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!
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!)
A couple of years ago, when I reconnected with my long-time poker friend, Chris Blakeslee, who would have guessed I’d fall in love… with his mother! Actually, I love his whole family, but I’ve been especially drawn to his mother, Patsy.
Patsy has such a spunky energy about her. An officer’s wife, she knows how to entertain and exudes southern hospitality. She always makes me feel so welcome and I really look forward to seeing her whenever I’m passing through St. Augustine.
I want to be careful not to impose, though. When I was driving from Chapel Hill to Bradenton at the end of the year, I asked her if I could stop by and maybe bring us some ready-made lunch. She said she had some soup and that if I liked that, how about I stop by at 12:30?
What a surprise I got when I arrived (30 minutes late) and stepped into the most beautifully decorated house ever! I just love Christmas decor! When I was a kid, I used to dream about decorating my house the way Patsy has (but soon learned how much work it is to have a lot of decorations!)
Patsy’s home always looks like something out of a Better Home & Gardens Magazine, but how special for me to get to see it during the holiday season.
And that’s not all! Patsy had made a gorgeous broccoli-vegetable soup, served on Christmas-themed dishware! We had sparkling Prosecco and I felt as though I was at the most elegant of Christmas luncheons! (And embarrassingly under-dressed!)
Patsy, of course, looked as elegant and stylish as ever. Doesn’t she look like she should be in a magazine, herself? I’m in awe of her grace and beauty.
As always, we had a lovely visit. I got to meet Patsy’s sisters and other family over the Thanksgiving weekend, so now I almost feel like part of the family myself!
Such a fun end-of-year visit with my charming friend and her little dog, Abbey. Patsy shows me that it’s possible to be forever young. I already can’t wait for our next get-together!
I rarely take the time to respond to podcasts, but it’s January 1, and I’m always motivated to take action in the New Year. Also, I have a great answer to these questions!
What’s the best gift you ever received? Who gave it to you? Why was it so great? If you have an answer to that question, make a voice memo. Use your phone. Just talk nice and directly into the phone, in a quiet place. Tell us your name, and send it to NSQ@freakonomics.com, and we may play it on a future show.
The best gift I ever received is “National Carpe Diem Day”! My friends and family, led by my daughter-in-law, Stella Min, were able to purchase and register National Carpe Diem Day on February 26th, my birthday, in the National Day Archives. The gift came complete with a Registry write-up that still makes me tear up. I was been inspired by my friend, Craig Dunham, who, despite an ALS diagnosis, lived fully until his death in December, 2010. Since then, I’ve spread the message of “Carpe Diem” in his memory.
Since receiving this gift, I’ve created a Website, CarpeDiemDay.com, and use my blog and social media to try and promote the same kind of Carpe Diem attitude that I learned from Craig.
Note 2: Stella is the most Stellar gift-giver EVER! I have to resist from telling you what she gave me for Christmas… ok, ok, I’ll tell you. I’m getting a photo collage every morning in my inbox of times we spent together.. On Dec.25th, there were 63 days until my 63 birthday, so it’s a 63-to-63 gift!
Me and Scotty on a walking trail in his Centreville neighborhood
For the past 5 years or so, my adult children all lived in Colorado and monthly get-togethers for birthdays or holidays were the norm. However, in the past year, both my sons moved to other parts of the country.. Matt (and Stella) to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Scotty to Centreville, Virginia (near Washington DC.)
Centreville is a 4.5 hour drive from Chapel Hill, so while I’m visiting Matt & Stella’s, I wanted to also make a trip up to see Scotty’s new place. I decided to do this over the Veterans Day long weekend before the days were too cold.
I guess he typically does this with friends from work and assures me he’s not alone in this tradition. Personally, since Scotty is an engineer and has never been deployed, his job doesn’t seem particularly deserving of all the “Thank you for your service” respect that he gets from the general public.
I also don’t like him taking advantage of the generosity of businesses to collect a bunch of free food.. However, I’m sure this frugal gaming nature of collecting “free stuff” probably originated from my parenting habits. After my divorce, when I was always worried about money, I did gamify everything from grocery shopping to vacationing, looking for ways to be as cheap as possible, and Scotty very happily played along. I’ve reminded him since he’s been a well-employed adult that it’s no longer necessary to be ultra-frugal. He reminds me of his generosity in sharing his free stuff with me, to which I roll my eyes.
In any case, I resisted my instincts to criticize this tradition.. after all, he’s having fun, its harmless, he’s not breaking any laws and apparently he’s not alone in celebrating Veterans Day this way. And, yes, I get to share in the collected loot. To his credit, Scotty paid my full-price meal when we went to dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse.
