BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH

Life’s Journey // Trusting the Process

05/11/2017

I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately. In previous posts, I have been open about the fact that I have been feeling very lost this past year. I have never had so much time on my hands to simply spend on myself and at times it is overwhelming. This is the first time in my life where I truly am not working. When we moved up to DC last year my husband and I decided that we would put my efforts into acclimating our family into our new city, providing a clean and healthy home environment for the family, and undergoing the surgery to focus on bettering my health. We weren’t sure how long we would be in the area and wanted to make sure that we were focusing adequate time on our kids, family, and health. This meant I’d truly be a stay at home mom – not like before where I was running a business at the same time or working part time at the counseling center.

A year has gone by now and I am feeling healthy, acclimated, and to be quite honest – bored, selfish, and valueless.

These statements may seem strong, but let me explain.

I am the type of person who burns the candle at both ends, while slowly taking the lighter back and forth over the middle. And of course, as you can imagine, this does leave me feeling burnt out from time to time, but I thrive on doing. This past year, I have really tried focusing on being rather than doing, and let me tell you, it is a challenge.

Over the past few months, while I had the auction to focus on, I felt like I had value and purpose, but at the same time I knew this was temporary, unpaid, and I even had reservations about the whole fundraising experience – but it allowed me to use my skills, provide leadership, and work with a great group of individuals. Now that it is over, my days are freed up tremendously. I have been focusing a lot of time at the moment on researching our next living situation as our lease is coming to an end and it doesn’t look like we will be renewing at this time, but still – there are more hours to the day than just this.

I am a decently self-motivated individual, but without deadlines or pressure, it is easy to get off track and wind up getting nothing done. And there are so many distractions in a day. I miss the heat of a deadline and the thrill of getting my work done and pleasing my team.

As almost all moms know all too well, the deadlines and projects that I complete as a mom go seemingly unnoticed day by day. I overcome challenges and obstacles daily to get the kids to the bus on time – making breakfast and lunch, getting hair brushed, teeth brushed, feeding dogs, getting myself dressed, and out the door – but rather than kudos I get push back. Then I come home and clean the house – do laundry, and prep food. I pick up the kids and entertain them for the remainder of the day while providing snacks and getting dinner prepared. After a home cooked meal, it’s time for the bedtime routine and the pushback begins again. But, I overcome it and get them into bed, just to have it all start over in the morning.

The days can easily become rote and boring and very little unprompted thanks get offered throughout the day. In full transparency, I believe this is why I find myself posting my little achievements to Instagram – like pictures of meals I make or my post-workout selfies – and a world of strangers can give me a “like” or a quick encouraging comment which provides me with that little reinforcement I need to keep up the hard work.

There are a few hours every day that are leftover and become mine to do with as I please. Sometimes these hours are used doing research for the family, volunteering at the school, working out, reading or writing. And these few hours that I have to myself make me feel selfish. Despite knowing rationally that my free time pretty much reflects the same amount of time that my husband has after he comes home from work (while I am cooking, cleaning, and doing bedtime), I still am having trouble shaking the feeling that I am being selfish by taking the time to pursue my own self growth during the day – rather than finding a way to monetize my time and bring in money for the family.

In a society that puts so much focus on money and how much we make, it is hard to not feel some sort of stigma associated with not bringing in any income. I know that I bring value to my family by providing around the clock care including concierge service, home cooked meals, laundry service, counseling, and cleaning, not to forget endless amounts of love and affection. But at the end of the day, when I go out to purchase something – whether it be food for the family or a new bottle of concealer, I still feel like I am spending my husband’s money. Perhaps if he wrote me an actual paycheck for the work I did, I would feel different. Money is certainly a block that I am working to get over and a topic worth writing about on it’s own, but I would not be authentic if I didn’t admit that this is how I feel.

And above all of these confusing and degrading feelings, I also feel that I am not living up to my full potential. That may sound really harsh, but it’s not for lack of trying. I feel that I there is something that I am supposed to be doing that I have not quite unlocked yet.

I feel quite vulnerable putting this out there, but I know I need to put it out more boldly into the universe if I ever want it to manifest itself.

