People of Interest #2 – Meet Donna

As I have enjoyed being a guest blogger a number of times, I decided to start a new feature on my blog and share some interesting people with you.

I have always liked the quote:  “Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is a writer, some are written in the books and some are confined to hearts.Savi Sharma

It’s very true, everyone has a story and sometimes we just have to ask questions to find out that story!

So what I’ve done is invite my guests to answer a set of 10 questions and I am using their responses as a guest post while I’m away. It’s a great way to share the love around and introduce interesting people to other interesting people.

I started with my sister Sharon who you can meet here: People of Interest #1 – Meet Sharon and she responded the next day with a post from the guest’s point of view, it’s a great read! Life’s Like that: on being a guest blogger

Who better to include in this list of interesting people than my blogging friend Donna from Retirement ReflectionsYou deserve to know more about her story so here is Donna’s guest post in my new series!

Retirement Reflections is a guest on my blog
Retirement Reflections

Guest Post Series: Donna from Retirement Reflections

Thank you to Debbie for inviting me to Guest Host on her blog while she is away. I’m Donna from Retirement Reflections. I enjoyed the varied thought-provoking questions that Debbie gave to me to answer for this post.

If you would like to join in on the fun, why not take one of Deb’s questions (e.g., What are five things that you won’t leave home without?) and leave your own answer in the Comment Section. I would love to meet you there!

1. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Deb's World

I initially began blogging to document my transition into retirement. I have stayed with blogging due to the inspiring connections that I have made.

Last October, I met up with the first retirement blogger whom I regularly began to follow (Janis from RetirementallyChallenged). By the time that this post publishes, I will have met up with Janis again…and four other bloggers whom I regularly follow. These ‘real-life connections’ are an amazing perk of blogging that I never previously knew could happen. I love the writing, the reflecting and the researching (nerd, I know). But the meaningful connections have quickly become my number one blogging motivator!

BTW – Don’t you think that Deb should add Vancouver Island to her list of travel adventures? A meet-up with her would be so cool! (Deb says YES to that idea!!)

2. Your blog is about retirement – where did the description come from?

Retirement Reflections

That’s easy!  “New Chapters,  New Discoveries and New Adventures” are what I was hoping to experience during retirement and to document on my blog. There are often high and low points during retirement transition. But so far, these initial expectations have been met (and surpassed) one-hundred fold!

3. What plans do you have for your blog in the future?

I previously thought that I was an advanced planner and goal setter…until I met others in this corner of the blogosphere who put me to shame! One thing that I have enjoyed about my blog is that I’ve stayed in the present with it and have always taken it one step at a time. My hope is for that to continue!

4. What’s your favourite post and why?

Deb's World

A Love Letter.
I wrote this post as part of a gift to my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary. He cried when he read it. It was the fourth post that I had ever written and published. It set the direction for me to write more personal posts from then on.

5. What’s your biggest achievement in life to date?

For the fourteen years prior to my retirement, I served as Middle School Principal, then Deputy Director, at The Western Academy of Beijing (China). I loved my career, got to know many amazing people, found the work to be rewarding and felt respected and appreciated. I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience.

If I could only be remembered for one thing, I would most like to be remembered as being the best mother, grandmother, wife, and daughter possible. This is the key focus of my retirement!

6. What do you like to do outside of blogging?

Travel, hiking, yoga, reading, book clubs, euchre, cooking, listening to music and trying new things.  Best of all is the luxury of time to hang out with friends, family, children, and grandchildren. Absolutely nothing in the world can beat that!

7. What books do you like reading and what are you currently reading?

I am fortunate to be a member of two amazing book clubs. I am often found scrambling to read a book for one of these groups. Recent reads have included ‘The Winter Palace’ (Stachniak),  ‘The god of Small Things’ (Roy) and ‘A Walk in the Woods’ (Bryson).

As I am currently up-to-date in my reading for my book clubs (a first), I am now reading, Best Friends: The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary. Earlier this month, my husband and I had the opportunity to volunteer at Best Friends in Kanab, Utah. It was extraordinary! You can read more about this organisation here. I also recently posted about my personal experiences as a visitor and volunteer.

8. Where’s your dream holiday destination?

Okay, so perhaps this photo does not exude ‘dream holiday’ vibes for everyone. But I strongly encourage anyone looking for a ‘walking holiday adventure’ to consider the Camino Trail (Spain). My husband and I completed 700 km in 32 days this past summer. And slept in 30 dorms similar to this one! You can read more about our Camino adventures here.

9. List five things that you won’t leave home without.

I just dumped out my bag to figure this out!
5) Identification. (Because you never know.)
4) Money/Credit Card. (For spontaneous adventure…and to make up for any items that I desperately need and have forgotten to bring with me.)
3) Keys to get back into the house/car. (I hate to be locked out.)
2) iPhone. (Equally useful for emergencies, boredom and many things in between.)
1) My bag itself. (Where else would my husband stash his reading glasses, newspaper, extra sweater, etc. etc.?)

10. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met?

Without question, my family is filled with the most interesting and remarkable people that I know. To avoid narrowing this down further (and inadvertently getting myself into trouble), I will answer this question with a non-family member. The Western Academy of Beijing has the distinct honour to have Dr. Jane Goodall visit regularly. It was an incredible privilege to meet and to get to know such a distinguished person.

What struck me the most,  is her down-to-earth nature and humbleness. In the attached photo she is eating (vegetarian) lunch in an open, multi-purpose area of our High School. During her visits, she declined to stay at hotels and stayed instead in a small apartment with one of our teachers whom she has known for many years. Her work with our students was awe-inspiring!

Thank you again to Debbie for inviting me to join you here today. I look forward to chatting with you in the Comment Section. Let’s connect!

Donna Connolly

Donna’s Links – please feel free to go and follow her on social media:


People of Interest- Meet Donna as she guests on my blog
People of Interest- Meet Donna

Thanks Donna for your responses to my questions and for agreeing to be a guest host in my People of Interest series. I learnt a lot from Donna’s answers.

Donna has been inspirational and a real support to me when I started my forced transition into retirement last year.  As my husband and I are talking about walking some of the Camino next year we will be using her posts as a very important resource.

Donna and I would love to hear your thoughts on her post, so feel free to leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond.

So there you have it – another Person of Interest!  Next up I have another great blogger for you to meet – stay tuned.

Deb 🙂

You can also find Deb’s World in these places:

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99 Replies to “People of Interest #2 – Meet Donna”

    1. Oh, Carol – That is so true! Perhaps we could get a group special on man-bags. I am sure that there are many of us who fit into this club. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Donna, I loved reading about meeting Jane Goodall and your time in China. Do you have posts on your time in China? I am with you on keeping up with the books for book club. I have trouble keeping up with finishing mine. Ah the Camino, love that photo it looks like it’s in the tropics somewhere. We were talking about going next year but after a 28 hours flying time and many more hours if you count door to door recently, my husband says he doesn’t want a long flight for at least five years!!! Anyway it’s on the back burner again.
    Yes Deb and you should meet up in Vancouver — I’m sure she could squeeze that in before the end of the year, she has been travelling all year it seems.
    Re the five things – I’m sure all the things we need will be on our iphone before long. The man bag yes – put an order in for me too. Louise
    Thanks Deb for Sharing Donna.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving us a comment Louise, it’s your turn next so I’m looking forward to introducing you too 😊
      Donna’s experiences sound amazing don’t they?
      I’m not sure I can actually fit in a trip to Vancouver before the end of the year but I’m willing to give it a try, just for you. Yes, It’s been a huge year for travels and I’m happy to report we’re managing well so far. Thanks again for your comments. 😊😊


    2. Hi, Louise -. As I have been using my blog to focus on all things retirement (and what is happening in my world right now), I haven’t written any posts about my time in China. I had briefly kept a “China Log” when I first moved to Beijing. I should look around and see if any of those old entries still exist (I had sent them out to friends and family by email). I am sorry to hear that your trip to the Camino Trail is currently on hold. But I am glad to hear that you are also a member of the “Man-Bag-for-Christmas Club’. Thank you for keeping in touch!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful to meet you Donna. My sister’s just come back from Spain and walking the Camino, she walked 350kns in 15 days which I thought was extraordinary but yours takes the cake, wow, what an achievement. Loved finding out about you and great choice for a guest blogger Deb. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Miriam – Thanks so much for stopping by. Congratulations to your sister. Averaging 23+ km per day on the Camino (without a break) is amazing! I just looked up your blog and look forward to reading more.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Donna, it may sound a bit trite, but it really was nice to read more about you. Even though I’ve been following your blog for some time, this question and answer format revealed a little more about you and your past. Your response to question #1, I agree with an unqualified YES! I agree completely. Many times I’ve considered stepping away from the blogging world, but it would feel like saying good-bye to so many friends I’ve made over the past 3 years.

