Sunday Stills: Back to #School

graphic for back to school

graphic for back to school

Last week I took a short break from Sunday Stills to travel to San Diego for my high school’s 40th year class reunion (1978).

Did you enjoy the break? I know a few bloggers posted a couple of Sunday Stills’ favorites!

By the looks of my e-mail inbox, I see more folks are posting more often now that summer is over, and we are back to our normal routines.

By mid-September, everyone who is going to school is back by now, even the universities on quarter system. The traffic on the roads has definitely picked up in my area!

This week’s theme is “back to school’ which can have the potential for a lot of ideas. As a university lecturer, I went back to school at the end of August. I mentioned before that I love the beginning of the school year where everything seems fresh and new as the Fall gets under way.

Back to School Ideas

I’m looking forward to what your posts will cover for the theme, whether you find a fantastic image of an actual school or write a poem or haiku about the subject or just reminisce about a topic related to school. I can see someone posting about adult education, online learning or a myriad of other ideas. Did someone in your family have their “first day” at kindergarten, or high school? Those are important milestones that I’m sure you celebrated to some degree.

The sky is the limit. Here are a couple of mine to get you started.

Nothing says “back to school” in the non-traditional sense than celebrating with fellow classmates at a class reunion.

Classmates at a high school reunion
Photo credit: A friend’s husband took the pic!

I can’t say I miss the teenage drama of those days, but fortunately, after 40 years, most everyone has grown up (I say “most” with tongue planted firmly in cheek) and become responsible, wiser adults who have proven to be good friends over the years. There were two events: a Friday night mixer at a San Diego bar and grill, then the reunion itself. I have to say it was the best reunion I have attended (I went to my 10th, 20th, & 30th). Lots of talking, dancing and catching up. Many thanks to the ladies on my immediate right and left who were part of the reunion event committee.

Sadly I’ve heard that class reunions are becoming a bit of an anachronism these days, now that social media keeps people together in some sense. But there is nothing like seeing your fellow classmates in person years later with glasses, wrinkles and extra weight to level the playing field of teenage angst and insecurity that defined high school.

Of course I am back to school on my university campus as the semester has gained a foothold into September. A variety of competing coffee shops provides much needed caffeine for overworked students.

Students walking through library breezeway
Spurred on by the promise of campus “Grumpy Mule” coffee, student pedestrians make their way to the library.

Last spring, I took my leisure education class out onto the campus bridge and had them play by blowing bubbles, but not without coffee!

In this photo, a group of youth tour the campus in hopes of becoming future university students.

Future students touring the university

Almost four years ago I wrote a post about The Haunting of Old Coloma School House, which is a historical look at a building where I worked.

Share your “back to school” themed posts and images for Sunday Stills. Link up below or simply create a pingback to this post!


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Hot #August Sunshine: A Sentence A Day

Graphic Sentence a Day

Journaling a sentence each day for a month makes for a reflective blog post. I joined this challenge in 2017 and have sincerely enjoyed keeping track of my daily adventures. I had time to participate for the month of August so far this year.

August 1st! Half of 2018 whizzed by! Today I cleaned and straightened up the house to prepare for family driving from Spokane, Washington. They’ll spend one night here on their way to Southern California for a memorial service. Sure was great to see them and their two grown daughters!

8/2 I went to a new Pilates class at the gym today and twisted my lower back which left me in a LOT of pain for the rest of the day! I overdid it the day before cleaning, so where is the incentive in that chore?

8/3 Morning walk with my friend. We plan to meet every Wednesday morning and walk for an hour! My back felt a lot better today, thank goodness!

8/4 Saturday, woke up at 6:30am, had coffee and took the dogs for an early walk due to the continuing heat in Northern Cal. I had good intentions to write some in my book. Nope! I ordered a new inflatable SUP from Costco instead.
Came up with a fun Instagram hashtag event for August #monthofsunflowers

8/5 Sunday at the delta. Got here just in time to get out on my regular SUP. Had I waited much longer, the wind would have blown me off the water, along with the lingering smoke from local wildfires. This is hubby’s day off so he was excited to get some windsurfing in later.

8/6 Monday morning at the delta, hoping for another SUP session, but rode my mountain bike instead. Packed up and headed home to finish sharing Sunday Stills participants’ posts and some other blogging duties.

8/7 Good workout at the gym this morning, plus walked the dogs before the heat settled in. Spent most of the day on class prep.

8/8 Day at home waiting for our water company to reset our broken meter and for a package to arrive. I managed to walk the dogs and work on more school prep. What did I get? My inflatable SUP! You can read more about my paddleboard escapades!

8/9 Went to a Weight Watchers meeting. Weigh-in not good…I’m a two pounds over my lifetime weight and have gained 6 pounds over all since last December. You’d think with all the physical activity I do that I could keep my weight down! Got distracted and opened my new SUP and familiarized myself with all the goodies. Once inflated, it ended up on the bedroom floor with Brodie keeping a careful eye.

SUp in bedroom
Brodie approves of my inflatable SUP!

8/10 Woohoo! After 7 years, I paid off my car today!

Toyota Rav4
My Baby

8/11-12 Back at the delta—hot day here, not much wind. Several of us got together and created a SUP/Kayak flotilla and crossed the river (a mile across) and picked scads of blackberries. There is an art to balancing a small dog and a Ziploc bag of blackberries on slightly choppy water without falling in!

8/14 I was a featured guest on Hugh’s blog today for his weekly feature “49 Days in 1988.”

8/15 Took an hour-long walk with a gal pal today. Logged over 7200 steps with just the walk. She was gracious enough to take one of my dogs for the walk. Came home worked on school stuff then went out for sushi with hubby!

8/16 Early gym workout. I’ve been listening to a great audio-book (what I listen to on the hour-long drive back and forth to the delta every weekend). I borrow these from our library system in an app called Overdrive. I can borrow e-books to read on Kindle or listen to audio-books, which are converted to MP4 format that download right to the phone.

