Category Archives: Adventures

Like Riding A Bike

Navigating social media is like riding a bike. The internet provides a highway to virtual communication and sharing of ideas and experiences. Riding it for information and entertainment requires balance, a skill essential in learning to ride a bicycle.

bikers-1-of-1

I learned to ride a bike without the benefit of training wheels. The bike belonged to my brother and had a bar running from steering wheel to seat. I had to throw my leg over the bike to get on the seat. The bike was taller than I so catching my balance mid-air took quite a bit of trial-and-error (and tears.) I practiced on an inclined, graveled driveway with little unexpected traffic.

My dad had promised that I would get my own bike once I learned how to ride one. I remember clearly the excitement and freedom I felt when he drove me to the bike shop and I biked home on my new-to-me blue Schwinn while he followed closely behind me.

My freedom to ride came with learning to ride responsibly and, perhaps, those lessons were the most valuable of all. I learned to look further down the road to assess what was coming up. I learned the consequences of riding through mud puddles and riding rough-shod over bumps and cracks in the path. I learned to never leave my bike out of my sight while out-and-about on my little adventures. Most of all, I learned where I could and could not go and how to make a decision if it was safe to stop and explore or best to just keeping going.

Those early-learned lessons serve me well now as I explore the world virtually. Using the internet to look up basic information and accomplish mundane tasks is easy to master. Social media, however, is much trickier and far more dangerous in many ways. Click-bait tempts frequently. Fake news beckons in my peripheral vision. Mixed among the advertisements and games and ‘like’ and ‘follow’ pleas are those tidbits that keep me signing in every day: family stories and pictures, a peek at friends’ adventures, cool stuff to try, good recipes, funny memes, great photographs.

It is a two-way street; I can post similar things to share with those who like and follow me. I can connect with groups of people who have similar interests and we learn from each other. The rules of etiquette and common conduct keep this virtual world mostly in order.

I have learned, especially on the sites where anyone can see what I post, to be wary of the inherent dangers that lurk in this virtual world. People can and will twist your words to mean something entirely different or take them out of context, or just dislike them outright. They even steal your words and pictures and claim them as their own.

An obvious solution would be to simply avoid these sites altogether and save myself the stress. Is the benefit worth the risk? I think back to why I learned to ride a bike in the first place: for the freedom to explore my world and learn for myself what is out there and how to think about it. How to keep myself safe. How to find my way back home again. That is also the lure for me to participate in the virtual world. So I will ride on!

Advertisements

Opening Closed Doors

Closed doors instinctively spark curiosity for me. Is the door closed to keep something/someone out?  Or to keep things safe and out of immediate view? Locked doors step up inquisitiveness even more. Who has the key and what request is worthy of unlocking it?

Pausing in the doorway of a new calendar year provides a unique view of the year just past while seeing the vague outlines of the unlocked year ahead. We have some control over how those outlines take shape and, using the past year as a reference, often resolve to add, subtract or change something in the new year.

Last fall I completed work on a photography project for a class I took. The project idea was inspired on October 31st, which is the traditional celebration of the Reformation. I have always loved my German Lutheran heritage and seeing the images yet again of Luther nailing the 95 theses to the Castle church door planted the idea to study church doors through photography.

Searching out and examining closed church doors taught me to see patterns and clues about what happened when those church doors opened. Seeing the wonderful examples of historic church architecture in my area stirred in me a desire to see and photograph the magnificent structures found in European countries.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation will be celebrated in 2017. What better time to fulfill my dream to walk the lands that Luther walked and see the walls (and doors) and towns and cities that provided the context for his life’s work?

Achieving a dream requires a tremendous amount of vision, planning, and commitment. Hard work is the key currency required to work out the details. It also requires examining what else is important to me and what compromises and sacrifices I am willing to make throughout the process.

The door to my dream is closed right now, but not locked. Closed Door 2I can pry the tool out of the latch if I am willing to reform my thinking from “got it, spend it” to “earn it, save it.”

