Enjoy this post, Skin Care at Sixty, from 2020 again or for the very first time.
Being in lockdown, and returning so abruptly from our world travels back to the USA, put me in a position with free time to step back and take a look at myself. Everything that had fully occupied my time over the last four years had come to a complete and unexpected stop.
But this provided an unexpected blessing – an opportunity for me to focus on self care. Something I have been wholly unable to do most of my life; to no one’s fault but my own.
When we arrived in the USA I found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I began to realize I could use this stay-at-home time to accomplish some self-care things I had so often put on the back burner before. I immediately started a running training program, joined NOOM weight loss (to date have dropped 20 pounds and will be blogging on this later) and set out to focus on revitalizing my aging and neglected skin and focusing on skin care at sixty.
I’ve never been someone to spend a lot of money on beauty. I get my hair and nails done, but shop for myself infrequently and never too extravagantly. Most of my skincare products and makeup generally come from Target. When we travel I go months without wearing makeup and most days only use cleanser and moisturizer with SPF 15.
But here I am with all this free time…free time to get healthy both inside and out. Free time to finally focus on skin care at sixty. Better late than never? Well, you be the judge.
On arriving back home I contacted my friend Susi who is a Mary Kay consultant, because I had heard some good reviews about the MK line called TimeWise Repair. This line of skincare products is specifically designed for women like me, who are looking to repair damage from sun and sea, age and neglect.
I began using these products in early May. I did a video on YouTube at that time, to share the start of my journey. You can see that first video below. In the video I share all the products I began using; 1) TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser 2) Indulge Soothing Eye Gel 3) Eye Renewal Cream 4) Vitamin C 5) Lifting Serum 6) TimeWise Repair Retinol Night Cream and TimeWise Repair SPF 30 Day Cream 7) Deep Wrinkle Filler
Here is the first video…and by the way you will notice the 20 pounds heavier in this first video as compared to today…that alone makes my face look healthier.
I spent the next three weeks religiously following the night and day program for Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair products and I immediately began to feel my skin was moister and generally all-around healthier. Once a week I used two more products in the evening; 8) TimeWise Repair Facial Peel and 9) TimeWise Repair Moisture Renewing Gel Mask.
Here is the second video I did at week three. I REALLY notice in this video the bags under my eyes. At the time of this video I had not yet been diagnosed with a sinus infection…but clearly it was raging and causing me trouble. I kept hoping the Mary Kay eye cream would take care of the bags, not realizing it was something more. Here is the second video.
So today at week six I am pretty happy about how my skin FEELS as much as how it looks. I also feel like by focusing on this for six weeks I have developed good skin care habits for both morning and night, something I never had before. I would say that the products I feel have been the best for me would be the TimeWise Repair Foaming Cleanser, the Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, the Day Cream, the Night Cream, the Facial Peel and the Gel Mask.
My consultant Susi feels strongly that the serum is one of the best things I can do for my skin. And I feel like the night cream with retinal has contributed greatly to the diminished wrinkles. It’s been nice having Susi at my fingertips for questions…something I can’t get from sales people at Target or the mall. Worth it for me in my busy life.
It’s not pretty, but I’m sharing with you my before shot that was done on the Mary Kay Skin Analyzer App the first week of May, and my After Shot taken this week. Note I’m purposefully not smiling…to really be able to see my problem areas. The skin analyzer is the tool we used to both determine the products that would be best for my skin issues, and to see the results. Here it is. Oi. Embarrassing.
However, I see much improvement in the wrinkles, and am hopeful with continued use it will get better still. Although some of my most prominent wrinkles, like the “11” between my brows haven’t really improved at all, I’m happy to accept those as part of my sixty year journey. I think those are just here to stay.
My final video, posted yesterday, shares a fun time lapse look at my routine to finish off the experiment. Here it is.
So, again realizing I have dropped 20 lbs in six weeks, and started running every day combined with this skin care routine I feel really healthy overall. I see a difference in my skin, especially how it feels and even how my makeup feels on my skin. Here is another before and after shot with my make up on.
AND since I am making all this effort, I bought a new hat with a wider brim to protect my skin more than any hat I’ve owned before. Sassy. I am feeling so much healthier over all, I hope all these new habits will stick, and I can continue to improve my skin, weight and activity level in the months and years ahead. Because, you know, I’m fabulous!
I would love to hear about your self care journey. Comment below or message me anytime.
