Monday, September 30, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: A Day of Hiking

One of the hardest aspects of moving to Charlotte, immediately finding out about my stress fracture, ending up in a boot for ~4 months, and then dealing with RA pain was that it made it impossible to take in all the outdoorsy activity in the Charlotte vicinity.  I LOVE to be active and do things like hike, so not being able to do that?  Totally sucked and made it really hard for me to embrace the part of the country where I live.

But thanks to the steroids I am on (which I have love/hat relationship with, I look forward to going off of it when my RA drug kicks in), my RA pain is a lot more manageable and my stress fracture is healed, so I am finally able to be a bit more active!  I had a free weekend in Chalotte so asked a co-worker that I have hit it off with if her and her boyfriend were up for a day of hiking this past Saturday.  Luckily they were!  I don't let doing things on my own hold me back, but it's certainly way more fun to have some company!

We hit the road early Saturday morning and our first stop was Blowing Rock which is an adorable mountain town about 2 hours north of Charlotte.  We did the Glen Burney Trail, which is accessible from downtown which meant we only had to park once.  I'm all about having to move my car as little as possible.

The hike was about 1.6 miles round trip and I'd say it was pretty easy.  The views were amazing as we saw several waterfalls!


By the time we finished that first hike, it was lunch time and we had definitely worked up an appetite so we hit up a cute diner.  We saw an ice cream/sweet shop on our walk to lunch so we all decided to save room for dessert and I am so glad we did!  I enjoyed a scoop of salted caramel ice cream, which was divine.  I am totally obsessed with all things salted caramel these days.

The sweet shop also had lots of truffles and other treats.  I got a small piece of salted caramel pecan chocolate bark (see above-reference salted caramel obsession) and managed to resist buying anything else.

They had a 'buy 2 get one free' special on their fudge, which is made in house, so my friend and her boyfriend bought three and let me try them.  My favorite was (of course) the salted caramel fudge!

With our bellies full, we hit the road and drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to our next hike at Linville Falls.  The drive was GORGEOUS.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as one of the most beautiful drives in the U.S. and it's easy to see why.  Of course this photo doesn't do it justice!

The Linville Falls areas had 2 sets of trails.  We felt ambitious and were motivated to work off our ice cream, so we decided to do both sets of trails!  We started off by checking out the upper falls area, which was beautiful.

Then we climbed up to a couple of different look-out points.  The leaves are just starting to change so we got to see a little bit of fall folliage!  Do you see that waterfall in the background??

Well, we headed back to the trail head and took the other set of trails, which led us closer and closer...

Until, bam - it was right there in front of us!  Getting to this vantage point involved a pretty tough trail followed by climbing from rock to rock along the water.  I would rate this hike as challenging, but we were rewarded for our efforts!!

When we got to this last spot, we all laid on a rock , resting and taking in the sight and sound of this powerful waterfall. 

After relaxing for awhile, it was time to climb the trail back up to the parking lot area so we could hop back into the car and drive the 2 hours back to Charlotte.  It was a full day as we spent 4 hours driving, but about 2.5 of those 4 hours were very scenic so it was not too much driving for me.  We think we did about 5 miles of hiking, so we definitely were on our feet quite a bit, but it was so much fun.  My feet hurt at the end of the day, but it was worth it. 

I will defnitely return to this area as it offers many more hikes!  There is talk of the 3 of us maybe going back to this area the last weekend of October, which is the next time I'll spend a weekend in Charlotte.  I am glad that I've found some outdoorsy friends that I get along with so well.  We were together for 11 hours straight and the time just flew - which is always a good sign.

I may be soft on Charlotte, but I sure do like North Carolina!!

Do you enjoy hiking?  Do you live close to areas where you can hike?  When I lived in Minneapolis, I lived about 2.5 hours from Duluth, MN which offers lots of hiking trails, but I never took advantage of it.  I guess I just took it for granted and figured I would get there eventually.  When I move back, I WILL be checking out that area. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

30 Day of Gratitude

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you all had a great week.  Mine was especially busy with evening commitments every night, but busy weeks are good as they go by fast!