My husband is not interested in a trip of this nature and our retirement budget does not include a trip just for me. Therefore, the first sacrifice required of me is to give up some of my well-loved and well-used free time to find temporary jobs to earn the money to fund my dream.

I will not give up my volunteer time at school and I am limited in how much I can earn on Social Security since I am still under age for penalty-free unlimited earning, The tour I have tentatively signed up for is scheduled for late October, 2017, so I have plenty of time to acquire the necessary funds. And there are other changes I can make to carve a trip savings into shape.

Luther was all about reform. Not fundamental change, just reform. Taking that as my guideline, I begin 2016 examining my heart and mind to sort through what thoughts and financial behaviors I can reform in order to conform to what I need to do to nurture and grow my trip dream into reality by October 2017.

The foundation of any dream is to build it on complete and total trust that the Lord God knows best what to give and what to withhold. Whether the trip becomes a reality or is replaced by something unforeseen that would prevent it, I will be blessed. One of my favorite words of God’s truth is from Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I can dream to my heart’s content and know that God will figure out how to use it for my good, either here on earth or else in heaven. But I have to do more than dream. I have to take on the challenge of change if I want to actually set foot in Wartburg Castle.

(If you are interested in how the church door project turned out, click this link: Church Door Gallery )

 

 

 

Travel Time

File Aug 22, 3 34 56 PMTravel plans are a standard feature in most retirement planning dreams. Pre-retirement, I imagined having the time and freedom to explore the world beyond my ordinary boundaries.

Six months into my retirement adventure my husband and I planned our first big trip since 2003. We had saved a little from the sale of our house to partially fund an adventure and, when the dust had settled from our relocation, we moved forward with our plan to see the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Devils Tower, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.

My husband had taken such a trip long before he met me and had an idea of what we would see and do. It would all be new to me. Our previous trips were well-planned with itinerary and accommodations set before leaving home. This time, we decided to try the serendipity approach and just head out and figure things out as we went along.

Two weeks later, I have learned many things along with seeing some spectacular scenery. While my brain thinks that it can do anything, my body reminded me that I am now retired because I am aging. I can no longer easily absorb the physical toll traveling over 4,000 miles by car takes on my body. Energy recovery takes longer and bumps and rough roads trigger aches in places that prefer not to be disturbed.

The stress of finding a motel and dealing with whatever bed was available was much greater than I thought it would be. I am used to simple accommodations when traveling but this time it seemed much more difficult to work around the lack of amenities, even at higher prices.

The concept of distance is now firmly established in my head. Driving 50 miles on a straight, mid-western road can be easily accomplished in an hour; driving 50 miles on a windy western mountain road takes two.

Dealing with busloads of visitors and numerous construction zones shaves a little of the edge off adventuring. In younger years, these things would not have bothered me nearly as much as they do now.

The negatives of elder travel are offset by advantages, however. We got senior discounts without even asking for them. We had a clear goal in mind to photograph these beautiful sites from our own perspective and, blessed with great weather, we were able to achieve this goal.

Knowing our nation’s history added much to seeing the sites in person. Staying at at Buffalo Bill Cody’s original hunting lodge inspired an appreciation for life as it was in his time. Seeing the Western architecture preserved in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, contrasted the landscape I am used to seeing and deepened my knowledge of cultures in our country. Meeting visitors from other nations added much to the texture of my experience.

Pouring over the many photos we captured, I re-live the sense of actually being there and feeling the sun and the wind on my face. I sense that anticipation I felt when I thought that I might actually see a wild animal in its natural habitat. We did see many bison, a few deer, and two turkeys.

While this trip was different in many ways from previous adventures, I value what I learned about myself from this trip the most. Retirement travel requires accepting the facts of aging and working them into future plans. My soul may want serendipity. My body wants planned comfort.

I now appreciate even more deeply the many references in the Psalms to nature and how even the earth will rejoice at His majesty:

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

-Psalm 96:11-12 NIV