balance

Dirt Road and Vines

Not all dirt road lead to wineries but on this fall Saturday my dirt road headed right to one of the cool wineries in North Georgia. Cavender Creek is just about an hour or so outside of the city near the college town of Dahlonega. Home to the University of North Georgia. Turning off the main road you drive a short distance on the dusty road as you see the vines in the sunshine.

Just beyond the vines is a little rustic oasis. I went for the sole purpose of sucking on their wine slushy flavor of the day or a swirl if they had more than one flavor while enjoying the ambiance. I was in luck. Pink Starburst and Lime starburst were the flavors to swirl on the sunny weekend afternoon. Perfect presentation with the twisty straw for flair. And it tasted just as good as it looked. One must always be careful not to suck too fast or that pretty slushy will go straight to your head.

Cavender Creek is set off the road a bit. It has an inviting outdoor space for socializing by fire pits and on the lawn. Another deck outside under cover. A back room with long white drapes reflecting the appeal of a sunroom. A cozy group living room in with many special setups of chairs, couches, stools and what not to chat in big or small groups. So much thought was out into making this winery inviting. All the way down to the rocking chair front porch. Such an inviting place with so many spots to unwind and chat.

For today I was at a table for two but with food for 3 or four. Assorted cheeses and meats mixed with some crackers and giant pretzel to soak up some of the wine. A little socializing. A little snacking. Some checkers to play. And I almost forgot about bumping into some folks I hadn’t seen in years. This place has it all from good food to tasty wines to cool vibes with all of their hangout spots.

This day was not planned to include a stop at the winery. It was full of to do’s and times to get to here and there. I opted for the scenic route. A pit stop. Time to breathe the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun. Get a little dust on the car. Socialize a bit and of course enjoy the sweetness of the wine slushy.

In the end the cup was empty but the soul was full. The pillow on my chair may have summed it up nice with the phrase:

This

Is

The 

Life

No questions about it. A beautiful day. An amazing destination. Kinship. I felt like one of the lucky ones today. Remember the u-turns in life sometimes yield the best and most unexpected memories. Below is a quirky decoration that was sitting on the vintage table next to me. Too cute not to capture.

Jackass may be the theme in the logo of this winery which adds to its curbside appeal. If in the area you should definitely give it a try.

adventure

Girls, Ghosts, and a Graveyard

It’s pumpkin spice season at Starbucks. The smell of fall in is in the air. Kids are back in school. Now it’s time to do dust off the craziness of summer and rush in fun fall festivities.

This weekend was something new. An adventure planned for the girl gang to step out of their comfort zone. Dining at a restaurant adorned with the name Six Feet Under. A creepy cemetery tour. Why not? This weekend seemed like a perfect time to have the shit scared scared out of me. Off we went, almost leaving the safety of suburbia for the sin of the city.

Well, I almost went. The others actually went. The first warning came from the driver. “I must warn you I’m willing to drive but I drive like a blind person.” Hmmm. Sounds perfect for this fall adventure. Unfortunately Chick 1 had to bail to catch a flight on a whim, but no fear Chick 2 was ready willing and able to jump into this spooktacular adventure. As the torch passes from one scared Chick to one unphased Chick, you will see how this wild tale unfolds.

I will be waiting in anticipation to read the conclusion of the graveyard tales with you. I may or may not be chasing ghosts in my sleep until then….

Chick 2 taking over. We arrived on the misty morning at the front gate of Oakland Cemetery. The forecast called for rain and clouds, which in most cases might have been a disappointment, but in this case it fit perfectly with our funereal outing. We made a brief visit to the gift shop which was filled with laughably morbid treasures like Southern funeral cookbooks and sympathy cards. After breezing through, we started our tour.

It had been about a decade since I had been to Oakland. And before that, I had visited in 7th grade. This was an old old cemetery even then, so you can imagine the cracked walkways, faded headstones, and mossy ground it is filled with now.

Our guide was a quirky woman who had led tours there for many years. Our tour was focused on stories of women buried there. We walked gingerly between the rows. Simple stones to elaborate tombs and everything in between. We saw the resting places of celebrities like Margaret Mitchell and Kenny Rogers (not a woman, but his fame made him a detour). We heard about people who weren’t famous but shared great love stories, made important contributions like leading the first black PTA, or just did notable things. We noticed stones and little elephants piled on grave markers. The elephants were on a stone that marked the resting place of a woman who took in many orphans. We learned that elephants are some of the only animals that look after orphans in nature. Interesting.