We love Paris like everyone else. But really that’s the problem. EVERYONE loves Paris (and London and Rome) and so you find lots of crowds and high cost. In our travels around the world we have really tried to find new places that few tourists go. Often these destinations end up being our most favorite. And the more we travel the more we want to encourage everyone to consider stepping out of their travel comfort zone, and exploring the unknown – the favorite destinations no one goes. Finding your way to the lesser traveled destinations creates less impact on the planet while bringing greater cultural awareness to the traveler. We ask you to consider these options:
Instead of Croatia consider visiting Bulgaria, one of our favorite countries we have ever been to. Bulgaria has so much to offer, and yet we did not meet a single American during the entire month we were there. We did meet lots of Russians, Germans and some Brits. Bulgaria has a remarkable coastline along the gorgeous Black Sea as well as great mountains for hiking. The food is amazing, the wine is cheap and the 5000 year history is astounding. And the people are so amazing, welcoming and proud. They have endured a great deal in their history, and they have a “come what may” attitude that is infectious. Go visit Bulgaria.
Instead of Italy go to fascinating Slovenia. From Trieste, Italy it’s just a hop across the border to Slovenia, the tiny country once part of Yugoslavia. We have been to Slovenia twice and I suspect we will be there again. Slovenia has a tiny coastline on the Adriatic, and our favorite town of Piran is a perfect place to visit and get some local flavor. But don’t stop there, Slovenia has some of the most beautiful mountain towns and lakes. Much of Slovenia is still agrarian and the people are welcoming and patriotic and friendly. Oh and the seafood. So darn delicious. Go visit Slovenia.
Instead of Mexico go to El Salvador. We just spent two weeks on the Pacific Coast of tiny El Salvador and we absolutely loved it. There are some Americans coming here, but mostly 20-year-old surfers. The media has made us believe El Salvador is a dangerous place, and yet it is no more dangerous than Mexico and Americans flock to Mexico. Come to El Salvador where the water is warm, the people are welcoming, the food is delicious and the history though brutal and bloody – is fascinating. El Salvador will soon come out the shadow of its violent past, so visit before the secret gets out. Go visit El Salvador.
Instead of Germany go to Poland. Poland is just beginning to step out of the shadow and become a tourist destination. And it should. We fell hard for Poland spending three weeks there last fall. Poland has some of the most astonishing history anywhere in Europe. The food is fantastic. The people are warm and happy to meet you. The historic villages are well-preserved and beautiful. And it is cheap and easy to get to. We loved Krakow as well as all the other places we visited and using the train in Poland was a great way to travel. You really should visit Poland now.
Instead of India go to Bangladesh. I loved our time in India too, but if you want to push yourself and visit somewhere no tourists go, visit the remarkable, tiny country of Bangladesh. Our short visit to Bangladesh provided us some of the most rewarding moments we have ever had in our travels. It’s difficult to visit Bangladesh without a guide, and we were lucky to find Deshguri, one of the few tour operators in the country. Through Deshguri we able to meet so many Bangladeshi people, who greeted us with more kindness than anywhere we have ever been in the world. We certainly stood out in both crowded Dakar as well as the beautiful villages and countryside, since almost no Western tourists come here. We learned so much during our time in Bangladesh, and left our heart with its beautiful people. A remarkable experience that everyone should have. Visit Bangladesh soon.
Instead of Thailand go to Sri Lanka. Thailand is overrun with tourists anymore. So if you are looking for beautiful beaches, mountains and more, visit Sri Lanka instead. The young backpacking set has found Sri Lanka, but few American visitors of the Fab Fifties era are traveling here. Why not? It is amazing. We spent three of our most favorite weeks in Sri Lanka, one of the friendliest countries we have ever visited. The Civil War is over and Sri Lanka is safe and inexpensive. The food is the da bomb. Hiking and history is around every corner and the beaches are incredible. We saw elephants and leopards, monkeys and snakes. Oh my. It’s Sri Lanka for me.
Instead of South Africa go to Namibia. Our ten-day tour in Namibia with Wild Wind Safaris will go down in our travels as one of the most remarkable places. This country that nobody has heard of is one of the most beautiful in the world. We had an amazing private guide during our time there, but you can also see the country easily with your own 4×4 vehicle (careful though, there is a high traffic fatality rate in Namibia). Namibia has a gorgeous Atlantic coastline, dry mountainous region that is like a moonscape, and multiple fascinating cultures such as the Himba, Damara and Herero people. And to top it off Etosha National Park – single-handedly the best wildlife viewing we have ever encountered. I absolutely fell in love with Namibia. If you have ever considered a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa take a moment and research Namibia. You will be so glad you did. Go see Namibia now.
Instead of the Maldives go to the Seychelles. First a word about the Maldives. We loved our time there, and luckily we found a very inexpensive place to stay. But in general the Maldives are expensive and there is no alcohol! So consider the Seychelles instead. A beautiful set of small islands out in the middle of nowhere off of east Africa. We spent a month on the tiny island of Praslin and loved every minute of it. Groceries were expensive and the variety was less than desirable, but the rest of the experience was very positive. The islanders speak French/Creole mix, and the shy people are friendly and religious. If you are looking for a place to kick back and relax with the warmest turquoise waters in the world, visit Seychelles now.
