March Learning: Doing Taxes in Retirement: Can’t We Ask Siri?

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/tax-documents-on-the-table-6863183/

AI Apps can do everything! Why not do our taxes?

AI Apps are all the rage these days. They can even write poetry!

But you know what they can’t do? Our taxes!

Why, in this day and age, do we not have an app to do our taxes? Yeah, I know about Turbo tax and all the other software out there, but even using the tools, taxes are so unbelievably complicated! At least for me.

This month, my goal was to learn more about managing my money in retirement. My “deliverable” was to do my own taxes.

When I retired a few years ago, I was very intentional about only wanting to spend time on activities that brought me joy. Doing my taxes does NOT bring me joy, so I had been continuing to delegate that task to my accountant.

However, I have plenty of time now and this year my theme is continuous learning. March 2023 would be dedicated to learning more about money and by the end of the month I’d have my taxes done.

Learning about taxes in retirement

Even though doing my own taxes this year was very frustrating, I’m glad I persevered. Here are some of the benefits and things that worked well about doing my taxes myself:

  • Now I am much more aware of what deductions I can make so I will do better at record-keeping and should be able to lower my tax bill going forward.
  • I’ll save the money I was spending on an accountant.
  • I was able to exercise my brain (something that I need more of, now that I’m retired.)
  • I ended up using Turbo Tax because the service included access to accountants who could step me through the tricky questions and double-check things for me. It was nice to have that service, but I don’t think I’ll need it for future years.
  • I also went to a seminar at the library and learned more about Social Security and Medicare benefits and how those would be affected by taxes. (I just turned 63 and I’m not collecting Social Security yet, but trying to understand all the tax implications now.)

Playing with AI is more fun than doing taxes in retirement

What did NOT work well for me about doing my taxes is that I really procrastinated working on them. I also did not spend nearly the amount of time learning about money management that I wanted to this month.

There are plenty of resources – podcasts, books, Websites, courses, etc. that are available to help us manage our money in retirement. I was planning on really digging in, but I did the bare minimum to get my taxes done.

One of my distractions was all these new tools and apps that use AI. They are super-cool and impressive! I couldn’t believe that the tools could write blog posts and poems in just a few seconds! It was amazing and also… sort of depressing. Blogging and poetry are two of my only creative outlets.

Experimenting with AI – Poems about Doing Taxes

When I was procrastinating with doing my taxes and experimenting with AI, I asked an app called “Chatster” and Google’s “Bard”, to “Write a poem about doing taxes.” Though they aren’t too bad, I think I could do better.. but I’ll save that for another day.

This is what they came up with:

Chatster poem:

Taxes, oh taxes, a dreaded chore

A task that I cannot ignore.

With forms and receipts, I must prepare,

To ensure that I pay my fair share.

I gather all my documents.

And sort through every cent,

Calculating what I owe,

And what I may get back, you know.

I enter numbers line by line,

And hope that I don’t make a mistake this time.

For the IRS is ever watchful,

And mistakes can be quite costly, so I’m mindful.

But as I finally hit submit,

A sense of relief begins to hit.

For though it may have been a pain

I know that I have done my duty as a citizen.

Bard poem:

Taxes, oh taxes,

How I hate thee!

Let me count the ways.

I hate the way you make me feel,

Like I’m being robbed of my hard-earned money.

I hate the way you make me spend hours filling out forms,

When I could be doing something more productive.

I hate the way you make me feel like I’m always being watched,

Like I’m never free from the government’s grasp.

But most of all, I hate the way you make me feel like I’m not good enough,

Like I’m not contributing my fair share.

But even though I hate you, taxes,

I know I need you.

You’re the price we pay for living in a proper society.

So I’ll do my taxes,

And I’ll grumble about them,

But I’ll know that they’re necessary.

And maybe, just maybe,

One day I’ll even learn to love you.

Freelance Writing in Retirement

Freelance Writing is a good way to get some supplemental income in retirement.

Amber Petty Will Teach You How to Get Freelance Writing Gigs

Benefits of Freelance Writing in Retirement

In my last blog post, Blogging in Retirement, I wrote:

If you have expertise in a niche domain you might be able to make money by writing or blogging on an established site.

What does being “retired” really mean? I view it as a time when we no longer have to “work” in order to earn living expenses. Yet, surprisingly, there’s a lot about work that I miss!

I think when we’re in the midst of work stress (office politics, long days, boring tasks, pressure to perform) we fantasize about how wonderful retirement will be. And it is! Most of the time.