This week, Nilsa did a great post about gratitude.  This year has taught me many things, but one lesson I have learned is that sometimes you have to make a conscious decision to look for the good things in life.  I have varying degrees of success at doing this myself and I am certainly not a poster child for practicing gratitude on a regular basis.  But it something I have been trying to work on because when I stop and think about my life, the good things far outweigh the bad.

Nilsa shared a link to a 30 days of gratitude worksheet, and I have decided to participate as well.  I will be sharing my answer to the prompts each Friday (hopefully, I might miss some posts due to travel) - I figure this way it will hold me accountable and hopefully by the end of the 30 days, I'll be closer to making gratitude part of each day.

I started participating in this exercise on Wednesday, so here are my answers to the first 3 prompts:

1.  I'm most thankful for my ability to travel to places both near and far alone.  I have had so many great experiences, both big (my trips to Paris) and small (my weekend trip to Asheville) that I wouldn't have had if I wasn't open to doing things by myself.

2.  In this moment, the things I love most about my family are their unconditional love, their sense of humor, how they just 'get me', and the fact that my siblings have all married people that I adore.

3.  Something that made me smile today was waking up and knowing that there is a Starbucks latte in my future as it's latte Friday.  Yea!

I'd love it if you play along and answer some or all of the prompts - either here or on your own blog!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Virtual Coffee Date Catch-Up

It has been awhile since I've done a coffee date catch-up kind of post, so here go!

If we were having coffee today...

- I'd tell you that my first French class went really well!  There are only 5 of us in the class so I think I will learn a lot!!  We had a substitute teacher for the first class, but our regular teacher is a guy from France so it will be nice to learn from someone who is native to the language!

- we'd probably talk about what is going to happen when my year commitment in Charlotte is up as I get a lot of questions about this.  My company thinks I am here in Charlotte indefinitely (well, my immediate managers probably don't as they know I am not happy here). The year I speak of is the contract associated with my relocation package; if I leave before the year is up, I have a significant financial obligation.  When that year is up, though, I would have to find a new job (most likely with a different company) if I wanted to move back because my current job is permanently in Charlotte - moving back and keeping my job is not an option.  So there are no guarantees that I will actually be able to move back when my year is up...  we'll see how things shake out.

- I'd tell you that I am actually looking forward to being in Charlotte this weekend as I was gone the last 2 weekends and will be gone the next 3. My to-do list is long, but my goal is to get it all done on Friday night/Sunday because on Saturday I am taking a day trip up to the Blue Ridge Parkway with a co-worker and her boyfriend. If my foot feels ok, we are going to try to do some hiking!

- I'd tell you that I am really excited to see my local friend Lori tonight!  We are going to dinner at this cute French bistro.  I haven't seen her since June, which is kind of crazy.  Between my work & travel schedule, and her busy life, we have the hardest time finding time to get together.  It will be great to catch up with her tonight, though!

- I'd tell you that I am starting to do some research & planning for my Paris trip, which is about 9 weeks away!!  Since it's my 3rd trip to Paris, I don't feel the need to really plan much, but I do want to plan one day trip to an outer region that is a 1-1.5 hour train ride away.  I ordered a book called "An Hour from Paris" so will be perusing that before making my decision.  Right now the front runner is Chartres as I've heard good things about it! 

- I'd tell you that I am really looking forward to seeing my parents a week from tomorrow.  I haven't seen them since August and I feel like so much has happened since then.  I think I am a very independent person, but in my opinion, you never stop needing your parents and that has especially been the case this year as I've dealt with the move, my RA diagnosis, etc.  I am sharing a hotel room with them the weekend I am in Minneapolis so can't wait for lots of one-on-one time with them (which is such a treat when you are from a big family)!

If we were having coffee, what would you share?

Monday, September 23, 2013


I headed back home this past weekend - the reason for the trip home was the wedding of a good friend.  We worked together back when I worked for a company that I refer to as "the psych experiment."  I didn't like much about that job, but I did walk away with one very, very good friendship.  When I found out that I had to move to Charlotte in January, I knew that one trip I'd fit into my budget was a trip home for her wedding as I just did not want to miss out on her special day.

