Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday 5: Live Music Experiences that Top My List

As I creep closer to 50, I'm starting to put together lists of life experiences that I don't want to miss, like places to see, concerts to attend, and other treats I have envisioned myself doing at some point in time.

Today, I've been thinking about music. This is not a wish-list because I have had the opportunity to experience a couple of these already, but overall, these are musical experiences I don't want to miss. 

1. Red Rocks, Colorado
This open air amphitheater is about 10 miles outside of Denver and has been known for live recordings, given the unique visual aesthetic of the venue. This year, I am going to a concert at Red! I can't wait! More on that later. 

2. Broadway, NYC
I've seen theatre in the West End of London, but never Broadway, USA and that has to change. I don't know what my first show will be, since there are many that top my list, but before my 50th, I will see a show on Broadway. Frustratingly, theatre in London's West End is more affordable than matinee prices on Broadway. 

3. Open Air Music Festival
The hippie in me loves the idea of a summertime, open air acoustic rock or folk music festivals like the Green River Festival or Fresh Grass Festival. I'm not a die hard though; if it's raining or cold, I'm out. 

4. Les Miserables in London
From the first time I heard the music of Les Miserables, I knew I had to see it live in London, where it all began. For my first time in London, my ticket was in the pit, in the second row, to be exact. The second time, we were in the dress circle; still amazing seats, and worth every pound sterling. 

5. Jimmy Buffett in Key West
For a Parrothead, this is the holy grail. I had the opportunity to see Jimmy Buffett play in the back yard of the host hotel for the annual Meeting of the Minds Parrothead Convention in the early 2000s...2004, maybe. After hearing a rumor that this would be the year he would appear, my friends and I gathered for pre-concert drinks and found our space to wait in the backyard of the Casa Grande Hotel in Key West, Florida. Sure enough, the focus turned to the left of the stage and there he was! He played for almost two hours. It was my one and only MOTM to date, but what an event! Future shows pale in comparison to having a front-row experience in such an intimate setting.

And a 6th for good measure...a summer concert at Tanglewood.
I had the wonderful opportunity to get tickets to John Williams Night at Tanglewood one summer for my husband's birthday. We brought lawn chairs, a blanket, and a picnic basket filled with wine, cheese, a baguette and hors d'oeurves to enjoy under the stars while listening to the iconic scores of composer John Williams. If you're ever in New England in the summertime, this is a fabulous treat! 

What concerts or musical experiences top your list of must-sees?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Navigating Hypersensitivity When We Travel

I had lunch with a good friend over the weekend. She's the kind of friend with whom you can talk about everything and anything. We've been friends for nearly 20 years and have been through the good, the bad, and the ugliest of uglies. She gets me and I get her. 

Our hours of conversation spanned from family catch-ups to the future of education and employment, automation and the global economy to personal idiosyncrasies. 

When you're feeling awry, it's easy to feel like you're the only person in the world that feels that way. You start to wonder if it's normal to think or feel or react in a certain way. 

My friend has two little boys, very different from one another as siblings often are. Interestingly, we discovered that the older of the two, her 6 year old, is indeed, my "spirit animal."  I exhibit many of the same peculiarities in behavior and reaction to stimuli that her little guy does. We both are highly sensitive in areas that others never consider. 

As our conversation continued, we each found clarity as I was able to explain the why of some of her son's reactions and behaviors and I received validation as to why I may have similar reactions to various sensory-based stimuli. While our reactions may not be normal to others, to us, they're normal in how we navigate life. 

Travel can be challenging when you're sensitive. Exposure to poverty or the different cultural norms related to animals, for example, can be difficult for sensitive travelers to process. Sensitive travelers may internalize images, sounds, and smells on a deep enough level to create both a physical and emotional response that can last a lifetime.

For me, I enjoy traveling to places that push me outside my comfort zone, where I can talk to people and listen to their music, eat their food, and use their public transportation. I like living like a local and immersing myself in wherever I go because I appreciate travel as personal development and not only for tourist fun (though there is a time for that as well.)

When I'm feeling anxious, I know how to retreat and recharge; the same is true when I travel. When that happens, I often head outside, taking in the landscape and noticing the architecture that makes a place unique. I may decline certain activities in favor of quiet time one afternoon or explore independently on my own schedule, apart from others. 

If there are cultural differences that are outside my norm related to poverty, the environment, or the treatment of animals, for example, I know that I have the privilege to make choices based on my own circumstances and beliefs. Not everyone has the same level of privilege so I use mine to affect change in ways that make sense to me. 

