People Are What Matter

I’m a different person than I was nine, ten, eleven, twelve months ago.

You may think, “Duh! We all are!”  But, when I look at photographs there is a dull ache within me, and I recognize that the person in those images is gone.

I made a decision.  I was moving to England, would attend a program, and start a life in Europe.  And now (from my computer in Virginia), nine months and nineteen days since taking off, I can say for the first time in my life (about a decision), “I wish I hadn’t gone.”

Don’t worry yourself or rush to tell me “But look at all you learned!” or “We shouldn’t have regrets.”  I know the catchphrases, the clichés, and the truth.  I know I had a plan, a reason for going, but never have I ever so wanted a plane to turn around.  In fact, it’s possibly the only time I’ve truly wanted a plane to turn around.

It’s true.  I learned lessons, I realized in a new and more powerful way the ranking that people/relationships hold in my life.  I had an opportunity to help educate two children.  I discovered a long-term relationship is manageable (with so so so much credit going to my incredible and strong boyfriend, Alan).  I experienced love and support from family/friends.  And, I began the hard, growing up process of making decisions for myself and not for other people (something I’m still working on).

Yes, ultimately I came back because of a relationship.  I’m practicing saying that without feeling twinges of guilt or that I’m less of a woman/person for letting a relationship matter that much to me.  It does.  Plain and simple, life in a new and exciting place is lonely and depressing when the person you want to experience it with is not there, and on top of it is five hours behind, so while you’re having a great brunch and want to tell him about it, he’s not even awake.

Do I want a career?  Absolutely (though, not a conventional one).  Do I want to excel in what I pursue?  Without a doubt.  Do I want to do it alone or thousands of miles away from my favorite person?  Definitely not.

I cannot change that I went.  Good and bad came from it.  Though, I am so much happier and full of life now that I’m back.  Is job hunting fun?  No.  Would I recommend living at home?  Not unless you have to (but, I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and family to support me).  I’m thankful for the family and friends who love me, support me, and are excited to make plans with me.

I’ve learned this: people are what matter.

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Sharing Moments

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Remember that yummy, whole wheat, homemade pizza I was making for dinner last night?  Always ALWAYS use fresh flour, even if what you’re using is previously unopened.  It was eaten, and not terrible with the toppings…but the plain crust was very…bran-like.  We also watched The Thin Man, made in 1934, which is the first of the film series with Myrna Loy and William Powell (my favorite is The Song of the Thin Man).

I love sharing things that I love with people—especially when they’ve never experienced them before.  Today we attended The Walk of the Cross in my town, held every Good Friday to commemorate Christ’s walk to Golgotha.  Then we sat in on the service and ate lunch with everyone afterwards.  I first began attending the Holy Week Services as a little girl. Of course, I’ve not gone every year, as school and work would sometimes get in the way, but it was nice to share with Alan, and to also see some faces I’ve not yet seen since returning from England.

Oh, and a cute little girl wearing pink wellies, a pink rain coat, and carrying her umbrella showed up.  Yes, Abi and I were matching on this grey, rainy day…must be a cousin thing.For the first time in years, we might dye Easter eggs tomorrow evening!  (I asked for a mango in my Easter basket.)

And now…I bid you all adieu and wish you a happy weekend!

28 Weeks

IMG_7866Ami’s 4th B-Day

28 Weeks.

That’s how long it’s been since I moved to England.  No, I didn’t count.  That’s how long it’s been since my iPhone was backed up (too many pictures of cute cousins).

I was sitting next to Alan earlier today when I realized the date: exactly seven months since I landed in England.  We briefly reflected on how things have changed in that time.  Yesterday morning when I awoke I did not expect to see him in the evening, but in the middle of the day, he decided to drive up.  The last time an impromptu visit occurred, he surprised me on a Wednesday night and six days later, drove me to the airport.  Now, I’m back in the USA, happily dating the best guy ever, and job hunting.

Since returning “Stateside”, I’ve continued to realize how important people are to me.  I moved a lot growing up, and as a result, I didn’t ever see myself “settling” into a place.  I held a kind of disdain for people who felt the need to stick close to their families (because there is so much to see, and how will you see it if you never leave).  While permanent roots in one location is not something I desire, I cannot forget how important it is for me to be able to see the people I care about (or at least talk to them) relatively easily.  BUT, just as we are all in evolution, I leave my feelings on living in one place or many places free to ebb and flow.

I am enjoying being in Virginia.  The weather is improving beautifully, I can walk barefoot, wear Chacos and shorts, and begin thinking about tubing and fires at the river.  This weekend is Easter.  I’m listening to the warming up of beautiful violin music (have I mentioned the talented violinist I’m dating?).  And, tonight for dinner, homemade whole wheat pizza!

Oh, and for a hilarious take on the many MANY articles written to “inform” girls of the 10 things guys do/don’t like, read this.

