Published on July 1, 2014, by
*Europe planning continues!  While I research train passes and cheap eats, please enjoy a flashback to our time in Hawaii.*
When people ask me what I liked best about the Big Island, I don’t have to think about it – it’s the snorkeling!  And the best thing about the snorkeling?  We saw SO MANY turtles!  When we went to Maui the year before, we saw 1 or 2 turtles and it was mind blowing.  It was one of our highlights (along with almost being breached on by a whale – such a cool trip).  On the Big Island, I think we may have seen a dozen.  It was almost barely notable by the end – oh, hey, there goes another sea turtle.
Hawaii Sea Turtle
On our first day on the island, we saw 2 or 3 turtles just hanging out by a wall while we were walking down the street.  If we’d been wearing the right gear, we could have just hopped in and hung out with them.  A couple days later when we attempted to swim at the ugly, gray sand beach near our condo, we saw another turtle just chilling on the rocks.  Maybe he had also heard about the shark sighting?  When we went back a few days later, we saw 2 more turtles there.  We finally got close to some turtles at the first beach where we snorkeled, Kua Bay.  At one point, we think there were 5 turtles eating around some big rocks near the shore.
Turtles at Kua Bay
We saw another turtle at Beach 69, my favorite of all the beaches we visited.  It was a long drive – you couldn’t get there without a rental car – but there were fewer people, easy parking, and a lot of shade.  There were so many trees that you could barely see the water from the parking lot, but when you finally got a peek… WOW!  It was that glowing turquoise blue that you see in ads for impossibly gorgeous resorts.
Beach 69, Hawaii
That color is real and it’s all over the Big Island (to compare to Maui yet again, the Big Island has much more clear, prettier, and warmer water with weaker currents).  We set all our stuff up under a tree and got in the water expecting nothing in particular – it looked like a regular sand beach to me.  But as soon as we started to venture towards the rocky areas, we found an amazing coral garden.  It was stunning – tropical fish were everywhere, dodging as you swam at them, darting around colorful coral formations.  We even found a little hidden beach in a cove!  I kept losing the group because I was too enthralled with my surroundings (and I’m also an idiot – NEVER EVER lose your snorkel buddies, it could be way dangerous), but Tim and his brother Ted saw a fish that changed colors to match the sand.  I saw a few pufferfish, which are my favorites.  And I followed a turtle around for a while, just to see where he’d go.
Yellow Tang at Beach 69
I felt like Ariel!  If a crab and a seagull had started singing to me, I would not have been surprised.  I’ve wanted to be a mermaid since I was 8 years old and saw Splash, so this was pretty much a dream come true.
Snorkeling at Kua Bay

Clearly I’m NOT a mermaid!

