I’m a Guest on Denyse Whelan’s Blog in her “Women of Courage” Series

Denyse Whelan Graphic

I am pleased to be a guest on Denyse Whelan’s blog this week in her series, “Women of Courage.”

Denyse Whelan Graphic

Denyse and I “met online” through blogging when she discovered my Sunday Stills photo challenge that I have hosted for over three years. Denyse is a resident of Eastern Australia and survivor of head and neck cancer. Like me, Denyse is a retired fellow educator and we hit it off with our interests in blogging and photography.

The following is an excerpt from her post.

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I’ve never really been afraid of anything, being raised in nature and the outdoors. My temperament requires that I exist without uncertainty and a lot of structure, so you can imagine how 2020 has treated me (and the rest of us)!

SUP transportation

Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that everyone of us has shown immense courage and faith simply by existing in a world-wide pandemic, the likes none of us has ever seen.

But if I could define “courage,” I would describe that over the years, I have taken several life-changing leaps of faith, most recently:

Yellow Ginkgos
Days of campus bliss
  • At 55, having given 32 years of service to my long-term job, I retired with a decent pension while continuing to teach at the university and take on more classes. Have you ever retired? It takes a bit getting used to, even though I considered myself “semi-retired” at the time.
  • But more notably, my biggest act of courage was to buy property in another state, build a new home there and completely retire. Imagine leaving a successful teaching job after 10 years? Imagine packing up belongings in a house you’ve lived in for 32 years? And doing it all during a pandemic where uncertainty was the operative word of the year.
Mountain home
Street view of home

To read the rest, please visit Denyse here. Comments are closed on my post.


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How the Delta Changed My Life

Trio of Sailors Windsurfing

Trio of Sailors Windsurfing

I find this photo challenge interesting in that the word “delta” is used to signify change or transition.

Delta is a five-letter word that has been a huge part of my vocabulary since I met my hubby over 8 years ago. Much of my leisure time involves the Sacramento River Delta in Northern California where two rivers converge near the San Francisco Bay area.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know I took up windsurfing at age 49. All of my windsurfing experience was gained here in the delta. Eight years later I’m still struggling to just master the basics. I mention this because the delta, specifically Sherman Island in Sacramento County, is home to the second most popular windsurfing spot on the West Coast, indeed a word-wide destination for sailors looking for an intermediate to advanced area for wind sports.

If you had asked me in 2008 if I was interested in windsurfing, I would have looked at you with a quizzical look. This sport or leisure pastime was the last thing on my mind or at least at the bottom of my bucket list.

Just a year later, on my first date with my (now) hubby, after dinner out, we sat and watched windsurfing videos at his friend’s house where he was temporarily staying. After watching, I stated, “Maybe you can teach me how to windsurf.” As he fell out of his chair, I think that might have been the moment he fell in love with me.

I have always been athletic and easily learned new sports skills. I have excelled at figure skating, archery, horseback riding, tennis, swimming, softball, and cycling. In fact, because of my exposure to windsurfing I discovered the “new-old” sport of SUPing, or stand-up paddle-boarding, as it’s called. After a quick lesson, I learned quickly and consider it one of my top pastimes.

Not so much with windsurfing. Ridiculously frustrating! I vowed to quit and sell my quiver of used sails, boards and all its paraphernalia more times than I can count.

What does all have to do with the theme, besides the obvious? The weekly photo challenge used a photo of a delta to symbolize what we believe are transitions and/or change.

With all my threats to throw my hands up and admit defeat, somehow, windsurfing has changed me. The very act of balancing on a shifting board while grasping the boom of the sail, then adjusting my body to the wind to catch the sail and set the whole rig in motion is quite amazing.

Greek Delta symbolSidebar of interest: In the Greek alphabet, delta is the triangle shape pictured. Funny how it resembles a windsurf sail. Visually, the sailor, board and sail also create this delta triad figure.


If you don’t believe me please take a look at this very short video our good friend filmed of me last weekend. That’s really me!

Learning this at age 49 and into my 50s has indeed changed me. Spontaneity and fun crept back into my life. A taste for adventure and travel is now ever-present, along with my amazing husband of 4 years. I mean, who flies solo to Mexico for the first time to meet their partner for a two-week windsurfing vacation? Me!

The culture of windsurfing, from our delta campground with its circle of friends, to the fresh air and summer days spent on the beach, is something my life needed, even more than I realized.

