Festival Season

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October brings with it so many happy happenings; sweater weather, leaf change (in Florida it is the season when rain trees are in bloom), pumpkin spice everything, mulled wine, and a personal favorite: fall festivals!

It is festival season. Every weekend it seems like there is a reason to throw on your favorite light weight scarf and get yourself outside! Today marked the beginning of festival season for us with Veg Fest and Jazz Fest. In the midst of everything else going on today we made time to stop by Veg Fest this morning and scope out all the interesting booths and visit with some pups who were hoping for welcoming homes (I tried to talk hubs into a friend for Lu but he was having none of it).

This evening we walked into town for Jazz fest. Our neighborhood does seasonal block parties where the center of town is blocked off to traffic and our entire community, as well as neighboring communities, descends on the center of town for food, music, and friendship. Jazz fest is my favorite “adult” block party (Christmas time brings my true favorite block party but it is much more geared towards kids and families), there are tables set up all over our downtown, food trucks lined up in the streets, and three stages with jazz bands performing. I really enjoy the sense of community at these events. I am grateful to live in an area that encourages it’s residence to get out and be together in this way.

Tonight we sat on a stoop, hubs with his taco, me with my cold pressed juice, and we watched the goings on around us. Dogs hoping for a pet or stray pop corn kernel, little kids hugging and twirling, old men snapping to the music, ladies in their favorite fall attire.. It was fun to be involved without having to be too involved, just how we like it.

In a few weeks there will be an arts and crafts festival in my home town that I am looking forward to attending. I have not attended in years, as a child it was something I looked forward to all year – we never missed it, but this year a dear friend is selling her art at a booth and I would not miss seeing and supporting her.

This is the best time of year. Everyone seems to feel better in the fall, I know I always do.

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Monopoly Marathon and Family

Last weekend Todd and I played Monopoly and for the first time in my entire life I won. No kidding, I have been playing Monopoly since I was a kid, I have never won.Todd says it is mostly a game of luck but there is a bit of strategy to it as well, I think the strategy part is where I always got stuck before. After my win I was so excited I wanted to play again to see if it was just luck or if I had finally figured out the strategy aspect of the game, thus began the Monopoly Marathon of July 2015.

It was not a true marathon, we did not play back to back for hours but we did play Monopoly about 10 times in four days.

Todd had Thursday and Friday off last week for the holiday. We spent most of the two days in our backyard finishing the “clear out” portion of our backyard renovation. In the course of three weekends we removed about 8 philodendrons (our new most hated plant in Florida), three trees and more vines than I care to describe. Our backyard, while very sad looking right now, is cleared and ready to be tilled (the next step in the process before seeding grass).

So during the days we worked together in the yard and in the evenings we played Monopoly. Todd is still reigning champ. I won the two games we played on Sunday, he won the rest.

We also went downtown for dinner Friday night and watched the sunset over the fountain. Saturday we had family over for a BBQ and then went to one of the lakes in College Park where you can see the downtown fireworks. It was a nice holiday weekend.

Quick school update: I submitted my application for the healthcare scholarship program, I should hear back in the middle of the month sometime. At the request of the program director I wrote a short blurb about my time at LEAD in March for a social work magazine that is going to be distributed to local agencies and colleges. Also, my friend and I who worked on a case study a few weeks ago had our paper chosen as the sample paper for this assignment going forward. We were both excited, it was an interesting case study and we enjoyed working on it together.

Across the board things are good.

It’s an Adventure

adventure

I have been under the weather for a week now. Last Monday while working on a school assignment online I had the dizzy spell to beat all dizzy spells. I nearly fell out of my chair. I had to stop what I was doing and put my head in my hands until the room stopped spinning. I knew immediately what this was, this was not my first experience with this form of dizziness. A few minutes later I called and made an appointment with my PCP for the next day. As I expected it was a bilateral ear infection. I have been plagued by this diagnosis my entire life. It seems every time I get the sniffles it ends up in my ears. The real problem is the dizzy spells that accompany this illness though. I started the antibiotic prescribed that same day. Unfortunately it takes days for me to feel the effects of the medicine. The next day at school I suffered two dizzy spells while walking across campus to the library which resulted in my walking into a parked car and a tree. Embarrassing. The following day I walked into a wall on two separate occasions.

By the end of the week I had three new bruises and no relief from my dizziness. In fact the pain in my ears that I had described as mild to my physician had grown stronger and new symptoms appeared, runny nose, soar throat, the works. Needless to say Todd and I laid low this weekend. I spent my time quietly working on school assignments, laying (a lot of laying) and playing games/watching movies with Todd.