But if you’re like me, you want challenge! You don’t want all that expertise and knowledge you’ve gained over the years to go to waste!

Writing about your expertise in retirement has multiple benefits:

  • You can get a little income (always fun to have a ‘splurge’ fund!)
  • You can share your knowledge, providing guidance to others.
  • You can continue to learn what’s new in your field of expertise, which will help you stay relevant in your field.
  • You can foster connections with others who share your passions, interests, and skills.
  • You can improve your writing skills.

Write What You Know!

I kind of fell into my freelance writing gigs because back in 2009, I blogged a lot about my field of work (Agile Software Development and Quality Assurance). Exciting, right? I’d gotten laid off from my highly paid QA Manager job. Uggh! This was a terrible time to be laid off! So many of us tech managers were unemployed and it was very difficult to land a new job!

However, a leads group suggested blogging about your expertise in order to increase your credibility and Web presence.

Actually, that blog landed me a job as a Site Editor for an ePublication, SearchSoftwareQuality.com. It turned out to be the lowest paying job I’ve ever had, yet provided the highest professional development of my entire career.

Not only was I able to learn from and network with the best thought-leaders in the industry, I learned more about freelance writing. I was a writer as well as the editor, so I was the one deciding on which articles to accept. And at the same time I was able to keep up with trending topics in Agile Software Development and QA.

Once I went back to a corporate management position, I was able to continue freelance writing as a side-gig.

Getting Started with Freelance Writing – Amber Petty

I was lucky to find the right contacts years ago and know who to go to when I’m up for a “work-related” writing challenge. But it’s much more fun to write creatively! (That’s why I love blogging!) Could I actually get paid for writing about an interest rather than my career expertise?

Curious about how someone new might approach freelance writing, I attended Amber Petty’s free workshop, Write Your Pitch in 30 Minutes. I’d heard about the Workshop from my good friend and fellow writer, Becky, who described Amber as the “BOMB-diggity!”

I was dazzled by Amber and her style! She’s a student of Improv (another one of my wannabe skills) and I just love her bold look and personality. Her writing style’s so entertaining that I even look forward to her marketing emails! (Now that’s a rare talent!)

I’ve been to a lot of these free webinars and I know they always end with an ask to join a longer class. Even though I feel very confident that I could do this on my own, I was tempted to join the 10-week class because I liked Amber so much.

The free workshop was informative and included a valuable spreadsheet with 250 leads of publications accepting pitches!

Amber’s generous heart shines through in the workshop and in the personal interactions she’s had with Becky. Her energy and authenticity are contagious.

So even though I’m holding off on the 10-week class, I’m keeping Amber on my radar. My sense of people (usually spot on) tells me Amber is someone to be trusted to provide high value. If you’re getting started with Freelance Writing, her site is a must.

Note: I don’t get any Affiliate Link credit for recommending Amber. I just agree with Becky… She’s the BOMB-diggity!

February Learning: Blogging in Retirement

Blogging in Retirement

2023 Project: Focused Learning in Retirement

My 2023 Project is to do some focused learning each month. In January, my focus was about Finding Purpose in Retirement, and in February it has been about Blogging in Retirement. In March, it’s going to be about Financials in Retirement.

I’m using the “in retirement” addendum because I’m learning that learning in retirement is a lot different than learning in school or at work. It really requires self-discipline. No one is holding me accountable except myself. I’m the only one who really cares if I complete these learning goals. There are no grades or certifications, accolades, or recognition. (That is, unless I choose to take a class or program that gives those things. )

However, part of my process is to hold myself accountable by writing a blog post about what I learned, so.. that’s what I’m doing now!

Making Money Blogging in Retirement

I’m a very experienced blogger. I love technology and have been interested in blogging and social media platforms and tools since they’ve been in existence. I’ve been blogging personally and professionally since 2005. Here are a few of the personal blogs I’ve created:

My Carpe Diem Life: My personal blog about love and relationships

Happier at Work: Part of a passion project to bring more happiness to the workplace

Who Gives a Twit: A Blog about Social Media

Carpe Diem Coaching: This is a free WordPress.com blog that I actively used in 2009 and 2010 for career networking and growth

These blogs were all created for free and were very easy to maintain. You don’t need to be a techie to create or write a blog.