I also give credit for Scotty indulging me in my own traditions that he may have been internally rolling his eyes about – walking at least 10K steps every day.
On Veteran’s Day it was very rainy, yet in between fast food stops, I wanted to walk. Amazingly, there was the perfect trail, the George Snyder Trail, which we stumbled upon, right behind one of our stops!
We both had umbrellas, and even though at times the rain was coming down fast, it wasn’t too cold. The blanket of leaves that covered the ground, along with the still colorful trees and the rain made this walk unique and memorable.
There also was a long, scenic trail right in Scotty’s neighborhood that he took me on when I first arrived, knowing how much I enjoyed walking in new places.
Scotty’s house and neighborhood
I actually loved walking in Scotty’s neighborhood, too. One family had gotten a head start on the Christmas season and had enough Christmas decorations to rival Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Even I (a lover of seasonal decorations) thought that this was “too much” and preferred the more simplistic decor of the houses that still had their Halloween decorations out.
I was impressed that Scotty would be able to afford a house in a Washington DC suburb in this pretty Colonial neighborhood. He got a good loan (another perk for Veterans) and rents out rooms in order to help with the mortgage. In fact, while I was there, I helped him get his newly finished basement room set up for Airbnb rental.
I really love my relationship with Scotty. Typically, I’m hosting him at my house where we have our traditions of playing games, watching movies, or eating favorite meals. It was fun to have the roles reversed.. still doing the same things, but this time with Scotty as the host, and me as the visitor.
He cooked the meals (or “provided” them on Veterans Day), picked the movie Coraline for us to watch (finding movies we both want to watch can present a challenge!) and helped me play Magic: The Gathering a game from his youth that he’d challenged me to learn.
Scotty’s the “baby” of the family, but he is 28 years old, and it was fun to see him in the adult role of home-owner and host. Though I’d seen him in this role for the few years he’d lived in Colorado Springs, it was more common for him to come to my house than for me to go to his when he lived in Colorado.
I’d initially been sad about my kids continuing to move further from my big empty nest, but this month I’ve seen that their moves have given me a new opportunity. Now I get to experience visits to their “nests” and see their lives through a different lens.
All three of my kids lead very successful, independent lives – something every parent dreams of. I’m so proud of each of them. I feel very grateful that in the past month, I’ve gotten to spend quality time with each of them. Even though it’s been a little difficult for me to “let go” and fully embrace the empty nest stage of life, I see now that I can still enjoy special times with my kids, including this memorable Veterans Day Weekend at Scotty’s in Centreville!
Twenty or so years ago, when we were all working at Sun Microsystems, I’d get a common email on Friday afternoon that would say something like: “HH at Village Tavern this week?”
“HH” stood for “Happy Hour” and our little group of 5, Kay, Keith, Deborah, Ravi, and I, would enjoy an end-of-week respite at a local area bar.
These Happy Hours were filled with a lot of laughter and (maybe a little too much) drinking. I always looked forward to this weekly Friday ritual. We even had a big adventure trip to Las Vegas, in 2002. (I’d say more here, but What Happened in Vegas, Stayed in Vegas!)
We were an unlikely and diverse group of friends.. almost 30 years difference between the youngest (Ravi) and the oldest (Kay). Keith stood at least a foot taller than the rest of us. They were all coders and I was a manager. (Luckily, they didn’t hold that against me.)
Ravi, who had immigrated from India, was.. and still is… one of my favorite people in the whole world. We all went to see his baby girl the day she was born and now she’s a beautiful young adult. I think Kay (and her husband, Walt) taught Ravi to ski and we all got together for skiing, golf, hockey (Keith and Ravi played) or skating.
Keith, the only single one amongst us back then, would entertain us with his single-life dating stories. I remember Ravi once said something about Keith not wanting to date anyone with too much ‘luggage’! (Yeah, those language gaffes were the best! Ravi still is so funny and innocently cracks us all up!)
Kay was a sky-diver and adventurer. Deborah was super-classy and sassy! Keith was a confident jokester. And Ravi was naive and lovable.
Over time, Keith got married to Yolanda, and I got divorced. There were moves and job changes, family responsibilities. Happy hours became few and far between.
Though our regular Happy Hours stopped many years ago, we occasionally kept in touch. The last time we were all together may have been in 2010 at my 50th birthday party.
Keith and Yolanda moved to Arizona and then to Folsom, California. Deborah had a baby and moved to Highlands Ranch so Happy Hour wasn’t much of an option for her anymore either.