I want to write.

I want to motivate others to live their best lives.

I want be a public speaker and to help create change in this world.

I want to coach people on how to declutter their lives both physically and emotionally.

But at this time, I just don’t know how to make this happen and to be honest, I’m scared.  I do believe in time, as I continue to make forward growth in my own life, a path will reveal itself, but being patient and trusting in the process is hard. Right now I am focusing on slowing down, believing in myself, and preparing for when the opportunity presents itself, so that I don’t accidently pass it by. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me. As always, I invite you to share your own thoughts and journeys with me.

ACTIVE LIVING, BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS

Glitz, Glam, Gatsby // A New Level of Fundraising

04/28/2017

During my previous post I alluded to a recent school fundraiser that I volunteered for at the kid’s elementary school.  I was approached this past December by a parent in my daughter’s class, whom I am friends with, to see if I had interest getting involved.  Being a person who has trouble saying no, I said that I would at least entertain the thought.  Later that month, at my son’s holiday party, I was approached by another mom about my interest in volunteering and said I would meet with her after winter break to discuss.  We left it at that because I was still working on healing and wasn’t going to be doing any volunteering at the moment.

January rolled around and our coffee date to talk about the fundraiser was approaching.  I didn’t know anything about the fundraiser, simply that it was a school auction.  This alone gave me anxiety because I hate asking people for money.  I really didn’t want to get involved, but again – I’m terrible at saying no.  

That morning, after dropping the kids off at school, before heading to the local coffee shop, I spoke briefly to the woman who initially asked me to volunteer.  In our discussion it was revealed to me that this auction was not a little event, but an event that hosted roughly 400 people and raised more than $125K for the school.  And the position she was recruiting me for was Co-Chair.  What?!?!?!?  This was not at all what I thought I was signing up for.  Not at all.

From the kid’s school to the coffee shop was about a mile.  The entire mile I was rehearsing in my head how I was going to say no.  I did not want to be involved with something so big and time consuming.  I was just starting to feel human again.  I had to start looking for a job.  We didn’t even know if we would be staying here in DC for much longer.  All these thoughts were on repeat in my head.  I was feeling like someone had pulled the rug out from under me.  

I walked in and saw her sitting at a table with the president of the PTA.  I built my confidence up on the way over, but I had to say no quickly, before I lost my nerve.  I said hello to both of them and then let it all out.  I explained that I had no idea that they were looking for a co-chair to such a large event and that I thought they simply needed someone to help out with a small element of the auction.  I went into detail about my recent health issues and my recovery and explained too that I had planned with the new year to start looking for a job to help with the exorbitant expenses that the move to DC had brought along with it.  I expressed that I had felt blindsided and felt bad for saying no, but that there was no part of me that wanted to be involved with this.

They looked stunned.  Both women sincerely apologized that I felt this way and were gracious and understanding of my disinterest in this position.  I felt horrible.  I said, that I would be willing to help in a smaller way, but there was no way that I’d be able to take on a fundraiser of this magnitude at this time.  They both said that they understood, so I sat down, pulled my laptop open, and listened to the PTA President talk about the auction.

She explained that no one had volunteered to chair the event and that they had already paid for the venue for a date that was only 10 weeks away.  She discussed how the money it raised helped the school and described the previous year’s events.  As she spoke I  took prolific notes and my brain started swirling with ideas.  I had even come up with an idea for a theme and a Pinterest board of ideas was brewing in my head.  I had ideas of the roaring 20’s, black and gold, and Great Gatsby swirling around.  By the end of the meeting, I closed my computer and said “I’m in”.  What?!??!  Seriously, what is wrong with me?  Lol.

And not just was committed, I was all in.  But, if we were going to do this, I wanted the fun parts too, not just the project management task.  I asked to take a stab at the design elements this year, rather than outsourcing it to the parent who had done it in year’s past, who is a professional graphic designer.  They seemed a bit hesitant at first, but I assured them if they didn’t like what I designed or if it was too much work for me, that I was totally up for outsourcing without hard feelings.  They agreed.  I also expressed that I wanted to be heavily involved with the decor portion as well, which ironically my co-chair was not interested in at all.  I was pumped.  And, let’s be honest, I had a Pinterest board created within 10 minutes of the meeting ending and I was on my computer designing a logo that night.   