However, it is very difficult to make money from blogging when you’re just doing it as a hobby using free blogging software. You can put ads on your site, but the payout is so small and the market has gotten so competitive that, unless you have a very big following, you’re not going to make much money this way.

That being said, if you have expertise in a niche domain you might be able to make money by writing or blogging on an established site.

I’m a freelance writer for TechBeacon and write articles about Agile technologies for them, which is an excellent way to make some extra cash and still keep current.

Other Ways to Make Money Blogging

Besides ads or freelance writing for established profitable businesses, many entrepreneurs make money with their blogs with Affiliate links or by using their blogs as a marketing platform to sell other products or services that they provide.

Since I have a background in coaching, training and writing, I’ve thought this blog might be a good opportunity for me to build a big network and that some day it might set me up to market a book, course, or do some freelance coaching.

The thing is, the market is saturated with people trying to gain attention with their eBooks, newsletters, Webinars, and other offerings. It’s very difficult to be competitive unless you dedicate time and resources to really gaining followers. Most entrepreneurs that are successful with this have virtual assistants and high-priced offerings.

Can Older Women Make Money Blogging offers up an optimistic point of view and I don’t want to be discouraging. However, I’ve realized for myself, that I don’t want to invest the time and money it would take to be competitive.

Blogging as a Hobby in Retirement

Even though I’d like to put CarpeDiemDay on the map, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like the time I spend on this blog to be much more of a hobby than a job. In retirement, I’m very conscious about wanting to limit my screen-time.

On the first page of Carpediemday.com I have links to wonderful Websites and blogs that promote the messages I believe in. There’s no need for me to try and reinvent the wheel.

Blogging might be a good way to network and find others with common interests. This was especially true for me with professional networking. In retirement, not so much. Though it’s still a good avenue for making virtual connections, maybe because there are so many social media networks available to us now, I think there are better ways to make friends and connections.

For me, the real benefit of blogging in retirement is that it gives me some purpose. I like the accountability of writing something at least once a week. If I can post something of value, all the better.

What I Learned about Blogging

This month I learned a lot more about WordPress and Plug-ins such as Yoast. I learned techniques to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) so that I might increase traffic to my site.

I was reminded I need to target an audience. (This is another reason I’m using the “in Retirement” suffix more.)

I also learned more about the many tools available to create newsletters, create a brand, and monitor traffic.

Conclusions

After being the recipient of “Carpe Diem Day” as a 60th birthday present 3 years ago, I had felt self-imposed pressure to get a lot of followers on this site.

I still would like this site to act as my legacy. (Stella has agreed to maintain it after I die.)

I still would like to blog weekly, following some of the blogging practices that I learned about this month around readability, SEO, and adding value to a targeted audience.

However, I would like its primary purpose to promote others and the other sites who are spreading messages about living life to the fullest. Yay!

January Learning: Finding Purpose in Retirement

Watching a sunrise or sunset will inspire awe and might help us with finding purpose in retirement.

Finding purpose in retirement was one of my January goals.

I’m a bit obsessed with self-help literature. My self-appointed retirement “job” is to be as healthy and happy as possible. All the positive psychology literature says that “purpose” is very important.. kind of a pre-requisite to happiness and health! In fact, I keep reading articles about how having purpose is instrumental in longevity. It’s come up over and over again as one of the most important factors for health and happiness.

Anyway, I admit, my purpose has been kind of sketchy lately. If I split life into 5 different 20-year segments, I’d say my purpose was/is/will be:

  • Years 0-20: School / Learning
  • Years 21-40: Good Mother / Job / Good Wife
  • Years 41-60: Good Mother / Job / Look for new Husband
  • Years 60-80: Play?!?
  • Years 80-100: TBD

Yes, I’ve been doing a LOT of playing in these retirement years when no one is dependent on me. We’re down to the final 40 years of life and I didn’t do nearly enough playing in the first 60. (Maybe that’s why I never found that new husband…)

But I digress…

Besides “playing,” I do find purpose during these retirement years in accomplishing goals. It helps me to have a Yearly Project, such as my 2022 Year of Microadventures.

My 2023 project is focused on Learning. I plan to take a class each month and be very focused and engaged, finding opportunities to apply what I’m learning to my life. My topic for January was Purpose.

Coursera Course for finding purpose

I started by taking this Coursera Class: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life.

Finding Purpose in Retirement through Coursera Class: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life

Unlike the usual way I take Coursera classes (which is to listen to a couple of videos and then never finish the whole course because I get distracted by tons of other things) I stayed focused! I was super-intentional about doing the readings, listening to the videos, doing the exercises, and even participating in the forums. I was very purposeful about taking this course on purpose. (Yup, pun intended.)