8/18 No delta this weekend. Off to Lake Natoma to try out my new inflatable SUP. I tried it at the delta last weekend, but it does best on really flat water. So interesting to see so many others with their inflatable SUPs.

Getting ready!

8/19 My hubby’s work schedule changed to accommodate his boss’ vacation, so he only gets Sunday off this week. I managed a morning walk with the dogs before it got hot. Hubby and I shopped for some gardening items then enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant.

8/20 Put stakes in my sunflower garden. I think the sunflowers are happier!

sunflower garden

8/21 Great morning walk.  Got a haircut, then treated myself to a pedicure! All in time for our…

8/22 ….Happy 5th Anniversary to my hubby!

8/24 Faculty workdays officially began this week. Our annual meeting was cancelled, so I spent the day enjoying one of my last long weekends in the delta.

8/25 Saturday at the delta, did a SUP session with a friend, called a “downwinder.” In other words, we paddled with the river’s tide all the way to the local windsurf/paddlesports shop. Took 45 minutes but it was lovely and quite fun!

8/26 Back home today. Finishing touches and prepping for an early morning start for my first day of teaching tomorrow.

8/27 Fall classes officially start at Sacrament State University today. Got there bright and early at 7:30 to make sure I can park. First week of school traffic is always exciting.

8/28 Still energized from the first day of classes. Our secretary changed the locations of both my classrooms which helps tremendously with the space issue for the Wednesday evening class.

University classroom

8/29 First night of my Wednesday night class. I have an online class that uses the same curriculum. Looking forward to technology!

8/30-31 Official start to Labor Day weekend. Celebrating a couple of friends’ birthdays, too.

Interested in being part of A Sentence A Day? It is fun to jot your daily ideas down, even the seemingly mundane. Please visit Leslie at her blog Once Upon A Time & Happily Ever After. I have met some new bloggers and have enjoyed this challenge. Please visit the link-up for more Sentence a Day posts. 

 


If you are looking for a fun photography challenge, give my weekly feature Sunday Stills a try!

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Sunday Stills: You’ve Got a #Friend

Woman with Dog

Who among us doesn’t have a friend? Some have a larger circle of friends, while others have a choice few.

Sunday Stills asks us to share an image of “friend.” The featured image above shows my daughter with her best friend Gideon!

Here are some of my examples of “friend.”

A surprise wedding shower for me hosted by my windsurf friends 5 years ago!

A surprise wedding shower demonstrates the optimism of a new relationship.

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
― Muhammad Ali

Two friends out for a stand-up paddle session.

SUP-Sounds
No wind? No problem. Get out your SUP and enjoy!

Then there are our fur-baby friends who are also friends with each other. Aero misses Gideon (left) who lives with his mommy in San Diego (pictured above).

“Blogging introduced me to people from all over the world. I have met people who I now consider friends who live in Australia, UK, South Africa, Europe, Philippines, not to mention new friends in the states. My new friends, despite their distance, are as important to me as if they were my local neighbors.”  7 Ways Blogging Changed My Life

Bloggers became friends and spent a weekend sharing our tips and tricks for blogging.

We really do have fun while working!

 

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
― Linda Grayson

Did you know today is National Friendship Day? according to National Day Calendar 

Link up here!

My continuing gratitude to those who faithfully post their photos each week!

Say hello to our new participants who shared posts in July for the first time!

Bushboys World
Indira’s Blog
KAMERAPROMENADER
Mama Cormier
Megakaos2013
The Nuthouse
Picture Retirement
Vintage Neon Signs
Wanderlust and Wonderment
Whippet Wisdom
Wind Kisses
Woolly Muses
Zombie Flamingos

Remember I gladly share your posts to social media! I just opened a new account with MIX, which replaced StumbleUpon. Check it out when you get a chance, as I will also share your posts to Mix via my Chrome Extension.

As always, I look forward to seeing your creative views of the theme for Sunday Stills this week.

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Creativity Flows When Bloggers Meet Up

Creativity Flows When Bloggers Meet Up

Creativity Flows When Bloggers Meet Up

Every so often, as I sit down to write a new blog post, I get that nagging sense of discouragement and seriously ask myself “Why do I blog?” “What would happen if I stopped?”

Do you ever ask yourself questions like that? I think we all question our commitment to our blogging journey from time to time.

Early this year I sought inspiration once again as I pondered why I keep blogging, in this post Need More Inspiration? Attend a Blogging Event. 

When I ask these questions, the answer I keep coming back to is two-fold:
1.  I enjoy talking about the art of writing and the craft of blogging with like-minded people.
2.  Being able to freely express my words in published posts and share my photography floats my boat like nothing else!

Connecting with other bloggers is exciting!

I follow and regularly read many bloggers and look forward to their stories, articles, photos and ideas. If the online relationships with other bloggers is gold, then actually meeting them in person is platinum!

Over the last three years of serious blogging, I have managed to meet quite a few bloggers in person. Although most bloggers engage each other by reading and writing comments, conversing face-to-face is beyond special!

What If You Can’t Attend a Blogging Event?
The next best thing you can do is to try to meet local bloggers from your own area, city or state. I have been very lucky to meet several fellow bloggers this way. I have found local bloggers by reading their “About me” page. Now you may see why those descriptions might be helpful.

There is just something about going to lunch with another blogger and talking about blogging that is super exciting!

I recently had the joy and pleasure of meeting up with three other bloggers. We all connected both through our blog genre and geographically. Although Janis, Kathy and Donna consider themselves “retirement bloggers,” Liesbet is self-employed and I am semi-retired working as a part-time university lecturer. We all have some freedom to travel and can experience leisure on our terms.

And that was the beauty of our connection.