    … and now I’ve also found you on Instagram 🙂

    There are only a handful of books I’ve read more than once, and A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson is one of them. It had a huge influence in my attraction to hiking. Go figure – it should have been the exact opposite, but as we know, hiking changes us … for the better.
    So to take question 9 and add a twist to it … the 5 things I wouldn’t leave on a hike without are (excluding car key and cell phone):
    1) water (duh)
    2) energy bars
    3) aspirin (in the event of a heart attack, that low dose aspirin could save a life – mine or someone else’s)
    4) band-aids
    5) small container of spray antiseptic

    Thankfully I’ve never needed #3, and hopefully never will, but all the others have been appreciated at one time or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great responses Joanne and I love your twist to q.9. I’m thrilled you also enjoyed reading about Donna and her interesting ‘previous’ life.
      It’s a great way to find out more about some interesting people and I love to pretend to be an interviewer 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi, Joanne – Thank you for jumping in and answering Question #9 with a twist! When going on day-hike, I usually take all of the items that you have listed…except for the aspirin. I have now added this to my ‘hiking checklist’. Thank you for the follow on Instagram. I have recently been experimenting with expanding my Social Media horizons. Instagram has come very naturally to me. Pinterest, on the other hand, has not been intuitive for me AT ALL!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve pretty well abandoned Pinterest. It’s a rabbit hole that I didn’t think was adding any value for me. I have precious spare time and I’m constantly making decisions about how to spend it. Pinterest didn’t pass the test.

        Glad to hear you are going to carry aspirin. I’m one of those better-safe-than-sorry kind of people 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohh, Joanne – I am so HAPPY to hear that. I thought it was just me! I had unmaintained personal accounts on both Instagram and Pinterest. After a bit of inspiration (or was that brow-beating?) at a recent WordPress Conference, I started both accounts under ‘Retirement Reflections’, starting once again at 0 followers. Today, I have 112 Instagram followers (not a bad return)! And I have 4 Pinterest followers. That’s right – I can count them on one hand (without using my thumb). Sooooo, embarrassing!

          Liked by 1 person

            1. It was kind of cool. I figured that if I learned one new thing, and met one new interesting person, it would be worth the drive. I exceeded that goal and was happy that I went.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Hi, Joanne – I got the idea to attend a WordCamp from fellow blogger, Terri Webster-Schrandt. She recently posted on this topic. As there is a significant lack of Blogging Groups/Conferences where I live, I took the opportunity to attend one while I am in California. As Terri mentioned, just $40 got me two full days of sessions, plus continental breakfasts, lunches, snacks, drinks and ‘swag’! Much of the Word Press conferences are very technical and targeted to those using WordPress for the core part of their business (developers, designers, business people. etc). However, more and more they are including tracks for bloggers. My biggest takeaways included me beginning to understand just how big WordPress really is and strategies for growing blogs/social media. I also met some really cool people (two in particular) so for me it was worthwhile. If you get a chance, take a look at Terri’s post. She answers this question quite well. Hope this helps!

              Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Tom. Remaining in the present is part philosophy….and part my best excuse for not having a more thought-out plan. I greatly appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been at blogging for a long time and the interconnections are astounding. I find that authentic people tend to find and stick with each other. Donna’s 5 things are my 5 things, too. Great questions. i look forward to seeing who turns up here next. Thanks for doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Ally, I appreciate your lovely comments. I too enjoy finding authentic people and the interactions we can have this way are amazing. I’ve got a few more interesting people lined up so I hope you pop back to have a look next week. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Ally – I have been blogging for less than two years, but already feel right at home in this little corner of the blogosphere. Meeting ‘blogging friends’ of ‘blogging friends (all with so much in common) has been an ongoing pleasure!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Anabel – I enjoyed Debbie’s interview format and the questions themselves. This structure gave me the opportunity to mention some significant pieces of my life that don’t fit neatly into my regular posts. Thanks for reading them!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Natalie – I believe that the five items that I mentioned are truly the ‘bag basics’. I’m all for the idea of our husbands getting their own ‘man bags’….that would allow me to ‘downsize’ my bag immediately!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Totally jealous on the book clubs and the number of books you’re reading. Since the spring I have been reading the same book, which is crazy for me. Even when I was working I managed more than one book a year, so I hope to get back on track soon. Your list of items in your bag are perfect, especially since a tube of lip stick isn’t one of them. I can replicate all of those! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marty – I’m actually making up for lost ‘book time’. When I was working, I found it very difficult to read many books ‘just for pleasure’. Those books are now at the top of my list!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m loving all the guest blogging I’ve been seeing lately. I’ve followed Donna for a while but, like others, it is nice to learn a bit more about her.

    Donna: I’m honored to have been the first retirement blogger you met face-to-face and am very much looking forward to seeing you again soon. Btw, your bag contents look very much like mine… except that I’ve been transitioning to a much smaller cross-body bag to reduce the weight on my shoulders and free up my hands. My husband is none too happy with me, though – he has nowhere to put his stuff anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Donna and Deb! What a fun way to do a guest post and get to know another blogger. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Donna in person and I can honestly say she is as genuine as she comes across in this post in every way. And I had never read your love letter to Richard before today Donna. What a sweet and thoughtful way to let the world know you love the one you’re with! As you say, one of the joys of being a blogger is getting to know the other fantastic people who are also sharing their thoughts and world for all to see. ~Kathy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for dropping by Kathy, I appreciate your comments! I always enjoy finding out about people so thought others might also enjoy meeting some interesting people. Lucky you for having met Donna in real life!! One day I’ll get to meet her I’m sure 😊 I’ve enjoyed having Donna as my guest and her posts are always great fun and well researched.