Instead of Spain go to Portugal. I hesitated about adding Portugal to this list because Portugal does have a thriving tourism industry. But we met very few Americans while we were there. Perhaps more Americans go to Spain because Spanish is a language more Americans can handle. But during our time in Portugal we had very little difficulty with the Portuguese language. We loved Portugal so much we would consider living there. The food is incredible, the cities are beautiful and the beaches are fantastic. It’s a remarkable place with such a variety of geography. Historically Portugal was once a powerful country of explorers and merchants, colonizers and tyrants but today, this quiet and beautiful country is laid back and relaxed and fun. Visit Portugal.
What is next for us?
We are now into a full-fledged planning phase of our next chapter of the Grand Adventure. We will spend May-September in the USA then depart again. Without really trying, we have noticed
a trend in the countries we are planning to visit next, a trend towards less touristy. A trend towards staying longer in one place. A trend towards trying to make less of an impact and remove ourselves from the fray.
I think this is what we always intended to happen on this journey, but it just took us a while to get there. But when we look back on our favorite places we have been so far, it’s always the places with the road less traveled. It’s always the places with few western tourists. It’s always the places the cruise ships don’t go. The authentic and relatively untouched destinations.
On Wednesday January 20th I realized I had been holding my breath. For months. Literally unable to breath. But on Wednesday I let go of a long breath and decided to pull myself up and away from the despair that has settled on me. The two nasty “P” words (Politics and Pandemic) had me unable to relax and enjoy life as I used to…for nearly a year now. This week I realized I have been waiting to exhale.
So the waiting continues…and as the song says, the waiting is the hardest part. But I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a long time.
I’ve said over and over these past months that the hate and vitriol in the USA was causing me stress. My feeling has always been I don’t honestly care how people vote. But I care very much how people treat each other. And both the pandemic and the politics have created a tired, exasperated and often savage nation and dialogue. It’s just not for me. I refuse to participate.
Breathe. Wait. Breathe. It may still be a long time until people are kind again. It may still be along time until I can be vaccinated. It may still be a long time until I can travel abroad. But I am no longer waiting to exhale.
Instead I am going in search of peace.
First of all…
I feel blessed that I have the means to go in search of the sun. Our time in Maui showed us we could safely social distance away from home. In fact, it actually gave us time to invent some creative socially distanced activities. But, we aren’t going back to Maui, unfortunately.
Instead we have rented a house in the desert. Not a condo, a house. Somewhere we can stay completely away from other people if necessary, while enjoying some warm weather. Getting away from the Pacific Northwest gray is my goal. I know some of you like the rain…but for me, it makes me physically ill. No joke. My joints ache, my sinuses ache, I have bursitis and my energy is zapped. So we are no longer waiting for good weather…we will go in search of it and the joy and good health it brings.
While I do a little soul searching and invest in my personal well-being, I’m going to take a mini blog and social media break. Not too long, just enough to recenter and exhale.
I’ve spent some time scheduling ahead some Friday Travel Posts, lots of Reading Wednesday posts and several of our popular Tasty Tuesday YouTube posts, as well as some Facebook and Instagram posts. You will hardly notice I’m on a break. I can log off, tune out, shut down and take a hiatus from the madness. And breathe.
I’ll check in from time to time, but mostly I want to rinse away some of the negative energy and renew my faith in mankind. That should be easy right?
So what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life? Three months in the desert, then back to the Pacific Northwest in the spring. After that, no idea. We will take it as it comes. Fingers crossed we will be able to be vaccinated by April, and won’t get the virus before that happens. Perhaps we can travel next fall or winter. But, we wait.
So I hope you enjoy all the posts I have been working on for advance scheduling, and I’ll check in on Social Media from time to time and probably rejoin after a month.
And by the way, if you are waiting to exhale, feeling a little overwhelmed by world events, USA madness, media, screen time and snarky, judgemental or ignorant people, you should do a little social media cleanse too. It’s a good way to restart your engines for 2021.
Yep it was one for the record books, and yet, we managed some remarkable and inspiring travel moments despite it all. So in keeping with the past four years, we want to bestow our 2020 World Travel Awards. This year we have fewer countries, lodgings, and experiences to consider…but we believe they deserve our 2020 World Travel Awards recognition nonetheless.
By the way, I’ve been asked many times whether we lost a lot of money on travel when we had to abandon our trip in 2020. It took some work and persistence but most airlines, all Airbnb’s and all but one hotel gave us refunds or vouchers for future use. With about $10,000 at stake, we feel blessed to have only ended up losing about $1500. One silver lining in the Covid nightmare.
For reference we visited Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, Rwanda, Israel, Cyprus, England and the United States.