Donna was in Southern California on a home-exchange, Liesbet is currently house-sitting in San Diego, while Janis and Kathy live in Southern California. I used the holiday weekend and my school schedule to my advantage, along with extensive family who live in San Diego, to factor in my trip south from Northern California. Note: Liesbet could not join us on this weekend, but she met up with Kathy and Donna earlier in the month–she was with us in spirit.

And the planets aligned for a fun weekend.

Fellow bloggers meet up for fun and blogging advice

Another perk of developing online connections is the opportunity to share your insights on other blogs and in turn, offer them the opportunity to guest post on your blog. I think this idea of cross pollination is critical for meeting even more bloggers. When I guest posted for Donna last month, I met and followed other bloggers, extending my own network and creating even more connections.

Blog Housekeeping

At our meet-up, we all had questions about blogging. As we chatted, and shared ideas, I learned some important things about my own blog.

Not long ago, through WordPress dot com, my blogging platform, I signed up for WordAds. I see many bloggers who have ads enabled on their websites and there is potential to earn a few dollars. Donna commented that the ads were annoying and tempted her to click off my blog…and she’s a friend and regular reader! How many others felt that way or just clicked away? Egads!

So, as we chatted, I disabled the Word Ads feature. Am I going to miss that $2 a month I was making? Nope!

I also checked some of the widgets in my sidebar while we talked about the pros and cons of Instagram. To my horror, my widget linked not to my Instagram page where I share my other photos, but to my PayPal donation site! I fixed that right away.

For someone who is not intending to monetize my blog at this point, I must have looked like a money-grubbing fool sending unsuspecting readers to endure unwanted ads and then donate money.

But that’s what feedback provides. A fresh look at your own blog.

We really do have fun while working!

We also traded some war stories about watermarking images, dealing with social media and privacy issues as a blogger. I told Janis I gave up any kind of privacy attached to my online persona years ago. I asked Donna to Google my name and she found at least 10 pages of links with my name, some from work, school, organizations and blogging. If you blog, you are out there for the world to see!

Out of the four ladies, I had met three of them in person before. Reconnecting was a blast and getting to know Donna and her husband Richard, who hosted our visit, was a joy!

As part of our desert meet-up, we all agreed to share our views and experiences today. Please visit my dear friends and read about their perspectives.

Janis at Retirementally Challenged

Kathy at Smart Living365

Liesbet from Roaming About

Donna from Retirement_Reflections

Our little group is entertaining the idea of a Southern California meet-up this time next year. If you are in the area or would not mind traveling, please contact one of us. Stay tuned for details.


If you are looking for my usual Weekly Photo Challenge post, I am sharing it on Sunday.

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Four Reasons to Attend a Blogging Conference

Four Reason to Attend a Blogging Conference

Four Reason to Attend a Blogging Conference

In September, I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two blogging conferences in my hometown of Sacramento, California.

WordCamp Sacramento 2017 focused on WordPress developers and website design, but had an entire bloggers track. This alone brought in over 200 more attendees than previous WordCamps.

The International Food Bloggers Conference, aka IFBC, spent three consecutive years here in “The Farm to Fork” Capital of Sacramento, and travels to New Orleans in 2018.

Last January, I shared some preliminary thoughts on attending blogging events in Need More Inspiration? Attend a Blogging Event. 

Before I share my four takeaways, here are some general thoughts on choosing a blogging conference.

Choosing a Conference

Having a blogging (or writing) conference come to your town is a huge gift.

2017 International Food Bloggers Conference SacramentoThrough a Sacramento Bloggers event in 2016, I discovered the IFBC conference would be offered the following year. Although I wasn’t a food blogger, past attendees assured us there was enough general information that it would be wise to attend. Although the IFBC was pricey, at over $300 for registration, the IFBC offered a deeply discounted rate to “Citizen Bloggers,” who agreed to share three blog posts before, during and after the conference.

At a price under $100, I registered well in advance, not knowing what the sessions or agenda would be.

In April, again through my association with Sacramento Bloggers, we found out that Sacramento was hosting its third annual WordCamp, this time with an entire track devoted to beginner bloggers, and how to use WordPress tools.

In case you don’t know, there is a difference between WordPress dot com (through Automattic, Inc), the free blog platform many bloggers use, and the WordPress dot org platform used on self-hosted websites. I have two sites: this one, Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, (you are reading here now) and my self-hosted website for my business Windigen Consulting.

Registration for WordCamp Sacramento was an unbelievable $40 for the entire weekend. This is attributed to the amazing and generous sponsors! When I applied for and was selected to present on the bloggers’ panel “Blogging Success and Monetization,” my registration fee was FREE! Plus, all attendees received conference t-shirts, swag and a useful printed program.

There was enough general information shared at sessions that I could apply to both this blog and my consulting website. Attending two local conferences almost back-to-back was a little tiring, but my drive to downtown was only a few minutes and parking rates for weekends were dirt cheap!

 

Without further adieu, here are my Four Reasons to Attend a Bloggers’ Conference:

Easy to meet others at a conference
Easy to meet others at a conference! Image from WordCamp.

1. Meeting other Bloggers

The main reason I attend conferences is to meet other bloggers in person, the actual folks with whom I have developed an online blogging relationship. Oftentimes, the world of a blogger can be a lonely place. It is a special treat to engage with other bloggers in person, who “get” you! And so nice to not have to type your reply for a change!

Before the conference:

  • Once you are registered for the conference, plan ahead and make some business cards for your blog, even if you just print them yourself.

At the conference:

  • Network with others. Most conference-goers are easy to spot with their name tags. Do not be shy about introducing yourself to another blogger. Exchanging those new business cards is helpful and useful.
  • At your table, say hello to those seated beside you. This may be difficult for some folks, but you can simply ask, “Are you a blogger,” or “What is your blog/website about?” Be prepared to answer this question, too.
  • In one session, the presenter asked for everyone’s cards so she could send us her slides and information. Many folks had awkward slips of paper rather than cards, which could be mistaken for trash and did not present a professional look. I was glad I had mine!

