me

the hard hat tour

YBW and I are planning to move.
We have chosen the perfect home in the perfect spot.

These townhomes are within walking distance to YBW’s office. Literally right across the street from our favorite grocery store. And closer to the university where I’ll be spending so much time in the next two years.
We’ve been tracking this neighborhood since the first rumors of building in the area began.
We’ve become rather friendly with the sales staff. They know exactly which unit in which building we want. They know we’re unwilling to settle for anything else.

Of course as with all building everything happens in phases.
The unit we want is in the far end of the fourth building, which is the end of the second building phase. The builder opened the first two buildings for deposits before construction even started, but put sales on hold for a while until building really gets going. Of the first fifteen units, there are only four or five that remain.
The latest information we have is deposits for the third building will open in the spring, and for the fourth building in the late summer or early fall. Each with delivery approximately a year after.

Saturday afternoon the sales office hosted a ‘hard hat tour’.
An invitation to come ask questions, have nibbles, and check out construction.
Also in this new neighborhood there are smaller townhomes and multi level condos. These units were open for touring in their initial state of construction. The larger townhomes (the ones we’re interested in) only have preliminary building started.
After chatting with the sales staff and getting an updated deposit date, YBW and I bundled up to brave snow, sleet, and cold winds to check out the new construction and walk the property to where our building will be.

This snow covered pile of rocks and semi-frozen mud upon which YBW stands is where we plan to live in late summer/early fall 2021.

It’s an interesting bit of living and retail space in a larger office and (light) industrial area. But none of it feels out of place. The development of the area makes sense for the way people in Northern Virginia live.
We’re looking forward to being in a less suburban area. We like the idea of being able to walk more and drive less. And YBW is all about walking to and from work every day!

There are walking trails and an adorable creek down the hill behind the building site.

Of course it’ll be prettier in the spring, summer, and fall than it is now, but even now, it’s not too bad.

While we’re excited about the prospect of making this our home, we’re keeping in the back of our mind that it may not go the way we plan.
But, we’re doing everything we can to make sure it goes our way.
I am hopeful our plans will become reality.
I have faith that this is meant for us.
I can be mindful and excited at the same time.

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time: well spent or wasted?

I spent over an hour Saturday morning looking at pantry and linen closet organization photos on Pinterest and vids on Youtube.
To be perfectly honest, I felt guilty about ‘wasting’ that valuable time.
But the more I considered the time spent, and the information gathered, it wasn’t really wasting time after all.
I discovered new and different organizational ideas that may work well for the way we live, as well as some that will not.
I’m extremely confident in my own abilities when it comes to organization and design, but I’m always open to new or different ideas, especially if I know I need a change.
Now, I could geek out over organization from now until the cows come home, but I’m more interested in this concept of wasting time.

I know we hear about how the average person loses ‘x amount of time each day’ to fairly normal things. But how much of that time is truly being wasted? That number will be different for each person.
Not because each person wastes a different amount of time each day, but because ‘wasting time’ means something different to each person.

I’m not a gamer.
Everyone in my immediate family is. Both my daughters, my husband, both my stepsons, and my son in law enjoy playing video games.
It could be said my family wastes precious time playing video games.

I like to watch vids of people organizing their pantries and linen closets. I like to look at photos of well organized spaces.
It could be said I waste precious time doing that.

I like to go to T.J. Maxx or Marshalls and Homegoods once every ten days or so. Normally I don’t purchase anything, I just like to look and see what’s new. I always go to the kitchen section first then organization before moving into the rest of the store. Some days, I’ll spend an hour or more, other days I’m in and out in less than ten minutes.
It could be said I waste precious time (maybe even money) in these stores.

What about those days when we just need to not. You know, some times we just need to be still and quiet. And more than likely accomplish absolutely nothing.
It will most likely be said we waste precious time doing nothing.

Marthe Troly-Curtin wrote,

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

How we choose to spend our time is directly linked to our quality of life.
Whether it’s gaming, reading, watching vids or TV, being still like broccoli, or going over Homegoods to see what’s new.
No shame in that!
If we’re using our time in ways that inspire and motivate us. If we’re using our time to relax and recharge. If we’re using our time to join a quest or save a princess, create civilizations or even shoot up stuff. If we’re passionate about how we use our time, if we’re learning new things, or perfecting skills, or simply taking the quiet moment we need, then how can that be a waste of time?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote,

What fools call wasting time is most often the best investment.

