Monday, January 19, 2009

No longer MIA

I realize I’ve been MIA for quite a while. I’ve been taking some much needed “me” time since the holidays and the new year to just reflect on the direction I need to take this coming year. My memoir is now receiving a second thorough and final edit and it looks very promising – I’m very excited!! I feel confident the manuscript will find an agent (I’ve already scoped out a good handful) and ultimately, a good publisher. My biggest struggle is whether I should also focus on writing and submitting magazine articles. I’m frozen in place right now. If I follow what my heart wants to do right now it would be to focus solely on the memoir. I do have an idea for an article regarding a local individual, so I may just pursue that for the moment.

I’ve also applied for a paralegal position at work that I feel very optimistic about as well. The posting doesn’t come down until this Wednesday, so I’m thinking interviews will probably be the first week in February. It will be rather wonderful to actually work a profession that I received my degree in! I’m also taking a drawing class (two sessions – one tonight and one next week) to brush up on techniques. After nearly an eighteen year hiatus from art, I’m finally returning. It feels good too, although I haven’t completed much of anything yet. Just moving back in that direction feels good. The creative component has been missing in my life and I finally realized it! I’m considering it a hobby for now, but we’ll see where else it may lead me.

And the best news of all!!!!! I booked our vacation this weekend – woo hoo! We’ll be spending a week in Puerto Aventuras (Mexican Riviera Maya). It’s exciting to know Charlie and I are finally embarking on our life together without any outside annoyances, with our greatest plans being to travel - a lot. We’re planning on two other trips this year, but those trips will be within the U.S. We want to start checking out different areas of the country where we would like to move eventually (probably within the next five to eight years). We’ll be going to Austin this summer to visit my brother and to check out the area.

That’s all for now… I promise to be more regular in my writing from here out!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Feeling funky...

Woke up this morning to one-tenth of an inch of ice outside. Like I told my brother, I just need to move to Fiji and be done with it. I don’t like cold weather and want to move south, but a big move will not happen for awhile. Charlie and I discussed it and he rather double-up on the mortgage and pay off the house in eight years, then think about moving. It does make sense, but I’m ready to go now! We’ll start taking weekend trips to check out some areas to determine where we want to go. Although, the whole country has been hit by this crazy weather the past week! Dom said yesterday in Austin it was 80 degrees and the next two days are going to be in the 30s with a serious wind chill! Ugh!!

I have been in such a funk the past several weeks. I finally admitted to my doctor that I’m not doing alright and I need help. I can’t concentrate, I feel lethargic, I have no motivation, and I’ve been crying more than ever before. I really felt like I might be losing my mind. It’s a combination of several things: I don’t feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be professionally; I miss mom, dad, and Aunt Marian every day; I have no time for myself; and my mood swings wildly from feeling hopeful and peaceful to angry, bitter, and hateful the next. Charlie feels the brunt of my emotions and I’m tired of taking it out on him. I want to be happy. I had some blood work completed a couple of weeks ago and she indicated I was anemic, which was a shock. I eat very well (i.e. foods rich in iron are what I eat constantly), so she wants me to go see a GI doctor to make sure everything inside is O.K. She wants to rule out ulcers and, God-forbid, colon cancer. For the time being she put me back on anti-depressants and I have to take an iron supplement. She wants me to focus just on myself and make goals for only the coming week and not more than a month in advance. She suggested I look at work right now as a means for paying for my hobbies and since I told her I wanted to get back into art, she thought it was perfect. For some reason my interest in writing is waning, but I think it’s because of this funk. I’m also going to rearrange my schedule so I truly have the weekends for myself – every last stupid chore will have to happen during the week. I made a list of the things that bog me down on the weekends and it was quite extensive. I also need to reclaim my office space because since I started decorating for Christmas it looks like a Category 4 hurricane touched down in here. I’m a very organized person, so this alone is driving me CRAZY – I can’t even think in here.

