Maria Schnabel

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Spreading our Wings

Some see retirement a glass-half-full, half-empty proposition.

I see mine overflowing with possibilities.

Having just ended a long career in corporate communications, I am now looking forward to spreading my wings and exploring new horizons.

Speaking of spreading my wings, let’s start with my new-found interest in the outdoors.

This former “if-it’s outdoors-I-haven’t-been-there” bookworm is venturing outside, nature journal in hand, to record my discoveries of the wonderful things that have been going on outdoors since time immemorial and that I have managed to miss.

One of these recent ventures involved attending a 3-day “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” program sponsored by the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, GA.

I got to climb a willow oak tree, learned to ID Georgia’s trees, studied the night skies, and dabbled in outdoor survival skills.

I also learned about bird banding from Heather Pitman, a volunteer at Georgia’s Jekyll Island Banding Station.

I got to watch her carefully—make that, lovingly—weigh, measure, ID, log, and band about 12 birds we had trapped in mist nets that same morning. Her work and that of other professional and volunteer bird lovers at various stations in Georgia help track migratory bird patterns.

Her work is much too delicate for rookies like us to have tried. But, after she was done with each bird, she let one of us hold it for a moment and then experience the indescribable feeling of releasing a recently captured bird back to freedom.

Outdoors photographer Jenn Joh was able to capture that moment beautifully:

The dazed and probably scared Tufted Titmouse flying off my hands.

Her wings spread mirroring my own fingers.

And both of us feeling free.


  • Larry Stevens

    I just love this photo of you. Go free, my little bird — and you too, Tufted Titmouse!

  • Marilyn L Foshee

    And there you have it, the new you in your glorious retirement and the picture tells the whole story. You GO girl! I am so happy for you!

  • Antoni Sanchez Blanch

    Bona sort i exits al nou blog !

  • Jenn Joh

    What a great journey you are on…enjoy the ride! The “BOW” event is an awesome outdoors learning experience for women, but also a fun filled gathering! Thanks for sharing! Adventure on!

  • Carol Hanlon

    Our third age is full of possibilities. It is a joy to see you embracing them. But then, you’ve always been good at that! Fly on ????

    • Maria Schnabel

      Thanks, Carol. You, Marilyn and Libby have been an inspiration.

  • Roser Castelló

    I love so much all the preceding comments!
    I join them
    Be free Maria Dolors!!!
    Petons sabadellencs

    • Maria Schnabel

      Gràcies, maca. Seguint el teu exemple.

  • Kathy Van Buskirk

    You are the hummingbird so it’s a perfect headline. Enjoy your next adventures friend.

  • Carlos

    New paths. New journeys. New adventures. Y libre para escoger lo que te de la gana. Vuela!

  • Lynne Carpentier

    Every thing about this has me smiling from ear to ear. Keep journaling so we can keep track of your flight patterns on this beautiful new adventure. Pure joy!

  • Kelleigh Beal

    I love this picture as it captures your joy and zest for life. Enjoy this next adventure as you fly free. Love you!

  • Kris rainey

    The photo is exceptional as it captured the exact moment the bird regained her freedom — as well as captured you in a state of bliss! As Carol said – our third life (or third act) can be the be the most fulfilling one as we explore new horizons and interests. A new chimpanzee sanctuary has just taken in its first group who were the last remaining chimps used for research at Louisana’s New Iberia Research Center – 9 females. They too are starting their life of freedom at the 235 acre sanctuary in North Georgia. Hooray for these brave souls as they learn how have fun and be outside in the great outdoors! There are volunteer opportunities! Be free and fly!

  • Norelie

    Soaring and free. Gracias por compartir tus nuevas aventuras! Go Maria go!

  • Merche

    Mariona que contenta te ves, Vaya envidia! Me alegro que estes disfrutando tu retiro. Oye estas de vuelta en Atlanta?

  • Ashley

    Congratulations Maria! Retirements is looking good on you 🙂

    • Maria Schnabel

      Kind-of taking a page from your book, you brave girl.

  • Jessica Williams

    Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations! Enjoy your flight!

  • Libby Casillas Burke

    Interesting…I posted a comment but apparently it did not take…regardless you know we’re very happy for you in your retirement! Love this pic and I can almost hear your laughter as it takes off!

  • Kate Henry

    Great photo! Enjoy retirement. Come to Asheville for a visit.


    I would love to join you in weekend adventures. Happy retirement. The best is still to come.

  • Andy McGuire

    Congratulations, Maria! I know the best is yet to come and love that you are truly venturing out and embracing what has always been around us. Please continue to share your experiences on the trail and have lots of desrved fun!

  • Mariel

    The picture says it all. So happy for you querida amiga. Can’t wait to follow your adventures. Un abrazo….

  • Stacy Hankinson

    Why do most people believe “retirement” throttles our lives? You’re an excellent example of the opposite! I’m so thrilled that you have found the outdoors and it’s wonders.

    • Maria Schnabel

      Thanks, Stacy. The outdoors is just one of the many things on the list. A true smorgasbord has opened up.

  • Ana

    Congratulations on closing this chapter of your life! I am sure the next one is going to be equally exciting and remarkable. BRAVO MARIA!!! A sincere toast to an accomplished professional and a kind and generous human being. Thank you for being a noteworthy role model for me and for my daughter.

  • Mary Lou

    Retirement suits you, looks like new adventures await you, enjoy them all, thank you for sharing, I am definitively envious

  • Pam Auchmutey

    Maria, you look so delighted and happy. Enjoy the adventure!

  • Mark Butterworth

    Congrats Maria! It has been such an honor and pleasure to work with you. I appreciate your creativity and you! Never know when our path will cross in the future. Will stay in touch!

    • Maria Schnabel

      Thanks for your faith and trust so many years ago.

  • Víctor Colomer

    Lliure com un ocellet. I tot just has començat a desplegar les teves ales. A mida que et familiaritzis amb el temps lliure aniràs descobrint noves habilitats dins teu i noves maneres de ser feliç fins ara impensables. La foto sensacional!!! Tu ets ell

    • Maria Schnabel

      Tenies raó. Només me’n arrepenteixo de no haver-ho fet mes aviat.

  • Dawn

    Dear Maria
    You’ve been an amazing friend and colleague over the years. I’ve cherished your spunk, spirit and your ability to cut through the bull to see what’s real. You are one of the most genuine people I know. Retirement will be an amazing adventure for you… I have no doubt you will make a positive impact just like you have in PR. Love you and please stay in touch!

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