Category Archives: activity

The Free Fall to Beat All Free Falls (figuratively speaking)

Felix Baumgarner’s unbelievable free fall

Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from the stratosphere. It’s amazing to watch. It’s out of this world to contemplate. It gives me the chills to watch. To just think of the trust he had have in his equipment, in his team, in his self.

I was on the phone talking with a girlfriend Sunday night and she told me about this man who did the free fall from outer space. What??? I thought. But after we hung up I was exhausted from the day so I numbed out in front of the TV watching Johnny O’clock an old film noir movie from 1947 starring Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes and Lee J. Cobb. I never finished that movie I ended up dragging myself off to bed.

When I woke this morning I thought of this man free-falling from outer space and went to the internet to check it out. I sat transfixed as I watched the grainy version of Felix Baumgartner jump off the edge of his little ship and fall through space. This version showed the full free fall clocking his speed playing incredible music by Sabrepulse – Arcanine. It was definitely free fall music only adding to the excitement and mystery of what this man must be experiencing. An added plus with this particular YouTube video is there would be glimpses from the team who assisted him in a control center and of his family and friends watching on some screens in a room.

What went through my head was unbelievablity. To think the idea up that, “Hey, I’m going to free fall from the stratosphere, 24 miles up.” Then to plan it out, find the necessary help and Do It. Some people must have said, “What? Are you crazy.” Granted he does dare-devil free falls for a living but still this one was over the top. Maybe not the first time someone did this but the first since 1960, fifty-two years ago. Amazing.

For me it shows a great sense of self-esteem. I mean anyone who would pull this off has to believe in himself. There must have been opposition somewhere. Supporters too. Of course many supporters. However, I am sure he needed to convince his supporters that this is what he wanted, what he needed to do. He must have had to let them know that he was born to do this awe-inspiring feat. Therein comes the trust. His trust and belief in himself. Trust and belief in the universe, the earth, the atmosphere.  They would support him.  The trust he needed to have in others to help him achieve his dream. The trust that he needed to have in all the complicated and scientific equipment. And of course his trust in his parachute. At any moment once he dove off the edge something could go wrong. But he persisted. He trusted.  He believed.

Makes me think, if Felix Baumgartner can believe in himself to the extent he did to carry out his mission, could I not just trust and believe in myself to carry out my few little dreams and goals, one of which is to write a memoir.

Thank you Felix Baumgartner for your inspiration in such a grand, imaginative and super sonic way, paving the way for meager dreams such as mine.  I’m bolstered.  I’m inspired.  I’m ready to believe and trust.  I’m ready to Do It!

More exciting video’s:

Related Links:
The Washington Post article.

Baumgartner free fall image from the Washington Post article.

Nothing beats the love and support of a good partner.

It is Sunday, September 30th and I am writing this at Governor Dodge State Park campsite 349 in our dark green 1999 Dodge Ram conversion van. I backed up the van to the electrical hookup just like a huge RV instead of this little van and pushed the cord to my lap top out the little pop out window. The back bench seat folds down to create a bed big enough for Mike and I to lay side by side. I am lying here on top of the sleeping bags which are zipped together to create a sleeping bag for two, typing. I am not really comfortable but not uncomfortable either. I’m alone expect for the dogs. One dog, Angie is on the floor by the bed sprawled on her pet bed. Dean-o, the other dog, is up here with me. It was a trip getting here I’ll say that, deciding whether to come here or not. First it was yes, then no, then yes again.

A few days earlier.

The Love and Support of a Good Partner

the support of a good partner“Mike I want to drive up to Governor Dodge and hike. The fall colors are so beautiful. I can leave Sunday. Spend the night and come back Monday. That will give me two days of hiking. What do you think?”

“I think that would be great.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Of course he thinks it would be great. He knows I love to hike. He knows I love Governor Dodge. He knows I am enthralled with the fall colors this year. And most importantly, he wants me to do what gives me joy. We could have come together. We could have left on Saturday and returned on Sunday because he would need to be back for work but since his health issues of arthritis and gout in his big toe he doesn’t enjoy hiking much anymore. Plus he’s not too big on driving even if it is only two hours. So I came up with this big bright idea all on my own for myself.

Saturday night, the night before I was to leave while lying next to Mike who was also reading, I set my book down and looked over at him. I realized I didn’t want to leave him. Yes, I love hiking and Governor Dodge but I don’t like leaving Mike.

“Mike, I’m not going,” I announced out of the blue.

“Why,” he asked turning to me placing his book spread open on his chest.

“Well, this book I’m reading is too scary. It’s about a woman who survives this rapist murderer and she helps get him sent to prison. He is getting out of prison and now he is going to be after her. It’s going to be one of those on-the-edge books where she is on step away from danger. I’m sure she will come out OK but the book is just too dark for me. And it’s scaring me now. Anyway, I don’t want to leave you.”

