Saturday, June 3, 2017

Another year gone by

I knew I wouldn't actually be home to write my five year anniversary blog on the actual anniversary - which as you can imagine was a tad upsetting because I'm a big fan of tradition. But as I sat down this morning, just a few days after it passed, with my warm mug of tea I realized what was really important. I had the chance to take the time to re-read and thoroughly enjoy each anniversary blog, and I found myself smiling. A behavior I haven't engaged in all that regularly, lately.

So why am I tardy with the marking of what is such a personal occasion for myself? The four of us were spending what will likely be our final week in Copalis Beach at Iron Springs together this past week. 

Indeed. And this most recent one has changed the course of our lives forever, and we will never be the same.

Tom's company offered him a significant promotion - one he'd more than earned. And to accept it came with one very life changing stipulation:

Months later, there are still a lot of unknowns. Like how long our entire world will be packed into a couple of PODS and stored in a facility in Los Angeles. Or what our new permanent address will be - and how much of said belongings will actually fit into the new square footage at that address. Or what it will be like to return to the city I'll always say we left on purpose. 

This is how I feel about June 22. Which is a Thursday, not a Monday. But same idea. Maybe it won't come. 

I always reflect on the lessons I've learned over the course of the year as I think back on this day (or as it is, around it). And while I wish I could say this very deep truth has settled with me, it absolutely has not. I am a big fan of my comfort zone. So much so that I'd rather just not leave it, ever really. So what I hope for, is that a year from now I will be able to say I've grown because I've willingly (as in not kicking, screaming and crying - even if just internally) allowed myself to be uncomfortable.

I couldn't help but smile when I read what one of my goals was from last year: to use my CPAP machine each night. And not to just use it, but to have "...grand success at finally conquering this problem..." 
And guess what: I did :) The other night I used it almost nine hours. That's pretty remarkable and not entirely the norm. But the norm is at least five. Usually longer. And I can't believe I'm saying this - but it's actually something I have come to count on and appreciate. 

I would have bet actual money that would never happen. So if that can occur, I just might be able to handle being outside my comfort zone. Though I won't be betting even a penny on that either. 

This lesson I have learned. And I'm honestly better at it today than I've ever been. It took several long months of not knowing what was happening with our lives, or when, for me to really truly learn this.
Right now, I think we have our temporary housing figured out (nothing is for sure til the paperwork is signed by all parties.) Everything seems to be in order for the actual move and vacating our amazing home in time for the new owners to take possession. And we have a great Real Estate agent and Mortgage Broker lined up to help us with the purchase of our next home. But at least if any of that goes astray, I've got some ability to handle it better than before. Maybe it's because I actually sleep well now, thanks to that CPAP machine.

I wanted to make this speech about eight weeks before another really big change in my life. Though exceptionally proud of and grateful for the experience Westside School gave me all the years I lived in Seattle, it was more than time to part ways when I left in mid-May. Giving up my full-time position that came with my full-time paycheck wasn't supposed to be very easy. At first, I couldn't even talk about it without crying. And it isn't lost on me what a special place, with some of the most delightful people I've known, it was. But it is no longer that special place. And fate has a funny way of helping things along sometimes. So of all the things I am most grateful for this year, it is the opportunity to walk away without drama, and to move on to something else that will not cause me great stress, pain or unbelievable frustration. 

This week, I will begin the very tedious work of packing us up and preparing The Red Door for it's new family. One we hear is much like us when we first arrived - first time homeowners, young, and with a dog. It will not come without tears and longing for a different situation - one in which we could stay. I can't help but wonder what life would have been like if none of this was happening. I can't help but think about the unknowns and the fear of whether this new life will bring happiness and joy. But those are not the best things I can do. So I will be patient. I will have faith. And will think before I speak, so as to be sure I am at least making my best effort to be positive everything will work out for the best.

I said last year, decisions are just decisions. Choices are just choices. You can go back. You can erase and begin again. And even if there's evidence of the eraser, faint signs something was there before, you get another option. You can get to try again. And this year I will trust a little more, be still when things are not clear or calm. And know that my new life is up to me. It's not about the almost eight years we previously lived there. It's about now.

A year from now, I won't be sitting in a room where the windows are open and a chilly early June breeze is blowing in through the windows of The Red Door on a gray morning. I don't know where I'll be sitting. But if this blog has taught me anything, it's that I will be amazed at what a year can bring.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dear Home,

Normally, I have all sorts of cute images, clever quotes, and fitting sayings to go along with my blog posts. But tonight feels so different than any other time I have ever sat down to document my thoughts or express my feelings on this blog. A blog which I know some read, but except for maybe my mom - I know no one who does. But the stats say people are. So you'll have to endure a post that's atypical of my blog. 