My co-chair and I planned a time to meet later that week and from that day on we pretty much met every day, all day, with a few breaks here in there for pre-planned vacations; albeit if I had known I was going to be doing the auction I probably would have never planned the travel.  For the next few months we would breath, sleep, and eat auction.  

We first started by trying to wrap our heads around the beast.  We had some notes from previous years, but the fundraising went from a traditional silent auction to an online bidding platform the previous year and there was a gap in the notes due to the previous year’s co-chair getting a virus on her computer.  We had so much data to sort through and make sense of.  For the first two weeks we worked solely on creating a team and coming up with a game plan.  We made spreadsheets of previous data, including financial spreadsheets and contacts of vendors, donors, and volunteers.  We started a campaign to find parents to help secure donations and head subcommittees.  And we met with previous auction chairs and volunteers.  Along the way I started a manual for next year’s team, so they wouldn’t find themselves in the same position.

My co-chair and I would create to do lists and sit across from each other working until we had a substantial amount off the list and then we would review it and add more to it for the next day.  This is how we worked. Bite by bite.  

We knew that we were going into this project with some serious disadvantages.  We were both new to the school (me to DC and her to our Ward and school).  Neither of us had attended the school’s auction (and I’d never attended an auction at all!).  We knew close to no one in the neighborhood and had zero connections to businesses or people.  But, we were both stay at home mom’s at the moment and could commit our time and energy towards this project.  We were dedicated and hardworking.

We also worked smashingly well together.  Having only met one time briefly on a class field trip in the fall, we were shocked by the synergistic relationship we created.  Despite the massive amount of work we were doing, we were having fun getting it done.  We also had good timing – meaning that we would both be able to talk each other off the ledge at the right moments and were never ready to Thelma and Louise it at the same time.  Lol.

It also worked to our advantage that I did take on the design work.  This helped us make up some time in regards to our late start because we didn’t have to go through a middleman to get the work done.  If we needed a poster designed and printed or a new header for the website, I did it right then and there and we kept moving forward.  I had gotten permission from the school Communications Team to access their website directly and make any changes I needed.  Who knew that all the work I had done designing my various websites would have come in so handy?  This proved to be a useful skillset!

We slowly got a team together and started delegating.  It may have taken us awhile to get our team together and despite having less volunteers than previous years and getting a late start, we had amazing people.

My co-chair and I had both agreed at the start of this project that our goal was not to make a certain dollar amount (although, there was definitely a hope to do so).  Our goal was simply to have the event, so that it didn’t fall off the calendar, and to do so with positive energy and good spirits.  I think we were able to pass this energy onto our volunteers.  I glow when I think about the people we worked with who were all ready and willing to work hard for us.  They scoured the streets asking for donations for the auction., connected with anybody and everybody they could, and by the time the solicitation deadline rolled around we had matched the previous year’s in donation amounts.  It was unbelievable.  They were truly amazing!  I also worked with two parents as part of my decor team, that truly made my pinterest board come to life.  I had given them some pictures for inspiration and let them run with it and they did not disappoint.  

I still cannot believe how well things came together.  We grossed over $140K and exceeded this year’s estimate, which is fabulous, but what really excited me, was that the actual night of the auction was fabulous!  People seemed to have such a good time.  The theme allowed people to dress up in 20’s attire if they desired and I was shocked at the number of people who did.  There was drinking, there was dancing, and the buzz on the street was that they event was a success.

Right now we just finalizing the last details of the auction.  Reconciling budgets and reimbursements, sending our thank you’s, coordinating with auction winners, and of course reviewing our manual for next year.

To be honest, I’m in a sort of post auction apathy state at the moment.  Lol.  I truly had an amazing time doing it and I’m glad I got involved, but there is a crash after the high.  I also struggle personally with some of the principles and tactics around the fundraiser.  And the socialist and humanitarian pieces of me are saddened that this is what it takes to have an “A” school in DC and that it doesn’t offer an even playing field for the children in communities that do not have the wealth advantage.  Sigh.  
My co-chair and I both agree that there are a lot of things we would encourage to change if we were to do this again in the future, but I’m glad that I was encouraged to do this, and that I did not end up saying no.  

