Apr 14, 2014

on top of it

To start, I feel like a round of thanks and apologies are in order.

I've been quite neglectful of this blog lately, and while I don't feel like I need to apologize for that per se, I do want to apologize for taking so long to reply to your comments and emails!

And then, thank you.  Thank you for all of your sweet wishes for Gidget, your "Happy Birthdays" for Riley and for just sticking with me in general.  Over the past year of this blog's life (ah, I missed my first blogaversary!)  I have come to realize that those of you out there reading this little blog are some of the kindest, coolest people around.  I really mean it.  And I hope you know that I truly appreciate you reading and leaving your thoughtful words, even if it takes me weeks to respond.

When we were traveling around on the water, it was easy to publish new content everyday.  I was excited about what I was doing and seeing, and I wanted to remember it and I wanted to share it.  So now, I'm feeling a little like a fish out of water. (haha! totally proud of that one.)  It's funny because, the truth is, I am still completely excited about life.  I never really felt those blues that sometimes happen when a big life event ends.  But still, the transition's been a little strange.  It's been a little over a month since we've been back, which seems just long enough to start thinking, "did that really even happen?"  I mean, there's tangible and intangible proof that it did, but still.  And now, the task is to try and take the pieces of my life pre-adventure, and the experiences of the adventure, and the pieces of my life that have been forever altered by the adventure, and fit them into a new equation that works. "Now what?" has become a daily question.  I'm getting there, I think, it's just taking a little while.

All that to say, it's been a little quiet here while I figure it all out.  This blog existed before we even set sail, so I know it can exist after, but really, how do you follow that?  I feel like a blog, when it's at it's very best, should paint a picture, a reflection, of it's author.  And since I'm still struggling to see what that pictures looks like, what it should and could look like, I'm still struggling to find the right words, too.  But it's okay, because I mean that in the best, most optimistic sense.  Because so far, things are looking pretty good.

When you have an opportunity to grow and change from an amazing experience, the fresh start that you're presented with afterwards seems almost limitless.  There are almost too many colors on my palette, however will I choose?

In some ways, our trip felt like a sort of escape from reality.  But in others, it was like going back to school.  We saw, we experienced, we learned.  We pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones.  And now that we've graduated, the real test is in what we do with it all.  How will we (I) take the experience and allow it to affect every aspect of my "real" life.  Now that I know that I am capable of things I never even imagined, what am I going to do about it?  You can't just let these sorts of things go to waste, you know.

So, that's where I'm at.  And where this blog is at.  We're works in progress.

In the meantime, Riley and I have been taking every opportunity to explore the city of Roanoke with fresh, city-dweller eyes, and I am absolutely loving it.  Maybe it takes leaving an area, and then coming back into the heart of it to really appreciate it.  I also feel like the city is making a lot of exciting improvements and I'm glad to be seeing them firsthand and I'm looking forward to sharing more of it with you, too.

So, in conclusion to this long winded, rambling, and analogy laden blog post, here we are.  This is my new world, and this is what it feels like to be on top of it.  

Apr 7, 2014

thanksgiving is always a good idea

Since we were just talking about New Year's the other day, it's only fitting that we talk about Thanksgiving today… right?

Riley and I actually had a pretty good Thanksgiving on the boat last fall, but it still wasn't quite the same not being able to celebrate with our families.  In fact, the first thing that I did when I pulled my pathetic, burnt pumpkin pie out of our tiny boat oven on that Thanksgiving day was text my mom and sister, "can we have Thanksgiving dinner when we get back?"  Their answer was a resounding "yes!"

We had a few family birthdays to celebrate first, but fortunately we were able to squeeze in a little Thanksgiving celebration before Easter.  There's just something about all of the cooking, the time spent around the table together, talking and eating comfort food, that even the best case scenario boat Thanksgiving just couldn't live up to.  

In the spirit of the pretend season, I asked everyone what they have to be thankful for since (the real) Thanksgiving Day passed.  My favorite part?  How quickly everyone was able to think of their answer.  It is truly amazing how much we have to be thankful for. 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to have the sailing adventure that we did, that we returned home in one piece, that we were able to find a place to live that we love so quickly, and for the good job that Riley had to return home to.  I am thankful for time spent with family, celebrating holidays, no matter how belated they may be.

What about you?  What do you have to be thankful for since Thanksgiving?

Apr 3, 2014

here's to (belated) new year's resolutions

Now that Riley and I are living in the city, I get a kick out of saying, "oh, we're spending the weekend in the country…" or something of that nature.  It makes visiting family sound like even more of a luxury than it already is.  Wandering around my parents' place the other day, I got to fully appreciate the signs of spring and the beautiful weather that accompanies it.  It got me thinking about New Year's resolutions.