I tried to get together with Ravi at least once a year for his birthday in August. This year, I suggested we try to get the HH Gang back together and have a FaceTime call to Keith.
Our reunion was so wonderful. Even though the call with Keith was short, he said he’d be in Colorado later this year, and we could maybe get us all together in person.
Kay, Deborah, Ravi, and I reminisced, laughed, and shared stories of the many years that had passed and the changes that we’d all been through.
At the end of our 2002 Vegas Trip, Deborah and I split a $5 bill with the thought that one day we’d all go back to Vegas, tape together the two halves, and gamble our lucky $5 (Was the plan Black Jack or Roulette? I can’t remember.)
Well, Deborah is more organized than I am and had her half of the $5. Not me. I can’t even find the CD I’d put together or a single picture from our Vegas trip! (This has me quite upset, but I’ll resist ranting about it on this blog post.)
I have to admit, our reunion brought up a lot of nostalgic feelings for me. This little group of friends was with me to help me through a very difficult time of my life – the year I was going through my divorce. They each are so unique and different from one another, but together, we were the “HH Gang”.. a group of friends that I will forever hold dear in my heart.
I met Ed Zitt, the host of this week’s Microadventure at the Boulder Kinetics Festival in 2014.
I’d been in one of my pity-party lonely moods. I’d invited about 10 different friends, but no one wanted to go with me to the festival. I remember very clearly setting a goal for myself to meet someone and that maybe that someone would become a life-long friend.
It’s definitely out of my comfort zone to talk to strangers, but thanks to my ‘goal’ at the Kinetics festival, I said ‘hello’ to Ed and we started talking about the band, The Vinyl Underground, that we both enjoyed.
I found an entry from my journal from that day, June 22, 2014:
It turned out I loved going to the Kinetics Race and hearing the band, even though I was alone. I met this man — Ed Zitt (who was hilarious about his name! He talked about how people would ask about Mrs. Zitt and all the little pimples!) Ed also loves Vinyl Underground and told me that every St. Patrick’s Day his friend hosts a big party and they were going to hire them to play. He told me to ‘friend’ him on Facebook and he’d invite me to the party. Ed’s married so there was no hint of anyone ‘hitting on’ anyone, but it was so cool to strike up a conversation and meet someone new with no agendas… I realized that in some ways, going to the festival was more fun going alone than if I’d gone with friends… It helps me feel more comfortable with meeting new people and/or worrying whether the people I invited are having a good time. I can just focus on enjoying the atmosphere and the music and the sunshine, which is exactly what I did!
True to his word, Ed put me on his distribution list for his annual St. Patrick’s Day Party! And it turned out, he’s also friends with one of my best friends, Cathy Kerry!
Ed co-hosts the annual party with another “Ed” and I’ve gone every year that I’ve been in town for it. I soon learned that this tradition had been going on for decades!
However, because of Covid, both 2020 and 2021 parties were cancelled. In 2022, they decided to have a combined Kentucky Derby and St. Patrick’s Day Party on May 5th. This worked out great for me! I was still in Florida on St. Patrick’s Day, but back in Colorado just in time to attend. Plus, I love ‘theme’ parties and fun to dress for both St. Paddy’s Day and the Kentucky Derby!
Ed is an adventurer and someone who is the epitome of someone who lives life fully. The years I’ve attended his parties, I’m always greeted with such welcoming friendliness and enjoy hearing the stories of the parties of the past.
I don’t see Ed much in person, but thanks to Facebook, I do get to see his photos and experience that fun sense of humor of his. I’ve also been grateful that he’s been a contributor and supporter of my ALS efforts. A true Carpe Diem Connection!
So whenever you get in one of those situations where you feel alone, meet someone new – if you’re lucky like I was, you’ll meet someone like Ed.
I’m so grateful for the love from my sister, Michele.
I have lots of wonderful pictures of Michele, but I picked this one because when we have our hair the same length, we look so much alike, and people ask if we’re twins! That makes me happy, because I’ve always admired (OK, I’ll just say it… been jealous of..) how pretty my sister is.
In the month of August, I want to blog daily about things I’m grateful for… things that make me happy, things that I don’t want to take for granted.
The most important thing I don’t want to take for granted is the love and acceptance I feel from the people I love most.
Here’s a list of 63 Reasons I love Michele.. I made the list with 62 things last year for her 62 birthday, but since she just had her 63rd birthday, added one more: You listen to me!
63 Things I Love about You, Sis!
You leave mints on my pillow when I visit
You can find treasures at flea markets
You patiently teach me how to take better pictures
You introduce me to your fun friends
Tú hablas español conmigo
You look out for me
You laugh at my jokes
You love to celebrate birthdays (including mine!)