After the conference (or during):

  • Find your new blogger friends on social media and follow them.

2. Networking the Room In-Person and on Social Media

  • Use your time to walk around and explore all the conference areas. At the IFBC, there was a huge swag (gift) table where we selected one of each item to take home at the end of the first day. There were some leftover goodies the next day and we were encouraged to take them.
  • Be sure to meet and thank the conference organizers and sponsors. Most of these folks donate their time to put on these events. The sponsors and vendors also donated in-kind services and/or money to make the conference happen. One way you can also acknowledge them is by sharing their names and hashtags on Social Media.
  • Most conferences encourage social networking during the sessions. While this practice is beneficial, I find it rather distracting to the presenters. Use this at a minimum while the person is speaking, besides, how are you listening to what they are saying, while your fingers are tapping away on the screen? There is plenty of time in between sessions to share.
  • Do take photos of interesting conference items, like logos, t-shirts, session signs, displays, food, etc. Those make great sharing options for Instagram and Facebook where images are the key. Use the conference hashtag where possible while sharing. This is also a great opportunity to build your social media following, while following others. Some of these photos I used for this post!
Images of WordCamp Sacramento 2017 Conference
Attendees at WordCamp working alongside the presentation.

3. Learning New Skills

Attending a conference provides an opportunity for professional development and learn the blogging best practices from the experts. Both conference organizers sent e-mails on a regular basis with up-to-date information as the conference dates approached.

Before the conference:

  • Read the agenda and look at the sessions that interest you. Have a back-up plan if one gets cancelled (it happens).
  • Ask yourself what you hope to get out of attending the conference.

During the conference:

  • Attend sessions. Have you ever been to a conference and didn’t go to the sessions? Back in my work days, I saw this practice all the time. I never understood the point of spending money, then not actually learning something.
  • Take notes. Conference attendees take session notes a variety of ways, whether by pen and notepaper, recording with a device, or by typing on a laptop.
  • Talk with the presenters after the session, and take the opportunity to thank them and ask questions.

After the conference:

  • Watch for follow-up e-mails from the conference organizers. Many presenters offered their slide shows in a shared format that all attendees could access.
  • At WordCamp, professional photographers took lots of photos and shared them with attendees (that is how I got many of the images in this post). I’m told WordCamp images are public domain, so no need to attribute them to the photographers.
Taking notes at WordCamp Sacramento 2017
Taking notes at WordCamp Sacramento 2017

4. Putting What You Learned into Practice

This is often neglected, especially if you attend a conference out of town. Traveling home, you may be tired or needing to catch up at work, and you may be tempted to put your bag of notes and goodies away for a few days. Those nuggets of great ideas can easily be lost or forgotten.

At the conference:

  • While taking notes, give yourself 1-2 actionable items from each session that you can implement within 24-48 hours.
  • Put it on a to-do list, your day planner/calendar or sticky note or somewhere you can access it quickly. I sent myself a list in a calendar event with a nagging reminder so I wouldn’t forget.

After the conference:

  • Following up with these notes is important, or why did you bother to attend? Get as much as possible out of your conference experience.

At the IFBC, I heard two excellent speakers. One presented on “Massive Instagram Growth” and gave us actionable how-to items to implement quickly. Another speaker talked about SEO and provided excellent examples, as well as her slide deck at the end. I saw lots of folks snapping photos of these slides for later use!

Those were my top four reasons. Here are some additional nuggets for you to consider.

The Conference Speakers

  • Have patience with the presenters. Although they are sharing their expertise on a topic, he or she is unlikely a seasoned speaker. Using a microphone and managing a laptop while speaking is frightening to many folks! Speaking from experience, it can be extremely nerve-wracking to stand in front of 100+ people and present, so take that into consideration and try to jot down the best nuggets of information they have to share.
  • Many conferences provide a sharing link for all the slideshows used at the conference.
  • If you just don’t enjoy a session and there is another offered concurrently, do not be afraid or intimidated to walk out of an uninteresting or irrelevant session and move on to another one if possible. You paid for this information when you registered and you have the right to move around.
WordCamp speaker engages with his audience.
WordCamp speaker engages with his audience.

Take Time to Evaluate and Perhaps Volunteer

Be sure to evaluate the conference and offer your feedback. If you were disappointed with something, take a moment to describe the issue in detail. At the end of the survey, there might be an opportunity to sign up to volunteer or present for future conferences, if that is something in which you are interested.

If you do have to opportunity to present, you will likely get comped for the entire conference, so that is always a good incentive.

My Overall Impression of Two Blog Conference Weekends

I am glad I went. I hadn’t been to a professional conference since Bloggers at Midlife in 2016, and before that was when I presented at a work conference in 2013.

I learned several actionable items and concepts as well as met many people I could ask for assistance if needed. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend a blogging conference in person. Keep checking your WordPress admin panel for updates on WordPress events in your community.

Network with local bloggers, if possible, to see if other events are being planned.

I also have an opportunity to meet with several fellow bloggers over Veteran’s Day weekend in mid-November as we converge in Southern California. I am very much looking forward to spending some quality time with these special friends..

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Speaker Interview With Terri Webster Schrandt – WordCamp Sacramento 2017

wordcamp logo and speaker photo

wordcamp logo and speaker photo

My 15 minutes of fame as a presenter comes this weekend at the WordCamp Sacramento 2017 conference! I cannot believe how fortunate I am to be able to attend not one, but two, local blogging conferences in September!

In January, I shared “Need More Inspiration? Attend a Blogging Event” encouraging bloggers to meet other bloggers in person when and where possible. I read that many bloggers discovered regional events they could attend.

