Identifying the Problem.

Getting Started.

On my most recent post (The Happiness Project),  I shared with you a pretty great book that I just finished reading, and am now re-reading.  This book inspired me to provide structure to my own little Happiness Project (i.e., what this little blog of mine was supposed to be about in the first place). The author, Gretchen Rubin, provides several resources to begin your own Happiness Project on her Website

To get started, I sat down and brainstormed a list of things I enjoyed, and then without sharing my thoughts; I asked my husband, B, to help me add to it.  I asked him to answer the question, “When have you seen me most happy?  It could be anything”  He started naming different things, and I began jotting them all down.  He produced a list of 16 different items.  Some things were slightly vague like, “Doing something out of your comfort zone, and then having it go well” (I pressed for specific examples).  In addition, he also gave specific activities like: watching live music, having quality 1:1 time with friends, going for a run, being in the midst of beautiful natural scenery, creating & completing a crafty project, doing things for others.

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Gretchen Rubins Happiness Project Toolbox

Getting Started. 

I loved B’s list.  He came up with a lot of things that I hadn’t really thought about.  The more I examined the list; however, the more that I felt as though it wasn’t really capturing the big picture.  It’s true, I love music and art and and learning and travel, and doing kind things for others, I should be doing those things more frequently, but it wasn’t yet speaking to “The Gap.”

The gap between who I was and who I aspired to be.  Nor was it speaking to the reason that this gap existed in the first place.  To dig a little deeper,  I read these questions and then began answering them in a “free association” format to B.

The questions:

  • What makes you feel bad?
    • When I can’t wake up in the morning and therefore oversleep (When I push snooze 5+x’s)
    • When I don’t give Georgie the exercise she needs
    • When I eat poorly
    • When I go days without exercise
    • When I waste “my minutes” (aka the minutes of my life) doing unproductive/unenjoyable things (i.e., browsing social media).
    • When I feel rushed/frazzled
    • When I feel exhausted
    • When I don’t do things I enjoy.
  • What makes you feel good?
    • (The opposite of everything above)
  • Imagine a person you admire and describe that person.
    • She wakes up early, she doesn’t push snooze, she eats very well, she exercises regularly and is in amazing shape, she volunteers, she is considerate towards others, she has a passionate hobby, she has routines.

Ah-Ha!

After exploring these questions, B helped me figure out where my “behavior chain” (i.e. A causes B which then causes C) tends to go astray.  He so eloquently said, “You don’t have a nightly routine where you take time to prep for the next day… you go to bed late…sleep very little, and then you can’t wake up..which leads to being frazzled and frantic in the morning…you are then exhausted at the end of your work day… which means you waste time doing ‘brainless’ things because you don’t have the energy to do anything else.. and by the time you have the energy to start doing productive tasks the sun has set…which means the gym is probably closed, so now you can cross “exercise” off once again….and then you start the cycle all over again where you stay up late”…..

So to summarize with Gifs.

B:

wltzMe:

staf

 

Eat Well. Sleep Well. Exercise Well.
Groundbreaking Stuff.

Ok.  So it’s really not groundbreaking stuff, but I love what Gretchen said at the very beginning of her book:

People have been thinking about happiness for thousands of years, and the great truths about happiness have already been laid out by the most brilliant minds in history… The laws of happiness are as fixed as the laws of chemistry.  But even though I wasn’t making up these laws, I needed to grapple with them for myself.  It’s like dieting.  We all know the secret of dieting–eat better, eat less, exercise more–it’s the application that’s challenging.  I had to create a scheme to put happiness ideas into practice in my life. pg. 7 The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben

Ah Yes, the application is challenging.

I discussed last time (HERE), that the first step in solving a problem is to objectively define what it is that you are looking to change.  I’ve gone from the vague, “I want to feel happier…or more content... or more satisfied…or more balanced…or maybe more accomplished?” to finally pinning down my first action item.   Getting more sleep might seem like an easy task for some, but this is a huge undertaking for me, so for the past week I’ve been researching articles on sleep, and helpful tools that assist in getting more of it. I’m going to share those specifics very soon, but first I’ll leave you with the song I listened to on repeat on my Sony Discman as a ten year old insomniac to give you a taste as to how far back my sleep issues go:

All The Best,

Happiness Project

About eight months ago, my husband stumbled upon an article about a book that you’ve possibly heard of:  The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.  