And it’s only a one hour drive from where we live in Sacramento!

Map Sacramento Delta
Map courtesy of ca.water.usgs.gov

While we are on the subject of change, it must be noted that the Central Valley, where Sacramento is located, receives that glorious “delta breeze” all summer long. The Bay Area, known for its cool, foggy conditions, is positioned on the other end of this delta triangle. As the central valley basks in its summer heat, with average temps at 90 degrees, it pulls in that marine layer creating a strong wind current that eventually cools down the Sacramento area and surrounding areas. Our summer temperatures average 60 degrees in the morning hours, then heat up into the 90s, then by sundown, back into the 70s.

This delta and its fragile environment is the gateway to some of the richest agricultural land in the world. Wine grapes love the climate. In almost the entire state of California, wine grapes for some of the world’s best wines are grown, from the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, to Lodi and Clarksburg in the delta, and onto Southern California in the Temecula valley.

How the Delta Changed My Life


Change indeed. My husband would agree with this, while happily sipping on his favorite Merlot after a ripping windsurf session.

And since this IS a photography challenge, I must say that all these photos were taken recently. I got some awesome action shots that I will share on Instagram.

And me? I’m grateful for this wonderful transition into midlife. Even with all these bruises and sore muscles.

My signature


Weekly Photo Challenge: Change


Original image by Kimberly Glaster

Change is the theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Marriage makes you vulnerable and strong. It brings out the best and worst of you, and then it CHANGES YOU in ways you could never have expected…for the better. -Maggie Reyes

What better way to depict change than to share a photo of my husband and I showing a 34-year span. This was on our cake table at our wedding in 2013. We knew each other from high school in San Diego, then reconnected 31 years later in Northern California via Facebook.

Maybe our appearances haven’t changed too much…I’m told we still look the same. But I am forever changed by being his partner and the joy he brings me.

Enough is Enough: Why I Had to Retire

Retirement Life...or is it?
Retirement Life…or is it?

Exactly one month ago, I retired from public service in recreation and parks, after 31 years. I shared several blog posts about my retirement experience, including a guest post on A Momma’s View.

I thought this might be a good way to wind up my retirement series with a post from the daily prompt Enough Is Enough.
Yes, the fight is over.

In my guest post I stated,

“Does this bother me? Sure, a little. The stress of change has been taking its toll on me these last two years. It is exhausting to explain to someone 20 years your junior how certain things are done and why. I know without a doubt why older people retire and give up. It’s just too hard.”

After sitting through drastic changes to our recreation department as a result of the great recession, and enduring the miserable decisions our City leaders made, I had to throw in the towel.

After watching countless colleagues get laid off while management still kept their jobs, and saying good-bye to another group of retirees, I had to call it a day.

After my staff and I worked our arses off to “make it work,” I gleefully filled out my retirement application.

After navigating even more changes with the influx of new management coming and going, making crappy, program-killing decisions, the exit door could not have hit me on the way out any quicker!

Enough is indeed, enough.


Now that the fight is over and my stress levels are very low (I’m sure my cholesterol numbers have improved), I do have to get organized.

The image above is of a card I received when I retired. It seems to imply that retirement is a lot of napping and doing nothing. While that may be great for some people, resting and napping is not my idea of retirement. On the other hand, I do have to admit to hitting that snooze button too many times and putting my feet up…a lot!

But the idea of making my own agenda—now that is the tricky one! A task that I am implementing today.

I have a new calendar. After years of using on online Outlook calendar for everything, I have a beautiful, 2015 spiral-bound planner highlighting Thomas Mangelsen’s wildlife photographs. Here I keep my blog post schedule and ideas, my workout schedule, and any appointments I have (I had three appointments last week!). With this low-tech tool, I also schedule my daily routine for my consulting business, and preparations for my future university courses and lectures.

I love technology. I loved having an online calendar. When I worked full-time I was ridiculously busy; a calendar tied to my outlook account for work and personal time was a necessity. A simple click on my I-phone, and there was my life, laid out week-by-week. That was back in the day when I carried two mobile phones; my own and my work phone.

I had tried to use planners before, but they ended up in the office supply graveyard. In order to effectively use a real planner, I had to retire. Enough is enough.

Now, back to putting up my feet and basking in the glory of a new beginning.