WordCamp Sacramento 2017 happens over two days this weekend (Sept 16-17th). This year a blogger track was added to assist bloggers. Through Sacramento Bloggers, I connected with other bloggers and we now meet two-three times per year to share ideas and network. Founder Margaret Andrews, blogger and self-published author, and I are honored to present on the panel for the session: Blogging Success and Monetization.

I am on the panel as a “hobby blogger” and will share how blogging opened the door for successful freelance writing and self-publishing.

WordCamp Sacramento 2017 has a boatload of sponsors. Because of their generosity, registration was a mere $40 for two whole days! Unheard of! As a presenter, I even get the entire conference free!

“WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users.”

More information about WordCamps and other WordPress events is in your WordPress Admin panel. You can see what it looks like on your admin panel below. It may look a little differently depending on your geographical region.

WordPress Admin Panel Info

I have attended a few WordPress meetups in Sacramento, and many communities have these available. Yes, they are heavy on the developer end and focus on the WordPress dot org platform. If you are a hosted blogger on WordPress dot com, you don’t really need this level of WordPress. However, if you have a self-hosted website/blog and you use the WordPress platform, these can be valuable sources of information, as well as opportunities to meet other bloggers.

Had I not taken a look one random day at this box in my admin panel, I might have missed this local event and the opportunity the present with the panel. Once you find a WordPress meet-up group, stay on their mailing list for updates.

2017 International Food Bloggers Conference SacramentoAt the end of September I am attending the International Food Bloggers Conference, also held in Sacramento. I’m not a food blogger, but the event is local and my goal is to meet other bloggers and attend a couple of the general blogging sessions. These sessions include:

  • How to Make Money from Your Blog
  • Why Bloggers Need to Know SEO
  • Get Paid For Your Posts
  • Let’s Talk Massive Instagram Growth
  • Beyond the Blog – Panel
  • and How to Write a Scroll-Worthy Blog Post by my friend and local blogger, Margaret Andrews

 

There are food-related activities, too, and I’m excited about being a part of it all!

After I attend these two blogging events, I will share a post on my take-aways from the events. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, you can read a little more about me. WordCamp organizers took the information from our required profiles and shared each and every presenter in blog posts over the last few months. Mind you, this event is completely run and organized by volunteers. Special shout out to Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative who is one of the key organizers of this event.

Source: WordCamp Sacramento Speaker Interview With Terri Webster Schrandt – WordCamp Sacramento 2017

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Kindness Rocks Project Spreads Messages of Hope

Paint a rock with an uplifting message and leave for someone to find

More rocks from the Kindness Rock Project

Remember those old 70s collages made of random materials? Back then, art classes in junior high and high school were rife with making collages, (remember decoupage?), painting rocks and wood, macrame, yarn art, spirographs, hooking rugs, and other artsy stuff!

I just loved creating those craft projects!

Fast-forward to 2017 and painting on 3-D materials like rocks is still popular as schools, community centers and local organizations all over the US and beyond have joined the movement that is sweeping the nation and beyond, called The Kindness Rocks Project

“The Kindness Rocks Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.”

At the California Park and Recreation Society’s annual conference, I saw first hand the beauty and inspiration these hand-painted rocks can bring people just on this extensive table display.

Display of Kindness Rock Project shown at 2017 CPRS Conference
Display of Kindness Rock Project shown at 2017 CPRS Conference

Does your community have a Kindness Rocks Project? Maybe you have found a painted rock yourself!

Paint a rock with an uplifting message and leave for someone to find
Paint a rock with an uplifting message and leave for someone to find

These photos are submitted for the weekly photo challenge Collage.

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Reconnecting with My High School Teacher

Meeting my high school teacher 38 years later

Meeting my high school teacher 38 years later

Who was your favorite high school teacher?

Mine was Mrs. Myrra Lee, of Helix High School in La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego.

Through an odd, but emotional set of circumstances, I discovered Mrs. Lee  was celebrating her 90th birthday in San Diego in July 2016, and her family posted an open invitation on Facebook to former students. Initially I declined because we had no desire for travel plans in June or July due to my husband’s summer work demands.

I contacted her family via e-mail and gave them my regrets. They asked if we would like to contribute to an album and I submitted this post, Teacher of the Year, thinking that was that. In this post I wrote these words:

Now that I am an educator, I wish she knew how much her teaching influenced my life, personally and professionally.

I never believed that I would ever get the chance to tell her face to face after 38 years.

In late June that year, my brother called to tell me that my mother, who lives in a nursing home in San Diego, had taken a sudden turn for the worst. Her doctor recommended the family should see her ASAP in case she was to pass. Abruptly, my daughter, my husband, and I made emergency plans to travel to San Diego to be with my mom.

As I looked at the dates to fly both my daughter and husband back home for work, I saw that the birthday party for Mrs. Lee was just the following Saturday. I e-mailed the family and asked if there were still spots open for the luncheon, and remarkably, there were several spots left.

The travel plans were for us to all drive the nine-hours together, then I would stay on and attend the party, and drive back home.

As much as I looked forward to this, I also dreaded the idea of my mother possibly passing away while we were there. The emotional rollercoaster that followed was overwhelming as I began grieving the loss of my mother.

From Friday, when we got the phone call, to Sunday night when we finally visited my mom, we weren’t sure how mom would look, but she looked amazingly well. Her doctor had painted a bleak picture of her prognosis. Since it was evening, she was already in bed. She battles a series of medical conditions including dementia, so she was confused as to place and time but recognized us all. Each day we visited her, she got better and the massive infection miraculously cleared up on its own. To this day she is still doing well, much to her doctor’s amazement.

I told my mom I was going to Mrs. Lee’s 90th birthday party. My mom had been with me in 1977 when we attended the high school reception honoring Mrs. Lee’s National Teacher of the Year award. She had returned from the trip to Washington D.C to accept the award from President Jimmy Carter.

Words that are dear to my heart now a year later were when my mother said, “Oh, she’s 90? Tell her I said hello and congratulations.” As if my mom had one foot in 2016 and one foot in 1977.

