Edinburgh Castle

Staying in Focus: Focus On: Favorite Shoes

Recently, one of the daily prompts was “My Favorite Shoes”.  Distracted by the flurry of visitors  we’ve had this past week, I didn’t get a chance to post this. But after helping friends to move in and shopping with family this week, I feel my favorite shoes deserve some recognition.

My favorite shoes are a pair of Keds sneakers. In fact, I am on my third pair of them. They are great for walking, never pinch my toes, and provide good support, all of which are needed by someone who loves to walk despite having Parkinson’s disease.

These sneakers have taken me for walks on the decks of two cruise ships, on a walking tour of London, along the Giant’s Causeway in Scotland, through the streets of Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska. They have walked in the footsteps of the Beatles, toured the Louvre, ambled along the streets of the beautiful city of Victoria, Canada, and stood on the same ground as Stonehenge has for 5000 years.

Together we climbed the steep hill to the entrance of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, strolled on the cobblestone streets of St. Peter Port, Guernsey and completed a 5k walk “on deck for the cure” aboard the Caribbean Princess, while at sea.  IMG_2116

My Keds and I have walked up and down hundreds of steps this week helping friends move into their third floor apartment. We have shopped the malls of Raleigh with my buddies, Pat and Becky, during their annual visit. We have walked over bridges and under trees, across fields and along the road.  We have tip-toed over the dew-kissed grass of morning and left shoeprints in the shifting sands of the shore.

There is nothing like a well-worn, well used, favorite pair of shoes sitting on the closet floor, waiting to take me on the next adventure.  But most of all, my favorite shoes are those that bring me home.

 

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Staying in Focus: Final Thoughts and What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Some final thoughts and musings on the best vacation ever. And what I learned on my summer vacation this year.

1. One of the things I enjoy the most about cruises is the escape. Just for a little while,  I am transported into a different world. A world where food is prepared for me, served elegantly,  and I don’t have to clean up afterward.  A world where my bed is made in the morning,  turned down at night, with a chocolate resting on my pillow. I can be pampered  at the spa, or relax  in the hot tub after a long day of sightseeing while I watch movies under the stars. In the theatre, talented singers and dancers entertain me. Numerous clubs offer after dinner drinks, trivia games, karaoke, dancing and entertainment.  A little TLC is welcome every now and then and the cruise lines have this down to a science.

2. I love waking up each morning somewhere else!

3. And the ships themselves, tastefully decorated and impeccably clean. I applaud the Princess and Holland America Lines for their excellence in this regard. Until I saw one up close , I had no idea how big these ships are and my admiration also goes to the captain and the crew who manage to steer these floating hotels.4

4. On this cruise I had the opportunity to complete a  “Walk on the Deck for the Cure,” in honor of my mother and my friend, Debbi, who are fighting breast cancer. I applaud the social director who set this up  and gave us  a chance to be socially involved while on the high seas. We had to complete 6 circuits of the ship to make the 5K goal. I was proud of myself, at 60 and with Parkinson’s disease , to have completed the walk. Below is a picture of me, still standing! A wonderful opportunity to take part in such a worthy cause.

5. In addition to making each moment of our cruise one to remember, the cruise line was so helpful in transporting us to our hotel in London, and two days later driving us out to the airport  for our flight home.

6. One of the nicest advantages of taking a cruise is the fellowship we quickly develop with the other passengers and the crew as well. A few dinners in the dining room, playing trivia in the lounges and taking excursions, and the faces begin to look familiar and  a camaraderie soon develops.

On our cruise last year , our social director, John, pointed out how, during the cruise, for a week people from all over the world spent time together aboard ship, shared a dinner table and conversation and  were considerate of  each other.   In other words, we all got along and if we could do it for a week, certainly  the rest of the world could do it , too, if they reall.y tried. This year our cruise lasted 12 days and again, people got along. Perhaps the answer is putting everyone on a cruise ship – wouldn’t that be fun! But we  can’t stay on vacation forever, and we need to find ways to be tolerant and accepting of others in the everyday world.

And what I learned on my summer vacation this year is just how similar we all are, no matter where we call home I was sitting in the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland,  finishing my soft drink and just watching the people walk by, and I thought, you know, I can’t tell if this group walking by is English, or Canadian or Australian. They are just  people enjoying  a tour of the castle on a sunny afternoon in Scotland. Mothers pushed their babies in strollers, backpacks were slung over shoulders, young people wore jeans and T-shirts, most of them with some sort of “smart” electronic device in their hands.

I realized, then, that what seemed most different about the countries we visited was not the people, but the scenery. Basically, people are just people wherever you go. Our similarities are far more numerous than our differences. I didn’t feel like  a stranger in a strange land, I felt a part of the people gathered here at the castle . Later in the trip, on a walk through Green Park in London, there were people playing frisbee, and soccer, people sitting on lawn chairs and resting on blankets spread on the ground just enjoying  a warm summer night in England, a scene I’m sure was repeated all over the globe that day.

I wonder why it is so hard for us to  celebrate our shared humanity,? Why not build on those things we share – families, home, life, love and watch the differences shrink away? As my friend from Liverpool once wrote “You may say I’m a dreamer..”  Maybe one  day dreams like this will become  reality.  But until then, I’ll remember , with fondness, the people I had a chance to meet and share a wonderful experience with, once upon a time, on a cruise. Here are some pictures of the beautiful Caribbean Princess, which carried us away and brought us together, if only for a little while.

Still standing after the 5K walk the deck for the cure

Still standing after the 5K walk the deck for the cure

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