Bitty and Beau’s

We had spent the majority of the week in South Carolina. Yet we were ready for something different. On a whim, we decided to visit family down near Savannah. It was a beautiful morning, and we took off around 6am. Heavy fog sat at ground level, the air sticky and warm. It would be a great beach day, but we had traveling to do. We got settled in the car, and headed south on route 17 towards Georgia.

The ride was pleasant. The morning was warm and sunny. We rode through the  South Carolina countryside, taking everything in.  We passed by deep marshes, and wide open fields. There were also small towns, that passed by. It was beautiful country, and I’m glad I got a chance to see it.

Soon found the need for caffeine gnawing at our bones. As I navigated the rush hour traffic just north of Charleston,  my husband looked to find us a coffee shop. We were looking for a local place.

We had bad luck the entire trip trying to find good coffee. We repeatedly visited Dunkins, which is a staple in New England. Yet we could never get coffee made the way we wanted. We both like our coffee dark. We couldn’t get a coffee without a gallon of cream added in. We tried everything, to no avail. So we wanted a local place, knowing that they usually let you dress your own coffee.

We stumbled upon Bitty and Bea’s by accident. It was the highest rated coffee shop in town. He looked through their page, murmuring that it looked really good..

” Your going to love this place, they work with people with Intellectual and Development Disabilities.” He said with a smile.

Bitty and Beau’s was founded on the idea that people with disabilities have a place in our society. You can read more about their incredible mission here. It is a mission that is close to my heart. I am a direct support professional, and working with people with IDD is my passion. These people are often marginalized, even by those with the best intentions. Many people champion inclusion, but few people follow through with those promises.  The Wright family has though, and they are changing lives in the process.

We stopped in on our way through Charleston. They are in a renovated spot, off of Church Street.The inside is modern and welcoming. There was a beautiful picture up on the wall of the employees. Above the group shot, was the explanation of the organization, and the ideals they represent.

We were ushered in by a soft spoken young man who took our orders. We got two cups of coffee and a couple of pastries. The young man that served us, was attentive, sweet and professional. The service was great, the coffee was tasty and the muffins were warm and tasted perfect.We took our goodies and sat on the benches that looked out over the street. On our way out the door, I grabbed one of their their awesome T-shirts too.

It was a pleasant stop on our road trip to Georgia. I’m so thankful it was our first taste of Charleston. If you are Charleston, I recommend that you check them out.  It was such a unique experience, but it shows us what we are all capable of.

 

 

Road Notes: Savannah

Savannah was many things. Much more than the Spanish moss I went there to see.

It was a waterfront, with a wide open park. People sat upon the benches, twisting palms in their hands, calling out to us. The muddy river wound lazily by, only interrupted by the ferry.  A Child circled a monument of the world broken in two, his father explaining the world war.  Just beyond was the cobblestones of River Street. People walked down the sidewalks, drink in hands, taking full advantage of the historic district.

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It was the cotton exchange, and the complex history of the Antebellum South. The worn cobbled streets,  and their legacy.  It was Factors Walk, and the many people who had worked here. As we wound our way through, I could feel the legacy thick in the air, history that I had learned years ago leapt off the pages.

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It was the green spaces, that change the character of the city.  Old live oaks towering over parks, dappling the sunshine on old brick walkways. The many flowers in bloom and the way their perfumes hung in the air.  The fountains that bubble over with cold water on a hot summer night. Tourists wandered cameras in hand, as locals sit on benches quietly. The parks were a quiet place of rest.

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It was the pain of a fallen office. Outside the police department there was a memorial for a police officer that was killed days prior to our visit. To see a police cruiser covered in flowers with a portrait out in front brought home the meaning of violence against the police.

Savannah showed me southern charm.  We only skimmed the surface in our short visit. Someday I hope to go back, and hope to immerse myself in the beauty that is Savannah.

Finding Myself

I went for a walk to clear my head tonight. The days are still cold, but the bright sun lingers a bit longer each day. I’m exhausted, but trying my best to take advantage the extra daylight. We are living in Manchester, and I take walks up at the local college. Being on campus made me yearn for more. My college experience was very limited, as much of my life has been. Tonight my thoughts drifted to my path so far. I have been too cautious, and there have been direct negative effects on my well being.