You find fun, creative, things to add to theme parties
You keep yourself pretty and healthy
You will talk to me while I’m walking
You like learning new things
You are empathetic of the troubles and joys of others
You like surprises
You love your Golden Retrievers
You’re a caring mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend… and person!
You love family
You’re a great cook
You send me pictures of purple flowers
You are a talented photographer
You are a founding member of The White Bathrobe Club (and include me in meetings!)
You are very flexible with your yoga poses!
You bring me joy
You’re a talented gardener
You are friendly and a popular neighbor
You are playful
You find the perfect presents for me
You like the smell of lavender
You’re relearning the piano!
You like massages
You’re great at interior design and home improvement
You can confidently advise me on paint colors
You love old books
You love new books!
You love bookstores!
You like to try new things
You can balance an oar on your chin!
You influenced my early music tastes: James Taylor, Jim Croce, Van Morrison, Chicago, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young
You’re my confidante
You’re a wonderful hostess
You like celebrating goofy holidays
You care for Veterans
You likes to play games
You built a successful food photography business
You’re a confident driver
You’re a scuba diver
You participated in my virtual Academy Awards Party
You had a Royal tea party
You’re stronger than you realizes
You’re continually improving yourself
You introduced me to Ham/Apple/Brie Panini
You surprise me with flowers and little gifts when I visit
You make strong drinks that put me in a happy, mellow place
Yesterday was the first in-person family get-together I’ve had in two years. Last summer, my youngest son, Scotty, had moved to Dayton, Ohio because of his job. Between that and all the Covid restrictions, this was the first time I was able to physically be with the people who are most important to me – my kids and grandkids.
Since I love a good theme party, I checked the “special days” on July 8th (Scotty’s birthday) and July 13th (the party day.. and his due date):
Be a Kid Again Day – July 8
Coca Cola Day – July 8
Math 2.0 Day – July 8
National Freezer Pop Day – July 8
National Ice Cream Sundae Day – July 8
National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day – July 8
SCUD Day (Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama) – July 8
Video Games Day – July 8
Embrace Your Geekness Day – July 13
Any of these would match Scotty’s personality!
However, the ultimate theme was just to have the party be “All About Scotty.” My youngest son unabashedly loves to be the center of attention. As a Mom, who has been missing having kids at home, I capitalized on the “Be a Kid Again” theme with plenty of low-budget party treats and games.
I enjoyed printing out photos of Scotty at various ages and told everyone to come dressed in his typical attire – sports shorts and a T-shirt and then we all held up one of the photos for an “All About Scotty” family portrait.
For a #carpediemday celebration, Lee MacIvor leaves her late husband’s huge book collection to a local nursing home.
I’ve been hosting Carpe Diem Day contests throughout the month of February mostly in a selfish attempt to gain followers and recognition for Carpe Diem Day.
I’d venture to say, no one cared about winning the $25 prizes I was suggesting for any of my contests. The few people who were playing, were playing for the fun of it. I loved seeing the creative photos and captions for both Wear Red Day and Umbrella Day. Picking a clear winner based on quality of entry was too difficult so I went with a “random draw” approach.
With my final contest.. the “big one”… in celebration of Carpe Diem Day.. there ended up being one very clear winner. Her “entry” into this contest is much more than a creative photo.
Her story captures the spirit of what I envisioned for Carpe Diem Day celebrations so perfectly.. showing resilience, love, generosity, and the preservation of legacy.
Lee’s story begins over 50 years ago when she met her first love – the love of her life – Brian MacIvor. They were high school sweethearts at Karachi American School in Pakistan.
A few years after high school they went on to live separate lives. They reconnected in 1995 after Lee acted upon a dream she had a few days before by telephoning. Despite living in different countries, Lee – in a very “Carpe Diem” -like way, seized the day. She made the bold move from the US to Europe and later in 1998, she and Brian were married. Who says those romantic movies are unrealistic?
When Brian died tragically in an accident in 2017, the grief for Lee, of course, was unbearable. Grief is an emotion that is indescribable. Though it might remind us that life is precious, ‘seizing the day,’ when we don’t have our partner to seize it with anymore, feels empty. Life can feel meaningless.
But life is NOT meaningless. Brian’s life gave so much meaning to Lee and to countless others. Brian’s art, his poetry, and his amazing, eclectic library of books — these all had meaning. Brian’s passions and joys affected other people. Brian brought love to this world. He made the world a better place. Most notably, he made Lee’s world a better place.
