Thursday, March 29, 2018

The End of one Journey... the Beginning of another...




Well, I made it.  I made it to fifty.  As I start writing this post... it is 9:30 am, March 29, 2018 in Calgary.  I have already had breakfast, a walk, a video blog shoot and a swim in the hotel pool.  I feel like the day has started off alright.  

I have been wondering how to end this blog.  After all... the Journey to 50 is over.. now a new one begins.  But before I share what the next writing journey will look like, I want to recap the last nine months of my blog and some of the highlights of sharing my journey. 

I started this blog on June 29, 2018, nine months ago with a blog post called Conception Day.  I revisited that date ten years prior when I had my parents down to Calgary for a birthday party.  It seemed like a good time to start journalling my way to the Big 5-0.  Nine months is an approximate date for the beginning of me... I have no clue when I actually started.  

The month of July inspired me with five posts... my favourite being a post about my 104 yr old great aunts... NOT EVEN HALF WAY HOME!.    

August and September reaped some okay posts.. but nothing on my "best works" list.  In October, I wrote the most viewed post from this blog... "I want to go home!"  It was a post about my childhood farm home of Flatrock. I don't know why it got so many hits... but it did.  

Drew Marshall and Billy Graham were the highlight reels of November.  In December, I was only inspired once, but it reached the top five in popularity... "Where are you, Christmas?". A post on my thoughts of the reason for the season.  

The New Year rolled around and I started with a letter to 2018.  One of the most momentous moments in my writing journey was documented in my last post of January, when I was given the opportunity to write an endorsement for Wayne Jacobsen's book "Beyond Sundays".

Then the wind down of the blog... I found myself posting about birthday presents, snowmen and roadsigns... all leading to today.  



This morning as I went for my walk, I found myself surrounded by one massive graveyard.  Macleod Trail runs right through it.  There are graves on both sides.   My first thought... 

"So much for Rest in Peace

As I looked at the dates on some of the headstones, I got the picture that maybe when this cemetery started, it wasn't split in two by one of the main thoroughfares into Calgary's downtown core.  I felt for the people that come here to spend time with their departed loved ones.  How serene is the moment for them during rush hour traffic.  

But as I ponder this, I wonder if walking through that cemetery doesn't bring me to the understanding of Peace in the midst of Rush Hour.  Somehow, I can still sense the serenity that comes from walking among the markers of people's life journeys and still find a calm place to reflect.  

The grave markers remind me that I am on a new journey.  There are markers I have left behind and every once in a while, I will walk among them for a time of reflection... but then I will journey on.  

This post is the marker for this blog.  I am going to lay this leg of my journey to rest.  I am sure I can come back and reflect on my Journey to 50... but may it find me thankful for what I have learned along the way, and who I have inspired.  

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

Even though, this blog only made marketing attempts through Facebook... I was able to share my journey with blog readers from  Canada, USA, Peru, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Ireland, Hong Kong, UK, Mexico, Netherlands and the Philippines. 

Go figure... 

Anyway... I may be done this blog... but I am not done blogging.  The Journey is going beyond the Jubilee.  I don't know what that journey is going to look like yet, but I look forward to the new adventures and inspirations I can share.  I will link the new blog to this one, and will continue to share posts on my Facebook page.  

Thank you to everyone who has come with me on this journey. 


Ruby Neumann signing off... for now.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

SIGNIFICANCE... GO THAT WAY!


One more day.  And the buzz word that comes across my mind this morning is Significance.  I went to my treasure trove of photos (Google... Images)  and found this picture.  If I was a pastor, I would find  a sermon in this picture.  But I am not.  So I will see if I can come up with a blogpost instead, because that is what I do.  I blog.

I first thought that I needed to make tomorrow "Significant".  I thought I made 40 significant.  I remember forty.  I handed in my book for publication in Victoria and then drove out to Tofino and concluded my birthday by standing on the beach alone.  I carved out this time so I could be alone and then made it to that "alone place"... and felt...lonely.  So I got out my cell phone and found the most available person at that moment and talked with him.  It was my brother-in-law.  



So what exactly was significant about that day for me.  I discovered that my journey towards aloneness only left me lonely and I needed to have someone else with me in that moment.  I discovered more about myself in one brief hour on that Tofino beach than I knew about me the previous forty years.  I needed people.  I wasn't made for aloneness.  

So ten years later, where am I on my journey toward "Significance"?