Kua Bay and Beach 69 were self guided snorkels where we pretty much lucked into seeing decent sealife.  If you’ve never snorkeled before, I wouldn’t recommend it – you’re better off starting with a tour group.  We did a tour on our final day – I think it was 5 or 6 hours long and went to 3 locations with some scenic stops in between.
Lavarock beach in Hawaii
We saw our first turtle at our first stop, almost immediately.  I believe it was Kealakekua Bay but I’m not 100% on that. The area where we jumped in was very deep and there wasn’t a ton to see.  Like the other snorkel tours I’ve been on, this one started at the least impressive spot.  We were swimming for just a few minutes before we saw a very large sea turtle swimming up from the bottom, slowly and gracefully. He was practically posing for us and I got one of the best turtle pictures of the trip.  After exploring a bit more, I found a much smaller turtle and followed him around for a bit.  I love the way that turtles swim – they’re slow and easily knocked around by currents, almost clumsy (especially in the rough waves around the eating rock at Kua Bay), and yet still somehow dignified and cool.  They truly, literally go with the flow, and they don’t seem to mind being knocked off course a bit.  I could take a lesson from these guys, I tell ya.
DSCF0596
Our two other stops on that tour were Place of Refuge and the renowned Captain Cook’s monument.  I didn’t see any turtles there, but they were incredibly beautiful.  They both had clear water and huge reefs with tons of fish.  Captain Cook’s was particularly impressive – we saw spinner dolphins and a giant eel, among other neat things – but it was also very crowded with people.  I wouldn’t skip it, but I’d definitely do a snorkel tour that went to more than just Capt Cook’s.
School of fish at Captain Cook's Monument
Sidenote: I really loved the tour company we went with, but I’ve completely forgotten their name.  The boat was nice, the food was good, and the crew were kind and very funny.  There was a hilarious incident that involved Tim peeing off the back of the boat but he might get mad if I write about it, so shhhhh.  Anyway, I’ll update when I remember the name because they deserve a shout out.
Tim and Ted on the Tourboat
So, not all the places where we swam had turtles, but they did all have one particular species of fish – Rhinecanthus rectangulus. HumuhumunukunukuāpuaʻaThe rectangular triggerfish, otherwise known as Hawaii’s state fish.  These little guys and their other triggerfish cousins, like the Picasso, Lagoon, Black, and Lei triggerfish, are all over the place.  We saw them in every place we snorkeled.  They look pretty harmless, don’t they?  With their long, odd triangle snouts and the eyes so high up on their little fish faces.  They certainly don’t look like they could bite you with their tiny little toothless mouths.  And yet…
Triggerfish
Let me back up and say that Tim’s brother Ted was worried about sharks.  He was a bit on the paranoid side.  I have to give him credit, it never stopped him from getting in the water, but he was extra wary.  Who would have thought he had to be worried about being attacked by a triggerfish?!
We were finally able to go for a swim at the aforementioned ugly beach near our hotel.  What we found out when we stuck our heads under water was that while the beach, called Kahalu’u Beach Park, wasn’t very nice looking, the underwater part was beautiful.  There was no current because of a sea wall and there were coral, rocks, and fish EVERYWHERE.  It was like sticking your head in an aquarium.
Fish on the Big Island of Hawaii

This wasn’t taken at our ugly beach – I didn’t expect much from it so I didn’t bring my camera that day!

I have vivid memories of going to work with my mom as a child and being totally captivated by the aquarium one of the lawyers had in his office.  If we went in on weekends, I’d break into his office just to look at it.  He had a triggerfish, yellow tang, butterflyfish, wrasse, pufferfish, and even a little moray eel.
Guess what we saw at Kahalu’u?  Triggerfish, yellow tang, butterflyfish, wrasse, pufferfish, and moray eel.  All much bigger than they had been in Mister Lawyerguy’s tank and not at all freaked out that a bunch of weird humans were swimming beside them.  These fish had almost no fear, which is what lead to one of them getting stepped on.
Pufferfish at Beach 69
Accidentally, while standing on some rocks and trying to get our bearings, Ted stepped on an eel that had been hiding out.  It got understandably mad and swam away.  A few minutes later, Ted felt something pull on his reef shoe and thought he caught it on something.  Then it happened again.  Then it happened to Tim.  Then I swam up and it happened to me.  When we got a look at what was going on, we saw a rectangular triggerfish trying to bite our toes!  We kept shaking him off but he kept coming back for more.  The little guy just didn’t want to give up!  We’re pretty sure the eel enlisted his friend for a bit of revenge.  We got a good laugh out of it – who gets attacked by a triggerfish?  After we got back, we found out that it’s pretty common.  In fact, a friend of Tim’s mom had been “bitten” by a triggerfish at the exact same beach years earlier.  Turns out they’re very aggressive, so beware – the bigger ones, like titan triggerfish, can actually do some damage because they have a hard ridge over their mouths.  If it’s a small one and you’re wearing reef shoes, let the hilarity ensue.
The fish attack inspired Tim’s mom to gift us a tile with a triggerfish on it, which I absolutely love.  Whenever I look at it, I think about the surprise of that underwater world – a nasty gray beach hiding a wonderful coral garden that housed all the pretty tropical fish I stared at when I was a kid, plus a few fearless sea turtles and one very pissed off triggerfish.
In the next installment of my random Hawaiian musings, I’ll talk about everything we did and ate outside the water.  And because I couldn’t fit in all the snorkeling pics I took, here’s a slideshow!  (I used a very cheap underwater camera and have done no image processing – I hope you’ll forgive me for that.)
 
