The Advantage of Great Change

Sometimes changes are a singular thing such as a promotion, moving to a new place, a new job, a pet etc.  When those happen, other changes may follow suit as you adapt your life to the change in routine.  Over the course of ones life, these things will happen often and sometimes it’s a combination of changes that happen in a short amount of time, unconnected, that end up becoming intertwined.  Hence a big or great change happens.

Which has pretty much been this year.

My mom passed away earlier this year.  Her health took a nasty turn in the very beginning of the year.  Around that time, the demands at work increased and my caseload more than doubled.  Between those and little things, I was glad to look forward to the summer months in which my requirements were almost nonexistent.  I could focus on myself.  That is, until I got laid off a week after school let out.  Long story short, I was able to get a new job within two weeks and I’ll start at the end of August, when my school year would’ve started.

My new job has me relocating, although I don’t know where I’ll be until I finish the class/training I’m currently doing.  The good news is the places I’d be relocating to cost less than half of what I’m paying in Northern Virginia, but the bad things is the slight pay cut and the fact I have to move.  Truth be told, the traffic in the area have been eating at me more and more, making me reconsider where I eventually want to be.  The areas I’ll be place are definitely not it, but life throws you a curve ball.  I’m excited about the work I’ll be doing and I can still keep up with my violin lessons, volunteer work, see friends, go to music shows, travel etc.

On a lighter note, I went to New York City this past weekend/last week and had an amazing time!  It may be my favorite city!  This weekend/later this week I’ll do a formal post about it, but for now I wanted to do a quick post and check in.  I’ll be ending my travels for a little while in two weeks (rounding out the summer with a trip to Ontario).  I really need to get a job that requires distant travel or has a remote location option..

Ocean City!

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Shortly after my mom died, one of my close friends of 10 years suggested a road trip and vacation for the two of us.  It culminated into a multi-day trip to Ocean City, Maryland.  I’d never been personally and my friend hadn’t been in several years.  Long story short, we made our 4 hour drive to Ocean City on Tuesday and came back Thursday in better spirits and well rested (and with better tans?)  We’re both fair skinned so it’s burn and tan or stay pale.

Since my friend had to go into work for a brief period, we left in the early part of the afternoon on Tuesday.  Along the way my friend introduced me to the Hamilton soundtrack which I have since bought/downloaded.  We won’t discuss its presence in my head or how often I’ve listened to several songs.

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We stayed at the Sea Bay Hotel and it was definitely a great choice!  We were able to walk to the beach from it and there’s a cafe inside which really came in handy since there was no formal breakfast place.  Everyone was so friendly and welcoming too.  Since we got in late and only had a snack for lunch, we went out for dinner at Shenanigans.    We poked around a few shops along the boardwalk and found a nice bookstore and shell themed shop.

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We hit the beach early Wednesday morning and stayed for a long time.  I’m sorry to say I haven’t been to the beach in six years at Perdido Key in Florida.  It was lovely to catch some sun, waves and get in some reading.

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For dinner we went to Ropewalk and it was a fantastic choice.  The salmon I had, along with the rice pilaf and green beans were fantastic.  If/when I go back to Ocean City, I’ll definitely go back.  They also have a gorgeous view of the ocean (see top photo of this post).  Afterwards we went to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and explored the Boardwalk.

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Going to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. I’ve always had a huge interest in the strange, unusual and paranormal.  Suffice to say, I have a staggering collection of books on the subject.  That said, growing up my parents had NO interest in him and even with friends very few held an interest, so I was ecstatic when my friend said she wanted to go as well.

(A structure made of camel bone and Egyptian relics or relics)

(Vampire killing kit, Captain America made of car parts and an Iron Maiden)

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On our way out Thursday morning, we made a pit stop at Fractured Prune.  My friend snagged some donuts for her husband and we are our strawberry and lemonade donuts too fast to get around to taking pictures (it was 11am and we’d only had coffee and water).

