Lemmy of Motorhead deplaning in London but he told me to “F*** off” when I said hello.

There were more than a Few other Fabulous stories, most of them totally F’ed up in some creative way.

F-Weeks Fun: Flamingos, Flowers, and Frumples

Flowers Fill my Flamingo Vase

Even a Frugal Female like me can buy myself Flowers. (Duh, Miley!) I especially like to Fill my Flamingo vase with these pink tiger lilies with blooms resembling Flamingo Feathers.

Fruity Flip Flops in a Flamingo container

I’m a bit of a Flamingo Freak, and, as mentioned during E-Weeks, my Friends had the Foresight to gift me with Flamingo niFF-naFF. (HopeFully, I’m using this new word appropriately).

A new discovery: Frumples!

One of the most Fun things about my letter-play is when I Find something unexpected and new. There was a Female at a Farmer’s Market selling these Fanciful Frumples.

Frumple Founder, Paula Knudsen, told me her story and the Frumple story. They are not only a Fun Fashion-statement, but can help your Focus and energy.

Finally…

I Feel Fortunate to have Friends, Family, Faith, Fitness, and even Flamingos in my life. Despite Flatulence and Foolishness, I have Followers.. OK, maybe not Face to Face Followers. Maybe just a Few Followers.. Forget the Followers. I have Facebook. Farewell Fun F-Weeks!

Carpe Diem: Reframing the Bucket List

Bucket lists and goals are my thing. My alter ego is “Super Carpe Diem Woman” after all! I’m all about Seizing the Day! That’s why it was a bit upsetting for me to see one of my weekly newsletters touting “The Rise of the Anti-Bucket List.”

Super Carpe Diem Woman
Super Carpe Diem Woman Leading the Walk to Defeat ALS in Honor of Craig Dunham

The first trigger was the “Anti-” prefix. I immediately wanted to write a post about how I was “Anti-Anti-Bucket Lists.” Whenever I hear anyone saying they’re Anti-anything, my devil’s advocate pipes right up, ready to argue. (Well, unless we’re talking about watching “Auntie Mame” which just happens to be on my March Bucket List.)

After reading the AARP article that originally describes the case for an Anti-Bucket List, I realized the author’s notion of “bucket list” is totally different from my own.

“My bad year had taught me a lot, and probably chief among those things is that there’s much to be said for ordinary life. So I suggest you put the bucket list in the shredder. Do what I’ve done: Create an anti-bucket list. It’s easy. Plane travel? It’s over. Anything you watch on shows like The Amazing Race or Survivor — forget it. Things that might cause stress or fear or make your back ache? Getting up too early or staying out too late? Why? Really, why?”

Stephen Randall, AARP
 

While I respect and understand the author’s point of view, I have a different opinion about two of his reasons for promoting an anti-bucket list. In my quite passionate opinion:

  1. An ordinary life is FULL of Bucket List-worthy items!
  2. We’re happier when we focus on what we want to do instead of what we will never do again.

Bucket Lists are not just about lofty adventures

A bucket list is meant to be a list of things you want to do before you die. It absolutely doesn’t need to be about travel or challenging goals. It can be about relationships, health, learning or anything! A bucket list is going to be different for every person. The key is to figure out what YOU want to do in this lifetime. Then, do it! Or move towards it. Enjoy the journey!

I executed a 60 Until 60 List the 60 weeks leading up to my 60th birthday. I treated this kind of like a Bucket List that I wanted to complete by age 60 rather than “before I die”. The whole “before I die” deadline is too uncertain. (As a project manager, I’d never accept that!)

I much prefer Yearly Projects filled with rather trivial goals designed to bring joy and happiness into my life. And when I’m happy, the people I love are happier, too.

In 2022, I had a Year of Microadventures, which turned out to be better than a Bucket List for me. Anything could be a “Microadventure.” My only rules were that I had to do something with someone else and blog about it.

Last year was my Year of Learning, which included my quest to become an AARP Benefits Badass!