Overall it was a great event and it provided me with a strong sense of community and some awesome new friends.   It is amazing going from knowing only a handful of faces to walking in a room at a school function and being greeted with hugs and handshakes from a majority of people.  That’s a win in my book.

 

 

BEST SELF, BREAST IMPLANT ILLNESS, GRATITUDE, HEALTH, LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH

Back to Life // Recovery Update

04/10/2017

It has been roughly two and a half months since I wrote last.  It would be an understatement to say that life has kept me busy.  But this is a great thing, because I feel like I am back to normal.

The healing process from the surgery was a greater feat than I had anticipated both physically and financially, but for the most part, it is a thing of the past.  Bills are still streaming in, I continue to have some residual numbness in the sides of my chest that may or not may change over time, and of course aesthetically I am still healing, but I am okay with all of this.  

In regards to the symptoms though, I am back to my old self.  It feels almost unreal to say that!  Since the surgery on November 2nd of last year (so, 5 months ago), I have not had any bouts of fatigue.  My brain fog is gone!  I mean – COMPLETELY GONE!!!!  I am clear headed with energy!  My hair has stopped falling out.  No unexplained joint pain.  I have not had any flare ups of the Costochondritis – which to me was shocking as I expected to have a flare up as a result of the invasive work that was done to my chest or even triggered by the stress surrounding the procedure and recovery.  I also have not fallen into any deep periods of depression.  Although, to be 100% honest, I do feel like I have been going through an existential crisis of sorts, which is another article altogether, but it is not the same as the overarching depression I had felt in the past.  I feel like I have a new lease on life and answers to why I felt so poor in the past.  

Going into the explant surgery I was not 100% sure that this would be the answer, but I knew that in order to have a fair baseline, I needed to go through with it.  The recovery process beat me down and had me question every decision I had ever made related to my health.  But in the end, with enough time behind me and enough care to my body, I now can say confidently that the breast implants were without a doubt in my mind influencing my body negatively and I am so glad to have them out.  This will not be the experience of every individual with breast implants.  Some women are very lucky and never have a bad day after implants, but there are others of us that experience these adverse effects to our health and I want people who may be suffering to know that it is real and there is an answer.  

And to others out there that have health issues that may not be related to implants, do not stop being your own advocate.  No one knows your body better than you do.  You must advocate for your health, but you also must be honest with yourself about the way you treat your body.  Sometimes all we need is a major lifestyle overhaul.  It was when I started eating fresh, healthy, unprocessed foods daily, getting adequate sleep, removing stressors and toxins, and exercising regularly and still suffering significantly that I could authentically listen to my body and hear it screaming that something was truly wrong.  After that, finding a group of supportive women and getting my family on board was crucial.  Not everyone has that gift, but there is usually some sort of support out there – you just need to look – or ask.

Since recovering from surgery, I had the opportunity to take on a major fundraiser at the children’s school which wound up being more time consuming than a full time job, but highlighted how successful the surgery was.  I’ll write more about the actual fundraiser in another article, but I used my brain in ways that I hadn’t in so long.  I partnered up with an awesome individual and we dove headfirst into a sea of spreadsheets, developed creative campaigns, designed a plan for food, decor, and entertainment, and managed an incredible team of parents for a wonderfully successful event supporting the school.  My brain was able to meet the challenge and not only did I meet the challenge, I thrived!  I felt better than I had in years.  And on top of that, I started getting up at 6 am to do a daily HIIT workout while doing the fundraiser.  The biggest evidence of my success though, was my husband making mention of how much better I was doing.  When he notices the change, I know it is major!

