Monthly Archives: July 2012

You Read My Mind

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I have had a love affair with books since the day I was born.  I still remember favorite childhood stories… I still remember scholastic book fairs… I still remember tucking novels in between the bars of my bottom bunk bed and reading long after everyone thought I was asleep.

And I was thinking today as I sat in Barnes and Noble that I LOVE bookstores more than any other kind of retail store there is.  Clothes have never interested me much (aside from the fact that I wear them)… I’m not horribly enthused by makeup.  And for a girl, I have a minimal amount of shoes.  But If I could have a library a la Beauty and the Beast (complete with the sliding ladder), my heart would sit contentedly for the rest of my life.

I think what I love about books is that they are timeless.  Unlike styles or fads, there is something beautiful and profound about the lessons and stories we take from them.  They capture the human spirit in its countless forms and can be just as meaningful twenty years from now as they are today.

This may seem out of place and a bit “rambly” for a blog that is focused on travels, change and adventure, but the reason I bring it up is that books often offer that adventure and escape to me when the funds in my bank account scream “DON’T BUY THAT PLANE TICKET!”  For example, during the hot summer months in Phoenix, I have LOVED reading Elin Hildebrand books.  The second I set my eyes on page one of any of her novels, I am immediately whisked to the sandy beaches of Nantucket.  I can picture the screen door of a family cottage creaking open and feel the sand between my toes.  I can imagine sitting in a white Adirondack chair, bundled in a sweatshirt, sipping wine as the sun sets.  I can imagine shell-paved roads, jeeps with no doors, and babies with flop hats shrieking as their piggy toes touch the cold Atlantic Ocean.  The best part?  I’ve never even been to Nantucket.  But the words paint such a vivid image in my mind that I don’t need to be there to relish in its beauty.  Because when I read those words, they take me there and I could be surrounded by desert and palms and not even notice.

Nantucket

As if my brain knows that I’ve been feeling the itch to see new places, it also conjured up an amazing dream last night where I traveled between Spain and France, switching between both languages (though the French was a bit subpar compared to the Spanish for obvious reasons) and I have to say, it was a pretty spectacular escape in and of itself.   What I remember in greatest detail (oddly enough) were the bathrooms in Spain.  Don’t ask me why.  But they were beautiful.  And hopefully someday, I’ll get there and see for myself how exciting of a place it is outside of where the commode is stored.

Which then begs the question, if you could list your top ten travel goals, what would they be?

After great thought, here are mine (in no particular order but all outside of the U.S.):

  1. Ireland
  2. Spain
  3. Peru
  4. Switzerland
  5. England
  6. Thailand
  7. Bora Bora or Tahiti (I’ll take either one)
  8. France
  9. Chile
  10. Hong Kong (to see where Chris lived for two years!)
  11. I cheated… I’m putting in South Africa to see Lauren as well!

Feeling like I’ve left out the U.S.?  Ok, ok, I’ll pick my top ten places here too (again, in no particular order):

  1. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  2. New Orleans, Louisiana
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. San Diego, California
  5. Seattle, Washington
  6. Stowe, Vermont
  7. Colorado (Breckenridge)
  8. Portland, Oregon
  9. Charleston, South Carolina
  10. PURE MICHIGAN.

Anyway, I would love love love to hear yours…. And especially with all our upcoming East Coast travel (yay for weddings and family trips!) dreaming of planes, trains and automobiles is on my mind more than ever.  Thank you to my friends who share incredible stories about these places and thanks to the fabulous authors who depict them in ways that make me want to save my pennies and see them for myself.

XO.

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Brick Walls.

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I love this quote… a good friend reminded me of it the other day right when I needed it most.  And I think there is incredible value to realizing that sometimes fighting for what we want or need makes us appreciate it all the more in the end.   Though it can sometimes feel exhausting to encounter obstacles and challenges – especially when others appear to skip right by – the reward is that much greater when we can look back at the work we put in on the journey.

Now that is certainly easier said than done – it’s nice to read philosophical quotes or vent to a friend and feel inflated for four seconds… but putting those thoughts into action and really, TRULY believing them?  That can be tough.

Sometimes these words play out in my mind when I think of friends and family who have battled illnesses.  It can be amazing to see what those people can overcome and how often times, their positive spirit and desire to fight has enriched their lives in the end by making them stop and live in the moment and be happy and grateful when life is good.  Not many of us are awesome at doing that.  Which I think is why, even though it’s odd to hear someone who has beaten cancer say something about how it was a blessing in disguise, what they are really saying is not that the journey was fun or easy (CERTAINLY not), but that the depth of their living has increased substantially and that the perspective they have on what matters is far more mature than most of ours.  And that IS a blessing.

I guess the long and (never) short of it is, our passions and our perspectives are largely driven by the fight within us and our determination to live with purpose and with love.  To be selfless, sensitive beings who value the happiness of others and intend to live a life that leaves the world a bit more beautiful than when we arrived. When I have my own kids someday, the last thing I want to share with them is that my life was always a breeze and that I never had to work for anything… because the minute I am able to set that expectation for them, I have set them up for failure.  But to be able to grow from each experience, to take pride in my decisions and fight for my dreams?  Those are the lessons I will be able to pass on to my own kids when the  journey feels daunting.