My goals and Microadventures include quotidian experiences. I very much enjoy finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Reading a book, walks in the park, indulging in a Netflix series with my son – these are not typical “bucket list items.” However, by being intentional about having an experience, particularly with someone else, and writing about it, I’m creating invaluable memories.

Focus on what you want to do

Stephen Randall’s argument for an anti-bucket list is that it gives us a way to say ‘no more’ to things we don’t want to do. Sure, we shouldn’t let our friends (or our own inner-critics) guilt or pressure us into doing things we don’t really want to do!

I absolutely agree with listening to our gut when we are setting our goals, whether those be on a bucket list or a weekly to-do list. One of the greatest things about being retired is that we have full autonomy of how we choose to spend our time.

As we age, we find there are things we no longer want to do. There may be things on our bucket list that no longer seem realistic.

Randall lists traveling on a plane, things that cause us stress or fear, and getting up early or staying out late as items for his anti-bucket list.

Being self-aware of both what you want to do and what you don’t want to do with your time is awesome. However, I suggest our mood responds much more favorably to anticipating something we want to do, rather than declaring what we won’t be doing.

Rather than declaring we won’t be traveling on a plane, why not have goals to have a staycation, scope out the local farmer’s market, or invite your neighbor out for coffee at that new place on the corner?

Facing Mortality

My passion for a “Carpe Diem” Lifestyle is primarily fueled from my experience in watching Craig Dunham, a friend who died from ALS in 2010.

As he lost his ability to speak, walk or move, he kept adapting, taking pleasure in whatever he could still do. That courage and strength still fills me with such admiration. The day I realized he couldn’t pick up the phone and tell his kids he loved them, was the day I realized how very much I take for granted.

There’s an infinite list of things we will not do in our lifetime, either because we don’t have the time, the money, the ability, or simply don’t want to! Why spend any time thinking about those things?

Instead, let’s fill our days with doing the things we want to do. Whether they are big, lofty goals or simply picking up the phone to say, ‘I love you,’ let’s continue to intentionally live our best lives.

E-Weeks: Elderberries, Escape Room, Ego and Engagement

Even though I initially felt a sense of Ennui about my alphabet-inspired Endeavors, thEEse wEEks have been EEsy. Sure, it’s a bit Embarrassing that it’s such an Elementary Exercise, but without Exception, I Encounter some Enigmatic Energy that I’ll try to Explain.

The Elderberries

Entertaining Elderberries

E-Weeks began on February 26, which was also Carpe Diem Day and my 64th birthday! I Entertained the “Elderberries” (a very Educated, Enthusiastic and Encouraging group of Elders).

They came bearing Edibles (no, not that kind) and Enchanting and Esoteric gifts fitting of my Eccentric and Eclectic tastes.

An Example! (Flamingos and Flip-Flops Fitting For F-Weeks!)

I was Enamored with Everything they brought and Excited by the Eeezy-going Energy of these Erudite women.

Escape Room Experience

Intense Escape

Besides these Exasperating blog posts, my goal has been to Emulate my 2004 Experience and have at least one Excursion related to the celebrated letter.

An Escape Room would be perfect for E-Weeks, but Escape Rooms are not Entertaining when you go alone. I challenged myself to Exit my comfort zone and invite someone.

I got my chance when Steve, who I’d met on the cruise , offered to take me out to Eat. He accepted my invitation to join me Early for an Escape Room Experience.

We picked the “Buried Alive” Experience, which was a bit Eerie because we were Enclosed in adjoining caskets. There was an Emergency button in case we needed to Exit Early, but we Endured and Escaped on our own.

The Enlightened Ego

I was also Excited to buy and start “The Enlightened Ego” by Kelly Beninga.

I bought the E-Book version and I’m listening via the Alexa app on my walks. Enlightenment, Ego, and Emotions are all topics I Embrace.

I don’t know if you’d call it an Existential crisis, but I’ve been Examining my life and this was an Excellent opportunity to Explore these topics.

My Eloquent Elderberry friend writes:

Ego Evolution! Existential Explanations Exhort Everyone to Enjoy Everlasting Equanimity and Eventual Ecstasy.