Sensitive people learn how to navigate life with various strategies, like exposure and grounding. Traveling, even if you're sensitive, is worth it for me, every time. 

Are you a sensitive or highly sensitive person? What strategies do you employ for self care when traveling? 

Not sure if you are a HSP? Here's a quiz for self-assessment. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Making Friends as an Adult

It can be difficult to maintain connections outside our inner circle as long work days turn into nights spent catching up on chores that never seem to get accomplished. Some of us have families, some of us are caring for aging parents, and some of us are just trying to keep our heads above water. 

While it's important to connect daily to those we cherish most, it's also important to connect to others outside the inner circle who share similar goals and challenges, similar circumstances or choices or similar interests and curiosities. 

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to connect to some like minded folks and it went so well, that we all expressed interest in doing it again next month. Sitting around the table, we are all different people joined by a common thread; and it's that common thread that rejuvenates us and allow us to connect with people who "get it." We shared stories and successes and brainstormed solutions to challenges we face. We all left feeling empowered and connected. 

Think about where you are in your own life, what you like to do, what you want to do. How can you network within those parameters to create connections and expand your social circle? 

Maybe there's a meetup group tailored to your interest? Maybe there's a book club you can join or start your own around topics geared toward your own interests and goals. Maybe you start a monthly coffee connection with people in your season of life or an accountability group to help you stay focused on and achieve your goals. Maybe there is a networking group to help you create professional connections or a group with those who share your faith tradition or your favorite sport or hobby.

It doesn't have to be strangers. Maybe there's someone with whom you've lost contact and with whom you would like to reconnect. Maybe you're the bridge to bring others together and potentially create lifelong friendships. 

It's hard to make friends when you're older, but building your circle of friends is worth the effort. Reach out. Build bridges. That human connection is a win-win.

Do you keep room in your life for new friends? How do you cultivate new friendships?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Friday 5: What crossed my radar this week

Every now and then, something crosses my radar that makes me want to share it with everyone I know. 

Here's what caught my eye this week. 

1. Stay Human...a film by Michael Franti. This is available on Amazon and supposedly, soon to Netflix. It's worth watching. It's hope-inspiring. 

2. The Girlfriend
This newsletter from AARP is targeted towards Gen-X women. I remember seeing a Facebook ad for the newsletter and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. It's a mix of health, relationships, food, and trends. Like anything, you take and leave what applies to you, but more than once, it has provided a reassuring nod or a good laugh. 

3. Eggs Benedict
How have I lived most of my life without indulging in this delight? My first eggs benny were atop crab cakes. I don't think Canadian bacon will ever light my fire in the same way. Who's ready for brunch? What's your favorite benny combo? 

4. Made for More with Rachel available on Amazon Prime. After loving Girl, Wash Your Face, I have Girl, Stop Apologizing on pre-order on Audible. 

5. The Flower. I love the music of Michael Franti and I respect him and his work as a human being. His music has always been socially conscious and I enjoy the positive message in most of his songs. This video nearly took my breath away. It seems to becoming a radio hit and I'm happy about that. The world can use healing. We all have a role to play. 

That's it for today, friends. What crossed your radar this week? Share your favorites.

Enjoy your weekend. See you soon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Getting Reaquainted

Welcome back!

I have my coffee and if you're new here, welcome. 

A little about me...
  • I'm Kelly. I'm a happily married Gen-Xer and dog-mom to a pup named Gracie. 
  • I'm punctual, politically liberal, and always ready for a road trip or adventure, domestic and abroad.
  • I'm an introvert with a deep sense of empathy, and at times, I struggle with anxiety. 
  • I love to read, and I gravitate toward nonfiction, but I also love a good story. 
  • I'm highly sensitive to just about everything, and as a result, my filter bubble is strong.
  • I'm blessed to say I have my dream job as a full time virtual high school teacher; I would do this forever. 

This or that?
  • Spring over fall and summer over winter.
  • Early morning over late night, but sunset over sunrise.
  • Coffee over tea and wine over beer, but water overall.
  • Hot coffee over iced coffee, but iced tea over hot tea.
  • Tacos over burgers
  • Crispy thin crust pizza over deep dish 
  • Facebook over Twitter, but Instagram over Facebook
  • Netflix over YouTube
  • Weights over cardio
  • iOS over Android and Mac over PC
  • FaceTime over phone calls
  • Cake over pie and vanilla cake over chocolate cake
  • Hiking over jogging
  • Experiences over stuff

Some of my faves
Sunny days, fresh sheets, date nights, leftovers, snuggling with my pup, acoustic guitar, time with my niece, a clean car, road trips, list-making, goal setting, weekends, people watching, shoulder season travel, airports, GNOs, Sunday coffee dates, opening the windows in the house and airing it out, fireplaces, New Year's Day. 

