Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prescription: A Little More Spring

My friend Tom Wingham's untimely death at 42 hit me pretty hard last week.  I found that I had trouble sleeping, thinking about Tom and his family.  Also, I began to stress about unknown medical issues that can sneak up and do us in without warning.  How can vibrant, seemingly healthy people so suddenly be stricken down?  Next thing you know, you're anxiously looking in the mirror wondering if you are next.  You start thinking about taking evasive action.

So after a few years of resistance, I decided to heed my doctor's request to take medication for blood pressure.  The tipping point was when, on Monday, I checked it at home and found it to be alarmingly high.  I placed a page to Dr.Chien after hours to call in a prescription, which he did. I had scared the beejeezus out of myself and my husband.

Two days later (yesterday), my blood pressure is well within a normal range, and I am sleeping better.  I visited Dr. Chien who assured me we did the right thing and he is not overly concerned, because my other vitals and blood work are good. 

I credit Tom with sending me a message to delay no longer on treating my blood pressure.  Thanks Tom.  I'll keep tabs on it now.

We're back in Chicago until May 4th, when we depart on our big trip to England.  Until then, I will follow my prescriptions.  That includes the official one to regulate my blood pressure, as well as the unofficial one - to enjoy a little more Spring.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our World is a Little Dimmer Today

This may not be the best day for me to write a blog celebrating retirement.  Yesterday my dear friend Tom Wingham passed away unexpectedly.  He was only in his forties.  When Tom missed two conference calls for work, his co-workers became concerned and contacted a friend to check on him.  She found him at home, dead in a chair, with his work laptop in front of him.

Tom Wingham was an extraordinary person.  He successfully blurred the line between work and his personal life and pleasures.  We all enjoyed his Facebook postings from business trips around the world.  With him, we toured London, Istanbul, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid, Singapore, and cities all over the U.S.  He adored his hometown of Los Angeles.  In person and in pictures, his smile was ever-present and infectious.

Tributes are pouring in from all over the world.  Tom made friends wherever he went.

A man with a ridiculously unabashed joie de vivre is gone.  His family has suffered a stunning loss.  Tom would never have left them by choice.

They don’t yet know what caused Tom’s untimely death.  We all saw that Tom was always on the go… flying from here to there (often on a red-eye), working into evenings, and having his weekends cut short by business obligations.  Some were envious of his glamorous life.  I know he enjoyed it – but he also wanted to be able to spend more time with his family and friends at home.  Obviously, none of us would choose to slip into the next world in the pale glow of a computer monitor while preparing for a conference call.

It’s been almost exactly four years since Ron and I quit our corporate jobs to live life differently; without conference calls and red eye flights.  Today we are fortunate to share our days with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, healthy activities, eight hours of sleep a night, and home-cooked meals.  It was a conscious choice that we hope will prolong our lives.  We don’t know how much time we have, but we are going to do our best to make the most of this life.

Jeez, Tom… we already miss you.  As someone wrote on his Facebook page, “Our world is a little dimmer today.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Halfway Home

We've spent the last two days driving through the American Heartland, on our way from Chicago to Prescott.  Yesterday, it was the entire length of Illinois, a corner of Missouri, and a dash of Arkansas to usher us across the Mississippi into Memphis, Tennessee.  Today, with Memphis in our rear view mirror, we drove through the northern width of Arkansas and well into Oklahoma.

With two more days of still ahead, I am wearily attempting to focus on the positive aspects of this long road trip.  There are mental snapshots replaying in my head.  The landscape went by too quickly to capture these scenes with a camera, but they will be some of the highlights of this trip...
Crimson Clover
  • Farmers in Caterpillars and Farmalls, planting crops on their acreage in the early morning sun.
  • Red buds blooming heartily among the spring green trees by the highway.
  • A herd of cows standing in a pond in Oklahoma.
  • Swaths of Crimson Clover making vast fields of grass blush a wine color.
  • Beautiful chestnut horses grazing in a hilly field of yellow wildflowers.
I'm pooped, and not partiularly looking forward to another two days in the car, but we really enjoyed the hospitality extended by our dear friend Dave in Memphis last night.  Tonight we'll walk across the parking lot from the Hampton Inn in Yukon, Oklahoma (Garth Brooks' hometown) to have some Italian food.  By early afternoon on Saturday we'll arrive in Prescott - our new home.  We can't wait to put down real roots there.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Packing It In

The moving van loads up Tuesday morning. By this time next week we will be climbing back into our Budget Rental Truck after a night in Memphis, and heading to our next stop - Oklahoma City. The movers will be somewhere on the road too, headed toward Prescott.

The last five weeks have been...grueling. We dismantled our Chicago home and packed it up, box by box. Weeks of organizing, sorting, shredding, decision-making, donating, folding, wrapping, reaching, lifting, stacking, etcetera, are now over. Exhausted, both emotionally and physically, I expect the road trip to Arizona to be a little mind-clearing.

Our condo has been rented to a very nice couple in their early thirties. I’m tickled to see that they are so excited to move in and establish themselves here. We have been happy on Bittersweet Place, and we hope they will be too. Having a signed lease and a security deposit is a relief. The real estate market in Chicago will bounce back eventually, but for now at least our investment will pay for itself via the monthly rental fee. We’ll test the market again a few years down the road.

Chicago, we squeezed in as much fun as we could during the last few weeks. We had close encounters with several local Top Chefs, went to the theater twice, ate at our favorite neighborhood haunts, shopped downtown for our trip, and even played a few rounds of golf at Waveland. I know Chicago isn’t going anywhere – but we are.

Here we come, Prescott! We hope to arrive on Saturday the 14th, just in time for the wine tasting at the club. It will be wonderful to see our friends, enjoy the sun, hack our way around the golf course, and relax in our Talking Rock home.

The next phase of our lives is about to begin.