Lipstick, Dresses and Shoes

I read somewhere that retail sales have been surging on lipstick, dresses, and shoes. I imagine this is because, following a year of mandatory masks and lockdowns, contrasted with vaccinations and lower infection numbers, the entire world has decided to reschedule weddings, parties, family reunions, and travel for the summer of 2021.

We had been invited to a dear friend’s son’s wedding nearly two years ago but due to the pandemic, this was going to be their third wedding date! Since the wedding was out of state, it required a plane ride, rental car and we decided to sleep in a vacation rental to be safer.  This way we could come early and leave a few days later.

It was so exciting to prepare for a wedding.  The bride and groom are adorable and they have been waiting so long for this. We were thrilled to celebrate this long-delayed special occasion.

Not a surprise, but the big issue was that nothing in our closets seemed to fit the same way.  Luckily we did a survey of our formal attire choices soon enough to realize that we would both need to purchase something new.  I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t purchases any clothes for so long.  

As a new retiree, I don’t need to shop for workwear anymore and I now have plenty of shorts and tops for the summer, along with my new golf outfits.  Not so with our formal wear.  My husband opted for an online shopping experience and he purged and replaced all of the older fancy clothes in his closet, a rare occasion.

I, on the other hand, asked a friend who is an amazing shopper to help me find something to wear to a “black-tie optional” formal wedding.  After so many months at home, to finally go on a shopping trip, have lunch and a car ride was a long-overdue treat. Even my least favorite thing, finding shoes, turned out to be a positive experience.

With masks coming off it has been wonderful to actually see big smiles and the lower half of people’s faces.  Lipstick was definitely on my shopping list too.  

Everything about the wedding was fantastic.  The weather in southern California on the coast was gorgeous, the venue a five-star experience, and the ceremony touching and beautiful.  At the reception following the ceremony, the meal, music, and dancing all combined for a memorable night. 

What struck me was how much we can take for granted.  Before the pandemic and my retirement, I’m not sure that I always just took a moment to truly appreciate the life I was experiencing.  I was busy and always in a hurry and tired.

1 year retirement journey with Barbara Mock

But post retirement I have had time.  For this wedding, I was able to notice a gorgeous bride’s smile, a beaming groom, and the tears in their parents’ eyes.  I saw the tiny flower girl walking with her beautiful mother, smelled the soft breeze, felt the sunshine on my face, and heard the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. The dream and vision of the bride and her family was now finally fulfilled by the hardworking musicians, florists, photographers, chef, bartenders, waitstaff and DJ. 

I’m so grateful for this time in my life and I feel privileged that for just a few days that I was finally free to put on some lipstick, a pretty dress, and a new pair of dancing shoes. Dancing with my sweetheart as the moon was rising is an experience I’ll never forget.

Walking To School

One of the many blessings of retirement is the opportunity to help out my son and daughter-in-law.  Now that I’m retired, whenever they need a Nana to “stand in the gap” they know they can call.  If my schedule is open, I’m there!

As working parents and with all of the transitions associated with virtual learning during the pandemic, it has been a challenging year. They are working parents that sometimes need some help driving or picking up kids.  With a huge network in their neighborhood, they have lots of help, but sometimes it is nice to give their friends’ parents a break.

For me, the month of June feels like we are in an endless summer of travel, hiking adventures, golf trips, and reconnecting with friends and family. But in between trips I have been able to schedule a few days to spend at their house.

Last week, I was able to walk them to school, pick them up and take them out to their favorite lunch place on a rainy day. On another day I drove to soccer practice and watched my grandson do some drills. For some of the time, I was laying on the grass looking up at the sky with my granddaughter as the warm day cooled and the sun was setting. During the 90 minutes we were watching him, she and I had some really important life conversations. During the day, in between all the coming and going while their parents worked, I was able to clean the kitchen, throw in some laundry and get dinner started. Tucking them in at night, saying prayers, and singing songs is something I have missed in the years between when my own children grew up. While I was tired at the end of the day I felt like I was making an important contribution to their lives.