Published on June 21, 2014, by

I pretty much just got back from Belfast and it’s already time to start to counting down to the next adventure!  In exactly 11 weeks, I’ll be on my way to Europe with Tim and my mom.  We initially planned the trip to meet up with my aunt, but now it looks like she may not be able to join us.  And that mean we have to re-plan everything!  We’ve got to decide on an itinerary, figure out how to get from place to place, book hostels and hotels, research places to eat and shop, and buy backpacks and travel equipment.  There’s a lot to think about and not a lot of time to do it in!  I love travel research but whoa.

My #1 most anticipated place on our itinerary - Cinque Terre as photographed by Felipe Beiza on Flickr

My #1 most anticipated place on our itinerary – Cinque Terre as photographed by Felipe Beiza on Flickr

So here’s what I already know.

We’ll be going to:

  • Brussels
  • Bruge
  • Luxembourg
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Cinque Terre
  • Freiburg
  • Munich
  • Amsterdam

We may need to put a city in between Paris and Rome, and one in between Munich and Amsterdam – we haven’t decided yet!  We’ve got only 20 days, we don’t want to put too much stuff in, but since it’s likely the only European trip my mom will take, we need to make the most of it.  It’s a tough balance.

I’m excited to get started with the day-to-day planning!  I’m also looking forward to digging into information for a true traveler, not just a casual vacationer – like travel backpacks and shoes, easy rinse clothes, rail passes, cheap eats… things for the wanderer.  It will good practice for next year, when I wander through Spain, and hopefully for wandering through Thailand and Vietnam in the future, too.  Yep, I’m really going to make a dent in my 10 countries goal!

 
Published on June 3, 2014, by

I’m sitting in the Boston airport trying to process all that’s happened in the last 9 weeks.  The bustle of the airport, the smells of the food court, the nauseating pit in my stomach – I just don’t have the mental capacity to tell you what Belfast has meant to me.  I might not have that fully sorted out for a few weeks or even months.  Maybe in a year, I’ll know for sure how the Belfast experience has changed me.  But for now, here’s what I’ve got:

I knew before I left that this would be a significant event in my life, but I could not have predicted how proud I would feel at the end of it.  Do you remember when I said that this was my year to be fearless?  I really took that to heart.  I did things that truly scared me, not the least of which was living in a foreign country for 2 months.

I walked across a high rope bridge in high winds – TWICE.

I sang karaoke in front of a sassy tranny and a room full of strangers.

I paid for things with an American credit card (everyone in the UK hates that, FYI).

I actively volunteered to do things that I was scared of just to challenge myself – and I was fine!  I even had fun!

But there was a sense of fearlessness that was subconscious as well.  I have long considered myself “not good at making friends.”  I’m afraid to approach people and I feel like I’m socially awkward.  I have an imposter complex and I always feel like I’m the odd one out.  So I don’t put myself out there, at least not all the way.  I’m not always authentic is what I’m saying.

But on this trip, I was authentic.  I couldn’t be anything else – we worked long hours and were so stressed, I didn’t have energy to keep my boundaries up.  I was just – me.  Though it may not sound like it, that was fearlessness at work!  And I was fine!

I made friends.  Good friends, people who I can’t wait to see again, who genuinely liked me.  I’m kind of blown away by that.  And I caught up with an old friend at the end of my trip, someone who REALLY knows me and knows all the things I’ve been through.  She knew me when I was the worst version of myself – it doesn’t get much more authentic than that.  And she still likes me anyway.

The most important take away for me from this trip is that I was, ultimately, just fine.  I could leave everyone I know and everything I love with just a backpack and a suitcase and I would be just fine.  I could start a new job in a new place where I don’t know anyone, I could live on my own again, I could start over – and I would be just fine.

That’s an incredibly powerful thing to learn about myself.  Now I just have to remember it.

 
Published on April 27, 2014, by

belfastskyline.jpg

Remember how I said I wanted to post every day from Belfast?  Well, I have been – just not on this blog.  I created a microblog that would work with a mobile app so I could create mini entries from my phone.  It’s an excellent app and I like how that blog is shaping up.  The problem is that I haven’t had the time or energy to transfer the stuff from there to here.

So, to find out about the first 3+ weeks of my Belfast adventure, for now you’ll have to visit this link:

https://truestories.bokeh.com

It’s heavily censored and pretty simplistic – it’s made to share with folks from work, so there are a lot of happy, upbeat phrases and exclamation points.  I am happy and excited to be in Belfast!  Look how pretty everything is!!!  Everyone I work with is great!!!!!

giantscauseway.jpg

All that stuff is true, of course, but there’s another side to it.  The long work days, the unceasing pressure, the inescapability of work.  It’s seriously work, work, work, all the time.  Even when we’re out exploring… it’s with people from work.  Even when we’re at the pub… people talk about work.  Oh my god, I’m so sick of work.