We made one last stop before coming back to Virginia in the town of Berlin, Maryland.  It was named best small town in the United States back in 2014 and I can see why.  The town center is cute and it has a natural charm to it.  It’s population of over 4,000 is the same as my small hometown, but this one has much more to offer.  If given in the chance, it’d be a great town to do a cheap/laid back overnight in.

 

Have you had any trips to the beach this year?

The Process of Moving

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Earlier this year I knew it was highly likely I’d be moving.  The long, draining commute to my teaching job only increased that likelihood as the school year progressed.  So much of my life (2 hours on average!) was lost stuck in traffic.  It sucked.  This August will mark 2 years since I moved into current apartment, but due to commuting and the increasing price of rent (what I pay in NOVA makes me sick and I’m paying on the lower end) confirmed my idea to move.

 

I’ve begun the preliminary process of the move I’ll do when my lease is up at the end of August.  The last time I had a really big move (not counting the transition after getting a job here in NOVA since everything was packed up and I was living with minimal needs for six months) I packed up everything in the span of 2.5 weeks.  I made a huge trip to Goodwill, ate up food, did very little shopping and sold stuff.  Now I have six weeks to pack up.  I can only do so much this month (especially with me in the midst of travels), but I can start.  Therefore my goals for moving preparation this month are;

  1. Going through items and deciding what needs to be sold/not moved (already started)
  2. Eating through frozen meals/freezer/ingredients-most of what I eat are perishable vegetables, but I do have some things I’d rather finish off (saving money) than move with me.
  3. End of month-packing up unneeded items in boxes and putting them in storage
  4. Reading books on my TBR shelf, movies, games and selling the ones I don’t want to keep.
  5. Going through clothes ala my yearly clothing purge.  I do this once a year and wear everything in my closet.  If I can’t justify it, away it goes.
  6. Finally donating that box of stuff I have chilling in my closet.

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With a month and some odd days still to go, there isn’t a ton of stuff I can do, though when I turn in my non-renewal the in a week and a half, I’ll start boxing stuff up.  I have a love hate relationship with moving.  Not counting my moves to college and non-transitional moves less than 2 months, I have moved 5 times as of the age of 28.  The average American has moved 11.4 times.  Being the young nomad that I am, I would be willing to bet money I’ll exceed the average.  Speaking of, I once had a supervisor, who by my age, had moved 10 times (she moved every year, even if within the same city).  My moves have always been for job relocation or to cut down on moves and within state.  However, I would like to live in another state or country someday!

Have you moved in the last year?  

Like a Teenage summer, but with Money

Yesterday was Father’s Day and in the early hours of sun rise I drove to my hometown to meet my dad.  He was in the front yard weeding the flower beds my mom had carefully kept until she got sick.  Seeing me drive up, he turned and urged me to park on the hill (lest my grandmother, who has a history of backing into cars, hit it).  We switched to my moms blue truck and we were off on our annual father daughter day (for Father’s Day).

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We had a disappointing trip at the flea market (those deals we used to get in the 90s and early 00s!) and had great conversations along the way.  We went to several hardware stores that he wanted to go to and we rounded things off with lunch.  With the pre-summer heat and me riding shotgun with my dad driving my truck, it felt like the many years of my life spent in that situation.

As we made our way home, we got stuck on a backroad and ventured past the house of one of my closest friends (since 3rd grade).  This summer has an oddly similar feel to the summers of my teenage and the summer of my freshman year of college.  This is the first summer, since I was 14, that my summer has not involved working.  From the age of 15-19, I either took classes part-time in the summer or worked part-time.  This still left me with a decent chunk of free-time.  Free-time that was spent with friends playing video games, watching movies, going shopping and there was a lot of it.  There was a lot of it.

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Countless afternoons were spent doing just the above from the age of 14-19. I remember watching a lot of anime, going to the movies at least every two weeks and playing a significant amount of games.  I also had 1-2 part-time jobs while attending high school and college, meaning I had money to divulge in entertainment, with bills few in number.

