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2020: A New Beginning

I think I have global support when I say that 2020 has been one of the most communally challenging years most of us have ever experienced.

The first half of 2020 was, hands-down, the most difficult period I’ve ever trudged through. In the first week of January, I started in a new position at work. The role of Travel Wrangler hadn’t existed before I claimed it on my freshly ordered business cards. I was excited for the opportunity to put the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of travel to good use for my colleagues and the company. It seemed as soon as I found my footing, got to a point where my Impostor Syndrome wasn’t crippling me any more, global travel came to a red light.

Then came February, when I suffered whiplash from being rear-ended, while stopped at a traffic light. In Chicago, in March, I got horribly sick on the last business-related trip before the aforementioned travel stoppage. I’m 99% sure it was COVID-19, but securing a test was impossible that early on. A friend on my softball team, who was full of love and light, with the most incredible smile, took his life in April. Then we were in May, and my wife and I were 2 months into a self-imposed lockdown (Florida wasn’t really enforcing anything), and I was struggling without the social connection I so desperately desired. By June, I came to the realization that my marriage was in crisis.

I was in crisis.

Continue reading “2020: A New Beginning”

Bloganuary: Jan. 22, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What is your favorite quote and why?

Over the course of her life, Maya Angelou shared an immeasurable amount of wisdom to the world. Her words often give me a sense of strength, of understanding, of compassion. So, it’s unsurprising that it’s one of her quotes that reverberates within me more than any other:

I did then what I knew how to do.
Now that I know better, I do better.

Maya Angelou

This quote gives the space to assume that I, and in extension, everyone else in the world, are doing the best we can with the information and skills we have at hand. And then it also provides the room to expand and improve, as we gain new knowledge.

Life presents countless challenges, and each of them is an opportunity to learn. To be open enough and brave enough to take this new information, and change your opinions, perceptions, and behaviors, is a path of self-improvement.

This quote succinctly explains why I’m vegan. It’s how I know I’m not going to slide into 2nd base again. It’s why I work with therapists. It’s how I know how frequently I need to feed my sourdough starter. It’s why I listen to people who have different beliefs.

I want to be a better human. And, more than ever, this world could really benefit with more improved humans walking around.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 21, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

If you could, what year would you time travel to and why?

This is a prompt that caters to the fiction bloggers, the fantasy writers, and the history enthusiasts. My mind first goes to the different ages in the past that would make for an incredible story, like the medieval period or the Jurassic era. My story likely wouldn’t be very long, though; I’d probably meet my fate very quickly!

Also, I really enjoy my personal hygiene routine. I like being clean, and going too far back puts that regular cleanliness in jeopardy. Oh, and the whole lesbian thing. I greatly appreciate being able to be out of the closet, with the freedom to love another woman openly in public, and not be terrified it will get me killed.

So maybe traveling to the past isn’t when I would want to go. Perhaps I should look to the future.

Is it an acceptable answer to say “when COVID is done”? I’d love to fast-forward to that year, especially since I’m sitting here at my computer, on my 5th day of self-imposed isolation, after a softball teammate from the tournament last weekend tested positive this week.

Looking further into the future, I’m not sure I have a good answer. If humankind is able to reverse global warming, maybe I’ll consider it. But I suppose I won’t know unless I visit the future. I’m just not overly keen to take that risk.

Maybe I should be stubborn and simply refuse to answer today’s prompt. Maybe it’s more important for me to stay in the here and now. That is, after all, what I’m struggling with the most when meditating. Ach, but that response feels like a cop out.

Thinking sentimentally, I have my answer. I know when I travel to: 1999. I would visit Baba, my maternal grandmother, before she got sick with progressive supranuclear palsy.

I would let her know that even though she never talked about her experiences surviving the Holocaust, I’ve learned her story. I would tell her I’ve learned how she was an incredibly strong and brave bad-ass young woman, who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. And how I’ve learned that she kept her tales of horror a secret from her family, not to keep us in the dark, but to ensure that we were able to live in the light.

As a kid, I always saw my Baba as a weak, worrying woman. Today I know differently, and I would love the chance to go back in time, give her a knowing hug, and thank her for the strength that I carry in my genes because of her.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 20, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

I love photography. I love appreciating beautiful photographs, with their color, their composition, or their subject. And I love taking photographs, especially scenic landscapes and flower close-ups.

I’m an avid traveler, having lived in or visited 36 countries so far. I have taken countless pictures of the beautiful vistas I’ve seen. Like watching the clouds roll down the mountains as a river would, from my vantage point on the Great Wall of China, with dawn about to break. Or that time I peered across a perfectly placid Lake Atitlán to the rising volcano on the opposite shore. And climbing to the top of the travertine terraces of Pamukkale, witnessing the setting sun paint the sky gorgeous oranges, pinks, and purples.