I am a planner by nature, so once I knew I'd be home for Megan's wedding, I planned the heck out of the weekend.  I packed as much in as I could and had the best time.  It really was an awesome, awesome weekend.  Here are some of the things that made my weekend so awesome!

- I saw Phil on Friday night.  I briefly saw him when I was home in August, but this was the first time I saw him for more than 5 minutes since June.  A lot has happened in our lives since then so we had a lot to catch up on, but I am happy to say we only briefly discussed the sad things we are both dealing with and instead focused on having fun.  There was lots of laughter, some yummy thai food, and a couple of games of cribbage (our favorite game).  To be clear, we are definitely not together, but he is still someone I care about and will keep in touch with from afar.

- On Saturday morning, I met up with my run club for brunch and was blown way by the fact that 14 people showed up at brunch.  I miss my run club SO MUCH so it was great to catch up with so many of them in one place.  I'll see a couple of them next month in Chicago as some of them are running the marathon. 

- After brunch, I swung by my old boss's house for a quick visit.  They are keeping my piano for me while I am in Charlotte as I did not have room for it in my apartment here.  His daughter started piano lessons recently, so she played me the first song she learned - and did SO good.  It makes me really really happy to know my piano is being put to good use!

- The wedding was on Saturday night and despite the fact that I didn't really know anyone, I had a wonderful time.  The wedding was book themed, which was so cool!  My friend looked so gorgeous.  I am so happy for her and her husband - they are just the perfect pair.

- On Sunday I got to meet 2 new babies!  My friend had a baby on Thursday so Wyatt is a VERY new and oh my gosh, he stole my heart.  He's a litttle peanut as he weighs about 5.5 lbs since he was a little premature.  I could have sat there and held him all day long...

- I also got to meet my friend Heather's baby Everet - he is about 7 weeks old and probably weighs twice as much as Wyatt so it was quite the difference to hold him.  I got some smiles out of him when he woke up.  There's really nothing like a baby locking eyes with you and smiling!

- A good friend hosted me for the weekend and I tried to soak up as much time with her and her family in between dashing from place to place.  I loved chatting with her 6 year old son Elliot and my heart melted when her daughter Stella ran up the stairs on Saturday afternoon and said, 'I love you Lisa!' 

All in all, it was an amazing weekend.  There is just nothing like being home.  I won't lie, I had some hard moments on my trip home as being back in a city I love around people I love makes me realize how much I don't love it here in Charlotte.  Yes, I already knew Ididn't like Charlotte, but it kind of 'hits you over the head' when you are in a place where you feel so happy and content. 

There were some tears at different points of the weekend as while I know the next 7 months will go fast, they just can't go fast enough.  Home is where my heart is.  I'm traveling like crazy these days in an attempt to cope with living in Charlotte, but no amount of traveling is really going to change the fact that I have to return at the end of the trip to a city that is such a poor fit.  I am doing my best to make it work, but it was very harsd to go back to the airport and board the flight back to Charlotte. 

That said - one gift of this time spent living in Charlotte is that now I know for certain where my heart belongs. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Things Friday

Wow.  It's Friday.  Where did this week go?  I know I feel that way about most weeks, but this week was an especially busy one with evening commitments, packed days at work, and what felt like a never-ending to-do list.

So I'll close out the week with a 5 Things Friday post.

1.  French!  I registered for French classes this week and I am SO excited.  I promised myself that I would try to learn French once the CFA is behind me, so researched some local options and found a class that worked with my work schedule.  They cap the class at 8 people so I think it's going to be a great environment for me to learn.  I'll have class one night a week for 8 weeks, and the class wraps up 2 weeks before I leave for Paris!  If I like this class, I will continue onto level 2.  I'm just so excited to learn the language of my most favorite country!

2.  Sleep.  So I am not getting any better at sleeping in Charlotte.  Actually this has probably been about one of the worst weeks of sleep, maybe ever as I've been waking up around 3:30-4:30 am.  I am on steroids to help manage my RA right now so that is not helping.  My doctor put me on a prescription sleep aid which helps me fall asleep but doesn't help me sleep for as many hours as I would like/need. I'm not sure when this is going to improve or what I can/should do differently so I am super duper frustrated.