All I can say, is it’s great to be back 😉  Hugs to everyone who supported me through this journey.  Thank you for your love and support.  No matter how big or small – it all added up and I’m grateful.  Now, my focus is on the next phase of my life.  We are refocusing our efforts on healthy eating, fitness, and sleep.  I’ve even got talked into throwing myself into the Marine Corp Marathon Lottery this past month, by my crazy sole sister and marathon partner – Danielle, and we BOTH GOT IN!!!!  So I am starting my training today – and on that note, I will wrap this up.  I am so excited to write more about life and our journey soon!  Love to all!

HAPPINESS, LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH

Finding Home

01/27/2017

I am struggling, and have been for a while, with the idea of finding “home”.  It is an unsettling feeling, which I alluded to in a past post, and the planner in me is having a hard time sitting with it.  I feel like I have a finite amount of time to figure out what our “home” plan is before our lease ends and we recommit to something just due to need.  Yet, ironically I find myself wanting so badly to place down roots, that I witness myself trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  And with this behavior I am bound to wind up even more stuck than if we simply wait to make a move.

If I had it to do all over again, I would travel more before settling down and ideally live somewhere new.  I never quite felt at home in Florida, perhaps because I had never lived anywhere else and I always yearned to be somewhere new and exciting.  Despite my strong desire to attend college out of state, I was highly encouraged to stay in Florida due to financial benefits (full in-state scholarship).  I struggle with this at times, but understanding the steep price of college (especially out of state tuition), I get why my parents thwarted my efforts to leave.  

After college, I bought a house close to the University in which I lived in for 7 years before moving into a larger home (for my expanding family) only 15 minutes away.  Becoming a property owner so young had its benefits.  While others my age where spending money on rent, my home became an investment I was eventually able to pay off.  But – it also came with one major disadvantage – it kept me in Florida.  Having two dogs by 23 also limited my travel as I either had to find someone to watch them or I ended up paying a hefty price to board them.  My parents often helped out when they could, but needless to say, I was not off seeing the country.  

I think traveling more – specifically spending time in other parts of the country – could have been beneficial in helping me understand what I may want from a “home”.  There are so many parts of the country I haven’t even seen – what if that’s where I am supposed to be?

I have a friend who found herself in the same stuck feeling and is currently traveling the country with her husband and three kids in a motorhome for the next year trying to figure out their “what’s next”.  In fact, if you are interested, here is a link to her musings.  I have to say, I’m a bit jealous, but mostly in awe of their commitment to taking life by the horns and trying something new regardless of the risk and discomfort it may cause.

I want to do this too.  But then, fear creeps in.  Or other people’s voices.  And I let it get to me.  

The problem is, that I am not a single 22 year old girl anymore.  I now have more variables to consider.  My husband, his job, my employment potentials, cost of living, our kids, school systems, our extended family…it’s overwhelming.

If there were no constructs in my way I would pack up all my stuff and move to Colorado tomorrow.  It is the only place I’ve ever been that I felt made me feel alive.  Every single time I have been there – even when young – I’ve wanted to stay.

After a family trip out there this past spring (and then a solo trip for me in August), my husband and I decided at summer’s end that Colorado was it.  This was where we were going to go at the end of the school year.

But, as the months pass by and job opportunities don’t seem to line up, it gets more and more difficult to make that decision.  Do we just leave our jobs and hope for the best?   Do we find really low cost housing and simply get part time jobs while we try to create new opportunities for ourselves by starting our own companies?  And this is only one barrier.  Even more challenging (emotionally at least) is moving either farther from family.  Colorado is not a quick trip from the east coast, nor is it a cheap one.  I realize that we would almost be ostracizing ourselves if we moved out there.  There wouldn’t be any quick weekend trips back to Florida to visit my family, or drives to the mountains of North Carolina to visit my husband’s.  The visits from family would dwindle significantly and I am not sure if we’d have any friends make the trek out there.  

I think about this all the time.  It keeps me up at night.  

Why do I feel so pulled to go out there?  Am I simply glamorizing it?  My mother would probably say so, lol.  But my cousins who live out there swear that it is one of the most amazing places to live.  And honestly, most everyone who I’ve ever spoken to about my desire to move to CO talks about how amazing it is.  Perhaps it’s the high altitude and legalized marijuana…lol (I kid, I kid – I do not even partake in such extracurricular activities).    But, the phrase “the mountains are calling and I must go” is how I feel.  Colorado makes my heart sing.