Saturday was a particularly pretty day which led to me feeling particularly morose. On a day as nice as Saturday Todd and I would normally busy ourselves outside. We would walk to one of the restaurants in town and have lunch or ride our bikes or do something with Lucy. I was very bummed to be missing out on such a pretty day but I felt awful. I had a low fever and everything hurt, just wearing clothes hurt. After spending most of the day admiring the blue skies and sun from inside we decided we would find a way to enjoy it that would not lead to feeling overexerted. We got Lucy set up in the backseat of Todd’s car and went for a family drive.

We had no particular destination in mind. It was an adventure. Whenever Todd or I make a wrong turn when driving somewhere or are driving in an unfamiliar area without a clear sense of where we are going we always exclaim, It’s an Adventure! It makes being lost or unsure less scary and way more fun.

We ended up driving down roads in College Park we had not traveled down before and through College Park to Winter Park on more roads we had never traveled. we admired homes and day dreamed about our forever home. We admired all the plants that were blooming and lakes we would drive past. We ended up near one of the local colleges and admired its campus on the lake. Our travels ended when we drove by a gelato shop and stopped for a cool treat.

On the way home I told Todd about my paternal grandfather. He was a pharmacist and owned the first drug store/soda counter in my home town back in the 60’s. Because he was a private business owner he worked all the time. the only day he took off was Sunday because my family is devout Catholic. Dad tells stories about how every Sunday after church grandpa would pile the entire family in the car and go for scenic drives around Florida. Dad says that they would drive for hours, they might drive all the way to Miami and back just to see what they see along the way. I have always thought the idea of being in a car for that long without it being a road trip that ends in a vacation sounds tedious. This was their family time though. Grandpa could have spent his Sundays in front of the TV or catching up on a sleep, any number of things that did not include his family because it was his one day to relax but he didn’t. He wanted to explore the state he lived in, he was a transplant from Wisconsin, and he did it with family in tow.

As we drove home I understood a little bit how family drives with no destination in mind are not all that bad. I don’t think I have the wherewithal to tolerate an all day family drive but being in the car taking a scenic drive with my little family unit was nice. It was a chance to talk and day dream and laugh as Lucy did her “batdog” routine out the backseat window. It made being sick and miserable a little less miserable. It was an adventure.

Living in the Uncomfortable Place

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This semester has been the most difficult for me thus far. It is not specifically the semester that has been challenging, it is just this moment in time, is that makes sense. The issues I have been struggling with have been building slowing over time and recently it came to a point where I could no longer ignore what I was feeling. I had to take sometime, withdraw and focus on these feelings.

In doing this I set my blog to private for a while. I flirted with the idea of deleting it all together because I was not sure if I could be authentic going forward and that has always been my purpose, if that was no longer possible this blog serves no purpose. I hesitated though and I am glad I did because this place has been therapeutic in way over the years as I have been on this journey and I think it will continue to be now that I have a few things figured out.

I have definitely experienced some major growth in a short period of time, a lot of it is thanks to the social work program. I am excited about this but it also means I have been in this really uncomfortable transition place for a while. That is what growth is though sometimes, painful and awkward but incredibly satisfying once you make it to the other side. To be clear, I am not on the other side yet, I am living in this place of awkward discomfort and doing my best to embrace it and process everything.

Another aspect of my withdraw has been with family. This is where I felt concern about my ability to be authentic so I am going to try this on and see how it fits. I have felt a bit disconnected from my family for a while now. There are multiple reasons for this and it has been gradually building. My concern about being able to be authentic with this is that I do not know how comfortable I feel discussing my family issues on here. I am always reminding myself that I have to own everything I put out here for people to read and that is hard when it is something so personal.

Here is where I landed with my feelings on sharing this; I recognize that it is completely up to me what I choose to share here and what I don’t. This is my experience and I don’t owe anyone anything. This is something I need to process though and this blog has been a place for me to do just that over the years. I think it will be baby steps but there will undoubtedly be some personal posts coming out in the near future.

With that being said, for anyone that has been following my blog from the beginning (THANK YOU) you may notice some changes as I figure myself out. I do not know yet what this changes will look like yet but I feel a need to bring this blog up to date for where I am now instead staying in the place I was when I started it.

Spring Cleaning and the Quarterly Purge

One of my top priorities for this weekend was to get organized. Once again I found that shoes had exploded on the floor of my walk-in and once again I felt like my wardrobe was becoming unmanageable. It was time to take action. A while back Todd agreed to build a shoe shelf for my closet but until that time comes I needed to come up with another plan. I also needed to go through and take a critical eye to my entire wardrobe. This includes clothing, accessories the works. It took me 2 hours but I am feeling pretty good about my results, so much so that I decided to share.

