Forty Firsts 11-26: I’m really on a roll now! 

I have been busy, busy, busy with regular life but also with lots of firsts! The biggie is that we went to Washington D.C.

 

We, of course, saw lots of museums and monuments. I’m not counting them as individual firsts because they all fall under the umbrella of my first trip to DC but a few of the things we saw were:

  • The Washington Monument
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Roosevelt Memorial
  • The Jefferson Memorial
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetary
  • The White House
  • The Capitol Building and Visitor Center
  • 3 Smithsonian Museums (American History, Air and Space, and American Indian)

Some of these were just drive or walk bys because it was a short trip but even a glimpse of the history in this city was enough for us to be in awe. 

Now, a few things I did count as their own separate first even though they happened as part of the larger trip.  Things that we specifically sought out for their own individual attributes, either on the drive or in the city, I counted as a first. 

In the city we went to the National Zoo specifically for our first Panda sighting. The zoo is kind of remote compared to other places we visited and required special effort. Plus we have a much better zoo close by so this was really about the pandas therefore it counts as a first. My challenge, my rules. :p

 
We also specifically sought out Nando’s despite other restaurants being more convenient. Kya wanted to try it because it’s a favorite of one of her favorite artists, Ed Sheeran. 😜 It did not disappoint!   

 

On the drive to DC we stopped at The World’s Largest Windchime. On the way home we stopped at Funky Bones, an outdoor sculpture featured in Kya’s favorite book. We also stopped (just stopping for gas doesn’t count, we have to eat or sleep for me to include it) in six states we’d never been to. 


Since we returned from our trip I’ve had even more firsts including: my first experience on the floor for a concert (or in “the pit” as they called it), my first visit to the Ozark Actors Theater (local theater that I can’t believe I’d been missing!), joined the Chamber of Commerce and attended their First Friday Coffee and monthly luncheon, and attended a crochet class. 

 By my count that’s 16 more firsts since my last post, bringing me up to 26! I’m only a little more than halfway to my goal and already I’ve visited new places, tried new foods, had new experiences, stepped out of my comfort zone, and learned a new skill! I can hardly wait to see what the rest of this year and this challenge bring. 😃 

Advertisements

New Blog!

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted- life has been BUSY! Not a great excuse really because everyone is busy- I think I’ve also been hesitant to write for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a lack of focus. And while starting a new blog won’t help me be less busy it will help me be more focused.

“Why a new blog,” I’m sure you all just asked yourselves. Well, this is my personal blog. A place for me to sort and share insights about my life, what’s happening in the world, things I’m passionate about, etc. The new blog is a professional blog for my new job- I’m working as a travel planner!! So, I started a travel blog as a place for me to share my own adventures as well as offer tips and advice for those planning their own.

I thought about simply using this blog for the new job but that would mean I have to be more careful about the personal things I share and that I’d probably have to go back and delete a few things. And even though I don’t update this space as often as I’d like I’m just not ready to give it up.

Those who are interested in joining me on this journey can follow me over to I Can Show You The World. I may occasionally cross post if I’m writing about my own trips but generally these spaces will be separate. I hope to see you there and wish me luck on this new adventure!

My People

The kids and had the absolutely amazing opportunity last weekend to attend St. Louis Comic Con.

003e

Just hanging out with Alan Tudyk…

001e

Shameless brag that we met (for about 10 seconds) THE DOCTOR and AMY POND (aka Matt Smith and Karen Gillan).

I had been looking forward to this for a long time and it was pretty much as awesomely amazing as I’d anticipated. In addition to the photo shoots we got to sit in on a panel with local Doctor Who “experts” whom had access to behind the scenes information and spoilers.

Jace even worked up the nerve to ask a question... a big deal for him because he's pretty introverted.

Jace even worked up the nerve to ask a question… a big deal for him because he’s pretty introverted.

And we sat in on huge-fill-a-theater panels with some big name stars who discussed upcoming projects, behind the scene stories from past projects and answered audience questions.

Blurry, pixelated, and too far away but that's Sean Astin, aka Samwise Gamgee!

Sean Astin, aka Samwise Gamgee!

Of course there were lots of people cosplaying, including Kya.