And I miss my family like crazy!  Being so far away from Tim, Grif, my parents and my friends is really difficult.  At times, it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach because I miss my guys so much.  I love Belfast in a lot of ways, but not even 1% as much as I love my fam.  I am literally counting down the days until I come home.

20140427-231745.jpg

Don’t get me wrong – I made the right decision when I volunteered for this position and I don’t regret it for a minute.  Belfast is a great city, filled with lovely people and food so good, I’m gaining weight by the minute.  My apartment is amazing and I get to wake up every day to a stunning view of the river.  I walk everywhere, which is wonderful – I’m kicking ass on my fitbit!  I am really glad I’ve had this opportunity…

belfastbotanicalgardens.jpg

But yeah, I’m already wishing I was at home.  Just 37 days left to go!

 
Published on March 22, 2014, by
Yes, I am FINALLY writing about Hawaii.  I have half a dozen draft posts about it but none of them seemed right.  I was trying to divide our trip into sections: the town of Kona (meh), snorkeling (amazing), and food (double meh). Being logical and analytical about each aspect of our stay just didn’t capture the feeling because there was a lot I didn’t like about the Big Island, especially in comparison to Maui, and yet I loved it.  Isn’t that what love is?  Illogical, sometimes crazy, and so adept at making us blind to flaws.  Love doesn’t have to make sense – it’s passionate, exciting, and more than the sum of its parts.
hawaii2013_0074
That’s the Big Island for you!  It has a lot of downsides – the land is rocky and strange, the large towns are dull and cater to boring tourists, everything closes at 9pm, transportation options are almost non-existent, the beaches in town are ugly and dirty, and the food is, for the most part, mediocre and expensive.  But on the positive side, if you have transportation out of the city, the beaches are beautiful, the water is warm and clear, and there are fish and turtles everywhere.  The weather is perfect on the Kona side of the island – sunny in the morning and cloudy with sprinkles in the afternoon, every day like clockwork.  And the people, like all the people we’ve met in Hawaii, are kind and friendly.
Do the few positives outweigh the negatives?  Maybe it’s Hawaiian magic, maybe it’s simply the thrill of the exotic, but yes – absolutely yes.
hawaii2013_0216
Part of the magic is definitely in the water.  We hardly set foot in the ocean for the first 3 days of our trip.  When we finally tried to go snorkeling on the 4th day, we found the beach closed because of a shark sighting.  Major disappointment!  At that point, I was certain that Maui was my favorite island and that the Big Island could never compare.  After all, our hotel in Maui was right on a white sand beach where I could stick my feet in the water whenever I wanted to, while our Big Island place (I can’t call it a hotel because it was more like a condo – more on that later) was a 15 – 20 minute walk away from a really ugly little beach with gray sand and an odd pit in the middle.  The food wasn’t as good, the towns were too spread out, and even the volcano, which was cool to see because it was active, didn’t compare to my beloved Mt Haleakala.
DSCF0120
That thinking changed the day we set visited Kua Bay.  It was a beach I’d chosen to go to based on reviews, and Tim’s family had agreed to go because they’re all incredibly agreeable people.  Initially, I was worried I’d made a mistake.  The drive was long, parking was difficult, and there were more people than I’d hoped.  But the sand was soft and the water was a stunning shade of blue, so I put on my sunscreen and jumped in… to find 3 (!!!) sea turtles hanging out near some rocks, just chilling in the surf.  We snorkeled within inches of those turtles for a few hours, until someone warned us that the police would ticket tourists for being too close.  We explored the rest of the beach, which was home to a few cool fish, then headed back to town for lunch at Kona Brewing Co, one of the few restaurants we really enjoyed.  It was a near perfect day!  Swimming so close to those turtles was magical, like being in a nature film. I thought that was as good as it was going to get.
DSCF0189
But every day after that was better.  After snorkeling in other locations, I discovered that Kua Bay was choppy with lower visibility and fewer fish than other spots around the island.  It was actually a perfect beach to start with because I didn’t know enough to be disappointed!  Every time I got in the water after that, I loved the Big Island more and more.
In the next installment… more turtles!
 