Those were the days, as they say, but of course those days came to an end.  My friends either transferred to another college from our local community college, dropped out or decided to pursue a career rather than further their education.  I went the transfer route and school engulfed me as well as my new friends.  Summers still had those ‘lazy days’, but increasing coursework and real life responsibilities took over.  I didn’t have the money to spend on entertainment like I did and eventually it become a rarity (1/3-1/2 the 100+ DVDs and boxsets I own were bought between 14-19).

After graduating college, I spent a year working 3 jobs and taking classes because I was trying to kickstart my career.  The following 5 years would see me in 3 jobs (including my current one).  Working at year round schools, I never had summers off, but I did have 6 weeks off, in total, throughout the year.  Tomorrow presents me with something unfamiliar, however, 2 months off, paid.  I have the freedom to do what I would like.  I could play video games all day, I could pretend to be a teenager again and binge an anime series if I’d like.  It’s extremely rare for me to do it now, as I’m too much of an A-type personality to do that all day unless it includes socializing.

Stil….I think I will.  Sure, I have actual things to do and I’ll be spending most of my summers traveling or visiting loved ones, but a lazy day of gaming and watching TV would be rejuvenating, an escape from the real world.  After all….

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June: An Ending and Beginning

June has been streaming along quickly on my end between end of the year duties and the excitement of summer vacation.  Thankfully things are rounding up on the school end of things, though it still feels that there’s a lot to get done by next Tuesday. Once my progress reports get some small edits (most were perfect!) and grades get done, I can focus on cleaning out my classroom.  I’ve already started the process, but I still have a ways to go!

As I make my way through things, I’ve finally gotten the chance to plan out more Summer activities (mostly booking hotels).  Still ironing out the details on two trips and making a list of some day trips to take!

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I got to engage in what I consider the starting point of my summer travels this weekend!  I went to an out of state CD release show (metal) with one of my best friends.  Sadly my phone died during the concert, but it was a fun show and I got to chat with some cool people.  Later that morning (!!) I traveled with my cousins to Appomattox. As you can see from the picture, it was a gorgeous day to go!

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Next weekend is Awesome Con (I’m meeting Stan Lee!!)  at Awesome Con.  I’ve been wanting to go for a few years since its pretty close and I’m finally fulfilling that want.  David Tennant, John Barrowman and others will be there too.  I met Tennant two years ago and I’m tempted to meet Barrowman as well (at the very least, I’ll go to their panels).

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(swag from Toomanygames last year)

The following weekend will be spent at Too Many Games.  This will be my third year going to it.  I’m looking forward to playing ‘too many games’, going to some panels of you tubers I follow and interacting with a great community of gamers.

Amongst the fun, exciting things I have planned, I’m looking forward to having some days of quiet and time spent with friends.  This year has easily been the most difficult year of my life due to losing my mother and  I’m looking forward to some much needed rest and happy times ahead.  Hopefully once work ends, I can cast aside the stress, anxiety, sadness and despair the first half of the year has given me.

Approaching the End

Waking up, I check the time on my phone.  I would be late to work if I woke up this late, even though the sun has barely been up.  A sense of relief washes over too as I realize that tomorrow is a day off from work.  In 23 days, at 12:30pm, I will be free until late August from work demands.  In that time there are 15 work days remaining (1 of which is a workday and two are half-days counting the last day).  It’s the end of the year, crunch time and I’m certainly counting down the time until what has been my most challenging year of teaching.

I didn’t anticipate the volume of paperwork required for the end of the year.  Progress reports (I’m a SPED teacher) and grades were things I knew and anticipated in advance.  However, I didn’t anticipate student yearly summaries, awards, checkout logs and my own paperwork to turn in before checking out.  The good thing is many things are due 2 weeks before the end of the year, with the last things due four days before.  I’ve turned in some early, but there’ll be many late nights for the other things!