    2. Hi, Kathy – Thank you for your very kind words (can you see me blushing from your computer screen?). To answer some comments written today, I reread the ‘Love Letter’. My gratitude for Richard and our relationship together has grown even stronger in retirement (who knew this was possible?). I am greatly looking forward to our upcoming meet-up! Can’t wait!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Donna and Deb,
    Deb, good questions for Donna and Donna, thoughtful and interesting answers that allowed those of us who follow you all of the time to still get to know more about you.
    Five things I don’t leave home without – my credit card, keys, reading glasses (any text is getting more and more difficult – couldn’t have anything to do with my age), a notebook and pen (counting that as one – useful for jotting observations and future post ideas), and one of my Patagonia sweaters because I love them and it’s the time of year when being cozy warm really matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ohhh, a Patagonia sweater does sound nice. I will definitely need to consider that ‘bag-addition’ once I leave Palm desert. Thanks for continuing to follow my posts. I love having a little corner of the internet where like-minds can inspire and challenge each other…and just hang out!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Donna, isn’t it interesting how our biggest achievement and the thing that we would most like to be remembered for are not the same thing? I think that I would answer this question in a way very similar to you. (Although, of course, I never was a principal in Beijing).


    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this interview, Deb, and getting to know Donna better. What a positive image of retirement Donna emulates! I am now semi-retired and content at the moment, but look forward to the freedom I read about in Donna’s blog. I never leave home without my credit/debit cards, work name badge, iPhone, and dental floss. What is it about food sticking in all of your teeth as you age??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Molly, I’m glad you enjoyed Donna’s post and getting to know a bit more about her too. Nice to see your 5 things not to leave home without. Great to have you along and I’m so happy that you’re feeling content in your semi retirement. All the best to you 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m glad to have lost the name-tag from my bag….but I definitely will consider adding the dental floss. I greatly look forward to your Guest Post on my site this coming Sunday, Molly. See you there!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Terri. Yes, I was a MSP for over 20 years, and then Deputy Director of a school with 1800 students PK – 12. They were both great jobs (although nothing can really beat this retirement gig)! I included your link above about Attending A Bloggers Conference. I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!! Can’t wait!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Donna, I was going to comment on a few of those answers, and then I saw you saved the best for last. You met Dr. Jane Goodall. Wow, wow, wow. I’d love to hear all about that next time we meet. I am doing the Best Friends thing opposite to you: started with the book a decade ago and will finish with a real visit at some point in the future, adopting our next dog(s). And, I did read that Bill Bryson book as well. He is one of the best travel writers ever.

    The questions for this interview are fun and inspiring. I’ll answer #5 for now. “What’s your biggest achievement in life to date?” It is actually nothing big, except, maybe if you count crossing the Pacific Ocean on our own sailboat or hiking Angels Landing in Zion, but those are just fractions of a deeper fulfillment, which is what I would call my biggest achievement: “Managing to live the way I prefer to live, as a nomad and on a budget”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Liesbet – ‘Managing to live the way you prefer, as a nomad, and not serving money as a Master’ is a HUGE LIFE ACHIEVEMENT! Thank you so much for inspiring all of us with your creative, take-charge lifestyle!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m so glad you enjoyed the questions Liesbet. I love your answers to #5, managing to live the way you want to live, as a nomad and on a budget is a real achievement. I think the other examples are just as amazing. Thanks for joining in.


  14. You never really know someone until you see what’s in their purse (bag). Thanks for sharing yours, Donna! I hope that we can meet in person some day, but in the meantime, it was lovely learning more about you through this Q&A!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi, Christie – I would LOVE the chance to meet up with you. Richard and I drive through Kanab and Salt Lake City twice a year (mid November 2017, late September 2018 and mid November 2018) perhaps we could meet up somewhere near there!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great to see you over here, Donna. Great questions from Deb and it’s great to find out a bit more about the person answering those questions. I’m looking forward to hearing about your recent meet-up with the other bloggers (I believe Terri Webster Schrandt was one of them) and I hope you’ll be able to make it to one of our Bloggers Bash events one year. Meeting other bloggers in person is one of the best parts of bloggers.

    As for 5 things I would not leave home without –
    1. shoes
    2. iPhone
    3. Credit card/money
    4. keys
    5. a smile 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow you are so popular Donna! Lovely to see you guesting on an Aussie blog – you’re a long way from home but it’s amazing how we all have so much in common at this age and stage – especially the Midlife Bloggers!

    Liked by 1 person

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