Favorite Overall Country – Cyprus
Despite the fact we hardly saw any of Cyprus, we still bestow it the 2020 World Travel Awards favorite overall country. Cyprus is where we went into lockdown and where we were stuck for seven weeks, housebound and unable to see any sites. We never ate in a single restaurant, went to the beach or saw any historic ruins or sites. Luckily the one thing we were able to do before we were forced into house arrest, was a wonderful cooking class. More about that below.
When we can travel again, we will return to Cyprus, to see the sights and to see the wonderful people we met during our time there.
Favorite City – Tel Aviv, Israel
We had four days in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, a little jewel of a modern city in this incredibly ancient country. On day five as we began to explore more of Israel is when we, with only a few hours notice, were forced to leave as Israel went into lockdown. So the rest of Israel remains on our list, but thank you Tel Aviv for a wonderful visit.
Cutest Town – Bend Oregon USA
On our road trip in August we spent three quick days in Bend and I was reminded once again how much I love this part of the USA. It’s just beautiful and the food and beer are excellent too. I will definitely go again and spend more time eating and playing in this beautiful area.
Favorite Island – Maui Hawaii USA
It’s no secret how much I love the island of Maui…one of the most beautiful islands of the world. I have been blessed to visit many, many MANY islands, and still Maui remains at the top of my list. This past year in an effort to hide from Covid, we spent nine lovely weeks in Maui.
Most Expensive Country – Israel
Even though we did not spend even an entire week in Israel, it was clearly one of the most expensive countries we have been to. Still it remains at the top of our list we want to return to and enjoy.
Least Expensive Country – Mauritius
Considered an African country but feeling more like India, Mauritius is a unique place for culture, food and weather. Six weeks here was inexpensive for us and we enjoyed it very much.
Ten Airbnb/VRBO, Eleven Hotels, One Tree House, One Kibbutz
Favorite Airbnb – Cyprus
Our Airbnb in Cyprus, called Lemon Grove Ena was an absolute blessing – and we will forever be grateful that it is where we were when we got locked down. For seven weeks our hosts Maria and Fritos, as well as their property manager Sofronios, all of whom spoke minimal English, made heroic efforts to keep us safe and comfortable. We could not have been in better hands.
Favorite Airbnb Hosts – Cyprus
As above, our Cyprus hosts were so special. We hope to see them again soon.
Most Unique Accommodation – Tie for this category; Tree House Fall City Washington and Glamping in Carbondale Colorado
Back in the USA we were looking for ways to stay sane so we took a couple much needed Sanity Staycations. In doing so we discovered some unique places to stay. The first one was a beautiful Tree House about an hour from our home. The second was an awesome Glamping Safari Tent just outside of Aspen Colorado in Carbondale.
Best Hotel – Uganda
We were on a tour in Uganda, four days to see the Mountain Gorillas. And for two of those nights we stayed in a mountainside hotel called Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge. It was a tiny place with each room a separate cabin perched in the hills just outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Of all the places I have stayed around the world, the service here was one of the best. It also included a delicious small restaurant and bar. Each night they provided a turn down service as well as a hot water bottle tucked into the sheets. When we returned from our very wet and muddy trek in the jungle, they did our laundry too. Lovely.
Most Unique Hotel – Zambia
During our time at Victoria Falls we spent a week in a tiny African hotel called Ngoma Zanga. We ate all our meals here, enjoyed our comfortable room and the amazing staff that helped us have the best experience possible at Victoria Falls.
Best View Accommodations – Maui
We love to visit Maui and when there we always try to stay at the Kihei Surfside with it’s impeccable view
Strangest Hotel Experience – London
When we finally were allowed to leave Cyprus we headed back to the USA via London and those two days of travel were unlike anything we have ever experienced. See below for details. But we had to find a room at Heathrow, when everything was shut down. And so we stayed in what was essentially a closet for one night at Aerotel Hotel. There was no food available anywhere in or near the hotel so we ate day old sandwiches we had brought from Cyprus, slept fitfully and then boarded a USA bound flight in the morning. See more about that below.
Favorite Cuisine – Israel
Mediterranean food and middle eastern food collides in Israel and we enjoyed every bite and every morsel we could in our short visit. Even in the short time we had, this country easily is the tops in food for the 2020 World Travel Awards.
Best Cooking Class – Cyprus
So grateful to have had this experience just hours before going into full lockdown on Cyprus. It was our one opportunity to learn some culture and history and to meet some amazing locals. I cherish this day and all we learned and continue to make Cypriot dishes here at home. Our tour was organized by Cyprus Taste Tours.
Best Beer – Maui
Maui has a great microbrew culture and we visited three different microbreweries (and one distillery) on the island.
