Archive for September, 2013

DC: Theodore Roosevelt Island

Last we checked in, this was my current DC to-do list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • American History Museum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard

Since then, I had plans to cross off the Botanical Gardens and the National Arboretum with my mom when she came to visit this past week. However, traffic in Richmond prevented her from getting here in time to really explore either of those. Since the arboretum is only open Friday to Monday, that one was quickly put on the back burner, but officially added to the list and since the Botanical Gardens are only open til 5 daily, it made it impossible for a mid-week trip. Instead, I remembered another little hideaway spot in DC I’d been meaning to explore: Theodore Roosevelt Island.

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Located just off GW Parkway and open until 10 PM, Mom and I planned a last minute walking adventure which would be good for her hip and for my knee. I checked the National Park Service info and found out there are 3 trails – the largest, the Swamp Trail, with a distance of 1.3 miles. I told Mom it was “just over a mile” so she wouldn’t have any reservations. I knew she could do it đŸ™‚ So yesterday after work, we explored Roosevelt Island.

It wasn’t really what I expected. Probably a lot less traveled that most other parks in the area, there were parts that were “rugged” in a totally urban way. Fallen trees in other parks would have a chunk cut out to maintain the path, but not on Roosevelt Island. In any case, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.

While the view of the island itself isn’t that impressive, the views of the city are lovely. The Swamp Trail runs just along the outside of the island and gives you great views of Rosslyn:

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And Georgetown:

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I was hoping this trend would continue all the way around so you could see Watergate or the memorials, but the trail didn’t run that close to the edge on that side and you could only see snippets of them peeking through the trees. But if you keep going, you’ll finally hit the “swamp” that the trail is named after. The footbridge was a must.

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I think Mom geeked out a little as she said more than once, “This would be a perfect biology class field trip to learn about the ecosystem here.” Mom is a retired HS biology teacher. Obvious now, eh?

I liked trying to spot the swamp wildlife (we saw a Cooper’s Hawk!) and loved that Mom was really into it, but perhaps my favorite part of the island was this tree.

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Not that I haven’t seen graffiti-ed/carved trees before, but it’s like this one was chosen. It was the only tree that I saw on the entire island that had been carved, likely by young lovers. And maybe a few old ones too.

So if you have an afternoon in DC and you want to get off the beaten path and take in a bit of nature, Theodore Roosevelt Island is your place. Your mind won’t be blown, but it’s a nice little afternoon adventure.

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Life: Moments of Happiness

Earlier this year, I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and fell in love with a lot of her great concepts. Not that I was unhappy at the time, but I think you have to be self-aware to really be the best version of yourself. When I picked up her book in January, I also snagged her journal which I’ve been dutifully writing in every day for almost 9 months. It has made all the difference in truly remembering what this year has been about.

I also subscribed to her daily Moment of Happiness newsletter and today I received this:

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest discipline to be simple, and the acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.
– C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

This past weekend, I’ve really been trying to un-complicate things. To simplify my feelings so I can allow myself to heal. I loved that this quote assured me that just because it’s simplified, doesn’t mean it’s any easier.

But in an effort to take a step back and to find those true moments of happiness, I thought I’d share this photo from Sunday’s walk with Sophie and her human. She was chasing rocks in Sligo Creek (I tried to embed a short video from Instagram, but failed. You can watch it here.)

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This was probably one of our last walks as they prepare to move to Boston on Friday and it was reaffirmed for me that change is exciting. It’s thrilling and invigorating. And this is a simple moment in my own life that brought happiness, having a true friend to confide in and to hold me accountable. And of course, the puppy cuddles from Sophie didn’t hurt either.

So, am I there yet? Not by a long shot, but at least I’m not teetering at the top of the roller coaster anymore. I’ve made progress in acceptance and have a conviction that each day I’ll choose joy and look for those moments of happiness.

DC: MLK Jr. Memorial

I’m a list maker. Lists are what I do, so as part of my trip prep (and prep for whatever comes after) I’ve made a list of all the DC things I keep saying I’ll do but haven’t done yet. I had a small list in my 2013 goals, but I’ve beefed it up a bit because in all honesty, I don’t know plans post-Asia. Here’s where we’re at:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • American History Museum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard

Not that I’ve seen every Smithsonian or visited every landmark, but these are the things I know I’d regret not seeing/doing before I left. So last night, I crossed off the MLK Jr. Memorial. I walked from Metro Center with Sophie and her human to get in a little bit of exercise. We went after rush hour and so we could enjoy the memorial at night (fact: a lot of DC memorials are prettier at night). It was a really beautiful night with just a bit of chill in the air – Fall is definitely almost here!

There were still a few tourists lingering about, but not packed which was really nice too. No one to block your photog skillz, see:

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And no one to stop you from trying to be all artsy with your iPhone…

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And while the memorial was really beautiful and a must-see in DC, the view across the Tidal Basin was just as ‘worth it’.

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DC, you are a charmer.

Tunes: Pompeii

I first stumbled across Bastille a few months back and while I’ve been hearing their music, I haven’t really listened to it…until today.

Yesterday, I felt lost and like I was in a constant state of disbelief. I was having a hard time explaining that feeling, so when I listened to Pompeii today, it clicked for me.

Particularly this bit:

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?

I always like to see what other people think songs mean and see if my feeling is mutual or rather just something that made sense in my head. While my interpretation of the song is fairly simplified, I did find an entry that kind of summed up what it meant to me and in better words that I would have chosen:

It’s about that singular moment between something terrible happening and having to face the consequences. We close our eyes just for a moment, delaying the inevitable acceptance. We know we will have to ask ourselves ‘How am I going to deal with this?’ But if I close my eyes, I can pretend it didn’t happen, just for a second. It’s the moment at the top of a very unpleasant roller coaster.

I guess I’m still teetering at the top, trying to find a way to accept reality.

Life: Muchness

When you’re not sure how you’re going to feel when you wake up, I think the weekends are the hardest. What used to be the best time of the week is now a giant void and you’re left wondering how you’re going to fill the day, not just with activities, but with happiness.

This past weekend, I did manage to fill that giant void and I made it to Monday, but not without the help of friends. Saturday and Sunday were mostly spent creating a blank slate. Not a metaphorical slate, but rather a physical one…in my room, as I painted my once cozy walls back to white (part of the move-out prep). One of my friends offered to help and while I would normally not ask for help, I knew I couldn’t bear to stare at white walls by myself. Not this weekend, anyways. And what was once a daunting task, quickly turned into a bit of refreshing fun with a friend.

It’s not really important that I tell you about painting the walls, but rather that the friend who came over to help is the same friend that told me ‘Not to worry, you’ll find your muchness again.’ I didn’t really know what she meant until she said it was from the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland. This scene, particularly:

It wasn’t that I’d been without my muchness for the past 3 years, but rather I lost it last week. I have changed inside and there is something missing, but I know I’ll find it again. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.

On Sunday, I asked my friend how she found her muchness again and she simply said, ‘By surrounding myself with friends and family and doing all the things that were really important to me.’

It made sense, but I struggled because I had been doing all the things that were really important. If anything, this was one of my first relationships where I felt like I was truly myself. But maybe my version of finding my muchness isn’t about doing the important things, but rather going back and doing all the things I compromised along the way in my last chapter.

So I’m making a list, of where I might want to take myself. Crossing off all those to-dos I keep on my DC list and starting to think about my next chapter because I’m really proud that I can finally tell you I’m not scared in the sense that I’m sad. I’m the right amount of scared that goes along with a sense of adventure and excitement. Not knowing where I’ll end up, but very aware that I have a lot of dreams to explore and friends to back me up along the way.

So on this particular Monday, I’m going to remember 2 things:

1. Never let my fear decide my fate

2. I will find my muchness again, even if I have to travel around the world.

Interwebs: Tough Love

It’s now the end of the week and I said on Monday I’d try to convince myself to be OK, but I’m not there. I’m not even close. Maybe your week has been tough too and maybe all we need is a little tough love from the vast corners of the interwebs.

So here’s a little something to try and believe that you’ll be OK and that I’ll be OK.

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And finally…

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*None of these images are mine, but rather a few items I’ve pinned along the way. You can find their sources & other inspirational words on my ‘Words’ board.

Life: Speechless

Sometimes change happens so fast, it leaves you speechless…and there are no real words for heartbreak. So I’ll just have to quote The Newsroom right now, because it’s the only thing that makes sense.

The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed.

I know all the routine words and phrases you say when couples break up. I’ve seen it happen enough times that I’m a pro too. You’ll get through this. You’ll be stronger. Now you can heal. Now you can move on. Focus on you. Work through each day, make a list. And of course something about  finding your real Prince Charming.

But the only words I want to hear are from him to say, I love you, which isn’t an option.

I find that I keep saying, ‘I’m scared’ which is ironic since this year has been about not letting fear define me. Maybe I’ve been a fraud all this time, only strong and fearless because I had a safety net, someone to talk to every day, someone that loved me no matter what. Except now I find that I’m incredibly alone and terrified of every day when I wake up.

But I have no other option than to keep trying. Breathing and waking up every day. Distracting myself with work. Trying to eat more than just cereal or crackers for every meal. Moving forward and focusing on Asia, which in truth, was impeccably timed (without me knowing any better).

An old friend said to me yesterday, “For some reason, the chapters in your life have hard stops. They don’t easily flow and it’s the starting over that makes this hard. Harder than it should be. You’ve had to do it so many times, it’s just not fair.”

And she’s right, it’s like pulling the emergency hand brake and being thrown off your life path. Or maybe back onto your life path. Maybe this is fate’s way of saying, ‘You haven’t done all you’re meant to do. Go back and do what you always promised yourself.’

But right now, I have to focus on today. And tomorrow, I will focus on that day. And maybe I’ll make it to the end of the week and have truly convinced myself that I will be OK. Because I have to believe it to get to a point where smiling doesn’t feel like a job and being happy is something real and not just a lost fantasy.

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