But there’s been one photo I’ve taken that stands out from the rest. It’s the photo that I think of first, whenever I’m asked about what I like to take pictures of. It’s of Mount Everest.

I remember being out of breath, and suffering from a headache and persistent nausea. I had “mild” altitude sickness. I was cold, uncomfortable, and grumpy. I look back on my visit to Everest Base Camp, taking for granted how much of an incredible opportunity it was to see the peak. Mt. Qomolangma, as she’s known in Tibet, is frequently cloaked in clouds, so being there to see her peak is rare.

I remember clambering up a small hill, looking out over the tents of trekkers, acclimatizing to the altitude for a couple weeks at Base Camp 1. Buddhist prayer flags are ubiquitous, draped liberally over the Himalayan mountain range. I saw one particular thread of flags, and I saw how they would frame a picture beautifully, with Everest’s peak, peeking back at me.

With short, shallow breaths, I kneeled down and composed my favorite photo I’ve ever taken:


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Bloganuary: Jan. 19, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

Write about something mysterious.

I have been staring at this blinking cursor for what feels like hours. This prompt has stumped me. What’s mysterious? My mind is a complete blank. Is it too meta to admit that it’s a mystery to me how I’m going to write today’s entry for Bloganuary?

Wow. I seriously have nothing today. I’m just not feeling it.

I’ll just answer in the form of a haiku:

Mysteriously.
I have no answer today.
Maybe tomorrow.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 18, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What book is next on your reading list?

Had this question been posed to me a couple years ago, I would have laughed it off, slightly embarrassed. I had never considered myself a reader. The thought of having a reading list would have been preposterous!

The number of books I managed to read as an adult, in my post-university days, very likely could have been counted on my fingers.

But 2020 changed things. And my reading habit was one thing that shifted.

It started with Untamed by Glennon Doyle, a book that changed my life. The lessons I learned through her telling her life story, led to my first tattoo, and my more optimistic outlook because I know I can do hard things.

As COVID forced the globe to slow down in those early days of the pandemic, I found myself picking up more books. I read beautiful fictional tales like Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. But most of the books were in the self-help category, which makes sense, because I definitely needed all the help I could get in 2020.

I’ve turned the pages of numerous Brené Brown books: Daring Greatly; Rising Strong; and most recently, Braving the Wilderness. I’ve thumbed through Single On Purpose by John Kim. And I’ve been working on breaking some dysfunctional habits by reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.

But lately, I’ve been taking advantage of my library card, and listening to audio books on my phone. These fictional novels accompany me on my many walks with Toby, and I love it! Over the past months, I’ve listened to the entire Harry Potter series (which was amazing!), the beautifully written Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and the heart-wrenching Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo.

Currently, I’m a couple hours away from finishing the novel The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, an account of the Holocaust, told from a Polish viewpoint. And it’s a great story of survival!

The next book on the list? It’s The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. I have no idea what it’s about, but I’m looking forward to listening to the story as it unfolds.

Do you have a book I should add to my list? I’m open to any recommendations!


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Bloganuary: Jan. 17, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What is a superpower you’d love to have?

Who doesn’t like thinking about superpowers? There’s a reason Marvel and DC have such a great rivalry, even though I don’t really know anything specific about either side. Oh, wait! I think Captain America is in the Marvel universe, right?

Regardless, if I think about the superpower I would most like to have, I have to first consider what I enjoy doing and how a superpower would increase that enjoyment exponentially.

I love playing softball, and super strength could help me hit a home run. I love the feeling of being completely rested, so if there’s a special ability that would allow me to sleep the equivalent of 8 hours in a 20-minute power nap, that would be incredible. I suppose being able to stop time would also serve that purpose, but something about manipulating time for others doesn’t sit well with me.

The more I consider this question, the more I’m sure of my response. Being able to teleport would be the superpower I’d love to have. I have a passion for travel. I love see new places, meeting new people, and having new experiences. But I absolutely hate getting there. I suffer from motion sickness, seasickness, and a fear of flying. It’s just so stressful for me getting from point A to point B, and being able to magically teleport, would alleviate all of that.

Yeah, that’s my final answer. Teleportation.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 16, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

This is an easy question for me: veganism.

I want to live in a world with more compassion, and so I do everything I can, as best as I can, to contribute to that. And my compassion extends to all living beings.

Although I’m vegan for the animals, I also see its benefits for my health and for the planet.

Oh, and it helps that veganism is becoming more mainstream, because not a day goes by that I’m super grateful to no longer have to choose between a boring garden salad or pasta in a light tomato sauce when I go out to restaurants.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 15, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What is a life lesson you feel everyone can benefit from learning?