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Lesson plans have been thinning out since I’ve covered most of what needed to be done in advance.  Since grades stop a week and a half before the end of the year, I plan on reviewing concepts and introducing activities and subjects students are interested in.  Once I turn in my paperwork, things should be smooth sailing, at last!

With the end near, I’m also getting into heavy planing territory with my summer plans.  I haven’t had a ‘free’ summer, without work on classes since…ever?  High school?  Do teen years even count? I have plenty of things mapped out during my months of wandering (and paid, woo!)  Planning said travels does make for a good reinforcer for completing end of the year work!

A Cause for Absence

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It’s been several months since my last post on here.  Many blogs fall to the wayside as people get busy, their motivation changes or they lose interest.  The reason for my absence is due to the first, but not in the typical sense.

I’ve wanted to post and attempted a few, but I couldn’t get over the hurdle.  The reason was because I wasn’t ready to say why my motivation had teetered off.  I don’t want to go into huge details, some friends didn’t know about it until months after things took a turn for the worst.  On April 20th, my mom passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Last year my moms cancer returned (she had been in remission for 4 years from breast cancer).  She was sick off and on until they found a drug that worked.  She was living with stage 4 cancer, metastasized breast cancer. People can live for decades with it. However, things took a turn by the fall when the cancer spread to her bones.  they started new drugs which seemed to keep the cancer at bay.  Then, she got sick with the NORA virus.

After that she got progressively worse.  She went to the Anderson Center in Texas and got very positive response…but she was putting on fluid and in pain.  She was too sick to do a scan and it’s likely the cancer had spread to other parts of her body.  She got worse and became bedridden.  Hospice was called and she was in and out of consciousness and the hospital.  A month after her appointment in Anderson she passed away.

Suffice to say, I have been a complete wreck the last few months.  There is a lot of documented research on the effects of losing a loved one, especially after an illness.  Reading through them, I see it in me.  It’s affected my job performance and the stress of not doing well has only made things worse.  This has been the hardest period of my life and I still feel like I’m in a fog.

During this time, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received.  I’ve felt very loved during this time and overwhelmed by my friends and family friends.  Several came to visit, 5 came to the funeral and I still get daily checks from several people.  I am beyond blessed to have the people in my life that I do.

My mom was an amazing woman and I don’t just say that as her daughter.  The people who told me stories of how she had changed their lives, of her talents of her being one of a kind….they all lead up to her.  There are people who remind you of others because of who they are, but of the thousands upon thousands of people I’ve met, none have reminded me of her.  And I’m not alone in that thought.

Today is Mother’s Day and I know it’ll be a rough day.  The constant reminders of what holiday it is breaks my heart.  My mom was the person closest to me and the person who kept me grounded.  However, I go forward in her memory, striving to live up to me a person she is proud of.  I received several messages and had several people approach me in the midst of her funeral saying how proud of me she was, how much like her I was.

Heading forward, I plan on doing more frequent posts (plus school is ending in 27 days…) .  Positive things and vibes coming soon!

 

2017: The Year of Adventure

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The morning of January 1, 2017 started being in the presence of friends.  2016 seems to have been a rough year for many, myself included.  The emergence of 2017 didn’t mean an end to the strife that existed in 2016, but it did represent a new chapter, a new chance to try and make things better.

The travel bug proved stronger than my fatigue, as I was running on 5 hours of sleep.  I gave into it and drove down the interstate with no sure destination in mind.  Ultimately, I pulled over and mapped out a beach.  Sandy Point, located in Maryland was the one that popped up first.  Making my way through DC, I made it to my destination and was walking on the beach with other beach-goers before 11am.

From there, I journeyed to a nearby local coffee shop around Kent Island before heading back in time to meet up with friends for board games. In that time, I was contacted for an interview as a voice actor for a video game. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time (I have 12 years of theater experience and have only stopped it since leaving college). Update: I got it!