Best Coffee – Cyprus
Much like Greek or Turkish coffee, Cypriot Coffee is rich and dark and cooked in an Cezva and we loved it.
Best Meal – Maui
Nine weeks in Maui was amazing, but in an effort to social distance we did not eat in very many restaurants. But, when we did we had no complaints. Two incredible fish meals stand out for me; Mala Ocean Tavern and The Sea House Restaurant.
Best Cultural & Natural Experiences
Best Sunset – Maui
There it is again, my favorite island, which for 2020 also presented me my favorite sunsets…night after night.
Best Cultural Experience – Soweto South Africa
While in Johannesburg we took a cultural tour that included time in Soweto – the infamous township just outside of Johannesburg. We were thrilled by our reception, visiting a home, meeting lots of kids and learning so much about all that has happened to the people of Soweto. We booked this tour through Get Your Guide.
Best Beach – Maui and Honorable Mention Tel Aviv
Our favorite beaches are all in Maui, and while there we went to dozens. But we also thought the public beach in Tel Aviv was astonishingly beautiful. The beaches of Tel Aviv are another reason we can’t wait to return to Israel.
Best Tour and Best Tour Guide – Uganda
Best Bucket List Experience – Uganda
Seeing Mountain Gorillas in the wild was a lifelong dream for me, and celebrating this bucket list adventure for my 60th birthday could not have been better. Working with a tour operator called Achieve Global Safaris we were greeted at the airport by our guide John, who spent the next four days making sure we had an experience of a lifetime. I loved our time in beautiful Uganda and seeing the gorillas.
Best Natural Site – Victoria Falls with Honorable Mention to Mount Rainier
I am a bit of a waterfall junkie…can’t get enough! Our world travels have included seeing some of the most majestic and beautiful waterfalls around the world! In February we were blessed to visit the spectacular Victoria Falls, which straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Beyond breathtaking. Magnificent.
And right in our home region of Washington State is another breathtaking and magnificent Natural Site – Mount Rainier. We did a lot of hiking this summer in and around Mount Rainier National Park. A place I do not take for granted and know how lucky I am to have this so close to home.
Best Manmade Site – Caesarea Israel
Although we were very disappointed to unexpectedly end our time in Israel due to the lockdown, we did get to see a few amazing things, including several remarkable ancient sites. We particularly enjoyed the ancient city of Caesarea with it’s fabulous chariot race track, remarkably intact amphitheater and many other interesting sites, all with a view of the ocean.
Best History Tour – Johannesburg South Africa
Our full day tour of Johannesburg not only gave us the opportunity to visit Soweto (see above) and the Apartheid Museum (see below) it also covered many significant historical events that have occurred in Johannesburg. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.
Best Day Hike – Rwanda
Our week in Rwanda gave us a chance to learn more about the genocide that happened there in 1994, but it also gave us a chance to get out into the rural areas and see some of the beauty of this often overlooked destination. From the lakeside town of Kivu, we hiked with a guide over a mountain to a small village (about 8 miles) on the Rwanda Congo Nile Trail, and then took a tiny boat back. We learned so much about the history, culture, industry, agriculture, flora and fauna of this tiny little nation. It was a remarkable day – one of those rare and memorable experiences that was delightfully authentic – a top prize for the 2020 Travel Awards.
Expensive but Worth It – Mountain Gorillas Uganda
At nearly $4000 for a five day visit, this tour was far and away more expensive than anything we have ever spent our travel dollars on. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Speaking of heartbeat…mine nearly stopped when we finally found the family of eight gorillas we had spent three hours tromping through the jungle looking for. One of the most unforgettable days of my life. Enjoy this little video (which is by far my most watched YouTube video ever! ) Achieve Global Safaris was amazing.
Best Gardens – Mauritius
We spent one day at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens near the town of Port Louise on the island of Mauritius. We were really surprised to find such a vast and well maintained Botanical Gardens in this tiny island nation.
Best Conservation/Environmental Protection Site – Mauritius
Definitely my favorite thing we did on the island of Mauritius was the boat tour to Ile aux Aigrettes, a protected atoll only 100 yards off shore. Here we took a remarkable guided walking tour to learn about the work being done by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to preserve and protect numerous endangered species of animals, birds and plants. Mauritius can’t bring back the extinct Dodo bird, but they are working very hard to preserve the other unique and beautiful animals and flora of this special island.
Best Museum – Apartheid Museum Johannesburg South Africa
This museum is one of the best I’ve been to in the entire world. Amazingly organized to enjoy and learn chronologically it includes many interactive, video, audio aspects as well as an outdoor art exhibit. We were there for two hours and I wish we had two more. The Apartheid Museum is worth a trip to Johannesburg to see.