Don’t worry about what other people think. It feels like this is mantra told to children, and yet, so many of us grow into adults and have such a hard time living our truest, most authentic lives, because we cave to societal and familial pressures.

We ignore what our Knowing is saying. We stop listening to our intuition. We sacrifice our dreams, our desires, and our goals, sometime in robot-like fashion because many of us are so well trained to diminish them.

Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean you have to stop compromising. And it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t be held accountable for deeds that cause harm. But if you live in such a way that makes your heart happy, with a refreshing honesty, the light you’ll bring into this world is so worth it… for you and everyone around you.

My therapist once gave me incredible advice. By uncovering and celebrating my true self, and living in a way that honors the path I truly want to travel, I will be like a lighthouse. The light I shine will be a beacon to those in the sea around me, and they’ll be attracted to that energy. Those will be the people that help me advance on my journey.

So, that’s the life lesson I think everyone should know. Be unapologetically you, and illuminate the world with your truest self.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 14, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

As I sit in the waiting room of the emergency vet, I can’t help but think of the last time I was here. You know, all of 2 weeks ago.

Before I recount the trouble of the fortnight past, I’ll let you know that I’m at the vet today, mainly to assuage my anxiety, as Toby is having some bowel difficulties. His vitals are good, as are his appetite and demeanor. It’s just me, looking for reassurance that he’s ok.

The big challenge for me was a few days after Christmas. After a year of not snooping around, Toby seems to have figured out that the items on tables and counters are at his disposal. Regardless of how edible things are, he’s finding joy in ingesting them. One such item was a bag of brown rice. Uncooked, of course.

How the heck that was appetizing in way still boggles my mind. I can’t imagine it smelled good to him. I just have to assume that it was something for him to simply try. I found the ripped plastic and a scattering of grains when I returned home from my short trip to the grocery store.

Had he eaten any of it? How much rice was in the bag? Dogs eat rice, so it’s fine, right?

I honestly didn’t think anything of it. He had eaten 4 beefsteak tomatoes 5 days prior, and that was ok. He ate a plantain, and that was ok. I figured, this would be ok, too.

Well, it wasn’t ok. For those who don’t know, uncooked grains can be very dangerous for dogs, so get them a vet ASAP. Toby started throwing up rice at 11 that night. Then again at midnight, 3am, 5am, 6:30am, and 8:30am. Each time, I thought that that would have to be the last of it. Each time, I was wrong.

I went to the ER vet, and they hooked him up to fluids to make sure he remained well hydrated. They took x-rays to see if and where any rice remained in his system (which there was in his intestines). He was admitted and spent the next 20 hours in their care. After a morning enema, he was cleared to return home.

Thankfully, Toby survived the ordeal, and he’s back to being his quirky self. I, on the other hand, obviously still have some challenges to overcome. I can tell I lack the confidence I once had, when it comes to taking care of him. On days like today, waiting to talk with the doctor to see if Toby’s ok, I question whether I’m cut out to be a dog mom. But, deep down, I know that’s my anxiety talking, and after I catch up on sleep, I’ll feel better.

I guess that’s what it’s all about: do everything possible to keep Toby safe, and when the inevitable challenges arise, tackle them as best I can, and overcome.


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Bloganuary: Jan. 13, 2022

For the month of January, I’m going to be doing my best to participate in Bloganuary, a daily blogging challenge. I know it’s a divergence from what I typically write, but participating in this challenge is on my Memory List for this year.

Today’s prompt:

What does your ideal day look like?

This is the first prompt that has forced me to close my eyes, as I picture my ideal day. I ask myself a deeper question: What do I truly want to make this day as perfect as it can be?

It demands me to shed the societal expectations of what I think I should want, and instead, look more closely at what my heart really desires for the day.

I wake up peacefully, not awoken by anything, and feeling completely rested. I sit in my screened-in balcony, enjoying the humidity-free early morning air, while I sip on a hot cup of coffee, which has brewed with a sprinkle of cinnamon. I walk Toby around the Peacock Loop, relishing how the sun breaks through the limbs of the old oak trees, bedecked in Spanish Moss. I make homemade French toast from the challah bread I baked the day before. I head to the local botanical gardens to photograph the flowers in bloom. And then I do something social with at least one other human, because I am, after all, an extrovert. It could be a games night, ice skating, going to a movie, eating sushi, catching the sunset on the beach, singing karaoke, trying to complete an escape room. It could be anything; it just has to be something.

That would be my ideal day. I would go to bed feeling rejuvenated, fulfilled, and that I honored my true self.


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