Published on March 4, 2014, by

When I set my intentions for this year, I focused on fearlessness. My fears have routinely kept me from realizing my potential and I’m so over it. This year is my year to finally stand up to them. The lyrics from Airborne Toxic Event’s song “All I Ever Wanted” say it best: “All I can think is it must be some kind of rebellion / to arm your fears like soldiers and slay them.”

20140304-123019.jpg

Because this is a year of fear-slaying, I took a chance at work. I don’t usually do that – I try to do my best work without calling attention to myself. It’s generally safer and easier not to stick my neck out. In the early, crazy days of working at a tech start-up, it was a genuinely good strategy and probably a big part of the reason I’m one of the most tenured people in the company, but I’ve kept it up too long. Recently, an opportunity came up to apply for an 8-week project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working with people from all over the world. I have always wanted to work internationally and it seemed like a dream assignment… but I talked myself out of it. Two people I work with are from the UK, so I’d never get selected, I thought. Even if I did, they’d be mad at me. Anyway, I’m not qualified enough, I don’t have enough experience. It would mess up other opportunities at work. It would be really difficult to leave Tim and my dog, Grif, for 2 months. I needed to focus on my upcoming family trip. I would probably just screw it all up and ruin my relationship in the process.

Yeah, that was my anxiety talking me out of it. Those were reasons not to apply, but they weren’t good reasons. Some weren’t even REAL reasons – it’s unlikely that it would hurt either my career or my relationships. It was difficult to ignore that negative, anxiety-driven tape playing in my head, but with encouragement from co-workers and my mom (as well as Tim’s blessing), I set my concerns to the side and applied for it.

That, in itself, was a risk. Like most people, I try to avoid rejection and disappointment, so it was hard to put myself out there. And yet, I opened myself up for a NO. The negative voice in my head told me the answer would be NO. I braced myself to hear NO.

And the answer was YES!

I’m going to Belfast for two months, through April and May, and I’ll be working with another trainer who I really like (you may recognize him from my Karaoke birthday thing), and… that’s all I know. Everything else is a big fat question mark. That does freak me out, but it’s not going to scare me away. I’m going to prepare myself to do really good work, I’m going to line up some people to stay with if I happen to have a long weekend while I’m there, and that’s it. Everything else, I’m just going to take as it comes.

I am crazy excited. Yeah, I still have that voice telling me that things could go horribly wrong, but it’s getting easier to quiet down. I’ve learned that amazing things can happen when I take a risk, and having that proof is going to make it easier the next time an opportunity comes up.

This news was relatively sudden and unexpected, so I haven’t quite figured out how it’s going to change the direction of my blog. I want to share Belfast. I know it’s  a beautiful city with a complicated history and the trip has the potential to be life changing. But I’m not sure what kind of time I’ll have – I might be working 10+ hour days and occasionally on weekends – so writing might be out. If so, this may just be a photo blog for a while! I recently found out that TWO people are reading, so I hope that wouldn’t disappoint you both.

I’ll share more details when I get them!

 
Published on February 25, 2014, by
It’s official!  Tim and I both had our time off approved this week, so I can finally say it:
We’re going to Europe!  For three whole weeks!  In September!
eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower by Kimberly Vardeman on Flickr. CC