When a loved one dies, we’re entrusted to a legacy that’s more than their possessions. We hold this intimate knowledge of this beautiful soul that changed our lives. When we see their writing, perhaps a signature on an old card.. Or hear their voice, perhaps on an old video.. We want to imprint those memories in our minds and our hearts so they’re never forgotten. We want the world to know this amazing person. We want the world to know this unique, one-of-a-kind genius who we loved.. This person is gone from this world now, but we want the world to be able to experience their magic.
Lee, holds a gold mine of memories of Brian in her heart. Her Carpe Diem Day celebration is to donate Brian’s amazing collection of over 4000 books to the right home.
Donating a collection of this size, however, is not easy. Donating anything after a great loss is not easy. Lee’s quest for a home for Brian’s treasured collection came with challenges.
She put a social media post out looking for a home, describing the unusual collection and Brian’s parameters in his selections:
Brian, a quiet, handsome, and easy to love man from Toronto started collecting books at a young age. As he grew, so did his passion for books. He formed his own parameters as to what would be suitable for his personal collection. The basic genres for his collection were science fiction/fantasy and detective mysteries, although there are many classics in the collection as well. The books had to be used and in paperback (with a few exceptions allowing for availability and books received as gifts). Brian would never lend a book from his collection; instead he would generously buy and give a copy of the book to the one who had asked for the loan.
So now I am here to ask for what I need and for what I envision. I see someone with a big heart and big respect for a book lover’s beloved collection. I see a person/persons with a plan to receive/retrieve these books and to give/find them a home or many appreciative homes.
Thank you, dear Universe, for connecting me to what I need and want. It may be through FB, email, phone, or a knock on the door, but somehow your magic will prevail.
Lee received various leads and ideas and helpful communication from book store owners, university library directors, and SciFy/Fantasy book clubs. She had different ideas about donating to youth groups, local prisons, or nursing homes, but all came with complications. Her preference was to keep the collection together, but it was difficult to find a recipient who wanted the entire collection.
When she saw my Carpe Diem Day contest, and that it was on February 26th, 2021, the day after Brian’s February 25th birthday, she was determined to donate the cherished collection in celebration of Carpe Diem Day, despite any complications.
As often happens when we put our intentions out, the Universe provided Lee with an answer on February 23rd. She happily wrote to those of us involved with her story:
Just received a call from Genesis nursing & rehab – they will take Brian’s ENTIRE collection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so elatingly, heart-pumpingly high! Brian’s books will have a forever home and we may be able to visit!
This week will continue to be emotional for Lee, as the whole month of February has been, with Anniversaries and special days that she and Brian celebrated together. I am thrilled that she found a home for Brian’s collection and that his legacy will continue to be shared with the world. Despite challenges and pain, choosing to spread joy, love, and happiness.. choosing to persevere.. Now that is what Carpe Diem Day is all about.
Yesterday was the first of my February contests. I asked people to post their National Wear Red Day pictures on my Carpe Diem Connections Facebook Group and tag with #carpediemday.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. This whole month I’m experimenting with trying to get more exposure for Carpe Diem Day and having fun celebrating various wacky holidays. It’s just so much more fun to be playing with other people.
I picked National Wear Red Day to start with because I figured it should be kind of easy for people to find something red to wear and post a picture. I didn’t put any “rules” around how I’d pick a winner. I wanted to see what people would come up with without much guidance about what “qualified” for a prize.
Here are some of the great entries! I just love the creativity!
Lee says: "Red reminds me to celebrate, to stop and smell the (red) roses, to create and give red-hearted valentines, and to party with loved ones until the (red) rooster crows!"
I love Lee's mysterious tease as she peeks out of her long red cape.
Eva’s red shoes walked 10891 steps yesterday. She keeps her heart healthy with daily walking.
Sean and Jack didn’t have any red, but still get mentions due to their supportive posts. Even though Sean was working, he posted a fun red Gif. And I’m very grateful to Becky and Shirley for passing on the word of the contest! Ashley also posted a supportive heart and has a whole event she’s sponsoring for the month of February!
All who participated (including those who shared the link or shared their support, even if they didn’t post a picture) are going to get a Valentine from me in which I pay them a genuine compliment (in honor of today, Pay A Compliment Day.). I’ll put the Valentines in my special Valentine basket and pull one out to reveal the $25 prize winner!
I had fun thinking about some fun prizes like some red sparkly piece of attire – shoes, mask, bowtie, or shirt.. Or I thought about a $25 donation to the American Heart Association.. Or maybe a Red Carpe Diem shirt? But, I decided to let the winner pick their own prize so they can get exactly what they want!
Now, on to the video for the Big Reveal of the Grand Prize Winner!