There were so many symbols on the graves. Circles stand for eternity. Closed books and open books. Swords and pillows. The lambs on the graves of babies. Each with a different meaning behind them. Intricate stories for the lives represented. An attempt to capture what was most important about them in life, or even their hopes in death.

Different sections for different kinds of people. A section for Confederate soldiers. A Jewish section. An African American section. Interesting how cemeteries reflect the segregation in life at times.

Since we mostly looked at the graves of women, I noticed how often the women in the cemetery were remembered only in relationship to what they did for others. One man had many accomplishments listed, author, Southern gentleman, and so on. On the other side of the stone, the woman was listed as “loving and supportive wife.” Is that all we remember her for?

It also made me wonder what I would want to have on my tombstone. What would I want my legacy to be?

My group and I wandered in the dreary drizzle. We meandered. We took photos. We smelled plants. We asked questions and just took in the ambiance. A sunny day wouldn’t have fit, to be honest.

We capped it off with a delicious lunch and a surprise pastry and coffee treat. All in all, a great day of learning, friendship, and both making and thinking about memories. How would you like to be remembered?

challenges, change

Oh My Aches

Well 50 has been glorious thus far. So many aches creep up after the big 5-0. Today, I thought I would jot a few down.

The tennis ache: I have a love hate relationship with this kind of ache. I love tennis. I hate the ache in my forearm from overuse. A year ago the ache seemed insignificant. Could the big 5-0 really cause aches?

The CrossFit ache: this ache comes and goes depending on the programming of movements and/or the frequency of my attendance on a regular basis. The ache however is the same. It’s a graduating ache. You must move to keep the tightness from settling in any one place, especially the buttocks. Nobody likes a tight ass. Consistency helps with this ache but age does enlighten you when evaluating aches.

The knee ache: this one is ever so annoying. I can walk. I can bend. I can ride a bike. However, if I sit in a plane seat or a car seat for any length of time my knee is locked. The unlocking part leaves a lingering pain deep inside. Could this be old age? I have no idea what a bad knee feels like but now that I’m fifty I think about it.

Although there are physical aches, there are also emotional and social aches. The social aches come and go with time conflicts and scheduling for adults. Those who want to spend time together but then schedules and life gets in the way. The emotional aches can swing from one side to the other.

One side of the emotional ache could be with growth. Watching your child or young adult grow or not grow. The other side could be emotional aches resulting from the loss of loved ones near and far. Add that 5-0 menopausal self and you might get a an emotional wreck, front and center.

Environmental aches sneak up on you too. The annoying neighbor. The boss who is a pain. The co-worker who slacks causing you extra work.  The weather might even throw you off or makes your aches worse if it’s cold or rainy. One seems easily shaken or disturbed as into that crotchety self over fifty.

I never used to notice aches and pains as much as I have this year. Menopause. Aging. Life. It all hits at once. Or so it seems to me. My forty-five year old self was so much more indestructible. My forty-seven year old self was so adventurous. My fifty and challenged self is changing daily. Likes. Dislikes. Wants. Don’t wants. Needs. No’s. Do’s. Dont’s. I can’t even name them all because change is on the horizon, daily. I also think snoring magnifies over 50.

As I write today, I think of how much I enjoy the still of my day today. The fall air. The cool breeze. The comfy sweatpants. As day shifts to night, I will enjoy something different. The outdoors. The giggles. The challenges. The competition. I hit the field tonight with my new team. I will enjoy some fall memories with this group that will surely keep me on my toes and easily make me forget my aches of the ages.

For now I focus on moving as much as I can and as often as I can. I try to stretch my mind to try new things to counter balance my aging. I often remember to giggle. I also disregard those around me who attempt to suck the life out of me. This is a necessary step to keep the other aches at bay.

Nobody wants to add heartache or worse on top of the other aches I listed above. Well not me anyway. Time to throw my frisbees to my dogs and breathe fresh air.

mental health

Just a Giggle

I had a moment in bed at the end of the night that caused me to smile and giggle out loud. It was a great reminder about laughter. I might have been alone at the time but I had my own party of one giggle session. 

Even when life sucks, you can laugh about it. Laughter is a form of joy and it in itself can have a rippling effect. For me the evening I had a random giggle, I was mad. The anger somehow shifted away in the moment as the laughter overpowered the frown. A funny reality.

As I think about my life, the life of my close friends and others, I see challenges. My close friend is mourning the loss of her family pet of years. The loss is draining. A little laughter or smiles can help her over the hump of the initial loss. A distraction of sorts. Not a cure but a moment in time to readjust. 