He  thought it would be something that I would enjoy so he made a special trip to Barnes and Noble and purchased it for me.  At the time I was stressed with work, and was doing very little leisurely reading, so this book spent a lot of time collecting dust over these past several months.  On a recent rainy day I finally cracked it open, and I am so glad that I did.

The premise is simple, but really interesting.  One day, the author, Gretchen Rubin, had a sharp epiphany while riding a city bus home.  She was flooded with the realization that while she was blessed in so many ways (good health, two beautiful daughters, a caring husband, supportive family and friends, a comfortable financial situation) she found herself regularly suffering from, “midlife malaise” which she defined as being, “a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief.”  She would often wonder, “Can this be me?”  She had this feeling that one day she might just look back on her life and think in awe, “How happy I used to be then, if only I’d realized it.”  However her present reality felt more as though she was existing on autopilot, and doing so haphazardly.

With this realization in mind, she felt the need to become more grateful for each day, while also setting higher standards for herself as a wife, mother, writer, and friend.  She wanted to let go of daily annoyances and investigate new passions.  To accomplish her daunting task, she first dug into the science of happiness and how it might specifically relate to her. Like most of us, an Eat, Pray, Love adventure was out of the picture for her.  Yet she still knew that her life was not as happy as it could be, and that nothing was going to change unless she made it change, and thus she began her year-long systematic journey to do just that while still living within the confines of her current life.

So what does happiness even mean and how would she know once she’s “reached it”?  She chose to spend less time objectively defining the term (as there are SO many various definitions), and instead recognize that happiness is an elusive term that is very subjective in nature, and for her she would recognize it when she felt it, and that “it” would most likely continue to change over time.

Systematic Approach.

While reading the negative comments (I like to read the negative comments of books that I enjoyed…that’s normal, right?!) somebody wrote, “This book made it seem far too complicated to be happy.

I can definitely appreciate how some might have a difficult time connecting with the format of her year-long endeavor; however, the school psychologist within me appreciated the systematic nature of her approach.  She gives fare-warning that to be true to her own nature her process would indeed consist of in-depth research, to-do lists, charts, and compulsive note taking.

Other negative commenters echoed that her data collection process, and strict structure made the journey seem daunting and nearly idiosyncratic in nature in regard to increasing ones own levels of happiness.  I can appreciate these perspectives, but for me personally I greatly enjoyed her approach for several reasons…

Paralyzed By Options.

Honestly, the reason I started this blog was to help hold myself accountable on my own (unbeknownst to me at the time) little Happiness Project.  After  completing graduate school, I was finally stepping out of the world of academia, and in doing so, soon realized that I had pursued little else along the way.   I can completely empathize with this author at those unnerving thoughts of, “Is this really me?”  I can relate with feeling dissatisfied with how I spend my free time, or with my lack of passionate pursuits.  Over the past several years my husband has attempted to be helpful by emphasizing my exorbitant amount of options, “You can literally pursue anything that interests you!”  For whatever reason, the thought of limitless options has been paralyzing for me.  (Side Note:  I feel like I need to put in a slight caveat here…I’ll elaborate more later…but I fully recognize how extremely lucky I am to have the luxury to have such a “problem”).

Duh.
(Why I dig her process)

After the first several chapters it’s like a light switch finally turned on in my brain. Gretchen utilizes two processes that are a foundation in my profession:

Measurable Goals and Progress Monitoring.

In the field of school psychology/education, these are two terms that are used constantly.

As a school psychologist, I frequently work with adults who request my assistance for a student for whom they are concerned.  I assist with determining the “function” of the problematic behavior and then assist in the development of a behavior plan, which is exactly as it sounds.  A specific plan that if followed with fidelity, should assist in decreasing inappropriate or problematic behaviors and increasing more appropriate ones.

