topic to be determined

Three posts seems to be¬†as long as it takes for me to start questioning this whole blogging every day thing. While there is no shortage of interesting topics to write about, so many of them are ones that I put in the “do these right” box. This is also the box for drafts that “need more polish”, “should be revised first” and “probably can’t be written in the 20-30 minutes you usually give yourself for these things”.

So instead I started browsing my flickr account looking for photos that would spark and idea for a post that wouldn’t take forever to write and would *bonus* include a photo.

But instead of a story, I was just struck by how good my life is. All too often it is easy for me to get caught up in the frustrations of the moment, the discomforts of not knowing the future, the irritations of a 9 to 5 job, the sadness of being far away from many of the people I love. Yet, when I take a second to look, it is clear that I am so incredibly blessed.

From living in a place on this earth that lets me see sunsets like this,

to lovely ladies like this, who I am lucky to call my friends.

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From hilarious small humans like this, who I get to occasionally babysit,
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to siblings both old and new who make my life approximately 147% better.
AlexAbbySeattleBallardWeddingPhotographyARBRPicturesFamily-19

From my chance to go through life with this gentleman,
AlexAbbySeattleBallardWeddingPhotographyARBRPictures-195

to the chance to live in a city that gives me nerdy opportunities like going to cons.

That is not even scratching the surface of all the many ways that I am getting to live a life full of riches completely incomprehensible to 99.9% of people who have ever lived on earth. For that I am truly grateful.

A bad start to the day

Nothing puts a damper on your day like waking up to deal with a backed-up toilet. Starting with that horrible experience and including a frustrating stint at work, left me with in a bit of a bad mood for most of the day today. But baking cookies and watching the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who special helped immensely. Unfortunately when in a bad mood, I don’t tend to get as many productive things done like writing actual blog posts….

4 for 4

Tonight was lovely, but seeing as it was my fourth night in a row this week of doing something directly after work, I am kind of tired. Plus tomorrow I have to be at work by 6:45am AND get to help with a food drive on Friday evening. Then on Saturday I am driving out to Redmond to help at another food drive (can you tell I work at a food bank during the holidays?), but at least with that one, I recruited some volunteers from the 501st Legion to help out. I think we all can agree that storm troopers make everything better.

But all that to say, today’s blog is mainly going to be this picture of Katie and I from the very sophisticated focus group thing we went to tonight.

Katie and I went a very sophisticated focus group tonight and got to drink wine and eat fancy cheese!

Gratitude Journal

Recently in unpacking I un-earthed a small wire-bound notebook that my parents gave me for Christmas back in 2004. This was the note they used to inscribe it:

Gratitude Journal Parental Inscription

To summarize, they suggested I get in the habit of writing down 5 things every evening that I was grateful for. An excellent idea and one that you will see I definitely tried to do (for a while that is….).

Here is an early entry in that journal:

Gratitude Journal Entry 1/16/05

I love how I combine the big picture things like my family with comments about the weather and an appreciation for my ability to gobble down books. The nice thing is that these are all things I remain very grateful for, despite the noted decrease of snow in my life here in the Pacific Northwest ūüôā

Another few early entries.

Gratitude Journal Entry 1/21/05

Both of these entries make me smile a bit in the way that I combine whimsy and also a deep appreciation for some of the bigger blessings in my life. However I think I have completely forgotten what visa problems I refer to in my first entry and what Becca’s wonderful email was all about in the second entry. Alas, the passage of time…

Then I skipped a few months and apparently gained an appreciation for the more poetic forms of gratitude.

Gratitude Journal Entry 4/12/05

I think it is #2 that really leaves me a bit puzzled about this one, #4 definitely remains true today and I think #5 is actually a coded way for me to say that I must not have actually had that good a day on April 12, 2005.

This last one jumps almost a year into the future and also marks my final entry in my attempt at a gratitude journal.

Gratitude Journal 5/17/06

#1 is obviously a pretty big one and while #4 is a similiar one to previous entries, you can see I don’t really elaborate very much on that one. Also in trying to remember what I meant by #5, I am reminded just how very much I continue to loath packing AND unpacking, so moving out of the dorms must have been quite the chore.

So with that history in mind, here are my 5 things I am grateful tonight:

  • A strong and varied support system – Be they family or friends, there are several people I know I can call/text/email and get immediate support,¬†guidance¬†or just plain support. I am so blessed by this and I remain hugely grateful for this network that makes so many life decisions that much easier to make.
  • Random positive interactions with strangers – Today I had a random interaction with someone on the bus about knitting (he noticed my mittens and asked if I had knit them – I hadn’t). Previously I have been randomly complimented on a sweater (in a none-smarmy way and also spent an enjoyable 5 minutes discussing rain boot requirements with another public transit user. City life means bumping into random characters on a frequent basis and therefore the positive moments are excellent reminders that the world isn’t as crazy as 3% of the population would have you belief.
  • Mountains – See here, here and here.
  • Not being unemployed – While I may not be actually using my master’s degree in a very direct way, I am lucky to be employed in a job that gives me time off, benefits and the luxury of not having to worry about paying my next bill or making rent each month.
  • Cheese – I mean who doesn’t appreciate the chance to have such deliciousness in one’s life. How much sadder would I be if I had somehow been born in a world without cheese….

