Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Trip Planning: Spring Travel & Fall Travel

This spring I'm going on a trip with friends to North Carolina. It will be my 3rd time there (beyond the airport). I've spent a lot of time in Lexington NC and also Chapel Hill for work. I no longer travel really all that much for work so it's a treat to plan trips for fun.

I scored tickets on JetBlue for only $11 (used some JetBlue points!). I only keep frequent flyer points on Virgin America and JetBlue as it's hard for me to fly any other airline in the US. Outside of the US I'm pretty unbiased. I love non-USA airlines. I also got a free ticket to use for the fall trip--road trip for 10 days with my hubby in CO and UT. That will be my 3rd trip to CO and my first to UT (beyond the airport of course).

So it's fun at this point to dream about hiking in a tee shirt. It's fun to think about hiking in boots that are not snow boots. There's still several feet of snow at our home in Maine and the ice is still 18-24" thick in town at our friend's lakes. There was an ice fishing derby this past weekend.

I'm curious what trips you folks are planning for 2015? Are you like me and not really doing much work travel? I used to do work travel 3 months in the spring and 3 months in the fall so it was a lot. I was a bit of a road warrior and I do MISS it with all my heart and soul. I'm a bit of a nomad at heart. A nomad with roots. A nomad divided between MA and Maine (happily).

Here's what I'm thinking about today (below photo). Asheville, North Carolina. The mountains. Fresh air that is not recycled through a tired HVAC system. Cool breezes. Wearing my cowboy boots for a night out on the town. And maybe some magic on the trails. Spotting animal tracks or sharing a lovely lunch packed for a hike with friends.

Thursday, March 12, 2015



Last night as I was falling asleep I could not help but think about the year 1994. That's the year I started off with a really hard winter. I also started a new job that spring at Stop & Shop in Northampton, MA (shout out to my former co-workers). I was a bagger and worked my way up to cashier. I was a High School junior without a driver's license and 1/2 hour from "town" but I was determined to work. 

That's just me. I always found a way and I shared rides with friends to get to my job. I figured I'd save up for car insurance and my very first car. My very first car was purchased in 1995 and it was a Subaru GL hatchback. THE BEAST. The Beast got me through the rest of high school and all of college.

Back to 1994. In 1994 I met some pretty great friends and said goodbye to others who went off to college, joined the Air Force (you know, usual kid-to-adult transition stuff). In Spring of 1994 something magical happened. I made friends that I still have to this very day: March 12, 2015. The winter of 2015 was also unusually hard. 2" more and we'll break the all-time record for snow in Boston. This is the time of year I begin to HOPE for that 2". Come on--break that darn record!

In Fall of 1994 (after a whole summer of being friends) I began to date my now husband. 6 years later on the very same date but different year we got married on October 14, 2000. The other night I watched a friend's band in Western MA and it occurred to me how important that number is to my life every single solitary day. Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Four.

I'd love to hear from you if you also have a killer year that basically made you exactly who you are and who you want to be. And to all the friends I re-connected with FROM 1994 after not talking for more than 2 decades: Thank you. Thank you Internet. I always needed you in my life and now we've come full circle. It just took more than twenty years.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow, Travel, and Yoga Retreat Soon!

You all know how I love snow! I really do. We watch the Olympics each day. We snowshoe, ski, and snowmobile. Sadly, our trip to Maine is getting put off (due to another storm hitting today with another 10"). I'm hoping Tyler gets to go when I'm at my yoga retreat (woo!) or while I'm in CA for work.

It's great snowmobile weather, but getting there can be an issue (no where to park the Jeep, we have to get someone to plow us a hole to park in). We've been going up to Dixmont, ME since 2001 (built our camp in 2003) so we are used to it. But the key is parking, and if there's no where to park that can be an issue. Also, when Tyler was up in January the water pipe froze (for the water drain, not the well).

We are tough and hearty and we're used to skiing in that last mile. We're used to packing 3 days worth of clothes and food. But, with 10" on the way today highway travel would really really suck. Last March we went on rte 3 and 295 on a Monday evening and it was not plowed. We have tire chains but they are not street legal.

I was accepted to the PhD program at Union Institute & University! I will start in January 2015. I already got my Student ID and e-mail so it's official. I just need to send along a small deposit to reserve my fee to be on campus for a few days in January at the start to the program. So that's me: 6 years starting next year. I'm really excited! The dean for my program is based in Seattle. He went to school in the Boston area, so we had a lot in common. He's working on changing the program to make it "more relevant to those that want to work in the corporate world or NOT teach or to those that want to be entrepreneurial." He's already succeeded in making changes. He also teaches in the PhD and EdD departments so a dean that teaches is a new concept to me!