In the development of behavior plans, there are multiple critical components, one of which is the development of a clear, observable,  measurable,  behavior definition.  Frequently adults that work with children who have challenging behaviors, might have lists a mile long of behaviors they’d like to correct, so we shorten it to the one or two of the most problematic (or disruptive) behaviors to initially target.  The behavior definition has to pass the “tell it to a stranger test” or in other words, if you described the behavior to a stranger, would they be able to replicate it?  (e.g., “He throws the biggest fits”)—might lead to quite different interpretations by multiple observers, and thus would not be a great behavior definition.

Gretchen does a really great job of clearly defining for herself the behaviors she wishes to increase (or decrease), and also encourages others to do the same.  It’s easy to say, “I’d like to eat healthier.” But what does that mean even mean exactly?  When the behavior definition is vague, the whole process falls apart.

Another critical component in the development of a behavior intervention plan, is collecting data or, progress monitoring.  It’s crucial to collect data to show how frequently behaviors are occurring before and during the ‘intervention.’  This tells us extremely important information about if what we are doing is actually working, and helps us use our time efficiently.  Simply progress monitoring a behavior is a powerful tool in itself.   For older children (and adults), simply having them monitor their own problematic behaviors (even if they lie about the frequencies) has even shown to have a positive effects!

Gretchen Rubin created monthly charts where she progress monitored her behaviors in several areas each day.  She reported that this was one of the most critical components in her process, and also shared examples on her blog!

I don’t practice what I preach.

Or at least I haven’t been applying what I know to how I live.  Gretchen Rubin makes it very clear that each “Happiness Project” would look completely different, but felt the need to share her own as she personally has found much benefit in listening to other personal narratives. For me reading this book gave me a sense of direction.  It gave me a really great place to start.  Instead of grasping at random straws like trying to pick out random activities or hobbies I’ve realized that I need to take a step back, and evaluate my own “behavior chain” (A causes B which then causes C).  I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming, and had an extremely in depth conversation with my husband the other day, and I think I have a really good starting point (More on that later).

Gratitude.

Other negative commenters said things like, “I find it very hard to relate to Rubin when she tells the reader right in the beginning she’s already happy and that she and her family live in New York’s Upper East Side.”  and not to mention those who said, “If you are self centered, young and stupid then this book is for you. The author is in a world of her own and, I think and hope, figures out life is not about “her, her, her…

I get this perspective.  I really do.  There are awful things in this world. Humans are existing in the most deplorable conditions and fighting the most daunting battles in an attempt to meet their basic needs.  My husband literally walked in as I was writing this post and shared horrible news of a pregnant wife who suddenly passed away from an allergic reaction.  All you have to do is turn on the news for 2 minutes to see how fortunate so many of us are to live where we live.

Gretchen Rubin discusses these criticisms right off the bat as well.  She talks about how she grappled with whether or not a “self-centered “project was a worthy venture.  The more she researched though, the more she saw that those who report higher levels of “happiness” are “more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier.”   So while a year long “Happiness Project” might seem incredibly self-absorbed to some, her mission seems genuinely more focused on appreciating the minutes on this earth that make up our days and years and lives.   She’s exploring practical ways to turn vague happiness theory into specific actions with the hope that the efforts will begin to rid herself of her mental roadblocks, to be more present in her daily interactions with loved ones, to connect with others, and to switch off the autopilot function of  her life, because a she states multiple times:

The days are long, but the years are

 

All The Best,

 

Cool information about Positive Psychology and Happiness: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/home

Gretchen Runen’s Website:  http://www.gretchenrubin.com/
(She has really amazing resources!)

Psychology Today (Happiness): http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/happiness

 An Excessive Amount of Huffington Post “Happiness” Articles:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/happiness-research/

 

Pink Gloves.

 

Pink Gloves (4)B and I just joined a new gym that we are both really stoked about.

It’s something totally different from what we’ve ever done before. There are different stations, and every day there is a different workout led by trainers who show you what to do at each station. We’ve gone about five times so far, and I seriously love it.  I’ve never sweated so much in my life, and I’m already starting to feel a little stronger.

There are really great trainers that work there, but I thought that I would share a little anecdote with you.  I should preface this story by saying that there is a very large portional that I’ll end up sounding like this little lady.

The initial conversation we had with the gentleman who was handing us our new boxing gloves and equipment went a little something like this:

***

Gentleman:  We have pink and black boxing gloves, I’m assuming you want pink (looks at B).