Tough Day

Today was just plain old tough. I won’t go into details, because this is not in fact my own private journal buried¬†securely¬†under my bed, but this odd way of writing things down and sending them unknown out into the world. Perhaps to be read by parents, friends, relatives, strangers, employers, enemies, boyfriends, or even no one. But suffice to say, work was hard. I had a 30 minute meeting that stretched into 3 hours where I had to repeatedly express unpopular opinions, that I believe strongly in, to a somewhat¬†unreceptive¬†person of authority.

Then after the meeting, I ended up crying in front of my co-workers. If you know me in real life, you may know that I hate to cry in front of people. Close friends and family, maybe, but  people outside that circle? Not my preferred thing. Crying is vulnerability and crying is messy. It is also oddly something I never regret in hindsight. Turns out crying in front of two of your co-workers can spark real conversation, connection and a refreshing sense of community.

So perhaps that all will help explain a little bit of why the video below made me feel a little better. This isn’t intended as a political statement, but more a vision of gratitude, humility and leadership that I find very moving.

Birthday season!

Well if you throw in Alex’s birthday from last week and the two recent birthdays of friends Clayton and Bryan and David’s birthday today and my mom and I’s birthdays next week, there has been a lot of cake. ¬†I made my traditional Chocolate Wacky Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting and Raspberries for David’s birthday. ¬†While it was good, I think the combination of new cake recipe (I left my good one back in Evanston), using a mixer instead of the food processor and using fresh raspberries instead of raspberry sauce, meant that it tasted just a little bit different. ¬†But by far the best part of the evening has been playing round after round of David’s birthday pressent from Alex and I – Dominion. ¬†While I know I dragged my feet quite a bit on this game and have kind of refused several invitations from my brothers to play it, I ended up finding it really fun! ¬†Maybe it helped that it was almost entirely a group of newbies to the game, or what exactly it was, but now I like it.

And the exciting part is that my parents left on their epic Empire Builder train trip from Chicago to Seattle today and are probably currently making their way through the Twin Cities of Minnesota. ¬†They arrive on Sunday and will be here for 2 weeks, which I am super excited about. ¬†Now all I have to do is clean my room, check about bus tickets, pump the tires on my mom’s loaner bike, go to the library and possibly go bike shopping. ¬†But seeing as it has somehow advanced past midnight, I should probably get to bed.

Have a good weekend, ya’ll.

What I would have tweeted during my 4 hour “lay-over” at Chicago O’Hare Airport if I had wanted to buy wi-fi access

6:45am Board flight to Fort Lauderdale, and finally allow myself to look through beautiful photo/journal book that Becca and Jess made for me

6:50am Get rather sentimental, although I cheer up after reading the hilarious note written by my cat Lina (translated by my housemate Anne)

7:45am After relaxing 60 minute wait at the gate, the flight is officially canceled due to fuel imbalance mechanical issues

8:30am Good: Lovely re-booking woman gets me the only available flight to Fort Lauderdale still leaving today Bad: Flight doesn’t leave till 12:55pm and takes me through Dallas

8:31am Pretty sure I will never truly understand flight re-routing, previous trip involved Chicago-Kansas City-Albuquerque-Seattle, so Chicago-Dallas-Fort Lauderdale = not too bad

8:45am Call lots of people, get airport shuttle arranged, so far customer service is 4 for 4 in the pleasant and helpful category

9:15am Decide to take the coffee route, despite only 5 hours of sleep, due to inherently uncomfortable airplane seating

9:27am Find new gate and pull out iPod, listen to the awesome mix Becca made for me, am reminded how much I love Peter Paul and Mary

9:41am Play mix still great, however I discover that I am pretty horrible at most non-crossword related puzzles

9:45am Decide to get pictures from the weekend off my card and edit on my laptop.

9:55am After repeatedly wrestling with new but quite cheap carry-on I am successful – photos!

10:15am Editing and reviewing – I have a lot of gorgeous friends and Chicago is a beautiful city

10:40am Out of coffee

11:23am Done editing photos, kind of want a nap, but instead will go wander the terminal for a while

12:05am Finally I get to board a plane and hopefully this time take off!

I did indeed finally make it to Fort Lauderdale and only 12 hours after I boarded that original plane at O’Hare. ¬†Plus in additional American Airlines fun, my new co-workers and I missed our return connection out of Dallas yesterday due to a delayed flight out of Fort Lauderdale. ¬†Fortunately we were able to catch another flight only 2 hours later and they only lost one of my pieces of luggage along the way (which they just¬†delivered¬†to my new address(!!!) this morning).

I’m leavin on a jet plane

Well the time for departure has finally come, I am actually heading out on my big adventure called moving to Seattle. My flight leaves at 6:45am tomorrow morning so the last few days (and weeks) have been filled with packing, shipping boxes, goodbyes, final one night trips with the girls, ice cream and more goodbyes. Up until this past Sunday I had been doing a pretty good job of keeping my emotions under wraps, but finally in church (in front of everyone! (which actually considering how much I hate to cry in public, is a good indication of how much these people and this community have become my home)) and a few times since then I have found tears catching up with me.

But there is excitement too, seeing Alex again, getting to spend time with David, making jam with Katie, finally UNPACKING!!!!!!!!!! It is just hard right now to face goodbye after goodbye, all while reminding myself that life is both changing a lot and not changing at all. I will still have all these relationships with me, but it will just be longer till I get to see them all in person.

Challah and blue skies

I am once again in Seattle, the sky is unbelievably blue, the house smells like the challah bread Alex and I just finished baking.  I have a fresh cup of a tea and need to head out to catch the bus in 20 minutes.  Alex is taking a nap on the couch, and there are plans to take a walk outside somewhere, after my 3:30pm appointment.  Life is really good right now.