Elderberry, Becky Burns

Kelly also Emcee’s the “You’re Retiring – Now What?” Events I attend. I Endorse all of his Entrepreneurial Efforts.

Engagement Energy

unEquivocally, the Energy I most Enjoy is the Engagement from others.

Examples from the Carpe Diem Connections Facebook group are Equally Entertaining and Endearing.

The group has talked about the upcoming Eclipse and Eva posted an Extraordinary photo of an Eye of an Enormous Elephant!

I was Elated when VIP contributor, RRG, reminded me that we had yet to mention Easter Eggs!

E is for Easter Eggs

I was Especially Elevated by the Easter Eggs reminder. For one thing, we’re in Easter Season. Easter Eggs are colorful, spiritual treasures and symbols of rebirth and life. And Easter Eggs can also mean hidden puzzles or secret messages.

EGAD – That gave me a burst of the Enigmatic Energy I’ve been trying to Explain.

In the midst of life’s Emotional highs and lows, we’ll Encounter the Easter Eggs that bring us joy. Could this be the Existential Explanation I was searching for? Exalt in the Easter Eggs! They’re Everywhere!

As we End these E’sy Weeks, let’s Envision the next two weeks. F is going to be F’ing Fantastic!

Solo Cruising: The Golden Love Boat!

The Golden Love Boat Experience!

Solo Cruising turned out to be awesome!

I want to pitch a new reality show: The Golden Bachelor/Bachelorette Meets The Love Boat. Or maybe “Love is Old” instead of “Love is Blind”?

Because you know what? Old is “in”! There were lots of attractive, fun people who were older than me on this cruise. I hope to some day be like my friend, Patsy, who’s gorgeous and sexy at age 90.

These days, we are aging like fine wine!

I’m still a young sexagenarian! (Gotta take advantage of that sexy sexagenarian label while it applies.) We’re the babies of the Baby Boomers.

Certainly there were sexy people, both younger and older than me in our solos group. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve redefined what “sexy” means to me.

Finding “Love” while Solo Cruising

Once I stopped looking for a husband, the singles scene became a lot less intimidating. I realized the “sexiest” people were the ones with the sweetest smiles, not the ones with the best bodies.

I’ve found so many loving friendships once I stopped focusing on romantic attraction. Everyone has a story. Whatever their age or gender, their race, religion or sexual orientation, who cares? If they’re different from me, they’re someone who can teach me a different perspective.

But I have to admit, it’s a special kind of fun to be around good-looking single men. I have so much baggage around “dating” that I’d pretty much given up on it. But definitely there’s an exciting energy when that spark of romantic interest hits.

Loving Lika

Yes, it was nice to have that “Wow! You’re super sexy!” feeling. Our young, female Solo coordinator, Lika, was sexy in every definition of the word. I think everyone was in love with her!

We all love Lika!

I was especially envious of Lika’s dance moves and tried to talk the group into doing a private song to the tune of “Moves Like Jagger.” I thought it would be fun for us all to try and do our “sexy moves” while we were singing:

I got the moves like Lika

I got the moo-oo-ooves like Lika

Loving the Solos

There also was a feeling of ‘group love’ for the new friendships, and an admiration for all who got out living life fully, regardless of any limitations! (That’s my whole “Carpe Diem” thing, ya know.)

I appreciated the younger solos, particularly Trish and Zach, who treated those of us who were much older, as peers, including on the dance floor.

Young Zach dances “When I’m 64” for my birthday

Trish shot this video of Zach dancing with me to my birthday song, “When I’m 64.” I was happily surprised at her “Carpe Diem” Birthday shout out to me as she was shooting this video.

As much as I loved dancing and the group dinners, I especially liked talking one-on-one and learning more about people. I heard a lot of “Carpe Diem Hero” stories – People who have been through huge hardships, but don’t let that stop them from smiling and living life fully.

Not all “solos” were “single.” Some had partners at home who couldn’t travel with them. That was another reason that the “solos” group was not nearly as awkward as the “singles” scene.

I knew I was hoping just to find people to sit with at meals….people to look out at the ocean with and say, “Isn’t that beautiful?”…People to laugh with, play with, and dance with.