Hopefully with all this I can get back to finishing the revisions to my memoir, which I have put on the backburner for now. As far as any other writing is concerned, we’ll see what the new year brings.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My brother and his wife are in from Texas for the weekend, so I’ve been getting ready for the visit (i.e. cleaning). I’ve been in a mild funk here lately and I’ve also been spending the time trying to figure out my next steps. While I want to write, I don’t believe that alone is going to fulfill the creative void I feel right now. There is a little art studio that recently opened not far from here and I think after the new year I’m going to start taking some art lessons. I was in advanced placement art in high school and loved spending time doing “artsy” things, but I let go after graduation for some reason or another. I want to take a few lessons to brush up on techniques since I’m a little rusty. The writing will happen but first and foremost the memoir has to be completed. I really don’t want anything taking away time from that. Revisions are moving along and I hope to wrap them up in the next week or two.

I’m also geared up for planning our summer vacation! I’m still not sure about a location yet, but I’ve also been eyeing up Barbados as well. I’ve gotten a little more Christmas spirit in me this year than I have for the past nine years. I actually put a tree up this year (the first in nine years) and Charlie and I can actually have a Christmas this year, which is wonderful. So many of the past years we have been broke from buying for everyone else, but this year we said we come first. And, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Telecommuting on Hold & Summer Vacation!

The whole idea of finding a new position that offers telecommuting is quickly losing steam. I would like to stay within the government for now, so in order to get a position that offers telecommuting as a benefit, I would have to initially hike all the way down to D.C. for an eligible position. Because I live in northeast Maryland, this commute is nearly impossible. It would be a nearly two-hour commute by train – I’m not even considering driving. So, back to the drawing board! I may continue to search for positions that may be offered in Baltimore, but I’ve settled on the notion that I’m not going to stress myself out over finding something. Sometimes, if you keep your ears and eyes open, these things sometimes appear that you normally wouldn’t find by looking too hard.

As the countdown to Christmas begins, so does my countdown to planning my next summer vacation! I always like to have something booked by the end of January – I like things taken care of as far in advance as possible. Based on some new news I’ve received regarding a family trip with my husband’s side of the family, I may actually be able to plan a trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas! I’m very excited about that possibility, so I hope to have more details in the next week or so. It’s not that I don’t love the mega-resorts in the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, or Punta Cana, but a secluded hideaway on a nearly deserted island is what I need and want right now! Stay tuned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rediscovering creativity

I’m in the process of reading a book called “The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People” by Carol Eikleberry, PhD to help me sort out my next steps in finding my true calling. I believe writing is only part of what I want to do, but I guess I’ve been so ingrained with the business world’s non-creative positions I’m a little afraid of making the full-time leap to a creative field. I have so many interests to apply my creative abilities to that I almost feel like I’m unable to make any decisions as to what I really want to do!

What I have realized is I have to be patient with myself, which is no easy feat. I am normally very impatient, getting easily frustrated when things don’t go the way I planned in the timeframe I worked out. I believe in myself and my capabilities and that I will someday be very successful at what I love; I just have to realize it won’t happen by tomorrow. If anyone has any success stories to share, please do so! I’m always inspired by those who had a dream and watched it come to fruition.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Getting off the treadmill in life has various meanings for me. Primarily it is about pursuing your dreams and stop getting caught up in the nonsense of the status quo. However, it can also mean stopping the cycle of stress on yourself and the environment by opting out of excessive consumerism. This idea hit home for me after watching the following video from The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard:

It was an eye-opener for me and hopefully it will be for you as well. This nation is buckling under the weight of debt its citizens carry and it needs to stop NOW. Let me know what you think about the Story of Stuff…

Take a Hike!

I returned yesterday from a fabulous weekend of hiking at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Charlie and I decided to take advantage of a long weekend, and the need to unplug, by planning a mini-vacation somewhere close. Since Shenandoah National Park is about 50 miles west of Washington D.C., it made for an easy commute. We stayed in Front Royal, a small town situated at the north entrance of the park. We spent two nights at the Super 8 Motel for a bargain price of only $138.76. The Four Seasons it was not, but it was a comfortable room to spend the night. When we arrived around noon on Friday, we grabbed lunch across the street at Spelunker’s Frozen Custard and Cavern Burgers. If you are a health conscious individual, this is not the place for you. Charlie chowed on a cavern burger AND a chili cheese dog (which he later regretted) and I decided just to indulge in a vanilla custard cone. Wherever you decided to eat while in Front Royal, save room for a Spelunker’s frozen custard – it was decadent!