To my beloved home,

A week ago yesterday, we sat in our Realtor's office and signed papers. We legally committed to putting you on the market, and allowing people we have never met to meet you. And to give a certain percentage of the profits to said Realtor. It was a somewhat out of body experience. Almost void of any emotion, to be very honest. But perhaps because the idea of giving you to someone else (well, okay, we are in this insane market and will profit like crazy, so there's no giving) and leaving is nothing short of heartbreaking. And it's so painful, it almost didn't feel real to finally be 'putting it on the market.'

But the contract was signed. The listing went up (on Redfin, among other places - but not Zillow (WTF). And the showings began that very afternoon. And each time someone wanted to see it, I would lovingly, frantically, and methodically put you in a state which would wow anyone. The carpets were meticulously vacuumed. Lights were turned on (only the good ones - those overhead fluorescents are hideous). Every little thing that proved someone lived here was hidden. 

The sweetest dogs that will ever run through your well-manicured lawn were patient, albeit confused. And off we went - either to a park, a parking lot, or a little nook I found down the street that allowed me to still see you, and the comings and goings, without really being seen. 

Over the weekend, we left you and opened you up to anyone who wanted to take a look - and as we understand it, more than thirty parties did. They were most impressed by how impeccably clean you were. A compliment I take with pride. In fact, several mentioned it was surprising someone even lived there. But what I also learned was that it was the yard that was most commonly what caught them by surprise, and captured their hearts. 

Funny. That's where I knew you were the one too. 

Selling a home is no small feat. But I think we have yet to really experience what this process truly entails for so many. When we purchased you in August 2014, it wasn't complicated. You didn't cost us very much more than we anticipated. We didn't go to war with anyone over you. In thirty short days I was happily organizing and calling you by name - The Red Door. 

To spend just seven days on the market, to collect offers a week to the day after offering you up - and to have met the buyer briefly this morning during their pre-inspection (though neither of us would know for sure), is extraordinary. What your future owners purchased you for is too - so you better be as grand as the cost.

They have a dog. They'd like a second one. The husband seemed really nice. He and his wife visited you twice before deciding to do an inspection. I think they will take very good care of you. 

And while I should be celebrating (it is, after all, my eighth wedding anniversary too) there are tears. There is a realization our days together are numbered. The countdown has begun. A month from tonight we will have gone our separate ways. It was so warm today, with the sunshine streaming in. And now, this evening, the breeze is blowing and the warm day has gone - nature's air conditioning was turned on.

And tomorrow, once the contract is signed, your future owners will be teary-eyed I would imagine. They fell in love with you, according to the Realtor. They are so extraordinary lucky. Take good care of them. And thank you, for taking such good care of us.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Red Door

There is nothing exceptional when you drive up to The Red Door. I wouldn't have even called it interesting back in the summer of 2014.

And this is what we saw to entice us to come look:

What I loved was the possibility. Except back then I saw more of the potential on the inside. 
This house was staged so poorly, and when I look at the online listing I can't believe it had just five photos.

Initially, we were planning on putting the house on the market in early April. So we spent a lot of hours working on the yard - Tom (bless him) rented a power washer so we could spray down the stone walls and pavers (in no particular order, one of the top five things the new owner won't see coming unless they have previously owned a home with a stone wall and pavers). We cleared out yard beds from a long, wet, snowy winter of neglect. Gutters were cleaned. The deck was scrubbed. It was an all-out battle with the months of Pacific Northwest winter weather and what happened thanks to Mother Nature.

What a difference almost three years makes. And while today (well when I wrote this it was) is what I'd call a 'big day' in our family, it's so different than I ever might have guessed it would feel. Maybe I didn't know how it would feel.
Our house is on the market. 

It looks absolutely beautiful - inside and out. We're so proud to show it off. But heartbroken too.
And I guess the only thing I can hope for is a large number of people I've never met, and probably never will, walk through our house (I pray, without their shoes on) and think it's as magnificent as we do. 
And as we did when we were considering which house to make our home.
At least our living room looks far better today -

Friday, May 19, 2017

Venturing back

This. This is not true. Not for me. It's clearly been established - cupcakes are out. Don't get me wrong, I loved them. 
But call it what you want - road trip, vacation, getaway, traveling is quite honestly not for me these days. I just do not enjoy being away from home. 

So when it was time to pack a suitcase, leave instructions for someone staying with Scout and Oliver, and go to the airport I was unenthusiastic. Except this time, it was not for a vacation. Or a getaway. It was to return to the place I had very purposely left more than three years ago. 

And to a place I hadn't been back to since.

Los Angeles, from my perspective, is an interesting city. It's filled to the gill - so insanely crowded, it leaves any one individual lacking breathing space. Exceptionally diverse, which is not just important but vital. Busy. Traffic is awful (and yes, it's still way worse than my home city of Seattle - no matter what anyone - including those who deal with a daily commute here - tells you). And the air quality, especially compared to the Pacific Northwest, leaves much to be desired. 
But there is beauty. 

And while I love the rain, I love sunshine too. So there's plenty of that.

When we were moving to Seattle, I wrote so many blog posts about our upcoming adventure. I wasn't just excited. I was giddy. I couldn't wait to get there (here.) I had no idea whether it would make sense to live here, and yet I was certain it was meant to be home. 
And I was right. This place stole my heart. 

By being here, I learned. I learned who I was and what I was capable of. I believed in myself again. I thrived in many ways. And what I take with me, as we venture to a city that is both familiar and unknown in some ways, is I have more to learn. And I am stronger now than I was then. Wiser. Older. And while I'll still want to avoid packing suitcases and leaving my little loves, I'm ready for the next adventure.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Practicing gratitude

I'd like to think of myself as someone who regularly feels grateful - for my family, including the two most spectacular souls I might ever know (Scout and Oliver), for my dedication to being healthy and my amazing health insurance that helps me stay on top of my challenges, for my home - both where I put my head down every night and where my life takes place.

I know this is true. But what if it's not just about clicking with someone, but some place. I knew Seattle was meant to be home before the plane touched down in October 2013. It was pouring down rain when I met this city. Having come from a place where sunshine is so prevalent, it would be easy for many to miss the beauty through the gray. It would have been easy not to be impressed. 
I certainly wasn't impressed by the real estate agent we randomly connected with who generously agreed to spend a few days with us while we attempted to find a place to live. I remember being in her car like it was yesterday. She said, amongst other things, no one cares about football in Seattle. (This is categorically untrue, by the way)

The experience of finding a home and moving our life to the Pacific Northwest was such a gamble, with so many unknowns. But every piece of that experience showed me this was exactly what we were meant to do. Move to a city where we knew absolutely no one, where outdoor adventure reigned  and fresh air was free. 

Not that I moved here for the experiences of camping, snow shoeing and canoeing. I still, more than three years later, have not done any of those things.

I felt like I was walking on clouds moving here, but I was also pretty broken. I had never fully recovered from the closure of the Los Angeles office of the company I truly loved - I still haven't. My  experiences at several more jobs slowly chipped away at my self-confidence and happiness. And though the last year before we moved gave me new friends and great hope, it was not until we put everything we owned in a truck and snuggled Scout in the passenger seat of my car for the long drive north that I began to heal.

The adventure wasn't mine alone. If almost anyone my husband works with was told to make a prediction about his success of staying with his company in Los Angeles and working from home in Seattle, I don't think many would have put down very much of their hard earned cash in a bet that it would work. It didn't just work. He thrived. And now, though they've recognized his value and dedication for more than a decade, they'd like him back. 

My heart is heavy these last couple of months. We've known about the offer since early November - Election Day to be exact (which was already a shitty day - excuse my language) and last week (I wrote this in January, actually) (when my health, or lack thereof, was causing it's own drama - no joke, thank goodness my blood pressure is so low) the decision was made. My heart, or a least a significant piece of it, will always be north of my address for all of time. 
And I will forever be grateful.

To be continued....

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Four years…that is how long it's been since I began my blog. Four times…that is how many times I made the effort to write this whole year. So to sit down and mark the important occasion may seem not entirely right. But I still feel the same way about this blog as I did the first day I sat down in my dark Los Angeles apartment: the real purpose is to share and journal, (occasionally) rant and wonder to anyone who will listen. I suspect that's just about no one these days. But I still love going back and reading entries. It helps me to see how far I've come. It allows me to celebrate hardships and happiness.

The biggest helping of happiness this year….this little guy

Just over a year ago we added a second rescue to our family. Oliver Miles. He's not so little anymore…more than 60 lbs and stronger than can be. But guess who loves her as much as my husband and I do…

They are the very best of friends. Oliver has helped Scout become a better dog. She is braver, less fearful, a way better eater, and probably far more active than she would be otherwise. We are celebrating her seventh birthday this coming fall, and she has the bounce of a much younger girl thanks to him. 