I’m not saying we don’t actively waste time, because most of us do at some point or another.
I think we need to be much more mindful about the way we judge how we spend our time. Because whatever that most fulfilling thing is to one person, is completely different to another.
I believe we need to treat ourselves with more kindness and respect. We need to acknowledge that time spent doing what brings us joy can’t possibly be time wasted.

Otis Redding sang,

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

No shame. No judgement.
Just straight chillin’.
And we all know that can be time well spent.

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note to self:

This is one of the truest statements I’ve read in a long time.
And to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t agree more.

However…

It’s easy to consider what I’m putting out in the world is benign. That my energy is pure of intention, and if misinterpreted it surely must be how it was received, not how it was intended.
You know, ‘it’s not me, it’s you’.

But the most important point in that meme is the final sentence.
“Just keep doing your thing with as much integrity and love as possible.”

Are we using as much integrity and love as possible when we put our energy out in the world?
I know that’s my intention, but do I do it each time I attempt to communicate? Probably not each time, but for the most part I feel confident in my integrity.

When we do our absolute damnedest to practice our values in our interactions with others, and we’re perceived in a way that differs from our intent, we must accept that we cannot change perception. We must accept that nothing we say or do can alter the way our energy is interpreted.
I can’t control how my energy lands in another, but I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable in an ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ situation.

And…
What happens when I’m the one on the receiving end of another’s energy that doesn’t sit well with me? When I’m the one filtering their energy through my own experience?
In the situation when another is ‘doing their thing with as much integrity and love as possible’.
In that case, I can only accept that their intention and my perception are different. I have to accept their energy with integrity and love.

Either way, whether I’m the one putting out energy in the world, or receiving energy others put out in the world, something specific is happening.
Assuming we each have integrity and love, there is a great deal of acceptance surrounding us. (Hooray!)

It’s mighty simple to say, “It’s not me, it’s you.”
It’s much trickier to accept that each one of us is who we are based upon our own lifetime of experiences.
Perhaps we could say, ‘it’s not my experience, it’s yours’.
It’s essentially the same thing, but it feels different, doesn’t it?
‘It’s not me, it’s you’ is defensive, selfish, and judgmental.
‘It’s not my experience, it’s yours’ is open, respectful, and accepting.

It takes effort on both parts.
It must come down to trust.
I can’t control how my energy will be received. I have to trust that if I am coming from that place of integrity and love I’m doing all I can to successfully communicate.
I also have to trust in my ability to accept. Whether that’s accepting that my intention and another’s perception is different, or my perception and another’s intention is different.

Y’all see these words too, right?
Integrity.
Love.
Acceptance.
Trust.

I’m just sayin…

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colombia

Of everything about this trip, I was most excited to visit Cartagena, Colombia. Geeking out over, and romanticizing the rich history, imagining how it would be.
I was fired up!

Then we got there.
It was straight chaos.
There was an Iron Man competition going on, as well as a huge Italian cruise ship in port with us.
The city was teeming with people. Narrow sidewalks and streets were crowded. It was overcast, hot and humid. To say I was overstimulated is a gross understatement.

However tricky it was getting around, it was as beautiful as I’d imagined.
Through the benefit of hindsight, I realize I enjoyed it much more than it felt like I did when I was actually there.

I learned to pronounce the city name properly. It’s car-tah-hey-na not cart-a-hayne-ya.
I learned that ‘no’ is the same in Spanish and English.
I was reminded of how much patience and kindness my husband has in him.
I was reminded it’s OK to admit it when you’ve got nothing left in your tank.
I learned that when a man shows up in a taxi, miraculously at the exact moment you need him most, he was sent by the Powers That Be to rescue you, bring you a bit of peace, and change your entire point of view.

I think when traveling it’s easy to consider one’s excitement, anticipation, and expectations and much more difficult to recognize or acknowledge when one is travel weary.
By the time we got to Cartagena, I was travel weary, but didn’t realize it. I truly felt like a little child, over-tired, overwhelmed, overstimulated and on the verge of a meltdown. I did my best to hold it together. To embrace and enjoy the beauty of the city.

The old city is a ridiculously beautiful place, and this little street was absolutely my favorite!

This ‘bucket list’ trip was everything it could possibly be and even more.
Time with YBW away from the daily grind was a precious gift. We travel well together. We understand what piques each other’s curiosity and interest. We enthusiastically engage in sharing experiences.
We are as content to explore crowded streets, manage language barriers, and ride in death trap taxis as we are to quietly lounge in the shade, drink cocktails in a piano bar, and stargaze.
I’m so grateful we made this trip together!