Books for finding purpose in retirement

I also read 3 excellent Self-Help Books that addressed purpose:

Finding Purpose in Retirement from reading “The Power of Meaning”

Stella loaned me this book and it’s probably the first self-help book that I read cover to cover. (I’m always so motivated in January to meet my goals!)

The book split Meaning into Four Pillars: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling, and Transcendence. I had a lot of “ah ha” moments and very deep reflections about the meaning of life. Way too much for this blog post that I’m trying to write fast since it’s the last day of January.

Finding Purpose in Retirement by reading The Book of Joy, the book chosen for the One Book, One Boulder Program

Wow! This is an amazing book! I saw that the Boulder Library was looking for people to lead a Book Circle with their One Book One Boulder Program, so I signed up! I’ll be blogging more about this so stay tuned!

Finding Purpose in Retirement by reading, “Los Cuatro Acuerdos” – The Four Agreements in Spanish!

The third self-help book I’m re-reading (but this time in Spanish!) is Los Cuatro Acuerdos (The Four Agreements) by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is a classic! I’m reading it with my friend, Cathy, so we’re having both a Spanish-practice session as well as being reminded of these Four Agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

Spirituality

One common thread in a lot of the literature about purpose is belief in something greater than ourselves. I’m a Christian, but admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in church since Covid began.

I started a new Sunday morning tradition to get up to see the sunrise, take a long walk along the beach, and then go to a church service.

The Awe of a Sunrise
Finding purpose in Retirement: The Feeling of Awe from watching the sun rise

It’s funny that the first morning I did this, I listened to a random podcast in my queue and it was Dacher Keltner talking about the Power of Awe! He even mentioned a sunrise!

Finding Purpose in Retirement: The Harvey Memorial Community Church

Walking distance from Leffis Key in Bradenton Beach where I watch the sunrise is this little community church that I attended last Sunday. The congregation was welcoming (I was the only new member!) and the Reverend was an excellent (very funny!) speaker.

Summary

This blog post has already gotten long so I won’t try to recapture all that I learned about finding purpose and meaning in this short summary. I will tell you, though, that many times when I reflected on the wise words of these teachers, authors, and speakers, I was moved to tears.

Life, and the meaning we bring, is such a mystery. It’s easy to think none of what we do matters.. we all die..

But what we do now, while we’re alive, will matter to the other people who are alive now. And what we do now will influence others, who will in turn influence future generations.

I guess what it all boils down to is love. I started the year thinking my purpose was “to be as happy and healthy as possible” but I’m going to update it to this: My purpose is to love.

2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvy #1: Robinson Preserve

Yvy (pronounced “Evie”) and BB at Robinson Preserve

Last year I blogged at least once a week about my Microadventures. This year I’ve been going with “Healthy Aging” as my loosey-goosey theme. I’ve also thought about blogging each week about someone I admire. I can do a twofer with this post by blogging about Becky and how she contributes to my brain health!

Healthy Aging

One thing that’s super-important for healthy aging and brain health is having good friends. Having new experiences is also great for the brain, so new experiences with good friends is like a double-dose of brain food!

During my snowbird months while I’m in Bradenton, FL, I’ve wanted to get into a routine. My best and very wise friend in the area is Becky Burns. We are both busy with our various projects, but I asked Becky if we could have a weekly get-together while I was in Florida. I love weekly rituals and rather than comparing calendars every week, it’s so much easier to just have a regular day/time blocked off so I can look forward to “BB Time!”

We agreed that Tuesday mornings worked well for both of us and Becky suggested that each week we could do different “microadventures” such as walks, paddle-boarding, cafes, beach, etc. Perfect!

A New Experience: Robinson Preserve and Sage Biscuit Cafe

I asked Becky to pick our first outing. The next morning I got an email titled, “2023 Tuesdays with BB & Yvie #1: Robinson Preserve.” I love the title of the email, both because it caters to my systematic titling of activities and uses my self-suggested nickname! (Though, I like spelling it Yvy, even more to really confuse people!)

Our scenic walk through Robinson Preserve was followed by a healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe. CarpeDeeLicious!

Robinson Preserve is a 600+-acre coastal preserve located in northwestern Bradenton.
Plenty of scenic hiking for Jack, Becky, and I to enjoy.
Delicious healthy brunch at Sage Biscuit Cafe in Bradenton

Someone I admire: Rebecca Burns!