And this year we all went to Iron Springs in Copalis Beach together. Our family of four.

And I love them to pieces.

Celiac Disease, food allergies, hormone deficiencies. All things I've embraced, accepted, and handled - quite well - for years now. I rarely complain (I miss eggs tremendously but outside of that…) and I rarely go against what works for me (I just don't want to cut sushi out of my diet, but see it as an occasional treat.) It seemed like enough issues for this decade. 

I have not handled my sleep apnea all that well. I really, really hate my CPAP machine. We fight every night. I put it on but, in my sleep, tear it from my face, which of course keeps me from accomplishing the one goal I have with this problem - to get better rest and not fall on my face at 4:00 p.m. from exhaustion. All I can hope for is a year from today I'm writing about my grand success at finally conquering this problem. But for real. I am respectfully requesting no more health issues for now. Let me finish my thirties with what's on my plate.

 Most of the people in my life have been extremely understanding about all the issues. And fortunately, for those who don't or don't care to try, it's been exceptionally easy to move forward without that. I wouldn't say I've gained my confidence back just in the last year, but I am beyond grateful and proud of it. It does not make me popular, and no one would describe me as fun. But I own my truth and I take care of myself, and that is what works for me.

In nine days I'm marking an exceptional professional - and deeply personal - milestone. For far too many reasons worth listing here, I've never worked more than two and half years anywhere. Geography, economy, and health have played the leading roles in my career moves - but next week I will surpass that. And I'm committed to being there for some time to come. And I'll have a new role, which made the commitment possible.

Every year on this day I reflect on what I've learned and gained over the last twelve months. This year what impacted me most was the realization that sometimes you have to made decisions and take risks without having nearly as much assurance it'll work as you have doubt it won't. 

The new role I'm taking on may be amazing. Without a doubt I'm going to learn a lot. I'm going to grow. I'm going to gain even more confidence. But it may not be love at first sight. It may not be love at all. I'm absolutely taking a risk. 

Adopting Oliver was a risk. We had no idea how our cozy, well-adjusted, happy family of three would change with a new addition. I knew in my gut it was going to be the right thing for us to do, but I couldn't be sure. And I honestly risked a lot, but it was worth all of it.

Several times this year, most often in the last two months, I've been told 'go with your gut.' But what if your gut goes very quiet. What if you don't really know what to do. 

That's what I have learned this year: decisions are just decisions. Choices are just choices. You can go back. You can erase and begin again. And even if there's evidence of the eraser, faint signs something was there before, you get another option. You get to try again. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Take me out to the ballgame

The team lost, but I successfully enjoyed bottled water and a bag of walnuts and sliced apples.

And avoided the Coors Peak Copper Lager. Which, if you are gluten free and not on the Whole30, is really good in my opinion.

It honestly was not too bad. If I can just make it through this Memorial Day weekend, I will have cleared a pretty significant hurdle.

Next up, wine tasting with friends who are trying to figure out what to serve at their June wedding.
Fortunately, they are looking for tasty, but inexpensive. And lately (seriously) inexpensive wine just is not cutting it for me. I've become insanely spoiled by our favorite Washington wineries.

JM Cellars


I'm not saying that'll make it easy. But it might make it just a tad easier.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Whole 30 & talking to myself

All day yesterday (well, not all day but at least a good chunk of it) I was talking to myself about two things.

The first: Why it would be not all that big of a deal to have a glass of wine and do the Whole30 differently. (It would be, by the way)

The second: Why I absolutely want to and must stick with the Whole30.

One thing I know - I can't wait to have sushi when this is done. But I can go another 24 days without sushi. And because everything else is either something I haven't eaten in years or can totally handle not eating for at least 24 more days, it is quite obvious what the issue is here. I don't need to actually write it out. 

That said. I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Whole 30 & National Drink Wine Day

While today marks day five in the Whole30, it feels more like week five. And my biggest challenges are still to come. But I can say I successfully overcame the challenge of not celebrating National Drink Wine Day. Which truth be told is really dumb….just like any other fake day declared as one to eat, drink, do, or not do something or other. Dumb or not, I would have normally have agreed it was only right to mark the occasion. 

Tomorrow is going to be a tad harder. We're headed to a baseball game. A couple of years ago I thought my ball game days of hot dogs and beer were over. And while the wine served at stadiums can actually be quite good, there's just something not quite right about sipping red at a ball park. But then gluten free hot dog buns and beer came along, and I was happily singing the famous tune once again as I enjoyed the great American baseball treats.

Not tomorrow. Tomorrow I will sneak in something listed below and buy overpriced bottled water.