Craziest Thing We Did – Angels Pool Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Whenever I look at these photos, I wonder what was I thinking? To be honest I did not really understand what I was signing up to do and it was only in the moment that I thought “oh shit.” But with caution we proceeded and it was actually fun, but also pretty freaking crazy. One of those things you do in a foreign country and afterwards you think “this would never be allowed in the USA.” I survived Angels Pool, Victoria Falls.
Least English Spoken – Cyprus
To be fair, we only dealt with a handful of people in Cyprus since we were mostly in house arrest, but the few friends we made we needed to do a lot of hand signals and pointing and laughing trying to get our message across
Friendliest People – Rwanda
Every person we met in Rwanda was a delight. From hotel people to just people on the street we found Rwandans sincere, kind and very interested in us. Like in some other countries, I still hear from a few people we connected with and I love knowing they are well and still remembering meeting us.
Hottest Day – Mauritius
I swooned in Mauritius. The humidity was oppressive on a few days. Hottest day was 101F. We also lived through our third cyclone while on the island.
Coldest Day – Haleakala Maui
At 10,000 feet Haleakala, particularly on a windy day, can be downright frigid. It was 37F in the morning with a nasty wind chill as we started our hike there.
Best Place to Run – Maui
Hands down of all the places we traveled this year running in Maui was the best. I always run in the morning before it got too warm, and the view, well, you can’t beat it.
Best Game of Golf – Sun Valley Idaho USA
We golfed a lot this year, it being one of the few things we could get out and do safely. I made a commitment to really improve my game and I did. My favorite golf day was at Elk Horn in Sun Valley Idaho
Best Yoga Spot – Maui
Yoga continues to be part of our daily routine, and Maui wins again, offering us the best yoga spot we found.
Craziest Travel Day Ever – Heathrow, London England
The day we finally left Cyprus after seven weeks we flew to Heathrow and spent the night. The following morning we headed to our gate for our 12 hour flight back to the USA. This experience in Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, will remain with me for the rest of my life. Walking through Heathrow without another person anywhere to be seen was eerie, surreal and the most defining moment for me of what Covid-19 had done to our world. It was frightening. But I’m glad I had the experience of it, I certainly will never forget it.
Craziest Experience Overall – Cyprus
If you have read this far, you know we were locked down in Cyprus, basically under house arrest for seven weeks. To leave our Airbnb we had to ask permission via text. We could only leave our house once a day. So if we needed groceries, that was all we could do that day. No groceries needed? Then we could ask permission to exercise, which we did most days, running in our little neighborhood around the village of Argaka. It was a surreal experience, definitely unlike anything else we have encountered in our world travels. And despite it all, we wouldn’t change it…it certainly is something we will never ever forget. Thank you Cyprus for taking such good care of us. And no question it needs to make the list for our 2020 World Travel Awards.
I will add, that in all our travels, our time in Cyprus was the first time we needed to be in direct contact with the US Embassy. We were grateful for the guidance they provided even though their hands were tied. If you travel international, we highly recommend signing up with each Embassy you visit through the State Department Step program…apparently you never known when you are going to need it. See how to do that here.
That’s a Wrap
It was not the travel year we imagined in January 2020, and yet, we added some of the most remarkable experiences of our life to a life of extensive remarkable experiences. I am very grateful for that. And, I am beyond grateful to all the kind and wonderful people we met this year while traveling. So many just trying to save their businesses, stay safe and healthy, and do the right thing. What a blessing to have met them all.
Next week I will share a blog about our near term travel plans. But as far as long term or international travel, we have none. My guess would be we might not leave the USA until 2022. But I can’t know that so early. If that happens, next years Travel Awards will look very different, or perhaps I will need to decide if the blog has run its course. But I can’t know that yet either. All I know is the 2020 World Travel Awards have a special place in my heart.
Meanwhile we continue to be grateful for all the travel we have enjoyed, our current state of health and wellness, and our upcoming USA travel plans where we can lockdown in the sun. I have no regrets, no complaints and just a wee bit of sadness for all that has happened, or not happened.
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Please be sure to read next Friday’s blog to see what happens next for My Fab Fifties Life.
I was only five years old when I learned there was no Santa. I remember it clearly. I actually wasn’t even five yet…just a few weeks shy. It was Christmas morning 1964. The little neighbor girl who was friends with my seven year-old sister came over to see our gifts. My sister was showing her this cool play kitchen Santa had brought when Jodi said to my sister “you know Santa is really just your Mom and Dad.” Those were her exact words. I remember it 56 years later like it was yesterday.
Well Jodi was the youngest child of a large family, where apparently, her older brothers and sisters had not managed to keep the big secret from her.
I’m not sure either my sister or Jodi even realized I was standing right there.
I remember my sister’s reaction – she cried and was very upset. And I remember my reaction. I thought to myself “Well, that makes perfect sense.” And I never doubted it or worried about it from there on, although I didn’t let my parents or siblings know I possessed this knowledge.
That same Christmas was the year I received my first book. We had lots of books in the house, but I had never been given a book that was all mine. Just for me. That book was a beautiful copy of “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clark Moore. It’s ironic that I received this book the same morning that I learned there was no Santa Claus.
I adored that book. I cherished it. It had a rich, beautiful red cover and beautiful illustrations that I looked at for hours and hours and in later years read cover to cover. I didn’t let my siblings touch it and it luckily got packed away and preserved in the decades that followed.
When I was a young Mom I once again fell in love with the book as I read it each year to first my first-born son, and later both my boys. I easily could recite the poem without the book and often did. One Christmas my two children and I put on a play of the poem for the family, complete with costumes and scenery.
Some of the older copies in my collection
It was in these years when my children were very tiny that I picked up an interesting book at the library (yes this was way before Google) all about the history of our Christmas traditions. I learned so many fascinating things from that book, including the amazing history of the poem “The Night Before Christmas”. It wasn’t until then, that I understood that many of the holiday traditions I took for granted, including Santa Claus himself, were fairly new developments in recent generations and the poem “The Night Before Christmas” was largely responsible for the image of St. Nicholas we know today.
The flocked version
Until Moore wrote the poem in 1823 as a gift for his children, St. Nicholas had a Christmas Day arrival not Christmas Eve. Moore’s image of the “jolly elf” arriving under darkness on Christmas Eve is one we still accept today, elaborated and secured for all time by the Coca-Cola image of Santa in the early 20th Century.
Moore’s poem also brought into cultural acceptance the idea of Santa’s reindeer as he named them individually for the first time. And of course the popularity of the later poem “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” added additional holiday fun to that aspect of our Christmas cultural icon.
Once I began to learn and understand the history of Santa Claus in the United States and around the world I became infatuated with the story and the history. I started purchasing new and antique copies of “The Night Before Christmas” each year and through out the year. As my love for the story grew as an adult, I also began to receive antique copies of the book from friends and family.
I currently own more than 30 copies of the book. My oldest of the collection is a 1905 edition. I have some fun versions including two Hawaiian versions, a Mickey Mouse version, Holly Hobby and two illustrated by Grandma Moses.
I have flocked version, a pop-up book version, and one of the most fun versions is a revolving picture book.
But my favorite will always be the original one I received that Christmas in 1964, published in
My favorite – The book I received for Christmas 1964
The same day I received this amazing storybook of Santa Claus was the same day I learned there is no Santa Claus. And perhaps my love and adoration for this poem all these years was my way of accepting that truth, while still believing in the Christmas spirit.
So let’s believe together;
A Visit from St. Nicholas
AKA The Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clark Moore
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads,
And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys – and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight –
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
We thank you for all your support and wish you all the brightest and best holiday, despite all the hardships of this past year. Stay safe and healthy and patient. We will not have a blog post next Friday. Merry Christmas to all. Peace, Joy, Health.
Today my husband and I are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. It was a dark rainy day when we married in November 1982. But it was still a glorious and happy day.
We were young and our wedding was nothing special, certainly nothing like the huge and expensive weddings that take place today. I was naive and thought it was great. And that is how our life has gone. We have lived simply, worked hard and made a lot from a little. It’s the little things – 38 years of marriage.
Here’s our story;
I am fifteen when I realize Arne exists, even though in hindsight I know we have met several times before. He is nearly seventeen. We meet on a ski trip. My life is changed. Even at a young age, there was something there.
What is happening in 1975? Gerald Ford is President. The Vietnam War comes to an end. Captain and Tennille are singing Love Will Keep Us Together while we are standing in long lines to see the movie Jaws. Pet rocks, mood rings and Rubik’s Cubes are in our Christmas stockings.
Arne and I date for nearly a year. He is my first date ever. But then we stop dating. I am crushed. Him not so much. Life goes on and we manage a nice friendship for many years; it’s the little things.
Arne is away at college in Boston but the summer of ’79 we rekindle our relationship. My memories of that summer are of me dating different guys in my hometown, but then all of those guys seem to fall off my radar and there is Arne. It’s a summer of water skiing, drive in movies, concerts, taking the ferry to Seattle for dinner. It’s also the summer I am preparing to leave to go to Washington State University, after spending one year at the local community college. I am working three jobs. I have no idea how I’m going to pay for school. Until miraculously I receive a giant financial aid package.
What is happening in 1979? Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman Prime Minister in Britain. Hostages are taken at the US Embassy in Iran. The Hood Canal bridge sinks. ESPN is launched. We are loving Candies heels and wearing overalls and tube tops. If you are lucky a walkman is in your Christmas stocking.