This adorable girl dressed as the 11th Doctor stopped Kya, who is dressed as the 10th, so they could get a pic together. Incidentally, Kya felt like a rock star. :)

This adorable girl dressed as the 11th Doctor stopped Kya, who is dressed as the 10th, so they could get a pic together. Incidentally, Kya felt like a rock star. 🙂

In the days leading up to to this event (and even in the car on the way there) Kya and I kept bringing up that the people there would be “our people”. People who are just as obsessed with interested in Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, etc. as we are. Sean Astin even called us (as in the crowd, not us specifically, lol) his people in the panel we sat in on with him. And it was true. Lots of people commented (to us or just to their friends as we passed) on Kya’s cosplay or Jace and my t-shirts. And we, of course, commented on the t-shirts and cosplay of others. A few times we even had short conversations with people about items we were looking at on the exhibit floor or actors we were waiting to see. It was an atmosphere where we could definitely be completely open about how excited we get about the things we love. But, when I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d say I actually felt the “my people” connection I was anticipating.  A lot of that has to do with how introverted we all are around crowds. None of us are the outgoing, strike-up-a-friendship with strangers type. And I suck at small talk. I’m okay with that though and I do enjoy observing the people around me while remaining safely in my bubble.

So, instead of connecting with “my people” I did a lot of observing. And what I found (or I guess reinforced really as this isn’t exactly new information) is that sharing a common interest with someone doesn’t necessarily make them “my people”. The people who attended this convention where a diverse group, as diverse as any sampling of the general population. Some people were friendly and outgoing, others were quiet and introverted. Some people were laid back and others seemed stressed by all the people. Some people were happy to interact, others seemed to want to be left alone. We encountered people who amused us as well as some who annoyed us. The only thing that brought us together was the fact that we all happened to like similar things, though even this wasn’t exactly true because while some people where there for their favorite sci-fi actors, others came because they love comics, cosplay, or video games (or any combination of these).

With all of these observations floating around in my head I had a very brief existential moment late in the evening when we were tired and had a few minutes of downtime before our next scheduled activity. As I looked around the room full of people who love, love, LOVE the same things that I love, love, LOVE I thought, “These aren’t really my people. ” And then I momentarily wondered where my people are.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends and family that I care a lot about, have fun with, and feel connected to. But I don’t ever feel like I completely fit in with any particular group. My interests, values, and beliefs are too varied (as many of you who read this blog regularly have probably noticed- I’m a bit all over the map) and I make references that people just don’t get, no matter who I’m with because of these varied, sometimes seemingly incompatible, interests. I had a very alone-in-the-crowd moment but then I realized, I do, at least for now, have a group who understands all of my references. A group who will go to Comic Con and fangirl/fanboy out over Matt Smith with me one day and watch the Country Music Awards with me the next because we want to see The Band Perry perform. A group who will spend hours analyzing the nuances of Sherlock and Doctor Who but also enjoy a completely mindless Friends marathon. A group where we can all just unabashedly be ourselves.

IMG_1225

Yep, I don’t just love my kids I love hanging out with them. Don’t worry, I’m not a sad, clingy, smothering mom; I have other friends and so do they. But we also genuinely like each other and pretty much like most of the same stuff. They are my people. And that’s more than enough.

Disclaimer: It was VERY hectic and crowded at times. The best I could manage with photos, aside from those professional photo ops, was quick snapshots with my phone. Sorry for the blurry, pixelated pics!

Adventure

A friend commented on my last post that the thing she’s most excited about for me regarding my Katy Trail challenge is that I’m having an ADVENTURE. And she really nailed it because I am absolutely giddy with anticipation.

i_m_going_on_an_adventure_by_iantojones3-d5p5jcv

My absolute favorite thing to do is to go somewhere I’ve never been. I discovered this the first time I went to Europe with a friend, foolishly thinking that trip would get “get it out of my system” when instead it planted the seed of wanderlust that continues to bloom. For many years I scrimped, saved, planned, and dreamed. I looked forward to that one week of vacation ALL YEAR. But it was never enough because I always wanted more. Much more than my budget and responsibilities allowed. This challenge is a chance to reconcile my wanderlust with my reality.