At the same time it breaks my heart to feel so pulled to move to a place that would take me so far from my family and friends – specifically our parents and siblings (because I do have an awesome aunt and cousins in CO).  I feel ridden with guilt for even wanting to go.  Living in DC has given us some idea of what it is like to be away from family, but we are still spoiled with low cost flights from FL to DC and parents that are more than willing to make the trek.  We’ve even hosted several friends since our move. What happens when the flights are 3-4xs as high and the length of time it takes to get out to us is multiplied?  On top of that, my father in law doesn’t fly – and driving to CO from the east coast is no easy feat.  

But, should that stop us?  

I just don’t know.

I keep trying to fall in love with DC enough to truly want to stay.  And perhaps I would be in love enough if the prices were more reasonable.  I honestly really like living here!  There are so many benefits.  We live in a great area of diversity & culture.  We are only a short drive to the mountains, the beaches, and amazing cities.  But then I dive into the hunt for a home and I just feel like we are giving up so much by staying.  Do I really like it enough to sacrifice so much?  But wouldn’t I be sacrificing if I moved to Colorado? And is Colorado really the answer?  Or would I just find myself in the same confused state, just farther from loved ones?

On one hand I think – you only live once…take a risk!  And then on the other hand I think – you only live once…spend it with the ones you love.  

The only thing I know, is that despite my family and friends being there, Florida does not feel like home.  But that just makes me feel even more lost.

Sigh.

I guess I should go meditate.

BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, MY TRUTH

Happy Belated New Year

01/24/2017

Life has been busy the last several weeks.  With the holidays, the New Year, vacation, and just life in general, we have definitely kept very busy here in DC.  I’m grateful to say that I have been feeling well and that my energy level is back to normal, if not better levels than pre-surgery.  I am still working on a couple of hurdles in my recovery in regards to range of motion and pain in my pectoral muscles, but with time I am optimistic that these things will heal as well.  Although the surgery and recovery process did not go as I expected, I still think the outcome was worth it.

Today’s post is more about getting back on the horse after a good amount of time not writing, and playing a bit of catch-up.  I have sat down to write this post many times, but I get caught up in my to do list and it never gets done.  I also recently got talked into co-chairing a HUGE auction for my children’s school in DC, which is proving to be a full time job and then some. 

The past month and a half has been a bit of a whirlwind.  We celebrated our first Christmas in another state, which came with its own challenges, but also its own rewards.  It was hard to be away from family during the holiday.  I haven’t felt homesick all that often since I moved, just random days where I am  triggered by some sort of event.  The holidays stirred up a lot more feelings of homesickness.  But if I’m really honest, I think it was less about missing “home” and more that I didn’t feel like we had a choice.  My husband had extremely limited time off and it was quite expensive to get tickets back to Florida.  I had even looked up flights home to surprise my parents on Christmas morning, but the cost was excessive!  Even if we could have traveled, we would have been torn between our two families since they reside in different states.  

In addition, staying in town meant that the responsibility of Christmas fell largely, if not solely, on me.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a wonderful Christmas.  I was feeling a lot of guilt that the kids couldn’t be with their Grandparents and cousins for the holiday and focused my anxiety on finding the “perfect” gifts for my kids (even finding myself in East Baltimore after a wild goosechase for Ellie’s dream toy).  This spurred even more anxiety as I battled the dichotomy between my desire to find the perfect gift and my current efforts to declutter and minimalize.

I wasn’t sure what to do for our holiday food either.  My kids kept talking about the “holiday feast” that they were imaging, but as we are eating mostly plant-based foods,  I did not even know where to start.  I felt overwhelmed and unsure.  To make life a little bit easier, I suggested that we have Christmas Eve dinner out at a restaurant and pick up our “main entrees” for Christmas dinner at Whole Foods and that I would take care of the sides.  My husband and kids picked out cheese lasagna and I opted for tofu “chicken” and I completed these meals with roasted brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, and gluten free stuffing.  