My mom said something incredibly insightful to me today… and something that I’m sure we’ve all read or heard in books, movies, etc. She said, “You know what?  I know you don’t understand why things have happened a certain way for you right now… why you are not exactly where you imagined you would be at this point.  But never wish to trade places with anyone else because your life is GOOD and the universe has amazing plans for you, even if you don’t understand them right now.  Just hang in there and be glad that you have the person you do beside you on this journey.”

Mom always knows best 🙂

Revolving Doors.

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Well, after a week in Maine, a week with Mimi visiting, a few fun evenings with Erika, Mitchell and Taylor and four days with Ashley, I think our revolving door has stopped (if only for a moment).  It has been so wonderful to have so much time with friends and family over the past month – it certainly helps to bridge the distance between Arizona and Maine/Massachusetts!  And Chris has been a real sport – it isn’t easy to have other people’s friends and family in your space constantly but he has done a wonderful job helping to clean and re-clean the house, act as a tour guide and host and patiently sit through hours of the Bachelorette.  For that I am grateful 🙂

Another thing that I am grateful for is the chance to show other people where we live and introduce them to our favorite places and spaces. We have been loyal patrons at 5th and Wine, Jade Bar, Kazimierz, the Mission and most recently, Praying Monk (YUM!) … we have also enjoyed trying new bars like Distrito and Old Town Whiskey!  I even got up to North Scottsdale with Ashley to see Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arizona home.  I’d post pictures and links, but I think Ashley’s blog will do all of this much better justice than mine will.  The bottom line is, the more you are able to bring friends and family into your new space, the more it feels familiar and that is a definite step in the right direction when it comes to adjusting to a new place. 

In my mind, this is how we celebrate an almost one year anniversary of a Maine girl in AZ.

Now that we are moving into the second half of the summer, I am excited about Jon and Shannon’s upcoming New Hampshire nuptials, getting to know the rest of the Board of Directors at Singleton Moms during our July happy hour and board meetings, diving into some fun event planning and AZ Vocal Project rehearsals (this group seriously gets more fun every week) and maybe even sneaking into the lazy river at the Westin Kierland!  So sad it was closed when we were visiting Erika & co….

Oh, oh and before I forget, Chris and I did find a fun way to ring in the fourth – at Tempe Beach Park!  We watched the fireworks, listened to live music and had some late night beer and apps on Mill Avenue afterward.  Very happy we were able to find some great festivities.  I would certainly recommend it to Arizonans – especially ones who are not intimidated by a fairly overwhelming crowd of people in the dead of summer in the valley.

Though life has been wild and fun lately, I’ve still been wrestling on and off with feelings of homesickness BUT I will say that between the great family and friends around me and some wise words of wisdom I received recently, things are looking up. 

One last quick question for anyone who cares – where in the world are Ice and Coco?  I’ve been scheming on how to run into them since we moved out here and so far, no dice.  If any of you have been keeping tabs on their show and can give me any leads, I’d love it!

XO – stay cool!

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Writing.

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Today I am working hard at counting my blessings…. But it’s tricky for me when I feel like 95% of my blessings live in New England.  I want to take a moment to be honest about something here – that for me, living away from home is something that, while apparently adult and “necessary” at times, totally sucks.  I’m feeling a lot of anger at the economy making it tough for people to be where they want to be… and that the world has become so global that you can never just stay in one place long enough to re-create the life you grew up having and expecting.  Because let’s face it – you can plop yourself into the most fabulous place on the planet, but it doesn’t ever measure up to a snuggle on the couch with your siblings while you watch some hilarious movie and talk 9,000 miles a minute.

I know a lot of people probably think, “Ohhh that’s the sound of someone who isn’t dealing with the day to day monotony of home…. Someone who has home pegged in their head as a fantasy, not a reality.”  And to that, I respond:  monotony and the daily grind follow you everywhere, that’s for sure.  But what makes the difference between an OK day and a great day is having a support system around to meet up for a glass of wine on a rough Tuesday or parents to chat with on beach chairs at Pine Point on a sunny weekend afternoon (for example).

I’m not trying to downplay the wonderful support system I have in Chris– trust me on this.  He is truly wonderful and makes me laugh and encourages me every day.  But it wouldn’t matter if I was in Arizona with just him, just my mom, or just my best friend.  It still wouldn’t be that same feeling of community that you have in the place where you grow up.

I’m envious that Chris sees the world differently from me a lot of the time… he doesn’t mind moving or changing, at least he doesn’t say so.  I truly wish I could be more adventurous and more accepting of the curveballs life throws my way – and I do think I make a valiant effort each day to be positive, get involved and make the best out of life.  But today it’s hard.  And so I apologize for the “wah wah” tone of this post… and I apologize if someone who has anxiety about their own upcoming move just read this and is now breathing into a paper bag.  That was never my intent.  I guess my point is, enjoy home when you have it.  Make the best out of those far and few vacations between.  And maybe take better advantage of Skype, because man oh man, it was a great invention.

But also – try your best to learn from the mistakes of people like me who spend way too much time on Facebook seething with jealousy at photos of the ocean, boats and lakes when it was 110 degrees and dusty where you are.   I guess, maybe, work harder to enjoy where you are at and view things with pleasure, not with dread.  Because tomorrow, when my attitude has shifted and I am happy about my surroundings, I will probably read this and shudder.  But for now, I’m dumping on whoever will listen.  Please do not think I’m pathetic.  But as a writer (and that’s exactly what I am by profession), the release of emotions on paper is cathartic and truly the only way I know how to handle all the thoughts swimming inside.

 

There… I feel better already 🙂