B:  haha. I’ll take black

Gentleman: (looking at me & laughing at his joke) Pink works for you?

Me:  Actually, I’ll take black as well.

Gentleman:  (Laughs… and then realized I wasn’t joking.)  Are you not a girly girl?

Me:  I don’t know, I’m just not a fan of pink, I guess?

Gentleman:  We can order different colors, would you prefer purple?

Me:  No, Black is fine, really. 

(One minute later)

Gentleman: (Very earnestly to B & I)  This workout format is actually really good for women, because they don’t have the opportunity to gab when they should be working out. 

***

And then I did this:
rondaOk. So that isn’t me.  It ‘s Ronda Rousey.
I’m probably going to need a month…potentially two before I’ll be able to do that

What I wanted to say:   Oh Ya, this gym is ideal for women, except I noticed that you aren’t equipped with fainting couches?  Will someone ensure that I’m lowered to safety when the tightness of my corset and unpredictable emotions set me into a fainting spell?

What I actually said: …..nothing.

Question:  Would you have responded differently? 

On a similar note.  On our Road Trip to DC, as soon as B and I entered Tennessee, I switched the station to country music to get in the mood.  I haven’t listened to country music in quite some time, and we immediately noticed that nearly every song went a little something like, “Hey GIRL, slide on over in my truck,  I’ve got a six pack, and you’re looking mighty fine in those painted on jeans…bla bla bla.”   Apparently, I’m not the only one that had picked up on this ‘one-dimensional’ female country character because there’s a new song out that pretty much hit the nail on the head.  Check out the new music video by Maddie & Tae for, “Girl in a Country Song” and their interview on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered below.

Teenage Songwriters Take On Bro Country 
(NPR ‘All Things Considered’ Interview)

Music Video 

All The Best,

 

Home Decor (finally!)

framesWall Art.

We found out that we were moving to the DC area right after we painted our walls.  The next thing that was on our ‘to buy’ list was picture frames and wall art.  It would have been pretty ridiculous to hang personalized photos on the walls of a home that we were trying to sell, so I’ve been waiting patiently to purchase home decor for quite some time.  I have so many pictures that I’d love to display from our travels, and have found a few cute typography prints from Etsy that I think will be fun to hang as well.  I especially love the vintage Missouri and Nebraska maps… an ode to our hometown roots.

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Small Spaces.

We have this narrow little nook in our bedroom.  I haven’t started my new job yet, but I know that once I do, I’m going to need a space to work.  I’ve been scouring the internet and new/used furniture shops for a desk that is 30″ or less that I could squeeze into the nook, but haven’t had much luck.  Until I found this little space saver from West Elm.  It’s a little pricey for such a small desk, but it’s all that I’ve been able to find thus far that will fit my current purpose, and could also easily be used for other purposes if/when we eventually move to a larger place.

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All The Best,

 

Road Trip.

Roadtrip. (2)

Prior to learning about the news of our move, I  had desperately wanted to take a road trip over the summer.  My road trip vision shifted regularly.  I initially wanted to explore a beautiful national park solo, and then thought it might be more enjoyable with a friend…  because well, you know….

tumblr_m5b3ntvcG21r8w6t4o1_500 The road trip idea soon transformed from it’s original, “Into the Wild” go where the wind takes me drifter vibe, into a trip with four specific stops, a dog, a husband,  and a final destination. As we waved goodbye to Nebraska, we headed just south towards our first stop.

Goodbye Missouri.

Have I mentioned that saying goodbye is difficult?  Missouri is where I’m originally from and where much of our family and friends still remain.  We passed through for a day or two, and saw as many people as we could.  Georgie was even able to spend the night at her favorite person’s house (my mom), and B and I were both able to say our “see you laters” to friends and family. IMG_5503

I can’t mention leaving the midwest without mentioning these two.

My gorgeous sister-in-law has created the two most beautiful children and it breaks my heart into approximately  one million pieces, and tears stream out of my eyes if I perseverate too long on the fact that we won’t get to be apart of their lives the way we’ve been able to over the past several years.  We’ll just have to get really good at sending videos and Facetiming.  We also changed our credit card to one for airline miles, so hopefully we’ll be able to visit frequently…and I’m sure it won’t be long before they’ll get to spend their summers with their ‘cool aunt and uncle…’ right?!