3.  Home.  I am happy to say that I am heading home to Minneapolis today after work.  I.  Can't.  Wait.  It is going to be a whirlwind trip as I'll be there about 48 hours, but I will be back in 2 weeks for my cousin's wedding so at least I know I have another trip home soon.  My travel schedule is a little nutty right now, but it works for me.  One of my best friends had her baby yesterday so I get to meet him on this trip!  I am so excited for some baby snuggles!!!!

4.  RA.  So I won't bore you all with the ins and outs of managing my RA, but I am happy to say that I was able to get in with a different rheumatologist who was recommended to me by 2 different people.  She's so great - same treatment plan as my last doctor, but she was compassionate and kind and I thought we might hug it out when the appointment ended, honestly.  I have been on my RA med for 2 weeks and it's going ok so far.  It won't be effective for another 4-6 weeks, so I still have pain and swelling but I am trying to be patient.  I look forward to a day when I walk pain free.  The doctor said that WILL happen by my Paris trip which is in ~10 weeks.  I sure hope so because I want to walk and walk and walk on that trip.

5. Running.?  As of Tuesday, it has been 5 months since I last ran.  After 5 months away from something that I felt used to define me, it feels like I'm never going to run again.  My doctor has assured me I will eventually heal and be able to run again but said I need to realize that long distance running is unlikely.  :(  That said, I have been able to return to swimming (with a kick board, my arm can't handle swim strokes yet due to joint pain) and biking, which I am really enjoying after months of very little exercise!

What are 5 things that are on your mind?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Well hello, Wednesday.  This is my first full week of working in the office in weeks but the week is going by surprisingly fast - which is good as I am already so ready (and excited for) the weekend!

I haven't done a confessions post in awhile so thought it would be a good way to share some of the miscellany that is floating around in my head.

These are my confessions...

- when stranger ask me where I am from/live (when on a plane, for example), I usually say Minneapolis.  I will sometimes follow it up by saying that I currently live in Charlotte.  I just don't identify with this area of the country at all so just pretend I still live in Minneapolis when people ask.

- I also can't bring myself to say that Charlotte is 'home'.  If I am going to be in Charlotte for the weekend I will say "I am going to stay in Charlotte this weekend."  I won't say "I am going to stay home this weekend" because Charlotte so does not equal home for me.  Home is Minneapolis or my parents' lake cabin.  I know that these first two confessions probably make it sound like I am not working on achieving acceptance like I discussed last week, but I can accept living her and still think of it as a temporary stopover.

- I only clean my apartment every 4-6 weeks (my mom and sister are probably cringing as they read this, their houses are immaculate).  I tidy up 2-3 times/week and clean my bathroom and wipe down kitchen counters weekly, but I am around so little, it's not worth it to dust/vacuum/scrub floors more often than that.  I used a cleaning service when I lived in Minneapolis but can't justify the cost down here as I am around so little and would rather put that money in my plane ticket budget.  You know, since I seem to buy 1-2 tickets/month.

- I can not relate to people who say they don't read because it's boring.  I just feel like there are so many different genres out there that there has to be something for everyone!

- I get a little bit annoyed with the concept of 'cold' down here in the southern region.  I was saying how I enjoyed the 65 degree temps in Ohio this past weekend and a colleague said - 'oh burr, 65 is so cold!'.  This resulted in a blank, confused stare on my part.  I can't imagine how 65 and burr can be used in the same sentence.  That's like me saying "oh my gosh, 85 degrees is SO HOT."

- I know I have said this before, but I still can't believe that people still smoke knowing what we know about how bad it is for you.  I get that it's an addiction, but it's such a gross habit.  My list of dating deal-breakers has changed over the years, but one thing that remains the same is that I would never date a smoker.  Never.