Becky is a wonderful blog-post topic for a variety of reasons:

  1. She’s always interesting, fun, creative, witty, and willing to try new things.
  2. She doesn’t mind being the topic of blog posts!
  3. She’s one of the few people who reads my blog and often sends me a supportive comment, even when I know I’m being lazy about the writing.

In the Spring of 2020, we were Covid Lockdown partners at her home and she was my co-host on Season 2 of my Carpe Diem Connections Podcast.

In fact, I’ve blogged about Becky quite a bit, as an example of beauty and birthday-celebrator, as a supreme listener and animal-lover, as a guest on my podcast talking about self-acceptance, and on countless other posts as a fellow-adventurer.

BB & Yvy!

I’m so grateful to know this wise and wonderful friend and I bet my brain is 10x healthier than it used to be, thanks to our friendship!

iFly Indoor Skydiving: I Can Fly!

Tony and I give indoor skydiving a try at iFly Orlando.

iFly Indoor Skydive in Orlando
Adventure at iFly Indoor Skydiving

Another flying adventure

Even though my year of Microadventures is over, the adventures continue!

Knowing I’d be in Florida for the winter, Tony invited me to join him in Orlando for yet another flying adventure! (I’d also had an unexpected hang-gliding adventure in November).

Wow! Another opportunity to fly? I only wish I’d had my SuperCarpeDiemWoman cape! (Well, actually, we had to wear a special flight suit so… nevermind about the cape. At least I had my butterfly pants and Carpe Diem shirt for the pre-flight picture.)

iFly Indoor Skydiving was yet another activity that I didn’t even know existed!

“Cousin” Tony is friend, family, and most importantly, a VIP Carpe Diem Adventurer!

What’s it like to have an iFly Indoor Skydiving Adventure?

Tony, an experienced iFlyer, had bought us each three flights with one of them being a high flight, where the instructor brought us up high in the wind tunnel and spun us around.

We didn’t have our phones or cameras when we were all suited up and flying, so no pictures of me flying, but here’s a YouTube video of what it’s like:

Yeah, that’s exactly what it was like! OK, we weren’t doing any fancy flips, but our instructor, Ryan, did tell me I did “very well.” And for the record, he didn’t say that to everyone. I was a proud graduate of the First Flight of iFly Flying School.

My Certificate of Completion of my first iFly flight

iFly Indoor Skydiving is for every age!

I thought this might be a fun thing to do with Diego and Reneya and asked what age range could fly.

“The youngest is 3 and we’ve had a few people who are over 100,” answered Ryan.

Ages 3 to over 100! One of the women in our group was celebrating her 70th birthday. I love an activity that spans all generations! Maybe I’ll take Mom, too!

If you’re looking for something fun and exciting to do, fly it out!

Adventures in Water Drinking

Water Drinking is not usually considered fun, but it’s time to change that!

It’s a new year and I’ve really been struggling with figuring out my 2023 “theme.” The year of Microadventures was so successful and I wanted to figure out something equally fun that I could blog about each week.

I had a lot of different ideas that sort of fizzled.. a year of learning, a year of helping, a year of new people, a year of healthy habits. My friend, Michael Bolé shared an article about a woman who did a new thing every day! Oh! That’s appealing!

I’m nixing any of the “every day” ideas, though. I’m already pressured enough not to break my Duolingo streak (I’m on Day 1403, thank you very much!)

Healthy Habit For Week1: Drink More Water

The “healthy habit” I was focusing on for Week 1 was “Drink More Water.” So trite and boring. Been there, done that. Certainly water-drinking is about as opposite of a “new thing” as you can get. We literally do it every day and it doesn’t even taste that good! Which I guess is why it’s so hard to drink as much as we’re always told to drink. And don’t get me started at how inconvenient it is to have to pee so much!

Making Water Drinking Fun: Hydration Bars

But that new-thing-every-day article got me thinking: How can I have an “adventure” with water drinking – do something I’ve never done before.. I’d remembered hearing something about “hydration bars” and I excitedly googled “Hydration Bar near me” and several local-area options came up!

“That’s it!” I thought. “I will have an adventure at a Hydration Bar this week!” I pictured myself in a new-age spa doing something really edgy and trendy, yet healthy… a healthy version of a Hookah Bar experience. (This idea excited me. I once wanted to try a Hookah Bar experience… but then I learned it involved smoking.)