The Katy Trail is packed with various types of adventure: festivals as well as solitude, the beauty of nature as well as museums, picnics as well as family restaurants. The anticipation is helping me appreciate all of these things right now, in my own back yard as well.

IMG_1169I snapped this walking on my county road last week. I’ve expressed before that I’ve lived on this road most of my life and as a result sometimes get bored walking here. But the prospect of a new adventure is helping me look and appreciate it with fresh eyes.

IMG_1162

This one was taken last week when my daughter and I decided to go try out a new, small, family owned restaurant that everyone has been raving about. It’s a Greek restaurant, which is my favorite, and I’m not really sure why we’d waited so long to go but planning my first walk has me itching to try new things. You can see a bit of this adorable place behind K in the above picture. It’s shabby chic with mismatched tables and chairs (we sat in a boot salvaged from an old restaurant), chalkboards with mismatched frames and a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The food was delicious and as we were eating I realized this is the kind of discovery I’ll be making while walking the trail.

These scenic views and and tiny, family restaurants are diamond in the rough type places that can really only be found in places often overlooked unless you’re already traveling through that specific area. And I will be traveling through, for 237 miles. That’s 237 miles of new views to take in. 237 miles of new small town businesses to discover. 237 miles of adventure!

 

Katy Trail Challenge

Oh, wow guys, I have been planning and plotting! There have been so many times in the last week that I’ve wanted to come here and write about my Big, Exciting (at least for me!!) Plans but life keeps getting in the way. Finally, I’ve managed to carve a little time out to share my news!

I’m going to walk the Katy Trail, section by section, before my fortieth birthday next year. 🙂

The Katy Trail spans most of Missouri and began it’s life as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, or MKT, rail line. After the trains stopped running it was converted to a biking/walking trail. It’s not hilly or rugged but it is long. 247 miles long. I considered choosing other hikes that would offer more rugged terrain and therefore more of a physical challenge but I honestly didn’t consider it for long. I know myself and I need a self-contained goal with a deadline. That’s how I actually get things done. So, I’ll challenge myself in other ways, mostly by making my walk/hikes longer and longer as time progresses.

I suppose that in an ideal world I’d be able to just pause my life and walk continuously for 2-3 weeks and then pick back up where I left off but this isn’t an ideal world. My kids are old enough that I could probably get by with planning such a trip but then I’ve missed 3 weeks of the very limited time we have left when we are inextricably woven into the fabric of each other’s daily lives. Who’s to say how those three weeks could change that. I know they wouldn’t hold it against me and everyone would be fine… but when I get back will we have lost the habit of stopping to chat several times per day? Will we still want to wait to watch our favorite shows when we can watch together? Will our routines still include each other? Maybe. But maybe not, and it’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I would also miss them, and my husband a lot. So, no, it’s not going to be a continuous walk from one end of the trail to the other.

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the Katy Trail website and mapping out a plan that actually fits into my life. (I’ve also ordered a guide book but couldn’t just sit around waiting for it to arrive before I started planning!) 😉

My notes, mapping the trail by geological and chronological order as well as ideas for which sections would make good muilti-day trips.

My notes, mapping the trail by geological and chronological order as well as ideas for which sections would make good multi-day trips.

It’s going to take me 16 months to complete this challenge, beginning next month and ending in July 2015 when I turn 40. I plan to do one walk/hike per month in that time; most of them will be one day trips but there will also be 3 overnights (including one in wine country with my BFF) and finally, a three day trip at the culmination of the challenge. Because I’ll be doing a little backtracking to get back to my car I’ll actually walk 305 miles on the trail in addition to other walks and challenges close to home. That final three day trip I mentioned is going to span over 55 miles, 25.7 of which will be walked on the last day (nearly a marathon) so I’ll definitely need the walks at home to help me prepare; in fact I’ve already begun but I have to save something for next time…

Taming Wanderlust

I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust. My mother says that even when I was a little girl I constantly wanted to go, see, do. This continues into my adult life and I generally make many sacrifices, great and small, so I can get out into this great big world as much as possible. I love the adventure, the possibility, the discovery and the way the world melts away when I’m in a new place. Lately, however, I find myself feeling more drawn to bringing some of those feelings home.