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Hello Nashville

Nashville was the first stop.  Ironically my friend, Allison, had just visited Nashville and had blogged about her 10 favorite spots.  We tried to check out a few of her faves, but as I mentioned, we had Georgie, so we were very limited as to where we could stay and what we could do with a dog.  The first night (July 3rd), we made sure she was settled and then headed downtown to grab some dinner at Merchants, a spot with amazing service and tasty southern cuisine.  We then ventured into a nearby bar to check out some live music.  I was absolutely blown away by the musical talent.

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July 4th- Nashville Still

I saw Radnor Lake State Park on TripAdvisor, and thought it would be a good thing to do with George, and it definitely was.  There were intricate trails that you can’t take a dog, but there is a paved path around the lake that you can.  It was very shady, and the perfect thing to do to start our day.

I then plugged in Allison’s recommendation for “I Dream of Weenie” an adorable food court that sells hot dogs (I had a delicious veggie dog, but they had tofu dogs too).

East Nashville had a very cool/hipster vibe. As B and I were sitting there enjoying our hot dogs there was a guy sitting on a blanket to our right playing a guitar and singing, and young family whose daughter wandered away and the mom shouted after her to come back by saying, “Poet, honey come here!”

We headed back out to downtown later that night for the “2nd greatest fireworks show in the country” and to enjoy more live music.  We had totally underestimated how crowded it would be.  The weather was perfect which brought over 200,000 people downtown.  Crowds that large start to make me feel slightly overwhelmed, so we found a good spot in the back for the earlier shows, and then made our way into a “Honky Tonk” for another hour or two, where I danced around to a ridiculously talented cover band.IMG_6873IMG_6877

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Nashville to Charlotte.

The journey from Nashville to Charlotte slightly scratched my itch for a National Park road trip.  We passed through the Smoky Mountains, and took in some of the beautiful scenery.   We spent only a quick night in Charlotte, and then left the next morning, but I was very impressed with what I saw and definitely want to venture back.

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Virginia Beach.

By the time we reached Virginia Beach, my usually chill pup was a ball of anxiety.  We went for a walk down the boardwalk of  “Resort Beach” to stretch our legs and then checked into the hotel where she was glued to my leg everywhere I walked.  The whirlwind of family visits and hotel stays  had her feeling (I assume) as though we were going to drop her off and never come back, so we made our night out in Virginia Beach very brief.  The boardwalk at Resort Beach was extremely crowded, and it wasn’t really my vibe.  The next morning I convinced B to drive 30 minutes in the opposite direction towards “Sanbridge Beach” which was far more my speed.  There were a lot of rentals with pools and sand volleyball that looked like it would be a fun place to go with friends or family for an extended weekend.

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Home.

For the past 10 days we’ve been getting settled.  In true B fashion, we had everything that we owned unpacked and in its place “proper place” in just a few hours.  We celebrated with a meal and some wine at a local establishment.  Much of the first week has been sorting out logistics (internet/cable, finding a grocery store, spending the day at the DMV, hoofing it around town, finding a new gym and grocery store), all the fun that moving brings!  We’ve also made time for a little fun! We’ve spent some time veggin’ at our new apartment pool, enjoying homemade dinners and wine on our balcony, finding some awesome farmers markets and dog parks, navigating the metro, and exploring the area!

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All The Best,

 

Oh, Hey. (part 2): Goodbye Nebraska

COFFEE (1)

This is ‘part two’ of my recap from the past month.  If you missed part one, you can check it out  Right HERE

So where did I leave off… Oh yes.

B and I spent the first two weeks of June exploring the DC area for a new place.  The good news was that the rental we found was in a prime location, and was such a good deal compared to the other apartments we’d toured.  The downside was that it meant we’d have to move in about 3 weeks earlier than we had originally planned.

Back Home.