The day of Mrs. Lee’s luncheon brought me so much joy! Just the mere fact that I would actually see her after 38 years was hard to imagine. I was told by the family that she had suffered a mild stroke a few months before. When I entered the restaurant, I walked up to where she sat and introduced myself. She noticed my name tag and smiled. I asked if she remembered me and she replied very softly that she did. Elated and honored, I got a photo taken with her, then went to sit down.

I sat at a table with several classmates which was an unexpected delight. The best thing about the luncheon was the opportunity for us to stand up and share our perspectives and experiences we had with her as our teacher. They also passed around the two photo albums and I was enormously pleased to see my blog post plastered across two full pages.

Nervously I stood and thanked her for being such an inspiration to me. I’m sure I stumbled over a few more words, eloquent and otherwise, but more specifically, these: “I ended up becoming an educator, too, Mrs. Lee, and this is the joy of my life.”

She smiled and applauded, along with the rest of the room. I sat down with tears shining in my eyes.

In reading through the albums, it was clear that she had not let age slow her down, but continued to make news headlines.

In 2011, Mrs. Myrra Lee was also lauded for her role as a staunch advocate against human trafficking, long after retiring from teaching. This article, “Waking People to Injustice” written by Los Angeles Times Columnist Sandy Banks, leads with this headline:

“Myrra Lee, 85, is working to show sex trade’s hidden victims.”

As I listened to more of my high school classmates share their stories of her, I watched her and still saw that razor-sharp glint in her eye, as her educator mind drank in the memories and praise. Even her recent stroke at age 90 has not stopped those gears from turning.

Sadly, I had to leave the luncheon before it concluded to travel back home. I collected the dogs and my luggage and drove the nine-hour drive home reflecting on how two remarkable women affected my life as a teenager and still feel their continued influence into my midlife years.

My mother, through her daily example, taught me the value of leisure and fitness.

My high school teacher taught me the value of education and challenged students to reach for the stars and to not take no for an answer.

Was it a beloved teacher who inspired you? How so?

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For all you bloggers out there who love stats and analytics, googling “Myrra Lee Educator” ranked my original post fifth on the home page! Your stories do make a difference!

How a Bridge Connects Us

Sac State's Guy West Bridge

Sac State's Guy West Bridge

“Think about the things, places, or people that connect us.” I like this idea as it relates to the theme of Bridge.

I share several angles of the Guy West Bridge that spans the American River from the Sacramento State Campus to the community of University Village/ Campus Commons. This bridge is also right off the American River Bike Trail.

Built in 1966 to link the campus with the then-new, Campus Commons college-community development, the 1,144-foot-long, 16-foot-wide pedestrian bridge is officially known as the Guy A. West Memorial Bridge. Dr. West was the first president of then Sacramento State College.

I teach a general education course on Friday mornings called “Leisure Lifestyle Development.” Taught in a large lecture hall seating 80-plus students, I keep them busy learning how recreation and leisure are essential in their lives.

Each semester, after a lecture on various play theories, I take the class outdoors where we walk the short distance to the Guy West Bridge and blow bubbles.

We get a few quizzical stares, but my favorite question of all, from a man on a bicycle was, “What class is this?!” Of course I’m happy to tell him!

 

Guy West Bridge at Sacramento State University

 

A bridge that is a mini-replica of the Famed Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, indeed connects university students with the surrounding communities and a sense of fitness and leisure through walking and cycling.

How a Bridge Connects Us

How do bridges in your home-town connect community?

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Leisure Connects Us

Leisure Connects Us

Connected

Leisure-Connects-Us

Participating in leisure connects us like nothing else.

To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization. 

Arnold J. Toynbee

A man looks toward the beach as kite-boarders get ready to launch their kites. Behind him are stand-up paddle boards waiting for customers to come out and play.

Perhaps he is a former kiter or windsurfer reflecting on the good old days? Perhaps he is a merely a tourist taking in the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. His contemplation of the view connects him in ways we cannot imagine.


This photo is also submitted to Nancy Merrill Photography for her weekly challenge A Photo a Week: From the Back.

Facebook, Second Chances, and Love

Dancin'
Dancing at the Delta!

April 9th was the 6th year anniversary of our first date. Read more for the whole story!

After living in San Diego my whole life, I married young at age 20 to a young man who was from Northern California and ended up moving there. After 17 years we divorced and a few years later I got into another long-term relationship. Some men aren’t the marrying kind, especially in mid-life, so the relationship fizzled out since it was not going to become permanent. I was single again, now aged 48 and figured I was destined to be alone. I was interested in a couple of men but nothing happened.

At my 30-year high school reunion in San Diego, I thought I could meet someone who might be single…geez, I sound like a prowler (not cougar…). So yes, I met someone, but…naaaa! I had hoped to see a couple of men there but they did not attend the event.

Soon after the reunion, someone invited me to Facebook, so I joined, and connected with a large group of high school alumni. Fast forward a few months later, I noticed the photo of a particular man on Facebook who happened to be single (and amazingly still looking for his soul mate!). He was always someone I thought highly of in school (handsome, amazing athlete, you know…). He was still as handsome as ever and had posted pictures of himself windsurfing and was now living in Northern California.

Somehow between a friend request and a couple of e-mails back and forth, we started communicating. Every evening for a week, I would open Facebook hoping for another message, but alas, nothing for several days. So I did what any red-blooded, albeit slightly desperate woman would do, and I e-mailed him my phone number.

Right before Easter, my daughter, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, had broken her arm, so I had to drive there to help her (she had to have surgery, etc). As I was driving, my phone rang and I saw a number I did not recognize. I answered and it was HIM!! His first question was “How are you,” and his second question was, “How is your daughter?”