Don’t misunderstand, I still love travel and probably always will but I’m beginning to realize that I want to enjoy more on a daily basis instead of just a few weeks or long weekends per year. I know I can’t necessarily bring adventure and discovery home, but shouldn’t home already be a place where the world melts away? Why haven’t I already created this in my home? The answer to that, I realized, is that I’ve spent so much time planning my next big adventure that I sometimes forget to enjoy the one I’m having.

This renewed focus of time, energy and money began recently when my husband and I went away for a romantic weekend. When I was researching where we would stay one thing seemed more important than anything else- a private patio or balcony with a nice view. I wanted us to be able to sit outside in the evening and enjoy the twilight as we talked and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a good call, if I do say so myself, because of all of the fun things we did that weekend (and there were a lot) sitting out on that patio was my favorite part.

Here we are, enjoying that perfect patio which I searched so hard to find.

After being home for a few days and wistfully wishing we could have more weekends like that I realized that we could, at least partially. We might not have the time or money to slip away together every weekend for hikes, spelunking, spas and scenic plane tours (yes, we crammed all of those activities into one weekend!) but the best part, the part where we simply enjoyed the beauty of nature, a few drinks and especially each other’s company, that we could have whenever we wanted.

So, I started thinking; what could we do to bring the best part of our trip home? How could I find balance between my love of travel and my new found love of home? I have always funneled as much of our budget as I can into travel. Whether it’s for day trips, weekend get aways or full blown family vacations I want to go, go, go and it’s how I’ve always chosen to prioritize our spending (after saving and essentials of course). But now I’ve begun to question this. I’d always felt that travel is the best way to spend extra money but perhaps it’s only one of the best ways, not the best way. Perhaps the vacation budget needs to make way for some stay-cation fun.

After mulling this over for a bit I realized that we needed to make our barren, sun soaked deck more inhabitable and in order to do that what we need most is shade. And shade was going to cost money. Money that I’d already earmarked for another weekend getaway and a new camera to capture the memories. I honestly was torn. I’d already been looking at pictures of bed and breakfasts in our local wine country and had the trip nearly planned in my mind. My wanderlust was not going to go quietly but would instead keep me awake, questioning my priorities, wondering how best to spend this little bit of money I had set aside. In the past I’ve clung to my love of travel and new experiences but, for some reason, not this time.

Perhaps I’ve finally accepted that our life is never going to include as much travel as I’d like so I need to shift my focus. Perhaps it has to do with growing older and feeling more settled. Perhaps it has to do with how much my marriage has grown and our relationship has deepened. Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, I knew that this time I was going to forgo that bed and breakfast with the private deck and instead enjoy countless mornings where I can rise from my own bed, fix my own breakfast and enjoy it on my own deck.

R was apparently on the same page because when I (somewhat apprehensively) started to broach the subject of building a shade pergola (apprehension because he’s the one who has to do all of the actual work) he beat me too the punch. I got home from work one evening and joined him on the couch about to ask him what he thought of the idea when he turned to me and said, “You know, I’ve been thinking that I could probably build you some shade on the deck.”

Wow. ❤ He’s not much of a talker and would never wax poetic about how fantastic that time on the patio was. But he will always, ALWAYS find a way to express things in his own way.

I’m still waiting for the pergola because it’s simply too hot to be working outside right now. But I’ve been gathering some things here and there as well as receiving a few gifts. Twinkle lights, candles, a citronella lantern. Soon I’ll have the deck of my dreams to share with the man of my dreams.

Who needs one weekend away when I can have that on a regular basis?

 

 

Whoops!

I completely forgot to post yesterday! I took a picture but didn’t upload it to my computer right away and then went to bed early(ish). So, you get two today.

Yesterday’s subject: Something you found

I found these two, snuggled up on the couch. Jace doesn’t really cuddle with us much any more so this completely melted my heart.

He's not sleeping- he just didn't want to have his picture taken so decided to play possum. 😉

 

Today’s subject: How you’re feeling today.

I had a little trouble with this one. I had a really fun and relaxing daytrip with my family so I’m feeling peaceful and serene this evening. This pic from our visit to Shelter Gardens today seemed to capture that feeling pretty well.