Just nope
Haricot vert, dishonesty, mean-spiritedness, food waste...any waste, apathy, injustice, intolerance. 

Where to now?
To be honest, I'm not sure. The benefit of being niche-less and unaffiliated to any company or agency is that there are no rules. I'm sure there will be days when I share some of my favorite finds and reads and other days I will share where we've been and where we plan to go. And some days, I may simply write for writing's sake. 

It feels good to be writing again. Tell me more about you. Are you a blogger? From where in the world are you reading? What are some of your favorite things?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Decluttering and Moving Forward

Have you started to declutter? Marie Kondo has started a revolution of sorts, first with the book and now the Netflix series about tossing all that does not spark joy.

If you're into thrift shopping, now's the time for you, as Kondo devotees donate their spark-less belongings and clean up their personal clutter.

After Marie Kondo-ing my own clothes and junk drawers, I continued thinking about clutter, both physical and digital. 

I began cleaning up my social media feeds too, unfollowing pages and accounts with whom I really wasn't engaging. What I looked for online and what "sparked joy," I realized, were the people with whom I had made a connection, in real life or online. 

And that brings me here. 

I am so grateful for those I have met through this space. I am grateful for the opportunities that it has afforded me throughout the years. As a result of this space, I have made wonderful friends and shared transformative experiences, and it remains something that, indeed, sparks joy. 

And so it remains.

If you're new here, welcome! Later this week, let's sit for a cup of something and get reacquainted. 

My heart smiles today as I push publish on this post. I hope you'll come back for more. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lovely Reads #5

Sunday mornings are meant for coffee and perusing articles of interest. Whether it's the news, your latest book, or your favorite magazine, a Sunday spent with meaningful-to-you words and images can set the tone for your week. 

Here are some of the items that crossed my radar this week:

Overlooked: 15 Women We Overlooked in Our Obituaries
Better late than never, I guess. Thanks to The New York Times for recognizing these 15 remarkable women. Kudos for adding a form for readers to nominate other remarkable women. 

10 Places to See Cherry Blossoms in the United States
If you can't get to Washington DC to see the blossoms yourself, here are other locations that will put you in a Spring state of mind. Via CN Traveler. 

If Literature's Complicated Men Were on Tinder
This is a treat, via McSweeney's Internet Tendency

How You Can Stop Animal Abuse in the Tourism Industry
Thanks to Nomadic Matt for keeping this issue a topic of conversation. File this under know better, do better. 

Unlock your Hip Flexor: 5 Stretches to Reverse the Damage of Sitting
I can see why they say that sitting is the new smoking. Trust me, you'll feel better. Via Paleo Hacks. 

Just curious about this one...

If you read something noteworthy this week, drop a link in the comments. 

Have a great week friends. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

While I Wasn't Blogging: Catching Up

After a blink-and-it's-gone-February, I feel like I have finally settled into 2018. Clearly, I have lost my pace when it comes to writing and blogging, but not for a lack of ideas.

While I wasn't blogging... 
  • I finished the first semester with my new students from Spain and France and welcomed a handful of new students from Italy for the second semester (and transitioned into second semester with my Spanish and French students). 

  • I broke out of my comfort zone and decided to try CrossFit. I feel like the work I had been doing with my trainer prepared me for this transition. I'm getting stronger every week I love the variety with each class and the motivation from the CF community. I even registered for the Open, the annual CrossFit Games. It feels great to be part of a team and I love seeing what my body can do now that it couldn't when I first started in January. It's all about progress, not perfection. 

  • I started keeping my nutrition on point with whole, unprocessed foods and looking at macronutrients instead of calories for changes in body composition over weight loss.  I've been working with a nutrition coach who monitors and adjusts my numbers (if needed) every week. I'm in week 11 and down 9 pounds and 10 inches. It works. 

  • My husband and I have been delving deeper into real estate investment and are closer than ever to buying our first property. Positive energy welcomed. 

  • We've been planning summer travel. My niece will be here in June, so I'm looking forward to some quality time including her first trip to NYC. We're also thinking about where we want to travel while we're in Spain this summer. And as always, I'm checking out flight deals for unexpected long weekends away. 

Life is good. I'm outside more, meeting friends IRL whenever possible, reading more offline, doing my thing. I'm excitedly awaiting spring, in spite of the nor'easter knocking on our door. 

Ideas are swirling like butterflies. I need to follow a couple of them and see where they lead. 