Upon arriving back home to NE, B made a comment to the effect of, “This may be the last time for a long time that we fly into Omaha.” Approximately 2 minutes later, I was a sobbing mess. I had been extremely excited and present throughout our DC apartment hunt.  I had been taking in all of the details of the floor plans, scenery, and amenities, but  yet was apparently somehow simultaneously emotionally detached throughout the entire process.  It is as if I was planning for a life that was years away, but upon arriving to our NE doorstep, it hit me that the countdown to our big move had officially began, and was ticking away at warp speed.   I wanted to mope, but sulking wasn’t really an option. We had family visiting in a few days, and then we’d scheduled to head to KC for family photographs shortly after… The pictures turned out really well! Sneak peak: (the actual pictures have been purchased, I just don’t yet have the disc).

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Back Again.

Upon our return, I unexpectedly received phone calls  for two different job interviews. One was a week away and allowed for a phone interview, and the other was a few days later but required that I interview in person.  In person.  We had just returned from DC, and I only had a week or two left before we had to move there, and now I had to book a flight, and a car, and hotel and head out once again….and wouldn’t it figure that the in-person interview fell on the exact date of a concert that I had been planning to attend with my girlfriends as one last hoorah?

Poor pity me, right?  Two job interviews for a gig that’s pretty tough to snag.  I should have been ecstatic.  The fact that I wasn’t ecstatic made me question quite a few things about whether or not this was something I should pursue. With hindsight being what it is however; I think my lack of enthusiasm had more to do with the fact that:

1: having a potential job lined up made it that much more real that I was leaving some of my favorite humans and 2: I would now have to spend my days cramming over state law and prepping for my interviews instead of making a few last ditch memories with friends.

Interviews.

My phone interview went ok, but I had a hard time reading the in-person interviewers.  As I waited in the airport during my 4-hour delay back home, I remember thinking, “Well, I did all that I can do.  If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, and I’m so completely fine with that.” B had been so extremely supportive throughout the process, which definitely helped to relieve some stress.

…and then two days later I got two job offers.

So I guess it was probably a good call that I picked flying out for the interview over the Bruno Mars concert.   Although I heard Bruno put on quite the show.

I deliberated a bit between the two offers before making my decision. I don’t start for a few weeks, but I’m getting really excited about it!

The last couple days.

So after all of the back and forth.  Only a few days remained before our cross-country journey.  I soaked up as much time with friends and family that I could.  I used up an old gift certificate to do the now extremely popular canvas/wine painting experience and got dolled-up for a friend’s ah-mazing Coachella-inspired party.  Check out her blog for all the details and more pictures:  Backyard Coachella Party
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Seriously. Check out her blog for more pictures from the party.  They had everything.  Hula-Hoops, Yard games, a huka, amazing snacks, a root beer float station (with vanilla vodka if you so desired), and these amazingly fun temporary tattoos: Backyard Coachella Party.  They also planned the absolute sweetest ‘send-off’ where B and I ran through an arch of sparklers (like we did on our wedding) and then lit a lantern that narrowly caught everything in its path on fire… but that’s neither here nor there.

Photo Credit.

 

 Goodbyes are for the birds.

The night before we left we had dinner at B and I’s favorite Omaha Mexican Restaurant with some of our favorite Omaha people.  It was quite honestly pretty surreal.  I wanted the night to last longer, but we still had a few things that needed to be done… which included crying, packing, drinking our “saving this for a special occasion” wine that we received when we got engaged, and reminiscing about our favorite Nebraska memories. IMG_7076

Since my husband’s gig is requiring us to move,  they hired a moving company for us.  B was there to “supervise” so my job was to take Georgie and sit on various outdoor patios.  It was rough, but somehow I managed. IMG_6837

IMG_6838As the movers loaded up the last few boxes, I said goodbye see you later to the first friend I met in Omaha.  She and I have been through so much together over these past years, and I couldn’t have survived much of it without her constant positive perspective and support.  I’m just so thankful to have had the time in Omaha that I did, and even more grateful to have technology like Facetime so that we can sit around and drink wine and chat even though we are now in different time zones.

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Road Trip.

B and I finally hopped on the highway and waved goodbye to Nebraska, which thus began our week-long road trip to DC.  Our first stop was Missouri to say goodbye to more friends and family, and then we were off to Nashville, Charlotte, and Virginia Beach before we reached our permanent destination.  More to come on our road trip soon!

