Tuesday, May 17, 2011

30x30: May check-in

Greetings! I finally come with my good news. :) I must start by saying that I have been abundantly blessed over the last few weeks. It's like God has said "hey, yeah, sorry about the past 10 months or so. Let me make it up to you". I know this fabulous streak will not last forever, but I'm riding it out for as long as possible and savoring every moment of it! Yesterday was so ridiculously over the top great, I joked that I was "Reaganing". Much of what happened is not fit for the blog (too difficult to explain, or just better told in person), but I can say work was great, opportunities popped up, plans came together, attitudes were warm and helpful, and to top it all off, just before heading to bed, the lovely Jill bought me a book I had been drooling over (many many squealing/shocked thank you's). I never thought I would say this, but it is a very good thing I didn't see an adorable puppy yesterday. My head would have exploded. In a good way.

The biggest piece if news is that James has been accepted to the PhD program here, at Brandeis. He is fully funded for 5 years. For James, this means that he finally gets to take the last step in his education, that will end with him having an opportunity to pursue teaching, which has been his dream/plan for years. For us, this means we know where we will be for an extended period time, so we can settle into life. Also, we now will stop giving money to school, and start getting it. :) Yay for the chance to pay down our student loans! For me, this means I can finally look at my personal & professional goals, and begin to shape those. Sticking around and having more financial stability is allowing me to take my own steps toward my dreams. With that, I'll begin an update on my 30x30:

Decide my next career path:
Weeeeeee! As I said before, with the funding from the program, we will be a bit more financially stable next year. Because of this, I have the freedom to do something I have wanted to do for a long time: pursue photography! I will still work as a nanny, but only part-time. This will free up much of my week to build the business and see if I have what it takes. I have also been interested in a nursing program, but I know that this is the best time in my life to push my photography, and if I never try, I will always wonder. I have decided to take one year really trying to get business off the ground. This time next year, I can re-evaluate. If things are picking up, I can continue with my business and pull back a bit more from my other job. If I have not had enough success to continue confidently, I will know I have tried, bring it back to hobby/freelance, and begin looking into nursing. I am very excited about this opportunity and I can't wait to see how this year shapes up. In addition to that, I may have an opportunity to coordinate a limited amount of events. The Mad Hatter Tea Party that I coordinated for Kate's 7th birthday was a huge hit. Multiple parents have told me I need to market myself to do this on the side, and I am receiving a lot of support from others. I am not sure how all of this will pan out, but I love and miss event planning, so I look forward to the potential of an additional creative & lucrative outlet. :)

Surprise someone:
This one was vague, and I hope to find other ways to pleasantly surprise people, buuuuut... I'm happy to officially check it off. I had a fortunate stroke of serendipity, and the timing of my recent trip to CA overlapped with my dear old friends surprise birthday party. :) That was enjoyable.

Spot a classic Boston celebrity:
I saw Mark Wahlberg! :) He is filming a new comedy in town, and I came across information for where they were filming, so my friend Mary & I had a good goofy wander past the set before we headed to brunch. I really wanted to ask him to say hi to his mutha for me. Sadly, I do not have a picture of Marky Mark, as I didn't want to be one of those obnoxious people who go all paparazzi, but I do have a picture from outside the set that I may post later. This was the goal I thought would be the least likely, so I was super giddy. Of course, now that I have 5 more years, my fingers are still crossed for Affleck. ;)

Ok, now a quick opinion needed. Due to my ankle being stubborn, there is a chance that I won't be able to accomplish my goal of running a full 5k. I'm speaking to my Dr about it at my next appt. My ankle is looking good, but it may never fully bounce back, so attempting to be a runner may not be the wisest idea. Should my Doctor agree, I am curious... do I stick with the 5k idea and walk jog the best I can? Or do I set a new and more realistic fitness goal? I would LOVE some ideas. Seriously. If I make adjustments, I should try soon!

I look forward to checking in next month. My TOMS will likely be purchased next week, I have coffeeshop plans, and summer is looking prime for wrapping this thing up! :) Also, my bday plans are forming... but that's for another day, another post. Until then... thanks for caring enough to read & respond, I hope you all are equally blessed!

1. Purchase a pair Warby Parker Glasses
2. Drink a cold Sam Adams while looking at a "cold" Sam Adams
3. Go to Wilmington and take cheesy photos :)
4. Take the trolley to Doyle's
5. Attend an author signing
6. Skate at
Frog Pond
7. Work through my french text book
8. Attend one of Boston's quirky brunch options
9. Check a new state off the list (virginia beach)
10. Complete the
Independent coffeeshops of Boston list (8 down, 5 to go)
11. Hug James as much as possible!
12. Decide my next career path
13. See Grace Potter & the Nocturnals in concert
14. Run a full 5k
15. Photograph the Polar plunge
16. Send more letters and cards
17. Own a pair of
18. Cook Julia Childs Poulet au Porto with Artichokes & hollandaise sauce (successfully)
19. Sing along with Carols by Candlelight at Trinity church
20. Watch the Godfather trilogy

21. Surprise someone
22. Take the girls to the Zoo (it keeps eluding us)
23. Enjoy a trip with James that does not involve work, school, or anybody we know!
24. Learn how to whistle loudly
25. Make good use of my library card
26. Swim in
Walden Pond
27. Spot a classic Boston celebrity
28. Camp @
Boston Harbor Islands
29. Complete the
Walks of Greater Boston list (one more completed, a few to go).
30. Be tumor free!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gopnik Wisdom