Can you tell I’m excited?  This is the perfect opportunity for me to start scratching some countries off my list.  We’ll see at least three – Germany, France, and Italy – but we’re considering visiting Switzerland, Brussels, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and maaaaybe scheduling a stopover trip in Iceland.
We’ll be travelling with my mom and my aunt, whose husband is currently stationed in Germany.  Auntie’s done a lot of travelling, so she’ll be acting as our guide most of the time, though Tim and I may set off on our own to explore his family’s ancestral homeland in the Netherlands.  We’ll have fewer logistics to plan as we travel as a group, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to research the hell out of everything.  That’s the fun part!
So I’ll be looking at blogs, reading up on TripAdvisor, and picking the brains of traveler friends like Jill from St. Germainia.  I’m hoping to pick 3 or 4 things in each country that I absolutely have to see/do/experience, then go with the flow on everything else.
But there’s more to prep than research!  I need to get into shape.  Great shape.  Walk-several-miles-every-day kind of shape.  The fact is, I really let things go after we got back from Hawaii.  I’m just not great at staying motivated without a clearly defined goal and end date.  I’ve tried the general goal of ‘building healthy habits’ but it just doesn’t work for me.  I need a timeframe, a task, a finish line, and achievements along the way.
Now I have one!  Introducing my new fitness mini-goal: Operation Eurobody.  I want to slim down, tone up, and build enough endurance that I could reasonably walk with a backpack on every day for three weeks (which is really just a warm up to the Camino, when I will travel with a huge pack and walk for 30+ days).  I’ll have a little more than 6 months to get there, which seems like plenty of time if I stay focused.
I’m going to kick it off with a shopping spree – I need new gym clothes!  All the ones I have are from a time when I was either much, much larger or a size or two smaller.  I feel crappy when I go to the gym in ill-fitting workout gear – it’s just plain uncomfortable.  I rarely buy clothes, so this a real treat for me.  Next, I’m going to start a couch-to-5k program to increase my endurance.  If I can run three miles in one stretch, I can walk at least that far.  If I manage to conquer that goal in 9 weeks (as the C25K promises), then I might push it to the next level and go for a 10k. We’ll see!  I used to really enjoy running, so I’m hoping it comes back naturally.
The third step is the “diet” piece.  This is, by far, the hardest part for me.  I have to balance what I know about nutrition (whole grains, lean meats, lots of veggies and fruits) with what I know about myself (I’m not good at sticking with meals that need a lot of prep, I need dairy to be happy, and veggies/fruits upset my stomach since I had my gallbladder removed).  I think most people are caught in the same trap.  Considering my current schedule, the only thing I can commit to now is bringing lunch instead of eating out and using a calorie counting app to track what I eat.  Later, I’ll try to tackle eating smaller meals more often and making healthier versions of the foods I just can’t bear to give up.  I will not stop eating any category of food – I feel like cutting out dairy or carbs or meat or even sweets is just a recipe for deprivation and eventual failure – but I will try to widen my food ‘comfort zone’ by learning how to cook things like quinoa.
It makes me feel kind of ridiculous setting these kinds of goals just to be healthier, but it does help me in the long run.  I hope that it will one day be my default setting, but for now, I have to be really conscious of it.  My last fitness mini-goal was pretty successful, so I’m looking forward to sharing my strategies and results for this one, as well as all the research/fun stuff I’ll be doing as a lead up to Europe 2014.  To be continued!
 
Published on January 27, 2014, by

So far, 31 has been amazing!  I took two weekends to celebrate and did a ton of fun stuff, including… (drumroll please)… CROSSING A THING OFF MY LIST!

Say goodbye to 10. Sing a Song at Karaoke.

20140127-163338.jpg

How was it?  Amazing.  Awesome.  Addictive?  Yeah, I loved it.  I thought that it would be a little fun and a little awkward, but it turned out to be ridiculously fun and not-at-all awkward.

Karaoke Friends Karaoke at August Karaoke Box

Some of the credit goes to the lovely people who sang with me – they really got into it.  By the time we left, my face actually hurt from all the laughing and smiling.  Though I was very nervous right before it began, it didn’t end up being embarrassing or scary at all.  In fact, I’d love to do it again!

Singing at August Karaoke Box

(Mini review:  We went to August Karaoke Box in Tempe and it was a mixed experience.  I made the reservation 3 weeks in advance but they didn’t have it on file when we got there.  We still got a room because it wasn’t busy – it was a 12 person room, and though there were only 10 of us, it felt really cramped and got crazy hot.  However, the touch screen system was neat, the sound system was good, and the videos were hilarious because they were total nonsense.  Overall, the staff was friendly and helpful, but they forgot to give me my ID back at the end of the night, which caused a big issue the next day.  It wasn’t perfect, but I’d probably still go back.)

We did a bunch of other fun stuff too!

20140127-163617.jpg

Tried float spa meditation for the first time at True Rest Float Spa.  I really enjoyed it!  It felt like I’d gotten a massage after.

20140127-163645.jpg

Had Tim’s family over for ice cream cake – which is his excellent family tradition.  He has enough siblings that I get DQ cake almost half the months out of the year.