Anyway, I checked into Hydration Bars and found out that these aren’t really “bars.” They are IV treatments that start at about $150!

This idea quickly lost its appeal. I’ve had an IV and it’s not at all exciting. Also, I’m really cheap. I don’t even like to pay for the fancy waters in the grocery store.

And just because they call it a “Cocktail” does not make it a fun drink! Those are cockamamie tales! “Crocktales!” That will be my new word for these “Hydration IV Treatments” that you get at “Hydration Bars.” (Not to be confused with Mocktails, which really are quite lovely non-alcoholic drinks you can now get at some real bars.)

Poor man’s “hydration treatment”

I googled “Why do people go to hydration bars when they can just drink water?” thinking I must be missing something. The AARP article, The Truth Behind Trendy IV Vitamin Water Therapy confirmed my assumptions that basically, this would be a ridiculous over-priced “adventure.” (Come to think of it, that’s true of many “adventures” but I’ll save that rant for another day).

Cheaper Ways to Make Water Drinking More Fun

I decided to “be me” and do something cheap, yet pretty and different to liven up my water-drinking experience: Making infused water.

My attempt at “infused water”

The result was not nearly as pretty as the pictures in the article.. are the strawberries supposed to float? Of course, the “Squeeze the Day” quote on the water bottle makes it fun even if this doesn’t look like the magazine or taste much different from water.

I also splurged on a “fancy water” from the grocery story! ($2.49 is much better than a $239 Kate Crocktale!)

This was surprisingly delicious. It was sweet. I’m guessing that whatever sugar (or fake sugar) they put in this drink to make it so tasty negates any of the health benefits from drinking it. Oh well. It still was a new experience.

Finally, to round out this exciting water-drinking adventure, I bought a new water filter pitcher. This will not only keep my water clean, but helps me monitor that I’m drinking my daily quota. (Logging was not working for me.)

As for me 2023 theme? I’ve decided on “Healthy Aging.” .. on the cheap!

2022: A Year of Microadventures

It’s getting late on New Year’s Eve and I’m enjoying a tradition that I’ve grown to love – quiet reflection about the events of the past year as I peruse my photos, journals, and blog posts.

Last year my New Years Resolution was to have at least one “Microadventure” a week with at least one other person and blog about it. I thought it would help me be more intentional about creating fun experiences with people I love and maybe make some new friends, too! It turned out to be a huge success!

Some of my favorite Microadventures

When I describe this project, people often ask what were some of my favorites. Here are some that are memorable for me:

Santa School Graduation – This was fun because it was a surprise (Thank you, Michael Bolé!), something that I loved and didn’t even know such a school existed!

Santa School Graduation

Hang-gliding in Nags Head, NC – This was special because I didn’t ever think I’d even want to try hang-gliding! Doing it with my kids was extra special!

Hang-gliding school in Nags Head

In this summer-time MMAP (Multi-MicroAdventure Post) (which was light on blogging), I loved realizing that my life was filled with daily Microadventures! I especially thought it was cute when Reneya suggested we go to IHOP as a Microadventure.

Quotidian Microadventures including IHOP with the kids!

Of course, I loved all Microadventures that included my grandchildren, but this Trick-or-Trot 5K race was another highlight for me because I never thought I’d be able to run another race!

The Arvada Trick-or-Trot 5K with my favorite “foods”

Perhaps my favorite Microadventure blog post is this one where I took Scotty to meet his FlamingBro, Kazi at the Sarasota Jungle Gardens. Admittedly, I haven’t been putting much effort into the writing of these posts, but I had some fun with this one.

Scotty meets his FlamingBro, Kazi

My spontaneous international trip to San Miguel de Allende with “Bali Chris” was exciting and included many micro-adventures, perhaps the most memorable being a hot-air balloon ride.

Hot Air Balloon ride over San Miguel de Allende

I had a number of Microadventures with my good friend, Becky, including this one where we saw the play Our Town in Sarasota.

Becky strikes a pose

My friend, Jack(ster), always finds something special to do when I visit him in San Francisco.

Me and Jackster in Sausalito

This girlfriend getaway to Red Feather Lakes was such a welcome retreat.

Girlfriends Getaway

This post about a series of Microadventures while I was in Florida reminded me that the people were the magic ingredient that made my adventures so special.

jamesnorbury.com
This popular Big Panda quote capture the importance of the people in our lives.