Wow, handsome AND caring!! He had seen my post. So we yacked for 90 minutes as if we had just spoken the day before. We had not seen each other since our 20-year reunion in 1998. We obviously hit it off and he liked talking on the phone (unusual for most men). He had just gotten back into town and of course I was two hours away helping my daughter; oh the irony!

In between surgery and doctors’ visits with my daughter, we talked on the phone over a four-day period. We made a date for a few days later. Our first date was dinner at Olive Garden. When I drove in to the apartment complex where he was staying with his friend, and as I got out of the car and walked up to him, he put his big arms around me and flat-out just picked me up (I’m not a small gal—5’8’’). In person, his sparkly green eyes and incredible personality was enough to make me swoon (hmm, maybe I should write romance novels…)

Of course dinner went great and we went back to his friend’s place and chatted. They showed me these windsurfing movies and I could see how passionate they were about this sport. So (being a pretty good swimmer and water enthusiast), I looked him in the eye and said, “That looks like fun, maybe you can teach me how to windsurf.” I’m pretty sure it was his turn to swoon!

We're Married
Something he said was funny! Image edited by TWSchrandt

Four and a half years later, we tied the knot at a small church wedding and we are still newlyweds in our mid-50s. I told him just today that I smile every time I think to myself “I’m married and I have a husband.” I consider myself blessed and lucky and I thank God every day for bringing him into my life!

Happy FIRST DATE Anniversary to by wondeful husband and best friend!

The Beauty of Community

Beauty-of-Community

Beauty-of-Community

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” ― Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

I spent more than half my life in public service working for a leisure organization. Within leisure spaces, whether they are swimming pools, public parks, campgrounds, or community centers, my job centered around providing recreation programs for people. Inevitably, these opportunities enabled participants of all ages to build communities on summer swim teams, in water aerobics classes, and in pre-school programs.

The same is true for our blogging community. I have read many excellent posts about “how to get more followers to your blog,” or “Six ways to Build Your Audience,” etc. Other bloggers sharing this information know that to accomplish these goals, you (and I) need to read others’ blogs, like and follow!

The following bloggers offer and host blogging events to help you grow your blog:

One blogger whom I now consider a friend, Janet Wald, offers excellent advice on her blog, Reflections. Read her recap that includes a linky party and blogging tips.

Suzie, of Suzie81speaks is hosting a blog party this weekend, where bloggers can share their favorite post in her blog’s comments section. Suzie also will retweet your post on Twitter.

Jason, the Opinionated Man, does the same thing on Harsh Reality, potentially sharing your blog with 50,000+ followers. Watch for his blog announcing these events.

If you favor photography over writing, link your photos and posts to another blogger I call a friend: Lucile DeGodoy’s Photo101 Rehab event.

Last but not least, is another gracious blogger, Ronovan Write’s, who encourages bloggers to write about something positive and uplifting for BeWOW Wednesday. He will retweet your post using #BeWow hashtag which puts your blog out in the Twitterverse to attract more readers.

Please check out Diana’s Adventures’ blog as she shares a recent post “Tips for New Bloggers.”  I’m bookmarking this one myself!! These bloggers, and countless others, know how to build community. They will faithfully read your blog, comment on, and like your posts. These tasks are invaluable to us as bloggers to feel the community’s appreciation of a well-written post or beautiful photograph.This is also my post for BeWOW Wednesday.

I am also participating in April’s Ultimate Blog Challenge, another community opportunity on Facebook. I have found and followed several new bloggers there.Ultimate Blog Challenge

I am participating in Writing 101 this month. Not only am I working on my skills as a writer, but I am part of a new community of bloggers who want to do the same. By being part of “The Commons” where we can share our latest posts, we can get to know brand new bloggers who are just starting out. If you are a seasoned blogger (and I feel I can call myself that now), we help build community by reading, liking and following these new bloggers.

After all, we are a community of writers, photographers, hobbyists, friends, colleagues…the list is endless.

And that is the Beauty of Community!

I would appreciate it if you could share this post if you found it helpful!

A Day in the Life of a Delta Windsurfer

Today is Leisurely Thursday and my feature shares thoughts about sports and ageing as well as highlights a day in the life of a Sacramento delta windsurfer.

Windsurfing at Sherman Island

If you follow my blog, you know that I windsurf. So? you may ask? A lot of people do fun leisure activities. I basically started windsurfing to impress my boyfriend six years ago. I always loved the water and had some board experience, so it wasn’t a huge deal to learn a new sport. It must have worked, because we got married two years ago.

Now in my mid-fifties, I started this sport at age 49. Most of the women windsurfers I know learned in their twenties, when they, and the sport, were young. If you are over the age of 50, you probably understand how age affects how we choose our leisure activities.

Here is where I want to say, “Do not let ageing deter you from trying a new leisure activity!” The joys of accomplishing difficult skills along with meeting new people and making new friends as an older adult are irreplaceable!

windsurf

A little bit about the Sacramento Delta. In the Sacramento Valley area of Northern California, as the temperature in the valley increases, a climactic condition is created where the heat draws in the colder, marine air from San Francisco Bay, creating the infamous “delta breeze.” This delta breeze can often be measured at over 30 knots on the confluence of the two rivers, therefore fueling the imaginations of windsurfers and kite boarders alike!

The Rio Vista Windsurf Association is a club for windsurfers and kite boarders. From mid-April through early September, when the wind typically blows in the delta, thus cooling down hot Sacramento, windsurfers come out in droves.

Their sheer dedication is evident by people driving 100s of miles for a weekend of sailing. They come from all over Northern California, LA and San Diego. There is weekend camping available and the personal social networking is top-notch!

Here are some photos of a Day In the Life of a Sacramento Delta Windsurfer

At the beginning of the season, we start getting our campsites ready. Our windsurf area on Sherman Island is only 65 miles southwest of Sacramento. Two rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, join to create a huge expanse of water on which to recreate.

Trailers
Thar be pirates here!