- I get way more excited about the recent first class upgrades I've had than I probably should.  It's not even about the snacks or free alcohol (which I can't partake in anyways due to my RA med), it's honestly the leg room and the high likelihood that my seatmate will not utter a word to me on a flight.  And those 2 things are priceless for a tallish, non-chatting traveler like me.

Do you have any confessions to share?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another Weekend of Awesomeness

Greetings and happy Tuesday!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  I had the best time visiting Mandy in the Ohio River Valley.  It was just what I needed as two weekends in a row in Charlotte had left me feeling pretty lonely; a weekend with Mandy was just what I needed.

I'll let the pictures do (some of) the talking.

Mandy picked me up at the airport on Friday afternoon, we stopped for a quick lunch and headed into Pittsburgh.  The experience of driving into Pittsburgh from the airport is a one-of-a-kind experience. It is aptly depicted in the book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (which is a must-read, by the way).  You drive through this tunnel, and there is the city skyline.

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite"
~Chbosky, author of Perks of being a Wallflower

Our first stop was to ride the incline up to Mount Washington so we could take in the views of the skyline and rivers that flow through Pittsburgh.

The temps were cool enough that I was able to wear a fleece!

After checking out all the different vantage points of Mount Washington, we headed into the Strip District where we popped in and out of stores for a couple of hours.  The main event of Friday was a blogger meet-up with long time blog friends, Erin and Marisa who both happen to live in the area.  Erin brought her little guy, Welles, along so I was thrilled to get to meet him after hearing all about him, and closely following his journey into life.  He's a little miracle baby as he faced some incredible odds when he entered the world, so it was so cool to see that he's a thriving, happy, active one year old!
Mandy, Welles, Erin, and I.  I sadly got so caught up in conversation, I forgot to take a photo with Marisa

It was so great to catch up with these girls.  While we have never met in person before Friday, anyone who saw us that night would have thought we were life-long friends.  It was great to chat about our day-to-day lives, the challenges of moving to a new city, books, weddings (Marisa is getting married in November), and all sorts of other experiences.  I was so sad to say good-bye to these two, but I know I will see them both again.  I left dinner with a smile on my face and a full heart.  After dinner we met Maggie, who I have gotten to know through twitter, for some ice cream, and then headed to Mandy's home town, which is located in the Ohio River valley.  I was totally exhausted at this point as I was running on about 4 hours of sleep, so I slept like a baby that night.

On Saturday we had a slower paced day and checked out the beautiful valley where Mandy lives.  She has posted photos and described it in many blogs posts, but nothing compares with seeing it with my own eyes.  It is a beautiful area.

We spent Saturday meandering around.  We ate a leisurely lunch, popped into stores that featured the products of local artisans, sipped delicious pumpkin chai lattes, browsed books at an adorable local book store, and checked out the Oglebay resort which is a beautiful area with stunning views and beautiful gardens. 

The pictures of the Oglebay resort do not do it justice!  It is so beautiful and I would love to vacation there some day.

We headed home on Saturday night and Mandy made low country boil and her brother made ribs.  They were so sweet about accomodating my gluten intolerance.  We ate like kings that night!  After sitting by the fire for awhile, we moved indoors for dessert!

Mandy and her mom made the most decadent peanut butter fudge ripple dessert.  It was ahhh-mazing.

On Sunday morning we went to mass at the university where Mandy used to work, had lunch, and then sadly it was time for me to return to the airport. 

The best way that I can describe this weekend is to say that it was kind of like being wrapped up in a warm blanket.  Mandy has been such a good friend to me for 4+ years and it was wonderful to spend an entire weekend with her.  She has also has lived in an area that she did not particularly care for, so it was nice to have conversations with someone who completely 'gets' how I feel.

This weekend was a remind of exactly why I love the blogging community.  I feel like there have been a lot of posts in the past year about how blogging has changed for the worse.  And maybe it has for some, but it hasn't for me.  It's still a place I can come to share my thoughts and develop friendships that I know will be lifelong. I feel so fortunate to have people in my life like Mandy who open up their hearts and homes to me. 

I got to check 2 new states off the list of states I have visited, bringing the total to 27!  How many states or provinces have you visited?