In the end, Christmas turned out to be quite delightful.  We really tried to be present on Christmas morning, balancing the opening of Christmas gifts with an overall gratitude for our general life gifts. We discussed our blessings and what the holidays were all about.  Even though we couldn’t be with our extended family, we were really enjoying the time we had – just the four of us.

After Christmas, we made a last-minute decision to take a small vacation. We couldn’t figure out what we wanted to do for our 9 year Wedding Anniversary that weekend since the one babysitter we have found in DC was away for the holidays, so we decided to drive an hour and a half north into Pennsylvania to go skiing.  We went to a small resort called Whitetail and used hotel points to decrease the cost of our adventure.  We were also able to take advantage of a lot of great deals for first-timers at this mountain and it really paid off!  The mountain was not very busy and our group lessons turned into private lessons because they had so few people signed up as compared to the number of instructors that they had on for that weekend.

The weekend trip to the mountains really increased the value of living in DC. We have talked about moving out to Colorado for the past couple of years, but are conflicted because the travel back and forth to our family would be more challenging in both cost and time.  Being able to get to a mountain, albeit much smaller, in only an hour and a half really changed our view of living on the East Coast. We had an amazing trip – probably one of the best vacations we’ve had, and left with fond memories!

On the way home from Pennsylvania, we started discussing the option of staying in the DC area.  We talked about benefits and compromises we would have to make.  When we arrived home we took several day trips around DC and the surrounding Virginia area to start looking at areas where we may be able to see ourselves living.  We got excited about the prospect of having a home again.  Although there are a lot of benefits of renting, I definitely feel a strong pull to plant roots.  I find this difficult as a renter.  It is a new feeling and I’m trying to wrap my head and heart around it.  Looking for a property in the DC area is such a different experience than looking for a home in Florida.  The prices of the homes are astronomical.    For what we purchased our 2,200 square foot home, with A+ schools, swimming pool, two car garage, and backyard, we can afford a 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment in our current neighborhood.  If we want to remain in the good school zones the prices are pretty comparable across the district – and in some cases even go up!  Then there is the challenge of finding a property that allows dogs.

We started looking in Northern Virginia as well.  Areas such as Burke, Alexandria, Springfield, Falls Church, Vienna…to name a few.  The problem is, that although this increases the square footage some, the prices are still exorbitant.  Unless you are willing to increase your commute significantly the prices stay relatively high – especially as compared to where we came from in Florida.  The search for a home has left us questioning so much about what we want and need.  Weighing the pros and cons of a house vs a condo and a commute vs walkability.  We have only begun our search and we may end up simply renting for another year – only time will tell.

Another exciting experience that we have had in the last few weeks is that we received our first snowfall since living in DC.  We had a couple flutters earlier in the week, but nothing that stuck.  Two weeks ago, we had actual snow!  REAL SNOW!!!  We watched it come down from our window and waited till there was enough on the ground to play in.  The kids layered up with all their winter clothes on and headed downstairs with the dogs.  We spent a good hour playing in the snow.  The kids loved it.  And so did I.  We are having a mild winter thus far – with only one snowy weekend.  I feel silly that I was ever worried because I really love it. It is so amazing to have seasons. I went my entire life not understanding seasons and what they meant. Living in Florida we really only have one temperature – hot and I am not racing back any time soon, despite being away from family and friends.  Lol. 

We actually got to take a quick trip down to Florida to visit with some family and friends, although we didn’t get to see everyone due to time constraints.  With the holidays behind us, we were able to get a good deal on flights and the kids had off Thursday and Friday due to the inauguration – which pretty much closes down DC.  I’m hoping I can take advantage of future deals and see everyone I wasn’t able to see this trip.  Seeing family and friends definitely filled a void I was feeling – and it is always bittersweet  to say goodbye – but I can honestly say that Florida doesn’t feel like home anymore.  I’m not sure if I’d call DC my home just yet either.  I guess I’m feeling a bit nomadic at the moment.  Being in this in between state is a new personal challenge for me.  Trusting in the process is not something I do naturally and so it takes a lot of work and self reflection to help navigate through these ever changing feelings.  All I can do at the moment is take things day by day and believe that life has a way of working itself out.  😉