I have no “before” photos to share because honestly the state of things was so pitiful I would be mortified to show it off. Here are my post organization photos though.

shoes1

Let’s start with shoes, that is where the problem really began in the first place. I own more pairs that I care to admit to and they had taken over the floor of my closet. I started with my heels. I singled out a few to be sold and/or donated, the rest go on the top shelf of my walk-in. My closet has a wrap around shelf at the top, it is the perfect spot to display some of my favorite shoes as well as keeping them from being damaged.

shoes3

I have a chest of drawers in my closet that formerly held miscellaneous clothes I rarely wore. I removed most of its contents to be donated and am now using it for my flats and wedges. It serves as the perfect place to have easy access while also keeping them from being damaged.

shoes2

What is left over in my ever-growing shoe collection is my boots and sneakers. These I now keep in a plastic storage Tupperware under my dresses. I am less concerned about them being damaged, they are a bit more rough and tumble and it is a good use of floor space while still maintaining order.

jewelry

Next I attacked accessories. When we first moved into the house I mounted these racks over my chest of drawers in the closet to hang my statement necklaces on. It is the ideal place to display and store this part of my jewelry collection.

scarves

My scarves are another area of my wardrobe where I felt I had lost any sense of order that was once present. To correct this situation I went through and separated scarves I no longer wear to be sold/donated and then rolled the rest up by color and placed them into four separate shoe boxes. These shoe boxes are the perfect size to fit into a drawer again allowing practical storage and easy access.

hats and belts

Last on my list of accessories were mt hats and belts. Belts got divided up by frequency of wear and put into different baskets. Hats stacked neatly on the top shelf.

clothes color organization

The last thing to tackle were my clothes. This is always the most overwhelming part of the process though.

clothes color organization2

I started by taking everything out of my closet and going through it piece by piece. Once everything that was slated to be sold/donated was taken out I put the rest back by way of color coordination. I have two racks on the right side of my closet so that is wear my tops and blouses go.

clothes dresses and skirts

The left side has one rack which I hang my dresses and skirts on.

clothes dailt outfit

After having such success with the racks used to hold and display my jewelry I decided it might e nice to have a rack for my outfits of the week. I mounted this rack on the left side of my closet a few months ago and use it to hold an outfit or two that I know I want to wear on any given week. My closet is not that big so I try to make good use of any free space I have.

organized closet

So after a few hours of organizing and purging this is my final product. A much more organized and user-friendly closet.

donate pile

I also ended up with two heaping baskets of clothes and shoes to be sold and donated.

Hopefully these adjustments to my daily organization routine will help get me through the next 6 months until the seasons change again and it is time to reevaluate.

A Luxury that should be a Standard

obey

 

I called this morning and made appointments for Todd and I with the dentist in town to get ourselves established as new patients. Admittedly neither of us has had a cleaning since we moved to College Park, this call was a few years overdue. While scheduling I gave the scheduler our dental insurance information and she informed me we have wonderful dental insurance, some of the best they see in fact. Todd works for one of the largest engineering firms in the country so this did not surprise me to hear. I already knew just from treating patients in the healthcare field that worked for his same employer that the medical insurance was good, it was nice to hear they take care of their employees health across the board. The company encourages their employees to have a healthy lifestyle through a program that adds funds to their HSA by logging their activity with pedometers as well. Free money for making healthy choices is something I can get behind.

The Hospital I formerly worked for was one of the largest, if not the largest, in the central FL area and they had a similar health program that gave incentives for making healthy choices. Now personally I thought their healthcare package was lacking, big time. But as a company they took care of their employees in other ways that were no lost on me. I believe they care about the well-being of those they employ. They were a wonderful company to work for, especially if you did not have to use their insurance package.

After I made our appointment I was thinking what a relief it is to not only have good insurance but encouragement to live healthy and make good choices. With that sense of relief also comes a small pang of guilt though. Why isn’t this the standard? How can I, as a socially conscious human being, truly enjoy the access I am granted to doctors and medical treatment knowing that others in more dire need than myself are denied that same access?! I am grateful for it, absolutely, but I cannot feel good about it, truly, in good conscience.

You have heard the adage, Happy wife, happy life? I think that could apply to employees as well. If great healthcare coverage (dental, vision, maternity.. the works!) was a given in all areas of employment doesn’t it stand to reason that you would end up with healthier, more focused, all around happier employees? I am reading The Power of Habit:Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg. The most recent section I read talked about how a new CEO took over a failing company and turned it all around by focusing on employee safety. His goal was to have zero incidents reported not just at the factory level but at all levels of the company. This was a lofty goal but by turning the focus back onto the well-being of the employee instead of profits etc he not only met his goal but the company became profitable again. If you take care of people they take notice.