A loved one is battling health concerns. Sudden weight loss. Long term effects from potentially life threatening diagnosis. So much burden weighing on one’s life. A smile. A giggle. A softer side here and there can improve one’s outlook. If even for a day. A half of day. An hour. A moment of pleasure vs the constant of pain or displeasure.

The shitty workplace. The boss who takes and takes. And takes again. Look in the mirror. It’s not you. It’s them. Laugh it off. If you are still tasked to enter data in a computer all day, giggle about their stupidity. If somebody insists you copy, collate or laminate, just sing you a song. I think I can. I think I can. And laugh it off. Over paid data entry clerk. Over paid girl Friday copy clerk. 

Celebrate the moment in time where you did minuscule tasks to get by. Laugh a little. The insult or pain of the tasks are just temporary. You know your worth. Don’t fret about the now. The future is bright. We are all capable of adjusting our environmental distractions or displeasures.

Laugh it off. Shake your head. Giggle. Grab a coffee with a friend or two and reminisce about old times. Laugh some more. I’m sure you will be rejuvenated to the point you can endure more pain. More copy clerk duties. More medical tests. More grief. And when life smacks you in the face again with an obstacle. Laugh some more.

I had a buddy in my life for many years. He laughed a lot. He laughed loud and hearty when he farted for example. The big belly laugh. The shitty grin. The laugh again. A fart created such laughter. Not a care in the world at that moment. We should all have buddy moments to spark the giggles needed to reset the shittyness (no pun intended) of what life has in front of us at that moment.

This post is dedicated to Shadow. The best doggo who crossed the rainbow bridge this week. Although it’s not my sad story, the sadness my friend is feeling has caused me to reflect a little this morning. The outcome was this post about the softer side of life while giving a nod to my buddy who has been gone some time now. May he be reading this post with a hearty laugh of his own.

I feel fortunate to be here today writing. May may giggles today spill over to others in my life that are struggling to find the giggles due to their grief or stress at the moment.

adventure

Yes Day

The first I heard of “yes day” was from my students. Many of them have a yes day on their birthdays or another special occasion. Heck, there was even a kids movie about it.

But in case you live under a rock or just don’t have kids in that age group, you may still be wondering what a “yes day” is. In my little world, it’s a day when kids get to ask for whatever that want, and the parents say yes. Pizza for breakfast? You got it. Last minute tickets to a professional baseball game? Sure. Movie matinee just because, with popcorn, candy, soda…the works? Sure. All the video game screen time you can stand? Have at it. Staying up past your usual bedtime? Squeeze every minute of yes day for all it’s worth.

I suppose there are rules and things that are off-limits, but in a world or a family filled with routines, have-tos and compromises, a day full of following your bliss sounds wonderful. Which led me to think, why should kids have all the fun?

With that in mind, I scheduled a “yes day” for myself. I invited friends to tag along if they had time and desire. I decided to look through my “want to do” list for the large city I live near (but rarely seem to go to.)

Planning may be even more fun than the actual doing. Scrolling through bookmarks, etc. What’s hard for me is actually not thinking of anyone else in the planning. I usually try hard to think of activities, places to eat, and ways to spend time that others will enjoy. It’s so rarely just about me (and when it is, I am usually by myself!)

My yes-day companions and I met up at a popular local place for brunch. Started with the tiktok-famous cinnamon roll. I enjoyed the tostada, loaded with veggies. Soaked in the ambiance. According to the house rules, we had to be in and out in an hour. No wonder, when we left there were dozens of people outside waiting to grab a table.

Then it was off on a hike. It turned out to be longer and harder than I thought it would be, but also much more beautiful. Lots of lovely water views. The leaves were beginning to change. And after lots of nearly-getting-lost moments, we made our way to the hidden treasure, the bamboo forest. Another tiktok famous spot, according to my daughter. A group was doing a futuristic photo shoot as well.

My friends headed back home, and I went on to treat myself to more insta-worthy treats: this time local ice cream. Soft serve salted honey with dark chocolate shell and cornflake streusel. It was way out of my way, but worth every extra mile.

Maybe that’s what a yes day is really all about in the end. Acknowledging that your whims and desires are worth pursuing…no matter how small or how fickle. I don’t have parents to spoil me with a yes day, so I’ll have to keep giving them to myself. Having friends along for the ride made it all the more memorable. Aren’t adventures even sweeter when shared?