Manipulation, Marketing, and Why I Haven’t Blogged

A few hours ago I discussed with my boyfriend my difficulty with blogging over the last 6+ months.  If you scan through my posts, you’ll probably notice the various phases and styles I tried over the five years I’ve maintained this blog.  Of late, I’ve contemplated starting a new blog where I focus on events, issues, and other things impacting our world, but I’m not positive that’s my answer.  First, I need to find a writing groove…and I’m not promising this is it.

There are lists of blogging challenges and creative inspiration ides.  I just finished reading one with 33 ideas, and before I made it half way through, a rant against manipulating the masses was already rising up inside of me.  Manipulation is despicable (but I’m good at it–and at spotting it).  However, knowing I’m good at it, while hating it, means I make almost every effort to stop myself from manipulating situations and people…though, not always with success.

The list I read was geared for people in the marketing industry.  Some may think marketing is synonymous with manipulating, but I do not.  Yes, manipulation is a key part of marketing for many, but I don’t think it is necessary to manipulate and still sell a product or idea.  I’m sure you all know someone (or many people) who sell products with a “not available in stores” company (i.e. Mary Kay, Avon, Arbonne, Lia Sophia, Rodan + Fields, Cutco & Vector, Jamberry, and many more).  Most people sell something they love and swear by.  I’ve considered selling a product line, but I’m not convinced that I can do it honestly.  Before I sell something, I need to have a solid, fresh reason that I can give for being impressed by and an advocate for a certain product.

My approach to marketing is to simply share with someone why I love something and why they might, too.  Do you know my favorite things to market?  Boutiques and TV shows…more specifically, Laura’s Boutique, Ltd. in Hot Springs, VA and White Collar and Sherlock.  Seriously, I’ve gotten many people hooked on White Collar and Sherlock by just talking about the fun, brilliant, and chemistry-connected writers and actors, as well as the excellent story lines.  As far as boutiques–people want good customer service.  They want to go somewhere and feel special.  Laura’s Boutique give that: great variety of clothes and accessories, relaxed ambiance for shopping, and associates who will go above and beyond for each person.

Marketing, networking, all of it–it’s about people.  People want to improve their lives and others’ lives.  They want to find new things to do and try within their range of interests, and even splash in some new experiences.  BUT, it can be done truthfully and creatively!

May Pink Tinge Your Day

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The day when pink, red, and white are strewn about, flowers are bought in high quantities (matching the high prices), and love is declared in many classic and crazy ways.

But, the difference between today and my past 23 Valentine’s days is: this year I have a BOY Valentine (Lauren joined the “boy for Valentine’s” club a while ago—but now it’s my year).

I’ll admit, I have conflicting feelings about this day—the commercialism is somewhat off-putting (sometimes immensely so).  But, if left simply to me, I really do love it!  A day dedicated to sharing, giving, expressing, surprising, being…ALL in the name of love.  Yes, yes, it is a good and wonderful thing to show love and care all year long.  But, Valentine’s Day allows it all to be done with a PINK tinge (and I’m all about that pink, bout that pink).

I remember Valentine’s Day when I was six or seven.  I awoke to these cute, pink cards with little love notes to me from my parents.  They are still safely stored in my jewelry box.  When I was nine, we watched a movie about St. Valentine during school.  This was a little awkward—I didn’t know how to react after it ended and St. Valentine was killed, so I laughed a little.  A classmate said something to me along the lines of, “How can you laugh?”  Too young to explain/understand that when uncomfortable, sometimes the wrong reaction happens.  Like I said,awkward.  Of course, there was the year the boy I had a crush on gave me a Valentine that said, “We’ve got chemistry.” Yes, I read into it.  I was a very romantic and thinking sixth grader.

Of course, if you’d been privy to the Skype date I just finished, you’d have seen two little girls excitedly showing me their Valentine necklaces from their parents, Valentines they had made for their mommy, and their Valentine outfits.  You’d have seen their big sister showing me her Valentine outfit, too!  You’d have heard my cousin sharing the plans she and her husband made while her mom watches the kids.  Yes, they’re home is FILLED to overflowing with PINK (i.e. love).

Back to where I started: this year I have a BOY Valentine.  He’s the handsomest fellow I know.  The kindest, most loving, filled with compassion, funny, silly, intelligent, wise, stubborn, truth seeking, justice wanting person I know.  He loves beauty—true beauty.  It’s the kind found on a back of a beetle, shimmering in the summer sun.  He runs through the pouring rain with me, laughing as we find cover, not caring that the people sheltered and (mostly) dry might be staring. He takes me to fashion exhibits because he knows I’d like it.  He meets me with a cup of tea just the way I like it.  He reminds me to drink water when I don’t drink enough.  He carries my purse through the museum so that my back won’t hurt.  He notices when I get bruises and reminds me to be aware so that I won’t keep bumping into things. My dentist will love him: he hands me floss, even when I’m tired.  Also, he makes seriously yummy scrambled eggs, and created an original breakfast dish that is delish.