My choices have always been based off what is best for everyone, even if it hurts me. My youth was spent as a shield, protecting my sister from my alcoholic mother. I attended a college that wasn’t my choice, because of my parents thought it best. A guidance counselor in high school told me that writing wasn’t a legitimate career. Her word made me question my passion, and set me back years. I chose not to move West based on uneducated opinions. My wedding was complicated by selfish actions of those who I thought would always be there for me. I always go above and beyond for people who don’t deserve it.

I am struggling. My entire life, my personality has been smothered. As a child I was sheltered, never given a chance to fail. My teens were shaped by judgements of those who thought they knew better. As an adult I’ve been surrounded by people who question my choices, and do not value my intelligence. And I have allowed others guide me into this sense of oblivion. I have been turned into a cautious timid person, who avoids change.

That time is done.

2019 is a rebuilding year. The house is being brought right to the ground, and rebuilt by my rules. I am done playing by the rules, and trying to appease everyone. I am off on an adventure, to find myself. My needs are coming first, regardless of what others think.

who knows where my path will lead, but I will be the one who picks the direction.

Overcoming Chaos

To say this weekend has been rough is an understatement.

My instinct is to keep things private. To discuss things is to let that wall down. To let people in is to show weakness. It goes against everything that has been bred into me since childhood. Yet sharing can be cathartic, and helps us grow.   There has been a big change in my thinking, that I just noticed over the last few days. This weekend was challenging, but I overcame it.

Photo by Hristo Fidanov

When we went to bed on Thursday, I noticed Maddie, our 10 month old Australian Shepard, was acting strange. She tried to get up and couldn’t. Her body was raked with tremors that quickly developed into full  blown seizures. It was a nightmare with my eyes open. Nothing is worse than not being able to go fast enough as your puppy  shakes uncontrollably in your husbands arms.

We were able to get her to the vet, and thankfully, she is Ok,  The Vet thinks she got into something and it had to work itself through her system.  We got incredibly lucky, and are happy to have her home. Yet it was terrifying. You know it is part of the deal, but it doesn’t make it easier emotionally.

We stayed until they had fully checked her out. We didn’t get home until 3 am Friday morning. Maddie had been given Valium and was sleeping . We had to monitor as she came down, to ensure the seizures had stopped. I was up until 5 am and missed work on Friday because of it.

The rest of the weekend was bumpy as well. My paycheck was two days late, which was a major issue.  We were not able to go out for our special dinner on Friday. I didn’t end up getting bills paid until Saturday. I also managed to get a nasty cold.  Sick and tired, it has been difficult to rest and catch up on that sleep.  The bad things just seemed to keep coming.  It has been a challenging couple of days .

But, it is important to keep moving. And I believe that my focus on positive thinking has been paying off in big ways. In the past, a weekend like this would have brought me right down. I would have stuck in a bad mood, and unable to do anything. This weekend I was able to ride out the challenges, and do it with a positive attitude. I was also able to stay productive. I  finished an entire book, and wrote.  The chores were done, and the bills paid. It was challenging, but I was able to get things despite the challenges.

It was a good weekend, despite the issues. I am learning to rise above the daily challenges, and remain positive.  There is a certain amount of pride that. life hasn’t been easy, but with the right attitude, I can overcome it. This revelation shows me what I am capable of accomplishing. It give me confidence to push into the future.

Till next time’

Colleen

Wildflowers

Tomorrow is Valentines Day, the one day many people take to celebrate love. For me the holiday has almost became too much. I have a major issue with the way holidays are peddled in the United States.  We are bombard by displays in stores, and TV advertisements for jewelry.  The day has become an excuse to sell stuff. yet at the heart of it, I think there is still some good. There are plenty of people who still use small meaningful gestures to express the holiday. It got me thinking about our new lifestyle. What does minimalist Valentines Day look like?