 The sign says it is in the opposite direction of Success.  I really don't know how to describe that journey, because I don't think I have been on it.  I don't know if I have been that devoted and driven to run that highway.  I think I have been more comfortable with the dirt road of Significance, at least that it what my perception has been.


I know significance is more than just making a day special.  It is about making the journey special.  

"Does this road really matter?"
"Am I on the right track?"
"Is someone else better for me being here?"

So many questions... but how else do I define significance in my life. Maybe the journey isn't significant because of my footsteps, maybe it is significant because of who I have journeyed with.  Maybe my significance comes from my travelling companions, not just me.  I would be okay to perceive it that way. 


Today marks the anniversary of a day that was the most Significant for me.  Nine years ago, I chose a travelling companion, a kind of which I had never had before.  I saw that sign that pointed me in the direction of Significance and someone else wanted to go with me.  

I don't know how do define my marriage in the terms of success... but I know it is significant.  I know that because I chose this journey, one person is better for me being here.  And I know he would tell you the same thing.  

Thank you, Manfred for being my travelling companion on this journey of Significance.  I know I am better for you being in my life.  



Sunday, March 25, 2018

WHERE AM I? (En route to 50)



As the journey nears its conclusion, and the road sign for me reads "50 ahead"; I have something on the forefront of my mind.  As I transition to fifty... I want to know the answer to this question.  WHERE AM I? 

  Physically I know where I am.  As I write this post, I am enjoying the weekend at the farm with my Mom.  But this journey is about more than my physical whereabouts.  It is a quest to understand where I am in life.  It is a time to reevaluate my whereabouts, to take another compass reading, to get my bearings.  

Over this past year, I have been compiling stories from my nephew's life.  It has been over a year now that he died and his story has become a passion of mine.  I found a story that I wrote in summer of 2016.  It was the result of a much joyful walk down memory lane.  I want to share it with you.  It morphs into an analogy that has leads me closer to the answer of the question I am asking.  

A Benjamin Story
June 11, 2016
"Auntie Ruby, I love you!"

It came more as a mournful cry for help, than a declaration of love.  My nephew, Benjamin had just been put in time out in his room by his mother.

 I was staying with my sister as a nanny back in the early 90's while I was "in between jobs".  Farm life demanded that my sister be out in the field, so I got the opportunity to hang out with my first nephew.

I don't know what got Benjamin put into time out, but he was ushered into his room and the door was closed.  Both Benjamin and I respected "Mom's" decision.  He didn't open up the door to escape and I didn't open up the door to free him.  But everything in my heart wanted to be near to that boy.  So I walked down the hall and laid on the floor by his bedroom door.

I heard my two year old nephew come closer and shuffle his little body closer to the door.  It was then that I could hear him breathe, and I am sure he could hear me breathe.  It was then that the most precious words came from his tiny lips.

"Auntie Ruby, I love you!"

Everything in me wanted to open that door rush in and hold my adorable little nephew in his solitude.  He was crying out to me.  So I stayed with him.

"I love you too, Benjamin."

There was something he had done that warranted the consequence of a time out from his loving mother.  That consequence of his actions put a door between him and the ones he loved.  He knew that and he seemed willing to serve his time.  He also seemed heartbroken that his actions had taken him from his freedom and his contact with his Mom and Auntie Ruby.

I have lost a lot of memories of that day, but I remember his cry of love and I remember my persistence to stay with him, even through that door separated us.

For me, in life, the consequences to my actions have put up doors that temporarily come in between me and Jesus.  I'm not going to call them walls, because walls are a picture of permanency.  Doors can be opened.  I wouldn't call them a time out, just a consequence of my actions.  What endears me to this story is how much it connects to my life and to Jesus.  I can visualize him laying down on the floor next to me and hearing my heartfelt cry.  Maybe he even reaches under the door and our fingers connect.  I know he is close and I know he couldn't be closer, but there is still a door, but a door that is not permanent.




So WHERE AM I?   I think I am laying on the floor reaching towards the crack under the door. Maybe listening to Jesus on the other side telling me he loves me.  Whimpering because the door is separating us, but not panicking because I know he is just on the other side of that door... waiting with me.

No, I don't believe I'm being punished.  Maybe it is a time-out... Time to think, to evaluate, to ponder... Who put the door there?  It could be him, it could be me, it could just be... What did I say?... CIRCUMSTANCES.  Life happens and those doors close me in.  But as I said in the story... the door isn't permanent.  





Thursday, March 22, 2018

NEVER too old to play




If I can hope for one thing going into fifty and whatever lies beyond those borders... I never want to get too old to play.  And not just play because there are children around and I am the token adult to join in their frivolities.  I mean get out in my front yard and build a snowman by myself kind of playing.  


Why is it, that when we get older, we lose the will to play?  Like playing is something reserved for children and their babysitters.   


I understand that as the years creep up on me, I may not have the physical strength to run around in my front yard building a snowman.  So when that happens, maybe I will have to find another means of playing.  But until that moment comes, there is nothing and no one stopping me from donning my boots and gloves and going out in the snow and making most of the first day of spring. 


I found out that the fun I was having out in my front yard, didn't stop with me.  Once my snowman was finished, I invited my husband and his friend out to meet the guy.  Along with the beautiful day, that little masterpiece was a giver of joy.  


I don't have any pictures of children enjoying the fun... just a bunch of grownups that refuse to get too old to play.  




Thursday, March 15, 2018

50... JUST A NUMBER?





Two weeks from now I hit... you got it... The big one.  That moment I have been preparing for since I started this blog eight and a half months ago.  That moment is just fourteen days from reality.  More often than not... I am hearing this. 

"It's just a number."

And yet it's a milestone.  Milestones aren't just numbers, they are identifiers marking a new leg of the journey.  So is it "just a number"?  


Journey Update:   I got my first two presents. 

1. 


 My friend Lori, passed along some much appreciated wisdom.  This book... "50 things to do when you turn 50" gave her some help along her journey as she hit the same milestone that I am inching towards.  So she passed it along to me.  How precious is that.  Oh... that most books wouldn't become dust collectors on our shelves, but that we could gain what we need to gain from them and pass them on to the next willing reader.  

I have already read a few chapters.   Great book so far... Fifty people share their wisdom and their journeys.. Not just one author, but fifty different perspectives on this milestone of a birthday.  Here is a portion from the introduction by Ronnie Sellers... the genius who compiled this collection. 

"If you heed their advice, relax (you don’t have to prove yourself any longer), take care of yourself, and remain inspired, you will have plenty to look forward to in the years ahead. Sure, you have to face 50 alone, but you’re not in such bad company, after all. And once you muster the courage to pass through that doorway, you’ll find lots of friendly faces waiting for you on the other side."

2. 


At Christmas I got a very colourful scarf from my sister.  So a few weeks back, I went to my mom with three balls of yarn and asked if she would make me some mitts to match my scarf.  She did and  gave them to me when she was done... and said "Happy Birthday"...  That's right.  I asked for them for a birthday present.  So my question is... are they really a present if I asked for them?  Something to ponder.  But they are precious, and I couldn't have asked for anything more precious from her.  Now I just need a toque to go with my scarf and my mitts.  Any volunteers? 
 
* * * 

I have been compiling a list of things I want to do before and when I turn 50.  So far... here is my list. 

1.  


I want to go with my Mom to the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton.  We have our date set already and I am looking forward to sniffing some flowers.  I have been missing my flowers and can't wait til I can get out in the garden and encourage my own beauties to meet the daylight.  Until then... I will find some flowers at the Muttart and enjoy someone else's handiwork.  

2. 


I am not saying it will be my last ride on the Mindbender (West Edmonton Mall's super coaster) ... but I would like to go for a ride before I leave my forties behind.  I used to work here when it was Fantasyland back in 1990.  So for me, it's not just a trip to Edmonton's theme park... it is a visit back to my old stomping grounds.  I went for a lot of rides on the Mindbender during my employ with the mall... but truth be told... I haven't yet sat in the front row that I remember.  So maybe the goal this time is sitting in the front row.  

3.  

I want to wish Lucy Lawless... aka Xena the warrior princess... a Happy Birthday.  You see... She is my "twin".  We both came into the world on March 29, 1968.  When I did a celebrity search for people born on my birthday.. she came up.  I actually remember watching Xena.. I was originally a Hercules fan, and the interest I had for that show, led me Xena.  I didn't know back then that we were "twins"... but when I found out she was,  I was alright that my celebrity twin was the Queen of the Amazon's
 
Lucy was born in New Zealand, I was born in Canada.  I have never met her, but not because it hasn't been on my wish list.  So I will drop her a birthday greeting on Facebook... If she finds it amid the eighty thousand fan messages... I would be surprised.  She has quite a fan following.  Whether she gets it or not... I will still send it.  
Maybe I'll even pop a message, the day after,  to Celine Dion.  That's right folks... I am one day older than Celine Dion.  I know... it seems like she's been around forever... truth be told.. she's only forty-nine.. like me.  

4. 


 I want to spend my birthday in Calgary.  That is the plan so far and I am looking forward to going back to my homeland of fourteen years.  I lived there,  met 30  and I left just months before 40 showed up.  So going back for 50.. well it seems appropriate that I would share this milestone with Cowtown.  

So that is it.. so far... Not much for wild extravagance... but meaningful anyway.  

I haven't quite decided if I will keep blogging after "Journey to Fifty" ends in two weeks.  I have a lot of other writing projects on the go.  But maybe I will find new inspiration to pass along to whoever wants to read it.  Someone in Peru has been reading my blog.  I sure wish I could find out who that is.  
 Anyway... if I do pick up another blog, I will link up the new site on this one,  so you can find my next writing adventure.  

So until the next post... here is a little inspiration from the poet... I wrote it this morning,  inspired from my new 50 book.
 
" ...if the birthday number ends in zero... poets are apt to feel a professional obligation to mark the event with some utterance in verse. " Billy Collins... American Poet. 
 
I don't like writing poetry out of obligation ... but the inspiration came anyway... so here it is...
 

My Friend 50

 

My journey to 50 is almost complete

Two more weeks and that date I’ll meet

 

That milestone marker that tells me I’m old

“Nah, it’s just a number!” … or so I’ve been told

 

Will I feel any different?  Will I notice the change?

Is there anything in my life, I need to rearrange?

 

My hair has grey, my joints they ache

I’m putting bran now in everything I bake

 

So I am already feeling the onset of age

Maybe I need better attitude when I turn that page

 

I am told joy awaits me; another journey starts

So my body slows down, I have other parts

 

My mind wants to learn, my heart wants to love

My spirit and soul want to soar;  Isn’t that enough?

 

So I’ll embrace you, 50,  like one of my new friends

You and me together 'til this decade ends

 

Then maybe I’ll welcome 60 with gusto too

Because who knows… she just might be better than you!


 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March is here!!!!


March is here!!! Do I look excited.  

This is the month... my favourite month of the year.  For three reasons.. and I will list them in order of appearance. 

1.  Spring comes
2. My Anniversary
3. My Birthday


March is about beginnings for me.  The beginning of Spring, the beginning of life, the beginning of freshness.  I went and googled Spring and found some beautiful pictures.  




I miss the flowers.  I am told that we will have snow tonight.  So my joy that comes from turning the calendar... just might pass when I walk outside and find that I need to shovel snow again... in March... The month of spring... 


Today, I got to visit via phone with my "oldest" friend.  She isn't my "oldest" friend because of her age... She has been my friend since I was in grade five.  We have been penpals for almost 40 years.  Today is her 50th birthday.  We tried to connect via video chat, but couldn't make the connection.  It was good to chat with her anyway... we will try again to make the visual connection.  It has been over 25 years since I've seen her.  She lives in the Southwest Caribbean.  Not an easy jaunt for me.  But as much as we don't regularly connect now... it is so good when we do connect.  


Today, we talked about the hard times.  We have both had hard times, and she equated it with riding the waves.  Is that what I have been doing?  Riding the waves.  Like the seasons... especially in this country... it's like riding the waves.  Sometimes we face sunshine and sometimes we face snowstorms.  I guess we make it through with a lot of grace and a bit of balance.  


I don't know what this month will hold for me.  I won't have a party... I have already figured that out.  But I do want to connect on a more intimate level if I can.  I am already arranging "dates" with people so I can have a bit more quality of time.  That I look forward to... some good "one-on-one" connections and maybe even adventures.  



I may have to wait a couple months for the flowers to come out in my own garden... but maybe I can find some somewhere.   Maybe it means sniffing the selection at Safeway or taking my mom to the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton.  Either way... I hope to sniff some spring sometime.   I have had enough of winter.  I am ready to kiss the snow, the cold and the blues goodbye.  


One last thought.  I hope my journey has been an inspiration of sorts.  Something else my Caribbean friend and I talked about was the feeling.

"Do you feel fifty?"  I asked her. 

 She said no.  She didn't feel any different from 49 to 50.  In fact she admitted that she felt closer to 21.  Now that is a good attitude.  Maybe it is just a number.  I guess I will find out in 29 days.  



Sunday, February 11, 2018

What do I want for my birthday?

DISCLAIMER:  THIS POST IS FOR MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT KNOW ME.  I DON'T WANT BIRTHDAY STUFF FROM BLOG FANS.  THAT WOULD BE CREEPY.  

Okay... my countdown tells me it's forty-six days until I hit the big one.  So I figured a good post this week was to clear up the issue of birthday gifts.  

First of all... I love getting gifts FOR people.  It is one of my love languages... in other words.. it is one of the better ways I know how to show people I love them.  I like finding things that they might like, be able to use or maybe make them a memory.  That is one of my passions.  

But next month the tables are turning.  It is my birthday... and a big one at that.  I understand my family and friends might be thinking of what to get me to honour such a prestigious occasion.  So I figure a post of "What I want for my birthday?" would be appropriate. 

Let's see... where to start. 

1.  Nothing:


Okay... that is my first request.  I really don't want more stuff.  I have a hard time keeping my house clean and organized as is.   And I am running out of wall space for anything I need to hang on the wall.  I can't do flowers in my house because of the cats, and it would be great if I wasn't showered with an abundance of chocolate either.  (I can hear my hubby saying..."Hey, wait.. I like chocolate!" okay... any incoming chocolate can go to him. His birthday is in summer..  I'll hide it in the freezer for him.)  

2.  Birthday Cards: 



I always  have room for Birthday Cards.  Birthday Cards don't require dusting... and they are filled with warm thoughts of love.  I can even keep them for years to come and look back at them when I feel sad or lonely.  They are a gift that keeps on giving.  So if you want to send me a birthday card... I really like 50 and funny.  When I hit the last big one... I collected my own  40 and funny cards. (Maybe I didn't mention this.. but card shopping is another on of my hobbies).    I think I  ended up passing most of them along over the years.   

So if you don't mind browsing the card racks at Walmart or wherever you shop... and you find a 50 and funny card... You can pick one up, put a stamp on it and pop it in the mail.  (if you don't have my snail mail address... ask me for it.  But I'm not posting it here.)  And if you are the more sentimental soul and funny doesn't cut it for you... that is okay...  Greetings of all kinds from my family and friends always bring a warmth to my heart.  

3.  Quality Time:

I guess the best gift I could get for my 50th birthday is quality time.  I thought at first it might be nice to have a big to do... but thinking it over, I would much rather have a one on one get together than a big party where I can't here people talk to me and can't spend more than 5 minutes with them.  So this is what I am proposing.  A lot of individual dates.  I know scheduling is always an issue, but if you want to hang out with me for my birthday... lets make it easier.. Let's extend my birthday to cover the whole year.  I am very flexible outside of my work hours.  I don't have too many commitments that I can't work around.  So if time is something you want to give me for my birthday... let's figure something out.  We have all year!!!! 

4.  iTunes Cards wrapped in hand towels:  


Okay.. this is the last idea... If you don't want to do nothing but want to do more than a birthday card and don't have the time... here is one more option.  iTunes cards wrapped in hand towels.

Let me explain.  I have started reading again and the cheaper, more space conserving way of reading is called Ibooks (The Mac version of a E-Reader) .  I have a nice growing library in my Ibooks.  I have a very vast taste in literature as is evidenced by my electronic library.  I am usually in the middle of 3-5 books at a time.  Ibooks gives me the option of sampling a book before I buy it. The picture is a snapshot of my sample books that are just waiting to be downloaded and read.

So if you want to pass along a meaningful gift that will contribute to my increased knowledge and inspiration... again for years to come ... iTunes gift cards will work.

"Then why the hand towels?" you ask.

Well... I am low on nice hand towels for my bathroom and kitchen... and they make for a much more useful method of gift wrapping.  I have enough washcloths and beach towels... just hand towels seems to be lacking in my house.

There you have it.  And in case anyone actually finds that Teddy Bear with my name on it.. I won't turn that down either.


The End of one Journey... the Beginning of another...

Ruby's first Video Log of 50. Well, I made it.  I made it to fifty.  As I start writing this post... it is 9:30 am, March 29, ...