P.S. The Lovely Becky is celebrating her 30th birthday today, so pop over and wish her a happy birthday!!  Welcome to your 30s, Becky.  I promise it's a fabulous decade.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Looking Forward

Happy Wednesday, everyone.  It's been awhile since I did a looking forward post, so I figured I was about due.  Here are some things I'm looking forward to!

- Today I am looking forward to heading to Omaha, NE for a business trip.  I haven't traveled for a couple of weeks so feel ready to hit the road again.  This is a quick trip as I am just speaking at a conference tomorrow and then flying back.  I will not even be in Omaha for 24 hours.  Work travel is exhausting, but I need a little break from my office environment.

- This week I am looking forward to flying to Pittsburgh to visit Mandy!  I will also get to see Erin and Marisa while I am there, which are 2 bloggers I have yet to meet.  Erin and I share a love for Paris, and Marisa and I share a love for Chicago, so we have lots to talk about!  Most of the weekend will be spent in Mandy's home town.  I have heard so much about the Ohio Valley where Mandy lives, I can't wait to see it with my own eyes.  The weekend will be fairly low key as I am trying to listen to my body and not overdo it.  After spending two weekends in Charlotte, I have been feeling a little bit lonely so I am really glad that I get to spend a weekend with Mandy, who is basically one of my most favorite people.

- This month I am looking forward to going home for a good friend's wedding.  I got to watch this relationship develop from the first date to the engagement to the wedding preparations.  They are such a wonderful match; I'm so glad I am able to go back for their wedding!  While I am home for their wedding, I will also be fitting in as much time with family and friends as I can.  One of my best local friends is hosting me for the weekend so I'll get some quality time with her kids, which I'm excited about.  I'm trying to not stress about how I will fit in everything I want to do/everyone I want to see.  I know that I will inevitably disappoint someone who was hoping to see me, but there's one me and only 48 hours.  I'll fit in what I can.

- This fall I am looking forward to my girls trip to Myrtle Beach with my mom, 2 sisters, and 2 sisters-in-law.  The boys in our family have taken many, many hunting/fishing trips, so us girls are so overdue for some time away together.  We have a ocean-front condo so I am looking forward to lots of walks on the beach.  It will be my first trip to the beach since moving to Charlotte actually!

- This year I am looking forward to our 5th annual Julia Child Night!  I just bought my plane ticket home for this last week and just can't wait for our foodie weekend.  It's hard to believe we've been going strong for 5 years.  This will serve as my "French Thanksgiving" as I won't be home for Thanksgiving since I'll be in Paris (eeks!  Another thing I am excited about)!

I actually had a hard time choosing which things to feature in this post as I have A LOT to look forward to over the next 4 months.  I think the end of the year is going to come fast - which I am very happy about.

What are you looking forward to?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things - on Acceptance

Last month, I read Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of advice columns that Cheryl Strayed wrote, under the pen name "Sugar."  It is a unique book since it's a collection of all of these different people's problem, many of which are problems you and I maybe have not encountered.  And yet - her response tends to contain some nugget of wisdom that you can apply to some other problem or issue you have.

Like this excerpt of advice, which is the first of 2 excerpts from this book that I will be sharing this month.  I read it, nodding my head along, feeling like "Sugar" was talking to me.

"Acceptance asks only that you embrace what's true.

Strange as it sounds, I don't think you've done that yet.  I can hear it in the pitch of your letter.  You're so outraged and surprised that this shitty thing happened to you that there's a piece of you that isn't yet convinced it did.  You're looking for the explanation, the loophole, the bright twist in the dark tale that reverse its course.  Anyone would be.  It's the reason I've had to narrate my own stories of injustice about seven thousand times, as if by raging about it once more the story will change and by the end of it I won't still be the woman hanging on the end of the line.

But it won't change, for me or for you or for anyone who has ever been wronged, which is everyone.  We are all at some point - and usually at many points over the course of a life - the woman hanging on the end of the line.  Allow your acceptance of that to be a transformative experience.  You do that by simply looking it square in the face and then moving on.  You don't have to move fast or far.  You can go just an inch.  You can mark your progress breath by breath."