Thus year is our first Valentines day as a married couple. The day is a big milestone for us. It gives us a chance to look back on the wedding, and our relationship. We have come so far, and there are many exciting days ahead for us.  I’m so thankful that I have someone to share all of my adventures with. We plan on taking it pretty easy tomorrow. We may go out for food, and we will spend some time enjoying each others company. Last weekend we went to Wilson Farm in Lexington, Massachusetts. My husband, Ed got me a beautiful bunch of flowers.

It was the perfect gift.  Flowers are a meaningful symbol in my life. I love the way the Lupines, come out and welcome warm days in the mountains. They are followed by the Black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s Lace. In 2017 we said goodbye to our Boxer Birdie in a field of Flowers in Sugar Hill.  The year after my Mother passed away, her Lilac Bush that never bloomed burst out with dozens of colorful, fragrant flowers.  At our wedding our first dance song was a cover of Wildflowers, by the Wailin Jennys and My bouquets had wildflowers.  Flowers remind me of good times, and important  time, both good and bad.  We have had a cold dreary winter, and the flowers remind me of warmer weather. They are the perfect addition to the house.

 I know so many people, who would expect so much more. A simple bouquet would be an insult.  much. Often people get wrapped in these holidays. They feel obligated to show how much they care through things. We have been taught that the size of the price tag should match up with how much we care. For me, its more than that. The spirit of the gift is what means the most. Minimalism is perfect for me, because gestures mean more than things. My husband does not need to buy chocolates or gifts to prove his love, he has done that through his actions. All I wanted was a small reminder of the love that we share, and he gave me that.  The simple gesture of love, will carry me through the rest of the cold February days.  For me that is the perfect minimalist Valentines Day.

Excuse me, while I go enjoy my flowers, and think of Spring.

 

Till next time!

Colleen

 

Cover Photo by Barnes Photography!

 

Waves at Wallis

Today was a rough Monday. I felt tired, and stretched out, and couldn’t really settle. My mood was volatile, and I did only did the least expected of me. My daily life has been boring as of late. Right now, what is getting me through is the thoughts of tomorrow. The trips we are planning for this Summer is helping me through Winter. After work, I decided to look through pictures, to cheer myself up.

A few weeks back , we went out to the ocean on Sunday. We went up to the Hampton Beach. We got caught up doing family stuff, and didn’t get to the beach before sunset. My plan was to be there earlier, and the delay frustrated me. Honestly I was angry that that we didn’t get to the beach earlier. The plan to go to several beaches changed to a quick stop at Wallis sands. My opportunity seemed to have been lost. I rushed out, and began taking pictures.

Despite the challenges, it was a good trip. My pictures came out great, and It brought me peace. I got to thinking about everything on the way home. I tend to get wrapped up in things. My emotions tend to run wild, and cause problems. I get all bent out of shape when things don’t go the way they were planned. But that is life, and I have to learn to breath.

I have to let go and enjoy the twists in the road. That is when the best adventures happen.

How I came to Minimalism

Why Minimalism?

Its was one of the first, big questions. It’s an alternative lifestyle. One that many people find peculiar. So I wanted to share how so realized it was the life that I wanted to live.

I don’t need much to be happy. As I grow older, I find that the simpler the better. Nothing makes me happier than a clean uncluttered room. Honestly, I am stressed out by too many things. I find peace in quiet clean spaces. I also have a hard time cleaning, so less stuff makes staying orderly easier. Nothing feels better than sitting down after you cleaned the house, everything in its rightful place.

Another reason was the realization that my best memories revolve around experiences, not things. A few years ago, we went to Arches, we drove across Iowa. I have walked on the beaches of Norfolk on a rainy morning, and walked the hallowed halls of the U.S Holocaust museum. I have had some amazing experiences, but none of them are centered around things. I want to continue that roaming lifestyle . We cannot do that if we are encumbered by possessions.

I also have a issue with materialism. We live in a throwaway society. It is a society that places too much value on things, and not the content of peoples character. We don’t fix things anymore, and there is something sad about that. We also are doing damage to the planet with our wants versus needs attitude. I believe that we could do with a lot less. I may not be able to convince others, but I can make a difference with my actions.

So here are the core reasons why I am turning to minimalism. I believe that less is more. Hopefully this will helped me feel better, and live authentically. I will keep you all updated on our progress.

Till next time
-Colleen