Walking to schoolI had a grateful moment on the way to class a few days ago.  They both held my hand and asked me to tell them stories about the past.  Lately, they have been asking for stories of my childhood. Sometimes they want to hear funny stories about their dad when he was a little boy. We’ve even talked about wars, the civil rights movement, and our country’s history! It all starts with a question they have and then I try to answer accurately and honestly. This has even caused us to look things up, research online, or look for movies and stories that supports some answers to their questions or even gives a different perspective. They are extremely fascinated by the scores of images that I can almost immediately find on my phone.

As I walked back to their home with their pandemic puppy Millie, I took a deep breath and praised God for the precious gift of time. I am so grateful for uninterrupted, intentional conversations with their trusting eyes looking up at me and saying, “Tell us another story, Nana!”

At church last week, our pastor shared about how important it is that all of us prepare the next generation. In fact, he preached an entire sermon on this topic!  The scripture was from Psalm 78:4-6.  It says in part: 

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,”

I was challenged by this and lately have been adding a spiritual component or a moral message to my stories each time we are together. My stories now always have a purpose and a lesson. They keep asking so many questions!  Sometimes it can be exhausting but I know that now is the window of time that I get to speak truth into their little lives.  In a few short years, they’ll be forming their own beliefs and choosing who they will serve and what they will believe.

I’ve been remembering the book I read when my kids were young, “The Five Love Languages for Children” by Dr. Gary Chapman. 

I believe that both of my grandkids give and receive love the best through quality time and words of affirmation.  My grandson though especially appreciates physical touch. His hugs are the best! I’m treasuring these moments with them. I’m continually mindful of preparing for that last time I’ll get to do this.  I know they won’t always want to hold my hand and ask for a story on the way to school.  In just a few short years they’ll be driving themselves!

So here is a challenge:  As a retiree, even if you don’t yet have grandkids, I think the extra time you now have could be well spent preparing the next generation.  Maybe there are kids in your neighborhood or your church that might need your kindness and friendship.  There could be nieces, nephews, or young people that could learn from you. Take a few minutes to think about ways you could find to share your wisdom and experience. 

In fact, after that sermon, I began looking for ways to prepare the next generation in my own neighborhood. I imagine that was the purpose of the message that day, because for a week in July, I’ll be a small group leader for Vacation Bible School. Even now I’m planning for Nana Camp at the end of the month when we’ll have all four grandkids at once!

I’m so glad I was blessed to be able to stop working and retire so that I can experience these everyday moments. I know the window will close before I’m ready for it. 

Zion and the Kolob Arch

Zion and the Kolob ArchDuring our desert southwest road trip, on the day we took a break from golf, my husband decided we should take a 14 mile hike to the Kolob Arch.  Yes, you read that right, Fourteen Miles!

Zion National Park is huge and the main event, so to speak, is the famous part of the park where the Virgin River flows through, it is called the Narrows.  There are shuttle services and many hikes to take from Springdale at the entrance to the park.  Angels Landing and Observation Point are classic hikes but we did those 20 years ago when we were younger and in much better shape.

With COVID protocols in place, the shuttles in Zion were limited to half the passengers, and tickets needed to be purchased in advance.  We met many travelers who were disappointed they were not able to gain access to the park.

We opted to take the “road less traveled” to the northwest corner of Zion and go to Kolob Canyon. We stopped there to go to the observation area and took in sweeping views of the canyon as well as the north rim of the Grand Canyon from our car on our way to Saint George and were hooked.  Just driving in the gate is breathtaking.

The Kolob Arch is one of the largest natural arches in the world but it is seven miles in and seven miles out to see it. We got up at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at the trailhead at 7 a.m.  There was no one else around until we came to several small campsites (advance reservations required) for people who hiked in the day before and spent the night.