Anyone who has had any in depth conversations with me about 2013 and my unwanted move (and slew of other things that have happened) is probably nodding their head along as they read this, too.  I have been living in Charlotte for 5 months now, and I can't say I've made much progress at all in accepting that this is the path my life has taken.  When a conversation with a friend or family member turns to my move to Charlotte, I am the person narrating my story of injustice over and over again - as if telling people how much I wish this move wouldn't have happened will change the fact that it did.  

But it turns out raging about it doesn't make a dang bit of difference.  The fact of the matter is that I am here, at least for the time being.  But honestly, I have felt that by not accepting it, it didn't need to be permanent.  I felt like accepting it might make it appear as though I wanted it to happen, or that I like it here.

But I know deep down that my inability to "accept" all that has occurred this year is not helping.  Raging against this relocation doesn't change the fact that it happened.  It happened.  I'm here, like it or not.

I don't really know how acceptance is going to come about for me, but I do know that it starts with me acknowledging that I need to find a way to achieve acceptance.  It probably starts with acknowledging that there are things I like about Charlotte.  Things like the small group of friends I've made, the city's selection of GF crepe places, the church where I attend mass, the proximity of the mountains, and the trees that flower far longer than any trees I've seen in the Midwest.

I guess, as Sugar says, it's going to start inch by inch, and breath by breath.

Have you ever been through something you had a difficult time accepting?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finding Comfort and Peace

Well, the tone of this blog has been rather serious lately, which I suppose is to be expected given all that is going on in my life.  Since I have been going through a difficult time, I have tried to focus on little things that I can do for myself that bring me comfort and peace.

Here are a couple of things that have brightened my days lately.

I had a massage last weekend at a resort in the Charlotte area and decided to take advantage of my access to the resort facilities.  I sat poolside, read, sipped a fun cocktail, and pretended I was on vacation.

Some far-away friends sent me an amazing care package full of Paris-themed goodies and this coffee mug, which is my new favorite mug for my morning coffee ritual.

The scent of my Anthropologie french cade and lavender candle is so soothing.

Oh how I love the library. Not pictured:  the many books I am also borrowing on my nook.

Mmmm...  roasted spaghetti squash with a little marinara makes my tummy happy. I don't think I will be buying GF pasta anymore as this is my preferred vessel for pasta sauces!

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, how I adore you.
This post was focused on physical creature comforts; if I was living in Minneapolis around friends and family, the list would include time with family, hugs from my nephews, and evenings spent with my best girlfriends, etc...  but I am sort of lacking on the 'human contact' side of comfort and peace right now since I live so far from home so for how I guess these 'creature comforts' will fill that void.

What are some things that bring you a sense of comfort and peace?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of August

Wow.  August.  I just can't even.  It was quite the month.  The joy column holds passing the CFA, hosting Heidi, and visiting Alli.  The sorrow column holds losing my aunt, my RA diagnosis, and the passing of Phil's father (not my story to tell so I have not talked about it here, but it has been hard to not physically be there for him, as a friend, during this challenging time.  I feel helpless trying to support him from afar.).

I'm hoping the sorrow column is shorter in September.



Hercules by Sara Bareilles - I'll be honest - it took awhile for Bareilles's newest album to grow on me.  Now I am obsessed.  One of my favorite songs is Hercules - it's about falling on your knees and asking for some strength so obviously it hits home with me, especially the last stanza:  "This is my darkest hour, a long road has led me out here, but I only need turn around to face the light, and decide flight or fight."  You better bet I will be choosing fight.

Eavesdrop by The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars is the newest band that I am OBSESSED with.  I was introduced to them thanks to Becky's post.  I loved the song she posted so much, I decided to buy their new album - and their old one, too.  Both albums are amazing.  Their music is just hauntingly beautiful.  I was very sad to hear that they have had a falling out recently and cancelled their tour dates.  I hope they can resolve their difference as this is a duo that I HAVE TO see live.