There was no expectations for future communication, but I was happy that there was a sheet that was passed around on the last day for us to share contact information.

And (even though I really don’t like to share information about my dating life on this blog), I will let inquiring minds know that my favorite solo lives in Orlando and is taking me out for a birthday dinner on Saturday!

Loving the Locals and the Sloths!

Another “love story” I’ve been having fun with is my love of this adorable sloth.

Sloth Love
Sloth Love

In this blog post, I tell the story of Charlene Dilbert, a local tour guide who helped me with Spanish and gave me a little taste of how the locals live in Roatan, and introduced me to this sweet sloth.

It was such a fun experience to practice Spanish, hug a sloth, and make a new friend from Honduras!

Solo Cruising Summary

Cruising isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of eating, drinking, and sunshine – all things I love, but should avoid in excess. Some friends think cruising is too inactive. That hasn’t been a problem for me. I get plenty of exercise dancing!

However, for me, the best thing about any trip or vacation is sharing it with people I love. That’s why it was so stressful for me to think about doing this vacation alone.

I’m not saying it’s easy to find romantic love from solo cruising, but if you are intentional about reaching out, you will find people to love. Not to mention, adorable sloths!

Best Roatan Experience Ever: Spanish and Sloths!

Sloth Love
Sloth Love

If you’re learning Spanish and like cute, cuddly animals, I highly recommend adding this Roatan experience to your bucket list!

Speaking Spanish with a Local

For the past 5 years, I’ve been learning Spanish and wanting to practice in a Spanish-speaking country by taking an annual winter trip. Even though I feel very empowered and independent when I go alone, I’m lonely… and also scared about venturing out by myself. I’m clueless and very directionally challenged even in the States, so… I thought this year I’d get my “speak Spanish with natives” goal accomplished via a cruise excursion.

When I checked the cruise ship options for excursions in Honduras, none of them included “speak Spanish with locals.” They also were very “touristy” and high-priced.

I decided to see if I could find an option myself and asked a port-side vendor (Victor Bodden Tours) if a driver could help me with my Spanish while giving me a driving tour of the “real” Roatan. He told me it would cost $80 and the driver would take me wherever I wanted to go for as long as I wanted.

“I’ll take it!” I said. A private tour and Spanish tutor for $80 for as long as I want? That’s better than any of those high-priced excursions from the ship!

Mi Maestra y Amiga Nueva: Charlene Dilbert

CD - Charlene Dilbert
Ask for Charlene Dilbert for a personal driver and Spanish tutor.

The taxi-driver’s name was Charlene Dilbert with a CD on her business card! Is that a Carpe Diem sign or what? I’m all about the CD!

Charlene (“Charlie”) was an excellent Spanish teacher. She spoke slowly and didn’t constantly correct my many mistakes. Instead she made sure I understood and if I didn’t, she repeated slowly or used easier vocabulary.

She also gently encouraged me to speak in Spanish. If I lapsed into English, she’d say, “En Español?” with a smile on her face.

Charlie with her Aunt
Tia y Charlie

Charlie told me about herself and her family as we drove. She introduced me to her Aunt and showed me the oldest school in Roatan.

She showed me the houses that were up in the hills that Americans and expats lived in as well as where the locals lived.

Charlie is a single mother and I asked her about the economy, tourism, and her job. She admitted that she had a long commute and some days she didn’t get any work.

I told her that some of the people on the cruise ship warned against taking anything but the cruise excursions, saying they might be dangerous for a single woman. She was frustrated by that, telling me that while some parts of the country are dangerous, tourists are safe. The tourism business is extremely important to the economy, so they don’t need to worry when using a reputable vendor like Victor Bodden Tours.

I asked her if the locals ever did the tourist activities.

Charlie: “Oh no. Those activities are way too expensive.”

Me: “Do locals want to do any of the tourist activities?”

Charlie: “Well, it would be a dream to show my son the dolphins, but that costs $100 and there are more important things to spend $100 on.”