He is the BEST ❤

So, regardless of what society says about this day, shorten your branches so that the twine of culture won’t hold you hostage (gardening reference inspired by my philosophy prof), and instead choose to enjoy a day of special moments, surprises, heart shaped pizza, a cuddle on the couch, a homemade valentine with lots of cut-out hearts because your five year old LOVES making them, a cup of peppermint hot chocolate from your daughter (Mama, I’d make you one if I was home), and soak up the day.

*Please note, this was not written in ignorance of the origin of Valentine’s Day

Why We Should Take More “Selfies”

Claire: “Why can’t you just take it without me?”
Thom: “Because, without you in the picture, it’s a flat shot.  It’s like a postcard… Alright.  Alright, go on and take a look. ”
……
Thom: “Alright, put me on, like, the side of the frame.  You see how it’s a little easier to take in all of it with something in the foreground?”
Claire: “Yeah, it’s just not the same.”
Thom: “Yeah, exactly.”

Take Me Home (2011)

Over the past few weeks and months I’ve grown increasingly annoyed with the overuse and negative connotation of the term “selfie.”  I agree, there is an over abundance of bathroom mirror pictures and “What a beautiful day” captioned photos of people’s faces–ultimately furthering a self-centered society (which is not the point of this post).  However, any photo of people that isn’t taken by someone not pictured is termed a “selfie” and treated as though it is a lesser form of photography.  Truly, the “selfie” is evidence of technological advances.  With the extension of an arm and the push of a button, we can document our own lives.

I looked through my “mobile uploads” on Facebook and recalled events I’d not thought about in ages, laughed at a few moments, and reminisced of a time in my life that has passed.  Some were selfies.  But, as the quote at the beginning says, it makes the scenery less flat.

If you know me or follow my blog, you’ve probably figured out I travel relatively frequently, whether across the ocean or a few states away.  More often than not, I’m traveling alone.  There is no one to take my picture in front of something I want to document.  Thus, I choose.  Do I take a selfie or keep going and fail to document this trip, experience, event, etc.  A lot of times, I take the selfie.  Why?  BECAUSE IT’S A MEMORY!  I want to share it.  I want to remember it.  And, I don’t have a camera crew following me around.

Photography has boomed in recent years.  No longer must we sit perfectly still in hopes of one good picture.  Cameras are not only for those who can shell out vasts amount of money.  Almost everyone with a cell phone has a camera.  Digital cameras come in all sizes.  Future generations will not have to scrounge, hunting for pictures of their grandparents and great-grandparents.  We are leaving thousands of photographs (albeit, mostly digital–which could disintegrate…so print a few of them, just in case).

My brother’s graduation was last week.  One of his classmates was speaking from the podium and ended by saying, “But first, let’s take a selfie.”  She did, and it went on Twitter.  She documented herself, her classmates, and the memory of that day–and it was great.

So, when your cousin just graduated from nursing school and the wine is handy, take a quick selfie before she has to run off to the rest of her guests!

We have the technology–let’s use it!

P.S. It’s really only a selfie when you’re the only person in the picture.

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The Battle of Poetry and Prose

20140412-184359.jpgMy family is from Kent, thus I enjoy reading about it. Through this poem I learned a bit of history about Kent/England from 1803-1805.

Growing up we had a thick, red book of poems for children.  I remember looking through it, probably having poems read to me from it, and memorizing pieces out of it as part of my homeschooling curriculum.  During my few years at a private school, I remember memorizing various poems from the back of our spelling book.  Two of my favorites were: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and The Village Blacksmith (I can still remember the beginnings of both).

However, I was always fond of and drawn to prose.  I remember reading Little Women while listening to it on tape when I was six or seven, I raided the old books in my grandparents basement one summer, when I was about the same age, and took a lot of new-to-me books home, and then there was the chunk of time when I was eight that I would wake up (naturally) at 4AM, sneak out to the kitchen for a plain bagel, and go back to my room and read till whenever.

I think fondly on those times, as well as the years that followed, resulting in a book always being stuffed in my purse during high school…and read when I should have been paying attention to French.

In college I minored in English, aka, I took a lot of upper level lit classes.  In one we read lots of epic poems, in another we read and analyzed poems based on the time period we were studying, and for another I wrote a thirteen page annotation of female poets beginning with Anne Bradstreet and continuing into the 1930’s.  It took that thirteen page annotation to begin opening my eyes to the fun of discovering the depths and meaning of poetry myself.

Now, two years later, I still battle with poetry.  I so enjoy getting lost in a story rather than fighting through the fog of words that are hiding an elusive meaning that wishes to remain a secret.  Occasionally I’ll stumble upon poems I enjoy, like the book of poems on the poets travels to Russia shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union or the book of Wordsworth I enjoyed today.

A certain friend, who shall remain nameless, has prodded me to move towards poetry.

Dare I admit it’s working?  I have, but I still hold that I’m not there yet.

What about you?  Poetry, prose, or both?