I take a brief moment from my blissful day of rest to share with you these words from the consistently brilliant Adam Gopnik. I will share more about his work in the future, because his writing makes my heart soar. These words were so perfect for my morning, I figured that a few of you could connect with this as well. These were taken from his book Through the Children's Gate, which I have underlined so heavily I may never be able to loan it out. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

A mixed bag of emotions

I was speechless last night. For those who know me personally, you know how rare that is. As per usual, my shock upon hearing the news of OBL's death caused me to crack a quick, lame, slightly inappropriate joke. In my defense, I can't hear the word America without at least quietly sining "fuck yeah!"... it's a curse. Moments later, the news sunk in. I couldn't speak. I couldn't sort out how to feel. I didn't celebrate. I didn't cheer. I thought of waking up on my birthday nearly 10 years ago and spending it in a haze of confusion and heartache. I remembered visiting Ground Zero just 3 months after, the teddy bear of a missing girl resting against the fence, a visual seared forever into my memory. I sat quietly and thought of the stories my former co-workers shared about their experiences living in Manhattan on 9/11. I reflected on that pain that our country has suffered at the hand of this man. The fear we all have lived in, relationships damaged by political bickering, the innocent Muslims mistreated due to ignorance, and of course, families and friends torn apart because of the deaths of those fighting in this war. I let all of this flood my mind, not knowing how to feel. At last, I merely sank into the relief that I no longer had to think about this man. I have no idea if this is related, but last night was the best I have slept in months.

I knew I was taking a risk when I opened my laptop this morning. I wanted to read more. I wanted to become a part of the community who was celebrating. I hoped that my community would, if only for a day, be able to focus on relief and joy . This war is not over, but, for a short time, we have reason to feel peace. We have reason to put everything else aside and share in each others relief. In President Obama's speech last night, he spoke of how we came together as a country during great tragedy:

We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community, and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we pray to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

Was I naive to hope that just as we can unite within our suffering, we can also unite within our relief? I suppose I was. I knew that the reactions to this news would be varying and strong. Within moments of signing on to Facebook and Twitter, my heart began to hurt, and my speech returned to me.

I never expected to feel elated over the news, as I have never been able to celebrate death. For me, thinking of 9/11 is sobering. Bin Laden's death is merely a reminder of what led to this day. To quote a Huffington Post article a friend posted as I type this: "His death is satisfying not only because of what he did, but because it prevents him from doing any more violence in the future in the name of religion". I believe that his death or capture was necessary, but I do not revel in death. I do not rejoice in the fall. Having said that, I am sympathetic to those who genuinely feel joy and closure. Then I see it... "Welcome to Hell, Bin Laden". Jubilee that "we got his sons too". In this moment, my heart broke for our country. Again. I have thrown out every expletive in the book, but I never have told someone to go to hell. As a person of faith, I take this seriously. I know EVERYONE is capable of evil. I always hope for redemption, though I know that often it never comes. I agree that justice needs to be served, but when it must be served in this manner, it still breaks my heart. Because Osama deserves to be there does not make it a joyous truth. I will never acknowledge someone being in hell with anything but heartbreak; for the reasons they are there, for the pain inflicted on others, and also for the brokenness that led a person to live a life where that sentence is considered justice. There is nothing joyous about that. I will never witness those around me gleefully welcoming a man and his family to hell without feeling sorrow and disgust. When I see that, I see our own ugliness and evil. It may be what is necessary, but it is tragic all the same.

What I am encountering the most is people using this to bicker. We have become so divided as a nation, so offensive in our communication, so egocentric in our world views, that instead of letting this information sink in, people comment on Bin Ladens death and then insult their opposing political party in the next breath. People are arguing over which President should get what percentage of "the win". They ignore Obama thanking the tireless efforts of our military, and quoting Bush in his speech, and claim he gives nobody credit but himself. Frankly, I think drawing attention to those arguments is insulting to those in the military. If a person wants to give credit that strongly, let them be all that is discussed. Why not simply shine the spotlight on those who served, instead of using their service as a way to get people to take a side? I'm watching comment threads fill with conspiracy theories (some new, some terribly threadbare). Status updates are filled with people managing to take this news and use it as a platform for every political issue that they always gripe about. How is this helpful? How is this necessary? What does it say about our minds and souls if our first instinct if to use this information to promote our own motives? I believe these times bring out what is truly at our core, and I'm brought to tears by what I am observing today.

No matter your feelings towards the news, this is a time where everybody should be able to sit in peace, if just for a moment. To celebrate, perhaps not celebrate death and destruction, but the fact we can hope to at least be a step closer to ending this horrible chapter of our nations history. This morning, I am filled with grief again. I have seen how torn apart we really are. I have seen how selfishly we still prioritize. I have sat here heartbroken, taken in the vitriol, and wondered how long we will continue on this way. Extremism brought this tragedy to our country, and now we let our own extremism continue to keep us at war with each other. It is my naive hope that we can try to unite as a country. I feel that until we can learn to respect, to consider, to love each other, we will never win.

I close with a quote from the same article mentioned before. Here is the link for those who want to read the post in its entirety: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/celebrating-a-death_b_856124.html

"So, let us mute our celebrations. Let any satisfaction be grim and grounded in the foundation of justice for all who have suffered at bin Laden's bloody hands. And also justice for crimes against God -- for using God as an instrument of terror and and promoting distrust between peoples of different religions and nations. Let us put bin Laden's body in the ground, and in doing so bury his disastrous and blasphemous religious legacy."