Port City

One of the best things about New England is that everything is centralized. My husband and I live in Manchester New Hampshire. This definitely has challenges, but also allows us opportunities. One of these is the fact that we are only an 1 1/2 hours from Portland Maine. Friday we took full advantage, and took a afternoon ride up to the Port City.

Our first stop was Bissell Brothers on Thompson Point. They are a craft brewery, and have incredible beers. My husband checked it out and ended up buying some cans. After we grabbed a pair of drafts and a couple of bar stools and enjoyed the patio. We also grabbed a quick snack at Locally Sauced, a fast food joint neighboring the brewery. My husband got the steak quesadilla. It came warm with a side of beatiful. pico de gallo. It was the perfect companion to my Baby Genius.

Our next stop in town was Portland Head Light. We drove over the Casco Bay Bridge, the sun dappling through the windows, the smell of the ocean sneaking in. The bridge sits high above the bay, giving visitors wide vistas of the city. We enjoyed the view before the bridge eased down into South Portland. We passed old brick buildings, and restaurants with outdoor seating. As we got closer to the light, the small neat victorians gave way to large gated estates. Within a few minutes we were taking the slight left turn into Fort Williams Park, the home of Portland Head light. I grew up going to park. We would go visit on New Years Day, all bundled up as we sat up against the fence the lighthouse behind us. Coming to the light felt like coming home.

A paved road snakes up through the woods before opening into a wide grassy area. The parking lot, in the midst of the vast picnic area. The land slopes down before meeting the rocky coast. The lighthouse stand upon the point that sits furthest out into the sea.

My husband parked and we got out to explore. We circled around the light, looking up at the whitewashed tower. My favorite part is the sage green trim of the buildings. Below high tide crashed rhythmically on the rocks. We then walked down one of the paths, finding a gate. We went through,and made our way out onto the rocks.

We sat there on the point, watching waves crash on the rocks. We could have asked for a better night. It was warm, but the light sea breeze made things comfortable. After we came off the rocks, we climbed up one of the old gun hills from World War Two. At the top we sat upon a picnic table and watched the harbor.

Our final stop was dinner in downtown Portland. Our favorite restaurant is J’s Oysters. They have some of the best seafood in town. It is humble place, and you see locals there, along with tourists. We have always ha great service there, along with authentic New England Style seafood. It isn’t fancy and thats what I love about it. We sat next to a warf and watched sunset as we ate. We ordered steamers and some chowder. The steamers arrived piled high in a galvanized bucket. The chowder was steaming with plenty of oyster crackers. We put down our phones, ate, and enjoyed each others company. It was a great end to a night in town.

Portland is perfect for a summer evening. It is the perfect mix of history and fun exciting changes. Whether you are going to a new brewery, classic seafood, or a new adventure. Portland is a must see for anyone visiting New England.

Liebster Award

A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a nomination for the Liebster Blog Award. I am excited to get started, so here are the rules.

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Rules

  1. Thank your nominator and provide a link to their blog
  2. Post the award on your blog – as a widget, in a category, as long as it’s noticeable on your blog
  3. Write 11 random facts about yourself
  4. Answer all 11 questions the nominator asked
  5. Nominate 11 more bloggers – this is for upcoming bloggers with 200 followers or less!
  6. Come up with 11 new questions for your nominees to answer

Thank You

Thank you very much to Dalen Flynn for the nomination! You have always been a writer that has offered ample support to those around you. You are very appreciated by the larger community, and you exemplify what a support writer should be.

 

 

11 Random Facts

  1.  I have been writing since I have been in elementary school.
  2.  I read fast. If I have the time I can finish a 300 page book in eight hours.
  3.  Due to childhood trauma, I struggle with handling and expressing my emotions.
  4.   I love to go on runs. It helps me clear my head.
  5.   I am easily overwhelmed by noise.
  6.   I thought the American South was stupid, until I visited in May. It is now one of my favorite parts of our country.
  7.  I had jaw surgery when I was 19 due to a serious under-bite.
  8.  Last year I began working with children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, I feel I have finally found my passion.
  9.  I lost my Mother at 24 years old, but I hate when people pity me for it.
  10.  When I am driving around in the car I feel free.
  11.  I struggle with talking about myself.

 

11 Nominations

  1.  Northern Eden
  2. Buffalo Sauce Everywhere
  3. Rosie Culture
  4.  Tea with Jennifer
  5.  She Rises Above
  6. Just Call me Jess
  7. DellyBird
  8. Tayepperson
  9.  Under the Surface
  10. Noel Neverlanding
  11. 4youIwill

  My answers to Dalens Questions

  •  Why do you believe you deserve this award?

I have worked very hard  on the blog, and it means the world to me.

  • If you could be in a music video, which one would you be in?

Something by the Lumineers, because they are haunt, hauntingly raw and real.

  • Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi.

  • What is your favourite season? Why?

Late Summer/Early Fall. I like when the nights are cool and the days are warm. I also appreciate this time of plenty.

  • What type of music best describes your personality?

Honestly all over the place, so instead of telling, I will show you, This is my Spotify list

  • Introvert or Extrovert?

I am so introverted that if I see people I know in the supermarket and I’m not in a great headspace I hide.

  • What would you wear if you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life?

Teva flip flops, Skinny jeans, T-shirt or a light hooded shirt. I enjoy comfort and  being covered up because it makes me feel safe.

  • Is there a mysterious, isolated area of your house you’ve never been in? If so, why?

Nope.

  • In a battle to end all battles, what is your weapon of choice?

With my luck, I will be out somewhere inconvenient and end up defending my life with a gallon of milk or a coat hanger.

  • What food seduces you like no other?

I have a serious Macaron Problem. but only if they are fresh.

  • Do you prefer heroes or villains? Why?

This depends on how they are written. Honestly I have seen people try to make heroes  human, and instead they make them annoying. You have to have to  skill to add unsavory traits to a hero(my favorite example is Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. I have read some villains that that have incredibly written human qualities that make me appreciate them. For me it is all about how they are presented, and the skills of their creators.

Here are my Questions

1. Who is your favorite author

2. What is your favorite day of the week?

3. Name a traumatic event in your life and how it changed you.

4. Who is the most influential person in your life?

5. What is your favorite chore?

6. What is something you find funny?

7. What is your favorite self care activity ?

8. What is your biggest weakness?

9. Where is your favorite location?

10. Why do you write?

11. What is the most important trait you value in others?

 

I wish all the best of luck to those I’ve nominated!

Finding Happy

Yesterday was just a regular Monday. My job had sent me out to Stratham for training. It is only 10 minutes from the New Hampshire Seacoast, so I took a ride. I have always been adventurous at heart, but I haven’t always followed through.

 

My life used to be driven by other peoples expectations. Most of my energy was focused on comparing myself to others. I was so focused on other that I lost sight of my growth. My happiness was compromised, and troubled. My conscious was full feelings of loss and impatience. Until a few years back, I never understood why.

Back then, I was too responsible. Fun wasn’t recognized as a valid choice. Responsibilities came first. To take off for a couple hours and sit by the ocean, or take a ride to clear my head was unthinkable. Jobs wouldn’t allow it and I was upholding to others expectations. There was no time for happiness. Unfortunately, there was never time for self reflection either.

Ideas were hammered into my head about accountability and what adults did. My trusting heart latched onto these guidelines and invested in them blindly. I believed that happiness would come with achievement of those traditional benchmarks. I worked hard, and achieved several of them. Yet there was no fulfillment at the end, all I felt was emptiness.

They were someone else’s goals, not mine.

My Father always used to ask me the question “What do you want to do with your life? What are you passionate about?” The questions made me uncomfortable. I answered, but my responses were based on what I thought he wanted to hear. My answer was something used to make others happy.

Slowly there was a realization that I needed to make some changes.

This year, personnel development has been the focus. It has been reflected in several choices that have been made. I moved homes in order to escape a toxic situation. I quit a job that was hurting my happiness. My choices are deliberate now, and my well being is at the forefront.