The morning was cool and the wind was coming up so initially, hiking was comfortable.  It is hard to describe the beauty of this canyon as the sun came up over the rim.  Words like, “breathtaking, awe-inspiring,Zion and the Kolob Arch in retirement gorgeous” don’t really do it justice.

The hike starts up high and the first half-mile drops down to a valley floor along a river with a few ups and downs. Around every turn, I was snapping pictures each more beautiful than the last.

Finally, we made it to the arch, and still, we didn’t see any day hikers.  We shared our packed lunch, took a few pictures, and turned to make our way back to the car.  This is when we started seeing day hikers along with those staying in the canyon for the night.  The temperature was rising and the wind was whipping up.  There was even a “red flag” warning in case of wildfires.

I’m much older than I was the first time we came to Zion and not used to hiking this far.  I can still do a 5-7 mile hike fairly easily but this was double that.  We made good time until we started the steep ascent out of the canyon.

I used up all my water and had to share with my husband the last mile.  The last half-mile of the hike was a test of my fortitude because after 13 1/2 miles I was tired. We had been hiking for nearly 8 hours.  I was dehydrated, my heart was racing and I felt nauseous.  My husband said don’t stop, just keep going, put on your “big girl pants” and quit whining.  Really??

I finally made it to the top with quite a few broken blood vessels on the back of my calves.  There was cold water and ice-cold watermelon in the car and I felt better once my hiking boots were off and my flip flops were on.

I’m realizing that I’m not as young as I used to be and not in the greatest shape, especially post-pandemic. We hiked over 39,000 steps that day and I’m glad we made it out. In the car on the way home, we talked about the hike and how awesome it was.

Then we had a really candid conversation about our “bucket” list.  Where are the places we’ve always wanted to see? How difficult are these places to get to? Will we be physically able to get to them in the future? When will our “last” hike be?Zion and the Kolob Arch in retirement

This hike and the conversations later are causing us to rethink some of our retirement plans.  The idea of “we aren’t getting any younger” is making us prioritize the activities and places we want to go to first before we can’t anymore.

Prior to the hike, I was really reluctant to hike that far in the hot sun.  Happily, the experience and the views were so amazing that I don’t regret it at all. Now I’m motivated to make plans for those places we’ve only dreamed about. The sand in the hourglass is dropping and I don’t want to miss these incredible experiences.

I just need to keep moving and put one foot in front of the other. Oh and put on my big girl pants and stop whining!  Thanks for the encouragement sweetheart!

Snow Canyon and Angel Bird

Barbara Mock's Retirement Journey to Snow Canyon and Angel BirdOne morning on our road trip we took a break from golf and went to Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.  Just about 20 minutes from the town of Saint George, Snow Canyon is an overlooked gem of a park. https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/snow-canyon/

They're many different kinds of trails with funny names.  “Red Sand” lived up to its name for sure and so did “Petrified Sand Dunes.”  There is one trail called “Pioneer Names.”  This short less than half-mile hike takes you to an arch where you can still see where pioneers from the 1850s wrote their names in axle grease.  There are also hikes called “Lava Flow” and “Butterfly.”  We found the lava flow and a lava tube but I never did see anything that resembled a butterfly.

Our very first hike was in the early morning.  It was to a small slot canyon and was called Jenny Canyon.  We thought we were the only ones there but as we entered the entrance to the canyon we saw a woman all in black crouched in front of a video camera.  As we carefully approached, she silently signaled, “Shhhh”.

Fascinated we thought maybe she was filming an animal or something.  Within a few seconds, a lovely woman came from behind the rocks dressed all in white in a long flowing dress with a set of feathered wings. She arched her back and moved the wings as if she was a bird or an angel.  Swirling and twirling she slowed moved her body and her wings. She was in bare feet dancing toward us from the back of the canyon.

