Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Cleaning

It finally happened. The rain stopped, the clouds cleared away, and the sun came out. Sun so bright that I felt a little like Gollum slithering at of my cave and wincing up at the shining light. 
But oh is it nice, to finally have some good weather. Don't believe what they tell you: Seattle isn't ALWAYS rainy. When the weather is nice, I challenge you to find a nicer place than the Pacific Northwest. Lately though? Well, lately the weather is the kind that makes you want to curl up under your blankets and never leave your bed again. And it's easy to stew and get lost in that feeling of "yeeeuck" when it's rainy, cold and gray. But if you've lived in PNW for long enough, you know that you just have to grit your teeth and march on, because the sun will come soon enough.

Life is a bit like that too. There can be some stretches of time where things just seem dull and gray. It takes all your energy to get through the day, and you just kind of keep your head down and move forward. Then, eventually, the sky clears and you get that moment where your eyes open and you really see for the first time in awhile.

It's easy to get caught in a rut, to follow the same old pattern and not really realize that it is time for things to change. I think it's so important to appreciate the life you have, but I think it is equally important to take a hard look at your life every once in awhile, and decide if there is something that needs to change. Some spring cleaning, if you will.

Although my recent eye opening made me realize that I needed to do some ACTUAL spring cleaning. How do things get so dirty? Am I a pig? Is that what it is? Sheesh. But as exhausting as a weekend full of cleaning and chores was (and as much as it made the inner child in me pout), it feels refreshing and energizing to look around and see what I've accomplished. 

Turns out, the house was the easy part. I'm still working on the life part. Any one out there in the process of looking for a new job? If you are, imagine me giving you a supportive hug right now. I'm right there with you. As comfortable as my job is now, and as much as I love my fellow employees, I finally decided that I need something more. More stability, more growth and the scary part ... more challenge. 
Unfortunately, this means writing is still on the back burner. That can be the hard part of this "adulting" business. I'm trying to remember that even if my dream isn't my main focus right now, that doesn't mean I'm failing at it. Sometimes you have to make sure you have the foundation in place before you can commit fully to your dreams. 

So if anyone right now is going through the same kind of transition period, love to you. It's tough and challenging, and change can be scary. But taking the time and energy to focus on cleaning up any clutter in your life is always worth it. So I'm grabbing my dust rag and vacuum, and I'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Brand New Pair of Eyes

If you only had five days to give a good friend who lives in a different country a taste of your life, what would you do?
My task was complicated by the fact she’d already booked a week-long tour to pick up a bunch of highlights of the UK. All places I would have chosen to take Hannah and her husband: Stonehenge, Stratford Upon Avon, Edinburgh, and London.

There was no question in my mind but that the first place would be Warwick castle. Being brought up with the trees in these majestic grounds overlooking our back garden, (with the occasional peacock flying over the walls), it was a natural choice. The fact my daughter works in the dungeons there, scaring people half to death, had nothing to do with it. And the chance to eat medieval fayre, and sleep in a knight's lodge in the castle grounds, could not be missed.

I am looking forward to showing off a couple of places very dear to me: Avebury henge (which is even bigger than Stonehenge and you can actually touch the stones), at least one of the white horses carved into the hillside around Avebury, hopefully with the opportunity to stand inside the oldest of them all, at Uffington. And if we have time, a short drive around Oxford; it's too cold to go punting on the Cherwell, but we may be able to pop into a college or two.

Another day spent in pursuit of history, checking out Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom, experiencing the Coventry blitz in an air-raid shelter, and seeing the one-time world's fastest car, although maybe not being able to touch it. So cool to have so many choices within a short drive of where I live, but is that really me?

I think the bit which might make the most impression on my guests is experiencing life in a British home, so I've spent several hours cleaning my house to make it presentable (this is NOT a normal feature of my life!). I hope they will appreciate the difference between our two cultures and living styles. An essential part of my day is a "plodge in the clarts" round our local daily dog-walking circuit. I figure we'll provide the wellies - they'll need them for the muddy fields.

I plan to round off the day with some home cooked, traditional English dishes. I'm thinking "Steak and Kidney Pie and Chips" (that's fries to some of you), "Bangers and Mash," but probably not "Spotted Dick," although there may well be custard involved.

More than anything, I'm hoping my American friends will get an idea of everything great about the country which used to be known as Great Britain.