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canal day

Canal day!
That’s what I called it even when we first discussed this trip.
For us canal day was Thanksgiving. And though I was disappointed I missed the Macy’s Parade, spending the day on the balcony with YBW was the loveliest way to participate in Thanksgiving day!
YBW decided all along that he would spend canal day on the balcony with his cameras and drink wine. And y’all, he absolutely did. He never left the balcony until we were safely through Gatun locks and into the Atlantic.
Then he had a quick nap before we went to dinner.

We started with mimosas and breakfast on the balcony.

We remained on the balcony through both of the Miraflores locks. But we were at the front of the ship when we got to Pedro Miguel locks.

It’s actually hard to see anything because the ship is up so high.

A stormy sail through Gatun lake drove me indoors, but YBW managed to stay out of the rain with his wine and his camera all day long.

At Gatun locks we had a much better view of the lock systems.

At one point a huge container ship and three tugs moved together into the lock next to us. The tug shown entering the lock did donuts in the canal waiting its turn to join the container ship. I’m not ashamed to admit how much joy I had watching that!

I adore tug boats! They’re the James Brown of the shipping industry. You know, ‘the hardest working boat in ship-biz’.
It really is the little things that bring me the most joy!

For some, moving though the Panama Canal is a once in a lifetime experience, for other’s it’s simply all in a day’s work. While we were in the canal, I thought, this is cool! I’ve done it and can check it off my list, but don’t think I’ll want to do it again. But now, after going through the photos, and talking about the trip with friends and family, and writing a little about it now, I find myself with a willingness to return. I wonder what more I’ll learn? Will I notice anything I missed? What new experiences await another trip?

Here’s a profile of the canal system provided by the Panama Canal Commission in case you’re curious.

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panama city

So, Panama City is a huge banking center now. I didn’t realize that until we were there.

Of all the places I’ve been in the world, this might be the place with the most disparity between the haves and the have nots. This gorgeous skyline, with these huge sky scrapers literally right next to the worst possible housing, barely fit for humans.
Apparently it’s quite cost effective to live in Panama City. Penthouse apartments (the top two and three floors of some of these buildings) 250,000 USD. I’m like, dang, we could sell our house and nearly buy two. Meanwhile, it’s still Panama City.

The old city was actually kind of quaint. Chock full of partially demolished buildings, also loads of construction. The people there feel a way about it too.

And dear God, was it hot. And humid. I mean the air was downright wet, that makes for some tricky breathing.


I was completely obsessed with all these gorgeous brick buildings that used to be churches!

I’m not sorry we had the opportunity to explore a bit of Panama City, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t entire impressed.

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nicaragua

Nicaragua is more beautiful than I imagined.
Even standing at the mouth of a volcano.

The juxtaposition between the dark lava rock and bright colors of healthy vegetation and bright blue skies makes for breathtaking views.
And some pretty decent photos too.

Speaking of photos, YBW was getting his photog on like crazy!

In addition to spending time at (the very active) Masaya volcano, we also spent time at the Masaya artisan market.

A place where native artisans sell their wares. I mean, sure there was a great deal of touristy junk, but some of the handmade items were not only gorgeous, but nicely priced too.
There is a huge stage and open area for folkloric shows, and local entertainment.

It was lovely.

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los cabos

Cabo San Lucas.
You hear that name and think Spring Break, right?
And at the cruise port, there is every evidence of a party town. Including a big ass Senor Frog’s.
However, if you go just a few miles away to San Jose del Cabo you’ll be treated to the most precious town square, arts district, mission-turned-church, and a glass factory using only recycled glass.


San Jose missionary church faces the precious Plaza Mijares in the heart of the historic and arts district.

We happened to be in Mexico on November 20th this is Revolution Day.

Children were out of school, and there was a huge parade in this little town. In addition to the kids the fire and police departments were lined up as well as people in authentic time period dress on horseback.
You know, as soon as the kids saw us with our cameras, they were shouting and hamming it up for us to take their photos. So many duck faces and peace signs. Doesn’t matter where you are on the planet, put a bunch of kids in front of a camera, they’re going to show out. Those kids brought me joy.

They only use recycled glass at The Glass Factory.

There is a courtyard chock full of every color glass you can imagine. Apparently, the glass factory waited nearly two years to have enough glass to begin their work.
I’ve been to many a glass blowing shop, and the way they work at The Glass Factory was no different. It was however, more beautiful than many I’ve seen.