One of the professors has been amazing so far. She teaches a few courses that I'll be taking (4 classes per year) and she's based in CA. The students are from all over the world and I'll be placed in a cohort for the duration and that group is 16-20 students. They are all "later in life" students with established careers. "Mid-Career" is the term they use. 99% of the students work full time and do volunteer work as well. That's why it was a good fit. I get to keep my career and my volunteer work on track and USE that work in my program work. That's what they expect. I'll be taking a range of classes on topics from sustainability to entrepreneurship to Gender Studies. My concentration is Ethical Leadership.

Now that my colleagues fully understand the program they are like "it's made for you" and "I could never picture you quitting work for 10 years and attending a school in Boston for 68 expensive credits." After year 1 I will be able to apply for scholarships (with faculty recommendations, so that's my goal). They want to make sure you are serious and dedicated before covering costs.

Lots of good vibes this week during travel. I was stuck in NY for 3 long lonely days due to snow. The Internet was down so I could not work. I watched movies, dug out my car (rental car), scrounged food from the hotel, took very snowy walks without sidewalks and eagerly waited for dinner each night (when a few restaurants would open mid-storm). It snowed from 2/12 at night to 2/14 at 6am. It was so bad that Enterprise had to come get my car and my conference was cancelled twice (and moved to April). At least I had hot cocoa and oatmeal I smuggled to my room from breakfast--comfort food is important and you can make quite a bit with the in-room coffee maker.

Hope all is well for each of you. How are you spending this February? Are you taking time for yourself to read, do yoga, run to train for a marathon (over snow banks--nothing like it--hardcore), or just sledding with your kids. Are you hiding out somewhere warm and sitting under a palm tree making plans for your life? I'll report back about the yoga retreat. It's my first bucket list item to cross off, so I'm really needing it about now after so much stress and pressure I put on myself Dec 2013-January 2014. :)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Next steps

Wow, I've made it to the Interview part of the PhD application process? This means next week hopefully I will have an interview. I'm waiting for confirmation. I need to (mentally) prepare on what I'm going to say in terms of what sort of research I have planned.

I've got it all in my head, and in my Statement of Purpose but I really need to think about how the ideas I have actually have "value" to his particular institute of learning. I also really need to think about timing. Logistically the fall is busy with travel (and our Germany trip) and the summer is busy at the office.

Am I ready to commit to extra expenses? Vacation days used for school travel. Time. 5.5 years of time. I am...I thought I was done with learning back in 2009 when I finished my master's degree. I realized through my volunteer work at Babson's Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership that I am indeed a "lifelong learner." I have to nurture that side. I have to FEED that side. I can just continue to go through my days reading topics that interest me: preserving the environment, science, food, food culture, homesteading, entrepreneurship, gender studies, technology start-ups...or I can actually tie all of that together. It's my choice.

Why would someone with a master's degree decide "I'm going to be the 1 out of 10 that actually finishes a PhD?" Why bother? Why get into more debt? Well, the easy answer is: because I can. I'm at a point in my life where I'm at a job that allows me freedom. Freedom to get out of work every day at 4:30pm and have time for volunteer work and more education. I'm at a job that allows me to travel and continue to see the world and learn. Why would I leave that job, that world that I've worked so hard for the past nearly 4 years? My plan is to not leave. My plan is to keep going.

Sometimes the best laid plans can be a disaster. Sometimes it's kind of neat to plan your future. To want to strive to be a better writer and a better researcher. Someone that continues to make a difference. After all, at most we get 100 years. Most never get to 100. So why the heck not give it a try. Even if it is 1 year from now. Why not give it a good effort and enjoy the process?

So here's to that interview, right?

And since this week was the anniversary of the Challenger disaster (and since her mom still lives in my town and is on the committee to build a new library) I leave you with this quote: "Reach for it. Push yourself as far as you can." -Christa McAuliffe

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dreaming of other places...

It happens every January. I look at my calendar on my office wall with all of my work trips and I daydream. I daydream about relaxing in a wine bar or walking on the beach. I think about how nice it is to work with my students in person (and how much easier). I think about discovering new yoga studios and I think (and stress) about conferences.

I always tack on some extra time and this time, I'm tacking on some time staying on the beach here. February is going to be better than January (although my Birthday weekend always rocks). January has been "clogged" with being sick, applying for a PhD program (whatttt?) and just drama.

It has not been filled with yoga although I did get to ski and snowshoe (a blast!). I did get to hike when the snow melted.

I just want to wake up tomorrow and feel well. I want to schedule a bunch of yoga classes, my cooking class (gift card from Mom & Dad for Sur La Table's cooking classes). I just want to put on my "soft pants" (as we call them in my house) and show up at my February yoga retreat (scheduled) and yell (softly) "I'm here, I'm finally here." I want to get off that plane in California and say, "I'm back, I've missed you, I'm back."

I want to sit on my yoga mat and just cry because I've missed the studio this past week. I've missed the quiet. I've missed the sweating, the good workout and I've missed...all of it. I've missed cardio time with a good podcast playing. I've missed waking up in the morning feeling refreshed.