I was transfixed because I’ve honestly never seen anything quite like this.  It was such an odd time of day in a very remote place. She danced for about two minutes and then stopped. Still processing what had justBarbara Mock's Retirement Journey to Snow Canyon and Angel Bird happened, I quietly asked, “What is your story?”

She shared that she was a street performer and healer and that she has performed as “Angel Bird” all over the world, including Florence, Berlin, and Paris. She described her dance as a celebration of life and freedom.  I asked her name and then she asked about our story.

I told her that I had retired about six weeks ago, that we were enjoying a two-week trip together, and that we had just celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. She looked at me intently and then said, “Then we will celebrate your new freedom.  You now have the freedom to live, to love, to create, and enjoy your third act.”

Overcome with unexpected emotions, tears came to my eyes.  My husband said, “Are you crying?” and I said, “Yes.” Then the angel bird and her photographer started crying.  This was a bit much for my husband, he said, “There is too much estrogen here” and started walking to the end of the canyon.

Barbara Mock's Retirement Journey to Snow Canyon and Angel BirdI’m really not exactly sure what happened to me in the canyon with the Angel Bird and her friend, but afterward, I did feel a lightness. I enjoyed the rest of our day as we sat on top of one of the petrified dunes and enjoyed our lunch and looked down at the rugged beauty of Snow Canyon. There is a spiritual aspect to retirement. I’m coming more and more to understand that it is really an opportunity for reinvention.  It is a third chance to pursue your dreams, to see new places, to experience new people, and to live freely without any regrets.

Thank you Angel Bird! 

Just so that you don’t think I imagined this – here is a link to Elizabeth’s website. https://www.elizabethyochim.com/home-1

Road Trip

A good friend of my husband generously invited us to share his condo in Saint George, Utah for a week in May.  Now that I’m retired and not tied to a work or vacation schedule we decided to do something that we haven’t done in years, a “Road Trip”. In addition to planning for hiking and golf during our week in the Canyon Lands we decided to take four days to drive down and three to come home.Barbara Mock's Retirement Journey Road Trip

My husband did an amazing job of finding golf courses and hotels that only required us to drive four to seven hours each day.  He found great places to sleep and either booked a tee time for us to golf together or found a few walks and hikes along the way.  We slept in Pendleton, Oregon, Boise, Idaho, and Orem, Utah on the way south.  Then we slept in Twin Falls, Idaho, and Kennewick, Washington on our way north.

We haven’t traveled like this very often in the past but we both found it really enjoyable. Every day was a new adventure.  We met wonderful people, the hotels we stayed at were clean and were fully implementing COVID protocols, and we found some out of the way restaurants that were interesting with delicious food.

What struck me was how nice it was to have time to talk for hours as the beautiful scenery flew by.  The speed limit in Utah is 80 miles an hour so the landscape went by really fast! We balanced our trip with some easier, less expensive courses that were good for me and the natural beauty of the desert southwest.

With the red rock hills, snow-capped mountains, frothy waterfalls, green trees, sagebrush all under clear blue skies and a bright yellow sun, it was hard to keep our eyes on the road. Each day I was able to be present in the moment and truly appreciate that I was in these places instead of working in a home office.

Once we joined our friends we were treated to a beautiful two-bedroom condo with a lovely pool.  We golfed together at four different courses and on the other days, we went on some amazing hikes. Sometimes we got a big lunch after our round and then snacked and told stories in the evening.  Other nights we went to some interesting places for dinner and on three nights we cooked for ourselves and ate in.  There were barbecues on our deck so we grilled some meat, added a salad and some sides, and enjoyed our meal together.

Our two-week Road Trip just flew by to the point where we weren’t really ready to come home.  Some of the highlights were:  We were able to see parts of the country we’ve never seen before.  We didn’t travel the same road twice. We met other retired folks from all over the country. We renewed old friendships. We grew closer together as a couple. My golf game is slowly improving and I walked more steps in two weeks than I did during months of the pandemic.

We can’t wait for our next Road Trip.

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