To be clear though, I do not think that healthcare access should be limited exclusively to those who are employed. This should be something that all people, regardless of employment status, income, age, race creed etc should have equal access to.

I am not doing any research here to back any of this up, I am just thinking out loud which means these thoughts are unrefined and maybe even a little oversimplified. But really, I think I have a point. A point that I know others before me have already made. This is not some radical idea I am suggesting. Healthcare, or in our countries case – lack thereof, is a topic that is constantly under heavy debate.

I just don’t think it is right for something like this to be considered a luxury. It is not a designer bad, it is someones health. Health, a decent education, refuge, all of these things should be a given not a rarity.

Yes it was nice to hear that we have good dental coverage I just wish that we lived in a society where that kind of thing was the standard. Then there would never be a reason to point it out to a person because it was true for all.

Further Misadventures of Calamity Jill: If It’s not Lost, It’s Broken.

calamity jill   Seems about right..

 

In our house I am the reason we can’t have nice things. This has been true for me my entire life. I have always been the reason I can’t have anything nice and I am usually the reason why it is difficult for anyone I live with to have anything nice. It turns out to be quite fortunate then that I have never been a girl with expensive taste. Impeccable taste, oh yes absolutely, I pride myself in my good taste. But expensive, no never. It is also quite fortunate that nice and expensive are not mutually exclusive.

When Todd and I were dating and we both knew marriage was on the table I explained to him that my engagement/wedding ring would be the only real jewelery he has to get me. The title of this post is why I do not wear real jewelry. It’s true, that for me if it’s not lost it’s broken. I have owned four pieces of real, expensive jewelry in my entire life.. My wedding ring set (obviously), a bracelet bought for me by my parents and a Tiffany necklace that was bought many Christmases ago by an ex.

The bracelet did not make it a week. I was wearing it in a car with my arm partially hanging out the window when I accidentally banged the clasp against the door causing it to break. The bracelet fell out of the moving car into busy traffic and was promptly run over. I was heart broken. Not because of what it was but because it was from my parents and that gave it sentimental value.

The Tiffany necklace, although lovely, should have been a hint to me that the person I was dating did not know me at all. I wasn’t impressed by the fact that it was Tiffany’s, I just liked that it was from him. He could have bought me a sock, just one sock, not even a pair, I would have regarded it the same way I did the Tiffany necklace, I love it because it is from you not because of what it is.

Needless to say, true to form, I lost the Tiffany necklace about a month after it was given to me. Now this took some skill because I wore that necklace everyday. Never the less, I lost it. 3 months later I found it under my night stand covered in dust (I clearly didn’t spend much time under my night stand cleaning).

After those two incidents I decided that was it for me and expensive jewelry. It’s too much pressure and I value it the same way I value fresh cut flowers. Save your money and just get the flowers was my approach to conventional romantic gifts going forward. And my parents, while understanding about the bracelet catastrophe, learned their lesson as well.

Now here I am on my third and fourth pieces of expensive jewelry and wouldn’t you know it, in 8+ years I haven’t changed one bit. I am no less clumsy or more trustworthy with costly merchandise than I was back then. I blame it on the attention-to-detail issues I have always had. I have had my rings for a relatively short period of time (one over a year and the other about a month) and already I have managed to crush the band.

That’s right folks, I crushed platinum. Don’t ask me how for I have no answer. I just looked down and noticed one of the diamonds on my band was not shining as brightly. Upon further inspection (by Todd) we realized I had crushed one side of the band, completely obliterating the milgrain that was previously there. And in doing this I also apparently jostled one of the diamonds which is why it looks different.

I am very thankful that I married someone who truly knows how calamitous I am and therefore spared me the lecture and just started the process of filing a claim with the insurance. I love that man.

I am a little bummed that I will have to send my ring away to be fixed but I am not surprised by any of this. Guaranteed this will not be our last claim filed with the jewelry insurance either because this is me, I am rough and haphazard and these diamonds are in for a bumpy ride.

You know, what I said at the beginning about not being able to have nice things is not completely accurate the more I think about it. I have plenty of nice “things”. I have an incredibly nice husband, I’d venture to say he is one of the nicest. I also have a nice family and over all a very nice life. Lucky for me the nice “things” I have are durable and flexible and forgiving which means that no amount of calamities I can throw at them would cause them to ever become broken or lost. For that I am thankful.