Arne returns to Boston for school and I head to WSU feeling like my life is beginning. We part knowing life is about to change. In the year ahead we both see other people, have some serious but short relationships but keep in touch.
1981 & 1982
Arne has graduated from MIT and taken a job with Boeing to be close to those he loves…me! I’m still in school but we live together in the summer of ’81 in Seattle, but I return to WSU to finish my senior year. We are engaged in June of ’82 and married in November.
What is happening in 1981 and 82?. We are introduced to Aids. Anwar Sadat is assasinated. The Space Shuttle Columbia has its first flight. Post-it Notes are invented. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is released. Epcot opens. Hollywood is on a roll in ’82 with blockbuster films including E.T., Gandhi, Chariots of Fire and On Golden Pond. If you are lucky you might find a digital watch in your stocking this year. Pac Man is all the rage.
Arne and I live in a tiny little rental house in West Seattle and begin our married life.
Our first ten years of marriage has flown by. We built a house in Issaquah and added two beautiful sons to our family. Arne has now been at Boeing for twelve years. I have received my second degree, from the University of Washington, and began my career climb. I worked on a political campaign, then KIRO-TV, then the Issaquah Press and then become the Director of Salmon Days. But then we make a major decision to move to Virginia for Arne’s job and I become a stay at home mom with a five year old and a one year old.
What is happening in 1992? The first George Bush is President and Bill Clinton becomes a candidate for the office. Mall of America opens. Los Angeles is riotin after the Rodney King verdict. The first McDonald’s opens in Beijing. Barney is on our television and A Few Good Men and Unforgiven are on the big screen. Kids are finding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their stockings.
We will spend 18 months in Virginia absorbing the incredible history there and take our first cruise to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.
Ten years later life is flying by. Our children are now 16 and 12. We have built a beautiful home in Gig Harbor, lived there 8 years and then sold it to move to a run down old house on the water. This house will be our little project for seven years. Arne is still at Boeing, celebrating 22 years. After being a stay at home mom for four years I return to television and work at KSTW TV and then take the position as Tourism Marketing Director for Gig Harbor. This will be my final job of my career.
What is happening in 2002? Americans are in shock from the 9-11 attacks. Terrorism is a constant word in our vocabulary. We are introduced to the No Child Left Behind Act. The winter Olympics are held in Salt Lake City Utah. Lord of the Rings is on the big screen and Eminem is everywhere. If you are lucky, there will be a flip phone in your Christmas stocking.
This period in our life is stressful. We are both working full-time, managing typical teenagers and their endless needs and activities, and remodeling an old house inch by inch.
We have now completed all the upgrades to our waterfront house and gotten our first son through college. Our second son is in his final year of Architecture school. Arne has now been at Boeing for 32 years. We spend a lot of time talking about retirement and how we would like that next phase of our life to look. We have done a lot of travel in the past decade, and know that we want travel to be a big part of our future. I am in my final year of work and will retire at a young 53 the following year.
What is happening in 2012? Americans have weathered the recession and things are looking up. We are all introduced to Facebook when it goes public and life will never be the same. We learn about Gangnam Style. America’s first black President Barack Obama is running for his second term. The Sandy Hook shooting kills 26. Taylor Swift is everywhere and The Hunger Games has us obsessed. The iphone 5, E-Readers and gift cards are what we want to find in our Christmas Stockings.
We celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in this year and take stock of our blessings, and the little things. We are aware acutely of how short life is having said goodbye to many people too young and begin focus on what’s next.
Pandemic. It has taken over our lives. It has changed everything that we believed we had control of. But we are safe and healthy. When the pandemic hits we have now been traveling the world for four years, nearly full time, returning to the USA each summer. We have sold the waterfront home and purchased a small villa. Our kids are employed and healthy and we are free to move about the world. Until we are not. So we return to the USA to wait it out and see what will happen next. We are still in the USA seven months later when we celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary on November 27th.
What is happening in 2020? Donald Trump is President and he lacks the ability to deal with the Pandemic. On November 3rd America chooses Joe Biden to lead them. Wildfires plague many parts of the world including Australia and the USA due to the growing climate change crisis. Jeffrey Epstein, George Floyd and Kobe Bryant each in their own way create a shock factor in the news. IPad, Airpods, Bluetooth and anything to do with technology is on the Christmas list. Joke gifts in reference to quarantine are also popular such as toilet paper, flour, face masks and funny pandemic T-shirts.
My husband and I celebrate our 38th Anniversary with a hopeful heart. Our married life has been a collection of little things that have combined to create a wonderful life together. We look to 2021 and our 39th year of marriage and hope to be healthy, travel, and see our sons successful. It’s not a lot to ask. Just the little things – 38 years of marriage.
Thanks for joining me on this little walk down memory lane. It’s the little things – 38 years of marriage.
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