We didn’t party in Cabo.
We experienced a beautiful arts district, learned a bit of Mexican history, marveled at blown glass, and stood on the cliffs over looking the sea.
It was a truly lovely day.

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in the city by the bay

YBW and I spent a few days in San Francisco before we set sail for the Panama Canal.

I loved going to Alcatraz (or Azkaban) more than anything else.

We spent six hours on, and covered every inch of the island before cold rain sent us back to the ferry.
I was awestruck by the delicate balance of gorgeous abandoned decay, and living history.
I would go back in a heartbeat, and know without doubt, I’d discover more beauty or learn something new.

Drove across and sailed under this beauty.

We went across the bridge and through the precious city of Sausalito on the way to and from Sonoma and wineries in the surrounding valley.
The ship sailed under at sunset the night we left the city. It was cold and windy af, but absolutely beautiful.

Dragon’s Gate at the southern entrance to Chinatown.

This is looking out toward Bush Street from Grant Avenue, sort of looking out of Chinatown.
We enjoyed beautiful sunshine and warm (upper 50s – low 60s) weather as we spent our Saturday morning in Chinatown. I love wandering though the Chinatown of different cities, even though they’re all very similar, each one has something unique to offer.
YBW found a little hole in the wall for us to have lunch.

I don’t much like Asian food, but I gotta tell you, that was the best damn fried rice I’ve ever eaten.

We left Chinatown (freaking up hill, just like everyplace in San Francisco) headed for Coit Tower.

YBW’s parents honeymooned in San Francisco, and his mom used to tell the story about how she and his dad were ‘kissing in Coit Tower’ and people were commenting on how ‘in love’ they were. (I’m over here like, if folks were talking about it, y’all were straight up making out.) It’s one of my favorite stories, and YBW and I were determined to go to Coit Tower (and kiss) so we could feel connected with his parents.
We were gifted the warmest and sunniest day with which to take in the 360° views of San Francisco.
Something occurred to me as we sat at the base of the tower. (Y’all know I wear the wedding ring my mother wore while she was pregnant with me, and the wedding rings of YBW’s mom from the incident in which the diamond was lost in a soda cooler.) The thought I had was that this may be the first time these rings were in this place since YBW’s parents made out there on their honeymoon over fifty years ago. How precious is that!?!

We stayed at the edge of Washington Square Park in the North Beach area of the city. Out our window was the absolutely gorgeous Saints Peter and Paul Church.

My favorite part of staying near this church was watching parents walk their kids to school each morning.
Another wonderful thing about where we were in North Beach is that it’s also the ‘Little Italy’ part of the city. Y’all! We ate damn yummy pizza, drank gallons of red wine, some seriously perfect gelato, and I had the most stupid-delicious cacio e pepe at Barbara Pinseria and Cocktail Bar.

We walked up Lombard Street. (every single bad word I know, and some I invented on the spot, but you know, in my head because I was too out of breath to speak them)
We grazed our way through the Ferry Building.
City Lights Bookstore was everything I’d hoped for and more.

San Francisco is a strange city.
It rubbed me the wrong way, but I found it interesting, and rather beautiful.
I loved the architecture. And the plant life.
And I enjoyed experiencing it with my beloved.

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a surprising lack of expectations

Is it natural to take stock when one year ends and another begins?
Perhaps.
Is it simply a social construct?
Probably.

Regardless, in addition to bearing witness to others, I find myself considering events and conducting examinations of self as I move into the first few days of the new year.

When considering 2019, here’s what stands out for me:
Baby K
finishing my degree
my September ‘epiphany’
three weeks away with YBW

As I shift my focus to what’s ahead in 2020, I’m excited to see what the year brings. Interestingly enough, I find myself open to whatever comes with a surprising lack of expectations. (That’s today, be sure to check back to see how that changes.)
To be perfectly honest, I find it absolutely freeing!
No real expectations. What might that look like?
I’ll teach.
I’ll read.
I’ll write.
I’ll be creative in other ways.

Of course, I’m waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted into the graduate program.
Thing 1, Husband N, and Baby K are planning a move to Virginia.
YBW and I intend to purchase a new home in the later part of the coming year.
Anniversaries of birth for people I love.
Shoot days.
Theater tickets.
Dinners with friends.
Uneventful days, and days chock so full it’s nearly too much.
Adventures great and small.

I’m smart enough to know better than to ask 2020 to ‘bring it!”.
But feel completely comfortable saying, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Because I have hope.
Because I am of open of mind and heart.
And let’s be real, that’s the best way to walk into anything.

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