I'm ready to have a great B'day weekend, feel better but most of all I'm looking forward to February. I want to get off that plane in CA and at that yoga retreat and have someone say: "Welcome, we've been waiting for you."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Seeing Through the Darkness

When you are recovering from an illness it's hard to see the other side. Shout out to my husband who has a nasty cold and fever today. :(

I was thinking this the other day when I was skiing by a neighbor's house (before the plow came) and he was out there doing his normal snow removal tasks. He had broken his leg really badly this past fall (surgery, hospital stay) and there he is out in the snow with his snow goggles on!

For me personally I'm still not up for Zumba but I've been able to x-country ski, snowshoe, and do yoga. I've done some cardio too and I know I can run 3 miles on the elliptical. It's just frustrating to get home at 5pm and be too exhausted to hit the gym. That's not "normal" for me. Normally I get home at 5pm, hit the gym at 6:30 and get home at 7:45 and eat dinner at 8:30. That's no longer my life or at least it's not right now. I'm trying hard to stick to my doctor's advice of getting up a 1/2 hour earlier to ease into the day (and going to bed 1/2 hour earlier). It worked for about 2 weeks.

The human body is a funny thing. You just take for granted the routine for years and years and years. I recently watched a documentary that discussed alternatives for cancer care (that actually work). It was pretty neat. The sad thing was it showed doctor's that stood behind these treatments were fired and had their lives destroyed. When I'm feeling sick I load up on raw honey, ginger, garlic, and green tea. When I got out of the hospital and 10 days on antibiotics wrecked my immune system I loaded up on probiotic foods and fermented foods. Even now, I can't get enough raw ginger fermented carrots, kraut, and kimchi.

I've also lost all patience for family members, friends, and colleagues that just seem to forget that it was not that long ago where I was out of work for 2 weeks. Out sick. Fighting a nasty infection. I mean, I got cards and letters and notes and an edible arrangement and flowers. Right before Christmas I had to deal with work drama, and it continues (in a more mild format). Just yesterday I felt like family members 100% forgot. I don't want to have to jump up and down and say "look at me, I'm trying so hard, I'm back to work, I'm back to yoga, I'm back to eating healthy and sleeping well."

Days like yesterday I wanted to bonk a few people over the head and say, "well, it's clear you forgot that I just went through a REALLY rough time." Humans quickly forget. Humans are cruel to each other. I've learned a lot through my yoga practice and lately I'm trying to incorporate more of that into my life. I need to distance myself from people that are cruel, shallow, and frankly not worth any of my time. I never forget when a friend has surgery, breaks a leg, misses work for a time. I don't hop all over them a few months later and act like an idiot.

I've learned a lot about humankind these past few months. Time to live and recover fully and strive to do better in 2014.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the last day of 2013...

I'm sharing a list from Mind Body Green. There's bits and pieces that make sense. I commented on list items that spoke to me (or yelled at me). :)

Here are 20 things to let go of in order to reach unlimited happiness.

1. Let go of all thoughts that don't make you feel empowered and strong.
I need to work on this one. There's been a TON of negativity at work in recent weeks. There have been people I care about getting in trouble left and right and I've done nothing but get angry about it. 
2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.
Well this one is easy. I'm ready to apply to a PhD program and see where that takes me.
3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.
see above
4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
The funny thing is I've never had trouble with this one. :)
5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
This one pretty much has ruled my life the past two months. :(
6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.
Well I changed my issues with work--I spoke up for myself and took action with authority figures. I just get too wrapped up and worried about others that are treated horribly. 

7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.
um, never thought this ever
8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.
I always do this.
9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.
I need to remember this one if I do start a PhD program in 2014
10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.
Yeah, this one is not me either. I'm very content with my life and all I've worked hard for.
11. Let go of thinking there's a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.
This one I need to remind myself of. It's not "my way or the highway"
12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
Oh, I now know where I want to go. PhD, work, volunteer work all in one happy bubble. Can it work? I don't know but I'm going to try.
14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.
Saw some former friends at a party this past weekend. That hurt as bad as a nail in the eye, I was polite and they ignored the hell outta me. It hurt but it should not.
15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you've done the best you can, and that's enough.
I'm always saying that life is too short so I think I've got this one. :)
16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.
Well in my case I have to know how to make the PhD work with the day job and with the volunteer work.

17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.
Working on it but doing a kitchen and an addition to the rental in ONE year has created more debt. Ah well, at least the primary house will be paid off in our late 40s.
18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.
Need to leave the people alone that are hateful and mean at work. 
19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
As an adult I don't have this issue. As a teen, yes you bet I did. :)
20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!
Oh I like how I look (I work hard at the gym and at yoga) but I often hate on myself when things go wrong at work and I need to stop that.