As I traveled, I was reminded of my big goal for the year, adventure.  I’m going into 2017 with a plan for more adventures. Given the prep/research and purchases I’ve made so far towards long distance travel I think I’m on the right course.  I’ve already volunteered out of state once (as of this writing) and if this month is setting the tone for the year, it really will be a year of adventure!  Below are my goals 15 Adventure goals for 2017

 

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1.Go hiking.

With several trails around me, this is something I just need to plan a day to do…once it gets warmer!

2. Visit at least one abandoned place

I have a huge obsession with abandoned places.  I went to an abandoned mental hospital two years ago and had some interesting things happen.  I’d love to do it again!

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3. Travel to 3 states I’ve never been to before

I’m planning on taking a road trip through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois this spring or summer, which will quickly knock this goal out.  I’m hoping to do a fall New England trip  which will add 1-2 more states covered on my travel map.

4.Visit museums

There’s a couple in Vermont and Connecticut I’d like to check out (just not the one with the Annabelle doll).  Living outside of DC, I’ll also have ample opportunity to see those as well!

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5. Attend at least 2 conventions

Generally I go to 2-3 conventions a year.  Last year I ended up going to 3, a tie for the 3 I did in 2015.  I generally have fun at them, but I’m staying clear of Wizard World based on my bad experiences at Philadelphia last year and some other issues from past cons.  Toomanygames is definitely going to be one (3rd year!)

6. Galloping Ghost

It’s in Illinois and it boasts around 500 arcade machines.  You bet I’m checking it out!

7. Visit a friend in Indiana

Three years ago one of my friends in Indiana came to visit me and another friend in Virginia.  It’s time to return the favor!

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8. Go to California

I’m trying to decide when to go (either as soon as school is out for the summer or in April).  It’ll also be my first west coast trip!

9) Volunteer for Heifer International

One of my favorite organizations and I’ve already signed up to volunteer in the spring and during the summer!

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10) Visit an abandoned theme park/location

I have a *small* obsession with abandoned places and there’s a crazy amount located in the United States.  Some that I want to check out are actually open periodically, despite being *abandoned* and I hope to pay those a visit.

11) Go abroad

Despite my love of other countries and cultures, desire to travel and what not, I haven’t been outside the United States.  I’m planning to change that come summer with a trip to the United Kingdom.  Currently my biggest debate is whether to do a group trip or look at cheaper alternatives.

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12) Restaurants and Coffee shops

When my friends visit or vice versa, we often make it a goal to check out new restaurants or coffee shops. I set a goal of 20 new restaurants & coffee shops a year and often exceed that.  I can’t be the only coffee lover who doesn’t love going to a new town and checking out the *best* local coffee shop?

13) Road Trip

There’s something about hopping in my car to go someplace, over an hour away at least, that I find exhilarating.  I plan on taking a week long road trip sometime this year (knocking out a few other adventure goals on this list) and can’t wait!

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14) Fly on an airplane

Embarrassingly, I have yet to fly in an airplane (or anything for that matter).  This is definitely a must do for me if I plan on going to California and the United Kingdom this year.  The great thing is I live near a major airport!  The bad thing is I’m very nervous about flying, but the anxiety is dimming as it becomes more of a reality I’ll face.

15) Attend more festivals, events

There’s a ton near me (living outside of DC/in the Northern Virginia area) and I’m hoping to attend more than the measly 2-3 I attended last year.

 

 

What are your adventure goals for 2017?

December Emerges

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If I were to file the last 5 months (August through December), it would fall in the category of ‘being overwhelmed’.  I tend to label times of my life with good, neutral and bad traits and reflect on them in passing.  It helps me to see the overall view of things, and to prepare or prevent.  In the case of the last five months, neither preparation or prevention could have taken place.  I had to take a class and I’m a first year teacher in an academically driven school.

To combat the high rates of anxiety and stress, even failure that I felt, I strived to live one day at a time.  Thanks to a combination of that, making sure I spent 2-3 nights/days a week with a close friend or friends, and limiting travel, I kept sane.  Going forward into next year, I’ll keep the good rhythm I have going at work (scaling down to 50-55 hours a week!) and NOT take a class in the coming semester.  I think classes will have to be kept on hold until summer months in the future.