While the Super 8 advertises a free continental breakfast, it was rather sparse consisting of donuts, two selections of cold cereal, milk, orange juice, and coffee. For more substantial early morning fuel, try Wynn’s Restaurant located at 219 E Main Street. Here you’ll find good food at a bargain price (our bill came to $10.00). For an inexpensive lunch or evening meal try Main Street Mill located at 500 E Main Street. For dinner on Friday night our total bill came to $40.00 which included two beers, an appetizer, two entrees, and dessert. The food was good (I had the southwestern chicken breast while Charlie chose the half rack of baby back ribs) and what I found to be most surprising – the portions were realistic (unlike the gargantuan servings dished out at chain restaurants).

The real highlight of the trip were the amazing views and hiking found within Shenandoah National Park. This was my first trip down Skyline Drive and I was not disappointed by the clear views of rural towns and fiery orange and yellow trees surrounding the park. However, I was really geared for an aggressive workout of hiking and the Park more than delivered. On Friday Charlie and I only had a few hours of daylight to use and we chose to trek the Overall Run Falls trail as our goal for the afternoon. This trail is located within the Matthews Arm and Elkwallow Area of the park, situated around mile marker 22 (see map: This trail leads to the 93’ foot Overall Falls and is moderately difficult; roundtrip is approximately 6.5 miles. It provided a good aerobic workout while taxing our butt and legs which Charlie and I felt this immediately upon returning to the Jeep. I would recommend this trail for intermediate and advanced fitness levels. Be sure to pack water and a light snack. If you do not invest in hiking/walking poles, be sure to find a sturdy tree branch to assist you in your hikes (please find a branch already on the ground!). I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a walking stick (or two) for any uphill hikes. They not only reduce your fatigue (trust me, you will still feel fatigued even when using the poles) and increase your speed, but hiking/walking poles assist in stabilizing your footing which is essential, especially on the descents. We only passed one other couple on the trail which we attributed to it being a weekday afternoon, so we felt as if we had the place to ourselves.

While we didn’t encounter any wildlife on the trail, on our drive out we came to a screeching halt when I spotted a black bear at the top of a tree about 75 feet away to our right (fortunately there was no one behind us)! We jumped out and marveled how this magnificent creature could precariously balance himself on spindly branches at the very top of the tree and swiftly maneuver his way down! So much for my notion of climbing a tree if I ever encountered a bear in the woods!

On Saturday we traveled further down Skyline Drive to the Skyland area of the park. Our first hike was the Whiteoak Canyon Trail located at mile marker 43 (see map: This trail brings you to the Upper and Lower Whiteoak Falls, both spectacular to see; roundtrip is approximately seven miles. Another butt-kicking trail, we found our speed decreased some due to more people being on the trail – a lot more people. If you really want solitude for your hikes, I suggest planning hikes for weekdays versus the weekend. Since this hike involves an 1100 foot elevation change, I felt muscles in my legs, butt, and hips I never knew existed! It was quite a challenge, so I recommend this also for those at an intermediate and advanced fitness level.

Once we finished the Whiteoak Canyon Trail we traveled a little further down Skyline Drive to the Big Meadows area. We parked across from the Big Meadows Lodge, a little past mile marker 51, and hiked the Lewis Falls Trail; round trip is approximately five miles (see map: We packed our own lunch, however, Big Meadows offers a restaurant if you are interested in a sit-down meal. The Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland, and Lewis Cabins (further down Skyline Drive) offer lodging, but when Charlie and I inquired about lodging within Skyland we noticed a sign posted that reservations for 2010 would be taken starting January 3, 2009. Obviously the lodging at the Park is very popular so you will need to plan a couple of years in advance.

The Lewis Falls Trail is a must-see! The Lewis Falls are a splendid sight to see and well worth the precarious hike to get there. The trail map indicates it is a moderate hike, but Charlie and I agree it should be upgraded to a strenuous level as it was a challenge for both of us (speaking mainly of the hike back up the mountain). However, the views from the trail itself are breathtaking making it well worth the muscle soreness and fatigue! We returned via the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail runs throughout the Park so you have the option of picking it up at various locations or hiking it exclusively.

We returned home on Sunday still sore from the hikes, but well-rested nonetheless from a mini-vacation in the great outdoors that soothed our harried minds. For more information on Shenandoah National Park, please visit the National Park website: