Category Archives: Travel and Leisure

What Star Wars Teaches Us About Happiness

I was standing in line for the new Star Wars movie on opening night with my kids (I call them kids, but they are both in their 30’s now). My youngest turns to me and asks how old I was when the original Star Wars came out. All these young heads turned to look at me with renewed interest.

Me and my niece, Bella (left), and granddaughter, Eden (right).

Me and my niece, Bella (left), and granddaughter, Eden (right).

It was then I realized I was one of the few old relics at the theater, who at the age of 16 stood in those long lines in 1977 to see the latest phenomenon they called Star Wars.

Who could have predicted that 38 years later, the younger generation would still be fascinated with Luke Skywalker, wookies, Ewoks, Darth Vader, Yoda, the Millennium Falcon and all those cheesy jokes?

But make their triumphant return, they did!

Two weeks ago my granddaughter and niece, ages 9 and 8, started making plans for a party and chose Star Wars as the theme. So, Saturday I donned a Princess Leia costume at my grandchildren’s request.

Star Wars Photo 9We cut pool noodles in half and decorated them with duct tape to look like light sabers, My daughter-in-law slaved for two days making an amazing Death Star cake.

star Wars photo 14

 

 

 

 

 

The party got me to thinking about what we can learn from this classic movie. So, in honor of our Star Wars party, here are five lessons we can learn about happiness:

Don’t Allow Fear to Rule Your Life

Star Wars Photo 13“Never tell me the odds.” — Han Solo

Don’t let odds hold you back — even if an asteroid field is hurling towards you and your odds of success are 3,720 to 1.

People told me that less than one percent of submitted works are accepted for publication. They told me stories of how aspiring writers worked for years and years and had nothing to show for it besides a stack of rejection letters. That you had to have connections to get published.

Good thing I didn’t listen. Oh yes, I had that huge stack of rejection letters and it was years before I became published. Nonetheless, I overcame those odds even though I didn’t know anyone in the publishing business. I went on to have a book published by the prestigious publishing company, McGraw Hill, and hundreds of articles and short stories published in magazines. Even if I didn’t have any success, it would have been worth the effort. At least I wouldn’t go to my death bed with regrets of not pursuing my dream.

Star Wars Photo 3

So commit, make a decision, and move forward. In other words, go for it! As Yoda said, “Do or do not… there is no try.”

No more procrastination. Don’t be afraid of failure which only freezes you into inaction, cripples you, and prevents you from the person you were meant to be.

Yoda’s advice reminds me of Thomas A. Edison’s famous quote when trying to invent the light bulb: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Clearly, Yoda was onto something.

Star Wars Photo 5Value the Power of Relationships

The power that supportive relationships have in our lives is invaluable. Star Wars teaches us to have integrity and to be loyal to our family and friends through all their lows and highs.

Don’t forget, that lovable, small, scrappy group of friends took down a whole corrupt empire!

However, make sure you are choosing the right kinds of friends.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” — Darth Vader

Star Wars Photo 4Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you. People who make you laugh and inspire you. Detox your life of negative people who do not believe in you and bring you down.

Don’t be fooled by appearances either.

“Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder,” Princess Leia said to Han Solo.

Lesson learned: Don’t discount or give up on that scruffy-looking nerd. If you have faith and believe in him, he just might turn out to be a hero one day.

 

Let Go of the Hate

Star Wars Photo 12“Fear leads to anger,” Yoda patiently explained. “Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Or as Luke Skywalker said plainly in Return of the Jedi, “Let go of your hate.”

Free yourself from fear, anger, and hate. Let the bitterness, resentment, and thoughts of vengeance go. Forgive so you can have inner peace, feel free, and be happy.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny,” Yoda said.

Focus on the Positive

“Your focus determines your reality,” Qui-Gon Jinn told Anakin.

This concept is so empowering, yet many people tend to overlook it. Your perception of life is affected by what you choose to focus your mind on.  Focusing on even small and seemingly insignificant things that give you joy helps you to be present in the moment and absorb the beauty in the world.

This kind of positive thinking helps you be creative, search for solutions, and consider possibilities you can’t envision when your head is clouded with hopelessness, frustration, and self-pity. Don’t focus on everything that is going wrong in your life or negative people or disappointments. Make the best out of every precious moment. Concentrate on fun and exciting goals for the future.

Star Wars Photo 7A Little Humor Goes a Long Way

Who can forget Han Solo’s line as a massive garbage compactor closes in on our heroes. “One thing’s for sure, we’re all gonna be a lot thinner,” he said with a wry look on his face.

Humor lightens the mood and allows everyone time to regroup and reassess the situation. Share your humor with others. Everyone needs more laughter in their lives, so spread it around. A sense of humor keeps spirits high and empowers people to do what needs to be done.

So there’s your five nuggets of wisdom from the Star War franchise. I’ll leave you with one last piece of wisdom from Yoda: “Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things.”

So it is. Therefore seize the day and cherish each moment you have with those you love.

Star Wars Photo 15

 

Eight Fun Ways to Spend Leap Day

What would you do with an extra day? A whole extra 24 hours? Start thinking about it now because it’s leap year and we all get that gift.

Leap for Joy - It's Leap Day!

Leap for Joy – It’s Leap Day!

I say we have some fun and celebrate! How? Here are eight ways:

Throw a Party

Embrace the leap day theme with a fun party.

Start with Leap Year Cocktails developed in 1928 at the Savoy Hotel in London. Here are the ingredients:  2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier, 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth, and 1 dash fresh lemon juice. Just pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use for garnish.

Play songs from the Leap Year movie soundtrack. Songs could include Randy Edelman’s score, A Leap Year Promise, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s More and More Of Your Amor, and The Mamas and the Papas’ Dream A Little Dream Of Me.

Give out blank cards and ask guests to write where they would like to be in four years when leap day arrives again in 2020.

If you have kids (or are young at heart), play a game of leap frog or make cute origami frogs. Maybe you can all pretend to be leaping lizards. Or just leap for joy!

Try Something New!

Try Something New!

Do Something New and Exciting

You’ve been given an extra day, remember? Don’t waste it. Take a quick road trip or hike to somewhere you’ve never visited before, zip line, learn how to glass blow, try a daring haircut and donate your hair, or fly in a hot air balloon.

Do something that makes you laugh, skip, dance, sing, and feel happy.

If you try something new and it doesn’t work out, just pretend it never happened. February 29 doesn’t really exist anyway, right?

Watch Your Favorite Time Movie

Of course, there is the 2010 movie, Leap Year, which I never saw and hear it didn’t get very good reviews. But, hey, you might want to check it out just for the fun of it.

Or enjoy your other favorite movies about time like Groundhog Day or Back to the Future. Try watching the funny 30 Rock’s “Leap Day” episode with cameos by Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell on Hulu.

Pay it Forward

Use the extra 24 hours to make this day better for others.

Find something you’re passionate about and dive in to help out your community. Drop donations off at a food bank, help beautify your neighborhood, run an errand for an elderly person, or simply buy the person behind you in line a cup of coffee. Any random act of kindness will do.

Pick Up an Old Hobby

Pick Up an Old Hobby

Rediscover an Old Passion 

Maybe you let an old hobby or interest fall to the wayside because you never had enough time to pursue it. Perhaps you always wanted to write a book, learn a new language, or take up painting, photography, or gardening.

Here’s your chance to dive in with an extra 24 hours and get started on that project you never began or finished. Who knows, maybe you’ll keep it up after the day is done.

Learn all about Leap Year

It may seem boring, but it’s kind of interesting to learn about how leap year originated and how it keeps our calendar in harmony with the solar orbit.

Turns out there are a lot of fun facts about this holiday. For example, did you know that US Presidential elections and Summer Olympic Games are both held every four years and occur during leap years? Or that century years are not leap years unless they can be evenly divided by 400? The years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600 and 2000 were. Okay, that fact gives me a little bit of a headache.

Here’s some more fun facts. Your chances of being born on a leap day are approximately 1 in 1500. People born on leap day are called leaplings. In most states, leaplings must wait until March 1st to be eligible for any age-specific privileges (ages 16, 18, 21). In Greece, people believe it is bad luck to get married in a leap year. On the other hand, in Ireland, women can propose to a man.

Oh, I could go on and on. Maybe I’m weird, but the inner nerd in me finds this stuff kind of fascinating.

Take Time for Yourself

Take Time for Yourself

Chill and Relax

Maybe you’ll want to focus on you on leap day.

Get a massage, write in a journal, read a book, or meet a friend for lunch. Sleep in or take a luxurious mid-afternoon nap. Listen to some relaxing time-related music like Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce.

Kick off the next four years with positive, forward-thinking.

Make a Four-Year Plan

Leap days offer you the perfect chance to sit down and think about the four years ahead. Where do you want to be on the next leap day? What are your hopes for the next four years? What new things would you like to try?

Just for fun, make a list of things you’d like to accomplish by the time the next leap day arrives. Pull it out in 2020 and see how you did.

So try any one or more of these fun days and have an enjoyable, memorable, and inspirational leap day!

To find more inspiration for spending your extra hours on Leap Day, please visit these inspiring blogs:

Carmela Dutra, A Blog for Your Thoughts: The Perfect Leap Day

Cat Michael, Cat’s Corner: Top 10 Things I’d Do with My Extra 24 Hours on Leap Day

Author Nelson’s Suit’s: Five Fun Ideas to Nourish Your Soul on Leap Day

Do you have plans or fun ideas to celebrate leap day? Please share in the comments below.

Images courtesy of imagerymajestic, J Frasse, panpote, and stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net respectively in the order the images appear.

 

California Dreaming: San Francisco in a Day

As Mark Twain once famously said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Looking back over my life, the trips I’ve been fortunate enough to take around the world have indeed been some of the happiest moments. So with that in mind, I’m adding a travel and leisure section to my Baby Boomer Bliss blog.

Bridge Sunrise

My first article will feature my most recent trip – a quick one to San Francisco the first part of December. And I do mean quick. My son, Jonathan, was attending a one-day work conference in Monterey and my daughter-in-law, Johnni, had never seen either Monterey or San Francisco.

Whizzing up the I-5 for our whirlwind trip to San Francisco.

Whizzing up the I-5 for our whirlwind trip to San Francisco.

Even though we only had one day in each place, that inspired a last minute sprint up the I-5 from our home near Palm Springs to Monterey.  Sometimes the best road trips are the ones you don’t plan.

Our one day in Monterey was spent walking along Cannery Row and visiting the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium while Jonathan attended his work conference. Then it was on to the City by the Bay.

Of course, I don’t recommend seeing San Francisco in a day, but if you’re in a situation like ours and you only have 12 hours or so to explore, here are my recommendations. Turns out you can fit a lot into just one day and have a blast doing it! However, to achieve this feat, try and visit during off-season like us.

This was our itinerary:

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies Overview

After a quick stop at the set of Myth Busters for a photo (yes, we are a bunch of nerds), we ventured forward to the famous Painted Ladies.  

A must-see if this is your first visit to the Golden City. The quaint and colorful Victorian houses with downtown skyscrapers in the background provides a stunning contrast. Be sure and climb to the top of Alamo Square Park across the street for some spectacular photos of the city. 

Lombard Street

Lombard StreetThis is a touristy spot that normally I would avoid. The long line of cars waiting for their turn to go down the “crookedest street in the world” can be awful. However, this was Johnni’s first time to Frisco and she wanted to see the famous sight.

We lucked out – during the winter months it wasn’t crowded at all and we entered the steep, windy street and drove past all the gorgeous Victorian mansions. I have to admit, for me, the funnest part was watching my son, Jonathan, run down the narrow steps trying to take photos of us. He,he,he.

Tip: After visiting the Myth Busters set, we ran across another alternative to Lombard Street: Filbert Street. According to Wikipedia, it ties with 22nd Street as the steepest street in San Francisco. It was less crowded than Lombard Street and one adventurous ride. When you start down the hill, you can’t see the road below. It feels like you’re driving off the edge of a cliff. Wheee! Fun stuff!

Fisherman’s Wharf

SF cable carFisherman’s Wharf runs all the way from Pier 39 to Municipal Pier at the end of Aquatic Park. Famous for having some of the best seafood restaurants in the city, we were sure to end our busy day there with a relaxing dinner at Fog Harbor Fish House.

Before crossing the Golden Gate, we stopped at Municipal Pier to take photos with the historic cable cars and visit every chocolate lover’s paradise, Ghirardelli Square. Heavenly! And since we love all things sailing, we made a quick stop at the Maritime Museum.

 

Palace of Fine Arts

San Francisco Art MuseumDon’t ask me why I had never visited this place on previous trips to San Francisco. This has to be one of the most peaceful places on earth with its classic Grecian Roman rotunda and elegant swans floating in a European-style lagoon.

We stopped briefly, but next time I come here, I want to have a picnic and unwind in this idyllic park.

The Golden Gate Bridge

BridgeGoes without saying, right? Johnni was jumping up and down in her seat with anticipation. She squealed with delight at the sight of the spectacular world-renowned bridge. We parked at the crowded north vista point and walked part of the bridge.

Overlook BridgeHowever, the best part for me was heading up the winding road past Battery Spencer to Hawk’s Hill with lookout points perched on mountain tops. The panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city, and the Bay Area were breathtaking.

Muir Woods

Muir WoodsAs a child, I lived in northern California (Willits and Ukiah), but somehow never hiked the Muir Woods. Don’t ask how we found the time, but we took a short drive north of the city to walk among 380-foot-tall redwood trees on this easy, but spectacular, hike. My cousin, who lives nearby in Napa met us there and confessed she had never been there before either. As I mentioned before, our family is kind of geeky and we were impressed by the fact that part of The Return of the Jedi was filmed there.

So, there you go. At 55, I still have it! Oh yes, there was some recoup time involved when I got home, but it was worth it!