It’s too much for me to manage my personal life,  a class and teaching without turning into a mess at points (crying, locking myself away, feeling really anxious).  In terms of where I file the last 5 months, it falls somewhere below my senior year of college (both semesters), my freshman year in college and before my middle school years.

 

With that out of the way, it’s December!  When I was a kid, December seemed to drag and I remember having dreams about Christmas being skipped.  December is shaping up to be a pretty busy month as I make plans with friends, family, attend Christmas celebrations and  get everything done I need to before the end of the year.

 

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Ten years ago, the trailers for Final Fantasy (then FFXIII: Versus) began coming out.  I was in high school then.  This past week, Final Fantasy XV was finally released and so far, it was well worth the wait. I’ve clocked in ten hours so far and hope to put in some more later today.

I’ve played every Final Fantasy 1-X-2 at least once, with little play be given to XIII.  I still have yet to play XII and either the of the online games.  I’ve played a few of the tactics games and recently bought Final Fantasy Worlds as well.  I love the series and while FFXV is different, it’s different in a good way.  With stunning surroundings, beautiful music, great gameplay and pretty amusing dialog, it’s become a game I have to spend at least 20 minutes playing every day.

If you own a PS4 or Xobxone and enjoy RPG’s, give it a shot!

 

What are you looking forward to in December?

 

 

A weekend Retreat

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This weekend I volunteered at a retreat center that for two years I spent most of my summer (college and post college).  It was out of the blue a one-time friend, contacted me, inviting me to come back.  God must’ve been listening to my thoughts, as I had been thinking about the organization for a few weeks prior and my desire to return (it’s been 4 years).  It was an organization I love deeply, but after a nasty break-up with a friend (who is deeply involved), I felt that I was not allowed back, even though it had no relation.

Thankfully, that was not the case and I made a joyous return there.  My stay was amazing and I sincerely can’t wait to go back.  The staff has mostly changed, but everything there felt right and I found peace in my time there.  I served as a host and assisted a group of bishops (from around the U.S. and abroad).

I stayed at the retreat in a simple room that, being a minimalist, suited me perfectly.  A bed, good desk, couch and bathroom in a not too big, not too small place was perfect.  Being cut off from technology also aided in my peace and renewal.  As much as I can rely on technology, I’m the sort who has a love-hate relationship with it.  I really wish I could’ve been part of my parents generation before this technology stuff became all consuming in our society!

 

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As I sat eating breakfast with a table of bishops this morning, the discussion of minimalism came up.  One brought up that she once had a large house, but sold it in favor of a 1 bedroom apartment with adequate space for one.  Another chimed in to say it was hardest to part with her books.  So the conversation went, which made me reflect on my own thoughts of minimalism.

Recently I sat down and began mapping out, on paper, my plans in the coming months and through 2017 to reach my undetermined minimalism goal.  Starting large won’t work, so I’m in the process of setting a few objectives towards minimalism as a whole.  I’ve been working towards this over the last 2 years, but now I’m ready to buckle down more.  This year has been another stride towards that through;

  • Buying high quality items (particularly clothing and accessories)
  • Continuing to go through things every few months
  • Being more considerate of what I buy and use

 

Next year I hope to (this is my ‘so far’ list)

  • Buy less things than I get rid of
  • Invest in only high quality items that I need
  • Replace furniture I don’t want/need with things that will last for a long time
  • Move into a smaller apartment (with hardwood floors)

 

Off-shooting from minimalism, volunteering this weekend reminded me of my true self and calling.  I love helping others and being in a place where I help and travel renewed me.  On a spiritual level, I felt more connected to God (nature has always done that for me, along with minimalism, volunteering and aiding others).  This weekend was meant to be, so to speak and I look forward to the lessons, growth and change I will accomplish in the coming months and through next year when it continues to happen.