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.

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.

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!

 

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


Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

I am a big reader, and my goal for 2019 is 30 books. So far I have read two books. The last book I read was Ruta Sepetys Between Shades of Gray. It is a historical fiction based in Europe during World War Two. Here are my thoughts on the book.

This book focuses on the Soviet deportation of Lithuanians during World War Two. The main character is a teenage girl named Lina, whose family is sent away. The story follows her from the cattle car she is forced to travel in, to her forced labor in Siberia.

The book touches upon a very important part of history. Often people see World War Two in black and white terms. Stalin was an ally, but he was far from moral. He was a cruel, ruthless leader. Dissenters were quickly dealt with. People were shot or deported to hard labor camps in the east. This book brings home how cruel Stalin was.

This book was pretty good. The narrative style was strong, and it immediately pulled me in. Lina and her mother were such strong characters they jumped off the page. This book displayed the strength of the Lithuania people. They endured so much, and they still found a way to celebrate their culture.

There were minor issues I had. The timing seemed off and uneven in places. I was unhappy with the ending. The book was detailed in spots, but did not explain how Lina left Soviet Russia. This book was tragic, I was not expecting a happy ending. Yet after seeing the pain that Lina and her family endured, I guess I expected an explanation of what happened.

Overall, I liked this book, but the plot could be stronger. It is a great read for anyone interested in history. It touches on a unknown part of history, and that is important. I applaud Ruta Sepetys for dedication to bringing obscure tragedies to life. I highly suggest this book to anyone who love history.

Till next time

-Colleen

 

 

Me First.

 In my last post I wrote about my past, and its challenges. I wanted to follow up by writing about my plan of action. One part of my plan is a deeper focus on self care. We live in a face paced world, and often put our needs last.  Taking care of ourselves is important to our mental health. I can’t engage in the reflection needed to move forward without a self care routine. These are the things that I take care of myself.

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Photography I have always enjoyed photography.  The camera of choice is my D7100. I enjoy taking pictures of nature and cities. These pictures are taken and posted online on sites like Instagram. it is rewarding to share my point of view through pictures.

Writing Writing has always made me feel free. My days are not complete until I sit down and commit words to a page. My mental health is tied into this activity. When life gets busy and writing get pushed off, I get irritable.  It is important for me to try to write at least one full page a day. Writing is therapeutic, and helps relieve stress.

Reading Books are always a welcome distraction. Opening a good book helps me relax. Each day I try to end my day by reading. I have learned so much from books. They also serve as a quiet source of entertainment.  Reading is one of my most important types of self care. Books help me let go and relax.

Walking A good long walk helps put many things into perspective. The fresh air makes me feel better, as does the exercise. Sometimes I get too intense and need to step away from things. Walking gets me out into nature, and often I come back with story ideas. They also help with my worry.  Getting miles under my feet brings me back to my center.

These are the activities that make me feel better.  This routine of self care makes me feel centered and calm. It gives me a piece of mind, I have never had. I am just learning to take that back for myself, and it feels good. Hopefully these things will help me move forward.

Do you have a self care routine? Or something that helps you feel centered?  If so, drop it in the comments. I love new ideas, and fun, fresh takes on self care.

Till next time

-Colleen