I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy to be home

Taken by Diane on the Keep Cool trail
It's Sunday morning again, and I'm sitting in my usual spot, partner asleep next to me, tea on the bed stand, tapping away on my laptop. It's dark outside, with the heavy fog that never left us yesterday still around. Although the weather has been forecast to be blue skies all day, the persistent morning fog has hung around to keep temperatures in Bellingham below normal. It didn't even make it to 50F (10C) yesterday.

On our Thursday hike, however, we left Bellingham in fog and before we had traveled upwards more than a thousand feet, we were above the clouds. I suspect the same thing will happen again today: going into the mountains will be the only place the sun will be shining around here. And I was so hoping to get a chance to make it to the Drop Zone in Snohomish to air out my gear. The one thing about jumping in the desert is all that dust sticks to everything, not to mention having a few landings that caused me to eat dirt. One landing I tried unsuccessfully to run out ended up with a face plant. Not much fun, and no matter whether my landings were good or not, my canopy was covered with a fine dust anyway. I'm hoping that today I'll get a chance to blow the dirt off by making a skydive at Snohomish.

It will be the last weekend of the season for me, since next weekend I'll be traveling down to Vashon Island for my second annual retreat with five other fellow bloggers. We didn't know each other except through our blogs, but last year's retreat was so successful, and the place we stayed was so spectacular, that we are gathering there again. The Drop Zone will close for November and December, so it will happen today or not at all.

Whether or not I get a chance to go today, I've had the best skydiving season yet since I moved away from Colorado. More skydives, more blue sky days, and lots of new friends. I'm already thinking of going back to Elsinore next year. I'll see what the winter brings before I make any concrete plans. I will soon be hiking in the Chuckanuts with the Senior Trailblazers rather than in the High Country, but every Thursday I'll be out there with my friends, rain or shine. And hopefully we'll have a snowshoe outing or two near the ski area, which takes us back up the Mt. Baker Highway to gaze at our favorite mountains. It's a good place to live, if you can deal with the dark days and rain during the winter months.

I don't suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) that causes many people to leave the area during the winter months. My friend Jonelle left last Friday for her winter home in the Palm Springs area. She leads hikes there with other seniors all winter long. She kept stopping last Thursday to soak in the view, which is so different than where she is now. But the upside is that the sun shines almost every day in the desert, so being outdoors is much more pleasant than having the rain dripping off your visor as you hike.

Travel always reminds me about how nice it is to have a home base, somewhere that I can come to and find my daily routine uninterrupted. A bed that I can sink into at the end of the day, knowing that it is just right for me. My favorite chair with books to read on the table next to it. The fridge stocked with food that has been prepared just the way I like it by my partner. My classes at the gym, with people welcoming me back, feeling like I was missed while I was gone. And to think that I have made this place for myself in the five years since we moved here. I am counting my blessings and finding that I haven't even scratched the surface.

I signed up for Netflix's streaming video feature, and I have already watched several series I would have otherwise missed. It's a good deal for $8/month. I spent more than that last time I went to the movies. The other day I watched a documentary entitled "Happy," in which I learned how happiness is as much learned as it is a function of one's environment. There is a strong genetic component, though; many people are just generally happy no matter what is going on around them. Others are generally gloomy. Only 10% of our happiness, or lack of it, is situational, and the rest is up to us. One of the best ways to increase your happiness, according to this documentary, is to meditate on the positive things in your life, and I have been doing just that since I got home.

Which reminds me: tomorrow I will see that retina specialist and find out whether my macular degeneration is any better or worse. I've been taking all those vitamins he prescribed for me six months ago and researched it thoroughly. I suspect that there will be no change, since my eyesight has not gotten any worse, and my night vision has improved since I started the regimen. I will stay positive, as much as I can, and continue to be thankful for my life right now, right here in this precious moment.

I almost forgot about one of my very special blessings: you! Blogging has brought me friendships from around the world, and I cannot tell you how much it means to me to read about your own trials and tribulations on your blogs, and to hear your "voice" when you comment on mine. What a gift blogging has brought to me! Thank you for being part of my life.


Red said...

As you said it is dark in Bellingham. the sun isn't up here but it's light with pinkish cloud.
Now I'm surprised you would do a face plant. I thought you were always that perfect sky diver!!!
Mountain weather is always interesting. So often we were above the clouds. The reaction from kids when they first went above the clouds was a treat to watch.

Linda Myers said...

Counting your blessings this morning! Always a good reminder.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we should all meditate on the positive aspects in our lives, rather than dwell on the miserable aspects. I am so glad you are in my life as well, DJan. Your blog and your comments on my blog never fail to cheer me up.

Linda Reeder said...