“You’re an independent woman. You can do this.” Mike picked up right away that the book wasn’t the real reason.

“Maybe, but it’s my choice not to leave you. So, you don’t have to think I’m not going because you are making me.”

“OK,” he said knowing full well it is of little use to argue with me.

With that I toss my book on the floor vowing silently to myself not to finish it and turn off my bedside light.

The next morning at around nine o’clock all of a sudden going to Governor Dodge didn’t seem like a bad idea. The sun was up and the scary thoughts and the sadness about leaving Mike have vanished with the night. After all I have to walk the dogs anyway and the fall colors are not going to be around much longer. All we need is one strong wind storm and they will all be knocked to the ground. What the heck I should go.

“Mike, I think. I’m going to go after all.”

“OK.” and with that he immediately sets out to get things ready for me. He remembered I wanted to take my hiking boots which were out in the shed. He got those and put them in the van. He got together the sleeping bags, a folding chair, flashlights, lighters and fire starters so I could start a fire. The day before when he thought it was a go, he went to the store and bought me some red grapes, pineapple, bananas and strawberries. Now that it’s on again he cut up the pineapple and strawberries, put them in containers along with the grapes and set them in the cooler he dragged out. He packed in some bottles of water.

“Do you want your salsa and chips,” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said not giving them a thought till he mentioned it.

“What about a Coke.” I looked at him quizzically wondering, should I?. I don’t drink soda at all but once a week we have a Coca Cola in little glass bottles made in Mexico with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They are more expensive than regular Coke but worth it.

“Go ahead. Treat yourself.” I grinned.

“OK.”

I gathered together some clothes and put them in a backpack. I packed up my laptop and some books. Mike got the dogs food, their bowls and leashes. He put all this in the van. We were rushing around in a flurry to get me on my way. Within the hour I was draped over him in an embracing hug saying good-bye.

“I don’t like leaving you,” I said into his neck.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be hiking,” he said squeezing me tighter.

As long as I thought I was just going for a hike it felt OK, but camping over night. I don’t know. We broke apart and looked each other in the eye.

“I could always come back after I hike,” I said with a sheepish grin. “Not even stay over night.”

“Just let me know so I can get my girlfriends out of the house,” he said. I punched him in the arm. “No, really, Janice, you’ll have a good time.”

“Well, you know I’ll be calling you.” I said as I got into the van.

So, I drove two hours to go hiking feeling apprehensive, selfish, guilty, silly. Many people do this kind of thing, I thought. They drive hours somewhere to do something they love to do. I don’t know why I should feel like I’m doing something so weird and crazy, so wrong.

About halfway there I smiled to myself thinking about the last-minute running around we both did just so I could go for a little trip out hiking in nature. How blessed I am. I am with a man who goes out of his way to help me get what I want out of life. I feel a fullness in my chest that spreads upward causing my scalp to tingle realizing what Mike did to help me get on my way. This is what a marriage, a partnership, is all about, isn’t it? Being a support, a catalyst for the other to ‘go for it’. Our marriage has had its ups but it is times like this that I understand how truly blessed I am. Nothing beats the love support of a good partner which colors my world as brightly as the fall colors.  My partner, my husband meets the seven qualities of an ideal partner that I found on Psychalive.    I just hope I do the same for him.  I hope I am an ideal partner for him.

And so I hiked for two days, four hours a day. I snapped pictures every step of the way. And, as it turned out, I had cell phone coverage even on the trails and called Mike often sharing little adventures with him. The first thing I did, after hugging Mike, was sit down and show him my pictures. I don’t know if they captured the beauty of what I was seeing. Being there and seeing the colors, inhaling the fall aroma and listening to the birds can’t be totally captured. I put a little slide show together adding some word values to a few of the pictures. Values that being on my hike, admiring the colors and having the support of Mike inspired. It took me quite awhile to put it together which is the reason for the lateness of the post. I hope you enjoy what I put together.

Collect Experiences

How was your summer? Was it a long hot one? In Wisconsin it was definitely a long hot summer. This summer I turned 62 and I grappled with that birthday. It’s hard to believe I’m 62 and yet I am well aware that I have been around for 62 years. It’s been a wild ride these 62 years. Lots of experiences. Some good. Some not so good. Some really fantastic and some down right awful. It is these experiences that I think is the stuff of life. I even came up with a little “saying” for lack of a better word to help remind me about what is important.  The living of life not acquiring things.  The saying  goes like this:

Collect Experiences Not Things.

Actually when I did a Google search on that saying I discovered that it was not an original idea at all.  Such is life.  Anyway, I believe that it is experiences that can never be taken away. Unless of course the great cosmic design has Alzheimer or some other brain/memory disorder written in the cards. But for now, while I am still vibrant, I am on a quest to collect experiences.

Demonstrating what a monkey does while at the zoo.

Right now at this point in my life I am collecting many experiences taking care of our little 2-year-old grandson, in addition to experiences with other members of our family  With Gavin, however, I am with him at least 34 hours a week which allows for a lot of experience collecting.  He is one darling little boy who is showing me what it means to meet life with exuberance and joy. He teaches me about trust and openness.

Our house is full but not just with our grandson. We also have Angie and Susie our dog and cat. However, I got a wild notion one day that I would like to have another dog. Seems I thought there was room for one more, like our house need more life.
I mentioned to my husband Mike my thought about another dog and he said, “yeah, sure” but he didn’t know I was seriously considering it, like right this very minute. Once he said, “sounds good” I immediately looked at a couple of humane society web sites. I had a specific idea of what I was looking for. I wanted a dog smaller than Angie, our chocolate lab/pit bull/Rhodesian ridge-back etc mix. Although Angie’s hair is short she sure can shed. I wanted a dog that didn’t shed. So smaller, less hair.

I found many dogs like that on the web sites but they were mostly males which I never wanted because of an experience I had when I was around 12 with a girlfriends male dog going at it on my leg. It was a mortifying experience and so I stayed away from male dogs. In addition, the humane societies were asking hundreds of dollars to adopt a pet. I wanted a dog but I didn’t want to shell out that kind of money. So, I said to the universe that I would be open and wait and see what comes my way. Angie came into our lives as a stray running loose in the small town we lived in at the time. That was six years ago. I thought maybe another dog would come into my life in a similar fashion. I didn’t have to wait long.

On July 22 days before my 62 birthday, Dean-o, a little Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix showed up. It’s kind of an interesting story. I’ll save that for another time. Right now I am talking about experiences and how they are the stuff of life. And so…

I realized that it is through experiences that I feel truly alive. Well, that and being foolish a sentiment I articulated in the quote below and wrote about in my post Foolishness means Aliveness:

To Be Foolish Means To Truly Be Alive.

What I mean by surrendering to what I perceive is my foolishness  is that I am able to fully engage in an experience. On the big plus side if you spend my life collecting experiences I won’t need a big house or storage facility to store them. And many experience are basically free.

Okay, so there I was back in July turning 62 and adopting a new dog which brought me a whole set of experiences in itself, yet feeling how can I get more out of life? How can I get more out of life on a limited budget? Suddenly an idea just showed up for me to find, just like little Dean-o, the Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix, which I can’t wait to tell you about in a later post.

Hiking the Ice Age TrailI took Angie, our resident dog and Dean-o, the new little guy, to Kettle Moraine State Forest for a hike. It seems Dean-o needs plenty of time and space to run.  On this day, in late July, the dogs and I went to hike the trails of the Southern unit of Kettle Moraine. I wrote about these trails in January in my post Peacefully Coexist. In this forest there is the red trail and the blue trail and the green trail.

The Wisconsin Ice Age TrailBut there is also the yellow trail which is the Ice Age Trail. It’s more rugged and less traveled than the regular hiking trails because it was built and is maintained entirely by volunteers. Because there were others out on the trails that day I veered off the regular hiking trails and took the ice age trail.

Hiking rocky rugged ice age trail

The rocky, rugged Ice Age Trail

It was a great hike that day. I totally enjoyed nature and the solitude. I fell in love with the ice age trail. I was hooked. I wanted more. Seemed to me I remembered seeing on the internet that the ice age alliance published maps the trail. Before I left that day I stopped in at the ranger station and purchased a loose leaf binder with all the maps of the 1000 mile trail winding through Wisconsin. My goal, to eventually walk the whole thing albeit in increments. That is what I have been doing once a week since July 30.  So far I hiked 52 miles of the trail. I feel pretty good about it.

Yet… I have felt foolish. Foolish because I was doing it by myself, cept the dogs of course, with myself and for myself. This to me feels like utter selfishness and foolishness.   However, while I am hiking, I allow myself to surrender to the experience. I bring snacks and water and a camera. I feel so totally peaceful and serene out there on the trail. However, if I gave into my feeling being foolish I probably would have abandoned the whole thing. I haven’t done that. Instead I surrendered to foolishness; I’m collecting my experiences and feel truly alive.

So here is my crone wisdom pearl: collect experiences and share them with others. Whether they be joyful or not. It is the experiences that make up who we are. Our individual experiences are our story. Sharing your experiences/ story with others can not help but breed compassion, understanding and a sense of belonging. What do you think?

Links for the Ice Age Trail:
Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age National Scenic Trail Wisconsin
Ice Age Trail – Wikipedia

Immersing myself in a project

Are there things in your life that you immerse yourself in, things that you can’t wait to get back to, that call for you to come back when you are away? Since I made the decision to go for my life purpose of expressing myself through writing I have been immersing myself in writing.   I have logged in many hours at my computer tapping away on the keyboard watching the words march across the screen. I am in the process of writing a book length narrative on the 30 or so years I spent dealing with some difficult issues in a therapeutic setting. Simply put I am writing about the time I spent in therapy. I am writing this therapy story as I call it because it felt like it needed to be told, needed to be cleared out to make room for more writing. Therapy was a big part of my life, made up a big part of who I am.

I spend as much time on it as I can. It is taking on a life of its own. What started out sporadic has turned fairly regular. Sometimes I think, yeah, this is what I am trying to say, this is pretty good. Then I think, sheez, it’s just a bunch of crap. What’s the point. But through it all I push myself onward. I tell myself I can’t make a judgment about it till its complete. This is quite unusual for me. Sticking to something in spite of my negative side harping on me that I’m wasting my time totally immersing myself.

Right now I am putting in every little bit of experience or information. Sometimes is just seems like one big mess. First I work on one part, then I dropped that and go onto another part, then I go back to the beginning. Next thing you know I’m sidetracked on some research. I have a file on my computer with all sorts of chapters or sections and outlines and notes.

Surprisingly enough while I am working on it I am engrossed. I look forward to the time when I can go back to it. I almost feel inpatient when I can’t be working on it. This is what I hoped for, to get so involved in writing something that I would develop momentum, a sense of purpose, where it feels like this is what I want to do, what I am supposed to be doing. This is new for me. It is a good thing yet also a bit frustrating because it seems my blog gets put on the back burner. What are your experiences with  immersing yourself in a personal project?  Is it challenging?  Rewarding?  Is it new for you like it is for me?

Live What You Love

Milwaukee county has many wonderful events to offer music lovers in this Great City by the Great Lake Michigan. Every weekend during the summer there is a festival or two going on around the city mostly at the Summerfest grounds. Plenty of music of all varieties can be heard around the various stages.

Image credit: argus456 / 123RF Stock Photo

What Mike and I love the most, however, is the free concerts put on by Milwaukee County Parks, the most popular being Thursday nights Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square Park. Every Thursday the small square park in the heart of downtown Milwaukee is crawling with music lovers. Some people go all out and bring their own little bistro table and chairs pulling out wine, cheese and assorted fruit from cute little picnic baskets. Venders sell hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, wine, beer or soda. A local pizza restaurant across the street will deliver pizza to your spot.

In the front of the stage after the dance area is a section for those with blankets which is where you would find Mike and I sprawled out on our blanket we use special for the occasion. We were lucky one year to hear the jazz artistsEuge Groove before he became huge and you had to shell out big bucks to hear him play. That was one intoxicating concert. This year Jazz in the Park kicks off their season with blues band Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys.

Another of our favorites is the concerts held at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park. This concert is not as crowded as the popular Jazz in the Park making for a more intimate setting with the fragrant air of flowers, herbs and fresh mowed grass in the air. This park does not limit its repertoire to just jazz or blues which is evident from the first performance of the season being Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Occasionally we will venture to other parks if some of our favorites such as Street Life with Warren Wiegratz, Christopher’s Project or the Eddie Butts Band are playing

It was while attending one of these concerts, that we were introduced to Frank Pachucki, a colorful local character dressed in casual dress pants and shirts dancing by himself in front of the stage at State Fair Park. That was almost 20 years ago. Pachucki had to have been 65 then making Mike and I a young and vibrant 41. I must admit I thought Pachucki was too old to be dancing all by himself. I was aghast at his bold audacity. After a while, he was joined by Betty Hornby who was five years older he was. They became known around town as the ‘dancing couple’. Their energy seemed endless. They would dance their version of swing or ballroom dancing to  every number be it fast, slow or in between. After a while we started to look for this dancing couple at concerts. It didn’t seem like a concert unless those two were up front dancing. As they grew older and Mike and I grew older they no longer seemed an oddity. They were part of the ambiance and endearing.

About two years back ill health landed Pachucki in an assisted living facility but that did not stop him from dancing. Unable to attend concerts Hornby took a bus to visit him every day and with his walker gliding along side he and Hornby continued to dance.

What started out for me as odd ball behavior by a strange old man turned into an amazing story of inspiration by a wise elder who knew how to forge ahead with your life passion despite age, ridicule, sideways glances or illness.I just learned from the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel that this past Wednesday Pachucki died. He was 85. What I feel he left behind was the example of how to live what you love.  Thank you Frank, I plan to live my love of writing.  I encourage you to watch the video below and feel the inspiration flow through you.  Are you ready to live what you love?