Oh my goodness! Yes, there are so many more that I love because I love the people! I’m so grateful for all of the people who shared this year with me. What wonderful memories. My heart is full.

Worked well
  • The people! Whether family, good friend, or someone I was just meeting, doing this with at least one other person made it extra special!
  • Knowing that I was going to be writing about my Microadventures, I took more pictures, and paid closer attention to the details of the event. I often provided a hyperlink, and that would give me more information about the place I visited.
  • Writing the blog posts helped solidify the memory for me. Tonight, as I’m reading through the many, many (117+) Microadventures I’ve had, I’m amazed at all the incredible experiences I’ve had this year.
  • It helped to not plan too much! As I was thinking about my favorites, a lot of what made them my favorites is that they were unexpected or surprising in some way.
  • I was very flexible on my “rules”.. which made it very easy for me to come up with at least one Microadventure every week.
  • I had microadventures even on the weeks that were hard for me for some reason.. When I look back at the year, I’m reminded much more of these happy memories rather than my difficult ones.
Could have been better
  • My WordPress skills
  • My writing skills
  • I haven’t spent the time to write about all my recent Microadventures and its the last day of the year! I have a few more to catch up on!
What I’ll do next year
  • Continue weekly blogging
  • Take at least one class a month (including a class on writing)
  • Continue looking for new experiences and people to enjoy them with!

Microadventure #111-#117: Wilmington, NC with Matt & Stella

Microadventure #111: Stay at the Sunflower House in Wilmington, NC

After leaving Nags Head, Matt, Stella and I headed down the coast to the town of Wilmington, NC. We stayed at this charming Airbnb named the Sunflower House after the Van Gogh masterpiece.

Sunflower Mural on the side of the Sunflower House in Wilmington.

Stella needed to work our first day in Wilmington, but Matt and I ventured out to the RiverWalk and did another DIY Walking Tour (we’d also done one in Asheville), learning some of the history of the town. We also perused the Cotton Exchange shopping center, all decked out for the holidays.

Microadventure #112: Cape Fear River Walk in Wilmington
Christmas Tree decorated with Cotton in the Cotton Exchange Shopping Area

The following day we learned a lot more about the history of Wilmington at the very informative Cape Fear Museum.

Microadventure #113: Cape Fear Museum

This museum included a photo scavenger hunt, and, yes, even though it’s for children, I thoroughly enjoyed finding all the items. It was only a little embarrassing when Matt let the museum personnel know that I’d completed the scavenger hunt and should get the promised prize. It turned out to be a sticker which wasn’t enough to warrant the embarrassment, but I admit, I was curious about the prize myself.

One of the most interesting things we learned on the tour was about the 1898 coup at which White Supremacists overthrew the government in the only successful insurrection in America’s history.

I was amazed that I’d been unaware of this important and mostly hidden piece of American History. Matt, Stella and I watched the Documentary, Wilmington On Fire to learn more, and as we were leaving Wilmington we visited the 1898 Memorial.

Microadventure #114: 1898 Memorial

While we were at this Memorial, I saw a bus advertising Website, WilmingtonColor.com. Though we didn’t discover this site or opportunity to learn more about this heritage tour until we were leaving Wilmington, it’s on our list for our next visit.

Future Microadventure: WilmintoNColor Tour

Another thing I learned about Wilmington is that it is the home of Carnivorous plants, including the Venus Fly Trap. We visited the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden and learned that the Venus Fly Trap can only be found in a 75-100 mile radius of Wilmington! The Venus Fly Traps were really quite tiny and hard to find – not the big scary-looking plants that I’d imagined based on The Little Shop of Horrors!

Microadventure #115: Venus Fly Traps at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

One of the surprisingly interesting Wilmington Microadventures was touring the USS North Carolina Battleship with Matt. I say ‘surprisingly’ here because I’ve never been that interested in Battleships. I wouldn’t have picked this particular tour on my own, but Matt wanted to go, so I thought, ‘why not?’ secretly hoping we wouldn’t spend too much time there. We ended up spending at least 3 hours as we slowly went through the huge ship, taking it all in.

Microadventure #116: USS North Carolina Battleship

It was incredible to me that the men who served on this ship in the 1930’s might still be alive today and that all the technology that controlled the ship was before the age of personal computers or the Internet. Also crazy how uncomfortable and lacking in privacy it must have been for them with very uncomfortable looking bunks stacked up four in a row.