It is something that has always been a struggle for me. Often it makes me feel selfish and guilty. I have to remind myself that self care is important. That putting myself first isn’t wrong. I need to advocate for myself because no one else will.

In the last six months my outlook on things has changed. I have discovered core principles in my values. Simplicity, adventure, quiet and a value for experiences over things. Discovering these things frees me.

Progress is steady,

It has been challenging, but slowly I am learning. To be mindful and calm. To engage in self care. To take space when it is necessary. To dig deep to find what my needs are.

I have begun to understand how different we all are. We all grow at a different rate. We all have different needs and dreams. That has helped me establish a inner peace. I don’t concern myself with what other think, or compare my life to theirs anymore. That freed up energy is spent on living life. I plan the future. I go for walks and teach my dog new things. I go for adventures. Life is better when you have found your truth.

Life can be challenging sometimes. So much of our success is based on how we meet those challenges. My focus these days is finding myself, and what makes me happy. I have cast off the expectations of others. My life is now committed to living a life that fulfills me. Life is more than a set of expectations or other peoples opinions. It took me so long to realize that. It is about being happy, whatever that means for you.

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.

June Check In

So much has happened since my last post in April. I have so much to share!  There have been some progress on my goals, and some fun trips. Yet I wanted to take a moment and back track on my journey the last few months. I have made some major life changes. These changes are centered around putting my overall well being first.

In my last post, I talked about my old job. Looking at that post hurts. My words were careful to skim only the surface. I am passionate about working with people with Intellectual or Developmental disabilities. Yet the place I was working was terrible. We had little support to help the kids. It was chaotic and the hardest workers were taken advantage of. If you got physically assaulted by an escalated kid, you got a five minute break. Each day I was getting beat up. It is hard to do such taxing  work with little support.

On top of the physical and mental aspect, I was constantly sick. In a four month period, I experienced four colds, the flu, stomach flu, and strep throat.  My body was tired, and I was emotionally taxed, I could barely keep my eyes open and was always on the edge of tears. When I wasn’t working I was sleeping, or trying to relax. There was no time or energy for goals or dreams. It got to a point where all my energy was being put into survival the next day. That isn’t a way to live.  Towards the end of May, I needed a change.

I got my break at the end of April. I was diligent and worked to earn myself a new position. It is working in the same field, but with a less volatile population with better support.  I was getting burnt out, and loosing passion for the field. I am so passionate about this field, and look forward to pursuing it.

I was also blessed to be given the opportunity for a trip. I spent ten days traveling in the south. I took this time to step away from everything and relax. I mean everything. A big part of my life is reading and writing. I put both of these aside for self reflection. Most of the trip was spent sitting in the sun, exploring, and engaging in much needed self care.

I needed it more than I realized.

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These are two pictures of me. The left one was taken in April.  My face is sunken and tired. What haunts me the most are my eyes. looking back, I knew how I felt, but didn’t know how evident it was on my face.  The second picture is after seven days on vacation. The life is back in my eye. I look healthy, and alive. Looking at these pictures, I am happy  I made these changes. No job is worth your mental health.

It took a lot of hard work, but I’m happy that I took the initiative and moved on.

Time To Go

For a chance t get int my head, listen t this song I listened to while I wrote this post. mood, I was listening to this Time Will Tell by Gregory Alan Isakov.

life has been changing. The days are getting longer, as we creep slowly towards Spring. Things are changing in my personal life too. I am in the process of making some big changes. My biggest goal right now is a career change.

 I work as a Para educator, supporting the daily needs of kids with special needs. I have been struggling with the choice for months.  My coworkers will be disappointed. The kids will be disappointed. I will be a quitter if I walk away. We live in a culture that values sticking it out.  There is this myth that in time, things will get better. Yet this isn’t always true.

There is a time to let go.  My work has left me tired, sick and burnt out. I have not felt happy for months. I have moved, making things difficult. The commute is long, and the money isn’t the best. I am losing my own happiness.

I can feel it in my bones. I know myself now, and it is time to go.

 

 

 

 

 

though its hard, I have to follow the path that is best for me.