I kind of missed the boat (ha!) on that front this year, mainly because we spent New Year's just trying to survive Key West.  In all honesty, I intentionally gave myself a pass on making any resolutions anyway.  Living on a boat seemed like a pretty good excuse.  I wasn't going to commit to a new exercise routine, because when I wasn't walking two miles to the grocery store and back, I really was quite content to… sit around.  I wasn't going to commit to healthier eating, because really, we were just going to eat whatever was easy to come by and even easier to prepare.  I wasn't going to start new hobbies, or save more money, I was just going to simply do the best with what I had to work with.  I suppose the closest I came to making a resolution on New Year's was to attempt to do something new everyday.  And given our situation, I think I did a pretty good job with that one.

In anticipation of moving back on land however, I did start to make myself a list of future resolutions.  You know, it's kind of like the dieter that says, "I'll start my diet after Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year's."  My intentions were purely good, though.  Well, they were going to be, anyway.

So, now that we're somewhat settled, it's spring, the flowers are blooming, and the air is fresh, and it seems like a pretty good time to dust off those New Year's resolutions.  Nothing too dramatic, of course, I really just want to focus on intentional living.  I want to make conscious choices about the foods we're eating, the exercise I'm getting, and the activities I'm spending my time and money on.  I want to find new and exciting experiences right outside my own door. 

lastly, this.  Just because I think it's hilarious.  You get 'im girl.

If our experience on the boat had to come to an end, at least we timed it pretty well.  There is nothing quite like the transition into spring to lift sprits, renew hope, and inspire change.  It's the perfect time for a fresh start.  In our case, quite literally.  Does it feel that way for you too, though?  How are your New Year's resolutions going, anyway?  Do they need to be dusted off?  What are the things that you want to focus on this Spring?  Or this year?  I'd love to hear and be inspired by some of your own resolutions!

(Also, by the way, Riley thanks you for all of the birthday wishes!  And as far as Gidget is concerned, it looks like we may be starting her on some anti-seizure medication.  She was kind of diagnosed with epilepsy by process of elimination.  Thank you again for all of your sweet words and prayers!)

Mar 31, 2014

if only you could meet him

If you're not someone who already knows my husband in real life, I wish you could meet him.

The first thing you'd probably notice about him is that he's a little disheveled, maybe a little dirty even.  But don't worry, it's just because he's been working hard all day, and then playing hard, too.

Then, because he's never met a stranger in his life, you'd notice his accent.  You might chuckle a little to yourself about it or ask where in the world he's from, as people have been known to do.  You'd probably be surprised to hear that he's only from as far South as Virginia.

You'd soon find out that he's traveled a bit and has had some quite impressive and unusual life experiences for someone of his age and means.

You'd learn that he has hobbies and interests, many of them, but that he's not just talk… that, in fact, he actually excels at everything he puts his mind to.

After just a few minutes, you'd know that behind this casual, unassuming exterior, is a truly good man. One wise beyond his years, who lives every day of his life to the fullest. One who is constantly striving to be the absolute best that he can be, taking no credit for himself, but appreciating each blessing in his life as a precious gift.

You'd wish him a happy 28th birthday, and you'd mean it when you say it's been very nice to meet him.  

And never in your life will you know another man quite like Riley.

Mar 25, 2014

girl's best friends

One of the inevitable consequences of living every moment of life for five months straight in the confines of a small boat with just a husband and a dog, is the formation of unusually tight bonds.  Really, it's a blessing that we all came back loving each other more instead of loathing the sight of one another.  Really.  I'm pretty grateful for that.  Now that we're back on land, Riley and I can go our separate ways to do whatever it is we need to do, but it's still "normal" for us to have conversations, like last nights, that go something like this:

"Do you.."

Women always seem to complain that their significant others can't read their minds.  Well, mine can.  Yes, it is just as helpful and as scary as you might imagine.

But as far as Gidget is concerned, I have become a Crazy Dog Lady.  This isn't the same as a Crazy Cat Lady who hoards as many felines as she can get her hands on.  My brand of craziness is more along the lines of being completely in tune and hyper sensitive to an individual dog's wants, needs, pains… etc.

So, needless to say, when Gidget started having seizures, I fell to pieces.  She had a really bad one last Friday that left me a sloppy, soggy, puffy mess for the rest of the day.  When I finally pulled myself together enough to drive to the vet for some Valium (for her, not for me… although it was tempting), it only took the back to back combination of BeyoncĂ©'s "Halo" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" to open the floodgates again.  Of course, now that I think about it, I was listening to The Best Hits of the Eighties, Nineties, and Today, so I really was kind of asking for it.