What's new in your world? Any new challenges or pursuits? Inspire me. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Remembering 2017 and the lovely moments that were

I've thought about a 2017 recap for a while, but it never really came together. In spite of the chaos of the world around me, my inner world remained fairly even-keeled. I'm grateful for that. 

The year started with friends on a snowy New Year's Eve and ended quietly at home on the couch...just him and me, and Gracie, who was not happy about staying up until midnight. 

It was a good year. 

In January, we found a great hotel deal and ventured to Manhattan for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and paid homage to John Lennon's peacemaking efforts in Strawberry Fields. 

We flew south in February for my brother's Gulf-side sunset wedding and soaked up a lot of sun that we wished we could have bottled for our frigid New England winter. 

March was quiet; the blizzard brought some snow-day snuggles with the pup and the hubs and with the hope that Spring would make her appearance sooner than later. Nope. 

In April, I traveled to Milwaukee for WITS17, the Women in Travel Summit. From food tours to a party at the Harley Davidson Museum and selfies with the Bronze Fonz, MKE treated us well and seeing my travel friends was rejuvenating. If you're a woman who loves travel, WITS18 takes place in May in Quebec City! Join us!

In May, we celebrated five years of marriage and ten years together by sharing an ice cream at the place where we met. 

Later that month, we traveled north of the border, to enjoy a long weekend in Montreal. Great weather, great food, great company. A lovely weekend, indeed. 

June was a whirlwind. It began in Miami for a end-of-the-year teacher party rave like no other I have ever seen. Then after my birthday celebrations, it was time for the Tall Ships in Boston, an outdoor Jack Johnson concert, and seeing Wicked for the first time.

It was wicked good!

July brought us back to Europe, back to Spain to see family and friends, and back to Porto, exploring northern Portugal with our friend who visited us from the States. 

How about this sunset though?

In September, I was scheduled to spend time with a friend in Northern New Mexico, but bronchitis and costo-chondritis put my trip on hold. Luckily, by the middle of the month, the cough was better and we were able to spend time playing tour guide in Boston to friends in town for a long weekend. We ended the month cheering on our MLS home team, the New England Revolution, with friends who gifted us with tickets for one of their final home games. Go team!

In October, we were dancing in our seats at the Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull concert. 
So. Much. Fun. 

Then, I was lulled into participating in the 7-day black and white photo challenge and I realized that the pads of my dog's feet are heart shaped. 


We ended October with a fabulous Ray Lamontagne concert in Providence and rediscovered what a fun capital city this is to explore. 

In November, I was back in Miami for a quick weekend, eating some of the best Cuban food on Calle Ocho at Versailles, and later, swooning in the sunset of the Florida Keys. 

Then, it was off to Chicago, to learn the ins and outs of travel hacking. It was great catching up with my friend Mona, and she and I made a new friend in Rose. 

My husband and I had the opportunity to catch up with another WITS friend, Vicky, from Buddy, the Traveling Monkey, and then later, enjoy what was left of a warm fall day with drinks on a rooftop bar at a brewery on the Connecticut River in Brattleboro, Vermont. 

Over the Thanksgiving holiday week, it was time to cross the pond once again, this time to London. From Christmas markets to a historical sites to a night at the theatre to see Les Miserables, we had an amazing time. 

And then we were back in December. The month began with an Acoustic Christmas concert featuring the Goo Goo Dolls. Interestingly, there was no Christmas music to be heard, save for one carol from a warm-up group. Humbug!

There were enough fa-la-las later though, when we took my parents and my mother-in-law to a local concert featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra

What a treat! This touring group is like a step back in time, playing the old Glenn Miller classics. 

If you're a fan of big-band music and you haven't seen this gem, check out The Glenn Miller Story, starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson. 

The following week, we were blessed to hear former vice president, Joe Biden, on his book tour in Boston. The conversation, moderated by Tom Brokaw, was a message of hope that so many of us needed to hear. 

After all of the holiday merry making, December ended and we ate our grapes at midnight, eager to greet 2018 with an open heart and excitement for the promise that the year will bring. 

While this post ended up being a lot longer than I had planned, for me, it was a fun look back at our year. I hope you have the opportunity to do a similar recap; if not in a public space like this, at least with those you love. 

No doubt, 2017 was not perfect, but it had its moments of love, laughter, and joy. 

It was a lovely year, indeed. 


Monday, January 1, 2018

Start Today...Joy Jar 2018

Happy New Year, friends. 

This is not my idea, but it's a good idea. Thanks, Liz Gilbert

Cheers to joy in 2018. 

Are you starting a new tradition in 2018?