I am intrigued by that happiness information, that it is mostly personality. I'm thinking that perhaps introverts feel happiness less exuberantly.
I don't know that the drop zone is going to be high enough today to get out of the fog. I heard you need to be above 2000 ft to see the blue sky hiding up there. Tom and I and Jill and the kids are going to the pumpkin patch today. we will no doubt be joined be thousands of others people and their kids, but I am in need of an outing, and autumn colors will glow through the fog, though not as brilliantly as in sun.
Have a great day, whatever happens. We all need to find ways to blow the dust out now and then.

O-town Ramblings said...

Isn't Netflix great? I've watched so many interesting documentaries that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. Happy is a good one. There's another fun one called Craigslist Joe that you might like. If you're a history lover, all of the Ken Burns documentaries are really interesting.

I can't wait to hear all about the Vashon Island retreat. It's fun to read about it from everyone's different perspectives. Have a great week!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

The documentary sounds interesting. Only 10 percent situational and the rest is up to us! Makes sense. Glad your jumps were so successful!

Gigi said...

Interesting fact about happiness - thank you for sharing it.

We've also signed up for Netflix - I haven't actually watched anything - I think I saw an old movie; but the boys love it.

Thank you for counting us among your blessings - I'm sure you know that you are counted in mine. Blogging certainly has opened up the world to meeting new people and I'm so glad to have met you!

Jackie said...

The gift is mine, Jan.
Meeting you through blogging, reading your words...relaxing with the thoughts of Jan. The gift is mine.
I love the paragraph you wrote about the feelings of home. Thank you for that. Beautifully written.
Prayers as you see your retina specialist tomorrow.
Sending you love,

Far Side of Fifty said...

That is a great photo of you! You sound content...that is a good happy thing! I hope your Doctor's appointment goes okay.
I think we all have happy days and grumpy days..that is life:)

Sally Wessely said...

You look great in this photo. Of course, you always look great anyway. I can't believe you landed face first after your jump. That caused me to wonder if you wear your glasses when you jump. If so, did this break your glasses?

I can't wait to see you this weekend.

Arkansas Patti said...

Goodness, and here I thought you were immune to face plants. I guess it is kind of a controlled crash.
Hope you get to blow that dust off.
Good that you have that place of comfort for a home place. I suppose going only makes your appreciate it all the more on the return.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Some years ago I was working on being the cause of my own happiness. I drew a cartoon with this dialogue, and sometimes I repeat it to myself even now:

Stern person: Why are you smiling?

Smiling person: Because I'm happy.

Stern person: Why are you happy?

Smiling person: Because I want to be.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I hope you know how grateful I, too, am for the opportunity through blogging to meet so many wonderfully interesting and warm friends all over the world--you, out there in Bellingham, among them.

Your comments on my two blogs always seem to get right to the heart of what I'm trying to say. You have the ability to find essence, whether it's there at home with your partner or out on the hikes and the skydiving days with friends you've met in the last five years or in the many books you read and the interests you develop as your mind continues to grow and branch.

I hope you know also that your many activities have inspired me to stay faithful to the walking regime I began this past summer. I'm now walking two miles a day, six days a week. It takes me 20 minutes to walk a mile--it used to take only 15 but I'm not feeling bad about the time because it's better to be walking slow than not to be walking at all.

But it's your example that gets me out there each morning. So thank you. That's another reason I'm grateful for you! Peace.

Friko said...

I am certain that a lot of your positivity comes from your many physical activities. You don’t have the time to mope!

With one activity coming to an end for the year, you are already looking forward to the next.

I am sure you will have a lovely time with your blogging mates. it’s amazing how well we get on when we meet.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I'm writing this on Oct 22nd and I hope you see it today ... please check out the Google Homepage and see the doodle that celebrates the 216th Anniversary of the First Parachute Jump. It's very cool and immediately reminded me of your blog. Hope you have a great day. And thank you for your kind words about your blog followers. The feeling is mutual. John

Glenda Beall said...

DJan, you are an inspiration to me and with each of your posts, I am amazed with your positive outlook on life.
Today, Oct. 22, is my birthday and I was given a book, 50 Truths worth Knowing. On of the stories is about a 76 yr. old woman parasailing, and her outlook on age. The title is Age is Just a Number. It reminded me of you.
Good luck with your eye appointment. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your insightful comments.

Rita said...

I had to pop in and say I read all about your trip and, even though you guys didn't break the big record, it really looked like an adventure! Glad your trip home was less eventful.

I just added Happy to my queue a couple weeks ago. Sounds like I will be glad I did. I have several I need to watch first before they disappear (one thing I don't like about Netflix streaming). They do have a lot of documentaries, though, that I have really enjoyed.

You are a blessing in my life!! :):)