Disarm by The Civil Wars - Yep, I am posting a 2nd song by this band.  I couldn't pick between Eavesdrop and Disarm.  Plus this is a live performance so you can tell how talented they are.  You may recognize this as a cover of a Smashing Pumpkins song.  Now what are you waiting for?  Go buy this album.  


My reading was really spotty this month and with the exception of one book, I didn't really "love" most of what I read. I felt like I had a hard time focusing on books (which is understandable) but I still managed to read 4.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash  - I had a hard timing rating this book, but overall I would give it 3.5 stars. The first half sort of drug for me and I had a hard time getting into it, which may be because I had a lot of distractions in my personal life (I was reading this when I was home for CFA results/my aunt's funeral). But I really enjoyed the 2nd half of the book and would still recommend it to others.

The Journey Home by Michael Baron  - This was a fast, easy read but was sort of 'meh' for me. Not a bad book but not a great read for me.

Tiny Beautiful Things:  Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed - I will be the first to admit that I did not love Strayed's best seller, Wild, but I loved this book. It's a collection of her responses to advice columns and while you may not relate to the questions posed, each response contains some nugget of wisdom. I could quote several of her responses, but I will save that for blog posts as they are far too lengthy for me to do them justice here. Definitely a great great read.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler - This is one of my least favorite books I have read this year.  The premise is that the main character, Delia, just up and walks away from her family in the middle of their beach vacation.  She has 3 kids, 1 of which is still in high school.  I guess I just could not relate to a woman who just walks away from her family for no real, compelling reason (at least not one that she could articulate IMO).  Sometimes I can enjoy a book despite the fact that I don't like the main character - that was not the case with this one.


Miles.  Ha.  Well, I could add up my airline miles instead of running miles.  I flew to Minneapolis, El Paso for my New Mexico trip, and NYC.

I honestly don't know when I will be logging miles on the road again, but maybe by next month I can be back in the pool swimming laps and doing water aerobics.  We will see how my body does with the drugs I will start this week.


Once again, I'm sharing 2 looks I purchased this summer (on sale) from Banana Republic. I think they could maybe give me a stipend of some sort for the marketing I do for them.  I'm just saying.

1st look:  color blocked dress.  And the stupid boot.  And a tennis shoe on the healing foot.  I know, I am nothing but stylish.  I like this dress, but because of the placement of the color blocks, it makes me look like I have hips - which I am not used to as I have more of a 'ruler/boyish' frame.  But I do love the color combo. 

2nd look:  Casual cotton stripes dress, paired with my favorite stripey bag.  And the boot.  Woo hoo.  I said last month that I was hoping to never share another outfit pic that included the boot. I hope that is the case this time.  I do love this dress, though.  It's really comfortable and I like the different striped patterns - and the fact that it has sleeves as I tend to get cold easily. Oh and hello, Manhattan skyline in the background.

What is the latest band or musician that you've become totally obsessed with?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Very Recent History

Synopsis from good reads:  

In one of the greatest cities in the world, the richest man in town is the Mayor. Billionaires shed apartments like last season's fashion trends, even as the country's economy turns inside out and workers are expelled from the City's glass towers. The young and careless go on as they always have, getting laid and getting laid off, falling in and falling out of love, and trying to navigate the strange world they traffic in: the Internet, complex financial markets, credit cards, pop stars, microplane cheese graters, and sex apps.

A true-life fable of money, sex, and politics, Very Recent History follows a man named John and his circle of friends, lovers, and enemies. It is a book that pieces together our every day, as if it were already forgotten.

Very Recent History by Choire Sicha sparked my interest when I saw it on the list of books I could review for TLC Book Tours as I work in the financial field and am fascinated by the period covered by this book (2009) as it's a period in time when as Warren Buffet has famously said "Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked," which means to me that sometimes wealth or success is an illusion or a temporary state of being.  But for whatever reason, possibly my inability to focus on reading heavier or more academic type of writing, I struggled to get caught up in the story.  It was interesting to read about a time I have lived through, told by a narrator who lives far in the future.  

I think maybe if I had read this during a different phase of my life, a phase that is less taxing, I might have enjoyed it more...  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review, and the opinions are my own.