The Sacramento Valley is flat and we lease private land near pastures that are right next to the levee.

The beach is perfect for family picnics and beginner windsurfers.

Three new windsurfers enjoying a light-wind day
Three new windsurfers enjoying a light-wind day

On a light-wind day, three women connect in leisure as they learn to windsurf.

windsurfers
Windy Labor Day sailing!

These are the moments everyone lives for–wind!!

ship
Why is there a ship?

Every once in a while, ships will head out to sea through the delta’s deep water channel.

Stand-up Paddle
Morning SUP session while waiting for the wind.

Sometimes you have to stand-up paddle when there is no wind and enjoy the day!

Sherman Island
Sunset on Sherman Island Marina

We let boaters have some space in the river on the Sherman Island Marina. They’re already tucked in for the night.

delta sunset
Mid-August cloud fest

This delta sunset is our reward for our hard day of windsurfing! Many folks grab their adult beverages and congregate on top of the levee to unwind and bask in the glow!

Dancin'

And then some of us can’t stop having fun well into the night!

I hope you enjoyed a peek into my world every weekend during the spring and summer. I am still in awe of how so many windsurfers can live their lifestyles around this sport.

A good percentage of these sailors are Baby Boomers in their fifties and older and ageing in this sport has only made them refined and resilient as people who enjoy their leisure and are passionate about it!

Many thanks to Jason at HarsH ReaLitY for the opportunity to share our posts on his blog!

Desiderata–You Are a Child of the Universe

Sitting on beach

Sitting on beach
Child of the Universe

Happy Saturday and last day of February, 2015! I had to share this post again with this back story.

I had some business on my university campus last summer and as I stood in line, a young woman in front of me sported a tattoo with some of the words from this poem: “You are a child of the universe…” Both our jaws dropped when I asked her if this was from Desiderata, then finished the sentence, “…no less than the trees and the stars…” I was surprised I remembered it.

She must have picked up the poem from her parents, so much so that she dedicated those words onto her shoulder and upper arm. Truly a throwback to the seventies!

If you were around in the 1970s, this poem was so popular it became a  song on the radio. If you were a hippie in the 1970s this was also on your 8-track.

Read this, it is as meaningful today as it was in the 70s, and as it was when it was originally written (1920s). The Latin for Desiderata means “desired things.”

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

 Author – Max Ehrmann (1872 – 1945)

Note: Due to copyright infringement issues, I have recently deleted several stanzas of the poem. Please google Desiderata poem for the words.

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About this poem:

Desiderata was apparently written between 1906 & 1920 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) who copyrighted the piece in 1927. The confusion about authorship of this poem is due to its distribution by Reverend Frederick Kates within a collection of works for his congregation in 1959.  The church notepaper was headed “The Old St Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692”. As the poem became more widely circulated, it came to be assumed that the poem originated in this old church which was founded in 1692.

Facebook, Second Chances, and Love

Dancin'

Dancin'
Dancing at the Delta!

For Valentine’s Day, I want to share this story that I guest posted on A Momma’s View .

After living in San Diego my whole life, I married young at age 20 to a young man who was from Northern California and ended up moving there. After 17 years we divorced and a few years later I got into another long-term relationship. Some men aren’t the marrying kind, especially in mid-life, so the relationship fizzled out since it was not going to become permanent. I was single again, now aged 48 and figured I was destined to be alone. I was interested in a couple of men but nothing happened.

At my 30-year high school reunion in San Diego, I thought I could meet someone who might be single…geez, I sound like a prowler (not cougar…). So yes, I met someone, but…naaaa! I had hoped to see a couple of men there but they did not attend the event.

Soon after the reunion, someone invited me to Facebook, so I joined, and connected with a large group of high school alumni. Fast forward a few months later, I noticed the photo of a particular man on Facebook who happened to be single (and amazingly still looking for his soul mate!). He was always someone I thought highly of in school (handsome, amazing athlete, you know…). He was still as handsome as ever and had posted pictures of himself windsurfing and was now living in Northern California.

Somehow between a friend request and a couple of e-mails back and forth, we started communicating. Every evening for a week, I would open Facebook hoping for another message, but alas, nothing for several days. So I did what any red-blooded, albeit slightly desperate woman would do, and I e-mailed him my phone number.

Right before Easter, my daughter, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, had broken her arm, so I had to drive there to help her (she had to have surgery, etc). As I was driving, my phone rang and I saw a number I did not recognize. I answered and it was HIM!! His first question was “How are you,” and his second question was, “How is your daughter?”

Wow, handsome AND caring!! He had seen my post. So we yacked for 90 minutes as if we had just spoken the day before. We had not seen each other since our 20-year reunion in 1998. We obviously hit it off and he liked talking on the phone (unusual for most men). He had just gotten back into town and of course I was two hours away helping my daughter; oh the irony!

In between surgery and doctors’ visits with my daughter, we talked on the phone over a four-day period. We made a date for a few days later. Our first date was dinner at Olive Garden. When I drove in to the apartment complex where he was staying with his friend, and as I got out of the car and walked up to him, he put his big arms around me and flat-out just picked me up (I’m not a small gal—5’8’’). In person, his sparkly green eyes and incredible personality was enough to make me swoon (hmm, maybe I should write romance novels…)

Of course dinner went great and we went back to his friend’s place and chatted. They showed me these windsurfing movies and I could see how passionate they were about this sport. So (being a pretty good swimmer and water enthusiast), I looked him in the eye and said, “That looks like fun, maybe you can teach me how to windsurf.” I’m pretty sure it was his turn to swoon!

We're Married
Something he said was funny! Image edited by TWSchrandt

Four and a half years later, we tied the knot at a small church wedding and we are still newlyweds in our mid-50s. I told him just today that I smile every time I think to myself “I’m married and I have a husband.” I consider myself blessed and lucky and I thank God every day for bringing him into my life!

Happy Valentine’s Day!