Anyway, right now we're in the process of vet visits and bloodwork and tests to try to figure out what exactly is causing her seizures and how we can treat them.  So if you happen to have a spare thought or prayer for a pup and her girl, they'd be so much appreciated.  And maybe one for the poor fellow who is so tightly bonded to the emotional and physically unstable pair, I think he'd appreciate it as well.

Mar 19, 2014

home is where

I tried out every different cliche and song lyric that I could think of for this post. Home is where the heart is. Home is wherever I'm with you. While they're all good and true in their own right, they didn't quite fit.  I'm about to get really good and honest and superficial here today.

I missed my stuff.

Now, don't get me wrong, I actually did like living with less while we were on the boat.  It was sort of refreshing and surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.  But when we got back onto land and I slipped my feet back into my leather boots, when I unpacked my dishes and placed them on a shelf in a cabinet, when I unrolled my beloved cowhide rug onto the hardwood floor… it felt good.

I don't think it's easy finding a place that feels like home anymore.  Maybe that's just me.  Growing up, home was where my parents were there to care for me and where my always messy room was my sanctuary.  Of course it felt like home, it was also the only one I had ever known.  But when my parents decided to make the move from Maryland to Virginia, it was surprisingly easy to leave.  Of course, it was hard to leave friends and family behind, but the minute we moved out, it no longer felt like home.

Trying to make Virginia home took a little bit of time, as anyone who's ever moved will tell you.  All of our familiar stuff was there, and our family became closer than ever as we relied on each other more, so it did feel like home, in a way.  But we also had moved to The South, and immersed ourselves in the very conservative Bible-belt, and that has still never fit quite right.

After getting married and moving into a house in my husband's hometown in the mountains, I really struggled with feeling at home.  And I had only moved an hour away.  We tried our best to make a house into a home out of Riley's handiwork and generous gifts of hand-me down furniture, but that never quite fit either.    Maybe because it was a small, very Southern community where everyone knew each other, and was most likely related.  Maybe because I didn't want it to fit.  Maybe because I knew the house was only temporary. At the same time, going back to visit my parent's house didn't feel like home either.  But I did know, at least, that wherever Riley was was where I wanted my home to be.

So, if I couldn't find home in Maryland or Virginia, could I find it on a boat?  I guess in a way, I did.  We generally found ourselves in a new place every few days, so home couldn't really be a physical location.  But somehow I found a kind of home in the space of a 30 foot boat, with not much more than a few tupperware boxes of clothes and a toothbrush, my husband and my dog.  For a brief period of time, we made it feel like home.  But eventually, we got restless.  Moving around all the time can really wear a person down.  We were ready to have a real home, whatever that means.

After our trip, my parents were gracious enough to let us crash at their house for about a week.  Everyone asked us if we were glad to be home.  Honestly?  I felt more displaced than I had on a boat.  I had stuff in boxes in a guest room at my parent's and stuff in boxes in storage and I had just left the only place that had sort of felt like home for the last five months, I couldn't come up with an answer to that question until I actually did feel home again.

We were fortunate to find an apartment fairly quickly, and moving our stuff into it felt pretty darn good.  Does that mean home is where my stuff is?  Home is not in Maryland, and it's not at my parent's house in Virginia.  It's no longer a house in the mountains and it's not on a 30 foot boat.  But I am finally fulfilling a dream of living in a downtown apartment, so can I make this small space in the city feel like home for the next year?  I don't know yet, but I do know that I find a sense of peace in having a closet to hang my clothes in and a couch on which to watch tv.  My view of the city makes me happy, and so does my little brick wall and the creaky hardwood floor under my feet.  

Being here feels good. And it feels right.  For now.  Does it feel like home?  Ask me again in another few months.

Mar 17, 2014

leprechaun clowns and bagpipes (aka our welcome parade)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This past week I almost completely unplugged from all social media and it was so refreshing… and productive!  Riley and I finally got settled (mostly) and unpacked in our new downtown apartment, and then the city held a parade on Saturday to celebrate!

Okay, but really, it was a nice coincidence that the St. Patrick's Day festivities happened to coincide with our first week here.  It felt like our own personal "Welcome to the City" inaugural event.  It was a beautiful day for a parade, but one of the best parts was that we could walk right out of our door and be a part of the action.  No dinghy necessary!  Or car even, for that matter.  I loved every minute of it and I can't wait to see what else this city has in store for us this year.

Does your town hold any fun St. Patrick's Day events?  Are you celebrating today?

(In other notable news last week… we shaved goodbye to Riley's mountain man/salty sailor beard and hello Veronica Mars movie!  If you weren't a fan already, well... what are you waiting for?)

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