20140127-163709.jpg

Went out for sushi at Shimogamo.  It was simple but delicious.

Blue - Chihuly at the Garden

Went to the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens with Tim and my mom.  Chihuly is one of my favorite artists and his 2008 show at DBG was inspirational.  I didn’t think this one was quite as good, but it was still wonderful.  AND we accidentally showed up on their Dog Day so the whole place was filled with pups!  That was a happy surprise.

We wandered around the exhibit, ate a seriously tasty lunch at Gertrude’s, and wandered around some more.  It was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.  It also got me really excited about learning to blow glass!

20140127-163733.jpg

The birthdaypalooza ended with a wonderful brunch.  I like to multi-task our events and since our house has really come together, this was the perfect time to have a housewarming.  I got some bagels, baked a couple of breakfast casseroles, and put together a mimosa bar – bam, party!  It was great to celebrate with friends and family and I love showing off our house!

20140127-163755.jpg

All our hard work and $$$ have really paid off.  I’ve gotta post some before and after pics soon.

If the rest of the year is even half as good as the last two weeks, I’m going to be in good shape.  And I think it will be – I’ve got some big travel plans and goals to help me feel/live better.  Hopefully I can be a much better blogger this year, too!

 
Published on January 16, 2014, by

It’s my birthday! And you know what? I am happy about it.

People at my office thought it was weird that I was excited to celebrate the passing of another year. They said they never take their birthday’s off, they don’t make a big deal of it, etc. But, honestly, they all sounded kind of sad about it.

If you don’t celebrate for yourself, who will? To me, it’s about taking the time to say, “I’m worthy.” Worthy of celebrating, worthy of treats, worthy of fun, worthy (in spite) of aging, worthy of another year. Birthdays shouldn’t be sad – they should be an affirmation that your life is valuable.

So I’m doing nice things for myself today! I’ve got a session at a meditation float spa in the afternoon, then lunch with friends, and then – EEEEK – karaoke! I rented a private room and invited my boldest friends – we’re going to sing the night away. Also I think there will be cake.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what songs I want to sing. There’s one that I’m really hoping they have – it’s out of my range, but it’s my favorite song at the moment.

In fact, I want it to be this year’s theme song. I want to play it every time I feel sad or defeated or stressed. I want to sing it and feel it and carry it with me for the whole year.

This is going to be a year of fearlessness. Of wonder. Of growth. Of love. Of gratitude. Of singing and dancing and travel and laughter.

This is a year of Happy:

 
Published on January 14, 2014, by

A year ago, I created a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish.  Or rather, 30-year-old-KT created that list.  I’ve changed in a year (and I bet you have, too) so now the question becomes… can the list change?

I think it can.  And I make the rules around here, so there you have it.  Every year, I’m going to re-evaluate the list and swap out goals if I feel it’s appropriate.  I won’t add something just because I know I’ve got an opportunity coming up and I won’t remove anything just because it doesn’t seem achievable.  The criteria for the swap is one Thing sounding better than another Thing, that’s it.

Thing #22: Drive the PCH -> See Every Hawaiian Island

Before this year, I’d been to Maui twice.  I kind of figured that all the islands were pretty much like Maui the same way that all of Kansas looks like the rest of Kansas.  This year I went to the big island of Hawaii and was proven totally, utterly wrong.  Hawaii was so beautiful and fascinating in its own unique way – it made me want to see ALL of the Hawaiian islands.  It’ll take longer, admittedly, but I feel more passionate about it than I do about seeing the West Coast via car.  I think I’d rather see it by bike, so maybe it’ll turn into #4.

Thing #23: Meet Someone I Admire -> Get My Degree

Earlier this year, I was really stressing about looking for a job without a completed college degree.  Even if I just get my Associates, it’ll make me feel so much more confident and secure.  Besides, why meet someone I admire when what I really want to do is become someone I admire?

I think those are the only changes I want to make this year.  They’ve both been floating around in my brain for the last couple months.  Am I just making this harder on myself?  Maybe.  I’m cool with that.

In other news, my birthday is just a few days away!  I’m genuinely excited to turn 31.  I hope I still feel that way when the number rolls up to 39, haha.  But right now, the world seem so full of opportunity and possibility.  I’m really excited to see where 31 takes me!