All The Best,

 

 

 

Oh, Hey.

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I’m not quite sure how over a month has passed since my last post.  That is actually not true.  I know exactly how it happened. Over the past 40 days, my life has been in the midst of a total whirlwind.  These past 40 days have consisted of multiple trips to DC (one for house hunting, the other for an unexpected job interview), we took extended trips to visit family, and then spent as much time that we possibly could with friends as we packed and prepared for our big move.  My physical presence wasn’t the only thing in flux . My emotional state has been all over the board this past month as well.  So for the few quiet moments when there was both time and reliable internet available,  I just mentally wasn’t.

So here I sit forty days later at my new favorite writing spot, a little bistro table that sits on our shaded outdoor balcony overlooking rooftops, treetops, and the Washington Monument which is partially visible in its lit-state in the distance.  A view that will take me quite awhile to get used to.

The whirlwind has finally began to settle, and I’m feeling as though the winds have calmed enough for me to begin jotting down some words once again.  So bare with me as I use this space as a bit of a journal for the next few posts to deconstruct my thoughts on things that have transpired.

10-Day House Hunting Trip.

(portions of this have been sitting in my ‘draft’ file for quite some time, so forgive any tense transgressions).

B and I spent the first half of June searching the DC area for a new place.  My type-A husband did not disappoint.   He had an organized binder in hand with our scheduled tours listed by date and a blank checklist of questions for each location.  After two days, I was already starting to feel slightly disappointed, but luckily we were able to meet with a friend of a friend who helped us focus our search to more appealing areas.  Neither B nor I were at all familiar with the area, so we looked everywhere, and I mean everywhere (NW DC, SE DC, NE DC, Alexandria & Arlington, Virginia and several spots in Maryland) .  I think my personal favorite was the elderly community center that came complete with a bowling alley, swimming pool, and ‘bridge’ card game tournament room.  When I asked the elderly woman, who was giving us our tour (and was also a resident), where the nearest metro was, she responded that there was really no need to leave the community because they had a convenient store, restaurant, and beauty salon on the campus…. and some pretty sweet appliances too:

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Wait. This costs how much?!

The elderly community was a bargain, but the trade off was nonnegotiable. So the search continued. As much as B talked about the drastic differences in price from the midwest before we began our search, I was still in shock upon hearing how much a 600 sq. ft. apartment could cost.  Not to mention.. “Oh you have two cars? That will be $150 per month per car.  Oh you have a pet?  That will be a $500 nonrefundable deposit and $70 per month.  Plus our $150 per month amenity fee, and of course your monthly utilities as well.” After days and days of searching, we finally found what we were looking for. An affordable little place (It’s seriously very little), but it’s in a really great convenient location.

Tourists.

The vast majority of the trip was spent touring 25+ apartments, but we were able to fit in a little fun as well.  We celebrated our anniversary by taking the backroads through Maryland en route to Annapolis. We stopped at cute quaint beach towns along the way, and took in the beautiful windy roads and gorgeous greenery.  I’m so excited to live in a place where you can drive an hour and the scenery is totally different.  If you drive an hour East in NE, you will be in Iowa, this may shock you, but Nebraska happens to look strikingly similar to Iowa.

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We were able to take in a few more sites before catching our flight back to NE.  We spent a morning at the Arlington Cemetery, and then hopped on the metro for an afternoon at the Holocaust Museum, both of which brought me to tears.  If you find yourself in the DC area, they are both must-sees.  While at the Arlington Cemetery we were able to catch the Changing Of The Guard ceremony which takes place every hour on the hour 7 days a week, 365 days from 8am-7pm (April-September)  and 8am-5pm (October-March).

The Holocaust Museum (http://www.ushmm.org/). Honestly, I can’t even begin to describe this experience, so I don’t think I’m going to try.  We spent nearly half the day, and it wasn’t enough.  There are 3 or 4 levels, and each levels has so many videos and articles that you could get lost in for days.  The shoes at the end will forever be burned into my brain. There is also a really good exhibit for younger children called “Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story”  It leads youngsters through a path of a young boy’s experience during the Holocaust in an honest, but child-friendly manner.

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More to come soon.  I mean it this time.

 

All The Best,