Matt joins me for a fun Happy Huladays pose!

There’s so much more I could write about each of these microadventures. In fact, there are quite a few more experiences we enjoyed in Wilmington, including crossing the bridge from One Tree Hill, exploring unique coffee shops and dinner spots, and Civil War Memorials.

Mostly, it was just wonderful to be sharing these microadventures with Matt and Stella. Even when we all lived in Colorado, we rarely travelled together.. or even saw each other much during the Covid years. I feel super-grateful to them for this trip and for this past two months full of new experiences and memories!

Microadventure #117: One Tree Hill Bridge
Biggest Adventure – Spending Holiday Time with Matt and Stella!

Microadventures #106-#110: Nags Head, NC with Matt, Stella, and Scotty

As I mentioned in my last post, hang gliding was just one of many microadventures I experienced in Nags Head, NC last week.

Microadventure #106: Dinner at The Jingle 12 Christmas Themed Pop-up

Matt, Stella, and I arrived at Nags Head on Friday, Dec.9th, in time for dinner. It turns out that this is the off-season in Nags Head and the first three dinner places we tried to eat at were closed (they really need to do better at keeping their Websites current.)

We’d passed this very festive-looking place called “Jingle 12” which I thought looked perfect! Matt, however, had given it a thumbs down. Even after three of his picks were closed, he wanted to go to the Outback.

It took a bit of persuasion, but I finally convinced Matt to try Jingle 12. We were all pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was over-the-top Christmas, but if you’re gonna decorate, go big, right? Every inch of this place was covered with lights and Christmas decor. The theme continued to the menus with holiday-themed drinks and dishes.

The food was delicious and unique. We even took home a cookie sampler as though we’d been to a traditional cookie exchange party.

All of this was a “pop-up,” only available for the month of December! Despite Matt’s initial hesitation, Matt, Stella, and I all agreed that it was the perfect way to start our Nags Head Microadventures.

Microadventure #107: Bodie Island Lighthouse

Scotty arrived in Nags Head, joining us at the Airbnb late Friday night. Saturday morning, our first stop was Bodie Island Lighthouse.

We read about this history and debated about it’s ‘distinctive’ black and white design. (When Scotty and Matt are together, everything is a debate.)

We also walked through the grounds with the dogs (though, unfortunately, this is where they may have been exposed to ticks). Still, it was good to get some steps in and just the beginning of our very full day.

Me, Scotty, Stella, and Matt – Walking around Bodie Island with the Lighthouse in the background
Microadventure #108: Elizabethan Gardens

The family discussions and walking continued as we roamed through the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC. The grounds were gorgeous and decorated for the holiday season.

Matt, Stella, Mochi, and Choco

The snowmen bench provided the perfect photo op for family holiday cards.

These gardens were meant to recreate the gardens of England and as a memorial for the Lost Colony – settlers that came over to the area over 400 years ago.

Personally, I didn’t know anything about the Lost Colony, but one of the guides at the park, told us all about it. We got a kick out of his dramatic story-telling. Maybe I’m getting used to the faster speed that Matt & Stella listen to podcasts, because I was getting a bit impatient with his theatrical pauses and rhetorical questions.

I have to admit, the story was a lot more interesting than a typical history class and did whet my appetite for wanting to learn more.

Microadventure #109: Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum

After our hang gliding experience, we continued our busy day by going to the Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum.

The museum celebrates the history of flight describing Wilbur and Orville’s early designs and trials.

It’s really amazing that those first flights were a mere 120 years ago! We’ve come such a long way in such a short time.

Microadventure #110: Beach house Airbnb stay

One of the novelties of any vacation is the lodging. Since Airbnb has become an option, it’s especially fun to be able to stay at places other than hotels. Stella’s especially good at finding unique and beautiful places, and this trip was no different. We were at a house right on the beach where we could hear the waves crashing to shore from our beds.

After our busy Saturday of Microadventures, Scotty suggested we watch the Star Wars Holiday Special. This 1978 made-for-TV special apparently was considered so bad that it won the #1 in The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History. One of my favorite memories of the day was listening to Matt and Scotty laughing hysterically at some of the Chewbacca family scenes.

The next morning we played board games before checking out and eating our final meal in the Outer Banks. Scotty needed to head back to Virginia and Matt, Stella, and I were headed to Wilmington.

It was a short trip for Scotty, but fully loaded. And in just a couple of weeks, he’ll be coming back to North Carolina for Christmas!