Me (very excited): “Oh, if you take me to an ATM, I can give you a $100 tip and then you can take your son to see the dolphins!”

Charlie (visibly surprised): “Are you sure? You would do that?”

Me: “Yes! This private tutoring session and tour is absolutely worth it. You’re a very high-value teacher!”

So, our next stop was the ATM, which was a bit of an adventure in itself. It was a good thing Charlie was with me or else I think I would have been stuck with much more Honduran Lempira than I wanted. I also couldn’t figure out how to get out of the ATM booth! Embarrassing!

Charlie said she wanted to wait until it was off-season to see the dolphins, and, of course, I don’t mind how she spends the money. It felt so good to make her happy.

I told her I’d spread the word about her wonderful service. If you’re reading this, help me pass it on. Charlene Dilbert is the taxi-driver to ask for!

Victor’s Monkey and Sloth Sanctuary!

We still had plenty of time before I needed to be back on the cruise ship, and Charlie asked if I wanted to go to a park where I could see the sloths and monkeys.

I’d been to a park in Costa Rica where there were monkeys, so I imagined it would be like that. It ended up being much better! These were animals we could actually interact with!

Monkeying around

Macaws
I love this cuddly sloth!

I asked Charlie to join me in the park and she, once again, was pleased, telling me no other clients had ever invited her to join them. “Necesito mi maestra!” I assured her!

I’d never realized how adorable and cuddly sloths are! It’s like they have a permanent smile on their faces. I was instantly in love with this baby.

(I wanted to take him home, but my friends warned me the interspecies relationship would never be accepted. So true.)

Bucket List-Worthy Goals

Even though I’ve pretty much done everything I’d planned on my bucket-list, I did two unplanned things that I’d encourage anyone one to consider:

  1. Hug a Sloth
  2. Make Friends with a Local When Visiting a Foreign Country

Carpe Diem!

D-Weeks: Dollar Tree, Death, and Dance

My Carpe Diem Logo

It’s D-Weeks so let’s Carpe ‘D’em!

It’s a Coincidental Delight that in this Alphabet Inspired Year, C and D-Weeks fall in February when we celebrate Carpe Diem Day. I was going to try and have this whole blog post be full of CD stuff, like Corn Dogs, Carbon Dioxide, Compact Discs and Cognitive Decline. But those were the only CD phrases I Could Drum up, so I Decided to Double Down on D’s which is this week’s Designated letter after all.

D-Weeks: Dollar Tree

Decorations

Since this week was Valentine’s Day, I Deliberately Drove to Dollar Tree, where I had no Doubt that there’d be Dozens of Deals. The Decorations were Dizzying.

DIY Supplies

Next I visited the DIY aisle where I believe I might have Drooled at all the DooDads on Display. Just Dreaming about the Dates I’d get after Delivering my DIY Valentines filled me with Desire. (Do you Detect Delusion?)

Delicious Deals

Delicious Deals were on Display, tempting me like the Devil! Delectable Desserts and Delicacies just waiting to be Devoured.

D-Weeks: Death

I Don’t know if it’s too Dark to Drag Death into this D-Post. I admit, I’ve been Down in the Dumps at the Death of a Dear friend. It feels Disrespectful to Disregard the Depth of Depression that comes with such loss, Dallying with D’s.

Though it’s a bit Dotty, it’s also Distracting to Do this Drill. My Carpe Diem Superhero friend, would Discourage me from Denying the Dork Deep within. “Don’t ‘Delay! Do the ‘Dee’d for D-Weeks,” she’d Declare!

D-Weeks: Dance

Disco Dancing

We have one more week to Demonstrate Dedication to the letter D. I will be Departing on Sunday for a 7-Day Cruise. It’s Disappointing that none of the Designated ports start with the letter ‘D’ (On second thought, who would want to get D-ported?)

We Don’t need to Decry Defeat, because I plan to Dance to Demonstrate my Devotion to the letter D! In fact, I’m posting a Disco Dance vi’Dee’o that I made During CoviD. In fact, I’d like to Declare it a CoviDeo.

I’ll Depart with one of my favorite Carpe Diem songs: Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance.