Dancing At Ghunsa – A Book Review

Dancing at Ghunsa: A Trek in the Cloud Forests of Nepal

By Glenn Forbes Miller

Dancing At GhunsaThe words are at once poetic and fluid. Glenn Forbes Miller’s book, Dancing at Ghunsa is a feast of words. Miller has returned to Nepal—travelling half way around the world—for his second trek in the Himalaya Mountains. This time he aims to reach the base camp of the third highest mountain in the world, Kanchenjunga, 8,598 metres (28,208 feet).

The first chapter is titled, “Walk with Me a While.” You’ll realize as you start to read that you’re in it not just for a while, but for the entire hike. Miller takes you on an incredible journey along with his guide, porter, and cook. Along the way he meets many people who come to life in his pages—people in such remote and rustic worlds as to seem unreal, but for images captured in his camera.

Then there’s the terrain over which Miller treks through—rough paths rarely travelled if at all by commercial traffic, and sometimes no paths at all. The hike is not for the faint of heart. “At 12,000 feet, the trail steepens, which reduces me to stutter-stepping, but even so, I can only manage that for five minutes before having to stop and rest.” Couple this with the reduced oxygen at that altitude, his brain can no longer focus on anything save phrases from songs that he uses as rhythm for his five-inch strides.

The mountains are ruggedly beautiful. “Beauty and Danger go hand in hand in the Himalayas.” Even when Miller and his group stop to snap pictures, there is a sense of danger in those heights where often, the best views are taken standing on boulders and rocks.

Take the journey with Glenn Miller to Kanchenjunga’s base camp at almost 17,000 feet. You may never need to hike there yourself and still experience the sights, sounds, and people. I highly recommend this book, especially if you love an adventure and the English language.

Ten Signs to Recognize It’s Time to Retire or Retool

SignsForRetiringWhether you’re thinking about retiring or retooling, when do you know you’re ready to make the transition? It’s scary to pull that trigger, isn’t it? The safety net of a steady income entices us to keep working even when our souls yearn for freedom from corporate bondage. It’s hard to imagine life without a pay-cheque.

I don’t have any clear-cut answers either, but I’ve noticed a definite pattern when I observe people on the threshold of retirement. I’ve listed them as ten signs—in no particular order—to help you recognize that you’ve outgrown your regular job and that it’s time to retire or retool. Here they are:

1. You talk non-stop about retiring with your friends and colleagues. At every opportunity, you opine about the things you could do, the places you could see, if only you had the time.

2. Not only are your friends making plans to retire, but your colleagues and acquaintances are telling you that their retirement is imminent.

3. More and more often when you wake up in the morning, you wonder why you’re still grinding the nine-to-five millstone.

4. You start looking for hobbies in strange places. Archery may suddenly become a favorite pass-time. That book simmering inside your head may now seem imminently possible. You remember how your grade three teacher said your painting had potential…hmm.

5. Conversely, you already have many projects clamoring for your attention. You assure yourself that you’ll get to them all when you retire, or that they’re in your retooling plans.

6. Your house suddenly seems too big and downsizing becomes a major topic of conversation in your family.

7. The travel section of your newspaper can’t hold enough deals for you. The rest of the newspaper only holds your cursory attention. Your suitcase is now easily accessible, and you have toiletry kits ready to throw into your bag at a moment’s notice.

8. You’re nodding off in front of the TV, but you insist that you’re awake all the time. You claim that 10 p.m. is too early for bed, so you sleep on the couch until midnight before you turn in.

9. Many old friends you haven’t heard from in a long time suddenly reappear in your life and want to meet with you for lunch or coffee. These friends didn’t have time to see you before.

10. If you’re a fitness buff, you’re now starting to build a network of friends at the gym. It’s no longer just a place to work out, but also a place to hang out.

So what do you think? Clear signs calling out to you…maybe. Weigh in with your words of wisdom.

Make Minor Adjustments in Your Life to Create a Major Impact



Start with a Vacation

Every time I return home from a vacation, I have an urge to make some adjustments—something small to change things up in my life. The down-time away from home allows me to think about what’s happening to me and around me.

A Change in My Routine

In 2010, my mother checked into the hospital for a surgery. What was supposed to be a one-week stay turned into a five-month nightmare. While I had been driving to work for many years, commuting 35 kilometres each way every day, I found myself driving even more. I detoured to the hospital almost daily and also drove there on the weekends. Then when I took my first trip to China around the time my mother finally went home, I spent two weeks almost worry-free. After lots of naval-gazing, I decided that when I returned home, I would stop driving to work. I began to ride the train instead, and I used the commute time to read, write or chat. I’ll bet these rides now provide more therapeutic relief than any psycho-analytic couch.

A Significant Step

During the past few years, I had been toying with the idea of winding down from the corporate world to spend more time doing what I love. After much soul searching and number crunching, and after another vacation late last year, I decided to drop one day from my full-time job in March. I’m now writing another book…make that two. I started writing the sequel to Picture Bride a few months ago, and I’m one quarter of the way into an e-book that I will give away on my website. I might even write a series of Kindle books…maybe I need another vacation to give me the impetus to take that on.

A Word of Advice if I May

Use your vacation time to relax and let your mind take you in any and every direction. When you let yourself go, you just never know where you’ll end up. I highly recommend bringing home one little tweak to your routine to spice things up a bit. You don’t need to shift gears as much as I did in my examples above. I’ve tried to adopt a minor change each time I came home from a holiday. Some lasted and some got lost in the sea of tasks that greeted me as soon as I stepped inside the office. Just add or subtract something that makes you feel good.

And Finally…

The key is to aim for those little adjustments; they might accumulate into a big and rewarding lifestyle shift.

A Glance At My Rear-view Mirror

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Chinese New Year’s Day came and went not without fanfare. In this part of the world, across the globe from China, we don’t have to look too far to find celebrations. Even our local YMCA hosted an event-packed day to welcome the year of the horse. For me, it never fails to put me into an introspective mood. I get to look back on the year twice; yes, I do that on December 31st and then again on Lunar New Year’s Eve. The advantage or disadvantage of celebrating two New Year’s days, I guess.

So, as I gaze into my rear-view mirror, I see a trail of activities that kept me busy and engaged during my leisure time. Here are three of them at the top of my viewpoint, not necessarily in order of preference: cycling, traveling, and writing.

Cycling The outdoor kind won hands down. Spring brought great hopes for bicycle adventures; we were going to be initiated as cyclists—keep in mind that I’ve been riding (spinning) indoors for many years. Naively, I thought my mountain bike would do the job. After just one ride, I headed to the shop and bought my first hybrid. Now I was ready; that’s what I thought. Then I signed up for an eighty-kilometre ride. During the practice session, one of the marshals had to push me up a steep hill—ooh, the embarrassment still makes me warm and tingly, and not in a comfortable way. I realized that if I wanted to ride with the big boys and girls, I needed the right equipment. So now a brand new road bike graces my basement waiting for the new riding season.

Traveling Lately we’ve been doing two distant trips a year with little drive-able ones during the long weekends. This past year, we flew for three of our vacations: one week in Puerto Rico, two weeks on a Baltic cruise, and one week in Arizona. In between, we spent a few days in Mont Tremblant during mid-summer, riding the trails there. Puerto Rico was a nice mid-winter break in the sun. Arizona and the Grand Canyon were memorable, but our Baltic cruise was the granddaddy of all the trips for the year. The highlight was our two-day tour of St. Petersburg in Russia. Who knows when, if ever, we will return to that part of the world again.

Writing This was the year I proudly announced to the world that I’d completed my first novel. The feeling of accomplishment still leaves a warm glow whenever I think about it. Picture Bride is about to debut during this upcoming spring. I believe that I got a boost in my writing when I attended the Writers Digest Conference in NYC back in April 2013. The book took two years to write, and when I met other people on the same path, along with established writers who seemed willing to put out or help out, it gave me a much-needed shot in the arm to sprint to the finish line. I approved my manuscript and book cover just over a week ago, and now I wait. Due process must be observed.

Yes, it was a busy year filled with activities. With February already in progress, I’m predicting a year packed with new undertakings as my book launches and I begin to write another one. My new bike is waiting for its maiden ride; while a cruise and a road trip are already in the cards.

Happy New Year to all.